Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Cooking and Feasting

Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. (Zechariah 14:21a NAS)

Christmas Cooking and Feasting Some of us have just celebrated Thanksgiving with feasting, and it's that time of the year once again when all of us will soon come together to enjoy Christmas feasting as well. Not everyone in the world however has this same privilege. While some of us may complain about the preparation—the cooking and the baking—many who know next to nothing about such things often just sit around in expectancy to a grand feast in celebration of our Lord's birthday.

The Bible mentioned a great deal about feasting, but very little about cooking, except maybe for what is implied of Martha's distraction with her preparation when the Lord visited her home and of another occasion when she prepared a supper for the Lord (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:2). In the Old Testament, the Bible mentioned many feasts, such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of the Harvest, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), and Feast of the Passover. Some of these feasts are still being celebrated today by Jews and by Christians in various parts of the world.

The Feast of Booths, for example, according to an article at the web site of Wikipedia, is being observed by some 50,000 Christians. This Feast, in some places in the world, is even declared a Christian holiday, much like the Lord's birthday. The Book of Zechariah mentioned about this Feast as part of a prophecy of our Lord's return (Zechariah 14). Biblical feasts, such as this, are usually observed in honor of God to remember what He has done for His people. Likewise, when we celebrate Christmas with feasting, we should also remember the reason for our celebration—the birth of Christ, born to die for our sins and to set us free from spiritual death.

When we participate in the feasting, therefore, let us appreciate and be grateful to the ones who prepare the Christmas feast for us out of love, in suffering and hardship to cook and to bake. Above all else, however, we must always remember the purpose of our celebration. Christmas is an occasion deserving of a great celebration with feasting, cooking, and baking. Whoever prepares or feast on the food, therefore, should always do so out of love and appreciation to show gratitude to one another and especially to the Lord who is the reason we are celebrating the occasion. Let us when we eat of the food—the turkey and ginger bread, the delights of the stomach and appetites—remember that it is because of Jesus we are cooking and feasting on this joyous occasion.

Remind us dear Lord as we celebrate Your birthday with joy and feasting, to remember You and the reason for our celebration. Touch our hearts Lord that we may appreciate, love, and cherish the ones who, out of love and charity, work so hard that we may feast with joy and gaiety. We thank You Lord for Your birth to set us free and for this joyous occasion we can celebrate in honor of Your great love for us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HappY ThanKsgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving is the time to feel gratitude to God for all the good

things in life. It is a time to acknowledge the good deeds
of fellowmen and be thankful." -- thanksgiving-day.org

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beyond Christmas Greeting Cards

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. (2 Thessalonians 3:17 NAS)

Christmas Greeting Cards The custom of sending Christmas cards began in Britain around 1840 when the 'Uniform Penny Post' was first introduced to public postal deliveries. According to information1 from the Web, the Uniform Penny Post was a postal system used as a uniform rate of one penny to deliver standard letters of weight not exceeding half an ounce for any local post. Helped by the new railway system which enabled the public postal service in the 19th century, the Uniform Penny Post was how the prepaid postage stamp came to be established. Today, prepaid postage is still being used by many postal systems around the world.

Following the introduction of the Penny Post postal system, Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman and prominent innovator of the 1800s, in the summer of 1843 commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley, a London respected illustrator, to design a card for that year's Christmas. Sir Henry, who was also the person who modernized the British postal system, wanted an impressive card that he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a merry Christmas. At that time, the word 'merry' was used as a spiritual word for 'blessed' as in ‘merry old England’ and that was how the first Christmas card was born.

Thirty years later, the idea of Christmas cards caught on with the Americans when Boston lithographer Louis Prang, a native of Germany, began publishing the cards in 1875 and earned the title 'father of the American Christmas card.' Today more than two billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually just within the United States, and Christmas is the number one card-selling holiday of the year.

