If We Make It through December

Whether Alan or Merle sang it, we've all heard "If We Make It through December." Just the title alone resonates with many of us. December can be a hard month, the year ending with a mad dash to pay bills, see family, afford presents, and a host of other things. Most of us can add "extra commitments at church" to the list of things stressing us out about the last month of the year. It's definitely true that December/Christmas and Easter are the busy seasons for churches (and for good reason). Our work truly began this month (November). Think of what all we've done over the last month and what we're going to do as we finish out the year: food packing and delivery Thanksgiving dinner the Hangin

Mistaken

The first bits of the Bible I ever translated were 2 Samuel 11-13. Great introduction to Hebrew translation, let me tell you. (I mean, it begins with adultery and ends in rape.) Chapter 11 has earned a special nickname from me: "David's List of Mistakes." From the very first verse, David is in the wrong. It was time for kings to go off to war, it says, but David stayed in Jerusalem. Mistake #1. Then he watches a strange woman bathe, commits adultery with her (potentially against her will), tries to cover up the resulting pregnancy, and finally murders her husband so he can marry her himself. That's a fairly long list of pretty serious mistakes (and crimes). And yet the second son of their un

The List

I have never failed to get my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. (One year I finished by Halloween, but that was too soon.) It's not that I particularly hate shopping or that I go through stores and buy my family random things, though. Part of it is having a family who requires a Christmas list by the end of October. It's a lot easier to shop when you know what to look for. There are many people who approach prayer -- approach God -- like a Christmas list. You've probably already heard me call them "Santa Claus prayers." They run something like, "Dear God, please do this. I need this. So-and-so would like that. So please give me this, that, and the other thing. Amen." We give the Divin

Don't Call It Turkey Day

I thought since I started this yesterday, I may as well finish it today. As I said, I have a pet peeve concerning the upcoming holiday. Please do not refer to it as "Turkey Day" ever again. It's not about the turkey. Thanksgiving is, oddly enough, about giving thanks. For one day, one single day, we can take time to be truly thankful for the incomparable blessings God has lavished upon us. We deserve none of them. We've earned none of them. But God, in His infinite grace and mercy, gave them to us anyway. He gives us the air we breathe, the smile of newborns, the peace of worship, the laughter of old friends, the love of families, the beauty of sunsets, the grandeur of mountains, the smell o

Where We Are Known

We've all just had our pictures taken for the new photo directory. Everyone smiled pretty (or at least tried to), and now we wait for the finished product. Churches make directories so people can put faces to names (and have contact information for those faces). And to me, that's crucial. A church should be a place where we are known. No one should be able to attend church anonymously. That's one beef I have with megachurches: they may be able to do so much more than smaller churches, but you can slip in and slip out virtually unseen, remaining for all intents and purposes a total stranger. Church shouldn't be like that. As a body, as a family, we should know each other. We should know who l

Roller Coaster

The last twenty-four hours have been an emotional roller coaster for our congregation. At the end of yesterday's service, we celebrated with Becky's decision to follow Christ, accepting him as her personal Savior and submitting to baptism. The angels in heaven rejoiced with us as we hugged her, welcomed her to our church, and told her how proud we were she was now a Christian. There's nothing quite like the mountain-top moment of gaining a new sister (or brother) in the Lord. By the end of the day, our dancing was turned into mourning. It is with a heavy heart I write of the passing of Joy Lutz, a dear sister and servant of God. Joy suffered a massive stroke late Friday evening and was found

Remembrance

Today we honor all those who have served and are currently serving our country through military service in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your service.

It's Over

If you didn't stay awake last night to watch the results roll in, and in case you've deliberately avoided the news this morning, let me break it to you that you have a new President-Elect of the United States. Regardless of whether you voted for Mr. Trump or not, you and I can agree on a few things: 1) Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence need our prayers, even before they take office in January; 2) our country continues to need our prayers; and 3) we can all rejoice and praise God from whom all blessings flow the election is finally over. That's right: it's over. Done. It is finished. The most contentious, disgusting, hard-fought, dirty presidential election in U.S. history is finally over. Christians o

Children in the Church House

Children's ministry programs are one of the great church innovations of the twentieth century. Sunday School classes have existed for far longer, but the complete children's church experience -- removing children from adult worship entirely and placing them in a worship environment designed specifically for them -- is quite a recent phenomenon. Even more recently, perhaps in the last three to five years, the pushback against children's church has emerged. The first kids who were raised in those programs have now become adults, and the studies about those adults are in -- with mixed reviews. The majority of the research I've seen suggests children's church programs may actually hurt more than

Remember Your Baptism

Thirteen years ago today, I accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized in the more-than-slightly-chilly waters of Laurel River Lake. I never expected to be sitting behind the senior minister's desk just over a decade later, I have to admit, but those years have been a period of immense spiritual growth for me. My baptism may have been the beginning of my walk with Christ, but it certainly isn't the whole journey. Nevertheless, today is a day I mark every year, the one day I can never forget. Every Christian should have such a moment, a day on which we remember our baptisms, the day we look back and say, "That day, I became a Christian." Martin Luther was known to place so great an emphasi

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