Blog Archives

Choose Not to Be an Island

Barbara | February 12, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

One More Year of Choices…

By Barbara Dahlgren

The phrase “no man is an island” was first written in 1624 by the famous Elizabethan poet, minister, and scholar John Donne in his Devotions – Meditation XVII. The poem is quite dated by today’s standards, but it inspired a song with lyrics that ring true for all generations.

No man is an island

No man stands alone

Each man’s joy is joy to me

Each man’s grief is my own

It goes on to say that all men are our brothers and we need one another. And although I should welcome this lofty concept, sometimes I just want to be a hermit and get away from everyone. Some are energized by the company of others; I am fatigued.

Visions of being alone on a tropical island enter my mind. My island would never get above 75 degrees, since I don’t like hot weather. (If I’m having a vision, might as well have one tailor made for me.) Not having to deal with the quirks of fickle people is appealing. Of course, in all honesty, to be truly happy on the island I would need TV, Internet, and a cell phone. I don’t need the cell phone to call people, but I have my photos, games, and music to consider. I might need room service, but then that would involve other people. Life gets so complicated.

But here’s the deal… God is more about community than isolation. He models this in the Trinitarian relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is further exemplified in the grace filled gesture of making salvation available for all mankind so we, too, can enter into that relationship.

To me, the true meaning of “no man is an island” is that whether I like it or not, we are all interconnected. We are interconnected with God and with each other. This is more than just a physical connection. It’s a spiritual one. God loves us. God loves others. God wants us to love Him. God wants us to love others. (Matthew 22:38-39) God wants us to love one another. (John 15:12)

God makes it clear that we have responsibilities towards one another. Just search for the phrase “one another” in the Bible and see what pops up. Here are a few examples…

  • …serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
  • …be devoted to one another in brotherly love. (Romans 12:10)
  • …honor one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • …accept one another. (Romans 15:7)
  • …admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)
  • …greet one another. (Romans 16:16)
  • …bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
  • …bear with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
  • …submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
  • …encourage one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • …pray for one another. (James 5:16)
  • …love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Consider this… These scriptures would be hard to fulfill in total isolation. You see, true Christianity is about our relationship with God and our relationship with “one another.”

So as I return from daydreaming about my fictitious island, I realize “no man is an island,” nor should he want to be one.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • Find ways to connect with others at work, school, church, etc. Ask them questions and be interested in what they have to say.
  • Force yourself to smile at others.
  • Pray for those you come in contact with. You don’t have to know others really well to pray for them.
  • Ask God to help you be interested in other people.
  • Be patient with others and pray that they will be patient with you.

Choose Not to Get Hung Up Over Rituals

Barbara | February 5, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

One More Year of Choices…

By Barbara Dahlgren

After years of bondage in Egypt, it was only natural that the Israelites had absorbed quite a bit of the Egyptian culture. When God delivered them, He wanted them to be a separate people – an example to surrounding nations. To accomplish this, God provided them with a set of laws. If the Israelites obeyed this covenant, God said that they would be His “…treasured possession…and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6)

Therefore, the book of Leviticus is crammed full of detailed procedures, rules, and rituals the Israelites were expected to follow. Each instruction had a specific purpose designed for the time in which they lived – in Old Covenant times. However – times change.

When Jesus came to establish a New Covenant, things would be different. No longer were godly people identified by their rules and rituals. Their identity would be in Christ.

This was a hard concept for the Pharisees to grasp. The Pharisees were the religious experts of the time, the keepers of the Mosaic Law. By the time they encountered Christ, certain rules had been added to the law, many becoming extreme customs – so much so that the original intent of the written law was often lost. Yet, they felt the observance of these regulations were vital in keeping God’s favor and considered themselves the righteous standard for obedience to God.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, but He continually violated the Pharisaical “godly” customs. For example, He ate and drank with sinners, which made Him ceremonially unclean. (Luke 7:34-39) He broke the Sabbath by healing people and picking a little corn to eat. (Luke 13:14; Matthew 12:1-2) He and the disciples did not participate in the ceremonial washing of their hands before they ate. (Mark 7:1-23)

Now this washing of the hands ceremony was a little bigger deal than just using some hand sanitizer for healthy eating. It went something like this: Fingertips pointed up. Water poured down them until it ran down the wrist. A palm would be cleaned with the fist of the other hand. Fingertips would then point down. Water poured down them until it ran off the finger tips. Then they would switch hands and repeat.

