Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Issues of the Day, Training

Dealing with the Dys-ease of Stress


It is seemingly unprecedented and unimaginable that the whole world could be experiencing an inordinate amount of stress today. While stress affects each of us differently, the article that follows is an attempt to address this everyday human emotion in a reasonable and biblical way.

Disease is a word we often use to describe an illness, an impairment of some kind.  The prefix of the word is actually “dys,” which means “not.”  We could say that a disease is when the body or the soul is literally “not at ease.”  Stress and worry create mental, emotional or physical tension.  What occurs when this tension is ongoing and is generated many hours over a course of many days?  Some medical practitioners believe our bodies attempt to absorb this tension; however, the body is not built to handle long-term stress and will eventually begin to break down. 

Proverbs 12:25 rightly reveals that an anxious heart weighs a man down. A good question to start with could be, “What are the areas of my life that I normally find myself becoming worried, stressed or anxious about?”

Francis Chan in his book, Crazy Love said, When I am consumed by my problems – stressed about my life – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.  Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control. Somehow the stuff in my life is exceptional.  Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.

To simplify this thought, Mark Batterson in the book The Circle Maker asks, “Are your problems bigger than God, or is God bigger than your problems?”  

The Psalmist David actually requested of the Lord to check his heart for anxiety in Psalms 139:23 where he asked God to, “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”  Why did he want God to do this?  David knew that anxiety and stress puts a limit on our belief and our ability to trust God.

Seven causes of stress 

  1. A state of worry and a high need for control: In Luke chapter 10, Jesus looked at one serving Him and expressed, “Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things.”  If the Lord looks at you and says your name twice, you know you’re about to hear some “better change your life” words.  I think Jesus was saying, “Relax, Martha, be who you are, but trust me.  I can provide; there is a time for everything.”
  2. A lack of faith:  We can become anxious when we lack faith for our needs. (See Matthew 6:25-30.)     
  3. The loss of boundaries (also connected to the loss of control) provoking insecurity:  If children feel safe, they will venture away and explore.  If children are feeling insecure, unsafe and worried, they will cling to their parents. How were you trained as a child?  Were you trained to be worried, to be in fear or to be friends with anxiety?  Were the boundaries unsure, leaving you to find your own boundaries?  Was your home and your family a safe place or a place full of the unknown and unexpected? 
  4. Not knowing the heart of God as your heavenly Father:  Psalms 46:10 tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” When we do not know the Father’s heart toward us, we will never be able to be still.  Until we discover the truth of what our Father is thinking of us, we have every reason, perhaps, to be in a state of worry. 
  5. A lack of trusting God:  Did you know there is a “Do not worry” command in the Bible? Psalms 37:1-8 commands us to not fret, but trust, delight, commit, be still and refrain from anger. At the core of anxiety is a lack of trust, perhaps learned from the lack of boundaries; the lack of loving parents; not knowing the truth of faith or not walking in the revelation of the love, acceptance and approval of God.  Scripturally, to walk in fret, worry and stress is to walk in the absence of trust.
  6. A lack of protection and security:  When I was a child, we not only had fire drills; we had bomb scare drills.  It was the height of the cold war and Americans feared the Communists would drop “the bomb” on us at any time.  In primary school, we were prepared for this as the teachers instructed us to place our heads under our desks.  Those were some pretty powerful desks!  As adults, we still need protection, thus we have laws to govern our societies and boundaries in the word of God enforced by loving leaders of faith – spiritual moms and dads. When husbands fail to protect and understand the principle of protection, wives will find themselves dealing with anxiety. If we as men are not walking in the governmental authority the Father has called us to walk in, we might be standing by and becoming a direct cause of anxiety within our family.  When we as husbands and fathers hear from God and act in a scriptural manner of godly authority and covering, our wives and our children will be less anxious, more at peace and more secure. 
  7. When fear overrides faith: Where fear is present, love is absent.  Where there is a presence of love, fear is absent.  The two do not dwell together in any sense of harmony.  Listen to Job 4:14,” Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.” An actual physical manifestation of fear was present. I John 4:18 reveals, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  

How can we define anxiety? It is a state of uneasiness; worry; an abnormal fear that lacks a specific cause. Here is an excellent biblical definition: Deuteronomy 28: 64-67 says, “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the Lord will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see. This scripture gives us a pretty descript picture of anxiety.  As well, Proverbs 12:25 reveals that an anxious heart weighs a man down.

