Christmas.........

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so, indeed, it is almost Christmas time.........

i made the above layout - still need photos, but i am hoping to be able to add them after Christmas.  i loved making this page - it was really quick and easy with a few special techniques.  you are welcome to copy the page - please post your layout on Facebook and tag me in it!!  i would love to see your version.

i read this article written by John Piper listing 6 reasons why Jesus came to earth.  it really made me stop for a while....... so, while you are in a serious flatspin over what to buy for whom and what to cook on Christmas day - perhaps you can just also stop for a minute or two and reflect on exactly WHY we have Christmas....

 

Article Below by John Piper

Last night sometime before 9:00, little Eric Larson—Glen and Patty's almost-two-year-old—died in his crib. At Children's Hospital in St. Paul, we sat stunned as Perrin held him and Sara held him and grandparents held him and mom and dad held him. One of the things Patty said through her tears was, "How do people bear it who have no hope?"

As I was leaving later, I passed through the lobby at United, and down the hall I heard a person sobbing great heaving sobs and saw two people in each other's arms. And I wondered, "Do they have hope?" You can't tell from the sobs. The hopeful and the hopeless both sob when someone precious is amputated from their lives. The difference is mainly on the inside, and then how you live.

The Crucial Question Faced Every Christmas 

Now I realize that there have been very sophisticated attempts to show that statements like Patty's are not based on the reality of God outside of us, but are the basis of the creation of the idea of God inside of us. In other words, people like the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach said in 1841 that God is not a reality outside of us that we can trust and obey; instead he is a projection of our own needs onto reality.

God does not create us; we create God. It's precisely because we feel what Patty felt that people are forced to create a God to believe in—the loss of a child would be unbearable without hope in an afterlife. And so over time God is created to sustain that hope. He has no other reality than we create for him.

That is the question every one of us faces every Christmas. Is this story of the Son of God coming as a human, born of a virgin, living a life of sinless love, and dying for sinners that all who believe might have eternal life—is this story a creation of human imagination because we need it to be true? Or is it true, and therefore we need to believe it?

Is Patty's viewpoint—that death is bearable because there is hope—the impulse for creating an imaginary Christmas story? Or is that viewpoint an impulse created by the reality of the Christmas story? The answer to that question is more important than anything you will think about this Christmas—or for that matter, all the rest of your life. Does our sense of need—for God and forgiveness and help and hope—cause us to create God? Or do we have all those needs because we were in fact created by God and have rebelled against him?

The Self-Authenticating Power of Scripture 

One of the ways to go about answering that question this morning is to listen patiently to the different testimonies from the Bible about why the Son of God came into the world. You see, I believe this book is inspired by God and is therefore very powerful to vindicate its own truthfulness. It is like a two-edged sword that penetrates to the division of bone and marrow.

And when people give it a chance, the result is often that not believing what it says becomes a moral impossibility. Its testimonies are too penetrating, its witnesses too diverse, its insights too high, its vision of divine things too wonderful, its authority too compelling, its love too rare, its Savior too radical that it should be the mere creation of sinful men.

Six Reasons for Jesus' Coming 

So I want to let six of the witnesses speak and testify to why the Son of God came into the world. The witnesses are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews. The answers they give are six reasons for Jesus' coming:

a. to ransom many,

b. to call sinners,

c. to give sight to the morally blind,

d. to divide households,

e. to save from divine condemnation, and

f. to give eternal life. 

Are these imaginary acts dreamed up because of our need? Or do they fit our needs because they are true? You must decide.

Let's take these reasons for Christ's coming one at a time and just let the Bible witness to each one in its own words.

1. He came as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45, "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The reason we need a ransom to be paid for us is that we have sold ourselves into sin and have been alienated from a holy God. When Jesus gave his life as a ransom, our slavemasters, sin and death and the devil, had to give up their claim on us. And the result was that we could be adopted into the family of God.

Paul put it like this in Galatians 4:4–5, "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons." In other words the redemption or the ransom frees us to be a part of God's family. We had run away and sold ourselves into slavery. But God pays a ransom and redeems us out of slavery into the Father's house.

