Be Different

I can’t believe October is about to come to an end and we are beginning a new season.  A season that brings cold weather, fires, family gatherings and change.

Fall is a constant reminder of change.  From the leaves changing colors to the ground covered in leaves as they fall preparing for new growth in the coming spring. The season of Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming quickly.

So what I would like to leave you with as October comes to an end, is a challenge.  A challenge to make this season new.  This holiday season can become very materialistic very quickly.  It can become about consumption of things and quite frankly ourselves. What if this season you chose to be about others.

John 15: 3 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”

1 John 3: 16-18 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with action and truth.”

What if Thanksgiving didn’t look like every other Thanksgiving.  What if this one was about opening your home to a family in need?  What if instead of being served you served others?  I know your thinking but what about traditions.  I LOVE traditions.  It is are so important to instill good family traditions , ones that will carry over into our kids families and our grandchildren’s families.  Some of the most special memories I have are traditions with my family.  But what if in a world that had become so much more consumed with self, selfies, self gratification, you decided to make this season a season about everyone else but you and yours.  What if your kids greatest memories become stories of that time when every week you spent time doing acts of great kindness for random strangers?  Because if we are honest that’s what the life of Christ was.  He was constantly doing things for others, others that were not accepted by their family, others that were not accepted by their neighbors or culture.  He allowed his daily plans to be interrupted by ones in needs ALWAYS and every time it pointed people more toward his heavenly Father.

What if Christmas didn’t look like every other Christmas.  What if instead of buying a multitude of gifts for our kids and extended family we spent that money on others?  What if your kids greatest memories of their family Christmas was the times they didn’t receive gifts but spent time giving back to others.  How many souls could be changed because your family became a family that for generations to come became about giving to others and not about what they could receive?

Our world even in Christian culture has become about shining the light on us most of the time….so what I would challenge you to do is think outside your comfort, think outside your home, think outside yourself, think outside what is “normal” and live radically this season for Jesus.  Do for others in ways that will show your children and others how to put into practice your faith.  We are called to be different.

Romans 12: 2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Jesus saved you for greatness, for a greater purpose.  Not personal greatness but so that you could be used to do great things for the kingdom.  We can’t look like the rest of the world and make a great impact.  We have to be radically different.  Others have to see us and ask “why?”   I know that if you take time to sit down with your kids , with your family and you take the time to read stories of how Jesus spent his time and you encourage them to think of ways your lives could look more like His … you will be surprised.  I say this from personal experience.  I would never have thought that my boys would give up receiving gifts.  That my husband and boys would spend Christmas on a mission trip instead of at home opening gifts.  That my boys would love sitting around a table with people we didn’t even know and sharing in a Thanksgiving meal.  There are so many ways you can make this season different .  That you can make this season about the true meaning of this season.  The time is now!

Some examples:

*Make care packages of ingredients for a meal and take to  volunteer fire department (they do this without compensation and provide their own meals most nights)

*Find a local soup kitchen that you could serve weekly

*Find a family or a widow that you know will be alone and fill your home with them for your Thanksgiving meal

*Write encouraging cards and make a special gift for families who have lost loved ones this year

*Make brown bag packages filled with needed items for homeless and pass them out as you come upon them in your travels

*Write a family letter of why this season is different and give to organizations that are impacting the kingdom in your extended family’s name and then give the letter to them as their gift.

*Buy the persons items that are in front of you in the check out line and hand them a scripture card that is encouraging.

*Give up your gifts to buy gifts for a widow and take them to her house on Christmas with hot chocolate and cookies.

*Go to the hospitals on Christmas eve or Christmas day with thank you packages for the nurses on duty – chap stick,  bottled water, hand lotion etc.

*Go to the nursing homes with wrapped gifts of fuzzy gripper socks

The list can be what you and your family come up ….it can be one or 20 but make your days be a reflection of Jesus !  Intentional love, shining the light on Jesus not yourself or the act. Be different!  Start now making your family a family not consumed with self or looking like the world but instead about generations of planting seeds for the Kingdom!