I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.I was just a kid.
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.
I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.
"No Santa Claus?" She snorted... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it.That rumor Has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.
"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.
I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a Few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.
I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my Friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church.
I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.
Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it.It looked real warm, and he would like that.
"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked Kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.
"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."
The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a Good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's Helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.
Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.
Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: “Ridiculous.”
Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.I still have The Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, during this Christmas season, help me to find someone like Bobby who will be blessed by two gifts:the one he needs for today, and the one he needs for eternity.And give me wisdom and financial resources to help him receive both.
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, December 8, 2009
“What Have You Done for ‘Me’ Lately?”
No, I am not talking about the lyrics in the song by Janet Jackson nor am I highlighting those who think the world revolves around them.It doesn’t!Let’s consider Jesus’ command in the following passage:
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
During these tough economic times, have you noticed the increase in individuals needing clothing, food and shelter?Have you answered the call?Would you give someone the last dollars in your wallet if they were beggars on the street?When the temperature is in the 20’s and many homeless refuse to go to shelters, do you bring those unused coats sitting in your closet and/or blankets that could provide some warmth? What would you do for a stranger that needs financial assistance in other ways?Have you heard their plea?
When some of our brothers and sisters have other struggles, have you offered them an encouraging word, a hug or shown that Christ lives in you through witnessing His word?Or have you ignored their symptoms or blamed them for their troubles?It’s easy to do isn’t it?I’ve been questioned as to why I would stretch my finances to help a stranger, in particular.I am reminded that, “There but for the Grace of God, go I.”Any one of us may need help from time-to-time; some more than others.
God has placed many Angels along my path during my lifetime.I reflect on many who particularly cared and stepped up when I was a divorced mother – whether it was helping with babysitting duties, loaning me their extra car when mine was in the repair shop, serving the cake at the reception after her senior recital so I could visit with guests, helping to secure a computer for her to take to college, or praying with me when I was in the midst of a fierce battle and other examples too numerous to mention.
And, while I may not have had the financial resources to reciprocate then, I offered whatever resources I had - my time, a shoulder and ear to those who needed it.It was the least I could do for those who extended so many kindnesses to me and my daughter.God provided and I remain humbled and thankful.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, thank You for allowing me the privilege to help someone in need.Thank You for the capacity to hear Your call and to respond even to a stranger, one who knows You intimately.I know that the meager amount I was able to give made a significant difference to someone else.Help me to never hesitate when asked and to know that You always make a way out of no way.
And, during this Christmas season, let me be even more mindful that You gave us the ultimate gift, the gift of Your son.
As You continually bless me, help me to give straight from my heart.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, December 9, 2009
In his sixth appearance at the PGA Masters Golf Tournament, South African native Trevor Immelman won by three strokes over Tiger Woods.After the match, he spoke about the sacrifice it took to put him in that position.
Trevor’s entire family devoted themselves to his success.His parents took out second and third mortgages on their home to afford to send him to tournaments all over the world, and his siblings felt the sting of lost opportunities to further their brother’s fabulous career.Since he was ten years old, Trevor’s dream of becoming the best golfer in the world has had the full support of the Immelman family.
Great accomplishments are seldom made without great sacrifice.Few reach the status of champion, not because they cannot perform at that level but because the burden of the journey is too great.
Christians are called to champion the cause of Jesus Christ!He created us with the ability to make a difference in this world by the proclamation of the Word of God.We were born to be victorious by God’s standard and to lift our family and friends to stand in the winner’s circle with us.When we raise the laurel wreath of victory for a job well done, it encircles all those we have encouraged and discipled into the Fellowship.How big is your circle?
The size of our circle of champions is relative to the size of the sacrifices we are willing to make to enlarge it.When God wrote the script for the real tournament of champions He knew what it would take to make us all winners.He was willing to give His son, Jesus, so that we could share in the ultimate victory.
There is no greater love than that which comes from personal sacrifice.Give, so that others may have life!It takes great commitment and courage to give up something precious so that others may benefit from our generosity.But the blessings far outweigh the cost.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love…each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”Philippians 2:1,4
Someone recently said, “I don’t understand why people didn’t believe Jesus when He was on the earth.Think of all they saw and heard; all the miracles and the powerful words.If I’d been alive then, I would’ve believed.”
Sometimes I feel like that myself.I wish I had been there to see Jesus with my own eyes and to hear Him with my own ears.But, there’s a problem with that wish.We don’t see or hear very well.
How many times have we seen a hungry person on the street and turned our eyes away as we walked by?How many times have we heard a sick child cry on TV only to change the channel?How many times have we heard Jesus’ words; but, we didn’t allow them to rule our lives?
The people living today, like the people living 2,000 years ago, are using their natural eyes and their natural ears. We pray for healing; but, we believe our symptoms more than we believe the promises of God.We say Jesus rules our lives; but, we live for the things of the world.
Our hearts have become so mindful of the world that we can hardly hear when the Spirit speaks.We have closed the eyes of our hearts.Otherwise we might see, hear and understand with our hearts that those miracles and powerful words of 2,000 years ago, like Jesus Himself, are still alive today.All the promises of God, the forgiveness, the healing, the salvation and the joy and peace are for us!
Let’s be like the one who received the seed that fell on good soil; the man who hears the word and understands it. Let’s produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9)Let’s be among those; the ones who see and hear by faith and who love our Lord.
"Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)