Mentoring Minutes


Before we start this article and CHRISTmas series I want to let you know to look for a Top 10 CHRISTmas list at the end of each article!

As I begin this article my beautiful wife comes in the room and plugs in (or flips the switch) and on comes the CHRISTmas lights (you’ll notice I always spell CHRISTmas in this fashion on purpose).  As she does so she asks, “Does that help?”  Of course it does, so I give her a hearty, “YES!” 

Don’t know about you but I have great CHRISTmas memories…Early on it’s always been about the lights, decorations and trees (which were always live as I didn’t know they had fake trees when I was growing up).  Even if we’d known about fake trees, we likely couldn’t afford them, which probably helped fuel my “obsession” with real trees to this day.  

Most importantly, my greatest memories every year always draw me back to the Nativity,  the angels, the shepherds, the manger and the Biblical account of CHRIST’s Advent, His coming to earth in the form of a helpless Baby ultimately to save us!  More on that at the end of this article and throughout this series!

CHRISTmas? A Bundle of Switches and a Lump of Coal

Many memories of CHRISTmas flood my mind and fill my heart but there are 2 specific CHRISTmas memories that push to the forefront of my thoughts as I begin this series.  The first is one that hopefully few but likely many can relate to…I was 7 years old, my brother, 5, and sister, 3.  We came running, and I was jumping, down 10 steps at a time not even worried I might go right through the front door. I remember we’d not been, let’s just say, particularly good that year and sure enough, as promised, Santa had us on the “Naughty List.” He left us each a bundle of switches under the tree and a lump of coal in our stockings hung on the fireplace mantle. 

What?!?  Was it really true that Santa Claus would leave these “gifts” to children that were disobedient and maybe even a little defiant?  Yes He would. 

After my parents made us go to our rooms to think about it and making sure that our tears and remorse were real, they called us back downstairs.  Much more slowly than our earlier pace down the stairs, we sadly sauntered down to offer apologies.  To our childish delight, presents had magically appeared and our stockings were full!  I remember getting a Big Wheel that year – what better gift is there for a 7-yr. old boy!?!  My brother and I wore out the heavy duty plastic wheels before the next summer was over!  How could I ever forget that CHRISTmas or the related lessons?

Year after year, no matter how difficult, CHRISTmas was always special and I have nothing but wonderful memories of the season.  Maybe that’s why my wife and kids think I go just a little overboard each year but I love everything about it!  

I like to be first on my street, if not neighborhood, with lights and tree up! Sad, but can’t help it.  Even more sadly I must admit in full disclosure…last year I lost to a blow up Santa and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer display! I love it! 

Our First Family CHRISTmas…spent in a Hospital

The second vivid recollection was the year our first child was born.  He was born on December 21 and the plan was to be home by CHRISTmas Eve and celebrate our first CHRISTmas as a family.  I had decorated the house prior to heading to the hospital.  The team I was coaching at the time had given us a white rocking chair for the occasion and I had come home on the last day of practice before CHRISTmas break and fallen asleep on my wife’s pregnant lap. 

A couple of hours later she awakened me and said, “It’s time!”  I helped her into the already packed car and we headed to the hospital.  From the moment we arrived we should have known it was going to be memorable.  It was all worth it as I held our son while my wife slept soundly for the first time in weeks.

The doctor came in the next morning and said they would need to place our son “under the lights” in order to help him overcome the jaundice (infection) that he had.  He was placed in isolation on December 23 and was there for 3 full days. 

There went our “perfect” CHRISTmas plans in our new home with our first child.  We ended up staying on the top floor of the hospital, which had been converted into a “hotel” type setting for just such occasions to accommodate the family of patients that needed to stay under hospital care. 

To exacerbate the situation, except for the limited holiday staff, we were the only ones on the entire floor! 

As CHRISTmas Eve Day rolled around, my wife (neither of us had been able to hold our newborn since the first few hours after his birth) became understandably dejected and tearfully expressed, “This is not how I envisioned our first CHRISTmas as a family to be.” 

