The art of letting things slip through the cracks

I missed the deadline. I probably could have reached it. I most certainly had content that I could push out there that would have been mildly entertaining, slightly informative, and might be worthy of a share. However, I could not. Wednesday night, Thursday morning, and as the day progressively carried on and the deadline passed further and further into the distance, my mind and body couldn’t bring itself to type a single word.

Flashes of the Youtuber who lost a million followers when he didn’t post a video one week went through my mind. I was ignoring the advice of some of the most respected voices in the blogging world, voices like Michael Hyatt, who says you must post often and consistently. The gong of advice inside my head couldn’t compel me to persevere.

Why?

Well, I’m glad you (and I) asked.

I’m tired. 

Over the last four months, I feel as though I am going at an insane pace. My everyday life consists of my job as a pastor of a church plant, father, and husband. What this means is that I am studying and producing a sermon every week. We have a small church, so it also means, I lead all the music, I do the youth, and run the programs and admin. There is some help here and there, but it up to me to get it done. I have four young kids. They need to be read with, put to bed (which is an ordeal consisting of a plethora of prescription drugs that would make a pharmacist salivate), and have family and one on one time. It’s a worthy investment, but as any parent knows, it can leave you dried up and tired.

On top of that, I have a relationship with my wife to maintain. She is blogging, watching kids throughout the day, and teaching conversational English at night. After I put the kids to bed, while she works, it is our only time together (as we try and make our way through the Marvel chronology). 

Now we need to add up all the additional things that we add into our lives. I am trying to write my second book, I’m studying to be a personal trainer, I am working out three hours a day to be in shape, so I can be a personal trainer (four years of injuries have taken their toll), and blogging twice a week.

I’ve kept up the pace. Thursday, I just couldn’t. Something had to give. I just hope I don’t lose a million followers (as if I could).

I believe we all have deadlines, goals, and priorities we need to let slip. We have to ask ourselves what are the primary responsibilities that we have.

For me, husband, father, and pastor (in that order). We then have secondary responsibilities. Again for me, studying to be a physical trainer and exercising so I look like a physical trainer. Even though I love to do it, writing has to fall into a third category. Yes, I may not sell as many books, get as many hits, or raise my social media platform (which has been suffering a lot the last few weeks), but it is not worth sacrificing the former two categories to be prolific in the later.

What I have yet to mention the uncategorically most important, my spiritual life. I need time for prayer, study, scripture, worship, meditation, and sabbath. I cannot even come close to achieving anything on the priority list with even half an ounce of “average” unless I pour into myself. It’s like the picture a flight attendant might show us how we put our mask on first before we help anyone else. 

After all, isn’t this what Jesus did? Sure there weren’t social media or blogs (although I’m sure he would if they had). Even though Jesus didn’t have all the noise of modern society around him, Jesus still had to deal with pressure, family, friends, and yes, even his own spiritual life. We see him waking early and retreating, he goes to temple, he goes to pray with a few friends, and he even says no to people requesting his assistance. 

Jesus needed to set the priorities, so do you and I. We have to be willing to let some things slide. What is vital, though, is that we don’t let the most important things slide. We must not let our spouse or kids fall through the cracks of our busy lives. It might mean we disappoint a few people when a post doesn’t come or the deadline isn’t reached in time, however, as Jesus once said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” We must not lose our soul, the essence of life, in the process.

Today, give yourself permission to let something, that’s not all that important, slip through the cracks.

Before you spend the holidays with family

Family can be great.

Family can also be stressful.

The issue is that it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re with family. I believe that subconsciously we think that we can say and do whatever we want, and the people that are close to us will love us regardless.

And this is why Christmas can be stressful.

We’ve eaten excessive amounts of refined sugar, we’re secretly dreading the impending post-holiday bills, we’ve stayed up too late watching Boy Meets World on Disney +, the kids have been acting like wild orangutans, and you’re about to have to put on the fake faces of appreciation when you open that sweater.

As much as family can be great, they also can be overly honest (let’s call it what it is, opinionated). “Have you put on weight?” “Have you lost weight?” “Are you ever going to settle down?” “If that were my kid, I would give them a smack.”

