Keeping Christ In Christmas

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”                                                        —Isaiah 7:14

Christmas is almost here again, and people are pretty much doing one of three things: they’re looking forward to it, ignoring it, or dreading it. If you’re one of the ones looking forward to the holiday, you probably are one who has some very specific memories attached to Christmas from your own past. And it seems the day just can’t get here fast enough. (Just ask any 7 year old!)

It only takes a mild case of procrastination for one to ignore Christmas: “I’ll worry about Christmas when I get done with these other things.” And of course, you never get done with the other things in time. So this action eventually turns into dread.

For those dreading it, I suspect it may be financial. These are tough times. In my own family, we just spent some five months with my wife on sick leave and unable to work. It’s hard to do everything you want to do when all of the sudden the job ends or sickness intervenes. We all get caught off guard at times. And yet Christmas, and our own expectation of what we want to be able to do to celebrate and make it a special day, still rolls around every year, regardless of the finances available.

But some that may be dreading Christmas have a much deeper reason than just finances. You see, there’s been a story going around for a while now that Christmas is actually a celebration of JESUS. And for those who, for whatever reason, hate Christianity and anything to do with Jesus, the Christmas holiday becomes almost a horror. You have to hear that name. The songs of old talk about the ‘new born king’ who is laid ‘away in a manger’ bringing “Joy to the world’ are just too much.

Often, these are the people who push aside the “Christ” of Christmas and opt for some “Happy Holidays” instead. And in the past seventy years or so, our society has even developed a whole canon of ‘Happy Holidays’ music so that Christmas  can be celebrated without all that Christ talk. So now we hear the music of White Christmas, of Rudolf saving Santa, of Frosty and his magic hat, of grandma in a hit & run accident with a reindeer, of chestnuts being cooked by a fire, of a kid who wants teeth as a gift, and of another kid who’s misbehaved so much that he expects nothing for Christmas. And there’s even a few that are so suggestive that I’m embarrassed to even write about them.

What on earth do these songs have to do with Christmas? Very Little. And Lots. They have very little to do with the gift of a savior given by God Himself; sending his one and only son to live and die and be raised again.

But they also have a lot to do with Christmas because the savior that was born came to a world that wasn’t Christian and didn’t really even realize how much they needed a savior. They didn’t know God. They didn’t even know that they didn’t know him… let alone care.

The gushy warm feelings of imagining a peaceful land without war is about as close to heaven as many people can ever get. In fact, without Jesus, it is as close as any of us could ever get.

The influence of Jesus Christ on the world around us is still pretty pervasive. Courts and marketplaces may have walked away from much of our earlier practices as a nation which tried to mandate Christian behavior, but people the world over still know Christmas as a day of peace and hope, whether they know Jesus or not.

The first Bible passage I quoted, from Isaiah 7:14, is in the midst of God delivering Judah’s King Ahaz from an attack by foreign armies. God tells the king he’s being delivered because God has decided to do so. And  he allows the king the privilege of a special sign as proof that God will keep his promise. Ahaz tells God “No” he doesn’t want a sign and the Lord gives him a sign anyway. He describes a young woman who will give birth and have a miraculous son. And goes on to describe how the birth, and life, of that child will be a reminder of God’s care for his people.

In fact, whoever that little child was in Ahaz’s day, he didn’t grow very old before the enemies of Ahaz were no longer even nations!  His name was Immanuel… His name literally meant God is with us!  Every time Ahaz (or anyone else) said this child’s name, they were reminded how much God was with them and how he had delivered them from their enemies. What a reminder! What a gift! What a gracious and loving God!

And yet, like so often in Scripture, God had a double meaning in that sign of the child. Yes, it referred to someone that Ahaz would have been able to see in his day (if not, then God would have been a liar). BUT God also was looking ahead to another day when another young woman, this one an actual virgin, would conceive and have a baby who would also be called Emmanuel… the very one that would save us from our sins.

And that second child, Emmanuel (in Greek) or Immanuel (in Hebrew) was truly more than just a reminder that God was with us… He literally was GOD WITH US!

In the midst of our day in and day out stuff that happens, even when it seems so ungodly and even hostile or painful, God is still with us. When the finances are tight, when the neighbors cause trouble, when things aren’t going well at work, God is still with us.

