Tag Archives: Christmas

When Christmas Isn’t Like the Songs


When Christmas

It’s going to be about 65 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Oklahoma this Christmas. This is certainly not the “baby it’s cold outside” weather of the Christmas songs I’ve been overdosing on. Matter of fact, it’s only about 10 degrees difference than my in-laws will experience in Nairobi, Kenya and they’re in summer months!

While I might join Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and “dream of a white Christmas”, unless I hop on a plane for Canada, I can keep dreaming.

Sometimes it seems like all of life is speaking its desires and ambitions over you and they feel like ideal dreams. I even laughed out loud today thinking about those fancy car Christmas commercials where the car has a big new beautiful bow on the driveway and the spouse is elated! If I was that wife whose husband bought an expensive car causing us to go into debt and without discussing it with me first, I wouldn’t think it was the best thing ever! I’d have to hold up fingers in front of his face to make sure he knew how many fingers were there and wasn’t suffering from a concussion or something.

The reality is we are constantly inundated with advertisements and song tells us the expectations we should have of the Christmas season. Every one is showing some type of perfect family scenario, receiving ideal gifts, and dashing through the snow. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is an upbeat song you can’t help but sing along to, yet many people don’t see this as “the most wonderful time of the year”. The holiday season can amplify pain and grief people are experiencing and many see no possibility of hope.

Around the time that Jesus was born, circumstances were anything but “jolly” and “wonderful” both for Mary and Joseph and the Jewish people. They were crying out for a Savior to deliver them from oppression from the Roman government and bring them hope. God’s voice had been silent for 400 years. The world seemed dark, weighty, and evil abounded. Many thought that God had forgotten them, that He must be done with them, and that they’d have to suffer forever. They felt as if the promises of the Messiah were in vain and that He’d never come.

BUT God sent His only Son and shattered the silence! God released living hope into the world and named Him Emmanuel. There is no way that the first Christmas is anything close to “O Holy Night” or “Silent Night” even though those are beautiful songs that make me cry. Even the best Christmas productions, which also make me cry, can’t capture the true glory and splendor of what took place. A host of heavenly angels proclaimed,” Glory to God in the highest! Peace on Earth! Goodwill to men!” Shepherds, the lowliest of people came to the place of Jesus’ birth showing that the poorest and unlikely of people are welcome in His presence. It was beyond magnificent! Yet Jesus was also born in the most unlikely and less than ideal circumstances. Even the first Christmas came with uncertainty and holding onto God’s word and promises.

“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”

Emmanuel means “God is with us”. Once He came as a baby, He was among us and even after His death, resurrection, and ascent, He sent His Holy Spirit to come to us when we accept Him. So rejoice in this news today! You might not have a winter wonderland and might feel weighed down with grief and sorrow of this past year which is unlike many Christmas songs. Yet there are songs of joy, of hope for your redemption, that can take you back to a place of adoration of Jesus like the shepherds would’ve had. Let this serve as a reminder that no one is truly alone this Christmas season if you just believe.

In your last-minute hustle and bustle, reach out to those who come to mind and who you know have been hurting. Offer them the eternal hope that comes with Christmas!

Merry Christmas and God Bless from Stephen and I!

The 23 Questions of Making Room for Jesus Blog

23 Questions from the book, The Revival We Need, by Oswald J. Smith

1.Have we forgiven everyone? Is there any malice, spite, hatred or enmity in our hearts? Do we cherish grudges; and have we refused to be reconciled?

2.Do we get angry? Are there any uprisings within? Is it true that we still lose our temper? Does wrath hold us at times in its grip

3.Is there any feeling of jealousy? When another is preferred before us, does it make us envious and uncomfortable? Do we get jealous of those who can pray, speak and do things better than we can?

4.Do we get impatient and irritated? Do little things vex and annoy? Or are we sweet, calm and unruffled under all circumstances?

5.Are we offended easily? When people fail to notice us and pass by without speaking, does it hurt? If others are made much of and we are neglected, how do we feel about it?

6.Is there any pride in our hearts? Are we puffed up? Do we think a great deal of our own position and attainments?

7.Have we been dishonest? Is our business open and above reproach? Do we give a yard for a yard and a pound for a pound?

8.Have we been gossiping about people? Do we slander the character of others? Are we talebearers and busybodies?

9.Do we criticize unlovingly, harshly, severely? Are we always finding fault and looking for the flaws in others?

10.Do we rob God? Have we stolen time that belongs to Him? Has our money been withheld?

11.Are we worldly? Do we pursue the pleasures, glitter, pomp, and show of this life?

12.Have we stolen? Do we take little things that do not belong to us?

13.Do we harbor a spirit of bitterness towards others? Is there hatred in our hearts?

14.Are our lives filled with lightness and frivolity? Is our conduct unseemly? Would the world by our actions consider us on its side?

