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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Witnessing A Random Act of Kindness; A Journey to the Celebration Continues

Posted on December 13, 2009. Filed under: Children, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Heaven, Sacrifice, Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Well, did you do it, did you go to the mall instead of saving some money?  Hopefully not, but if you did, and you were trying to control the urge to spend, then maybe you spent a little less than you could have.  Today is only 11 days before Christmas, and the  journey to the celebration continues; thanks for coming aboard. I was deliberating about an attempt to find someone doing a random act of kindness prior to my blogging today.  Yes, I spent the last 24 hours of my life observing what was going on around me, and as I wandered through my day, I had high hopes of seeing someone doing a random act of kindness.  I could have completed some random act myself, that would be easy, but I wanted to discover someone else doing it, without them knowing I was watching them.

Maybe you are wondering what someone completing a random act of kindness would consist of?  We might consider someone who is sacrificing something of their own, like their time, treasure, or a talent in order to assist someone, either on a whim or without any initial thoughts of being randomly kind.  We should also consider it a blessing to another person when we take a course of action whereby that other person receives the benefit from our unwarranted or what society might say is an unnecessary act.  It is all about caring more about others than ourselves, putting their needs first before our own.

I love this next part, and believe me, it is huge. I was totally amazed and astounded about what I witnessed and heard at church today, when I discovered 2 ways people had rendered what I consider random acts of kindness.  First, there is a chief of a somewhat prosperous village in Africa who has taught the villagers how to grow crops and take care of themselves in a far better way than they were used to.  Another village, about 20 miles away, is in desperate need of the same knowledge that this particular chief has acquired.  Every day, for quite some time now he has traveled by bicycle to teach the people of the other village how to perform the same tasks that his village is doing.  The 5th & 6th graders at our church heard about this story, how the chief traveled by bicycle 20 miles each day, and decided that they wanted to raise money in order to buy him a motorcycle to travel with, rather than his bicycle.  The 5th & 6th grade Director took the week to think about some ways that his students could raise money for the Chief’s motorcycle.  When he went back to church this past week, the 5th & 6th grade students gave the Director a pile of money they had raised through selfless acts such as selling some of their personal belongings and other practical ideas, all without the aid of any formal plans.  It was not necessary for him to be involved more than use the money to obtain the motorcycle and support the chief.  The children did not need to be told what to do, they saw a need, and used their hearts, minds, and resources to raise the money necessary to accomplish their goal.  What an awesome random act of kindness for someone they have never met.  The journey to the celebration continues.

The other random act of kindness that I found today at church came from twin sisters here in Mesa that were having their 16th birthday party.  I have known these 2 girls for about 5 years, and what they did for others does not surprise me, as I have always found them to be the types of individuals that care for people.  Normally, when 15-16 year old girls have a birthday party, their desire is to have clothes, music, makeup, and other similar personal items as birthday presents, but not these 2 girls.  They are already involved in raising money for water wells to be dug and built in Africa, and now they have taken it to the next level.  They asked all of the girls who were in attendance to bring money rather than gifts, but not so they could go and buy themselves presents.  These 2 twin 16 year olds chose to be selfless, as they decided to give whatever money their friends gave them as a gift to an organization which is digging and building water wells for poor people in Africa.  Their act was random, incredible, and awe-inspiring.  In case you are interested, here is the web address for the charity that provides for these wells: http://www.charitywater.org/. Yes, I am thrilled that I heard about these 2 random acts of kindness, now let us continue our journey to the celebration.

You know, although it was not random, considering that it was planned from the beginning, one of the most courageous and wonderful acts of kindness known to man was that of a man named Jesus.  Jesus left His seat in heaven so that He could come to earth as a man, allowing Himself to be beaten, tortured, and hung on a cross to die.  He was ridiculed, made fun of, spit on, and said to be a criminal and a blasphemer, although He was in fact God.  Most of us have read or heard what John 3:16 says, but here it is anyway, along with verse 17; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”  God’s desire is that all humans could be with Him in heaven for eternity, so He sent His son, Jesus, to do that act of kindness through His sacrifice on the cross.  As an atonement for our sins, Jesus took the punishment, without hesitation, for He loved us so much.  All we must do is ask for forgiveness, He did the rest, including being born as a human.

