The Meaning of Christmas [v46]

DECEMBER 2002

LESS THAN 30 DAYS UNTIL…Oh NO! As I write this, it’s just under a month to go till Christmas! Has everyone started their Christmas shopping? The advertisements in the newspapers, on the TV, and the Internet are already reminding us—and the shopping malls are decorated and playing Christmas music. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!!!

Well, just last weekend, the kids and I visited the new Apple Computer store near us and they were playing some “holiday classics” in the background. I was audibly ‘nabbed’ by the wonderful line from the song “Silver Bells” that goes, “In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas.” the song continued…

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style,
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.
Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile,
And on every street corner you’ll hear…”

That unmistakable feeling of Christmas—the feeling of anticipation. During the days leading up to Christmas, expectations run high. But will it be able to deliver on all the hype?

For many of us, this season fails to live up to its ‘billing’. Instead of peace and good cheer, we contend with crowded malls, traffic jams, items out of stock, nerves rubbed raw, and too many things to do in too little time.

Christmas in America has become an overly busy and stressful time!! It’s the time when merchants do their best business of the year, so they do their best to make sure people spend as much as possible, by enticing us with advertising images that say you must buy many luxurious things to have a “proper” Christmas.

Surely, we tell ourselves, Christmas is supposed to be more than this—more than empty cheer and greetings born out of obligation, delivered without meaning. Aren’t we supposed to slow down and reflect? Prepare for a new year? Be filled with happiness and joy, rather than stress and anxiety? Enjoy the process of selecting that ‘perfect’ gift for that special someone?

A few years ago, American Express survey about Christmas gifts. They found that the fruitcake was chosen most often (31%) from a list of the “worst” holiday gifts—it even finished ahead of “no gift at all”! When asked how to dispose of a bad gift, 30% said they would hide it in the closet; 21% would return it; and 19% would give it away—suggesting that the fruitcake might get ‘recycled’ as a gift for the host of a New Year’s party.

Well, this year, just like every year, millions of people, both children and adults, will open millions of gifts. Some won’t fit. Some will be the wrong color. Many will be returned or exchanged. But there’s one gift that meets everyone’s need, one gift that will never wear out, never break or need repairing. A gift that is appropriate for a small child, a teenager, or an adult—boy or girl, man or woman, it makes no difference. The gift we all need—the most valuable gift of all—is the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas.

The best gift ever given was not wrapped with beautiful paper and frilly bows, but is what Linus said to help Charlie Brown with his frustration with all the “commercialism” he saw around him and in his friends. Linus ended his ‘answer’ with,  “…And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger’. And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men’…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
( http://www.spiritedesign.com/Linus_meaning_of_christmas.wav )

Christmas is the “birthday” of a very special ‘Baby’ Jesus over 2,000 years ago—the reason why this whole season originated.

I’m sure most of you have experienced, somehow, the change a baby makes in a household. The families’ schedule is rearranged—what was routine is now a distant memory. Baby rooms were prepared—living areas ‘baby-proofed’. Parents, though happy inside, are ‘zombies’ outside. Life is now unalterably different. Nothing changes life like a baby.

QUESTION: Is your life noticeably different because of this Baby? Has this Baby affected your work, your schedule, your home, or your life? Has this Baby influenced your attitude, your love, your giving, or your service to others?

A story might illustrate my point. Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One of these times he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king!” The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You have brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!”

Jesus Christ has given Himself to you and me. The Bible calls Him, “the unspeakable gift!”—the implications are enormous for all of us to consider.

(If you would like to look into life’s most important gift, visit the following link:
http://www.4VIS.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q9_d5_1of10.html )

Some have said that this ‘story’ is only a myth. However, there happens to be more ‘documentation’ for Jesus’ life than any other ancient event—bar none. One of the most ‘revered’ ancient documents is the “Gallic Wars” written by Caesar. The original he wrote in about 60 BC, but the earliest copy we have dates at about 900 AD—which computes to a gap of nearly 1,000 years. And, in addition to this, we only have 10 copies of his work—yet nobody questions the accuracy of the copies we have. By contrast, we have over 5,000 copies of the Greek manuscript of the New Testament, some of them dating as early as 130 AD—a gap of less than 100 years!

