Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Two Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a Christmas carol, Drummer Boy.

Drummer boys. Were they there playing a drum solo for Mary and the baby that night? Doubtful, but drums are still my favorite instrument and I’d love to have played for Him.

A new born King to see

Pa rum pum pum pum, 

Our finest gifts we bring…

What gifts do you bring? Gold prices are up; that’s a great gift. Diamonds are still pretty meaningful and pricey. 

But those are not the gifts He’s looking for. He was sent to earth to dwell in you. Bring Him your best gift: you.

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Three Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a Christmas carol.

He was there, creating. The first book of the Bible, the first chapter reveals, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” 

Imagine then a seed would fall from heaven and be planted in a young teenage girl’s womb not yet given in marriage–an incarnate One. 

Imagine the One who made the mountains and the oceans, the sky and the multiple variations of life on the earth would come and dwell on that earth in human form.

Imagine this One as a child growing up like you and me, learning a trade from his earthly father. 

Imagine the bewilderment of those around Him marveling at His intellect and uncanny wisdom. 

Imagine His baptism and those affirming words spoken from heaven before His ministry would begin, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am pleased.” 

Imagine this One healing the leper or the blind man who then went leaping with joy.

Imagine His deep anguish in the garden, His stripes received on the whipping post, His body thrown on a splinter-filled wooden cross with His flesh torn to the bone. 

Imagine the joy of His resurrection!

Imagine that, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Colossians 2: 10, 11)

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Children, Encouragement, History, Just for fun

Four Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a special Christmas song for you.

“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” It was a Holy Night just as Isaiah the prophet prophesied 900 years earlier: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)

There is no peace greater than the peace of Christ in the heart of man. There is no greater government, no other Son given, no better counselor and certainly nothing close to everlasting life without Him.

He is The Prince of Peace for every need you face this Christmas. Call on His Name. Nothing and no one comes close to His love, His acceptance, His approval and His security.

O Holy Night

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Challenge, History, Issues of the Day

A Famous Painter 

In the year 1606 a young couple gave birth to a son. He would become one of the world’s most famous artists and he would paint scripturally-focused scenes on his canvasses. Growing up, this budding artist read mostly one book–the Bible. And it was that book that inspired his paintings.

Rembrandt van Rijn’s paintings would fill museums with his masterpieces. Paintings like: The Return of the Prodigal Son, Christ Before Pilot, Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene and many more. 

Rembrandt was living in Amsterdam and he would use local Jewish persons as his models. He also used street people and his model for King Solomon was a local beggar. Rembrandt had a way of making his characters look like real persons.

In his work, The Raising of the Cross, he included himself in the portrait as one of the soldiers who raised the cross of Jesus. He noted that he was like all human beings who were responsible for the death of Christ. 

Rembrandt died in 1669, but not before giving us Christian art that no painter has ever rivaled. Are you aware that the Christ whom Rembrandt painted so often was also the Christ who gave his life a ransom on the cross?

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Encouragement, History, Just for fun

Fun Facts for Thanksgiving 2022

Being thankful is a daily exercise. Someone said our normal position in life should be “thanksliving.” Giving thanks can be and should be a lifestyle. We are encouraged to give thanks in all things. A thankful heart is so much better to be around than an unthankful heart. So, in the spirit of an American national holiday called Thanksgiving, here are a few interesting facts surrounding this celebration. Share them with your family around the table.

  • The American Thanksgiving is modeled after a 17th century harvest feast. However, the U.S. National Park Service states that in 1565 Spanish settlers in St. Augustine, (now Florida), celebrated a meal with Native Americans of pork stew, sea biscuits, wine and beans. It is believed the native Americans provided turkey and venison.
  • Around 46 million turkeys are consumed which is approximately 720 million pounds of turkey. Approximately 89% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Forty years ago, Butterball turkey company opened a hotline to answer questions and some 100,000 people call this hotline annually. 
  • The Swanson company began the concept of frozen dinners in 1953 when they overestimated the number of frozen turkeys they would sell. Rather than waste all that meat, they recycled and repackaged it into frozen TV dinners.
  • Thanksgiving became a national holiday when Abraham Lincoln made it one after the Civil War on October 20, 1864. That move was initiated and lobbied for by a woman named Sarah Joseph Hale most known for writing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
  • Other nations also celebrate this holiday in some form or fashion including: Canada, Grenada, Liberia, the Philippines, Saint Lucia and the Netherlands. 
  • The U.S. president “pardons” a turkey from slaughter on Thanksgiving. Where did this tradition come from? It dates back to Abraham Lincoln’s son who was upset that his family’s turkey was going to be killed for dinner.
  • According to the U.S. Calorie Control Council (who knew there was such a council), an average American may consume 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day.
  • And finally, the day after Thanksgiving is said to be the busiest day of the year for plumbers!
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Encouragement, History, Leadership, Marriage, Men

