Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Story of the Candy Cane

We offer this story, courtesy of the “Scripture Candy” company, located in Birmingham, Alabama. Someone had given Carol a gift of their “Candy Cane Stocking Set,” which featured a candy cane, and a bookmark with “The Candy Cane Story.” We like to feature stories about where common sayings or things originated, so, here’s “The Story of the Candy Cane.” Even before reading the story, it strikes me how candy canes are shaped … in the form of the letter “J,” and a Shepherd’s staff.

The Candy Cane Legend

“A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness for his Savior, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. The white symbolizes the Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26-35) and the sinless nature of Jesus (1 John 3:5). The hardness of the candy symbolizes the Solid Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4), the foundation of the Church (Matthew 16:18), and the firmness of the promises of God (Psalms 18:30-32). The candy maker made the candy into the form of a “J” to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior (John 3:16-17), and a symbol to represent the staff of the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). The candy maker decided to stain it with red stripes, representing the stripes Jesus received prior to His crucifixion (Mark 15:15-20) for our healing (Isaiah 53:5). The large red stripe represents the shedding of His blood on the cross for our salvation (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7).”

We visited the website of the “Scripture Candy” store, and we love their Logo, which we show below. You can click on the image to visit them … We also encourage you to read their story, and their mission, to “Reach The World One Piece At A Time!”

P.S. Just reading all of the verses contained in the story makes a great Bible Study!
Blessings to you, and your family,
Ted and Carol

Scripture Candy Logo

Hello, Bless you, and Welcome to our Pastor Appreciation Gifts Blog!

Hello, Bless you, and Welcome to our Pastor Appreciation Gifts Blog!

We are so blessed, and encouraged, to have dear friends visit us from all over the world, and we’ll continue to be blessed by every visit. God is so awesome to have blessed us, allowing us to share and minister, here, through our blog, literally, all across the globe. Just yesterday, as an example, we had new visitors from Africa, Australia, Italy, Canada, and here in the States. We gained a precious, new follower to our blog, from England.

We have had the honor and privilege of serving so many, over at our Christian Gifts website, Pastor Appreciation Gifts, which initially sprang from the writing of “Why, Pastor, Why.” As our online business grew, taking so much of our time, we realized that, yes, our products did uplift, inspire, encourage, and witness … but … the whole idea behind our business, our writing … our very lives … was to minister … we had to find a way to reach people, and bless them …

This is where the Blog came in, and then, we expanded, over to our Facebook page. There are people we can reach through our Blog, which don’t “do Facebook,” and there are people we reach on Facebook who wouldn’t follow a blog. So, that’s how this began, strictly as an online ministry outreach of Pastor Appreciation Gifts.

We have been blessed to feature videos we’ve discovered along the way, or videos that have been shared with us. For that reason, we began Our YouTube Channel, where you will find, in one place, all of the videos we feature on the blog. Our YouTube Channel has become one of our most successful ministry outreaches, and we invite you to follow us there.

We are Ted and Carol, the same Ted and Carol from Pastor Appreciation Gifts.
We live in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire, USA, and both of us work outside of the home, as well. I am a certified Library Media Specialist, and, yes, I work in the Public School System. God needs people there, too. Carol, after many years in the Medical field, works as an adviser in an assisted-living community. Yes, God needs people there, too.

So, we work full-time, write full-time, and all the time, try to help and minister to as many as God will allow. It is a pretty guarded “secret” that I write and perform under a pen name … a name God chose for me, to honor my parents, and Carol’s parents. I took time off from performing and speaking to finish up School, get the business started, and some other projects I had to complete … including the new book. With a lot of new writing projects … I don’t think it will be long before I am “back out there” again …

It is such a blessing to have you visit us. Our main purpose won’t change, to edify, uplift, inspire, and encourage. Enjoy, and be blessed through our Blog. Of course, you have the open invitation to follow us as we go, and send us any comments, thoughts, or stories to share.
Above all, please pray for us!

Blessings to you, and your family,
Ted

Ted and Carol
Pastor Appreciation Gifts Blog

 

Special Video: Josh Groban “O Holy Night” W/Scenes From “The Nativity”

This is Josh Groban singing “O Holy Night” with scenes from the movie, “The Nativity” …
Of all I have felt and seen this season … this one brought me to my knees …

Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!
Etc!

