Saturday, November 28, 2015

Reflecting Christmas; The Christmas Wreath

  Much like the Christmas tree, the tree that is most commonly used to create a Christmas Wreath is the Evergreen. One would think logically that the Christmas Wreath would have a similar meaning, but this assumption is only partially true. In some cultures, the Christmas Wreath represents eternal life. In others it symbolizes perfection and unity, giving us something to strive for. In the Christian faith, however, this wreath is a symbol of Christ’s suffering at the crucifixion.  They believe that it is the representation of the crown of thorns he bore upon the cross. This is what has led many to the idea that the Christmas Wreath symbolizes eternal life, because that is what Jesus gave us when he died upon the cross.4

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   As many well know, a Christmas Wreath is usually formed in the shape of a circle, thus giving it no beginning or end. This is a representation of God who is the beginning and the end of all things. (Revelation 1:8 NIV). Everything in all of creation began with Him and it will, indeed, end with Him. I am reminded of that classic Disney movie, The Lion King. Throughout this movie, there is a lot of talk about something called, “The Circle of Life.” In the first film this mainly refers to what the lions eat and how they live, but as the trilogy continues we see something deeper develop; a connection to something more amazing than anything one could ever comprehend. The films reference ’the great kings of the past’ and how we are all connected to them. As believers, we can connect with the Great King of the past, present, and future, who is the one and only God.  

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  Every moment of our present life is connected to a moment in the past as well as to another in the future. Each one reveals a small part of the masterpiece God is creating within our hearts and throughout history. In the end, these connections will bring unity and perfection to the final chapter of this masterpiece. As we go about each day, we are given opportunities to add our own special strokes to the masterpiece before us. Sometimes the stroke we add can damage the picture being created and another, Jesus, must come along to fix it. Other times the smallest stroke, if made with God’s blessing, will add something beautiful, as He has planned. As you strive to “reflect the spirit of Christmas,” remind yourself that you are indeed part of God’s Masterpiece and that you were created to do the good things he has envisioned for you (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).  

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  As the Holiday season continues to make its debut, think about the true meaning behind the symbol of the Christmas Wreath. It symbolizes many things, but in the end it is a really good reminder of God's continuing work in your life. Each moment we experience is another stroke that can be added to God's amazing masterpiece, which is His version of the ‘circle of life.’

Thanks again for visiting "The Gathering Room"

Stand Strong and continue to believe the teachings given to you... (2 Thes. 2:15b NCV),


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Reflecting Christmas: The Christmas Tree

Have you ever wondered why Evergreen trees are traditionally what we see when we think about the Christmas tree?

  Well, many have said that the Evergreen tree is an ancient symbol of life. The reason behind this is that in the depth of winter, they are usually the only trees that are left alive. If left in their natural habitat, evergreens have been known to survive many a harsh winter.  Ancient history dictates that even the Romans, in all their glory, would decorate their homes as a means of celebration during the winter months. 

  By the middle Ages, a legend rose saying that when Christ was born, in the midst of winter, that all the evergreen trees shook off the ice and snow covering them and grew new shoots of green. The idea of the Christmas tree has even been used as a symbol of Christ’s Lordship over creation. Once the Renaissance Era came about, the idea of using an Evergreen tree as a Christmas tree was rumored to be a part of some elaborate plan to get others to see they could actually have Eternal Life.1


  History has an interesting way of putting things in perspective, doesn't it? It makes a person wonder what this concept of using an Evergreen tree as a Christmas tree is really all about.  Many would argue that its only purpose is to bring a certain 'Christmassy' smell during the holiday season or that it only exists to add something else to our already overflowing plates during the holiday season. I would advocate that using the Evergreen tree is more about the representation of life.  

  The Evergreen stands out in the midst of winter as a symbol of strength and health during the winter season. Winter can be one of the best seasons of the year or one of the worst, but through it all, the Evergreen stands strong and full of life. We can 'Reflect' this in our own lives and we can stand strong and full of life in the midst of the darker and colder moments we experience. Embracing this will open many doors for us to 'reflect the spirit of Christmas.'


   Life is full of its ups and downs; there is no way around it. The key to overcoming them is to embrace a life that is different, a life that stands out, and a life that lives in the world, not of the world (Romans 12:2 NIV). The Evergreen tree gives us a good example of this because it is different, it stands out in the mix of winter weather all over the world, and its growth pattern sets it apart from other trees.

  Even after the Evergreen is cut down from its stump, it remains 'evergreen' for quite some time; hence why we often use them as Christmas trees. When it comes down to it, the symbol of the Christmas tree can remind us to embrace a life that stands out in the midst of the dark and cold world around us. So, next time you see an Evergreen Tree, think about how it can remind us to 'Reflect the Spirit of Christmas' with each day we are given.  

Thanks again for visiting "The Gathering Room"

Stand Strong and continue to believe the teachings given to you... (2 Thes. 2:15b NCV),


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Reflecting Christmas; The Introduction

Greetings Everyone,
Here is the Introduction to Reflecting Christmas, our Christmas E-book. This Project is very close to my heart. It's purpose will be to serve as a reminder of what Reflecting the Spirit of Christmas is all about.

