Who is this JESUS who we celebrate as the Reason for the Season??
In Chemistry, He is the One who turned water into wine.
In Biology, He was born without normal conception.
In Physics, He defied the law of gravity when He walked on water and later ascended into Heaven.
In Economics, He disproved the law of diminishing returns when He fed 5,000 men with 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread.
In Medicine, He cured the sick and healed the blind without administering a single dose of medicine.
In History, He is the beginning and the End.
In Government, He is the Prince of Peace.
In Religion, He said that no one comes to the Father except by Him.
And...that's not all!! He is infinitely more....
is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End! He is the
keeper of Creation and the Creator of all! He is Architect of the
universe and the Manager of all times. He always was, He always
is, and He always will be... Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and
never Undone! He was bruised and brought healing! He was
pierced and eased pain! He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life! He is risen and brings power!
He reigns and brings Peace! The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him, The schools can't explain Him,
and The leaders can't ignore Him. Herod couldn't kill Him,
The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, and The people couldn't
hold Him! Nero couldn't crush Him, Hitler couldn't silence
Him, The New Age can't replace Him, and Donahue can't explain
Him away! He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is
goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God. He is Holy, Righteous,
mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His word is
eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me! He is
my redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide, and He is my peace!
He has invested more in me than anyone else ever could or
ever will~ He is my Joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord, and He
rules my life! If all others forsake me... He will be here!
I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light,
and His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He is
the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of
days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer
of the overcomers, and the sovereign Lord of all that was and
is and is to come. And if that seems impressive to you, try this
for size. His goal is a relationship with ME! He will
never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me, never forget
me, never overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His
appointment book! When I fall, He lifts me up! When I fail,
He forgives! When I am weak, He is strong! When I am lost, He
is the way! When I am afraid, He is my courage! When I
stumble, He steadies me! When I am hurt, He heals me! When I
am broken, He mends me! When I am blind, He leads me! When I
am hungry, He feeds me! When I face trials, He is with me! When
I face persecution, He shields me! When I face problems, He
comforts me! When I face loss, He provides for me! When I
face Death, He carries me Home! He is everything for everybody,
everywhere, every time, and every way. He is God, He is
faithful. I am His, and He is mine! My Father in heaven can
whip the father of this world. So, if you're wondering why I
feel so secure, understand this... He said it and that
settles it. God is in control, I am on His side, and that means
all is well with my soul. Everyday is a blessing for GOD Is!
Because He is, I am! ---author unknown
JESUS IS the reason for the CHRISTmas season..........BUT that is not all.
JESUS is the reason for everything! Because JESUS embodies all that God is. He is the visible expression of the invisible God. The Father and the Son are one. JESUS is the reason we have hope. "...the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope. I Tim. 1:1"
JESUS is the reason we love. "We love because He first loved us." I John 4:19
JESUS is the reason we do not have to bear our own burdens. "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you." Psalm 55:22
JESUS is the reason we are forgiven. "He forgives all your sins...." Psalm 103:3
JESUS is the reason we have all we need. "And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19
JESUS is the reason we can carry on because He will carry us through. "Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4
JESUS is the reason we do not walk alone. "....never will I leave you nor forsake you." Heb. 13:5b
JESUS is the reason we have victory over sin. "But thanks be to God who gives us victory [over sin and death] through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor. 15:57
JESUS is the reason we need not fear death. "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." Psalm 23:4
JESUS is the reason we can love others. "We love because He first loved us." I John 4:19
JESUS is the reason we are kind. "He is kind...." Luke 6:35b
JESUS is the reason we give. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
JESUS is the reason we will live forever. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
JESUS is the reason we can have peace. "For He Himself is our peace..." Eph. 2:14
Yes, JESUS is the reason for the season, but oh so much more!!!
I love buying gifts for those I love, especially when it is something I know they will be excited about!! Even better when it is something they will not be expecting.
I love beautifully wrapped gifts. Pretty paper, elegant bows...all designed to dazzle and tantalize.
On CHRISTmas morning, when we all gather around the tree, with packages spilling from beneath, what is it that you look forward to most? Do you and you family ooh and aah over the beautifully wrapped packages? Do you take multiple pictures of them? Do you pull each one apart and get individual shots of each one from different angles? Do you pass them around the room so each person can relish the beauty of each? Because that IS the objective isn't it? To admire the beauty of the packages and congratulate the wrapper on a job well done?
