Popular Posts

Friday, 28 December 2012

Year in Review: Heroes of 2012

As I reflect on the year 2012, the people below stand out as being heroic:


Scientist Dr. Shinya Yamanaka

   This scientist from Japan, along with British scientist John Gurdon, won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research in the area of stem cells.  He has shown the medical community that it is no longer necessary to use embroyonic stem cells in their research.  Yamanaka’s ethical work has resulted in “stem cell research into drugs, treatments and transplants without having to use human embroyos.”[1] 
   I admire that Yamanaka allowed his pro-life convictions to guide his scientific inquiry for the betterment of humanity.

Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis

   This courageous man recognizes that any city’s battle with crime involves a spiritual battle.  In mentioning that prayer could bring about change in Winnipeg, Manitoba[2] (considered the capital of violent crime in Canada), Clunis faced criticism from many quarters claiming that faith has no place in public life. 
   I admire Chief Clunis in getting to the root of crime—the sinful human heart—as well as pointing people of faith to a life of prayer and action to make our communities better.

Canadian Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth

   The Honourable Steven Woodworth introduced a private member’s bill to the House of Commons in the spring in order to determine when a fetus becomes a human being.  Canada’s current law states that a fetus becomes human only after it has fully emerged from the birth canal; there is no protection of the fetus’ rights until that point. 
   Although the bill was ultimately defeated in September, I admire Mr. Woodworth’s courage in addressing this huge gap in Canadian human rights.  He faced the wrath of many in his own party, including the Prime Minister himself, and brought this important issue to the forefront.

Fostering and Adoptive Parents

   Some unsung heroes to whom I need to give honour are those who have opened their home to children not biologically their own.  Two of the students in my current Junior Kindergarten class have been given a loving home by wonderful adopting parents.  This is a day in and day out commitment without always knowing the kinds of trauma a child experienced before or how that will affect his or her future.
   I admire these people because right before my eyes they reflect the incomprehensible love that God has in adopting us as his own children. 

Is there someone who you would like to honour because of their impact on you in 2012?  Post a comment and share it with us!

[1] From the text of The Millennium Technology Prize also awarded to Dr. Yamanaka by the Technology Academy of Finland in 2012, quoted in “Nobel scientist’s moral achievement” by William Saletan in the Waterloo Region Record, October 13, 2012, page A13.
[2] As reported in Christian Week (Ontario Edition), November 2012, page 24 

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Appreciating My Wardrobe

   They say that you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.  It’s not that all my clothes are gone, but if you read my post on November 26th (My Outfit for December) you will know I’ve been wearing the same black skirt and sweater since December 1st and intend to continue until the end of this month. 
   This was all about making myself aware of the plight of people so poor that they may need to wear the same thing everyday, and may not have the resources to wash it as frequently as I could.  Besides being more grateful that I have many outfits to choose from starting on January 1st, I have also learned the following:
  • I have an addiction to variety.  This month I was more conscious of selecting different footwear or jewelry since the basic outfit was already set.  Since this clothing was all black, I added a colourful scarf I already owned to the ensemble as Christmas approached.
  • I chose this outfit because it would not look out of place at school or church.  However, I did feel a bit overdressed during a visit to my sister’s house and at a casual Christmas get-together.  
  • I was reminded of my own mother’s experience growing up in Holland.  My grandmother would buy three matching dresses for three daughters close in age.  My mother was the youngest of the threesome and would wear the same dress to school each day until it no longer fit.  Then, she would wear two more identical dresses passed down from her older sisters until the cycle would begin all over again.
  • When I was ready for bed, washing my clothes by hand was an extra chore I didn’t always count on.

Monday, 24 December 2012

December 25: Christ the SAVIOUR is born

  Christmas has arrived.  As “Silent Night” says, “Christ the Saviour is born!”  But what is a Saviour?