“One Man with Courage Makes a Majority”

Andy was a person who understood personal pain, grief and endurance. He fought in the Revolutionary War. He was captured, slashed across his forehead by a British officer with a sword and would suffer from migraines the remainder of his life. 

While imprisoned, he contracted smallpox. His brother died of smallpox, but Andy lived. Not long after his brother’s death, his mother died of cholera and then his brother, Hugh, also died. The hurt and pain within Andy pushed him to inflict pain upon others. 

But then, Andy fell in love with Rachel. They married only to find out there was a glitch in a court’s error and Rachel was still legally married to her first husband. It is said that Andy actually fought 103 duels to defend her honor! Andy’s body was riddled with bullets; one near his heart caused severe blood-filled coughing spasms.

Andy then fought in the War of 1812. After returning as a war hero, he ran for the office of the president of the United States. During his campaign his adopted son who was 16 years old died of tuberculosis. He went on to win the election of 1828. He served two terms.

President Andrew Jackson

In his first term of office, he lost Rachel to illness. Overcoming his grief as president, he wiped out the federal deficit before he retired to Nashville, Tennessee. 

On his deathbed, Andy spoke of heaven where he would “Go to meet Rachel…and Jesus.”

If you look at the U.S. twenty dollar bill in your pocket you’ll find the engraving of Andrew (Andy) Jackson, the seventh President of the United States.

                              ONE MAN WITH COURAGE MAKES A MAJORITY (Andrew Jackson)

Think of it–one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God. Because he fights for you, just as he promised you. (Joshua 23:10 The Message)

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History, In the news, Parents

A Tragic End to Flight 255

It was a tragic end to flight 255 taking off from Detroit to its destination, Phoenix, Arizona. The 154 passengers and crew members died as the plane attempted to become airborne. The pilots failed to follow their checklist in an effort to save time. Since they missed some steps, there was no way for them to know their electrical power to the takeoff system did not exist. Further, they failed to notice that the slats and flaps were not extended adequately. 

The plane struck a light pole, severing a good portion of its wing. The fuel stored in that wing caught fire. Then the other wing was ripped apart hitting a building. Finally, the plane slammed into an overpass of Interstate 94, exploding into a fireball and ending more lives on the ground. 

As the Detroit medical examiner was inspecting the scene of charred bodies, he heard a child’s voice. It was four-year-old Cecelia Cichan. Her mother had wrapped her arms and body around her child in a last-ditch effort to shield her from the crash that was about to occur. 

This final and heroic, albeit desperate, act of love saved a little girl from certain death by impact and by fire. 

Years later Cecelia is now a mother herself. She thanks God every day for life and for a mom who would wrap her arms of love around her in an effort to protect her. 

There is a Savior who wraps His arms around you, who took the pain of the cross, who went through the very flames of hell because He loves you. 

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Challenge, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

Who Gets to Speak the Final Word?

I was sitting in a fourth grade elementary school class when our teacher was called out to the hallway. When she returned she was crying, telling us between sobs that the President of the United States had been assassinated. After she defined the word “assassinated,” we readied ourselves to return home as she announced an early dismissal. 

Devastating news, for sure, that went around the world quickly. But there was another celebrity that died that very same day–the British author C.S. Lewis, an intellectual defender of the Christian faith. 

C. S. Lewis was an author of many books that are now classics like: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis spent most of his earlier years as an atheist. But he began to realize that God was “closing in on him.” He discovered the joy he was missing in life would be found in the faith he had resisted. 

Lewis was a rather shy professor of literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities and he passed from this earth in the shadow of another, His death hardly registered on the news blips of the day. 