Shockingly, Jesus did not do it that way. When the Pharisees asked him why, He replied with a quote from Isaiah 29:13: “These people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, but their teachings are but rules taught by men.” He went on to say, “You nullify the word of God with your tradition.” (Mark 7:13) In other words, “You think your traditions are more important than the word of God!”

Christ was saying that what we do is not as important as why we do it. Jesus did not come with a list of rules and regulations. He came with His teachings and the law of love.

In New Testament times, people were used to seeing “works” – customs and rituals being performed. So they asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” (John 6:28, 29) This was a new, radical concept.

Most of us think, “Those silly Pharisees. They just didn’t get it!” How could they set up their own customs, rituals, and standards of righteousness and think they were God’s? But how many of us really “get it?” How many of us have subconsciously done the same thing, worshiping traditions more than Christ?

Are we tied to total immersion baptism, how often we take Communion, the order of our church service, the tempo of our worship music, what instruments are allowed in church, certain hymnals, dietary habits, circumcision, tithing, Old Testament holy days, hair length, specific Bible translations, abstaining from alcohol, men wearing ties to church, women wearing dresses, Saturday or Sunday worship, the altar call, collecting an offering, and so on? There is nothing wrong with having opinions about these things or even doing them in a “traditional” manner – one to which we have grown accustomed – but when we focus more on what we do instead of why we do it, we miss the mark.

Even more dangerous is when we judge and condemn others who do not do it the way we think it should be done. Are we using God’s standard or our own? Are we doing things for God’s glory or our own? Are we doing things because we think God likes it or because we like it? We need to be honest with ourselves.

The same goes for those who break tradition. Are they doing it as an act of rebellion? Are they judging and condemning those who like tradition and ritual? It works both ways.

Consider this… If a custom or ritual can enhance our relationship with God, then so be it. But we must control our rituals; they should not control us. If they control us, we have no flexibility or room for anything that might be a little different – sort of like the Pharisees.

We need to keep perspective. After all, God has called us into a relationship, not a ritual. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • Do not judge others who do things differently than you do.
  • Do not confine God to your standard of thinking.
  • Do not use God to justify your likes and dislikes.
  • Do not think of the Bible as a list of do’s and don’ts.
  • Think of the Bible as a way to get to know the mind of Christ. The really important questions to ask when studying scriptures are not: what, when, why, or how. The Bible is all about WHO! Get to know the WHO (Jesus Christ), and all the other questions will be answered or pale in significance.

Choose Not to Spread or Believe Rumors

Barbara | January 29, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

One More Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
Our last blog focused on gossip. This time we will talk about rumors. On the surface, it may appear these are the same thing. While there is a distinct overlap, there are also nuances that differentiate the two. There are elements of gossip that can mean to merely chit-chat. For example: “Did you see John’s new car?”; “Mary lost weight and looks great?”; “The Smiths had twins.” However, rumors usually have a malicious intent. They can’t be substantiated or verified, and have no discernable source for truth.

Rumors abound in today’s society. We hear them on the job, at home, in political campaigns, newspaper articles, e-mail correspondence, at church, on T.V., and virtually everywhere. They always have been and always will be a part of everyday life. Rumors feed our desire to know a little secret. “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see” is great advice, but how many of us actually heed it? Or are we all too willing to believe what we want to believe?

When it was reported that Mark Twain was dead, imagine his shock when he read his obituary in the newspapers. To which he made the famous reply, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” That’s one of the problems with rumors. They tend to get greatly exaggerated.

