A DIY Guide for the Perfect Gift: No More Blue Christmas

♪♪ Let’s pray Oh, God, how do those words go? Be near me, Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay close by me forever and watch me I pray In this season, that’s our prayer Just stay with us, please Just stay with us It’s a crazy world out there But You’re on the throne Make it clear what we’re about to hear together in the word of God we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen So, the title of the homily as we wrap up this DIY series — What’s DIY stand for? Do it yourself So we’re doing this kind of a Gen Z do-it-yourself series this fall And the last title here you see it on the screen, “A DIY Guide for the Perfect Gift: No More Blue Christmas.” You ever hear the Christmas carol ♪ I’ll have a blue I sang it to my senior engineering student here at Andrews University, PowerPoint producer, yesterday He said “I have never heard that carol at all.” So most of you haven’t heard it, probably But anyway, it turns out — So here’s the deal Turns out these blue Christmases, they’re not an anomaly at all Guess what? I want you to read the words of a mental health specialist who works at Fresno Pacific University Her name is Lisa Keith She wrote these words just a few days ago Put them on the screen for you There you see it “‘Blue Christmas’ is more than a holiday song Blue Christmas, sometimes also called the Longest Night.” Now, I never knew that So that was new “‘Blue Christmas,’ also called the Longest Night, is a day in the Advent season” — alright, the season of Christmas — “usually December 21 or 22.” Well, we remember those dates because it’s the beginning of what? It’s the beginning of winter But it’s the longest darkness in the entire calendar of the human race “Marking the lengthiest night of the year.” “On this day, some churches hold a service that recognizes that the holidays are sometimes ‘blue’ or sad.” We’re not holding a service, but we are spending a moment in this homily considering that Now, she goes on. Watch this “You might be having a ‘blue’ Christmas because you are away from family,” and in Andrews University, there are people, lots of people who are away from family You may be away from them all through this holiday Now, you might be having a blue Christmas because you’re — Look at the next one You are alone Or you may be having a blue Christmas this year because you’re dealing with illness or death Or you may be having a blue Christmas this year because you are filled with thoughts of happier times, Christmases long ago What she has just recognized are the universal mental health triggers that produce this blue funk we know as depression And she’s right You may never have experienced depression in your life And some of you might say, “Man, this mental health emphasis, we’re sure not into that I’m doing just fine.” I’m telling you what, out of the blue — Pardon the pun Out of the blue, it can come, and Christmas can be that trigger for that despair, that sense of anxiety, that sense of fear Depression Listen, Gen Z-ers, you know this statistically Everybody is telling us about you, that you’ve got it But the truth of the matter is we all struggle with this I’m read a book right now written by a rabbi His name is Joshua Liebman It’s a best-seller It was a best-seller Title of the book, “Peace of Mind.” It was number — Listen to this It was number one on the New York Times best-seller list for 58 weeks Wow In 1946 Yeah I’m just getting caught up on some books Actually, I read this book a long time ago, and then somebody mentioned it I went online and found a PDF, and so I have the book on my phone and I read it in my spare time This rabbi is bright I’ll put some words on the screen from Joshua Liebman You see them there No study guide today So there are the words “Our susceptibility to anxiety is the soul of our human growth, our human dream, and vision.” Guess what — we are all susceptible to anxiety That’s the point he’s making Keep reading “It is merely the conspiracy of silence about our deepest inner feelings” — “I’m not telling anybody what I’m going through That’s the problem with us By the way, Gen Z-ers have found the solution to that The rest of us are just keeping it bottled in “It is merely the conspiracy of silence about our deepest inner feelings, our habit of hiding behind the masks of convention” — “Hey, how you doing?” “Fine, thank you. And you? And you? How are you?” “Fine, thank you Couldn’t be better.” Mask, mask, mask Not true, not true, not true He says “That’s what prevents –” Keep reading “What prevents us from recognizing –” I thought this was insightful “The universal brotherhood of anxiety which binds the whole