   There are candies called lifesavers, and they can give us a clue.  On ships, there are many large things shaped like this candy.  If someone falls into the water, people on the ship throw out a lifesaver (also called a  life preserver) so the person will not drown.  The person is rescued!
   Did you know Jesus is a life-saver?  Maybe you know that Jesus is sometimes called our “Saviour”, but it really means the same thing.  If he did not come to earth, each of us would be lost.  We would drown in our own sin and the hurt that it causes.
   Jesus' name means life-saver.  The angel told Jesus' parents that they were supposed to give him the name Jesus because it means “God saves” (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus is the way God came to save you and me. 

            “Silent Night! Holy Night!” verse 3
                         Silent night! Holy night!
                        Shepherds quake at the sight
                        When they hear the angels sing
                        Alleluias to the King.
                        Christ the Saviour is born!
                        Christ the Saviour is born!

Preparing for Christmas #24: Messiah

   What kind of liquid is in this bottle?  What do we normally use it for?  We use oil for cooking.  In Bible times, olive oil was used for cooking, but the best olive oil was used for a special task of anointing.  A prophet, priest, or king would have this kind of oil poured on his head to show that God called him to do some special job.  The people were supposed to listen to this person because God had given them that task.
   The word Christ or Messiah both mean “one who is anointed.”  Jesus was given a special task by God to preach, to be a priest, and to reign as king.  He is in heaven ruling things right now.  There was no other man like Him!
   Tomorrow is Christmas, the day we remember Jesus coming into the world.  He came to be our Messiah—chosen by God-- to do a special task only he could do.  Let us praise Him every day of the year for all that he is and all he has done for us.

“God Rest You Merry Gentlemen” verse 1
            God rest you merry, gentlemen,
            Let nothing you dismay.
            Remember Christ our Saviour
            Was born on Christmas day,
            To save us all from Satan's power
            When we were gone astray.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #23: Bridegroom

   What do the rings on this picture mean?  Why were these rings given?  They were given at a wedding.  On their wedding day, the woman is called a bride and the man is called the bridegroom.
   Jesus was never married, but he called himself “the bridegroom.” Why did he do this?  One time the people who hated Jesus asked why His disciples did not fast.  Fasting means that a person stops eating for a period of time to show how much God means to him or her.  Jesus said that people do not fast when they are with the bridegroom (Matthew 9:15).  Weddings are times of joy and celebration, and Jesus' followers realized that having Jesus with them was supposed to be a happy time.
   In Jesus' time, the bridegroom had to pay a special price to the woman's family in order for her to become his wife.  In a way, the people who love God are the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom who comes to live with them.  To show how much Jesus loved this “bride”, He gave up His life for them/us.  When Jesus comes back to earth again some day, Revelation 19 speaks of it being like a wedding.  After that we will always be with Jesus, our bridegroom.

Thank you, Jesus for all your love towards us.  Thank you for giving your life for us.  We look forward to the wedding feast when You return to bring us to Yourself.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #22: The Resurrection

  How does a butterfly come to be a butterfly?  Was it born that way?  No, it goes through different phases, beginning as an egg, then a caterpillar, and then a chrysalis.  If you found a chrysalis somewhere, you would think it was dead.  Even so, when the time is right, a living butterfly comes from that dead-looking case.
   The birth of a butterfly can help us understand the big word resurrection.  In resurrection, a person does not just seem dead, he or she really is dead.  And then, the person is made alive again.  Jesus called himself “the resurrection and the life” just before he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead (John 11:25).
   Three days after Jesus died, God made him alive again, and he walked, talked, ate, and spoke again.  For forty days he showed people he was alive until he went up to heaven behind a cloud.
   Jesus promises that if we trust in him, he can and will do the same for us some day.  He gives us everlasting life that begins now and will continue even when our body is put in the grave.  It may sound unbelievable, but it is true!

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” verse 3
            Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
            Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
            Light and life to all he brings
            Risen with healing in his wings.
            Mild, he lays his glory by,
            Born that man no more may die,
            Born to raise the lost on earth,
            Born to give them second birth.
            Hark! The herald angels sing,
            “Glory to the new-born king.”