Considering some answers to stress and worry

I am convinced the answer to stress and worry is found in one word: trust. Here are some ways to grow trust in your life.

Worry takes the place of prayer:  We cannot worry and pray at the same time.  Worry says I have to do something about the circumstances while prayer says I cannot change circumstances, but God can.  That’s why the scripture is so clear to us in Philippians 4: 6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  And what does God say He will do?

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (we won’t understand how we can have peace in the midst of a storm – just as Jesus slept through one), will guard your heart (that area David wanted tested) and your minds (the area where worry lodges itself to take the place of trusting God) in Christ Jesus.” (v.7)  There is no peace in a state of worry.

Trust – How to build and grow trust vs. growing anxiety

  1. Know God’s word and implement it into your life – (Implement = meditate, memorize, put on 3×5 cards, post it on your mirrors, write it down over and over and pray the scripture into your spirit) Sample scriptures:  Jeremiah 17: 7,8; Psalm 37: 1-8; Psalm 46: 1,7,10; Isaiah 41: 10,13; Luke 10: 42; Luke 21: 14; Matthew 6: 25-34; I Peter 5: 7 – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Knowing God’s word has a calming effect.  To discover God’s thoughts through meditating on His word will allow our spirit to speak His thoughts to our mind.  If we go to a scary movie we’ll observe people screaming and lowering themselves in their seats.  If we go to a violent movie people can become agitated.  If we listen to music we label as irritating, we will find ourself becoming irritated. Anxiety breeds anxiety; wrong thinking breeds wrong thinking.  Read and meditate on the truth of God’s word and it will calm us, reduce stress, bring life and build Christ. 
  2. Anxiety and worry are basically built on the lesser story while God might be working on the greater story.  We tend to get all worried when we do not have the finances for a bill that is due – lesser story.  God may be using that present lack of finances to build faith for the greater story of His provision.  We tend to worry and become self-consumed when our car will not start and we begin to tell ourselves that if our car won’t start, we’ll be late for work and if we’re late for work we will have our pay docked or our boss will be upset – lesser story.  God purposely has our car delayed in starting because He is protecting us from an accident on the highway – greater story.  What does it boil down to?  Trust. Do we trust Him in all areas of our lives even when life is unpredictable? 
  3. Obedience to God’s Spirit of Truth – Is it disobedience to be filled with anxiety and not trust God?  (Remember worry says, “I trust me” while faith and obedience say, “I trust God.”)  We must come to this conclusion or we’ll never be serious about change. John 14: 15 reveals that He knows how much we love Him by how much we are willing to obey Him.  
  4. We change from our spirit to our mind and not our mind to our spirit – Romans 8: 5-9 tells us we are spirit, soul and body.  Lasting change is made by God speaking to our spirit and then our spirit revealing to our mind the necessary changes.  It is not our mind to our spirit.  We need God’s Spirit in our spirit controlling our minds and not our minds controlling our thoughts, emotions or actions. Information and knowledge will grow our minds.  Nutritional food and exercise will grow and keep our bodies in good health.  But when the truth is received in our spirit by His Holy Spirit, our belief system begins to change.  How does that happen? 
  5. From changed belief to changed behavior – Beliefs -> Thoughts -> Feelings (reactions) -> Actions. This unique formula describes what Romans 12:2 teaches us, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Are we telling ourselves the truth?  Often anxiety is built on a lie. That lie housed within a memory has been with us so long that we can actually begin to perceive it as truth. How does it work? It works through the law of attribution.

The law of attribution is simply that which we attribute to be stressful, anxiety-filled will be!  Sometimes this is built on truth, but more often it is built on a lie. I once met with a counselee who was fearful to drive over bridges, afraid the bridge would collapse. Was this fear built on truth?  No, but deep within his memory bank it was a truth to him from a negative personal life experience. Anxiety is a present feeling or reaction because we tell ourselves anxious thoughts or believe lies that create anxiety. Let me add that not all stress is negative.  Sometimes we feel stress and it motivates us to complete a task or to not look at a pornographic picture. It is a signal and what we do with it is up to us.

