Christmas…a time with family, presents under the Christmas tree, eating far too much great food…is that all there is too it? No, of course not!! In fact, those things have very little to do with Christmas. That’s because Jesus is the reason for the season. The family time, food, and gifts are fine, but we should never forget the gift God gave us on that wonderful day so long ago. The people of Earth had made such a mess of things here. No, I’m not talking about climate change. I’m talking about sin. God could have walked away, and started the whole thing over, but His heart was with his children. He wanted us all to be with Him in Heaven, when our time here on Earth is over. He knew that we needed at Saviour, and so His son agreed to leave Heaven and come to Earth…as a helpless baby.
Adam had sinned and ruined things here, and it would take a man without sin…for his whole life, to change the whole outcome of Adam’s mistake. Jesus had to be born as a human baby, because that was the only way to operate in the Earth realm. Then, He had to live a sinless life. It didn’t matter what human parts of him were trying to tell him to do, he couldn’t get angry, be disrespectful, lie, or any other sin. If you and I were to be saved by Jesus’ death on the cross, He had to be sinless. It was the only way for his death to make a difference. It would be a horribly cruel death, and Jesus knew it, but He did what He had to do…and it all started when He came to Earth as a baby to become our Saviour. Nothing beats that.
Yes, the family gatherings are great, and the gifts are nice, but the greatest gift that was ever given was the gift of a perfect life that became the sacrifice to restore righteousness to those who could not live a perfect life. It was an amazing gift, and one we cannot ever thanks Him for enough. Happy birthday dear Jesus. Thanks you for your sacrifice, and Merry Christmas everyone. Have a great holiday, thank you for all you did for us.
There are two major ways that God has “gifted” His children. Yes, God gives us great and wonderful gifts all the time, but the greatest gift He could give us was His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth as a baby, and went through all the same things in life that we did, but did it all without sinning. Most of us can’t imagine going through 10 minutes without having a wrong thought, action, or attitude. We can be sharp tongued, selfish, and grouchy. Jesus could do none of those things. Everything he did had to be truthful, kind, and selfless. He had to be all the things we could not be, and then he had to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, because the people of Earth were in trouble…and without Jesus, there was no way out of it.
God knew that we were lost and that there was no Earthly way out of the situation, so because He loved the world so much, He sent His Son, Jesus and Jesus willingly came to Earth, knowing what would happen to him when he was a grown man. He could have stopped it. He could have told his Father that he didn’t want to go, but he didn’t. He accepted the unspeakable job that his Father, our God set before him, and he went through with it. I’m sure he thought about how horrible this would be, and I’m sure that a part of him wanted to make the whole progression stop, but he knew that if he didn’t do it, the world would have to pay the price of spiritual death for eternity.
What an amazingly selfless act of love!! Jesus paid it all…past, present, and future. We are free!! We are redeemed!! The horrible crucifixion was a successful payment for our sins. I am redeemed…we are all redeemed, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It’s as simple as that. Thank you Jesus!! Happy Resurrection Day!!
When I think of Easter, I immediately think of my Christian faith. I think of the miracle of salvation, and the willing sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The human race was in so much trouble. Sin had entered in and we were doomed. There was no way out, because the wages of sin is death and all has sinned. But God has a solution. Innocent blood must be shed to pay the price for all those who had sinned. There was not other way to reverse the curse that sin had brought sin the world.
The death of Jesus, on Good Friday, was a brutal one. As we know, humans have the ability to inflict horrible pain and wounds upon one another. Jesus was a man, but he was also God. He felt every brutal flogging, and endured every humiliation that was thrust upon him, and he did it knowing that it was vital. In fact it was the most important mission in history…past, present, and future. No single act would ever be more important, because the death on the cross was a “once for all” thing. His death reversed history. What the devil stole from the human race, Jesus returned.
When Jesus arose from the dead, three days later, our justification was complete. We could now go to Heaven, just by believing that Jesus had made that sacrifice for us, and accepting him as our Lord and Saviour. Such a simple way to receive eternal life, and yet, so many people refuse to receive, because they think they will have to give up their fun life. Little do they know what they are really giving up. This life is just a moment in time…Heaven is forever. The difference is stark. This life is fleeting and soon will be gone, but the next life will never end, and we can choose where we spend it, so we must choose wisely.
Many people celebrated with a big dinner, and Easter candy, and that is fine but people should never forget the real reason we celebrate Easter…the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Jesus is risen!! He is alive!! Happy Easter everyone!!
It was really hard for Mom, as a widow to stay in this place after the love of her life, my dad had moved to Heaven. Her heart was divided between her children and grandchildren, and her desire to go home. She spoke to us about it. It was a conversation similar to the thoughts the Apostle Paul laid out in Philippians 1:23-25, when he said, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” This was exactly how Mom felt…a desire to go home and be with God and our dad, and yet she felt the need to step up into the position of spiritual head of our family. Mom spoke of the need to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour often. She wanted to make sure we were all ready to go to Heaven.
