23 December 2012 - Christmas Special

posted 19 Dec 2012, 05:18 by C S Paul   [ updated 19 Dec 2012, 05:25 ]


Merry Christmas animated with many colors



23 December 2012 - Christmas Special


The Christmas Story

As found in the Holy Bible, in the book of Luke. 

The story of the Birth of Christ Jesus

"About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's hometown, for the census. As a decendant of David he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancee, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped Him in a blanket and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the hostel.

There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: "Glory to God in the heavenly heights; Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him."

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!"  (Luke 2:1-20).

christmas story

It was a simple scene that first Christmas – a rough room, a young couple and nothing but a feeding trough to put the child in. It was probably quite cold and with family far away there was little help. Not exactly the Hallmark moment we like to show in Christmas pageants. And yet this rustic scene marked the greatest event in the history of mankind.

God's Son became human and came to earth to save us. God had promised to send a Messiah, one who would save His people. He could have easily burst on the scene as a full grown man, a seven foot warrior with fiery eyes and arms of steel. This was what many people were looking for, but it wasn't how God did it. He arrived in the arms of a young girl. He was, as another of our authors put it, "a very small package, wrapped in rags, given from the heart of God. The perfect gift."

God gave His only Son to die in our place so that we, in all our brokenness, could know forgiveness. He came so that we could know what love feels like, real love – love that never leaves, love that never disappoints, love that is never betrayed. He sent His Son into a corrupted world to bring us hope.

How are you doing this Christmas?

Are you having a hard time finding hope in the world? Are you having a hard time finding peace? It doesn't have to be that way. You can have peace and find hope and know forgiveness through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


divider animations


The True Meaning of Christmas

Provided by Free Christian Content.org 


2000 years ago, a child was born to a virgin mother, in the town of Bethlehem. 


The baby was born in the stable because there was no room for them to stay in the inn. 


The baby's place of birth was marked by a star, which shone brightly and led wise men from far-off lands to the stable, bearing riches and gifts for the new messiah. 


This child was Jesus Christ our Lord, the son of God, our savior. We celebrate his birth every December 25, commemorating the gifts of the wise men by exchanging gifts with the ones we love.

This Christmas, try to remember what is important about this holiday... not getting gifts, but being together, with our family and friends, and giving thanks to God for sending his son down to save us all!


animated gifs


Where Is Your Bethlehem?

by Marilyn Ehle 

Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem… He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  Luke 2:4, 5

As the crow flies, it was a journey of approximately 100 kilometers but traveling over hills, through villages and around rivers would likely have made the trip even longer. Christmas pictures always show Mary riding a donkey but we really have no idea of their mode of travel. In any case, whether on foot or on the back of a swaying brown animal, it wasn’t an easy journey, especially for a women nearing the end of her pregnancy.

Why did she go? True, government officialdom decreed a census and that everyone must go to one’s “own city,” the place their families called home, for this official registration and counting. Perhaps Mary was also quite ready to leave the village of Nazareth where tongues were wagging about her pregnancy and unmarried status.

But Mary and Joseph knew they were going far from family and into a city whose streets would be clogged with traveling strangers. They were assured of no warm welcome, no cozy place to birth the expected child. Perhaps theyhoped for a small house or a distant relative or a way for Joseph to earn money for their keep, but in almost every way, they were traveling into the unknown. The journey was long and hard, the destination uncertain.

Nearly nine months before their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary spoke life-changing words to God, words that were to comfort her in the many uncertain years ahead. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” With those simple words of faith, she could endure the long journey on the back of a donkey, the cold streets of Bethlehem, the staring faces of strangers, and even the crude stable with its straw-lined manger.

Where is your Bethlehem? Has the path been long, the people uncaring, the circumstances burdensome? When we submit ourselves as servants to a loving God, we can—in quietness and confidence—add “May it be to me as you have said” no matter the place or position in which we find ourselves.

divider animations


The Night Before Christmas

An African Christmas Story
by P. E. Adotey Addo

It was the night before Christmas and I was very sad because my family life had been severely disrupted and I was sure that Christmas would never come. There was none of the usual joy and anticipation that I always felt during the Christmas season. I was eight years old but in the past few months I had grown a great deal.

