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Old Habits & New Beginnings

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  • Stephen J. Hall
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY December 31, 2005 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 30, 2005
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
      December 31, 2005

      "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Well, here we are. Christmas day has come and gone and a new year is
      about to dawn. Over the weekend, most of you will begin taking down
      the tree and decorations and packaging everything away for another
      year. I don't know about you, but I always find myself reluctant to
      begin that process. The child in me loves the bright lights, vibrant
      colors, and warm feelings of Christmas. No matter how tough times
      were for me as a child, Christmas was always a special time when
      things, if only for a few days, were so much better.

      My Dad was the same way. No matter how tight the budget or troubled
      our lives were, it all got set aside for the celebration of
      Christmas. Neither one of us wanted that celebration to end. We
      used to drive my Mom crazy. Ever the practical one in the family,
      Mom wanted the tree down and the house cleaned and restored to proper
      order by New Years Day. Dad and I were never very cooperative with
      her. Each day between Christmas and New Years she would assign us
      tasks to complete and each day we would find some reason or excuse
      not to complete them. Not really a contest of wills as much as a
      good natured "game" we played with each other. And not because Dad
      and I were lazy, though Mom often swore (with a smile on her face)
      that Dad and I were the two slowest men she'd ever encountered. No,
      it was just that Dad and I hated to let go of Christmas. To our way
      of thinking, if the tree was up, the nativity scene on the hearth,
      and the colored lights brightly shining, then Christmas wasn't over.
      Wouldn't it be great if that were true?

      As a child, I dreamed that leaving the Christmas decorations up would
      keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts. That seeing them
      would remind me and others of the gift that was given to us by our
      heavenly Father, of the love expressed in the birth of the baby
      Jesus, and enable us to give that same love to each other the whole
      year through. I haven't let go of that dream, but I know that bright
      lights and decorations aren't the keys to making that dream come
      true.

      Many years ago I read a little story entitled "The Gift." It was in
      Plus Magazine, but over time I've forgotten if the story was by
      Norman Vincent Peale or one that he'd heard from someone else. As
      the story goes, a Missionary in Africa received a gift from a little
      boy in the village where he was working. The gift was a very special
      sea shell. Now the Missionary knew that this particular shell came
      from a location very distant from the village. For the young boy to
      have gotten him such a shell, he would have had to travel a great
      distance through places of great danger. The gift deeply touched his
      heart, but he was very concerned about the risks the young boy had
      taken to get him such a precious gift. When he talked to the young
      child about the journey he had taken and the many risks he must have
      faced to get such a gift, the young boy looked lovingly up at him and
      said, "The journey is part of the gift too."

      Christmas celebrates the ultimate gift of love from our heavenly
      Father. Out of His love, He put everything on the line to recover
      us, His lost children. He sent us His only Son. Jesus gave up His
      position with the Most High God to be with us. He went from being
      all powerful to being powerless, totally dependent upon Joseph and
      Mary. He went from being immortal to being mortal, subject to the
      same limitations and temptations as we. And He spent 33 years with
      us in His journey from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross at
      Calvary. As with the little boy's gift to the missionary, Jesus now
      looks at us and says, "The journey is part of the gift too."

      I think all of us can agree that finding a gift from a friend or
      loved one under the Christmas tree is a special blessing. The mere
      presence of that gift shows that they cared for us on a deep,
      personal level. But if that gift remains unopened, we never
      experience it's full value. There is excitement in the opening of
      the gift and discovering what is contained inside. There is pleasure
      in using the gift, whatever it may be, and remembering the one who
      gave it to us each time it is used. And there is joy in thanking
      the one who gave us the gift; joy for us and for the one we give
      thanks to. The same is true of the gift given to us on the first
      Christmas, so many years ago.
      This year, as we put Christmas things away and begin looking towards
      the New Year, I pray that all of us will be able keep the spirit of
      Christmas alive in our hearts and minds throughout the coming year.
      We can. But it will require us to take a few moments each new day to
      reopen, discover, remember and give thanks for the full gift of
      Jesus. The gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the
      manger. The gift that gave us hope and healing through the 33 years
      of Christ's time with us on earth. The gift that was finally opened
      and revealed in all it's glory on Easter morning.

