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Holiday Comedy of Dennis Swanberg
12:02

Holiday Comedy of Dennis Swanberg

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Anyone for fruitcake?
3:14

Anyone for fruitcake?

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Blanche is talking, but is Buzz listening?
7:39

Blanche is talking, but is Buzz listening?

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Gus and Gladys are back again!
8:27

Gus and Gladys are back again!

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The "Twelve Days of Christmas" with Dwayne and Peanut
9:42

The "Twelve Days of Christmas" with Dwayne and Peanut

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Dan and Jan have a bedazzled Christmas!
9:00

Dan and Jan have a bedazzled Christmas!

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Outtakes of the Christmas couples
9:15

Outtakes of the Christmas couples

Classic Videos

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Gus and Gladys — you'd better watch it!
6:32

Gus and Gladys — you'd better watch it!

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Two of our favorite people: Buzz and Blanche
12:54

Two of our favorite people: Buzz and Blanche

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Dan and Jan "Christmas Chaos"
11:49

Dan and Jan "Christmas Chaos"

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You don't want to miss — Phil and Phyllis!
10:09

You don't want to miss — Phil and Phyllis!

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Are you a little bit country? So are Dwayne and Peanut!
12:22

Are you a little bit country? So are Dwayne and Peanut!

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Sky and Meadow at Christmastime
7:53

Sky and Meadow at Christmastime

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Christmas Bloopers from the hilarious Couples from SOS Estates
5:41

Christmas Bloopers from the hilarious Couples from SOS Estates

Classic Couples

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"Twas the Month After Christmas"

"Twas the Month After Christmas"

A Dieter's Lament

Twas the month after Christmas and all through the house
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the eggnog I’d taste
All the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
As I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber),
I’d remember the marvelous meals I’d prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared.
The fudge and the cookies, the bread and the cheese
And the way I never once said, “No thank you, please.”
As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt…
I said to myself, as only I can
“You can’t spend the winter disguised as a man!”
So, away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruitcake, every cracker and chip
Every tidbit of food that I like must depart
Till the pounds are all lost and my willpower restarts.
I won’t have a cookie—not even a lick.
Instead I will chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or cornbread, or pie,
I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore…
But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!

Author unknown

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SMCC Choir/Orchestra with children sing carols
3:35

SMCC Choir/Orchestra with children sing carols

Carol Medley

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Holly Abeel and Michael Sanchez sing "The Spirit of Christmas"
5:17

Holly Abeel and Michael Sanchez sing "The Spirit of Christmas"

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"It's Christmas Time Again" and "Panis Angelicus"
3:54

"It's Christmas Time Again" and "Panis Angelicus"

Strings

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"Emmanuel" with voices of children and adults
6:31

"Emmanuel" with voices of children and adults

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Uriel Vega plays "I'll Be Home for Christmas"
3:43

Uriel Vega plays "I'll Be Home for Christmas"

Saxophone solo by Uriel Vega

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Guess who is coming to town?
3:53

Guess who is coming to town?

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

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Charles Billingsley sings "Who is the Man With the Bag?"
2:40

Charles Billingsley sings "Who is the Man With the Bag?"

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Charles Billingsley sings "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
3:30

Charles Billingsley sings "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

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Do you know your Christmas songs?

Do you know your Christmas songs?

Christmas Name That Tune Matching Game

Songs Answers
1. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! _______________
2. Carol of the Bells _______________
3. Silent Night _______________
4. O Holy Night _______________
5. We Three Kings _______________
6. The Christmas Song _______________
7. Joy to the World _______________
8. Angels We Have Heard on High _______________
9. Feliz Navidad _______________
10. O Come, All Ye Faithful _______________
11. The First Noel _______________
12. Here Comes Santa Claus _______________
13. White Christmas _______________
14. Holly Jolly Christmas _______________
15. Blue Christmas _______________
16. O Christmas Tree _______________
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen _______________
18. The Little Drummer Boy _______________
19. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas _______________
20. What Child Is This? _______________
21. Bonus: We Wish You a Merry Christmas _______________

Clues

  1. Sung by Burl Ives
  2. Composed by Jule Styne during a hot summer in Southern California
  3. 1957 hit by Elvis Presley
  4. Based upon a Ukranian folk chant
  5. Most published Christmas hymn in North America; written by Isaac Watts
  6. Famously known for its chorus: Gloria in Excelsis Deo
  7. 1970 song written and performed by Jose Feliciano
  8. Latin title is "Adeste Fideles"
  9. Originating in France, this song could be called "The First Christmas" in English
  10. Austrian Franz Gruber wrote this hymn in 1818
  11. Based upon a French poem that reflects on the birth of Jesus and humanity's redemption
  12. Judy Garland performed and premiered this song in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis
  13. This 1865 song was set to the English folk song "Greensleeves"
  14. This 1857 hymn is also known as "The Quest of the Magi"
  15. A traditional English carol, it was referred to by Charles Dickens in his 1843 play "A Christmas Carol"
  16. 1824 German carol, "O Tannenbaum"
  17. The tradition detailed in this song was for English carolers to sing outside the homes of wealthy people, who would then provide them food and drink
  18. Co-written by Mel Torme, this song is most famous for the recording by Nat King Cole
  19. Happy song for children and written and performed by Gene Autry
  20. Most famously sung by Bing Crosby, written by Irving Berlin
  21. First sung by the Trapp Family, but best known by the Harry Simeone Chorale recording

Answer Key:

  1. B
  2. D
  3. J
  4. K
  5. N
  6. R
  7. E
  8. F
  9. G
  10. H
  11. I
  12. S
  13. T
  14. A
  15. C
  16. P
  17. O
  18. U
  19. L
  20. M
  21. Bonus: Answer Q "We Wish You A Merry Christmas!"
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Merry Christmas Family Game

Merry Christmas Family Game

TWO TEAMS WITH THE SAME NUMBER OF PLAYERS ON EACH SIDE TAKE TURNS GIVING CLUES TO THEIR TEAM WITHOUT USING THE ACTUAL WORD IN THEIR CLUES.

(Use an egg timer to give 30 seconds for as many words as possible to be answered by each team. Take turns and add up how many each team gets correct at the end of the game. Have someone keep track of the points—the team with the most correct answers wins.)

Print out the topics below—cut them into separate pieces and place in a container to be drawn out one by one. The person drawing the topic out needs to create a clue as quickly as possible without using the word in the clue. If a person uses the word, that team’s turn is over.

