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Day 14 – “A Hawaiian Christmas”

Last Christmas, I surprised my wife with a vacation to Hawaii for our 20th anniversary.  We have never been on a tropical vacation together, not even a cruise.  We got married after I graduated college and all we could afford at that time was a three day trip to Branson for our honeymoon.  I saved for a year, anticipating the two decade celebration of our marriage.  We had an amazing time together!  Our favorite part was unplanned driving exploration on the coast.  We found a new beach around every turn.  From black sand beaches, huge waves crashing against the lava rock, and beautiful waterfall cliffs, it was unlike anything we had ever seen or experienced.  It was heaven on earth!  We experienced a luau on the beach, gorgeous sunsets, and even walked through a dark lava tube looking for a waterfall on the other side!  We even happened across 800 acres of new land formed by a volcano eruption!  What at a great time together in paradise!  We didn’t want to leave the most beautiful place we had ever experienced!  But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  We came back to a cold, wet January in Arkansas. 

I remember on the plane ride back thinking about leaving paradise for the flat delta of Arkansas.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Arkansas and where I live, but I had just left paradise!  It made me think about how Jesus left heaven for earth.  He left the ultimate Paradise to not only visit earth as God, but He also became fully man.  Jesus left intimacy and being face to face with God to dwell with us.  He gave up perfection, glory, and majesty of heaven to be born in a manger, suffer a criminal’s crucifixion.  Why would He do that?  He did it because He loves you and me.  The most beautiful expression of love was God came down and dealt eternally with the ugliest horror of all – sin.  Matthew 1:23 says, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.” Jesus left heaven for earth so one day we could leave earth for heaven. 

Question:  Have you given your life to Christ?  Have you responded to His grace and received His gift of salvation? 

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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