On Using Secular Christmas Traditions To Lead People to Jesus

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Here’s a repeat piece that I didn’t get posted before Christmas:

“What do you think about the false deification of Santa Clause?” asked somebody.
“Sure, I’d be glad to weigh in on the Santa controversy,” I replied . . .

It has been said, ad nauseum, that secular traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and even the word “Christmas” should be condemned and abolished by Christians because they distract and detract from the true meaning of Christ’s birth.
I disagree.
Those many traditions are so ingrained into society that they cannot now be reversed nor abolished even if we wanted to, which most of us don’t. They can, however, be used in a positive manner to point to God’s glory. I’ve previously discussed how the Christmas tree points to Jesus Christ. It is easy for me to tell, as well, how Saint Nicholas‘ (the real-life man behind the legend of Santa Claus) life and existence points to the life and teachings of Jesus.

I only implore you, dear reader, not to foster the mistruths about Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, but tell the factual truth about those figures. Fact is, they are legends and fantasies based on a good man’s acts, but they must not be passed down as reality. The generous acts, themselves, are the Christlike reality.

It’s the same for the gift-giving, the lights, the colors, the tree, the decorating, and the joyous celebrating. One can ignore any or all of it, or one can use those traditions of secular Christmastime as reminders of Jesus’ birth, life, instructive words, and miraculous deeds. I strive for that as I constantly try to keep Him at the forefront of the celebration.

I believe that we should not only accept, as a fact of life, the secular traditions – the things that have been distorted and perverted away from the original intent of honoring the Christ-child, but turn them back upon themselves to their original purpose which is to celebrate His birth, to point to Him, to highlight Him, and to glorify Him in the unfettered, hopeful, optimistic, rejoicing manner in which the host of angels announced His arrival to the shepherds, and to us.

We can’t do away with Santa, and I don’t want to do that anyway. We can, however present him in a different light – the light that shines when he extends a gift to a child who has none, or the glow when he calls to a little one to come sit on his knee, or the beacon that shines when he tells the story of Jesus’ birth to a group of awestruck children, or when he silently prays for a sick or needy child and their family, or the radiant streaming rays that illuminate the scene when he kneels to worship beside the manger which contains his Savior Lord swaddled in humble cloth. All those actions mimic or respect Christ, The Light of the World, as Santa, the legend, mimics the real man, Nicholas, who was a somewhat Christlike child of God, himself!

We have so many commonly seen secular symbols that can be used to point to Jesus at Christmastime:

 Common decorative wreaths, for example, can be found on doors, in windows, or inside many secular homes, even on city light posts, but the circles of evergreen boughs symbolize eternal life and the never-ending love of God. The non-believers don’t even know that! We believers even elevate the wreath to worship status. The five candles of the Advent wreath are lit in order bring to mind hope, peace, joy, love, and the purity of Christ, the Light of the World who was sent for us. It also encircles the promise that He will return to us, not in humility this time, but in His full power and glory!

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness —
on them light has shined. Isaiah 9: 2-7

The Advent wreath is loaded with symbolism to “get the ball rolling” early in December before the really secular traditions begin.

The ever-present Christmas tree itself is a real or a reasonable facsimile of an evergreen tree, which also symbolizes eternal life. It points to Heaven, and, in my world, all the lights, ornaments, and decorations on the tree represent all believers in Jesus. The lights remind me that The Light of the World has come and we wait for Him to come again.

The presents under the tree are reminders of the original Christmas gift – the gift of Jesus sent to us by Father God, and His presence with us – and the wrappings, His swaddling cloths. Everyone who is able participates in the giving of gifts. Some gifts are frivolous and some needful. Gift giving is a reminder of how Father God sent us, the very needy, a huge gift of forgiveness, grace,mercy, hope, and love delivered through His Son. And we all, believers and non-believers, must receive any and all gifts with gracefulness and gratefulness. The gift of The Savior Child, our Light of the World, is given to every one of us Earthlings, but that gift must be received, and willingly accepted before it can be unwrapped and enjoyed.

The star at the top of the tree points to Christ and leads people to Him. It reminds us of the nativity story because of its important role therein. If there is an angel instead of a star, it evokes memories of the very powerful presence of angels involving Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. Even more astonishing was their appearance to the shepherds just after Jesus’ birth – not just one, but a whole host of them!

 Those traditions and others I’ve not thought of can be used to help us illuminate Jesus in a darkened world. I believe proclaiming Him is our commission, our duty, and our pleasure, as believers and as beneficiaries of The Father’s miraculously generous, humble, and humbling gift.

We are still living in a land of deep darkness, thousands of years after Isaiah’s God-given words. Billions of people are walking in darkness today, but many have seen the great Light. It is given to them to shine the Light of the World upon the land of deep darkness and all those walking in it.

