Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: 
and the grace of God was upon him.
Christian Under Construction
This week I watched my ten years old (almost 11!) grandson tie his three-year-old brother's shoes.  He patiently put on the socks, the shoes, tied them, and then picked him up and carried him back to his house. Clay and I often talk about the good old days when he was an only child. Clay was born in January of 97.  He enjoyed all the attention until February of 2000 when Hunter was born.  The next few years came brothers #3 and #4. Clay often laughs and says the only place he gets any alone time is when he locks himself in the bathroom with his Game Boy.   The first couple of brothers Clay tried his best to totally ignore. But with Cayden, the last, the youngest, I have watched Clay become the best big brother anyone could ever want.
As I watched Clay tie Cayden's shoes,  I thought of how we worked and worked to teach Clay to tie his shoes. It seems like only yesterday when I would beg his mother to please just buy tennis shoes with Velcro fasteners. Now I watch the child we once taught, beginning the process of teaching another what he once learned. Life is like that really, a never-ending circle of so many things we must learn.  There will always be someone teaching and another learning, who in turn then teaches someone else.
This afternoon I attended the funeral of a friend's brother.  The pastor who delivered the eulogy told many different stories about Terry's life.  One that really caught my attention was the story of some buttons he once had made up.  The buttons said CUC.  He would wear one of the buttons every day.   Everywhere he went people would ask, "CUC, what does that stand for?"  He would proudly tell them, "Christian Under Construction." Many would then ask for a button and they too would proudly wear them.  He realized he was a work in progress.
I  do believe we are all under construction. Most of us are at different stages in the building process, but we all hope to eventually reach the same completion.  I believe Clay, my grandson, is still under construction. Even though he is still growing, maturing, and learning new things every day, he has already begun to pass things on he has already learned.  He is reaching out to someone younger under construction who doesn't yet have as much wisdom as he does.
In Christianity, today, in today's church, at what point do we Christians Under Construction realize we must begin to pass things on we have already learned to younger, less mature Christians?  Are we being good big brothers and sisters to our younger brothers and sisters in Christ?  Unlike my grandson who is older in years than the brother he is teaching, a younger brother or sister in Christ can be much older than you in biological years, but not older than you in their walk with Christ.
Some things are so easy to learn. Some things are so easy to teach.  When you miss a Sunday service after you have been in the same church for several years, instead of worrying that no one calls, think about those younger in Christ than you who missed last week. Did you call them?
Teach what you once learned, what someone once showed you.... kindness, genuine concern.
Instead of asking for prayer today, ask someone do they need your prayers and pray for them.
Instead of seeing things that need to be done and wondering why someone doesn't tie up those loose ends, volunteer, get it done.
Yes, we are all Christians Under Construction, but there comes a time we have to stop receiving all the attention and quit ignoring those who are younger.  We each need to be good big brothers and sisters in Christ. Someday all the loose ends will be tied up and we will reach a  final stage of completion. Hallelujah!
Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do , in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him.

Wink Wink
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks is often quoted.  Also, it is often said actions speak louder than words.  Both philosophies I have found to be good and true. We do often speak words we don't intend to speak, stick our foot in our mouth so to speak, often we get both of them in there at once. Even when we have no intentions of hurting someone with words,  we often do. 
My daughter, who lost her child last summer, and I were in a store Friday Christmas shopping.  There was a little boy in line crying, wanting something that his mother refused to let him have. The cashier who checked my daughter and I out had this to say, "I am so glad they are gone, that crying really got on my nerves, I am  glad my children are grown, and I don't have to listen to that anymore."  As you can imagine those words cut deep into my daughter's heart.  I am sure she would have given anything to have her baby there crying for something. I am sure she thought if he were there he would not have to cry.  She would have gladly bought the whole store for him, to be able to have held him just a moment.  I walked away because I didn't want Tasha to see my tears.  I turned back around to hear the cashier say, "Maybe, I shouldn't say that, I might end up with a grandbaby who cries all the time."  Needless to say she figured out she had said something we didn't approve of. By trying to fix it, she only made it worse and stuck her other foot in her mouth so to speak. I think the advise,  "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone don't say anything at all"  is something we should all learn to live by daily.
Gestures, facial expressions too are something we should be conscious of, and careful not to use to hurt someone.  Actions truly do speak louder than words and something as simple as a wink can change someone's whole perspective of who they believe you to be. I recently observed a wink exchanged between two people that was very questionable. Was it a wink of approval of someone, or a wink to let someone know they had succeeded in successfully pulling the wool over someone else's eyes, those eyes being mine?  Wink, wink.
What would Jesus do?  Did He ever stick His foot in His mouth? Did He ever wink? Let's all strive to be like Jesus this Christmas whatever we do.
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his
name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Bologna For Christmas
At an outreach this weekend we served sandwiches. There were different varieties. We had ham and cheese, peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly,
plain cheese, and even bologna.  We served children who didn't really care what variety they got. They were really more interested in the presents that were to follow the food.
Believe it or not, bologna had already been on my mind since Thursday.  I had been trying to figure out how I could write a Christmas devotional about bologna.  Now four days later I write that devotional.