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #21: Immanuel

   What is a house for?  Where does God live?  Does he need a house like we do?  No, he doesn't, but when Jesus became a man and lived on earth, he did stay in houses.
   Perhaps surprisingly, Jesus did not own the nicest house of His day.  Not at all!  He once told some men who wanted to follow Him that even though birds and foxes have homes, Jesus Himself did not have a place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20).
   Jesus was called Immanuel or “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) because he came to live with us—eating, talking, walking, crying, listening—doing all the things that people do from day to day.  He did all this while he was still God.
   Jesus is God who became a human like us in every way except for sin.  That is why he can totally understand our joys and troubles.  Wow!

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” verse 2
            Christ, by highest heaven adored,
            Christ, the everlasting Lord!
            Late in time behold him come,
            Offspring of the virgin's womb.
            Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
            Hail the incarnate Deity,
            Pleased as man with man to dwell,
            Jesus, our Immanuel.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #20: "Amen"

What are these hands doing?[1]  How do we begin a prayer?  We mention God's name.  How do we usually end it?  We say the little word “Amen.”  Amen tells God that we truly mean what we have just prayed for, and we want God to answer us.
   Jesus is called the Amen (Revelation 3:14).  God made many promises in the Old Testament part of the Bible—to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to David, and others; all of those promises have come true in Jesus.  He came as the Amen to the prayers of God's people (2 Corinthians 1:20).  He makes it possible for us to pray to God as Father and to belong to His family even though we are humans.
   Next time we say “Amen” in our prayer, we can remember that Jesus came to earth to be the Amen who makes all our prayers possible.

Thank you that you hear our prayers, O Lord.  Listen to our heart's cry to you.  Please give us your peace. Amen.

[1] These praying hands carved out of wood originally belonged to my grandmother and were passed on to me.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #19: Lion of Judah

   To which animal did we compare Jesus last time?  What are some things that are true about a lamb?  It is weak and helpless and small.  Jesus did not fight against those who wanted to kill Him, but does that mean He is weak and helpless?  No! He surrendered, but he was not always silent and powerless.
   What animal is this?  Would you be afraid to be alone with a lion?  I think we all would be.  Jesus is called the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).  The qualities of a lion are very different from the lamb, but both are part of who Jesus is.
   The lion means He is powerful and that he is coming to rule with authority.  We must be in awe of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, because he is truly awesome.

Dear Jesus,
You are powerful and strong.  Help me not to forget that you hate the evil in the world and the evil that I do.  Give me your strength to fight against it.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Preparing For Christmas #18: Lamb of God

   What kind of animal is this?  Is it all grown up?  It is called a lamb because it is a young sheep.  In the Old Testament part of the Bible, men called priests sacrificed lambs and other animals to show that sinning against God will lead to death.
   At one time of year called Passover (Exodus 12), all the people had to bring a lamb to be sacrificed.  They used some of the blood to put on the sides and top of their outside doors.  At first, they did this to save the oldest boy in their house, but afterwards, the people kept celebrating this holiday to remember how God protected them (Deuteronomy 16:1).
   It was also Passover time when Jesus was killed (Luke 22:1).  Three years before this event, John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Like a lamb, Jesus did not fight back when the soldiers beat him, and he was quiet when they called him names.
   Jesus was a perfect lamb; he never sinned (1Peter 1:19).  Jesus was the ONE lamb that God sent to earth so that no more animals would have to be sacrificed for our sins.  Whoever believes in this Lamb has all sins forgiven!

Dear Jesus,
You took our sins away when you died for us.  We are amazed.  Help me to live everyday with a thankful heart to you for all your love.

Preparing for Christmas #17: Redeemer

   What kinds of things can we buy with money?  Do you think you could buy a person?  Today people cannot be bought or sold in our country because we do not have slavery.  Sadly, though, some places still practice slavery.  People are treated cruelly and can be bought and sold.
   When Jesus lived on the earth, some people were slaves.  There was a way for these slaves to be set free.  If a friend or someone kind wanted to make a slave into a free person, he had to pay the owner a certain price.  This price was called a ransom.  When the ransom was paid, the slave would be free.  The slave would be so happy!
   One time when Jesus was teaching the people, He told them that He had come into the world to serve others and to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).  Jesus did not mean He was going to set ordinary slaves free by paying the ransom price for them.  No, He meant that He was going to give his life so that we could be free from being a slave to what sin wants us to do.
   We call Jesus our Redeemer because he bought us from a life of slavery and paid our ransom.  Now we are free to serve him and do what is right.