As much as family can be great, they can also be stressful.

What we must remember is that we are to be like Jesus. We’re to love indiscriminately. Maybe your family aren’t your enemies, but if we’re supposed to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), then we need to love our family too.

Love is a nice sentiment, but what does it mean?

1 Corinthians 13 spells it out perfectly,

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

While this may be an ideal we may never live up to this entirely, this Christmas when we reflect on what it means that Jesus came to start a kingdom of love let’s keep 1 Corinthians in mind. It may be hard but, this is what love looks like.

When your mother asks you again when you’re going to give her a grandchild, remember, love is patient. When you have to drop the kids off at the ex’s, remember, love is kind. When your husband gives you a spatula for Christmas, remember, love keeps no record of wrongs. When everything is going wrong—things aren’t adding up—remember, love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

When we can remember that love is a choice—a choice that is sometimes hard with those close to us—it can revolutionize our relationships.

Maybe your parents, spouse, kids, aunt Ruth, or grandma give judgemental stares and weighted nuanced comments that drive you completely nuts! You just want to react. I know I’ve been there. I’ve even done it. But there is a better way.

That better way, is to choose love. We choose to be patient and kind. We choose to love because it is what God chose for us. Romans 5 says it,

“While we were still sinners, Christ gave up his life for us.”

In a small part, we are now to do the same. Essentially, while your mom still judges your life, love. When your grandma comments about your weight, love. When you Dad disapproves of your life choices, love. When your ex is being difficult about seeing the kids, love.

If God does it when we oppose him and gave up his life at that, we can at least try this holiday season to pass the gravy in peace, loving despite the family drama, and demonstrate why there is good news for all people.

Why Jesus is better than Santa

My kids are all in on Santa. When I was their age, I was all in too.

I’m not down with those curmudgeon Christians who feel the need to destroy the folklore of Santa and flying reindeer.

Saying this, I don’t want them to get lost when it comes to the meaning of Christmas. I love that my kids love Santa, but I want them to love Jesus more.

I wanted to explain this in a way that even my youngest (who is four) would understand. So, I began to think.

Santa comes once a year on magic reindeer, magically slides down your chimney and leaving presents—like actual tangible, ready to open and use gifts that fulfill a young child’s lusts. Plus, he does all of this while you sleep.

That is pretty hard to compete with when it comes to the mind of a young child.

I began to think a little more…

“You better watch out / you better not shout / you better not cry I’m telling you why?”

Basically, you better be on your best behaviour, or Santa will rescind your gifts! And that’s when I realized that Santa is the exact opposite of Jesus.

They both bring free gifts (unlike your inlaws). The difference lies here in the simple fact that Santa’s gifts are based upon your behaviour. Jesus comes to bring a costly gift that has nothing to do with my good behaviour. Instead, it has everything to do with whom I belong. Jesus took our place and took the eternal consequences of our misdeeds upon himself.

I like how the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 5:6-8

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

When we had no power to save ourselves, while still rejecting God, He gave his life for us. It is the often-overlooked verse 7 that really sets poor Santa up for the fall, though. This verse points out the harsh reality of sacrifice. You probably would never give up your life for another just because they are a really good person. However, you might if that person has been good to you.

Here is where Santa falls. Santa requires our belief. Santa requires us to be on our best behaviour before he brings us a gift.

BUT GOD.

That’s all that needs to be said. But God.

Here’s the thing. Santa is a lot like us. Do good, and you will receive good in return. Jesus gives good because it is outside his character not to be.

But God shows us that He loves by giving up His life in our place, not because we were right in our thoughts and deeds, not because we have done something for God.

No, while we rejected him, denied Him, were complicit or active in crimes against Him, He gave His life for us.

Do you know what I said to me kids, “Do you know why Jesus is way better than Santa? Because it doesn’t matter whether I’m on the good list or the naughty list, Jesus loves me and gives grace to me no matter what.”

Yeah, there is more to it. But that is what is most important. Though I deserve a big lump of coal in my eternal stocking, I’ve been given unbounded relentless love. As the Apostle Paul says later in Romans.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

Sorry Santa, but it isn’t even close.