human race together.” The universal sisterhood binds us all together There’s no way Gen Z-ers have a corner on this Every one of us experiences anxiety Every one of us knows fear And every one of us has tasted of that depressive spirit The universal brotherhood or sisterhood of anxiety with the human race Guess what — We’re all in this thing together So what’s this business, right, about no more blue Christmas? Is there any way to take it away? Oh, great question Truth of the matter is I want to suggest to you that there is a gift that you can get this Christmas — I’m serious There’s a gift that you can get that can take away — take away — put mileage, let’s put it that way It’ll put mileage between you and your mental health distress, miles between my mental health distress and me The gift is clued big time in the Christmas story I want you to open your Bible, please, with me to Luke chapter 1 Luke has the most detailed pre and Christmas and post story in all the New Testament So, go to Luke chapter 1, because the clue is right here, and you need to know this She is a Gen Z-er I’m just telling you, she — if she were alive today, she would be a Gen Z-er Why? Because Gen Z is between the age of 13 and 24 She’s right there In fact, Karen and I were reading a book last night for worship One author suggesting she was either 12, 13, or 14 — right there “Who you talking about, Dwight?” I’m talking about this little Gen Z-er who ends up being the star of the Christmas story, almost There was a bigger star Take a look at Luke chapter 1 Let’s check this one out Verse 26. I’m in the NIV “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy –” so, that’s John the Baptist’s mother, alright? — in the sixth month of her pregnancy, “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David The virgin’s name was Mary.” here’s that little teen “The Angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'” Wow. Isn’t that incredible? I mean, can you believe this? Somehow, you can be between the ages of 13 and 24, and you can be a teen and it could be said of you, “You are highly favored, and the Lord is with you.” I’m telling you, if you fall into that age bracket, don’t you ever back off the thought that God has something big for you to do Come on, look what he did with that little girl She had no clue this was going to be her lot in life Alright, got to keep reading Read verse 29 And Mary — okay, this little teen — and, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” I mean, why wouldn’t she be troubled? Come on Number one, the angel has just showed up in your bedroom [ Light laughter ] That would scare you And number two, teens are used to be called — used to being called everything by family and friends, but nobody’s ever come along and called me “highly favored of God.” [ Sighs ] I’m telling you Don’t you sell yourself short God has something big for you You just wait and see Okay, pick it up, verse 30 “But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid.'” I love that Gabriel Wherever he shows up in the New Testament, his opening words are, “Do not be afraid.” It must have been — Hey, we got a Gabriel right here [ Light laughter ] It must have been, Gabe — It must have been, there was something about Gabriel’s [Sighs] person Pshhh! You know, and there’s light, and everybody’s petrified Yeah, “Don’t — Hey — Hey, girl — teen, don’t be afraid.” “Don’t be afraid, Mary You have found favor with God You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; and His kingdom will never end.'” “My Lord, you are talking about the Messiah I am going to give birth to Him? That’s impossible I’ve never had sex with anybody.” Now, I need to hit the “pause” button right here, because you and I live in such a crazy culture, with upside-down morals that there are actually — get this — there are actually some young men — there are some teens — there are some women — young women — who because all their friends are having sex, feel like they’re weird And the friends who know that they’re still virgins kind of titter and taunt Unbelievable I’m telling you what, girl Don’t you give in that sweet-talking I’m telling you what, boy Those false eyelashes — don’t you let them get your heart [ Laughter ] Don’t believe it Don’t believe it, because you know what? Listen, listen, listen God can do business —

big business — with people who are walking down his designated pathway Don’t you ever let — Now, how does that song go? “Don’t you let nobody turn you ’round.” Hold that ground, girl Hold their ground God has something big for you He’ll honor you Yeah, you’ll get the last laugh Verse 34 And Mary said — “‘How will this be,’ she asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?'” And the angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'” Wow. Did you catch that? “The Holy Spirit will come into you, and your life is going to forever be changed infinitely for the better.” It was that way for Mary And guess what It’s going to be that way for you Same Holy Spirit You’re not going to believe how he rearranges the landscape if you’ll just let him So, that gift we’re talking about, that can chase the blues, I’m going to suggest to you that that gift is the Holy Spirit Himself