Daily Archives: December 20, 2013

favorite carols: a lullaby for the world

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed;
the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2.6-7 NIV

When I was a little girl, Away in the Manger and Silent Night were my favorite Christmas songs. We sang them every year during our annual Christmas pageants. I remember them, having been a member of the angelic choir most of those years. It was our job to sing and sing we did.

Jesus was born in a stable with not so much as a bed to lie on. The humble beginnings of our Lord’s life remind us that we are to be humble and thankful for what we have been blessed with. The true meaning of Christmas is reflected so poetically in the story of Jesus’ birth that we cannot help but find ourselves grateful for all that was given to us on that day.

The song, or Christmas lullaby as I like to refer to it, describes how when Jesus wakes, he does not cry nor does he make a sound. Granted, he probably only cried when he was hungry or his cloth diaper needed changing…and probably when he got sick. I sometimes wonder if Jesus ever suffered from a head cold….

Anyway, back on point:

The day he was born was a day of rejoicing. The babe who lay in the straw was no ordinary child – like you and me and yet unlike at the same time – He was the Savior of men!

The last verse of the song is a prayer, asking God to stay beside us, to lead us and to eventually take us Home with him.

How often is that your prayer? How often to seek out his guidance and companionship in this life? How does this carol affect you? Does it reflect the love of Christ? Why do you think God chose this place for his Son to be born, rather than a comfortable room in a castle somewhere?

traditions: a crackling fire

How many of you enjoy a crackling fire each year? 673cebadb2292ee714849cb2b3231427

Personally, I haven’t in quite some time.

Sure, I enjoy the wood-burning stove when I visit my parents’ home in southwest Minnesota and the fireplace at my aunt’s home occasionally, but I personally haven’t had one in any of the apartments I’ve lived in. I also don’t see the purpose in turning the TV on PBS, or whatever station has the fire screen running, on Christmas Eve. It pales in comparison to a real fireplace. It also doesn’t keep one very warm.

And it’s a tradition many enjoy, not just at Christmas, but all year round.

We used to have one of those weird contraptions (not a fireplace, per se, as there was no mantle nor was there a square hole in the wall) in the old farmhouse I grew up in, but when my parents deemed the extended brick on the floor a safety hazard for four rambunctious kids, they renovated that room and got rid of it. I think they only had the thing lit a couple of times – based on my memory – and I remember the warm glow filling that entire room.

I, for one, never understood the meaning of crackling fire on your TV screens at Christmas time. Google it and you’ll find hours upon hours of footage on YouTube, now streaming in high definition! Woo—hoo!

Perhaps it’s a lot like those ugly Christmas sweaters.

Then again, maybe not.

I’ve grown up some since moving out from home and have had the opportunity to sit in front of a fireplace (not at Christmas time, though). I enjoyed the warmth and, most of all, the ambient glow filling up a room.

That warmth and light remind me of the joy that spreads, especially at Christmas, as children wait in anticipation for Christmas morning and Christians observe Advent, anxiously awaiting the birth of, and return of, our Savior.

Shared Post: The Before You’re 40 Bucketlist by Jesse Carey, Relevant Magazine

I stumbled on this article a while back and thought, why not share it? I’ve done some of these and I’m not quite pushing 40…30 maybe, but not 40 yet. That means, I’ve got almost 10 years to accomplish the remaining items on this list (and maybe repeating a few)….see those I’ve completed below.


Your twenties and thirties are two of the most important decades of your life. You’re figuring out what you want to do professionally, determining what you believe spiritually and establishing yourself as a real-life grown-up. But don’t let your young adult years slip by without making an under-40 bucketlist—a list of things-to-do before you hit the big 4-0.

Here are 20 things to accomplish before your 40th birthday:

Read the Entire Bible Cover-to-Cover

Reading the Bible from front to back may sound like a daunting task, but with read the Bible in year resources like the YouVersion app, it’s a manageable goal. Even though you may have already read most of scripture throughout the course of your life, reading it as a linear narrative, one book at a time, gives you a new perspective on the story of the Gospel.

