Still waiting for those who will accept….

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the CHALLENGE!

We have about a week left before the end of the sign-up for the Read-Your-Bible-Through-In-A-Year Challenge!

So far, only one brave person has signed up!

C’mon people!  You know you want to do this!  You know you NEED to do this!  All it takes to sign up is a quick comment to this or the previous post about the challenge!  (I do suggest you read the previous one, as it tells how this is going to work….)

God says His Word never returns void, so if we endeavor to read it through in a year – by the end of the year we will have been TREMENDOUSLY blessed and radically changed!

And, wouldn’t you agree, this world NEEDS RADICAL CHANGE?!?!

So – comment and sign up today!  As if being totally blessed by Jehovah wasn’t enough….there will be a few goodies along the way!

So, c’mon!  No more procrastinating!  Comment NOW!

Will you accept my challenge this year?

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I have been feeling a need to do this, so here it is:

I am issuing a challenge to each and every one of you – EVERYONE that reads this blog!

The challenge is this:

Read through your Bible in one year with us!

Now, if you have done it before, GREAT!  Do it again!  And if you haven’t, PERFECT!  Do it now!

Here’s how it will work:

I will post a reading schedule at the beginning of each week.  It will list the daily readings for the week, and be the catalyst for comments during the week on the readings we are doing.  I plan to have some free goodies for those of you who participate (by participate, I mean, leave at least one comment per week on that week’s readings!).  And, there is a distinct possibility of having a drawing mid-way through and at the end of the year….if not quarterly!

So, join with us today….we begin on January 1st!

Leave a comment on this posting if you will be taking up the challenge to Sharpen Your Sword all year long!

Preparing for Battle,

Toni

Christmas Poetry

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Christ came to earth, one blessed
Holy night, to offer
Redemption to a world, so lost in His sight
Immanuel is His name, our
Savior He chose to be.
Three gifts were brought to Him, by the
Magi, for the One who would be
Atonement for sins – offering
Salvation to you and me.

Christmas for Kids: To buy or not to buy

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It’s that time again.  Christmas!  The gorgeous trees, the twinkling lights, the delicious foods (gluten-free for me, please!), the beautiful carols of old, and snowmen, reindeer, a fat guy in a red suit, and gifts?

I love Christmas…really I do.  I love the emotions that surround it – people seem to be much nicer (excluding the cases of trampling at Black Friday sales – that was horrible) and even more forgiving.  But I think that somewhere along the way we have gone drastically wrong in our interpretation of what Christmas is supposed to be about.

We recently exposed Santa Claus to our kids – STOP!  Finish reading before you deride me for be a horrible, uncaring, miserable Scrooge.  There is a very good reason for it.  Our girls are young – 7 & 9.  But, for some time now, we have been experiencing the conviction from the Lord that using Santa in our Christmas celebration was a secular way of taking the focus off of Jesus.  Think about it:  when we talk about Christmas to our kids, here’s the conversation:

“You better behave because Santa is watching you.”

“What do you WANT Santa to bring you this year?”

“Go to sleep because Santa can’t come if you are awake!”

And on and on.  Now, if you choose to leave Santa at your house, so be it.  That is a decision between you and God and your family.  I am not here to judge.  My point is that when we continue to point out Santa to our kids as the reason for good behavior, are we not taking credit away from Jesus, where it rightfully belongs?  Not to mention the fact that we remind our children often of the “truth” of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc., and know that someday, they’ll discover it isn’t true.  The risk is too great that once they learn that we essentially “lied” to them about Santa, they may wonder, “did Mom & Dad tell me the truth about God, too, or is He made up also?”  I know, I know….some of you right now are saying, “Toni, this is really taking things to an extreme….I mean, it’s ONLY Santa…BIG difference in Santa and Jesus.”

But wait, there’s more. 

What about our Christmas decorations?  What do they say about our priorities at this, one of the two holiest of Christian holidays?  Do we throw Santas, snowmen, bells, and bright red bows over everything?  Or do we place a bright star at the top of the tree – and then EXPLAIN to our kids WHY that star is there?  What do we have for decorations in the yard – Snoopy and Barney wearing (again) Santa hats, or a Nativity scene?  Those things are cute, and yes, Christmas should be fun…but we need to be careful to make it fun and HOLY and WONDERFUL for the right reasons! 

And yet, I’m still not done…..

The gifts…..ahhh the gifts.  I think that the incident….no, make that the TRAGEDY at Walmart less than a week ago highlight where I’m going with this.  Jesus, the Savior and Creator of the world (read: universe) was born in a MANGER.  Do our children understand what a manger is?  Do they realize that while we sleep in warm beds every night, that his first bed was a trough for feed, and that this precious little baby was surrounded by animals, and everything that comes with them?

If we as adults understand that, then why do we feel the need to purchase such extravagant gifts every year?  Sure, we claim that it’s in honor of Christ’s birth….but, is it really?  Do we say to the recipient, “This is a gift to help you remember the birth of Christ throughout the coming year,”?  Generally, no.  And, it should be that the gifts we give are an expression of our love, not just our financial position.  I know people who tend to get very upset if they don’t get gifts that at least meet a certain price range criteria.  I’m sorry, but that seems so very shallow.  And, to top it off, we are doing a HUGE disservice to our children if we buy them everything they ask for….and sometimes if we get them anything they ask for.  If they don’t understand WHY the gifts are exchanged, and if we don’t make that Truth a priority, then nothing on their wish list should even be considered.  (And, yes, that’s my opinion.)

This year, our girls, as most kids will, have created a relatively long list of “I wants.”  However, not only because of our finances, but also because of conviction, we have decided to make all except one, possibly two of their gifts.  They will each receive a homemade Bible cover, and a bed pocket.  We have considered purchasing one game each for their DS’s (Yes, they have them, but they are not allowed to play them except at certain times and for short periods.  These games are something they have to earn the right to play – it is, therefore, a reward of sorts.)  In fact, nearly all gifts given by our family this year will be homemade, and next year, we don’t plan to buy anything.***  We aren’t being cheap, and its about more than frugality.  Its about bringing back, at least for our part, the true meaning of Christmas.  Christmas is not about mp3’s, plasma TVs, Barbie’s, DVD’s, and new spinners for your car.

Christmas is about the birth of the One who came to earth to save us all from our sins.  Its a time to reflect on His glory, and His love shown by His willingness to come in such a humble way. 

Our family is resolving to put Christ first in our Christmas celebration this year.  My challenge to you, dear reader, is to do the same. 

Is there something you know God is quietly telling you to change, or to stop altogether?  Is there something He wants to teach you this Christmas season?  I’m sure there is….if you let Him.

 
***If you are interested in some examples of homemade Christmas gift ideas, check out my next post!

Homemade & Inexpensive Gift Ideas