NOT!! At least not at OUR house! At our house we pass out the gifts to each family member and they can hold them and admire them until it is their time to open one, but that is when the admiration for the wrappings ends.
But let's rewind a bit. What if on CHRISTmas morning, we gathered around the tree, admired the beauty of the gifts and then when we were handed our gifts,we refused to take them? Imagine the giver standing there with their gift in hand, extending it to us, waiting for us to receive it, anticipating our joy when it is opened, only to have us refuse it. Can you imagine??!!
Yet that happens every day with JESUS. Every day He stands with His free gift of eternal life extended to men and women around the world, and every day His gift is refused by many. It is the greatest gift anyone could ever hope to receive, yet they turn away.
John 1:12 says "To all who did receive Him, to those who believed on His name, He gave the right to become the children of God." You see, contrary to what many proclaim, we are not ALL God's children. Unless you have RECEIVED HIM as your Savior, you are NOT His child! You must receive the gift that He is offering to you. It is a costly gift. It cost Him his very life. Yet He loves you so much that He extends that free gift to you. All you need to do is believe and receive. God gave His most precious gift to each one of us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
So this CHRISTmas, have you RECEIVED your gift yet???
About this time each year the CHRISTmas spirit can begin to wear thin. The crowds, the traffic, the scrambling for that last pair of gloves (que the movie SERENDIPITY).... One more dish to prepare for a party, more gifts to purchase and check off the list, 100 more things to do.
Maybe it's time to stop today and have a little JESUS. Find a quiet corner where you can curl up with your Bible and read the CHRISTmas story in Luke 2. Read it slowly and try to picture it in your mind. Take time to savor the miracle of that night and meditate upon all that God accomplished for YOU on that beautiful silent, but holy night. [Note: If it is hard to find a quiet corner in your home, sit in your car and do this BEFORE you go inside to shop]
A few years ago, a friend gave me a very simple little gift as a hostess gift. But I have used it every year since as part of my decorations. Last year someone saw it and was so touched by it, she copied it and shared it at CHRISTmas with numerous others. Today I share it with you and feel free to copy it and pass it along. How can you GIVE A LITTLE JESUS today?
Give a little Jesus, a thoughtful word or deed
an act of generosity for someone who is in need
Let's give a little JESUS to everyone we meet
the sales clerk or the server, the person on the street
Let's give a little JESUS, that's what really counts
Not what's spent or bought, for whom in what amounts
Let's give a little JESUS to everyone, large or small
for JESUS, the Messiah, is the greatest gift of all.
Giving you a little JESUS with love for the holidays.
What is it about CHRISTmas that makes it so special? It is definitely a different time of year...there's a different spirit about this season. What makes it special for YOU?
To me, people are kinder....
people are more thoughtful....and people are more generous.
After all, are those not the things that truly embody who JESUS is? JESUS is kind, thoughtful and generous. In fact, he was so generous that He laid down His very life for us so that we could have eternal life. (John 3:16)
JESUS freely gave to us, now let us continue by freely giving to others. How can you give this CHRISTmas?? There are many ways.
Find an angel tree, and choose a name or two and buy gifts for those
Donate to the Salvation Army
Donate to other organizations that you support...Samaritan's Purse, Forsaken Children, Calvary Rescue Mission...the list is endless
Offer to do the CHRISTmas shopping for a shut in
Take your children or grandchildren and fill shoeboxes for Operation CHRISTmas child
Give of your time to sit with an elderly relative and just visit with them. They get so lonely. They would rather have your time than anything you could put in a box. Maybe for you that is your own parents or grandparents..
I want to share a story with you that embodies the true spirit of CHRISTmas. It is a little long, but I PROMISE you a blessing if you read it. I think it will be one you will remember for a long, long time.
" Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving. It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible; instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though; I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle or Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he' d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what. Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on. After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."
That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Littl Jakey just had gunnysacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, and then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped round her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us." In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money a here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunnysacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night; he had given me the best Christmas of my life. "
Yesterday I shared with you a song that is my new favorite song, WHAT IS CHRISTMAS by Kutlass. I hope you have listened to it. If not, I encourage you to go back and listen.