6. From fear to faith and trust – We must settle Romans 8:15 in our hearts, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And we cry Abba, Father.”  A spirit of fear is not from God. (See II Timothy 1:7.) One day Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross a lake. A storm came and began to sink the boat while Jesus slept. The disciples cry out for the Lord to help them and He calms the storm and then says,” Where is your faith?” In other words, why fear, have faith.

Psalm 112:7 reveals, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”  Why?  Verse eight tells us, “His heart is secure; he will have no fear…”  

Anxiety is up to us.  It is our choice.  There are levels of anxiety – some more severe than others.  We can go to a doctor’s office for medication.  Medication will treat the physical and mental manifestations, but it will not treat the core beliefs, the memories or the lies. 

Someone once said that, anxiety is not trusting God for your future and depression is not trusting God for your past.  Obviously, it’s not that simple, but God desires to teach and reassure us so that we can trust Him for our past, our present and our future.  There are no anxious ways within Him or His kingdom.  If he has everything under control and we are His, then at the end of the day we can pray, cast all our worries and anxious thoughts upon Him and go to sleep. (See Psalm 4:8.) I just don’t see God in heaven wringing His hands in total anxiety while mumbling, “Oh my word, what am I going to do now…are you kidding me…how can I get through this mess?” 

Armed with a bit of truth and perhaps more faith, look back over your list. Are our anxieties comprised of areas in our lives that have not occurred as yet? Most anxieties that we walk in never materialize. Can we pray over this list and give it all to our heavenly Father? 

Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Men, Singles, Women

Dating Trends Yesterday and Today

Way back in 1947 there were 245 male college students for every 100 female college students. Today that same statistic goes like this: for every 100 females there are 74 males available on college campuses. 

In the book, Premarital Sex in America, authors Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker found that over three-fourths of 18–23-year-old woman are in dating relationships that are sexual. They said that in their studies those women involved in “one-night stands” felt disrespected. They share that guys control when the dating begins and girls control when sexual activity begins. 

Often, when the dating relationship becomes sexual, the long-term aspect of the relationship is cheapened to a physical connection only. Couples who abstain from sex grow a healthier, closer, more respectful relationship as they honor one another’s value before God. 

Men and women who desire to honor God first, save themselves sexually for their life mate and remain unspoiled by not mixing the intimate act of sex before the intimate commitment of marriage are happier, healthier, less depressed, and less damaged emotionally. 

God has always had a better plan when it comes to dating and honoring another. Titus tells us, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” 

You are far more than someone else’s sexual possession. Never lower yourself below God’s glorious ideal for you.

Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Prayer

Revival IS Breaking Out!

First Asbury College, then similar campuses like Cedarville in Ohio, Samford University in Birmingham, Lee in Tennessee and Belmont in Nashville and the list is growing with multiple college campuses experiencing revival fire. Thousands of people from around the U.S. and the world are desiring to be in on this and find themselves traveling to these universities. 

Since February 8, when students simply couldn’t leave the Asbury school chapel, there has been continuous prayer, praise and sharing of God’s word. Students were reading Psalm 86, they prayed, sang a song and then without an alter call students came forward to the alter to pray, to weep and to pray with others who were coming forward and falling to their knees. It’s been described as, “genuine, vulnerable, passionate, biblical and all about Jesus.”

The director of communications from Asbury college told Fox news, “If you look at the world, and you look at what is going on and what Gen Z is facing, I just think they are absolutely desperate for something other than what the world is giving them right now.”

How did it really begin? Well, I received a copy of this text message from a friend who received it from a friend:

2 years ago, almost to the day… I was driving through town, right through the center of the University, and noticed an Asian man standing in front of the chapel alone praying with his hands raised to the sky. I was on my way and running late to speak at a small youth conference at our church… but the Holy Spirit nudged me to turn around and go speak to him. I turned around and pulled the car over across from the Estes Chapel. I walked up to him and he was still in prayer… as he noticed me he walked up and we greeted each other. I asked him what he was praying about…. He proceeded to tell me that he is from Mongolia [Malaysia]…he left his country…his family…all that he knew because God spoke to Him and commanded him to come to the US…come to Asbury University specifically and pray for the faculty and student body. He said God showed him an extraordinary revival breaking out among the youth of America and that it was going to start in Asbury. It warmed my heart and I shared the message of revival with the youth that night.” 