I truly believe The Holy Spirit gave me my next idea.  I went to the greatly reduced holiday staff on the floor and asked if I could gather any/all CHRISTmas decorations on the floor (except for those at their workstation) and put them in our room?  They gladly consented and I grabbed a couple fake trees (maybe the only time ever?!?), garland and lights and every other CHRISTmas décor that I could find and brought them into our room.  It was beautiful and right on queue, as we looked out our window, God blessed us with a snowfall that glistened through all the lights as we looked out over the city from our seventh floor room. 

I called our families and they sacrificially but excitedly agreed to bring all the gifts, food and trimmings the next day…CHRISTmas Day…to celebrate with us in the little hospital/”hotel” room!  It was magical, except that we couldn’t hold our son…

Until 2 days later when he was released in good health and we took him home!  The evening of December 27, I sat rocking my son in our brand new white rocking chair right next to the CHRISTmas tree as his eyes locked in for minutes at a time on the twinkling lights on that tree!  Tears ran down my face as I thanked God for CHRISTmas and His greatest gift as I sat rocking a very similar gift in my arms. 

For these memories (the good and the bad) and all the others, I choose to see everything…time with our families, the lights, trees, decorations, food, stories (even Santa and all related stories – St. Nicolas – real life ‘St. Nick’), my CHRISTmas ties, the music (love it) and every memory in light of The Spirit of CHRISTmas and the real reason for it…CHRIST…God With Us.  I encourage you to consider doing the same thing, no matter what past experiences or memories hold.

The Greatest CHRISTmas Memory and Gift

How do you choose to see CHRISTmas and how does it affect you and your family?

The Greatest Memory and Gift of course is that CHRISTmas is CHRIST!  That’s what we’re going to unpack in some unique ways over the next few weeks leading up to that most wonderful of Holidays in which we received the Greatest Gift of all – Jesus – God as a Baby in a manger…God in the flesh!  After all, that’s what it’s really all about – God dwelling with us, making a way through His Son (Emmanuel – God With Us) and His Spirit (abiding in us) – this is CHRISTmas and if we choose we will see it all around us throughout the season and beyond, even in the tough times…just in recent years I’ve attended services of 2 families where a family member passed away in the weeks leading up to CHRISTmas – one was an 84 yrs. old wife, mom, grandmother and a life well-lived; one was a 37 year old young man (former player of mine) who’s life was seemingly snuffed out all too soon, leaving a wife and children…we can see it and live it out now and all year long because we have this prophecy and promise that came true on the First CHRISTmas…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.                                                                                                              Isaiah 9:6

Now, before I go, here’s that Top 10 CHRISTmas list that I promised you:

Top CHRISTmas Movies

All-time Top 10 CHRISTmas movies…let us know your favorites/what we left out?

  1. A Christmas Carol – starring Alastair Sims (1951)
  2. The Nativity (2006)
  3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (animated, 1965)
  4. Miracle on 34th Street (both versions, 1947/1994)
  5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (animated, 1966)
  6. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  7. A Christmas Story (1983) – this one is for my wife!
  8. The Santa Clause Trilogy (1994, 2002, 2006…so I’m stretching the list a bit…warned you about me and CHRISTmas)
  9. Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer (animated, 1964)
  10.  Christmas Vacation (1989)
  11.  Elf (just so several friends won’t get mad at me!?!) (2003)

Make it a great day and a very Merry CHRISTmas in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What are your favorite CHRISTmas memories?  Which memories are not so pleasant?  How have you chosen to view the memories and how has that affected you and your family? 

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Take some time throughout this CHRISTmas season (and beyond) to choose a memory or tradition that impacts you think about whether you need to let go of it or hold onto it in order to experience the love, joy and peace of CHRIST that is CHRISTmas.


Over the past couple of weeks we’ve highlighted a brief history of Thanksgiving as a holiday and what we can do to make the holidays more enjoyable…or maybe just less stressful. 