Before this year, I thought Christmas in my village came with many things. Christmas had always been for me one of the joyous religious festivals. It was the time for beautiful Christmas music on the streets, on radio, television, and every where. Christmas had always been a religious celebration and the church started preparing way back in November. We really felt that we were preparing for the birth of the baby Jesus.

Christmas was the time when relatives and friends visited each other so there were always people traveling and visiting with great joy from all the different tribes. I always thought that was all Christmas was. Oh, how I wished I had some of the traditional food consumed at the Christmas Eve dinner and the Christmas Day dinner, I knew I could not taste the rice, chicken, goat, lamb, and fruits of various kinds. The houses were always decorated with beautiful paper ornaments. The children and all the young people loved to make and decorate their homes and schools with colorful crepe paper.

All of us looked forward to the Christmas Eve Service at our church. After the service there would be a joyous possession through the streets. Everyone would be in a gala mood with local musicians in a Mardi Gras mood. Then on Christmas Day we all went back to church to read the scriptures and sing carols to remind us of the meaning of the blessed birth of the baby Jesus. We always thought that these were the things that meant Christmas.

After the Christmas service young people received gifts of special chocolate, special cookies, and special crackers. Young people were told that the gifts come from Father Christmas, and this always meant Christmas for us. They also received new clothes and perhaps new pairs of shoes. Meanwhile throughout the celebration, everyone was greeted with the special greeting word, "Afishapa" meaning Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Oh how I wish that those memories were real tonight in order to bring us Christmas. However, this Christmas Eve things were different and I knew Christmas would never come. Every one was sad and desperate because of what happened last April when the so-called Army of Liberation attacked our village and took all the young boys and girls away.

Families were separated and some were murdered. We were forced to march and work for many miles without food. We were often hungry and we were given very little food. There was very little food. The soldiers burned everything in our village and during our forced march we lost all sense of time and place.

Miraculously we were able to get away from the soldiers during one rainy night. After several weeks in the tropical forest we made our way back to our burned out village. Most of us were sick, exhausted, and depressed. Most of the members of our families were no where to be found. We had no idea what day or time it was.

This was the situation until my sick grandmother noticed the reddish and yellow flower we call, "Fire on the Mountain," blooming in the middle of the marketplace where the tree had stood for generations and had bloomed for generations at Christmas time. For some reason it had survived the fire that had engulfed the marketplace. I remembered how the nectar from this beautiful flower had always attracted insects making them drowsy enough to fall to the ground to become food for crows and lizards. We were surprised that the fire the soldiers started to burn the marketplace and the village did not destroy the "Fire on the Mountain" tree. What a miracle it was.

Grandmother told us that it was almost Christmas because the flower was blooming. As far as she could remember this only occurred at Christmas time. My spirits were lifted perhaps for a few minutes as I saw the flower. Soon I became sad again. How could Christmas come without my parents and my village?

How could this be Christmas time when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, because since April we have not known any peace, only war and suffering. How could we celebrate as grandmother instructed us to do before she died. Those were the last words she spoke before she died last night.

As I continued to think about past joyous Christmases and the present suffering, we heard the horn of a car and not just one horn but several cars approaching our village. At first we thought they were cars full of men with machine guns so we hid in the forest. To our surprise they were not and they did not have guns. They were just ordinary travelers. It seemed the bridge over the river near our village had been destroyed last April as the soldiers left our village. Since it was almost dusk and there were rumors that there were land mines on the roads, they did not want to take any chances. Their detour had led them straight to our village.

When they saw us they were shocked and horrified at the suffering and the devastation all around us. Many of these travelers began to cry. They confirmed that tonight was really Christmas Eve. All of them were on their way to their villages to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Now circumstances had brought them to our village at this time on this night before Christmas. They shared the little food they had with us. They even helped us to build a fire in the center of the marketplace to keep us warm.

In the middle of all this, my sister became ill and could not stand up. A short time after we returned to our village my grandmother told me that my oldest sister was expecting a baby. My sister had been in a state of shock and speechless since we all escaped from the soldiers.

I was so afraid for my sister because we did not have any medical supplies and we were not near a hospital. Some of the travelers and the villagers removed their shirts and clothes to make a bed for my sister to lie near the fire we had made. On that fateful night my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

This called for a celebration, war or no war, Africans have to dance and we celebrated until the rooster crowed at 6 a.m. We sang Christmas songs. Every one sang in his or her own language. For the first time all the pain and agony of the past few months escaped.

