Thursday, December 25, 2008

special christmas thought...

As I look back on the many Christmases I have experienced some gifts stand out?

• The year my grandma gave me a Shoeshine kit...I wasn't very happy!
• The year some relatives gave me 3 of every chocolate bar available at the time...I got hyped on sugar!
• The year everyone seemed to get together and declare it Ugly shirt year!
• Christmas last year with my family in Invercargill was one of my favourites!

The also seems to be lots of rules about Christmas Gifts:
• No touching
• No peeking
• No shaking
• No opening before the appointed day/time

Jesus is God’s gift to us.
But with a huge difference…there aren’t a whole bunch of rules!
You can touch. You can sneak a peek. Maybe not a good one to shake.
But it is here again for you today at the appointed day/time.
It is a gift God has got planned for you for Christmas if you haven’t received it before.

Two men who knew quite a lot about this gift called Jesus penned these words…

Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)

…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

The amazing thing about this gift is how it comes to the form of a baby.
Someone as innocent and unthreatening as possible.
Someone totally approachable.
Which is exactly the way I think God wants it.

So how do you receive this gift?
The same way really you receive an everyday sort of gift.
• You accept it.
• You unwrap it.
• You make the most of it.

The Bible simply says that if you in believe in your heart and say you accept this gift…then you have received it completely. It is yours and no one can take it away. It won’t go out of fashion…and it will never wear out!

Something to think about.
Merry Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time for a Christmas thought…
Have you ever wondered where we get some of our Christmas traditions from?
Things like christmas trees, presents and mistletoe.
One I have been curious about is a thing called Christmas pudding?

Christmas pudding can be traced back to the 14th century when porridge like mixture, called ‘frumenty’ was made of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices.
Towards the end of the 1500’s, frumenty had become more like a plum pudding. It had been thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, and dried fruit and given more flavour with the addition of beer and spirits.
By the mid 1600’s it had become the traditional pudding to end a Christmas meal, but in 1664 the Puritans banned it. They thought it was a ‘lewd tradition’ as the ingredients were far too rich for God-fearing people.
King George 1 was had apparently tasted and enjoyed Plum Pudding and re-instated it as part of a traditional Christmas meal in 1714. By Victorian times, Christmas Puddings had changed into something similar to the ones that are eaten today.

There are many superstitions surrounding the Christmas pudding.
Some say that it should have thirteen ingredients, representing Jesus and his Disciples.
In other households, everyone takes a turn to stir the pudding mixture with a wooden spoon. You should stir in an East to West direction. This custom honours the three wise men who came from the east.
Although traditionally we eat our pudding at Christmas, the sprig of holly placed on top of the pudding is said to represent Jesus’ Crown of Thorns that he wore at his crucifixion. Obviously this custom is more in keeping with Easter. Also the spectacle of flaming alcohol on a pudding is said to represent Jesus’ love and power.
In the middle Ages, holly was also thought to bring good luck and to have healing powers. It was often planted near houses in the belief that it protected the inhabitants.
Putting a silver coin in the pudding is another age-old custom that is said to bring luck to the person that finds it.

I bet you didn’t know all that?

Well anyway, if you are like me you will simply enjoy eating stuff like this and be very grateful it is still not in its original form...yuck!

Something to think about...

Merry Christmas everybody!
I hope you have a great time...and I look forward to catching up with you soon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here I was standing as the anchor runner of a parents relay team.
I am about to race a group of school teachers.
My heart is pounding.
The crowd cheers are sending my senses into over drive.
I sense a moment of destiny approaching.
A moment of sweet victory where I can savour a win and feel for a moment what winning at the Olympics might feel like.

It was all looking good until I found out my competitors had cheated and brought in someone’s nephew...and he is really fast.
Then one of our team collapses trying to round the first mark. By the time it is my turn to run, the race was already lost.
The electrical atmosphere was gone.
Dreams of victory seemed like a long distant romance.
Dreams lost in the fog of time.

Note to reader...I have eaten too much chocolate today and my creative juices are now a torrent. Please excuse all craziness in this simple thought.

As I take off on my little run I think it the right thing to do to run the best I can.
My son is watching me.
My wife is watching me.
My mum is even watching me.
And I didn’t want to rob the crowd of seeing me speed down the track.
The only problem was I rounded a marker a little too aggressively and I felt something go wrong with my leg.

Now I am left with a torn calf muscle.
No victory.
And my run has been whittled down to a limp.

There is a verse in the bible that describes our bodies being totally linked together. It explains that every part of the body needs the other. That if one part hurts, the whole body hurts.
I have hurt my leg, and the rest of my body knows it.
It simply can’t ignore the plight of one of its members.

These holidays, my dream for you is to have a great time.
But if for any reason it is not the holiday season you have dreamed of, know that we care. If you hurt, we will hurt with you.
You are part of us and we want to be there for you.
Let’s stay close, hang out and enjoy this time together.
Let’s make every effort to love one another.
And make this a Christmas worthy of its name.

Something to think about...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Are you like me, and you are looking at all the work that needs doing before the 25th?
Looking at all the invites to parties and events.
Looking at what you wanted to achieve this year…And thinking aaahhhh, I am not sure how to get it all done, and how to keep everyone happy???

You and I are part of 1000’s facing the same thing!

So what do we do?
Do you just work harder, try harder, and hope for the best?

This is what I think…

We hear and teach a lot about grace.
Firstly the grace that God extends to us, through what he did through Jesus, and then for the rest of our lives.
Secondly the grace that we are encouraged to show to one another, by forgiving and doing what we can at all times to live at peace with one another.
And I think there is a third.
Grace for yourself.

You can’t please everyone all the time.
You can’t win all the time.
You may not achieve all your goals all the time.
You need some grace for you. To give yourself a break.
Grace is never an excuse not to try or take something for granted. But it is definitely there to protect you and stop us from overdoing it.

Jesus even said this to us...
Matthew 11:29
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

So as you head into the end of the year…
Don’t forget to look after yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up.
Extend some grace to you...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Someone killed my car!
Someone nearly killed my wife!
Stuff happens sometimes that catches you by surprise.

When Suze drove off in our little car to head to an event the other night, I had no idea that 20 minutes later she would be calling me from the back of an ambulance!
A drunk driver with no license had driven straight through a give way and straight into the car.
When I arrived at the site I wish I could report that I was full of love and grace for the other driver and her drunken passengers...but I wasn’t.

I felt angry.
They had hurt my wife.
They had wrecked our little car that we really liked.

As I thought about these events I began to wonder how hard it must have been for Jesus to handle what people did to him.
Here he was going around healing people and doing good. Looking after people, feeding people...meeting everyone’s needs. But people wanted to kill him!

Then you have Jesus on the Cross.
God’s own creation killing his own Son.
For God, It must have been one of the worst things he had ever had to watch. In fact you read in the Bible that God actually turned was just too hard for him.

God doesn’t enjoy bad things happening to us.
We are his kids, and he has invested his life into us.I am so grateful that Suze is ok, apart form all the nasty bruising.
Moments like this experience remind how our lives in this world are for only a little while. That every moment is something you can never live again. And ultimately we will never probably know when our time is up.

So this life as though you may not have as long as you may think.
Try and enjoy every moment you can of it.
It is a gift that God has given you.

Something to think about...