Santa Salutes the Military Worldwide

A Heritage to All

Around the world, military personnel are deployed in distant lands apart from families and friends. Their cathedrals of worship are canvas tents, temporary buildings or open air churches. Dinner is served in a chow line instead of the family table.  Finally, the means of contact with the world back home might be a letter read so often it is wrinkled and torn. These serve not for a career but the commitment to share the blessings of freedom to those under oppression.

Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. 

Abraham Lincoln September 11th, 1858 in Edwardsville, Illinois

While some believe our nation has alternative motives, these men and women surrender the comforts of home and hearth to bring this heritage of liberty to the world.

A Hope in the Heart

Hope is not a feeling because there abides an expectation for a desire result.  For the Christian who celebrates Christmas, Hope is one of the candles seen in the Advent ring.  The candle of hope reminds believers of Christ’s victory over Death and Sin. Likewise, military personnel hope for the end of the mission and this mission in not without cost.  Over 1 million Americans have died since the Revolutionary War. Seeking freedom from the British crown, our own Civil War and to the present, Americans have died here and on distant shores.  Crosses, Stars of David, and other designations can be found in cemeteries on almost all continents for the hope of bringing peace and freedom. The mission hopefully will continue till all are free.

 

John F. Kennedy was injured during World War II and the rest of his life dealt with back pains which debilitated the president. Knowing the cost in his own life, President Kennedy reminds us the commitment of the American military is never surrender or submit. The adversity on the field of battle, the absence from family, and the assault to the body has never been a deterrent for the American Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airmen or Coast Guardsman. They serve when others refuse to accept these costs.  This Christmas, thank them for your freedom.

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. John F. Kennedy

 

Everlasting Love Goes the Distance

Going the Distance for a Child

The last few weekends Santa has traveled to West Virginia from South Carolina and from the upstate of South Carolina to Beaufort, South Carolina.  The mileage for these two trips was near 1,700 miles but, the payoff was seeing a child smile as only they can in the face of Saint Nicholas.  A child’s smile can melt even the hardest heart.  Recently a story about a four-year-old and a man in his eighties came across my phone. He had recently lost his wife and his zest for life.  It was the smile of this small child giving him a reason to live.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (Disney Movies 2006) Lucy Miller melts Jack Frost’s heart with a warm bear hug.  Posing for photographs with a child I have seen adults looking foolish with babbling words and strange faces to get the toddler to smile.

How Far Did Someone Go For You?

In Luke 15, Jesus faces down the condemnation because he fellowshipped with those the religious rejected. The religious Jews condemned tax collectors who worked for the Roman government collecting taxes and extracted more for their own pockets. Jesus gives them a picture of the shepherd leaving the sheep who were cared for to find the one in danger.  A wandering sheep is easy prey for wild animals  Such is the loving Shepherd who sought us.  Those who know they are sinners cause the heavens to rejoice when we turn our lives around through Christ.

 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:4-7 NIV BibleGateway.com

What is the Message For Us?

Over years of pastoral ministry I learned the Great Shepherd’s seeks after the lost sheep and not me. The reason many of us are not looking  is we have not learned how to love ourselves.  I received a message from a lady asking the very question.  After several exchanges I explained our ability to love ourselves comes from understanding who loves me.  If he loves me then how can I not love myself and consequently others.  Santa reminds children how much they are loved and how can we not be so loving to seek after the lost sheep.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.     Jeremiah 31:3

Santa Goes the Distance and brings smiles to children.  See us at http://santacallsforyou.com  A discount is available by typing in the word, CHRISTMAS in the appropriate box.

 

This Christmas Don’t Buy Love & Respect; Earn It!

Santa Claus and parent’s respect

When I was a young and naughty boy, my parents informed me they had Santa’s telephone. Imagine a child’s fear when one call and Santa would not stop by my house.  Gone was the bike and Army men! The very thought sent a chill up my spine. Parent’s used the Jolly Ol’ Elf to improve my behavior. In the sixties, no one knew about a child with Attention Deficit Disorder, and I most definitely qualified!

