Joy Comes in the Morning

RobI hope you’ve had the opportunity to see some of the amazing sunrises we’ve had recently.  The great thing about those is that they get your day started off with the right attitude.  God is good.  God is creative.  God is making us a new day.  God is in control.  God is amazing and continues to amaze us!  I really love to watch sunrises, if you haven’t figured that out yet.  The thing about a sunrise is you must wait to see how it will turn out.  You must be patient and wait for the full picture; wait for the bright colors to reveal themselves.

Patience can be hard.  I remember asking our granddaughter Lexi once if she knew what being patient means.  She said, “It means you have to wait.”  We live in a busy society where we can instantly look up amazing sunrises on our phones and get thousands of pictures in a matter of seconds.  But it’s not the same.  Pictures can’t do justice to seeing a sunrise firsthand.  I know.  I’ve tried to take pictures of some that I thought would be beautiful, but they just weren't the same.

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Happy New Year!

I know that it’s hard to believe, at least for me, but the years seem to click by faster as I age.  Can anyone explain that to me?  When I was a kid, it seemed like it took forever for the things that I wanted to happen to actually happen, you know like Christmases, birthdays, and summer breaks.  Anymore, it’s as if time doesn’t have the same effect it once did.  Or maybe it’s the attitude with which I viewed things then as opposed to now.

As we look forward to a new year, we can choose to have an attitude of excited anticipation or gloomy dread, or maybe somewhere in the middle, like cautiously optimistic.  Paul liked to share with those he ministered to about life, and where they were, and how to live with this new faith in Jesus Christ.  He used examples of citizenship, loyalty, athletics, family, and education to teach how Christ had taught.  So, in the coming year, how will we spend the time we’ve been given, no matter how fast it may or not go by, to live and love?

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New Life

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I'm writing this for the December newsletter.  It reminds me of the rush to Christmas.  Advertisers and marketing companies are quick to start the push to prepare for Christmas even before Halloween.  It appears that Thanksgiving is being shoved to the side as a holiday by those who deem things worthy of our attention.  Thanksgiving and Christmas used to complement one another, and Thanksgiving ushered in the season of packing on the pounds for winter.  Celebrating with family and friends is usually fun, unless we allow it to become stressful.

The life we’ve been given, I believe, is to be lived with as little stress as possible.  Yes, I know that we have stressful times in our lives and many can’t be avoided.  But aren’t we told to trust and know that we have received new life in our Savior and Lord?  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17.

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Mess of Indecision

As I sit at my desk I'm surrounded by a huge mess.  Those of you who have been in my office will know what I’m talking about.  I have a very bad habit of allowing things to gather.  I may even have some hoarding tendencies.  If it runs in the family, then it may very well be hereditary for me.  I have an uncle who has had more than one vehicle collapse under the weight of stuff he’s collected.  There are even shows that deal with this condition.  I’m not that bad and don’t intend to get that bad with help from family and friends, but it does make me think, “Why do folks hold onto things that need to be filed away or thrown away?”

Indecision may be part of the reason.  Maybe, I’m just not sure.  Being unable to "pull the trigger," "make the leap," "climb the hill," or whatever clichés there are for not being able to move or make a decision can cause small piles to become large heaps of trash.  Sometimes I think it’s because I really think “I need that” or “I could use that”.  Occasionally I do end up using it, but more often than not whatever it is sits there until I decide to throw it away or it grows legs and walks away on its own.

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As we near the much-anticipated cooler weather of fall, I am reminded that this is the time of year that farmers have worked toward since the end of harvest last fall.  My Daddy’s family were farmers and there is still a bit of farming that goes on near the homeplace of his birth.  It’s hard work and the work that is put forth is not always rewarded as you would hope or expect.  Weather, pests, and disease as well as current crop demand have huge impacts on the bottom line, even with all that effort.  But if you talk to those who are passionate about farming, they will tell you that there is nothing they would rather do than farm.  It’s in their blood you might say.  For all of creation began in a garden and all of humanity play a role in how we care for what God has entrusted to us.

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Worship - Offering Ourselves as Living Sacrifices

The term worship is one that most of us have heard, and a word that should have significant meaning for us.  Wikipedia describes it as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”  Most of us probably say that we spend time in worship, usually one day each week on Sunday for a about an hour to an hour and a half.  That may be true, but is there more to it than that?

As I prepared for an upcoming sermon I did a little research on the topic.  Using the Logos software I found that early Christian worship was very similar in format to Jewish worship and early Greco-Roman worship. There would be reading of scripture, possibly from the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible, or another scripture.  There would be some teaching on that scripture, prayers, and singing of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  There would also be observance of the eucharist, or Lord’s supper, and possibly baptism.  The difference in the early Christian church’s worship is that they no longer saw the need for animal sacrifice because Jesus had made the ultimate sacrifice.  His sacrifice paid the full price for all sins.  The early church also chose to worship on the day of Jesus' resurrection, the first day of the week, which was also the first day of creation.  The Logos notes state, “The early church did not develop its worship practices in a vacuum; early Christians were influenced by traditional Jewish practices, and to a much lesser extent, by Greco-Roman practices.  Nonetheless, Christian worship possessed, and still possesses, characteristics that differ significantly from Jewish or Greco-Roman worship - specifically, the worship of Jesus.”  (Benjamin Espinoza)

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A Good Attitude

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Philippians 2:5-11 

To have a humble attitude is difficult for most of us.  Sometimes we have a sense of false humility that doesn’t really reflect true humility but rather an attitude of low self-esteem.  However, we see a world full of headlines just the opposite of that.  Pride has become the mantle worn by those who have elevated themselves and their agendas at the expense of others who would defy them or get in their way.  Protests are what our world has slid into, and not the kind that are for the better as they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. led folks to stand for the downtrodden and the oppressed.  Today it seems that people just want to protest and picket at the drop of a hat.  Are things really that bad?  I’m not leaning left or right here.  I’m just asking, "What if we all valued one another as much as God values us?"  If we want to see our world changed for the better, the only way it will ever happen is when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  When, with a humble attitude, we reflect Jesus to those around us, God not only changes us, but also hopefully speaks to those we love and serve.

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