Monthly Archives: December 2010

SNOW DAYS

Our area was hit with 18+ inches of snow on Sunday.  We went to church in the morning and have been in hibernation mode since then.  After the busyness leading up to Christmas, the laziness of a snow day was a welcome intrusion.  Yesterday was a day made for staying in our pajamas, drinking hot chocolate, finishing off books, watching James Cagney movies and playing family games.


However a lazy day should not be confused with a wasted day.  In our faced paced, check list dominated culture, we can mistakenly think such days are lost opportunities to make progress.  It is true that we lost income, since as a self-employed occupational therapist, Debbie does not get paid if she does not see any patients (or students depending on the location she works). But I have no regrets compared to what we gained.  It was a profitable day!


The success of the day was measured in rest and relationships.  Both of these are essential qualities for life.  If I allow myself to misuse the idea of progress, I could become anxious by the lost opportunity to shorten my list of things to do.  It would be easy to be bothered by the loss of a days pay from our monthly budget.  But what measure of success denies our mind the occasional chance to meander through a day, rather than race through it?  And what twisting of values does not see that an unplanned opportunity for the entire family to play games, is an accomplishment?


Today the church office is still closed.  Many roads remain snow covered, and giving the staff an additional day off is a gift we can give to them and their families.  Since I will be preaching Sunday, there is sermon preparation which must be started.  However, I will do it in the comfort of my pajamas, and I plan on being distracted by my family.  Today is going to be another very successful day!

Sermon Leftovers 12/27/10

For those hardy ones that came to church in the snow on the day after Christmas, a good sermon was heard.  Eric preached on the Prodigal Son passage from Luke 15:1-2, 11-32.


(1)  Although we easily see the selfishness of the prodigal son, it goes even deeper than we at first realize.  In that culture an inheritance was in land, crops and livestock.  The father had to sell off those things in order to give his son the inheritance he demanded.  Our self-centeredness runs deep and typically exacts a cost from those around us.  Most of all, whenever we are self-centered, it is a slap to the face of God.  He is the One who has earned the right to our constant attention!


(2)  In vs 17-19 after the son comes to his senses, he rehearses the “speech” he plans to give his father.  But the father never even allows him to finish it when they are reunited.  We never have to convince God to accept true repentance.  We often think we need to convince God into thinking well of us again.  But His love and commitment to His children never fail.  The need when we fail is not convincing God; our need is comprehending that we can boldly walk forward in wondrous mercy and grace of  God.


(3)  Upon the son’s return, he had nothing to give his father but his poverty, hunger and desperate need.  Yet the father in vs 22-23 immediate lavishes his wayward child with the emblems of sonship.  The son was not just received, he was fully restored to his position and inheritance.  When we gaze upon God’s grace, it should inspire awe, like someone looking into the majesty of the Grand Canyon or thundering might of Niagara Falls.  If we are not constantly amazed by God’s grace to us, than we have lost our perspective – and desperately need to regain clear sight.


(4)  Sadly, in the parable, the older son also had lost his understanding of grace.  In vs 25-32, the older son is angry with his father’s grace.  These verses are the real point of Jesus’ parable.  They represent the Pharisees who were complaining abut Jesus fellowship with sinners in vs 1-2.  The older son thought he was accepted, because he has been good and always played by the rules.  How many Christians see their good works as their leverage to keep God happy and so bless them.  As God’s children, our “leverage” is only Christ and His righteousness.  Christ  crucified on our behalf, Christ raised and received by the Father on our behalf – this is our hope, this is our leverage, this is the basis upon which we come boldly to the throne of grace for mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Who Is Going To Shovel This?

Good thing I have a wife!

THE CHRISTMAS STORY

My Favorite Christmas Angel

This photo of Debbie is from our Christmas musical a few years ago.  I keep the picture on my phone and tell people that sometimes she wears this costume around the house and likes to strike “the pose”.

Debbie is not only my favorite Christmas angel, she is my favorite person (theological considerations not included).  She is one of God’s amazing blessings to me!

