The Gift Inside – Give Him Your Heart


“… Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1 Message Bible).

I hate wrapping gifts.

Let me rephrase that. I am not good at wrapping presents. The imperfect lines, and massive amounts of tape I have to use to make things stay in place, make me crazy and are a constant reminder of my shortcomings as a gift-wrapper. I envy people who can make everything look perfect. I try really hard, but my imperfections seem to be more obvious the more I try to hide them.

My only hope is that the gift inside will make up for my inadequacies.

This Christmas I Wonder how many of us feel like my sad looking presents under my tree. When thinking of the perfect that God has given us in His Son, do We start to Wonder if what we have to offer is enough?

As this holiday season is coming to an end, I Want to challenge you (and me) to look past our imperfections and shortcomings and give the Lord what He really wants. Give Him your heart. Give Him your I thoughts. Give Him the work of your hands and the purpose of your efforts. Give Him the best of what you have, even if it doesn’t feel good enough for our perfect God.

I know it is so hard this time of year to keep focused on what really matters. Traditions and busy schedules can either become a distraction from Jesus, or an act of worship. Let’s be intentional and use the common things of this day to worship our Savior. Maybe even wrapping gifts can be an act of worship.



Christmas is a beautiful time of year because of the collection of images this season creates. Lights illuminating the dark winter evenings, beautiful colors of red and gold, aroma of evergreen and citrus, your families special dishes are served and guests arrive for a great dinner together are all definitely part of the Christmas season. But what makes Christmas even more special is the very fact that . . .

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Pastor Rod in last week’s sermon spoke about God’s love for us.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’’

Pastor Rod also spoke of a loving God who become one of us and went through all the aches and pains that we have on earth. There is nothing that we have experienced that God hasn’t already suffered and overcome. A loving merciful Father awaits for us to surrender our lives, so He can lead us with knowledge and understanding on earth so that we claim the prize of eternal life with Him.

I recommend listening to this song which is sung by the Ball Brothers: “lt’s About the Cross”. I selected some of the lyrics.

lt’s not just about the manger where the baby lay
lt’s not all about the angels who sing for him at day
lt’s not all about the shepherds or the bright and shining star

lt’s not all about the wise men who travelled from afar.
lt’s about the cross.
lt’s about my sin.
Its about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again.
lt’s about the stone that was rolled away so that you and I could have real life someday.
It’s about the cross.
lt’s about God’s love nailed to a tree.
lt’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me.
lt’s about the cross, so that you and I could have real life someday!

Rejoice and Let the Christmas Season Be Merry and Bright!


“To Do” Lists of Christmas


More people make ‘To Do’ lists in December than any other month of the year. That’s the only way to be able to remember everything . . . right? With all the extra things like decorating, baking cookies, addressing Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping presents, mailing the out of state packages early, family gatherings, donating to local organizations, volunteering more than usual, driving around looking at light displays and all the extra fun stuff only this time of year offers, it is so difficult to keep it all straight!!

The most important thing to remember is to keep the Christ Child in your heart. These things on my ‘To Do’ list are all well and good and fun, but none of them are worth anything if you don’t do it with Christ in your heart.

So ‘have yourself a merry little Christmas’ but always remember the ‘little town of Bethlehem’ when you ‘deck your halls’. If you know people who wonder ‘what Child is this’ just tell them the ‘angels we have heard on high’ sang all about this Child ‘away in a manger’.


Count Your Blessings

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” (Psalm 103:2 ESV).

When I was younger on Christmas morning and several days leading up to it, I would look under the Christmas tree for all the presents that had my name on them. I would count them and then compare how many were for me versus how many were for my brothers. I don’t know if you did this as well, but I have a suspicion that I wasn’t the only one.

I’ll never forget one Christmas when my dad caught me peeking into one of the wrapped presents and ended up taking the gift back to the store. I thought I learned my lesson when I saw it was one less gift for me, but it wasn’t until Christmas morning when I learned the real lesson.

My dad had taken back the stuffed animal that I had discovered several days earlier than I was supposed to. I got in trouble and thought I deserved to have one less gift. That seemed like a logical punishment. However, on Christmas morning, my dad revealed another gift for me that he had kept from under the tree. To my surprise, my father had replaced the toy with an even bigger and better one.

It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make any sense. My dad had, in a way, rewarded me for being a mischievous little kid. Later in life, I would learn that his biggest love languages is giving gifts. I guess it made a lot of sense after all. Even though I had messed up, my dad still loved me and wanted to show it.