And then came this reply:

Hi, this is Hong Too Leow. It was me you spoke to 2 years ago. I am from Malaysia…may God be glorified in all we do. Jesus has promised us revival and HE DID IT! He is so faithful and He alone deserves all the glory…

I received Christ as my Savior in 1971, during the height of the Jesus movement. Revival fire was spreading across America and the world. Now, after a three-year hold on the movie, the film Jesus Revolution is showing across the U.S. It is the story of the 1970’s Jesus movement. How timely is that?! 

Let’s continue to pray for the Spirit of God to spread the good news around the world and to see lives changed and discipled to follow Christ, one by one. 

Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Building a Marriage That is Thriving and Lifelong

A special treat today is to give you the opportunity to listen to our most recent podcast with the Larry Kreider Leadership podcast show. On this podcast we discuss marriage issues from our book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifetime Affair.

We love doing this kind of thing together and we hope that you can derive many insights from this podcast. It is our pleasure to share it with you. Happy listening and be sure to give us your feedback.

Challenge, Encouragement, Marriage, Men, Women

Love for a Lifetime

They were married for 53 years when his wife passed. 

But this coach had a lot more numbers to his name. He coached the UCLA Bruins to ten NCAA basketball titles – seven of those ten consecutively. He won 88 games in a row, almost double any other coach at his level. He had four undefeated seasons. He had nineteen conference championships. His career spanned over 40 years. And in that time, he had one wife.

Sports Illustrated magazine featured this coach’s exploits, but something about his marriage intrigued me. Even though he lost his life mate in 1985, Coach John Wooden sat down every month on the twenty-first and would write his wife, Nellie, a love letter. He would tell her how much he missed her and how much her love meant to him. When he finished writing he would fold up his piece of paper and add it to the stack, a mounting collection tied together by a yellow ribbon gently placed on her pillow.

So there’s one other statistic to add to John Wooden’s stats, “devoted husband.”

What will it take for you to reach 40 to 50 years of marriage to the same woman or the same man?

Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Training, Women

Couples, Financial Differences and Discovering Why We Differ and Argue

It is said that the number one and most frequent argument in marriage is about money. My wife and I struggled early on with our differences when it came to the use, the saving and the spending of our finances. But, after eight years of mission work we discovered that we could fight and argue about money or pray and agree for our needs. Both methods are powerful. 

However, it took us even longer to get to the root of our differences. It is in this vein that I would like to share how those differences are important, can be valued and embraced to make better financial decisions along the path of finding financial agreement. 

See if you see yourselves in any of the points made below.

  • Financial differences are about differing expectations (good and not so good) and our insecurities around money. Does money provide security to us and in what ways? Are our expectations and the use of money different than our spouses? Work toward making those differences a plus and not a negative. We need to ask ourselves how do our financial differences strengthen us as a team? For example, my wife was more of a giver than a spender. We needed to ask ourselves how giving helps our overall financial picture.
  • Differing values – one wants to save and one wants to purchase.When is just saving negative? When is just purchasing negative? Saving for savings sake loses its focused goal of saving for a car or a house down payment. When we agree to save toward a goal, we find unity in that decision even with differing financial values. Purchasing simply for spending can be habitual or even addictive with huge losses realized down the road.
  • False beliefs must be confronted. For example: “If you possess a lot of money, you do not argue about money.” Is it money itself or is it differing beliefs about money that we’re arguing about?
  • “Spenders” are also investing, not just “savers.” They are often investing in family fun, the marriage, their children, or toward vacation. Imagine a vacationless, not-so-fun family. And, as mentioned above, sometimes spenders are really givers. They love to bless others with gifts because it’s a part of their love language.
  • Learn to value choices with money that moves your heart in giving, in sowing, in investing. Allow your partner to invest in what moves them and, at the same time, takes finances.
  • Work toward honoring what the other person cares about. Give one another an allocation to spend, give, save and invest toward their thing, their passion. It’s why you agree on an amount and an allowance for each other. This is not without accountability, but allows for far more freedom for each partner.
  • When you have a financial difference, be sure to enact James 4:1-3, pray and ask God in sincerity together!

