Christmas or Easter?

Non-Christians probably prefer Christmas to Easter. After all, don’t most people like to give and receive gifts? Gifts that often have more value–probably even more lasting value–than chocolate (or real) bunnies and various other candies.

Too many people–through no fault of their own–lack an adequate and correct understanding of the significance of both of those holidays.

Yes, Christmas is a time of giving. No wonder. The Christmas story in the Bible mentions the gifts brought by the so-called wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Very precious and expensive gifts. But those gifts were brought to the Christ child, not to Mary and Joseph, and gifts were not given to the wise men in return.

No matter how valuable the wise men’s gifts were, they pale in comparison to God’s giving up part of Himself by uniting with a human woman to create a baby who was both human and divine.

His was a gift of the greatest love imaginable.

God had had established a system of sacrifices based for the atonement of sins–that is, to provide forgiveness and to make things right between the ancient Jews and God. The sacrificial system involved the killing of a Passover lamb.

That lamb had to be perfect. Spotless. No blemishes. As perfect as it could possibly be. If an imperfection was discovered at the last minute, that lamb couldn’t be used. It wouldn’t be acceptable.

That sacrificial system didn’t really accomplish everything God had wanted it to do. So, in giving part of Himself through the birth of Jesus, God Himself became the most perfect sacrificial lamb possible. Perfect because Jesus never committed even the least sin.

If He had sinned, even once, He wouldn’t have been good enough to be sacrificed for the sake of mankind.

Yet if He hadn’t been part human, He wouldn’t have been subject to the temptations that plague each of us daily. If He hadn’t been tempted and had to rely on His Heavenly Father for the strength to resist each and every temptation, His sacrifice would’ve been meaningless. Because God is fully righteous, the only acceptable sacrifice had to be sin-free.

The sacrifice of the Passover lamb necessitated that it be killed. Without the spilling of blood, its death would’ve been worthless.

And so it was with Jesus. If He hadn’t been killed on a Roman cross–His blood was spilled in the process–His sacrifice wouldn’t have been acceptable to God the Father.

But Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb, and His death paid the price for the sins each of us is born with simply because we’re descendants of Adam and Eve–not only the first human beings, but the first sinners.

The fact that God brought Jesus back to life and then, after a period of days, brought Him back to Heaven gives Easter a whole new perspective. God forgives our sinful natures because of Jesus’s death, but–without a relationship with God through faith in Jesus–God would not consider any of us righteous or worthy of both eternal life in Heaven and a more meaningful life here on earth.

Christmas or Easter? What do you think?

If Jesus hadn’t been born a true miracle baby, Easter would have no significance. So Christmas is definitely something to celebrate.

But Christmas was just the necessary beginning of the story. Easter is the rest of the story.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

P.S. Pictured below is my latest novel. The Kindle version is free today only at Amazon. Go here to get your copy.

Roger's newest novel

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Christmas Traditions

Long gone are the Christmas traditions I grew up with during childhood. I’m not sure I can remember any from that part of my life. Not unless you count having to hang each icicle on the tree individually!

Seriously, my wife, Kathleen, and I have established our own Christmas traditions. Christmas Eve starts with a candle lighting service at church. If we don’t eat before going, we have a quick meal when we get home and then head to the table we keep the little tree and the presents on.

I’m not sure why we started doing our opening of presents on Christmas Eve, but it makes Christmas morning easier. (While I was growing up, my mother’s health situation required her to eat breakfast before we could do presents; obviously not a kid-friendly necessity.)

After that, we put the DVD of Celtic Woman’s  Christmas special on and thoroughly enjoy the music and the costumes. And we always express our amazement at the way the CW violinist dances and prances around on stage while playing so beautifully!

Breakfast on Christmas morning is apt to be one of the favorites we usually only have on weekends–waffles or pancakes. This year we’re getting bacon bits to put in the waffles.

Although we always eat out for Thanksgiving dinner, I doubt there are any restaurants open on Christmas day. Sometimes we splurge and buy crab for me to make crab cakes. Or a leg of lamb. But this year Kathleen is going to fix pizza and a sugar-free apple pie. Yum!

This year will be the beginning of a new tradition. We saw the animated movie The Star when it came out last year and then bought the DVD to watch on Christmas Day. As much as we enjoyed it last year, it’s been tough to hold off watching it ever since the DVD arrived.

Most important of all traditions, however, is making a point of remembering that Christmas isn’t really about any of those things. It’s the celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord. How God could impregnate Mary supernaturally is something we’ll never be able to comprehend, but the fact that Jesus was both God and man is an essential element of the Christian faith.

