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Ron Edmondson

  • 10 Ways to Overcome a Sense of Christmas Loss

    Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But, for some people, Christmas can be a miserable time. Many have lost a loved one, suffered the end of a significant relationship, or even had a severe personal loss of income or health and Christmas is a just another reminder of what they no longer have. If we aren’t careful, the joy of Christmas is covered over with the emotions of loss, and rather than appreciating what we have or looking forward to what’s to come, we find ourselves in Christmas misery.

    In a recent Christmas message, I shared some suggestions for dealing with the emotions of Christmas loss. I consulted with two professional Christian counselors in our church Jennifer Degler and Elizabeth Ellis. With their advice and some of my own, I’m offering some practical ways to overcome that sense of Christmas loss.

    Ideally, Christ is the answer (and in the message I make that clear). Apart from Christ there is no Christmas and there is no peace. These are not designed to take the place of that truth, but rather to give some practical things to help you deal with loss at Christmas.

    Here are 10 ways to overcome a sense of Christmas loss:

    List your losses – Death, divorce, injury, finances… children moved out this year… whatever they are… write them down. I’ve personally found journaling to be helpful. Admit the pain… write them down.

    Share them – Certainly with God, but with a close friend or with people who have experienced your loss. Don’t be ashamed to see a professional counselor. Find support in a Bible study group or prayer group. We were designed for community, especially for times like this.

    Grieve the loss – Every loss must be grieved. The intensity of the grief may be determined by the intensity of the loss. Some form of depression is a normal response to grief. We’ve almost created a culture where we think suffering is abnormal. Don’t be afraid to grieve… even publicly at times. It’s okay to be human.

    Resist falling into despair – That’s where you live in a false reality that all hope is gone. It’s not. By the way, you don’t do that by ignoring them.

    Take care of your physical body- Eat well, exercise, and get adequate rest. It’s more important during a sense of loss.

    Be aware of negative thinking – Catch the negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are positive and true. See Philippians 4:8.

    Do something for someone else – There are many opportunities during the holidays to help people. Helping other people reminds us that loss is universal and that other people are struggling with you.

    Force yourself to participate in social activities – You won’t feel like it, but social support is critical in recovering from loss. No one benefits by becoming a recluse. In fact, you actually increase the likelihood you will become clinically depressed.

    Avoid the comparison game – Don’t compare your losses to other people’s losses. Significant loss naturally makes us focus inward, but that never works. And it’s dangerous.

    Honor you losses with new traditions – Begin some new family rituals that will help you reflect on the good things you experienced with the person you have lost or will help you remember happier days to come.

    I shared one more suggestion, one I believe is the most powerful of all, in the Christmas message. It’s this: We have to learn to worship in tears. Obviously, Christ is the peace of Christmas, and He can fill your brokenness. You can trust Him. This Christmas, let the Christ of Christmas fill the void and loss you have in your heart and life.

    You can find all my messages on my Vimeo page at vimeo.com/ronedmondson. This message is titled Obstacles to Christmas Joy: Loss.


    Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about

  • 7 Suggestions to Have the Best Christmas Ever

    It’s Christmastime again. Seems to come every year about this time. The most wonderful time of the year.

    There’ll be parties for hosting
    Marshmallows for toasting
    And caroling out in the snow
    There’ll be scary ghost stories
    And tales of the glories
    Of Christmases long, long ago
    It’s the most wonderful time of the year

    (That could almost be a song. Wait a minute—I think it is.)

    But, if you’re like many of us, Christmas will be over before you took time to enjoy it. You might even get past Christmas, realize how fast it passed, and so you set some new year’s resolutions to slow down and—maybe—enjoy Christmas more next year.

    What if you could do that this year? Why not? Sounds like a good goal to me. Enjoy the celebration of Christmas. The birth of our Savior. Relish the time with family. Savor every moment.

