The Christmas Present; Our Journey to the Celebration is Complete

Posted on December 25, 2009. Filed under: Children, Christmas, Family, Forgiveness, Righteousness, Sacrifice, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A little boy, 10 years of age and his younger sisters, ages 8 and 5, quietly tiptoed down the hallway of the two story suburban home, whispering to each other, with the oldest girl asking the boy, “are they up yet?”  The boy ignored the question as he lead the two girls down the stairs very slowly, but with purpose, because they wanted to see if Santa Claus had come the night before, bringing them presents.  They were sure there would be presents under the Christmas tree, for most certainly they had been nice this year and were never naughty.  They thought this as they were doing what their parents told them not to do before they went to bed on Christmas Eve night; they were instructed not to go down the stairs before their parents were awake.  But the those instructions did not keep them from the quest of seeing the presents.

As they approached the bottom of the stairs, the youngest girl stumbled, and squeaked out a little shriek.  This action instantly halted the other two children in their tracks.  The boy told the girl to be quiet, then asked her if she was okay.  Of course she was fine as they continued on their journey down the stairs, making a turn and entering the living room, where the Christmas Tree was standing tall and the lights were glowing as it was still dark since it was only about 6 A.M.  When they entered the room, all three children stood there, gazing at all of the presents sitting under the tree, which Santa had carefully set on the floor below the tree.  The lights glistened and reflected off the wrapping paper of the presents, as the three children were now examining to see which ones were theirs. A little chatter was heard amongst the children concerning what they thought might be in the presents, as the oldest girl said to the boy, “let’s go wake up Mom and Dad”.

So, they hurried back up the stairs, down the hallway, opened the door to their parents room, and proceeded to yell and scream, “Santa came, Santa came”, then jumping up and down on the bed.  The Mom and Dad were startled, yet not surprised, as they were expecting this to happen this chilly Christmas morning.  They had finally finished wrapping the presents about 12:15 A.M. the night before, and as it was now 6:05 A.M., they were a little tired, but in the same sense wide awake, as their children were bringing an air of excitement into the room due to their knowledge of what was downstairs underneath the tree. Before we go further, just to clarify, Santa is not real.  I hope I have not just bursted your bubble about the Santa situation, but the parents are Santa.  Yes, every year the parents have to buy, wrap and position the presents underneath the tree.  So that is that, now you know the truth about how the presents get under the tree.  The fun begins.

But what is the greatest, most spectacular and wonderful present you have ever received? Was it a bike, race car set, doll, or something else, like………..? As we conclude this Christmas series about the journey to the celebration, we have to establish what the most perfect present is, the one present that surpasses all other presents as the most memorable present of all time.  As we noted earlier, the presents do not come from Santa, there is not a mystery guy who flies around the earth in one night on a sleigh, bringing all of the children in the world toys.  Yes, the parents put the presents under the tree, and on one night in history, the Father of creation brought us the most perfect present. This present existed before the beginning, before time began as we know it. God sent to earth the baby Jesus, to be born of the virgin Mary in a manger in Bethlehem.  The Christmas present was the son of God, the savior of the world, and we would celebrate His birth forever. Our journey to the celebration is complete, for we have found the perfect present, that of our redeemer.

What a glorious night it was when Jesus was born. As humans in need of a savior, God chose to love and care for us, providing a way we could be with Him for eternity in heaven.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10-11 (ESV), “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”  Then, of course we all have heard what Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”,  We all are in need of a savior, which God provided as the first Christmas present. Jesus, both God and now man, came to the earth to be with us, to walk with us, to die for us on the cross at Calvary. There is not a present, either past, present, or future that will come close to matching the grandeur and splendor of the present that God the Father sent us that one night 2000 years ago. Jesus is The Christmas Present!

I implore all of you who have read my Christmas series to spend time today reflecting about the real reason for Christmas, the real story, the real Christmas present, that of Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world. When we take the time to reflect on Him who saves us from all unrighteousness, then and only then can we truly understand what a perfect gift we have received.  We are not worthy of being in the presence of God on our own accord.  We must have a mediator to pave the way for us, to intercede on our behalf, in order to be cleansed of our sins, becoming children of God, and working towards a righteousness in Christ.  The Christmas present, Jesus, was sent here for you and me to die for our sins, let us not ignore this fact on Christmas 2009.

If you know Jesus as Lord and savior, then reflect on Him now, giving thanks for the present He gave you.  If you do not know Jesus, then I pray and ask that you seek Him out now, that you confess your sins, and be cleansed by the savior of the world.  Jesus is waiting for all who do not know Him to come in repentance, seeking forgiveness and existence for eternity with God.  Jesus is the perfect Christmas present, He is the only present we need this Christmas day.  Seek Him now, He is patiently waiting for you.

May God bless you this day and every day forward.

Your friend and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, Merry Christmas to you all,

Daryl Dho

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The Christmas Card, Here is My Favorite; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Heaven, Salvation | Tags: , , , |

My wife and I will be celebrating our 24th Christmas together this year.  Every year we have sent out Christmas cards to our family and friends.  Of course, we also receive Christmas cards, usually from those same family members and friends.  I enjoy receiving them, and at times we have displayed them on counter tops, entertainment centers, and in a card holder box.  It seems like the more cards you send out, the more you receive.  This year, we have received quite a few, but have not sent any cards out.  I wanted to, but as time went on, day after day, the next thing we knew it was Christmas Eve, and there was not any time left in order to get Christmas cards to our family and friends before Christmas.

