Merry Christmas From Westlake

I wanted to take a quick moment and to say on behalf of myself, my family, and the Westlake Baptist Church family, Merry Christmas to you and your family.  Thank you to the many of you who are faithful readers and those who choose to comment on certain posts.  My prayer is that the unusual and sometimes crazy ramblings of a preacher have somehow blessed you or helped you get into God’s Word a little more in 2014.  We are planning some things for the 2015 year that will hopefully help this blog to be more impactful and helpful in your walk with Christ.  I want to take the rest of this post to offer some biblical advice on how to make it through this week, which for many is one of the most stressful weeks of the year.  But this will not just be advice for this week, but for any time of the year.

How Can I Make It Through The Stressful Times of the Year:

Rest.  That sounds so simple and yet so few of us actually do it.  We can see in Genesis 1 and into 2 that God created us for a rhythm of work six, rest one.  Practicing a Sabbath is very beneficial for us.  But the rest I’m referring to here is our nightly rest.  It is so easy to run and be on the go for 16-18 hours a day.  And there are times that it is going to be necessary.  But I would submit to you that it is not as often as we allow it to happen.  Know your own personal rhythm.  How many hours of sleep do you need to function, be energetic, and engaged during a day.  For the vast majority of us it is between six and eight hours.  I know many people who say, “all I need is four or five hours and I’m good to go.”  And that may be true for a while, but it will catch up to you.  I like how a personal fitness device put it the other day, humans are like mushrooms at night, they need a good cool, dark place to sleep.  What that means is that we need to turn off the electronics, turn off the lights, and get some good sleep.  I fight myself on this personally at times, because I feel like there is never enough time to get done everything I would like to.  As I was reading in Ecclesiastes the other day, this verse stood out to me.  “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There’s a season and a time for everything.  The rest of that passage begins to talk about opposites and how life has an ebb and flow, because that is how God designed it.  There is a time to work and play, and there is a time to rest.  As I have been putting this into practice, I am finding that I am able to accomplish more in less time.  I know you know this, but it bears repeating.  God made everything and when it was made He said, “and it was good.”  God knows what He is doing.

Relax.  This is similar to getting rest, but we all need some mental downtime.  Time that we can just be with family, with friends, and at times by ourselves.  Jesus didn’t do ministry 24/7.  There are several times in the Gospels that we see Jesus retreat from people, be alone, and get recharged.  Again, I understand that this can be a struggle for many of us, but it is necessary.  God has blessed us with life, and we need to take time to enjoy it, because it will be all over way too soon.

Worship.  You and I were created by God to worship Him and to have fellowship with Him.  In America we have become compartmentalized people.  Everything and everyone has their own place, and we do everything we can to keep it that way.  Around this time of year we see the sign that says, “Jesus is the Reason For The Season.”  Certainly, Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  But do you see how compartmentalized that statement is?  Let’s pull Jesus out at Christmas and at Easter.  Or let’s pull Jesus out on Sundays and maybe Wednesdays.  That is the view of the average American church-goer.  However, Jesus is far more than just the reason for the Christmas season.  Jesus is the reason for life!  If I’m going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and make other disciples of Jesus, then He can’t be a part of my life from time to time, He must be my life.  Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ, who is our life. . .”  For a Christian, Jesus isn’t just part of my life, He is my life.  Without Jesus, I wouldn’t have life or eternal life (Col. 1:16; John 14:6).  Without Jesus I can do nothing (John 15:5), but the Bible also teaches that with Him I can do all things (Phil. 4:13).  Therefore, when I talk about worship, I’m not just talking about going to church on Sunday and Wednesdays.  Make time for personal worship during a day and for family worship each day.  The longer I pastor the more convinced I am of this, the key to strong churches is strong families.  As a church leader, I need to prayerfully look for ways to help strengthen the families in our church and in the community.

Life is busy and it is hard.  I want to thank you for taking time to read this blog.  I will end with this, I love Casting Crowns.  They came out with a song earlier this year called Thrive.  The song says “we were made for more than just to survive, we were made to thrive.”  Thriving is possible if we will humble ourselves and admit that God’s ways are the right ways.  Have a safe, blessed, and Merry Christmas!

Pastor Justin

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