Saturday, December 1, 2012

To Tell The Truth At Christmas

Image from

I think it is really important to tell the truth, as much as we can, as I'm sure you do. *Truth...whether it is the truth of scripture or whether it has to do with being truthful and not bearing false always vital. At Christmas there is a truth that I believe should be told too...of course, 2nd only to the truth of Jesus' birth. Truth, whatever it may be, is important to it always fits into life better (like a puzzle piece in a puzzle) and makes the world less confusing. Truth also helps lessen hearsay and well as discourages our tendency to demonize things that really just need more truth applied to them.  

The true story of Santa Claus starts with a person called Nicholas. He was born during the third century in the village of Patara...which is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His parents raised him to be a devout Christian, and although his wealthy father was hesitant to bless young Nicholas' desire to dedicate his whole life to the church, Nicholas' heart to serve God made him feel as though he could do no less.

His parents died while Nicholas was still young, and Nicholas of course inherited their wealth. However, because of his desire to be obedient to God, he took Jesus words,  "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," to heart and used his whole inheritance to help those in need. Then in time he was made Bishop of Myra, and  became known for his service to the poor and his love and concern for well as his concern for those who were traveling at sea.

Under Emperor Diocletian, who maliciously persecuted Christians, he suffered for his faith, and was imprisoned. The prisons were so full of those being persecuted, there was no room for the murderers, thieves and robbers. Upon his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He spent his days in service, then later died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Humans have a tendency to embellish and I dare say, every time we pass on a story it changes. (remember the game, 'Telephone'?) Subsequently many legends, even from right after his death, have grown about Bishop Nicholas. Therefore, I think it is important to tell our children the truth about a man who endeavored to serve God in the best way he knew how, instead of just omitting Santa Claus from Christmas or demonizing him. In fact, this can be another opportunity to share the Christ of Christmas with those who have included Santa Claus in their Christmas.

Blessings to you!!

* Truth - a thought and question for another you think it is always right to tell the truth? As I have been in conversations with people who said it was even right to have told the truth to the Nazis when they asked you, a hider of Jews, if indeed you were hiding them.


Friday, November 30, 2012

The Funnel Effect Challenge


These Sparkly Holidays

Well Christmas is almost here...and I can't believe it! Wow, all the lights....and here in MN, the cold! Brrrrrrr....and the decorations! The sparkly decorations. Yup, my husband and I just put up a tree and decorations.

I know that to some people it feels uncomfortable to put up a tree and decorations...because what does it all have to do with Jesus? I can understand. It's really OK. But then to others, it is delightful and gives them an opportunity to share in the festivities with so many family, friends and neighbors who also participate in the holidays in this way, and therefore finding common ground with them and being a witness. In fact, to some it is an opportune time for this.

Also, it has to do with grace. Because of grace we are set free to celebrate some holidays and not others if we want. Because of the power of the cross we have been given the freedom to put up a tree or is between you and your Father and love. In the times of the law, the law told you what to do or not to do...practically every step. If you wanted to know how to act in any given situation, the law would probably have the answer for you. However now, God wants the command to love to be your guide, not a list of rules.

Think about it. There were over 600 laws. Wow! But now, Christ made ALL the difference. The work He did on the cross was holes or things left out. God didn't forget anything. His work is pristine...and continues to be so. It is us that add to it (I know I've done my share and then some), as though it was not complete. We add rules and attachments because we are much more comfortable with rules than love! Yikes!! However, now there is only one law...only one to truly consider when doing anything.
Matthew 7:12
Everything whatsoever you desire that people should do for you, do likewise for them, for this is the Law and The Prophets.


Colossians 2:16
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.


In the Barnes Commentary -
Let no man, therefore, judge you - comparing with  Romans 14:10. The word judge here is used in the sense of pronouncing a sentence. The meaning is, "since you have thus been delivered by Christ from the evils which surrounded you: since you have been freed from the observances of the law, let no one sit in judgment on you, or claim the right to decide for you in those matters. You are not responsible to man for your conduct, but to Christ; and no man has a right to impose that on you as a burden from which he has made you free."

Blessings everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

God Is Real - His Words Are True

When I was in High School I took a Psychology and Sociology class. Our teacher was a hoot, and everyone really liked him. If I thought real hard I'd remember his name, but I just haven't been able to...and sadly I do not have a year book. Anywayyyy....
He often invited various speakers to come and talk to our class about their beliefs and ideas. One of them was a Rabbi and the one thing that stuck out to me was that he told us that he did not believe in heaven. He said his wife did, but that he believed that when we die we just go into the ground and our life is over.
I was troubled by that, and even though I had not personally come to know Christ yet, basically just because of being ignorant of what was necessary to do family and I went to church, I knew God existed and I often prayed.
That day when I got home I spoke to my mother about it right away. I remember telling her about our speaker and what he said. Then I told her that it helped to grow my faith.
It did!
When the Rabbi said that he did not believe there was a dawned on me that God would not go through all the trouble of making me, having patience (a lot of it too!) with me, loving me and so forth...then when I die forgetting about me.
I knew right then and there that there was a heaven. The *Rabbi had no idea that he did the reverse of what he may have intended. He didn't know that he actually drew me closer to God that day back in 1975...
God continues to become more and more real to me each day...which of course grows my faith in all the areas of my life. In how I look at scripture and how much I believe the words that God placed there as well...even the words that seem so hard to obey are perceived differently.  I also know that He wants that process of growth to never stop...for me and for you. 
Ephesians 3: 14-20

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,e 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.f 16 I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 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 is. 19  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen

 *I don't think the beliefs of this Rabbi about heaven are typical of the Jewish faith...however, here are some interesting thoughts -