Monday, December 21, 2009

Simple Gifts

Every year when I read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke verse 19 always catches my attention. That verse says, "But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart." It looks like Mary is treasuring the visit from the shepherds who shared with her the message the angel gave them that her baby boy would bring joy to all people. I believe that message helped carry Mary through many tough times. I believe it changed her life having heard this message of God at work in her life from the shepherds.
My life too was changed when someone shared how they saw God working in me. I had a guy I looked up to sit me down one time when I was in high school and he said he thought God wanted me to be a pastor. I was caught off guard because I had never really thought much about God using me in that way. But from then on I also began to hear God calling me to become a pastor. I wonder if I would have missed that calling if this man had not given me a simple gift of encouragement towards pastoral ministry.
So this week I would love to hear stories of those who have given you a simple gift of encouragement in what God has done or will do in your life. Even more, I would love to hear of people around you that God may be calling you to encourage with some words like the shepherds. There is someone around you this Christmas who needs that simple gift. Take a moment to encourage someone you see God using for His work this Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Simple Voices

Yesterday our children offered their annual Christmas program. They did an outstanding job! The characters were played with excitement and joy. The songs were sung stupendously with some marvelous soloists. The whole thing was touching and inspiring. I do also want to thank all of the adult leaders who gave of their time and energy to make the program possible.
It is amazing to me the power of little voices. When our children say things to us something different happens than when an adult says the same things. When I say a blessing over our food at the dinner table no one tells me how wonderful it was. However when Hayden, who is now 4, folds her hands and closes her eyes tight and says with a faint voice, "Thank you God for food...mama...dada. Amen." Helen and I cannot stop talking about it. It is the most precious thing I have ever seen. To be honest I am more focused on watching her than blessing my food.
So it is a joy to hear our children remind us once again of the story of Christmas. The many different characters, the directions given by angels, and in the end the precious moment of the Son of God born in the flesh for us.
As adults we need to continue to share this story and especially with our children that they will know the story is true and that they too will take to heart the words of the Christmas story.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Simple Surroundings

My favorite part of Christmas growing up was on Christmas morning we would wake up and go downstairs and open presents. This was at my mom's house, which was always the calmest part of our day. It was just Mom, Kate, Mike and me. There were not usually a lot of presents under the tree, the major "load" of presents came from grandparents. But there was something peaceful about just our little family having those few moments together.
Now my favorite part of Christmas is that same time with Helen, Jamison and Hayden. Most Christmas mornings we have been alone at our house. The kids get three gifts and Helen and I may have one or two. The kids also have to find a gift that is the baby Jesus from their nativity scene.
After these nice quiet moments we have to get everyone ready and we hit the road to begin the Christmas travels to different homes for food, fun and gifts. It is a good time, but I prefer the simple quiet time with my family as we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In those time I recognize the true blessings I have in my family.
What simple blessings are you reminded of at Christmas? What blessings can you recognize God has given you this year that could be missed in the busyness of the season?