What Does God Want for Christmas?

This was the subject of a sermon I heard this past Sunday morning. The message began with thoughts about Christmas and the season, and then the question was raised, in an “I wonder?” sense, “What does God want for Christmas?”

The text for the sermon came from Micah 6:6-8, in which the real question is, “What can I do that will please the Lord?” First on the list is sacrifice: Will this please the Lord? We learn from the words of Samuel that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). We know now that there is only one Sacrifice pleasing and acceptable to God, and that was the sacrifice of His only Son, and His finished work, on our behalf, on the cross.

How many of us have said, in response to a question about whether we celebrate a certain holiday, something like this: “I celebrate Christmas every day;” or, “I celebrate Easter every day.” As Christians, this is correct. We can celebrate what was accomplished by Jesus coming to earth … and, then, His victory over death and the grave … every day. Without these two events … well … there wouldn’t be a Christmas, or an Easter … or, really, anything else to celebrate, would there? Without Jesus, we would all be lost, and without hope. Period.

I think that what God wants for Christmas … is the same thing He wants every day of the year:
You.
And, me.
To love Him, hear His voice, accept Him, and follow Him. To accept Christ, not just for a season, but for all seasons.

Think about it: God doesn’t “need” anything. He already owns everything. Everything He allows us to have is already His.
Ready for this … God doesn’t have needs … only wants …
God wants us to love Him, accept Him, and follow Him … that’s what God wants … every moment of every day.
Us.
Individually.
Personally.

He “wants” to have fellowship with us … wasn’t that the very reason that He created man in the first place? He still wants this, with each one of us, individually.

Back to Micah: The question raised in verse 8 is “What doth the Lord require of thee?” And, then, the answer is given, to what the Lord requires of us: “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

What a great response, which carries the full weight of everything needed, and asked for, to please God. Notice the “answer” gives the two main things God always asks of us, and both are about relationships: To love Him, and love others. To serve Him, and serve others.
The Ten Commandments? 5 detail our relationship with God, and 5 detail our relationship with each other. I think of Jesus’ answer to the question about the “greatest commandment”:
Matthew 22:37-40: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Also, how can we “act justly” if we ourselves aren’t justified?

Oh, and Micah also mentioned “mercy;” in fact, to “love mercy.” Awesome! How can we love others unless we have mercy, loving-kindness, toward them? How can we be properly motivated to do this, unless we love God? Simply put, we are to show others mercy and forgiveness, just as God has extended mercy and forgiveness toward us.

A season of giving? Again, every day: As God has given us, we should give others. We give, as we have been freely given. Never, ever forget … There are people in your life … that only you … and you only … can reach with the Gospel … that’s why they are in your life!

One last thing, which just happens to be included in the list from Micah 6:8, is this: “To walk humbly with thy God.” I love how God never misses an opportunity, when “making a list,” to add the word “humble” or “humility,” always one of the first attributes of Jesus we think of, and which God “wants” us to display …

Today, every day, God cares about us, and “wants” us to care about Him, and to care about others.
Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

P.S. See … I didn’t mention, even once, or question, if you would celebrate the birthday of someone you didn’t know? If you don’t personally know Him … He already knows you … get to know Him … by speaking to Him, and hearing from Him!
R.V.R.
Micah 6:8 Art

Modern-Day Psalm Classic: “I Stopped by Your Place for Christmas”

I Stopped by Your Place for Christmas

Introduction

I still remember my tears falling on the paper as I wrote, “I stopped by your place for Christmas, the place where you always stay …”
Written on the hood of my van, on a torn-apart bank deposit slip, under a huge maple tree just a few feet away from the grave site of Carol’s parents, just hours before a winter storm would cover the ground for months.

I Stopped by Your Place for Christmas

It was one week before Christmas
Exactly, to the day
I stopped by your place
The place where you always stay

The sun was so bright
The sky was so blue
As I stood there and cried
As I stood between you two

The day was so bright
Not a cloud in the skies
As the sunlight glistened
Off the tears in my eyes

I came by your place
To tidy up a bit
Ready to work
All I could do was just sit

I came with some tools
To work on the flowers
Today may be sunny
But tomorrow night, snow showers

It made me think how fast
Life changes from day to day
One Christmas you’re here
The next, you’re gone away

Gone to a place
We’ll all go some day
It made me wonder if people would visit my place
Or would they stay away

As I stood and pondered
Your rose-colored stone
In the midst of a field of monuments
To loved ones now gone

I loved you both and miss you so dear
Another Christmas will come, that I wish you were here
I’ll remember that Christmas was your favorite time of year

I thank God for the memories
Of holidays spent
All of us together
I wonder, where has the time went?