Sample Clue: “A treat often left for Santa…”   Answer: Cookies

  1. PRESENT
  2. MANGER
  3. BOW
  4. ELF
  5. CHRISTMAS EVE
  6. RUDOLF’S NOSE
  7. SLEIGH
  8. MARY
  9. NORTH POLE
  10. CHRISTMAS CARDS
  11. CAROL
  12. SHEPHERDS
  13. ORNAMENTS
  14. KRIS KRINGLE
  15. CHIMNEY
  16. WORKSHOP
  17. GINGERBREAD
  18. ANGELS
  19. WISE MEN
  20. STOCKINGS
  21. CAROLERS
  22. POPCORN
  23. ARTIFICIAL SNOW
  24. WREATH
  25. BELLS
  26. DECORATIONS
  27. LIGHTS
  28. CHURCH
  29. GOLD
  30. NATIVITY
  31. FRUITCAKE
  32. TURKEY
  33. CIDER
  34. FAMILY
  35. STAR
  36. BETHLEHEM
  37. STABLE
  38. INN
  39. CENSUS
  40. PEACE
  41. IMMANUEL
  42. NAZARETH
  43. SWADDLING CLOTHES
  44. JOSEPH
  45. HEAVENLY HOST
  46. ELIZABETH
  47. HOLLY
  48. FLOCK
  49. JOY
  50. JESUS
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Unscramble this Christmas List

Unscramble this Christmas List

Christmas Word Scramble

  1. CADYN CAEN ____________________ ____________________
  2. UDGEF ____________________
  3. GAERDBERNIG ____________________
  4. CEOOISK ____________________
  5. NGGOEG ____________________
  6. IREDC ____________________
  7. IEPMPTRENP ____________________
  8. STIGHL ____________________
  9. AKEOWNSFL ____________________
  10. GNAEL ____________________
  11. NAMRGE ____________________
  12. PHEERDSSH ____________________
  13. SEWI MNE ____________________
  14. NOMNANCI ____________________
  15. YNAVITIT ____________________
  16. KCOSTNIG ____________________
  17. TASNI KCIN ____________________ ____________________
  18. EERINRED ____________________
  19. RWPPANIG REAPP ____________________ ____________________
  20. SAMISRTHC OLARC ____________________ ____________________

Answers: 1) candy cane; 2) fudge; 3) gingerbread; 4) cookies; 5) eggnog; 6) cider; 7) peppermint; 8) lights; 9) snowflake; 10) angel; 11) manger; 12) shepherds; 13) wise men; 14) cinnamon; 15) nativity; 16) stocking; 17) Saint Nick; 18) reindeer; 19) wrapping paper; 20) Christmas carol

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Christmas Trivia Quiz

Christmas Trivia Quiz

Questions

  1. After leaving Bethlehem, to which country did Joseph, Mary, and Jesus travel?
  2. Name the original eight reindeer.
  3. Which country is credited with the creation of eggnog?
  4. What two phrases will you almost always find on Christmas gift tags?
  5. What is the name of Ebenezer Scrooge's partner from A Christmas Carol?
  6. Name four of the other names for Christmas.
  7. What is the most popular ornament used to place at the top of the Christmas tree?
  8. Two of the reindeer are named after weather phenomenon. Name the reindeer.
  9. Every elf has this ornament on the tip of their shoes. Which ornament are we talking about?
  10. Which was the first state in the United States to recognize Christmas as an official holiday?

Answers

  1. Egypt
  2. Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen, Dancer, and Donner
  3. England
  4. To and From
  5. Jacob Marley
  6. Noel, Nativity, Xmas, Yule
  7. Angel
  8. Donner, which means "thunder" in German, and Blitzen, which means "lightning"
  9. Bells
  10. Alabama
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Charles Billingsley sings "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
4:11

Charles Billingsley sings "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

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Ensemble sings "Silent Night"
3:12

Ensemble sings "Silent Night"

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The Collingsworth Family sings!
6:09

The Collingsworth Family sings!

Collingsworth Family "Jesus What a Wonderful Child!"

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Celebrate with the SMCC Orchestra "Sing We Now of Christmas"
4:01

Celebrate with the SMCC Orchestra "Sing We Now of Christmas"

"Sing We Now of Christmas"

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SMCC Choir sings with Charles Billingsley "Down From His Glory"
3:36

SMCC Choir sings with Charles Billingsley "Down From His Glory"

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A new Airship Genesis Christmas story!
18:45

A new Airship Genesis Christmas story!

Airship Genesis Christmas Episode

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The Isaacs sing "Away in a Manger"
2:57

The Isaacs sing "Away in a Manger"

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Pacific Brass Quintet
2:35

Pacific Brass Quintet

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"Shine On Us" sung by Holly Abeel
3:51

"Shine On Us" sung by Holly Abeel

Solo by Holly Abeel

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Michael Sanchez sings "Mary Did You Know?"
3:19

Michael Sanchez sings "Mary Did You Know?"

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Michael Sanchez sings "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
2:25

Michael Sanchez sings "Go Tell It on the Mountain"

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Babbie Mason sings "Glory in the Highest"
3:18

Babbie Mason sings "Glory in the Highest"

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Holly Abeel sings "All is Well"
4:08

Holly Abeel sings "All is Well"

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Tiffany Coburn sings "Birthday of a King"
4:25

Tiffany Coburn sings "Birthday of a King"

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Celebrate Peace on Earth
2:33

Celebrate Peace on Earth

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Charles Billingsley

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"Joy Banishes Fear"

"Joy Banishes Fear"

A Christmas devotional

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people."
Luke 2:10

The announcement of the birth of Jesus to the Bethlehem shepherds is a small picture of how life often works. The shepherds were involved in life as usual: they were tending their sheep in the fields. Suddenly, something unexpected happened, and their immediate response was fear. The first thing the angel of the Lord said to them was, “Do not be afraid.” They must have been cowering, covering their faces, at the sight of the glorious angel from heaven (Luke 2:10). Then their fear was replaced by joy based on the angel's message. Instead of fear, the angel offered the shepherds “good tidings of great joy” about the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Isn’t that the way life happens to us? Things are normal until something unexpected happens, and we respond in fear. But the joy that replaced the shepherds’ fear can be ours. Christmas is a time to remember that fear is banished by joyful faith in “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Don’t let an unexpected event create fear in your heart. Stay focused on the Christ Child whose birth you celebrate. Let “tidings of great joy” fill your heart with faith.

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Journey to Bethelehem with Mary and Joseph

Journey to Bethelehem with Mary and Joseph

"The Long Christmas Journey"

Adam Estes, his wife, and six-month-old son planned to travel from Seattle, Washington, to New Zealand for Christmas. Seattle to Los Angeles, no problem. Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, no problem for the first fourteen hours of the flight. With less than an hour to go, the pilot informed the passengers that a major dust storm had closed the airport in Sydney. They would land in Brisbane, Australia, instead. That’s when Christmas became a nightmare.

After landing in Brisbane, passengers were held on the plane for two hours, then another two hours in the gate area. Because it was an international flight, no one was allowed to leave the terminal—so everybody was herded back onto the plane for another hour and a half. They finally took off (on a plane that hadn’t been cleaned or restocked with refreshments) for Sydney where, upon arrival, they began a ninety-minute holding pattern waiting for a chance to land. Once landing, they attempted to get a flight to New Zealand. They were bumped on five flights but eventually arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the early hours of the next day. At baggage claim, their bags (along with almost everybody else’s) were missing. Four days later they received their luggage (minus their checked baby stroller). A usual fifteen-hour flight turned into a 41-hour odyssey—not counting the four days of AWOL luggage—the stuff of Christmas horror stories.