That makes His the most worthwhile birthday of any to celebrate year in and year out.

Thanks to my good friend Tammy Van Gils for her recent blog post about Christmas traditions; that’s what inspired me to write about Kathleen’s and my traditions.

Do you have any special traditions? How about sharing a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

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Almost You’re Smiling

Since tomorrow is Christmas Day, I wanted to share one of my original songs with you. A Youtube video of me singing “Almost You’re Smiling” can be seen here.  A free lead sheet is available here.

If you’re like me, you’ve often wished you had been around two thousand years ago to witness Jesus’s life and ministry in person. But wishing doesn’t change the fact we were born two millennia too late.

Rather than fret about it, let’s imagine we were among the shepherds who saw and listened to the angels’ spectacular announcement of Jesus’s birth–no Super Bowl commercials could come close to matching it!–and have come to the stable, where we’re looking at Jesus as a newborn.

Hmm. No matter how special the angels said He was, He looks pretty much like any other baby, doesn’t He? Or does He look a little bit more peaceful than a regular baby as he lies there sleeping?

He opens His eyes. He appears to look first at you and then at me. Strange. Newborns aren’t able to focus that way, are they? More amazing still, He appears to be deep in thought. But babies can’t think yet; thought requires a knowledge of language, something  babies aren’t born with.

Of course, we know He’s both human and divine. So isn’t it possible He can observe things a normal baby can’t observe? And think or feel things babies shouldn’t be able to think or feel?  Alas, the Bible doesn’t tell us.

I speak to baby Jesus, aware that He shouldn’t be able to understand me. Yet He appears to be listening to my words. Perhaps even comprehending them. As if He might truly be more than just an ordinary baby. After all, fully human and fully divine is a strange and powerful combination. Not to mention a unique one.

Yes, Jesus is unique. Even so, I’m certain He won’t be able to answer my questions or comment about my observations. But I’ll ask and comment anyway.

“Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.
Can it be You feel the coldness of the world You’ve come to?
Do You somehow miss the warmth You’ve left at home in Heaven?
Little baby in a manger, almost You’re crying.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?

Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.
Can it be You feel the joy of those who wait Your coming?
Do You somehow know what hope You’ve brought to earth from Heaven?
Little baby in a stable, almost You’re smiling.

Do you see Yourself as just an ordinary baby,
Or do You somehow recognize that You’re the Son of God?”

I don’t know how Jesus differed from ordinary babies while–at the same time–still being quite ordinary. It doesn’t  matter. Even as a baby, He deserved and deserves my praise and adoration–during the whole year. Not just at Christmas.

Please share a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,


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Decorations – Now or Ever?

I don’t know what the stores are like where you live, but the ones at the mall down the road from us started decorating for Christmas before Halloween.

And not just decorating. Penny’s has a number of Christmas-themed products occupying prominent places on major aisles. Presents for pets. Santa-themed sleepwear. You name it, they’ve probably got it.


I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked at seeing the decorating starting so early. Not when it’s been this way longer than I can remember.

The decorating is really ramping up now. The mall has placed two trees at the ends of mostly empty hallways. Soon they’ll hang the huge fresh-looking wreaths that require special equipment to reach high enough to put them in place. Santa’s chair and the related setting just appeared a day or two ago.

With “Black Friday” coming this week, I can understand the need to get everything ready for all the Christmas shoppers. This is the one time of year our mall doesn’t look dead.

I can recall helping decorate the Christmas tree when I was still living at home. My parents were very particular. I wasn’t to simply throw the icicles over the branches, but to drape them carefully, one by one. How tedious!

But also how effective. The extra care showed.

And that was in the days when the Christmas tree lights were a real pain. Some of you may recall the times when a strand wouldn’t light if one bulb had burned out. Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I’m not interested in doing much decorating now. Fortunately, neither is my wife.

Back when we had two cats–even when we got down to one–there was no way to safely have a Christmas tree on the floor. So we downsized from a nice pre-decorated tree to one we could put on the dining room table. We tried a Norfolk Island pine several years, but since we always managed to kill them eventually, we switched to a reusable tabletop-sized artificial tree.

It got in the way. Too many presents, I suppose. So now we don’t have  a tree at all. Kathleen puts up a few decorations every year, but nothing elaborate.

People might accuse us of being Scrooges, but I say, “Bah! Humbug!” to that accusation.

Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth. That’s the only thing that matters. And we don’t need decorations to do that.