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Whatever you do,
Whatever you think,
Seek Him in all things
And have yourself a happy,
Have yourself a joyous,
Have yourself the merriest Christmas!

Above all,
Remember Who is glorious,

Give Him all your glory,
Keep it Christmas-Story-ous!

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Still

After a busy, but very pleasurable, Advent season,
I find myself still, and resting in peace this evening.
What an eventful time I’ve had here at “Gloryteller
over the last three weeks and five days!
It passed so quickly, I can hardly catch my breath!

I’ve learned new things about the Christ Child’s birth
and some of the “old” things have struck me in new ways.
I went deep into the sweetly miraculous Profound Mystery, and today,
after the crescendo buildup of excitement surrounding –

The Birth That Shook The Earth,

I find myself overwhelmed;
physically and emotionally 
drained,
but spiritually uplifted . . .  

The Baby is sleeping peacefully now.
He and His family have endured a world-changing night;
A mother-changing, husband-changing, son-changing night!
I feel like I went through it with them, in a sense . . .
And, at this moment, about all I can do
is be still and adore Him,
be still in the knowledge that He is my Lord God,
be still and worship Him,
be still and rest here at His feet . . .

Still, still, still,
His bright eyes softly close
And Mary, breathless,
Draws him sleeping
To her heart,
Made pure for keeping
Still, still, still,
His bright eyes softly close.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
He hears, and sweetly smiles.
And kneeling Joseph
Joins in chorus
With the angels
Bending o’er us
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
He hears, and sweetly smiles.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep,
He breathes a tender sigh,
For soon he’ll wake
The world from slumber
Bringing life
And endless wonder
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
He breathes a tender sigh

Sleep, Holy Jesus,
Sleep . . .

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I really like this Austrian Christmas carol in the form of a lullaby.
(a “lullbaby” perhaps?)
It so saturates me with peace . . .
And tonight, dear Jesus, I will simply be still and know –
know that you are no more than human
know that you are no less than God . . .

But now, dear reader, I must sadly,
yet joyfully, send out one last,

heartfelt,
Merry Christmas
and wishes for peace to you this season.
It is Christmas night, 2020,

Goodnight
from Lenn, here at Gloryteller.com

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Für die deutschsprachigen Völker:  
 Stille, stille, stille,
Seine hellen Augen schließen sich leise
Und Maria, atemlos,
Zieht ihn schlafend
Zu ihrem Herzen,
Rein zum Halten gemacht
Immer noch, immer noch, immer noch,
Seine hellen Augen schließen sich leise.

Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf,
Er hört und lächelt freundlich.
Und kniend Joseph
Joins im Chorus
Mit den Engeln
Über uns gebeugt
Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf,
Er hört und lächelt freundlich.
 
Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf,
Er atmet einen zärtlichen Seufzer,
Denn bald wird er aufwachen
Die Welt aus dem Schlummer
Leben bringen
Und endloses Wunder
Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf
Er atmet einen zärtlichen Seufzer
 
Schlaf, heiliger Jesus Schlaf
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Why I Call It “Christbirth”!

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 I’m not thrilled about the word Christmas.
I’m not crazy about the word Easter either.
But I very much love the events those two words represent.

Words are only symbols that we use to convey,
or identify, things, events, or ideas. Often, the words
we devise (or, in this case, that are devised for us) are
less than ideal, or appropriate, or even accurately descriptive
in representing the actual thing being described.

I believe that “Christmas” is such a word.
I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to delve into the origins,
meanings, and protests concerning the word “Christmas”.
I have been through it, and it’s not pretty.
Some say it’s downright blasphemy, wickedness, and sin to use it.

However,
Nevertheless,
and, Be That As It May,
the event that has come to be known to us as “Christmas”
is the event that shook the earth.
It is the truth of the event that is important,
not necessarily the word we have adopted to describe it.
To my way of thinking, the birth of Jesus was, and is,
the most momentous occurrence in history.
It is to be celebrated – its story told and retold in truth
to the ends of the earth.
So ( Blast semantics!) I do say both “Merry Christmas”
as well as “Happy Christbirth”,
and I do say “Happy Easter”
 althoughHappy Resurrection Sunday” is much more descriptive,
because I know I will be understood by the general public
when I use the common language,

and also by Christians, in general.
And by any of those greetings, I mean
Hallelujah!
Rejoice!
Celebrate enthusiastically!
For, unto us a child is born!
Our Savior lives!
He has come to live with us!

– And –
In the Spring, I mean

 He is risen!
Our Savior lives!
And in His glory He will come down again!

