December, 2019

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#AnnualSong#Countdown

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Ever since I started this blog back in 2008 I have concluded the year and begun the new year with a song.  I know. I know. I should find a new one.  I had planned on doing that this year but you know what they say: “time flies when you are having fun.” Well…time flew. Like a supersonic airliner. Probably in the next post or two I will do a little wrap up of my year.

BUT UNTIL THEN!!!

Enjoy this one from 2011.

Enjoy this one from their heyday when big hair was king and tenor voices were all the rage.

And here is one from a few years ago. Man, the dude still has the pipes. But he sure isn’t as high as he used to be. Very few can keep that range as they age. Michael Sweet from Stryper comes awful close with more depth to his voice.

Okay, so call me a heathen. I have wide shoulders. 🙂 🙂  I also like 80s rock and big hair. My favorite? Stryper. Maybe I’ll find something by them for my next post.

We know the final countdown officially began when Jesus ascended.  But who knows when the bell will ring (or is it that shout will come?)  Have a safe beginning to 2020.

#ClosingChallenge#2020

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Jo and I are leaving right after worship today for Sandusky, Ohio. Her sister has a procedure tomorrow in Lorain, OH (near Cleveland) on her eyes that she must have. Unfortunately, there were no openings in Sandusky this time so she has to be taken to Lorain. Also unfortunately, the woman who would have taken her is out of the country right now so it is up to Jo to get her there. She is unsure about driving to Lorain and asked (tears were involved… 🙂 ) if I would go. So we leave today and will be return home Tuesday before the crazies get out on the road.

I will be out of commission for writing a blog so I thought I would post one early and then another for Tuesday/Wednesday. I can approve your comments and even comment but writing a blog on my phone is another matter and I don’t want to drag the computer around.

You can go to my other blog to see my thoughts about the year end challenge I gave today. I’ll not do a double take on that. But I would like to encourage you to listen to an old song that still challenges me today.  I can’t say it any clearer than Dana Key sings it.

#Challenge#SeeingGodInvolved

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Hard to believe isn’t it that this Sunday will be the last Sunday of 2019? As they always say, “Where did the time go?” My theme for 2019 was Unsinkable. Over the year I looked at different Psalms which anchored our faith. I took a look at the sayings of Jesus on the cross.  I spent several weeks in Romans 8- IMHO one of, if not the, greatest chapter in the Bible. We spent the summer looking at various OT heroes-Daniel; S-M-A; Deborah- and then a multi-week study on Joseph. I rounded out the year by looking at the 7 churches in Revelation; being a servant; and finally, of not missing Christmas.

We now stand at the brink of a new year with no clue what it brings. I’m sorta glad of that. Depending on what it is to be like (and only God knows that) could determine where I felt like getting up or staying in bed.  I kid.  The theme for 2020 is TRUTH and I’ll unveil that graphic next week.

Every year at this time pastors across the land will be preaching on the past and the future. I am willing to wager (although I am not a betting man) more that one pastor will say something like this: “You have no clue what 2020 will bring, but one thing I can guarantee-whatever it brings you will not be able to navigate it alone.”

My sermon this Sunday is titled “I Challenge You!” My challenge for me and for my folks (and you by proxy) is that we allow God to be actively involved in our lives-past, present and future.  I’m using Exodus 33 for my text this Sunday and will be approaching it from two plains: God At a Distant (33:1-6) and God In The Present (33:7-23).  Lots of rich OT history to show God’s distance as a result of sin/choices and God’s presence in the present using the Tabernacle as the backdrop.

A little different sermon for me but one I pray makes a point about God’s desire for us to know His presence in our lives. I’d appreciate your prayers as I close out the year. I’ve also been fighting a cough that wracks my vocal chords and makes them raw. The doctor says all signs are clear. So prayers for my throat and an end to the cough would be more than welcome.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post25

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

This will be my last #ChristmasChallenge post for this year. I thank each of you who have taken the time to drop by and read and even comment. Thanks for giving up some of your precious time to come to my world and spend a little time with me.

