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In Other Words..., A Resource of Facts and Humor for Christian Leaders

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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

December 2022

 

CHRISTMAS: The beloved 23rd Psalm seldom finds its way into the Christmas story, but Bible teacher Janet Denison reminds us why it should.  She’s asked a penetrating question about David’s ancient words: “Which word is the most important?”  Scanning these six memorable verses might prompt us to reply “Lord” or “leads” or “restores” or “comforts.”  Phrases about His presence in adversity, or a cup that overflows, or His goodness & love, or the promise of an eternal dwelling with Him certainly capture our attention.  But which word is most important?  Denison insists it’s “My.”  Unless Jesus is “my” shepherd then none of the amenities mentioned are mine.  We must know Christ personally or we don’t know Him at all.  Christmas is all about a loving God who created a way for us to experience Him as “My Shepherd.” DenisionForum.org, 9/15/22
 
CHRISTMAS: Shannon DeGarmo is an author, wife, mother, and a very resilient woman.  At 26, she faced the harsh reality that her husband was living a double-life.  He went to prison and left her with a very complicated, difficult life.  She learned to thrive with adversity, raised her children and remarried.  In a wonderful article about holiday perspective, she stated, “Christmas is what we make of it, not what we wish it to be.”  A truth we often miss. HomeLife, December 2018, p.43
 
CHRISTMAS: Each year, people from around the world send Christmas cards & letters to Noel, Missouri for a special holiday postmark: “Noel: The Christmas City.”  Ironically, the city’s name rhymed with mole until 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt named Ed Rousselot postmaster.  His French heritage spawned the idea of a special Christmas postmark from the town with a name that means “Christmas” in French.  Kate Smith was a major recording star who started dedicating songs to “my friends in Noel, the Christmas City.”  The small town named after Bridges Noel took on a new pronunciation during the Christmas season and a tradition was born.  Uniquely, the French language offers several derivatives of Noel.  It can mean birthday and good news as well as Christmas.  So, when singing The First Noel, it reminds us that the birth of Jesus on that first Christmas was, and is, truly good news. USA Today, 12/9/19, p.3A; Christianity.com, 11/19/21
 
CHRISTMAS: 2022 marks the first time since 1965 that A Charlie Brown Christmas isn’t aired on network television.  Apple TV+ bought the rights and exclusively streams it with their service.  The classic almost never made it with so much going against it.  There wasn’t adequate time to finish the animation so Snoopy got all of the action scenes since he was the easiest to animate.  The music wasn’t complete so Les Mendelson quickly scribbled down the lyrics to “Christmas Time Is Here” in 30 minutes.  He threw away the scrap of paper he used because everyone thought the special would never air again.  (That soundtrack has sold more than 5 million copies).  Most of the voice actors were kids from the director’s neighborhood…some of them so young that they couldn’t even read the script.  Network executives hated the use of Scripture and wanted it cut.  When Schultz insisted that it stay, they were confident the special would flop and the comic strip would be “ruined forever.”  When writing about the last year of the show's network broadcast, Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times stated, “Even an old atheist like me must admit that Linus’ Gospels-based ‘meaning of Christmas’ speech strikes the right note at the right time.”  Matt Seitz understood that dynamic when he wrote about the special in 2000 for the 35th anniversary.  He stated, “It’s really about the conflict between the temporary and the eternal – the temporary being the things you own and the eternal being much larger.  Essentially, Charles Schultz made a film that said Christmas is about more than selling products.” BeaumontEnterprise.com, 12/18/21; APNews.com, 12/6/22; HomeLife, December 2014, p.65; AmericanProfile.com, 12/10/6
 
CHRISTMAS GIFTS: Michael Segal recalls a childhood with few Christmas gifts because his parents couldn’t afford them and they wanted him to see the deeper meaning.  He grew up envious of friends with lots of presents.  When he was eleven, he thought everything had changed.  Rather than one gift, he spotted two.  That had never happened before so he was elated.  Anticipation grew while they sang songs and prayed together as a family.  His heart raced reaching for his first present and tore it open only to discover one sock.  He instantly knew what his second present would be and became very sad.  Years later he looks back on that Christmas when he got a pair of socks as two separate gifts and understands it taught him something important.  True joy isn’t found under the tree…it comes from those who sit around the tree with us…and from the One who hung on a tree for our salvation.  That’s why he carries on the tradition and makes sure he wraps both socks individually. Chicken Soup For The Soul Christmas, Canfield & Hansen, 2007, p.33
 
CHURCH: While viewing an outdoor nativity, one guy quipped, “He was born in a stable because there was no room for him in the church.”  The remark was made for laughs but it could be piercing commentary.  Sometimes our schedules, traditions, preferences and/or selfishness leave little room for Jesus in our churches. Chicken Soup For The Soul Christmas, Canfield & Hansen, 2007, p.33
 
GENEROSITY: Since 30% of the year’s charitable giving occurs in December, Chip Ingram has a wonderful statement about generosity: “If I could sum up what the Bible teaches about giving in one statement, it would be this: Generous giving produces emotional happiness.”  What Jesus said is obviously true: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and happier people really believe Him. The Genius of Generosity, Chip Ingram, 2011; HomeLife, January 2020, p.59
 
RELATIONSHIPS: The season of Christmas definitely puts a premium on relationships even though we spend gobs of money buying things during this time of year.  A recent event in Houston, Texas helps confirm the value of relationships over possessions.  Few of us have ever known anyone who won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes…much less won it ourselves.  On October 3, 2022, Howie Guja and his crew showed up at Charles Greeker’s house in the Houston suburb of Spring and threw a party over his winning take of $1.25 million.  The retired real estate broker was stunned and surprised by the unlikely windfall, but his response was telling.  The 93-year-old man lost his wife of cancer in 2021 so he expressed disappointment that he couldn’t share the prize with her.  He said one of his greatest joys was marrying his wife and being able to travel together through the U.S. National Parks.  Most of us think few things could be better than standing on the front porch with balloons and an oversized sweepstakes check, but here’s a man soberly reminding us that the greatest things in life are not things at all. Houston Chronicle, 10/4/22, p.A1
 

EVERYDAY HUMOR

 
CHRISTMAS: Sally Brown seems to have channeled the inner child of us all when she declared in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “All I want is what I have coming to me.  All I want is my fair share.” BeaumontEnterprise.com, 12/18/21
 
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS: James was venting about decorations when his 7-year-old heard him say, “I hate putting up the Christmas tree every year.”  The insightful kid logically replied, “So why do you take it down?”  A big time-saver. Reader’s Digest, December 2020, p.17
 
CHRISTMAS GIFTS: Ellen laughed about opening gifts from “Mom & Dad.”  She said, “It means Dad is always going to be just as surprised as I am.” Reader’s Digest, December 2020, p.95
 
NAUGHTY OR NICE: A grandfather wrote about his granddaughter’s reply to that perennial question around Christmas: “Have you been a good girl?”  The little 5-year-old sighed deeply and then pensively answered, “You know, I’m doing the best I can.” Reader’s Digest, April 2018, p.26

 

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