What Did You Get for Christmas?

What did you get for Christmas?” It was the very first question we as children asked our friends upon returning to school in January. We couldn’t wait to tell others what we received, and we listened intently as they recalled their Yuletide treasure. Now that we are adults, our question is a bit more grown up—“What did you do for Christmas?” we ask. Some gather here and some travel there. Some meet with friends, while others relax alone. Some are ready to get back to work; others perhaps not so much. But Christmas still stirs its curiosities: What did you get? and What did you do?

We celebrate Christmas as a promised fulfilled: Jesus, our Immanuel—our “God with us”1—has come, just as God through Isaiah foretold.2 Paul tells us Jesus “is the image of the invisible God”3; He is not a man who became God, but God taking on human flesh for a time and for a purpose. Then we might ask, what did Jesus do here? And Paul would answer that, through the obedience of Christ, God has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption the forgiveness of sins.”4 “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”5 What did Jesus do here? He took away our sin at great cost to Himself.

Then what did Jesus get here? In a word, us. He redeemed—purchased back for Himself—that which had been lost, that which was “created through him and for him.”6 We were created for Him and now He has redeemed us to be His very own. Just think how important we must be to Him. Imagine how He must love us. You. Me. Us. What, then, is left for us to do but to thank Him, praise Him, and worship Him through our redeemed lives. For He made us for Himself, He redeemed us for Himself, and now we are His.

“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”—Romans 11:36

Father, thank You for redeeming us through Your Son and making us Your own. May we never lose sight of our worth to You or Your love for us. In the name of Christ our Savior we pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 1:23
2 Isaiah 7:14
3 Colossians 1:15
4 Colossians 1:13-14
5 Colossians 2:13-14
6 Colossians 1:16


The World Needs You

[As a Salvation Army in Central Ohio board member, I once again have had the honor of writing a letter to be distributed at this year’s Christmas Cheer program. Through this annual event, over 6,000 Central Ohio families will receive groceries and toys to celebrate the Season. Merry Christmas! ]

What a year this has been! For many of us, 2022 has marked at least the beginning of a return to normal from a global pandemic. We are socializing more and distancing less, commuting more and telecommuting less, and smiles radiate again, reemerging from behind the confines of our masks. Freedom feels good together, for among the many things we will ultimately learn from the recent worldwide health crisis, one in particular stands out: people need people—we are made to engage with each other in meaningful and supportive ways.

For well over 100 years, the mission of The Salvation Army (TSA) has been “to preach the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Under TSA’s banner, people serve people every day through food pantries, housing assistance, learning centers, anti-human-trafficking measures, Bible studies and church services. God cares about every facet of our being—body, mind, and spirit—and He ministers through His people to others every day.

Yet The Salvation Army is just one organizational means through which God blesses His people whom He loves. The fact of the matter is, no one person or organization can even come close to meeting every human need in the world. Then again, no single individual or group has to, for that is not how God works. Rather, God works through His people everywhere, for each of us has our own relationships and our own gifts, and we are uniquely suited to serve God by blessing others wherever and however He calls us to serve them. Every believer can thrive in the knowledge that God “created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”1

Sometimes we receive, and sometimes we give. Sometimes we are served, and sometimes we serve. So, be the gift you are designed to be. The world needs you.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Rejoice! Christ has come.

Written by Paul Nordman
Advisory board member of The Salvation Army, Columbus Area Services and author of two books—Christ in Me and Working in Us What Is Pleasing to Him

1 Ephesians 2:10 NLT


Irrelevant No More

As I chaired a church committee several years ago, another member good-naturedly dubbed me “Captain Spontaneous.” Anyone who knows me gets the humor, because I am anything but spontaneous. Still today I chuckle about the moniker. We’ve heard a lot of descriptive nicknames throughout the years, haven’t we? Some are harsh and some hysterical; some we’ve given and others we’ve earned. But the sobriquet I personally find most troubling is that reserved for the very last college football player selected in the annual NFL draft: they call him, “Mr. Irrelevant.” To be considered so insignificant as not to matter—except to be publicly recognized as the one not mattering—that is tough. Yet I suspect many among us go through life questioning their relevance or believing themselves to possess little of it.

God sees things differently than we do. Declared Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Moreover, the church of Christ itself is living proof of His redemptive and transforming power. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”2 Not only does God choose His own from the “irrelevant” among us, He does so for an eternally relevant purpose—to expose the shallow ways of the world and to display His wisdom, compassion and power. This is how, for instance, the poor woman who gave everything she had—two small coins—into the temple treasury3 lives on in Scripture as a picture of humility, devotion, and faith. Irrelevant? Hardly.

Society will always define its populace according to its arbitrary and capricious ways; we cannot change this. Yet we need not despair, for God wills to rescue us, redeem us, and raise us to a place far above worldly relevance. “Humble yourselves before the Lord,” writes James, “and he will lift you up in honor.”4 Look up, Mr. Irrelevant, for the last shall be first.5

Father, how amazing is Your love for us. You remember those rejected by the world, and You seek them to be Your own. Use us for Your purposes, that our lives would display Your eternal glory. In Christ we pray, Amen.

1 1 Samuel 16:7
2 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
3 Luke 21:4
4 James 4:10 NLT
5 Matthew 20:16