204 FM 1641 • Forney, Texas 75126
Sunday, Dec. 22: 5 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 23: 2:30 p.m. • 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 24: 1 p.m. • 2:30 p.m. • 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
610 Hwy. 80 E. • Sunnyvale, Texas 75182
Monday, Dec. 23: 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 24: 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
2918 US-175 • Kaufman, Texas 75142
Monday, Dec. 23: 2:30 p.m. • 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 24: 2:30 p.m. • 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
1950 Alpha Dr. • Rockwall, Texas 75087
Tuesday, Dec. 24: 4 p.m. • 5:30 p.m.
The Christmas of 1988, my parents and I went to a party with some friends from the neighborhood. After a nice dinner together, it was time to open the presents. The toy of choice that year for young boys was a Transformer. If you aren’t familiar with the original Transformers, then I am sorry and I will pray for you.
Transformers were toys that would change form from a common object, such as a truck or car, into a robot action figure. It was, and in some regards still is, the greatest Christmas gift someone can receive.
For one reason or another, I was convinced that I was getting a Transformer that evening. I waited patiently for the other kids to open their gifts so I could open my package and instantly play with my Transformer.
Much to my dismay, my Christmas gift wasn’t a Transformer, but a regular G.I. Joe. Now let me be clear: I really liked G.I. Joe and, under normal circumstances, this would have been a great gift. On this evening, however, I was expecting a Transformer. A G.I. Joe just wouldn’t do.
Disappointments are a part of life. Even the Israelites faced disappointment.
For years, the children of God looked forward to a coming Messiah. With every baby boy, there was a hope for a future king. This messiah would provide safety and shelter for all of Israel. This messiah would sit on the throne and be a righteous ruler. The Israelites never imagined there could be more. So when Jesus showed up on a donkey and not a horse, they were disappointed. When Jesus gave to Caesar what was Caesar’s they were disappointed. When Jesus came to rule their hearts and not their land, they were disappointed.
What Israel failed to consider is that Jesus had a different agenda. We are often disappointed with Jesus because we fail to recognize that he has a different plan. When life gets turned upside down — by a lost job, a lost relationship, a poor diagnosis, whatever the case — it’s always good to remember that Jesus might just have a different agenda that we don’t know about yet. This Christmas season, we celebrate that Jesus exceeded the expectations of the Israelites.
As a mother of three young children, I often look into their lives and can see pictures of God, set up in the very nature and design of the family relationship between mother and child. If I am gone for any length of time, the moment my foot lands in the door, I am greeted with joy. My oldest daughter, Rose, begins her big list of boo-boos. She tells me every single injury that has happened since I was gone, along with ones from the last month. She details where each one is, how it happened, and the level in which it hurt. We must not forget even a broken fingernail or if a sibling poked her. Often, the injury is invisible to the eye, but she knows it is there and she expects me to see it. I love her so much, I want her to share with me.
When a young child is in distress, often the first thing they will do is run to their mother. They will attempt to communicate their issue with words, tears, noises, or even clinging to her legs. She instinctively may already know their hurts and needs. The child runs to the one that nurtures them. She is their comfort and she cares for them. They are assured of her love by her actions in their lives. Just like the child and mother, God wants us to come to him with everything also.
There is a song by Cody Carnes that reminds me of this. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
I’ve carried a burden
For too long on my own
I wasn’t created
To bear it alone
I hear Your invitation
To let it all go
Yeah I see it now
I’m laying it down
And I know that I need You
I run to the Father
I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding
No reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon
My soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father
Again and again
— Run to the Father by Cody Carnes
What a beautiful picture of Christ this is! That when we are in distress, we can come to him as a child would come to a parent. We can come as we are without pretension or even words. We can come and lay ourselves at the feet of the one who loves us. Jesus calls us to him from the pages of the book of Matthew, “Come to me.”
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:25–30 NIV
Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is less than three weeks away. Signs of Christmas are all around us: Christmas music, movies, decorations and sales. It’s that time of year when everyone is in the Christmas spirit, or at least they’re pretending to be. Unfortunately, I believe Christmas time is filled with as many fake expressions of joy as real ones.
Human beings are complex animals, capable of feeling a vast array of emotions, many times experiencing contrasting emotions simultaneously. We are capable of being truly happy and truly sad at the same time. Human emotions are not simple and neat. They are complicated and messy. And nothing seems to amplify this more than the holidays.
For most, the holidays are a time to be with family and friends. And few things elicit as many emotions as family and friends, because those we love and care about are the ones who can make us the most happy or sad. They are the ones we allow to get close enough to us to truly hurt us.
It is also the loss of family or friends that brings such sadness to the holiday season. Losing someone that you had a good relationship with is so hard and brings such sadness, but losing a family member or friend that you didn’t have a good relationship with can often be more depressing, because, as long as they were alive, there was this feeling that there was still time to reconcile and repair that broken relationship. But now that they are gone, there is no more time. There will be no reconciliation. And their memory will always carry with it a deep sense of regret.
Maybe your depression has nothing to do with family or friends. Maybe you are depressed because of an illness you have that holds you captive and feels like a prison or a death sentence.
Maybe the source of your depression is that secret you hold. You can’t even look at your spouse and smile at them without a lump in your throat because that secret haunts you. You want to enjoy the holidays with them, but you can’t enjoy anything.
Depression is a miserable thing, whatever the reason. And Christmas time just seems to magnify it. It’s no surprise that the suicide rate goes up during the holidays. Sometimes the weight of depression just seems unbearable, and a person may believe that it would be easier to end it all.