Over the years of pastoral ministry, I worked helping family issues.  Divorce, infidelity, finances, and many others plagued the entire family.  Once, a mother came to me from my church seeking help for the teenage son.  When making the appointment, she swore her son would grow to be an axe-murderer.  I informed her expectations could hauntingly return.  Another woman, seeking help, called to make an appointment with her son.  She gave him everything, and he disrespected her. When I tried to help them face their shortcomings, they never again darkened my door since it was the boys’ problems.

The first woman did not respect herself allowing her mother to assault her. The boy disrespected her because she did not respect herself.  The second mother was divorced and parented from guilt trying to earn his love and respect. While one demanded respect the other sought to purchase it.

“Blood, Sweat & Respect. Two You Give, Last one you earn.”

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, is an accomplished actor, former professional wrestler, and a motivational speaker. Dwayne seems a gentle giant seeking to help others from what he has learned. Destroying evil or playing the Toothfairy, this hulk-of-a-man lives a life many would envy.  Some people seek respect in destructive ways. Some young inner-city youth kill if they feel disrespected. Parents may resort to physical violence with misbehaving teenagers. Managers become bosses and demand respect instead of earning it as leaders.

Santa Claus Cannot Bring Respect

Today’s generation has been raised feeling the world owes them by their mere existence.  Parents tried purchasing love and respect instead of saying, NO! Their offspring did not earn as their grandparents’ generation because by whining or waiting they got what they wanted. My parents said I would need to earn money to buy the things I wanted.  For twenty dollars I could buy gas and go to the movies with a date.  However, at $1.90 per hour, which was the minimum wage, it would take some work to date.

So, what is the answer? Young adults, after graduation from college, learn those who told them they could find plenty of jobs in underwater basket weaving will not earn the things they expect.  Once they find themselves struggling to pay back college debt may realize the struggles in life truly prepare us for LIFE!

 

Point your kids in the right direction–when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6  The Message

 


 Don’t forget to make your video conference call from Santa Claus. Start the season off right! There is a special $10 off when you use the discount code, Christmas.  

 

http://santacallsforyou.com

Christmas and Childlike Wonder

A Child’s Question of Creation

When Stefani was six years old, she called out with a question about God’s creation.  It wasn’t about how or why He created but her question caused me to stop in my tracks.  Stefani wanted to know when God created color.  I explained the story of creation from the Bible but she had a simple understanding.  She asked another question which made me laugh. She said, “Daddy if God created everything in color, why are your favorite movies black & white?”

Laughter is a Good Medicine

Christmas is a time of Joy, Love, Peace, and Hope.  These qualities are present in the Baby of Bethlehem.  I enjoy the Christmas season because I lived in a home of chaos as a child.  However, during these seasons things seemed better and looked forward to Christmas with childlike anticipation.  It wasn’t until I became a Christian at twenty-six years old I began to know the qualities of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. I am not saying as a new believer I was bubbly and trouble-free.  In fact, as I grew as a Christian, I had Stefani’s dim understanding of God’s plan.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22 NIV 

Childlike trust brings Hope, Peace, Joy and Love

Stefani trusted her Daddy and came asking her questions. Trusting in our heavenly “Daddy” we begin experiencing the four qualities remembered during Advent. Advent means to come, and as we look forward to his 2nd Coming, we have the hope of the resurrection. We have peace knowing our relationship with God is secure in Christ. We have eternal joy which no one can diminish. We have love for God, Christ, and God’s creation, man.

The Manger’s Misfits and God’s Invitation to All

Mangers Hide a Great Truth

As we lay out the decorations of Christmas an important part is the manger.  As we place Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, sheep, shepherds and the Magi it reminds us of God’s wonderful gift in His Son and holds a special message for all.

Unmarried women found pregnant could die for breaking the Law of Moses and be stoned at her father’s house.(Deuteronomy 22:21)  Joseph had the law on his side but wanted a quiet solution to Mary’s condition. Joseph accepted this child and Mary as his wife but faced years of ridicule to obey God.