I want you to think about that gift for a moment I want you to think about the Holy Spirit We need to go to one of the great Christmas shopping stores on the planet Put Macy’s on the screen Okay, there’s Macy’s This is the big — This is — This is the — the mother of Macy’s stores We have one down in South Bend, but this is Macy’s You and I are going into Macy’s tonight together, you and me Okay, so, we go into the door We go into the door And as soon as you get in, you know, Macy’s, they always put the perfume counter right there So there’s this — this lovely young attendant, she’s standing by a little table off to the side a little bit There are two gifts, nicely wrapped, on her table She sees us coming in, and she says, “Hey, yo, come over here we’ve got something for you.” “Oh, really?” So, we walk over, you and I, and we look at that She says, “Listen, this is the Christmas season, and we have a gift for you You may have this gift.” And she points at one box “Or you may have this gift Now, to make it easy, I’m going to show you what’s inside both boxes.” And I look at you and I wink, and I say, “Man, that’s the way I like it, when you know what you’re asking for, before you ask.” So she opens the first box “[ Gasps ] Whoo! I’m telling you what I have seen these I have seen these advertised in those flight magazines that are targeting rich readers I have seen these handcrafted, European with every gadget on them — wristwatches Thousands of bucks Just saw one last week in Prague for like — for $8,000 Wow And I’d love to own one of those.” Said, “Or — Listen, you can have this box, or you can have this box.” And so she opens the other box, and inside the other box is a little card that’s been engraved And inscribed on the card are these words “The bearer of this card is entitled to the entire inventory of this Macy’s department store Signed by the chairman of the board for macys.inc.” So, she asks — She asks you and me — she says, “Hey, listen, which one — which one do you want?” Now, I’m with you, and I can tell by looking at you, you are a lot faster than me And I’m having a hard time with this one So I drop my voice, because I don’t want this woman to think I’m making a fool out of myself And I say, “Listen, psst-psst-psst-psst psst-psst Did I hear this right? I can have that beautifully exquisite European wristwatch right now?” And you nod at me “Oh.” But I can also have, if I wish, the entire store of goods and goodies, which, of course, would include the European wristwatch, right now?” You nod again I say, “Man, this is a tough choice What am I going to do?” You’re looking at me and saying, “You nincompoop.” [ Laughter ] Take the one gift that brings every other gift with it.” No Ah, good counsel A century ago, in a little book called “My Life Today,” these words were written I put them on the screen for you Dyn-o-mite On the screen, “With the reception of this gift –” the author has just been talking about the Holy Spirit “With the reception of this gift, all other gifts would be ours.” Mercy. Keep reading “For we are to have this gift according to the plenitude of the riches of the grace of Christ.” Mercy. Keep reading “And he is ready to supply every soul –” your soul and my soul — “according to our capacity to receive.” Listen, folks, whatever is — whatever is wrapped up in this capital-G gift called the Holy Spirit, this much we know right now, from what we have just read When you receive this gift — the gift of the Holy Spirit — when you receive this gift,

you get every other gift, from the rich storehouse of Christ Jesus, in the universe It’s all yours. You have it all So, the big question is, “Do you want the watch, or do you want the whole store, including the watch?” That is, like, not even a question Now, now that you’ve agreed with me, hold on Don’t go anywhere now, because, come on, that means that if we will ask for this capital-G gift of Christmas, called the Holy Spirit — the gifts of the Spirit, which includes all of the gifts, wouldn’t it follow that some of those other gifts could be God’s gift to me to deal with my mental-health despair right now? Surely, if he says, “Every gift you have, is you have the gift of the Holy Spirit, surely there’s a gift somewhere in there that will help me, what I’m going through right now Right? You say, “Well, Dwight, I don’t know I’m not sure Oh, come on.” Think of — I’m going to give you 10 of the gifts — 10 of the gifts in that storehouse These are 10 of them There’ll be a hundred more where these came from, okay? I’m going to put them on the screen for you, so you can just see them in and register them in your brain Here they go. Gift number 1 Not in any particular order The gift of peace. For what? For our fear Well, that’s a good one I’ll take that one The gift of hope for our anxiety Well, I don’t mind that one either Number 3, the gift of trust and faith for our depression Ooh, I could use that Number 4, the gift of forgiveness for