Black Friday or Christmas Joy?

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Joy at Christmas, where do we find it?  Many folks will be looking in every ad from now until Christmas Eve to find just the right gift.  They will travel to every store imaginable to find just the perfect sale.  Not too much nor not too little should be spent on this gift.  Friday morning lines of people will be waiting to get into the right store that has just the right sales.  Some, in fact, will camp out all night to save a few dollars on the “perfect” gift.  Thereby, assuring themselves of joy for Christmas.

Do you remember Charlie Brown’s Christmas?  He was concerned for the overt commercialization of Christmas.  December 9, 1965 was the first airing of this classic Christmas message.  This Peanut’s special has been shown every Christmas since 1965.  Charles Shultz was concerned that people had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.  He battled with the CBS executives over the inclusion of Linus reading Luke 2:8-14.  In the discussions with the network he wouldn’t budge on its admission into the final product.  He is quoted as saying, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”  If he were still alive today how much more amazed would Charles Shullz be?

Joy at Christmas come from keeping Christ as the focus of our celebrations.  As you approach Thanksgiving and the onset of Christmas shopping, I want to encourage you to keep Christ in Christmas.  Sunday we will look at the subject of the Songs of Joy at Christmas.

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Are You Thankful?

ImageI want to start a “SOT” campaign, will you join me?  I will be starting a petition to address this very important issue.  You will be asked to join my name for this campaign.  What is “SOT,” you might ask?  Of course it’s, “Save our Turkey.”  Too many turkeys are dying needlessly for over indulged and over eating Americans.  Look at the turkey above.  Why does he look so happy, knowing he is about to be eaten! Sad, sad, sad!

Soory, enough of this frivolity.  Turkey is as much a part of Thanksgiving as football, cranberry sauce, and stuffing.  How could we have Thanksgiving without these staples.  The Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day for over 70 years!  The Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game on Thanksgiving day since 1966.  And, the Green Bay Packers have been a staple as well.  They all go along well with the turkey dinner.  THIS is Thanksgiving, right?

Wrong!  Before there was football, TV, or the ubiquitous turkey, people gathered to give thanks.  George Washington issued the first national day of thanksgiving in 1789.  Then,  Abraham Lincoln honored the last Thursday of November as a national day for giving of thanks to “…the Most High God.”  Thus, a day for remembering God’s special gifts was given during the Civil War.

This year, as you gather with family, friends, or celebrate alone, remember the great blessings God has given you.  Most of all, be sure to give Him praise for the blessings of salvation and for our Saviour.  Go ahead and eat turkey and watch football.  Just remember the real reason for the day.

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Data vs Knowledge

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Ok, how many of you know what this picture is?  Go ahead, raise your hands.  Wow, I can see that many of you are old like me!!! 🙂  For you younger people, it is a picture of a punch card which was the way we “communicated” with a computer before the days of our keyboard!  It was labor intensive and not particularly reliable.  One wrong punch and your whole job was simply “punched out.”  But, done properly the data inserted would result in some kind of information in the end.

Today, although we don’t deal in pouch cards any longer, we are dealing with data all the time.  In fact, some have said we live in the era of knowledge overload.  But, as a dear friend once said to me  (Ok, Ken Renfro, you’re in my blog! :-)) we are NOT in the knowledge overload era, but rather the data overload era.  He caused me to think of the difference between mere data and useable knowledge.  If you don’t believe me, the next time you google something, look at how many “hits” it gets.  Will you ever get to number 1,325,432?  NOOOOOO!  So, you have been overloaded with data.

Today, spiritually speaking, we are in the data overload era.  Today we are hearing voices from many sides.  King Solomon said this over 2800 year ago, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.”  Can I get an amen from all students?  Publishers are publishing more and more books that can be described by King Solomon’s favorite word; vanity.

Paul admonishes us to walk in wisdom.  Wisdom is knowledge properly applied to life.  Knowledge is making sense of data.  God isn’t interested in how much data we have stored in our brain.  He is interested in how much knowledge we have that can be translated into wisdom.  Certainly we need data so we can form knowledge.  But, just having facts at our fingertips isn’t enough.  It’s like the child in AWANA who memorizes words to pass a section and get “shares” so they can “buy” stuff in the AWANA store, and the person who memorizes a verse and uses it in a real life situation.

Sunday we will seek to finish the section Paul began by saying, “…walk…”  He has instructed us to walk in love, walk in light and finally walk in wisdom.  Read through Ephesians 5:1-17 before coming to church on Sunday to prepare your heart for our study.

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I’ll be prepared to preach the passage, will you be prepared to hear?

Walking in Wisdom

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Don’t you just love the commercials that ask, “Got milk?”  They show a person eating a delicious looking cookie and then looking for a cold glass of milk.  Not finding one the person almost chokes on the delicious cookie.  The message?  Milk is the most import part of eating a cookie!

So it is with life.  In our world, a premium has been placed on the acquisition of knowledge.  Over the past 100 years or so we have been told that the more education you receive, the smarter you will be.  More and more emphasis has been placed upon getting a degree.  At one time an 8th grade education was thought sufficient, and a high school diploma was better.  Then, it was the high school diploma that was sufficient, but a college degree was better.  Now we have come to a place where even a Ph.D degree doesn’t seem to be enough.

Yet, with all the education being “eaten” in our culture, it seems we have less and less of what is really important; wisdom.  After spending multiple years to acquire knowledge, we will be very disappointed when we come to realize education isn’t enough.  Knowing how or what just isn’t as important as knowing when.  Applying our knowledge at the right time is more important than randomly applying our knowledge.  Wisdom teaches us that principle.

Yet, even more important than wisdom alone is Godly wisdom.  We’ll call that “Wisdom 2.0” Wisdom 1.0 is the wisdom man dispenses.  Yet, it needs updating and replacing.  On Sunday we will see in Ephesians 5:15-17 that aspect of walking in our everyday lives that requires God’s wisdom.  Read Ephesians 5:1-17 in preparation for our study.

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Is your light on?

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How many of you have ever tried to fool a person on their birthday with “never blow out” candles?  You know the kind, the ones that can be blown out, but, soon reignite!  No matter how many times they blow them out, the candle comes right back on.  It is a fun trick to play on the unsuspecting.

Sunday we will look at the fact that we are light.  The text says we not only walk in light, but that we ARE light.  Now, we are not light in ourselves.  We are simply a reflector of light.  But, we are light and no longer darkness.

Remember the children’s song maybe you sang or taught to your children, “This little light of mine”?  One verse says, “Don’t let Satan blow it out..”  We are built like the “never blow out candle” in that Satan can look like he blew out our light.  But, soon, it will reignite.  As we stay close to the real Light our light can never permanently go out.

Sunday come to study with us the concept of us as light-bearers.

Welcome to my world!

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Today begins a new adventure for me.  I will be writing some short thoughts about the messages coming on Sundays and to get you and I to think about how to live out our Christian lives.

We are talking about “walking” from Ephesians 5:1-17.  Sunday we will be looking at “walking in the light.”  The first question you must ask yourself is, “Am I in the light?”  Then, you must ask, “Am I still in the light?”

Be reading Ephesians 5:1-17 to become familiar with what happens when we walk in the light.

Fell free to ask questions or make comments.  Let’s make this as interactive as possible.