So, here’s the thing – here’s my point:
Instead of the term “Christmas”,
I prefer the much more descriptive word,

“Christbirth”
(which I think I have invented, haha,) 
(but someone may have beaten me to it, I really don’t know)
to represent this wondrous, marvelous event,
but, no matter what word we use in reference,
at Jesus’ birth, the very Word of God came to live among us,
with us, and, in time, in us, so that we,
despite our inclination to sin,
might have the right to be “born” into a new world –
a world of saving grace, faith, hope, and of love,
into God’s presence;
born and reborn in a new, a wondrous,
 a marvelous, and a miraculous way,
Just as Jesus was, before us!

Happy Christbirth!
Merry Christmas!
Rejoice!

Your Gloryteller

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Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven

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A Children’s Christmas Carol for Everyone

I lift up Keith and Kristyn Getty and I thank them for this beautiful song.
And I thank Him for them!
And I thank Him for you, my dear reader!

This Baby, making His first sounds, learning His first words, 
taking His first steps, becoming self-aware.
Just like us in every way.
Yet, in every way, different.

“Come to turn me, a stranger, into a child of God.”

Remember, JESUS is the subject of Christmas,
and the object of Christmas is US.

LS

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A Leap-Day Leap of Faith 2-29-16 and 2-29-20

I came across this post from Leap Days gone by.
I felt a tug on my virtual sleeve, and heard a whisper – “Someone should see this – post it again.”
So here it is, although it’s almost 8 months late.
God is chasing you!

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“Nothing before, nothing behind;
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The Rock beneath.”

–John Greenleaf Whittier

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Les, a man – an agnostic man – was conversing on the telephone with a friend. The friend was trying to explain faith to the unbelieving Les, but was having little success. The fifteen-year-old daughter of the friend overheard the conversation and impulsively interjected a comment from across the room.

“What’s that Laura said?” asked Les, “I couldn’t quite make it out.”

“Oh, she is quite the student of poetry – and she has quite a deep understanding of her own faith. She just said, ‘Why don’t you just tell him what John Greenleaf Whittier said about faith? – Nothing before, nothing behind; The steps of faith fall on the seeming void, and find The Rock beneath.’ “

“I’ll write that down. Sounds a little deep for me. Thank her for the thought, though.”

“Wait, Les, she also wants me to relay another message. She perceives that God is chasing you. Oh, that kid! You had better listen, she is a very insightful girl!”

After the call ended, Les got curious and ‘Googled’ the poem. “Yup, here it is, she got it word for word!”
Nothing before, and Nothing behind.”
“The seeming void . . .”
“Kind of sounds like me.”
“The Rock – finds The Rock.”
Sounds like she wants me to believe The Rock is God . . .”
More curious, he saw a ‘related link’ and clicked it.

Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance that
what we 
hope for will come about,
and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.”

“Hmmm,” he thought. He went back to the poem. Looked at it harder.
Went deeper – and it was deep!
He went back to the verse even though he had avoided anything to do with the Bible for a long, long time.
He sensed warm breath on the back of his neck.
“Chasing? Yes, I think she used the word chasing . . .”

He found this below the verse:
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

“11:1-3 Faith always has been the mark of God’s servants, from the beginning of the world. Where the principle is planted by the regenerating Spirit of God, it will cause the truth to be received, concerning justification by the sufferings and merits of Christ. And the same things that are the object of our hope, are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ. This persuasion gives the soul to enjoy those things now; it gives them a subsistence or reality in the soul, by the first-fruits and foretastes of them. Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye. It is a full approval of all God has revealed, as holy, just, and good. This view of faith is explained by many examples of persons in former times, who obtained a good report, or an honourable character in the word of God. Faith was the principle of their holy obedience, remarkable services, and patient sufferings. The Bible gives the most true and exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest with the Scripture account of the creation, because it does not suit with the differing fancies of men. All that we see of the works of creation, were brought into being by the command of God.”

Esteeming himself a scholar, a learned man, a lover of art and poetry, he looked and studied and delved into the words and concepts which had previously escaped him – no, which he had ignored and run from for years.
“How do I catch hold of this stuff? It all seems so impossible. Yet what all this implies is that I need to step outside my blind self  more, and into the part of me that can see.”

“Les, let Me . . .” 

“I think I need to slow down and let God catch me a little.
But how did Laura know I liked poetry?
How did she know to quote me that one poem out of millions of them?
How did she know that it would touch me – begin to change me?
How did she know to say ‘God is chasing you
so that I might become aware and wonder of such pursuit?”

“It’s her faith. Laura knows my love. She is mine.
She wants you to know me as well,
as do I.
I AM here, I AM!”

Les called his friend. “Hi! I was wondering if Laura is at home. She is? Are you guys busy? Yes, I was wondering if I could come over and talk to you both about the message she had for me. I have a few questions.
Lunch? Sounds great, be there in an hour.”
Laura was joyous, and not surprised in the least.

Les took a step of faith; well, a leap of faith, really,
He slowed down for the catch,

He jumped into the void and landed on solid footing,
and within two months, I,
I mean he,
belonged to HIM as well,
and has never had a single regret.