So…what could I do as the final post? That haunted me yesterday as I pondered it. I decided to do what we all need to do. Remember that old commercial when the telephone companies (when they still had phone books) would say, “Let your fingers do the walking?” Well…I’m going to allow the Scriptures to do the talking.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:6

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’ “ Mt.1:21-23

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.’ “ Luke 2:10-14

May the truth of Scripture fill your heart with that which God has promised: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE.

Thanks to Ed and Diane, my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post 24

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Several years ago I listened to Country Music. Let me restate that: over 20 years ago I listened to CM. No more. But one singer I did like also did a Christmas Album: Collin Raye. As I read a Christmas devotional this morning the writer mentioned the story of Christmas Eve 1914 when the guns fell silent on the battlefield. The story is told in various ways and lengths but the basic fact is this: for a few short hours guns were silent and men in battle laid aside their common hatred for the other and spent time together. Personally, knowing me, I would have had a really tough time picking up my weapon and firing it at someone I just spent time with.

Anyway, Collin Raye did a song on his Christmas album called It Could Happen Again. With the help of Johnny Cash’s narration, the song’s message stands strong: if it could happen then it could happen again. Please take a moment to listen to the song.

May you know the PEACE that the song speaks of but more than that, may you know the true PEACE Jesus gives.

Join my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post23

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

I read the following quote:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ  brings us to God.

Growing up you really only think of Christmas-besides the whole Santa Claus and gift thing-as the occasion to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We like the story of the baby in the manger. It fits our “meek and mild” picture of Jesus. It fits our Away in a Manger and Silent Night theme.

But as C.S.Lewis says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I just finished reading again), “There is deeper magic here.” What is seen on the surface is just that: the surface. There is so much more to see and learn. There is so much more at work than just the birth; there is also the vision of the cross. Without doubt Jesus came with the specter of the cross in His sights. Phil.2 even tells us that. Jesus reminded His disciples over and over that the Son of Man must suffer and die.  The cross of Christ is always there. It is through the cross, and the cross only, that we find our way to God. It is only through the blood of Jesus that salvation is found.

But it is through the birth of Jesus as a baby, as God made flesh, that it all begins.  The quote again:

The birth of Christ brought God to us;

The cross of Christ brings us to God.

“Father, thank you for that truth. May this Christmas season take on extra meaning because it is more than a baby in a manger. It is also that baby on a cross giving Himself up for us.”

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post22

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

What do these have in common? Tickle Me Elmo. Cabbage Patch Kids. Pound Puppies. Buzz Lightyear. Beanie Babies. Transformers. Wii.

In common? They are all part of the Christmas toy fads down through the years. (And there are more I could add. Google it). Just like the movie starring Arnold Schwarzennegger, Jingle All the Way, people get caught up in a craze and often go crazy trying to keep up with the latest.

The good thing about fads? They don’t last. Hooray!! Thankfully. Who could ever forget mood rings? Moon rocks? Furbies? Are you kidding me? But it’s true.

Fads don’t last. Aren’t you glad that the gift of Jesus as a baby is not just a fad? Somewhere I’m sure some one, some company, has tried or will try to capitalize on it, but the birth of Jesus in  a manger is not a fad. Despite His humble birth which many don’t understand, the event brings on a life-change that is hard to match. And it makes Christmas so much more meaningful as well. It truly is good news for all people. Not just some of the time. All the time.  It never gets old. Never wears out.

“Father, thank you that the story of Jesus is not a passing fad. It doesn’t go the way of all the toys. It is so much more. It is a gift for all time.”

Check out Diane’s #ChristmasChallenge post here.

#ChristmasChallenge#Post21

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

Tomorrow is our Christmas worship at another venue. For the past couple of years, our neighbors, Abram Farm, have offered us the use of their venue for our Christmas and Easter worship.  We like to be together at least on those two services and worship as one body in one place. Due the space limitations of our building, we appreciate the opportunity to be together. It takes an extra effort by many of our people to help us make it a good experience. We have to move our music equipment (drums, stands, keyboards, etc). We hire a local man who does sound stages all over the state to do our sound. He also has his own equipment which saves us having to cart ours over. We have to meet at 7:00 on Sunday morning to set up because she has a wedding Saturday night. We have to come back Sunday afternoon to put things away. The parking lot is a challenge so we shuttle folks from the church lot to the venue. Fortunately, our properties are right next to each other.  We are blessed that Bill & Suzie are such great neighbors. They offer us the use of their venue as a gift to us. WOW! After our first use of the venue for Easter several years ago we gave them a gift of money that blew them away. However, they told us the only way we could use the venue again was if we would accept it as a gift on their part. We accepted although this past summer we paid to have loads of gravel brought to their property for their road.  One of our men was gracious enough to do that.

