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What 500K Christmas lights on one house looks like

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Some of the over 500,000 Christmas lights displayed at the home of the Richards family of Canberra, Australia, claiming a new Guiness World Record for Christmas lights displayed (Credit: Guiness World Records)

{source}
<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/VmxWYuaG9e0?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}A man in Australia wanted to set a Guinness World Record for the most Christmas lights on a single house.  He took a week off work in October to start the project and has worked on it every weekend since.  Now it’s been unveiled—502,165 lights powered by more than 30 miles of wire.

To make an impact this holiday season, you need to be extravagant—a lesson retailers are learning.  Consider the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, complete with a VIP lounge for frequent shoppers, a meditation room, and (my favorite) a “gentleman’s room” with a TV showing sports all the time.  High-end malls are thriving while run-of-the-mill malls are in trouble.

So is television.  Ratings are down while Facebook and Google are about to overtake television in audience size.  We spend more of our time watching video on mobile devices and less watching it on TV.  This means we spend more of our time watching video by ourselves and less watching it with family and friends.

You’ve just recovered from Black Friday sales (which aren’t actually sales, as it turns out, but “discounts” from prices that were inflated so they could be reduced).  Advent began yesterday and the monsoon that is the Christmas rush has started.  Hollywood calls this “the most wonderful time of the year.”  How can it be so for you?

You can define success by how much your decorations impress others.  You can seek out the latest shopping fads.  You can watch the shows of the season by yourself on your mobile device.  You can take time off (though the average length of an American vacation is now 2.3 days, while you need at least six consecutive days to relieve stress).

Or you can turn holidays into holy days—not by retreating from the season but by redeeming it.  Paul instructed us not to “leave this world” but to remain pure in it (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).  That’s what Jesus did on the first Christmas: he who was “in very nature God” chose to be “made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7).  St. Augustine noted, “He was created of a mother whom He created.  He was carried by hands that He formed.”  John Donne adds, “‘Twas much, that man was made like God before, but that God should be like man, much more.”

As Advent begins, let’s resolve to give Jesus what he wants for Christmas: loving service in his name.  When beleaguered salespeople and jostling shoppers mistreat you, respond with compassion and intercession as you remember to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).  When politically correct people wish you “Happy Holidays,” smile and reply, “Merry Christmas and God bless you!” as you remember that “whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).  When you have opportunity to donate to those in need, give generously as you remember that “whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

The next person you meet is your next opportunity to “shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16).  Will your neighbors see the stars on your house or the “bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16) in your heart?

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