Besides that, nothing can ever begin to match the original Bethlehem star.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,


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A Gift of Music

Being a Christian isn’t a very popular thing to admit to these days. In fact, in various parts of the world, it’s downright dangerous. And even here in the United States Christians are being persecuted in numerous ways. How ironic that the people who should be known for their love–not just of one another, but of their enemies–are being treated as if we’re the most vicious and hateful people in the world.

I’m not someone who goes around hitting people over the head with my Bible, and I’m able to share my faith verbally only when I feel led to do so. That doesn’t happen very often. It’s not because I’m afraid to share, but because I tend to get really tongue-tied unless the circumstances are right.

Nonetheless, we’re supposed to be salt and light to the world.

As you already know if you’ve been following this blog, I like to walk at the mall. I’ve developed a special relationship with most of my fellow walkers, the custodians, the security folks, and some of the other employees. While I can’t say that we’re friends in the true meaning of the word, we are not just associates or casual acquaintances, either.

I care about them, and I pray for them while I’m walking. But seldom am I walking with anyone, and only twice that I can recall has the subject of church, which is not the same as Christianity, come up. So, even while praying for them, I’m praying for a way to share my faith–in a way that is helpful, honest, but non-pushy.

Some months ago a thought came to mind that I couldn’t shake. An inspiration I believe came from God.

Over the past fifty years, I’ve written over two hundred Christian songs. (Only one secular song, and that’s a love song.) Although I’ve recorded most of them at home on an increasingly better variety of multi-track recorders, sometime within the last year I bought a new recorder and began making better recordings of the songs I consider my best ones.

The inspiration was to make CDs to give to these folks I might never have just the right opportunity to verbally share my faith with. At that stage I’d recorded twenty-five songs on the new recorder. I soon realized people might listen to a dozen songs, but only those who were really interested would listen to twenty-five.

So I asked my wife, Kathleen, to pick out her favorites, and I started making copies–one at a time. I created an insert that explained my background as a lifelong amateur musician and song writer and cut out dozens of copies. You can see a copy of it here. ) Kathleen helped with handwriting basic information on the CDs themselves and I stuffed them, the liners, and business cards (I didn’t want to take a chance people might not realize the CD was of–as well as from–me) into paper CD sleeves.

I never expected to have as much fun as I did giving those out. I started out with “Merry Christmas!” and a brief explanation that these were some of the songs I’d written over the years. People were really surprised–and oh! so grateful and appreciative. Even the Muslim couple I gave one to. (If you’d like to hear these songs, go here and scroll down to the first drop down box.)

I had no idea how God might use my music. I still don’t. Several people have expressed appreciation after listening to their CD, though. I’ll probably never know who’s listened and who hasn’t. Or who has found inspiration in my songs and who has tossed them in the trash or given them to someone else.

But that’s okay. I didn’t do this for praise. I did it because I felt led to do it, and I pray daily that my efforts will have the effect God wants them to have.

What do you think? How would you have reacted to a gift like this if you’d received it from someone you saw frequently at the mall but didn’t really know? Please leave a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

Making Lists (part one)

My wife and I both maintain wish lists on Amazon, and we share them with my daughter in Orlando and my step-daughters in NYC and Las Vegas.

Having an item on the list is no guarantee we’ll get it, however. I kept a $150 multi-CD player on my list for several years before I gave up and saved enough to buy it myself. But at least my wife and the other members of the family knew I wanted it.

With Christmas coming up in just a few weeks, we’ve been busy adding last minute items to our lists and urging the “kids” to make sure their lists are up-to-date.

Then we turn to the other person’s list and do the actual shopping, knowing we won’t make any wrong decisions if we select from the wish list. Never anything to return or exchange.

Of course, some folks believe that people who love one another should know each other so well they can choose appropriate gifts without being given a list, which they see as asking for specific presents. They think it’s a step above Halloween, which they label as a day for legalized begging. Totally undesirable.

I’m glad no one who gives me presents feels that way. And no one I give presents to, either.

Not having to go shopping during this season of the year is wonderful! Black Friday? What’s that?

We just sit at home and dream of what we might want while buying confidently for others. And we don’t feel silly about putting down some of the things we’d probably never buy for ourselves.

Those wish lists have another benefit. I often come across books I’d like, but where would I keep a list of them when I can so easily add them to my wish list–and periodically check the list and get rid of anything I’ve bought for myself or changed my mind about? Sometimes the only way to identify a specific item I was once interested in is to look at my wish list.

I think you can see why we’re sold on using wish lists, but we take another kind of list quite seriously. Come back again on Wednesday if you want to learn what it is and why it matters.

Do you use wish lists? How about leaving a comment?


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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,