Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

A Prayer for Christmas

December 20, 2016

Lord, it seems somehow selfish or greedy to ask you for a gift on Christmas.  After all, you have already given us everything you had when you came to earth as a man to live and die and redeem us.  But the gift I would ask honors you.  I would ask that you give a renewal of hearts to this earth for Christmas.  Warm our hearts with love for Jesus and each other.  Change us to be less about ourselves and more about you.  Give us insight into your heart’s desires, into what matters most to you, and let us model our lives around that.  Let their be conversions in high places this Christmas.  Let your spirit overshadow all the great ones of this earth.  Warm their hearts with love for you, and compassion for their fellow man.  Let these conversions be the kind that makes all take notice.  Drastically change the most unlikely of us–as the fictional character Ebeneezer Scrooge was forever changed by his night visions, yes, and even more like the apostle Paul was changed on the Damascus Road by an encounter with you.  We need these things so much, Lord, and ultimately they will bring you glory, when these people who live for self and not for you, change to transparently show love for you.  Let the warmth of love that brought us Christmas descend on this cold world like a blanket and warm all our hearts, Amen.

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The Gravity of Christmas

December 19, 2016

Last week someone asked me why I thought the Old Testament was so harsh concerning the Law and Sin.  After a lot of thought, I believe it is so we will appreciate the age of grace which the New Testament reveals.   The Old Testament was so hard, it required the death penalty for some sins and animal sacrifice for others.  Many sins required blood atonement.  And we wonder, with the Age of Grace to come just a few centuries later, why was God so adamant about punishing sin severely.

Our culture doesn’t understand this because America and the West of the 21st century wink at sin.  We joke about adultery, other sexual sin, and our sexuality in general.  And yet, God considers sexuality, and particularly marriage and procreation to be his greatest masterpiece.  He considers marriage to most resemble his own heart.  Think about how we value our human artistic masterpieces.  They are surrounded to guards, alarms, and in some cases represented by replicas because the originals are locked away–considered too irreplaceable to even be displayed.  But what do we do with God’s Masterpiece of marriage and procreation?  It is like launching paintballs at the Mona Lisa and laughing while we do it.  We have lost so much sense of what is sacred and holy.  We have lost our ability to fathom the vastness, greatness and otherworldliness of God.

Only when we read in the Old Testament of God’s righteous indignation at the disastrous damage we do to his Holy Order, His Magnificence, His Beauty, do we even begin to appreciate all He did in restoring us, ransoming us from evil, and extending grace.  Otherwise His grace seems cheap to us and we fail Him all over again in not valuing the greatest of gifts.

How to have a Happy Christmas

December 18, 2016

  1.   Remember why you are celebrating.  Christmas celebrates God coming to earth in human form to be with us and to redeem us.  Without Christ, the reason to celebrate becomes obscure

  2. Be grateful.  There are so many things to be thankful for, from the beautiful gift of life itself to the people who make life worth living, the creature comforts we have, the abilities we have, and so on.  If we get nostalgic at Christmas, we can remember happy times of Christmas past and be grateful for those times.  Enjoy them again in memory.

  3. Remember people who are not happy or not blessed this Christmas.  Make it a project to do something special for someone else–an individual, a family, or be part of the Christmas plans of a church or social ministry.  Some people volunteer with the Salvation Army or go to a retirement community, a hospital or a shelter and bring some cheer.  You can even celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by doing an unexpected kindness or giving an unexpected gift to someone each day for 12 days.

  4. Remember happiness isn’t a goal, but happiness grows in the process of living your best life.

 

Incarnation

December 26, 2011

Lord Jesus, today we celebrate your birth into our world.  What would our world have been like without you.  For four hundred years before your birth, heaven was silent–no prophets, no angelic visitations.  People must have thought you had forgotten them.  And then you came.  God with us.  You left your home and came into our dark and cold world.

A humble teenage girl agreed to grow and birth you.  She agreed to care for you, not knowing what that meant for her.  It could have meant disgrace, the loss of the man she loved, and maybe the loss of her life.  Yet, she said yes to your living in her life.  Today you ask the same of me.  Your desire is to live in my life–to have the place of honor in my heart.  Yes, come Lord Jesus.  Live in me.  Live your life in me.  Go with me wherever I go. Love through me.  Do your goodness through me.  Lord, do the biggest thing you want to do in my life, and then help fearful, trembling me to get out of your way while you do it.  Let 2012 be the year Jesus fully lived His Life in Nonni.

Away from Home

February 17, 2010

My son was spending his first Christmas away from home, serving in the military.  He sounded so lonely when he called.  I felt sad for him, and I was lonely for him too.  More than anything, I wanted to go to be with him.  It occurred to me that God loves me like that.  He wants to be with me even more than I want to be with my children.  God wanted me to know Him, and wanted it so much He came to earth to be a human like me.  He wanted me to be able to relate to Him.  In a moment, these thoughts of love and longing made Christmas more real to me than ever before.