One of the lines says "What is Christmas if there never was a Savior wrapped in a manger...what is CHRISTmas without CHRIST"? That is a question that every person should ask themselves this CHRISTmas.
I saw on Facebook the other day where someone said "If you don't believe in Christ, why do you celebrate CHRISTmas? " Good question!! Because if you are not celebrating His birth, if you are not celebrating Him and the reason He came, you are really NOT celebrating CHRISTmas.
Notice the word C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. Do you see what the first word in CHRISTmas is? Is it not CHRIST? You see CHRISTmas is all about CHRIST.
You may notice that I write CHRISTmas with CHRIST in all caps then add the mas on the end in small letters. I started doing that several years ago to emphasize the CHRIST in CHRISTmas. It is just a small way of drawing attention to CHRIST at CHRISTmas.
When stores started instructing their employees to NOT say Merry CHRISTmas any more, I found a button that said "It's all right to wish me a Merry CHRISTmas" which I wore throughout the holidays. I intentionally wished employees a Merry CHRISTmas even if they said "Happy Holidays". Often they cannot initiate the Merry CHRISTmas but if you say it first, then they can say it too.
I was told stores aren't to sell CHRISTmas trees any more, they are selling "holiday trees". I don't know about you, but I don't have a HOLIDAY tree, I have a CHRISTmas tree!! And my CHRISTmas tree is full of ornaments about JESUS and His birth. In fact, I just purchased a new one....the largest one ever for my tree!! See how you like it:
There are many ways that we can be intentional about keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas. I would love to hear some of yours!!!
"For a child will be born for us, a son will given to us....He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace". Isaiah 9:6
PEACE. Isn't that something we all long for? Peace in our country. Peace in our homes. Peace in our relationships. Peace in our world.
This time of year especially we need His peace. As we are out in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the crowds, rushing around trying to get everything done, we long for a quiet place to rest. We long for peace.
When we worry how we will get it all done. We need peace.
When we worry if the budget will extend to cover all of our purchases, we need peace.
As the holidays are painful times for many, we need peace.
JESUS is our Prince of Peace. He is the only one who can bring peace in the midst of chaos. He is the only one who can still the storms. He is the only one who can give us beauty for ashes.
Some years ago, there was a song that had one line that really spoke to me. The title of the song was "HOLD ME JESUS" by Rich Mullins:
sometimes my life just don't make sense at all When the mountains
look so big And my faith just seems so small
hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf You have been King
of my glory Won't You be my Prince of Peace
I believe that is the cry of most hearts today. "Won't you be my Prince of Peace?"
This CHRISTmas, I invite you to gaze into the face of the PRINCE OF PEACE. He offers us His peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
Apart from JESUS there can be no peace. But IN HIM, the PRINCE OF PEACE, your heart can find rest and He can bring the lasting peace that you need.
21 Days til CHRISTmas. Have you finished your shopping yet? Do you have a CHRISTmas list that you are trying to fill?
Each year I have this dream that I am going to be done by Dec. 1. Has it ever happened? Nope. Probably never will. But I am doing better this year than most years prior.
Gift lists. We probably ALL have them. Things the kids or grandkids want. Things our spouse wants. People we need to buy for that haven't given us a list. Teacher gifts. Workplace gifts. Gifts for the mailman, the babysitter, the hairdresser. The list of lists could be endless!
We peruse the Black Friday and Cyber ads. We receive numerous emails offering the best "deal" of the day. We clip coupons and save promo codes. We shop in person and online. We hit the malls, the gift shops, the big box stores with lists in hand. And, sometimes we just run up on a gift we didn't even know existed or we get an extraordinary deal. Now THOSE make my day!!
I love it when I find something that is just perfect for that special someone. Something you know they will LOVE but had not asked for and did not expect.
I've gotten a few gifts like that, haven't you?
Twice my daughter and daughter-in-love have gone together and made photos of the grands and made a collage, framed it and given it to me. Be still my heart!!
Another year my daughter took all my blogs and had them printed and bound like a book. I cried.
One year my husband gave me a brand new computer. Talk about blown away!! Mine was an antique. I could not believe my eyes. Totally did not see that coming at all!!