    Here are 7 suggestions to make this the best Christmas ever:

    Set a limit on expenditures. Something happens when Christmas becomes more about the value of the gifts than the value of the season. More, more, more only produces energy in a direction that can never really be sustained. (Read Ecclesiastes 5:10) Start with a budget. Be realistic. Stop comparing. One problem for many of us is that we are trying to compete with everyone else. Obviously, if you have more money you can spend more money (and less—less). But make it your goal to invest more in people this year than in things you can buy. And don’t feel obligated or pressured to buy gifts you can’t afford for people. It will only be a temporary satisfaction and produce a lot of guilt in the new year when you see those credit card bills start arriving in the mail. (And, usually, the guilt starts as soon as the cashier hands you the receipt or you push the purchase button online.)

    Set boundaries in relationships. This is especially true for younger couples and families, but really for most of us. You can feel pressured by extended family and friends to be a dozen different places. Remember, you aren’t responsible for pleasing everyone; in fact—you can’t. It’s impossible. (Some have a harder time with that than others.) Don’t let everyone else determine your Christmas schedule. You may have to have some difficult, but direct, conversations with relatives or friends. Again, be realistic. You can’t be everywhere. There are some places you can’t (or shouldn’t) avoid, but, as much as possible, control your schedule rather than having it controlled by others.

    Plan and prioritize your time. This is similar, but also includes how we spend our own time at Christmas. There are usually more demands for our time than time for our demands. Just as you did in creating a money budget, create a time budget. Set aside some time for you to celebrate Christmas as an immediate family—or in a way where you best celebrate. Then build around that time. It’s okay to say no. (Do you need to read that sentence again?) If you don’t, you’ll run out of time before you feel you ever really celebrated. It’s hard, but again, you’re trying to actually celebrate Christmas—the birth of baby Jesus. That’s hard to do when you have lost all control of your time.

    Lower your expectations. That you have on others and on yourself. Sometimes we set very unrealistic expectations on what others will buy or how they will respond to what we buy. We look for the “perfect” gift—to give or receive—and our enjoyment of Christmas is based on that search—rather than the real joy of the season. We also set unrealistic expectations on relationships. We watch too many Hallmark Christmas movies where everything works out in the end to the perfect holiday celebration, and when it doesn’t happen at our house quite like that, we get disappointed. Remember, we aren’t characters in a movie. We are characters in real life. Real life is almost never perfect. Learn to enjoy your celebration with all the quirkiness that makes your family unique from every other family. (Because ever family is quirky in some way—in real life.)

    Practice health disciplines. Sometimes in the name of “celebrating” we over do it only to have guilt about it later. Don’t overeat or over-indulge. You will occasionally—it’s part of the season—but be reasonable. Keep exercising. Sample rather than eat full portions. You’ll feel better and have fewer regrets after the holidays have ended.

    Serve others. Find and establish a Christmas tradition of service. Whether it’s serving at a food kitchen, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, or just picking up trash along the side of the road, you’ll better appreciate Christmas when you serve. The real meaning of Christmas is based around serving others. The baby born at Christmas came to be a servant. The best way to celebrate His birth is to give back expecting nothing in return. You’ll be the bigger recipient when you do.

    Remember the reason for the season. Yeah, I saved the best and most important for last. On purpose. It’s simple—even cliché. But it’s true and it’s powerful—if you do it genuinely. In the midst of the madness, rediscover the miracle of Christmas. A Savior—who is Christ the Lord—has been born to you. Establish a tradition that helps you best identify with the true meaning of Christmas. You could take time to explore a character of the Christmas story you’ve not considered previously. Research elements of the setting and culture. Read the major passages in Matthew and Luke repeatedly through the season. Listen to only Christmas music. Attend special Christmas services. Whatever works for you. Be intentional to practice celebrating the real joy of Christmas.

    Not all of these will apply to everyone, but my guess is if there are a couple here you need to work on—to better celebrate Christmas—you already knew it. As we begin the rush of the Christmas season, pause right now, take a few deep breaths, and let’s make this the best Christmas ever. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.


    Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about

  • 5 Tips for Amateur Pray-ers Like Me

    Lord, teach us to pray…

    (Luke 11:1)

    I don’t know about you, but I feel like the disciples. I am still learning to pray. The fact is I have more knowledge of prayer than I have substance and practice of prayer.

    Just being honest.

    Here are 5 suggestions for amateur pray-ers… like me:

    Be respectful – You’re talking to the Creator God. He is worthy of all our praise. He’s the Holy Father. He puts stars in the sky. At the same time, He paints the belly of a Lady Bug. Never take for granted the privilege of prayer.

    Be yourself – Along with being respectful, it is important to be who you are. Don’t attempt to make your words pretty as much as you attempt to make your heart pure. Just as you want your children to be respectful, yet still be themselves, I am convinced God wants that for His children. We are told to call Him “Daddy” (Abba). He wants us to fall in the comfy chair of home in His presence.

    Be honest – God knows already, yet He loves to hear His children talk. Just like we do as parents. He wants to know what’s on our mind. We can tell Him if we are angry and still be respectful. Speak truthful when talking to God.

    Be open to His voice – Spend intentional time listening, with your Bible open. God most often speaks through the already written Word. But He also speaks through the still small voice like the gentle breeze. Over time… and with lots of practice… you’ll begin to know and hear His voice.

    Be consistent – Pray as much as you want and need God’s involvement in your life. How much is that? For me, that’s fairly constant. I pray far less than the need I have for Him. Have a daily routine. Start a prayer list. Do it daily. But mostly, do it as a part of lifestyle more than a part of routine. It’s a relationship. And He’s always with you, so take advantage of the closeness you can have through Christ. If you’re sitting at a stop light… pray. If you think of a friend… pray. If you begin to worry… pray. It can be a paragraph, sentence, or a couple words. (I’ve prayed “Help me God!” many times.) Don’t overcomplicate it. Just pray. Talk to God. What a privilege that I can encourage you in this way (Hebrews 4:16).

    Of course, all this begins with a simple belief in Christ as your Savior. That is what makes you His child. If you’ve never believed in the One whom lived, died, and rose again three days later… begin there.

    What tips do you have for us amateur prayers?


    Ron Edmondson serves as the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about

  • 7 Thoughts for More Effective Prayer

    Hezekiah ruled over Judah and was a good and faithful king.

    Hezekiah often became the target of warring nations. The king of Assyria, which was a much more powerful nation, made plans to overthrow Hezekiah’s kingdom. Throughout the stressful time in leadership, Hezekiah consistently used the same battle plan.

    He went before the Lord in prayer—and—he followed the Lord’s commands.

    Hezekiah relied on prayer to rule his life. This king knew how to pray and he prayed in a way that got results.

    At one point, the Assyrian king launched a huge smear campaign against Hezekiah with his own people. It scared Hezekiah’s people.

    Hezekiah heard about the threat and went before the Lord. God assured Hezekiah everything would be okay, but the Assyrians wouldn’t let up their verbal assaults. They kept taunting the kingdom of Hezekiah, throwing threats towards Hezekiah. Finally, they sent a letter by messenger to Hezekiah, which basically said, “The Assyrians are tough, and they are coming for you next.”

    It was a credible, realistic threat. In a practical sense, Hezekiah had reason to be afraid.

    What do you do when you are backed into a corner as a leader and you’re about to face something bigger than your ability to handle?

    Well, Hezekiah received the letter with all the threats and began to pray.

    We find this account in 2 Kings 19:14–19.

    What can we learn from listening in as Hezekiah prayed?

    Here are 7 Thoughts for More Effective Prayer from a Stressed Out Leader Named Hezekiah:

    Hezekiah got alone with God. There is corporate prayer like we do at church, and there is prayer where a few are gathered. But probably some of the most effective prayer time of your life will be the time you invest alone with God.