See Your Favorite Band Live at Least Once

One day, you’ll want to tell your kids, friends or family about that time you drove all night to see U2 play a stadium in Chicago, found tickets to a sold-out Sufjan Stevens show at a small venue in your hometown or saw Sigur Ros under the stars at an amphitheater. Concert tickets can be expensive, but it’s worth it to see a great band live.

Run a Marathon (or Some Kind of Endurance Race)

No matter what your current fitness level is, there are lots of options for you to take part in an endurance race. Whether it’s a 5K, Tough Mudder or a full-length marathon, choose a distance you’ll actually have to train for a few months to complete. Part of the joy of the accomplishment is looking back at all of the hard work you put in.

Watch Every Film on the AFI Top 100

Back in 1998, the American Film Institute polled 1,500 leaders in the film community and asked them to help assemble the top 100 American movies ever made. The list (which was updated in 2007) contains some movies that you’ve probably already seen (like Rocky, Forest Gump, Star Wars and Jaws) but its the deeper cuts (like Rear Window, Stagecoach, Duck Soup and All Quiet on the Western Front) showcasing the evolution of filmmaking and American pop culture, that make the task of watching each film such a rich experience.

Pick a Country and Go Visit

Before you turn 40, pick at least one country that you’ve always wanted to visit, and make it happen. Create a plan to save a little money and store up some vacation time to go to the one place you’ve always wanted to see.

Speak a Second Language

If you are picking a country to go visit, why not try to also learn the language spoken there?

Write Letters to the Five People Who Have Most Impacted Your Life

Don’t make the mistake of not telling the important people in your life how much they’ve impacted you. Even if the letters are short, sometime before you turn 40, think of the five people who have helped shape you as an adult, and let them know what they’ve meant to you.

Watch Every Season of a Few Great TV Shows

We are living in a golden age of television, in which critically acclaimed shows are the new Great American Novels. Pick out a few of the shows that will be remembered for making serialized TV important again, and watch them in their entirety. Marathon through a series like Arrested Development, The Walking Dead, The Wire or Breaking Bad, and see how the medium of television was reinvented in your generation.

Give Away Something Really Expensive


Before you turn 40, you should know the feeling of giving something away that costs a lot of money. Maybe you pool money with a couple of friends to buy a car for a single mom in need. Maybe it’s plane tickets for friend to go on a mission trip. Maybe it’s a bunch of really nice Christmas presents for kids who wouldn’t get any otherwise. At some point in your twenties or thirties, make it your personal goal to save enough money to give someone else something amazing.


Make Amends With Any ‘Enemies’

Once you hit your late twenties, you are officially too old to still harbor bitterness toward anyone else. Before you hit 40, make an effort to make amends with anyone in your life that you have any ill feeling toward. As Christians, there’s no excuse to carry unforgiveness—especially through adulthood.

Apply for Your Dream Job

Don’t look back later in life with regret, wondering what could have been. Even if you don’t think you’re qualified for the job you’ve always dreamed of, at some point in your twenties or thirties, apply for the job you’ve always wanted. It may not lead to any dramatic career choice, but unless you give it a shot, you will never know.

Take the Stage. Alone

Preach a sermon. Try stand-up comedy. Deliver a TED-like lecture. Find an opportunity to be alone on a stage in front of a crowd with nothing to move them but a microphone and your own thoughts. Public speaking can be terrifying—but it can also be exhilarating .

Go on a Road Trip of at Least a Thousand Miles

There’s something philosophical that happens when you’re on the road for more than 15 hours, exploring America through highways and interstates. Just consult the work of Jack Kerouac and you’ll see that the journey isn’t about the destination—it’s about the road trip.

Write a Short Story

Everyone has a good story in them. Take the time to craft at least one good short story at some point in your twenties or thirties. You don’t ever have to publish it or even share it with anyone else, but it’s an exercise of self-analysis that everyone should go through at least once.

Go On a Mission/Humanitarian Aid Trip

Sure, sometimes “short-term mission trips” have been criticized for offering short-term solutions to long-term needs, but if you find the right destination and the right cause, it can be a life-changing experience. But remember, the point of a trip isn’t to teach others about what you know—it’s also about allowing them to teach you from what they have been through.