I am grateful when I think about the fact that Jesus, the second person of the trinity of God, temporarily gave up His throne in heaven to do the will of the Father God, so that you and I could be with Him in heaven for eternity.  His desire was to come to earth, as a man, and take the punishment for our sins.  He absorbed the punishment for all of our sins, past, present, and future, so that we could live in harmony with Him forever.  At the moment He died, taking on the weight of our sins, it is believed that he was separated from His fellowship with God.  This act of kindness towards all of us undeserving humans was selfless, yet necessary as an atonement for our sins.  Because Jesus, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and followed the will of God the Father as He states in (Matt 26:39), “not as I will, but as you will”, we are sanctified through His death, and through His blood.  We are fortunate to have a loving God, willing to come to earth in human form, taking on the sins of the world.  This Christmas season is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, God who came as a man to earth for all of us.

Jesus gave us the most significant act of kindness known to man when He came to be born as a human, then sacrificing His life on the cross.  Tomorrow, the journey to the celebration continues. Please think of ways to provide acts of kindness to those you may come in contact with, so that our world can be a better place for all.  See you tomorrow.

May your journey in life be blessed,

Daryl Dho

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What Would You Compromise Your Principles For?

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven | Tags: , , , , , |

Here is the situation, someone comes up to you and asks, would you steal a pack of gum for a million dollars? I will give you a moment to think about that. Well, would you do it, would you steal the pack of gum for a million dollars? I am guessing that many people would steal the pack of gum for a million dollars, thinking that it is only a $1.39 pack of gum, who cares. But is it really just a pack of gum, or are we talking about something greater than that. Are we talking about your integrity, or your moral view on things? That is really the challenge and debate, isn’t it? It seems like an easy enough question. I want to believe that there would be more people who would say no rather than those who would say yes to this dilemma, but would people really say no? So, you have to ask yourself the question, what would you compromise your principles for?

The real answer is that stealing is stealing, it doesn’t matter if it is $1.39 or a billion dollars, if you take something that is not yours, then you are stealing. If you turn the scenario around, and it was your merchandise on the shelf for people to buy, you would not want anyone to steal it, regardless of how much it is. Worse yet for the person who takes the gum, is the thought that they will always know, in their heart, that they stole something from you. Who cares if someone is going to give you a million dollars, or even a billion dollars to steal that pack of gum, for if you do, then you will know in your heart that you are guilty of stealing. Now you would be a thief, each and every day you would know and remember that circumstance in your life. As you think about that, ask yourself again, what would you compromise your principles for?

The world view of this would tell you to go ahead and steal the gum, because you are going to receive a million dollars in return for your act, plus it is only $1.39, so no big deal! What if you were told that you had to steal $1000 worth of merchandise, would you do it then? The costs of doing the crime just went up, or did it really? Regardless of the cost, stealing is stealing, and taking what is not yours is a crime both from a societal standpoint, and a sin in the eyes of God. Yes, the biblical view of this situation would tell you not to do it, “Thou shall not steal”; remember from the Ten Commandments? Yes, Exodus 20:15 is very clear, “You shall not steal.” But nowhere in that text does it mention anything about a minimum requirement for this type of act to literally be considered stealing. Therefore, since stealing is stealing, and you have to ask yourself the question again, what would you compromise your principles for?

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV), “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Many times, we try to rationalize our deeds in a way as to think that we are not guilty of a crime, or a sin, because it may seem small to us like looking at someone with lustful intent, which according to God’s word is a sin regardless if we act on it or not. In the eyes of God, sin is sin, He doesn’t care how big it is, the facts remain, sin is sin. With the question of the pack of gum, this seems plain to me, we are guilty of the sin; plus the minimal dollar amount does not negate the fact that we stole. I don’t believe we can justify our wrongs. When we do something that is wrong, regardless of how big or small it might appear to us, it still is wrong and a sin in God’s eyes. When we sin, we are rebelling against what God wants us to do and separates us in our relationship with Him. We shouldn’t compromise our beliefs and principles for money.