our guilt There are people all over the — all over this planet that are dying physically and mentally because they don’t have forgiveness setting them free Huh Number 5, the gift of purity and cleansing for our impurity Number 6, the gift of self-control for our runaway appetite Number 7, the gift of humility for our oversized ego Number 8, the gift of courage for our timidity Number 9, the gift of power for our weakness Number 10, the gift of discernment for our uncertainty And guess what There are a hundred more where those 10 just came from Surely, one of those gifts would bless my life, your life in the midst of this mental-health despair that we are experiencing Surely there’s a gift for me and a gift for you Only if you ask for the one gift Ask for the one, you get them all I know what some of you are thinking “This is really preposterous I mean, come on One gift gives all the other gifts? Who came up with that little fairy tale?” Oh! I don’t think it’s a fairy tale at all Once upon a time, the Almighty God looked down, and there was a young, young brand-newly crowned king, and God showed up to this king in a dream He said, “Hey, boy. Yo, Solomon Ask me for a gift, I’ll give it to you.” And Solomon, in that dream, he thinks, And he looks up into the Almighty’s space, and he says, “I want the gift of your wisdom, so that I might, as a child, lead your people.” And the Almighty God smiles down on that slumbering young boy, and He says, “You know what? I love you Because you’ve asked for the one gift of wisdom, I’m going to give you the riches, I’m going to give you the fame, I’m going to give you the power, I’m going to give you the dominion you didn’t ask for, just because you asked for the right gift.” Was it preposterous for God to make one gift the giving of all other gifts? Apparently, it’s not preposterous to God He can do whatever he wants to do One gift — capital-G — brings every other gift with it Gifts to deal with my mental-health issues right now Gifts to deal with your mental-health issues right now as we’re speaking Man, read it again Verse 35 Isn’t that something? The angel said to little Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Isn’t that amazing? When the Holy Spirit comes into you, what grows inside of you is Jesus Himself Quite literally, with Mary, when the Holy Spirit came into her, what began to grow inside of her was the Lord Jesus Himself Quite personally, with you and me, when the Holy Spirit comes — comes into you and me, what grows inside of you and me is Jesus Himself Until — Until — Until — Listen to this — Until you are — you are so filled with Jesus that you’re going to birth Jesus in your social circles where you hang out

“What do you mean, ‘birth Jesus’?” Well, he’s just going to come out of you [ Chuckling ] He’s coming out of you Because you got filled You’re going to birth Jesus in those executive — in those executive suites where you work You’re going to birth Jesus there, and he’s — Jesus is going to come out, and he’s going to be what they need, too When the Holy Spirit comes into you, Jesus grows inside of you until you birth Him in a dark world that desperately needs Him right now It’s not an anomaly It’s not some little fake Christmas fairy tale The daily gift of the Holy Spirit, that’s why it is so critical Now, look, some of us are struggling “Come on, get back to this ‘Blue Christmas’ stuff, Dwight.” Some of us here are struggling Some of us watching right now on livestream, wherever you are, some of us are struggling right now with mental-health issues big-time There’s a generation that is struggling right now Yeah, listen, I understand that This Jesus — you know, this Jesus that you birth — isn’t He the one that speaks to our anxieties? What did He say in the Sermon on the Mount? Come on, put the Sermon on the Mount — Matthew chapter 6 What did Jesus say about our anxieties, please? “Do not worry, or be anxious, about your life.” “But seek first My kingdom I’ll take care of you I’ll give everything else to you You just seek. Seek me.” So, He says, I can deal with your anxieties How about our fears? Just before He is executed, what is Jesus saying? Put that on the screen “Let not your heart be troubled Neither let it be afraid.” “Trust in me I’ll take care of you You don’t have to be afraid Those fears do not paralyze you Do you understand? I’ve already conquered those fears.” “Well, yeah, but what about my depression, Lord? What about…” The same night Put these words on the screen “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you.” Every other gift comes with this, asking for the Holy Spirit The one big gift Which is why we don’t need a DIY Come on, we don’t need a DIY list today, no You know what we need? We need a DIY prayer You pray this prayer Here’s the deal You pray this prayer every morning You mean every word, and you’ve got it every day for the New Year I promise you I’m going to give you a prayer now I’m going to ask you