It was during one of our Wednesday night youth meetings that I had at our little town church in Texas “that God showed me how awesome he truly is.” It was a cool damp evening and we were waiting for one of the youth’s to join us, he usually came to the meeting on time but seemed to be late this particular night.
There is a lot of anticipation for Christmas to arrive in less than a week. Children as well as adults get excited about receiving gifts under the tree from those they love and also in giving gifts to others. Just over 2,000 years ago the greatest gift that could ever be given arrived in a stable behind an inn in Bethlehem in Judea. The gift was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a feed trough. The gift was announced to shepherds watching out for predators at night as the sheep slept. After the announcement to the shepherds of the birth of a Savior they decided to go into Bethlehem and find this new Savior. The story says they hurried to find him.
Titus 2:11-13: "11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." The weeks before Christmas! In North America it’s business as usual, as people fight the traffic and the crowds, frantically scurrying from mall to mall, looking for that last-minute gift idea. It seems we have developed modern traditions for the Christmas holiday like rushing, stress and overspending. One website even suggests the following natural remedies to help people cope with the stress of Christmas:
Changes are underway at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church/Lutheran Church of Grace, located at 657 Green Street in Craig. The congregation has not had a full time pastor for quite some time, and two Episcopal priests and one Episcopal deacon were filling in until the services of a full time pastor could be obtained. A committee of parishioners from both St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Steamboat Springs and from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church/Lutheran Church of Grace in Craig met to form a Mission Partnership Agreement between the two parishes, whereby the two parishes would split my time between them. My time would be split with two-thirds spent in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church/Lutheran Church of Grace, and one-third spent with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Steamboat Springs. This Mission Partnership Agreement would be beneficial to both parishes, and the ability to enhance the Episcopal/ELCA Church presence throughout the Yampa Valley region would also be increased. The two parishes formally agreed to this Partnership and it was effective on July 1, 2012.
As I have prayed many times asking God to heal my eyes. I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve cried and none of it seems to work. Every time I have a bad day trying to see I say to God, ‘OK, let’s have a talk,’ yet he seems to be silent on this matter. I really didn’t realize how much I would miss seeing the simple things such as the features of someone face, or knowing something is in front of me as my eyes struggle to see what it is. Is this fair? Heck no. Do I like what’s happen to my eye site? No.
Recently we upgraded the portion of our property that borders Ninth Street here in Craig. Where formerly large river rock bordered this section we now have a concrete sidewalk. I originally opposed this expenditure, citing our finite, limited resources and other projects screaming for priority. Even though the project was promised to receive discounts from local suppliers for materials and much of the labor would be donated I still questioned the need, timing and wisdom of making a new sidewalk a priority. My mind (and heart) was changed as I listened to numerous members of our church talk about the unsightly river rock which does not fit the style of the rest of our landscape now, the inability to walk on it or use it and the opportunity to “give a gift” to the community in a safe passage off a busy street setting the precedent for other property owners to do the same when changing or upgrading their property adjacent to Ninth Street.
This week I received a well-timed message on Facebook. It had been a long day of meetings and I wasn’t overly excited about the challenges ahead of me the next day. The message was from a former Young Lifer and he thanked me for walking alongside him and how much he appreciated it now that he was at a different stage in life. I write this not to brag about how great I am, but because it sufficiently lead me into some thoughts on how October is pastor appreciation month. Webster defines a pastor as “a person authorized to conduct religious ownership.” The definition fits our modern idea of the word, but biblically, “pastor” has more to do with compassion than authority.
Thousands of conservative Christians gathered Saturday on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to pray for the future of the United States in the weeks before the presidential election. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins topped a full day of speakers at "The America for Jesus 2012" prayer rally. Robertson, a former Republican candidate for president, called the election important, but didn't mention either major political party or candidate by name.
I have dealt a lot recently with people that seem to either have no hope or have what I would call displaced hope. By that I mean they are hopeful that the economy will turn around, that they will be able to find a job, that the election will bring a change or no change to the presidency, that they will be able to be well physically, that peace will be in their home and their relationships, and that their life will get better in general. We all seek a certain level of comfort, safety, and peace, in our lives and that is quite natural. As I reflect on God’s word the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” In other words Paul is stating that we must not only have hope in our relationship with Christ now, today, to get us through this tough spot, but also for the future, the promise of eternal life and rest.
Most people early in life figure out that life can be hard at times. It doesn’t matter what family you come from or what ethnic background you have some times bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people it is simply called life. The Bible say’s “it rains on the just and the unjust”. What matters more than what we have to go through in life whether it is fair or not is how we respond to the situation at hand. I have met a lot of people including myself that have allowed their pasts to dictate their futures. It is human nature to feel sorry for ourselves during the rough times in life and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that unless you never let it go.
Barrett Keene, a PhD student at Cornell University, is walking 3,475 miles from Miami to San Francisco to help raise awareness about the struggles of nearly 145 million orphaned and abandoned children around the world. As an education student and educator himself, Keene said he was fortunate to serve children as a teacher and through his Go Walk America challenge. His relationship with Christ motivated him to serve those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to take care of their own needs, especially children. Donations will directly benefit orphaned and abandoned children in places like Uganda and Haiti by providing school uniforms, a necessity that would otherwise keeps children in these places from accessing education.
‘I ain’t religious, but I am spiritual’ When I hear this aphorism, it always seems like an oxymoron to me. It always seemed to me that those who speak it are holding onto a contradictory premise that cannot be obtained. It took me years of spiritual study to understand just what was being said. Many people, including the faithful, tend to say that the spirit and the soul are one in the same, confuse the terms, or consider them overlapping.
I've recently come across situations in which I was told it was better to tell a "little white lie" rather than hurt another person's feelings. I was told telling the truth wouldn't work, so I should lie rather than be honest. I remember times I've asked my husband, "How do I look?," when I’m wearing something different that I’m not sure about. All along, I thought there should be only one answer: "Great." I will even tell him it’s OK if he lies, but then I become upset with him when I realize he's not telling the truth, so he’s in a no-win situation.
New Creation Church members were awed by feats of tremendous strength Sunday, as well as personal stories. The John Jacobs Next Generation Power Force team conducted two services at the church, 520 Westridge Road. The team of former bodybuilders and NFL players prompted big crowds, congregation member Jessica Ashton said. At the first performance Sunday morning, the church was just under capacity, with about 170 people in attendance.
This weekend’s Sunday morning service at New Creation Church may have more frying pan curling, soda can crushing and phone book ripping than usual. Made up of former body builders, NFL players and Strongman contestants, evangelist John Jacobs’ Next Generation Power Force strength team is set to perform Sunday as part of a Christian mission to spread the word of God in churches across the world. “I have one guy that can wrap a six-foot-long steel bar around three times, and others that can rip two license plates in half like they’re sheets of paper and rip phonebooks in half like it’s nothing,” said Alex Morales, a Miami-based pastor who works as the team’s administrator. And in between the seemingly impossible stunts, Morales said the members tell their stories.