When morning finally came my sister was asked, "What are you going to name the baby"? Would you believe for the first time since our village was burned and all the young girls and boys were taken away, she spoke. She said, "His name is Gye Nyame, which means except God I fear none."

And so we celebrated Christmas that night. Christmas really did come to our village that night, but it did not come in the cars or with the travelers. It came in the birth of my nephew in the midst of our suffering. We saw hope in what this little child could do. This birth turned out to be the universal story of how bad things turned into universal hope, the hope we found in the Baby Jesus. A miracle occurred that night before Christmas and all of a sudden I knew we were not alone any more. Now I knew there was hope and I had learned that Christmas comes in spite of all circumstances. Christmas is always within us all. Christmas came even to our village that night.

dividers


Marvelous Love

by Bill Bright 

On a cold Christmas Eve in 1952, when Korea was in the throes of civil war, one young woman struggled along a village street, obviously soon to deliver a child. She pleaded with passersby,

"Help me! Please. My baby."

No one paid any attention to her.

A middle-aged couple walked by. The wife pushed away the young mother and sneered,

"Where's the father? Where's your American man now?"

The couple laughed and went on.

The young woman almost doubled up from a contraction as she watched them go.

"Please . . ." she begged.

She had heard of a missionary living nearby who might help her. Hurriedly, she began walking to that village. If only he would help her baby. Shivering and in pain, she struggled over the frozen countryside. But the night was so cold. Snow began to fall. Realizing that the time was near to deliver her baby, she took shelter under a bridge. There, alone, her baby was born on Christmas Eve.

Worried about her newborn son, she took off her own clothes, wrapped them around the baby and held him close in the warm circle of her arms.

The next day, the missionary braved the new snow to deliver Christmas packages. As he walked along, he heard the cry of a baby. He followed the sound to a bridge. Under it, he found a young mother frozen to death, still clutching her crying new born son. The missionary tenderly lifted the baby out of her arms.

When the baby was 10 years old, his now adoptive father told him the story of his mother's death on Christmas Eve.

The young boy cried, realizing the sacrifice his mother had made for him.

The next morning, the missionary rose early to find the boy's bed empty. Seeing a fresh set of small footprints in the snow outside, he bundled up warmly in a winter coat and followed the trail. It led back to the bridge where the young mother had died.

As the missionary approached the bridge, he stopped, stunned. Kneeling in the snow was his son, naked and shivering uncontrollably. His clothes lay beside him in a small pile. Moving closer, he heard the boy say through chattering teeth:

"Mother, were you this cold for me?"

That story reminds me of another mother and Son who sacrificed so much. One winter night, Jesus left his home, His glory and the warmth of heaven to be born in a stable to an unwelcome world. Just before He was born, Mary, His mother, was not welcome in any of the cozy inns in Bethlehem. Instead, she delivered her baby in the darkness of a cold stable. Th e Creator of the Universe, the Perfect Judge who could destroy the world with a single word, was willing to endure this inauspicious beginning for you and me. That is unconditional love!

We who have experienced God's unconditional love are commanded to share that love with others. John writes in 1 John 4:11,

"Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other" (New Living Translation).

God wants us to express His supernatural love to others. We become examples of God's love to the world as we love our neighbors through the enabling of His Holy Spirit.

My prayer for you is the same as Paul's prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3:17,18:

"May your roots go down deep in to the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is" (NLT ) .

You may confess, "I don't have that kind of love to share with anyone." To experience God's supernatural love, claim it by faith. We have the potential to love anyone God puts in our path. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in my Christian life is "how to love by faith."

When we by faith invite God's unconditional love to flow through us, we will discover a rekindled love that is alive and well. That is true for an "unlovable" spouse, boss, employee, or anyone.

Nothing breaks the hardened ground of unforgiveness and bitterness like sincere acts and words of love. Sometimes you and I, by faith, must take the first step of restoration. A positive response may not be immediate, but keep on loving and reaching out. There is no power on earth stronger than God's supernatural love.

divider animations


Just for Laughs


The Hotel is Full

A Jewish lady named Mrs. Rosenberg many years ago was stranded late one night at a fashionable resort - one that did not admit Jews. The desk clerk looked down at his book and said, "Sorry, no room. The hotel is full."     