15.Have we wronged anyone and failed to make restitution? Or, has the spirit of Zacchaeus possessed us? Have we restored the many little things that God has shown us?

16.Are we worried or anxious? Do we fail to trust God for our temporal and spiritual needs? Are we continually crossing bridges before we come to them?

17.Are we guilty of lustful thoughts? Do we allow our minds to harbor an impure and unholy imagination?

18.Are we true in our statements, or do we exaggerate and thus convey false impressions? Have we lied?

19.Are we guilty of the sin of unbelief? In spite of all He has done for us, do we still refuse to believe the promises of His Word?

20.Have we committed the sin of prayerlessness? Are we intercessors? Do we pray? How much time are we spending on our knees? Have we crowded prayer out of our lives?

21.Are we neglecting God’s Word? How many chapters do we read each day? Are we Bible students? Do we draw our source of supply from the Scriptures?

22.Have we failed to confess Christ openly? Are we ashamed of Jesus? Do we keep our mouths closed when we are surrounded by worldly circumstances? Are we witnessing daily?

23.Are we burdened for the salvation of souls? Have we a love for the lost? Is there any compassion in our hearts for those who are perishing?

Making Room for Jesus-Question #21

Are we neglecting God’s Word? How many chapters do we read each day? Are we Bible students? Do we draw our source of supply from the Scriptures?
All over Tulsa right now there are broken tree limbs everywhere. We had an ice storm a couple of days ago and it left quite a wake. Last night Stephen and I could hear limbs breaking off while sitting in our neighborhood. Earlier this year in April, we had strong wind gusts that had the same effect of ice and trees were destroyed everywhere.
These incidents made me think about the scriptures in the book of John Chapter 15 where Jesus talked about abiding in the Word. Let’s take a look at this passage and keep in mind today’s question.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

His desire for us abiding in His word is that we might know Him and remain in Him. Let’s cut off those things that don’t produce fruit for our Savior and let’s make room for His word in our lives.


  1. Have you found a way to best draw life from scriptures? Do you find that you prefer devotionals or a Bible reading plan? Do commentaries help you? Whatever works best for you, stick to that and make sure that the word of God is before you.
  2. Have you memorized scriptures? It is critical that we know and speak the word. What we are filled with will come out when we are in need of an answer. Begin by picking out a scripture that applies to your current situation. Maybe it is from today’s question and you want to abide more. John 15:9 is a great start.
  3. Are we waiting for someone else to feed us the Word or are we diligently feeding ourselves?
Proverbs 4:22 Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’


Making Room for Jesus-Question #20

Have we committed the sin of prayerlessness? Are we intercessors? Do we pray? How much time are we spending on our knees? Have we crowded prayer out of our lives?
Ok my knees are all red from being on them today, but not from what you might think. I wish it was because I was praying fervently for you reading this ;), but I was helping a friend pack up some picture frames and was on my knees a lot.
While it is not the posture (on your knees, standing, etc.) or the length that is the main point, prayerlessness is a real problem in our hearts. I realize our lives are busy and full of commitments, but have we neglected our continual communion and conversation with God? Do we first turn to others or social media to ask questions, voice prayer requests and complain? Are we someone that people come to when they need agreement in their faith? Are we faithful to pray for someone when we gave our word that we would? How much time are we spending worrying and trying to fix problems instead of praying about them (see Question #19 on unbelief)?
God wants to continually talk to you. Yes, every moment of every day in every situation. This most often looks and feels very different than an interaction with another human. There are sometimes impressions in your heart, soft knowing deep within and the gentle rebuke of His spirit. Many people tell me they don’t have time for prayer and feel like they can’t hear from God. My response is to begin the dialogue walking across your college campus, in your car, the shower…etc. So my suggestion is to stop reading this blog and pray! ;-) Unless of course you need to read the catch up from yesterday on unbelief.
  1. Set a measurable time goal to pray everyday. This way you make it a habit and a constant thing in your routine.
  2. Think of someone to pray for specifically. You may even contact them and ask what you could pray for them for specifically. See the scripture below from 1 Samuel and how our prayers effect others.
  3. Begin different times of communication with God. Sing to Him, write in journals. Take scriptures and pray them out.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

1 Samuel 12:23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.

John 14:13-14

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #19

QUESTION #19 Are we guilty of the sin of unbelief? In spite of all He has done for us, do we still refuse to believe the promises of His Word?
Yes, yes I am! I can’t tell you how much particularly in this season, I’ve doubted, forgotten what He has already done in and through my life, and withheld faith for what is to come. I’m just being honest to help some of you out there because despite my feelings and short comings with my faith, He is still faithful.
Have you ever played a “magic” trick with a child or done an illusion? The response of little ones when they see something they can’t comprehend is priceless!  Often simply hiding something behind your back so that in their understanding it “disappeared” leaves them giggling upon the item’s reappearance. There is much awe and wonder with children. Things even seem more magical around this Christmas season. Maybe it was intended to be that way and we’ve made it about other things. Maybe God wants us to be be reminded of who He is this time of year and His faithfulness. 
I often picture God seeing us as we might see a little child. He does things that at times maybe only He understands and knows. We often don’t understand and we sometimes figuratively speaking look behind His back to see if He’s withholding from us. The truth is that He is not withholding any good thing from us and we can all make more room in our hearts for faith.
  1. Confess your sin of unbelief out loud to God. Ask Him to help your doubts.
  2. Find 5 scriptures on faith and search out specific promises related to your specific need and situation.
Acts 3:16 Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.

