Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
2000 years ago, there wasn't much fanfare at the birth of Jesus. Oh, to be sure, there were angels that made a proclamation to shepherds and later there were wise men that travelled a great distance to bring gifts, but there was also the evil king that wanted this young child killed and was willing to kill all of the young boys in the area to make sure that he was killed. Not what you would call a great welcome for the child that would become our Savior!
Today our need for a Savior is as great as it ever was. I think of this song as a long overdue welcome to our Savior...and maybe a bit of an apology that we didn't make it right the first time.
Here in the Midwest, it is just a few hours into Christmas Eve. A light freezing rain is starting to fall and it should turn to sleet and maybe snow later in the day. I've enjoyed posting these Pieces of Christmas...my own twelve days of Christmas' posts. I hope that you have enjoyed reading them and watching the associated videos.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The King James Bible translates Luke 2:14 to read: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."
Later scholars have believed that this is better translated to mean: "...peace on earth towards men of good will." or "...and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests." NIV
Often times men of good will find themselves at odds with each other due to circumstances that seem to be out of their control. Perhaps governments or religious beliefs, perhaps social status or even languages or customs cause misunderstandings between people that would get along just fine otherwise. And so, peace is difficult to find. Sometimes it seems that if we could remove ourselves from the situation, we would find much of ourselves in those that oppose us. There are often more similarities than differences.
This story took place almost a hundred years ago...Christmas, 1914. It took place on the front lines of a war that was ravaging the countrysides all across Europe...World War I.
For nearly two days, soldiers from opposing armies set aside their weapons, buried their dead, exchanged gifts of cigarettes and food, sang Christmas carols and enjoyed the Peace of Christmas.
But then, governments imposed their wills once again. The truce ended and the war resumed.
If only the Power and the Peace of Christmas could have their way in the hearts of men of good will every day of the year. The world would be a much better place.
My wish for you this Christmas is Peace.
If you are grieving or in despair, I wish you comfort...and Peace.
If you are struggling with family or finance, I wish you contentment, prosperity...and Peace.
If the pressures of life are becoming too burdensome, I wish you rest...and Peace.
What ever your struggle, I pray that you will pause from the battle long enough to experience the Peace that can only be found in the Power of Christmas.
Enjoy the story...enjoy the Peace of Christmas.
Tomorrow...the song that was inspired by the story.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Everything about her pregnancy, from the angelic announcement to the immaculate conception, was unusual. The timing of the birth was inconvenient. The angelic proclamation to the lowly shepherds was unheard of. This birth was different. This Child was different.
This is the Savior! He is the Messiah. He is the Christ--the Christ of Christmas!
It isn't too often that we get to see a total eclipse of the moon. At just after midnight tonight (CST) in the first minutes of the 21st, the shadow of the Earth will begin to pass over the moon. I have always found the night sky to be full of extraordinary events that point to the evidence of an Intelligent Designer...that point to a Creator...to God.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
It is an awesome thing to watch the design of our solar system in action. This total lunar eclipse will take place on the same day as the winter solstice for 2010, another one of the grand events of our solar system.
I hope that you take the opportunity to witness the lunar eclipse if you are in an area that will allow you to see it. All of my North American friends will be able to see it if the sky conditions permit it.
I love this stuff.
I have taken our family on a day trip to put us in the path of total annularity for the last annular eclipse of the sun visible from the Midwest. I have had Chris wake the kids up in the middle of the night on a school night to witness spectacular meteor showers. I've posted about some of these things in the past. I post this now that you might take advantage of the knowledge and witness the rare event in the night sky.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
For me, this is the very essence of Christmas. So often we find ourselves contemplating His great love for us through His suffering on the cross. We relate to the pain and suffering of the Man Jesus much easier than we relate to the love of God. We point to the suffering and the sacrifice on the cross and think of how much He loved us. Rarely do we think of the sacrifice at the cradle (or manger, if you prefer).
Christmas is a joyful time for mankind--and it should be. But I think that this is the place where the real sacrifice takes place. Here is a post from last Christmas that will serve as the basis for my Christmas sermon at church Sunday. I realize that it is not your typical happy, joyous kind of Christmas message...unless, of course, you remember that the sacrifice was made for you!
With all that has been in the news about the new TSA security procedures, this is a funny and creative look at what one might see in airports next week.
While my header gives permission to repost my material from this blog, this is not mine and permission to repost it is not mine to give. Feel free to direct others here if you would like to share it.
Thanks to Rod Minatra for giving his permission to print it here.
Twas the Flight Before Christmas ©
By Rodger W. Minatra
We were going home for Christmas, and traveling by air
When the weather got bad, and we got stuck in O’Hare
We had just settled down to rest our poor eyes
When something happened that took us both by surprise
In the security check, in a fur suit, red and white
Was a small bearded man checking in for his flight
He was dressed like St. Nick, with a bag, big and red
That would just barely fit in the plane’s overhead.
But he didn’t seem nervous, in fact he looked right at ease
And he went straight to work, as quick as you please
He walked up to the gate and then pulled out 12 trays
Then I heard someone moan, “We will be here for days.”