So, if you are were expecting a Christmas card from Bonnie and I, then I must apologize for not sending you one, because it is not happening.  Trust me, you were definitely in our thoughts, I have no excuse other than this year we just were too busy to send Christmas cards; sorry.  If you get a card from us, it will have to be for a different holiday.

While I was thinking about the Christmas card, and what it means to those who receive them, I began to contemplate about what my favorite Christmas card of all time would be.  After a while, I came up with this one as my all time favorite Christmas card; it is the Bible. The Bible you ask, why are you saying the Bible is your all time favorite Christmas card? You may be saying, “the Bible is not a Christmas card”.  Here is my answer, and it is simple really, since what the Bible talks about is similar to what we talk about and read in our Christmas cards.  The truth, which is spoken through the Bible, is about the reason we celebrate Christmas every year; the Bible is about Jesus Christ, who is God, being born as a child to become a man and the savior of the world.  Yes, on Christmas day we are celebrating His birthday, so let’s party.  When you examine the word of God in the Bible, written by men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then you begin to understand why I consider the Bible my favorite Christmas card.

The Bible has poetry, songs, history, and is full of the love from God about how we should live our lives in a meaningful and full way.  God sent His son to tell us about and to be an example of how to love one another, as God loves us.  This Christmas holiday, spend time to think about how the Bible can be considered the greatest Christmas card of all time, and how the love, which is sent to us through His Holy Spirit inspired words, should captivate us in such a way that we never want to discard it, never want to ignore it, never want to stop reading it over and over again.

This Christmas card, the Bible, should be a card that becomes part of our lives, for it is the words of God.  We should share the words from this Christmas card with all who will listen, just like I enjoy doing through my blogs.  We should share them in the work place, in school, around town, everywhere we go we should be excited to tell people about how God, through a period of over 1500 years, inspired men to put His words into written form for all to here and understand.  This Christmas card, the Bible, should be our favorite Christmas card of all time, because God, the creator of the universe, came to earth in the form of a man, in order that we would have a path to salvation from our sinful nature and a path to heaven.  This Christmas card is one we should cherrish, as it gives us the details of why we are celebrating tomorrow the birth of the savior Jesus Christ.  Remember, this holiday is about the birth of Jesus.  Let us not take that for granted, for it is not about Walmart having more sales!  Please be mindful of this over the next 48 hours; Jesus, who is God, was born in a manger about 2000 years ago, and on Christmas day we celebrate His birth.  God’s word, sent to us, is my favorite Christmas card, so go ahead and tell everyone you know about it, for it is eternal, and will never go away.

May the love of God be with you on your journey through life,

Daryl Dho

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Everybody’s Got an Invitation to the Celebration, So Don’t Be Late

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Creation, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , |

Have you ever fallen back asleep after your alarm clock goes off in the morning, then wake up after the time you were suppose to be at work has already passed, it is a frightening feeling.  Today, someone I know was late to open a store for large chain retailer. No, it was not me, but I have awaken later than I wanted before, and I know the feeling of panic, fear, and frustration someone has when the realization of their dilemma sets in.  It is especially disheartening when you are the person who is suppose to open a business, and other people are depending on you to be there so they can work, or shop in your store.

There are other occasions when you want to be on time or at least not past “fashionably late”, such as going to a party or celebration, particularly if you are the guest of honor.  When you are an honored guest, everyone is counting on you, for you are the reason the celebration is happening.  At a wedding, it is critical that the bride and groom show up, as there may have been months of preparation for this one significant event, and without you, the ceremony and celebration will not and can not go on.  Don’t be late for your birth either, or your mother may have to go through some additional pain and suffering due to your not being born on time; of course I realize none of us has any say in this, it just seemed like something to say.

It is only 2 days until Christmas, a day when many people will celebrate the birth of the savior, Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells us in Romans 10:13 (ESV), “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  This invitation to us all comes without condition, without a requirement of our doing anything with the exception of having faith in Jesus to take the burden for our sins, for as Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  What a party this is, as we celebrate the birth of God, coming to earth as a child who grew and became a man, in order to die on the cross for our sins, for as the scriptures say in Romans 3:23-25, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

This is certainly not a party you want to be late for, since the guest of honor is Jesus, the Son of God. Really there is only one way you can be late to this celebration, that is by completely ignoring the invitation, by not believing you need redemption, by not comprehending the ramifications of a life lived in unrighteousness.  Although, we are late to the party if we just say “no” to God, never accepting the fact we will live forever for eternity; we will live for eternity either in the presence of God, or outside His presence.  Everybody’s got an invitation to the celebration, so don’t be late for the party.