Anyway, our worship will be at 10:00 so if you are thinking about it, I would appreciate your prayers. My message will be simple and will follow the theme I had developed for the month: Don’t Miss It! Tomorrow’s sermon will be called Don’t Miss Christmas! I’m using three example of people in the Bible who did. I cannot take credit for the thought. It came from John MacArthur’s book God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas. Here are the people I will be using and the reason they missed it:

  1. The Innkeeper- he was preoccupied.
  2. Herod- he lived in fear.
  3. The Religious Leaders- they missed it because of indifference.

There are more I could add, but the atmosphere will already be foreign and I prefer to “whet the appetite” for more than to go too long. The venue does not have childcare space so we make up one for the nursery. But the other young ones have to stay with the parents and that can be challenging.

Your prayers would be much appreciated for things to go well. But most importantly the gospel will be preached and hearts will be touched to not take Jesus’ birth for granted and to miss its message.

Please check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah

Ed at Word!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post20

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Have you ever noticed how our view of something is determined by our perspective? What I mean by that is this example. Supposed you are driving a car toward an intersection. It is a 4-way stop and you know that because you have been here so many times. The corn is high and as you slow down you do not see the truck coming to your right. It is going way too fast and has no way of stopping in time. You stop then proceed and find yourself T-boned by the truck. Meanwhile, someone is in a helicopter above and sees the whole thing developing. The intersection. Your stop. The runaway truck. Their perspective gives them a totally different view of the developing disaster.

When Jesus was born the world was not the way God wanted it to be. Nor intended it to be.  The world Jesus entered was one of darkness and ugliness and sin. God knew what was needed. His perspective said, “My Son will come. Live. Die. Raise. All to save you.”

The interesting but sad thing is we think we know better.  Our view is skewed.  The Christmas season should remind us we are messed up and needed a Savior.

We are not the way we ought to be or the way God intended. But God is at work to transform us into becoming the way He wants us to be. The Christmas story is so much more than a baby in a manger. It is God’s way of reaching out to us to save us from ourselves and our sin.

“Father, thank you for having a different perspective than us. And because of that perspective we have been ‘reached out to’ in order for us to be transformed. Please do your work in me.”

Make sure you check out my other #ChristmasChallenge bloggers. Diane at Hadarah and Ed at WORD!

#ChristmasChallenge#Post19

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

One verse that may seem to have nothing or very little to do with Christmas has been one of my favorite verses for as long as I can remember. I have a plaque in my office with this verse on it. The verse is John 3:30. When John’s disciples are offended that Jesus is garnering more attention than John, he answers their statement with the words: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Other translations might say, “He must become greater; I must become less.” No matter how you shake it, they all the same thing: Jesus must become more; I must become less.

Can anyone think of a time in the Bible where the greatness of Jesus is seen any more than at His birth and at His death? Why? His greatness is shown by his humility. First, the whole reincarnation miracle (truth) blows me away. Second, to realize the humility He displayed for that to happen is mind-boggling! Sorta makes our petty jealousy and one-upmanship seem childish and silly. Here was the King of all laying down His pride, His status, His desire to display a humility that is unmatched. How can I insist that my agenda is the one that’s right? How can I insist that I do this or that? How can I be jealous when someone else gets to sing, play, speak, whatever and I don’t?  Christmas is a time for many things. It most certainly should be the time where we lay aside “us” and promote Him.  (You did notice the emphasis on the previous questions did you not?)

Humility-Jesus becoming greater and me becoming less-is where I need to be. It’s a trait that needs to be more common in my life. John 3:30 needs to be more than a verse in the Bible or on a plaque; it needs to be written on every page of my heart.

“Father, may You become more in my heart so there is less of me there. And may you become more in my thoughts and actions so people see less of me and more of you.”

Check out my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!