Have you ever felt this way? That it would be easier to end it all rather than go on living like this? If you have, I am truly sorry for your pain and sorrow. If you would let me, I would like to share with you what God’s word says about your situation.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
― 2 Corinthians 7:10 NASB
According to God’s word, there are two types of sorrow. One is a “sorrow that is according to the will of God,” and the other is “the sorrow of the world.”
To understand the difference between these two types of sorrow, we need to understand why sorrow exists in the first place. When God finished creating the world, he looked at it and said it was good. Sorrow was not a part of God’s original creation. God created us humans with the ability to love and obey him or rebel and disobey him. We chose not to love and obey him, and instead we sinned, which brought death and sorrow into the world. We are the reason death and sorrow exist in this world. We cannot point the finger at others and blame them for death and sorrow, because we are all equally responsible.
I know these are hard truths to hear. I do not find any pleasure in sharing them with you, but my love for Christ and for you compels me to share them with you. It is important to understand that all the brokenness and depression you feel is a result of your sin against your God. There would be no broken relationships if we had all loved and obeyed God. There would be no secrets that haunt us. There would be no disease or death had we not brought sin into the world. We are all to blame for all the brokenness and sorrow in our lives.
Now let’s look at the difference between “sorrow that is according to the will of God” and “the sorrow of the world.”
If we are depressed because of the pain we have experienced in our lives, that is worldly sorrow, which is self-focused. We are not focused on God and how we have offended him. We are not sorrowful because our rebellion against God has brought all this brokenness and death into his creation. We are sorrowful because of what has been done to us.
“Sorrow that is according to the will of God” is not self-focused, but God-focused. This sorrow comes from knowing that, even though all the brokenness and pain you are feeling is real and it does hurt, you are ultimately responsible for it because of your rebellion against God. This is a sorrow for what you have done to God, and not what has been done to you.
“Sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation.” This sorrow leads a person to repent of the life of sin and rebellion that led to all this brokenness and pain and throw themselves upon God’s mercy and cry out for salvation. This sorrow is a gift from God that leads one from death to life.
Worldly sorrow “produces death.” Earthly death for those who choose suicide as an escape, eternal death for all those who never repent and believe unto life.
I know all the brokenness and pain can be unbearable. I feel it too. It is real. It hurts so much sometimes we can’t stand it. My prayer for you is that you will listen to what God says about your brokenness and pain, and where it comes from, and that you will not experience a worldly sorrow that will lead to death, but that your sorrow will prove to be according to the will of God and will produce in you a repentance that will lead you from death to salvation.
Sorrow and pain in this life are unescapable, especially during the holiday season, but eternal death is not. I pray this holiday season that you will experience “the sorrow that is according to the will of God” that “produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation.”
The holiday season is now in full swing. Christmas music is on nearly every radio station 24/7, and the TV shows are all decked out in holiday colors. The children are all giddy with ideas of what Santa will bring them on Christmas day. Pumpkin spice is flowing from the coffee shops, and stoves are starting to simmer with the smells of Christmas fudge, candy and all the great foods of the season.
While these things will bring joy and happiness to many, for others this season brings on depression, fear and anxiety, along with dread and hopelessness. You may be asking yourself how Santa is going to provide all the children with what they want. Will they enjoy another pair of shoes instead of the new video game or doll that they asked for? Not to mention those dealing with the loss of a loved one that will not be at the table for the first time in their lives. As we wonder each day about these things, our minds can lead us down into the deep hole of fear and depression.
In my life, I have experienced many if not all of these thoughts and emotions. The grace and love of our Father is more than enough to get us through the paths that our sinful minds will lead us down. God will lead us down paths and roads that we do not want to follow in order to create in us what he designed us to be.
I remember sitting on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan pulling overwatch for a diplomatic mission, being cold, tired and wet, missing the comforts of home and the warmth of family and friends. So in missing these things and seeing what it could be, or worse, it is important to remember the true reason for the season, which is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In this time, that should be so joyous because we as the Church must pass on the hope and the good word and to those who may be having a hard time finding it this season. Remember as we search for the light there is only one that we should be searching for:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
— Matthew 1:21
So as we move into the season of joy and thankfulness for the birth of our Lord, just know that some are having a hard time finding the light in the storm. In all that we do in honor to Jesus, may we be the path that leads to the light of grace, peace and open arms to those who need to remember what true love feels like.
I love Hallmark Christmas movies with all of their cheesy holiday joy. In every frame of each movie, the creators make sure to include some aspect of holly jolly cheer. While the lights may sparkle on the television screen, I can’t say that real life meets the Hallmark standard. Some holidays, I get lost in the to-do list neglecting to feel the magic of the season. One Christmas, my sweet grandmother, Mimi, was losing her battle to cancer, so we put on smiling faces and loved on her while hiding how much our hearts were breaking. Recently, I’ve had to learn how to celebrate apart from my son who moved to Austin. The life that we live doesn’t exist in a snow globe. We need to stop expecting it to be a perfect picture.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
— Psalm 34:17
When I am hurting, it’s important for me to remember to cry out to the Lord, like it says in Psalm 34:17. It is so easy for me to focus on my pain rather than asking God to help me through whatever is hurting. In Re:generation, I learned the power of crying out to others. My sisters keep me in check, so my expectations don’t get the better of me. In John 16, Jesus reminds all of us in chapter that in this world we will have troubles. The last part of the verse gets me through the tough days:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33
I am so thankful for that truth!