Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Shack: Making God in our own image

   Nine years ago, a very controversial book came out titled The Shack. It got rave reviews from people like Gloria Gaither and Michael W Smith, and a lot of bad reviews from others. It was THE book to read in the year 2007. I heard a lot about the book, and read the reviews of it on Amazon and Christianbook.com. People either loved it or hated it, there were not in between opinions. I seriously don't think there is another book labeled Christian that has as many consumer reviews as it has.

  I finally decided to read the book for myself and see what all the fuss was about..... and I hated it. The premise was cool..... a man meeting God at the place where his little girl was killed........but that was all that was good.

 (My reviews are here: The Shack: My review, Revisiting The Shack, and a review of it that was also on Chuck Swindoll's page.)

   First there were the curse words. I am one of those extreme Christians who believe no Christian should ever use curse words, and that no author who is writing a Christian book should include curse words... and this book had quite a few.

   Then there was the author's portrayal of God: All through the Bible, God is portrayed as masculine: He, His, Father..... There are those who argue that God has no gender, which I am not sure there is any proof of that, but regardless, God always refers to Himself in the masculine........ but William P Young does not.

  In The Shack, God is a black woman who speaks like an uneducated black woman........and man, did that rub me wrong. (and no, it wasn't the black part.... it was the woman and uneducated part).

   And then there is Jesus: Young does portray Jesus as a man, but as a blundering one who makes mistakes and has no clue about some things (and who is oddly white, and not black like His Father......mother?)

  The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a woman, which if God is three in one and uses the masculine pronouns for Himself, it would only make sense that the Holy Spirit would have a masculine pronoun.

 I have been amazed at the many Christians who love this book, have no issues with it, and will in fact defend what I and many others view as heresy. (In fact, there will be those who are offended by this blog post because they like the book so much).

   With the making of the book into a movie, The Shack has been getting a lot of attention again. As I was thinking about the book and movie, a thought hit me that didn't before: by Young's portrayal of the Trinity, and more specifically God the Father,  Young is making God in his own image, or an image he seemed to prefer for his book.

 If you study the names of God/Jesus, they cover a lot, and each name shows a different characteristic of Him: Rock, Shepherd, Father, Prince of Peace, Jehovah Jireh, and many more. The Bible is full of different names and characteristics of God. Nowhere is God portrayed as an uneducated black woman with poor speech.

   Why couldn't Young have written this book and stayed Biblical? Why couldn't he have portrayed God as the loving Father of the Bible, instead of as an uneducated black woman who can't even talk right? Why did Young feel the need to make God in his own way instead of what God is really like?

 This statement is not original with me, but I believe it with all my heart: There is a danger of bringing God down too low and making Him too common. Yes, God became a man, but not a bumbling idiot like Young portrays in his book, but God is not common........ and Young brought God down way too low in his novel.

   It isn't popular to speak up about this book and movie, but I firmly believe it is heresy, it is bringing God down too low, making Him into our own image, and should not be labeled Christian, but heresy.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

We have it better than the shepherds and wise men

  Have you ever read the Christmas story and wished you had been there? Have you ever gazed at your Nativity scene and envied the shepherds and wise men of long ago who got to gaze on the baby Jesus? I have many times. Imagine how awesome it was to be among the first to see the Savior of mankind lying there in a manger of hay. And as I mentioned in my blog post The unrealistic Nativity scene, it is likely that the visitors held the baby Jesus... wouldn't you have wanted to if you had been standing or kneeling there?

  Thoughts of the Christmas story have naturally been going through my mind a lot this week, and something author and pastor Kyle Idleman said came to my mind:

“Sometimes, I hear people talk about the different men and women of the Old Testament, and there is a hint of jealousy. They may say it, or just insinuate it, but here's what they communicate...'What would it have been like to hear God's voice and see him move in such powerful ways? I wish it was the same for us as it was for those whose stories we read about in scripture. When I get to heaven I can't wait to ask David, Elijah, or Moses what it was like.' But I think it will be just the opposite in heaven. Before we can ask David what it was like to slay a giant, to win the battles, he'll say, Tell me what it was like on earth to have the Holy Spirit inside of you, giving you strength when you are weak. We might say to Elijah, What was it like to call down fire from heaven before the prophets of Baal and to raise that boy from the dead? And I think Elijah might say, yeah, he actually ended up dying again. You tell me what it's like to have God living inside of you. What was it like to live life on earth with the Holy Spirit giving you joy when you're depressed or giving you the power to overcome that sin in your life? We might say to Moses, What was it like to follow the cloud by day and the fire by night? What was it like to meet with God on that Mountain? And Moses might say, I had to climb that mountain to meet with God. You tell me what it was like to have him dwell in you everyday. What was it like to have the Holy Spirit giving you directions when you didn't know what to do or where to go?” 