            “Silent Night”, verse 3
            Silent Night!  Holy night!
            Son of God, love's pure light;
            Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
            With the dawn of redeeming grace.
            Jesus, Lord at Thy birth (2x) 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #16: The Door

   How many doors are there to get into your house? At the time Jesus spoke to his people, the homes of most people had only one door.  This was also true of sheep pens—they had only ONE opening.  During the day, the animals could freely go in and out, but at night the shepherd himself would sleep in this opening and act as a gate to keep the sheep inside of it safe from wolves and other dangers..
   Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9).  Jesus is saying that He is the only way to be saved from our sin and the only way to reach God.
   When we come in through the Jesus-gate, we are forever safe with Him.  Jesus came to earth to be the gateway for us to know God.

“Good Christian Men, Rejoice” verse 2
            Good Christian men, rejoice
            With heart and soul and voice.
            Now ye hear of endless bliss;
            Joy! Joy!
            Jesus Christ was born for this,
            He hath opened heaven's door
            And man is blessed forevermore.
            Christ was born for this!
            Christ was born for this!

Preparing for Christmas #15: Good Shepherd

   What kind of person would use this tool to do his or her work?  A shepherd.  What do shepherds take care of?  Do you think sheep are easy to take care of?  It may surprise you that they are not!  They are easily scared, and they need food and water nearby all the time.  Sheep also like to explore and find any hole in the fence to escape.  Then they might also get lost.
   A shepherd with many sheep needs to watch them carefully so that they will not wander away and so that no wolves or other wild animals will attack them.  He risks his life to chase away the animal that would hurt his sheep.  He needs to lead the sheep to clean water and green grass.  He comes to know each sheep by name.
   Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11).  He never took care of actual sheep, but He is talking about taking care of us.  He knows each of us by name too.  He gave his life to save us from our enemies of sin and Satan.

Dear Jesus,
You are my shepherd, I have everything that I need.  You lead me.  Protect me in times of danger.  I am as helpless as a sheep without you.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #14: Cornerstone

   What is this part of a building called?  Why is it there?  Today the cornerstone of a building is pretty, and it shows the date when the building was finished or dedicated.  Long ago, it was not just for decoration.  A cornerstone was important in keeping the building strong and safe.  If the cornerstone were ever taken out, then over time, the whole building would crumble and break.
   Not only is Jesus the strong rock, but he also calls himself the cornerstone.  He is the most important part of our lives, and if without him our lives will crumble and break.  When Jesus calls himself the cornerstone, he adds this:
            “The stone the builders rejected as become the cornerstone” (Matthew 21:42)
   When Jesus lived on the earth, many people said that He was worthless because he came from a small village and a family that was not well-known.  He was just a carpenter’s son, they said.  They were so wrong because Jesus is really the most important One of all!

Dear Jesus,
You really are the cornerstone of everything there is.  Help us to let you be the cornerstone of our lives too.  Teach us to know what it means to build our lives on you: our decisions, our goals, and our desires.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #13: Strong Rock

   In days long ago, rocks or bricks would be used to make a strong building.  Why would rocks be chosen instead of wood or straw?  They are so strong, and they are hard to destroy.  If you hit a rock with all your strength, what would happen to the rock?  Why would it still look the same?
   In the poems or psalms of King David, it says, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress” (Psalm 18:2a).  Enemies could shoot arrows, but the rocks of the fortress would stop the arrows from hurting the people inside.  In the same way, the Lord Jesus is protection for us.
   As the rock, Jesus is strong, and he keeps us safe from dangers and anything that would destroy us.  We can be happy that Jesus is a rock if we trust Him, but the Bible says that those who do not trust Jesus will trip on this rock and fall down (1 Peter 2:8).
   The baby born at Christmas is not weak and helpless anymore.  He is the strong rock of our lives.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for being a rock-like fortress to protect your people.  We need your strength to live.  Help us to trust you more and more.