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Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven

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A Children’s Christmas Carol for Everyone

I lift up Keith and Kristyn Getty and I thank them for this beautiful song.
And I thank Him for them!
And I thank Him for you, my dear reader!

 

This baby, making His first sounds, learning His first words, 
taking His first steps, becoming self-aware.
Like us in every way.
Yet, in every way, different.

 

“Come to turn me, a stranger, into a child of God.”
Remember, JESUS is the subject of Christmas, and the object of Christmas is US.

LS

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On Using Secular Christmas Traditions To Glorify Not Mislead

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“What do you think about the lie of Santa Clause?” asked somebody.
“Sure, I’d be glad to weigh in on the Santa controversy,” I replied . . .

It has been said, ad nauseum, that secular traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and even the word “Christmas” should be condemned by Christians because they distract and detract from the true meaning of Christ’s birth.
I disagree.
Those many traditions are so ingrained into society that they cannot be reversed nor abolished. They can, however, be used in a positive manner. I’ve previously discussed how the Christmas tree points to Jesus Christ. It is easy for me to tell, as well, how Santa’s (“Saint Nicholas‘ “) life and existence points, to the life and teachings of Jesus.
I only implore you, dear reader, not to foster the lies about Santa Clause, St. Nicholas, or Father Christmas, but tell the factual truth about those figures. Fact is, they are legends and fantasies based on a good man’s acts, but they must not be passed down as reality. The generous acts are the Christlike reality.
It’s the same for the gift-giving, the lights, and the joyous celebrating. One can ignore any or all of it, or one can use those traditions of secular Christmastime as reminders of Jesus’ birth, life, words and deeds. I strive for that as I constantly try to keep Him at the forefront of the celebration.
I believe that we should not only accept, as a fact of life, the secular traditions; the things that have been distorted and perverted away from the original intent of honoring the Christ-child, but turn them back upon themselves to their true purpose which is to celebrate His birth, to point to Him, to highlight Him, and to glorify Him in the unfettered, hopeful, optimistic, rejoicing manner in which the host of angels announced His arrival to the shepherds, and to us.
Those traditions can be used to help us illuminate Him in a darkened world. I believe this proclaiming is our commission, our duty, and our pleasure, as believers and as beneficiaries of The Father’s miraculously humble, and humbling gift.
The gift of The Savior Child, our Light of the World, is given to every one of us, but that gift must be received and willingly accepted before it can be unwrapped and enjoyed.

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Whatever you do,
Whatever you think,
Seek Him in all things
And have yourself a happy,
Have yourself a joyous,
Have yourself the merriest Christmas!

Above all,
Remember Who is glorious,

Give Him all your glory,
Keep it Christmas-Story-ous!

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Why I Call It “Christbirth”!

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 I’m not thrilled about the word Christmas.
I’m not crazy about the word Easter either.
But I very much love the events those two words represent.

Words are only symbols that we use to convey,
or identify, things, events, or ideas. Often, the words
we devise (or, in this case, that are devised for us) are
less than ideal, or appropriate, or even accurately descriptive
in representing the actual thing being described.

I believe that “Christmas” is such a word.
I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to delve into the origins,
meanings, and protests concerning the word “Christmas”.
I have been through it, and it’s not pretty.
Some say it’s downright blasphemy, wickedness, and sin to use it.

However,
Nevertheless,
and, Be That As It May,
the event that has come to be known to us as “Christmas”
is the event that shook the earth.
It is the truth of the event that is important,
not necessarily the word we have adopted to describe it.
To my way of thinking, the birth of Jesus was, and is,
the most momentous occurrence in history.
It is to be celebrated – its story told and retold in truth
to the ends of the earth.
So ( Blast semantics!) I do say Merry Christmas,
and I do say Happy Easter, instead of
Happy Resurrection Sunday,
because I know I will be understood by the general public,
and also by Christians, in general.
And by those greetings, I mean
Hallelujah!
Rejoice!
Celebrate enthusiastically!
For, unto us a child is born!
Our Savior lives!
He has come to live with us!
– Or
 He is risen!
Our Savior lives!
And in His glory He will come down again!

So, here’s the thing – here’s my point:
Instead of the term “Christmas”, I prefer the word
“Christbirth”
(which I think I have invented, haha,) 
(but someone may have beaten me to it, I really don’t know)
to represent this wondrous, marvelous event,
but, no matter what word we use in reference,
in Jesus’ birth, the very Word of God came to live among us,
with us, and, in time, in us, so that we,
despite our inclination to sin,
might have the right to be “born” into a new world –
a world of saving grace, faith, hope, and of love,
into God’s presence;
born in a new, a wondrous,
 a marvelous, and a miraculous way,
Just as Jesus was, before us!