  What if that is true of the shepherds and wise men? They had no clue when they gazed at Jesus as a baby of what he would do. The shepherds most likely saw Him as One who would free them from Rome and set everything right. The wise men probably thought He would be a great earthly king. None of them knew what we know, that the baby lying there would die on a cross and rise again to save us from our sins. They had no clue that this baby would some day live inside of people and you wouldn't need to go to a certain place to find Him.... that He would be everywhere. They had no clue that "Immanuel, God with us" meant more than seeing Him there in the flesh......it meant we can have Him with us in a way they couldn't imagine. What if when we get to Heaven, they ask us what it was like living our lives this side of the manger and cross? What if they envy us for knowing all of our lives about the cross, Jesus' sacrifice, the resurrection?

  Even if we could step back through time and stand or kneel with the shepherds and wise men, what good would that do us if we aren't doing all we can do here today to know that same Jesus and follow Him with all we have? Sure, how awesome that would be to be there on that night that changed the world, but we have something so much better: we can have Him in our hearts and lives in a way that they had no clue of that night.

 Are we following Jesus the way we can, the way we should......or is He just another of the many facets and areas of our lives? Is He our everything, or does He come in second place to everything else?

 Maybe I am wrong....... but if the shepherds and wise men could see and know what we know and can have, they would switch places with us in a heartbeat..... and they would give their all, not just part of themselves to follow Jesus.

  We truly have it better than those visitors of 2000 years ago. Are we doing as we should with what we know and can have with that same Jesus today?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The future of my blog

   I haven't posted  on here for a while, as I have had a lot on my mind and have been frustrated about some things. I have become increasingly frustrated by people wanting me to keep quiet with my criticisms of Donald Trump. I have posted some really harsh stuff about Obama and his wife over the last 8 years, and no one gave me a hard time. No one told me I should give him a chance. No one went running to my sister and brother-in-law who aren't on Facebook to complain about what I was saying about Obama - yeah, that has happened with my Trump comments.

   Facebook has a neat feature that shows you memories every day of what you posted a year ago today, 2 years ago today, etc, , and I have been seeing a lot of things I posted about Obama and his wife over the last few years...... and I posted some very harsh stuff.... as harsh, if not harsher than what I have posted about DT, and again no one said a word.

  Obama was actually easier to deal with in some ways than Donald Trump. I am still 100% against Donald Trump and believe he was a disaster of a choice.....but I didn't have to see people post nauseating stuff about Obama, whereas I see a lot about Trump. And I got no push-back or criticism for being critical of Obama.

  When I look at Trump, I see an enormous double standard and the hypocrisy of the Republican Party in general. No, I am not saying the people who reluctantly voted for him out of fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency are hypocrites.....that is the Republican Party in general. Many of the same Christians and conservatives who have stood against certain things and for certain things for years, suddenly didn't seem to care about those things when it came to Donald Trump,  and took a harsh stand against anyone who dared oppose him. Christian leaders who should have been running from supporting a man like Trump did their best to shame, guilt, and scare Christians into supporting and voting for Donald Trump. To be blunt, anyone who voted for Trump in the primaries needs to repent. And anyone who has defended his vulgarity, immorality, and bullying needs to repent and apologize to the Democrats they have fought for years.

   I think anyone who trusts Donald Trump and puts any hope in him is nuts. I watched him during the primaries. I have seen his past, and I believe 100% he will be a terrible president who will take this country further away from God. The Republicans didn't want a pastor, and they got far from that. His liberal past and dealings should have made any conservative refuse to vote for him in the primaries, and his morals - or lack of morals- his bullying, and his vulgarity should have made any Christian refuse to vote for him in the primaries.