Nevertheless, the desire to stay and lead the family in the ways they should go is not an easy one when your heart is in Heaven. Mom and Dad rarely spent time apart in their latter years. I think that while it was needful for Dad, and later, Mom to work outside the home, those were the hardest years for them, because really, all they wanted was to be together. Not many couples can easily spend that much time together, but they could have spent their whole married life working and playing together, and the only thing that would have made that idea even better would have been if their children and grandchildren could have been right there with them too. That was just how much their love and their family meant to them.
While Mom’s desire to stay and be a leader and comfort to her children and grandchildren was a strong one, seven years can take it’s toll on a person who is waiting to go and join their other half in Heaven. Mom was simply not complete anymore. When the marriage vows declare that the two are become one, something changes. Each person in the marriage contract is now actually one half of the whole person. I don’t know how God does that, but He does, and Mom’s other half was in Heaven and she missed him very much. My sisters and I have been looking through pictures for Mom’s slide show, and it has been very hard to find really good ones, because we noticed something in those pictures that somehow we had missed when we looked at her. The sparkle in her eyes was gone. When did that happen? Why hadn’t we noticed it? Maybe because we were too busy dealing with our own grief over the loss of our dad.
This all seems so sad, and it is, but it is also a happy time. Our parents are together again. It is such a happy time for them. There is a party going on in Heaven, and they are singing happy songs. While our hearts are breaking, they will mend. It is only because we will miss her so much…we miss them so much. And yet, we could not be happier for them, because as it was in the beginning of their marriage, they have moved to their new home, and they are now awaiting the arrival of their children and their grandchildren. They are together again…praising the Lord…just as we all will be one day. We love you both Mom and Dad. We will step up now, and become the spiritual heads of our families…leading them in the way they should go. We will see you both when we can all be together again. We love you.
From the moment he first met her, my dad always called my mom, Doll. It was a term of endearment reserved for Dad alone to use. To us, of course, she was mom, or mommy when we were little, but to everyone who really knew her, she was the keeper of the sunshine. Mom was a person who was always happy. Even when times were tough, she managed to lift our spirits by always telling us to, “keep on the sunny side” whenever we left her house. It was the way we went to school, and later to work. Those were the words we heard after we had lunch or dinner at her house. She wanted our world to always have a bit of sunshine in it…even on a cloudy day.
Mom was a dedicated servant of God…spreading His word to all who would listen…and some who didn’t want to. She wanted everyone, but especially those she loved, her parents, siblings, husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as all her extended family to be in Heaven when they left this world. She loved the Lord so much and looked forward to the day when she would be able to look upon His face, and thank Him for saving her. She loved going to church and singing praises to God, and hearing His word. She bought many teaching tapes and books, because she wanted to know all she could about this wonderful Saviour who loved her…no matter what!!
Mom loved a celebration. Being born on New Year’s Day, her birthday was always a celebration…Dad always made certain of that. He love a celebration too. Mom loved the Fourth of July fireworks, and the parade. Anyone who knows her…or ever sat next to her…will remember her whooping when a float or one of the fireworks particularly pleased her…and many of them did…many of them!! Looking back now on her whooping, it somehow doesn’t seem so embarrassing as it did in my younger days. I suppose all kids think the things their parents do are embarrassing sometimes. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Mom. She was filled with joy, and sometimes…no, most of the time…it just bubbled out. She couldn’t have stopped it even if she had wanted to. And that’s ok, because even if you were embarrassed about it, it always made you smile in spite of your dignified self.
Late Sunday night, February 22, 2015, my dear mother left this world to go and meet the Saviour she had so long dreamed of meeting. I know He greeted her with the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”, because she was definitely that. I also know that she was met with some other cherished words. I expect, like my niece Jenny said, that my dad was standing there at the gates, and he immediately said, “Hello Doll.” It has been just over seven long years since he left us, and Mom has missed him so much. The next sweet words she likely heard were, “Hi Grandma!!” spoken by her two little great granddaughters, Alyssa and Laila, “We’ve been waiting to get to know you!!” And of course, there were greeting from her parents, in-laws, siblings, and other family members who have gone ahead of her. Yes, Heaven gained a new little bit of sunshine last Sunday evening, and the Earth just doesn’t seem quite as bright as it was before, because our Keeper of the Sunshine has gone to her Heavenly home.
Mom went home on her terms. She went healthy. She had a great week, having lunch with her kids, and going to dinner on Thursday night with my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me, at her favorite place…Red Lobster. She went to church on Sunday morning and very much enjoyed being surrounded by her beloved family and church family, all of whom she considered to be a great blessing. She set up a visit with her sisters, brother, and other family members to go spend the afternoon with her sister, Evelyn, who was in the hospital. She and Cheryl had a nice quiet evening, and then Mom was going to bed, but she decided to go to Heaven instead. Mom, we miss you so much already. Our lives will never be the same again…until we are together forever in Heaven. We love you so very much. We will see you again very soon.
Over the years, I have watched my niece, Jenny Spethman grow in so many ways. Of course, I’ve seen her grow from a little girl into a teenager, adult, wife, and mother, but those are simply the normal changes we all go through in life. Jenny has changed in so many other, more important ways though. Growth can take on very different and complicated forms, but the greatest growth is in the area of the spiritual, and it is in that area that I find Jenny to have almost literally exploded. I have watched her faith in God grow by leaps and bounds.