    Hezekiah’s prayer was immediate. His prayer wasn’t an afterthought. It was prior to making his plans. We are so geared to react as leaders that it’s hard for us to go first to God. He may be second or third or first when we are backed into a corner and have no choice, but we need to develop a discipline and habit to make God the first place we turn in our lives. Like Hezekiah.

    Hezekiah’s prayer was open and honest. Hezekiah was transparent before the Lord. I love the imagery here in this prayer story of Hezekiah. He took the letter, went to the house of the Lord, and spread it out before Him. I get this visual image of Hezekiah, and this letter—laying it there on the table, and saying, “Okay, God, what now? What do I do next? What’s my first move?”

    Are you in a tough spot right now? You may just need to get you some note cards—write down all the things you are struggling with—lay them out on a table and say, “Okay, God, here are my struggles. I can’t do anything about them. What now?”

    Writing your prayer requests before God is a great idea for 2 reasons.

    a. It helps you remember to pray for them.

    b. It helps you to watch as God answers. We get more answers than we realize if we only ask.

    Hezekiah’s prayer was honoring, humble, and respectful of who God is. Hezekiah knew his place as king—and he knew God’s place in the Kingdom. Hezekiah was king of a nation and that is an important job, yet Hezekiah willingly humbled himself in prayer, because he knew his place before the King of kings.

    Hezekiah’s prayer was bold. He said, “Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD….” Hezekiah had the kind of relationship with God where it wasn’t a surprise when Hezekiah showed up to pray. They talked frequently; probably throughout the day. Because of that relationship, Hezekiah didn’t wonder if God would be there when he came before Him. He knew he could ask God to act on his behalf.

    The more you grow in your relationship with God, the bolder your prayers can become, because the more your heart will begin to line up with God’s heart.

    Hezekiah’s prayer was dependent. In verses 17–18 he prays, “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.” Hezekiah knew he was out of his league facing the Assyrians. From the way I see that Hezekiah responded to life, however, I don’t think it mattered the size of the battle. Hezekiah was going to depend on God. Every time. In every situation.

    Hezekiah’s prayer was certain. Because it was based on his personal faith and trust in God. In verse 19, Hezekiah prayed, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

    Hezekiah had a faith in God that allowed him to pray with confidence. You need to understand that faith is always based on the promises of God. Some things God has promised to do—and some He hasn’t. God has promised to always get glory for Himself and always work things for an ultimate good. He hasn’t promised to rid everyone of cancer or to heal every bad relationship. Or settle every leadership issue we face.

    (That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for everything. We don’t know His will, but we can’t guarantee God to do that which He hasn’t promised to do.) Sometimes we get upset because God doesn’t do something we asked or wanted Him to do, but the fact is He had never promised to do it.

    Hezekiah knew God had promised to save His people. He knew God had placed him in the position of authority over them. He had confidence that God would do what He had promised to do. Hezekiah trusted God to be faithful to His word so he was willing to act in faith.

    What situations are you dealing with today that you know you are helpless to do on your own and you desperately desire God’s answer?

    Are you a stressed out leader?

    Get alone with God, spread your problems out before Him honestly, humbly, and boldly; then, allow His will to be done, as you wait for His response.


    Ron Edmondson pastors Immanuel Baptist Church. Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about

  • About Ron Edmondson

    Ron Edmondson serves as the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, and has an impressive history of church planting and church growth. A nationally known Christian leader, he was raised in a Christian home and active in his home church, First Baptist Church of Clarksville, Tennessee, serving as a lay leader, deacon, Sunday School director, and teacher. After twenty years in business, including time owning an insurance agency and a small manufacturing company, Ron heard God’s call to ministry.

    A lifelong student of the Bible, Ron’s strong theological background guides him to teach faithfully from Scripture. Ron identifies himself as a wisdom seeker and a teacher.

    Find out more at: http://www.ronedmondson.com/about