As you grow through the financial differences, honor one another, and come into agreement by embracing what your marriage partner brings to the table, the arguments will decrease and you will discover more and more agreement in how you save and what you purchase. Further, the older you become, the less you need and the more focused you will be on giving to others!

Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Leadership, Training

Seven Key Leadership Lessons Learned

Early in our marriage, my wife and I served as missionaries for eight years. Looking back, here are a few lessons we learned that may also be applicable to your life today.

1. Calling vs. a ministry or a job. When God calls us to something, we

do not leave when it gets tough. Hirelings leave when the road becomes

too rocky for their comfort, but “called-out” ones do not leave until that

same Voice that called them speaks again in order to move them on to the new. (Isaiah 50:4)

2. Faith is at the core of all you do and think. Without faith it is impossible to please God or anyone else for that matter. Faith makes a way for your

leadership. Your faith will be tested. (James 1: 2, 3)

3. Critics will always be present if it’s a true calling. Your critics will assure

you that you are on the right path. They will come from outside you and

from within. You must listen to them, consider their words, pray and move

on about the Father’s business. Critics will come from the community when

you are attempting to do something for God in your community. Critics will

force you to hear God and refine the vision. (Luke 6: 9)

4. Never stop looking forward. If you keep looking back, focusing on your

mistakes you will inhibit your gain. Never stop imagining, dreaming and

praying toward that end. Do not lose your thankfulness or you will begin to

focus on what you feel God is not doing rather than what He is doing. (Isaiah

43: 18, 19)

5. Your insecurities will surface under pressure. When the pressure is on

your insecurities, your immaturities and your self-preservation will surface.

Recognize this fact, face them and ask the Lord to heal, restore and rebuild

you from the inside out. Pressure produces good things if we allow it to.

Pressure is not wrong; it’s how we deal with the pressure and what we tell

ourselves about the pressure. (Mark 8: 34, 35)

6. Trust is greater than understanding. You will not understand all that

happens in leadership and you do not need to, but you will need to trust your

Father in the process. Trust in God and knowing that He knows everything

that is going on is essential. He makes no mistakes and He is totally aware of

all you are experiencing and feeling. (Proverbs 3: 3-6)

7. Relationship testing will always be present. Often it is not who you are

serving, but rather who you are co-laboring with. Healthy relationships are

a key to any work to succeed. Those relationships will be tested, put through

the fire and some, no matter your effort, will be lost. It is those lost

relationships that hurt and wound the most. (II Peter 1: 5-9)

There you have it, seven keys. Which one or ones are you presently working on in your leadership call?

Challenge, Encouragement, In the news, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles, Women

 Marrying Young and the Surprising Changes in the Beliefs and Boundaries of Marriage Today

In my many years of studying, researching, writing, interviewing and counseling in the pre- and postmarital realm, I had little hope I would see secular research come to agree with so many of my findings and beliefs. But the proof just keeps showing up in article after article.

My belief, without waver, is that premarital experiences directly relate to our marriages and that pre-marriage sexual experiences harm the marital experiences of life as a married couple. In the recent past the typical sequence to marriage went something like this: dating, sex, cohabitation, maybe children and then marriage.

Sex and cohabitation before marriage

Psychologist Galena Rhoades PhD and Scott Stanley in an online article titled Before “I Do,” What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults, now questions this contemporary view of how family life begins in our society. She believes that every serious relationship has certain milestones, like the first kiss to actually coming to a definition of where the relationship is going. She unequivocally states that about 90% of couples are sexual before marriage according to one study (Diner, 2007). She also states that most couples live together before marriage (Copen, Daniels, and Mosher, 2013).

But then she writes this, “Many of them have sex with multiple partners before finding the person they will eventually marry. Do premarital sexual relationships relate to later marital quality? Yes and no. It depends on who you are having sex with. Men and women who only slept with their (future) spouse prior to marriage reported higher marital quality than those who had other sexual partners as well. This doesn’t mean that sex before marriage will doom a marriage, but sex with many different partners may be risky if you’re looking for a high-quality marriage.” 

Dr. Rhoades makes this eye-opening conclusion, “We generally think that having more experience is better [in life] but what we find for relationships is just the opposite.”

