The First Christmas – for teens and older children

Front-cover-e-600You are invited to follow the posts that tell the events leading up to and following the birth of Christ on my blog Bible Bites 4 Teens. The posts are spaced a few days apart to help develop the feel of advent as well as to give the message time to settle on our hearts a little at a time as we re-experience the wonder of the birth of Jesus the Christ. A few posts are already up, so you may want to click here to find the first post. All posts are short so it won’t take long to catch up.

Most of the illustrations come from the children’s book The First Christmas by Janice D. Green and illustrated by Violet Vandor. These blog posts are written with older children and teens in mind and include additional information that was omitted from the children’s book. The extra posts may display other illustrations or may go without.

Christmas Carols and Hymns – say what???

24231644_s O little town...Don’t you love the Christmas season and all the beautiful carols and hymns! I do! Today I sang in two different Christmas concerts in two different churches and thoroughly loved taking part in both.

But even though I love the carols and songs, I have problems with many of them because they don’t follow the Scriptures accurately. For instance, we sing “We Three Kings,” yet the Bible does not tell us how many kings there were – only that they brought three gifts to the Christ Child.

Many carols sing about the angels singing, but most Bible translations refer to the angels “saying” not “singing” when they praised God. And do angels really play harps? A brief reference in Revelation 5:8 mentions “four living creatures” playing harps which many believe may be angels – so this may not be a fair conclusion either.

We sing “Away in a Manger” with “no crying He makes.” Does the Bible say anything about whether baby Jesus cried? I haven’t seen it anywhere.

Where in the Bible is the story about the “Little Drummer Boy?”

Did the shepherds “Follow the Star to Bethlehem?” The star led the wise men, not the shepherds. Bethlehem wasn’t very big at the time Jesus was born. All the shepherds needed to know was to look for a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. The shepherds knew their way around Bethlehem so it wouldn’t have taken all that long for them to find baby Jesus.

Please forgive me for raising these issues. I’m truly not trying to be a spoiler or a smart Alec. Our Christmas songs are a part of our Christian heritage and have a rightful place in our Christmas celebrations.

But I mention these discrepancies to make a different point. Where should we get our understanding about issues of our faith? Do we really know the Christmas story? Are we willing to read the Bible for ourselves, or will we settle for what the popular trends of the day want to teach us about what is in the Bible?

The secular world is doing everything it can to undermine the faith of Christians today – and they especially target our youth. Movies run the gamut with stories about the Bible – some are wonderful such as The Nativity Story, while others such as The Da Vinci Codedeliberately contrive to deceive.

There is a wide range of organizations that claim to be Christian as well. While most share the basic Christian doctrines and differ on lesser issues, cults take off on tangents of all kinds. There is no substitute for reading the Bible for yourself. A good understanding of what the Bible says will give you the information you need to distinguish false teachings from the good.

In this day and time with access to the Internet, there are only a few people who can’t read the Bible in whatever translation and language they want. It only requires an honest desire to know what the Bible says, and a willingness to take the time to read it.

–written by Janice D. Green, author of The First Christmas.Front-cover-e-600


A lesson learned from a Bobwhite Quail chick

Bobwhite quail chick (small)I love to hear a Bobwhite  Quail in the evening, but it has been years since I have heard them. So I recently purchased some Bobwhite Quail eggs and put them in our incubator. I’ll say early on that quail are not easy to raise – the hatch rate is low and so is the survival rate.

This batch of quail has been no exception. The hatch rate was barely higher than 50% and I’ve lost close to half of the chicks in their first six days of life. A baby quail is so tiny. Its body, not counting the fluffy feathers, is smaller than the first joint of my thumb. The eggs aren’t much bigger than a marble. I thought I was going to lose one more chick today as I found it lying on its side and kicking. It couldn’t get up and walk. I decided to try something different to help this chick.

Wow! I am amazed at the difference a little bit of time made in this tiny chick’s life. It seemed to me that this little chick needed help in strengthening the right muscles and getting a better grasp for how it feels to walk. So I held the little chick in my hand for a while forcing it to stand on its feet. After about 15 minutes or so, I put it by itself in our older incubator with the straight sides and wooden base and watched to see what might happen. I was amazed to see the chick stand for a little while and take a few steps before it toppled over. I helped it get back on its feet several times and made sure it found the water, as I’m sure it was probably dehydrated from not being able to get around. The chick then leaned against the wooden sides of the incubator to help it stand, and it followed it around from side to side.

The tiny chick peeped constantly. I believe it was lonely for the other chicks, as quail like many of our feathered friends thrive in flocks. I put one other chick with it so it wouldn’t be alone. The first one I put with it pecked at it, so I put that one back and got another one. When I checked back later, I was happy to see both chicks moving around quite well. If the previously lame chick hadn’t been pecked on earlier by the other chicks, I doubt I could tell which chick had been lame.

I can imagine many parallels between my little chick and a child with a disability or with low self esteem. What can we do to help our children get a glimpse of what success feels like?

Encouraging words are so needed by many children. I know because I was one who grew up with very low self-esteem. I remember the rejection of classmates at an early age. I even had a teacher who made me sit in her lap and called me a baby quite often. I was a prime target for that thanks to un-diagnosed A.D.D. Living in a family with two working parents and little parental supervision and intervention meant my siblings and I picked on one another with seldom a thought of building one another up.

43132726_sWe need to be intentional in choosing to reach out to children and youth, even adults sometimes, who have problems in building healthy relationships with others.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to introduce them to Christ, the great healer. But before they will listen to what we want to say about Spiritual matters, they have to know we genuinely care about them. Who needs your encouragement today?

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