      "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
      transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
      test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect
      will." Romans 12:2

      I remain sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,

      Steve

      "I suppose when we wake on January 1st the world will look the same.
      But there is a reminder of the Resurrection at the start of each new
      year, each new decade. That's why I also like sunrises, Mondays, and
      new seasons. God seems to be saying, `With me you can always start
      afresh.'"
      - Ada Lum

      "One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes, and
      yours may be that life."
      - Oswald Chambers



      NEW BEGINNINGS
      (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited)

      London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse
      property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and
      needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows,
      and strewn trash all over the place.

      As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say
      that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct
      any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer
      said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to
      build something completely different. I don't want the building; I
      want the site."

      That's God's message to us! Compared with the renovation God has in
      mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping
      a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's the
      old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is the site
      and the permission to build. There are still some trying to "reform,"
      but God offers "redemption." All we have to do is give Him
      the "property" and he will do the necessary "building."

      Happy New Year!


      ______________________________________________________________________
      _____________________

      Copyright © 1998 - 2005 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
      and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
      encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
      free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
      something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like
      to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
      steveh.rbis@...
      ______________________________________________________________________
      _____________________

      Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
      everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
      your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-3 The Message)
    • Stephen J. Hall
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY December 31, 2006 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 28, 2006
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
        December 31, 2006

        "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Well, here we are. Christmas day has come and gone and a new year
        is about to dawn. Over the next several days, most of you will
        begin taking down the tree and decorations and packaging everything
        away for another year. I don't know about you, but I always find
        myself reluctant to begin that process. The child in me loves the
        bright lights, vibrant colors, and warm feelings of Christmas. No
        matter how tough times were for me as a child, Christmas was always
        a special time when things, if only for a few days, were so much
        better. My Dad was the same way. No matter how tight the budget or
        troubled our lives were, it all got set aside for the celebration of
        Christmas. Neither one of us wanted that celebration to end. We
        used to drive my Mom crazy. Don't get me wrong. Jean was no
        Scrooge. Far from it. She created some beautiful memories for all
        of us at Christmastime. But she was also a firm believer in "a time
        for every season" and once Christmas "season" was over, it was time
        to put things back into proper order for the beginning of the New
        Year. I'm afraid Dad and I were never very cooperative with her.

        Each day between Christmas and New Years, Mom would assign Dad, my
        sister Sandi, and I tasks to complete. Sandi was usually pretty
        good at working with Mom on getting her daily tasks done. She was
        no Scrooge either. She just figured it was easier to give into the
        inevitable and do things when Mom wanted them done. Smart girl.
        But Dad and I would find some reason or excuse each day not to
        complete our assigned tasks. It wasn't really a contest of wills
        as much as a good natured "game" we played with each other. And not
        because Dad and I were lazy, though Mom often swore (with a smile on
        her face) that Dad and I were the two slowest men she'd ever
        encountered. No, it was just that Dad and I hated to let go of
        Christmas. To our way of thinking, if the tree was up, the nativity
        scene on the hearth, and the colored lights brightly shining, then
        Christmas wasn't over. Wouldn't it be great if that were true?

        As a child, I dreamed that leaving the Christmas decorations up
        would keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts. That seeing
        them would remind me and others of the gift that was given to us by
        our heavenly Father, of the love expressed in the birth of the baby
        Jesus, and enable us to give that same love to each other the whole
        year through. I haven't let go of that dream, but I know that
        bright lights and decorations aren't the keys to making that dream
        come true.

