December, 2021

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#AgainsttheGrain#Esther

Friday, December 31st, 2021

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything. But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”  So said Edward Everett Hale.

We often hear about the power of ONE.  History is filled with one person who made a difference: Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee (tearing down his statue will not change his contribution), Washington, Luther, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, and others.

We are living in uncertain times. Some say unprecedented. No matter what you call it they sure are challenging. Queen Esther did also. My theme for 2022, as you can see, is “For Such a Time…”  Why did I choose that theme? In fact, I chose that theme in October, before the last two months of upheaval. Why? Frankly, our culture is not unlike the one Esther lived in. Mordecai, her cousin, told her she must choose.

So must we. His challenge to her is one for us.  Take the time to read Chapter 4 of Esther and specifically focus on verse 14.  You will have my objective for this Sunday. I look forward to starting this new theme. Oh…by the way…the series which follows is from Daniel. I’m calling it Against the Grain.

I hope you will join us this Sunday. If not in person then live stream at 9 and 10:45.

#AfterChristmas#Letdown

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

The last Sunday of 2021. I know some who said, “I can’t wait until 2020 is over.” Now those same people are saying, “I can’t wait until 2022 is here. Surely it will be better.” Well…I certainly don’t have a crystal ball to predict any of what is to come so I will refrain from making any predictions.

Except one.

2022 will be different from 2021. It is a new year filled with all new challenges. 

Every new year which begins holds promises of something better for all of us. We like the idea of turning over a new leaf and starting with a clean slate. But to get to the new year we have to fight through what I will call the Christmas letdown.  You know what that is: the high then the low. A veritable roller coaster of emotions.

But the new year is not without its hopes and dreams. My sermon this Sunday is one in which I uncover for you what I believe is the dream of every individual: that we all just get along. Well, you know that isn’t going to happen so let’s go to Plan B. What will it take to even begin to think that might happen?  Two qualities (IMHO):

Unity

Humility

The foundation for the sermon is from Philippians 2: 1-11.  I hope you will join me this Sunday either in person or via live stream.  We will be having only one service this week at 10:00 so you can watch it live then or catch it later. I do pray that 2022 will be a good year for you to find a deeper walk with Jesus.

This is also the last of my theme for 2021: Life on the Edge. I will unveil my theme for 2022 next week with an all new graphic.  Be looking for it. I’m also posting this early due to Christmas being on Saturday and I suspect most of us will lay aside our computers for a day or two.  🙂

#Gifts!#Unexepcted??

Friday, December 17th, 2021

Admit it: we all like gifts.  No matter our age we like to open gifts. They may be “just what I wanted” or “just what I asked for” but there is still a certain excitement wrapped up in Christmas gift-giving.

In 1984 the rock group, Foreigner, came out with a song that struck a chord in the lives of many people…and still does. It tells the story of so many in our world. That song? I Want to Know What Love Is. It was a moving ballad and spoke of the desire of all of us: to find love.

We tend to hang our hats on things which will not last. We think the latest and greatest will make us happy or content. Not so fast! If you have ever watched Titanic there is a scene near the end where Rose is talking about the fictional character, Cal Hockley, who tried to “possess” her. As she speaks about him, she tells the undersea explorers how Cal took his own life after the economic downturn took his money.  Happiness and joy are two different animals. The angel didn’t say, “I bring you good news of great happiness.”

You don’t have to have lived through the Revolutionary War or Civil War or the world wars or Vietnam or Desert Storm or (take your pick) to know the world has been inundated with wars. When I say, “Wars” I do mean wars.  The end of WWI coined the phrase as it “was the war to end all wars.” Wrong. Peace is a missing commodity in our world. Take a look back at the summer of 2020 (then again maybe you don’t want to) and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the unrest which rocked our world.

You have just opened your unexpected gifts- Love. Joy. Peace.  Those are the three unexpected gifts I will be preaching about this Sunday. It is those three gifts I highlight as gifts I hope they find underneath their tree this Christmas.

I would love to have you join me. As bribery we also have a special gift we are giving everyone this year.  Just kidding about the bribery. We do have a special gift I’m excited about giving to the folks. I’ll try to post a picture of it next week.  Please join me if you are able either in person or live stream.  BTW: if you join us live stream, may I ask you to please sign in just to let us know you are there? No obligation I promise.

#Singing!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

I posted this on my other blog, Living in the Shadow, and since it is not well read by a lot of people, I thought I would share it here.

I have always been a music person. Ever since I can remember (that might be a day or two) 🙂  I have always been a person who listens to music. I used to tell my folks I could study with music playing. Not true.  I have to admit that when I am studying or reading it has to be quiet or at least with background music I cannot know the lyrics to, i.e. classical.

Christmas is a time for songs, for singing. One of the best parts of this season is the songs-both old and new.  It doesn’t get much better than O Holy Night or Joy to the World.  The angels sang. Children sing. Adults sing. Young folks sing. Old folks sing. We can’t stop singing.

Chris Tomlin has written a (non-Christmas) song with the lyrics: “How can I stop from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love/How can I keep from shouting Your name. I know I am loved by the king and it makes my heart want to sing.”

This will be a different type of devotion today. I want to share some of my songs with you-those which have been meaningful to me this Christmas season. I hope it will give you something to sing. So here are a few of my favorite “new” Christmas songs. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/5Vwu-t7QRaE

https://youtu.be/mt_xfOutfSQ

https://youtu.be/182xcb3GyOg

https://youtu.be/qmNDI4f8Wrw

If you want the lyrics (except for the last song which has them), hit CC and the lyrics will come on the screen. Enjoy the songs! May they lift your heart to heaven and put a spring in your step and a song in your heart today…and tomorrow…and the next day…(you get my drift).

#UnexpectedNews#Surprise!

Friday, December 10th, 2021

I’m guessing we have all been the recipients of unexpected news.  Good and bad. If there was anyone who had to be surprised by unexpected news it would have to be the shepherds.

In his book, The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, David Mathis wrote the following:

“It may have been the greatest choral presentation in the history of the world. One nameless angel had the honor of singing the lead, with a veritable angelic multitude behind him. But no tickets were sold, and the show was not announced ahead of time. The audience was simply a flock of unresponsive sheep and a lowly band of unsuspecting shepherds. But it was too good to keep quiet about. Word got out, and ‘all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.’ The Gospel of Luke records the story for us to wonder at too.”

The shepherds are part and parcel of every Christmas celebration. But they are much more than children in a play dressed up in bathrobes. You know how that works. You find someone to play Mary and Joseph and look around for a baby Jesus-real or a doll. The rest of the children want to be in the play so you dress them up in bathrobes, tie a towel around their head and they become a great multitude.

Of course, the real shepherds’ involvement was more than that. My sermon this week is about the shepherds and the Unexpected News they received. Join me if you would like.

{NOTE: I apologize for failing to post last weekend. Jo and I went to Ohio from Thursday through Sunday. Pastor Ryan preached for me. I’m eager to be back with the people I love}.