Oh Christmas Tree

Today’s Blog by Yvonne

A tree holds immense beauty in all its seasons of life. Flowering blossoms in bright hues adorn a tree in springtime. Lush green leaves on the tree reach out for the sun of summer while casting their cooling shade across the fields. Brilliant red, orange, and yellow leaves glow like embers with the shortening days of autumn. And the winter tree is brought inside, decorated with glimmering lights, glistening garlands, and sparkling ornaments to welcome the Christ child during the dark days of winter.

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As I sit quietly in the glowing light radiating from my Christmas tree, I spot a darkened shadow. Beneath the lights and the decorations, something lurks. Beyond all the forest green needles, a bleak future stares back at me. Soon, all the beauty that envelopes the Christmas tree will fall away. We will move on from the festive lights of a Christmas tree to the dark blood-stained wood of the tree on Calvary. Christmas’ happiness soon gives way to the somber season of Lent.

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I come from a long line of tree-loving people. My grandfather lovingly pointed out and named each tree as we walked along pathways. My mother inherited the same love for trees. One of her favorite poems was “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. I love the fact that throughout the Bible and Jesus’ ministry, trees play a predominant role in teaching. Depending on the version of the Bible, 296 verses mention trees. Some verses are used to instruct us how to stand firm like a tree. While other verses show us what happens to a tree that does not bare fruit. Pictures of tree roots are even used to describe our ancestry in Christ.

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Luckily, the tree story does not end with the tree of Calvary. Similarly, we do not remain stuck in a time of Lent. Another glorious tree awaits us in Revelations 22:2 “It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.” The tree of life blooms forever along with our Risen Savior as its source of light. In heaven, with Jesus, the tree of life will nourish us and heal us. My dream someday is to sit in the shade of the tree that existed from Genesis to Revelations. I look forward to spending time listening to the King of Kings tell me about His trees as we walk along the golden pathways of Heaven.

Blessings,

Yvonne, Author, and Blogger

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

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Follow Me…..

Today’s Blog by Yvonne.

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Late one night, I awoke to hear a voice calling to me. The voice only said a few words, “Follow Me!” That evening was not the first time I experienced a whispered call. For almost 20 years, I have tried to obey the call to follow Jesus to the far corners of the world. The journey has provided me with some incredible opportunities to meet new people and see breathtaking sights. However, following Jesus is not always smooth sailing. A calling to follow Christ will include many challenges and test the limits of your faithfulness.

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Sometimes the journey with Christ will be across turbulent waters. A recent trip to Myanmar offered many ups and downs. Crossing twelve time zones made sleeping through the night a challenge. Even now, back at home, I fall asleep earlier than normal or wake long before my alarm clock. Working in temperatures above 90 degrees with very high humidity sapped every ounce of my energy. Bad roads, pit latrines, and unsafe drinking water added to the woes and discomfort on the journey.

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As challenging as the journey may be during a mission, God also provides unexpected rewards for our faithfulness. I got the privilege of meeting many wonderful new friends. I spent time with the kids at our orphanage in Myanmar. God allowed me to share my faith with over 500 women at a conference in a rural village. On top of all that, I also witnessed the beauty of God’s creation in this faraway land.

Even if the service to the Lord produces some suffering, I can rejoice. Matthew 5:12 confirms this but stating “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (NIV). God calls each of us to “follow him.” Sometimes the way will be easy, but other times it will bring sorrow and suffering. You will also receive more than you ever imagined when you follow Christ. You will never know what God has planned for you until you start the journey. God’s calling is for every one of us.

Blessing,

Yvonne, author, and blogger

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

More Blessed to Give

Today’s blog by Yvonne

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New online fundraising events seem to pop up every day. Many sites allow you to fund-raise for any number of activities. Some of the campaigns tug at heartstrings when they ask to help with surgeries or downtrodden families. Other drives ask for help paying for a honeymoon or a large purchase. I even found one the other day that asked for money to dig a hole. The hole appeared to have no purpose but still managed to raise over $95,000. A large donation like that would sustain the orphanages we sponsor for at least three years. Amounts that large donated to a food bank could provide a Thanksgiving meal to almost 75,000 people in homeless shelters, as another example. As Christians, are we making wise decisions with our donations?

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Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And as I travel with our charity, the world sees and understands the depth of American generosity. But I wonder if we have lost the way with our giving. I believe most of us will give gifts to our family and friends during the holidays. Giving gifts is a beautiful tradition but are we called to a different kind of giving? Do you plan to make any charitable donations this Christmas season?

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The Bible is full of references directing us to help others. I have listed a few below:

Proverbs 21:26 – “The righteous gives and does not hold back.”

Proverbs 3:27 – “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

Proverbs 22:9 – “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27 – “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.”

Luke 6:30 – “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.”

Giving Tuesday is just around the corner. A day created to remind us of the importance of giving after all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy. By participating in a day dedicated to donating to those in needs, you can make a significant impact on many lives. Even a donation of $5 or $10 can help stop hunger for one person. This year, why not spend a few dollars less on gifts for friends and family and donate it to someone in need. Many charities need your help to continue to help others.Join the movement today.

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Blessings,

Yvonne, writer, and speaker.

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

http://www.orphanreliefeffort.org or FACEBOOK.com/OREInc