Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Shopping


Yesterday I took the kids Christmas shopping to buy gifts for thier mother. I had a list from Lisa and off to Greenbrier Mall we went. We had never gone to Greenbrier before so it was a new experience for us. We didn't expect to see two stories of stores! All the kids were excited. They were not excited to buy gifts for Lisa, but to look at stuff for themsleves! I had to remind them that we are here to buy Christmas for thier mother, and so off we went.

We looked at different stores and different items and we all found different gifts for Lisa. I won't divulge what those are here. We also went to eat in the Food Court and I found out that my family is growing! I used to be able to get just three slices of pizza to feed everyone. Now I have to buy a whole pizza.

After all that purchasing I had a thought like preachers do. My thoughts to went all the money I spent! But all that stuff is mine now, (until I give it away) becasue I purchased it.

I thought the same with God. He purchased me with the blood of his son, Jesus. Inthat case I belong to God now. I am his. In fact the Bible says specifically that we were bought at a price, and thus we should live righteous.

But I also thought this. God not only purchased me, but he has made me to be a gift to others around me. We say it like this, I'm blessed to be a blessing. God wants to be a gift to others, and share the joy of Christ to others. Jesus put it this way, "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world."

Becasue I am purchase by his blood I can be a gift for all!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Tree Ornaments

My family has a tradition after each Chritmas. That tradition is for each of my children to go buy a Christmas ornament for next Christmas. We'll go to a Cracker Barrel or a Hallmark store and let them choose one. It's great to go after Christmas because most of the time they are at least 50% off regular price.

I thought I would share one ornament from each child. It's interesting because the ornaments they chose express their personality and even what they value.

Take Miriam, my youngest. Her favorite ornemt is a fuzzy Cracker Barrell teddy bear. She likes it becasue it is soft. It's beige in color and it's soft fur stands in contrast too all the hard porcelien and clay ornaments around it. You could describe Miriam as soft. Not soft in that she is a blowover! But soft in that she is always anxious to give a hug and kiss. She is extremely loving and caring for others, just like a teddy bear should be!

Dietrich's (My son in the middle)ornaments reflect those of a little boy. There is Spider-man and a firetruck. I think the one that best expresses Dietrich's personality is the M&M character dressed up as a Star Wars Storm Trooper. Dietrich loves to be the hero. He truly cares for others. He doesn't impose himself on others as well. On the other hand he is bit goofy like the M&M. He always has a silly comment tha makes people laugh.

Then my oldest Taylor has a unique ornament. Her ornament is a teddy bear too, but one of the arms is missing. She went to buy it at Cracker Barrel one day. She selected it and then noticed the broken arm, so Lisa put it back and got a perfect bear, with two arms. Taylor though would have nothing to do with that. She began to cry and sob. Lisa asked what was wrong and she said she was crying over the broken bear. She said no one else would buy it and would be up there all alone. So Lisa bought the broken bear.

I'm glad she did because it reminds me every Christmas that Jesus did the same for me. I was broken. I wasn't perfect. But Jesus mourned over me. He couldn't stand for me to be left alone. So he came to earth, and died for my sins, and when I placed my faith in him through baptism, he came to live within me and made me a new creation!

How cool! Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 7, 2007

Thankful for the Struggle


The message I preached last week God really used. People came up to me and said it really helped them keep the faith. I get really excited when God uses the messages in this manner. That's what I pray for every week. I pray just before I get up each week, "God I love these people, you love them even more, let your love be shown today!"

This particular message though stands out to me. I really struggled in developing this message. In fact I wrote this message four times! I would pray, study, work, get done, and say that isn't right! I was really fighting it and really getting frustrated with myself. I thought why can't I be happy with what I just wrote. It's good! But I still wasn't satisfied. So back to work I would go.

Jeremiah talks about having a message burning in his bomes. Well, I had a message burning in my bones but I had no clue what. Finally, after all that struggle I finally was satisfied with I had wrote. Sunday was a comin' so I thought God you just need to take this and do your part for sure. I've done all I can.

On that note I would like to say something. You would think the lesson here is I needed to do that in the first place. I just needed to get out of the way of God, so to speak. I understand that line of reasoning but it's wrong. Here is why I think it's wrong. In preaching there is the God factor and the preacher factor, and the two work in partnership. The God factor is God doing what I cannot do. The preacher factor is what God will not do without me. In other words God expects me to do my part. He expects me to study, pray, and work hard at my messages, then he takes and does with it what he can only do (which is a lot). If I don't do my part God will not do his part through me. Simple as that.

Back to my story. I preached the sermon that Sunday and we had a first time guest that told me I was speaking right at her. Well, I wasn't. God was. He did his "thang" again and amazed me! God is so cool like that.

I want you to realize that preachers everywhere work hard at their messages. It is not a casual thing to them. They honestly seek to being God's word to thier flocks each week. I had to go to the hospital a couple months back and the nurse began telling me about her preacher. She didn't think he spoke from God each week because he spoke through series. She was concerned that a person might say something and he might need to say but he would be limited by his series. I understand her concern, albeit misplaced.

She asked me where I got my messages and I said "God" and she said "good." But I wish I would have said I get my messaages from God's word. Everything I say I seek to verify from the Word. This is the authority that I speak on, not just on my relationship with God through Christ. Without the Bible I have no outside authority.

I say all this to encourage you, no matter what church you come from, to not listen to your preacher and worry about whether he speaks through series, a book in the Bible, or stands and reads a manuscript or yells and jumps. The real matter is determining what is God saying to you through this man. He's prayed and prepared many hours for God to speak through him. Are you listening to God or are you listening to your preacher?

That's enough for this week....Have Yourself Committed!