Learn to Play an Instrument

Grab that old guitar sitting in the attic, pick up a harmonic or go ahead and purchase that drum set you’ve always wanted. Who knows? Maybe you even a have a hidden talent that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Find a Mentor and a Mentee

You’re never too old to learn from someone older than you—and to teach someone younger.

Memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Great Commission and the Beatitudes

By memorizing these relatively short items, you’ll be able to recite four key principles of Christian faith—how to pray (the Lord’s Prayer), your calling (the Great Commission), the teachings of the Gospel (the Apostle’s Creed) and how to live (the Beatitudes).

Face your fear

Whether it’s public speaking, an aversion to water, the fear of rejection or a dislike of flying, you don’t have to totally conquer your fears in your twenties or thirties, but you should face them. Sign up for swimming lessons, go to Toast Masters or even seek counseling. Taking steps to control your fear as an adult will make sure it doesn’t have to control you.

Sponsor a child

There are a ton of organizations (World Vision, Compassion International, ChildFund International), that will let you sponsor a child in need for less than your cell phone bill. Sometime between before your 40th birthday, commit to a year—the letters you’ll receive alone make the whole experience worth it.



  1. Read the entire Bible, cover to cover – a work in progress!
  2. See your favorite band live, at least once – Needtobreathe — Been there. Done that. Twice.
  3. Run a marathon (or some kind of endurance race) – I hate running, but I see a 5K or a walk for diabetes/cancer in my future.
  4. Watch every film on the AFI Top 100 – of those, I’ve seen Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, E.T., To Kill a Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sound of Music, The Lord of the Rings Trilogyr, West Side Story, M*A*S*H*, Rocky, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Silence of the Lambs, Forrest Gump, Titanc, The Sixth Sense, and Toy Story
  5. Pick a country and go
  6. Speak a second language – my Spanish is a bit rusty
  7. Write letters to the five people who have most impacted your life — something to add to my “Acts of Kindness” list for this year? We shall see!
  8. Watch every season of a few great TV shows — I’ve completed Ghost Whisperer and Lost, working on The Walking Dead, Arrrested Development, Breaking Bad and Duck Dynasty.
  9. Give away something really expensive
  10. Make amends with any “enemies”
  11. Apply for your dream job
  12. Take the stage. Alone.
  13. Go on a road trip of at least 1,000 miles
  14. Write a short story
  15. Go on a mission/humanitarian trip
  16. Learn to play an instrument
  17. Find a mentor and a mentee
  18. Memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Great Commission and the Beatitudes – Thanks to my grade school upbringing…and plan it to keep them memorized too.
  19. Face your fear – a work in progress!
  20. Sponsor a child

For more infomration, click here.

December 20: Christmas solidarity

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3.8

The assembly line of Satan turns out millions of sins every day. He packs them into huge cargo plans and flies them up to heaven and spreads them out before God and laughs and laughs and laughs.

Some people work full-time on the assembly line. Others have quit the jobs there and only now and then return.

Every minute of work on the assembly line makes God the laughing stock of Satan. Sin is Satan’s business because he hates the light and beauty and purity and glory of God. Nothing pleases him more than when creatures distrust and disobey their Maker.

Therefore, Christmas is good news for man and good news for God.

“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1.15). That’s good news for us.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3.8), That’s good news for God.

Christmas is good news for God because Jesus has come to lead a strike at Satan’s assembly plant. He has walked right into the plant, called for the Solidarity of the faithful, and begun a massive walk-out.

Christmas is a call to go on strike at the assembly plant of sin. No negotiations with the management. No bargaining. Just sing-minded, unswerving opposition to the product.

Christmas Solidarity aims to ground the cargo planes. It will not use force or violence, but with relentless devotion to Truth it will expose the life-destroying conditions of the devil’s industry.

Christmas Solidarity will not give up until a complete shutdown has been achieved.

When sin has been destroyed, God’s name will be wholly exonerated. No one will be laughing at him anymore.

If you want to give a gift to God this Christmas, walk off the assembly line and never go back. Take up your place in the picket line of love. Join Christmas Solidarity until the majestic name of God is cleared and he stands glorious amid the accolades of the righteous.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org