And, like Matthew did with a verse in Isaiah written to a king about an invading army, God will take seemingly unimportant things from our pasts and our surroundings and open up spiritual realities to us… helping us to see that God really is here with us at all times and in all places if we’ll turn to him.

And so the world feels the ‘warmth’ of the season and celebrates as best as it can with ‘Happy Christmas’ and ‘Feliz Navidad’ and doesn’t realize that there’s more to the story… but as they see that story and peace exhibit itself in our lives, then they too will want what we have… and they won’t just have to imagine.

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”     —Matthew 1:23

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Go Home?

Once upon a time, a man decided he needed to get right with God… so he decides he’s going to read from the Bible everyday. But he doesn’t know much about the Bible… and has NO experience in looking for direction from the Bible.

Eventually he decides he will simply let the Bible decide what he ought to read. He will open his Bible randomly to a page and, with his eyes closed, he will drop his index finger onto the page where the Bible has opened… and this, he will have a message of direction from God through the Bible.

The very first verse he happened to turn to was Psalm 137:9 which says “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”[1]

This guy isn’t sure how that applies to him, so he closes his eyes and tries again. This time the Bible fell open to Luke 10:37 where Jesus said: “Go, and do likewise.”[2]

The man was quite upset and he did not know how he could ever obey that, so he decided to turn to one more place. Again he opened the Bible at random and to his horror his finger fell upon John 13:27 where Jesus says: “What you are about to do, do quickly.”[3]

This method of randomly opening the Bible and claiming it is GOD speaking directly to you… can really send a mixed or erroneous message… because there’s no context. Those three Biblical statements are Scripture… they are real and they are only a PIECE of a point or a message God has preserved through the written Word. But if you only take a piece of Scripture… you can very easily make the Bible say whatever you want it to say.

That happened again this past week at a celebration of a man named John MacArthur serving 50 years as a pastor. The emcee of the event decided to play a game. He would say a phrase… and MacArthur was supposed to respond in a short, pithy response… just a word or two.

The emcee said “Beth Moore…”

MacArthur, after taking a good 30 seconds or so to think about his answer replied simply: “Go home.”

In case you aren’t sure who Beth Moore is, she “is a prominent evangelical Bible teacher, author and founder of Living Proof Ministries.”[4] She is an excellent teacher, and best I can tell, she is on the mark theologically too. What she says, lines up with Scripture.

Well, back to MacArthur. He commented a minute or so later: “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.”

Later he added, “Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel doesn’t mean you should be preaching. There are people who have certain hawking skills, natural abilities to sell, they have energy and personality and all of that. That doesn’t qualify you to preach.”

The audience laughed and cheered with each of these pronouncements.

The idea that MacArthur and so many others are pushing here, is to “take literally” the Biblical passages where Paul says that women should be silent in church and not permitted to teach or have authority over a man.

Before we go very far…

Those words ARE in Scripture. But they’re being quoted without all the context… sort of like our deluded Bible reader in my story I started with.

One of the primary scriptures folks refer to when making claims like MacArthur did is First Timothy 2:8-15. I’m going walk and talk my way through those verses…

 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 

OK… Verse 8 tells the men their focus in the Body of Christ, in the Church, is praying (to Whom? GOD!) And a warning that when you start getting angry in a church setting or start disputing and arguing in a church setting, then you’ve lost your focus. You’re like a train that is derailing… a nasty wreck is immanent. He says get back to focusing on the holiness and on reaching God in prayer. All that other male ego stuff just doesn’t belong in the church. Watch out for the one who always has to argue and watch pout for the one who always has to have the last word andwatch out for the one who looks for ways to bring division into the church.

The thing is, it’s not just MEN who get angry and start disputes and arguments and bullying others in the church is it? So why does Paul address it to men?

Here’s what I think is the reason. Paul, like he does in so many of his letters, is writing responses to questions that people wrote to him. And I THINK that Timothy, in the church he’s trying to pastor, is having trouble with some men who are feeding their anger and causing disputes… arguments and verbal sparring… and Paul specifically, for that situation, tells Timothy how to solve that situation with those specific people.

AND THEN in verses 9 and 10, he speaks to whatever questions Timothy has asked about the problems he’s having with some of the women in Timothy’s congregation…

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Again, we don’t have the original letter that Paul received with the questions that he’s now responding to, but it’s pretty clear to me that there were women showing up who were dressed immodestly, trying to draw attention to themselves, when they should have been trying to draw closer to God… not draw the attention of the other people in the worship service.

