" Reflections 2004 "

Dear Friends and Family,

What are some of the first things that come to your mind when you think of the past Christmas Holidays? Lets reflect back on some of those things.

As a child I can remember going Christmas tree shopping. I was brought up in the city and can remember looking at trees in the ally between two stores. Boy, how big they appeared to me. Then there was the challenge of getting the tree up 21 stairs that were only about three feet wide. The tree would press between the stairwell and me. It was all I could do just to make it to the top of the stairs then down the hall and eventually through the door of our apartment.

Then there was the dilemma of where to put this huge tree once it was inside the apartment. Now you have to remember, I was only about four foot tall and one foot wide, the tree was seven foot tall and five foot wide, and then there was the tree stand. Why is it that the base of the tree never fit the tree stand? I remember laying the tree down on its side and taking a saw and trying to cut the base of the tree so that it fit the tree stand. What a job that was, and why is it that the tree always had a bear spot on one side? Than after awhile the tree was up and ready to be trimmed.

I remember trimming the tree with popped corn and stringing the corn one piece at a time onto a thread and needle until we had enough to go around the tree several times. The lights we put on the tree weren’t bulbs, but instead were candles with different colored fluids in them, and when you plugged them in, bubbles would form and go from the bottom of the candle to the top. We would use tinsel made of thin strips of aluminum to put on the tree. You had to be very careful not to tear the tinsel when taking it out of the package, but to many times the tinsel broke. Oh the challenge of placing the tinsel, one strip at a time, onto the tree. We didn’t use to many round ornaments but instead used a lot of figurines and snow flakes that we cut out of paper and glued glitter onto. Once this was done we would count the days until Christmas.

Alll I could think of was what kind of toy I was going to get. I kept waking up several times on Christmas Eve night. I would wonder if it was Christmas yet. As soon as the sun came up and I could see a little bit of light through my window, I would get out of bed and go straight to the Christmas tree and start looking for my name on the presents. Boy, it seemed like Mom and Dad would never get up. I would shake and squeeze the gifts, trying to figure out what was inside the wrapper. I kept thinking to myself, is it this type of toy or is it another type of toy. All of a sudden in the next room I could hear Mom and Dad getting up. I thought they were going to sleep all the way through Christmas. Or at least it seemed that way because every minute seemed as if it was an hour.

Now was the time. Get ready, get set, GO. I grabbed the first present and ripped off the paper to see what toy I got. Much to my disappointment, the package contained a pair of socks. I opened the next present, but again it was just another article of clothing. Than the next, still another article of clothing. I thought to myself, these aren’t presents! These aren’t toys! Then I picked up another present. It seemed different from the others. Could this one be the toy I had been waiting for? Sure enough, it was a western cap gun and holster.

Christmas to me was receiving cloths and one toy, but I still remember how happy that one special gift made me. It was just one special gift, given out of a heart of love. That’s all it took. It’s not about a lot of stuff.

As Christmas approaches, I stop and think of that one special gift, given from the heart of God the Father.

I look to my Father God who out of his heart of love gave me Jesus Christ. No other gift has been so precious to me. What good would it do, to gain all that this world has to offer (stuff), and loose the only gift (Jesus) that will give you eternal life.

We were like that tree that was lying in the ally. We needed to be trimmed so that we could stand tall and have a good footing so we wouldn’t fall.

Sometimes as God forms us into his image, as the popcorn, we feel like we’re being threaded through a needle.

Many times, as the tinsel, we feel like we’re falling apart. But God is right there to pick us up.

And as the candles bubble because of pressure when heat is applied to them, we feel that our bubble is ready to burst at times.

But all of these things that we go through are, as the Christmas tree. When God is finished with us we will become as the paper snowflake, glittering, clean, white as snow, and a thing of beauty in God’s sight.

God Himself adorned us with His righteousness, and shines His everlasting light upon us, and has made us beautiful in His sight.

Just as Mom and Dad had given this child a special gift, God has given us a very special gift, His son Jesus Christ. Unlike the gift that was under the tree, that would only last for a while. God’s gift (Jesus) will last for all eternity

My prayer is that you consider sharing that very special gift (Jesus) with others this Christmas season. Please remember us in your prayers, and the ministry that God has called us into. Lena and I would like to wish you and your family a Very Merry Christmas and Blessings throughout the New Year. May God hold His protective hand over you and prosper you always.