Know one knows the day or the hour when they will pass on from this life to the next, so all of us should be prepared for when that day comes.  We need to take God’s invitation, the one allowing us to spend eternity with Him through the salvation received from His Son Jesus, and go to the party.  We never know when the end of our life comes, so we should ready now, allowing the Angels to sing in heaven as we accept Jesus as Lord.  This is why Jesus was born, why we celebrate on Christmas, so that we can recognize our Lord and savior, putting Him first in our lives.  There is no tomorrow, for tomorrow is today.  We can not expect to calculate the time when we no longer breathe the breath of this life.  Wait no more, you have the invitation, come to Jesus and live the life worth living, a life in which you know you are on the guest list for the greatest party of all time, the party for those saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.  Then, you can go and celebrate with God when the time comes for you to enter into eternity, and enjoy the greatest party of all time.

May God bless you on your journey through life,

Daryl Dho

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It’s a Wonderful Life; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 22, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Faith, Family, Heaven, Personal Happiness, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , |

In the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George Bailey, who was played by Jimmy Stewart seemed to have the perfect life, but as we all remember, he most certainly did not.  There are some in this world who, when the reality that life is not always as easy as they would like, decide they want to check out.  Many times, I believe this comes from where they put their priorities.  If we prioritize money and things we might obtain in our life, equating our happiness to how much we have, then due to the nature of life, we will surely be let down at some point.  We can not predict what will happen next in our lives, and therefore the unexpected happens, resulting in our either being let down, devastated financially, emotionally distraught, or just plain unhappy, all because we put our importance on the temporal things of this world.

So, because of the many variables in life, regardless of how great, capable, and together we might think we are, or how fantastic our life may seem to be going, it is inevitable that we will, at some point, be disappointed.  I think most people, if they truly search their inner thoughts and emotions in an honest way, will discover they know life is not perfect, and someday disasterous things will happen to them.  The problem therefore lies in the fact that most people just do not want to prepare for the impending negative consequence in their lives.  When that awful circumstance appears, many do not know how to handle it, choosing an even worse alternative, such as suicide, or hurting themselves and others.  Most of us have heard the old expression, people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.  This expression seems simple enough to understand, but difficult to execute.

Jesus, who’s birthday party and celebration is this Friday, December 25, 2009, had a lot to say about this subject.  He told us in Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV), “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Jesus is telling us that we need to have our priorities straight.  Of course, we have all heard we need to do this, but most of us do not understand this concept the way Jesus describes it.  He is telling us we will be challenged in life if we put our priorities on the treasures of this earthly world, since none of them will last forever.  I believe when are describing our lives to someone, we can truly say with all honesty, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  But, in order to say that expression honestly, we need to have our priorities on the things of heaven, which are eternal.

I was having a conversation this morning with my dentist, who I have been going to for about 12-13 years now, and the subject of our happiness came up, including if we had any regrets in our lives.  If you have read my Bio, then you know I have not always led what one would call a very wholesome life, including probably doing emotional damage to other people in the process, yet I told him I have no regrets, and I would not change one circumstance in my life.  My life was, excuse the expression, “all jacked up”, for a long time, but I still would not change a thing, because what transpired during my life, was just a part of my journey, part of what made me the Daryl I am today, part of the molding of the character of the man you here in my words today.  I have become a man who is passionate about people and their feelings, about how they will spend not only this life, but the next life through eternity.

Yes, when asked about my life, I would be able to truthfully affirm, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Not because I have billions, millions, or even thousands of dollars, not because I drive a fancy car, not because I have a great job, not because I am the smartest guy in the world, not because I am the envy of anyone, for none of those are true, but because of these two things: 1) I have a close relationship with God, the creator of the universe, who’s word in Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”, thereby my sins are forgiven, and 2) I am continuously working on developing the relationships with those closest to me, such as my wife, children, and friends.

It is also my desire to do what Jesus commanded us when asked by the scribes which commandment is the most important in Mark 12:30-31, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  What a role model and teacher Jesus was.  He knew that in order for us to have a wonderful life, we needed to be close with our creator.  He also desires that we have wonderful, beautiful relationships with those He created in His image, as described in (Genesis 1:26), therefore continuing our relationship with Him.  Jesus told us in Matthew 25:40, referencing how we should take care of the poor and needy, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

As we follow the example of Jesus, walking in His footsteps, we can be assured to have struggles in life, as He did.  But, most importantly, we can be assured of being able to state, in reference to the view of our own lives, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  I can live with that, can you?  Hopefully the answer is yes, because when you can answer affirmatively, you begin to have the peace that only God can bestow in your heart, you begin to look at life with an entire new perspective, you begin to have that wonderful life which all of us truly desire.

May the journey you are on through life be blessed by God,

Daryl Dho

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Don’t Stress Out, But Relax During This Holiday Season; A Journey to the Celebration Continues

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Family, Personal Happiness | Tags: , , , |

Working in retail like I do, gives me a perspective on how a lot of people are during the holiday season.  This Christmas season, like most, is making a lot of people all stressed out.  I see them every day at the store, as they are in a hurry, worrying about the gift they need to get for the people on the their lists.  Many people are impatient, don’t want to wait in the long lines, are mad when you don’t have the item they want, and are so caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, they are missing out on all of the blessings the holiday season brings to those who open their eyes to it.  My suggestion is this, “Don’t stress out, but relax during this holiday season; and remember that this is a journey to the celebration.”