You may have a Christmas travel story of your own. Many people do since the Christmas-to-New-Year window is the second busiest traveling time of the year, exceeded only by Thanksgiving travel. There is probably a version of Murphy’s Law that says the likelihood of holiday travel mishaps increases with the number of miles traveled.

So, Christmas presents the best opportunity for a glorious season to be interrupted by a travel nightmare. Even so, our Christmas travel challenges are nothing compared to those faced by a young couple in Galilee more than two thousand years ago.

Living With Mary and Joseph

The young couple I’m referring to is, of course, Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary. Let’s see what we can learn from their experience.

Travel. It appears that Mary and Joseph were compelled to travel from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. That is, had it not been for Caesar Augustus declaring a census throughout the Roman Empire, they might not have left Nazareth at all (Luke 2:1).

The book of Luke tells us that Joseph was required to travel to Bethlehem to register for the census because Bethlehem was the birthplace of his forefather David (Luke 2:4; 1 Samuel 16:1). Mary, also of the house of David, set out with Joseph—sometimes on foot, sometimes, quite possibly, riding a donkey.

We say that Caesar Augustus was the cause of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem and giving birth to Jesus there. But consider this: God, through the prophet Micah, had predicted that from Bethlehem “shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

That meant, one way or another, Mary and Joseph were going to be in Bethlehem for the birth. And God used a decree from a political ruler that put them in David’s city at exactly the right time. Were Joseph and Mary aware of Micah’s prophecy? Did they understand it involved them? Did they see Caesar’s census as a divine means to God’s Messianic end? We don’t know.

But here’s what we do know: They didn’t resist the providential hand of God in their lives, even when it meant making a difficult trip. They trusted that God was in control of their travel plans.

Logistics. As the crow flies, it is about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But here’s how Mary and Joseph might have traveled: From Nazareth east to the Jordan River, crossing over into Perea to avoid going due south through Samaria. Traveling south along the east bank of the Jordan until reaching Jericho, they would cross into Judea. Then they would trek to Jerusalem and on to Bethlehem. This trip would have been more like 100 miles.

If they traveled an average of two miles per hour, it would have taken 50 traveling hours to walk 100 miles. If they traveled an average of eight hours per day, it would have taken 6.25 days to walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem. In other words, this trip would have required roughly one week's travel—on foot and by donkey—each direction. Round trip would have required two weeks.

Where did they sleep? Did they travel by day or by night when it was cooler? Where did they obtain food and replenish their water? Such travel obstacles were normal in that day, and they obviously knew what to do. But they didn’t have the benefit of searching online for fares and hotel vacancies or using maps on their smartphones as they traveled.

Seemingly, Joseph and Mary had a “God will supply” perspective on each stage of their nine-month adventure in faith. They seemed to know that “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)—a good word for us at Christmas as well.

People. The Bible doesn’t give us a lot of detail about Mary and Joseph’s interaction with friends and family when it became obvious that Mary was pregnant and unmarried. To her great credit, Mary’s relative, Elizabeth (the future mother of John the Baptist), rejoiced at the blessing Mary had received from God (Luke 1:39-45). Meanwhile, Joseph knew that Mary's pregnancy would result in serious disapproval, so he considered discreetly breaking his betrothal to her (Matthew 1:19). This was not part of God's plan. God intervened by speaking to Joseph through a dream; He assured Joseph that Mary had not become pregnant as a result of sin and that he should support her as her husband, which Joseph obediently did.

Christmas often throws all manner of people together at family, community, and workplace parties and gatherings. When we find ourselves mingling with people who do not view Christmas through a biblical lens, our task is simply to represent Christ faithfully. In the same way God blessed Mary and Joseph's faithfulness, He will bless us in our celebration of the true reason for the season.

The Unexpected. When you travel far from home with the expectation of sleeping in a hotel, and you find yourself lodging in a stable . . . that's the unexpected! Joseph and Mary's unexpected journey provides a beautiful picture of God's plan: the King of Glory entering our world amid scandalously humble circumstances is a timeless reminder of Jesus' unexpected ministry to mankind as a meek and mild servant.

What lessons can we draw from Mary and Joseph’s extraordinary circumstances and travel during the first Christmas season?

Learning From Mary and Joseph

Sadly, Christmas has become one of the most spiritually challenging seasons of the year. Much like Mary and Joseph, we often struggle with stress created by travel, logistics, and people. What can we do to stay spiritually focused regardless of what happens around us this Christmas?

Focus. Remember what—and Who—the purpose of Christmas really is. Christmas is not primarily a time to travel, spend money, buy presents, cook overflowing amounts of food, or hold family reunions. Christmas is about Jesus. It is about the Son of God entering this world to save us from our sins. Even if our circumstances are challenging, we can still worship Him.

Sovereignty. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Make the best Christmas plans possible—and leave room for God to change them if He has something better in store.

Provision. There’s a delicate balance between living within our means and trusting God to supply our needs. Don’t create post-Christmas stress by over-spending or over-indulging this Christmas. Mary and Joseph were a humble couple who traveled and lived accordingly, and God met their every need.

Love. Let love be your calling card this Christmas. Regardless of unexpected people and circumstances, let the God of love fill you with the Spirit of the season. In the end, the greatest gift—the greatest witness to a dying world—is love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

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You aren't the only one with a Christmas challenge

You aren't the only one with a Christmas challenge

"Christmas Challenges"

Are there any obstacles in your path this Christmas season? Let’s face it—rare is the season when there is not an obstacle of some sort in our path. So how do we persevere—and why? As Christians, what motivation can we find to “never give in” (Winston Churchill), letting “nothing in the world … take the place of persistence” (Calvin Coolidge), and never looking back once our hand is on the plow (Jesus Christ, Luke 9:62)?

This Christmas, let's find answers in the experience of Mary and Joseph, the first couple who found more than one obstacle in their God-ordained path at Christmastime. When thinking about Mary and Joseph's first century situation in Palestine, we must use our imaginations. In short, they were a virtuous couple called by God to a once-in-history assignment: raise the Son of God, the Hope of Nations. To borrow a modern phrase, "What could possibly go wrong?"

The couple was betrothed—more binding than our modern engagement but not yet officially married—when Mary became pregnant with Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-38). It was as if the first draft, the only draft, of their future together had just been thrown in the fire. They had to rewrite their life plans! Mary immediately, and Joseph later, embraced this calling, but that didn’t remove the obstacles they were facing.