To do that, God's Son had to become a human being so that he could suffer and die in our place to pay the ransom. That is the meaning of Christmas. Hebrews 2:14 puts it like this, "Since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death." In other words, the reason Christ took on human flesh was so that he could die and in dying pay a ransom and free us from the power of death.

Is this an elaborate creation of desperate human imagination, or is it God's exact provision for our need?

2. He came to call sinners to repentance.

Luke 5:31–32, "Jesus said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'"

Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. First, there needed to be a ransom to be paid for sinners. Then, there could be a successful call to sinners. The call is based on the ransom. And Jesus says he came for both of these things.

He does not leave the ransoming or the calling to others. He ransoms and he calls. Even today he is calling through the Bible and through the preaching of the Bible. He is calling this morning.

That is the meaning of Christmas. He came to call sinners.

3. He came to give sight to the morally blind.

John 9:39, "Jesus said, 'For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see.'" And John 12:46, "I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me might not remain in darkness."

Jesus did not merely come to ransom and to call; he also came to open people's eyes so that they can see the light and walk in it. Our problem is not just slavery needing a ransom, and lostness needing a call; our problem is also moral blindness, needing the gift of sight. We are simply blind to some spiritual realities that are utterly crucial to see and embrace.

This is why Christ came: that those who do not see may see. This is the meaning of Christmas.

4. He came to divide households.

Matthew 10:34, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes will be those of his own household."

The point of this word is not that God loves division and strife. The point is that strife and division caused by true allegiance to Jesus are better than no strife and division with no allegiance to Jesus. The point is that when a person is ransomed and called and given sight, something really radical happens to them.

They see everything differently with that new sight, and they have a new master because of that sovereign call, and they are wonderfully free from fear and guilt because of that sufficient ransom. And so they think differently and feel things differently and act differently. And for some in the family, that can be very threatening, and so tension develops. For this Jesus came into the world. That too is the meaning of Christmas.

5. He came to save from divine condemnation.

John 3:17–18, "For God sent not the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes in him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already."

God sent his Son to save us from his own just condemnation and wrath. The need for salvation implies that there is a danger we need to be saved from. That danger is sin and death and the devil. But the most serious danger of all is the danger of the condemnation of God. If God is for us, then sin and death and the devil will fail to destroy us. But if God is against us, then nothing can save us.

Christmas, the coming of Jesus, is God's way of being for us—if we will believe. "He who believes is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already."

6. He came to give us eternal life.

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Christmas means that God sent his Son so that we could believe and have eternal life. 

This is what Patty was talking about when she said last night, with her dead child in her arms, "How do people bear it who have no hope?" The hope she meant was eternal life. And that life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

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Simple is best...

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we seem to live in a day and age where everything comes across as being complicated.  and if something is not complicated, we somehow seem to think it is wrong and we then look for ways to complicate it!  (if i am not correct, i apologise - but it is my experience that this is how the world is today!!)

relationships, cellphones, life in general - all of it seems to get more complicated!  and don't think when you are a Scrapbooker or cardmaker that it gets less complicated!!! 

this layout has been on my table for MANY days....  i fiddle and then i add something and then i spend hours trying to think what "awesome" technique i need to come up with next.....  and then it hit me - i am making it way too complicated!  i seem to have lost my love for just scrapbooking for scrapbooking's sake!

so i looked at the page again, and i decided to just create it so that it makes me happy!

of course i won't tell you about the 11 paper flowers i made and threw in the dusbin, the 9 different doilie die cuts on which i did various techniques (just to go back to the first one with the simplest technique!) as well as the many layers on my chipboard letters before it ended up just being painted with my ancient Twinkling H20's and some Perfect Pearls!!  LOL!

