Like a city whose walls are broken through
    is a person who lacks self-control. (Prov. 25:28)

This is a great line to consider as we enter December the month of cheese, wine, chocolate, and any number of temptations, at least in my blessed middle-class house.

Every year, and more and more as I get older and my metabolism slows, this season can be a bit of a battle to not overindulge and find myself paying for it later with slow mornings, struggling to match the energy of the kids who call me dad, and making sure my clothes still fit. You know the deal, we can only eat and drink and be merry so much before we have a problem.

By myself I am like a ship lost at sea amidst the many temptations and social pressures. Left to myself, I will fail, drink too much, eat too much, sleep too little, the whole nine yards. 

As my grandmother would say in the face of adversity “luckily…”

Luckily we made it through…

Luckily everyone was alright…

Luckily we had the money to…

Mostly when she said “luckily” she was talking about something most of would not ascribe to luck but to some result of her and my grandpa’s hard work and diligence and planning, but she saw it as luck, as blessing. We can learn a lot from this.

Today I am starting to understand her. 

When it comes to self-control the “self” part is a misnomer, it is the work of the Holy Spirit when I manage to avoid the plate of cookies. It is grace that I enjoy running, it is grace that my wife loves me, it is grace that my kids want to play with me.

If I replace “luckily” with “the Holy Spirit at work” everything starts to add up better for me.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit when a fight is avoided in a healthy way. 

It is the work of the Holy Spirit when my family gets along.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit when someone confuses something painful.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit when I bounce out of bed for a run using a body capable of doing so and enjoying the act.

It is grace to have found a new running buddy who joins me in the dark wee hours.

Powered by God, is the only way to success in this. Without God, at least for me, the house falls apart and by house I mean a lot more than the pile of bricks my family calls home.

Over the season of advent and then Christmas any successes we have will hopefully lead us to declare the glory of God. 

Will our success lead us to a posture of gratitude? 

If someone asks us why we decline will we say, holiness? 

If gains are being made in this life (whatever they may be) will we attribute them to God or make some other explanation whether humble or not?

This season let those who have had a good year not boast, and if they do may they boast in the Lord and the Lord’s work in their lives, and offer hope to those who are struggling. 

May the Holy Spirit be with you all,

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