It is only 4 days until Christmas, and it would be great if everyone was done with their Christmas shopping so they could relax and look at the outdoor lights, get together with families and friends, put their feet up on the lazy boy chair, even read a book if they wanted to, maybe read the Bible, and about the real Christmas story.  My hope is that everyone remembers that this Friday is about celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  We will all gather with family and friends, but let us not forget that we are at a birthday party for the Lord of the universe.

In the meantime, get less of what someone doesn’t really need anyway, one less stocking stuffer, one less gift for someone who would be happier if you just spent time with them.  These last couple of days bring so much stress into many peoples lives because we are creatures who seem to enjoy putting things off until the last minute, then we get stressed out because we don’t have enough time to get the gifts we think our family and friends need.  The retailers love it because people who shop from now until Christmas Eve do not care as much about the price, they just want to find something for the people they are buying for.  This is when people start throwing everything on credit cards, due their panic about having to get presents.

A greater present can be giving of your time.  I know for me, I wish I had more time in my life to give, because those who know and love me would rather have my time than anything I could buy.  If I could buy time, I would, because my time is a far greater gift than any TV, doll, game, or clothes I can find in any retailer to give to someone I care about.  Think about what is most important to you, is it the people you love and care about, or the things you have?  I hope your answer is the people you love and care about, because “stuff” doesn’t last, but our spirit is eternal.  We should spend the time nurturing our relationships, giving of ourselves instead of merchandise that deteriorates and becomes obsolete.

It is time to take our focus away from the material objects of this world, moving it in a direction towards those around us, their feelings and emotions, their needs and wants from a relational standpoint rather than a belief that they only care about us if we give them “stuff”.  It is nice to get presents, everyone wants them, but at the end of the day we would all rather have someone we care for than a present from them.  My father passed away in 1997, and I would much rather have him here with me now than anything the world could show me.  Who really cares about all of the “stuff” we accumulate in our lives.  Let us focus on each other this holiday season, give our love to each other, give a hug to a child, to your friend and to your family.

Several years ago I had the privilege of preparing and serving a meal, with several of my friends, for a group of patients who had Aids and were all dying.  We spent the evening dining with them, sharing our lives together with them, singing Christmas carols with them, and being loved and sharing love with them.  One of the patients said that normally when people come to serve them prepared meals at these functions, the people preparing the meals for this organization just stay out in the hallway while the patients eat.  Eating with them, sharing our lives together was the best part, I would not have wanted to miss out on that time together.  At the end of the night, as we were saying goodbye, one of the patients, whose name eludes me right now, gave me a hug and boldly said, “hugs are free”. That saying has stuck with my, and now I use it all of the time as I am a big hugger.  So, if you are around me, and get a hug while in a situation that may not seem a normal hugging time, I will probably say, “hugs are free” and give you a hug.  We could use more of the spirit the patients at dinner had that night.  They were all dying of Aids, yet happy and grateful they still had life, and were still able to share of their lives with others.

So, I appeal to you one more time, don’t stress out, but relax during this holiday season, remember we are on a journey to the celebration. Take the time to be with your family and friends, realizing most do not have the expectations we think they have about getting “stuff”, and if they do, then they need to readjust their thinking.  With respect to our children, in my opinion, we all have probably spoiled them to a point where we have done an injustice to them, not allowing them to realize everything isn’t free, and our relationships are more important than the “stuff”.  Lastly, the value of your time has no limit, so give some away today!

May God bless you on your journey in life,

Daryl Dho

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Santa Claus, Who is That Guy? A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 20, 2009. Filed under: Children, Christmas, Faith, Family, Heaven, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , |

Santa Claus, who is that guy? Most of us know him as the old, overweight, dude, with white hair and a long beard, wearing a red suit and a hat.  Originally, the inspiration for Santa Claus began with a man name St. Nicolas of Myra, a very religious man who lived in the 4th century, and spent much of his time giving to the poor.  In America, we know him more as the guy who’s legend began in the 19th century, and has the ability to go to every house in the entire world on a sleigh powered by reindeer.  Then he makes himself small enough to go into the house through the chimneys, bringing all the good children of the world toys.  He does this in one night, Santa Claus, who is that guy anyway?

The first time I began to have doubts of Santa’s existence was while I was in the 3rd grade.  A kid living across the street said Santa was not real.  I did not want to believe the kid, so as I recall, I was in the 5th grade before I stopped believing that anyone could go around the world in a few hours to distribute toys to all the kids of the world.  I remember the first Christmas when my Dad realized my brother and I knew that Santa was a fake.  As in every Christmas of our past, all of the presents under the tree said they were from Santa.  Each time my father gave a present to my brother and I, he would say, “To Daryl (or Marc), from Santa, who is that guy“.   My brother was 1 1/2 years younger than me, so the myth and legend did not last as long for him, thanks to me.

Then, I had children of my own, and for my two oldest, their coming to the realization Santa was not real seemed not to bother them, as it was just a time in their life where they matured.  For my youngest daughter, who has a very playful and vivid imagination, her finding out the truth about Santa was very traumatic.  When she was in the 5th grade, her older brother got a Star Wars trash can for Christmas (from Santa) of course.  About a month later, as I went into my sons bedroom, noticed a bunch of trash on the floor and remarked that he should use the Star Wars trash can that his Mother and I got him this past Christmas.  My youngest daughter was standing there, and after I mentioned about my wife and I giving the trash can to my son for Christmas, my daughter began to scream and cry because she now knew the truth about Santa, that he doe not exist except in our imagination.