Apparently, Timothy must have asked about women in leadership… and I think he must have been taking heat from some of the men who just want things to calm down… Maybe they’re tired of some of the women who were interrupting worship to ask questions or they’re up and down and back and forth… We don’t really know for sure… but we know they were being disruptive and we know that Paul felt the need to say they needed to be more modest and draw less attention. Part of his answer is that these women need to be quiet and just ask their questions later after worship.

But I think most of this next paragraph is for the guys who were complaining about the women in leadership positions… Let me keep reading and I’ll explain why…

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

But I don’t think this can be a literal principle for every woman everywhere for all of human history. Some is specifically for THOSE women in that ONE congregation in that one moment of history… But it also sounds like Paul’s rehearsing the arguments put out by those arguing and disruptive men from back in verse 8.

Follow verses 11-15…

A woman:

  • Should learn in quietness
  • Should be submissive (to a man it seems)
  • Cannot be permitted to teach men
  • Cannot be permitted to be in authority over men
  • Must be silent.
  • WHY? Because Eve was created from the man and Eve’s the one who was deceived by the snake.

Up until now, from verses 11-14, it looks like Paul’s just nailing reason after reason that women ought to shut up and sit down… at least when the men are around.


Check out verse 15…

Understand, verse 15 is NOT a new thought. It is NOT a new paragraph. Rather, verse 15 sums up the paragraph we’ve been reading that started in verse 11… where Paul has been giving the reasons to silence those women. And the final reason that supports that argument?

15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

The final reason to shut those women up and keep them out of the teaching positions and authority positions and preaching positions is: a women can be silenced because the way she has hope of getting saved is by having a baby… IF she’s good enough.

W H A T ? ? ? ! ! !

I believe wholeheartedly that we have either misread this silencing of women or else our theology is all wrong. For verses 11-14 to be taken literally as Paul’s reasons to silence women, then verse 15 has to be taken literally saying that no woman ever can get saved unless they have a baby… it says childbirth!! Not only is the pulpit forbidden to a woman, but so is the ALTAR! None of this believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord!

Rather, in the same way that an argument of logic will quote the oppositions’ foolish reasons to do something, so I believe Paul lists these STUPID arguments that say that a woman must be silenced and then takes those arguments to their ultimate end… I think he is taking the mens’ arguments against the women in their congregation to its furthest reaches by proving how ILLOGICAL their beliefs really are. To claim that a woman cannot be used by God is to diminish God… What kind of weak, helpless god do we have anyway?? The ONLY way a woman can be used by God is by having babies…

Paul highlights the stupidity and ignorance of that claim.

Silence the women??? Women can’t serve God??? What, is God not big enough or powerful enough to use a woman???

  • It was GOD… who used Miriam, right alongside of Moses, prophetically explaining in poetry and in song the meaning of the exodus from slavery in Egypt…[5]
  • It was GOD… who used Deborah, who ran Israel and all of its 12 tribes… and she was speaking and exhorting and teaching and prophesying.[6]
  • It was GOD… who invited both the Israelite men and the Israelite women to take the same religious vows to become Nazarites…[7]
  • It was GOD… who went ahead of Esther, who saved the nation as a leader whom GOD had put in place in power “for such a time as this” to save the Jewish nation and was responsible for the prevention of the slaughter of her people, the Jews…[8]
  • It was GOD… that sent King Josiah of Judah to the prophetess Huldah, to seek out godly counsel for returning his nation and his people to God……[9]
  • It was GOD… who handpicked a young uunwed teenage girl named Mary, who literally carried the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the GOOD NEWS, and God even her used to share a prophetic song about her Son and what He would do…[10]
  • It was GOD… that led Paul and his band to Lydia, who was the first person in what we now call Europe to be saved and baptized… not by childbirth, but by believing in Jesus Christ, and being baptized by water and the Spirit…[11]
  • It was GOD… who used Priscilla, to correct and teach the male, missionary evangelist, named Apollos, who had been sharing the gospel but had some of the details a bit off…[12]
  • It was GOD… that led and directed Mary Magdellan, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and also the mother of Zebedee’s sons… to be there with Jesus every step of his ministry, caring for the ministry needs, taking care of finances, and caring for Jesus himself, and followed all the way to the cross, even when every male disciple but one had all run away in fear…[13]
  • It was GOD… who led those same two Marys who followed the burying of Jesus’ body in the tomb…[14]
  • And it was GOD… that used those same women on that very first Easter morning, when every single male follower of Christ was in hiding… God used those women to serve as the very first preachers of the GOOD NEWS that that HE IS RISEN![15]
  • And when Jesus ascended to Heaven, Luke tells us in the book of Acts that the male disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers…”[16]
  • And, as we look ahead from the times of the Bible to our days, we read that it is God who “will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophecy… Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days…”[17]