Confusion. Mary’s initial question to the angel Gabriel was an understatement: “How can I give birth to the Savior since I’m a virgin?” (Luke 1:34, paraphrased) Nothing like this had ever happened before—to anyone. No doubt, Mary and Joseph had far more questions than answers. Confusion happens to us all, just not at this level. God's ways often confound our wisdom (see Isaiah 55:8; (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Isolation. It would be hard enough for an unmarried couple to confess to conceiving a child naturally. What about supernaturally? Who would believe this? Mary and Joseph found themselves in possession of an unbelievable promise and provision from God that nobody would believe—except for Mary’s relative Elizabeth and possibly her husband, Zacharias, who themselves had experienced a miraculous conception (Luke 1:5-13). Mary and Joseph surely felt isolated and alone.

Fear. This news of immaculate conception was overwhelming enough (Luke 1:32-33), but an ominous prophecy eight days after Jesus’ birth renewed Mary and Joseph's misgivings. When they presented Jesus at the temple, a saint named Simeon proclaimed: “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Rising, falling, opposition, a sword—what did this mean? What was going to happen to them, to Jesus, and to any other children they would have? Fear is a response to a future without answers—something we all experience at times.

Why did Mary and Joseph persevere? What motivated them to pick up their pen and immediately begin writing the subsequent chapters of their life together, even though they were without the details? Their motivation can be ours if we stay focused on the story God is writing through our lives.

Christmas Solutions

If we could talk to Mary and Joseph today, I believe we would find traces of the following principles that motivated them to persevere in God’s calling.

Protection. I can’t imagine Mary and Joseph debating or arguing with people, trying to convince them of what God was doing in their lives. Instead, I think they withdrew into a protected spiritual place, nurturing the seed God had planted in Mary’s womb. Just as Moses withdrew to Midian for forty years, and John the Baptist withdrew to the desert, sometimes it’s best to stay alone with God until His purposes bear fruit that others can see.

Promises. In Gabriel’s announcement to Mary about her conception, the word “will” occurs ten times (Luke 1:31-37): God will, Jesus will, the Spirit will, you will, and more. This is the language of promises! If Mary and Joseph knew nothing else, they knew God’s promises—the lock and key that secures the future for the Christian.

Partnership. God provided a joyful prayer partner for Mary in Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth understood what was happening to Mary. Sometimes, all it takes is one godly friend to walk with us down a dimly lit path.

Priority. Mary and Joseph didn’t know everything, but they knew their priority for the next nine months. As someone has said, we don’t need to know everything—we just need to know the next right thing. Even if that next thing is simply to pray, that’s enough. We are never without the guidance we need when we stay focused on God’s calling in our life.

Perseverance. Finally, Mary and Joseph persevered, one steady step after another. They persevered from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to Egypt, and finally back to Nazareth—probably for a year or more. Then they persevered for another thirty years before Jesus began His public ministry. Even then, all their questions weren’t answered (Mark 3:21). Similarly, God doesn't promise to answer all our questions either.

Friend, we don’t need answers to persevere; we only need spiritual protection, biblical promises, prayer partners, and unchanging priorities. As you face challenges this Christmas, remember the perseverance of Mary and Joseph under unprecedented circumstances and be encouraged.

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Make your plans with God…

Make your plans with God…

God Knows the Future

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”
Matthew 2:6

All of us have ideas about the future, ideas that range from hunches to extreme confidence depending on the situation. Yet none of us know the future with 100 percent certainty. In fact, James 4 warns against such predictions; it calls them boastful, arrogant, and evil (verses 13-17).

If we are cautioned against predicting the future, why are there prophets in the Bible? When is it okay to predict the future?

When Herod asked the Jewish priests and teachers where the Christ Child would be born, they didn’t hesitate or equivocate: “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matthew 2:5). They were certain He would be born in Bethlehem. How could they speak with such certainty? They could make that bold statement because God had provided the details to His prophet Micah. They believed that God knows the future and could reveal that knowledge to His prophets. To quote the old saying, “God said it, we believe it, and that settles it!” The priests and teachers were right, of course. Jesus was born in Bethlehem just like the prophet had written hundreds of years before it happened. God's Word provides many details about the future. We may speak confidently about future events when our words align with God's Word.

The Christmas lesson from this event is simple: God knows the future. Do not be anxious about tomorrow. God knows what you don’t know and will reveal it in His time. You can count on that.

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Treat your guests to treats!

Treat your guests to treats!

Christmas Recipes for your guests

Cinnamon-Pumpkin Braid

Description: Thanks to refrigerated crescent roll dough, it's easy to make, and it looks like it came from a bakery.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Pastry:

  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 8-ounce tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half

For pastry, in a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds. Beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon until combined; set aside.

In another small bowl stir together pumpkin, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

On a large piece of parchment paper, unroll crescent dough. Pinch perforated holes together. Spread cream cheese mixture in a 3-inch wide strip lengthwise down the center of the dough. Evenly spread the pumpkin mixture on top of the cream cheese.

Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut 1-inch wide strips on long side of the dough without filling mixture, cutting from the outside edge of dough to the edge of filling. Alternately fold the cut strips of the dough up and over the filling at an angle, forming a braided pattern. Lightly press the ends together in the center to seal.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with coarse sugar. Sprinkle mixture over top of pastry. Bake 15 to 18 minutes.

For glaze, stir together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough half-and-half to be able to drizzle over the hot pastry. Cool slightly; slice and serve.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Description: White chocolate and dried cranberries make this colorful and delicious holiday cookie a delight for family and friends.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Blend together:

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

Add:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together:

  • 1 bag (6 ounce) of dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place rounded teaspoonfuls of dough on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down lightly.

Bake 10 minutes or until done.

Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Scones

Preheat oven to 400°F

Ingredients for scones:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients for topping:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • Shredded orange peel (if desired)
  1. Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
  2. In another bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, orange extract, and cranberries. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Mix with a fork until moistened.
  3. Empty dough onto a floured surface, and knead for 10 or 12 strokes, or until dough is smooth. Pat into a circle. Cut into 8 wedges (like a pizza). Place wedges one inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Brush wedges with 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Sprinkle with sugar and orange peel.
  5. Bake at 400 F for about 13-16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm with jam, preserves, cream, or a lemon curd.

Only 230 calories and 9 grams of fat for each scone.

Easy Crunch Bars

Description: These bars are a wonderful treat to have on hand during the Christmas season or to share as a gift.

Ingredients

  • 35 Saltine Crackers or 32 Club Crackers
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place crackers in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
  2. Place butter and sugar in saucepan; cook on medium-high heat until butter is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring occasionally. Bring to boil; boil 3 minutes without stirring. Spread over crackers.
  3. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate; let stand 5 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Spread chocolate evenly over ingredients in pan; sprinkle with nuts. Cool. Break into pieces.

White Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Description: A very special and delicious hot Christmas drink.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of white chocolate, chopped (milk or dark chocolate may be substituted for the white chocolate)
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 6 hard peppermint candies, crushed
  • 1/2 t. peppermint extract
  • 2/3 cup whipped cream

Directions

  • Beat chilled cream with crushed mints until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated.
  • Heat milk with 8 ounces of chocolate until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add mint extract and stir through. Pour into mugs and top with minty whipped cream.