The big issue with my daughter finding out about Santa was, as she so aptly put it, “you have lied to me for my entire life”.  She was so upset that it took about a day for her to calm down about Santa.  My Son was the one who was able to get through to her about Santa, that it was no big deal, because all we were doing by letting her believe in Santa was giving her a fictional character to have fun with every year at Christmas time.

I am a very faithful to God, and to the believe that Jesus was born on Christmas day to establish a way for me to go to heaven through my faith in Him and His death, burial, and resurrection.  Many Christians would say that believing in Santa, or telling our children about Santa is a bad thing, as if we were worshipping idols.  I know that God does not us to put other gods before him, for the Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 5:7, “‘You shall have no other gods before me.”  Moses gave this commandment he had received from God when he was with Him on Mount Sinai.  Now, if I was worshipping Santa, I would say I have a problem, for God told me not to worship other things, but only God.  So, the question is this; Santa Claus, who is that guy?

Personally, I can not agree with Christians who get all worked up over having some fun at Christmas time with Santa Claus, although I respect their belief.  I just look at Santa as the fictional character he is, a guy who we can have some fun with while the children are young.  We get to take pictures of the kids, while they sit on his lap, telling him what they would like to get for Christmas.  That is fun stuff!  Now, in the case of my daughter, I wish she could have found out about Santa in another way, so that she would not have been upset, but oh well, what are you going to do.

The point is this, Santa is just a fictional character we use in order to have a diversion in life, it is a way for us to break away from all of the reality we live in like the economy, going to work, paying the bills, etc.  Santa is not something we worship or truly believe in.  For children, it is a way for them to expand their imaginations while they are young, for he is harmless guy who brings joy and toys to them at Christmas time.  When they get old enough to realize he is not real, then some of the innocence is lost, and they start wanting to develop other people to look up to like Tiger Woods or Taylor Swift.  We need to remember, we should not worship anyone or anything other than God.

If you are a Christian, then from the very beginning, you should bring your child up with the true meaning of Christmas, that we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus, our Lord and savior.  It is your responsibility to teach your children the truth, but while on the journey of life, it is okay for all of us to have an imagination, to take ourselves out of our normal everyday lives and into a time of letting our imaginations run free.  We are not worshipping Santa, we are having fun with the thought that he brings toys to the children, that’s all, nothing more.  Like when we go to a movie, such as the new Avatar movie which I saw last night, it is not real, but a whole lot of fun to watch.  Each family can do what they want when it comes to their children, but in my view, Santa is the jolly old fellow we see in the cartoons, in the books, and in the movies.  I totally enjoy having fun with Santa.

Last point, have you been naughty or nice, because you know, Santa doesn’t bring toys to children who have been naughty, regardless if you are young or old.  By the way, my wife of almost 24 years says I am just a BIG CHILD, and I have been nice this year; OH YES, I HAVE BEEN NICE.  Bring on the presents Santa!

May God always bless your journey through life,

Daryl Dho

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Joy to the World-It’s Christmas Caroling Time; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 17, 2009. Filed under: Christmas, Family, Friendship | Tags: , , , |

In 1982, while I was in the Navy, aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Jouett CG-29, we stopped in Busan, South Korea during Christmas for a couple of days of liberty.  The first day we were in port I had duty, which included standing watch on the quarterdeck, (where the gangway is attached from the pier, in order for crew and quests to enter and exit the ship).  While I was standing watch, a local businessman came to visit our ship’s Captain.  As the businessman was leaving the ship, he invited my watch partner and I to go with him the next day for a tour of the city, including the plywood factory he owned, dining, and to experience their culture.  Being sailors without much money as we were, and having an opportunity to see the city with one of its significant business people seemed like a great idea, so we accepted.

The following day, the gentleman came back to the ship, took us out on the town, therefore giving us the tour he promised.  Afterwards, he asked us if we would like to join his family as they went to church for worship at a Christmas Eve service; they were Christians.  At the time, I really did not have any solid religious belief system, although I did believe in God, so we accepted their invitation.  We had a great time at the service, but the evening was not over, as their tradition dictated going Christmas caroling around their neighborhoods.  By the time we began to go caroling, it was already late, now after midnight.  Caroling at this time of night was not an issue, as this course of action was an expected part of their tradition; so we proceeded to walk through the streets of Busan, going house to house, singing Joy to the World and other Christmas carols until about 4 o’clock in the morning.  The temperature was bitter cold, and all I had to keep warm was a sports coat, which was not enough coverage since the temperature was near 30 degrees.  Yet these people were extremely cheerful as they sang Joy to the World, for it was Christmas caroling time in Busan.