Shepherds announced His Son’s birth! The loving image of Jesus as the Great Sheperd is a different reality than shepherds during the time of Christ. Mistreated and losing civil rights, shepherds could not testify in court proceedings.(www.epm.org) These misfits, according to the religious leaders of Israel, testified throughout the city of Bethlehem about Jesus.

Gentiles to His Son’s birthday

In our mangers, three kings or magi come to worship the One called King of the Jews. Magi are a priesthood of the Medes with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. Some Magi proved expert in the interpretation of dreams and were established over the state religion of Persia by Darius the Great. The Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian Empire. Holding Daniel of the Bible in high regard, they may have been exposed to the prophecy of the coming King. Those who looked to the stars for guidance followed the Star to Bethlehem.

God’s invitation to all 

A woman pregnant before marriage, a godly Jewish man, mistrusted shepherds and gentile magicians invited to the manger of the Son of God. In the greatness of God’s sovereignty we see the depth of his mercy.  All are invited to the manger of the Lord to be fed for a MANGER was used to feed.

 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 

Psalm 34:8 NIV

Christmas Traditions Bring Happiness Through the Generations

Taking the secular to celebrate the Holy

I know the things we see at Christmas originated from other cultures and beliefs. Today we are going to see what they mean today for believers as we celebrate Christmas.  The first item is the ever present Christmas tree taking center place in living rooms. Pagans used the fir trees centuries ago, but around the 1500’s Europeans started decorating trees with paper, cookies, and sweets. As the tradition started the top was adorned with Baby Jesus but changed to an angel who told the shepherds and finally the star which led the wise men.

During the Victorian era, candles were used representing stars. With the risk of fire Christmas tree lights were invented by Ralph Morris in 1895. After a hospital burned down because of candles and with pressure from insurance companies, people started using electrical sets of lights for the tree. (whychristmas.com)

Singing from the secular to the sacred

Again, the earliest carols were taken from the pagans who sang for the Winter Solstice. They sang and danced around stone structures and the word carol refers to dancing.  The early Christian carols were written in Latin so the common person did not understand and by the 1200’s most people stopped celebrating Christmas.  Centuries later carols and public singing  became popular during the Victorian era and so many of today’s carols were written during this period.

One such song, Silent Night, was written by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816 and the music added two years later by Franz Gruber.  It was sung by the two on Christmas eve 1818 at midnight mass. (whychristmas.com)  Over the years carols spread across Europe. During World War I, carols led to a temporary truce among the death and destruction of the war.  It is attested by two soldiers, Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment and Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade.

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.” (time.com Christmas Truce 1914)

O Holy Night…

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14 NIV (Biblegateway.com)

 

Never believe the most simple and common things cannot be used by God to point to his Son–even us.

 

Santa Claus & hurting children

The Question of a child

There are times a child sitting on Santa’s lap has a question about the reindeer, the elves, or Mrs. Claus. The questions are simply honest searches for knowledge as a child envisions the North Pole. They just want to know how it all works.  Simple answers will usually suffice the child’s imagination, but at times you get a question needing compassion and comfort.

One such child wanted Saint Nicholas to bring peace within her troubled home.  Looking deeply into this waif’s eyes I sensed a deeper issue.  I desired peace within my childhood home and related to her wishes.  The first thing I could do was hold her close to Santa’s chest and provide her a safe place.

The sincerity of her question seen in the moisture-filled eyes truthfully was not within my powers to answer her request.  The best answer I could give her was as a child she could model peace to the people in the room. Even Jesus used a child as a sermon illustration to a crowd of adults.

The Father and his child

In the Bible, the imagine of the Father and his children is a reminder of his desired relationship with believers. In the Old Testament, a person seeking to be a rabbi finds a teacher and ask to follow him. Teaching is done as an oral tradition.  Over and over the teacher instructs his disciple until he felt the student was ready.  He sends him into the world to instruct others in the same manner.

A rabbi in the book of Acts was Gamaliel the Elder, a doctor of the Law held in high regard by all Jews.  He spoke about not condemning the apostles of Jesus and was the teacher of Paul the Apostle. (Acts 5:34) It was Paul believing he was doing God’s work, persecuted Christians until he met Jesus on the Damascus road.