The CHRISTmas after my mother passed away (on CHRISTmas day), my daughter and son-in-love gave me a beautiful silver bracelet that had been engraved with my mother's own handwriting as she would have signed a card "Love ya, Mother". Again, I wept.
And one of the best gifts ever was the year that my husband gave me a card on CHRISTmas eve. We do not do gifts on CHRISTmas eve, we do them on CHRISTmas day. So I was puzzled when he insisted that I open this card. But when I did, I got the surprise of my life. In it he told me that he was taking me on a trip to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary in just a few months. (He gave it to me at CHRISTmas so I would have the opportunity to have input.) It was a dream come true and a trip I will never forget!!!
Yes, we all love gifts! And whether the gift is big or small; cheap or costly; simple or extravagant, expected or unexpected....we ALL love getting gifts.
But the very best gift I have ever received is JESUS!!!
God gave us JESUS so that we might have life, eternal life. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only Son, that whosoever [that's you and me] believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life." He sent Him to bridge the gap between holy God and sinful man. He came because I owed a debt I could not pay...my sin debt...and He paid that debt for me with His own life's blood. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in CHRIST JESUS our Lord."
He did that for me and He did that for YOU.
"Please note: Salvation is God-given, God-driven, God-empowered and God-originated. The gift is not from man to God. It is from God to man. Grace is created by God and given to man. On the basis of this point alone, Christianity is set apart form any other religion in the world. Every other approach to God is a bartering system, if I do this, God will do that. I'm either saved by works (what I do), emotions (what I experience) or knowledge (what I know). By contrast, Christianity has no whiff of negotiation at all. Man is not the negotiator; indeed man has no grounds from which to negotiate." ---Max Lucado
We cannot buy this gift. We cannot earn this gift. It is FREE!! All we have to do is receive it. He offers it to each of us, but we must CHOOSE to receive it.
Isn't that good news? The BEST GIFT ever is FREE. We may freely receive it, but make no mistake it is a costly gift. It cost God everything. It cost Him His Son, JESUS who gave His very life for us to have this precious gift.
I hope this CHRISTmas you already have received this gift. If not, you can have it today for the asking. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" BEHOLD JESUS....the very best gift ever!!
Little ones LOVE CHRISTmas!! They love the excitement. They love waiting to see what their elf has done the night before. They love SANTA. They love candy and parties. They love the decorations.
With all the busyness of the holidays, it can be difficult to get and keep their attention. But it is important for parents and grandparents to start early to teach them the REASON FOR THE SEASON.
When our children were little, I bought an Advent book that had activities for children for each day of December. Simple things that would engage them in activities but would teach them a part of the CHRISTmas story as well.
We also made cookie boxes to take to neighbors and friends. I let them help me with the baking and with preparing the boxes. Then we would go to deliver them together. It was a small way of teaching them that CHRISTmas is not all about GETTING but more about GIVING.
We read the Luke 2 (King James Version. In my opinion, the BEST version of the CHRISTmas story...just saying) Each time we read it, I'd leave words out and they would fill in the blanks. And, although we read it many times during the holidays, my husband ALWAYS read it on CHRISTmas morning after breakfast. This is a tradition that we still do every year. It has been such a joy as he reads it and has let the older grands help him read it now.
We also started the tradition when ours were growing up of having a JESUS birthday cake. This is a tradition that we carry on to this day. It is always a chocolate cake to represent our lives before JESUS...sinful and dark. It is covered with white icing to represent that Jesus washes all of our sins away and makes us white as snow. It is decorated with green leaves to represent our new life and red candles for the blood of Jesus. Since our family usually celebrates together early CHRISTmas morning and have a breakfast meal, cake is not really appropriate. So I create a tree out of cupcakes and then each person has one to take home and eat later. But we still light the candles, sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS and blow out the candles.
The point is that we want to continually point our children to the fact that CHRISTmas is about JESUS. HE is the REASON FOR THE SEASON. All the other things are fun, but first and foremost it is about JESUS being born.
There are many books and items at Christian bookstores that can help you bring CHRIST into CHRISTmas. Talk about the story as you are driving in the car. As you shop for gifts, talk about how JESUS is the very best gift ever!! Be sure to involve them in giving whether through your church or another organization.