Needed: One Boot

   At my husband’s workplace, which serves people in need of food assistance, donations of clothing and a variety of other items are also accepted.  These, in turn, are sorted and placed in a sort of waiting room where clients can take whatever they need at no charge.   Yesterday, a man holding a winter boot asked if my husband might be able to find its match in the employees-only warehouse.
   My husband, with little confidence and a whispered prayer, headed to the “corner” where the clothing is usually piled in disarray.  To his surprise, the other boot was on top of a bin of potatoes.
   The man was still waiting and gratefully took the pair of boots.  He had just been hired to drive a tow truck for the busier winter season and would not be paid for two weeks.  Yet the running shoes he was wearing would be inadequate for this job.  He had checked a retail store, but $100 was completely unaffordable.
   These boots were meant for this particular individual!  He had the boldness to ask.  As well, if the two boots had been placed in the waiting room together, they would have been taken long ago.  This is one more story showing that my husband works at a “providence place.”

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #12: The Word

   A dictionary is full of words.  What do you do with a word?  You can say it or write to tell about your thoughts. What part of your body says a word?  What part hears it?  What part of your body understands it?  Words are used for talking.  If I couldn't use any words, it would be hard for you to know what I wanted.  When babies are very small, they cry instead of talking because they haven't learned to speak yet.  Mom or Dad has to try to find out why the baby is upset, and sometimes it is not easy to figure it out.
   But God wants to be very clear to us, so he uses our words to tell us about himself; he does this in the Bible.
   The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  “The Word” is another name for Jesus.  Jesus is the way God wants to talk to us and tell us how much he loves us.  He also tells us in the things he made, like the trees, rocks, sky, and animals, but his love is shown most clearly in the words Jesus said and the life that he lived.  The most important parts of Jesus' words and life are written down in the Bible.
   God sent Jesus to earth to speak to us, but are we listening?

“O Come All Ye Faithful”, verse 4
            Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
            Born this happy morning;
            Jesus, to thee be all glory given;
            Word of the Father,
            Now in flesh appearing;
            O come let us adore him (3x)
            Christ the Lord.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #11: Bread of Life

   What is this?  When would we normally eat it?  We sometimes have bread for lunch or with our dinner.  There is a prayer in the Bible which Jesus taught to his helpers called “The Lord's Prayer” or the “Our Father.”  In it, we ask for daily bread (Matthew 6:11), and the word bread here means all the food we need to live.  In Bible times people ate bread more often than we do, and they ate it plain without butter or jam.
   Jesus calls Himself “the bread of life” (John 6:48).  That means He is all we need to live.  Bread keeps our bodies alive, but Jesus makes us truly alive, in our spirits too.  Jesus    did more than just say He was the bread of life.  Two times He fed thousands of people with one or two bread-and-fish lunches. (Mark 6:44; 8:8-9).
   Jesus came to earth to satisfy our hunger for God.
            Our Father who art in heaven,
            Hallowed be your name
            Your kingdom come
            Your will be done
            On earth as it is in heaven.
            Give us this day our daily bread
            And forgive us our sins
            As we forgive those who sin against us.
            Lead us not into temptation,
            But deliver us from the evil one.

Preparing for Christmas # 10: Balm of Gilead

   What is inside this container and what it it used for?  It is a kind of medicine to help your skin heal.  It has a special name, called “balm.”
   In Bible times, balm came from the sticky sap of certain trees that grew in a place called Gilead.  Gilead was famous for this balm, and it was traded as far away as Egypt (Genesis 37:25).  People wanted this balm to heal sores and wounds.
   Jesus is called the “balm of Gilead” (Jeremiah 8:22) for two reasons.  When He lived on the earth, He showed his power by healing people who thought they could never be cured.  These people were unable to walk or hear or see; some had skin diseases that were very bad.  The other reason is that we are all wounded and sick with the disease of sin.  Only Jesus can heal that wound, but we have to ask Him to do it.
   Jesus is like good medicine that heals our souls.