      The Jewish lady said, "But your sign says that you have vacancies." 
       
      The desk clerk stammered and then said curtly, "You know that we do not admit Jews. Now if you will try the other side of town..." 
       
      Mrs. Rosenberg stiffened noticeable and said, "I'll have you know I converted to your religion." 
       
      The desk clerk said, "Oh, yeah, let me give you a little test. How was Jesus born?" 
       
      Mrs. Rosenberg replied, "He was born to a virgin named Mary in a little town called Bethlehem." 
       
      "Very good," replied the hotel clerk. "Tell me more." 
       
      Mrs. Rosenberg replied, "He was born in a manger." 
       
      "That's right," said the hotel clerk. "And why was he born in a manger?" 
       
      Mrs. Rosenberg said loudly, "Because a jerk like you in the hotel wouldn't give a Jewish lady a room for the night!"


Desperate measures

Little Johnny went to his mother demanding a new bicycle. His mother decided that he should take a look at himself and the way he acts. She said, "Well Johnny, it isn't Christmas and we don't have the money to just go out and buy you anything you want. So why don't you write a letter to Jesus and pray for one instead." After his temper tantrum his mother sent him to his room. He finally sat down to write a letter to Jesus. 
       
      Dear Jesus, 
    
      I've been a good boy this year and would appreciate a new bicycle. 
       
      Your Friend, 
      Little Johnny 

       
      Now Little Johnny knew that Jesus really knew what kind of boy he was (Brat). 
       
      So, he ripped up the letter and decided to give it another try. 
       
      Dear Jesus, 
       
      I've been an OK boy this year and I want a new bicycle. 
       
      Yours Truly, 
      Little Johnny 

       
      Well, Little Johnny knew this wasn't totally honest so he tore it up and tried again. 
       
      Dear Jesus, 
       
      I've thought about being a good boy this year and can I have a new bicycle? 
       
      Signed, 
      Little Johnny 

       
      Well, Little Johnny looked deep down in his heart, which by the way was what his mother was really wanting. He crumpled up the letter and threw it in the trash can and went running outside. 
       
      He aimlessly wandered about; depressed because of the way he treated his parents and really considering his actions. He finally found himself in front of a Catholic Church. 
       
      Little Johnny went inside and knelt down, looking around not knowing what he should really do. Little Johnny finally got up and began to walk out the door and was looking at all the statues. All of a sudden he grabbed a small one and ran out the door. He went home hid it under his bed and wrote this letter. 
       
      Jesus, 
       
      I've broken most of the Ten Commandments; shot spit wads in school, tore up my sister's Barbie doll and lots more. I'm desperate. I've got your mama. If you ever want to see her again, give me a bike. 
       
      Signed, 
      You know who


The Three wise women

You do know what would have happened if it had been three wise WOMEN instead of men, don't you? They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought disposable diapers as gifts!

divider animations


A Wonderful Christmas Morning!

author unknown

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whoever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.

I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana I wondered? I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys - then hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boy’s pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

divider

Christmas Love
Candy Chand 

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas. 

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment... songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down... totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W." The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W."

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"CHRISTWAS LOVE" And, I believe, He still is.



animated gifs


The Doll and the Rose

author unknown 

A story of love that will touch your heart and bring a tear to your eye.

I was walking around in a store. I saw a cashier hand this little boy his money back saying

"I'm sorry, but you don't have enough money to buy this doll."

Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him:

''Granny, are you sure I don't have enough money?''

The old lady replied:

''You know that you don't have enough money to buy this doll, my dear.''

Then she asked him to stay there for 5 minutes while she went to look around. She left quickly.

The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand.

Finally, I walked toward him and I asked him who he wished to give this doll to.

"It's the doll that my sister loved most and wanted so much for this Christmas. She was so sure that Santa Claus would bring it to her."

I replied to him that may be Santa Claus will bring it to her after all, and not to worry.

But he replied to me sadly.

"No, Santa Claus can't bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mommy so that she can give it to my sister when she goes there."

His eyes were so sad while saying this.

"My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mommy is going to see God very soon too, so I thought that she could take the doll with her to give it to my sister.''