Years ago we worked near a pastor who was having some difficulties. Our headquarters labored diligently to help this man come to terms with what he was struggling with. Finally, the pastor asked for and was granted a leave of absence so he could spend some reflective time praying and studying without the added responsibility of taking care of his church. However, others who were not in our area heard rumors and interpreted them to mean that this man was treated unfairly and basically given the axe. Since we were in the adjacent area, we started receiving calls from all over the U.S. “What a raw deal!” they would say. “How could they treat him that way?”

These people did not know all the facts, but were perfectly willing to jump to the wrong conclusion. My husband and I learned a valuable lesson from this. Things were definitely not as others thought they were. Now when we hear about someone getting a raw deal, we know there may be many other sides to the story. And since we may never be privy to all those sides, it behooves us to be a little cautious before believing the worst.

We know what the Bible has to say about those who spread rumors. They are called “whisperers” (Romans 1:29-31), “busy bodies” (1 Timothy 5:13), “sowers of discord” (Proverbs 6:16-19), and “tale bearers” (Proverbs 11:13). Regardless of this, rumors will always be with us. Furthermore, we will always be tempted to listen to them. Why?

The answer is in Proverbs 18:8 (NLT) which says, “What dainty morsels rumors are!” Not listening to rumors is like turning down a delicious dessert. It’s hard to do. No doubt, when we nibble on one morsel, it creates a taste for more. Perhaps, it’s better not to open the box of candy at all. For who can stop with just one bonbon? We are eager to partake of those sweet, delectable concoctions, just like we are eager to hear and believe the latest tidbit making the rounds.

Consider this… Proverbs 26:20 says that without wood a fire goes out, and without rumors, a quarrel dies down. With that in mind, next time someone wants to tell us a juicy rumor, why not refuse that dainty morsel? Just say, “No thanks! I’m on a diet!” Rumor has it that we will all be a lot healthier if we do!

Suggestions for practicing this choice…
When you are tempted to spread a rumor, think about the following:

There is nothing as effective as a bunch of facts to spoil a good rumor.

It’s easier to float a rumor than to sink one.

A groundless rumor often covers a lot of ground.

There is nothing busier than an idle rumor.

A tongue four inches long can kill a man six feet tall.

Unfortunately, an unfounded rumor isn’t one that’s lost.


Choose Not to Gossip

Barbara | January 22, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

One More Year of Choices…

By Barbara Dahlgren

The old television show Hee-Haw had a humorous segment with four women called the Gossip Girls singing something like this…

“Now, we’re not ones to go ’round spreadin’ rumors,

Why, really we’re just not the gossipy kind,

No, you’ll never hear one of us repeating gossip,

So you’d better be sure and listen close the first time!”

Pretty funny, huh?

Gossip can have many sides. In fact, some gossip can be good, some bad, and some ugly.

Good Gossip

Is there such a thing as good gossip? Actually gossip has several meanings. One is to exchange light, trivial chitchat. It’s a sort of mutual sharing of information. “Mary used a new hair coloring.” “John got a new car.” “Julie had a baby.” It’s usually common knowledge that one wouldn’t mind sharing with others. This kind of socialization helps us learn to relate to others and can be bonding.

Bad Gossip

However, a second meaning is to spread rumors, usually of a sensitive or intimate nature. Don’t we just love being privy to some juicy, personal tidbit about someone else? It doesn’t even matter if it’s true or not. People may not start out telling half-truths but by the time they tell their closest friends who tell their closest friends who tell their closest friends, the truth can get pretty distorted, but we believe it anyway. As the saying goes, “Some people will believe anything if it’s whispered to them.”

This type of gossip can be harmful and hurtful. Bad gossip is when you have to abruptly stop a conversation because the person being talked about comes into the room. When you are afraid to say it to a person’s face, it can’t be good to repeat.

Ugly Gossip

Ugly gossip deliberately tries to damage a person’s reputation, which goes beyond sharing something you’ve heard. These are lies designed to cause pain and grief. With the Internet, they are all too easy to spread. Unfortunately, when people see something in print, they believe it even more than something whispered in the ear.

This type of gossip can seem quite impersonal, unless you are the target of such maliciousness. School bullies use this technique on kids they don’t like. This cyberbullying results in many young people committing suicide. They even have a term for it called “bullycide.”