   There are Christians dying and being tortured for their faith in other countries, and taking a lot from non-Christians..... yet American Christians can't seem to handle the harsh and blunt truth about their president elect. Have I gone too far with my Trump comments? Most likely..... but they are very much tamed down from the disgust I feel about him being nominated, defended, and excused by so many Christians. It is tamed down from the disgust and anger I feel from Christians trying to get me to vote for him and accuse me of being for Hillary because I wouldn't.  It would seem Christians who voted for him have less problem with his immorality, his vulgarity, his liberal track record, his strip clubs, his lying, and his bullying than they do with someone criticizing him. How on earth will Republican Christians handle true persecution if they take offense so easily with criticisms of Donald Trump? I believe that is a very legitimate question, though his supporters would deny that. And how would they handle personal attacks against them, if they can't handle them against the man they voted for?

    Some years ago, I started an anonymous blog where I could openly talk about my same-sex attractions and all that goes with it. I wanted a place where I could talk about it without being judged or ostracized by those who know me. Since I "came out of the closet" on this blog and have gotten more open about talking about it on here, that blog has become rather inactive....... but I have started a new anonymous blog. This blog will not be primarily to post about Trump - I will blog about other things, especially things I usually keep quiet about (yes, there are some things in that category!) -  but it is the reason I am starting it. Consider the irony: I used an anonymous blog for several years so I could hide my struggles with SSA from those who know me,  and yet blog about it. Now I feel free to do that in open, but am going to have a blog where I can anonymously blog about Donald Trump.  Go figure.

   I distrust Donald Trump as much as I do Obama, Hillary, or any other liberal. I am still angry with those who nominated him in the primaries and with those who tried to guilt, scare, or shame me into voting for a candidate I despised everything about, and who reminds me of every bully I have ever come across, and who reminds me of Obama with his arrogance, narcissism, bullying, and personal attacks on anyone who opposes him.

   For years, I was withdrawn, shy, insecure, and no one knew what I was thinking or up to. I spent many quiet and lonely times at home, and was almost locked up inside myself, but not to the extent some are. Then I came out of my shell, became outspoken, a bit blunt (OK, maybe a lot blunt), and everything else that has become my personality.

   I have been trying to decide what to do with social media. Part of me feels if I have to bow to the wishes of others about what I post on Facebook and blogger, then I won't post at all..... hence the anonymous blog. Maybe I need to get the people who think I should shut up about Trump give me reasons why it was OK for me to criticize Obama and not Trump.... is it the "R" by his name?

 Going forward, I am not sure what I am doing. I know, the people who voted for Trump think I should just not post anything against him.... but that is not American, and it really isn't Christian to be OK with criticisms of a Democrat president, but not a Democrat that ran as a Republican. I am a lot of things, and anti-Trump is one part of me that I feel I shouldn't have to silence. It is a package deal.

   I created a Facebook page recently to post my blog post links and book reviews, along with encouraging memes. I may mainly stick to it, blog about Trump on my secret blog and on Twitter. We shall see. I don't feel I should have to keep silent about this man, but to make people happy, and stop the pressure I get to conform and be silent,  I guess I will have to go in the closet with my anti-Trump feelings.

  I have thought about not blogging at all, but I know there are a few people who are encouraged by my blog posts. Go ahead and look shocked, it is shocking to me also. So is it the right thing to do to go completely silent because a bunch of Christians can't handle my comments about Donald Trump?

 So I will continue to blog on here and avoid politics, especially Donald Trump. When I feel the need to blog about him, I'll do it on my secret blog.......which has a really cool name, if I must say so. And no, you can't know what it is, because it is secret and anonymous. I will also continue to post on Facebook, possibly mostly on my page I made and not my regular profile page. I won't post anything about Mr Trump on there, but will in the groups I am in that consist of we conservatives who do not want a liberal godless bully for our president.

   And if you truly can't get the feelings of a #nevertrump person such as I, try this experiment: Imagine that Barack Obama was running for president on the Republican ticket with all that you know of him after seeing him in action during the last 8 years. Imagine your party picks him above some very decent and Christian candidates. Imagine you are constantly pressured to vote for him because so many people consider him to be better than the person running on the Democratic ticket. Imagine as you warn people about him and point out his faults you are mocked and told to shut up, told that all have sinned, and you shouldn't judge. Imagine that you get a lot of negative feedback for speaking up about him before and after he wins the election. That is how a #nevertrump person feels. We feel like a foreigner in our own party, and sadly in our own religion.