Thanksgiving (and Holidays) Can Really Stink

Some folks see Thanksgiving as follows:

“For those of you who cannot be with family this Thanksgiving, please resist the urge to brag.”  Andy Borowitz

“Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings, one by one, as each relative goes home.”   Melanie White

While these sentiments hit close to home for many, I’ve not met one single person who goes into the holidays saying, “Here comes another holiday season, I can’t wait to get completely stressed out, take it out on my family and friends then pack away the décor and pseudo-decorum for a year so we can miserably do it all again!” 

Thanksgiving: A Better Way

All of us desire to have wonderful holidays with pleasant memories that we can look forward to and pass on to our children and grandchildren.  So how do we do that?  I’m going to show you not only how you can do that but how you can continue with that same Spirit throughout each and every day, making your life much less stressed and your relationships much more fulfilling.

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” Gerald Good

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”  Maya Angelou

As we’ve declared in previous posts, Thanksgiving is not just a day or season but for it to be real it must be a continual, daily “Attitude of Gratitude.”  In other words, if you want the peace and contentment day-to-day in the midst of all the hassles and frustrations, ups and downs, you must learn to choose thankfulness in all things. 

“Yeah, right!”  I can hear you now, “You have no idea what my life or my family is like, what I’m going through!”  Well I probably don’t but I know Someone Who does and He cares deeply for you. 

Actually it’s not about giving thanks specifically for the burdens, trials and pains that you endure…it’s about trusting and knowing that God cares for you and is at work in every situation, good and bad, to bring about His will first and foremost for His Glory and, in line with His Glory, for your good!  It’s much greater than just what you face in the moment.  He sees the whole picture, has a much bigger plan and wants you to fully embrace it.  It’s the only way to know the peace, joy and love that you desperately seek.  It begins with giving thanks in all things!

If you choose to do so, by faith, you can learn to always give thanks for His Presence and work in your life, relationships and circumstances – Romans 8:28 (don’t read this from a selfish perspective as it will only make you less grateful).

Thanksgiving as an “Attitude of Gratitude” and “lifestyle of giving thanks” makes a tremendous positive difference for you and in all your relationships.

Here’s some quotes from others that have found this really works…

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”                                                Charles Dickens

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”  Willie Nelson

Thanksgiving for All of Life

I want to share with you one simple exercise that has helped me and many others develop a continually thankful heart.  It flows from all that you’ve read to this point.  You simply learn, and meditate on, the Names of God.  As you do so you will find that two things happen:  1) You begin to know and love Him much more intimately and; 2) You begin to recognize that your circumstances never change Him.  He’s always faithful and you can always give thanks for this Truth and for His work in your life. 

Following are just a few of the Names of God (some have detailed nearly 1000 names) showing His character and heart toward us as revealed in Scripture assuring us that no matter what was taking place, He remained constant and for that, above all else, we can choose to be grateful.  The following names are just a few from Scripture.  For these and more go to Bibliatodo:

Elohim – All-powerful, sovereign Creator in covenant relationship with us (Genesis 1:1-3; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 68; Mark 13:19; Colossians 1:15-20)

El Elyon – Lord Most High (Genesis 14:17-22; Psalms 78:35; Daniel 4:34; Acts 16:17)

El Shaddai – Almighty God (Genesis 17:1-3; 35:11; 48:3; 49:25; Psalms 90:2)

I AM/Immanuel – Personal God in Covenant Relationship with us (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 7:14; 8:8-10; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1, 14)

Jireh – Omniscient Provider, Deliverer, Savior (Genesis 22:8, 14; Psalms 23:1)

Rophe – Healer, Restorer, Sustainer (Exodus 15:25-27; Psalms 103:3; 147:3; 1 Peter 2:24)

Nissi – Banner of Strength, Conqueror, Victory (Exodus 17:15-16; Deuteronomy 20:3-4; Isaiah 11:10-12)

M’kaddesh – Holy God Who sanctifies you (Exodus 21:12-13; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Shalom – The Lord is Wholeness, Peace (not dependent on circumstances) (Numbers 6:26; Judges 6:22-24; Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 13:20)