It was fantastic being part of their practice of walking from house to house singing Christmas carols all night long, yet this event alone is not what really made this time special for me.  I experienced a genuine level of generosity from my newly found friends, a generosity that I was not used to seeing in people whom I had just met. This family included us as their own, making us feel like we were part of their family.  After coming back from Christmas caroling, with the time now approaching Christmas morning (yes we had been up all night as it was now about 4 o’clock am), it was time to exchange gifts.  Of course, my friend and I did not have any gifts to give, nor were we expecting to receive any.  This family decided to take some presents from their own gifts that were under the tree, and furnish us some to unwrap and enjoy, in order that we would feel like we were part of the family and not awkward in the moment.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with how hospitable these people were, as they shared their lives, traditions, food, gifts, and time with my friend and I.  Watching them in this way, helped me understand they were true to their faith and belief in God the creator.  Yes, as we sang Joy to the World to their neighbors, it was special.  Remembering this time makes we wonder if it’s Christmas caroling time again in our neighborhoods?

This week I have been trying to remember a time when I saw people going Christmas caroling door to door, house to house since that occasion in Korea, and I can not recall ever experiencing caroling in this way.  I have watched movies where people Christmas carol, but not live and in person; the only exception being the time in 1982.  If we were to go Christmas caroling, it should not just be for the benefit of those we are caroling for, but also should be beneficial to ourselves as we are spending time worshiping the God of the universe, the creator of all things.  I like how (Psalm 95:1-2) says, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”  When we sing praises of worship to the Lord, we are letting Him know how we appreciate Him, acknowledging His greatness, majesty and holyness.

When we sing Christmas carols for ourselves and others, we should be sure of why we are singing.  Are we singing to worship the Lord, or just to be part of the group?  If a person is not singing for the Lord, then I think that maybe this might be a time to reflect on God, and the meanings behind the songs.  In 1982, I did not have a relationship with God, but this time was a stepping stone in the long process of me coming to know Him.  The generosity of the family that I stayed with will live in my memory forever, as they were instrumental in showing me how people can care for one another, giving of themselves, regardless if they know the people they are sharing with or not.  Yes, this time of year we should be singing Joy to the world because it’s Christmas caroling time again.

What a huge blessing the singing and the unconditional sharing of a families life with another can be.  I am greatful for the time I spent in Korea in 1982, and hope that I too, can be a blessing and a beacon of hope to another in my life, through my generosity, and through my faithfulness to my God, the one who is always faithful to me, giving me purpose for living.  If it is possible, I pray that somehow. through song and our actions, we can bring Joy to the World that so desperately needs God’s love.

May your journey this year be blessed,

Daryl Dho

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Love Shows Mercy; A Journey to the Celebration Takes an Emergency Detour

Posted on December 17, 2009. Filed under: Assurance, Children, Christmas, Faith, Family, Righteousness, Sacrifice, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Last night, at 9:39 p.m., I got a frantic call from my wife concerning our youngest daughter.  My daughter, a very disciplined and highly driven young lady, is a high school varsity cheerleader, enjoys performing, and diligently practices nearly every day.  Last nigh she was at a tumbling class when she missed a double round off back flip and landed on the back side of her neck and head.  According to my daughter and her tumbling coach, she instantly was in terrible pain while beginning to cry.  Her fellow team mates and coach came to her to evaluate how she was, realizing right away that she was hurt and needed medical attention.  So my wife received the call from the coach about her condition, as he instructed my wife that one of the other parents would be bringing her home.  I was at work when my wife called me with tears in her eyes as she was concerned about our baby girl, who by the way, isn’t really a baby anymore, since she now drives.

Rushing home to be there for my daughter, seeing my wife in tears when I walked in the door made me a little sad, but I kept my emotions in control.  We would be taking my daughter to the emergency room upon her arrival.  One of our sons friends came to our house about 1 minute after I did to pick up some cookies that my wife had made for him, and he stayed to see how my daughter’s condition was.  He has known her for about 14 years, and was concerned for her status, and through his love, he showed mercy. Then the parent driving my daughter home pulled up in front of the house, assisting us in getting her out of the vehicle.  One of her friends, who was showing a lot of care, got out and aided her while showing that she too was hurting for my daughter.  Both the parent and his daughter were showing a lot of compassion due to their love showing mercy.

The next part of her adventure took us to Gilbert Hospital, where I have gone before with my mother in law and another friend to their emergency facility.  I have always found that the personnel at this hospital exhibit a lot of care, concern, love, and mercy for the patients, family, and friends.  I realize that someone in this profession is somewhat required to show compassion for those they are treating, but it is not always the case in every hospital or medical facility that I have been in throughout my life.  We are still talking about individuals who either have compassion or do not when it comes to caring for patients.  I can understand that at times it may be difficult for someone in this profession to deal with all of the patients they do, some of them undoubtedly not very coorperative.  But, it is evident that every person in this hospital has the gift of mercy in their heart.  They are truly agents of love showing mercy to the patients, family, and friends that come to their facility on a daily basis. They made my daughter comfortable, relaxed, and gave her confidence in the treatment she was receiving.  For my daughter, this was her first experience in a hospital, other than when she was born.  She even remarked how the medical staff that works at this hospital certainly care a lot for their patients, and that they are love showing mercy.

