God Goes Before Us

by Lynn Wellumson

We have enjoyed for years getting Christmas cards and letters from friends and family.  They, without exception, highlight the good times had by the family through the past year.  This has included new births, job promotions, children with stellar grades, new homes, and exotic vacations.  We have most years written a letter of our own recalling the blessings and joys of the past year.

One author, after a glowing report, of unusually gifted and talented children, job promotions, and a dog with perfect manners closed his letter with a P.S which read “other things happened too, but they don’t look good in print”.

How thankful we are that God has gone before us in 2013.  We can trust His mercy and grace will not only be sufficient but will cover us.  We are thankful for His promise of forgiveness and mercy to those who call upon His name and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  In our humanness we need His promise of eternal life and the joy of entering His kingdom.  We can face the future with optimism and hope even with the knowledge that things will happen that wouldn’t look good in print.

Some 2013 Maybes

by Sarah Langness

The first few week of January is probably one of my least favorite times of year. Christmas is officially over. Stores have already clearanced all things Christmas to make room for Valentine’s decor; the radio stations no longer play music celebrating the Savior’s birth or anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus; and life has simply returned to normal. Relatives return home. Classes resume. Life goes on. And while returning to the routine of life is good, I miss the joy, the awe, the wonder, the fun that Christmas brings.

As I moped over the fact that Christmas has indeed come to a close this past week, I spent some solid time considering what exactly it is about Christmas that I love so much. Here’s what I came up with:

  • The music. I love the hymns we sing in church, going caroling, and playing Christmas music while I bake or sip some coffee. Sure there is great “non-Christmas” music; but you’ve got to admit with me that there is something great about Christmas albums, no?
  • Everyone seems happier. Sure, there’s still a Grinch or two or three out there, but there seems to be this joy that is contagious wherever I go. I like that.
  • People seem less selfish. Yeah, there’s a bounty of selfishness at Christmas time as we focus on ourselves, what we want to get. But for some, there’s a focus on “What can I give to show my family/friends how much I love them? how much I appreciate them?”
  • The beautiful lights, trees and other decorations. Christmas lights on a dark night reflecting off the snow? Absolutely beautiful. Christmas trees? They seem to hold a certain fascinating beauty too.
  • Seeing family. Although 500 plus miles separate us from Jordan and I’s families, we still had an opportunity to see them during the Christmas season. I am so blessed by each and every one of them.
  • Having our mailbox stocked full of Christmas cards and letters from loved ones rather than bills, ads, and junk mail. This is the one time of year that it seems we are remembered by more than Chase, MDU, and the City of Beulah.
After making this list, I decided that most of those things I can do — I should do — every month of the year. Sure, I might not want to listen to “Let it Snow” in July, but why not something like “O Come All Ye Faithful”? And although  Christmas lights and trees are indeed beautiful, there is other beauty around me that I consistently take for granted. Like the bright beauty of the moon on a clear night or the awe-striking colors in the sunrise.
And why, oh why, does it take a holiday for me to think about something to give my loved ones? Why do I spend days, even weeks, pondering what to give my husband for Christmas when I should be giving to him daily? Maybe not buying an expensive or elaborate gift for him each day – but shouldn’t I always be thinking of him before myself? How I can put his needs above my own. How I can serve him with love and respect. How I can support him best in his ministry. And why does that stop with family? How can I bless my neighbors? The clerks at the store? My church family?

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” –
Galatians 6:9-10

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. But I think this year I’ll try and keep the spirit of Christmas alive despite the coming of January. Maybe that means I’ll be listening to Kenny G in April. Maybe that means I’ll take time to soak up the beauty of the Lord’s creation when I would otherwise complain about the heat in August. Maybe it means your mailbox will be hearing from me more often throughout the year. Maybe I’ll begin to focus less on my self every day and more on those around me.

Who’s with me?

Whose Calendar

by Jonni Sliver

December 21st came and went and we’re still here! I have to say I was amazed at the hoopla made over an event on a calendar of civilization that ceased to exist more than a thousand years ago. And the stock piling of food and preparations for the end were not limited to the U.S., here in Brazil you heard more about the 21st than you did Christmas (I wonder how many people put off their shopping to the 22nd, hoping they wouldn’t have to!). And just one week after the Mayan calendar proved wrong, my internet search page scrolled one of the most popular searches of the day “2040 asteroid” I didn’t open it, but if I were a betting girl I would put money in the article being about the newest reason to prepare for the end of the world. If the Millennium Bug didn’t get us, and the Mayans missed something in the stars, maybe it is a piece of the star that will do it after all. My first reaction was to laugh. My second was to cry. Why is it so easy to believe in every absurd thing, but not the faithful promises of our Lord!?!

Everybody has faith in something, it is part of our nature. For many it is science (in my personal opinion – our feeble attempts to understand the greatness of God without giving Him the credit), our own wit and wisdom (like stock piling water and canned goods will save us if the world explodes?), what we read in the paper, see in the news or download off the internet. But the God given need to believe was meant to be met with a knowledge of God’s faithfulness and mighty power, and result in faith that does not disappoint!

Will the world end one day? Yes. Will it be because of freak accident of nature, the ecological results of our selfishness? No. The world will end when our Father declares that it is the final day. Should we prepare? Of course! Appropriate preparation goes far beyond buying gold and stocking up on water. We need to draw close to the Lord, and be about His business. We need to declare the hope of His Gospel while there is time. How long do we have? Only the Father knows, which means we need to get busy! Don’t worry about asteroids; set your eyes on the Bright Morning Star, and shine for Him! Happy New Year!