Long before the idea of a Christmas card was even conceived, people were already exchanging handwritten holiday greetings, first in person, then via post, much like the way the Apostle Paul sent his greetings in his epistles (Philippians 4:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17). Paul wrote the greetings with his own hand as a distinguishing mark in his letters, and such greetings had been a source of encouragement to many in building ties and relationships beyond the boundaries of different churches, cultures and geographical separators in and off festive seasons. Given such richness of blessings deriving from written words of greetings, we should therefore continue this tradition and not neglect reaching out to people through this mode of communication. Whether it is by snail mail greeting cards or online e-cards, let us not forget to greet each other, especially the ones whom we may not be able to meet up due to distance constraints, or who are faraway, overseas, or in another town.

This Christmas, let us rethink how we should rekindle our interest in sending out Christmas cards to greet and bless people. Do we know of a missionary who needs encouragement, or someone who needs cheering up, or a friend who needs the Lord? Remember, we can do our part in making this a special Christmas for them, and we can touch some hearts by simply adding a few words of our own to spice up the card with sincerity and truth to show we care. May God bless the sender and recipient of Christmas cards!

Dear Lord, help us in our haste not to forget the people You love, the missionaries, the pre-believers, our friends, colleagues and relatives. Teach us Lord to pen down meaningfully words of encouragement and care in adding these words to our Christmas cards. Do not let us take for granted what we can do through greeting cards in blessing each and everyone who receives the card, to let them know the special Someone who cares enough to come from heaven to earth to save us all.

1SOON Online Magazine; The Great Idea Finder; Wikipedia (Accessed on November 22, 2008).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NAS)

Countdown to ChristmasEvery year, about a month before Christmas, many active Christians around the world would begin to prepare for the season of joy and celebration of the Lord's birth. This nearly month long preparation for Christmas is called the Advent, and often includes church activities, choir rehearsals, prayer meetings, carol practices, and more.

Advent, according to SwissWorld.org, "is the period beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve, historically seen as the preparation of the arrival of Christ. During the 19th century in particular, this waiting period before Christmas was viewed as a way of teaching children patience before a reward—hence the development of the Advent Calendar, a calendar with 24 little flaps opening onto windows with images within a Christmas scene." Each day, a date in the calendar will be opened to count the remainder days before Christmas, and this is often done with joy and excitement, looking forward with anticipation, yet patiently waiting for the day to celebrate the birth of our Lord.


Much like the way the Advent calendar works, all of us as Christians should also live our lives with joy and excitement, looking forward with anticipation, yet patiently waiting for the day of our Lord's return.

Traditionally, some families countdown the 24 days of Advent by marking each day with a new candle or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day. In this modern age, however, Advent calendars are available digitally on the Internet and all we need to do is simply search for Advent calendars to find a site that provides a 24 day calendar with the dates covered that can be opened by the visitor progressively day by day to countdown to Christmas Day.

Long before this tradition, however, many Jews were already counting down to the day our Lord was to be born. Isaiah and many other prophets in the Old Testament foretold of the Lord's coming long before He was born on earth of a Son who was to be given to us, and whose name is the Mighty God and Eternal Father (Isaiah 9:6). Many had waited for His arrival, yet when He finally arrived and came to His own, His own failed to recognize Him for who He was and did not received Him, the Promised One of God (John 1:11).

This season, therefore, as we busy ourselves preparing for Christmas, let us ask ourselves, are we too busy counting down to the day we will celebrate the Lord's birth that we fail to receive Him when He visits us (John 1:11)? Are we like Martha who was too busy with her preparation to recognize what was truly important (Luke 10:38-42)? If we fail to recognize the Lord while busying ourselves with the preparation, then we are not much different from the non-believers. Even those who do not know the real reason for the celebration, busy themselves to prepare for Christmas each year with the buying of gifts, decorating of homes, offices, shopping malls and Christmas trees, cooking and baking special delicacies for grand feasts to welcome the winter festivities.

Teach us, therefore, O Lord, to stay focus on You when preparing for this joyous occasion to celebrate Your birth on earth. Help us Lord go through the Advent with understanding of the true purpose and meaning of this season. Do not let us, O Lord, be caught up with the activities and festivities to fail to recognize what is truly important. Still our hearts Lord to be patient as we look forward in anticipation for Your return and bless us O Lord in all we do for the Christmas season.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Communicating Naturally in Witnessing

This is the last of a six part Bible Study on 'Connecting Hearts: Sharing Christ Winsomely', a witnessing program by Eagles Communications. This week's study focuses on the practice of communicating naturally in witnessing.