My heart nearly stopped.

The little boy looked up at me and said:

"I told daddy to tell mommy not to go yet. I need her to wait until I come back from the mall."

Then he showed me a very nice photo of him where he was laughing. He then told me

"I want mommy to take my picture with her so she won't forget me."

"I love my mommy and I wish she doesn't have to leave me, but daddy says that she has to go to be with my little sister. "

Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes, very quietly.

I quickly reached for my wallet and said to the boy.

"What if we checked again, just in case you do have enough money?''

"OK" he said "I hope that I have enough."

I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count it. There was enough for the doll and even some spare money.

The little boy said:

"Thank you God for giving me enough money!"

Then he looked at me and added

"I asked yesterday before I slept for God to make sure I have enough money to buy this doll so that mommy can give it to my sister. He heard me!''

"I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mommy, but I didn't dare to ask God for too much. But He gave me enough to buy the doll and a white rose.''

"My mommy loves white roses."

A few minutes later, the old lady came again and I left with my basket.

I finished my shopping in a totally different state from when I started. I couldn't get the little boy out of my mind.

Then I remembered a local newspaper article 2 days ago, which mentioned of a drunk man in a truck, who hit a car, where there was one young lady and a little girl.

The little girl died right away, and the mother was left in a critical state. The family had to decide whether to pull the plug on the life-assisting machine, because the young lady would not be able to recover from the coma.

Was this the family of the little boy?

Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I read in the newspaper that the young lady had passed away.

I couldn't stop myself as I bought a bunch of white roses and I went to the funeral home where the body of the young woman was exposed for people to see and make last wishes before burial.

She was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest.

I left the place, teary-eyed, feeling that my life had been changed forever. The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister is still, to this day, hard to imagine. And in a fraction of a second, a drunk driver had taken all this away from him.

V

dividers

Did You Know ?


Interesting & Fun Facts About Christmas
  • The Christian church fixed 25 December in 440 AD as the day for the celebration of Christmas.
  • The word 'Christmas is an old English word and is a contracted version of 'Christ's Mass'.
  • The word 'X-Mas' is derived from Greek, because in Greek, 'X' symbolizes Christ.
  • The tradition of ringing church bells on Christmas morning dates back to the medieval times. The ringing bells symbolize the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • The tradition of gift-giving during Christmas has originated from the legendary characters of the Three Wise Men, who brought presents to Jesus, when he was born.
  • Many people believe that the legendary character Santa Claus is based on a real person named St. Nicholas. It is also believed that St. Nicholas brings in Christmas gifts, on the Eve of the festival.
  • According to the legends, St. Nicholas lived in 4th century AD. The Christian leader was very shy. He wanted to help the poor and the needy, therefore the decided to give money to them in secrecy.
  • Franklin Pierce was the first US President to decorate the White House with a beautifully adorned Christmas Tree.
  • The tradition of eating turkey on Christmas Day can be traced back to the Tudor Times and the reign of Henry VIII. He was the first man to eat turkey on the auspicious occasion.
  • While people generally greet each other by saying 'Merry Christmas', some priests in Australia prefer believe that one should say 'Happy Christmas', because the word 'Merry' has connotations of 'getting drunk'.
  • Christmas cards were invented in 1843, a period of the Victorian Era.
  • Alabama was the first state to declare Christmas as an official holiday. It was recognized as a national holiday in America on June 26, 1870.
  • Poinsettia, the popular Christmas plant, reached the United States from Mexico in 1880s. The plant was named after Joel Poinsett.
  • People began to make use of electric lights for their Christmas tree, in 1895.
  • Rudolph, the legendary reindeer of Santa Claus, was a creation of Montgomery Ward. He created it for the purpose of a holiday promotion, in the late 1930s.
  • The world's tallest Christmas tree was erected in America, in 1950. The tree was as high as 76 m.
  • Candy canes, one of the popular sweet treats used for Christmas, originally were straight white sticks of sugar candy. They were used as an embellishment for Christmas tree. The ends of the candy were bent by Cologne Cathedral, to symbolize shepherd's crook. The candy canes were given red stripes only in 20th century.
  • Although 'Jingle Bells' was first written for Thanksgiving, it gained immense popularity as a song associated with the celebration of Christmas.
  • Holly berries, the berries traditionally used for decorating Christmas mistletoe and wreath, are actually poisonous. On the other hand, poinsettia plants that are believed as poisonous are non-toxic.
  • Holy represents the crown worn by Lord Jesus Christ, when he was crucified and the red color of the berries represents his blood.
  • Christmas is the season, when the world witnesses the maximum sale of diamonds.
  • Every year, during the Christmas season, more than a billion cards are sold in UK.
  • Christmas stockings were first hung in southern Europe.
  • In some parts of the world, banana trees are decorated at Christmas time, due to the unavailability of the original Christmas tree.
  • Original Christmas trees are grown predominantly in Alaska and Hawaii. All around the world, as much as 1000000 acres of land have been planted with Christmas trees.
  • The majority of artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.


