Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

I love those idyllic, Christmas-card pictures. A snowy landscape; a couple driving their horse-drawn sled toward a warm little bungalow; brightly wrapped gifts in the back of the sled. That, or some similar image of an “old fashioned Christmas” warms the heart.

In reality, often Christmas warms our heart but scalds our pocket book. For many, Christmas shopping is a pressure-packed time. Debt piles up. All the ideals of an old-fashioned Christmas seem reduced to a greeting-card picture.

Recently I was reading in Exodus 16 about the huge crowd of grumbling, disobedient Israelites in the desert. In that barren place, God provided manna for them. At first they said, “What is it?” God’s provision was not recognizable.

A couple things relate to Christmas in this story.

First, the people were in need. They didn’t have enough. Yet in the desert, we are told, “That evening quail came and covered the camp…” Yesterday, in an empty Pennsylvania field I saw hundreds of sparrows literally covering a portion of the field. How can a sparrow strip a field of seed? It’s easy. Thousands show up. God’s provision is abundant.

Second, what they needed was provided. “Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.” God often works that way. He meets the need, yet allows need to recur. He likes us to come to Him.

Lastly, the timing of God’s provision was impeccable. “The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled.” When we arrived in Pennsylvania in August, we needed housing. A family in our church offered their “cottage” adjacent to their house. They said, “stay as long as you like.” We were blown away at God’s timing.

So this year, why not experience an old-fashioned Christmas? Not the greeting card kind, but one where you ask the Lord for what you need. Grab a cup of coffee and get off into a quiet place. Have a private conversation with God. Tell Him what you need. It might be helpful if you admit to him you’ve grumbled and disobeyed quite a bit too. But talk with him. Then wait, be observant, and see if you don’t start recognizing the manna.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the sleigh ride.

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Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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