please to memorize it There is no study guide Just lock this in your brain You got a bright mind You’ll hang on to this Let’s put the prayer on the screen, please Here’s the prayer. So simple “Dear Jesus, please fill me with Your healing Holy Spirit today Amen.” Now, look, I understand about depression Some depressions are chemically induced They’re caused by chemical imbalances, and the only way they can be dealt with is by dealing with a chemical imbalance The chemical imbalance can be dealt with sometimes as simply as through sunlight, as we’re now learning It can be dealt with through drugs, as we well know It can even be dealt with through diet I had a young woman who might be sitting in this service right here I don’t know But she came up to me She came up to me and she said, “You know what? I have gone through major, major depression And they tried everything — counseling this, medicine this, everything, everything And then somebody came along to me one day and said, ‘Have you tried chia seeds?'” Chia seeds. Yeah, omega-3 She said, “I took chia seeds, and the depression has never returned.” I can’t verify the veracity of that I’m not a doctor Listen, the whole point right here is, pray the prayer and then swallow the pills It’s okay. That’s the point It’s okay to have pills It is not a denial of faith Do you know who invented those pills? Do you know invented medical science? Guess what. Jesus invented it The Great Physician He said, “Swallow these pills Keep praying to me But swallow It’s okay.” Somebody will say, “Well, I really shouldn’t.” No, here’s what I’m telling you The Holy Spirit — The Holy Spirit Himself is absolutely brilliant He knows exactly how you’re wired He knows exactly how to lead you down a path that will bring you what your heart wants from Him most He’s brilliant Jesus is all-powerful Now, here’s what happens These two team up, and they have people working for them And if you go and talk to those people that work for them, those people — because sometimes the truth of the matter is, it’s not drugs you need, it’s not diet you need, it’s just the — the

thought processes mentally and emotionally need to get readjusted And somebody listening in can say, “That’s it, right there.” But no matter what avenue is chosen, the Great Physician and the Holy Spirit Wow Let’s — Let’s look at that prayer again, in closing here Please put the prayer up one more time “Dear Jesus, please fill me with Your healing Holy Spirit today Amen.” Okay, let’s repeat it out loud together Come on, let’s just pray this prayer right now, out loud together “Dear Jesus, please fill me with Your healing Holy Spirit today Amen.” Please take that off the screen What’s that prayer?” “Dear Jesus, please fill me with Your healing Holy Spirit today Amen.” You go! You got it You’ll never forget that prayer [ Chuckling ] It’s so simple But with that capital-G gift, you get every other gift that you’re needing But you got to ask You got to pray And he’s ready And that mental-health despair? That mental-health despair starts getting dealt with right now and right here [ “The First Noel” begins ] What is it about the holiday season that has given you the greatest joy? Is it the time spent cutting down the family Christmas tree at the local farm? Or maybe a special ornament placed on that lighted bough? Or do you find joy in contemplating the profound meaning of the carols we sing? Maybe Christmas joy is found in the memories you make together with friends and family, and the spirit of giving that surrounds this season As we reflect on these joys, let’s always remember the great light who guides us, the one who brings joy and meaning to life, a loving Father who is at the heart of all treasured relationships, and the wonderful God who gave the ultimate gift in a newborn child Some of my joy this season comes in part from your letters, your prayers, and your faithful giving of support to this ministry which reaches literally around the world If you’ve been blessed this year, I’d like to ask you to join the many people who financially support this global New Perceptions ministry It’s simple to do Just call our toll-free number, 877– two words — HIS-WILL Our friendly operators will be happy to help you You can also click the “donate” link at the top of our website Trust me, no gift is too small for God to use to spread the good news of His love, His sacrifice, and His future plans for our happiness Every gift, by the way, is entirely invested in our mission to communicate God’s good news to a generation who needs the hope found in Jesus, which will bring them to joy in life So, once again, the number to call is 877-HIS-WILL This season, my wish for you is that the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace will be at the heart of the very best memories made together with your family and friends ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Piano plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