One thing I have loved doing since I've had grandchildren is taking them to shop for Operation Christmas Child boxes. These shoeboxes are filled with small toys and items like soap, toothbrushes, socks, gloves, etc. and given to needy children around the world by Samaritan's Purse. Each year we go shopping together and I let them help select the items to go in the boxes, then help wrap each box. We talk about how blessed they are to have a home, plenty of food, clothes, toys etc. but that not everyone in the world has that. I love how they always want to put more in the boxes than the boxes will hold!!
I hope that these few ideas will spark ideas in your head and help you begin to find ways that you can share the REASON FOR THE SEASON with your children and grandchildren. Help them to GAZE ON JESUS and only glance at the other trappings of the season.
Today I want you to let your mind drift back to that night in Bethlehem when JESUS was born. Have you ever given that night much thought? We read the Christmas story in Luke 2. We see the re-enactment often done at churches throughout the Christmas season. But today, I hope you will take a few moments and really think about that wonderful night...an ordinary night, until....UNTIL....well, see it as Max Lucado describes it:
"The sky was ordinary. An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air. The stars were diamonds sparkling on black velvet. Fleets of clouds floated in front of the moon.
It was a beautiful night..a night worth peeking out your bedroom window to admire...but not really an unusual one. No reason to expect a surprise. Nothing to keep a person awake. An ordinary night with an ordinary sky.
The sheep were ordinary. Some fat. Some scrawny. Some with barrel bellies. Some with twig legs. Common animals. No fleece made of gold. No history makers. No blue-ribbon winners. They were simply sheep...lumpy, sleeping silhouettes on a hillside.
And the shepherds. Peasants they were . Probably wearing all the clothes they owned. Smelling like sheep and looking just as wooly. They were conscientious, willing to spend the night with their flocks. But you won't find their staffs in a museum nor their writings in a library. No one asked their opinion on social justice or the application of the Torah. They were nameless and simple.
An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who loves to hook an "extra" on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed. The sheep would have been forgotten and the shepherds would have slept the night away.
But God dances amidst the common. And that night, He did a waltz.
The black sky exploded with brightness. Trees that had been shadows jumped into clarity. Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd was dead asleep, the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of an angel.
The night was ordinary no more.
The angel came in the night because that is when lights are best seen and that is when they are most needed. God comes into the common for the same reason. His most powerful tools are the simplest."
What strikes me most about this is the emphasis on the ordinary. It was an ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds UNTIL God stepped in. Our lives for the most part are ordinary too. We are going about our Christmas activities as we do every year. But what if this year, we allow God to step in and to change our "ordinary" into the "extra-ordinary"? What if this year we make it a point every day, and as often as we can throughout the day, to focus on JESUS. To remember that night, to meditate on the details of it, and to allow the magnitude of what actually took place that night to invade our ordinary? I want to do that. How about you?
I was shopping the other day and someone said, 'How are you today?' I gave my usual response....'Fine'. Isn't that what we all say? Even if we are NOT fine, we say we are. Because that question is usually not asked because someone genuinely wants to know how we are. It is just a conversational question.
But the response I got in return shocked me! When I said my usual 'Fine', I followed it with a polite, 'How are you?' And the answer to my question was not 'FINE'. It was "I'm blessed!" I have never had anyone give me that answer before. In fact, I was so stunned I don't think it really penetrated until I had walked away. But I thought to myself, "I like that! That is going to become my new reply, too!"
Because the truth is I AM BLESSED!!
I have a roof over my head and food on my table.
I have a husband who loves me, but even more, he loves JESUS! And, he has been faithful to me for 44 years!!
I have 2 precious children and 3 extraordinary grandchildren who I love more than life itself.
I have friends that are more like family and who I love as much as family.
I have my health. Oh, I am aging for sure, and it sounds like snap! crackle! and pop! when I get out of bed in the morning, but I am still healthy enough to not be on medication or battling any major diseases and for that I am SO grateful!
I live in a wonderful neighborhood with great neighbors. We get along and we have a lot of fun together.
I have transportation to wherever I need to go. I do not have to bum a ride, walk miles to the store or depend on public transportation.
I have nice clothes to wear, a coat to keep me warm, and shoes on my feet.
I have electricity and running water. I flip a switch and the lights come on, the TV begins to play and the heat or A/C keep my house comfortable. I have indoor plumbing, something even my grandparents did not have until their later years.
