Keeping Christ AS Christmas 2012 – 1st things first

To many Americans, the word Christmas can be defined by:  days off work, time with family and friends, presents, shopping, spending too much money, decorating, cooking, eating too many rich foods, caroling, Hallmark movies, greeting cards, red and green, Santa, staying up too late, lazy days spent in pjs…

None of these things are bad. In fact, our family enjoys and looks forward to most of them. But these things do not define Christmas. To those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Christmas should mean something more – something entirely different from anything that can be purchased, wrapped, watched, worn, experienced, or eaten.

I believe that if we learn to place Jesus Christ as the center of our Christmas focus, the other enjoyments and responsibilities of the season will fall into their proper places. The key, however, lies solely in placing our focus on Jesus Christ, and keeping Him AS the Center of the season.

Picture a beautiful flower with a large center and lots of petals:

The petals certainly add to the beauty of the flower. But it is the center that holds the petals in their places. When Jesus is the center of the season, the other traditions and enjoyments of the Christmas holiday are held together in Him. The Main Thing remains the main thing, and everything else will either get done in His Strength and Joy, or no longer be so important.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” (Amp)

Do this little activity as soon as you can.  If you are anything like me, it will make a difference in how you view your Christmas season.

Look at the flower below.  (Print it for yourself, if you’d like.)

What would be in the center of your flower?

To be honest, many years the word “GIFTS” would take center stage.  It’s what I start thinking about in the summer and it’s what I have most prepared by this time of year.  I make those lists and shop bargains all year long.  So up to this point in the fall, “gift giving” usually occupies center stage.

However, as the days get crazier and busier and my plate feels fuller, everything else tends to crowd “gifts” for the central focus.  If I am not intentional about what/who I place in the center, I tend to become quickly overwhelmed and grouchy. 

In fact, I was feeling this way just last week.  My calendar was preparing for Christmas, but my heart wasn’t.  So I got back out Keeping Christ AS Christmas and started reading in chapter one.  (I know… I wrote it and I’m truly not trying to “sell” it here – but really, it was Jesus’ instructions to me that I continually need to re-learn, so I asked Him to use the book to once again make a difference in this coming Christmas season.)

This flower exercise was in chapter one.  I honestly filled out my flower, once again placing the word “gifts” in the center.  Then I wrote every other responsibility added through this season on the petals.

What would be on the petals of your holiday flower?

I was saddened to see that I had placed Jesus on the same level as other “responsibilities” such as decorating and baking and family time.

I determined then and there that Jesus was changing places with “gifts” and all the other “things” that go along with Christmas.  I got down on my knees, dedicated these next days and weeks to Him, and gave Him His rightful place right back in the center of my flower.  Now my flower looks something like this:

And I feel so much better!

One major way to keep Jesus as the Center of the Season is to spend time with Him 1st thing in the morning – before the business and the busy-ness of the day begins.  Trust me… I’ve learned the hard way that a day started without submission to and worship of Jesus, a meal from His Word, and fellowship with Him through prayer often ends up being one of those “not so good” days.  I’ve heard that missing your time alone with Jesus is kind of like missing tennis practice.  One day missed – you notice it.  Two days missed – your partner notices it.  Three days missed – your opponent notices it.  And four or more days missed – everyone notices it.  That’s certainly true for me and my time with Jesus.

My friends, the upcoming days are going to be so full of fun, festivities, {and exhaustion}, I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t afford to miss being filled, fed,  and strengthened through my time alone with Jesus first thing each morning.   It’s hard, though.  Late nights lead to later mornings and more alarm snoozes.  I battle that snooze alarm every day! 😉  Therefore, we must make Jesus staying our number one priority our number one priority.  When He is in His rightful place, everything will be in their rightful places.

My Keeping Christ AS Christmas challenge to you this weekend is this:

1.  Print or draw yourself a flower and honestly fill in the center and the petals.  If you aren’t honest, it won’t be too helpful to you.  To fill in the center, how would your actions, calendar, and checkbook answer this question: What is the center of my focus during Christmas? 

2.  Print or draw another flower, filling the center with Jesus and the petals with everything else. 

3.  Write Matthew 6:33 somewhere on this flower.  “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.”  Mt. 6:33 (Amp)

4.  Determine to get out of bed each morning in enough time to spend the first 10 minutes with Jesus.  Need a plan?  Here’s a quick 10 minute quiet time plan to help you begin.

5.  Post this picture somewhere where you and your household can see it, then order your days by it.  🙂

 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Matthew 6:30-33, MSG

*This post was adapted from chapter one of the E-book Keeping Christ AS Christmas: Preparing hearts, households, and homes for PEACE this Christmas season.  Click here for more details, and “like”the Keeping Christ AS Christmas facebook page to share YOUR ideas on keeping Jesus as the Center of the Christmas season.

To read a sample of this book, including chapters 1-2, click here and see the box to the right of the page “Try it for Free.”

Happy weekend, my friends~

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at