divider


Peace on Earth - Good Will to Men

by RuthAnn Raycroft

Seeking and Celebrating the Real Meaning of Christmas

Entering a large grocery store a couple of months ago, I was startled by several large displays near the checkouts and exits.

There, nestled in between the bins of fresh Halloween treats, were stacks of boxed Christmas chocolates and stocking stuffers.

The Christmas season had begun and it wasn’t even October.

Sometimes it seems that the gap between Christmas and the rest of the year is getting shorter. This eagerness to get a jump on holiday cheer is purely practical from a retailer’s point of view: Stores typically make more than half of their yearly sales during these few short weeks. Shopping has become a pretty substantial part of the North American Christmas tradition.

Yet Christmas is and should be so much more than what we buy. Gifts are fun, both to give and receive, but they are only symbolic of a much greater gift:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The love of God came down to earth - now that is something to celebrate!

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the busyness of Christmas. That doesn’t mean we have to lose track of the significance of this time of year, or miss out on the opportunities it can present.

Here are some simple ways 
that you can incorporate the real meaning of Christmas into your family’s holiday:

A Savior Has Been Born to You
Throw a birthday party for Jesus, complete with birthday cake. This can be particularly meaningful for younger children, as it puts Christ’s birth in a context they can relate to.

No Room in the Inn
A favorite Christmas tradition in my family (and in many other families, I have discovered) is a re-enactment of the Christmas story. Several years ago I wrote a formal nativity script for our family. Everyone was assigned a part, from Grandma and Grandpa right down to the newest, three-month-old grandchild. It was wonderful to watch each person - particularly the little ones - begin to explore what the character they were playing might have been like, or how they felt about the arrival of the baby Jesus. Our family has refined our dramatic tradition to include a creative element: Fifteen minutes to make your own costume from anything you can find in the house (or attic/basement).

Glory to God in the Highest
I come from a musical family, so music has always been a big part of our Christmas celebrations. But you don’t have to be a musician to celebrate the birth of the Savior through Christmas carols, or to share with others the good news of His redeeming love. Gather friends and family and go caroling in a wing at your local hospital or seniors’ residence. Check with your church or other local churches to see if there are any folks who can’t get out of their homes during the holidays and take your caroling to them. Music is a great way to open a door for talking with people about the spiritual context of the holiday season.

Good Will Toward Men
Gift giving is a wonderful way to reflect to each other, God’s love for us. This seems particularly true when we are giving of our time and gifts to those in need. Here are just a few examples:

  • Volunteer together (include the grandkids!) – to pack toys and food into hampers that will be delivered to needy families before Christmas or to serve Christmas dinner to the homeless at a downtown mission

  • Forgo traditional Christmas gifts – make a donation in someone’s name rather than giving that person a gift; take a child out to eat at their favorite restaurant and then take them to the toy store where they can choose a gift...for a less fortunate child; band together with friends you might normally buy gifts for and pool your resources instead to help a family in need or support a favorite cause.

Good News of Great Joy...
...for all people – Christmas is a time of unusual openness to spiritual things. Jesus is on everyone’s lips, whether they know Him or not. There is no greater gift you can give those who have not yet met the Lord than to share with them the good news of the real Christmas. Here are some ideas:

  • Invite your loved ones to church - many churches go to great lengths when they plan Christmas services, to reach those who do not yet know Christ. Perhaps there is a musical or play that dramatizes Christ’s birth and the meaning of His coming, or a special Christmas carol service. These are not only a great way to spend time celebrating God’s grace with the people you care about during the holidays, but a wonderful beginning for a conversation about their spiritual beliefs.