I am thankful that my children all have good jobs, nice homes and are all healthy. They have everything they need.
I live in a country that gives me the freedom to go to church each Sunday, read my Bible whenever and wherever I choose and gather with other believers to share the Gospel any time we want without fear of being arrested.
I can go to the polls and vote because we live in a country that allows us to choose who runs our country.
In addition to my health, I can SEE, I can HEAR, I can TASTE my food, I can SMELL cookies baking in the oven and I can FEEL my husband's touch.
I could go on and on and fill pages upon pages of reasons why I am blessed. But as wonderful as ALL of these blessings are (and I am truly thankful for ALL of them!), the REAL reason I am blessed is because of JESUS!! Without Him none of these things would matter. I am blessed because He came into the world as a baby, "existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used for His advantage, [but] He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of man. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross". Philippians 2: 6-8 (Holman)
So I began my new practice yesterday. I was coming out of Barnes and Noble and I held the door for 2 ladies as they exited. One of them said "Thank you. How are you today?" I replied "I'm blessed!!"' She was halfway out the door and she stopped cold. "I LIKE that!!!!" she said enthusiastically with a huge smile on her face.
Yes, as I gaze upon JESUS during this CHRISTmas season, I cannot help but say "I AM BLESSED!!"
I awoke this morning and immediately my mind began going over the day's TO DO list:
CHRISTmas Home Tour
Make dish for tonight's CHRISTmas party
Wrap white elephant gift for party
But as I got up and was fixing my morning cup of coffee, a thought struck me: "Gaze on Jesus". That was the message I shared yesterday from Proverbs 31....Behold Jesus, gaze on Him. Let the trappings of the season fall to the wayside, and GAZE ON JESUS.
And so, before I began my day of Christmas activities, I settled in with my cup of coffee and picked up one of several CHRISTmas devotionals that I have. It is called THE GLORY OF CHRISTMAS written by Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado and Chuck Colsen.
I would like to share one with you today and I hope that it will help you to GAZE ON JESUS today:
Untethered by time, God sees us all. From the backwoods of Virginia to the business district of London; from the Vikings to the astronauts, from the cave-dwellers to the kings, from the hut-builders to the finger-pointers to the rock-stackers, He sees us. Vagabonds and ragamuffins all, He saw us before we were born.
And He loves what he sees. Flooded by emotion. Overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, "You are my child. I love you dearly. I'm aware that someday you'll turn from me and walk away. But I want you to know, I've already provided a way back."
And to prove it, He did something extraordinary.
Stepping from the throne, He removed His robe of light and wrapped Himself in skin; pigmented, human skin. The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb. He whom angels worship nestled Himself in the placenta of a peasant, was birthed into the cold night and then slept on cow's hay.
Mary didn't know whether to give Him milk or give Him praise, but she gave Him both since He was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy.
Joseph didn't know whether to call Him Junior or Father. But in the end he called Him JESUS, since that's what the angel had said and since he didn't have the faintest idea what to name a God he could cradle in his arms.
Don't you think their heads tilted and their minds wondered "What in the world are you doing, God?" Or better phrased, "God, what are you doing in the world?"
"Can anything make me stop loving you?" God asks. "Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth and feel your hurts. Behold the maker of sight and sound as He sneezes, coughs and blows His nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth; that's God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary's table; that's God spilling his milk.
"You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That's me you see up there, your maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit and sin-soaked.
That's your sin I'm feeling. That's your death I'm dying. That's your resurrection I'm living.
Today as we are entering
the CHRISTmas season, let us reflect upon the REASON FOR THE SEASON.
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
I LOVE decorating a pretty
table for CHRISTmas....
But, this is NOT the
reason for the season.
I LOVE CHRISTmas
decorations around my house.
But, this is NOT the
reason for the season.
I LOVE celebrating with
But, this is NOT the
reason for the season.
I LOVE shopping for gifts
for my family.
But this is NOT the reason
for the season.
I LOVE baking CHRISTmas
cookies with my grandchildren.
But this is NOT the reason
for the season.
As fun as all of these
things are (and there is nothing wrong with them), these things are
NOT the REASON for the SEASON.