Dear Jesus
We admit that we have a wound in our lives called sin.  Instead of doing what you want, we go our own way hurting others and you.  We have tried other ways to get rid of the pain, but now we ask you to heal and forgive us.  Thank you for hearing us, Jesus.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Preparing For Christmas #9: The True Vine

   Yesterday we talked about the roots of a tree.  What do we have to look at today?  It is a branch from a grape vine.  Vines have thin stems that can turn and twist as the branches hook onto whatever they are climbing.  Would a grape vine be useful if in an entire year no grapes grew on it?  Of course not!  We expect a good grape vine to give us fruit.

   Jesus says, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1a), and he says we are the branches.  This branch has been ripped from a grape vine.  Can it stay alive and produce more grapes next year?  No.  In the same way we need to be connected to Jesus in order to fully live.  He wants us to have fruit too.  Not grapes, but good words and kind actions.
   Are you attached to Jesus, the living vine?

Dear Jesus
We need to be part of you in order to grow and live.  Help us to see that you are able to work through us, that only by Your goodness can we do any good.  Forgive us for trying to do things on our own.

Preparing for Christmas #8: Root of Jesse


 What is this?  Where would you find it?  What is it a part of?  Why does a plant have roots?  Roots keep a plant from blowing over, and they bring water in the soil up to the rest of the plant.
   Trees need roots too.  If we cut down a tree at the trunk and left the stump, could the tree still live?  Sometimes a stump may look dead, but all of a sudden a little green shoot can come from an old willow or basswood stump.
   In the Bible, Jesus is called the Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12).  Who is Jesse?  He was the father of King David.  After King David died, one of his sons took over as the next king, and God promised that this family would always be the kings of Israel (2 Samuel 7:16).
   After many years rulers from other countries took over and no kings from David’s family were in charge of Israel.  It seemed as though the tree was chopped down and had died, and that no more kings would ever come from the line of David.
   But Jesus was born as a Jew into the family of King David (Matthew 1:17; Luke 3:23,31).  Jesus is the King from that family of kings.  The root was still alive so that Jesus could come into the world at God's time, more than 2000 years ago.

“O Come, O Come Immanuel”, verse 4
            O Come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
            Unto your own and rescue them!
            From depths of hell your people save,
            And give them victory o'er the grave.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Preparing For Christmas #7: Sun of Righteousness

What did God create that gives light in the day-time?  The sun.  Why is light so important?  How would you feel if the sun would not come up tomorrow?  We need the sun to give us light and life.  Without it we could not live.
   When the old priest Zechariah finds out he will have a son John and that the Saviour will come soon after, he sings a poem to God.  He says, “The rising sun will come to us from heaven and shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow or death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78)  He is saying that Jesus will be like the sun that gets rid of the darkness of sin in our lives and shows us where we need to go.
   Jesus is like the sun.  When you see the sun today, be reminded that Jesus came to earth to give us light.
            “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, verse 3
                        Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
                        Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
                        Light and life to all he brings
                        Risen with healing in his wings.
                        Mild he lays his glory by,
                        Born that we no more may die,
                        Born to raise the lost on earth,
                        Born to give them second birth.
                        Hark! The herald angels sing,
                        “Glory to the new-born king.”

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #6: Prince of Peace

Above there is a symbol of peace, a dove.
   How do you feel inside if someone is yelling at someone else?  How do you feel if you are pushing someone or being pushed?  These things make us feel bad inside.
   How do you feel when you are sitting quietly and watching one of God's creatures, maybe a bird or bug or a horse?  How do you feel when someone you love gives you a hug?  These are nice feelings, feelings of peace and safety and warmth.
   The yelling and pushing feeling is how we would feel against everyone and even against God if Jesus never came.  We would be enemies of everyone.  Jesus, a prince (son of the King), was born to make peace between God and us (Isaiah 9:6).
   All the bad things we say and think and do push God away from us.  But Jesus, the Prince of Peace, put all those bad things out of the way so we can have peace with God.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” verse 3
            Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
            Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
            Light and life to all he brings
            Risen with healing in his wings.
            Mild, he lays his glory by,
            Born that we no more may die,
            Born to raise the lost on earth,
            Born to give them second birth.
            Hark! The herald angels sing,
            “Glory to the new-born king.”