Happy Christbirth!
Merry Christmas!
Rejoice!

Your Gloryteller

 

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Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven

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A Children’s Christmas Carol for Everyone

I lift up Keith and Kristyn Getty and I thank them for this beautiful song.
And I thank Him for them!
And I thank Him for you, my dear reader!

 

This baby, making His first sounds, learning His first words, 
taking His first steps, becoming self-aware.
Like us in every way.
Yet, in every way, different.

 

“Come to turn me, a stranger, into a child of God.”
Remember, JESUS is the subject of Christmas, and the object of Christmas is US.

LS

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Cooking A Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner – Yes I Can – This Is About Thankfulness


Yes, dear reader,
Unlike many men, especially “old-school” men such as myself,
I’m capable of planning and cooking
a full-blown turkey-and-stuffing anchored;
mashed potato filled;
gravy-slathered;
two vegetable enhanced;
candied sweet ‘tater and
green bean casserole complimented;
cranberry sauce enlivened;
dinner-roll augmented;
and pie-crowned Thanksgiving dinner.
I don’t want that to sound like bragging,
nor self-exaltation,
it’s just the truth.
It’s a blessing that I can cook almost anything, and even do a little baking, but the blessing came at the expense of my mother’s suffering.
When I was 13, my mother dislocated her elbow due to a fall. That very painful injury prevented her from doing many of her homemaking duties including cooking the daily family meals. As the eldest child, I was appointed cook’s assistant. I performed the mechanical operations of cooking while poor plaster-casted Mom directed me. That was one of my life’s momentous turning points, because I have used those cooking skills that she taught me countless times for my own benefit and for the benefit of others.
Today, Mom is on my mind.
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to cook and for everything else you did for me.
Thanks, God, for Mom, and for all my blessings.
Thanks for the ability to imagine and invent things, and for the ability to make, and build, and create the things I imagined – everything from small tools to buildings, and a home, and thanks for the ability to repair, or at least “rig up” almost anything. Thanks, God, for the ability to grow food on Your land. Most of all thanks, Lord for the very surprising gift of the ability to write.
As much as I like to cook, I’d rather write about cooking.
I’d rather write than do almost anything else.
As for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that this website is partial fulfillment of my God-given purpose. More than anything else, I’m thankful to You, Lord, for gathering me to Yourself, and for giving me the joy of salvation – the joy of knowing You!

“O, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good!
His loving mercies endure forever!
O, give constant thanks unto the Lord!”

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader!
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It’s Hard To Dance When You Don’t Hear The Music

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To my friend who does not yet hear The Music,
Who does not yet believe it exists.
Who cannot fathom dancing with our Creator:


I used to be deaf to The Music,
the special kind of music between The Creator and His creation.

It is said that those who dance are considered insane by someone who doesn’t hear the music. 

Like many older men and women who thought they had heard it all and were comfortable in their ignorance, unaware of their deafness, I began to hear The Music. I had joined the community of the blessed.
At first a faint melody, but with time it became clearer, enjoyably compelling, and then it began to move my limbs, one at a time; then, my soul. At first a happy flute solo, and with time, a rich, full symphony.

It was a lot like not being able to hear it when a person blows a dog whistle, but you can clearly see that a dog hears it, because you can see the dog’s reaction when it is blown. Thus, you begin to understand the “insane” people. They obviously hear something you don’t and are reacting naturally to it. They are not insane. Their confident dancing arises out of the irresistible music that moves them, and they beckon you to join them.

To those who are perishing, it is foolishness, but for those who hear it, it is life.

Knowing God, and having a relationship with Him is like that. It is a music that only believers in Him can hear and understand. What complete and utter joy there is in dancing to that incomparable Music!

It is not beyond you to hear it.
I believe our Maker places the ability to hear Himself in every person. And not only the ability, but an innate inner longing to hear it. Many ignore it. In many it has been buried deep under the rubble of hurt.  Many deny it, or shun it, or slander it, but His Music persists all around us and it is definitely there to be heard.

My hope; my prayer, is that sooner or later you will listen for it, and will hear it, whether it begins faintly or thunders suddenly. Better sooner than later, better later than never, because dancing for Him; with Him, is nothing less than life itself; it is everlasting life!

I implore you, listen for it! Take a leap of faith. Begin to trust. Let yourself hear and believe.
You might begin to hear The Music in a voice, a birdsong, a waterfall, an orchestra, in wind chimes, or simply as a compelling inner tune that your soul cannot deny. You might hear it surrounded by the silence following a heavy snowfall, or alone in a meadow, or on a mountaintop.  If you be still and listen past your own noise, you will hear it just as I did.
Just as I still do, and will always.
I like being one of the “insane dancers”. I have never been so grateful for anything, as I have for the gift of hearing His Music and following it to Him Who has an unconditional love for me. I would like it much better if everyone would tune their ear, and turn their ear, to that incredible 
Music, and begin The Dance of Life.