No wonder the Bible says, “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. (Proverbs 16:28 – NLT) It also says, “What dainty morsels rumors are—but they sink deep into one’s heart.” (Proverbs 18:8 – NLT)

Consider this… Gossip is like a feather blowing in the wind from place to place. Take ten feathers and release them in a breeze. Then try to retrieve them. It would be an impossible task. Gossip is similar to this. Once we utter gossip, we can’t really get it back because it is blowing around from place to place.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • If you have a problem with someone, sort it out between the two of you. Don’t tell everyone else about it.
  • Be objective when someone shares discontent with you. Remember, you are only getting one person’s side of the story.
  • When someone starts gossiping to you, change the subject. If a simple deflection won’t work then say, “This conversation is getting really negative. Why don’t we talk about something else?” Or say, “I really don’t feel comfortable talking about people behind their backs.”
  • Don’t say anything about people to others that you would not say in front of them.
  • Think about this acronym when you speak of others.

                                    True – Is it true?
                                    Helpful – Is it helpful?
                                    Inspiring – Is it inspiring?
                                    Necessary – Is it necessary?
                                    Kind – Is it kind?

Since someone shared this with me and I’m sharing it with you, let’s just say this is some good gossip you can share with anyone who tries to share bad gossip with you – to keep rumors from getting ugly.  

 


Choose Not to Make Excuses

Barbara | January 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

One More Year of Choices…

By Barbara Dahlgren  

No Excuses - free from PixabayI recently read an article about a woman who wanted her husband to put his dirty clothes in the laundry hamper instead of dropping them on the floor. The author went to great length explaining that there was probably some sort of underlying, psychological reason why the man didn’t want to put the dirty clothes in the hamper. I’m not singling out men here. Some women have the same problem. The author felt that if they could get to the core of the reason behind the action, the problem would be solved.

Honestly???? Give me a break. Here’s a reason for you: people just don’t want to do certain things, so they don’t do them.

I am so tired of people trying to explain away their bad habits. I don’t doubt we could solve the world’s problems by getting to the psychological reasons of why we do what we do, but that doesn’t stop our bad habits. Bad habits are there because we have allowed them to become an ingrained part of our lives. To understand why we do something is marvelous; to stop doing it is something else entirely.

Now it might be a little different if this couple were not living in a shared space. If a person had a room of his/her own and wanted to leave clothes all over the place, then so be it. Or if this couple could afford a cleaning lady to come in daily, so be it. More power to them! Problem solved. But if other arrangements can’t be reached, then this couple should learn to work together on the problem, agreements must be made, and a mutual plan of action taken. Or else they will just have to learn to live with dirty clothes scattered around and stop complaining about it. Because complaining about another’s bad habits does not change the situation.

Picking up dirty clothes is fairly small in comparison to other areas of our lives. However, it could be a metaphor for just about any behavior. People have to learn to function in society. Jobs must be done or people get fired. Bills must be paid on time or fines and penalties occur. Good grooming might be necessary if one wants friends.

We all have excuses for what we do or don’t do, and while they may be valid, they might not help us lead happier lives co-existing with others. As the Bible says, something might be lawful but not expedient, or it might be permissible but not beneficial. (1 Corinthians 6:12) In other words, just because we can justify what we do, doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action to do it.

Does that mean we are unsympathetic because some people have to struggle with certain issues more than others? No! It means just because we understand why people do certain things does not give them license to do it. Just because we have an excuse for what we do doesn’t mean we should continue doing it.

Consider this… People don’t care if we are having a bad hair day, have eaten too much sugar, have a chemical imbalance, were poor as children, had parents who paid more attention to our siblings than us, were potty trained too early or late, have a temper because we’re Irish, are lazy because we never had to go out and get a job, or are slobs because our mothers picked up after us. And while these may be valid reasons for the bad habits we’ve acquired through the years, at some point we have to stop making excuses for ourselves and just do what we should do: get up, pick up, clean up, and grow up!

