Christmas

...now browsing by category

 

#ChristmasChallenge#Post25

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

This will be my last #ChristmasChallenge post for this year. I thank each of you who have taken the time to drop by and read and even comment. Thanks for giving up some of your precious time to come to my world and spend a little time with me.

So…what could I do as the final post? That haunted me yesterday as I pondered it. I decided to do what we all need to do. Remember that old commercial when the telephone companies (when they still had phone books) would say, “Let your fingers do the walking?” Well…I’m going to allow the Scriptures to do the talking.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:6

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’ “ Mt.1:21-23

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.’ “ Luke 2:10-14

May the truth of Scripture fill your heart with that which God has promised: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE.

Thanks to Ed and Diane, my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post 24

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Several years ago I listened to Country Music. Let me restate that: over 20 years ago I listened to CM. No more. But one singer I did like also did a Christmas Album: Collin Raye. As I read a Christmas devotional this morning the writer mentioned the story of Christmas Eve 1914 when the guns fell silent on the battlefield. The story is told in various ways and lengths but the basic fact is this: for a few short hours guns were silent and men in battle laid aside their common hatred for the other and spent time together. Personally, knowing me, I would have had a really tough time picking up my weapon and firing it at someone I just spent time with.

Anyway, Collin Raye did a song on his Christmas album called It Could Happen Again. With the help of Johnny Cash’s narration, the song’s message stands strong: if it could happen then it could happen again. Please take a moment to listen to the song.

May you know the PEACE that the song speaks of but more than that, may you know the true PEACE Jesus gives.

Join my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post23

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

I read the following quote:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ  brings us to God.

Growing up you really only think of Christmas-besides the whole Santa Claus and gift thing-as the occasion to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We like the story of the baby in the manger. It fits our “meek and mild” picture of Jesus. It fits our Away in a Manger and Silent Night theme.

But as C.S.Lewis says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I just finished reading again), “There is deeper magic here.” What is seen on the surface is just that: the surface. There is so much more to see and learn. There is so much more at work than just the birth; there is also the vision of the cross. Without doubt Jesus came with the specter of the cross in His sights. Phil.2 even tells us that. Jesus reminded His disciples over and over that the Son of Man must suffer and die.  The cross of Christ is always there. It is through the cross, and the cross only, that we find our way to God. It is only through the blood of Jesus that salvation is found.

But it is through the birth of Jesus as a baby, as God made flesh, that it all begins.  The quote again:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ brings us to God.

“Father, thank you for that truth. May this Christmas season take on extra meaning because it is more than a baby in a manger. It is also that baby on a cross giving Himself up for us.”

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post22

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

What do these have in common? Tickle Me Elmo. Cabbage Patch Kids. Pound Puppies. Buzz Lightyear. Beanie Babies. Transformers. Wii.

In common? They are all part of the Christmas toy fads down through the years. (And there are more I could add. Google it). Just like the movie starring Arnold Schwarzennegger, Jingle All the Way, people get caught up in a craze and often go crazy trying to keep up with the latest.

The good thing about fads? They don’t last. Hooray!! Thankfully. Who could ever forget mood rings? Moon rocks? Furbies? Are you kidding me? But it’s true.

Fads don’t last. Aren’t you glad that the gift of Jesus as a baby is not just a fad? Somewhere I’m sure some one, some company, has tried or will try to capitalize on it, but the birth of Jesus in  a manger is not a fad. Despite His humble birth which many don’t understand, the event brings on a life-change that is hard to match. And it makes Christmas so much more meaningful as well. It truly is good news for all people. Not just some of the time. All the time.  It never gets old. Never wears out.

“Father, thank you that the story of Jesus is not a passing fad. It doesn’t go the way of all the toys. It is so much more. It is a gift for all time.”

Check out Diane’s #ChristmasChallenge post here.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post21

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

Tomorrow is our Christmas worship at another venue. For the past couple of years, our neighbors, Abram Farm, have offered us the use of their venue for our Christmas and Easter worship.  We like to be together at least on those two services and worship as one body in one place. Due the space limitations of our building, we appreciate the opportunity to be together. It takes an extra effort by many of our people to help us make it a good experience. We have to move our music equipment (drums, stands, keyboards, etc). We hire a local man who does sound stages all over the state to do our sound. He also has his own equipment which saves us having to cart ours over. We have to meet at 7:00 on Sunday morning to set up because she has a wedding Saturday night. We have to come back Sunday afternoon to put things away. The parking lot is a challenge so we shuttle folks from the church lot to the venue. Fortunately, our properties are right next to each other.  We are blessed that Bill & Suzie are such great neighbors. They offer us the use of their venue as a gift to us. WOW! After our first use of the venue for Easter several years ago we gave them a gift of money that blew them away. However, they told us the only way we could use the venue again was if we would accept it as a gift on their part. We accepted although this past summer we paid to have loads of gravel brought to their property for their road.  One of our men was gracious enough to do that.

