Pause and think about it!

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A few years ago, I posted the following story of Santa in an Alabaster Box Publication and later included it in my book East of Bethlehem.

About 25 years ago Noah and Laura, two of my students, gave me a treasured Christmas gift: a Santa kneeling at the manger worshipping Jesus.

I am well aware that there are those who would like to eradicate the legend of Santa, but he does typify what every Christian should be like for He is described as being full of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, and faith.

The Santa custom actually began as a person named Nicholas who was born around the year 300 A.D. in what is now Turkey. He was a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. When his parents died and he inherited their wealth, he simply gave it away in the form of gifts—primarily to poor children. If the recipient discovered his identity, he would request that they tell no one. From this came the custom of gifts coming from an unnamed Santa. We should not lie to our children about who Santa is, but enjoy the custom while making certain we teach them that Christmas is all about God giving His Son Jesus to deliver us from our sin and bring us into His family.

St. Nicholas, the generous gift-giver, was a church leader throughout his life and known for his warm personality, his compassionate spirit, and boldness in preaching. In later generations his death on December sixth was celebrated by giving gifts. Christians were already celebrating the birth of Jesus on a Roman festival day December 25, and at some point along the way, the St. Nicholas remembrance became a part of the Christmas celebration with the exchange of gifts as a reminder of the greatest gift of all—Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we meet the Wise Men—kings from the East—who recognized Jesus as God’s gift to them and brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Likewise we acknowledge the gift that others are to us by giving something appropriate to them. It may be a gift of time, thanksgiving, a card, or something of substance. A gift is not given with the expectation of receiving a gift in return but rather in the spirit of having already received something. It is more blessed to give than to receive. St. Nicholas’ life reflected this attitude of heart. He is known as Jolly old St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, Papa Noel, Father Christmas, and various other names in different countries and languages.

It is difficult to find a person who looks happier than a “Santa” with his twinkling eyes and joyful laugh. It is difficult to find a person so eager and ready to give to others with no thought of getting something in return. It is difficult to find a person so willing to forgive and be gracious to the smallest of offenders. Yet, these are precisely the characteristics that we Christians are to have day after day; they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If people all ages are drawn to these characteristics in Santa, how much more are they drawn to spirit-filled Christians who are in circulation 365 days a year rather than just a few days around Christmas time.

During the Christmas season, each time we see his symbol, let’s remember the life of St. Nicholas who gave himself and his wealth and time to those around him as he served Jesus. Perhaps someone will look at you this Christmas and say, “Hi Santa, I see Jesus in you!” The Santa in our house should be filled with Ho-Ho-Ho laughter that does our heart good like medicine. Such joy comes from knowing Jesus and is kept in manifestation by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Thank the Lord for St. Nicholas who worshipped Jesus and whose unselfish life continues to point us to Jesus Christ—the Greatest Gift ever given. No matter how good anyone may appear to be, how perfect, how jovial, or how benevolent, only Jesus is the real source of these characteristics for He alone is the giver of the abundant life. Above all else, JESUS IS THE CENTER AND FOCUS OF CHRISTMAS. May all of our activities and celebrations point to HIM.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. This is the first time I’ve had my picture taken with a Mall Santa, but it goes with the above story about how I relate to him. -December 2016

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Above article adapted and expanded from East of Bethlehem, Chapter 13, by C. Yvonne Karl. Brentwood Press, 2003.  (yvonnekarl@gmail.com)

 

 

 

 

Gus is home with Jesus

On February 7, 2012, Gus heard the doctor say that he had cancer in his pancreas and liver, and on March 17, 2012 he left earth for his home with Jesus. Gus was 84 and still looked like he did when I met him nearly 35 years ago. He and Diane have been diligent to walk every day and eat healthy all the years I’ve known them. This year in May they would have celebrated their 47th anniversary. Between them they have seven children, plus one adopted child, 22 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren—more now since this article was written.  Their testimony is one of being totally transformed by the grace of God.

Both had failed marriages early in their life and Gus was a confirmed alcoholic. But they encountered the true and living God and their lives were changed for eternity. What AA did not do for Gus, Jesus did; and, as he testified, in an instant he was delivered from alcohol addiction. Since then, he and Diane spent their lives helping others. Although he rarely mentioned it, he was ordained as a minister by his pastor at the Lord’s House in the 1970’s.

While doing prison ministry they met a pregnant lady who asked them to take her baby at birth and raise her. Their consent did not come easy. By this time, they had raised their seven children and all were married and had families of their own. They cried out to God for His leading and, after dying to self, they agreed. Baby Willetta was born prematurely. She was kept in the NICU for several weeks then released to Gus and Diane. When Willetta was just over a year old, her birth mother was released from prison and Gus and Diane brought her to live with them. Within a short time, she ran back to her former life and ended back up in prison. After a while, Gus and Diane were granted permanent custody of Willetta and finally when she was 12 years old, they were permitted to finalize her adoption. What a happy, happy girl. She loves her parents so much; and Jesus is more than life to her. She is a blessing to her family, her friends, and her church. She graduated from Teen Mania Honor Academy in Texas and spent some time on a mission trip to China.

Over their 46 years of marriage, Gus and Diane continued to be active in church, Bible Studies, and volunteering time for miscellaneous jobs that needed to be done around the church as well as for numerous people at home. His hobby was carving small crosses out of wood and making them into necklaces that he gave away. Many of us had the privilege of spending some time with them in the summer at their cottage in the Upper Peninsula.

If ever a man loved a woman and a woman loved a man, it was Gus and Diane. They did everything together after he retired. They fasted every Thursday for their children. They were on the lookout for people they could help—especially the less fortunate. They brought joy wherever they went.

Thank You Jesus for the life of Gus and Diane Hassenrik. We’ve all been touched by You through their lives. Give us more couples like them! Thank You for the strength and grace you give to Diane as she continues to bring glory to You on this journey of life without her husband. 

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

http://www.alabasterbox.org

 

Creepy Teachers, Sneaky Libertines, and our Glorious God

by C. Yvonne Karl

Click on title below to read Summary

Jude Class #7-Jude Summary

The birth of our son, Robert J. Karl

Sometimes we are tempted to falter and lose confidence as we face the scarecrows of our past. There was one such a scarecrow in my family tree.

My grandmother’s firstborn child was a baby girl, my mother. Soon grandmother gave birth to a baby boy, Denver Lee, who died at age two of complications from pneumonia.

My mother’s firstborn child was also a baby girl: yours truly, Carol Yvonne. Her second child was a boy, Charles Ray, who died from complications of the Rh factor when he was less than two days old.

Now, I was the third generation and, just like my grandmother and my mother, my firstborn child was a baby girl, Caroline Julia. More than four years later, I had a positive pregnancy test indicating our second child was on the way. The trial was here. The scarecrow was staring me in the face. Would family history be repeated?

Imagine the fear that was grabbing my mother. When I was about 24 weeks pregnant, three doctors could get no heartbeat and the ultrasounds lent suspicions that I was carrying a fast-growing tumor rather than a live fetus.

I went home from that appointment and shared the gloomy news with my husband. About that time, there was a knock at the door. A somewhat inebriated and elderly Lou Myers had come to ask for prayer. My husband invited him in and shared that it looked like we weren’t having a baby after all. He told Lou: “I’ll pray for you, and you pray with us that if it’s God’s will we’ll have this baby.” Lou responded quickly: “I don’t give you a dime for those preachers that say if it’s God’s will; you know it’s God’s will for you to have this baby.” And he began to pray: “Thank You God for giving Pastor and Mrs. Karl a healthy baby boy.” (We had hoped for a boy.)

While the doctors were planning to surgically eliminate the tumor, God was doing something in me. A few days later, the doctor said, “Whoa! No heartbeat, but it sounds like we might have a placenta swish here. Let’s wait a few days and see what develops.” Less than four months later, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1978, my handsome son was born.

Had three doctors been wrong in their diagnosis? Or had God turned the tumor into a live fetus? In my mind, I’ll always believe God did a miracle.

Oh, the fiery trial wasn’t over yet. The pediatrician came to my hospital room that evening to inform me that my son had an incurable blood disease. More prayer. My husband went to a pastors’ conference where he requested prayer for our newborn.

After an extended stay in the hospital, the doctor allowed us to bring our baby home on the condition that I bring him in for daily blood monitoring. He advised removal of his spleen because of the blood disease. However, before the surgery was scheduled to take place, something miraculous happened.

One day after taking the slide to the lab to test our baby’s blood, the doctor returned to the room with a huge smile on his face. There was no trace of the blood disease. It had totally disappeared, and tests repeated over the next few weeks showed no trace of it.

At age six, Robert made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout his school years he excelled in academics, and at age eighteen he graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry/Bio-Chemistry. At age twenty-one he graduated from medical school. He is a family practice physician and has a beautiful Christian wife and three gorgeous, healthy, young  children.

The curse is broken.

To God be the glory. “He does all things well” (Mark 7:37).

“Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

Who is Jesus Christ to Whom we give thanks? 

In Genesis, He is The Promised Seed of the woman.
In Exodus, He is the Passover lamb.
In Leviticus, He is the high priest.
In Numbers, He is the star to rise out of Jacob.
In Deuteronomy, He is the two laws: love God and love your neighbor.
In Joshua, He is the captain of the hosts.
In Judges, He is the covenant angel named “Wonderful.”
In Ruth, He is the kinsman redeemer.
In Samuel, He is the root and offspring of David.
In Kings, He is the greater than the temple.
In Chronicles, He is the king’s son.
In Ezra and Nehemiah, He is the Rebuilder.
In Esther, He is the savior of God’s people.
In Job, He is the Daysman.
In Psalms, He is the song.
In Proverbs, He is the wisdom of God.
In Ecclesiastes, He is the one among the thousand.
In Song of Solomon, He is the bridegroom of the bride.
In Isaiah, He is Jacob’s branch.
In Jeremiah, He is our righteousness.
In Lamentations, He is the unbeliever’s judgment.
In Ezekiel, He the true shepherd.
In Daniel, He is the stone that became the head of the corner.
In Hosea, He is the latter rain.
In Joel, He is God’s dwelling in Zion.
In Amos, He is the raiser of David’s tabernacle.
In Obadiah, He is the deliverer on Mount Zion.
In Jonah, He is our salvation.
In Micah, He is the lord of kings.
In Nahum, He is the stronghold in the time of trouble.
In Habakkuk, He is our joy and confidence.
In Zephaniah, He is our mighty lord.
In Haggai, He is the desire of the nations.
In Zechariah, He is our servant, the branch.
In Malachi, He is the Son of righteousness.

In Matthew, He is Jehovah’s messiah.

In Mark, He is Jehovah’s servant.

In Luke, He is Jehovah’s man.

In John, He is the Son of God

In Acts, He is the Builder of the Church

In Romans, He is the Justifier of him who believes

In 1 Corinthians, He is the first-fruits from among the dead

In 2 Corinthians, He is the unspeakable gift

In Galatians, He is the Seed of Abraham

In Ephesians, He is head of the church

In Philippians, He is the supplier of every need

In Colossians, He is the preeminent One

In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, He is the returning Lord

In 1 Timothy, He is God manifest in the flesh

In 2 Timothy, He is the Lord, the righteous judge

In Titus, He is the Blessed Hope

In Philemon, He is Savior of Slaves

In Hebrews, He is the High Priest

In James, He is the royal law.

In 1 Peter, He is the chief shepherd

In 2 Peter, He is the day star arising in our heart

In 1 John, He is our Advocate

In 2 John, He is the confession of one who is true

In 3 John, He is source of prosperity

In Jude, He is the beloved.

In Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Several variations of this can be found on the internet and in various book collections with no mention anywhere of the source.

(Also quoted in Chapter 25 of Yvonne’s Book, East of Bethlehem, 2003).

The following article was written on my return from Israel in April 2006.

Click here:  My Experience at the Tomb

The following article was published in 2009, ten years after my husband’s move to His Heavenly Father’s House.

These last ten years

Our last family picture – Christmas Eve dinner at the church  1998

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As a child, I grew up in the beautiful hills of West Virginia then lived in Indiana, Louisville, and finally more than three decades near the gorgeous orchards of Michigan.* In all those places, there was an excitement for Autumn to come to bring relief from the heat and humidity of the summer but also for the opportunity to enjoy the extravaganza of the tree leaves changing from green to vivid colors.  Several years ago it dawned upon me what was really happening.  Click on the article title below to read my thoughts.

The Dance of Leaves

 

*Yvonne has lived in Nevada since 2006.