As was previously mentioned, we are posting the rough draft of this project here so you can read it and share your thoughts. Throughout the next few weeks, everything offered will be prayerfully considered and in the end, and with God's help, our hope is that this little eBook will bless many. 

The 5 people who give us the most *useful* feed back will receive a digital copy of the completed eBook as a gift once it is finished. Again, I ask that those who are willing, keep this process in their thoughts and prayers. Thanks in advance for your support on this project.


 Have you ever heard someone say, “People need to reflect the Christmas Spirit a little bit more?” I have, many times, and usually it reminds me of the film, The Muppet Christmas Carol.” In the last few lines of this film, the narrator says something about Mr. Scrooge that I believe speaks to this question. It goes something along the lines of “and Scrooge lived in the Christmas spirit all the days of his life.” 


Throughout this version of a classic tale, the Muppets bring in many different aspects of Scrooge’s past to remind him that living selfishly will have its consequences and that there is still time to change. At first, Mr. Scrooge resists in every possible way, but as he reflects on the choices he has made in life, something begins to change and his eyes start to see the damage they have really caused. After the visit from the three ghosts, though, everything changes and Mr. Scrooge becomes a completely different person. 
  This is a great depiction of the impact our choices can have on others. In this new series of devotional blogs, and eventual eBook, we will embark on a journey to highlight the symbols of Christmas and what they mean. There is something significant about the symbols of Christmas that can teach us what it means to ‘reflect Christmas’ in everyday life. Now, it is not the purpose of this series to tell you to live like it's Christmas every day, instead, it is meant to be used as a tool to guide you as you journey to becoming your own 'reflection' the Spirit of Christmas. 


  It is easy to say, “If you live as though it is Christmas every day your life will be full of joy and love,” but the fact is, life is full of its ups and downs and we are only human. Living each day as a 'reflection' of the Spirit of Christmas, however, provides us with something more to live by. Doing this will not an easy task by any means; honestly, it will take a lot of hard work and devotion. Take a moment to look at the world around you, there is darkness pushing on all sides of the equation and each day comes with new troubles of its own to overcome (Matthew 6:34).

  As you read this series, the intention is to use the different symbols of Christmas to share with you the difference between living life from your own perspective and living life as a ‘reflection’ of the Spirit of Christmas. There as so many aspects, or symbols, of Christmas that we tend to overlook each year and it's time we all took a moment, or two, to stop and explore a little more about what the Spirit of Christmas is truly about. 

  Now, I am not so callous as to suggest that the words in this series are written in stone or that they are the only way to reflect the Spirit of Christmas, but this is a good place to start at least. My hope for you, as we embark on this journey, is simply that you will find a new way to view the Christmas season and that it will bring great joy to your heart (Proverbs 17:22).

Blessings in Christ, 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Reflecting Christmas: The Inspiration

Greetings Everyone,

  I know I said I would post the introduction to our new project next, but after some discussion and pray I felt that posting the Inspiration for this project is the next step in this journey. Just about three years ago, Traci and I we given a blessing, beyond what we could ever fathom. We were given our daughter Leyla. Often referred to as 'L'tle Lovable Leyla,' she has brought Joy to many in her short life and I am really excited about what God will do through her as she lives her life. She reminds us everyday that there is something worth fighting for in this dark world and this project has her name all over it.

  But, before I get to emotional here, I wanted to share with you something I wrote last year that could be considered the first attempt at this project. It is an article I wrote for a Church Newsletter at the church I was working for at this time last year. It is going into the finalized version of "Reflecting Christmas" as part of the opening act, so to speak.

Who can believe it? Christmas is only weeks away and God is ready to move in the lives of many. In years past, Christmas has always been a very busy season leaving really no time for me personally to enjoy what the holiday is all about.
For my family, Christmas was all about family and the celebration of our Savior's birth, Even though we had many Christmas’s with little to nothing my parents always made sure we found the Christmas spirit somehow, usually in the form of The Christmas Tree and the reading of The Christmas Story.
As I began to enter into the ministry in some way or another, that Innocent outlook on Christmas began to take a back seat as I saw suffering, pain and sorrow. I felt it was my duty to do whatever I could to help people see what I saw as a child. In doing so, I became too focused on bringing that idea to others that I lost sight of it in my own heart.
Last year that changed, for the first time since I was a child I began to see that innocent image of Christmas again, this revelation came in the form of my daughter, Leyla. Her birth has forever reminded me of the Joy Christmas brings me. Today, I encourage you to search deep within for what truly does the same for you and to embrace that Christmas Spirit as a Child of God.
“O father, may I find again the dreams of Childhood when thoughts of YOU filled ME with peace and I longed to know YOU more. Give ME a faith that trusts YOU implicitly.”

Well, I hope you enjoyed this 'reflective' Post, next post will be entitled, "Reflecting Christmas; The Introduction" ...

Thanks again for visiting "The Gathering Room"

Stand Strong and continue to believe the teachings given to you... (2 Thes. 2:15b NCV),