It seems a little early to be thinking about reflections on Christmas, but since I am writing a book about Christmas, I have found my mind exploring the subject rather thoroughly.
Having grown up in a ‘Christian’ country, I have many pleasant memories about this day. Not so much as a child. I do remember some of those. But as an adult I have had several important Christmas’s.
There was the first Christmas I was home from four years of serving my country in the Navy. It had been an eventful four years including spending time off Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Although deep within the ship, I experienced war. At one time, our ship was used as a decoy to lure North Vietnamese artillery to shoot at us. When they did, our more powerful ships stationed just out of the range of the North Vietnamese lambasted them. We weren’t hit.
Coming home to civilian life and enjoying my first Christmas with family was special.
There was the first Christmas I had with my wife Teresa in 1981. To celebrate such an important holiday with the love of my life was not just special, it was one of the happiest of my life!
Over the years I have spent a lot of Christmas’s with Teresa. We have enjoyed that day wherever we were.
But there is one more wonderful than any of these.
More about this on the other side of this break.
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Now back to the article.
In 1973 I worked for Western Electric, which installed and removed telephone equipment from AT&T buildings or AT&T customer offices. I was an installer assigned to Kalamazoo, Michigan as part of a crew removing equipment.
When I arrived for my expected 13-week assignment, I found a motel room at Best Western in the city of Portage, south of Kalamazoo. Because I lived across the state in Pontiac, Michigan, I would drive home on Friday night or Saturday morning and then turn around and head back Sunday night.
In those days I attended a Baptist church in Pontiac called First Baptist Church. I attended regularly. So, I would go to my home in Pontiac, live there, go to church, and then head back for Kalamazoo.
You might think that odd, but I was young and able to do that.
Only a few years earlier I had been in a car wreck that severely damaged my car, but I survived. That accident made me realize how fragile life was and I began to doubt whether I was a Christian. I was born in America, had attended church as a child until our family dropped out, and was going to church at this time. I thought I was a Christian and resisted anything that said different. Still, there were doubts.
The church I attended always talked about salvation by grace. The preacher talked about knowing Jesus as your Savior, which I didn’t really understand. But when I started working in Kalamazoo, I decided to find a local Baptist church where I could worship on Wednesdays. And I found such a church in Mattawan, west of Kalamazoo and south of I-94.
I have forgotten the name of the church and it has undoubtedly changed over the years. It was then in a building phase, but most important it was independent and fundamental.
It was while talking to the Pastor of that church on what I thought was an unrelated matter that he quoted a verse that shook me to the core. When I got back to my motel room, I opened my Bible and started reading that verse. It completely wiped away my arguments on the other matter and opened my mind up to my own preacher, Pastor Bob Shelton and his preaching on salvation.
And then I remembered a phrase he often said, “Blessed is the man who can remember when he got saved.”
So, now I couldn’t even remember any time of my getting saved! The more Scripture I read, the more perturbed I got until I realized that although I attended church regularly, read my Bible regularly, and knew a lot of doctrine, I was not saved and, instead, headed for hell!
That night I fell upon my knees by my bedside. I didn’t know a lot of Scripture back then. I enjoyed reading the Bible and I loved history, but I didn’t know Romans 3:10, which says that, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one.” Nor did I know Romans 3:23, which says, ““For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Those two verses took care of any self-righteousness I felt. And then there was Romans 6:23, which says, “For the wages of sin is death…” There is more to that verse, but the first seven words stuck in my mind. I realized for the first time in my life that I was lost and heading to a devil’s hell!
As I knelt there, I asked Jesus into my life. I wish I had someone to guide me, but I was alone in my room with the only One I needed. Again, I didn’t have a great knowledge of Scripture. In Roman’s 10:9, it says, “That if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
But then came the clincher! In Roman’s 10:13, it says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” While I didn’t know that verse, I had heard the gospel Sunday after Sunday. My pastor was faithful in preaching the gospel and now while my knowledge and understanding was still weak, I asked Jesus into my heart.
And guess what?
He accepted my prayer and received me into His family!
That was in 1973 and believe me that Christmas meant something far beyond the traditions, the gifts, and the partying. It is Christ’s birthday even though he wasn’t born on the 25th! I know that December 25th is not really His birthday and I point that out in my book. But it is a time when I can reflect upon my Savior!
It is still three months away. But I am getting excited about it.
In a few weeks I will be publishing my book on Christmas. It is small being only 5×8 and around 130 pages. But it is loaded with facts from both secular and Biblical sources. And it marks a serious entry into nonfiction for me.
It is true that I’ve written nonfiction books before, but this time I intend to write at least two series and maybe more.
In the meantime, I wish you all a great time and though it is 3 months away, I hope you have a blessed Christmas!
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