 1John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Making Room for Jesus- Question # 18

Are we true in our statements, or do we exaggerate and thus convey false impressions? Have we lied?

Today my physical therapist was telling me of a story of watching a couple work out at her gym. They agreed on a time goal for a particular exercise and began reps. By the end, the girl was so determined to finish the allotted time that she kept doing reps but was in very poor form. My PT then commented how it would have been better for her to have done less time with reps in a correct form to avoid messing her body up in the long run.

Often we think that if we exaggerate or fabricate things that are small, then they are insignificant. The reality is that like the girl doing reps, those small things we do with “wrong form” can cause serious altercations as time goes on. The same analogy applies when you think of flying an airplane. Imagine a plane taking off from Tulsa, Oklahoma and heading to Chicago, Illinois that starts 1 degree off course at the beginning. It stays on this path as it journeys East until what was once 1 degree is now so many miles that it lands in New York City. (Now mathematicians and pilots don’t calculate my silly analogy—math isn’t my strength ;) ) Really though, go with me on this. The person who gives false impressions in their speech and lives may start off small, but every lie is eroding their character. No longer will people trust them when they do reveal their real selves.

Truth is either truth or it isn’t. Profound statement right? ;) What I intended to convey from that is half truths or partial truths aren’t full truths. If we are to walk in the truth of God’s word, we must walk in truth. This needs to manifest in our speech, our actions, our relationships and all aspects of life. If we have a habit of lying, it must be put away so that truth may exude from our lives.

1. Are we true to ourselves? Beyond our interactions externally, are we living with truth of who we are?

2. What insecurities are the root cause behind your exaggerations?

Jesus says in the Gospels many times, “I tell you the truth”. While this is not a phrase we commonly use today, Jesus said this to emphasize that He was not lying.

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

Ephesians 4:25Therefore, putting away lying, “ Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #17


Are we guilty of lustful thoughts? Do we allow our minds to harbor an impure and unholy imagination?

We, both Stephen and I (Bailey) will be commenting on today’s question. I’ll go first. I was your typical MTV generation kid where it literally controlled my life and dictated what was cool and unpopular. Just a note to parents, MTV is not just music videos. Matter of fact there was a showed called Undressed, which was exactly that without painting a detailed picture. Also there was a show on there that taught people how to masturbate. Hello open doors to lust. That culture combined with other sources really painted an impure thought life and skewed view of holiness. I know those details are really direct, but this was 15 years ago before smart phones, and unlimited internet access. There is a war raging for our hearts in purity and we must set boundaries if we are to avoid the enemies’ traps. 
One example that I have often used to illustrate setting boundaries against lust is the following story. A man goes to his pastor and says, “Pastor, please pray for me. I keep going to the beach and my flesh is so weak. I’m being tempted to commit sexual sin and I am fantasizing looking at all of the women.” The Pastor replies, “Son, you’re not weak, you’re stupid.” Many of us are trying to get as close to the flame as possible and don’t understand why we are getting burned. I’ve worked with many young people who have come to me with situations similar to this. I’m not saying they’re stupid, but they do need to avoid certain people and situations that could lead down the path of impurity. 
Not that one sin is greater than the other, but the destruction and defilment that comes from all kinds of sexual sin is often difficult to repair. The good news is that Jesus can heal, deliver and restore because he LOVES us. He doesn’t lust after us and use us. We’ve both seen this struggle to be sexually pure end in glorious freedom in Christ numerous times. 
We got married when Stephen was 33 years old and I was 26. While it was not always an easy fight to remain pure, it was so worth it for us to have both saved ourselves for marriage. Above that, it’s beyond worth it to have purity and holiness in our marriage.  Set boundaries, seek Jesus to be the center of your lives, and pray for your spouse or your future spouse in this area. 
  1. Have you set boundaries against lust in your life? Do you need to set more? Who knows the websites you’re looking at? 
  2. Is there lust in your heart that maybe you’re not acting upon? The enemy doesn’t mind waiting to expose our sin. Maybe you’re not looking at porn or masturbating now, but if you don’t uproot the lust in your heart, it could be exposed in a moment of weakness. 
  3. If you currently are in sexual sin in any way, I encourage you that you’re not alone and there can be victory. There is grace in Jesus to free us from our sins and make us new. Please find someone that you trust and is mature in the Lord to confide in. If you don’t know someone, seek out an established local church and ask for counsel. I always encourage people to find a Christian church where they are excited about Jesus and use the word of God. 
There are A LOT on this topic—please look into the word more for clarity on this topic.
Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Romans 1:24-25 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #16


Are we worried or anxious? Do we fail to trust God for our temporal and spiritual needs? Are we continually crossing bridges before we come to them?