I know that one day
We may
Move away
Where ever we go
It is here you must stay

You’ll both always be part of our Christmas
We’ll remember the love and joy on your faces
And know you’ll always be together with us
We’ll just spend Christmas in different places

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

“I Stopped by Your Place for Christmas,” one of the classics from “Modern-Day Psalms: Praise Songs and Love Messages for your Heart and Soul,
from the Heart and Soul of Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Modern-Day Psalms on Amazon.com

Guest Post: Continuing Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I just can’t stop thinking about how blessed we are here in America. Every day.

Here are thoughts on Thanksgiving here in the United States, from Don Merritt, over at the “Life Reference” Blog:

“Thanksgiving has been a central idea in American history and culture, even before there was an America … I think that this notion of Thanksgiving has had a profound effect on our Nation.  Here’s why …”

And, it’s was not just Don’s thoughts, but the comments which his readers posted which made me really continue to think, and thank …
Enjoy, and be blessed:

Thanksgiving Reflections

CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS OF THANKSGIVING

Here is part of the transcript of a message I gave a few years ago, in a church in New England. I wanted to share this with you as close to exactly between Thanksgiving and Christmas as I could …

At the time, I had left the legal department (set for life) of a “large New England Electric Utility” in order to focus on my Biblical studies, and my degree. The job was 60 miles away … one way. Yes, I left the legal department, set for life, to clean toilets at McDonalds … Remember, “It’s not the job that brings honor to the man, but the man who brings honor to the job.” The reason I mention this is because it came up during the message … including the fact that, at that time, Carol was working in the registration department at the hospital … where, at that time, I was a regular visitor …

Good morning. Praise the Lord. And, if I may…Merry Christmas…The title of our presentation is “Christmas Thoughts of Thanksgiving.” I’d like to share with you a few items on my Christmas list. My Christmas list this year is different…It’s more of a Thanksgiving list…Not Thanksgiving…but Thanks…Giving. Instead of stuff that I want…it has stuff listed that I already have. Things I’ve already received; things that I’m grateful for. I’m thankful for how God has blessed me all year. It’s funny how we seem to be more reflective on holidays. How it is almost an obligation to think about how God has blessed us, once a certain holiday arrives. You know, maybe that’s why we keep having holidays…so we’ll keep on remembering… 

Even though it’s been just one year since last Christmas, it seems I’ve gotten older by more than one year. I’ve been to the doctor and the hospital more times in the past year than in my whole life combined…Let’s see…I haven’t been to the hospital to have tests done…to have blood drawn…in…Let’s see…just over 26 hours…I’m thankful for doctors…for medicine…for hospitals…and, yes…I’m thankful, guys…for nurses…. +

Before I leave this subject, I should also add that I am thankful for the beautiful, friendly, and efficient staff that handles the registration at the hospital and at the lab….I am thankful that Jesus Christ is still in the…healing…business! This year, Jesus Himself, personally, has healed me of individual lumps that I had in my lymph nodes, one under each arm. This is the same type of illness that has wreaked death and havoc in my family…most recently, just this past year. Then, I had a lump under my chin that was huge …Here we go again with this lymph node thing, and lumps…Well, God reached down and healed that too…Let me say again, that I am thankful for the fact that Jesus Christ is still in the healing business!

Then, there have been incidents at work. My third day on the job, I found out that a box cutter will cut more than boxes. And, I discovered that when you cut the fleshy part of your palm that it bleeds really bad. I prayed that Jesus would stop the bleeding, and he did. Something else that Carol doesn’t know about, happened this past Thursday at work. We have an area called “the corral” where the trash dumpsters are completely enclosed by concrete and brick walls. These walls are eight feet high and 15 feet wide. A tractor-trailer backed into the corral, and knocked one of the walls completely down. Of course, the wall fell inward. I had just walked out of the corral, and, and if it had happened two minutes earlier, I wouldn’t be here today.
I’m thankful for God’s protective hand.

