Advent . . . A Time to Reflect

A number of years ago I decided I needed a weekend get-away . . . to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and spend some time, quality time, with my Savior and Lord.

After a few hours drive north and being warmly received by the retreat center staff, I parked my somewhat tattered backpack in a small simple room consisting of a bed, desk, chair and draped window overlooking the outdoors.  There too was a small wooden frame perched on the far side of the desktop that housed these ponderous words by Angelius Silesius, a Christian mystic and poet:

What does it profit me if Gabriel hails the Virgin unless He  

brings to me the very same tidings?

His simple question certainly captured my attention.  Yes, my time to connect, my time to worship, my time to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas had begun at that moment.  May you experience the true meaning of Christmas this year.

God bless you.

A Warm Amenity . . .

After a busy day of travel, a hotel’s welcome mat is always appreciated, especially when reception personnel greet you with a genuine smile, a key card, and warm cookie . . . Yes, you heard right. . .  a warm, savory chocolate chip cookie!

In the spirit of gracious hospitality, Hilton’s DoubleTree people not only offer all their guests this richly sumptuous treat before bedtime, but provide the recipe on-line.  Without any further fanfare, I present you now with the Hilton DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie recipe.

http://www.foodgeeks.com/recipes/doubletree-hotel-chocolate-chip-cookies-18302

Merry Christmas to all of you who work at Hilton DoubleTree Hotels worldwide.  Your gracious hospitality is greatly appreciated.

A Fall Tradition

Something I enjoy doing every fall is visiting the local family owned Pine Tree Apple Orchard (www.pinetreeappleorchard.com).  I especially enjoy walking into the crate filled sales room where I am greeted with an entourage of apple products ranging from Honey Crisps, Haralson and McIntosh to fresh baked apple pies, dumplings and turnovers.  And to think, all started from one seed… one single seed!  There is a saying out there by Robert H. Schuller that goes, “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.”

So next time you take delight in an apple, count the seeds and then contemplate the staggering number of apples and their byproducts that come from just one.

Have a good week!

Takeaways from “If He Had Not Come”

I enjoy reading books that not only generate a lasting emotional response but inspire me to take action.  Books such as this, at lease for me, are few and far between, but I can honestly say, “If He Had Not Come” does both.  My goals for resurrecting and re-designing Nan Weeks’ story are simple.

1) I want readers to ponder the question, What if Jesus had not come?

2) I want readers to conclude that life would be very different had Jesus not come to Earth.

3) I want readers to understand that they can have a personal, loving, and lasting relationship with Jesus Christ.

4) I want to provide a tool for use by families / teachers to spark discussions and personal application.

5) I want children to capture the story’s power through this retelling and new illustrations.

It is my prayer that “If He Had Not Come” will not only land in the hands, hearts and minds of many but its message will impact the reader for life.

Why National Christian Foundation?

A number of years ago, with the Lord’s prompting, I composed a prayer… a petition, that to this day, is repeated with heartfelt regularity before my dear Lord and Savior:

 

Dear Lord,

Help me to deny what comes naturally to me.  Help me to pick up my cross, deny myself, and follow You, for I desire to be a man of God, a faithful man who, as author Joseph Stowell says, “casts long shadows of  You,”… shadows that extend beyond my life here on Earth.  It is not important that people remember my name or what I have done.  But what I ask is that You take the tasks You have assigned me and the resources You have given me and persevere and multiply their outcomes, bringing honor and glory to You.

The Lord has and continues to answer my prayer through people and often the ministries they represent.  One such ministry is the National Christian Foundation, the twelfth largest charity in the United States.  Over the years, the people affiliated with NCF have provided my wife and me with creative solutions, expertise, and biblical values to not only help simplify our giving, but multiply its impact, and more importantly, help us experience the joy of sending more to our favorite causes.  For this, I am most grateful.

