Satur-deja Vu

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That ball cap isn’t much of a disguise. Santa may have a workshop full of elves making toys but he gets his produce at Kroger just like the rest of us. Thanks for stopping by, welcome to the Satur-deja Vu.

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I had a pastor make an observation some years ago about small churches/ small church pastors. There are few mega churches with celebrity pastors but there are thousands of smaller churches across America with congregations of 100, 50 or even smaller. More people attend medium or small churches than the few really big ones. I think small towns are very similar. You may watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television or the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade sponsoring Toys for Tots last night. But there are thousands of small towns with fall festivals, county fairs, little theater groups and their own parades and tree lightings across the country. More people live in small towns and communities than in the few really big cities, if you think about it.

 

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I grew up in what many would consider a small town that has gotten a lot bigger just in my lifetime. I remember when K-Mart opened, later Walmart, and then when our Walmart store was replaced by the Walmart Supercenter. Since then we have lived in places like Lindale, Oneida, KY and Plainville. I know who my neighbors next door are as well as for several houses in every direction. In our local elections in November, 45 people turned out to vote. (I got 42 votes as I ran unopposed for re-election to the city council). Pictured above is the honorable Mayor of Plainville, that’s me in the sweater, and our firechief posing with Santa Claus. Can you keep a secret? He is also a council member. He actually came to the last meeting wearing the suit. A little further up is my family at the tree lighting ceremony. Hot cocoa, prancing horses, a high school marching band and 300 family members, friends and neighbors. A good time was had by all.

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So once again I did not go a lot of blogging this week but was incredibly busy doing things in real life. We had the Christmas parade and tree lighting Monday, my birthday was on Wednesday, and we were supposed to have our church Christmas dinner last night but that got pushed back to this evening. The same thing or something similar happens every year at this time. Every group you are a part of wants to do something for Christmas; there’s always an office or work Christmas party, a school program, family gatherings and if you are involved in your local church there’s a church pageant or Christmas party, or both, plus every Sunday school class/small group tries to meet together and if you happen to be the church pastor you get invited to everything. I’m not complaining that we have these things; they are celebrations after all. But it’s a lot to do. On top of that many of us will travel for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both, because families are spread out. The first Christmas was spent out of town, if you think about it.

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You don’t want family or friends to feel snubbed and that’s good on you. But try to find some time, even if it’s just a few very short times, that you can be alone with your thoughts. Worship involves removing ourselves from the stresses of life and focusing on the things of God. Rest is a gift and one that God commanded in the Old Testament. In addition to the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus notice that he and the disciples sometimes got away from the crowd to find solitude and recover. It is not selfish or lazy to take care of yourself. Yes there is a lot to do, try not to overdo it. I will try too.

 

 

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Not a real ad; don’t think about it too hard.

Enjoy your weekend. Peace.

A Thought for Christians this Christmas

merry_christmasThe Hallmark Channels are showing nothing but Christmas movies, decorations have started appearing… I don’t even fight that battle anymore. I tried and lost. Sirius XM has started their Holly station on channel 65. Holly plays mostly modern Christmas pop but they throw in well known tunes by Elvis, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams as well. As we get closer to Christmas more seasonal channels will be added, such as traditional, religious and even a Hallmark Christmas radio channel.

If you don’t subscribe to satellite radio stay with me, that’s not really what this post is about. Continue reading

The Shepherds as a Model of Evangelism

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:8-20 Continue reading

Thoughts on Keeping Christ in Christmas

Screenshot 2018-12-18 at 8.59.08 AMThere is no command in the New Testament to celebrate Christmas. Jesus is not disappointed over losing “his day” to Santa Claus or commercialism or anything else. He never asked for a day but rather we assigned him one. What Jesus wants is a place in your heart not a date on your calendar. He wants to bring each of us into a personal relationship with a loving God. He tells us to abide in him as he abides in the Father.

Suing the local government over the right to put up a nativity scene doesn’t “keep Christ in Christmas.” The secular society never had Christ to begin with so there’s no keeping him there. We as believers must keep Christ in our hearts, in our homes and in our church. And we must do so year round not just when Santa is at the mall. That’s not to say we can’t celebrate Christmas. We put up a tree in our home (after Thanksgiving), hang stockings, watch Rudolph on tv and put out milk and cookies for Santa. We also light the candles on the wreath as we keep the weeks of Advent. I can’t do anything Hallmark Channel showing Christmas movies in October but I have a great deal of control over what verses we read, hymns we sing and prayers said during our family devotions.

Don’t be surprised or offended that the world is not interested in Jesus. The manger reminds us that he came into the world. The cross reminds us that, for the most part, the world rejected him. Do good deeds, share good news. Badgering unbelievers with Christian images isn’t going to do anything for them. Show them Christ. Be salt and light. And like I said, that continues into January and beyond. If your Christianity can be stored in a box in the attic, maybe it’s time to revisit the Gospel.

Happy Monday Commentary

Screenshot 2018-11-23 at 7.44.46 AMYesterday the weekly Happy Monday post invited everyone to begin celebrating Christmas. Just a couple of thoughts, I will try not to labor the issue.

1) Happy Monday is meant to be encouraging, uplifting and often times funny. Sometimes funny that teaches a lesson in the subtext, sometimes funny because smiling and laughing are good for us. Take everything with a grain of salt. Continue reading

Final Thoughts: Epiphany

Screenshot 2018-01-09 at 2.57.29 PMMany Christians celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday after January 6th. Sometimes my mind makes connections between things that others may have thought unrelated. Maybe we all do that, working in what some describe as thought webs, but I’m about to submit one such thought for your consideration.

Matthew 2:1-12 is the Gospel account of the wise men’s visit. Ephesians 2:11-21 describes how all believers are one in Christ. Verse 17 in particular says that Jesus has preached peace to those that were far away and those that were near. Consider how the Christmas narrative illustrates that point. Continue reading

Why Not Shepherds?

screenshot-2016-12-11-at-7-49-28-amToday is the third Sunday of Advent. Many of us will light the shepherds candle and sing Joy to the World. We’ll read Luke 2:8-20 and talk about how joy was for all people, even lowly shepherds. That first Christmas night was celebrated by a carpenter, an unwed mother, and a few dirty, smelly shepherds from a nearby field. There is certainly a message of hope in the clear demonstration that Christ had come for all…

But why not shepherds? Continue reading