I’m also thankful for the other people that I’ve prayed for, that Jesus has healed.
Yeah, Christmas is ok, but it’s been a great year.

I changed jobs this year. I prayed for certain hours, and I prayed that my new job would be no more than 15 miles away. My new job was exactly the hours I prayed for, and from my driveway to work is exactly 15.0 miles. This Christmas, I have a lot to be thankful for…and it doesn’t revolve around the holiday. It revolves around what Jesus has done for me personally.

I work with a man that is both deaf and mute. I am thankful that I am able to see, to hear, and to talk. I have realized this year just how much I have taken for granted.

I am thankful for electricity. If this was 60 years ago and someone said, “I’m thankful for electricity,” the whole crowd would have stood up and cheered.

I’m thankful for running water. That same 60 years ago, “running water” meant that someone ran down to the well. And ran back with a bucket full.

I am thankful for hot water. I can remember when, growing up, we didn’t have hot, running water. I took a hot shower just this morning. I liked it so much that I may take another one next week.

I am thankful for automobiles. And, the fact that you can get in your car and travel from state to state…literally where ever you want to go, and not have to go through check-points as you enter into every different state. And, how about gasoline…even at the cost we pay for it today, some of us remember when gasoline-and a lot of other things-were rationed…you could only buy a certain amount…on certain days…if you had the right coupons.

I am thankful for microwave ovens, and telephones, and a hundred other things we take for granted every day.
Things like grocery stores. Department stores. And, how about mail delivery?

I’m grateful for the things that I already have…I’m grateful for the things that I came in with…

When I look back over the years, from my earliest childhood memories to just last year, Christmas is always a time that I remember. For those of your who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that there are special family times that will stand out just as much. It’s important, because these special family times are the times that will continue to stand out for the rest of your lives. I was raised “without a lot of stuff.” And, maybe I don’t have that many good memories about growing up. But, what good memories I do have, are memories of Christmas. I would hate to have those memories taken away. I find, that so many years later, I don’t remember so much what we didn’t have. I remember…yes, even cherish, what we did have.

I celebrate Christmas: To me, it is a holiday…it’s a day off from work…plus, in one week, I get another day off for New Year’s! And yes, I look forward to that all year. Christmas is, for some families, the only time they are all together in one place, except for funerals.
In today’s family lifestyles, how often do families get together to even enjoy a family meal together…at the same table? So, this “Christmas” is maybe the one time all year when families get together and just “be with each other.” It is the one time that they all look at each other and say, “Ya know, this is cool. I really do love my family. I really do love my home. This is really cool.” You know, I can’t help but think that Jesus thinks that’s pretty cool, too.
I find that what’s wrong with Christmas has more to do with what’s wrong with me-my attitude.

I believe that if “Christmas” was done away with, the church would still set aside one day to celebrate/recognize His birth. I believe that if it’s ok to celebrate the birthday of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s ok to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Without going back to last year’s Christmas presentation, it strikes me that it’s ok to celebrate Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays on a day that they weren’t actually born.

I believe that the mountains, the oceans, the great works of God’s hands that surround us are beautiful. However, I believe that the greatest work that God does, the greatest miracle that He performs, is the change He makes in people’s lives. The greatest miracle that God performs is when He takes the rottenest of sinners, saves them, changes them, and makes them a saint. The greatest works of God surround us today. They are represented in every pew. And, none of this would have been possible had not God Himself come to earth as a man, born as a baby, and died as the Savior of the world. He is alive today, evidenced by the changed lives that surround us here today.

I take you back to a conversation that I had last week with a lady I work with. When she complained about not having any decorations for Christmas in the store, I stated, coldly, that “It would just be something that we would have to put up and then back take down”…As we discussed Christmas, and I was giving her the negatives, she said things like,
“It doesn’t matter what day we celebrate it on, as long as we celebrate it”… (That sounded so familiar)…
Me: Well, it’s just another day.
As she threatened to admonish me with her “Christmas Sermon,” she would not let me walk away until I told her I was just joking. As I walked away, I said:
Me: “The world has taken it over.”
Theresa: “The world has taken over a lot of things-that doesn’t mean it has to take us over.”
Me: “I’ll use that Sunday.”

Blessings to you, and to your family,
Richard. Vincent.Rose.
 