        Many years ago I read a little story entitled "The Gift." It was in
        Plus Magazine, but over time I've forgotten if the story was by
        Norman Vincent Peale or one that he'd heard from someone else. As
        the story goes, a Missionary in Africa received a gift from a little
        boy in the village where he was working. The gift was a very
        special sea shell. Now the Missionary knew that this particular
        shell came from a location very distant from the village. For the
        young boy to have gotten him such a shell, he would have had to
        travel a great distance through places of great danger. The gift
        deeply touched his heart, but he was very concerned about the risks
        the young boy had taken to get him such a precious gift. When he
        talked to the young child about the journey he had taken and the
        many risks he must have faced to get such a gift, the young boy
        looked lovingly up at him and said, "The journey is part of the gift
        too."

        Christmas celebrates the ultimate gift of love from our heavenly
        Father. Out of His love, He put everything on the line to recover
        us, His lost children. He sent us His only Son. Jesus gave up His
        position with the Most High God to be with us. He went from being
        all powerful to being powerless, totally dependent upon Joseph and
        Mary. He went from being immortal to being mortal, subject to the
        same limitations and temptations as we. And He spent 33 years with
        us in His journey from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross at
        Calvary. As with the little boy's gift to the missionary, Jesus now
        looks at us and says, "The journey is part of the gift too."

        I think all of us can agree that finding a gift from a friend or
        loved one under the Christmas tree is a special blessing. The mere
        presence of that gift shows that they cared for us on a deep,
        personal level. But if that gift remains unopened, we never
        experience it's full value. There is excitement in the opening of
        the gift and discovering what is contained inside. There is
        pleasure in using the gift, whatever it may be, and remembering the
        one who gave it to us each time it is used. And there is joy in
        thanking the one who gave us the gift; joy for us and for the one we
        give thanks to. The same is true of the gift given to us on the
        first Christmas, so many years ago.

        This year, as we put Christmas things away and begin looking towards
        the New Year, I pray that all of us will be able keep the spirit of
        Christmas alive in our hearts and minds throughout the coming year.
        We can. But it will require us to take a few moments each new day
        to reopen, discover, remember and give thanks for full gift of Jesus
        Christ. The gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the
        manger. The gift that gave us hope and healing through the 33 years
        of Christ's time with us on earth. The gift that was finally opened
        and revealed in all it's glory on Easter morning.
        "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
        transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
        test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect
        will." Romans 12:2

        I remain sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,

        Steve


        "I suppose when we wake on January 1st the world will look the same.
        But there is a reminder of the Resurrection at the start of each new
        year, each new decade. That's why I also like sunrises, Mondays, and
        new seasons. God seems to be saying, `With me you can always start
        afresh.'"
        - Ada Lum

        "One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes,
        and yours may be that life."
        - Oswald Chambers



        NEW BEGINNINGS
        (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited)

        London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse
        property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and
        needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows,
        and strewn trash all over the place.

        As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say
        that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct
        any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer
        said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to
        build something completely different. I don't want the building; I
        want the site."

        That's God's message to us! Compared with the renovation God has in
        mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as
        sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become
        God's the old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is
        the site and the permission to build. There are still some trying
        to "reform," but God offers "redemption." All we have to do is give
        Him the "property" and he will do the necessary "building."

        Happy New Year!

        _____________________________________________________________
        ___________________________

        Copyright © 1998 - 2006 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the
        Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
        encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please
        feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you
        have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would
        like to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
        steveh.rbis@...
        _____________________________________________________________
        ___________________________


        Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
        everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
        your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
      • Stephen J. Hall
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY December 30, 2007 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 28, 2007
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
          December 30, 2007

          "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
          I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Old Habits & New Beginnings

          Well, here we are. Christmas day has come and gone and a new year is
          about to dawn. Over the next several days, most of you will begin
          taking down the tree and decorations and packaging everything away
          for another year. I don't know about you, but I always find myself
          reluctant to begin that process. The child in me loves the bright
          lights, vibrant colors, and warm feelings of Christmas. No matter
          how tough times were for me as a child, Christmas was always a
          special time when things, if only for a few days, were so much
          better. My Dad was the same way. No matter how tight the budget or
          troubled our lives were, it all got set aside for the celebration of
          Christmas. Neither one of us wanted that celebration to end. We
          used to drive my Mom crazy. Don't get me wrong. Jean was no
          Scrooge. Far from it. She created some beautiful memories for all
          of us at Christmastime. But she was also a firm believer in "a time
          for every season" and once Christmas "season" was over, it was time
          to put things back into proper order for the beginning of the New
          Year. I'm afraid Dad and I were never very cooperative with her.