The Jews of the Old Testament said God is the Father of the Jewish people. The prophet Isaiah records in Isaiah 64:8 “O LORD, thou art our father.” It was Jesus teaching his disciples of a real and personal heavenly Father and his desire to have a relationship with us.

God instructs his child

God first brings the answer to the question of our lives–is there anything else? We struggle with status, wealth, health, and life in general. Malcolm Forbes said the one who dies with the most toys wins. But, what was lowered into the ground at this death measured the same size and the casket of a poor man.  Our Father gives salvation and then teaches us by his loving kindness how to make the best of this life.

God uses two kinds of people in our lives to be examples of self-controlled and godly lives. First, the person whose life with God is marked by trials overcome by faith. They learned to trust God one step at a time.  These living bibles model the life we are to live. The others are the negative example of the godly life.  We have an opportunity to compare and contrast the two and hopefully make the correct choice.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say ‘NO’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:11-13

 

Santa Calls Out For Peace In a World of Strife

Christmas Carols of the Past

Listing to Pandora today I was amazed at the references to LORD, JESUS, GOD, and the what Jesus brings.  One name for Christ in the book of Isaiah is Prince of Peace. Imagine the fearful shepherds in the presence of God’s angel. The angel is quick saying don’t fear.  God”s peace is not the cessation of war but a restored relationship between two people–God and man. Many translate the pronouncement of the angel as “good will to all men.”  The Greek says “peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (NIV Zondervan 1984)  Peace comes to those whom his favor rests because our relationship is restored by Jesus Christ.

Peace during a contentious political season seems impossible.  People harming others in the name of their political candidate.  The name-calling, throwing of eggs, and physical contact reminds how far mankind has fallen.  Even computer programs have come to make judgments.  (My grammar program just showed me somewhere in the course of this discussion I have said something politically incorrect or offensive language.)

Christmas Carols of Today

In our culture speaking about Jesus, using his name, praying, worshipping, and acts done in the name of Christ is dangerous. The offensive, myopic, narrow-minded, or homophobic speech will not be tolerated, even though their speech is offensive.  It has even affected the music sung by children in schools, malls, and other public venues.  Adults feed the message we must be inclusive and so our Christian gospel judges people instead of bringing them together. So malls and other public places restrict the singing by choirs to secular music during the Christmas season. The music overhead no longer includes such songs as “God rest ye merry gentlemen”.  If you ever hear the song by Gene Autry “Here Come Santa Claus”, he speaks about God, say your prayers, and peace on earth will come to all if we just follow the Light.

Peace is removed from Christmas–the day we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

The world struggles for peace and but we have taken out the one who brings peace. We see hurting people with addictions; the insults of others; joblessness; and poverty. The Day has become a massive marketing event.and we call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday as people madly rush the doors to get the best deals.  Christmas day many are grateful it is over and they can begin their normal hectic routine.

From the Word of God:

If it is possible as far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

 

Let us make every effort to live at peace with others and we may find the very peace we need. 

Saint Nicholas

Trains, planes, & ….

Trains and the heart of children

What’s the fascination children have with trains? Can it be the immense size of the locomotive passing along the tracks in front of the family car? Is the sound of the train whistle miles away stirring their hearts? Perhaps a child dreams of unknown destinations as the train lumbers along.

Several years ago, I climbed into one of these iron horses with a friend in South Carolina. Hugh, the superintendent of a short line, shocked me as he placed me in the engineer’s seat. You can imagine my joy as his instructions allowed me to move the beast in the yard.    The proverbial “knock-me-over-with-a-feather” comes to mind!

As a child, I had an American Flyer train and the stunning lines of those trains ended when the business closed.  I watched trains circle the eight-foot by four-foot layout. Houses, people, buildings, and cars completed a child’s world with Donnie Dixon alongside.

Bring a child the gift of discovery

Newer electronics eclipse the toys of yesteryear.  A grandson received a stuffed animal searching to locate the on-switch. Children have lost the ability to imagine and these toys lose appeal as some believe penmanship lost its purpose.  This year help Santa to give just one gift of discovery for a child and help them learn to dream.