Not-so-secret Santa.

I got my Secret Santa gift at work today.

secret santa

You know how it works. There is a dollar limit and everyone picks a name out of a hat.

You buy, then wrap, the gift.

But the person getting the gift does not know who is giving it.

The gift I received was great. There was a party game and a dozen A Christmas Story socks. Whoever gave the gift did a fantastic job. I loved it!


When living through Christmas every year, one is reminded about the greatest gift ever given.

A baby in a manger.

Have you received that gift? Even though there are billions of people in the world, that gift of salvation is still available.

Here’s the kicker: This gift comes from God, not a Secret Santa.

There are no surprises. No bad gifts. Nothing to return. No gift receipts needed.

We actually know what the gift is going to be before we receive it.

Our bibles tell us everything we need to know.

So as you are ripping apart wrapping paper and cutting through the ribbon on your presents, remember this:

Jesus is a gift that is already unwrapped and you have full access to Him.

opening a gift

This could be your best Christmas ever!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

If this tree could talk…

Christmas trees. if there is any one thing that symbolizes Christmas, it is a tree.

A small sampling from the internet reveals a plethora of styles and designs.

xmas tree 5xmas tree 4xmas tree 2xmas tree 6xmas tree 1

When did you put up your tree? Perhaps you cut down a live one.

Maybe the fake tree you have used has been in and out of your attic for 15 years.

Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that a tree is a symbol of the Christmas season.

Just for fun, here is my tree:

upside down tree

I pose this question to you:

If your tree could talk, what would it say? 

We take out our trees and decorate them every year. The lights go on first then the ornaments. And finally, the presents are placed underneath the tree.

If you were a Christmas tree, what would you say?

Would you be excited to be decorated?

Or would you be grumpy because you sat in storage for the last 10 months?

Are there family gatherings that you could talk about or do you stand alone in a dark corner of the room?

My purpose is not to condemn or condone the use of Christmas trees. I personally like to see trees all lit up and shining through a large picture window.

May this post be a reminder that Christmas is more than a tree. 

The trees that you see around at this time of year should serve as a reminder.

A reminder that Jesus was born in a manger and that is why we celebrate this event.

My motivation behind a “talking tree” post was two-fold.

  1. I fall into the trap of commercialism at Christmas time. You get so wrapped (no pun intended) up in giving gifts that it is really easy to forget the greatest Gift that has ever been given.
  2. If you have been distracted by all the lights and tinsel, let all that yule-tide bling point you to Jesus.

So as you gather around your tree in a few days, make time for a little baby in a manger.

Don’t worry, the gifts can wait.

Merry Christmas to all!

About 8.3%

8.3%. That means there is 91.7% of something else.

Can you guess what the 8.3% represents?

Hint: December (or any other month)

Scratching-Head

If you have not guessed it by now…well…

Each month consists of approximately 8.3% of the entire year.

12 months at 8.3% each equals 1 year!


Just for the number’s sake, let’s say a person celebrates Christmas only in the month of December.

This would include hanging decorations and putting lights on a tree. Singing songs (or extra radio listening) about Christmas and wrapping presents.

Perhaps you go to Christmas cookie exchanges. My wife is headed to one tonight. I look forward to all the good stuff coming back home with her!

However one celebrates this holiday, it can only be done in December.

That means that 91.7% of the year is not spent thinking about (or at least celebrating) Christmas.

sad face

Don’t worry. You can think about Christmas all year round!

But for this post, I am saying that people only celebrate Christmas 8.3% of the year!

Put a pin in the 8.3% scenario as I pose another question.

What is the meaning of Christmas?

Why do we fill our homes, yards, and schedules with all things Christmas?

Why do we even have this holiday in the first place?

That was actually three questions.

Now let’s tie these two threads together.

First, answer the questions in bold type.

Now, take that answer and apply the 8.3% principle.

Is (insert answer to the questions here) deserving of 8.3%?

Or, is 8.3% enough time devoted to (insert answer to the questions here)?

Beautiful business woman with idea light bulb above hand isolate

 

Depending on your answer, you might find that you should be spending more or less time celebrating Christmas.

Whatever conclusions you made while reading this post, they are yours. Own them.

Have a great week.

Next post: a unique perspective from a white upside-down tree.

Using a chalkboard will get your hands dusty.

At my school, we use chalkboards. You heard me correctly. Chalkboards.

Every day I teach, I need to constantly wash my hands and use hand lotion due to the excessive dust from the chalk!

chalkboard

Let me fill in the context.

I teach various science classes at a private Christian academy. We meet on the second floor of an old catholic church. The church is more than 100 years old. They still hold services on Sunday but during the week, there are some 45 students filling the halls with chatter as they rush to and fro through the halls. Here is a picture of the church.

annuciation catholic

The building is old therefore the stuff in the rooms tends to be old as well.

So I use a chalkboard. A dry erase board would be nice.

Now don’t get me wrong here. We have wi-fi in school. I use a computer to show various videos. My two high school classes are intertwined with Google classroom.

It makes for a nice blend of new and shiny versus old and dull.

One of my favorite parts of my day (this sounds really trivial as I type…) is when I clean the board.

A damp cloth is all it takes. The eraser gets most of the lines but the wet rag will make the board look new again. A clean luster shines off the black slate.

cleaning a chalkboard


I am looking forward to 2020. It will be a chance to start new again. Just like that old chalkboard that has seen thousands of chalk lines, there have been thousands of marks in my life.

These marks can be mistakes I have made.

People I have met.

Choices I fretted about.

Places I have visited.

Food I have eaten.

And not all of them are worth remembering.

I smile as I look back on 2019. Most of it is positive or good. But there is always room to improve.

I know that I am forgiven and that God has placed me in His hand.

Of this, I am sure.

I just wish that some of the junk would be washed away.

That is why I like new and fresh starts. The junk seems to be washed away.

May these last few weeks of the year be a great time to reflect on God’s faithfulness.

Remember His goodness.

Re-live His blessings.

And look forward to many more things in 2020!

Teaser: In January, I am blogging about some Old Testament characters. But until then, for the rest of December, I will be looking at Christmas from a rather untraditional and unexpected point-of-view. I hope you join me.

tree, presents, stockings

 

 

Could or should?

2016 is almost finished. I would think that most people would reflect and look back on what the year has been for them. Not a bad thing to do.

Unless you stay there. Unless you get stuck wishing you should have done things differently. The mud of the past is very sticky.

“I could have given more this year.”

“I could have read more books.”

“I could have sent more thank you notes.”

“I could have…”

The past is past and there is no changing it.

I hear a song recently. The title is All is Well. There is link to the video as well after the lyrics. Here are the lyrics:

 
All is well all is well 
Angels and men rejoice 
For tonight darkness fell 
Into the dawn of love’s light 
Sing A-le 
Sing Alleluia 

All is well all is well
Let there be peace on earth 
Christ is come go and tell 
That He is in the manger 
Sing A-le 
Sing Alleluia 

All is well all is well 
Lift up your voice and sing 
Born is now Emmanuel 
Born is our Lord and Savior 
Sing Alleluia 
Sing Alleluia 
All is well

Christ has come to earth as a baby. All is well.

He then lived, died, and was resurrected. All is well.

jesus-will-be-right-back

Sorry the image is blurry. This picture is of my page-a-day calendar. The white square in the middle says “Jesus will be coming back soon.”

And then all will be well again.

Don’t waste time think about what could have been. Instead, think about what you should be doing for 2017.

2017 is full of great things! God is good like that.

Happy New Year!

Come back next week for the start of a new series; Alphabet Soup.