Anyway, our worship will be at 10:00 so if you are thinking about it, I would appreciate your prayers. My message will be simple and will follow the theme I had developed for the month: Don’t Miss It! Tomorrow’s sermon will be called Don’t Miss Christmas! I’m using three example of people in the Bible who did. I cannot take credit for the thought. It came from John MacArthur’s book God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas. Here are the people I will be using and the reason they missed it:

  1. The Innkeeper- he was preoccupied.
  2. Herod- he lived in fear.
  3. The Religious Leaders- they missed it because of indifference.

There are more I could add, but the atmosphere will already be foreign and I prefer to “whet the appetite” for more than to go too long. The venue does not have childcare space so we make up one for the nursery. But the other young ones have to stay with the parents and that can be challenging.

Your prayers would be much appreciated for things to go well. But most importantly the gospel will be preached and hearts will be touched to not take Jesus’ birth for granted and to miss its message.

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post20

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Have you ever noticed how our view of something is determined by our perspective? What I mean by that is this example. Supposed you are driving a car toward an intersection. It is a 4-way stop and you know that because you have been here so many times. The corn is high and as you slow down you do not see the truck coming to your right. It is going way too fast and has no way of stopping in time. You stop then proceed and find yourself T-boned by the truck. Meanwhile, someone is in a helicopter above and sees the whole thing developing. The intersection. Your stop. The runaway truck. Their perspective gives them a totally different view of the developing disaster.

When Jesus was born the world was not the way God wanted it to be. Nor intended it to be.  The world Jesus entered was one of darkness and ugliness and sin. God knew what was needed. His perspective said, “My Son will come. Live. Die. Raise. All to save you.”

The interesting but sad thing is we think we know better.  Our view is skewed.  The Christmas season should remind us we are messed up and needed a Savior.

We are not the way we ought to be or the way God intended. But God is at work to transform us into becoming the way He wants us to be. The Christmas story is so much more than a baby in a manger. It is God’s way of reaching out to us to save us from ourselves and our sin.

“Father, thank you for having a different perspective than us. And because of that perspective we have been ‘reached out to’ in order for us to be transformed. Please do your work in me.”

Make sure you check out my other #ChristmasChallenge bloggers. Diane at Hadarah and Ed at WORD!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post19

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

One verse that may seem to have nothing or very little to do with Christmas has been one of my favorite verses for as long as I can remember. I have a plaque in my office with this verse on it. The verse is John 3:30. When John’s disciples are offended that Jesus is garnering more attention than John, he answers their statement with the words: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Other translations might say, “He must become greater; I must become less.” No matter how you shake it, they all the same thing: Jesus must become more; I must become less.

Can anyone think of a time in the Bible where the greatness of Jesus is seen any more than at His birth and at His death? Why? His greatness is shown by his humility. First, the whole reincarnation miracle (truth) blows me away. Second, to realize the humility He displayed for that to happen is mind-boggling! Sorta makes our petty jealousy and one-upmanship seem childish and silly. Here was the King of all laying down His pride, His status, His desire to display a humility that is unmatched. How can I insist that my agenda is the one that’s right? How can I insist that I do this or that? How can I be jealous when someone else gets to sing, play, speak, whatever and I don’t?  Christmas is a time for many things. It most certainly should be the time where we lay aside “us” and promote Him.  (You did notice the emphasis on the previous questions did you not?)

Humility-Jesus becoming greater and me becoming less-is where I need to be. It’s a trait that needs to be more common in my life. John 3:30 needs to be more than a verse in the Bible or on a plaque; it needs to be written on every page of my heart.

“Father, may You become more in my heart so there is less of me there. And may you become more in my thoughts and actions so people see less of me and more of you.”

Check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post18

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

There is no question to the “longer” readers of my blog that I like Tommy James.  He was my favorite when I was growing up and Crystal Blue Persuasion would be my #1 song of all time. (Jo knows if we are ever in a trivia game she has to answer this one right! 🙂   #2 would be Long Distance Runner by DeGarmo & Key and #3 would be Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli.  Call me old.  🙂  But I also like rock music-the 70s/80s/hair band kind. And I like what is called Melodic Metal. But I digress…like way off.

