christmas vine

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Christmas Vine


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    When I was young, I always looked forward to Christmas. Nothing could dampen my spirit. I

    sang holiday tunes in my house obnoxiously, danced around happily, stuffed my face with holiday crack-

    ers from Costco (I guess I still do that). I was so consumed by joy, childish or not, that no matter what

    happened, I was just happy for no logical reason.

    And then high school happened.

    And instead of focusing on the joy of this season, I find myself

    staying past midnight cramming in homework, procrastinating the

    homework I dread, being silent and pessimistic, just wanting the holi-

    day break to come so I can at last sleep, and sleep for a thousand

    years or two.

    Ive really lost a sense of what this season means, the reali-

    zation that Jesus, both man and God, was sent to earth, giving up all

    his heavenly treasures to descend as a lowly son of a carpenter, in a

    meagerly supplied barn. Theres something about it in Philippians I

    believe, about the importance of realizing how Christ diminished him-

    self in humility and became a servant to his friends.

    But in full honesty, Ive caught myself in gloom, thinking ahead

    to more college apps, feeling discouraged, thinking about applying to

    Financial Aid and how I have no inspiration to write college essays.

    Ive forgotten so much about the significance of Christmas, blanking looking at the 25th and hoping

    there arent any dinners to go to so I can work on more college things before I leave for Grace.

    But something surprising happened, as I grew older. My Christmas became a season of giving.

    Perhaps its my innate liking of shopping and spending on other people, or the challenge of finding the

    perfect gift, or something, but I do love giving gifts. I feel that the best gifts are the ones that are per-

    sonal and heartfelt.

    But then comes another complicationI become so obsessed with purchasing the right gifts I

    forget to stop and consider the gift God has placed right in front of my nose, his gift of Jesus and thus,


    It seems almost that I cant win sometimes, that when I do find joy, it is in self satisfaction and

    pursuit, rather than in enjoying Gods presence and just being with Him.

    Im like Martha, who just wants to do things but not listen like Mary.

    This Christmas season, I am challenging myself, and I challenge you too, that to take the time to

    stop, to pause, and to reopen Gods gift of Jesus.

    Lets strive to keep the Christmas spirit of thankfulness and joy alive in me year-round.

    From the Editors

    - Kelly Yu

  • From the Editors

    - Melody Zhang

    Recently my friend expressed deep concern and worry personally for the people who

    dont know or refuse to know God as our Savior. In other words, she felt that she was person-

    ally held accountable for the people around her that werent saved, that it would be her fault

    if the people that she could have reached out to didnt go to heaven. Shes obviously not

    alone in her thoughts; I ask myself the same question: (in her words) what if you and I

    couldve prevented someone from not making it to heaven?

    It seems true, doesnt it? I mean, without our lights as a candle and guide for the lost

    and the struggling, being a Christian wouldnt mean the same and the way that God saved

    people would be different. Obviously, thats not going to happen because reaching out to

    others is fundamental in our work and our belief, but the point is that God doesnt need us.

    Thats the thing. God is so much bigger than you and I and he doesnt need us to accomplish

    anything because He is omniscient in essence. Yes, he can use us as his medium to carry out

    what he wants to do and to help people, which he does. But Gods plan is foolproof; what has

    been determined will be His way in the end, and our trying or not trying will not stop his plan;

    it is actually part of his plan. God knows what each individual needs and what buttons to press

    in order for them to be arrested by His love. For some, it is people like us, for some it is the

    church, the community, the Word itself, the challenges we face in living, and for some, it is

    simply time. God can use whatever he wants because he knows how to capture each persons

    attention according to their characters, so that

    means he can even use bad experiences like

    partying stages, bad habits, even different relig-

    ions and self-explorations for the ultimate good

    and glory of Himself.

    God is God. He is always sovereign, al-

    ways in charge, no matter what we do. That

    doesnt mean that we should stop trying, because

    we should always provide the fire for the altar

    so that God can use you if He wills it to be so.

    What we can do as the stars for the darkness in

    the world is to offer our best up to God and leave

    the rest to Him.

    What is meant to be will be. So do live your best,

    do love your heart out, but take comfort in know-

    ing that He is God, He is faithful, He is sovereign.

  • 4

    From the Editors The Christmas story is simple if you view it like this: God sent Jesus into the world so that we

    could have hope.

    The virgin will be with child and will give birth

    to a son, and they will call him Immanuel

    which means, God with us.

    Matthew 1:23

    When you think of Christmas, what do

    you think of? Do you picture Jesus being born,

    finally shining a light into a world of darkness,

    the reason you and I are alive right now?

    Gods love is unfathomable that way. He

    gave the best gift we could ever receive in the

    form of salvation through faith in Christ. But do

    we really treasure that?

    I was talking with a friend the other day,

    and the parable of the vineyard came up. If you

    dont know it, go read Matthew 20:1-16! But in a

    nutshell, its about these workers who begin

    their work in a vineyard at the beginning of the day, and the employer, so to speak, hires more

    workers as the day goes on, but at the end of the day, they all receive the exact same paycheck. God

    says that anyone who believes in Him will receive the gift of eternal life. So what about the ones

    who have believed in God practically from birth, versus the ones who accept Him on their

    deathbeds? Is that fair? Being a follower of Christ is not easy. It is a spiritual battle, every single

    day, it is death to our desires, it is persecution, it is suffering. So why do the people who have sinned

    their entire lives but accept Christ as they lay dying also receive this ultimate gift? Wouldnt it be

    easier that way, if we could all do that?

    But then what would be the point? What would be the point of our lives, right now, when we

    already know of Gods love, already have felt this light we have in Christ? Because it is through suf-

    fering that we find peace, joy, and hope.

    Read these verses:

    Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does

    the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not

    prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I

    will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

    Matthew 7:21-23

    This is our calling. To wake from our slumber, and to start moving. We can sit with the Lord,

    reading His word and doing our devotions. We can pray all we want, and go to church all we want.

    The difference is whether or not we are going to actively walk with Him.

  • - Sharon Shen

    It is said that faith without deeds is dead, and deeds done without faith is equally useless. Being a

    Christian is a lifestyle. Worship is a lifestyle. Its not something we do every so often, a hobby we

    pick up and put away. This is our entire life. I cannot stress that enough; but only you can choose to

    care, about this ministry, about your life and the people you love. Only you can choose to get up on

    your feet and take Gods hand on this walk. Only you can choose to surrender your entire heart to


    The question is, will you?

    Dont you think it would be selfish to keep this gift to ourselves? God has put a light, stoked

    a fire in our hearts. Dont contain it inside of youlet your life reflect the hope you have in Jesus.

    Look around you; see all the broken people that dont have the one gift that truly matters, but you

    could give them through an overflow of Gods own love. Brothers and sisters, nothing is ever going

    to be easy. For every step we take towards God, Satan is maliciously tugging on our backs, doing

    everything he can to make us fall. And sometimes we will fall, and there will be days we want to give

    up, days we are paralyzed by fear and helplessness. But let me tell you, God is going to pick you up

    and carry you when you cannot stand; is it not enough to know with confidence that Jesus will al-

    ways be by your side? This journey of faith will be far more worth it than you could ever imagine.

    So why do you and I have to endure this pain right now? Because we have also been blessed

    with Gods hope. When all is said and done, and we stand before Christ on judgment day, how

    much more lovely will the words, well done, my good and faithful servant, sound in our ears? God

    has saved each one of us (and in the process, endurin