And, just to be clear about what Paul was really saying about women in the church… He gave us  the verse we are using as this month’s memory verse:


“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to STOP being sexist, expecting that it is only the men who can be called and used by God. What a pathetic god you must believe in if God can’t even use his own creatures…

It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to STOP being condescending, lording our maleness over the women that God Almighty gave us in the church for the betterment and blessing of the Church, according to God’s own will!

It is GOD who calls people, both men and women…

If you are one that has been part of the putting down of women, or the bullying of women, or even the discouraging of women in the church, REPENT! If God called them, and you are the one who keeps them back, it is GOD you are fighting against! You. Will. Lose. REPENT!

If you are a woman, or a man, who believes God is calling you into ministry… whether that be as a preacher, or the head of a ministry project or a ministry committee, come and bow yourself before God… Surrender yourself to God’s will and God’s way… say YES!

You can even come to the altar rail to pray… If you want, I’ll pray with you as well…

It is time for people, both men and women, to speak out in defense of our Christian sisters and what the Bible says about their freedom to teach, to preach, and to lead.

It is time for Christian male leaders who regularly debilitate, denigrate, and dismiss Christian women doing Kingdom work to be confronted and removed as nothing more than stumbling blocks that are hindering the ministry of the Church.

If you are a woman who doesn’t know Jesus as your Savior, the Bible does NOT mean you have to go have a baby in order to be saved… We read in Acts 16 that to be saved, you simply need to “Believe in the Lord Jesus…”[18] You are welcome to come forward and talk with me and we’ll pray together.

Men, who don’t know Jesus as Savior… you are also invited to come and meet him.

The answer to a woman who is walking out the call of God in her life is not that she “Go Home” like this pompous radio preacher who mocks and scoffs one of Jesus Christ’s handpicked servants. But rather, we are to encourage those who hear God calling… to whatever ministry they’re being called to… whether they are male or female.

[1] Psalm 137:9 (NIV).
[2] Luke 10:27 (NIV).
[3] John 13:27 (NIV).
[5] Exodus 15:20-21.
[6] Chapters 4 and 5 of the book of Judges.
[7] Numbers 6:2.
[8] Check out the progression of events throughout the book of Esther, particularly the famous reply of Mordecai in Esther 4:12-14.
[9] 2 Kings 22:8-20 and following.
[10] “The Magnificant,” from Luke 1:46-55.
[11] Acts 16:11-15.
[12] Acts 18:18-26.
[13] Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:3; Luke 23:27, 49, 55-56; John 19:25.
[14] Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:47.
[15] Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20.
[16] Acts 1:12-14.
[17] Joel 2:28-29.
[18] Acts 16:30-31.

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Praying Hyde

I recently read a story from the life of John Hyde (1865-1912), a missionary to India in the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s. Hyde was somewhat famous because of his effective and powerful praying. In fact, history has nicknamed him as ‘Praying Hyde.’

Hyde once shared how one of the most amazing and profound lessons the Lord ever taught him about prayer actually occurred when he was praying for one of India’s native pastors who was both experiencing problems and was known to help create a few problems as well.

Hyde said he started praying something like this: “O God, Thou knowest this brother, how …”

Apparently, his next intended word was “cold,” with a description to follow about the problems of this man. However as he went to say “cold,” he felt a check in his spirit and just couldn’t go on. He reported that it was like a voice whispering sharply to him. “He that touches him touches the apple of my eye.” A great horror swept over Hyde, and he felt he had been guilty before God of “accusing the brethren.”

Falling to his knees, Hyde confessed his own sin, and he remembered the words of Paul, that we should think on things that are lovely and good. “Father,” cried Hyde, “show me what things are lovely and are of good report in my brother’s life.”