Others have said that the primary writings that tell us about Jesus, the Bible, has many errors. But  archaeology says something different—it affirms the historical trustworthiness of the Bible. Renowned archaeologist, Nelson Glueck, has commented, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.”

Some say that these were written after His life, and made to work out so that they would coincide with the actual events. Thing is, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that contains all the prophecies, was finished over 250 years before Christ was born. More than 300 predictions hundreds of years before his birth were acknowledged by rabbis as having been made in reference to a coming deliverer they called the Messiah. No one else in history can remotely claim to be the object of such prophecies except Jesus of Nazareth. Astonishingly, the chances of fulfilling just 8 specific prophecies is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000 according to a panel of scientists with the “American Scientific Affiliation.”

We must decide for ourselves if it is all true. If you have not made your decision yet, may I encourage you make it a priority in your life. I wholeheartedly believe it is the most important question you will ever answer. Who really is this Baby?

(If you would like to investigate Christ’s claims, visit the following link:
http://www.4VIS.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q6_d6_1of10.html )

A French scientist and mathematician, Blaise Pascal postulated a couple centuries ago, that if you choose to believe that there is a God and it turns out, in the end, that you are wrong, you have probably gained something because you had a sense of purpose, direction, and meaning in my life—and have lost nothing. But, if it turns out that you are right, you have not only gained in this life, but have gained in a major way ending up with God in heaven for eternity. Simply, nothing to lose and an enormous amount to gain.

Of course, one shouldn’t ‘hedge’ their bets by just saying that they believe—because, if there is a God, he would know that kind of insincerity. On the other hand, one shouldn’t be indifferent about this question and this subject. The ‘stakes’ are very high.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” [John 5:24]. By receiving Jesus into your life you are also made a child of God—receive the forgiveness of sins, and become a new person. Your future becomes a life of discovery of His gracious plan for you.

A long time ago Jesus was born in a manger—but He wishes to be born within your heart today. This Christmas season receive the greatest gift that has ever been given. Open your heart and let the Baby who was born in a stable, in humility, who died on a cross in love, and rose from the dead in power, enter in!

Christmas itself cannot deliver all our heart’s desires…but the Bible says Jesus can. What are your expectations of Christmas this year? What kind of feeling is ‘in the air’ for you? Christ can deliver a holiday to your home that never fades away. One that doesn’t get boxed up and stored away for another year—but rather, one that applies to your life directly on a daily basis.

Would you like to have something to ‘celebrate’ every day? Invite Jesus into your heart, and you’ll see what I mean.

[Excerpts from: Matthew Rogers; Josh McDowell; Tom Maines; Gary Jensen]

Blessings….
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v46) for DECEMBER 2002

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net

*****************************
*****************************
THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Rushing out to get the gifts wrapping as they go
Seeing sales and discounted prices chaos don’t you know
The people spend their money it happens once a year
To get the perfect gift for that someone, they know Christmas is near

But what is Christmas really about some folks may say
Is it about presents and gifts and spending money in this way?
Is it about the Christmas feast or the tree made from pine?
Or is about Santa Claus and his reindeers, he has one plus nine.

Is it about families and friends sharing a laugh or two?
Reminiscing about the times of cheer and the times of blue
They play silly games and sing a choral of the time
And drink glasses of eggnog and a few bottles of wine

Some folks think it’s the birth of the Emanuel
When the star shone bright in the sky as the night fell
The shepherds gathered with their flock during the night
And Joseph and Mary in the stable with smiles so very bright

But what is Christmas, What is Christmas to me
There are so many meanings which one does it have to be
I think the meaning is showing love and saying that you care
And being with families and friends, smiles we will share

But I also know that on this day a savior was born
In a stable in a manger, a baby we adorn
He came on this earth to guide us from day to day
And show us the meaning of life in the proper way

So you see Christmas has so many meanings by far
Depending how old and who you really are
The people of this world will celebrate on Christmas day
They see this time of celebration in their own special way.
[Unknown]

*****************************
Could I get my husband to address the Christmas cards? I wondered. The family was coming. There was shopping yet to do, gifts to wrap, the tree to decorate, cooking, cleaning. I arranged the cards, stamps, and address book on the table, then hopefully pulled up a chair and said, “Come on, Dear, let’s get these out of the way.”