I want to challenge you to take an honest look at what God has done for you. Maybe you haven’t taken time to slow down in the middle of a very busy season to count your best blessings. Maybe you look around and wonder why someone else has more or less than you have. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Maybe it doesn’t make sense to us, but God knows what He’s doing, and there is no doubt that He loves us. A loving father can be trusted to love his children even when doesn’t seem to make any sense to us.

How has your Loving Father blessed you this year?
~Pastor Susan B.

The Expectation of Christmas

christmas-family-traditionsDuring the Christmas season I find myself often reflecting on memories from my past. For example, I remember my Grandmother Esther whenever I smell the aroma of fresh baked bread. I still see her standing in her kitchen with her apron on working on an all-day assembly line of four loaves of bread and a batch of cinnamon rolls. She always knew that we world not be far behind coming into her kitchen and sitting down for quick family gathering and devouring that pan of cinnamon rolls before the sun set.

Another memory I have is of Christmas music playing over the radio in the barn as we were milking. It made for a festive background even though we were still grubbing away at work. I often imagined the manger scene when I was bedding down the animals for the evening. Fresh straw smells so good!

I also remember my mother-in-law Betsy, baking nad decorating a birthday cake so her family could come for Jesus’ birthday party on Christmas Eve at her house.

In all of our lives, there will be some traditions and memories that can’t be duplicated year after year just because that family member cannot be replaced in that memory and may no longer be living earthly lives. Everyone’s life is benchmarked with changes evolving from health, available time and even finances. So when you are reminiscing this Christmas Season over those funny sweet memories don’t worry so much about recreating the moment, but do remember this:


“He reached down from heaven and rescued me” (Psalms 18:16).

The Good News of a God who loves us and broke into history to come own and rescue us. Who moved heaven and earth to be near us, to love us, though it would cost Him his life.

It is good to create family memories at Christmas. However, it is best of all to revisit the story of Christ’s birth and the purpose of His coming, because that will always be a living event and never become a fading memory.

Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing us and thank you to all my family, past and present, who put a sweet smile on my face.


Any Room for Jesus?


“And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the end” (Luke 2:7).

What if the innkeeper who told Mary and Joseph that there wasn’t room for the savior of the world could go back and change things? Would he welcomed Jesus in? Would he rearrange some things and make room for him where there wasn’t a place before?

Long before Jesus was miraculously born Mary, the prophet Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us.” The significance of God’s presence on earth, and in us, cannot be overstated.

Jesus came for the sole purpose of being with us. “I will make my dwelling among you… And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:11,12). Our sin brought separation from God. Loneliness and death are what we deserve.

“Instead, immense and mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin dad lives in made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!” (Ephesians 2:4,5 The Message)

Jesus has done everything needed to be near to us. He has paid the price so that we can have a right relationship with him. Just like the innkeeper, we have a decision to make. Will we make room for him?

Perhaps you’ve given him a portion of your life but there are still some areas that need his presence. Will you make room for him?

This holiday season is a great time to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our lives and asked Jesus to be near to us like never before.

“Come near to him and he will come near to you…” (James 4:8).

Will you make room for Jesus this Christmas?

~ Pastor Susan

Christmas Lights – Let Them Shine!

Christmas-Lights-SnowWhen I think about the Christmas season, I think about many things. Of course, I think about the Nativity, the Christ Child, Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, Shepherds and all that surrounds the birth of Christ. I think about how GOd so loved us He sent His Son to be a living and dying sacrifice for my sins. I think about how Jesus emptied himself and became a man, left heaven, His Father’s side to become flesh and blood in order to identify with humanity. Recently, I have been thinking about the lights.

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world…let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” If I can take some liberty… During this season the Christmas lights are everywhere. From the simple to the elaborate, Christmas lights decorate every city, every neighborhood, and even in the country, people express their Christmas cheer with “lights.”

Every time I see Christmas lights (may its just a “Rod” thing), I see the Light of the World, Jesus. I am challenged, with each Christmas display of colored lights, to let my inner light shine. To let this world see Jesus in me. It’s as if the whole world, perhaps without realizing  it, is  sharing the Gospel message: The Light of the World has  come!

I want to do as an old chorus that was quoiting scripture challenged, “Arise, shine for the Light has come and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon  me.”

Let your “light” shine, church, this  Christmas Season!

~Pastor Rod