Some people like to work with their hands, others like to work with their heads. But, most of us can be crafty in one area or another.
I have given Christmas gifts that were handmade for many years. I once made a bookcase for our kids’ room. Another year I had little Nathan help me refurbish an old metal locker that I gave to him for a closet (he didn’t know it was for himself). I’ve written and bound family history books and am currently giving my 11-year old granddaughter a collection of the $1 coins that have recently been minted (Eisenhower, Sacajawea, Susan B Anthony, and a new Presidential coin, just one of each).
Perhaps you have something that you have made or collected over the years that would have personal meaning to someone this Christmas. It would be like giving a part of your heart to them.
And let me know what you’ve decided to do.
Last fall our church set up a prayer booth in the Industrial Tent at the County Fair. We took prayer requests and prayed for people. We brought the written requests back and still are praying for these needs in people’s lives.
Here are a few examples you might pray for:
- Kourtnee (15 years old). Mother passed. Pray for her family.
- For my daughter, Karly and her baby. She needs to get out of her abusive relationship and needs a home also.
- Priscilla, Fort Wayne locked unit (tried to commit suicide).
- I ask God to send us strength, to keep our marriage strong, to give me a forgiving heart. Thank you.
- Tad is in jail right now. Recently was arrested for meth. His grandmother asks we pray that he finds Jesus.
- Hoping that our store will continue to grow so we can employ more people in the community and I can leave my factory job of 24 years that is slowly killing my body.
- God healing me of pancreatic cancer.
The above people may or may not be Christians. They may or may not attend a church. But they stopped in the Industrial Tent to fill out these request cards. The least we can do is follow through and pray for them.
The Law of Reciprocity is that what you do for others, God will make happen for you.
The other day I was reading to my almost 5-year old granddaughter, Raegan, the story ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. I was using my best grandpa voice, building excitement as we went. There were no pictures with the online version I was reading from, and she seemed captivated. After I had finished, she said with awe, “I’ve never heard that story before”.
Well, I know she’s heard it, because I read it to her last year. But, with a child, the story is always brand new. It never gets old.
The Bible is like that. There is always some nuance that I hadn’t noticed before. Although the stories are not new to me, their applications to real life are always new and revealing. This is why its called the “Living Word”. Anita and I can read the same story in God’s Word and it says one thing to her, but something entirely different to me.
Let me encourage you to sit down and reread the Christmas story…a little slower this time. Think about how its worded, the sequence of action, the way things are worded. Read between the lines and consider the context. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that God teaches you something new this time. Try it and let me know what God says to your heart.
Artificial Christmas trees have changed the look of American communities. Just 50 years ago there were small Christmas Tree lots all over town. Everyone would buy a real live Christmas Tree a few days before Christmas. It was a great fundraiser for small groups.
A friend of mine decided to get in on the action one December in the 1970s. He ordered a truck load of Christmas Trees to be delivered to his house. Then he spread the word all over town that he was selling them for half the price of other lots. When I went to buy one, I noticed the trees looked like Charlie Brown trees. They were skimpy and had the longest needles I’d ever seen on a tree. Pathetic for a Christmas Tree! But, I had already promised I’d buy one, so I did.
It was Friday night and already snowing with predictions of a blizzard, and Anita was sure we wouldn’t have a tree up before Christmas. She was delighted when she saw me drive in with that tree strapped to the top. Until she tried to decorate the ugly thing.
And I think I was the only one who bought a Christmas Tree from my friend that year. He must’ve had 99 trees to dispose of.
And artificial Christmas Trees changed all that.
The legend of Santa Claus evolved over several centuries. When immigrants began coming to America, they began bringing various versions of Santa Claus and Christmas traditions with them. As these diverse cultures began to merge in new communities, these ethnic Christmas traditions began to take even new forms.
On Christmas December 1823, an unknown American poet named Clement Moore published his version of the Christmas story entitled ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. This poem was published in newspapers all across America and changed the way the world pictured Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas was the Catholic Patron Saint of children. So, many of our ancestors saw Santa Claus (a derivative of the old world name Saint Nicholas), dressed as a Catholic Bishop, all dressed in a red robe with Cardinal’s exalted hat. But never before had any culture associated Santa Claus with a sleigh or reindeer. The affect Moore had on American culture was profound.
Likewise, the Holy Bible has changed many lives around the world. Its stories have formed our perception of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Let’s allow God’s word to reform our image of God.
In Saturday’s blog I said that I rarely ever have said no to a ministry opportunity. There have been a few times I have said no, though. I was once offered a staff position in a large church in Florida. Every staff person in that church had a swimming pool in his/her backyard. It would have been a great opportunity.
Then I was offered the opportunity to become the pastor of a church in Decatur, Indiana. Decatur offered more promise than Waterloo. But it didn’t take long to say no, thank you, to that opportunity, as well. When you know where God has called you, it is sufficient. You’re not looking for more or better. You are content with God’s will.
In retrospect, I have no regrets with passing up those “better” opportunities and staying here at New Hope. God’s plan is better than any plan I could have ever devised. And I can’t wait to see what’s yet ahead in the journey. And I’m glad you’re taking the journey with me. Stay faithful.
I started attending the forerunner of this church back in 1972. I attended because there was this good looking young lady who caught my eye. We both loved the Lord and had attended a few prayer meetings together. We felt God might be leading us toward each other, so we decided to explore that possibility.
The pastor at the church asked if I would consider teaching a young adult class in the Sunday School. I have rarely ever said no to a ministry opportunity, so I took it on. I had no curriculum, so I was on my own. I had two or three couples in a little room, and we soon packed it out. I was then asked to be the Sunday School Superintendent and was overseer of the whole program. We developed some teacher training programs and have grown ever since.
It has always been my philosophy that God will open doors for us to walk through. That’s why I rarely say no to an open door. I have never pursued ministry; it has pursued me. And I’ve stumbled into some places I probably shouldn’t have when walking through open doors. But it has all been part of the journey of my life. How do you respond to open doors?
By the way, that good looking girl: I married her.