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of course it helped that the subject of my page actually needed no other embellishments - she is just perfect!

so it made me think a little more..............

if we were created in the image of the Triune God - and He is perfect - why then do we also always try to "embellish" ourselves to the extent that we get so miserable with who we are, instead of enjoying who were created to be?

we are spending so much time on changing our physical looks as well as who we are - that we seem to forget something really important - Jesus loves us and wants us JUST THE WAY WE ARE.

once we have committed to Christ, the Holy Spirit will change us from inside if there are things that saddens God, but we should perhaps just stop and enjoy who we are in Him....

the most amazing thing of all is that this is all free - it just asks us to surrender ourselves - which includes our pride to Him.  He will do the rest.....

i pray that you will try to have a less complicated day, week, year and then life. 

remember that you are Loved - literally to Death - just the way you are.

 

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Love is not easily Offended.....

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I have been working relentlessly on a few dreams I have.  I know that one cannot make all your dreams come true, but I am outcome based, so if I have an idea, I just go with it!!!  Only after I have done everything possible to make it a reality, do I sometimes sit back and wonder if I even knew what I was doing.....

(also, sometimes my dreamy ideas are total flops - but that is a post for another day!!!)

I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that even though I really try my best, I just simply cannot please all the people all the time.  So I have come to accept and understand that I will offend a lot of people simply by just being me......

I also get offended.  Not a lot - I have a pretty thick skin - but sometimes people's really strange comments, behaviour and attitude offends me.  Sometimes personally and sometimes I am offended on behalf of someone else.

I got offended yesterday when someone made a very snide comment on a public platform about something that I had been working on for a very long time, that finally came into fruition.  I felt hurt, extremely disappointed and I was actually stunned that someone would be so mean - especially as what I was working on was for the benefit of many people.

But then I thought about Love.  And how the only thing that should really matter to me is if I please God or not.....  and it hit me that when I get easily offended, I am not pleasing Him.  You could say that I had all the reason to be offended - true.  You could say that people should be more careful with what they do and say - true.  But the real truth is that if I believe God loves me unconditionally, it means that He does not get easily offended by me and my behaviour.  And because I love Jesus, I should try to emulate that Love.  So I should engrave the words of 1 Corinthians 13:5 into my heart, into my mind, into my soul - my inner being..........

"Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable/easily offended/easily provoked or resentful...."

I found this piece this morning while I was trying to align my deflated ego with what the Lord expects of me.......

Thank you, Emma Joy!!!

I would like to reserve the right to become highly offended on occasion. I would like to be allowed the occasional biting retort or the well-timed pity party. I won't abuse it. I promise.

Unfortunately, this verse doesn’t give any qualifications like “except when you are wronged” or “except when you are having a bad day” or “except when [insert favorite excuse here]”.  It just says, “Love is not easily offended.” Period. Full-stop. End of story.
 
Our excitement of the day today was testing the alarm system in the school. We’ve had a lot of theft on the base lately, and so I decided to figure out how to work this alarm system, which has been sitting unused for the past three years. We discovered that it sets off this HUGE siren, the sound of which makes your heart leap in your chest and instantly starts your adrenaline pumping.
 
This is something akin to the feeling I get when someone points out a flaw in me. Let’s just say, I don’t take it well. My fight or flight reflexes instantly kick into full gear. Fortunately, God must have known my propensity to take offense and hence did not gift me with the ability to come up with very witty comebacks. In such an instance, I’m usually speechless even though I’m fuming inside and spend the next two days thinking of exactly the right words I should have said to put that person in their place. (And let me tell you, I can come up with some real zingers.)
 
But God seems dead-set on working out all these little bumps or flaws in our character and living in community on a base like this provides Him with ample opportunity to do so. What a great responsibility He has given us, who call ourselves “Christians”, in entrusting us to be the representation of His love in this earth, and even more so those of us who call ourselves “missionaries.”  I shudder to think sometimes of what a poor picture my life is painting of God’s love. If all that a person ever saw or experienced of God was my life, what would He look like to them? Probably, not very good, I must admit. And so God is ever refining my love, testing me, prodding me, pushing me with a fervor which is not deterred by my complaints or slowed by my failures and is totally unaffected by my offended ego until some day, hopefully, people can look at my life and see only His.

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