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Something Beautiful - Isaiah 61:1-4, 10

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How is everyone feeling in their beautiful Christmas sweaters this evening? I’d like everyone wearing one of those gorgeous holiday sweaters to come right on up for a picture. I’ll post and share the picture this evening, but do you see what God has done…He’s taken those ugly Christmas sweaters, the tackiest apparel of the season, and turned them into something beautiful as we gathered in them together as a Church family. After Sunday, are y’all really surprised that I am using a Peanuts’’ clip tonight?In it we see more transformation…the transformation of something ugly and the transformation into something beautiful—whether you are talking about the tiny little tree, that never was truly ugly, into a showcase Christmas tree or simply the attitudes of the kids from ugly in their cruelty to being gracious in their efforts to cheer up Charlie Brown.Are those God transformations?That’s your call, but consider the way the script was written—the ugliness is on one side of Linus’ recanting …

Light of Peace - Isaiah 9 & 11

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They were the big three every year.It was how you knew it was Christmas.The TV Guide would arrive, and I would quickly scour it to find out when they would be on.There was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and my favorite, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”That’s probably why when I heard this song years ago, it quickly became a song I listened out for every year…


Some may be wondering about whether a seemingly secular song has any place in our worship today.It doesn’t mention Jesus or Mary or Shepherds or Wisemen or anything that we traditionally think of when we think of Christmas carols.However, when we set it alongside this morning’s readings from Isaiah it becomes very fitting. Snoopy and the Red Baron…arch rivals…images of World War I’s raging air war….Charles Shultz introduced these characters in 1965, years after the war, but at a time when interest in the flying aces of WWI had peaked.It was also a time in which the United States had seemingly been in a season of une…

Light of Hope - Psalm 27

Rudolph’s gotten a bad reputation this week.It seems like this scene, and others like it during the Christmas Special, have a group of folks worked up.They are suggesting that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a special that promotes bullying, bigotry, horrific parenting, and a utilitarian view of others.The truth be told, I guess, given a person’s focus, it could be looked at that way.I mean, if we focus on the way the way the other reindeer treat Rudolph and that’s the totality of the story for us, it is about bullying.If we look at Rudolph to develop our parenting skills based on Donner, then there is concern.If look at Coach and Santa and develop a tendency to write off or shun folks who are different than us or if we value people for only what we can get out of them.If we see this special as an endorsement of any of these behaviors, then by all means, we need to stop watching it—because we have missed the point of seeing the story as a whole.As for me, I always saw Rudolph and hi…

Psalm 23 - Part V - Blessing upon Blessing

I want to push y’all a little this evening.Take out something to write with.Does anyone need anything? Lift your hand, I have pens right here. Let me pass out these papers, please take one and pass the rest along.This is an exercise that I mentioned to y’all before and have challenged many to take on over the years since I first used it with a youth group on a summer retreat.As I have shared before, it is a part of my devotional journaling most mornings.What I would like you to do, right now, is take a few minutes and write down ten ways that God blessed you yesterday.If you need to add numbers because you can come up with more than ten, please do so.If you are having trouble thinking of ten, let me offer this.Think of everything you did yesterday and everything you used yesterday, what if you woke up tomorrow and it was gone or you couldn’t do it any more, where would you feel the loss?Or as someone else asked one time, “what if you only have tomorrow what you thanked God for today?”…

Psalm 23: Part IV – Come To the Banquet Table

Where has our flock been as we journey through the 23rd Psalm? The Lord Is my Shepherd.I lack nothing.The Lord is our Shepherd, we lack nothing.We have all that we need.We may not have everything we want, we may not have everything we desire, there may be some items left of that wish list, but our Great Shepherd has and will continue to ensure that we have everything we need.In fact, the Shepherd knows those needs before we even ask—but He invites us to seek first His Kingdom, His Righteousness, and then ask, seek, and knock in accordance with His Will, we will find, or perhaps just realize, that blessing upon blessing is being poured out upon us. One of the most important things that the Shepherd provides that we need is an opportunity for rest and renewal…God leads us along whatever grassy meadows and tranquil waters bring us peace.He invites us to lay our burdens down, not just lay them down, but to cast them upon Him meaning we aren’t to take them back up again.God’s desire is to re…

Is Jesus King? - John 18:33-37

When I first began to really get a grasp of the church calendar year, I though it odd that the Scripture for this particular Sunday, Christ The King Sunday, always focuses in on the arrest, trial, or crucifixion of Jesus.After all, this Sunday is the New Year’s Eve of the Christian Calendar because next Sunday begins the next church year with the first Sunday of Advent and anticipation for the celebration of Christmas and the birth of Christ grows with each passing week.Should not Christ the King focus on Jesus’ resurrection or even the Scriptures that promise His return?However, as I have come to understand it more and more over the years, it is very appropriate that we celebrate the Kingship of Jesus in this way—for it is through not only His birth and resurrection that Jesus’ Kingship is revealed, the crucifixion reveals just how different that Kingship is from the rest of the world.With each and every Sunday of the year being a “little Easter” our focus, our reason for gathering a…

Psalm 23, Part III: Dark Valleys, Rods, and Staffs

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  I have everything I need.  We may not have everything we want.  We may not have everything that we have asked for.  However, we realize that we have everything that we need.  God sees us and knows us…and knows what will truly bless us, strengthen us, and sustain us.  We find as we ask, seek, and knock in accordance with the will of God, seeking out His Kingdom and His Righteousness, that we will receive, we will find, and the doors will be open before us.  God has, will ,and always will provide.  As we learn to be content rather than covetous, we find that God has blessed us with an abundance and we can truly say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
God also brings us to grassy meadows and tranquil waters…to green pastures and still waters.  God gives us times and places for rest and peace.  God gives us an opportunity to be renewed and strengthened,  places and times to have our lives refreshed and our souls restored from our day to…