          Each day between Christmas and New Years, Mom would assign Dad, my
          sister Sandi, and I tasks to complete. Sandi was usually pretty good
          at working with Mom on getting her daily tasks done. She was no
          Scrooge either. She just figured it was easier to give into the
          inevitable and do things when Mom wanted them done. Smart girl. But
          Dad and I would find some reason or excuse each day not to complete
          our assigned tasks. It wasn't really a contest of wills as much as
          a good natured "game" we played with each other. And not because Dad
          and I were lazy, though Mom often swore (with a smile on her face)
          that Dad and I were the two slowest men she'd ever encountered. No,
          it was just that Dad and I hated to let go of Christmas. To our way
          of thinking, if the tree was up, the nativity scene on the hearth,
          and the colored lights brightly shining, then Christmas wasn't over.
          Wouldn't it be great if that were true?

          As a child, I dreamed that leaving the Christmas decorations up would
          keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts. That seeing them
          would remind me and others of the gift that was given to us by our
          heavenly Father, of the love expressed in the birth of the baby
          Jesus, and enable us to give that same love to each other the whole
          year through. I haven't let go of that dream, but I know that bright
          lights and decorations aren't the keys to making that dream come
          true.
          Many years ago I read a little story entitled "The Gift." It was in
          Plus Magazine, but over time I've forgotten if the story was by
          Norman Vincent Peale or one that he'd heard from someone else. As
          the story goes, a Missionary in Africa received a gift from a little
          boy in the village where he was working. The gift was a very special
          sea shell. Now the Missionary knew that this particular shell came
          from a location very distant from the village. For the young boy to
          have gotten him such a shell, he would have had to travel a great
          distance through places of great danger. The gift deeply touched his
          heart, but he was very concerned about the risks the young boy had
          taken to get him such a precious gift. When he talked to the young
          child about the journey he had taken and the many risks he must have
          faced to get such a gift, the young boy looked lovingly up at him and
          said, "The journey is part of the gift too."

          Christmas celebrates the ultimate gift of love from our heavenly
          Father. Out of His love, He put everything on the line to recover
          us, His lost children. He sent us His only Son. Jesus gave up His
          position with the Most High God to be with us. He went from being
          all powerful to being powerless, totally dependent upon Joseph and
          Mary. He went from being immortal to being mortal, subject to the
          same limitations and temptations as we. And He spent 33 years with
          us in His journey from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross at
          Calvary. As with the little boy's gift to the missionary, Jesus now
          looks at us and says, "The journey is part of the gift too."

          I think all of us can agree that finding a gift from a friend or
          loved one under the Christmas tree is a special blessing. The mere
          presence of that gift shows that they cared for us on a deep,
          personal level. But if that gift remains unopened, we never
          experience it's full value. There is excitement in the opening of
          the gift and discovering what is contained inside. There is pleasure
          in using the gift, whatever it may be, and remembering the one who
          gave it to us each time it is used. And there is joy in thanking
          the one who gave us the gift; joy for us and for the one we give
          thanks to. The same is true of the gift given to us on the first
          Christmas, so many years ago.

          This year, as we put Christmas things away and begin looking towards
          the New Year, I pray that all of us will be able keep the spirit of
          Christmas alive in our hearts and minds throughout the coming year.
          We can. But it will require us to take a few moments each new day to
          reopen, discover, remember and give thanks for full gift of Jesus
          Christ. The gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the
          manger. The gift that gave us hope and healing through the 33 years
          of Christ's time with us on earth. The gift that was finally opened
          and revealed in all it's glory on Easter morning.