He pulled out a bandanna and blew his red nose
Then without speaking he took off his clothes
The first thing to come off were the boots that he wore
He squatted down low and rolled back on the floor
We watched as his boots split from the top to the sole
It was the definite sound of a strip of Velcro
As quick as a wink he was in his sock feet
In the first tray were his boots lined up nice and neat
Next was his coat piled high in the tray
And then his black belt, red hat, and toupe
Then standing flat footed like a small kangaroo
He sprang high in the air and his pants came off too
We were shocked at the sight and we tried not to stare
But there stood this small man in his long underwear
It looked for a moment that he did not know what to do
Then the TSA agent said, “Won’t you please come on thru.”
In a flash he stepped forward and walked straight through the gate
When an alarm sounded off and they said you must wait
The agent looked at him in a precarious manner
We can frisk you right here or you can go the scanner
His arms went out straight then he said with a giggle
You can frisk me right here if you think it won’t tickle
He was chubby and plump with a little round belly
That started to jiggle like a bowl full of jelly
The agent stepped forward with a wand in his hand
He was ready and willing to frisk this strange little man
At first he just giggled, the he laughed right out loud
Then the laughter he started caught hold of the crowd
He laughed just a little and then he laughed a lot more
The next thing we knew he was down on the floor.
We tried to keep silent, but as hard as we tried
We all started laughing, and we laughed till we cried.
Then off to the left we heard a loud clatter
And we all turned around to see what was the matter
The little man’s bag had been turned upside down
And we stood in amazement at what the TSA found
There were no toys and no presents in this little man’s bag
No liquids, no weapons, to set off a red flag
This man was no dummy, in fact he was smart
It was thousands of gift cards, all from Wal-mart
When the scanning was over and the little man dressed
We knew that this flight would not be like the rest
Before we all knew it he was at the gates door
In his eyes was a twinkle we had not seen before.
On his face was a smile as he waved to the crowd
And for one second more we all laughed out loud
Then we heard him call out as he went out of sight
Merry Christmas to all and to all a safe flight
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
This time it's a search for Jesus when everybody else seems to be satisfied with finding Santa.
If you want to go to YouTube to watch the video, it's here.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Yeah, there is definitely a social controversy over who is the most important person of Christmas.
Even if your holiday is more about gifts (both giving and receiving), family traditions and the guy in the red suit, you need to know that there is a God that loves you and provided a way for you and me (the sinful and undeserving wretches that we are) to have eternal life in heaven.
It may shock my Christian brothers to hear me say that I'm okay with you using the more commercial holiday of christmas (lower case "c" intentional) to celebrate your traditions with family and friends. I'm not absolutely convinced that it's necessary for us to have a day designated to celebrate the birth of our Savior. It is necessary to tell the Christmas story: that the prophecies of a Savior were (and are) fulfilled in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. December 25th gives us an annual opportunity to do that.
So who is the most important person of your Christmas season?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I found (was directed to) this website for Advent Conspiracy. Maybe in the coming months...
Anyways, as a part of my Pieces of Christmas series, I thought I'd share this video of theirs:
Link to full screen video
Monday, December 13, 2010
I've always like Jackson Browne and can identify with this song. Sometimes I feel far removed from the religiousness of the Christian culture. I've been called self-righteous. I been called anti-Christian. I've been told that you can't have certain political views and be a Christian.
Perhaps a heathen and a pagan describes me better than I care to admit...but I am still on the side of Jesus.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Since there is always so much that seems to distract us from remembering the birth of our Savior, I thought that I would use these days leading up to Christmas 2010 by posting some simple reminders of why I celebrate on December 25th...and what I celebrate on December 25th.
Let me begin with a classic...simple, to the point, and from an era that was way less concerned about political correctness and much more concerned with allowing each to express their beliefs--even through a cartoon character.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
I'm not particularly grouchy or feeling all bah-humbug or anything. And I don't feel like I'm completely without the "Christmas" spirit--I'm just easily bothered by others that are being pretenders.
Let me explain...
I started to sense this "curmudgeonly" spirit last Sunday morning. I found humor and irony in our pastor's sermon--that wasn't meant to be humorous or ironic. He was actually giving some good advice on keeping focus during the Christmas season. But he started by reminding us that there are many pagan traditions that can keep us distracted from the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
The irony of this message on the day after the sanctuary was decorated with "Christmas" trees, wreaths, poinsettias and garland was apparently missed by most if not all of the congregation.
Of course, the central decoration is the Nativity scene that seems dwarfed by the large trees, wreaths and bows.
Something about the whole thing just seemed a little off to me.
This was followed by the Wednesday night youth group meeting.
I have to say that I really enjoy the worship time on Wednesday night. The young man that leads that time has a great heart for God and is very transparent in his worship. It pretty much rocks every week.
(I've deleted several paragraphs because ... well, because I can.)
Maybe it's true. Could it be that I'm joining the ranks of the curmudgeons?
