Black Friday

I am not a Black Friday shopper.  There, I have admitted it.  Not that I think there is anything wrong with those of you who do Black Friday shop.  I love a deal just as much as the next gal.  And it isn't even the crowds that keep me away, I can handle those.  And while I am TOTALLY not a morning person that isn't the reason I chose to stay home either (although it definitely is a bonus to get to snuggle under my warm blankets until I smell my automatic coffee pot begin to brew its delectable offering!). 

I don't Black Friday shop because very rarely is there something on sale that my family and I really want at a price that we are willing to pay.  When those two things merge on the day after Thanksgiving you will find me patiently waiting in line with the rest of you.  Several years ago I stood in line for a few hours with my sister to purchase the Game Boy that my son had been requesting all year long.  We laughed, we talked with those in line around us and generally enjoyed ourselves.  And I have to say that on the times that I have ventured out I have been pleasantly surprised to NOT witness the chaos that the media tends to portray it as.

There was no pushing or shoving, no people being trampled, and no foul language being shouted angrily.  Now I am not naive enough to believe that this is the case everywhere, as it obviously isn't.  But if you are a follower of Christ, it shouldn't ever be the case for you (and me!).

The book of James was written by Jesus brother.  It is interesting to me that he did not believe that Jesus was God's son before His death and resurrection.  It was only afterwards that James recognized the truth and began to share the news with others.  His book is right up my alley as it tells us how to live as followers.  And I think he may have had a peek at a future Black Friday sale when I wrote the beginning of chapter 4:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ~James 4:1-3

Can't you just picture him standing in the midst of a full on Black Friday brawl shaking his head in disbelief?  Only, he was talking about a once a year sale.  Instead he was talking about the every day struggles within us - our desire to have a house bigger than our neighbor, a car nicer than our friends, a TV that dwarfs all others, the latest phone, the newest tablet etc. 

You see, we all have passions.  We were built to.  The problem comes when we misdirect our passions to selfish desires.  Galatians 5:24 says those selfish desires, or desires of the flesh, were supposed to die when we gave our life to Christ.  Instead we should be passionate for the things that please Him. 

He wants our passion to be for Him and not ourselves or even other people.  (Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31)  In order to do this we must first spend time getting to know Him.  Pray, study His word, learn all about him for yourself.  Unfortunately just showing up at church once a week and listening to what someone else says about Him isn't going to cut it.  You wouldn't expect to learn all about your spouse or children by listening to what their friends say once a week and then not talking to them the rest of the time would you?  Why do we so often expect it to work with God?

When our passion is for Him, He starts directing us on how to be passionate for others.  It may be that you are called to raise a family, to serve in a shelter, to teach others, to reach out to your neighbor that seems so grumpy.  Or it may be to hand the person beside you in the store the last of THE sale item with a smile on your face.  I can't tell you what He is calling you to, but I can tell you that you won't know if your passion is misdirected.  Happy Black Friday.

One of "Those" Days

Have you ever had one of those days (weeks, months, seems-like-years) where no matter what goes on, what you’ve planned, where you’re at, nothing seems to go right? And you find yourself more and more agitated, overwhelmed, chaotic and just completely discouraged with everything (and one) around you?

I’ve found that it’s in those times that Jesus is trying to get my attention; most likely trying to draw me back in for a ‘convo’. Sometimes it’s a big epiphany of an answered prayer. Sometimes it’s a direction He wants me to go. But more often than anything else, it’s when He’s ‘reminding’ me that it (meaning anything I’m complaining about in this world) is not about me. A (not-so) gentle reminder that it doesn’t matter if I feel inadequate, taken advantage of, taken for granted, insecure, inconvenienced or insignificant. It’s not my time, my efforts, my self-worth to begin with. It all belongs to Jesus. Everything I have (physically, emotionally, literally and metaphorically) is by God’s grace. So, when I feel as if someone has wronged me, or something has gotten in my way, instead of reacting, I need to be enacting God’s love. It’s a jolt to take the focus back off of me, and put it where it belongs: on Jesus.

It’s humbling moments like this; the ones that remind us that we’re not infallible, and life, no matter how hard we try, is not perfect. But there is One that is; and if we stay focused on Him and honoring and praising Him, then all the other ‘stuff’ is what is inconsequential; not us.

(Matthew 6:24, Matthew 6:33, Romans 8:5, Philippians 4:8, Philippians 2:3-11, Colossians 3:2)