          "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
          transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
          test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect
          will." Romans 12:2

          I remain sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,

          Steve



          "I suppose when we wake on January 1st the world will look the same.
          But there is a reminder of the Resurrection at the start of each new
          year, each new decade. That's why I also like sunrises, Mondays, and
          new seasons. God seems to be saying, `With me you can always start
          afresh.'"
          - Ada Lum

          "One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes, and
          yours may be that life."
          - Oswald Chambers



          NEW BEGINNINGS
          (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited)

          London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse
          property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and
          needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows,
          and strewn trash all over the place.

          As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say
          that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct
          any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer
          said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to
          build something completely different. I don't want the building; I
          want the site."

          That's God's message to us! Compared with the renovation God has in
          mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping
          a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's the
          old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is the site
          and the permission to build. There are still some trying to "reform,"
          but God offers "redemption." All we have to do is give Him
          the "property" and he will do the necessary "building."

          Happy New Year!


          ______________________________________________________________________
          ________

          Copyright © 1998 - 2007 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
          and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
          encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
          free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
          something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like
          to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
          steveh.rbis@...

          ______________________________________________________________________
          _________


          Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
          everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
          your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
        • Stephen J. Hall
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY December 30, 2008 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 30, 2008
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
            December 30, 2008

            "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
            I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            OLD HABITS & NEW BEGINNINGS

            Well, here we are. Christmas day has come and gone and a new year is
            about to dawn. Over the next several days, most of you will begin
            taking down the tree and decorations and packaging everything away
            for another year. I don't know about you, but I always find myself
            reluctant to begin that process. The child in me loves the bright
            lights, vibrant colors, and warm feelings of Christmas. No matter
            how tough times were for me as a child, Christmas was always a
            special time when things, if only for a few days, were so much
            better. My Dad was the same way. No matter how tight the budget or
            troubled our lives were, it all got set aside for the celebration of
            Christmas. Neither one of us wanted that celebration to end. We
            used to drive my Mom crazy. Don't get me wrong. Jean was no
            Scrooge. Far from it. She created some beautiful memories for all
            of us at Christmastime. But she was also a firm believer in "a time
            for every season" and once Christmas "season" was over, it was time
            to put things back into proper order for the beginning of the New
            Year. I'm afraid Dad and I were never very cooperative with her.

            Each day between Christmas and New Years, Mom would assign Dad, my
            sister Sandi, and I tasks to complete. Sandi was usually pretty good
            at working with Mom on getting her daily tasks done. She was no
            Scrooge either. She just figured it was easier to give into the
            inevitable and do things when Mom wanted them done. Smart girl. But
            Dad and I would find some reason or excuse each day not to complete
            our assigned tasks. It wasn't really a contest of wills as much as
            a good natured "game" we played with each other. And not because Dad
            and I were lazy, though Mom often swore (with a smile on her face)
            that Dad and I were the two slowest men she'd ever encountered. No,
            it was just that Dad and I hated to let go of Christmas. To our way
            of thinking, if the tree was up, the nativity scene on the hearth,
            and the colored lights brightly shining, then Christmas wasn't over.
            Wouldn't it be great if that were true?

            As a child, I dreamed that leaving the Christmas decorations up would
            keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts. That seeing them
            would remind me and others of the gift that was given to us by our
            heavenly Father, of the love expressed in the birth of the baby
            Jesus, and enable us to give that same love to each other the whole
            year through. I haven't let go of that dream, but I know that bright
            lights and decorations aren't the keys to making that dream come
            true.

            Many years ago I read a little story entitled "The Gift." It was in
            Plus Magazine, but over time I've forgotten if the story was by
            Norman Vincent Peale or one that he'd heard from someone else. As
            the story goes, a Missionary in Africa received a gift from a little
            boy in the village where he was working. The gift was a very special
            sea shell. Now the Missionary knew that this particular shell came
            from a location very distant from the village. For the young boy to
            have gotten him such a shell, he would have had to travel a great
            distance through places of great danger. The gift deeply touched his
            heart, but he was very concerned about the risks the young boy had
            taken to get him such a precious gift. When he talked to the young
            child about the journey he had taken and the many risks he must have
            faced to get such a gift, the young boy looked lovingly up at him and
            said, "The journey is part of the gift too."

