From: William Gibbons Jr
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2020 10:19 AM
To: william's email list 2018
Subject: Merry Christmas Message

Greetings to each of you,

The above image is clearly not one of mine. It is a Microsoft Lock Image. Those are the pictures that appear on a Windows 10 screen when you first turn on your computer. Why do they call them "lock images?" I have no clue, but I think the place they appear might be called a lock screen. I learned where to find them, and how to save them, in my computer. I use them in my cardiac exercise slide shows along with numerous other photos, and artwork, I have saved for that purpose. This one is a scene from Bavaria in Germany. It actually showed up just before Thanksgiving. Microsoft changes them often, but I made a mental note it might make a nice Christmas e-card. I added the text, of course, using a very old Picture It Express 7.0 photo program. I have some newer fancier programs, or apps as they are now referred to, but I like the simplicity of the older ones for basic tasks. 

I emailed a request to the Teaching & Sharing Centers Board of Trustees (because of Covid-19 they were meeting via Zoom on the 16th) to move the In His Steps program from its developmental stage in the william's works branch to an outreach location in the christian life programs branch which has a simple "to help Christians live what they say they believe" mission statement. I concluded it was what Jesus would have me do now that the basics are in place, and the clp branch is an obvious fit for such a program. I requested today (December 25, 2020) as the transition date. It seemed to me a good choice to pick the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as the day to officially launch, or "give birth to," a "what would Jesus have me do" program. Of course, Covid-19 has something to say about how soon we might be able to offer the program in earnest as a gathering opportunity. Even so, the board turned down my request to have it officially become an offering of the Teaching & Sharing Centers through our christian life programs branch. There is not currently a volunteer director of the clp branch, and the board felt they did not wish to move the program until there was someone in place to serve as the primary contact there, even with Covid-19 keeping pretty much everything on delayed status. So, if any of you reading this feel the In His Steps groups to be an important program, I would encourage you to step forward and offer your participation in the christian life programs branch, even if you are not willing to assume the role of director. 

"I do not believe myself to be the author of this IHS program.
I am simply the scribe who took the notes, and put them
together in a functional presentable format." — william

I added some text a week, or so, ago to the IHS pages. My wife is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, where Reverend Chuck Foerster serves as the current pastor. Since I accompany my wife to services (drive-in style throughout this year of Covid-19), I get to hear a lot of his homilies. In the midst of dealing with all that has been going on this year, I have been amazed at how his words blend well with the what would Jesus have me do program concepts. I have shared some of his sermons on the In His Steps page following my thoughts, and the Peace Pilgrim excerpt. 

Here is the direct link to the IHS page:

I also added some text to the Pro Life Addendum page on that "Last Newsletter" sent on July 4th.  Following the Socrates quote graphic, I have "additional notes." One of those stated "The based on actual events movie Heaven Is For Real was a turning point. When does a baby get to have rights, if it exists eternally as a person even before it is born into this world?" 

I recently ran across an excerpt from the movie in a Max Lucado book which related the scene that I found so influential. Because of the ongoing issue of websites being designated "not secured" even if they do not need to be "secured," without any full explanation of the terms, I am going to reprint the added text here, rather than simply provide a website link . . .      

Quoted from you'll get through this by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, 2013, Billy Graham Library Selection 2020 ), chapter 13, 137-138.

Colton Burpo was only four years old when he survived an emergency appendectomy. His parents were overjoyed at his survival. But they were stunned at his stories. Over the next few months Colton talked of his visit to heaven. He described exactly what his parents were doing during the surgery and told stories of people he had met in heaven—people he had never met on earth or been told about. In the book Heaven Is for Real, Colton’s father relates the moment that the four-year-old boy told his mom, “You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?” 

The parents had never mentioned the miscarriage to their son. He was too young to process it. Emotion filled his mother’s face. 

“Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?” Sonja said, her tone serious. 

“She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy.” . . . 

A bit nervously, Colton . . . faced his mom again, this time more warily. “It’s okay, Mommy,” he said. “She’s okay. God adopted her.” 

Sonja slid off the couch and knelt down in front of Colton so that she could look him in the eyes. “Don’t you mean Jesus adopted her?” she said. 

“No, Mommy. His Dad did!” . . . 

Sonja’s eyes lit up, and she asked, “What was her name? What was the little girl’s name?” 

. . . “She doesn’t have a name. You guys didn’t name her.” 

The parents were stunned. There is no way Colton would have known this. 

But he had one more memory. He shared it before he went out to play: “Yeah, she said she just can’t wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven.” 

Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 94–96.

Heaven is for real because Jesus is for real. He is the Christ, who was born into this world for our sake. This date may not be His real birthday, as so many theologians point out. And, some claim we can just add this to the list of our sins because the choice of the date was intended to supplant a pagan festival occurring at this time of the year. But, why do we wish to argue about any of these things? Why not just be grateful that He showed up at all? Why not be ecstatic that He came to offer the gift of salvation to every human being on earth? No exceptions. Plus, He ultimately showed His words were valid by overcoming death itself. We do not Truly understand how it is that anything exists. So praise God for coming in person to guide us through this part of our journey. Pause long enough, even on this questioned date, to simply be glad Jesus has a birthday, just like we do. Then rejoice that heaven is for real, because Jesus is for real. Let those positive Truths be your focus for the rest of your time here. 



About the time I thought I had finished this email, I ran across an article on a website I was reviewing for a possible link on my Christian Life links page. It is pretty blunt about the bigger picture. I usually do not like to put outside links anywhere but my links pages. Still, it seemed pretty "coincidental" that I would stumble onto it just as I was finishing up this email. So, if curious about the traditional view of the reason Jesus has a birthday, click on the artwork. 


As always, may God guide each of us through these unsettling times, and keep us mindful of sharing the gifts and blessings God has provided to every one of us. 

God’s peace,

Acts 5:29

P.S. As I was getting ready to transfer this from the webpage format, where it was composed, to my email program for sending, I received the below email. I found it intriguing. I never really thought of Jesus as an "unplanned pregnancy," because God most definitely knew the plan. However, it was certainly not in Mary and Joseph's initial plans. 

It has never been openly discussed in our family, but it is likely I was also an unplanned pregnancy. It makes me grateful that abortion was not considered as simply an acceptable "choice" in 1950, and has also made my pro-life beliefs even more personal. 

From: Right to Life of Michigan []
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2020 10:16 AM
Subject: Unexpected Plans

The Unexpected Gift

We like to think of Christmas as a genuinely pro-life holiday, in several ways.

Statistics continue to show that it is fear of the unknown that drives most abortion decisions. What does that look like? "How can I afford a baby?" "How can I make this work?" "Do I want to raise this child and be connected to this guy forever?" "How can I deal with letting someone else raise this child?" 

Christmas is a holiday about the unexpected plan. Accepting your circumstances and making the right choice. The potential of just one life. 

Some people bristle at the idea of calling Jesus an unplanned pregnancy, but really, for Mary, it was not what she was planning on. What she accepted was not her plan for how her life was going to work out for her, but a far better, completely unexpected plan that worked out for us all. 

Though each of us cannot save the entire world, we can save a part of it, sometimes when unexpected opportunities present themselves. Our entire movement is based on the value of each life, and our duty to protect and care for that life, not take it away as the path of least resistance for ourselves. 

We hope you enjoy a Merry Christmas, however that looks this year!


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