And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:2



crystal_crossAll eyes in the tightly packed game room gazed intently at the heap of brightly wrapped Christmas gifts in the middle of the floor. In the background, Christmas tree lights twinkled as the aroma of chocolate chip cookies and hot wassail hung in the air. All 40 of us waited patiently for our turns to choose any gift we wanted from the treasure heap.

Anticipation mounted as the first person opened his chosen treasure. “Oh boy,” he shouted. “A tackle box!”

There was only one problem with getting such a highly sought after gift. The game of Dirty Santa allows the next person to choose a gift from the unopened pile or from any of the gifts already opened, taking it away from the one who held it. If your gift is confiscated, you can then choose again from the pile or from all the opened gifts.

Clearing his throat, number five stood for his turn, speaking crisply. “I’ll take the tackle box, please!” Shouts of laughter ensued as a loud groan escaped the lips of number four. Choosing again, number four opened a beautiful crystal cross, generating oohs and ahhs all around the room.

All of us opened gifts and jockeyed for position to obtain the greatest treasures in the room. Gifts like the tackle box were confiscated all three of the allowed times before finding a permanent home. Each time a person stood to choose a gift, the owner of the crystal cross held out his treasure offering it to anyone who would take it.

“No thank you, I’ll pass on that,” said one after the other. “Are you sure?” said its owner.  “Come on, I want that 20 quart cooler to take fishing!” Hoots of laughter echoed around the room as he whined, “Anyone else want this? Going once, going twice …”

As I sat there watching the crystal cross face rejection time after time, I couldn’t stand it anymore. “I want it!” I shouted. Silence filled the room as every eye turned to see why I was shouting. After all, it was just a game and everybody was having fun. No one meant anything by it.

But all I could think about was what that cross represented.

Christ purposefully left the grandeur of heaven to come to this violent sick earth, all because He loves us so much. Coming here represented how dedicated He was, and still is, to our rescue.

Jesus gladly sends His message of peace and goodwill to you on His birthday again this year! I pray you’ll take advantage of it and accept His cross as your most valuable Christmas present ever! As we play our games and enjoy the most beautiful time of the year, I pray we’ll all be careful to remember and respect the sacrifice it took to bring the blessings of Christmas.

Merry Christmas friends! I pray the Lord’s richest blessings upon you!

Until 2015,

Your Traveling Partner,


Gifted To Give

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  
2 Corinthians 9:15

Gifted To Give


soup-kitchen-300x180Everywhere I look, I see the same message.  Every song, every sermon, every blog post, every article seems to shout the subject of giving. Well, of course, you say! It’s Christmas! No, it’s November 1. Doses of Encouragement are written and submitted weeks ahead of time so our incredible staff—editor Betty and uploader Janice—can make sure they appear in your inbox on time!

As I’ve journeyed with the Lord for some thirty plus years now, I’ve noticed a pattern in His teaching style with me. First, there’s the Word from the Word approach; next, there’s the Word from everywhere else approach; and finally, there’s the Word from the woodshed approach. Personally, I’d like to get the lesson BEFORE going to the woodshed! Therefore, my ears perked up as soon as the subject of giving became obvious. Maybe yours will, too!

The Lord asked me questions like this:  Do you embrace giving as an act of worship, obedience and faith? Or do you view it as generosity prompted by feelings of love, compassion or even obligation?

Think with me for a moment.

The problem with the second question is that feelings come and go with the wind!  You’ve had it happen, I know! One minute you’re ready to open up the coffers and lavish your most treasured possessions on one of your children. The phone rings. They answer. They give you the cold shoulder and BAM! No special gift for you, Sweet Thing!

How grateful I am that God’s love isn’t withheld because we ignore, embarrass or even disappoint Him. He has lavished His love on us and His love is spelled G-I-V-E! You know the verse—“For God so loved the world that He GAVE … ” He gave His best: Jesus. And we’re never more like Jesus than when we are moved by His Spirit to meet other humans in their moments of need.

The Apostle Paul commends the churches of Macedonia because they gave beyond their ability, of their own accord, and out of their poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Why is it that we so often struggle to give out of our prosperity, yet they gave BEYOND their ability AND out of their poverty?  That brings conviction to my heart.

Let’s not get so caught up in the merriment of this Christmas season that we miss real opportunities to respond to God’s indescribable gift through worship, obedience and demonstrative faith, which produce a wealth of generosity!

From my heart to yours,



Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Psalm 100 (NKJV)



On Thanksgiving Day I pray you and your family had a grand old time. I pray you counted your blessings to each other and to God.

Nativity-300x249Especially today in our seemingly self-sufficient world, we need to realize we need God. We need to understand we are dependent on Him for our daily lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, we simply cannot be all we need to be and do all we need to do without His help.

When we finally understand this fact, it will create in us a thankful heart. A thankful heart will produce the peace and joy we all crave. And Christmas is all about peace and joy!

I love holiday celebrations! As we head into the Christmas season, I pray we will remember to show a thankful and giving heart to the stressed and hurting around us. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, let’s remember to show the joy of Jesus and His love on our faces and in our voices. People are in desperate need of it.

They will see that having joy in this season doesn’t revolve around how much money we spend or how many gifts we give or get.

It revolves around remembering the Reason for the season – Jesus – and sharing that Reason with those around us. LET THE HOLIDAY’S BEGIN!