  And yeah, I know I need to work through my anger and disgust at some point and adjust to the idea that I am going to have another at least 4 years of a man I cannot respect and do not want for my president, and who I fear will further destroy this country I call home.

Leave my Christmas alone

  There has been an even bigger rash of posts this year by people pointing out things in the Christmas story that we supposedly get wrong. Maybe it is because a lot of them have been posted in a blogger group I help moderate that I have seen so many, but there are a lot.

 There were most likely more than three wise men.

The Bible doesn't say the angels sang

Jesus wasn't really born in a stable

The wise men don't belong at the Nativity

Jesus wasn't really born in a stable.

And more.

  I don't get why people want to make such a big deal over some of these things. I can't imagine when I get to Heaven that God is going to condemn me to an eternity in hell because I sang "We Three Kings" and had wise men in my Nativity scene.

 Were there three wise men? We have no idea. There may have been, so why waste time trying to make a case for there being more?

 Were they present when Jesus was in the manger? We have no idea. The Bible says they came into the house, but it could still be where Jesus was born.

 Was Jesus born in a stable? Bible experts, my Sunday School teacher among them, make a good case for a courtyard type of place inside a building where animals were kept for being where Jesus was born. Again, does it matter? He was definitely laid in a manger so it was pretty much a stable anyway......

 Did the angels sing? Well, the Bible doesn't say they didn't..... and I figure if we ever heard a group of angels chanting a message, it would sound more like singing than our actual singing we do here on earth.

  So refrain from singing We Three Kings, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Angels We Have Heard on High and any other song that doesn't fit into your Christmas narrative. Throw your wise men away that came from your Nativity scene.....or set them way across the room so it looks like they are journeying towards the baby Jesus.

 As for me, I am not going to sweat the small stuff. I'll keep singing those songs, figure there may have been 3 wise men, keep my Nativity figures in a stable - that is better than the box they reside in during the rest of the year - and I will put my wise men in my stable surrounding the baby Jesus. And while I am at it, I'll keep Santa completely out of the house :)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sitting at the table

  My young friend Anthony,  who shared his testimony in a recent blog post, posted this on Facebook two days ago: "The best moments of life happen when you are sitting across from someone at a coffee shop talking about life."

   I have 397 Facebook friends. I had more than that before I became vocal about Donald Trump.....guess they weren't that good of friends..... :) Seriously though, of those 397 people who haven't deleted me yet, how many of them are true friends that really know me? How many of them have I sat with, shared with, and let them see into my heart?

  In June of 2014 and 2015, I was privileged to be able to go to the Hope for Wholeness Conference in North Carolina. The conference is for those dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions. I found it very helpful and encouraging for many reasons, but Anthony's post brought to mind one specific thing that meant a lot to me.

   Too many Christians will never experience sitting across from someone at a table and sharing their innermost thoughts and struggles without fear of judgment or being ostracized. Many times during those two conferences, I sat with other men experiencing the same thing I deal with - unwanted attractions to the same sex. There were no barriers, no need to hide, and the conversations were free and unguarded. There is a depth of fellowship that is only reached and attained when Christian brothers and sisters can share without fear.

   I miss that. No, not necessarily the sharing of a mutual struggle - though I do miss that - but I miss that open and unguarded sharing and fellowship with other Christians. I have never experienced it on that level before, and have not experienced anything close to it since then.

 How often do we Christians sit with others of like-minded faith and "talk about life"? How often do we skip past the shallow surface chatter and get to the heart?'

   I like to joke and laugh. I like to make outrageous political statements. I am not sure what all people see when they look at me, but not many people see the real me. I do have a depth to me that isn't always visible, and a vulnerability that may or may not be a "perk" of the same-sex attractions I deal with.

   And maybe that is part of the problem. Maybe "normal" guys are afraid to be vulnerable, to share from the heart, and let people see them for what they are. The times we sit with other Christians and have that kind of fellowship and sharing should not be rare, but sadly it is.