During this Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, it is apparent to me now how we must also reflect on how Jesus was love incarnate, showing mercy to a world so desperately needing it.  Jesus healed the lame, the diseased, and brought the dead back to life, for He proved that love shows mercy. In Matthew 4:23 (ESV), the Bible tells us the following, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”  Jesus, whom is God incarnate, was teaching, proclaiming the truth about God and His kingdom, and healing the people because He truly loves us and it is His desire to show mercy to us.

This is the Christmas story, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to reveal God’s love and mercy to us in a way we find difficult to comprehend.  Jesus came to save us from ourselves, from the evil that lurks in our soul, from our tendencies to do wrong when we know right, from our unrighteous thoughts that we keep hidden from all in our midst, from our pride, from all of our actions that prove we are, as the Bible says in (Romans 3:23), sinful, falling short of the glory of God.  Yes, Jesus is love showing mercy to all who accept Him as their redeemer.  He willingly came to serve the needs of all mankind, somewhat like the hospital staff who so willingly accepts the task of being a beacon of hope for those who are sick and injured.  You see, we are all injured when it comes to our ability to do good all the time.  Due to our sinful nature, we can’t help but to do what is evil in God’s eyes, therefore requiring medical attention for our eternal soul.  Jesus is the great physician, willingly serving those of us who know Him, have faith in Him, and trust that He can and will redeem us for our unrighteousness.  Jesus, came from heaven, was born as a human, walked the earth, died a physical death, then rose again three days later victoriously in order to defeat sin for all of us.  Jesus was love showing mercy.  Amen.

May your journey in life be blessed by our almighty God,

Daryl Dho

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Next Stop, to the Christmas Tree Lot on Our Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Children, Christmas, Creation | Tags: , , , , |

Wow, I had fun observing all of the spectacular Christmas light displays last night, as my wife,  youngest daughter and I drove around in a few neighborhoods looking for a cool display to take a picture of.  Well, we found it, and it is on yesterdays blog, so if you haven’t read The Christmas Lights are Such Spectacular Sights yet, then you should read it before you read this blog.  It was enjoyable being with my family, and many of the light displays were fantastic, but I wish there were more.  If you do not have your lights up yet, after reading this blog, go and get it handled.  Our next stop, to the Christmas tree lot, because the journey to the celebration continues with a discussion of another of my favorite themes of this holiday season, the Christmas tree.

For most of my life, we had “live” Christmas trees for the season, which I believe is far better than an artificial tree.  Live trees have a wonderful scent, are more appealing to our eyes, somehow bringing life into a house with their beauty, color, mystic, and signs of hope and memories that show on the branches, filled with ornaments, lights, and other decorations.  But, several years ago, due to our financial situation at the time, and the desire to save money by not buying a new tree every year, we purchased a nice artificial tree with the lights already attached.  It looked great, was only a few dollars more than a live tree, and has lasted us about 8 years now.  But to me, our artificial tree does not capture the same spirit, life, and overall Christmas joy that we could have with a live tree.  I do enjoy our tree though, as I admire the lights sparkling in the branches, and the ornaments representing 24 years together with my wife and children dangle throughout its multiple levels.  All of the ornaments on our tree represent something special in our lives, since we have gathered all of the them throughout the years for different occasions and milestones.  We have ornaments from the 1st Christmas my wife and I spent together, the childrens 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Christmas on earth, and even one that represents my father, who passed away 12 years ago (I get to put that one up each year).  Yes, this Christmas tree represents 24 years of not only Christmas together, but also the love that we share for each other in our home.  I really enjoy our Christmas tree, and look forward to putting it up as soon as possible each year, usually sometime around Thanksgiving, so that we can enjoy looking at it and remembering Christmas of years gone by.

But why do we really put up and decorate the Christmas tree?  In 16th century Germany, people began putting up Christmas trees, decorating them with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers, with history showing they were used as biblical symbolism for the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden.  In our culture, there are many reasons people put up the Christmas tree, as each families traditions dictate how, when, and with what importance the Christmas tree plays its role in their lives.

I was contemplating about why we put up our Christmas tree each year, and I think at first glance, we love the beauty that is represented in the lights and decorations.  But there is more, as we consider some of the symbolism depicted throughout the wonder we see in our trees.  Beginning with the branches, I can see them as years of our lives.  We put ornaments, decorations, popcorn strings, tinsel, garland, and many other decorations on the branches as a way to characterize our time together, representing different events, and the growth of our children, even including times when they have made ornaments to put on the tree.  The lights can give us hope in our creator, as we visualize the similarity between the Christmas lights randomly hanging throughout the branches on the tree and the stars in the heavens.

When God created the universe, He placed the stars in the heavenly sky, giving us understanding of His power and majesty. Genesis 1:14-18 says, “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”  When I see the lights in the tree, I envision our God and creator and how He is always there, never leaving us in darkness.

The center of the tree, the stump to the top can represent God holding together our lives and the universe, for as Col. 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  We live in the branches of our lives, decorating the universe, putting our mark on time through the ornaments which represent what we do, how we do it, and accomplishments we have made.  With the live tree, we give it water, so it will live longer, symbolizing how we need to nourish our own bodies, mind and spirits, in order to continue living in a way that shows our vitality.