The Story of Santa Claus as I told it to my Children

February 17, 2010

Long ago there was a holy man named Nicholas, who wanted more than anything to give Jesus a gift on his birthday.   But what can you give to someone who owns the whole universe?  Then Nicholas remembered when Jesus walked the earth, He said whatever you do for the least important people,  you do for Him.  So Nicholas decided a very pleasing gift for Jesus would be to visit the children of his city, carrying gifts for them–clothing, food and special things that delight children.  Nicholas did this for years, using a carriage if Christmas were warm, and a sleigh when it snowed.  Eventually God called Nicholas home, and that Christmas all the people wondered who would visit the children on Christmas Eve.  Gradually they realized they could visit the children themselves.  And that year, parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles, big brothers and big sisters and older cousins and friends, all secretly left gifts for the children on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas morning the children were so surprised.   “Who left these gifts for us?”  they asked.  And the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, big brothers, big sisters and cousins and friends all smiled and winked and said “Could it be Nicholas, come down from heaven for this one night?”  Well, the tradition continued for years and years, down to this very day .  Nicholas eventually was called Saint Nicholas, and in the language of little children, who can’t always speak plainly, he became Santa Claus.

Samaritan’s Purse

August 31, 2008

The other day I got a letter from Samaritan’s Purse.  It told about the opportunity to volunteer at one of six collection/distribution centers for Operation Christmas Child.  If you have never heard about it, every fall churches all over the nation collect shoeboxes filled with children’s toys, school supplies and candy to send to children in third world countries who would not otherwise receive a Christmas gift.  For many of the children, this is the first gift they have EVER received.  Anyway, I was all excited and contacted the three closest distribution centers to where I live.  I was amazed to find all the volunteer slots were already filled, and had been filled a week after registration opened.  Well, I thought, I will surely get my registration in early next year.  I really WANT to be part of this–just once anyway.

Who are the people who will come hundreds of miles, pay their own transportation expenses and their own hotel bills to work in a distribution warehouse?  They are families, church groups, youth groups, college groups, grandmas and grandpas, and well, just about anybody you can imagine who can afford to travel, or else lives in the same city as the distribution warehouse.  People actually plan vacations around doing this.  What do they do?  They go through each and every box to make sure the gifts are age-appropriate and safe, sort according to age and sex, wrap bundles in plastic, pack bundles in shipping boxes, and load trucks.  Not exactly glamorous work.  But, they “whistle while they work” literally and figuratively.  They love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than they are.  They love knowing that some little kids who have never had a Christmas will have one this year.  They are 65,000 strong, and they handled 7.5 MILLION shoeboxes (2007 statistics).  Hats off to Samaritan’s Purse, and Operation Christmas Child!

Nonni’s Rules for Consumers

March 18, 2008

The other day I was talking to a friend who said her treadmill is falling apart.  Her husband says it sounds like a hamster in the house when she runs on it.  She protested that she bought it new and it is only two years old, and can’t be so bad already.  Upon questioning further, I learned she had bought it at an 80% discount because it was a floor sample.  Now, she has no idea how long it was on the sales floor and how many miles were on it.  Therefore, it wasn’t really new, but used.  Which brings me to rule one of my rules for consumers, which is never buy the floor model of something that has moving parts.  However, I make an exception for bicycles.  Years ago I stayed up all night with my son on Christmas eve trying to put together a bicycle for the grandson.  Back then the directions were written by someone whose first language was Japanese.  Today I expect the writers first language would be Chinese.  Never mind.  The point is that vital assembly information is always lost in translation.  Besides, around Christmas time assembled bicycles don’t stay on the sales floor long enough to become used bicycles.  Especially if most of the shoppers in the store have ever tried to assemble a bicycle themselves or watched someone else try.

My second rule for consumers is never buy a used car from anyone, not even a very reputable new car dealer, without keeping it closed up all night first.  New car dealers especially have powerful deodorizers they use in detailing, that mask odors until you get the car home and keep it closed up all night.  In the morning you will smell the cigarettes, evidence of previous carsickness and other things.  Once on a car trip I accidently put a dirty diaper on top of the heater vent.  Imagine what that was like after the car was closed up all night.  The remaining time we owned that car we NEVER kept it closed up all night.  We didn’t sell it though, we traded it in at a new car dealership.  Get the point?

My third rule is about athletic shoes.  If you buy athletic shoes nowadays, its 90% likely they were made in China.  If so, they will squeak.  This is useful if you run on a running track and want the slow person ahead of you to move over, but not so useful if you don’t want everyone in a non-athletic situation to know who you are by your “squeakprint”.  Its especially bad if you wear them in the rain or ever step into a puddle of water.  I believe it must be part of the Chinese government policy to know where everyone is at all times, but not so useful in a free country.  If you must buy athletic shoes made in China, keep them dry, and don’t wear them anywhere outside of the athletic environment.

 Next time Iwill tell you my rules for shopping in dollar stores.

Nonni