In her book Reach for the Summit, former Tennessee women’s head basketball coach Pat Summitt wrote, “There are different kinds of success. There is fame and fortune, which…is a pretty flimsy, short-lived kind of success. Then there is the more gratifying kind of success that comes from doing something you love, and doing it well. Still another kind of success results from committing to one person and raising a child with them. Yet another is finding a sustained faith in your church. But notice something about all the various forms of success. They are open-ended. They aren’t tasks that you finish. Success is a project that’s always under construction.”1
I received an early Christmas gift from our five-year-old grandson Max. Though he didn’t realize it at the time, his gift will never wear out or lose its value.
Intentionally nurturing our grandchildren’s faith in Christ is my greatest passion and joy. That’s why this exceptional gift from Max blessed me so deeply.
After reading Advent stories and making a craft, I set my grandkids in front of our television to watch the Christmas DVD, The Crippled Lamb (by Max Lucado). The older children fondly remembered the story from past Christmases and our grandson Jack proudly announced he’d read the book the night before.
As my daughter and I warmed ourselves under blankets, we observed the children’s attentiveness to the story.
At the conclusion, I seized the opportunity to discuss the movie’s theme. I told my grandchildren that God has purpose for everyone’s life, including people with disabilities. Initially, the crippled lamb felt useless and left out. Then on the night of Christ’s birth, the little lamb realized his purpose as he laid next to baby Jesus, warming the Savior of the world’s tiny frail body.
During our conversation, Max stated, “Yes, just like Leo who can’t hear.” Leo is our ten-year-old neighbor who was born deaf. I said, “Exactly, God has a purpose for Leo’s life just like He does for everyone.” Then Max pronounced, “I think we need to all make a circle, hold hands, and pray!” So we did, but before I had time to ask Max what he wanted to pray about, he simply spoke to God, asking him to heal Leo “so she could hear better.”
The gift Max gave to me was one of eternal value. One that came wrapped with love, compassion, and sincerity.
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)
Dear Heavenly Father, please keep our hearts tender toward the Gift of your Son, Jesus, at Christmas and each day throughout the year.
Be sure to keep watch for the everlasting gifts of Christmas.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)
The early Christmas gift from Max will remain in my heart forever.
This Christmas, may you know that your life has purpose, and is of great value, just because…
God created you…to have fellowship with Him and to share in His love through Christ with others. (Genesis 1:27, 1 John 1:3)
Our ultimate purpose is to give our Creator all the glory that is due Him. Like the little crippled lamb in the story, we may feel useless and left out from time to time, but please remember, God does have a plan and purpose for everyone, including you.
God’s plan is for everyone to receive salvation (from and sin and death) through His Son. If you have never accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, please take this moment to consider praying right now and asking Jesus to come into your heart.
The Bible clearly states that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). And the Bible also tells us, God provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven and to restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Salvation is a free (but costly) gift offered to all who will receive it. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Receive the greatest gift this Christmas, the gift of eternal life.
Pray to receive Jesus as your personal Savior: (Pray in your own words and from the sincerity of your heart.) The simplest prayer (like my grandson Max’s) will be heard and answered by the Creator of the World.
I’ve tried to live my life without you, but this has left me feeling empty, lonely, and sad. I know that my sins have separated me from you. Please, God, forgive me for living a life of pride. I have committed many sins against you, and I have also hurt others. I am so sorry, God.
I now want to ask Jesus into my heart, so I can live for you, God, and spend eternity with you and all my loved ones who put their trust in you.
I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that He was raised on the third day from the grave, and is now in Heaven preparing a place for me.
So, dear Jesus, please come into my heart and give me new life.
Thank you, Father, for loving me and giving me purpose. With the help of Your Holy Spirit, I will do my best to live a life that honors and pleases you.
The Bible says: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
The Bible also says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Wow! You are now a new person in Christ, and that means you are a child of God.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).