Don't Make Excuses - free from Flickr

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • Learn to take responsibility for your actions. Occasionally you might have to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that.” It won’t kill you. Taking responsibility actually gives you a certain kind of personal power.
  • Believe it or not, people already know you are not perfect. So when mistakes are made, learn what you can and move on.
  • When you find yourself making an excuse, ask yourself why. Is it to get out of trouble? Is it to justify bad behavior? Is it to avoid responsibility? Is it to do what you want rather than what should be done? If the answer is yes, better make some changes.
  • Never say you can’t change. Everyone can change. What you really mean is that you choose not to make changes because change is difficult. At least be honest with yourself.
  • Remember this quote from Benjamin Franklin. “He who is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

Choose Not to Play the Blame Game

Barbara | January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

One More Year of Choices…

By Barbara Dahlgren

The Blame Game - free from Google advanced search - VimeoWe live in a society where people do not want to accept responsibility for their actions. If people spill hot coffee on themselves, it’s the restaurant’s fault for making the coffee too hot. If a person shoots someone, it’s the gun manufacturer’s fault. If a person drives drunk, it’s the bartender’s fault. If a child misbehaves, it’s the music industry’s fault. If a smoker dies from lung cancer, it’s the tobacco industry’s fault. Should gun manufacturers, restaurants, bartenders, the music industry, cigarette makers, and others act more responsibly? Yes! Are they to blame for the choices we make? No!

To go a step further, our culture places blame on circumstances, parents, the media, our plight, or anything else that will minimize our own faults. While it’s true our lives are heavily influenced by environment and heredity, there comes a time when we need to shape the clay of our lives into what we want and stop blaming our parents, our lack of luck, or the times we live in for who we are. Who we are today does not have to be who we are tomorrow.

Human beings are experts at making excuses. They “wah, wah, wah, wah” their way through life saying things like: “I wasn’t told. I never had an opportunity. Everybody is doing it. They owe it to me. They don’t treat me right. They don’t like me. It’s not my fault.”

Dilbert Cartoon on Blame - free from Flickr

This proclivity to blame others for our circumstances and poor choices is not new. It’s been going on since the time of Adam and Eve. If you read Genesis 3, you’ll see that when God asked Adam why he disobeyed by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam blamed Eve. Then Eve blamed the serpent. Adam went so far as to say to God, “It’s the woman, YOU gave me!” Now it was God’s fault. Everyone wanted to blame somebody else. And so the pattern was set, and we’ve been blaming someone else for what we do ever since.

Even though a pattern was set doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t be altered. It can begin with us. We can make an effort to change our circumstances. We can also say, “I made a mistake. I’m sorry.” We need to be accountable in school, with parents, with kids, in marriage, to employers, to employees, with the government, with our neighbors, with our friends, and with God. If we start to accept responsibility for some of our lesser poor choices, we might learn something. Maybe we’ll learn to make better and wiser choices in the future.

Blame Quote - free from Flickr

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • If you are in a bit of a mess, ask yourself how you could have avoided it. Learn what lessons you can, and try not to make the same mistakes again.
  • It won’t kill you to admit you’re wrong occasionally. Try it! Repeat after me. “I was wrong. I am sorry.” Say it again. “I was wrong. I am sorry.” You can do it. Give it a try.
  • Just because you make mistakes does not mean you are unlovable. God loves you. Your spouse loves you. Your kids love you. Your parents love you… Well, God loves you!
  • Read the following quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer often. “All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.” In other words, blame does not change you or your circumstances. It is totally unproductive.
  • Don’t play the blame game because you will always lose!

 


One More Year of Choices

Barbara | January 1, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

By Barbara Dahlgren

choice from church art subscriptionEach New Year we make resolutions to help us change our lives for the better. Although we usually have every intention of keeping them, all too soon they are abandoned because change is hard. Most of us want changes to instantly happen without any effort on our part. We think if we write them down they will miraculously come to pass. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

That’s why for the past two years I’ve resolved not to make resolutions, but to focus on daily choices instead. My 2015 blog posts were devoted to choices. The response was so positive that I continued with another year of choices in 2016. That result was positive as well, so I’m doing another year of choices for 2017, but with a bit of a twist.

