This is how I spend Black Friday. Well, it would be nice but truth be told I am pretty much no longer capable of sleeping in. I’m in bed most nights by 8:30 or 9 and up at 5 or 6 AM whether there is a reason to be or not. A few years ago we were at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving. The meal was over, things were winding down, people were starting to leave. He knew that our coffee maker had gone out and I would be looking for one. He showed me the Walmart Black Friday circular, which had new items coming out onto the floor in phases. The sale actually started that evening, Thursday at 6 PM, at which time I could get a Black & Decker drip coffee maker with automatic timer for the low price of $11. I fell for it. My first clue was that no parking spaces were available. Before 6 every space was filled and cars were parked at the fuel center, on the sidewalks, on the grass… I didn’t even know our local Walmart had any grass until that moment. I got in and found my item in about 15 minutes. It then took another 1 hr. 45 min. to check out. EVERY… REGISTER… WAS… OPEN… but a sea of moving people looked more like boats unloading at Ellis Island in the 1920’s than the Walmart checkout lines I was used to. Never again my friends, never again. There is nothing in there I need or want that badly.Continue reading
The Atlanta Braves victory parade attracted hundreds of thousands of fans. Staged in two locations, the parade began in downtown Atlanta at noon and ended at Truist Park in the Battery at 3 PM. Then the program started, followed by concerts and a party that lasted well into the night. You probably know the Braves won the World Series in 6 games, shutting out the Houston Astros 7 – 0 at Minute Maid Park Tuesday evening. It’s the Braves second World Series title since moving to Atlanta in 1965. They made a remarkable worst to first run in the National League West Division (it’s a long story) in 1991 and won the World Series for the first time in Atlanta in 1995.Continue reading
I found it. This picture was taken last year at Unity Baptist but a week or two ago I could not locate it. The cover image on the UBC Facebook page is a gorgeous picture of an Advent wreath from a few years ago but the colors were not right. It’s a picky little thing and I may be the only one that cares but in the picture above are three purple candles and one pink. whereas here all the candles (except the center) are white. At any rate we are two Sundays down and two to go in our season of Advent. Tomorrow we will light that pink Angles candle, sing Joy to the World and talk about our source of joy coming into the world. I have a preaching appointment on Monday with our local association pastors and music leaders. Unless things change I’m planning to suggest we rethink the angel choir.Continue reading
This is Happy Monday #404.Continue reading
Keeping the weeks of Advent is one way to keep Christ in Christmas. The school Christmas program may not include hymns that mention the birth of Jesus and local city ordinances may prohibit a public display of a live nativity. Maybe these are things you can do something about, maybe not. What we can and should do is read the scriptures and sing the hymns in our homes and in our churches that put the focus of Christmas squarely where it belongs. It is ultimately my responsibility to make sure that my child learns about the true meaning of Christmas and not the public school system, Charlie Brown, the Hallmark Channel or other thing. Advent is a season of preparation that gets us ready to celebrate the incarnation. Read more here if Advent is new to you or something you might be interested in learning more about.Continue reading
The naval base shooting and the UPS driver abducted by jewelry store thieves made national headlines in the past couple of days. I’m not ignoring these stories; they are all over the news and if you are interested in following them you probably already are. I may someday comment on the impeachment proceedings but for the time being what I like to do is draw attention to things you might otherwise miss or to those bright spots that are worth dwelling on even if you’ve already seen them. I want to set the tone for all of us to enjoy the weekend. I grew up watching cartoons on Saturday morning and believe that Saturdays are something special, a break from daily routine even if there is work to be done. If you enjoy a little light reading, and maybe cracking a smile, join us right here each week. Invite a friend, we’ll all go.
Limited Time Only – No paid product endorsement, I tried this and liked it. Coca-cola calls it a “hint of cinnamon” but, well, some people can’t take a hint. I think it hits the cinnamon pretty hard but again, I like it. And if you happen to have vanilla ice cream and wonder what a Cinnamon Coke float would taste like, I highly recommend going for that as well. We enjoyed this flavor better than Winter Spiced Cranberry Sprite or even cranberry ginger ale from Canada Dry. Hopefully this comes back next year. Hey, it’s no dumber than pumpkin spice. Continue reading
There 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.
Yesterday 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
I can’t believe plain red cups are the biggest trending story in social media this week but like I’ve said before no news is good news. So let me put on my Christian blogger hat and do the dance.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you probably recognize former pastor Joshua Feuerstein from his viral video. He infamously pranked Starbucks into selling him a $4 cup of coffee. The evangelist is outraged over Starbucks “war on Christmas” that produced this year’s plain red holiday cup. The lack of snowflakes, doves and trees led Feuerstein to declare that Starbucks hates Jesus. The video describing the prank – that’s a screenshot on the left, no I’m not linking to it – has been viewed 14.5 million times since last Thursday. He told the barista his name was Merry Christmas so they would have to write that on his cup. He’s been drinking the Charlie Sheen Kool-Aid and considers this “winning.” Like I say, he tricked them into selling him coffee. They never saw it coming. Continue reading
For to 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.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
One of the many titles the Son is known by is Prince of Peace, peace being the focus of the fourth Sunday of Advent. Isaiah 9:7 specifically says Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end and it goes to describe him sitting on the throne of David. Part of the Isaiah prophesy has been fulfilled in the first Advent of Jesus Christ; the child was born, the son was given. He was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) to a virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14). But he has not yet sat on the throne of David, and during his earthly ministry he even said “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) There is prophecy yet to be fulfilled in the second appearing (advent) of Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. Continue reading