Reading the Christmas Story


I encourage you to read the Christmas story with your family on Christmas morning.  We began this tradition when our children were young.  We pray together to give God thanks and then each of us reads a different section from the biblical account of Jesus birth.

To read the Christmas story in order, you have to go back and forth between Matthew and Luke which present different parts of the story.  Years ago I photocopied the different parts, pieced them together in order, and recopied it as a story.  Today all that can be easily done on a computer.  Our church now has the Christmas story printed and given out as a gift on Christmas Eve.


If you want to read the Christmas story in order, here it is.

Jesus birth announced to Mary Luke 1:26-38

Jesus birth announced to Joseph Matthew 1:18-25

Jesus is born Luke 2:1-7

Angels appear to the shepherds Luke 2:8-20

The arrival of the Magi Matthew 2:1-12


 You may want to begin with the Old Testament foretelling of Jesus birth  Isaiah 9:6-7

Everyone Needs A Friend

The Guinea fowl in this photo is a regular visitor to our church.  In fact I wish some of our members were as faithful.  On Sunday mornings he or she (I don’t know enough about guinea fowl to be more precise), is at our entrance, staring through the glass door.  During the week, it is there before any of the church staff arrive.  I suppose he / she is drawn by its own reflection in the glass.  There used to be a small flock of these birds across the street, but through the dangers and travails of this world, not to mention speeding cars and foxes, the others have met their demise.  This bird is looking for a friend.

We have learned to enjoy the birds presence, mainly because none of us can get rid of it.  Whenever we try to chase it away, the bird darts around like the chicken in Rocky II, and is quickly back at its post no matter how much shooing we do. 

 

Everyone needs a friend, even the strange birds in our life.  We all know people who never seem to completely fit in.  If we don’t know someone like that, it is probably us.  In the midst of our desires and prayers to be used by God, have we considered how we can impact people’s lives by being a friend to the friendless?  There are even popular people around us, who may not have true friends that support them.  You can be sure there are people in your life who have no one praying for them!

 

As we walk through our day, let us keep our eyes open to the people we can befriend.  People who can learn that we actually have concern for what is happening in their lives.  For the most part they do not need our wisdom – because we probably don’t need more of our wisdom.  But they likely will appreciate our listening to them.  Everyone likes to be appreciated and all but six people in the world are thankful to know someone is praying for them when they have a serious need.

 

If you really have no idea who you could befriend, ask the One who has a heart for everyone who is friendless.  He will direct you if that is your true desire.  But if it is just an excuse not to work at it, you may not hear much.

 

When you visit our church and happen to see a strange bird at the door, stop and say hello . . . Oh, and be nice to the guinea fowl too.

Sermon Leftovers 12/20/10

Jeremiah 23:5 “Who is your King”


This passage is a prophecy about the Christ.  It tells us He came to be more than Savior, He came to be King!


A KING IS SOMEONE WHO RULES OVER A KINGDOM

(1)  Christ is concerned with the kingdom of our hearts


(2)  Christ does not save anyone, so they can be on their own.   He has no interest in compromise treaties.  He comes to rule unconditionally.


(3)  The world would rather have a great servant, than a great king.  What is our desire?  What do we want Christ to be in our life?  If we desire His rule, than we will pursue knowing Him; and we will surrender to His will whenever it crosses our own.


SUBMISSION TO THIS KING IS WELL WORTH IT

(1)  Christ reigns with perfect wisdom; which means His rule is always God-centered, and always has an eternal perspective.


(2)  Christ reigns with complete justice and righteousness; which means He holds us accountable and expects righteousness to rule every corner of  our life.


(3)  Although we all need Christ’s rule, we all struggle in our submission to it.  We should take our example from the Magi in Matthew 2:11.  When they saw the Christ, they fell down, worshiped and offered their treasures to Him.


