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“Did You Bring Joy?”

One of the reasons I became a history teacher was because of my fascination with history and especially what we can learn from history.  What will history have to say about our world, about you and me?  Will we just be a picture in a scrapbook or digital file somewhere or will we be remembered not for what we were but for who we were? Have you ever wondered what people centuries from now will think about our culture? It, of course, is anybody’s guess. In her book A Fistful of Fig Newtons, novelist Jean Shepherd depicts a group of archaeologists in the distant future who are excavating the remains of New York City. Burrowing under Madison Avenue, the heart of the world of modern advertising, they discover tin canisters holding reels of videotape containing hours and hours of television commercials from our time. The archaeologists determine these reels must have something to say about what was important to us. They finally find a way to view these tapes. They grow excited with anticipation. One of the videotapes contains a scene in which three women move into the foreground. They ... Read More »

“Always Wear Snake Boots!”

It was a beautiful, warm May afternoon in North Carolina.   The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze as I headed out to do a little turkey hunting with my bow.  I set up on a ridge with my back to a large oak tree, settled in, waited a little while, and started calling.  Nothing happened for a while, but I just kept calling sporadically.  The warm day and the nice breeze caused me to snooze a couple of times. But then I thought I heard a gobble in the distance.  I called, but no response.  Then I heard it again– a definite gobble and it was getting closer.  I am watching and I see movement ahead of me about 60 yards, coming down a game path.  I get my bow ready and hear another gobble, definitely getting closer.  Ready, I see a shape and it is getting closer.  Whoa, not a tom but a hen.  She kept coming and eventually passed within 5 yards of me.  The tom was still coming, the gobbling sounding closer and closer.  Finally, I saw him at about 50 yards, pacing back ... Read More »

“What Can I Do?”

Do you remember the Brady Bunch singing “Time To Change”?   (Ok, for some of you it may be before your time.)  Some of the lyrics from the song go like this: “Autumn turns to winter, And winter turns to spring. It doesn’t go just for seasons you know, it goes for everything. When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange,  Who you are and what you’re gonna be. Sha na na na na na na na na, Sha na na na na… Day by day you’re facing the changes you’ve been through, A little bit of living, a little bit of growing all adds up to you. And if you want to reach your destiny, Then here’s what you can do. It is the Advent season, a time of change, a time of preparation, a time of transformation, a time of hope.  When God comes to us in any meaningful sense, things happen.    The world we know and our image of ourselves – all of this must be transformed.  God intervenes not to help us with our lives but to remake them.  This is what happened to our world ... Read More »

“Lord, Save Us!”

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Matthew 8:23-27 which Adam Hamilton shares in his book, “Unafraid.”  I love the story of the lake crossing in Matthew 8.  Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat as his disciples are rowing away.  A fierce squall sweeps in.  As the winds rise and waves threaten to swamp the boat, the disciples become increasingly afraid.  Yet Jesus sleeps on.  Finally, they rouse him, shouting, “Lord, save us!” Here’s what the text says happened next: “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’” What just happened here?  Jesus’ friends were awestruck – first by their fear of the storm, then by their awe of the One who commanded the wind and waves to be still. I remember a woman in my congregation telling me that during her battle with cancer, when things seemed most frightening, she would think about this ... Read More »

“God Is in the Details”

 “Would this be any good?” asked Bilbo….  “I found it on the ground where the trolls had their fight.”  He held a largish key.  – The Hobbit, Chapter 2 After coming down from the mountains, the three trolls – William, Bert, and Tom – had pillaged villages near Rivendell.  They finally settled in the woods not far from the road, and from there they waylaid travelers.      The trolls chose this spot for a reason:  They can’t bear sunlight, which turns them into stone.  Staying awake all night – on the graveyard shift, so to speak – they hide during the day in a cave or hole.  Bur right here William, Bert, and Tom had discovered a cave with a stone door.  It was the perfect hidey-hole.      The cave, as it turned out, was an ancient treasure trove, complete with a key to unlock the door.  (Now, what are the odds of that?)  William, as leader, kept the key in his pocket.  But after catching Bilbo, he and Bert began fighting like dogs, rolling on the ground, kicking and pounding each other.  And the key tumbled out of his ... Read More »

“What Is Shaking In Your World?”

Max Lucado writes: “Possibly your future, your faith, your family, or finances?  It’s a shaky world out there.  Could you use some unshakable hope?” “If so, you are not alone.  Hope is hard to come by these days.  Many people believe this world is as good as it gets, and let’s face it, it’s not that good.  Though we’ve never been more educated, entertained, and connected, the suicide rate in America has increased 24 percent in 1999 – 24 percent.  How can this be?  One of the reasons must be this:  people are dying from lack of hope.  But what if we filtered our lives and our challenges through the promises of God?  God’s promises are pine trees in the Rocky Mountains of Scripture:  abundant, unbending, and perennial.” Our world is in need of hope.  I believe the world is longing to have hope in their lives.  The greatest source of hope is found in the Bible, where we find that true hope can be found in Jesus Christ alone.  When we think about hope, we need to look at the promises of the Bible.  Max Lucado does this in ... Read More »

The Time Given Us

Life can be fascinating, life can be scary, life can be short, life can be long.  But in life, I truly believe we are called to make a difference.  What difference do we make?  That is up to each one of us.  J.R.R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring writes: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  With this in mind, I would like to share two good stories (both true and connected). Story Number 1:  Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.  Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic.  He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.”  He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason.  Eddie was very good!  In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept big Al out of jail for a long time.  To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well.  Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.  For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences ... Read More »


One of the recent sermon series we had was “Forgiveness” by Adam Hamilton.  There was a lot of discussion about forgiveness and sharing how forgiving and being forgiven has made a difference in people’s lives.  Some of the questions asked are some Adam Hamilton also shared in his book. Is forgiving the same as condoning? No, forgiveness is not the same as condoning.  Forgiveness means letting go of the pain in our own lives and putting down the stones we have carried in our own hearts.  Yet we are also putting down the stones we might have thrown at those who wronged us.  Having said that, we can, and usually must, choose to let go of these stones, while still being clear that what happened was not okay.  We are choosing not to allow these wrongs to continue to affect us.  We are choosing not to give the wrongdoer any more power over us. Does forgiving dismiss the consequences?  Often forgiveness means setting aside the right to retribution, but sometimes there are consequences that cannot be avoided.  If someone lies to you or betrays a confidence, you may forgive that ... Read More »

“How the Apostles Died”

1. Matthew – Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, Killed by a sword wound. 2. Mark – Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by Horses through the streets until he was dead. 3. Luke – Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous Preaching to the lost. 4. John – Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge Basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution In Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve As Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully 5. Peter – He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died. 6. James – The leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when ... Read More »

“There Are Angels Among Us!”

I posted this story on Facebook and folks commented that I should continue to share this story, so I thought I would begin with the Newsletter. Just a reminder that there are angels and God’s messengers everywhere and God sends help, sometimes in unique packages. We recently were traveling back to Wisconsin from North Carolina, needing to get back and probably pushing it more than we should have through heavy rain and winds. We had gotten as far as Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and our van starts making some noises when we touch the brakes. I commented that the heavy rain was probably causing it but it got worse, much worse. It was making noise even without touching the brakes. I pulled into a gas station, lifted the hood, laid on the ground looking underneath and saw nothing. Looked at the front driver side tire and somehow cut my hand bad. I told Lori I was going into the gas station to see where there was a garage. The clerk said he couldn’t help me because he had just moved to the area two days ago. I came out and there were ... Read More »

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