Another personal hero of mine died in the shadow of a famous celebrity. Mother Teresa passed from this world the day before Princess Diana’s extravagant funeral. It’s no secret that Princess Diana, who was a friend of Mother Teresa, would steal the limelight from a woman who had given her life to the poor and the needy. It is said that Mother Teresa could carry all of her life possessions in a five-gallon bucket. 

These death eclipses seem unfair, but don’t they speak to how the godly live their lives? It’s not our life that we are lifting up but rather, Christ’s. Even Paul the apostle said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

While the world celebrates the rich and the famous, God celebrates the obedient, the humble and the servant. Recently, during the highest holy days of the Christian faith, The New York Times had a headline article titled, “In This TIme of War, I Propose We Give Up God.” It was just one more anti-God diatribe.

That article reminded me of a 1966 Time magazine cover article announcing God was, in fact, dead. A few years later that same magazine had a cover article titled, “The Jesus Revolution.”

Let’s let God have… THE FINAL WORD.

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History, Issues of the Day

It’s a Ponzi Scheme

It was 1920 and the scheme netted him a cool 15 million dollars in just eight months. It’s a scandalous story and it would begin a movement that extends into today’s world.

Charles came up with a unique opportunity for investors when he would buy an asset in one market and sell it at a higher price in another market, or so his story went. After he explained his transaction to his gullible investors, he did not, at the same time, inform them he had no way to sell his product, keeping his investors money. Not being too inept, he was sure to have a payout for the initial investors in order to get the money rolling and attract new customers.

He called his new business The Security Exchange Company and he promised a 50-percent return in interest within 90 days. Lines of people began to form outside his office and he began to bring in a million dollars a week. What was really happening was that older investors were paid the return on their money from newer investors, a pyramid scheme at its best.

Who was this man? Charles Ponzi. He ended up in prison and eventually died penniless. His name, however, infamously lives on and has become the term for swindlers and pyramid scheme masters. Often repeated to this day, “It’s a Ponzi scheme.”

The book of Proverbs in the Bible has a lot to say about money. To the Charles Ponzis of the world, it says this:

Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Dishonest money will not remain:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

And, to the persons who are targeting or exploiting certain people today through schemes of dishonesty, God’s word reveals:

He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.

A misinformed gentleman called me the other day about helping someone in England who had been “beat up and robbed losing all their money and their passport.” Have you heard that story before? 

I don’t know about you, but these types of stories bother me, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable. Take the time to inform others in your life to not fall prey to such immoral and appalling schemes. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost each year by such schemes and persons in the church can be susceptible to schemes which are “too good to be true.” Let’s help to protect one another. 

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

We Do Love Independence!

I was thinking about independence and how much we love this word and all it represents. We can move to become independent rather quickly. After all, isn’t that what we spent 18 years training our children to become? Then one day they attempt to be independent of us and we want to hold them back because we don’t like their attitude or some such thing.

I can still remember my teenage boys pushing to become independent of their mother. They actually practiced not listening to her or at the very least looking like they were not listening as she followed behind them telling them what she thought they ought do. 

There is something inside of us that speaks to not desiring to be told what to do because that’s not independence. It feels like hovering or maybe even smothering to us. So we say to our wives, “Yes, yes, yes, I hear you.” Or to our husbands, “Are you listening to me?” Or to our wives, “I’m serious when I say this.” Or to our husbands, “You must be joking.” We’ve been longing for independence since Genesis chapter three. Our fallen nature thinks we can do it; we can be self-dependent, not needing others. 

But the actual truth is every day we need others. We need our mechanic to fix our car. We need our boss to keep us employed. We need our church family to help us lead. We need our spouse to look out for us and to help us find things we’ve lost. Daily, we need others.

But more than anything or anyone, we need God. We are wholly dependent upon the Spirit of God to lead us, cover us, answer our prayers and speak God’s direction to us. We are never really independent of others. We certainly do not want to be independent of God. So let’s truthfully acknowledge our need for Him and of those He has placed in our lives. 

I saw this “need” pictured in a scripture I read the other day. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (Philemon), have refreshed the hearts of the saints…that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.” Philemon 7, 20b

Be refreshed this Independence Day and bring refreshment to others by loving them!

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