O Lord, let me always be ready with a megaphone, a personal sound system,  an instrument, a singing voice. Let me always be an amplifier” hearing-aid” for Your song! 

My friend, once you’ve heard the purity; the truth, in its melody; the love and peace in its harmony, you will know what I mean, you will join us, and your heart will begin its own joyful dance.

Love to you.
Always,
Gloryteller

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That of Himself

I believe that God places that of Himself into every person, and, indeed, into everything He creates. We don’t have to look far to gain knowledge of Him; to be awestruck by His astonishing attributes.

 

And I thank Him for that!

 

 

Photo credit and verse: Ann Hartsook

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That of Himself

I believe that God places that of Himself into every person, and, indeed, into everything He creates. We don’t have to look far to gain knowledge of Him; to be awestruck by His astonishing attributes.

 

And I thank Him for that!

 

 

Photo credit and verse: Ann Hartsook

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Ojibwe Insight Expanded

Sometimes, I sit alone in pity for myself,
but,
all the while,
the breath of God wafts me across the great, vast, universe.

I forget how His favor bathes my life with beautiful wonders
and how He shows me great mercy.

I forget that I am never forgotten, always loved, never alone.

Sometimes I forget, in lonely sorrow for myself,
that the Creator’s hand has carried me,
in caring pity,
in sympathy,
across majestic mountains,
past lakes of stars, 
and high up,
into peace,
into the moon-washed Valley of Sparkling Waters
where He has shown me my final – and eternal – campsite.

Sometimes I sit in pity for myself
While my   self   is away with the Great Father,
dancing with unfettered joy.

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HE IS Greater


Summer is officially finished, even though summer temperatures and humidity are still upon us here.

Vacations and travels are a memory.
Hard, hot work is past.
School is going full blast.

I must settle-in back here to continue a different work. A loftier work, not physical, but still hard.

While I was away, things were evidently happening around here. I recently discovered a symbolic rendering of a truth I have known for several years. It seems to have become popular. I saw it on a car window, on a T-shirt, and in a church:

HE>i

I know, I know, you are thinking “that has been around for fifteen years and you are just now seeing it?”
Yep, I just became aware of the symbol, but I have long been aware of the message – HE, the Lord God Almighty, is greater than I. He is more than I am – much more, infinitely more. 

However, completely believing that is not that simple. By nature, I want to place myself above all in my world, even above God, sometimes. It is so easy to forget that HE created me, and not the other way around. No wonder Paul said he had to “die to self” every single day. We are born into selfishness, then it is learned to a higher degree. Thus I must fight myself and try to kill my selfishness every day, every moment.
O heart, I must change you! Can I? No, it takes grace and the healing, transforming, leading of The Holy Spirit.

Eventually, slowly, perhaps I will come very close to full belief that HE>i. One day, I hope self will be entirely defeated – dead and gone – and I will live in Him alone. Then, may

His wisdom be > mine! His knowledge be > mine! His glory be > mine!

After all, they always were , but my self just didn’t know it.

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The Expense of Safety – A Reprise – And The Rest Of The Story

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A Good Friday Story;
A Good Anytime Story –


The Expense of Safety

The Ferry to Safety was ready to depart.
Freedom, so close!

Special admission only???
Hope fading.
Whoever missed the boat was lost.
Completely lost and without hope.
One solitary, stringent ticket stand.
A waiting line far too long.

Serious guards watching.
Last chance.
Distress.
I was in grave danger,

But I had not the standing,
Not the requirements,
Not the paperwork,

Nor the price of admission.
I stood forlorn in fear that
I would always wear these chains,

Or be, (oh, so slowly) tortured and killed;
Despair.

Then a man stepped up,
Radiating such undisguised love,
Unveiled compassion.

He gave me his own precious ticket with a smile.
No hesitation.
He paid my price.
Dooming himself with the selfless gesture.
Bewildered, I caught hold of it.

And just in time.
I stood astonished,
Forgetting even to thank him.
“Hurry, it departs;
It’s your one chance,”
He cried over his shoulder

As they cruelly restrained him,
Beat him to the ground,

Roughly dragged him,
Torn, and bleeding,
Yet miraculously silent as
They pinned him brutally against the ticket stand.

His fate I couldn’t know,
Couldn’t imagine.

Didn’t want to guess . . .
In horror and denial,
I watched the scene as I walked backward,

And stepped,
Not nearly grateful enough,
Onto the departing boat.



The Rest of the Story

I was in shock.
And I was safe.
My chains had dropped from me,
into the water,

as I stepped onto the ferry.
Relief overwhelmed me.

Was this how true freedom felt?
After a time, I noticed many others were there.
Some were kneeling, some looking upward
with bowed heads and raised hands.
A woman saw that I was alone.
“You are the last.”
“Yes . . . . . ,
I . . .
It’s incredible!