Sabaoth – Lord/Commander of Hosts who battles for us (1 Samuel 1:3; 17:45; Psalms 46:7; Malachi 1:10-14; Romans 9:29)

Rohi – Shepherd who helps us – concern, care, provision, guidance (Psalms 23:1-3; Isaiah 53:6; John 10:14-18; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17)

Tsidkenu – Righteousness, Justice, Wisdom (Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

Shammah – Promised and ever-present help, security, protection, fellowship (Ezekiel 48:35; Psalms 46; Matthew 28:20)

He never changes and I can always count on Him.  When I learned to trust in Him, no matter what, everything in my life began to change. 

Remember, “God’s love and grace are every bit as evident in what He withholds as in what He provides.”  (Tweet this).

This takes faith but that’s what grows as we continue to know Him more and more…His love and grace are every bit as present and powerful in the struggles and in what He withholds from us and brings us through as they are in what He provides and does for us…He knows best and He’s always with us even when we can’t sense Him!  For this we can always be thankful.

Giving thanks in all things?  It’s easy when things are going my way, fun is being had by all and everyone loves everyone else…but how do we do it when feelings are hurt and folks have been betrayed, when we reap consequences of bad decisions that we made or that others have made that hurt us, when jobs are lost and even worse, loved ones are gone?  How do you give thanks then? 

We give thanks because above all else, God is God (see Names above).  Thanksgiving is an attitude and a lifestyle according to God’s Word that will make all the difference in your life and relationships! 

Choose today and every day to be thankful and have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What do you tend to give thanks for?  When everything is going your way?  When you have all you desire…at least in the moment?  What if giving thanks for everything at all times could completely change your attitude and life? 

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Today (and every day following);  Choose 1 Name of God listed above or in links and prayerfully focus on how you can be thankful to Him as He reveals Who He Is in your life;  Choose 1 blessing He has given you and give Him thanks; Choose 1 trial, pain or loss that you’re dealing with and equate it to His Name that assures you that He’s with you and give Him thanks.


If you have not yet done so check out the first post in this series, “Thanksgiving – A Day or a Lifestyle? It contains a brief history of Thanksgiving from the Israelites to the early Church, showing the gratitude that was continually given to God…2 Corinthians 4:14-15; 2 Corinthians 9:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 4:4-5.

An attitude of gratitude is what makes Thanksgiving, and all of life, special.   

Family time, great food and eating all you want, road trips, precious memories, warm hearts and hearths…. Or harried schedules, “burnt offerings,” and eating way too much, strained budgets, trying to please everyone, not-so-pleasant memories, broken homes and hearts and lost loved ones.  Which describes your Thanksgiving thoughts, memories and expectations?  Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Here are some quotes that represent both sides of Thanksgiving and the Holidays…

“He who thanks but with the lips thanks but in part; the full, the true Thanksgiving comes from the heart.”                                                       J.A. Shedd

“Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”  Anonymous

“You can never be really happy if you keep holding to those bad memories which make you sad.”                                                                                   Anurag Prakash Ray

One of my most memorable holidays was the Thanksgiving when I was 13 years old. I had a relapse of the flu and spent the entire holiday either on the couch or in bed while all my cousins played basketball, football, baseball and any other kind of “ball” that we knew. You can imagine how a 13-year-old loved being down the entire holiday and family time together!  I said memorable, not best! 

The other was an unseasonably warm CHRISTmas that we spent the entire time (except for the meal) playing outside in shorts and short sleeves!  It was AWESOME!

These were the best until I had my own family and began focusing on and finding ways to make Thanksgiving and holidays special for them.  It’s wonderful when we find out how much more satisfying it is to do all we can to make life good for others rather than just having others do so for us.

For me the holidays were all about extended family, fun, food, gifts, sports and generally good times counting our blessings and thanking The Lord for them!

Over the years I learned that things weren’t always as they seemed in our “perfect family” as financial struggles, health issues, divorce and broken homes became evident as well as the loss of loved ones.  Still, I’m so thankful for the efforts of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles to keep us coming together and sharing with each other. We still do to this day with over 60 in attendance last Thanksgiving!