To help you grow in your new faith in Christ, I encourage you to locate and start attending a good Bible-teaching/preaching church. I recommend checking out The Church of the Nazarene. There are other good churches as well; I only recommend the Nazarene Church because I’ve been a member of the Church of the Nazarene since 1985 and have grown deeper in love with Jesus through the teachings of the Bible through the Nazarene Church.
I also encourage you to begin reading the Bible, starting with the Gospel of John.
Other Recommended Reading:
The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
The Crippled Lamb DVD & Book, Max Lucado
While shopping for our youngest granddaughter’s birthday gift, I wandered around the toy store for over two hours. Why?
Living in the United States where our culture lends itself toward having more than enough, I couldn’t think of anything my granddaughter didn’t already have.
Texting back and forth with her mother: “yes, she has that, and yes, her big sister has that,” and so on. Finally, her mom thought of something. “She doesn’t have any Barbie dolls, and she likes playing with them at her other grandmother’s home.” Bingo!
While searching for deals and modestly-dressed Barbies, I was somewhat pleased with my find. Buy one, get one half price. Great! Now I could get two Barbies and stay within my budget.
Here’s a few of my thoughts, however, that ran through my mind during and following my lengthy shopping experience.
- Worship that doesn’t cost me something isn’t true worship. (I heard this statement the night prior, spoken by Dr. Ravi Zacharias.) I believe God’s Spirit was reminding me to refrain from frivolous spending when so many in the world have so little.
- Why am I spending so much time picking out a gift for my granddaughter? (Feeling a bit uneasy (convicted) while wasting so much time on material possession.)
- Shouldn’t I purchase a more meaningful gift, from a Christian bookstore?
- Little Anré probably doesn’t even have one doll, let alone two. I met Anré (about 3 years old), during a mission trip. I keep her photo in my living room as a reminder of how little some have compared to all that I have.
Most recently, someone shared a quote with me from John Wesley. “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Tweaking my interest, I did a little research, disclosing a bit of reasoning behind this quote. Here’s what I learned:
While at Oxford, an incident changed Charles Wesley’s perspective on money. He had just finished paying for some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a cold winter day, and he noticed that she had nothing to protect her except a thin linen gown. He reached into his pocket to give her some money to buy a coat but found he had too little left. Immediately, the thought struck him that the Lord was not pleased with the way he had spent his money. He asked himself, Will thy Master say, “Well done, good and faithful steward?” Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid? Perhaps as a result of this incident, in 1731, Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor.
To read this article in its entirety:
About Money – John Wesley
An article written by Charles Edward White, assistant professor, Christian thought and history Spring Arbor (Michigan) College http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/what-wesley-practiced-and-preached-about-money
Another quote that helps me keep an eternal perspective:
“Little is much when God is in it.”
For further study: Jesus Feeds the 5000 (with a little boy’s sack lunch), John 6:1-14
Materialism: A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
Children’s values form early as they observe the daily choices/actions of their parents.
More from the article, About Money – Parenthesis added are mine.
Wesley especially warned against buying too much for children. People who would never waste money on themselves might be more indulgent with their children (and grandchildren). On the principle that gratifying a desire needlessly only tends to increase it, he asked these well-intentioned parents: “Why should you purchase for them more pride or lust, more vanity or foolish and hurtful desires? …Why should you be at further expense to increase their temptations and snares and to pierce them through with more sorrows?”
While driving home from our church’s Vacation Bible School last night I heard a stirring message on the radio. These words pierced my heart: “When you love your Lord less, you love the world more, and it infiltrates your life and you tolerate sin.”
As a Christian mom and grandmother, it is my desire to help reverse this trend, that is sadly reflected in our world today. I want to love the Lord more and thereby love the world less. How can I do this? Only by the divine presence of a Holy God who permeates my mind, body, and spirit.
A while back, Jeff and I led a parenting series called “Faith At Home.” A large part of the training sessions deal with developing a spiritual plan for the family, and making a family covenant with God.