Scriptural references: John 4:1-42 - Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman The following is a summary of all topics for the six training sessions.


Seven Deadly Mistakes in Witnessing

  • Aggressive: Confrontation and criticising people, their culture, beliefs, etc
  • Academic: Use of Christian jargons and technical terms, such as born again, washed by the blood of Jesus, etc
  • Attack: Attacking person's dignity or religion
  • Annoy: Irritable over focusing on do's and don'ts of Christianity
  • Antagonize: Pushy, wanting to get them converted, similar to closing a business deal
  • Avoidance: Not answering life's questions and being insensitive to their needs
  • Ambush: Manipulative and insincere in approach

BRIDGE Approach to Witnessing

    B - Be genuine
    R - Reach across our prejudices
    I - Invest Time
    D - Dialogue Relevantly
    G - Go beyond the surface
    E - Expect to be surprised by God

Key Points

  • Be spontaneous and genuine, unconstrained by fixed program or pre-arranged plans or campaigns
  • Be ready to cross different barriers, including social, religious, and racial
  • Spend time with the person without rushing, genuinely interested, and engaging in unhurried conversation
  • Use simple language without over-promising or becoming out of sync with ordinary life
  • See beyond the surface to the person's need in different situations, for example, the emptiness, the hurt and the loneliness and offer hope
  • Overcome prejudices to reach out to even the worst of sinners
  • Beyond just reaching out and sharing, understand that witnessing is about sustaining our own lives to serve and do God's will
  • Remember sowing and reaping are equally important and we need to sow before we can reap
  • Prepare the ground and sow the seed by starting with small acts of kindness, such as praying, caring, sharing, and listening
  • Don't underestimate the power of one soul

The biggest hurdle in witnessing today is the lack of time. We must set aside time to touch other people's lives, for this is sacred. Spending time shows a person how important he or she is to us, and that is a very important step to how the person will response to God.

Woman at the Well - To Be Known Is To Be Loved

Eagles Rendezvous

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Understanding the Holy Spirit in Witnessing

This week's Bible Study seminar by Eagles Communications focuses on power in witnessing, the need to understand the role of the Holy Spirit and the biblical perspectives of healing and miracles.

Scriptural references: Luke 5:1-26 - Miracle of the Great Catch (v1-11); The Man With Leprosy (v12-15); Jesus Heals a Paralytic (v16-26).


The Role of the Holy Spirit in Witnessing

The Holy Spirt:

  • Empowers us to witness
  • Gives us words to speak when witnessing
  • Gives us boldnessHelp us in our prayer
  • Gives us the desire to be His witness
  • Convicts, regenerate and sanctify

Understanding Biblical Perspectives of Healing and Miracles

  • God wants to touch our mind, body, soul and heart
  • God works in natural and supernatural dimensions of life
  • God wants to use our various spiritual gifts to touch people
  • God uses our cultural and religious backgrounds as contexts for witnessing
  • God is sovereign over all healings and miracles
  • God wants us to follow Him wholly and develop a personal relationship with Him
  • God uses our infirmities and sufferings to strengthen us and help others in similar situations for His glory

Key Points

  • Engage in challenging the minds
  • Express concern and be interested in all areas of life, mentally, physically, spiritually and touch the heart
  • Don't be sitters or watchers in church, nor be cold without love
  • Help the pre-believer socially integrate, not just physically healed
  • Use whatever gifts we have to touch people
  • Be friends who care enough to make them worthy of our love
  • Go the extra mile and go out of your way to help
  • See pre-believers beyond physical need
  • Understand God does not heal everybody and requests should be according to His will and cannot be demanded
  • Be willing to submit ourselves to His will
  • Live gratefully for a greater mission with willingness to relinquish and abandon our prized catch to follow Jesus

Faith in Adversity
Follow God without conditions and be willing to serve even if you have to drink the cup of suffering to trust Him completely.

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." —Job

The following video clip provides an example of faith in adversity, of how God uses our infirmities and sufferings to strengthen us and help others in similar situations for His glory.

Life Without Limbs - Nick Vujicic

Eagles Rendezvous

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