Multiple experiences with multiple partners sexually is now actually linked to marriages that are worse off and that having a long history with cohabitating may actually cause you to devalue your spouse. 

Marrying young

Brad Wilcox, a director of the National Marriage Project and Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia wrote an article on how marrying young (by young I mean early 20’s) and without cohabitating “seems merited.” He wrote, “Our analyses indicate that religious men and women who married in their twenties without cohabitating first–have the lowest odds of divorce in America today.” Read that last sentence again, please.

What is it that the author of this study suspected as to why the success rate? “We suspect one advantage the religious singles in their twenties have over the secular peers is that they are more likely to have access to a pool of men and women who are ready to tie the knot and share their vision of a family-focused life.”

It has been believed and practiced for decades that a college education with a lot of dating, partying, fun, one-night stands and living together and then finally career all came first before settling down with a commitment to marriage. The statistic of living together (70%) before marriage is scary high. But Professor Wilcox wrote this, “But the conventional wisdom here is wrong: Americans who cohabit before marriage are less likely to be happily married and more likely to break up.” In fact, he says that couples who do cohabitate have a 15% more likely chance of divorce than those who do not.

Milestones in dating and pre-marriage days in a couple’s life means something because decisions mean something. We can remember when our spouse first spoke the words, “I love you.” We can recall where we were when we became engaged. We either loved or endured premarital counseling, but it was another milestone, a decision we made for us and our success in marriage. 

Forty-Seven years of marriage 

Over 47 years ago my wife and I abstained sexually out of total love, commitment and respect for one another–keeping for marriage what belongs only to marriage. We did not cohabitate because we knew this one act reduces the chances of a healthy lifelong marriage. We had a large wedding because we wanted others to celebrate with us, hold us accountable and enter into our joy of oneness. We went on a two-week honeymoon dropping out of life as we knew it to simply work on becoming one. We did not know one another intimately (sexually) prior to marriage, but we discovered the joy of purity meeting purity night after night.

It was not a college education, financial security, sexual experiences or age that helped to create these milestones, it was love for God and a desire to obey His truth. We were married in our early twenties and we continue to celebrate milestones in our marriage. We look forward to celebrating the milestone of half a century of marriage in the not-too-distant future.

Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun

We’re Five Days Closer to Christmas

The gifts are unwrapped, the cookies are fewer, the surprises and anticipations of Christmas are now behind us. A New Year is just around the corner and we are five days closer to Christmas 2023!

Christmas is a temporal celebration, but the love story found within it is an eternal one. We are forced to consider that our earthly existence is brief compared to eternity. So let’s live that way in 2023. Give the King born in a manger the gift of your life to carry out His will and His mission on the earth. 

What are your hopes and dreams for a brand-new year, two thousand and twenty three? Every day is a gift; every breath is an opportunity. 

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun, Parents

Merry Christmas: Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Santa Claus?

The story of Santa Claus goes back to the 3rd century. A patron saint, a monk named Saint Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, modern day Turkey. He was known as the protector of children. The name we use today, Santa Claus, was derived from the Dutch nickname of Sinter Klaas.

In 1881 artist Thomas Nast, drew what we recognize as our modern-day Santa: a plump, cheery and white bearded man. It was Nast who provided Santa’s bright red suit and North Pole workshop with elves and a wife, Mrs. Claus. Prior to this image, he was often depicted as a gaunt or scary-looking man.

In the 1890’s the Salvation Army began to use this image by dressing their donation collectors in Santa Claus suits. But where this image received a huge boost was from none other than Coca Cola.

Santa has been featured in Coke ads since the 1920’s and the image used was close to Nast’s original art work. From 1931 to 1964 Coca-Cola ads showed Santa delivering toys, reading his scroll-styled lists and always enjoying a Coke.

While Santa Claus and his imagery are fun for children around the world, it was a very real Catholic monk who was said to spend all his money on rescuing young persons from slavery or prostitution. He gave away his inherited wealth to help the poor and the sick. It is that St. Nick that sounds the most like the Christ, the first six letters of the word Christmas.

May we all display the true meaning and character of this Christ by serving others, giving gifts of meaning and remembering the needy around the world. Let’s celebrate Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas!

A  special Christmas song for you.

And, a special video for your children and grandchildren to enjoy!

(Note: Much of the history above is taken from