Bologna is not a food that we usually spend a lot of time thinking of, especially at Christmas. Even if your bologna has a first name such as O s c a r, and a last name such as M a y e r, you still most likely wouldn't serve bologna and dressing, or bologna baked with pineapple,
brown sugar and cherries on top for your Christmas dinner.
Alright,  maybe no bologna for Christmas dinner, but do you know what is in your bologna, or do you know where bologna got its name in the first place?  Do you care?  Maybe you should. Bologna, a finely hashed/ground pork sausage with lard pieces, originated in the Italian city of Bologna.
The American version is made out of chicken, turkey, beef and pork or soybeans. It is often pronounced and/or spelled baloney. The "baloney" pronunciation can be used to mean "lies" and/or to express disbelief.
Disbelief? Lies? Bologna does contain some turkey, maybe, so, perhaps we could have bologna and dressing this year. We could substitute and serve
something that was kind of like the real thing, contains a little of the real thing. Would anybody notice the difference?   Well, duh, yeah everyone would notice.  We would throw the bologna to the dogs, rush out
to a restaurant with a buffet serving turkey and dressing.
And..."Baloney!" On Christmas Day it is hard to find any kind of a restaurant open, much less serving a buffet with turkey and dressing.  The dogs would be happy, but we would be left disappointed, and most
likely hungry. 
When God came to earth as a man, as a tiny baby, born to a virgin, what if He had contained only a part of what everyone expected? What if He had been only kind of like the Messiah that the world had so long-awaited.
What if in His miracle ministry He had only fed 20 instead of 5000?  What if He had only walked halfway across the water and then sunk? Would anyone have noticed? Well, duh, yeah everyone would have noticed.
Especially those 4980 people who had nothing to eat.   They would have continued to look for something else, been disappointed, lost, and Spiritually hungry.
In today's world with religions abounding, with the Christian religion, containing variety after variety, do we know what we truly contain?  Do we realize where we get our name from in the first place?  Our first name
maybe Baptist, or Methodist, or Presbyterian, or Inner Denominational, or Non-Denominational, but we each should spell our last name C H R I S T i a n .
Do you know what the word Christian means?  The name Christian means to be Christlike, not kind of like, not containing just a few of the ingredients.  Why is it some Christians settle for just a few scraps when
there is a whole buffet set before us waiting for the taking?  When the world looks at us we should display all the qualities that unquestionably, undeniably exemplify the Christ. We should never leave them with a "Baloney" kind of feeling about Christianity, or our Savior who was born containing every ingredient this world could possibly ever need. Also, remember what we are served now isn't anything to compare to
what is to come,
Esther 3:7 - In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar. 8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. 9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed
December 2007 gives way to January 2008 tonight at midnight.   There will be celebrations to welcome the New Year which will bring the hope of new things coming to pass which have been long-awaited. Everyone who has just a flicker of hope still burning deep in the embers of some disappointment or sadness from 2007  will feel a faint flame begin to grow and burn brighter as 2008 begins it's reign tonight. Faith will be rekindled as the New Year lights the deep dark winter's night.
In the Bible, in the Book of Esther, we find the first month of the year was once called Nisan, not January. Nisan comes from the
Sumerian word, nisag meaning "Firstfruits" The name of the month is Babylonian;  called the month of the Aviv, referring to a stage in the ripening of barley which occurs during the month. Wait a minute, barley ripening in January in the winter?  Our months, our calendars, are very different than the calendars of Esther's day. It seems Nisan, the first month,  was a spring month of 30 days. Nisan usually fell sometime between our March and April.
The name of the month that actually comes closest to our January, our New Year is Tebeth.  It is a winter month of 29 days. Tebeth was the tenth month of the Hebrew sacred year, commencing with the new moon in January.
Tebeth is mentioned in the Book of Esther also.
Esther 2:16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
So it seems Esther was taken to the royal palace in the month which is now called January in the winter.  She was strategically placed at just the right place at just the right time and later began her reign as queen.  Earlier, in the Spring, in the month of Nisan, the first month, lots were cast  and a day was chosen for all Jews, all of Esther's people to be destroyed.  On a single day, the chosen day,  the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar all Jews-youngsters and old men, women and babies would be massacred.
Esther risked her life to save her people.  Esther succeeded. The Jews celebrated their victory.  Esther hung on to a faint flickering flame of faith and hope and it paid off.  All sadness and fear of sudden death approaching, all garments of sorrow of sackcloth and ashes, were exchanged for joy and victory, and garments of praise.
As we begin this brand new year in the winter in January, remember Esther went to the palace in the winter.  God had a plan in place in the winter for upcoming events.  He knew in the spring a day would be set for Esther's people to be destroyed.  He knew it would not happen.  God knew on that day, in the twelfth-month freedom would come.
God has a plan for each of our lives in 2008.  We are each strategically placed at just the right place at just the right time. What we do to in that place to bring about change is up to us.  There can be success. There can be celebrations of victory and freedom.  How differently Esther's story could have been if she hadn't been bold enough to take a chance, take a stand, and make a difference. 
May we each have our faith rekindled as the New Year 2008 arrives and begins its reign this deep dark winter's night,
this first month, the month of Tebeth.