He glanced at the array on the table, turned away, and went into the den, while I looked daggers at his back. I heard a drawer jerk open and bang shut. He returned with a high stack of cards, stamped, sealed and addressed. “They’re last year’s,” he said. “I forgot to mail them. Now let’s go out to dinner and relax. You’ve been working too hard.”  [Nelson’s Big Book of Laughter]

*****************************
No one can fracture a Christmas carol better than a kid. Sing along with these new takes on old favorites:

– Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly
– We three kings of porridge and tar
– On the first day of Christmas my tulip gave to me
– Later on we’ll perspire, as we dream by the fire.
– He’s makin’ a list, chicken and rice.
– Noel. Noel, Barney’s the king of Israel.
– With the jelly toast proclaim
– Olive, the other reindeer.
– Frosty the Snowman is a ferret elf, I say
– Sleep in heavenly peas
– In the meadow we can build a snowman, Then pretend that he is sparse and brown
– You’ll go down in Listerine
– Oh, what fun it is to ride with one horse, soap and hay
– Come, froggy faithful
– You’ll tell Carol, “Be a skunk, I require”
– Good tidings we bring to you and your kid
[Unknown]

*****************************
Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.  [Anon.]

*****************************
During his reign, King Edward VIII of England was especially concerned about social conditions. He once decided to visit some of the homes in a slum section on the waterfront where he was to christen a ship. He stopped first at a house in which lived one of the most disreputable men in the area. He had become a social outcast. Hearing a knock at his door, he shouted in a gruff voice, “Who is it?” The answer came back, “I am your king. May I come in?”  Thinking it was a cruel joke, the man refused to open the door. The king, a gentleman who respected the rights of a man in his own household, would not force his way in, so he turned and left. And this poor man missed seeing his king. [Unknown]

In the same way, God respects your will and will not ‘force’ you to do something you don’t want to. [Mark]

*****************************
Once an artist was painting a winter scene. As he began to paint, the scene that unfolded on the canvass was of snow covered ground and pine trees. The artist’s hand brought the day to a close and night fell on the canvas, and the entire scene was covered with semi-darkness. A grim log cabin was barely visible in the shadows. Then the artist dipped his brush in the yellow paint of his pallet, and with a few strokes placed in one of the cabin windows the warm glow of a lamp. As he finished the painting the gold rays of the lamp reflected happily on the fresh snow. The lonely light totally changed the tone of the picture, replacing the gloomy chilled night with a warm and secure homestead. What happened on that canvas happened two thousand years ago on the world’s canvas. When a tiny baby came into a grim and dark world, shining light across the barren landscape and offering all the hope of eternal warmth and security. [Daily Bread-RBC]

*****************************
THE PRESENCE OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas is not just a season,
Christmas is not just a day,
Christmas is more than a reason
For parties, presents and play.
Christmas is truly the essence
Of joy that the Savior brings;
Christmas is surely the presence
Of Jesus, the King of Kings!
[William Arthur Ward]

*****************************
NAME THAT CHRISTMAS CAROL!
(Answers at end of newsletter—No cheating!)

1. Bleached Yule
2. Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a Conflagration
3. Singular Yearning for the Twin Anterior Incisors
4. Righteous Darkness
5. Arrival Time 2400 hrs – Weather Cloudless
6. Loyal Followers Advance
7. Far Off in a Feeder
8. Array the Corridor
9. Bantam Male Percussionist
10. Monarchial Triad
11. Nocturnal Noiselessness
12. Jehovah Deactivate Blithe Chevaliers
13. Red Man En Route to Borough
14. Frozen Precipitation Commence
15. Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle
16. The Quadruped with the Vermillion Probiscis
17. Query Regarding Identity of Descendant
18. Delight for this Planet
19. Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings
20. The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals

*****************************
WHY I FOLLOW CHRIST
I have not seen clear statistical evidence that fewer Christians die of cancer than non-believers. Or that they are immune, in greater degree, from the diseases that afflict the human race. Some of the kindest most selfless persons I know, have had more than their share of bad health. The fact that they belong to Jesus Christ did not insulate them from disease. Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised healing.

