Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas!

As we gather with friends and family, my prayer is that you remember the purpose for this celebration. Years ago, I watched a Peanuts special where Charlie Brown kept searching for the meaning of Christmas. Contrary to a recent opinion, the day isn’t about showing love to little trees. Linus gave the true reason for this season and I quote him, as he quoted the Bible,

Linus’ King James version scripture reading from Luke 2: 8-14, read:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Merry Christmas!

 


 

The Interests of Others

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In my devotional reading this morning, I read about the 2 AM group. Here is that story,
” A friend told me about a group of people who share a strong bond of faith in Christ. One of them, a 93-year-old woman, said, ‘I feel like I can call any of you at 2 a.m., and I don’t even have to apologize if I feel the need for any type of assistance.’ Whether the need is prayer, practical help, or someone to be there during a time of need, these friends are unconditionally committed to each other.”(Our Daily Bread)

These friends are a great example of the body of Christ in action. They put into practice the instructions of Paul in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (HCSB)

I have been blessed to a part of churches who live this way. We sing about being one in the bond of love, but we have to live that out. It blesses my soul when I visit in the hospital and hear how many from the church have already been by to check on them. When I was hospital used, I learned the value of those visits. That is just one easy we can look out for each others interests.

My prayer is that all churches will be 2 AM groups.

Turning the Page

  
Well, I haven’t blogged for a few weeks.   I have busy unpacking boxes.  We have officially moved to a new town.  As we turn this page in the book of our life, I want to pause to reflect on the past.

Landmark Baptist Church of Mexia

For 17 years you were our spiritual  home.  We worked, played, cried, and laughed together.  Your love and generosity carried is through Shanmom’s bone marrow transplant, and my Guillian-Barre Syndrome.  You helped us welcome our two miraculous children into our family.  You received them and celebrated with us when our children were born again into the family of God,  this chapter in our lives will always be remembered fondly.

Craft Baptist Church of Jacksonville

We are just beginning our time together.  You have already been a blessing to us with your warm welcome and assistance completing the move. Thank you for investing in me in ’86-’88 as I was a student at JBC.  Thank you for calling me to serve in this awesome church.  I look forward to many years together and can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

Imitation

When I was a child, I had the coolest toy!  Sitting in our yard was a fire truck.  My Dad was chief of the volunteer fire department and with that came the truck.  I spent hours on that truck pretending to be a firefighter.  I was imitating my Dad and all of the other firefighters I had seen.  When I was older, I was allowed to ride on the truck to a grass fire with them.  I will never forget the moment I got to fight fire for the first time.  We had reached a fence the fire had just crossed.  Because I was small enough to do it, I was able to take a wet toe sack and cross the fence to put out the small fire that had crossed.  I was probably 10 or so years old, but felt grown up.

It is often said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.  It is also true, that imitation is a great way to learn.  Children watch and imitate the actions of others around them and thus learn many of the social skills needed in life.  The same holds true in our spiritual lives.  The Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV  Paul modeled the Christian life for the believers in Corinth.  He lived a life imitating Christ.  He tried to let the character of Christ be visible in his life.  He did this so consistently, he could tell the church at Corinth, that they could imitate him and thus would be closer to living as  Christ lived.

The challenge to us is to follow Christ, so others will see Him in us as well.  Each day, we should ask ourselves if we are living for Jesus.  Are we walking as He walked?  Are we loving as He loved?  Are we preaching repentance as He did? Only when we answer yes, can we say as Paul did, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

Open Door

In churches, we often use a phrase which speaks of God opening doors. In fact, it is biblical. Paul was writing to the church in Corinth about his travel plans which included a visit to Corinth. However, he was going to stay a while in Ephesus,, “For a great and effective door has opened to me,” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭16‬:‭9a‬ NKJV)

In my life now, I can relate to Paul. There are those seasons in life in which God is so obviously opening a door that we would be fools to ignore it. I am on the threshold of such a season. We are in the process of moving to a new church in a new town. I recently resigned from the church I pastored for 17 years and 9 months to accept the call to Craft Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Tx. A random connection on LinkedIn with an old friend has led to this. So many pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place that I know there is a great and effective door opened to me. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my family and me.

 

Love and Serve

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In my quiet time the other day, I was reading Our Daily Bread, and read an interesting observation on John 21:15-22. In that passage, Jesus forgives and restores Peter.  Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night of His arrest. Here, Jesus asked Peter three times to declare his love for Jesus.  The point often missed in this text is that with each profession of love came a command to serve.   Every time Peter says that he loves Jesus, and Jesus asks Peter to feed His sheep. With love came service.

Jesus wants us to both love and serve Him. Perhaps that is why He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15 It is easy to gather every week and sing, “I love You Lord” and “My Jesus I love Thee”.  It is another thing to serve Him in our daily lives.  The Holy Spirit has given each of us gifts designed to be put to use in serving Him, His people, and His world.  When we serve motivated by love it takes our discipleship to a whole new level.  We start putting the needs of others ahead of our own needs.  We see opportunities around us every day to express our love for God and for people by serving them.

The Mediator

  

In an effort to reduce the number of cases going to trial, mediation has gained popularity. In mediation, a third party enters in and attempts to negotiate a settlement between the parties who are involved in a dispute. They seek to find a mutually agreed upon compromise and prevent the need for a full trial.   Usually, there is a give and take to mediation where neither side gets exactly what they wanted. However, in 1 Timothy, Paul writes about a mediation in which one side gave all. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. The dispute was between God and humanity. God’s justice demands that all who sin receive the wages of sin, death. Jesus mediated between God and us by paying the price for our sins on the cross. Since He had no sin of His own, His death could pay our penalty. God the Son paid for all of our sins, As Mediator, He says that all who trust Him will have eternal life.    
That is gospel message we are to share with the world. What great news! Don’t allow social or ethnic differences be a barrier. Take the good news of Christ’s atonement to everyone.

The saved are singled out not by their own merits, but by the grace of the Mediator.” 

Martin Luther