A man paid my price!”
I was still astonished.
“Mine too!” she exclaimed.
A man looked up . . . “Mine too!”
A child waved; in her hand a ticket:
“Me too!”
“Me too!” cried a young boy.”
A group of teenagers:
“Me too!” “Me too!” “And me!”
“He paid my fare!”
“He gave me his own ticket!”
All of us!
People were gathering into one group,
listening to each other.
“I threw my pass away years ago,
but he gave me another today!” said several.
“I lost mine and he gave me a replacement as well.”
“I didn’t deserve one.”
“I was in prison.”
“My neck was in the noose; I was good as dead.”
“He let me off the hook for the terrible things I said about him.”
“He forgave me too!”
“He gave me another chance.”
“He gave me another, and another, and another.”
“He told me it was ‘never too late’,
when he handed me his boarding pass.”
“He looked at me with love.
Nobody ever did that!”

“I know he saved my life, and not just once!”
“He told me God loves me!”
“I heard him forgive those guards.”
Yes, even while they did detestable things to Him.
I . . . I think . . . they killed him.

“Because of us,” I thought, in sorrow.
“Because we couldn’t get our own passes.”
“We could never qualify.”
“He deserved his ticket more than anyone,
yet he gave it to all of us and forfeited his life.”
 “He loved his life as much as we love ours.”
“Who was that poor man?”
An elderly lady approached on unsteady legs,
holding her ticket toward me in an outstretched hand.
Her eyes were filled with tears.
“He gave me this. I tried to refuse, but he insisted.
It was all . . . he . . . had.

What love he radiated. What love!” she sighed.
Her pass was identical to mine.
They all were.
I looked up at the wheelhouse,
and, to my delight, noticed that the huge watercraft
was named JOY.

As the day passed, people began telling their stories.
Everyone had a story involving the man we called
our hero, our rescuer, our deliverer.
We praised the man with our stories and with singing.
We fasted, partaking only of sweet, cool, water   –
The purest we have ever tasted.
In the evening we ate bread and grapes.
All these things were provided from coolers on the deck.
We became conscious of God’s presence and provision.
Those of us who were new to the faith experience were welcomed
into the family of believers and followers of that one man.
Because of what he did for us, we all worshiped him;
Because he showed us compassionate love,
We adored him;
Longed to see him again,
If only . . .

The boat seemed to expand in size while more people
came up from below.

So many breathing freedom!
Our ongoing rescue continued through the second day,

through which we repeated the fast, the worship,
the stories, and the evening meal.
When would we finally reach the Land of Promised Safety?
We wondered, but with faith and confident hope.
The massive boat churned a wake and plowed its way forward,
persevering steadily on course 
through a third day,
 as our faith and hope grew.
Then, in the cool of the evening of the third day,
we saw land . . .

And I, the undeserving;
I, the ingrate;
I, the impatient;

I, the selfish;
I, the forgiven;
and I, the thankful-rescued,

stood on the foredeck and saw The Man
standing with a grin,
and with open arms,
on the pristine sand of freedom’s shore.

α ∞ Ω
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Something Happens

Something happens when you begin to follow Jesus in earnest.
I’ve discussed it with a great many people;
people of diverse backgrounds and profiles.
In differing words, and in a variety of ways,
they all agree that 
something happens!

And that something that happens when you say yes to God

is unexpected,
has an aura of mystery,
is somewhat incomprehensible,
is difficult to describe using the limitations of language.
Yet, the essence of our dialog,
the substance of our stories of coming to faith,
the validating assurance of our choice,
has a common theme:
Something great happens!

When we accept Jesus as our Savior,
our almighty God,
our risen Lord,
we universally perceive something important changing “inside” us.
The changes are for our good,
for the better;
for the best.
And we have confidence that they will keep happening

in even greater ways.

When our spirit experiences that first encounter;
makes that crucial connection with our Living God,
something truly, inexplicably, wonderful, happens.
Something beautiful happens!

And it doesn’t just happen.
He causes it to happen!
Out of love!

He opens a door.
He makes a way.
It’s supernaturally personal.
Life walks in.

New life!
Real life!
Joy bursts in.
Grace settles in.
It is difficult to explain,
But do I really have to
when literally billions of people have known that 
something happens?!

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On Using Seemingly Questionable Christmas Traditions For Good

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“What do you think about the lie of Santa Clause?” asked nobody.
“Sure, I’d be glad to weigh in on the Santa controversy,” I replied . . .