            Christmas celebrates the ultimate gift of love from our heavenly
            Father. Out of His love, He put everything on the line to recover
            us, His lost children. He sent us His only Son. Jesus gave up His
            position with the Most High God to be with us. He went from being
            all powerful to being powerless, totally dependent upon Joseph and
            Mary. He went from being immortal to being mortal, subject to the
            same limitations and temptations as we. And He spent 33 years with
            us in His journey from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross at
            Calvary. As with the little boy's gift to the missionary, Jesus now
            looks at us and says, "The journey is part of the gift too."

            I think all of us can agree that finding a gift from a friend or
            loved one under the Christmas tree is a special blessing. The mere
            presence of that gift shows that they cared for us on a deep,
            personal level. But if that gift remains unopened, we never
            experience it's full value. There is excitement in the opening of
            the gift and discovering what is contained inside. There is pleasure
            in using the gift, whatever it may be, and remembering the one who
            gave it to us each time it is used. And there is joy in thanking
            the one who gave us the gift; joy for us and for the one we give
            thanks to. The same is true of the gift given to us on the first
            Christmas, so many years ago.

            This year, as we put Christmas things away and begin looking towards
            the New Year, I pray that all of us will be able keep the spirit of
            Christmas alive in our hearts and minds throughout the coming year.
            We can. But it will require us to take a few moments each new day to
            reopen, discover, remember and give thanks for the full gift of Jesus
            Christ. The gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the
            manger. The gift that gave us hope and healing through the 33 years
            of Christ's time with us on earth. The gift that was finally opened
            and revealed in all it's glory on Easter morning.

            "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but
            be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
            test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect
            will." Romans 12:2

            I remain sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,

            Steve

            "I suppose when we wake on January 1st the world will look the same.
            But there is a reminder of the Resurrection at the start of each new
            year, each new decade. That's why I also like sunrises, Mondays, and
            new seasons. God seems to be saying, `With me you can always start
            afresh.'"
            - Ada Lum

            "One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes, and
            yours may be that life."
            - Oswald Chambers



            NEW BEGINNINGS
            (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited)

            London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse
            property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and
            needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows,
            and strewn trash all over the place.

            As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say
            that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct
            any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer
            said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to
            build something completely different. I don't want the building; I
            want the site."

            That's God's message to us! Compared with the renovation God has in
            mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping
            a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's the
            old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is the site
            and the permission to build. There are still some trying to "reform,"
            but God offers "redemption." All we have to do is give Him
            the "property" and he will do the necessary "building."

            Happy New Year!


            ______________________________________________________________________
            ______________________

            Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
            and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
            encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
            free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
            something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like
            to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
            steveh.rbis@...

            ______________________________________________________________________
            ______________________


            Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
            everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
            your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
          • sossteve2005
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY December 31, 2009 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 31, 2009
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
              December 31, 2009

              "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
              I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              OLD HABITS & NEW BEGINNINGS

              Well, here we are. Christmas day has come and gone and a new year is about to dawn. Over the weekend, most of you will take down the Christmas tree and decorations and package everything away for another year. I don't know about you, but I always find myself reluctant to begin that process. The child in me loves the bright lights, vibrant colors, and warm feelings of Christmas. No matter how tough times were for me as a child, Christmas was always a special time when things, if only for a few days, were so much better. My Dad was the same way. No matter how tight the budget or troubled our lives were, it all got set aside for the celebration of Christmas. Neither one of us wanted that celebration to end. We used to drive my Mom crazy. Don't get me wrong. Jean was no Scrooge. Far from it. She created some beautiful memories for all of us at Christmastime. But she was also a firm believer in "a time for every season" and once Christmas "season" was over, it was time to put things back into proper order for the beginning of the New Year. I'm afraid Dad and I were never very cooperative with her.