 

PBI: Personal Bureau of Inspiration: Before Dresser, a Real Dress-Down on Relationships

Well … I studied Carol’s cards as I started to get back to our “PBI: Personal Bureau of Inspiration/What’s on your dresser?” series … but, after the first sentence, God turned it into this:

We’ve written much about how important it is to have, to set aside, that daily time of prayer and Bible study. Just you, the Lord, and His Word. Both of you … speaking. If you really think about it, that should be “all three of you speaking.” And, both of you … listening.

It is just something that you must … make time for. Yes, you must make time for it, as you must “make” time for all of those things that are really important. You may think that you just don’t have the time … that this time doesn’t exist. Ready for this? You are right: The time doesn’t exist – – – That’s why you have to “make” the time!

How often many of us, when someone asks us about our “religion,” have described it this way: “I don’t have a religion; I have a relationship.” Don’t have time for that daily time of prayer and Bible study? Then, tell me, how can you have a relationship with someone you don’t speak with?
How do you get to know someone without spending time with them? It is a relationship, that’s for sure. And, just like any relationship, it can only grow by spending time with each other.
One more: What happens … and, man, have we all seen it … What happens when two individuals in a relationship don’t “make time” to spend with each other? Remember, the time isn’t there … it doesn’t exist: That’s why you have to “make” the time.

In a strictly worldly sense, often, it is both individual’s fault when the relationship starts to turn. However, could it be said that, often, one of the two has become too busy? That one of the two wishes, more than anything, that the other would just “make time” for them. If they would … if they could … just do that … make an obvious attempt to “make the time” to spend with them … how much different … how much better the relationship would be. Why, even if the other person would just “make the time” just to talk to them, and “make the time” just to listen to them … how different … how much better … their relationship, and yes, their world would be.

Do I “need to go there,” to the place where one leaves the other … or, “strays” from the other?
Perhaps not. Too painful.

I guess it is painfully obvious the relationship we are really writing about. How Jesus must feel when we don’t “have time” to spend with Him. To get to know Him better. To speak to Him. To listen to Him. That we’re too busy to “make the time” to spend with Him. How He must feel, that, if only we would just “make” the time, take the time, to spend with Him … how much better our relationship would be … and how much better our world would be. Then, the expected result of turning away from Him, leaving Him, straying from Him … how painful, to Him, this must be. Part of His pain comes from the fact that He knows how painful it will be for us … if we continue walking away … Indeed, He can keep us from stumbling … if we will keep holding His Hand.

How many of us claim to know God, and claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus, yet don’t spend any time with Him? How can this be? Sad to say, but it can’t be. Sorry!
I am so reminded (have I spent too much time around kids?) of the times when I have heard a Pastor say something like “Just because you go to McDonald’s doesn’t make you a hamburger.”
Or, how about this one: “Just because you have a car, and a garage, doesn’t make you a mechanic.” And, other sayings like it. Usually these statements are made in conjunction with the really old one: “Just because you go to church, doesn’t make you a Christian.”

I think it goes so much deeper than that. No, I don’t see how you can claim to be a Christian, and not have a burning desire to go to where the Word is preached. It’s much deeper than that, because it is true … you can go to church … do what is expected, etc., and still not live a Christian life. I believe there is just no way you can live a Christian life without this personal relationship with Jesus. I mean, unless you have this personal, intimate relationship with Him … how in the “world” can you possibly know what He wants you to do? Without spending time with Him, speaking to Him, listening to Him … how would you even know what is expected for you to do? I mean, without this quality time, how will you get quality answers? If you don’t hear from Him personally … how will you even recognize His voice? Oh, you’ll hear voices, all right … I can assure you of that. But, His sheep recognize His voice, because He is their Shepherd. So, how can He be your shepherd if you are not in His flock?

Are you going to tell me that you are going to be led by someone you don’t know? Now, that is what I call worldly living, and worldly thinking. Just remember that if you choose to follow the world, or the crowd, you will end up in the same place they do.

Jesus loves you, and wants to spend more time with you than anyone else. You will also get more benefit from spending time with Him, than with spending time with anyone else. By the way, yes, He wants most of all for you to have this personal, intimate relationship with Him … but, He also wants you to “make the time” for the other important relationship in your life.

Ever written, or perhaps preached something that you hope was also meant for someone else???
If the Word is really from God, it changes the messenger first.
Will close for now … must “make” a little time for a conversation I need to have …

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.