Who is your king?  It is wise to submit to the King who reigns wisely; and it is good to follow the King who does what is just and right. Matthew 6:24 warns us that “no one can serve two masters”So serve this Master!

Giving The Joy of Thankfulness

Last night we celebrated our staff Christmas party at Manna Restaurant in Margate.  The food was great and we had an enjoyable early evening (for the most part we are not a late night bunch).  For the “program” portion of the party I had everyone answer two questions.

(1)  Why are you thankful for our church staff?

(2)  Why are you thankful for our church family?


The answers shared a lot in common.  It was not that anyone gave an answer that no one ever heard or thought of before, yet every heart was lifted.  You could feel the lift and energy in the room increase as we read out the comments.


Thankfulness is a powerful gift we can give.  Think how being thanked impacts and encourages you.  When we express our thankfulness to someone, it does not need to be elaborate, but it does need to be sincere and we should focus on a specific reason why we are thankful for them.   Here is the best part, expressing thankfulness is not hard.  The only difficulty is developing the habit of remembering to express thankfulness.  It costs no money, takes little time, and requires the smallest bit of energy, but it will have a powerful effect on virtually anyone who receives this gift from you.


This Christmas season, why not give the gift of thankfulness generously to the people God has placed around you.  Who can you call, or write, or visit, with the purpose of giving thanks to them?   Who is in your life that you appreciate, but have never let them know it? You will refresh the recipient, perhaps you will “make their day”! It may open the door to grow relationships with people that tend to isolate themselves. And it might change the dynamics of some chilled relationships.

Become a giver of this gift year round and you will see the influence of your life dramatically change.



Natalie Grows Up

Tools ‹ Pastor Kyle Huber — WordPress.

Natalie’s parents took a photo of her almost every day for ten years.  This video is a compilation of those photos.  It is both interesting and a great reminder of how time flies – especially with the lives of our children!


The lives of our children may move a little slower than that video, but not by much.  As parents, one of our deepest desires is to influence our children in the most positive way possible.  At first, we think we have plenty of time; then suddenly a day comes when we realize our remaining time is short.  How can we make sure we use the time we have with our children (or grandchildren) well?


Her are a few thoughts that have served our family well over the years.

(1)  Early on I heard someone advise parents to “throw a kid in the car” whenever you go on errands, as a way to spend time with them.  So I began taking Jordan with me on my day off errands.  Now, I quickly learned to set him in the car rather than throw him, but either way, taking my kids on errands provided opportunities to have meaningful time together.

During our errands, we began stopping at a little coffee shop in Ocean City called Ready’s.  I would sit at the counter with Jordan on my lap, and we would split a grilled and buttered corn muffin.  We ended up going to Ready’s every Friday for over 7 years.  When Jillian came along she joined us and eventually I had all Elyse too; all three kids sitting at the counter with me on Fridays. The stressful part was making sure none of them slipped off their stool, but it built years of tradition and memories.


(2)  As a family, we were committed to sharing meals together.  At breakfast we read the Bible or devotional books and started our day praying for it.  During dinner, we would ask the kids what happened in school.  These conversations were not heavy, but filled with teasing and laughter.  As our children started working, their schedules have made it harder to always eat together, but it is still our goal as much as possible.  Meals are especially good opportunities for building relationship.  In many parts of the world today, relationship is the focal point of why people gather to eat.


(3)  Find an ongoing project your family can share.  We had a family museum.  I got this idea from Theodore Roosevelt, who had an impressive museum of natural history when he was growing up – – having rich parents who took him around the world helped.  Our museum was simple, but over the years we lined the shelves of my home office with articles of interest, and creatures that used to be alive.  Our museum spurred curiosity and kept us on the look out for mew items during family outings.  You could do the same thing with art or any area of interest your family may have.  The key is find a point of shared interest, you can work on with your children.


Of course there are many other and even better ways that you can think of, to take advantage of the days which are quickly passing.  You may not take a picture of your children every day, but every day you can . . share simple activities . . say “I love you” . . build memories . . have conversations . . and pray for them.