The One True Gift

The Most Recognizable Christmas Decoration is of course the Nativity Scene itself. When I was a kid it was just as common as the Snowman and Santa Claus are today. Every village square and every church yard displayed a large manger scene with livestock, wise men, shepherds and angels. Almost every home had a rustic miniature nativity that seemed to be either on the coffee table or the large stereo cabinet in the living room.

The secular world certainly has lots of questions about where Jesus was born, how he was born and they’re quick to point out that December 25th was not his real birthday. Yeah, we knew that already. And it doesn’t matter. My faith is not in the date. My faith is not in how many wise men actually showed up. It doesn’t matter if he was born in a manger or under a tree and then brought into the manger later. My faith is in the identity of the child who was given out of the love of my creator for all of mankind. My salvation is in the fact that Jesus was both God and Man and that his innocent blood would be shed thirty three years later to bring reconciliation between us and father God. It’s just that simple. And, if I can just hold on to the truth of why we celebrate and who we celebrate then it truly is Christmas every day.

Normally I end my blog post by pitching my business and instructions on how to contact me or follow my page but tonight I wanted to take a break and just give you something from the heart. Tonight’s image is untitled and not for sale. It’s simply a confession of my faith. That though Jesus Christ I was reconciled unto God almighty. There’s a Christmas gift for ya. From reconciliation to redemption and the things God has in store for the believer beyond this broken world.

Merry Christmas friends and may God bless us every one.

Tomorrow night there will be no post. I’m taking Christmas Day off to spend time with family. My next post will be on December 26th.

All About The Christmas Holly

Well by gosh by golly, tonight’s post is all about holly!

One of the more familiar icons of the Christmas season in North America holly is a direct analogy to Jesus Christ.

Obviously the red berries are said to represent the blood that was shed for the remittance of sin. Only innocent blood could break the curse of Adam.

The prickles on the leaves are in relationship to the crown of thorns. In Roman Times the highest honor a leader could receive was a crown made from the grass of the battlefield where he had just gained victory. Because the thorn is a symbol for the curse of Adam a crown of thorns could be seen as a symbol for Christ’s victory, awarded to him by the sinners who He was born to save.

Holly is evergreen representing eternal life bestowed upon us by Jesus.

The wood produced by holly is white and symbolizes purity.

On a side note, if you want to have pretty red berries on your holly tree you need two trees. Holly comes in male and female trees. Holly grows wild in my area and before I understood why I would be disappointed to see one without berries.

In addition to that, one of my Forestry instructors would tell us that “holy wood will guide you right”. The wood is very fine grained and somewhat oily. Because of this it was once used to make guide pins for saw mills.

Even though Christmas holly is evergreen there is a type of holly tree that is deciduous. It has bright red berries like it’s festive Christmas cousin but the leaves turn bright yellow in the fall and drop in winter.

The berries of all hollies are poison but beautiful to look at making them great landscaping for the drab backdrop of winter.

That’s pretty much it for holly as it relates to the Christmas season. I hope that you have enjoyed this post.

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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Christmas Holly 2018” and is available for purchase by usingthe Contact Form on my website. ( just click the picture of the bell below)

The second picture is titled “Deciduous Holly 2018” and is also available for purchase by using the Contact Form on my website.

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Be Still and Know

“Be still, and know that I amGod: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalms 46:10
King James Version (KJV)

Sometimes it’s hard to simply be still. As humans, we are creatures of action. We want to make things happen on our schedule. We desire to crack open a situation and “fix” it to fit into our plans. However, it’s not our plans that need to be completed. God has a plan and He is able to complete it. We have all had the experience of the over eager helper who means well but messes up the plan by doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or even when it’s right thing but at the wrong time.

Imagine that you have a classic car and you’re preparing it for a show. Your child wants to help and you’re overjoyed. Now, imagine that you’re soaping up the driver’s side and you look up to find the child waxing the unwashed passenger side. There’s a big smile on his face because he’s giving you his best effort and he’s proud because he hasn’t missed a spot. How often do we mess up God’s plans by trying to help but not doing it at the right time? How often do we try to polish a soul that God is still cleaning? I know that the verse above is normally quoted by folks who mean to inspire a sense of peace but there are times when God is simply saying “Step back a minute, I got this”. In those times we need to step back and let God deal with it.

My Last Christmas Wish of 2017

I have one last Christmas image to share this year.  This is a photo of the holly tree in my parent’s yard.  I used an out of the box filter to make it look like a painting.  Evergreen trees are a symbol of immortality.  Over the years I have come to learn that the secret of the evergreen trees is constant renewal.  As we exit the Christmas holiday and head into the New Year my last Christmas wish is that we are renewed in body,  mind and spirit.  

The Angel Story

Luke 2:10

 

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” 
King James Version (KJV)  

By this time tomorrow most of the United States will be covered by a blanket of wrapping paper.   I can picture in my mind that the responsible member of house is standing by with a snow shovel ready to plow through a brightly colored avalanch of Christmas joy. Great care must be taken during this task lest small chilchildren be lost within an embankment paper and empty boxes.  It’s easy to be swept up in the trappings of the celebration when you are only two feet tall.  As an adult,  it’s easy to to get lost in the excitement and preperation of the season. We have a tendency to focus on the doings  and overlook the beings.  I imagine that when the angel visited the shepherds that they may not have noticed at first.  Tending livestock requires multitasking.  Hedges must be maintained, animals are constantly wandering off, adequate food and water needs to be available and sibling rivalry has to quelled. Its very much like managing a family gathering. The Herald Angel would have needed to use that trumpet to get everyone’s attention.  “HEY, OVER HERE! EVERYONE FOLLOW ME! WE’RE HEADING INTO TOWN TO SEE THE BABY JESUS!” 

When they arrive there is more chaos.  The sheep are still wondering off, the wisemen’s camel train has taken over the parking  and now the cattle are lowing. Mary would have been a nervous wreck without the grace of God.  Everybody is there to see the precious gift laying in a manger.   The noise and clamor of the inn fade away into the night as the baby opens his eyes and the true gift is realized.  

It’s easy to get lost in the excitement.  There are plenty of distractions. Everything from twenty-four hour T.V. specials to making dinner and enjoying the surprises under the tree. Take a little time to stop and let all these things fade into the background and appreciate the true gift of Christ.  

The Orange Story

One of Christmas traditions that my family practices is peppermint candy and oranges.  Every year my grandfather would buy a crate of oranges and bag them up with peppermint candy to hand out to friends and family. This was the thing he looked the most forward to every year. The story behind this gifting tradition goes back to the Great Depression.  He came from a large family and during those times almost nothing was bought from the store. They played with hand carved wooden toys. They wore handmade clothes.  The food was raised and harvested at home.  An exotic fruit like the orange was a luxury.  But his father would splurge at Christmas and there was enough money for each child to have one orange and a large piece of peppermint candy.  One year one of his sisters had just finished peeling her orange and dropped it into the dirt. My grandfather couldn’t allow her to go without Christmas and gave her his orange.  The simple act of sacrifice became an expression of love every year.  The true meaning of Christmas is sacrificial love.  The original gift that was given was the child in manger who grew up to hang on a cross and restore to us that which was lost.