Christmas Story from Luke 2:1-20, English Standard Version

Nativity_12212013In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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Books, Films, and Ministry

Books reviewed

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

For years, I divided the world into three kinds of people:  those who never learn, those who learn from their mistakes, and those who learn from other people’s mistakes. Book ministry helps move people into this latter category by connecting them with books they can use.

Book Ministry and Reviews

One way to undertake a book ministry is to give away good books.  Years ago in my office, a colleague started a book drive where he encouraged employees to bring in old, unwanted books that would be set out for display.  People could choose any book, pay what they thought it was worth, and the money raised was donated to charity.  Most of the books donated were steamy romance and murder novels.  I thought, why not throw in a few good Christian titles?

Another way to undertake a book ministry is to give people books that focus on the issues they are struggling with.  My favorite wedding gift for many years, for example, has been Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s Boundaries. Another frequent gift for inactive, older friends and family was Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge’s Younger Next Year, which explains in detail why exercise will extend and enrich your life. After gifting a book, I would check up later to see what they thought of it.

Another variation on the book ministry theme is to give relatives the same book or inspirational DVD as a Christmas gift.  The idea is to generate buzz in the family about a helpful topic and to move conversation away from the weather, sports highlights, and the latest tragedy on television.  While this may be akin to mission impossible, inspirational DVDs accomplish the same objective.  A modestly priced example is:  The Star of Bethlehem (2009) by Frederick A. Larson and Stephen Vidano.

Speaking of Christmas, why not wrap up your favorite inspirational titles and DVDs and bring them as gifts when you go caroling at the local retirement center, jail, or psyche ward?  People in these places have a lot of time on their hands and the cable channels are unfortunately a major part of their entertainment.  DVDs are also useful in reaching young people.

Summary

Over time, my book ministry evolved into blogging reviews of good books and writing books of my own.  While I have reviewed a few newly published books, most books that I review are more than a couple years old.  The reason is simple: I am trying to introduce readers to books that have changed my life in some way.  Hopefully, my books and reviews will help readers learn from my experience.

References

Cloud, Henry and John Townsend. 1992.  Boundaries:  When to Say YES; When to Say NO; To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids:  Zondervan.

Crowley, Chris and Henry S. Lodge. 2007. Younger Next Year:  Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond. New York:  Workman Publishing.

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

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