This season of CHRISTmas
is so that we will BEHOLD JESUS!! To behold means to gaze upon. It
is more than a mere glance.
JESUS is the centerpiece
of CHRISTmas. It is HIS birthday that we are celebrating, his
entrance onto the scene of the great narrative of the Bible. His
birth, like no other in the history of mankind, changed the world.
HE changed MY world. What about yours?
So, let us not forget the
REASON for the SEASON. It is JESUS, the Lamb of God. Let us glance
at the trappings of the season, but let us BEHOLD Him and fix our
gaze daily upon HIM!
Proverbs 31 ministries
shared this inspiring devotional yesterday which describes this
further. Hope it blesses you as it did me.
Alzheimer's is a word that
strikes fear in our hearts almost as much as cancer does. No one
wants to experience this disease nor does anyone want to see someone
they love go through it.
That was how I felt. I
prayed that would NEVER happen to my mother. But, it did. To be
precise, my mother suffered from one of the many forms of dementia
known as vascular dementia (although doctors felt she probably also
suffered from Alzheimer's as well.)
You see many people lump
all forms of dementia under the well known term of “Alzheimer's”,
while in fact, Alzheimer's is only one of a host of manifestations of
dementia, which is the umbrella of all sorts of illnesses which
affect the memory.
But, make no mistake...
they are ALL life-changing and life-disrupting.
For those who have not
been exposed to someone with dementia, it is commonly thought that
the most significant change is that regarding memory loss as it
relates to things like “where did I put my keys?”, “remembering
names”, “recognizing faces”, etc. It is true that dementia
DOES bring about those things, but it affects a person in so many
other ways. And each person is different in how the disease is
manifested in them.
A person loses the ability
to reason, to think logically which in turn causes them at times to
make bad, even dangerous decisions. At times, they create their own
reality, and if you are not careful, you will not even realize what
they are saying is not true. It causes them to not be able to
process things such as operating their remote or following a simple
recipe. Too many things in front of them confuses them. It's almost
like they can only focus on one object at a time. Disrupting their
routine can also greatly frustrate them. These are just a few of the
ways this disease can affect a person that most people have never
heard of or thought about.
It is a disease that
creeps up on you, in most cases. With my mother, I was the first to
notice that something was just not right, though I was hoping against
hope that I was wrong. But, as with most people, since that is the
last thing we WANT it to be, we try to rationalize the signs away.
“It's just age”, “She's just not listening or paying
attention”, “We ALL forget things once in a while.” Mother
would repeat herself, telling the same stories again and again. I
would tell her something on the phone and 10 minutes later she would
call and ask me numerous questions about what we had just talked
about, and in 20 minutes or so, would repeat the whole scenario over
again. She began forgetting appointments, where she was supposed to
be, and eventually how to get there.
I began to seek
professional help, but found that to be seriously lacking!! For
Alzheimer's and related diseases to be so prevalent today, it was
appalling to me that doctors, in general, were so ill-equipped to
give advice or guidance. I wanted someone to tell me how to navigate
this road I'd suddenly been sent down, but it seemed the help was
minimal. The best advice I got and the most help I got came from a
wonderful counselor at Page Robbins Adult Care Center. She opened my
eyes to the reality of where I was. She was not afraid to say what
needed to be said. I will never forget the day she said to me “Your
mother is worse than you think and the day is coming sooner than you
think when you are going to need to make some decisions. You need a
plan!” She also provided me with a book that further opened my
eyes, THE 36 HOUR DAY. I sought her help again and again in the
months ahead and I will be forever grateful for her being there for
This journey was one I
never wanted to take, but God had other plans. And though it was a
painful one, He taught me many things on this journey that I would
not trade for anything. He blessed me in ways I never would have
dreamed. He showed up for me over and over and over again. He is a
good, good Father!!! He was faithful every step of the way. And
when no one else could understand, He did. When I felt I could not
go on, He carried me.
So I am walking in this
WALK FOR ALZHEIMER'S this coming Saturday so that maybe one day, no
one will ever have to watch their loved one go through what we did.
I walk so that those who are on this journey can have better
resources, so more doctors can be trained to help and counsel the
caregivers who are desperately seeking answers for how to care for
and respond to the changes in their loved one. I walk because every
day I hear of someone else whose loved one is battling this disease
or one of the many other forms of dementia. I walk in memory of my
Mother and to honor her.