Christmas Slushy Punch

Description: Delicious, slushy punch that will make any holiday party special.
Serves 50

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages of strawberry gelatin mix (cherry, or another flavor may be substituted)
  • 1 (46-ounce) can of pineapple juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 2 (2-liter) ginger ale or lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, and gelatin. Boil for three minutes. Stir in pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange juice. Divide mixture in half and freeze in two separate containers. One-gallon Ziploc bags work well.
  2. Two hours before you are ready to serve, take the first container out of the freezer and thaw slightly. You may wish to take both containers out at the same time or bring the second container out of the freezer sometime later in readiness for refills of the punch bowl. Bags may be placed in the microwave for a short time to slightly defrost mixture if needed.
  3. When ready to serve, place the frozen contents (partially defrosted) in a punch bowl and stir in 1 bottle of carbonated soda until the mixture is slushy. Enjoy.

For a “cherry-limeade” flavor use cherry Jell-O and substitute lime juice for the lemon juice.

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All things are possible…

All things are possible…

"The Impossible Made Possible"

For with God nothing will be impossible.
Luke 1:37

How many times, maybe even lately, have you said to yourself, “This is impossible!” Even if we don’t verbalize it, we certainly find ourselves overwhelmed by situations that seem to have no solution or remedy. It’s human nature to doubt, even for those who have deep faith in God, yet the Bible states that nothing is impossible for God (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26).

The first Christmas in Bethlehem was humanly impossible. When the angel Gabriel announced Christ's birth to Mary, he acknowledged the impossibility of it outside of God's sovereignty. After all, Mary was a chaste, teenage virgin, yet she was informed that she would give birth to Jesus. That would have seemed impossible enough . . . but Gabriel continued. He also said that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, who was well past child-bearing age, was six months pregnant. In other words, a virgin and a "barren" woman would give birth to the Son of God and His forerunner, John the Baptist. Gabriel explained this simply: “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

This Christmas, if you are facing an impossible situation, remember that the first Christmas was the impossible made possible. Trust Him to do the impossible in your life.

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Do you see Christ as "Savior or Example"?

Do you see Christ as "Savior or Example"?

"Savior or Example"

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,"
which is translated, "God with us."
Matthew 1:23

Wikipedia has an article listing books written about Jesus Christ, divided by century. While it lists hundreds of titles, the article makes no claim to the list being exhaustive—nor could it. No doubt Jesus is the most written-about Person in history. All that interest is accompanied by countless opinions regarding one fundamental question: who exactly was Jesus . . . really?

Most opinions can be grouped into one of two camps: human example or divine Savior. Jesus certainly was a good example for humanity; but that's not enough. If He wasn’t God, He couldn’t possibly be our Savior. Scripture is clear that He was God. The prophet Isaiah saw Him coming as Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, which was confirmed in the New Testament (Matthew 1:23). John the apostle understood Jesus to be the divine Word and said that He had come to earth to dwell with humanity (John 1:14). As a good example, Jesus could have died on the cross. However, it was His resurrection that demonstrated God's acceptance of His death as divine payment for sin.

This Christmas, rejoice! The Child born in Bethlehem came as God incarnate to rescue you from your sins.

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What is next?

What is next?

"The Best Is Yet to Come"

According to tradition, the mother of Jesus spent her final years in the city of Ephesus, cared for by John the Apostle. Perhaps Mary lived with John’s family or maybe she occupied a small home of her own and entertained occasional guests.

Imagine a visitor asking her, “Mary, was it worth it? The misunderstandings you endured in Nazareth? That rigorous trip to Bethlehem? The pain of childbirth without even a bed for your baby? Being homeless and dislocated and endangered? The fear that drove you to Egypt? And later—watching your Son being nailed to a cross? Was it worth it?”

I suppose Mary may have wondered how a person could even ask such a question, but, being gracious as she was, she would have simply smiled and replied, “To say it was worth it would be the greatest understatement in the world. Out of those few days of hardship came everlasting salvation for all the world—eternal life for you and for me and for all who place their faith in Jesus. Oh, yes, whatever momentary suffering I endured is not worth comparing to the eternal blessings God has provided for us in Christ.”

Because of a passing season of hardship on the part of Mary and Joseph, the Messiah entered the world, lived a righteous life as a model of perfection for humanity, taught us about God’s kingdom, died for our guilty souls, rose from the dead, overwhelmed sin, overthrew Satan, overcame the grave, established His Church to spread the Gospel around the world, and returned to heaven to prepare a place for us as we await the time when He will return to take us to be with Him forever.

One day in heaven, we’ll meet Mary and Joseph—and Jesus!—and we can ask them for ourselves: “Was it worth it?”

“Jesus, was it worth leaving the throne of glory, being born in a manger, raised in obscurity, bearing the sins of humanity, and being obedient to death, even death on the cross?”

He will undoubtedly say something like, “Because of the Father’s unconditional love for each of you—yes—it was worth it to leave heaven to become your kinsman Redeemer. Out of hardship and suffering came salvation for all the world—eternal life for the lost. Whatever momentary sufferings I endured are not worthy to be compared to having the lost come to the Father and be restored to His family for all eternity.”

There is a great lesson there for us. Sometimes we go through difficult seasons in life, which involve suffering, loneliness, pain, sorrow, misunderstanding, exhaustion, and even death. We have days when we wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers. We have moments of anxiety so great we want to curl up in a dark room and cry and never come out.

There are two verses in the Bible that help us regain our perspective and give us the viewpoint of Mary and Joseph and Jesus. These verses comprise a wonderful pair of cross-references from the writings of the apostle Paul. They both point to the same truth, but Paul uses different words and places his verses in different contexts. When you take them together, it’s like two sides of the coin of grace—a coin we can carry in our hearts through difficult moments in life.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

Our Light Afflictions

In 2 Corinthians 4:17, the apostle Paul described why he wasn’t downcast by his sufferings. Second Corinthians is the most autobiographical of all Paul’s writings. Here, he describes his hardships in detail, telling us about being burdened beyond measure and despairing of life (2 Corinthians 1:8). He described battling anxiety (2:13), and being hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down (4:8). He said he had no rest, but was troubled on every side. He had conflicts without and fears within (7:5). He listed his hardships one after another—stripes, imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks, exhaustion, sleeplessness nights, cold days, and deadly perils (11:24-28).

Yet he said, “We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction…” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Light affliction! Floggings! Shipwrecks! Hunger and thirst and nakedness! Constant exposure and exhaustion! Sleeplessness! Anxiety! Yes, they were light when compared to all his blessings in the future.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Paul did not lose heart because he grasped an invaluable insight that put everything in perspective. Our present sufferings are light and momentary compared to the splendors of eternity. When we know the Lord Jesus as Savior, all our blessings are in Him—and they include a glorious resurrection from the dead, a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God, a mansion in heaven, the joy of strolling on golden streets alongside the crystal river and fellowshipping with the saints and angels of all the ages forever and ever, without sorrow, fear, suffering, tears, or death.