Hello my name is Bailey and I like planning. I like planning and I don’t like things to change off of that plan. I like planning and I don’t like things to be complicated when there is a simpler way to get something done. I like planning (am I being redundant yet?!) and I don’t like trusting God at times. ::wipes brow:: ok, there! I said it! Sometimes I would rather plan ahead and make and then cross a bridge before God ever asks me to cross them. 
When you like to plan, it’s very easy to think ahead and dwell on the “what ifs” of life.  I don’t mean catrostiphying everything, but simply making preparations “just in case”. I like to have my own little back up plan just in case God needs my help…you know…;) 
I often think that I can even meet spiritual needs by doing things in my own strength and then I find I’m dry and empty. He alone is the one who fulfills me. I think about this time of year and all of the prophesies concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. There were many events and people that fell into place for this miracle to confirm scripture. Did you know about 300 scriptures were fulfilled in His lifetime? That took unbelievable planning! The odds of any other man fulfilling a virgin birth let alone a combination of any other prophesies about the Son of God are nearly impossible! 
If God can take full measures to plan and foretell of His Son’s life and coming return, this should allow us to trust that He does all things well.
  1. Our worries and anxieties come from a lack of trust. Do we believe that He loves us and has the best for us? If not, what are these areas of doubt?
  2. What are the needs we have right now? Christmas time seems to reveal real need in people’s lives, but what a perfect time to allow Jesus to come into our hearts. Confess these things to Him and allow your hearts to receive all He has for you.
Philippians 4:6-7  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Making Room for Jesus-Question #15

Have we wronged anyone and failed to make restitution? Or, has the spirit of Zacchaeus possessed us? Have we restored the many little things that God has shown us?

Real repentance manifests in our actions. In the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector found in Luke 19, he gives half of his possessions to the pour and realized he had wrongs that he needed to make right. In a moment of encountering the presence of Jesus, his unresolved issues were exposed and dealt with.

It’s far easier to justify our wrongs towards others instead of asking Jesus what He truly thinks about them. There are little promptings that Jesus will instruct us to do if we listen and obey Him. Next time you feel God give you a little nudge to make something right, partner with Him and allow Him to shine through you to others.

In discussing scriptures with Stephen he mentioned “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” I said, “that’s the golden rule…not a scripture!” To which he rattled off Luke 6:31…and jokingly said, “I’ll accept restitution”. Touche Mr. NIV bible, my NKJV doesn’t say it like that so I didn’t know :) Living breathing example right here folks ;) Onto applying and finding scriptures….!

1. Do we wait for our sins to be exposed before we make restitution with others?
2. Are we willing to go above and beyond to make right any wrong?
3. How do you think Jesus feels about us straining relationships in our life?


Matthew 5:38-39 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

Making Room for Jesus– Question #14

Are our lives filled with lightness and frivolity? Is our conduct unseemly? Would the world by our actions consider us on its side?

On my 15th birthday, I was taken by some upper classmates to celebrate my birthday “in style”. They purchased some items such as a 7up bottle, a watermelon, and some canned dough to make rolls. They proceeded to climb to the top of a parking garage and throw these items off the edge and onto the pavement walkway below….! Yes, I realize this was vandalism and no I didn’t know Jesus at the time, nor did these people. While it seemed in that moment to be a thrill and fun, I had never done anything like that before and felt so bad. So much for celebrating my 15th birthday!

I share this story because I’ve heard my fair share of frivolous jokes and pranks made by Christians that often don’t vary too far from this story. It may seem funny in the moment and not harmful, but the truth is that we certainly could be hurting someone by our actions and we are definitely ruining our witness. I’m not saying that we can’t have fun and laugh with people, but when our posture is to not take into the consideration the feelings of others it’s not pleasing to Jesus.

What’s the worst is that a frivolous heart can’t take the things of God seriously. If we want a tender heart we can’t take our Lord lightly. If we treat our walk with Him as insignificant, we won’t truly known Him and thus miss out on what He desires to give to us.

1. Do we take the Word of God seriously? What in our lives proves this to be true?

2. Do we laugh at things that don’t honor God and His heart? Are we entertaining ourselves with things that heaven is not laughing or entertaining?


But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. (Colossians 3:8 NKJV)

neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:4 NKJV)