Here’s a sampling of what I feel lays the foundation for mapping out a family’s spiritual plan. It all begins with valuing the things that honor God in our daily lives.
STEP #2 — VALUES
What do we really believe?
Values are the non-negotiable truths you hold that direct your family’s behavior. They are motivational. They provide an answer for the “why” of every circumstance in life, and they place boundaries around behavior.
The values we teach and model for our children (& grandchildren) have a major impact on their lives. Our values teach them who they’re meant to be and how to be that way. Passing a clear set of core values to your children is the thing that most clearly defines the uniqueness of your family.
Values aren’t taught just by bringing children to church or having a little talk. Children learn values through daily interaction with their parents. They learn them in everyday, ordinary encounters with Mom and Dad. They learn by listening to what we say and watching what we do. “…when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.” (Living out Deut. 6:4-9)
So it’s important that parents model what they teach and teach what they model. When parents have integrity—that is, when their teaching and example are consistent—the communication of their core values becomes compelling to children. (Most children will grow up and live what has been modeled to them by their parents/grandparents.) Proverbs 22:6
Children become confused when Mom and Dad don’t teach (or model) the same values. Parents can find unity in their values by finding out what God has to say. Discussions about values can often lead Mom and Dad to a richer understanding and refinement of their core beliefs. Parents also learn to appreciate the perspective of their spouses when they see how some differences can be useful.
** Becoming a Christ-centered family begins by defining your family’s core values, and determining that these core values are in line with God’s core values found in Scripture.
“Discipling children is about sharing with them the model of the life you live in Christ, on a daily basis.” – Debbie Salter Goodwin
To learn more about making a spiritual plan for your family, go to my blog site: www.covenantheirs.org and click on the tab at the top of the page: Making a Family Covenant.
While at our grandchildren’s ballgame the other night, I observed my son-in-law seize a teachable moment. My husband and I had front row lawn chairs, as we watched Jack, who is seven, play against his sister, Julia, who is five. It was the “big game”and Jack had already set the stage for a win against his sister’s team. Funny, at this level, they don’t even keep score.
We watched and cheered, along with other family members, as Jack and Julia both hit the ball at their at-bats. Jack slugged the ball deep into the outfield twice, and boy was he excited, and so were we.
As Jack slid into home plate, he proudly paraded by the fence as his fans applauded. As one grandpa put it, “He’s show-boating.” We later found out from his mother that Jack was just imitating his favorite ball team, the KC Royals.
Jack’s dad took this moment to quickly pull Jack aside and explain to him about having a humble spirit, and not to draw so much attention to himself. I’m not sure what all was said, but I can tell you one thing, our grandson loves and respects his earthly father, who is teaching Jack and his other two children to respect their Heavenly Father.
In the parent study, Effective Parenting In A Defective World, the author, Chip Ingram, instructs parents to keep their focus clearly on the bulls-eye (Jesus and God’s principles), rather than carelessly missing the target by following the world’s standards.
I am thankful that my son-in-law is training his children to become like Jesus; in this instance, humble.
Philippians 2 (NIV)
Imitating Christ’s Humility
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
What if I begin the New Year with full assurance of God’s love?
What if I begin the New Year knowing I am in a right relationship with God?
What if I choose to look more like Jesus and less like the world in 2016?
What if I read and mediate on God’s Word every day?
What if I let go and let God?
Psalm 91 (NLT)
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. 13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. 15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. 16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
God’s Word…Life and Truth
A Christmas card from a long-ago neighbor arrived with sad news.
Her beloved husband of fifty-seven years went home to be with Jesus.
Our family lived next to Bud and Iris for ten years.
Bud was kind and friendly to everyone, including our rambunctious children.
I think it appropriate, learning of Bud’s passing through a Christmas card.
He and his sweet wife know Jesus as their personal Savior.
There is joy in death, when we know our loved one is in the loving arms of Jesus.
May the Psalms draw you near to God.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).