These two questions will determine whether you can enjoy this Thanksgiving and all those yet to come.  What’s been your experience of the holiday?  How have you responded?  Pay special attention to the second one as it makes all the difference.

For those who don’t have pleasant memories or suffer the pain and sorrow of loss or brokenness that is magnified during the holidays, here are reminders from God in His Word to help you cope and find reasons for hope and to give thanks always to Him…Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 61:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Attitude has everything to do with what you get out of life, including the holidays! God’s Word put it this way, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).  Giving thanks not only gives us a better perspective but also reminds us that God is in control and we can count on Him no matter what.

Some things we can control and some we can’t.  Keep this in mind with the following Priorities and Tips to help you not just survive but thrive in the Holiday season…

Priorities in your life, marriage and relationships determine whether you follow through on tips or suggestion.  So here you go…

10 Priorities that make for a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry CHRISTmas

1) Seek The Lord first in your life, relationships and decisions

2) Choose an attitude of gratitude in all things

3) Forgiveness is mandatory for Christ followers

4) Take care of yourself

5) Put others above self and your marriage/immediate family above your extended/blended family

6) Honor your parents and extended/blended family

7) Budget within your income and stick with it

8) Plan your calendar/travel according to priorities with family and loved ones

9) Enjoy those you spend time with and don’t let others make you feel guilty

10) If you’re single consider what applies to you and be willing to honor your parents and family for their sake – remember others above self!

With these priorities guiding your decisions, here are ten tips that can make your Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas peaceful and enjoyable:

1) Spend a few minutes in God’s Word and take time to thank Him for at least one thing every day!

2) Pray for your family members and friends and forgive those who’ve wronged you – you’ll never be free to enjoy the holidays or life until you forgive others.  It’s hard to hold grudges against those you’re praying for.

3) Pray for your plans, budgets and schedules.  Placing all in God’s hands helps you make the best decisions and enjoy the season and those you share it with.

4) Be sure to maintain good exercise and rest – you need to be healthy in order to enjoy your family and for them to enjoy you. 

5) Don’t overdo it.  Schedule, prepare and travel so that you can enjoy the time and people you’ve planned for.  If you spread yourself too thin, everybody loses.

6) Budget for holiday spending and then stick with it.  Be sure to include food and travel costs in your budget, not just gifts.  Don’t try to impress or please others at the expense of your personal, financial and family well-being.   

7) Schedule and plan ahead of time and communicate with extended family the time you can spend with them.  Do your best, enjoy the time and don’t fret about what you can’t do.  Don’t add or let others add a “guilt trip” to your travel plans.

8) Alternate trips and time with families as needed between Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas and/or from year to year especially as miles and money are an issue.

9) Don’t COMPETE!  Your food, clothes, car and whatever else you’ve been blessed with are just that—a blessing through which you can bless others—not outdo them.

10) Enjoy those you spend time with!  Remember, people and relationships are most important.  You can’t please everyone so don’t try!

Our prayer at Love and Lordship is that we, individually and as spouses, families and Christ followers, would be able to show a hurting world that the Holidays and giving thanks are a reminder that no matter the circumstances, because of Christ, we can choose to “Rejoice always, give thanks in all things and pray without ceasing, for that is God’s will for us in Christ!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Here are a couple of articles that I pray will help you “recalibrate” and find ways to enjoy the holidays and even more so those that make them special…Christ, family, loved ones and friends.  Be sure to let all of them know you are thankful for them!

Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What dictates how you enjoy or avoid Thanksgiving?  What can you do to make these special times special again (or maybe for the first time)?  Prayer?  Priorities?  Planning?  Forgiveness?  Gratitude?

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Plan and budget what you can do this Thanksgiving and holiday season and follow through to bless your spouse and family without trying to please everyone or spreading yourself too thin.  Also, set yourself free by forgiving at least one person you need to forgive.  If you are willing, think of any and all you are holding grudges against and forgive them.