Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Simpler Christmas This Year

I don't know about you, but I find Christmas time to be the most stressful time of my year.  So this year - after a somewhat crazy year - I decided to make it simpler.  Less stressful.  Which may explain why you did not get a Christmas card from the Mizels!  We hope that you don't mind.  Know that we love you dearly and are so very grateful for all of our friends and family.

This year, two things helped.  First, I decided to stick to the four gift rule:  something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.  Can I just say that I LOVE this idea?  Our kiddos are old enough that they know what they want, offered suggestions for what they need and knew that my typical gloves and hats and socks would be the something to wear.  That left only books to figure out and books are my favorite gift to give.  Tada!  I am finished.  No stress and, more importantly,  no potential for disappointment (like that time I got the WRONG Nerf gun for Isaac and he had to act happy).

Gifts are fun to give and receive, but we can put too much emphasis on them. Christmas puts so much pressure on us because it has become such a commercial for all the things we don't have and should want.  We do well to remind ourselves that this is actually a time to reflect on God the Father's gift to us - the birth and eventual sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus.  I am grateful for chances to remind myself and my family that the world has stolen a beautiful time to reflect upon the coming of our Substitute.  Jesus came to redeem and restore us to God.  We are grateful for the gift of Jesus, God's only Son, and for the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.

The second thing we did was that we postponed sending out Christmas cards.  I feel a little selfish.  But, honestly, I am happy to have family time when the kids are home from school.  I can write out cards and send notes when everyone is back to school and work.  Please don't be disappointed!  We will send you a New Years card wishing you a very happy 2015.  2014 was filled with hard things and wonderful things.  And now we celebrate a new year that God has blessed us to see.  We pray that in 2015 you see more clearly the love that God has for you and that you know Him more deeply.

From Psalm 86
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me...

And Psalm 98
Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness...

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thoughts From My Dad About the Gospel

My dad asked me to post this.  He wrote out some thoughts about the Gospel.  You should read it.  Twice.

Not of works, lest you should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9   "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

Works says:

     I - ask Jesus into my heart
     I - make a decision for Christ
     I - surrender my life to Christ
     I - commit my life to Christ
     I - etc.

Works asks,  "Did I do it right?"

Faith says:
     JESUS - died and rose again in my place.
     JESUS - shed his blood as a sacrifice for me
     JESUS - took my sins in His body on the tree
     JESUS - paid my sin debt
     JESUS - took my sin and gave me His righteousness
     JESUS - washed me clean
     JESUS - made me whiter than snow
     JESUS - delivered me from guilt and the penalty of sin

Faith says, "I'm sure that Jesus did it right."

The Gospel does not call on the sinner to do something, but rather it calls on us to believe something.