The bible tells us in Hebrew 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This is some clear counsel here on the subject that we have been talking about. If someone would fall into the trap of taking something that is not theirs for money, then they are guilty of the sin of stealing, of course, but they are also giving up a faith in the Lord’s provision. Understandably, we use money to purchase goods and services in our society. But, God blesses us with our provision, and we should not, according to Hebrews 13:5, care so much about money that it rules our life. We should not be concerned with money so much that it distracts us from having faith in the one who provides it for us in the first place, God. Putting our faith in God, knowing that he will provide for all of our needs, regardless of what we believe is enough or what we might require for life.

Think about this; you decide to take the million dollars after stealing the pack of gum. Then, God decides that it is time for you to die. Fortunately, you believe in Jesus, trusting Him for redemption, and because you are saved by the grace of God, you go to heaven. When you are entering into heaven, are you bringing the million dollars to help build more streets of gold? Guess what, the answer is no, God doesn’t need that money, plus you will have to answer to God about why you stole the pack of gum for a million dollars. He may even ask you why you decided to compromise your beliefs and principles for money, money that He would have provided for you if you would have been faithful. That’s right, we can’t take it with us, and God gives us enough to take care of our needs while we are here. We just have to be faithful and trust Him each and every day.

Let us focus on what Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” If we concentrate on these words and the rest of God’s word, then it is easy to make a decision about the gum, for we do not want to purposefully sin against our God. Considering that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), we certainly do not need to knowingly and intentionally sin against others or our God. Live the life worth living, with a biblical view, treating every moment as a glimpse of how God would want us to be, for we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26). Amen

Have a blessed day,

Daryl Dho

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Penny For Your Thoughts? No Thanks, Keep The Change!

Posted on August 21, 2009. Filed under: Faith | Tags: , |

All of the time I see these young teenagers in my store buying drinks and snacks before and after school, about 10o-150 per day. Many of them put their money on the counter, I try to give them back their change, and they say, “no thanks, keep the change”. Now, I am not talking about a penny or two, I am talking about 50 cents, 75 cents, or even 90 cents, THAT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME! When I say them, wait this is a lot of money, they say, oh I have plenty of money. I don’t understand that kind of thinking in our society, where many of us are struggling to try to pay our bills, and we have others just throwing money around. What I really want to do is take a moment and say, “Penny for your thoughts”, but if I do, the response would probably be, “No thanks, keep the change”.

We must change this throw away mentality we have in our culture today. Not everything is disposable. Many want to take everything for granted, including the money they have today for food, clothing, and shelter. What they do not realize is that it may be here today, and gone tomorrow. We have to save for the future, we can not spend every last penny that we have today, just because we have it today to spend. Certainly we should not just leave them on a store counter top for no reason, other than I am too lazy to carry it in my pocket or backpack. What happens, is a day comes when we need those pennies, because change happens, and the world is ever moving. There are constant actions causing other actions, which in turn creates a time and point where we do not have the same substance that we once had, therefore it becomes necessary for us to dive into those piles of pennies that we have stashed. But, if we threw them by the side of the road all our life, then we have none to use, we are now left penniless.

God wants us set aside provision for the future too, just as He used Joseph with the Pharaoh in Genesis 41, as he interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh, telling him that there would be 7 good years and then 7 years of famine. In 41:25 (ESV), the Bible says, “God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.” God gave instructions on how to save provisions for when the famine came. If the Egyptians would have continued to live as if they would have always been having good years, using up all of their resources as they accumulated them, then when the famine hit, they would not have had any left to support life with. God knows that we will have ups and downs in our life, it is what happens. So, he wants us to make provision for this as we are in prosperous times by saving some, so that when we have the difficult times, we can whether the storm, so to speak.

It is great to know that God is watching out for us, but we just have to pay attention, head the warning signs, and listen to His words that are there to guide us. We can’t spend every last penny that we receive, lest we be penniless at some point. It is a good feeling to know that when you have a little change back from your purchase, you can take that change and put it away for the future time when you will need it most. So, if I see you on the street and ask you, “penny for your thoughts”, hopefully you can say, “sure, I could use the change”. Of course, all of this comes from being faithful to our God, in whom we must have faith and assurance that He can and will provide at all times.

Have a blessed day,

Daryl Dho

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