              Each day between Christmas and New Years, Mom would assign Dad, my sister Sandi, and I tasks to complete. Sandi was usually pretty good at working with Mom on getting her daily tasks done. She was no Scrooge either. She just figured it was easier to give into the inevitable and do things when Mom wanted them done. Smart girl. But Dad and I would find some reason or excuse each day not to complete our assigned tasks. It wasn't really a contest of wills as much as a good natured "game" we played with each other. And not because Dad and I were lazy, though Mom often swore (with a smile on her face) that Dad and I were the two slowest men she'd ever encountered. No, it was just that Dad and I hated to let go of Christmas. To our way of thinking, if the tree was up, the nativity scene on the hearth, and the colored lights brightly shining, then Christmas wasn't over. Wouldn't it be great if that were true?

              As a child, I dreamed that leaving the Christmas decorations up would keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts. That seeing them would remind me and others of the gift that was given to us by our heavenly Father, of the love expressed in the birth of the baby Jesus, and enable us to give that same love to each other the whole year through. I haven't let go of that dream, but I know that bright lights and decorations aren't the keys to making that dream come true.

              Many years ago I read a little story entitled "The Gift." It was in Plus Magazine, but over time I've forgotten if the story was by Norman Vincent Peale or one that he'd heard from someone else. As the story goes, a Missionary in Africa received a gift from a little boy in the village where he was working. The gift was a very special sea shell. Now the Missionary knew that this particular shell came from a location very distant from the village. For the young boy to have gotten him such a shell, he would have had to travel a great distance through places of terrible danger. The gift deeply touched his heart, but he was very concerned about the risks the young boy had taken to get him such a precious gift. When he talked to the young child about the journey he had taken and the many risks he must have faced to get such a gift, the young boy looked lovingly up at him and said, "The journey is part of the gift too."

              Christmas celebrates the ultimate gift of love from our heavenly Father. Out of His love, He put everything on the line to recover us, His lost children. He sent us His only Son. Jesus gave up His position with the Most High God to be with us. He went from being all powerful to being powerless, totally dependent upon Joseph and Mary. He went from being immortal to being mortal, subject to the same limitations and temptations as we. And He spent 33 years with us in His journey from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross at Calvary. As with the little boy's gift to the missionary, Jesus now looks at us and says, "The journey is part of the gift too."

              I think all of us can agree that finding a gift from a friend or loved one under the Christmas tree is a special blessing. The mere presence of that gift shows that they cared for us on a deep, personal level. But if that gift remains unopened, we never experience it's full value. There is excitement in the opening of the gift and discovering what is contained inside. There is pleasure in using the gift, whatever it may be, and remembering the one who gave it to us each time it is used. And there is joy in thanking the one who gave us the gift; joy for us and for the one we give thanks to. The same is true of the gift given to us on the first Christmas, so many years ago.

              This year, as we put Christmas things away and begin looking towards the New Year, I pray that all of us will be able keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts and minds throughout the coming year. We can. But it will require us to take a few moments each new day to reopen, discover, remember and give thanks for the full gift of Jesus Christ. The gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger. The gift that gave us hope and healing through the 33 years of Christ's time with us on earth. The gift that was finally opened and revealed in all it's glory on Easter morning.

              "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

              I remain sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,

              Steve



              "I suppose when we wake on January 1st the world will look the same. But there is a reminder of the Resurrection at the start of each new year, each new decade. That's why I also like sunrises, Mondays, and new seasons. God seems to be saying, `With me you can always start afresh.'"
              - Ada Lum

              "One individual life may be of priceless value to God's purposes, and yours may be that life."
              - Oswald Chambers



              NEW BEGINNINGS
              (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited)

              London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash all over the place.

              As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building; I want the site."

              That's God's message to us! Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's the old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is the site and the permission to build. There are still some trying to "reform," but God offers "redemption." All we have to do is give Him the "property" and he will do the necessary "building."

              Happy New Year!


              ____________________________________________________________________________________________

              Copyright © 1998 - 2009 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would like to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at: steveh.rbis@...

              ____________________________________________________________________________________________


              Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
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