And of course, we put a star on top, which can represent many things, one being how during this holiday season, we are in the middle of a celebration of life, the life of our savior Jesus being born on Christmas day.  He lights up our lives, giving us direction towards righteousness, and providing an action plan for living, sharing love for one another.  He gives us confidence to endure life’s struggles, having hope in a bright future. Yes, the Christmas tree represents and symbolizes many different things to all of us.  Today, my desire was to give you some options about the Christmas tree you may or may not have thought of prior to reading this blog, but you can reflect now on how maybe there is more to the Christmas tree than meets the eye.  Quite possibly, the Christmas tree is a representation of our lives, which is one reason we put so much care into sharing it with those who come to see it.  So today, we have gone to the Christmas tree lot on our journey to the celebration. See you tomorrow, as we continue towards our celebration on Christmas day.

May God bless your journey in life,

Daryl Dho

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The Christmas Lights are Such Spectacular Sights; A Journey to the Celebration

Posted on December 14, 2009. Filed under: Children, Christmas, Creation, Family | Tags: , , , , |

One of my most beloved parts of the Christmas season are the outdoor Christmas decorations.  I enjoy driving around gazing at the colorful lights, outdoor silhouettes, stars, lawn decorations, nativity scenes, lighted walkways, etc.  Another added benefit of the holiday season is the colder temperatures outside, so it might even be a fantastic idea to take along some hot chocolate topped off with whipped cream while you view the spectacular decorations people have so diligently put up on and around their houses.  Of course, some Christmas decorators really get excited about their illuminated ornamentations, attempting to be the brightest and most magnificent arrangements in the neighborhood, somewhat like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation.  Although, I don’t think anyone actually hears angels singing “Hallelujah” when we turn on our lights, like Clark Griswold did in Christmas Vacation, but it is a nice thought.  Yes, I think that we can all agree that Christmas lights are such spectacular sights; and so we continue on our journey to the celebration.

But, have you noticed that over the past 2 years, there seems to be less outdoor Christmas decorations that in previous years, at least this is what I perceive in the area where I live?  I suspect that people are not wanting to go and spend money on outdoor decorations, possibly due to the economy.  When their lights do not work anymore, they simply have not been going to purchase new lights for their yards and houses.  Now, I am going to take a guess at this next reason for the diminishing number of light displays I see in the neighborhoods, but I believe people may be a little depressed as a whole, and therefore just do not want to put the effort into sharing their spectacular light displays with the world.  I may be wrong, but as unemployment stays above 10% and the housing market continues to be low, there may be a pattern to the lack of outdoor Christmas light problem I am noticing on our local streets.  I truly miss them, and want to see the Christmas lights that are such spectacular sights!

Now, the newest lights on the market are the LED light sets, which illuminate with a longer shelf life and use less electricity to leave on for long periods of time.  If you do not have outdoor lights, go and get some of these LED lights and get them up, for their is only 10 days until Christmas! I am asking and requesting that if you do not have any lights up yet, and they are in boxes in your garage, then get up off of the couch and put them up!  Let us light up the sky with decorations for all to see.  Think about the little children and how you can see the reflection of the light sets in their eyes, which twinkle almost as much as the light sets themselves. This is so wonderful for the children as they marvel at the beautiful illuminations.  These same children may even see Santa Claus in a front yard, giving them a thrill to laugh, scream, and smile about.  I understand about the myth of Santa, but you know he is really a fun guy once you get to know him.  Maybe Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer will be in a yard down the street.  If you have a Frosty the Snowman tucked away on the overhead of your garage, get it out for all to see, we are waiting.  Just think how great it would be if every house on your block had lights on their houses and in their yards.  I am getting a little excited as I imagine this becoming a reality.  Oh, how I miss so many of the Christmas lights as they are such spectacular sights!

These outdoor light spectaculars can take a dull season and change it around for those who may be having a rough time, while brightening up their lives.  You never know who may be looking at your house, remembering a time in their life when things were slower, more carefree, and without so much of the stress which many of us carry around each and every day.  As God has created and given us the stars in the sky to view in amazement, so should we follow up with creations of Christmas lights which are such spectacular sights. The world awaits this time of year in order to possibly take ourselves away from the daily hustle and bustle, from the grind, from the worry of our job, children, and families.  When we light up the sky’s with our outdoor illuminations, we might be bringing someone out of darkness and giving them the one glimmer of hope for a brighter day and future in their lives.  We need a break from what makes us get up every day sometimes, and these visions of beauty, illuminating in the dark night, may be what keeps someone focused on another day, on how life can and should be a positive experience, and how we can share the light of life with those in our midst.

As I close, I am going out to watch my daughter cheer for her High School basketball team, hopefully to victory.  Then, after the game, I am taking my wife and daughter on a drive through the neighborhoods in our area to view some more of the Christmas lights.  I plan on taking a picture of one that strikes me in a special way, and putting it in this blog.  But you know, I imagine they all will strike me in a special way, because I know that someone took the time and the care to put them up for us to see, and that, my friends is special.  Yes, all of the Christmas lights that we see tonight will be such spectacular sights, I will not want it to end.  The journey to the celebration of Christmas continues tomorrow morning.

May God bless your journey in life,

Daryl Dho

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