Published Dec. 1, 2009

Shelia Shares....
"Beyond First Impressions"

A friend of mine was reading through a magazine that listed places to visit in an area about an hour from our home area. One store was Murdough's Christmas Barn. It gave a rave review about their selection of Christmas items all year long and sounded like an interesting place.

We decided on a Saturday and headed for Robesonia, where the barn was located. As we got closer, we were watching for Murdough's Christmas Barn. Finally, we saw the sign and pulled into the parking lot. We parked and sat there in silence.

As we looked at each other, I said, "We're here. We might as well go in. It wasn't quite what I expected."

My friend agreed that the place didn't look like much. It was a 133-year-old barn. It hadn't been painted in years. If we had been driving past and seen the place, we'd never have stopped. However, this had been our intended destination, so we decided to take a few minutes and check it out.

Wow! We were sure wrong to be dejected as we had looked at the place!

The inside of the barn was a tremendous store. I was almost overwhelmed by the selection and displays.

First were the nutcrackers, ranging from tiny to some my size and bigger. There were about 100 of them, and some were painted wooden figures, while others included unique costumes.

Then came the nativity sets in all sizes and made with a variety of materials. Some were for indoor use and others could be used on a lawn. They were from many countries with a variety of nativity "characters" in each set.

The Russian nesting eggs were in a locked cabinet. When I asked to see some, they were happy to open the glass front and let me see the eggs up close and even take a couple eggs apart. Of course, they were all beautifully hand-painted.

I like Buyer's Choice dolls and their selection was one of the best I have seen. I spent quite a while in front of that display, looking at the expressions on each doll's face.

I could go on and on describing the hand-painted eggs, village miniatures collectibles and regular, as well as hard-to-find tree ornaments.

I was so glad we went inside and looked beyond the dreary exterior. The inside surpassed my expectations.

As Christians, how do we look at people? Do we look at some and just "know" they will never respond to the Gospel? Do they look too hard, so that we just don't bother giving the Gospel message to them? Do we look at people's actions and assume they are too far gone to ever get saved and live for Christ?

Jesus said he looked at the heart. He saw the inside and knew their innermost thoughts and desires. He never shied away from people who were too "bad." He offered the same salvation to everyone.

I could have missed a wonderful Christmas display if I had only looked at the outside and never checked the inside of Murdough's Christmas Barn. Likewise, I can fail to be Jesus' hands and feet and mouth if I only see the outside of people. I pray that God will give me a heart full of the love of Christ so I am able to see people as Christ sees people.

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

This is the Gospel I want to spread to everyone.

- Shelia

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