Like a flash, Hyde remembered the many sacrifices this pastor had made for the Lord, how he had given up all for Christ, how he had suffered deeply for Christ. He thought of the many years of difficult labor this man invested in the kingdom and the wisdom with which he had resolved congregational conflict. Hyde remembered the man’s devotion to his wife and family, and how he had provided a model to the church of godly husbanding.

John Hyde spent his prayer time that day praising the Lord for this brother’s faithfulness.

Shortly afterward, Hyde journeyed into the plains to see this pastor, and he learned that the man had just received a great spiritual uplift, as if a personal revival had refreshed his heart like a springtime breeze.

It turns out that while Hyde had been praising, God had been blessing.

(FROM: Morgan, Robert J. Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, 2007), 166.)

This great missionary known as “Praying Hyde” learned that the positive prayers of praise and blessing others are far more effective than griping and complaining in your prayers. And since God looks at us all together as part of the same team, you know… the Body of Christ… when you or I are complaining or badmouthing another Christian, we are hurting our own team… we are bringing curses upon ourselves. It’s like our arm punching ourselves in the face! No good can come from that kind of behavior! That’s NOT how we are to behave as the Body of Christ!

We read in the book of James:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

–James 3:9-10 (NIV)

How many of us need to be on our knees repenting of such sinful behavior of speaking against our fellow Christians instead of praying for them? And THEN we need to be praying for their good, for their blessings, for their spiritual strength, for their finances and ministries and their families!


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Still True To Plumb?

Eleven years ago in 2008, in my Reynoldsville Church, we started the year with a slogan for the year… “Get It Straight in 2008.” During that year, we reviewed the different committees and ministry teams, as well as the way we did Sunday School, our monthly pancake breakfasts, our Vacation Bible school, the Men’s Ministry, the United Methodist Women, our library, our Missions Outreach Team, our youth group, we looked at how we did with our three worship services… and even the pastor’s weekly Bible Study classes. 

Some of the questions we were asking ourselves were like these: For those things and events and activities we already were doing, actually helping to bring people closer to Jesus and closer to each other? Did our teams and classes and committees, and even our Church Council meetings, faith based… did we pray, did we have devotions, did we thoroughly soak ourselves and all those administrative and ministry things in prayer? Or did we just have meetings like a business or Garden Club?

But then, of course, we had to eventually look back and ask ourselves: “How did we do?”

We ended up changing the way we did some of the things, our groups and committees started making sure there was a time of devotions and prayer at EVERY event… so that even going to a meeting could bring you closer to Jesus and closer to Jesus’s followers. We created two new Mission Outreaches and an annual short term mission trip to Guatemala. And A LOT of our things were doing really well and didn’t need much tweeking at all.

But in the midst of it all, I stumbled into the book of Amos at one point and got caught in Amos chapter 7, verses 7-8, where there is a prophetic vision where God Himself sets up a plumb line.

Now, for a non-construction kind of person like me, I haven’t seen a lot of plumb lines in my life. I am told that a plumb line is essentially a heavy pointed weight on the end of a string. I understand that a builder can ‘line up’ a vertical wall and make sure that his wall is exactly up and down straight by hanging a plumb line from the top and letting gravity pull the weight… and thus one can compare the building with the standard of what ought to be.

Amos sees God use a plumb line and then, prophetically, God declares that the lives of the Israelites are not measuring up to the standard God has set.

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”
“A plumb line,” I replied.
Then said the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer…”
 (Amos 7:7-8, NIV)

As Christians, we believe the Bible can act like a plumb line for our lives as followers of Jesus. By reading the Bible we can learn of God’s ways & God’s standards. Then, with the power of God to help us, we can repent of the ways in which we haven’t lined up & we can adjust our behaviors & our attitudes to match his Biblical standard.

So, how about if we ask ourselves that same line of questioning? Are there areas in our lives that we need to “get straight” and make sure we line up with God’s Plumb Line. How about us as a congregation? How about us as individual Christians? Start by inviting God’s Holy Spirit to help you see what doesn’t quite line up with God’s “plumb line…”

AND, today there is one more application… You see, I need your help… I already know what God has spoken to me that I need to get straight in my life… How about you? Is there an area in life where you struggle and would like to understand God’s ‘plumb line’ for that area? Perhaps a particular teaching or Scripture that you are still not quite sure about?