Some choices are proactive, and some are a little more passive but just as important. In other words, what we choose not to do is as important as what we choose to do. On the surface, consciously “choosing not” to do something may seem complacent, perfunctory, or lazy. I assure you that it is not any of these things. In fact, what we “choose not” to do can take a great deal of thought and self-control, plus save us a lot of present and future trouble. So this year we will focus on “choosing not” to do certain things.

Here are some givens in life: God has forgiven us for our sins. Nothing we can do will ever earn us salvation because it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8) Nothing we can do will make God love us anymore than He already does.

However, even though God gives us salvation, grace, and love, He does not automatically give us good habits or moral character. Those qualities are determined by the choices we make.

Consider this…Right choices bring peace of mind; bad choices bring difficulty.

God does not need to zap us when we do something wrong, because wrong choices bring their own penalties. When we make wrong choices, we punish ourselves. It’s the cause and effect principle. What we sow, we reap. The seeds we sow today determine the harvest we reap tomorrow. Although God always forgives us when we make poor choices, the effects remain and we have to deal with and live with them. Choices set off a chain of events which shape our lives, and sometimes the lives of those around us.

While it is true that time and chance happen, many of our problems could be avoided if we trained ourselves to make better choices. A lot of trials are brought on because of our poor choices; other trials may not be our fault, but still we must choose how to respond to them. So there is always an element of choice in everything we do.

The Bible is full of exhortations encouraging us to walk in the way of the Lord. As we read the Bible we can listen for God’s voice whispering to us, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) God exhorts us to do this or don’t do that, but the choice is ours.

So here we go with one more year of choices! If we resolve to day by day make better choices, we will be a lot happier – and so will everyone around us.

Disney Quote from Flickr

Some choice quotes about choices…

 

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” ~Roy Disney, co-founder of Walt Disney Productions

 

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.” ~Ken Levine, video game designer and author

 

“It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.” ~J.K. Rowling, author

 

“When it snows you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.” ~Anonymous

 

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.” ~Proverbs 3:31

 

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 


Choose to Celebrate Christmas

Barbara | December 25, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Celebrate Christmas from churchart sub.People keep or observe Christmas for a few reasons. For adults, it’s a time for families to get together. For parents, it’s a time to give gifts to their children. For children, it’s time to get presents. For Christians, it’s all of these plus a time to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The birth of Christ is very significant. Yet, long before His birth there was something wonderful – the promise of His coming and the promise of redemption for mankind which was all foretold in Scripture.

Psalm 130:7-8 told us, “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

Jeremiah 23:4-5 said a day was coming when God would raise up a king who would reign wisely and do what was right. His name would be “The Lord Our Righteousness.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 told us, “Unto us a child will be born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 11:2-5 said the Spirit of the Lord would rest on Him, and the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, fear of the Lord. He would not judge by what He saw or heard but with righteousness.

Over 300 prophecies were fulfilled through the birth of Jesus, His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection. Not just the promise of Christ’s coming was revealed in Scripture but the details of how it would take place. This miraculous event was not some afterthought, but totally planned by God.

He would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10/Luke 3:3), a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:3/Matthew 1:1), Isaac (Genesis 17:19/Luke 3:24), Jacob (Numbers 24:17/Matthew 1:2), Jesse (Isaiah 11:10/Romans 15:12), and David (Jeremiah 23:5-6/Matthew 1:1).

He would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:15/Galatians 4:4), a virgin (Isaiah 7:11/Luke 1:26-31) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2/Luke 2:4-7), worshipped by shepherds (Psalm 72:9/Luke 2:8-15), and honored by kings (Psalm 72:10,17/Isaiah 60:3/Matthew 2:1-11). The slaughter of children (Jeremiah 31:15/Matthew 2:16-18) and flight to Egypt (Hosea 11:1/Matthew 2:14-15) were foretold as well. The list goes on and on.

So Christ’s birth was significant!

Consider this… So significant was the birth of Christ that the world splits history, calendars, and time lines into two segments: BC which means before Christ and AD which means “in the year of our Lord” indicating after Christ was born.