 

Therefore, in appreciation for the services provided by this ministry, I designate all proceeds from the sales of my book to the National Christian Foundation.  To learn more about the National Christian Foundation check out their website at: http://www.nationalchristianfoundation.com

Question for you. . .

Have you ever pondered the question, what if Jesus had never been born?  This story addresses the question through the eyes of a young boy who discovers what his world would be like if Jesus had never come to Earth.  After a series of harrowing experiences in a world somewhat familiar but with alarming dissimilarities, the boy awakens to the chimes of his favorite Christmas carol and a prayer in his heart:

“Lord Jesus, I am so glad that You did come.  You are the very best Christmas present anyone could have. I’ll show You my thanks by doing everything I can to please You today and everyday.  Help me to be the kind of boy You want me to be.”

Young Bobby’s heartfelt words says it all. . . the true meaning of Christmas, and this is what this story is all about.  If He Had Not Come is also about bringing people together. . . families together, friends together, classrooms together, to talk about things that matter to the heart.  In addition to the simple Gospel message, Pastor Josh Mulvihill’s end notes, discussion questions and activities serve as a resource guide for parents, grandparents and Sunday school teachers.  This guide is meant to enrich the entire reading experience, particularly as the book is pulled out at Christmas time each year and the children grow older.  They will have an increasing understanding of the “what if” concept and expanded interactions with its implications.  If He Had Not Come is a timeless piece that transcends all generations.  It is not only relevant for today but for all time.

My husband: A wife’s perspective

Hello, my name is Barbara Nicholson, and I have been married to David for 35 years.  These past two years David has worked on producing this wonderful book as a labor of love, and I must say, we are both very excited about the launching of If He Had Not Come. It was nearly thirty years ago when we first heard the story, If He Had Not Come, at church, when our Sunday school teacher read it to us right before Christmas.  I could tell David was captivated by the story, especially when he read it for the very first time to our young family after dinner on Christmas day.  Little did I know that this reading was to become a family tradition, for the very next Christmas and every Christmas since, he has read it faithfully after our Christmas day dinner.  Our daughters heard it for the first time when they were just preschoolers and now they are in their thirties, married, and this year his “audience” will include our preschool grandchildren! I don’t exactly know when the idea popped into his mind to republish the story, but it was shortly after Christmas, perhaps two years ago.  I do remember him saying that he was going to “resurrect and redesign” the story for today’s readers and their families.  Well, he soon realized that the process of bringing back the story into the marketplace, after 55 years of being out of print, is no easy task.  He also has learned a great deal about the publishing industry, marketing and blogging.  Social media is definitely not his forte, so our children have been helping him, and I was elected to write this introductory blog! David became a teacher later in life and after several different careers, he spent fifteen years in the classroom teaching grades three, four and five.  Upon retiring from teaching, he wanted to continue using his gifts serving people.  He became a flight attendant, which he very much enjoys, and fulfilled a long time desire to become a missionary.  Working on short term mission projects all over the world, from Mongolia to Ukraine, from Guatemala to Ethiopia, is truly a passion of his.  And when it comes to his grandchildren, David adores the role of grandfather! All in all, we are very proud of his determination and dedication to this book project, and please note that all proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the National Christian Foundation.

My Inspiration

While sitting in my adult Sunday school class, I heard Nan Weeks’ story for the first time, and I must say, the story captivated me from the start. I can remember driving home with my young family that very Sunday morning thinking to myself, “I am going to read this story to my family this and every Christmas to come.”

After nearly thirty years of sharing this simple thought-provoking story with my family, I felt a compelling urge to resurrect and redesign this narrative for a new generation of children and their families.

With months in the making, this simple Christmas story is now ready to be re-discovered, complete with classic-style illustrations and end-notes featuring discussion questions, the Gospel message, and activities to enhance the overall reading experience. It is my prayer that all readers will seriously consider the question, what if Jesus had not come, and hopefully conclude, as Bobby did, that the very best Christmas gift is not under the tree, but in one’s heart.