Life has not always been easy for Jenny. She has had her share of heartaches, as those who know her can attest, but through it all, she and her husband, Steve Spethman have never faltered on one thing…their faith in God. When people lose a child, often the first thing that is questioned is to ask God why He did this, but not Jenny and Steve. They knew that this was not God. And they then doubled their focus on God’s word, and his promise that they will see their baby girl, Laila in Heaven, and until then, she is in the arms of Jesus and enjoying time with family who have also gone on to Heaven. Jenny and Steve have been blessed with their three sons, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, as well as their daughters, Laila, and now Aleesia, who is almost 2½ years old. Every day is viewed as a blessing beyond measure, even though they miss Laila terribly.
I had really never thought of Jenny as a morning person, although I don’t know why, but these days, at least, she cherishes the early morning hours, as a time to see God’s great sunrises and reflect on His teachings and promises to her. She also loves to see the moon and stars, again because she knows that God has blessed her life with such enormous beauty. I think that it is in these quiet moments of reflection, often before her family wakes up, that Jenny has grown closer and closer to God. She knows that He is not only her Father, Lord, and Saviour, but in all reality, her Daddy and friend. A friend that sticks closer that all others, and no matter what life brings her.
Jenny has grown in so many ways, and each area of growth has made her a more and more beautiful person, both inside and out. I am so proud of her and all that she has become. I look forward to the time to come when I will see her grow even more, especially in her walk with the Lord. Today is Jenny’s birthday. You are an amazing woman, and one I am proud to call my niece. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every Easter families gather together to eat a big meal and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us use just about any excuse to have a huge meal filled with all the best dishes we can think of. The meal often consists of ham and brisket at our house. And of course, what Easter dinner would be complete without eggs in some form…usually for breakfast and dinner. All those eggs the kids colored had to be used in some way, after all. In our family, the eggs are called angel eggs, because for obvious reasons, we don’t like the term deviled eggs. I really don’t want the devil involved in anything in my family…even the eggs.
But, more importantly, as Christians, we come together to remember the sacrifice our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ made to save us from our sins. We were in a horrible mess. We had all sinned, and there was no way out of going to Hell…not that we could manage anyway. Nevertheless, God is a loving God, and His children really are His life. He devised a plan to save us from the mess we were in. He sent his son, Jesus, who left His home in Heaven to come to earth, as a man, to live a sinless life, and then to die on the cross anyway, because it was the only way out for us. A sinless man had to die to pay the price for a world of sinners.
I saw a post yesterday on Facebook with the message, “Friday happened, but Sunday is coming.” That is so true. There is nothing we can do about the fact that our sins caused the need for a Saviour, Jesus to come and die to save us. That is in the past, but our future is eternal in Heaven, because of the selfless act of our Saviour. It is God’s love, grace and mercy toward his children that allows us to walk away from the punishment we all deserved, and live forever with Him. We can never thank Him enough for sending His Son. We can never thank Jesus enough for choosing to come and die in our place. All we can do now is rejoice!! Friday happened, but Sunday came three days later, because God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son!! Jesus willingly paid the price, defeated the devil, and the rose again to proclaim that victory!! Sunday is here!! He is risen!!! Jesus is alive!! Rejoice!!
Christmas has become so commercialized that we stress for weeks and even months over what gift to buy this one or that one, not to mention all the planning for dinner and places we need to go. Christmas wasn’t always this commercialized, but it still could have been pretty stressful in days gone by. People didn’t necessarily run out and crazily shop all over town, but if money was tight, they tried their best to figure out a way to give a gift of some kind. Even if money was not tight, some people came up with ideas all year long…because some gifts take a little bit of time. Those are the homemade gifts, and usually some of the most awesome gifts a person will ever get. Some people think that a gift that is homemade isn’t as good as a gift that is store bought, but I say they are very wrong.
When my Great Uncle Dennis Dunahee, who always went by Burt, and his son, my cousin Raymon, decided to make Christmas gifts, they did it in grand style. The gifts they made reminded me of the kind of gifts you might see the people on “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” make. Were the Dunahee gifts homemade with love…absolutely!! Were they stunning…absolutely!! It occurs to me that there are a number of carpenters in the Spencer family who are capable of making beautiful furniture. It’s strange the things you never knew about your family. It turns out that one of this family’s best kept secrets is something quite beautiful indeed.
Christmas in times past was not only less focused on time spent in the mall, it was more focused on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not that we don’t think about the real meaning of Christmas in today’s world, because we do, but sometimes it is easier to get distracted, by the rush to get our shopping done, gifts wrapped, and dinner planned. By the time the day arrives, we can easily be too exhausted to give thought to what this day is all about…the birth of our Saviour!! The reason we give gifts is to remind us of the greatest gift ever given, but in all our giving, we need to remember that the greatest gift ever given…Jesus, is far more important on this day that the gifts we give and receive. Today, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and I pray that you take time to be thankful to God for the gift of His precious Son…Jesus!!