  Maybe I am not the average Christian guy, but I long to sit at a table with other Christian guys and experience that kind of fellowship more often.

 The good news is we can have that with God any time.

 "The best moments of life happen when you are sitting across from someone at a coffee shop talking about life."


Mug of hope

     I recently bought a mug that many Christians wouldn't buy. I was browsing on Christianbook.com looking at the sales, and there it was for $3.99. A mug with THAT verse on, the verse so many people like to say doesn't apply to us, that we are using it wrong, etc. And it even came in a nice little box with the same verse on it.... I had to buy it.

    I have blogged about this verse before, but people from the opposing viewpoint keep bringing it up, so why can't I?

   The verse in question? Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

  I need hope. I need assurance that God is on my side and has my back..... and this verse is a reassurance of that.....so how can any Christian have an issue with that?

 Look at the verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you".....does God know the plans He has for me, or was that only  the Israelites who He knew the plans He had for? Of course He knows the plans He has for me.

"They are plans for good and not for disaster". Serving God doesn't mean we will never have problems, but I do believe God works good out of whatever comes my way.

"To give you a future and a hope". I believe God wants Christians to have hope, and that He has a future for me, whatever it holds.

 And the couple of following verses have also been a source of hope and encouragement to me:

12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

   I take serious issue with these naysayers who are constantly bringing up this verse and saying it doesn't apply to we modern day Christians. The older I get, and the further I go on this road I am traveling, the more convinced I am that we can find hope and encouragement all through the Bible. I am more convinced than ever that we need hope and encouragement. If I and many others find hope and encouragement in this verse, what right does anyone have to tell us the verse doesn't apply to us?

  I, Mark Buzard, was a captive.... not in some foreign land, but still a captive. God listened when I prayed and ended my captivity. I do have a future and a hope, and God is prospering me in the ways and areas that matter..... not financially, but spiritually and emotionally.

 So ignore that verse, skip over it, even cut it out of your Bible if you so desire..... but don't try to take away the hope and encouragement it gives me and many others.

 Now excuse me as I go drink some tea out of my mug of hope.......

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A new job, self confidence, and the boy no one liked

   My current job has been very good for my self confidence, something I have been lacking for most of my life. If we truly understood what bullying does to people, maybe....just maybe parents would do a better job of making sure they don't raise bullies. But then, millions of Christians just helped elect a huuuge bully for president, so maybe there is no hope of that.

    It is very hard to get away from, the effects of bullying. I grew up seriously believing no one liked or loved me, even God Himself. As I look back over my life, it brings me a lot of sadness and heartache as I see how much bullying has affected me. It hindered me from getting decent jobs, and even from applying for many I wanted. It hindered me from making friends, and to this day I have a difficult time making true friends and believing people actually like me.

  It has even most likely played a big part in my having same-sex attractions, or at least triggering them.

  The ways my childhood bullying have hurt and affected my life are possibly endless and too in depth and numerous to go into here. And there are ways it affected me that I may never share with anyone other than God.

 There may be books written on the subject how to get over and past the effects of bullying, as there are books written on everything. I have yet to see one that deals with it in such a way to effectively help one conquer all of it, and I definitely don't have all of the answers.

   I have worked for some difficult people in my life, and those individuals have left their mark. But this current job position I have has done wonders for me in this area of self confidence and self image, possibly more than I may ever realize. I can't count the times I have been complimented on my job performance, nor can I count the people who have complimented me: co-workers, my supervisors, nurses, nursing supervisors, visitors, patients, and more. My boss gave me a $50 gift card for doing such a good job, and more recently nominated me for employee of the month, which I got. The hospital gave me a special recognition for doing a good job last year. As I have done this job for the last 2 years and 9 months of Emergency Department Greeter, my self confidence has slowly grown and I hardly realized it.

  The hospital is starting a new position they are calling concierge. It is going to be a very visible position in the main entrance/lobby of the hospital. Duties will be greeting people, making sure they know where they are going, and offering assistance where needed. I applied for it, and wasn't sure of my chances. I am an outsourced employee, and not an actual hospital employee, but this position offers more money and I have wanted to work for the hospital. My boss said I'd be a shoe-in, and not to expect any recommendations from him because he doesn't want to lose me.