It has been said, ad nauseum, that secular traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and even the word “Christmas” should be condemned by Christians because they distract and detract from the true meaning of Christ’s birth.
I disagree.
Those many traditions are so ingrained into society that they cannot be reversed nor abolished. They can, however, be used in a positive manner. I’ve previously discussed how the Christmas tree points to Jesus Christ. It is easy for me to tell, as well, how Santa’s (“Saint Nicholas‘ “) life and existence points, to the life and teachings of Jesus.
I only implore you, dear reader, not to foster the lies about Santa Clause, St. Nicholas, or Father Christmas, but tell the factual truth about them. It’s the same for the the gift-giving, the lights, and the joyous celebrating. One can ignore any or all of it, but I believe that we should not only accept, as a fact of life, the secular traditions; the things that have been distorted and perverted away from the original intent of honoring the Christ-child, but turn them back upon themselves to their true purpose which is to celebrate His birth, to point to Him, to highlight Him, and to glorify Him in the unfettered, hopeful, optimistic, rejoicing manner in which the host of angels announced His arrival to the shepherds, and to us.
Those traditions can be used to help us illuminate Him in a darkened world. I believe that is our commission, our duty, and our pleasure, as believers and as beneficiaries of The Father’s miraculously humble, and humbling gift.
The gift of The Savior Child is given to every one of us, but it must be accepted before it can be unwrapped and enjoyed.

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Whatever you do,
Whatever you think,
Seek Him in all things
And have yourself a happy,
Have yourself a joyous,
Have yourself the merriest Christmas!

Above all,
Remember Who is glorious,

Give Him all your glory,
Keep it Christmas-Story-ous!

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Cooking A Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner – Yes I Can – This Is About Thankfulness


Yes, dear reader,
Unlike most men, especially old-school men such as myself,
I’m capable of planning and cooking
a full-blown turkey-and-stuffing anchored;
mashed potato filled;
gravy-slathered;
two vegetable enhanced;
candied sweet ‘tater and
green bean casserole complimented;
cranberry sauce enlivened;
dinner-roll augmented;
and pie-crowned Thanksgiving dinner.
I don’t want that to sound like bragging,
nor self-exaltation,
it’s just the truth.
It’s a blessing that I can cook almost anything, and even do a little baking, but the blessing came at the expense of my mother’s suffering.
When I was 13, my mother dislocated her elbow due to a fall. That very painful injury prevented her from doing many of her homemaking duties including cooking the daily family meals. As the eldest child, I was appointed cook’s assistant. I performed the mechanical operations of cooking while poor plaster-casted Mom directed me. That was one of my life’s momentous turning points, because I have used those cooking skills that she taught me countless times for my own benefit and for the benefit of others.
Today, Mom is on my mind.
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to cook, and for everything else you did for me.
Thanks, God, for Mom and for all my blessings.
Thanks for the ability to imagine and invent things, and for the ability to make, and build, and create the things I imagined – everything from small tools to buildings and a home, and thanks for the ability to repair, or at least “rig up” almost anything. Thanks, God, for the ability to grow food on Your land. Most of all thanks, Lord for the very surprising gift of the ability to write.
As much as I like to cook, I’d rather write about cooking.
I’d rather write than do almost anything else.
As for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that this website is partial fulfillment of my God-given purpose. More than anything else, I’m thankful to You, Lord, for gathering me to Yourself and giving me the joy of salvation – the joy of knowing You!

“O, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good!
His loving mercies endure forever!
O, give constant thanks unto the Lord!”

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader!
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Forever Home

                    

                  Forever Home

 

When our count of days goes way too fast

When earthbound lives are gone and past

 

In sad, lamenting grief we’re cloaked

We limp to You, our only hope

 

We lost them, those who were our own

Or were they not, and just on loan

 

With great compassion You lift us up

For what You gave them, they left with us

 

By Your grace, it’s their love we’ve enjoyed

So eternal, enduring, death can’t destroy

 

Fragrantly lingering, it wafts through our hair

Like tropical breezes, love whispers its care

 

And we know they are with us, as You’ve been from the start

For their love warms our being, lifts our arms, and our heart.

 

So, there lies our hope, it’s Your love and Your faith

You care about us, Your plan is in place

 

We lack understanding, only You know

How to bring home your people, You care for each soul


For You have given us this sleep

The one that, here, we think so deep

 

Yet it is light, and lasts but a whit

So brief, and at the end of it

 

We waken to You, forever home

At last, Your Treasure is our own.

 

At last! Your Joy is now our own!


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About The Music Links Below

I don't own, and have no claim on, these music videos. The following are simply links inside my website pointing back to the original locations of the videos. The names of the creators of these videos are cited wherever possible, and only "embedding-enabled" selections are used.

The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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"I AM NOT MY OWN" is the piece that inspired the building of this site. It is the story that this site, as well as my life, is centered around. This letter to you is the one i would most like for you to read out of all the ones you will find here, because it describes how profoundly the works of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can change one human life.

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The content here's not to be used,

But to only be read and perused.

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