Let me know… As I work on sermon planning and a possible Bible study, I need to know what would be most helpful to you in your Christian walk.

Then, together, even though it’s not 2008, we can have a ready plumb line so that we CAN keep it straight in 2008!

adapted from an original post in September 1, 2008.

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Rest and Relax

The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  –Psalm 23 (KJV)

Like many others, I love the Twenty-third Psalm. I read those words about “green pastures” and “still waters” and am reminded of the free spirited fun I had spending summers at my grandparents’ farm up a dirt road hollow in Potter County. Depending on the day, I’d go off on an adventure with our neighbor, or my cousins, or even my little brother, and we’d explore the pasture, the upper meadow, or the forest, staking out our claim to territory and finding great “undiscovered” camping sites.

But some of my best memories were the times I was alone, just me and God, out for a walk. Inevitably, I’d end up stopping and sitting alongside the banks of this one little stream that cut through the pasture behind the barn. I would just sit there and watch the water bubble along on its way down the stream… knowing that, eventually, that water would end up as part of the Gulf of Mexico via the Oswayo, Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. It was peaceful. In the quietness of those moments, I found myself close to God and able to talk with Him and hear Him talk with me.

Summertime is here again, only now I’m more than 45 years older. And I don’t have a schedule of playing, followed by hiking and exploring. Not even sitting down by a stream. I’m adult now… I have a lot to do. I have expectations to meet for my job and my family. I don’t have the time to do that “kid” stuff… Or do I? The problem is just this: In losing the “play” time, most of us lose the quiet time… and lose the time to spend quietly with our God, as well.

The Bible is filled with times where God commands His people to rest and times that they were commanded to play!

The command to take time off and rest goes back to the Ten Commandments, requiring that one day out of every seven be spent doing no work… just resting. And if you violated that command even to go out and try to pick up extra food (the manna lying on the ground), God would see to it that that food went bad before you got to eat it. He knew that He made the human body needing rest. Even now, without proper rest and time off, our bodies still become more susceptible to disease and injury… as well as stress and burn-out.

The command to celebrate was extra-time off every so often where the people had a festival, special meals, special worship services, being together with extended family and friends that you wouldn’t get to see all the time. It renewed the mind and rejuvenated the spirit. You had something to look forward to once again, no matter how tough the year might have been.

This summer, let’s schedule in some time to rest and to play… the way God meant for us to do. Time off to relax and connect with God again and also time deliberately spent reconnecting with the people He’s put in our lives… our families… at home and at church.

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The Bell

I was looking for something in my computer files a little bit ago and found a file from June 2007 simply titled “The Bell.” I opened it and found such encouragement, I just had to share it. Please be aware, I did NOT write this and have no idea who was the original author (or perhaps compiler would be a better term). Feel free to share!
The Bell
I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I  am  a  personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven.  I am significant (Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me ( Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God  (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).  I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1).  I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14).  I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God



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The Problem with the Pews

A potentially dangerous situation has developed in the church sanctuary. The pews, which are as old as the church building, have begun to dry out.

This loss of moisture, and the subsequent loss of weight, has led to the distinct possibility that they might float free. This presents the possibility that during worship, a free-floating pew could damage a member or guest. Further, it is believed that even if a member or a guest were able successfully to dodge an oncoming free-floating pew, the evasive action would certainly disrupt the spiritual tranquility of the worshiping dodger.

The problem was brought before a committee in the latter part of last year. The committee first considered using steel cables to anchor the pews to bedrock, which is 247 feet beneath the church. After receiving the cost estimate of $145,912.77 and extensive consultations with engineers, this idea was abandoned. The committee, after deliberating, deciding that adding weight to the pews would be a better solution to the problem. The committee considered using brass scrap or lead ingots but they proved to be too expensive. Pig iron was found to be cheaper, but it, like brass and lead, had a certain lifeless quality.

The committee searched for a medium density object which was both sparkling and vibrant. After sifting through all of the possibilities, the committee has opted to use warm bodies to weigh down the pews, and the committee is asking the membership to provide the necessary weight. This can be done by coming to church and, if possible, by bringing a medium density object (in the form of a friend or neighbor) with you.




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Filed under holidays, Humor