   First was the phone interview. It went well, and the lady doing the hiring said she liked my answers. Then the face to face interview with three ladies. I imagine the fact that I knew all 3 of them on some level helped, but I was the most relaxed I have ever been for an interview.

   And then the human resources interview. This one was different because the lady interviewing me was deaf and read lips. Again, it went very well and I was relaxed.

 Then I got the call with the job offer. I, Mark Buzard.... the kid nobody liked, was offered this very prestigious position with the hospital.

 There are pros and cons.
The cons:
 I have to work every other Sunday..... and I don't like to work Sundays.
I will also bounce between two hospitals, and the other one is further away.

The pros:
I will be working for the hospital, and can bid on other jobs later if I want.
I will be making more money...... at least $2 more an hour, but it will be more than that when my experience is added in....... so I am guessing it will be $3 or $4 more than what I am making.
I will work 4 days a week instead of 5 days, 2 12's and 2 8's.

  The news got around fast that I had been offered this position. I have lost track of how many people have congratulated me, told me they were happy for me, that I am perfect for this position,  and that I deserve it. And no, it has not given me a big head. It has, however boosted my self confidence even more and caused me to look back on my life and realize just how far I have come.

 There is such a thing as sinful pride and thinking too highly of oneself. God condemns that. However, the opposite is not good either. Hating ourselves, having no self esteem or self confidence does not make us a better Christian. In fact, I can see where it has hindered me from being the Christian I should be, and from being used of God in the ways I could have been used.

   I have likely lived over half of my life already, a very sobering thought. I have many regrets as I look back over my 47 years, and this is one of those regrets: that I let the actions and opinions of some bullies so long ago - and also more recently -  influence how I saw myself and how I felt God and others saw me for all of these years.

 However, I am thankful that God has used this current job and those I work with and around to finally help me in this area. My best days may be ahead of me.

In the mood for Christmas

 I have heard people say before that they just couldn't get in the Christmas spirit, that they weren't in the mood for Christmas, that Christmas wouldn't be the same this year, and other similar statements.

 This year, I can relate. I think it is a combination of things, but I just have had a hard time getting in the mood for Christmas. I still have a lot of disappointment with this election. My views on Donald Trump have not changed, and I have a lot of disgust and disappointment in that area. I feel we will trade one narcissistic, arrogant, unqualified, and horrible president for another........and I have yet to see anything to change that feeling.

 Also, I thought for sure I'd be in my own house for Christmas, and now there is no house to move into since that fell through.

 There may be a few other contributing factors, but the end result has been a very unenthusiastic feeling about Christmas. I wasn't even going to put my Nativity scene up or get our my Christmas movies.

  In the midst of my doom and gloom, a thought hit me, and it has left me feeling rather convicted.  If circumstances can so easily knock the Christmas spirit out of us and cause us to lose the anticipation and joy of the season, then we are celebrating it the wrong way and celebrating it for  the wrong reasons.

  There is so much about Christmas that I enjoy.....family, giving (and getting!) gifts, the music, the decorations, the cookies, candy, and other things that are part of this season. I get that not everyone has a nice Christmas and are experiencing loss and troubles at this time of year.

 However, if this season is truly about the birth of our Savior, we shouldn't have to be in the mood to celebrate. All of  the other things are just extra, and really don't have much to do with the real reason for the celebrating. No matter what is going on in our lives this month, no matter how we celebrate, we who follow Jesus have reason to celebrate. We who serve Him should have a sense of thanksgiving, praise, and worship that transcends everything else.

 The world sees a baby in a manger, but anyone who is a true follower of Jesus sees a Savior who died for our sins. We shouldn't have to get in the mood or the spirit of the season. No matter what is going on in our lives, we should focus on what we are celebrating.

 Now that I have my nativity scene set up and have gotten caught up on my shopping, I have finally got caught up in the spirit of the season........no, not the decorations and the commercialization of it all, but in the quiet assurance that this Jesus came for me and I know Him personally as my Lord and Savior. Everything may not be right in the world or in my world, but I can still focus on the Savior lying in the manger with the shadow of a cross falling across His face. I can praise and worship Him and be thankful even more at this time of year that not only was He born as a baby, but that He was born to die for me.