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I won the Liebster Blog Award!

My friend, Marta LoFranco, has blessed me with the Liebster Blog Award!  She won it for her blog, Marta’s Ponderings.

One of the conditions of my receiving this award is that I present it to other bloggers of my choosing. The Criteria: The Liebster Blog Award is meant to showcase bloggers who have fewer than 200 subscribers. This is all done in the spirit of pay-it-forward. The Rules: You must mention in your blog and link to the person who awarded you the Liebster and mention 2 to 5 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers you think worthy of the Liebster.

I can heartily recommend two friends’ blogs. Chuck Quail blogs at Faithfully His, and Bryn MacPhail blogs at Thinking Big: The Reflections of Bryn MacPhail in the Bahamas. Check these guys out, and be blessed.  I follow other good blogs, which you can find on my blogroll, but most of them have more than 200 followers!

Let’s build the Christian traffic, folks.  God is at work on the Internet.

 

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Biblical Messages

Decluttering Christmas: The Joy of Giving

Why do we give gifts at Christmas?  What makes it a special time for giving?  Because God loved.  God gave.  We believe.

If we want to declutter Christmas, we can think about the joy of giving, and how God did not stop at giving his only Son to us, and for us.

Based on John 3.1-21, you can listen to this message by clicking here.  Near the end, I show this video.

Musings

A Microferroequinologist’s Night Before Christmas

As “That Time Of Year” approaches, I am reminded of this piece of classic poetry, especially aimed at the model railroader…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my pike,

Not a steamer was stirring, not even a Mike.

My yard tracks invitingly empty and bare,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

 

The diesels were nestled all snug in their sheds,

While visions of DCC danced in their heads.

While I, in my blue-and-white engineer’s cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

 

When down in the train room, there rose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the basement I flew like an ace,

Tripped over the cat and fell flat on my face.

 

I stifled a curse meant for Chessie (the cat),

And I muttered to no one, “I meant to do that,”

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But an HO-scale sleigh and eight Preiser reindeer,

 

With an engineer driving, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than GG-1’s, onward they came,

And he blew a steam whistle and called them by name:

 

“On Athearn! On Lionel, Kato and Walthers!

On Kadee and Micro-Trains, Atlas and others!

To the top of the mountains of Hydrocal plaster,

Now dash away, dash away, dash away faster!”

 

As dry leaves that behind a new Genesis fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So in through the window the coursers they flew

With the sleigh full of trains, and St. Nicholas too.

 

And then, on my roundhouse, I saw on the roof

The prints in the dust of each HO-scale hoof.

As I drew a deep breath, and was turning around,

From beneath the benchwork, St. Nick came with a bound.

 

He was dressed like an engineer from head to foot,

And his clothes had that fine smell of ashes and soot;

A bundle of trains he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

 

His eyes – just like marker lights! Dimples, how merry!

His cheeks like a Warbonnet, nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And his beard was so white, it would please Phoebe Snow.

 

He puffed on a pipe as he refilled its bowl,

And the smoke, it smelled just like bituminous coal.

He had a broad face and a belly (I found)

That shook like a tank car with wheels out-of-round.

 

He was chubby and plump, and I wanted to shout,

“Yes! The man’s got a route the UP can’t buy out!”

A wink of his eye as he passed near the door

Soon gave me to know I’d have freight cars galore.

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.

He filled all my yard tracks; then turned with a jerk,

And leaving an airbrush he’d found on eBay,

And giving a nod, he returned to his sleigh.

 

He pumped up the brakes, blew two blasts on his whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! KEEP ‘EM ROLLING! GOOD-NIGHT!”

Encouragement From The Word

Receiving gifts

When you receive a gift, what is your response?  Hopefully, you say, “Thank you,” but beyond that, how do you respond?  Most of us, if we are honest, quickly think of some form of reciprocation.  We think, What will I give this person in return for this gift?

Sometimes, people give expecting something in return.  But hopefully, most of us give without any expectation of reciprocation.  Still, we end up feeling obliged to do something.  It’s the ‘catch’.

Some advertisers have trained us to think this way, haven’t they?  We’re offered some great bargain on a gadget that we “just can’t do without”, and then offered a second gadget ‘free*’…where the asterisk means, “just pay additional shipping and handling” – conveniently approximating the cost of an additional gadget.  Hmmmm…

It’s hardly a surprise, then, that many folks look at God’s gift of salvation in Jesus and ask, “What’s the catch?”

Part of the grace God gives us to believe involves the grace to receive.  The only way we can accept that Jesus came to earth for us, died for us, and rose again for us, is to be able to accept that it’s a gift…a gift we can’t repay.

The only reciprocation we can offer God is the gift of ourselves – lives willing to live for him.  But even that isn’t reciprocation.  It’s discipleship.

When you receive a gift, receive it!  Be thankful!  And recognize that God, the greatest Giver, has given us his Son without expectation of reciprocation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16, NIV).

Biblical Messages

Decluttering Christmas: Let go!

Letting go of some things is integral to decluttering our lives.  When it comes to our spiritual lives, decluttering involves letting go of control.  But to whom do we give it up?  The Holy Spirit, living within us as believers!  Based on John 14.15-31a, you can listen to this message by clicking here.  Near the end of the message, there is a video clip shown, which you can watch at this link.

Giving up control of anything isn’t easy.  But God invites us to give him, who made us, control over the lives he gives us.  Imagine the difference you and I can make!

By the way, I think you’ll find the sound quality of this message better than past recordings.  I’m using a new digital voice recorder and different software on a different computer to produce and edit the recording.

Encouragement From The Word

Control Issues?

This Sunday at  St. Paul’s, Nobleton, I’m going to be talking about control – specifically, about letting go of control.  It’s not an easy subject for any of us to consider, because we live our lives around issues of control.

At first, we have no control – we’re helpless and vulnerable.  Then, our parents teach us to be in control – how to get dressed, how to read and write, how to act appropriately.  When we come to faith in Christ, however, we hear the Lord telling us that it’s better if we’re not in control, that we let him be in control.  By that time, however, we tend to be in a pretty well-set control rut.  It’s hard to give it up.

In this Advent season, I can think of no better example of someone who gave up control than Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Here is this young teenager, betrothed to an older man but not yet married, who encounters an angel.  The angel says that she’s highly favoured, because God has chosen her to become pregnant with his Son.

For any ordinary Jewish girl of the day, being found to be pregnant but not yet married would bring her life crashing down around her.  Her beloved would send her packing, and her community (including her family) would probably line up to stone her to death.  One can imagine that Mary may not, then, have found the idea of becoming pregnant – even by supernatural means – to leave her feeling “highly favoured”.

But Mary was no ordinary Jewish girl, it seems, if her response is any indication.  What was Mary’s response?  Did she run away screaming?  (That might be the natural response of anyone standing before a representative of the Lord; remember that the shepherds who were told the news of Jesus’ birth by an angel were terrified!)  No.  Mary simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1.38a, NLT).

Mary gave up control.  She served a God whom she trusted to take control.  And because of that selfless act of submission, she became the mother of the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the incarnation (putting skin on) of the Second Person of the Trinity.

Because Mary gave up control to God, the world is not the same.

What if you and I were to give up control to God?  Many of us say we have, but we have a habit of holding little bits back.  What if we gave it up, whole-hog?  Think of the power that would exist in your church and mine.  Think of what God could do with an entire kingdom full of his servants willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill the divine will.  That’s enough power to change the world.

Mary’s willingness to give up power over herself changed the world.  And so can ours.