Every year I break out my I Love Christmas by Tommy James and will listen to it on repeat.  One of my favorite songs on the CD is this one.  All I have read and heard is that Tommy has come to embrace Jesus as his Savior many years ago and this song is meaningful to him.

So enjoy this divergent path for “ChristmasChallenge#Post18.

And while you are at it check out Diane’s newest post here.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post17

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

I am late to the #ChristmasChallenge today. But I have a good reason!

Yeah, we are the “fun recipients” of our second day of the Winter Wonderland.  Yesterday’s was about 5 inches, enough to cancel the local school system, but it was more slushy than anything. We got the second round yesterday afternoon, and then a third wave last night (but I was asleep so couldn’t prove it by me). Except…the shoveling of the walk and driveway and scraping of the truck at home, then getting here to the office and shoveling the walks and part of the parking lot for walking.  There is another leg to the walk off to the right. Since I am the first one here I usually do it and really don’t mind. (And, believe it or not, that walk was totally clear just 15 minutes before I started writing this post). Today is even more important because of what happens today.

Today…Diana (the church secretary/office manager) gets to distribute HOPE to bunches of families, especially kids. Every year OVCF, the church I pastor, has done our own version of the Angel Tree. Diana sort of spearheads that and we call it The Giving Tree. We ask people to submit names of families/kids whom they know need help this Christmas. We then put the names on a tree and ask our people to take them and buy what is listed. This year we blew away all previous years. OVCF (not the organization but the people) is providing Christmas HOPE to close to 40 people. Our previous high was about 26. We do children, but we also try to include the parents with gift cards or needed coats/gloves/boots and even food cards. One of our ladies works at the local bank and she and some of her coworkers  took some names and bought gifts for the tree.  It was wonderful helping to carry some of the bags to the tables where Diana will meet the parents and give them the gifts today, and some tonight. Unwrapped, but provided with wrapping paper so they can have that joy. (If you consider that fun) 🙂

HOPE is a companion to my last three posts: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. The story of Christmas-the story of Jesus’ birth-is a story of HOPE. Take that away and we have nothing. We can’t live without HOPE.  Our small token of hope-giving for the children and parents of people who have had a rough year pales in comparison to the HOPE given to us by a simple birth in a manger.

LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE. The four sorta go hand in hand don’t they? What gifts we have been given!! Give HOPE to someone today.

{And as a side light: can you now see why I am absolutely thrilled to be the pastor of these people? And what makes it even more incredible is some of the names were given after our deadline and except for about 2 or 3, all of them were taken and provided for by the people}.

Check out a fellow #ChristmasChallenge blogger here. This is short but poignant. Thanks Diane.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post16

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is considered by many to be America’s greatest poet.  He is quoted as once saying, “Believe me, every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.”  He was writing from experience.   A Hallmark movie his life was not!

He was married in 1831 and by 1834 had a wonderful wife, a dynamic reputation, and a house overlooking the Charles River.  He seemed to have it all, yet within a year of moving to that home in Massachusetts, his wife became ill and died.

It took him seven years before he recovered enough to marry again. With a new love, the good life returned to him. The Longfellows welcomed five children into their home. It was during this time that he wrote some of his greatest works- The Song of Hiawatha and The Courtship of Miles Standish, to name two. In 1861, at the height of his greatness, tragedy struck again. While lighting a match, his wife’s dress caught fire and she burned to death. Then before he could hit his stride, his faith was challenged by the American Civil War.

He hated the Civil War-it tore at his heart to see the land he loved, the United States, to be so fractured. Longfellow was an ardent believer in the power of God to move on earth, and he pleaded with God to end the madness. When his oldest son was injured during the war, while tending to his wounds and seeing others around him doing the same, his prayers turned to rage. He asked his friends, and his God, where is the peace? He took pen to paper and penned the refrain from the song we often hear at Christmas: “I heard the bells on Christmas day/Their old familiar carols play/And wild and sweet the words repeat/Of peace on earth good will to men…And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth I said/For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

I suspect if we are honest we have all asked the same question about peace and have stated it (perhaps without as much clarity). The angel’s announcement to the shepherds that night was “peace on earth among men on whom God is pleased.”  May we all come to know the peace He promises us.