Today’s broken culture leaves many men in a desperate fight for their lives during the holidays. When there’s supposed to be cheer in the air, warmth in our hearts and glad tidings on our lips, unfortunately the holidays also usher in the most dangerous time of the year.
Holidays can bring cherished moments with loved ones, special traditions and memories that last a lifetime. Holidays also bring an opportunity to bring hope to the hurting, love to the loveless and compassion to the lonely.
As we enter the holiday season, keep your eyes and heart open to the fact that many men need help, and need Jesus. Broken families can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. Financial pressures can undo our facades. Failed marriages and relationships can create discomfort and loneliness despite being surrounded by people. Men are like icebergs – you only see the tip. Below the waterlines this Holiday season are some sharks of the season that seek to devour them.
Although depression may occur at any time of the year, the stress and anxiety of the holiday season—from November through Valentine’s Day—may exacerbate a lack of fulfillment. One study showed the most common stressors were feelings of loneliness and "being without a family."
For many people, holidays are a painful reminder of what once was. This is especially true for people who have experienced a significant loss such as the death of a spouse or a break-up.
The season also brings the deadliest time of the year for the heart. According to one of “America’s Top Doctors” Dennis Goodman, more people will suffer a heart attack in the coming weeks than the rest of the year combined. Thousands of people will visit emergency rooms this season with arrhythmia -- often a warning sign of stroke or heart attack -- a diagnosis Dr. Goodman coined: “Holiday Heart” syndrome.
Many individuals suffering from the holiday blues will cope with the bottle or substance abuse. Research shows the holiday season is the most dangerous time of year for anyone trying to maintain sobriety from an addiction. And, more alcohol-related traffic fatalities are reported between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of year.
There is a significant uptick in suicide rates following Christmas—a 40 percent increase, according to one large Danish study. If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, call 911, immediately proceed to a hospital emergency room, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
There’s a new season coming. A season filled with hope, love and peace. If you, or another man, are at risk this year, take to heart these practical ways to get right and get ready for what can be the best holidays ever.
While holidays provide times to thank God, and celebrate Christ’s birth, so often we get caught up in the familiar patterns we’ve always followed. Turkeys, trees, trimmings. Cookies, cakes and gaining weight. That’s all ok. But I think many men just show up, instead of getting involved and taking the lead.
We all have holiday family traditions. Some are handed down, others are created by accident. Some traditions we’d rather never happened. But I think God’s man can play a greater role. What if we intentionally created a new tradition(s) that honored God and others -- and was fun to boot?
Here are a couple of traditions in the Luck family:
- We “Ding-Dong-Ditch” a single mom. That’s right, we ring the doorbell and run but not after leaving presents on her porch for her and each child that are age and gender specific. This combines dangerousness with goodness. My favorite Holiday giving moment. We save change all year, count it, go to the bank, get dollars, and my kids go shopping for others. Me and my son Ryan are NAVY SEALS on delivery, insertion, and extraction. HUGE fun.
- We keep a Christmas journal. There’s a picture each year, stories of presents, the names we have given our two Christmas trees, and other specific info related to that year’s X-mas festivities and happenings. It is a precious little book and my son has taken it on to be the family scribe with HONOR.
Holidays have treasured moments waiting to be opened, and I’m not talking about gifts wrapped under a tree. I’m talking about memories. Memories of togetherness, moments with meaning, memories that last. Let me encourage you to think and pray about trying something new this year. You don’t have to announce to the family, “We’re starting a new tradition.” As Nike would say, just do it.
Here are a few ideas for new traditions that honor God and others.
10 New Traditions Ideas:
I applaud broadcaster Craig James for airing his Christian view of marriage on national news. Unfortunately, his employer, Fox Sports didn’t share my praise, firing him immediately. Although this seems unfair, the fact is God’s men must expect persecution.
Although in the US, we don’t often see, hear or experience persecution because of our faith, Christians suffer around the world for believing in, and following, Jesus. Take a glance at www.persecution.org, and you’ll see examples daily.
Our enemy has tried to sabotage God’s plan from day one. Christians share a faith of love and hope, yet the world would rather trump that message with a self-absorbed, hedonistic, “you only live once” religion that accommodates everyone with a bland, empty faith. Instead of turning to God, the world wants to push Him away and punish those who follow His loving teaching.
It’s a weird irony, nevertheless, the Bible warns Christians several times to expect hard times.
In 2 Timothy 3:12 we read, “...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
In John 16:33 Jesus says point-blank “...In this world you will have trouble.” And, in the second half the verse, he gives God’s men the key to persevering under persecution, saying “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I believe God’s man will increasingly experience persecution. Here are a few tips on how to persevere:
- Mon Nov 11, 2013
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Greatness must involve victory over quality opposition or significant odds.
In the boxing world I have just described Manny Pacquiao. You don’t even have to love boxing to admire and respect this little man who packs a mighty punch. Manny Pacquiao has been appropriately labeled by fans of the sport, bloggers, sportswriters, and fellow boxers as the best “pound for pound” fighter in the modern era. In other words, as a boxer who has won titles in eight lighter weight divisions, he is never going to fight for the “heavyweight” championship of the world. That’s because he is five feet six inches and weighs in at a hundred and fifty pounds, all wet in his street clothes. He is not going to be remembered like a Muhammad Ali because his greatness in the sport is measured in different dimensions. These include: how many weight divisions he has won, the quality of his opponents, and his skills in the ring. I will never forget witnessing those skills for the first time. Hand speed. Power. Work rate. All masterful. You know a guy is great when you feel sorry for everyone he fights. In this way, a “pound for pound” fighter designation gives you the greater measure of the boxer. Measuring pound for pound puts smaller fighting men into the powerful categories right up there with the “heavyweights.”
Remember when wearing a pager was a hi-tech status symbol? But you had to have a quarter in your pocket so you could use a pay phone...Or when “sending a fax” was the fastest way to send documents? Then, computers and email took over. Soon, innovators combined the computer and phone, and voila, we have “smartphones.”
Technology is getting even smaller. I read recently, “smartwatches” are coming -- now we will literally be tied to our technology. And, the “Google Glass” will allow you to gaze through tech-filtered lenses accessing mobile computing with eye-tracking software.
Our technology era has even made getting to know God “easier” with online Bible versions and translations, new mobile applications of the Bible and teachers, and Christian movies and music are available to be downloaded. With all this technology and access to more material, you’d think God’s man would know the Word better than ever, right?
Unfortunately, despite unlimited access to all forms of the Word, one of the biggest weaknesses among God’s men is a lack of knowledge of God-breathed scripture: The Bible.
I believe there’s no replacement for the “technology” Jesus would use.