  • Invest in some literature (booklets, pamphlets or tracts that convey Christmas greetings in addition to the message of the gospel) – these are a wonderful way to share Christ with someone, particularly if you fear that you “won’t know what to say.” Hand these out to your neighbors with holiday baking or chocolates, pass them on to guests you have invited to your church Christmas play, or share them with carolers when you invite them in for hot chocolate.

Enjoy all the good things Christmas has to offer this year as you celebrate the reason for the season:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

divider animations


Great Expectations for Christmas

Christmas is loaded with expectations, isn't it? Christmas shopping, decorating and entertaining. Typically we knock ourselves out trying to make it the "perfect" Christmas. And year after year we end up with the same empty feeling, like Christmas wasn't as personally fulfilling as we'd hoped. Why is that?

Let's look at a few of our expectations.

Picture yourself seated at a beautifully decorated Christmas dining table. Cheerful Christmas music plays softly and a twinkling Christmas tree stands in the background. This is the time of peace on earth, good will toward others. Now picture your family and relatives all sitting together around the table. Do you picture them…arguing? Sometimes, in spite of our efforts, people knock heads, even at Christmas.

Perhaps you’re hoping that this year your children will be cheerful, patient and thoughtful of others. Well, if that’s how they are from January to November, you might have a shot at it in December. Or you might find them pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree and opening presents saying, “I already have this.”

Somehow we think the perfect Christmas is happening in someone else's house, not our own.

Christmas is packed with expectations. Life isn’t perfect and our expectations can do us in. Rather than be driven by a list of expectations, there is a better way to approach Christmas. There’s a way to find it much more personally satisfying.

First, let’s look at why we have Christmas…other than increasing the U.S. Gross National Product, of course. Christmas is celebrated because of the birth of Jesus. Now the whole world doesn’t celebrate mybirthday. Why is he so special?

Well, Jesus said he was God. If you look at Buddha or Confucius or other religious leaders, often it was their followers who declared them “God” long after they were dead. In contrast, Jesus clearly and repetitively told people he was God.

Jesus said he could give people eternal life and forgiveness for their sins…credentials which clearly belong only to God.

His communication was also unique. Jesus didn’t teach people ten steps to achieve holiness, or personal disciplines to reach God. If you want to know God, Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

To give credence to his claims, Jesus performed blatant, irrefutable miracles. People born blind could see. The lame who were stuck begging were now walking. The mentally ill could think soundly. We’re told, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages…healing every disease.” His miracles were known by all.

Who is this Jesus?

Jesus did more than heal people. Five thousand people were given dinner with food that Jesus instantly “produced” for them. Another time Jesus made a violent storm on the sea cease immediately. The people in the boat “were filled with awe, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

Jesus plainly said who he was…

"I and the Father are one. If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them…know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

The Bible records, “This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him…he called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” His audience understood the message.

Jesus so thoroughly equated himself with God that he said “to know Him was to know God (John 8:19, 14:7). To see Him was to see God (12:45; 14:9). To believe in Him was to believe in God (Mark 9:37). To hate Him was to hate God (John 15:23). And to honor Him was to honor God (5:23).”

Now I should interject here, this is being written by a former die-hard atheist. I thought people believed in God simply out of need. I was stunned when someone showed me clear, scientific evidence for God’s existence, and equally impressive logical, factual evidence for Jesus being God.

Here’s a quick example of the proof which shows Jesus was correct in saying he’s God. Throughout the Old Testament there are over 300 specific predictions about God’s Savior who would one day come to earth. It would be like listing specific predictions today about who will be president of the United States 500 years from now. It’s written down what town this Savior would be born in, to what family, where he’d grow up, what miracles he’d do, how he would die, etc. Jesus’ life perfectly fulfilled all 300 predictions! The odds of any other person fulfilling even 8 of those predictions are 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

Other proof? The Jews, knowing Jesus said He would rise from the dead three days after His death, decided to post a Roman Guard of 10-14 trained Roman soldiers in front of the tomb. Wasn’t quite enough. Three days later the tomb was found empty.

Part of enjoying all the celebration of Christmas is understanding who was born that day. The Christmas carols suddenly take on more punch…” Joy to the Word, the Lord has come.” Jesus was not another prophet, or great teacher. This was God revealing himself to us.

