For the last several decades, I have spent a great deal of time traveling—but the novelty of flying on airplanes wore off years ago. Now I consider flying the same way I do driving through Southern California rush hour traffic: a necessity of life.
Since 9/11, air travel has become more burdensome than ever. What used to take 20 minutes—getting into the airport, confirming your ticket, checking your luggage, and going to your gate—can now take as much as two hours depending on the airport, day of the week, and season of the year.
The changes in airport security have spawned a whole new industry: ways to help people travel light. In other words, the lighter you travel, the easier it is on you traveling through airports. Companies are teaching the traveling public how to “get there and back” with the least amount of hassle.
Traveling Light Through Life
There are lots of parallels between traveling light across the country and traveling light through life. Just managing all our “stuff” in this life can become a huge burden. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go all the way through life with nothing but a carry-on? If we could “lay aside every weight . . . which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1)?
I am going to tell you the secret to traveling light through this life. Here it is: This world is not your home. That’s it. Traveling light through this life is as simple as applying that profound truth. You’re only going to be on earth for a few years. And when you do get to heaven, you’ll get new stuff anyway. Whatever you collect here, you’ll have to leave behind.
Traveling Spiritually Light
I’m not suggesting that you sell everything except for food and clothing. What I’m suggesting is that we could live a lot more easily, flexibly, and responsively to God’s leading if we learned to be content with less, if we developed the skill of traveling light through this life.
Think of this life as just a weekend getaway compared to eternity. What necessities would you pack for a short trip away from your real home?
1. Clothes. God has promised to clothe us (Matthew 6:30). We are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). We are told to put on “the new man” (Ephesians 4:24) and the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).
2. Toiletries. Some things are necessary for daily maintenance, and we have been given plenty: prayer, meditation, Bible study, personal worship, service. We can be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
3. Reading material. This one is obvious—we have the Word of God to serve as a “lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105).
4. Money. With God owning everything in this world, it is no wonder He has promised to “supply all [our] need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
5. A way to record your experiences. A handwritten journal is a good way to create a “first-person” account of your spiritual journey: “It seemed good to me . . . to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3).
6. Food. Jesus Himself said that He was the “bread of life” and that those who come to Him “shall never hunger” (John 6:35).
7. Recreation. If we remember what Nehemiah said—“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)—then we will always be refreshed.
The Benefits of Traveling Light
The benefits of traveling light are the same in life as in airports: plenty of time for priorities, responsiveness to changes in direction, and extra resources to share with others. On the other hand, accumulating more stuff than we need—physically, mentally, or emotionally—will only bog us down and keep us from reaching our goals.
Are you going through life with steamer trunks and an entourage? Or have you learned to live out of a carry-on? If you are continually consumed with details about living in this world, perhaps a fresh look at “where you are going and why” is in order. When you answer those two questions, you’ll soon be traveling lighter.
I’ve never looked so out of shape—fat, bloated, heavy in the middle, legs like tree stumps, arms like sewer pipes. The next minute, I faced an opposite set of problems: I looked like a ten-foot pole with big feet. My kids laughed, and we all had fun in the hall of mirrors at the county fair. The thin, flexible mirrors, called distortion mirrors, were curved, twisted, and bent so as to warp the images and reflect a distorted sense of reality.
If you want to see real distortion, aim the mirror of our popular culture at the Christmas story in the Gospels. The “holidays” no longer reflect the true meaning of Christmas. John MacArthur, in his The Incarnation of the Triune God, wrote, “Christmas has really become a hopeless muddle of confusion. The humility and the poverty of the stable are somehow confused with the wealth and indulgence and selfishness of gift giving. The quietness of Bethlehem is mingled with the din of shopping malls and freeway traffic. The soberness of the Incarnation is somehow mixed with the drunkenness of this season.”
The paradox of Christmas is heard in the sounds—the honking of car horns, the jingling of bells, the laughing of children, the strains of the carolers, the “Ho, Ho, Ho” of department store Santas. It’s all a part of the frenzy of the season; yet the best Christmas moments are the quiet ones, and the best reflection of Christmas takes place in the mirror of our own hearts.
Have you ever celebrated a holiday named Memas?
Some people observe it every December 25. For them, the Christ of Christmas has been replaced by a Me-centered worldview. This is a celebrity generation in which everyone wants little flashes of fame and fortune. One of the reasons the average wedding costs $25,000 is because so many couples want to experience for at least a day the kind of endless glamour enjoyed by celebs.
Even Christmas has been affected; and if we aren’t careful, it becomes all about us—our schedules, our diets, our budgets, our wish lists, our time off, our vacation, our parking spaces, our gifts to enjoy or return.
I love the trappings of Christmas as much as anyone; but the truths of Christmas trump the trappings of Christmas, and too many people get trapped in the trappings and forget the truth. How can we enjoy Christmas if we’re the reason for the season?
In a sense, of course, Christmas is all about us. God loved us, became flesh for us, died to forgive us our sins, and rose to give us everlasting life. Christmas is the celebration of what Jesus did for us. But in return, we should make it all about Him: loving Him, serving Him, praising Him, and emulating His attitude of humility.
Here are three words to remember during December. You might write them on a piece of paper to keep in your pocket or purse through the holidays.Fear Knots
You know the feeling well. The hair on the back of your neck stands up. You get goose bumps on your arms. Your mouth feels like it’s full of cotton. Your palms are as damp as wet sponges. That’s what FEAR does!
You certainly felt it as a child. Fear and childhood go hand-in-hand, especially at night—monsters under the bed, strange noises in creaky houses, branches scraping against window screens. We’ve all been there and remember those feelings. But, as you and I know, fears don’t disappear when we grow older—they just change shapes and names. Adults wrestle with fears like heights, the dentist, and identity theft. Those fears keep adults up at night and even make people ask their doctors for something to “calm their nerves.” Fear is real and powerful.
Here’s what happens in a nanosecond: Our five senses send a message (“Danger!”) to the brain’s thalamus, which sends the message to the amygdala. The amygdala does two things: One, it sends a message to the prefrontal cortex (“Help!”), which initiates the “flight or fight” response. And two, the amygdala sends messages to glands to start releasing chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol (the STRESS hormone). Those chemicals raise our heartbeat and blood pressure so we’re ready for the choice: Flight or fight?
Of all people, Christians ought to be the most generous and enthusiastic givers. After all, God is the greatest giver who ever existed! Dr. David Jeremiah illustrates this truth with examples of the priceless treasure that God has given us. Discover why you really can’t outgive God.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah