ETERNAL INK +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The articles within this publication remain the copyrights of the authors. Any permission to reproduce any article, in any format, must be granted by the author. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Editor-in-Chief of Eternal Ink - Mary-Ellen Grisham - meggy88@... Administrative Editor - David Davis - fishercaster@... Devotions Editor - Annettee Budzban - ahrtwrites2u@... Features Editor - Carl Phillips - CarlPhil10@... Special Materials Editor - Ivie Bozeman - ivie@... Poetry Editor - Elizabeth (Betty) Pearson - roybet630@... Eternal Ink Web Site - www.eternal-ink.com ISSN#: 1528-9605 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Table of Contents 1) Mary-Ellen's Note 2) Devotion 3) Seasonal Poetry - Contest Winners 4) Seasonal Feature 5) Light Moments 6) Seasonal Prose - Contest Winner 7) Prayer Requests 8) Inspirational Story 9) Christmas Smiles 10) Memorable Words/Closing Words ISSN#: l528-9605 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1) Mary-Ellen's Note As the advent season comes upon us once again, we begin to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of Jesus' birth. He is the best gift. His saving Love in our hearts is an everlasting present and Presence. When Mary first heard from the angel Gabriel that she was with child, she was astonished, but she assured the angel that she was "the Lord's servant." As she visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who is then carrying John the Baptist, Mary is filled with joy as her cousin confirms the uniqueness of the coming Babe. Elizabeth calls Mary "blessed" and pours out her praise with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Mary then replies with the beautiful song that begins, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...." (Luke 1: 46-47 NIV) The wonder and awe that Mary must have felt over the coming of Jesus, the Savior of the World, must have been immense. We can, through empathy, feel her amazement, feel the blessedness, and understand the enormity of the Gift. How she must have cherished each day of preparation for the birth of the Lord, how she must have prayed for Joseph's acceptance and love. May we prepare our hearts with the same joy, acceptance, and love for the reenactment of Jesus' most blessed birth. "Glory to God in the Highest!" +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 2) Devotion Unopened Gifts By Annettee Budzban "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in various forms." - 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) When I was a young girl, we had big Christmas celebrations. My mother invited many family members and friends. Gifts were bought for all who would attend. Occasionally someone was unable to attend; their gift was left sitting unopened under the tree. I remember longing to see what was in those unexposed packages. I was almost tempted to take a peek myself. I thought the fun of gifts was being able to see them unwrapped. . . Just as those gifts sat unopened under our tree, some people never bother to unwrap or use their gifts and talents. They just sit there - never possessed, used or enjoyed. We all need the enjoyment of seeing those gifts unwrapped, for ourselves, as well as others. The Lord blesses each of us with unique gifts and talents that should be used to honor Him. In Exodus 35, God called the Israelites to come and use their gifts to help build the temple. It says, "Both men and women came, all who were willing-hearted." Recognizing our gifts helps us to use them properly. It may be your voice, your hands, or your ability to listen. I know a woman who loves to bake. She uses her gift to give pies to newcomers at her church. My friend Sue knows that she doesn't like to cook. So she stays away from volunteering to make a meal, but uses her talent of hospitality to open her home for a church meeting. Not only are our vocations in life gifts, but our positions are, too. Our ability to be a good a spouse, parent, or friend, are all important gifts. The gift of leadership helps us to lead our family, or moves us into a management position. Many people think going to work is just a routine, and never realize that they are in essence using their gift Our Christmas tree represents Christ. We sit under His authority, just as those presents sat underneath our tree. We need to sit beneath Him and open our gifts. With time the people came to open those gifts that were left under our tree. Take a look at your life, and examine what gifts you have left unopened. (c)2003 Annettee Budzban ahrtwrites2u@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 3) Seasonal Poetry - Contest Winners FIRST PLACE WINNER - Eternal Ink Holiday Poetry Contest, 2004 WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM By Betty Jo Mings Before the precious Lamb of God came down to dwell on earth, Before the angel choruses proclaimed His royal birth, Before the bright and shining star illumined where He lay, Before the shepherds worshipped Jesus on His bed of hay, Some wise men there were waiting as they watched the eastern sky, For promised signs to signal that His birth was truly nigh. He came to be a sacrifice for all the sins of men, And when he rose up from the grave, He said, "I'll come again." He promised He would take His children home to Heaven's shore, Where there will be no sorrow -- only joy forevermore. So still the wise men of today are looking to the sky, And longing for the time when their redemption will draw nigh. No man can know the day or hour when Jesus will return, But for that blessed homeward journey, hearts still wait and yearn. He wants us to be ready, with our lamps all trimmed and bright, As daily we walk close to Him, by faith and not by sight. Perhaps today will be the day when we shall see His face, And bow in humble gratitude for all His love and grace. The night is almost over, and the dawn is breaking fast, So we must walk in faith until we're with our Lord at last. (c)2004 Betty Jo Mings bmings@... THIRD PLACE WINNER - EI Holiday Poetry Contest, 2004 HEED THE CALL By Gary J. Smith Another Christmas come and gone Loved ones still, unsaved Opportunities to share the Word of God And tell of His saving Grace. A prayer that God would touch their hearts Draw them to the Lord A prayer that they would see less of self See that Christ - adored. A little simple love and care Tenderness of heart To show to them the greatest love Our Saviour did impart. That God above should so allow This precious charge to man Delights my soul, what wondrous love In God's almighty plan. The greatest gift, the greatest love The greatest life of all To be used of God again and again, To bring salvation's call. Another year, another chance Another soul to tell Oh, give me Lord a contrite heart Warning others about hell. May I see not my needs only And leave others cast aside But may I enter into their suffering Joys and sacrifice. May your blessing be on my life As I surrender all to You. May this New Year bring dear Lord A sinner born anew. (c)2004 Gary J. Smith birches@... Note: The Second Place Winner in the EI Holiday Poetry Contest, Deborah Dee Simmons with "God's Other Blessings," was published in the last edition of Eternal Ink, November 19, 2004. For all poetry winners, see the forum topics, center of the page, at the EI site: www.eternal-ink.com +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 4) Seasonal Feature WINTER APPROACHES BY IVIE BOZEMAN Thanksgiving is now behind us and Christmas lies ahead. If we celebrated the season with thankful and joyful hearts, the soil of our hearts should be fertile for the planting of the Advent seeds, preparing us to receive the Christ child in our hearts. Isn't it wonderful that God changes the times and the seasons, adding spice to our lives that otherwise could grow dull as we settle into unchanging ruts? God is such a great artist, changing the scenes in different colors several times a year. Now that autumn is drawing to a close, he is sprinkling white over the greens and browns in many areas of our country. Here in the southern part of the country, where the white is not splashed so generously, the leaves are removed from the trees, revealing silhouettes of trunks and limbs tantalizing to the artist's mind. Each of our four seasons offers fresh and vital insights for those who take the time to examine their world in detail. Hidden beneath the surface, we find truths that touch different areas of our lives, encouraging us to probe its mysteries, play its melodies, explore the sights, smells, feelings and fantasies that are ours for enjoyment. As we stand on the threshold of winter, let's pause and consider what lies ahead. For most of us at this time of the year, our thoughts turn toward Christmas, the New Year, and then the long month of January. The holidays add color and excitement, and the new year brings time to rest and reflect. February brings into our minds memories of red Valentines. Along toward the end of the month, seed catalogs begin to arrive and people dream about springtime. By the time March arrives, spring fever has afflicted everyone. In different parts of the world, seasons are shorter. Some have little change at all, but the Creator is neither silent nor careless, as he alters or changes his seasons. Seasons are designed to deepen us, making us more flexible and aware of nature's great mysteries. Seasonal change instructs us in the wisdom and knowledge of our Creator. Like a plant, man needs the gifts of the sun, the rain, the earth and its gifts to help him grow into the creation he was intended to be. In addition to Christmas, the New Year, and Valentine, winter offers a lot more. For skiers and snow lovers, this is the best season of the year. For those who vacation on the sunny beaches of the part of the world designed by the Tropic of Cancer, it is a wonderful time. Some folks like to stay at home, sit before a crackling fire, read, play cards, sew, quilt, knit, crochet or paint while listening to music or the television. For some, watching winter sports on television is as good as life gets. For many of the world's people, a year without winter would be very disappointing. Winter can be the ideal time to slow down if you are living in the fast lane. It is a good time for new beginnings. What better motivation can a person have than the gift of a New Year stretching forth before us? The week between Christmas and the New Year allows time for introspection, as well as dreams of beginning anew. For some people the thought of winter creates feelings of depression. These barren times are not unique to the winter---they can come at any season of the year. Those barren times come, but they also pass. The earth's resting in winter prepares for the beauty of spring. Take each season by faith; and when it is over, a new one comes and you will be wiser, deeper and stronger for having passed this way. (c)2004 Ivie Bozeman ivie@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 5) Light Moments ~~Now here's a Philosophy for life!!! Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark. One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting. Author Unknown ~~ CHRISTMAS IS JESUS' BIRTHDAY "Mommy, what is Christmas?" asked the small boy. His mother carefully explained that Christmas is Jesus' birthday. "Then why don't we give gifts to Jesus if it's His birthday?" Mother explained the tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts as expression of our love for each other, and that seemed to satisfy the little fellow. The subject didn't come up again until Christmas Eve, when a sleepy little boy placed a package under the Christmas tree on his way to bed and explained that it was a birthday gift for Jesus. He was sure that He would open it during the night while he slept. After he went to sleep, the mother, not wanting her son to be disappointed, opened the clumsily wrapped package, and found the box empty. On Christmas morning, the little boy was thrilled to find the package had been opened and his gift was gone. "What was in it?" asked his confused mother. "It was a box full of love," was the answer. How childlike. How Christlike. Story shared by Helen Parks, 2003 Many of our readers will remember Helen Parks as the gracious and lovely Christian poet who shared so many poems and stories with us. Helen was in a nursing home the last I heard and unable to use the Internet, but I did want to remember her this year...and one of her favorite Christmas anecdotes. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 6) Seasonal Prose - Contest Winner Our second place winner in the Eternal Ink Holiday Prose Contest was Craig Sands with "Let It Snow"--an inspirational essay about the inter-connection of the season and our faith in Jesus. Let It Snow By Craig Sands At this time of year, the mundane is replaced by the magical. The sights and sounds of the season are everywhere; lights twinkle on trees adorned by shimmering ornaments of every shape and size and choirs resound the joyous refrain of "peace on earth, good will to men." Another sight and sound makes the season an especially enchanting experience. To some of us, it's just not Christmas without it. Some have even shared their fondness for it in songs such as "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," and "Let It Snow." This Florida boy shares these songwriters' fondness of snow. Christmases during childhood were just not the same without it. Oh sure, I rejoiced in the thought of taking a break from the drudgery of school work and I reveled in the presents; the snow, however, came from cans and snowmen, made of plastic, came from the local department store. My introduction to this cold, wet white stuff of myths and legends came at last. It was my first semester in college. My roommates knew that I had never seen snow. So, they decided to help me out. I still remember waking up that morning feeling colder and wetter than normal. Wondering what was going on, I reached beneath the covers only to find that I had been snowed! My roommates, proving they were the gracious guys I knew them to be, all stood around my bed laughing. Though it has been many years since the day I was introduced to snow, it has never lost its appeal to me. I still delight in seeing a snowflake and throwing a snowball, and I take great pleasure in watching my yard fill up with snow. In those moments when my yard, my street and my world are transformed by its brilliant brightness, I can't help but reflect on what God said to Isaiah: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). Just think of it. What the transforming power of snow can do for a yard, the transforming power of God's forgiveness can do for a heart. The awfulness of our sin can be covered by the awesomeness of God's forgiveness making us as pure as the new-driven snow in His eyes. That's the true reason for the season. The reason why Jesus came to earth and why there can be "peace on earth, good will to men." Many have experienced the transforming power of snow by simply looking out their living room windows. To experience the transforming power of God's forgiveness, however, we must first admit we are sinners in need of "a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." This Christmas season, let God's forgiveness transform your heart even if snow doesn't happen to transform your yard. In other words, "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!" (c)2004 Craig Sands csands714@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 7) Prayer Requests Especially at this holiday season, let us once again renew our earnest prayers for the men and women in the United States Armed Services. Many will be far from home during this most blessed season, and as they fight for us, we should be remembering them and their sacrifices for their country. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 8) Inspirational Story As we approach this holiday season, families that have loved ones in the Armed Services of the United States of America miss them. I am sure these families say many prayers for these young people. The story below, though not seasonal, carries the hope and faith that many families wish for their loved ones overseas. The Deck of Cards It was quiet that day; the guns and the mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn't been heard. The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the holiest day of the week. As he was sitting there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk. Just then an army sergeant came in and said, "Why aren't you with the rest of the platoon?" The soldier replied, "I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord." The sergeant said, "Looks to me like you're going to play cards." The soldier said, "No, sir. You see, since we are not allowed to have Bibles or other spiritual books in this country, I've decided to talk to the Lord by studying this deck of cards." "The sergeant asked in disbelief, "How will you do that?" "You see the Ace, Sergeant? It reminds me that there is only one God. The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. The Three represents the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Four stands for the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Five is for the five virgins that were ten but only five of them were glorified. The Six is for the six days it took God to create the Heavens and Earth. The Seven is for the day God rested after making His Creation. The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives - the eight people God spared from the flood that destroyed the earth. The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten, but nine never thanked Him. The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone. The Jack is a reminder of Satan, one of God's first angels, but he got kicked out of heaven for his sly and wicked ways and is now the joker of eternal hell. The Queen stands for the Virgin Mary. The King stands for Jesus, for he is the King of all kings. When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year. There are a total of 52 cards in a deck; each is a week - 52 weeks in a year. The four suits represent the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each suit has thirteen cards - there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter. So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for." The sergeant just stood there. After a minute, with tears in his eyes and pain in his heart, he said, "Soldier, can I borrow that deck of cards?" Author Unknown Shared by Ivie Bozeman +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 9) Christmas Smiles EXTENDING YOUR HOLIDAY GIVING! By Mary-Ellen Grisham Many years my son David and I are bell-ringers for the Salvation Army as part of a church Sunday School project. One year we were at an upper entrance to the shopping mall. We were having a good time singing, ringing, and talking to the shoppers. We were using the bells to keep time with our holiday tunes and moving a bit to the rhythm to keep warm in the cold temperatures. I guess we were being a little unorthodox with our service, but the crowds seemed to enjoy it. Most were grinning with good humor, and some even joined in with the rhythm or singing! Suddenly a car pulled up to the curb, and a young boy eyed us with eager curiosity. I could see that he was asking his mom for money to put in the bucket, but he was evidently there for a shopping mission of his own. He got out of the car and headed straight for us. He was so eager to contribute that he was running and grinning. In his enthusiasm, he opened the wrong hand and put his hard-earned $5.00 for his school friend's gift in the sealed bucket. When he realized his mistake, he gasped and explained. I personally reimbursed him his shopping money, and he gave me the donation $1.00, which I also put in the bucket. He was overjoyed at being able to buy his gift and contribute a nice sum to charity. That's certainly one way to extend your holiday giving! (c)2004 Mary-Ellen Grisham meginrose@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 10) Memorable Words/Closing Words "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." Luke 2: 8-16 (KJV) One of the loveliest times of the year is the preparation for Christmas. The anticipation of the Day causes us to decorate our homes, bake goodies, purchase gifts, and invite friends to visit. Renewing our daily relationship with our Lord should also be a priority, particularly if we are letting the rush of the season cut our time with the One we celebrate. We hope the devotions and meditations of Eternal Ink will be part of your holiday quiet times. If you find inspiration and blessing from reading this issue, we hope you will share it with a friend or relative. To subscribe to Eternal Ink, send a blank email to eternal_ink-subscribe@... To unsubscribe, send a blank email to eternal_ink-unsubscribe@... Until our next issue, may God bless you richly, Mary-Ellen. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ WE ARE PROUD TO BE PARTNERS WITH TEENS4JESUS AND WITH LIVING2SERVE. -- To unsubscribe, send ANY message to: eternal_ink-unsubscribe@... A proud member of the ArkWebs<http://www.arkwebs>ministry team.