If you’re going through a tough season this Christmas, remind yourself of 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. The best is yet to come!

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A devotional for the holidays

A devotional for the holidays

"Expect the Unexpected"

When [Joseph] arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod.
Matthew 2:14-15

Unplanned expenses are unwelcomed visitors. We often find ourselves shuffling resources to pay the bills. Savings accounts or short-term credit cards may keep us afloat, but sometimes options are scarce.

Mary and Joseph didn't have the luxury of options. Joseph was a humble carpenter of modest means. He and Mary had scraped together enough money to make the round trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census (Luke 2:1-5). Then, their plans changed . . . again. King Herod flew into a rage when the Wise Men slipped through his fingers along with their knowledge of Christ's whereabouts. In a dream, God instructed Joseph to protect Mary and Baby Jesus from King Herod's infanticide by fleeing to Egypt, which was beyond Herod's control. Certainly, their safety was important, but how could they afford this expensive change of plans? We can't be sure, but consider this: they had recently received three valuable gifts from the Magi. The gold could be spent. The frankincense and myrrh could be sold in the marketplace. Scripture doesn't reveal the details of their finances, but we can be certain that God made provision for them.

Christmas is about the ultimate provision of God—His Son Jesus Christ. When unexpected trials redirect our plans or our finances, we can enjoy the confidence of knowing God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

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The wonder of Christmas…

The wonder of Christmas…

"They Came With Haste"

Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.
Luke 2:15

The angelic chorus could have appeared to everyone in Bethlehem. They could have materialized above Jerusalem. They could have hovered over the skies of Rome or Athens or Corinth or any of the great cities of antiquity. Instead, they appeared to shepherds in the fields outside a small town—lowly, lonely shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night.

Why? Perhaps there are reasons known only to God. Certainly, in His omniscience, God knew the shepherds would act on the revelation He gave. For as soon as the angels departed, the shepherds rushed to see the Babe who was to be the Savior of the world.

Faith isn’t just knowing something; it is doing something about it. The Lord speaks to us every day as we study His Word. Whenever God speaks to us, we must respond. If He tells us to stop worrying, that’s what we are to do. If He tells us to tame our tempers, that’s what we must do. If He tells us to go to the ends of the earth with His message, we pack our bags. Christ is worthy of our faith, and faith leads to obedience.

God has a message in His Word for you—today. Urgently seek it, and then earnestly obey.

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The Reason for the Season

The Reason for the Season

"Why There Is Christmas"

He humbled Himself….
Philippians 2:8

The trappings of Christmas are wonderful—the colors, lights, bows, and wreaths. But it is possible to become trapped in the trappings and miss the Truth. And the Truth of Christmas is far better than its trappings. The Truth of Christmas is Christ.

In a sense, of course, Christmas is about us. God loved us, became flesh for us, died to forgive our sins, and rose to give us everlasting life. Christmas is the celebration of what Jesus did for us. But in return, we should make it all about Him: loving Him, serving Him, praising Him, and emulating His attitude of humility.

He humbled Himself to become human; in turn, Joseph and Mary put His interests before their own. The shepherds, too, put Him first. They left their flocks and bowed before Him. The Magi worshiped Him and presented Him with their gifts. In the temple, Anna and Simeon praised God because of Him. They gladly let Him be the central focus.

Let’s have ourselves a humble little Christmas. Don’t think so much of yourself today; think of Him and of others. Rededicate the remainder of your days on earth to serving Christ with humility that transcends the holidays.

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"O Holy Night" with choir and Charles Billingsley
3:35

"O Holy Night" with choir and Charles Billingsley

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A message by Dr. Jeremiah — "What to Do With Christmas"
28:59

A message by Dr. Jeremiah — "What to Do With Christmas"

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Why Call Him Savior?
34:01

Why Call Him Savior?

Christ has provided a way for our salvation.

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Why Mary?
30:48

Why Mary?

What kind of person does God use?

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Why There Must Be Christmas
33:10

Why There Must Be Christmas

Christmas is God's sign that He loves us in spite of our sinfulness

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Call Him Messiah
29:47

Call Him Messiah

Barriers that were broken by Jesus' genealogy

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SMCC Choir sings with Charles Billingsley "Down From His Glory"
3:36

SMCC Choir sings with Charles Billingsley "Down From His Glory"

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"O Holy Night" with choir and Charles Billingsley
3:35

"O Holy Night" with choir and Charles Billingsley

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Treat your guests to treats!

Treat your guests to treats!

Christmas Recipes for your guests

Cinnamon-Pumpkin Braid

Description: Thanks to refrigerated crescent roll dough, it's easy to make, and it looks like it came from a bakery.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Pastry:

  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 8-ounce tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half

For pastry, in a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds. Beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon until combined; set aside.

In another small bowl stir together pumpkin, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

On a large piece of parchment paper, unroll crescent dough. Pinch perforated holes together. Spread cream cheese mixture in a 3-inch wide strip lengthwise down the center of the dough. Evenly spread the pumpkin mixture on top of the cream cheese.

Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut 1-inch wide strips on long side of the dough without filling mixture, cutting from the outside edge of dough to the edge of filling. Alternately fold the cut strips of the dough up and over the filling at an angle, forming a braided pattern. Lightly press the ends together in the center to seal.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with coarse sugar. Sprinkle mixture over top of pastry. Bake 15 to 18 minutes.

For glaze, stir together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough half-and-half to be able to drizzle over the hot pastry. Cool slightly; slice and serve.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Description: White chocolate and dried cranberries make this colorful and delicious holiday cookie a delight for family and friends.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Blend together:

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

Add:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together:

  • 1 bag (6 ounce) of dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place rounded teaspoonfuls of dough on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down lightly.

Bake 10 minutes or until done.

Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Scones

Preheat oven to 400°F

Ingredients for scones:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients for topping:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • Shredded orange peel (if desired)
  1. Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
  2. In another bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, orange extract, and cranberries. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Mix with a fork until moistened.
  3. Empty dough onto a floured surface, and knead for 10 or 12 strokes, or until dough is smooth. Pat into a circle. Cut into 8 wedges (like a pizza). Place wedges one inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Brush wedges with 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Sprinkle with sugar and orange peel.
  5. Bake at 400 F for about 13-16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm with jam, preserves, cream, or a lemon curd.

Only 230 calories and 9 grams of fat for each scone.

Easy Crunch Bars

Description: These bars are a wonderful treat to have on hand during the Christmas season or to share as a gift.

Ingredients

  • 35 Saltine Crackers or 32 Club Crackers
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place crackers in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
  2. Place butter and sugar in saucepan; cook on medium-high heat until butter is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring occasionally. Bring to boil; boil 3 minutes without stirring. Spread over crackers.
  3. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate; let stand 5 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Spread chocolate evenly over ingredients in pan; sprinkle with nuts. Cool. Break into pieces.

White Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Description: A very special and delicious hot Christmas drink.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of white chocolate, chopped (milk or dark chocolate may be substituted for the white chocolate)
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 6 hard peppermint candies, crushed
  • 1/2 t. peppermint extract
  • 2/3 cup whipped cream

Directions

  • Beat chilled cream with crushed mints until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated.
  • Heat milk with 8 ounces of chocolate until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add mint extract and stir through. Pour into mugs and top with minty whipped cream.

Christmas Slushy Punch

Description: Delicious, slushy punch that will make any holiday party special.
Serves 50

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages of strawberry gelatin mix (cherry, or another flavor may be substituted)
  • 1 (46-ounce) can of pineapple juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 2 (2-liter) ginger ale or lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, and gelatin. Boil for three minutes. Stir in pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange juice. Divide mixture in half and freeze in two separate containers. One-gallon Ziploc bags work well.
  2. Two hours before you are ready to serve, take the first container out of the freezer and thaw slightly. You may wish to take both containers out at the same time or bring the second container out of the freezer sometime later in readiness for refills of the punch bowl. Bags may be placed in the microwave for a short time to slightly defrost mixture if needed.
  3. When ready to serve, place the frozen contents (partially defrosted) in a punch bowl and stir in 1 bottle of carbonated soda until the mixture is slushy. Enjoy.

For a “cherry-limeade” flavor use cherry Jell-O and substitute lime juice for the lemon juice.

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"Joy Banishes Fear"

"Joy Banishes Fear"

A Christmas devotional

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people."
Luke 2:10

The announcement of the birth of Jesus to the Bethlehem shepherds is a small picture of how life often works. The shepherds were involved in life as usual: they were tending their sheep in the fields. Suddenly, something unexpected happened, and their immediate response was fear. The first thing the angel of the Lord said to them was, “Do not be afraid.” They must have been cowering, covering their faces, at the sight of the glorious angel from heaven (Luke 2:10). Then their fear was replaced by joy based on the angel's message. Instead of fear, the angel offered the shepherds “good tidings of great joy” about the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Isn’t that the way life happens to us? Things are normal until something unexpected happens, and we respond in fear. But the joy that replaced the shepherds’ fear can be ours. Christmas is a time to remember that fear is banished by joyful faith in “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Don’t let an unexpected event create fear in your heart. Stay focused on the Christ Child whose birth you celebrate. Let “tidings of great joy” fill your heart with faith.

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"Shine On Us" sung by Holly Abeel
3:51

"Shine On Us" sung by Holly Abeel

Solo by Holly Abeel

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Christmas
Devotions from Dr. David Jeremiah

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Michael Sanchez sings "Mary Did You Know?"
3:19

Michael Sanchez sings "Mary Did You Know?"

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Gus and Gladys are back again!
8:27

Gus and Gladys are back again!

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Christmas Trivia Quiz

Christmas Trivia Quiz

Questions

  1. After leaving Bethlehem, to which country did Joseph, Mary, and Jesus travel?
  2. Name the original eight reindeer.
  3. Which country is credited with the creation of eggnog?
  4. What two phrases will you almost always find on Christmas gift tags?
  5. What is the name of Ebenezer Scrooge's partner from A Christmas Carol?
  6. Name four of the other names for Christmas.
  7. What is the most popular ornament used to place at the top of the Christmas tree?
  8. Two of the reindeer are named after weather phenomenon. Name the reindeer.
  9. Every elf has this ornament on the tip of their shoes. Which ornament are we talking about?
  10. Which was the first state in the United States to recognize Christmas as an official holiday?

Answers

  1. Egypt
  2. Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen, Dancer, and Donner
  3. England
  4. To and From
  5. Jacob Marley
  6. Noel, Nativity, Xmas, Yule
  7. Angel
  8. Donner, which means "thunder" in German, and Blitzen, which means "lightning"
  9. Bells
  10. Alabama
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Blanche is talking, but is Buzz listening?
7:39

Blanche is talking, but is Buzz listening?

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Journey to Bethelehem with Mary and Joseph

Journey to Bethelehem with Mary and Joseph

"The Long Christmas Journey"

Adam Estes, his wife, and six-month-old son planned to travel from Seattle, Washington, to New Zealand for Christmas. Seattle to Los Angeles, no problem. Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, no problem for the first fourteen hours of the flight. With less than an hour to go, the pilot informed the passengers that a major dust storm had closed the airport in Sydney. They would land in Brisbane, Australia, instead. That’s when Christmas became a nightmare.

After landing in Brisbane, passengers were held on the plane for two hours, then another two hours in the gate area. Because it was an international flight, no one was allowed to leave the terminal—so everybody was herded back onto the plane for another hour and a half. They finally took off (on a plane that hadn’t been cleaned or restocked with refreshments) for Sydney where, upon arrival, they began a ninety-minute holding pattern waiting for a chance to land. Once landing, they attempted to get a flight to New Zealand. They were bumped on five flights but eventually arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the early hours of the next day. At baggage claim, their bags (along with almost everybody else’s) were missing. Four days later they received their luggage (minus their checked baby stroller). A usual fifteen-hour flight turned into a 41-hour odyssey—not counting the four days of AWOL luggage—the stuff of Christmas horror stories.

You may have a Christmas travel story of your own. Many people do since the Christmas-to-New-Year window is the second busiest traveling time of the year, exceeded only by Thanksgiving travel. There is probably a version of Murphy’s Law that says the likelihood of holiday travel mishaps increases with the number of miles traveled.

So, Christmas presents the best opportunity for a glorious season to be interrupted by a travel nightmare. Even so, our Christmas travel challenges are nothing compared to those faced by a young couple in Galilee more than two thousand years ago.

Living With Mary and Joseph

The young couple I’m referring to is, of course, Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary. Let’s see what we can learn from their experience.

Travel. It appears that Mary and Joseph were compelled to travel from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea. That is, had it not been for Caesar Augustus declaring a census throughout the Roman Empire, they might not have left Nazareth at all (Luke 2:1).

The book of Luke tells us that Joseph was required to travel to Bethlehem to register for the census because Bethlehem was the birthplace of his forefather David (Luke 2:4; 1 Samuel 16:1). Mary, also of the house of David, set out with Joseph—sometimes on foot, sometimes, quite possibly, riding a donkey.

We say that Caesar Augustus was the cause of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem and giving birth to Jesus there. But consider this: God, through the prophet Micah, had predicted that from Bethlehem “shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

That meant, one way or another, Mary and Joseph were going to be in Bethlehem for the birth. And God used a decree from a political ruler that put them in David’s city at exactly the right time. Were Joseph and Mary aware of Micah’s prophecy? Did they understand it involved them? Did they see Caesar’s census as a divine means to God’s Messianic end? We don’t know.

But here’s what we do know: They didn’t resist the providential hand of God in their lives, even when it meant making a difficult trip. They trusted that God was in control of their travel plans.