I hope YOU will join me in
this fight to end this dreaded disease by going to my page at the
link below and donating whatever you can....$5.00, $25.00, or more.
Is there someone you know who is on this journey today? Do it for
them. Every dollar matters. Thanks in advance for your
contribution!! God bless you!!
Dedicated to the family of
Guy Lindsey Proctor Sr.
We attended the home-going
celebration of my daughter-in-love's grandfather, Guy Lindsey
Proctor, Sr. last week. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Proctor and
his lovely wife, Lily, several years ago and a few times after that
for just a short period of time when they would come for birthday
parties. But after his health began to decline, they were no longer
able to make the trip. I am sorry that I never had the opportunity
to get to know him better.
When I read his obituary
yesterday, I was impressed to say the least. And what I heard today
at his service, just deepened by respect and admiration for him.
Mr. Proctor started his
own business at the age of 20. He had a remarkable career in field
of Agri Business and did a lot for the community he lived in, Forrest
City, Arkansas. He even helped to start a community college after he
retired! He served in several municipal capacities and was well
thought of within his community.
But as impressive as that
is, we learned today that he was also well known for his faith in the
Lord. Each family member expressed the same sentiment to us as we
expressed our condolences. “We know where he is, so we cannot be
sad.” You can't have that confidence unless you know that a person
really knows the Lord and they are confident of where they are going.
As I sat and listened to
the words of the minister that day, I kept having one thought...what
a legacy this man has left to his family!! To his 3 children....Guy
Lindsey Jr., Keath and Caroline...he has left the legacy of his
faith. He has walked before you and shown you the way to Jesus. He
has lived before you so that you know that you know that he is with
Jesus now and forever more. His faith was real, it was something
that he held to and he is now passing on the banner of faith to each
of you. It is yours to raise high so that all who know YOU, will
know as they did about your Dad, that you are a child of the King!
He has also left this legacy to his grandchildren....Guy Lindsey III
and Allison. The banner is also yours to take up and to raise high so
that your children will know that YOU believe in the Lord and He is
what makes a difference in your life.
Mr. Proctor had an amazing
life, a very productive and successful life. But none of that would
matter now, if he had not had Jesus. Money, prestige, notoriety,
success....all of those are just wood, hay and stubble and will
disappear like a puff of smoke when the end of your life comes. But
what really matters is DO YOU KNOW JESUS? Each of you can answer a
resounding YES to that question regarding your father and
grandfather. What a blessing that is for each of you. Today would
have been a different day had you not had that assurance and peace.
Although you will miss your dad and grandfather, if you know the God
that He knew, you will see him again one day. This is just a short
From what I heard today, I
do not believe that he would want any of you to toss away his legacy
which he has handed down to you, but I believe that he would say to
each of you, “Lift high the banner of Jesus Christ so that all who
know YOU and all who come after you will KNOW that you believe and
follow Jesus Christ and lead in such a way that others who come after
you will want to know and follow Him too.” This legacy is a
priceless one. I hope that you realize how blessed you were to have
a Dad and Grandfather like him and I pray that you each will treasure
the legacy he left you by following in his footsteps and letting your
light shine wherever you are and whatever you do.
When you come to the end
of your life, there is no greater gift that you can leave your
children and grandchildren than this.
Psalm 60:4 “You have
given a banner to those who fear you that it may be displayed because
of the truth.”
I am married to my high school sweetheart, have two precious children...a wonderful son and a sweet daughter-in-love; and a lovely daughter and a great son-in-love....I am truly blessed! But then God has seen fit to double those blessings by also giving us 2 precious, beautiful, adorable granddaughters and the happiest, sweetest grandson in the world. GOD IS GOOD! I have worn many hats in my life, but none more rewarding than being a wife, mother and grandmother. I have loved writing all my life and also enjoy scrapbooking, which allows me to both be creative with photos AND journal to create a legacy for our family. I am what is known as true GRITS...grown and raised in the South. My blood runs ORANGE for the University of Tennessee VOLS but still will cheer for the University of Memphis (as long as they are not playing UT). Teaching women to pursue a passionate relationship with the Lord is the delight of my life. I thank God for giving me that opportunity to be used by Him and to put Him on display.