Luke 2.10 from churchart sub

To show the significance of Christ being born, an angel was sent by God on the night of His birth to announce His arrival. “Do not be afraid, I bring you good tidings of joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) Sounds like a reason to celebrate to me!

Christ is the Savior for all, so I don’t worry too much about those who keep Christmas without focusing on Christ. They may not even know Christ, yet. However, they are actually celebrating a holiday about Christ’s birth. They may try to say that’s not what they are celebrating, but how can they get around it? Christmas literally means Christ’s Mass. So, ironically, whether people want it to or not, it commemorates and celebrates Christ’s birth!

The true gift of Christmas won’t be found under a tree, but in the presence of Jesus in our lives. That’s why, as we celebrate, we thank God for this indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15) This gift of Christ was sent not to condemn us, but to redeem us! (John 3:17) His name is Emmanuel which means God with us. We never have to be afraid or feel alone again. He is our good tidings of joy, sent for all people – from the poorest shepherd to the richest Magi! To me, that’s something to celebrate!

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Here are some Christmas quotes to read at Christmastime. They can put us in the true Christmas spirit.

  • “He who has not Christmas in his heart, will never find it under a tree.” ~Roy L. Smith
  •  “This is the message of Christmas: we are never alone.” ~Taylor Caldwell
  • “Blessed is the season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” ~Hamilton  Wright Mabie
  • “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” ~Charles Schulz
  • “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” ~Ebenezer Scrooge from a  Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

 

And my favorite Christmas prayer is by Robert Louis Stevenson. How I miss the poets of old!

Oh God,

Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven for Jesus’ sake.

Amen

Merry Christmas - free illustration from Pixabay

 


Choose to Give Gifts of Value

Barbara | December 18, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Hand holding gift box - free from FlickrMost of us are in the midst of Christmas shopping. Choosing the right gift for someone can be a challenge. Those of us who don’t have money to buy expensive gifts to lavish on loved ones or even put a dollar or two in Santa’s Salvation Army bucket may feel a little down. But do not despair! There are gifts you can give that cost little or nothing, yet are very valuable.

Here’s a list I’ve come up with, and I’m sure you can add your own ideas. Just because you can’t buy gifts for others doesn’t mean you don’t have something to give. Think about giving the following…

Smiles: Smiles are a universal language. Not only do smiles lift spirits, they are contagious. Statistics show that a person who is given a smile will more than likely give one to someone else. So as the old song goes, “Smile, darn ya, smile!”

“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11)

 

Handwritten Note of Appreciation: Has someone done you a kindness? Why not give them a handwritten note of appreciation? With e-mail and text messaging being the norm for communication today, a hand written note could turn out to be a collector’s item.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3) 

 

Encouragement: Words like “you did a great job,” “thank you for your help,” and “don’t you look nice today” can make someone’s day.

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

Laughter: Why not clip and share a funny, yet tasteful, cartoon with someone? Sharing a laugh can even improve one’s health. Studies show that those who laugh more live longer.

“A merry heart is good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22)

 

Patience: Try not to get irritated with ANYONE for the whole holiday season. Don’t raise your voice in anger or lash out at others. We all make mistakes from time to time, so we don’t need others constantly pointing them out to us.

“In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:10) 

 

Benefit of the Doubt: Think the best of others for a change. Don’t impute motives or assume they are doing things to deliberately upset you. Sometimes we just take things the wrong way.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) 

 

Give People a Break: Open the door for someone. Let someone go ahead of you in line. Give the other guy the parking space. It won’t hurt you as much as you think.

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

 

Visit One Person in a Nursing Home: So many that are in nursing homes have no one to visit them. Our dream as a young person is not to end up old and alone. Ask the nursing home attendant if there is anyone who never has visitors, then visit a little with that person. Listen more than talk. The elderly love sharing childhood stories. They are living history lessons.