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #5: King

   Whose picture is on this coin?  Why does her portrait appear there?  Queen Elizabeth's picture tells people that the money is from Canada and that she is our ruler.  Queens and kings used to have more power in Canada than they do today.  Now most of the ruling is really down by the leaders in Ottawa that people voted for.
   When we think of Jesus being called the “newborn king” in some Christmas songs, we may not understand what is meant by “king”.  Jesus is not a king like the kings of this world.  He rules now from heaven and is in control of all the countries of the world and their rulers.  He guides and directs the things that happen, but he is not responsible for the bad things people do to hurt each other.
   When we realize Jesus is the King and Lord of everything, we want to praise Him.  At the end of history, He will show His power by destroying all that is evil and ruling in a more public way.  We can trust Him to rule us better than any earthly ruler.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” verse 1
            Hark! The herald angels sing,
            “Glory to the new-born King;
            Peace on earth and mercy mild
            God and sinners reconciled!”
            Joyful, all ye nations rise;
            Join the triumph of the skies;
            With the angelic hosts proclaim,
            “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Monday, 3 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas #4: Son of God

   Look at the wooden people in the picture?  What relationship is being shown between them?  Yes, a father is standing beside his son.  Does a father have a child? Yes, that is why he is called a father.  And most children love their fathers.
   In a voice from heaven, God said at Jesus' baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love;  with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
   Sometimes a father and his son do not get along, but God the Father and the Son always agree and have the same love for us.  The Father sent Jesus into the world, and the Son willingly came to rescue us and to let us join his family. 
   Because Jesus calls believers His brothers and sisters (Mark 3:35), we can also call God our Father and pray the Lord's Prayer which starts “Our Father who art in heaven...”  (see full prayer on December 11th)

“God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” verse 3
            From God, our heavenly Father,
            A blessed angle came;
            And unto certain shepherds
            Brought tidings of the same;
            How that in Bethlehem was born
            The Son of God by name.

Preparing For Christmas #3: Potter

What is this jug made of?  How was it made?  A potter has a wheel that turns the clay as it is shaped.  Could the potter make two pieces exactly the same?  No.  Each pot or bowl or cup will be a little bit different.
   Now imagine with me if the clay could talk and say to the potter, “I don't want you to make me into a jug;  I want to be a fancy plate that is hung on someone’s wall as a decoration.”  Of course, the clay cannot talk.  The potter is allowed to make whatever he wants to with the clay (Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:21). 
   Jesus is like a potter because, as God, he shapes and changes us to become what he wants us to be.  He also places us exactly where he wants us to be at this moment. We need to be like clay and let Him do his work.  Are you letting the Lord of Christmas shape you?

Dear Jesus,
You are the potter, and I am the clay.  Mold me and make me what you want me to be.  Grant me patience so I will wait quietly, and not fight you.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Preparing for Christmas # 2: Creator

What are some things that can be made with play dough?  If you use your imagination, you can make all kinds of things.  You could make something to look like a worm, but you could not make it alive.

   Because Jesus is God, He was part of creating the universe—all that we see around us in nature.  It says in the Bible, “Through him [Jesus], all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3).  So really, Jesus is the Creator.  Did he have play dough or other materials to work with?  No, he simply spoke and things came to be, out of nothing.  Light, sky, land, seas, sun, moon, stars, birds, fish, animals, and people—all of these things were His invention.
   At Christmas, the One who made everything entered into our human world.  He could have chosen an easy life, but as we will read later on, He chose to go through the same hardships we go through.  This is amazing!

“Silent Night”, verse 2
            Silent night!  Holy night!
            Son of God, source of light,
            Now lies crying in Bethlehem's stall
            Tiny child, Creator of all,
            Infant, Saviour, and King!
            Infant, Saviour, and King!