Logistics. As the crow flies, it is about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But here’s how Mary and Joseph might have traveled: From Nazareth east to the Jordan River, crossing over into Perea to avoid going due south through Samaria. Traveling south along the east bank of the Jordan until reaching Jericho, they would cross into Judea. Then they would trek to Jerusalem and on to Bethlehem. This trip would have been more like 100 miles.

If they traveled an average of two miles per hour, it would have taken 50 traveling hours to walk 100 miles. If they traveled an average of eight hours per day, it would have taken 6.25 days to walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem. In other words, this trip would have required roughly one week's travel—on foot and by donkey—each direction. Round trip would have required two weeks.

Where did they sleep? Did they travel by day or by night when it was cooler? Where did they obtain food and replenish their water? Such travel obstacles were normal in that day, and they obviously knew what to do. But they didn’t have the benefit of searching online for fares and hotel vacancies or using maps on their smartphones as they traveled.

Seemingly, Joseph and Mary had a “God will supply” perspective on each stage of their nine-month adventure in faith. They seemed to know that “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)—a good word for us at Christmas as well.

People. The Bible doesn’t give us a lot of detail about Mary and Joseph’s interaction with friends and family when it became obvious that Mary was pregnant and unmarried. To her great credit, Mary’s relative, Elizabeth (the future mother of John the Baptist), rejoiced at the blessing Mary had received from God (Luke 1:39-45). Meanwhile, Joseph knew that Mary's pregnancy would result in serious disapproval, so he considered discreetly breaking his betrothal to her (Matthew 1:19). This was not part of God's plan. God intervened by speaking to Joseph through a dream; He assured Joseph that Mary had not become pregnant as a result of sin and that he should support her as her husband, which Joseph obediently did.

Christmas often throws all manner of people together at family, community, and workplace parties and gatherings. When we find ourselves mingling with people who do not view Christmas through a biblical lens, our task is simply to represent Christ faithfully. In the same way God blessed Mary and Joseph's faithfulness, He will bless us in our celebration of the true reason for the season.

The Unexpected. When you travel far from home with the expectation of sleeping in a hotel, and you find yourself lodging in a stable . . . that's the unexpected! Joseph and Mary's unexpected journey provides a beautiful picture of God's plan: the King of Glory entering our world amid scandalously humble circumstances is a timeless reminder of Jesus' unexpected ministry to mankind as a meek and mild servant.

What lessons can we draw from Mary and Joseph’s extraordinary circumstances and travel during the first Christmas season?

Learning From Mary and Joseph

Sadly, Christmas has become one of the most spiritually challenging seasons of the year. Much like Mary and Joseph, we often struggle with stress created by travel, logistics, and people. What can we do to stay spiritually focused regardless of what happens around us this Christmas?

Focus. Remember what—and Who—the purpose of Christmas really is. Christmas is not primarily a time to travel, spend money, buy presents, cook overflowing amounts of food, or hold family reunions. Christmas is about Jesus. It is about the Son of God entering this world to save us from our sins. Even if our circumstances are challenging, we can still worship Him.

Sovereignty. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Make the best Christmas plans possible—and leave room for God to change them if He has something better in store.

Provision. There’s a delicate balance between living within our means and trusting God to supply our needs. Don’t create post-Christmas stress by over-spending or over-indulging this Christmas. Mary and Joseph were a humble couple who traveled and lived accordingly, and God met their every need.

Love. Let love be your calling card this Christmas. Regardless of unexpected people and circumstances, let the God of love fill you with the Spirit of the season. In the end, the greatest gift—the greatest witness to a dying world—is love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

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Michael Sanchez sings "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
2:25

Michael Sanchez sings "Go Tell It on the Mountain"

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Dan and Jan "Christmas Chaos"
11:49

Dan and Jan "Christmas Chaos"

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"Twas the Month After Christmas"

"Twas the Month After Christmas"

A Dieter's Lament

Twas the month after Christmas and all through the house
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the eggnog I’d taste
All the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
As I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber),
I’d remember the marvelous meals I’d prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared.
The fudge and the cookies, the bread and the cheese
And the way I never once said, “No thank you, please.”
As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt…
I said to myself, as only I can
“You can’t spend the winter disguised as a man!”
So, away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruitcake, every cracker and chip
Every tidbit of food that I like must depart
Till the pounds are all lost and my willpower restarts.
I won’t have a cookie—not even a lick.
Instead I will chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or cornbread, or pie,
I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore…
But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!

Author unknown

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The Isaacs sing "Away in a Manger"
2:57

The Isaacs sing "Away in a Manger"

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Do you know your Christmas songs?

Do you know your Christmas songs?

Christmas Name That Tune Matching Game

Songs Answers
1. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! _______________
2. Carol of the Bells _______________
3. Silent Night _______________
4. O Holy Night _______________
5. We Three Kings _______________
6. The Christmas Song _______________
7. Joy to the World _______________
8. Angels We Have Heard on High _______________
9. Feliz Navidad _______________
10. O Come, All Ye Faithful _______________
11. The First Noel _______________
12. Here Comes Santa Claus _______________
13. White Christmas _______________
14. Holly Jolly Christmas _______________
15. Blue Christmas _______________
16. O Christmas Tree _______________
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen _______________
18. The Little Drummer Boy _______________
19. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas _______________
20. What Child Is This? _______________
21. Bonus: We Wish You a Merry Christmas _______________

Clues

  1. Sung by Burl Ives
  2. Composed by Jule Styne during a hot summer in Southern California
  3. 1957 hit by Elvis Presley
  4. Based upon a Ukranian folk chant
  5. Most published Christmas hymn in North America; written by Isaac Watts
  6. Famously known for its chorus: Gloria in Excelsis Deo
  7. 1970 song written and performed by Jose Feliciano
  8. Latin title is "Adeste Fideles"
  9. Originating in France, this song could be called "The First Christmas" in English
  10. Austrian Franz Gruber wrote this hymn in 1818
  11. Based upon a French poem that reflects on the birth of Jesus and humanity's redemption
  12. Judy Garland performed and premiered this song in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis
  13. This 1865 song was set to the English folk song "Greensleeves"
  14. This 1857 hymn is also known as "The Quest of the Magi"
  15. A traditional English carol, it was referred to by Charles Dickens in his 1843 play "A Christmas Carol"
  16. 1824 German carol, "O Tannenbaum"
  17. The tradition detailed in this song was for English carolers to sing outside the homes of wealthy people, who would then provide them food and drink
  18. Co-written by Mel Torme, this song is most famous for the recording by Nat King Cole
  19. Happy song for children and written and performed by Gene Autry
  20. Most famously sung by Bing Crosby, written by Irving Berlin
  21. First sung by the Trapp Family, but best known by the Harry Simeone Chorale recording

Answer Key:

  1. B
  2. D
  3. J
  4. K
  5. N
  6. R
  7. E
  8. F
  9. G
  10. H
  11. I
  12. S
  13. T
  14. A
  15. C
  16. P
  17. O
  18. U
  19. L
  20. M
  21. Bonus: Answer Q "We Wish You A Merry Christmas!"
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