Why did Jesus come to earth?

Jesus said,

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

You know how life at times can seem “lite,” pointless, without real meaning?Even at Christmas we can go through all the motions, but life can still lack depth. Jesus wants to give us a more meaningful, abundant life.

Secondly, he came to offer us a genuine relationship with himself.“He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God.”

To be honest, a lot of people try to approach God the wrong way. They try to earn God’s acceptance by living a “good” life. And then they reason with him.  “God, I’ve tried to be a good person. I’ve tried to be kind and generous. I’ve gone to church. I’ve prayed. And I’ve never murdered or cheated anybody.” Sounds good.

But Jesus said we need to know what his standards are. Just how good a life would we have to live? Jesus said,

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Well, let’s be brave and see how perfect we are. Imagine trying for an entire day to be… patient. I’d have to skip coffee and settle into a near coma. But let’s assume you’re alert and you’re going to be patient in all circumstances for one entire day. You’ll be patient with customers, other employees, your boss, patient in traffic, patient with your family.

Let’s pretend you tried so hard, and you actually were patient all day. Wouldn’t it irritate you that the people around you were so impatient? If I were concentrating that hard on being patient, I know I’d be very self-righteous and judgmental toward all those other rude, impatient people. And my self-righteous attitude also would not line up with God’s standard of perfection. The Bible says we sin…no surprise to me.

But what did surprise me is that the Bible says my sin has separated me from God. It’s like an impenetrable wall. The Bible says,

“The wages (payment) for sin is death.”

Number one on Jesus’ agenda for coming to earth was to pay for our sin. The Bible says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us….”

It’s like the woman who was arrested on a drunk-driving charge. The judge ruled, “thirty days or $1,500 bail.” As she was agonizing over this, the judge stepped around to the front of the bench, pulled out his check book and paid the $1500 fine. Why? The judge was this woman’s father. As an honest judge he couldn’t overlook his daughter’s guilt. But as a loving father, he paid the penalty for her.

If we could have gained a relationship with God based on our living a good life, Jesus didn’t need to come to earth and he didn’t need to die on a cross for us. But out of tremendous love for us, Jesus was tortured, whipped, nailed to a cross and died of slow suffocation. Three days later he rose from the dead. Having done so, he now offers us complete forgiveness and a relationship with him.

I used to think having a relationship with God is something that just “happens” to a person or it doesn’t…like winning the lottery or being struck by lightning. But actually it’s a personal decision.

God offers us a relationship with himself, and it’s our decision whether or not to respond to his offer. Jesus put it simply,

“I stand at the door (of your life) and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him….”

When we respond to his offer and ask him to come into our lives, we begin a relationship with God that lasts eternally. The Bible says,

“I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Whatever is going on in your world this Christmas, there is no greater gift you could give yourself than to receive the One who came to earth for us. He offers you complete forgiveness, a relationship with Him, a more abundant life and eternal life. As long as we trust in ourselves, our own good life, God will remain distant, and we remain separated from him by our sin. He asks us to empty our hands of our efforts and receive him and his gift.

I’d like to give you the opportunity right now to ask him to come into your life. There is no greater offer, nor more important decision you could make in your life. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him….”

I’ll help you put this into words. You could say to him,

“Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. Right now I open the door and ask you to come into my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me an eternal relationship with you.”

Unlike other possible relationships, if you asked Jesus into your life right now, he promises never to leave you. Jesus said, (speaking of us as his sheep), “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

I found that one of the best ways to get to know him better was to read the gospel of John, which is the fourth book of the New Testament, in the Bible. You’ll be amazed. It seemed like he was speaking straight to me, answering my questions, like an intimate chat over coffee. Also, you might find it helpful to look for a church where the Bible is taught.

There is no greater joy at Christmas than coming into a relationship with Jesus. Too many times we have worn ourselves out, driven by our expectations to have the “perfect” Christmas. It’s a set-up for disappointment.

All of the shopping, decorating, entertaining never fully meets our deepest longings. For Christmas to be special, we simply need to receive Jesus’ gift to us…a relationship with him. Knowing him brings great meaning and enjoyment at Christmas, no matter who knocks over the Christmas tree.

divider animations

Comments