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’” (Matthew 25:39,40)

 

Forgive: Remember that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Let go and let God take care of it.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:” (Matthew 6:14)

 

Be a Living Example of Jesus Christ: Be a reflection of Christ. Let others see that Christ is alive and living in you. What a great gift to give to others!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) 

 

Consider this… ‘Tis the season to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Christ. Remember to thank God for Jesus, His gift to the world.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

 

Wrapped Presents from Print Master

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Not much money? Here are some inexpensive ideas for giving this holiday season.

  • Give a candy cane and a smile to people you come in contact with during the Christmas season.
  • Give a coupon good for a night of babysitting, one free house cleaning, a hug when needed, a home cooked meal, a free car wash, etc.
  • Give a zip lock bag of homemade cookies to others with a recipe card. If it’s a family recipe, write a memory about these cookies your mother or grandmother used to make.
  • Give two heartfelt notes in envelopes with “why I love you” or “why I’m glad you’re my friend” or “why you make the world a little brighter” or something similar written on them. On one write “open now” and on the other write “open on January 1” or six months from now or whenever you would like it opened.
  • Give a compliment, say thank you, listen to others, and be respectful. You may think these gifts are insignificant, but in today’s society they are priceless treasures. Just remember – it’s not what you give from your wallet that counts as much as what you give from your heart.

Choose to Smile

Barbara | December 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

image_print

Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Smile - free from Wikipedia

 

After doing a little Christmas shopping at Costco, I smiled at a middle-aged woman who was going in as I was heading for the parking lot. (Actually, I don’t know how old she was because now that I’m over 65 I view the people’s ages in a different light. Let’s just say she wasn’t young.) Anyway, the lady looked at me and said, “Are they any nicer in there than they are out here?”

Hmmmm, I thought. “I’m not sure,” I said, “but I hope I am!”

December is a hectic time of year. Christmas preparations can weigh us down and give us the gloomies. Parties, decorating the house, business mailings, working extra hours, long lines, traffic jams, and family time can take its toll on our nerves and tempers. And then there’s trying to find the right gift for each person on your list. Gift giving can be expensive. However, I think I know a present you can give to everyone you see at this time of year and it doesn’t cost a thing. SMILE!

Smiles are the perfect gift for all genders, all cultures, all languages, all races, and all ages. They can be given to friends, relatives, business associates, and strangers. One size fits all, and they are guaranteed to make a person look younger and attractive.

A smile is the gift that keeps on giving. It benefits the giver and the recipient. Research shows that smiles can change moods, relieve stress, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, plus release endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin in the body.

When you smile, I smile - free from Flickr

Smiles are contagious – in a good way. Daniel Goleman, PhD and author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships explains a key to understanding this is called mirror neurons. We all have mirror neurons. Goleman says their only job is to “recognize a smile and make you smile in return.” Of course the same goes for a frown. So you choose. Would you rather have people frowning at you or smiling? Did you know even faking a smile can lead to feeling happier?

 

Glory to God from churchart sub

We can even learn something from babies. A newborn shows preference for a smiling face over a non-smiling face, and babies give special smiles of joy and happiness for their loved ones. Speaking of babies, what about the one this season represents? Jesus came so people would have something to smile about. Before He came, there was no hope. There was great celebration when Jesus was born. “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, good will toward men.’” (Luke 2:8-14)

Christmas is about celebrating! It’s all about smiles. You can decorate, party, shop, sing carols, and even spend time with your family, but if you aren’t smiling, you aren’t really celebrating.

Smile! You can do it. It won’t hurt much! It takes no extra time or money. It’s a gift that keeps on giving and comes back to you. I can’t help but think that when we smile at others, Jesus smiles at us.

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • Smile when you first get up in the morning, even if no one will see you. It sets the tone for the day.
  • Smile at people you meet throughout the day, whether they smile back at you or not. It can help set the tone for their day.
  • Smile before you answer the phone. It sets the tone for your voice inflection.
  • Smile when you hear Christmas music and think about Christ being born. It sets the tone for your spiritual life.
  • Smile right before you go to bed at night and thank God for little things that happened throughout the day. It sets the tone for a better night’s sleep.

SMiLE from Wikimedia Commons