I don't think that I'm ready for that.
Btw--I had a great Wednesday morning sharing with Sparta High School and Middle School Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Thanks for inviting me!
Friday, December 03, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I’ve really struggled with whether or not I should write this post and have decided to go ahead with it. I’ll make the upfront disclaimer that it really isn’t meant to be offensive even though I know that because of its subject matter, it may offend some of my readers. I am just sharing some things that have been in my thoughts this month.
I’ll begin by stating several of the things that have brought this topic to mind:
*The California Federal Court ruling regarding the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy
*The Facebook status that has been appearing on numerous friends’ pages: “Please put this on your status if you know or love somebody who is gay. My wish is that people understand that being gay is not a disease nor a choice—people who are gay are not looking for a cure but acceptance and equal rights…93% of facebookers won’t copy and paste this…”
*A recent conversation with a preacher friend of mine about an incident at a funeral that involved his interaction with a couple of gay men.
*A book that I’m reading by an ultra-conservative pastor that addresses homosexuality and the stance that Christians should take on gay/lesbian rights.
*Wear purple day
First, I have to say that hatred is not an option for the Christian. On the other hand, believing that same gender sex is a sin is not hate or intolerance. Having differing beliefs is not a sign of intolerance. It means that we have different beliefs. I’m comfortable explaining why I believe what I believe. And I’m equally comfortable listening to your reasoning for why you believe what you believe.
Having said that:
I believe that everybody is entitled to certain rights as citizens of our country…not special rights, but the same rights that are afforded to other citizens. This includes the right to defend our country. I’ve always thought the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was a bunch of political mumbo jumbo that was just stupid talk designed to give somebody something they deserved but that somebody else didn’t like them having. Like I said…stupid.
As for same gender civil unions: Even if our society decides that same sex unions are legal, and even if our society changes the definition of marriage to include same sex unions, it doesn’t change the Biblical definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
So, you may ask, “John, do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?”
I have a simple way of resolving this in my simple brain.
I think that the Bible is clear that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Even if you are willing to set aside all of the texts that deal with same gender sex, you still have to understand that any sex outside of God’s idea of marriage is a sin. Yes, that includes premarital sex, extramarital sex and same gender sex (since that is always outside of God’s definition of marriage).
If a person is attracted to another member of the same sex but abstains from having sex, it really is no different than an unmarried man that is attracted to an unmarried woman that abstain from having sex. In spite of what society accepts as normal today, there are heterosexuals that remain celibate because of their beliefs that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Even though same gender couples will never have the option of celebrating sex in a Biblical union, it is still a choice…and it is still a sin.
Are they condemned because they are homosexuals? No, they are condemned because they are human. Clearly, the Bible teaches that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Not one of us is worthy of saving…and yet God chooses to save us.
I know that it is so politically incorrect (some say intolerant) to say that Jesus is the only way to reconcile our sin and gain eternal life in heaven, but I believe with all of my heart that only in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus do we have the hope of eternal salvation. The condemnation of our human state is the same for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals. The good news is that the plan of salvation is also the same for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals.
Yes, Jesus died for their worthless souls just as he did for my worthless soul!
I didn’t wear purple today. I don’t think that I have anything purple to wear. It is tragic that any young person feel so ostracized that they would resort to suicide. It doesn’t matter if they are gay or not. Suicide for our young people (15-22) is the third leading cause of death behind accidental death and homicide. Bullying of heterosexuals as well as homosexuals should not be tolerated. The tragedy isn’t that homosexual teens are committing suicide. It is that teens from all walks of life are committing suicide in alarming numbers.
To anybody reading that might be feeling alone, afraid, depressed and considering that living life is not worth it—there is hope. Call somebody. Get help. If you feel like you have nowhere else to turn, e-mail or call me. My contact info is the right column of this blog or on the info page of my Facebook profile.
The truth of the Bible is that God loves you. He has made a way for you to meet with Him through His Son, Jesus. It would be my honor to introduce you to my Lord, my Savior and friend.
I know that many may say that my religious view point and my belief in an absolute truth just prove how intolerant Christians really are. The simple fact is that we all can’t be right. We can all be wrong…but we can’t all be right. If you are willing to say that I’m intolerant because I believe that I’m right, then you give yourself the same intolerant label.
Let’s make a truce: As we search for the truth, let’s share the information that we find. I believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth doesn’t change from person to person; it is what it is. Right and wrong are not relative things. Though society’s standards have degraded to the point that pornography, promiscuity, corruption and greed are becoming normal—these things are still wrong.
Feel free to disagree with me. I won’t think that you hate me just because we disagree. And I hope that you won’t think that I hate you. Tell what you think…and why. Together, let’s figure this truth thing out.John
Sunday, October 17, 2010
It didn't take much time. 4 Adults, one teen and 4 children filled about 20 bags of leaves in ONE HOUR. We met a couple of nice women and their adult kids and learned a little about them. We had a lot of fun and we were able to share God's love in a practical way (and teach our kids how to show God's love, too). I'd say it's been a pretty good Sunday.