I will not deny or dispute the evidence of restoration of health. I will rejoice at every recovery from what seems to be a hopeless threat of death. I will not hesitate to pray for recovered health for my loved ones and acquaintances. I will set no limits on what God may do. But, I will not follow Christ for promised healing.

I see no sign that Christians escape disaster and accident more than others. I have helped dear friends empty muddy waters out of dresser drawers and new appliances after a disastrous flood. I remember as a child taking clothes to a widow with five children whose house had burned to the ground. A bullet makes no detour around the body of a believer.
Therefore, I will not follow Christ for any promised protection from disaster.

I will not scoff at amazing survivals nor deny that providence has and continues to work for good of God’s own. I will continue to pray for protection from wicked men and tragedy. But I will not follow Christ for promised protection from accident or catastrophe.

I do not observe that Christians are especially favored with prosperity. Like James, we’ve all seen the rich oppressing the poor. And justice is rarely perfect in this world. The Psalmist has said that he has not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed baking bread. And in the deepest needs of this life, that is certainly true. But all of us have known people of integrity who have not prospered. Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised freedom from physical want or the hope of affluence.

I’m not certain that Christians have stronger personalities and fewer neurosis than non-believers. I do know that there is no bitterness like religious bitterness and no arrogance more insufferable. I’ve watched Christians suffer emotional and mental disabilities. And though it may seem heretical, I’m not sure that I would really enjoy living in the same house with either the Apostle Peter or Paul. God wills that the mind of Christ be formed in us. And there is no doubt in my mind that the Christian’s attitudes and actions will be improved by his Christianity. But I will not follow Christ for any promise of personality enhancement or perfection.

Why then follow Christ? Why be a disciple of Jesus when life may become more complicated, as He so often warned? For one reason alone. In Jesus we behold the face of God.

He is the truth. The everlasting truth. God in the flesh. I know that in His life, death, and resurrection, I am reconciled to God, the giver of life. I believe that nothing can separate me from the love of God. He has all power and goodness. I trust Him and His promises. To Him I offer my life, damaged or whole, brief or full of years. It matters not. He is the one certain thing in an uncertain world. He is to be worshipped, not so that something will happen to me or to the world. Something already has happened to me and the world. But because He is God, who through Christ has reconciled the world to Himself. He saves me. He is my justification. He is the center that holds.

To worship the God of our salvation, to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, that alone is our vocation. We offer our lives to God, not as so to be healthy, wealthy, or wise,. Not even so as to gain strength to do great things for Him. We offer our lives to Him because He alone has a claim on us. God is not a means.  [John C. Hutchinson, Jr.]

*****************************
Nature forms us;
Sin deforms us;
Education informs us;
Penitentiaries reform us;
Jesus Christ transforms us
[Anon]

*****************************
CHRISTMAS CAROL ANSWERS:
1. White Christmas
2. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
3. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
4. O Holy Night
5. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
6. O Come, All Ye Faithful
7. Away in a Manger
8. Deck the Hall
9. Little Drummer Boy
10. We Three Kings
11. Silent Night
12. God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
13. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
14. Let it Snow
15. Go, Tell It on the Mountain
16. Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer
17. What Child is This?
18. Joy to the World
19. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
20. The Twelve Days of Christmas

*****************************
DEEP THOUGHT:
Adversity doesn’t create character—it reveals it. [Anon.]

*****************************
*****************************
Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” [John 3:17]

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  [2Pet. 3:9]

Mark

*****************************
*****************************
Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

<‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: