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Take It To Heart
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Ornamental Occasion
By Laura L. Shaw

What?!? Twenty-five dollars? For an ORNAMENT?

I have to admit it--I have a weakness for Christmas tree decorations, but I drew the line when I saw this ornament in the department store the other day. It was the most original one I had ever seen--glass in the shape of a teardrop, with etched gold curling in a spiral pattern all the way around the edge--the perfect balance of tastefulness and originality. It would be placed front and centre on my tree, and those noticing it would comment on its beauty.

The price tag was nowhere to be found, though, so I waited in line, three people back, in order to get the price from the cashier. Imagine my surprise when I got to her and she said, "This is our original brand. It's a bargain at $25.00."

'No way,' I ranted inside my brain. I was so disgusted with the price that I didn't even offer to put it back. Instead I said, "Thanks anyway," and stalked out in a huff, leaving it on the counter. At least my bitter thoughts did not roll off my tongue!

Hours later, with the whole scene still mulling through my head, the Lord brought a convicting thought to my spirit.

That first Christmas was celebrated so differently from how we celebrate it now. There was nothing ornamental about it, other than THE Ornament, which was Jesus Himself. He was not wrapped up in bows, but in a simple cloth. The scene was not lit up with blinking, chasing lights, but illuminated by the stars alone. There was no finely decorated fir tree with pine-scented potpourri filling the room; instead, the air was filled with the odors of animals and hay.

Yet, even without such sparkling accessories, that first Christmas was the most beautiful and glowing Christmas of all time. The presence of Jesus is what made it so magnificent.

The Holy Spirit also showed me that this doesn't just apply at Christmas, but to every other month of the year as well. We decorate ourselves in so many ways, don't we? Not just in our outward appearance, but also in our hearts and minds. We do so with such things as jewelry, fashionable clothes, a fake sense of humor, flattery and pride.

This is the opposite of the example Jesus set for us when He was on the earth. He was humble and genuine in every way, pointing to God and His Word every time He spoke. My heart's desire is to do the same.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT)

No frills about it: Jesus is the grandest Ornament of them all. His beauty will shine through us as we ask Him to redirect our attempts to decorate our lives with anything other than Himself.

Let's wrap ourselves in His glorious image today!
LAURA SHAW is a wife and a mommy of three. She is the founder of lovinthearts.com, a web ministry to encourage spiritual growth in the family of believers. Her ministry passions include leading Kids' Worship and writing. If you would like to write to Laura, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.
Where is Joseph?
By Verna Cole Mitchell

Christmas was coming, and my heart was full of joy.

Setting up the crèche each year always brings a special happiness as I celebrate the birth of the Savior, but this year something was different; a figure was missing. I could not find Joseph anywhere. Where could he be?

I searched high and low, and in between, till finally I found him, fallen down in the dark recesses behind the table. When I placed his figure beside the manger, the tableau was complete.

I began to reflect on the importance of Joseph in the life of our Lord, as it is revealed in the Scriptures. God honored Joseph by letting him be the earthly father to His own Son. He must have had great confidence that Joseph would care for Jesus and train Him in the way He should go. Although, I imagine Joseph might not have chosen his role in life.

Though he did not plan to marry a young woman already pregnant, Joseph was obedient to God's will for him, as revealed by an angel. He protected Jesus, he presented Him for consecration, and he took Him to the temple for instruction. Along with Mary, Joseph marveled at what was said about Jesus.

While Joseph does not hold the place of honor among men equal to that of Mary, he is an example to all of the importance of filling the place God has chosen for us. We must be open to the leading of the Lord to make complete the tableau of our lives. It is good to know that if we fall into dark recesses, God will lift us up and put us where we should be.

My prayer is to be, like Joseph--obedient to God's will.
VERNA COLE MITCHELL is a retired teacher, who is so grateful to God for all his blessings. Her desire is to honor God with her life and with her words. If you would like to write to Verna, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.