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The Winter Solstice
As a child, of course the only December day I cared anything about was the 25th. What I have learned as I an adult, though, is that December 25 and everything that goes with it owes its prominence to December 21. Christmas, as you know, was ordained by early followers of Christ as the "Birthday of the Son." This was, in fact, to counteract the influence of the pagans who were celebrating the winter solstice as the "Birthday of the Sun."
Without advocating that we return to the pagan practice of sun worship, I must confess that I now anticipate the coming of the year' s shortest day as much as I once did the arrival of Santa Claus. I know that from this day forward, until June, they're only going to get longer, we're only going to see more sunshine. Lord willing, 6 PM will again feel like 6 PM instead of 11 PM. These short days and long, cold nights are for the birds. And even the birds don't like them. They have enough sense to pack up and go find the sun.
Christmas may remind me of where Jesus came to, but the winter solstice reminds me of where He is now, and where I so desperately hope to be.
God's servants will worship Him with Service. They will see God's face! His name will be written on their foreheads. There will be no night anymore. They will not need the light from a lamp or the light from the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them. They will rules as kings forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5
No short days. No long, cold, dark nights. Just one continuously bright beautiful day! Hard to imagine. Won‘t it be grand!
The birth of Christ is a marvelous story and I'm thankful for the chance to know it, appreciate it, and preach it. I am more thankful for the life he grew up to live and the death he decided to die. That death and the conquering of that death is what brings the light into my life and shines the light on the life I hope to live eternally.
It was in a Vocational Education classroom in 1987 that I overheard an instructor discussing with another his upcoming 25th high school reunion. I remember turning to a classmate and whispering, "Man, I didn't know he was that old." Fast forward 25 years. The postcard I found in my mailbox inviting me to attend a reunion of the the class of 1987 has reminded me of how much my definition of "old" has changed over these years!
Initially, the invitation was headed to the trash, the same fate of my 10 year and 20 year reunion notices. I was not into the high school social scene. I had two close friendships, and outside of that, was not much interested in the happenings of anyone else's life, nor were they in mine. Most of my classmates and I had nothing to talk about then, and couldn't see how 25 years had changed that. However, the sudden death of one of those two friends caused me to rethink. Maybe I should accept that invitation alter all. So I inquired as to it's location as well as asking about the events of the previous reunion so as to get an idea of what this occasion might entail.
There was lots of beer at the last one, and would be even more at this one. So and so really got drunk and 'we're hoping he shows up this year.” So and so hooked up with so and so. The drinking went on long into the night and "this year would be even better." It was a juvenile description of a juvenile event enjoyed by a bunch of juveniles. I was reminded of the phrase, "Y0u‘re only young once, but you can be immature forever," and decided not to attend my 25th.
Sadly, the world is full of adults whose bodies are maturing and leaving their minds behind. They're still getting drunk on the same beer they drank in the 12th grade, still giggling at the same stupid jokes they told in the high school locker room, still making the same crude observations about all the girls they’re still chasing.
There‘s two lessons here:
First, we Christians are expected by our Father to live above the world and it's standards. We are, after all, the church, the "called out". Jesus told his followers, "...you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world (John 15: 19). Paul told the Romans not to be "conformed any longer to the pattern of this world" (Romans 12:2).
Secondly, as Christians, we are expected to grow up, to mature. We don't stay in kindergarten. Take a look at Ephesians 4: 12-13. Those who have been Christians for 25 years should know more and act better than those who are new Christians. Seasoned saints should have more seasoned speech, less petty complaints, more courage, and more determination to live the called-out life.
Funny...when folks don't mature physically we recognize that they must be sick. When they don't mature spiritually we dismissively say, "boys will be boys."
Paul once wrote, "...when I became a man I put away childish things..."
Let us do likewise.
Cleansed, But Still Intolerable
No one in their right mind would come within touching distance of the ten lepers. Their gruesome appearance and shouts of "Unclean! Unclean kept the most kindhearted, well-meaning souls at bay. What a loathsome existence they must have known —- eating, sleeping, and working void of any meaningful companionship, being avoided by even friends, family, and neighbors.
Then they found the Savior, or He found them. The purest love the world has ever known made them touchable. No longer must they shout warnings to oncomers warning of their disease. They were now clean! At least on the outside, that is.
Did they really become more tolerable? Were they really "safe" company? After all, we know that only one took the time to express his appreciation. Even Jesus seemed disappointed. Where were the other nine? And we know that thankless, ungrateful people are, quite frankly, miserable to be around. Ingratitude is in and of itself. It can be as contagious to another soul as leprosy is to another’s skin.
Be honest now, do you enjoy the company of those who are seldom appreciative and never satisfied? Neither do I. We avoid them as we would a leper. We tire of hearing how miserable life is for them, how no one, including God has ever done a thing for them. No one's sickness has ever been as bad as theirs. If it's summer, they want winter. If it's winter, they want summer. If twenty friends visit during their illness, they complain that it should have been twenty one. They should have to shout, as the lepers did, "Ungrateful! Ungrateful!". Thus we would have fair warning to stay beyond touching distance. Like the nine who refused to offer thanks, the skin appears healthy, but to God, the soul may smell like rotting flesh.
An attitude of thankfulness and contentment is essential to a healthy, saving relationship with God. As a matter of fact, the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7) is given only to those who are thankful. Being thankful for God's blessings will bring you peace with God, peace with yourself; and peaceful relationships with your fellow man. The world and the church need more folks like the one thankful leper.
Conspiracy Theorists | November 22, 1963
Fifty years ago this week (November 24), the disillusioned son of a mentally unstable woman carried a twenty-dollar mail—order Italian-made rifle to his work in a large brown paper bag. Using several heavy boxes of textbooks, he formed a gun rest, and ` waited for the most powerful man in the world to come within range.
For the youth of today, September 11, 2001 is the day by which all of modern history is judged, and the context in which it is reported. News stories are often told as either post-9/11 or pre—9/1 1. In my youth that day was November 22, 1963. Every year we could count on a new book about it being published. Thanksgiving could be counted on as a time of · food, family, football, and a new report about the Kennedy assassination. In 1974, the most famous home video in the history of home videos was made public and we all sadly got to see with our own eyes how the President died that day.
We've had fifty years to analyze that morning in Dallas. Thousands of individuals have been interviewed. We even have the whole morbid event on film. Autopsy photos have been scrutinized. Bullet angles have been examined. Authorities have not only obsessed about fingerprints, but pictures of fingerprints. All of the evidence clearly points to one man shooting three bullets out of one gun from one building. But we refuse to believe that. Someone on the grassy knoll did it. The mob did it. Lyndon Johnson did it. Flying monkeys from outer space did it.
What is it about our human nature that forbids us from accepting words and events for what they plainly are? The facts can show it. The film can show it. The research can prove it. But we don't want to believe it. Why is that? Is it the devil at work? I wouldn't doubt it. We're all conspiracy theorists to some degree, just ask Eve. Satan convinced her that the whole ”Good and Evil" thing was a conspiracy. What God said, according to the devil, wasn't really the truth. There was more to it, he told her. And apparently she wanted to believe that there was more to it. She and her family learned the way that God does indeed mean what he says. There is no back story or conspiracy.
God says to us, "He that believes and is baptized will be saved. He that does not believe will be condemned."There is the plain truth. There is the "home video" if you please. But to the world, and sadly, to some church adherents, this is a conspiracy. "It can't; mean that." "It must mean something else." "Something more is going on here.
People don't accept the clear facts for a number of reasons. —It may be that the facts are just too boring. We want something more exciting and dramatic to be going on. We want something more interesting to talk about. It may be that I have a personal interest in propagating a new theory. A new conspiracy means a new book to be written. A new book written means new money in my pocket. It may be that the plain, clear truth is just simply too hard to accept. There is no way, some have surmised, that one deranged man could have, by himself, changed the history of an entire nation.
So..."He that believes and is baptized" along with the rest of God’s message simply may not be exciting enough for me. I just have to think that something more's going on. Or possibly, I am surrounded by loved ones who do not believe and who are not baptized. It is easier, then, for me to believe that there must be more to the words. The truth can't be what it appears to be —- that's just too hard to accept.
I wish Eve could have seen as I do now that in God’s relationship with man, there is NO conspiracy. It is what it is. It is what the words show. God loves me. His Son died for me. I must believe in his Son. I must demonstrate this belief with my actions. Nothing more to assume. Nothing more to surmise.
Our fall "Coming Home" Revival has concluded, and it is deemed a success. Some came to Christ for the first time, others returned to their loving Father, who had been waiting patiently for them to come back. This church house witnessed some enter through her doors who had not done so in a long, long time. The fact that they did not respond to the traditional sermon-ending invitation does not diminish our joy over having seen them in our midst!
Many brothers and sisters eagerly volunteered to cook, clean, organize, teach, babysit, write notes, stuff envelopes, rearrange furniture, order supplies, feed preachers, make phone calls, knock on doors, and help in so many ways. The assemblies were not forsaken. Our evening services saw encouragingly larger than usual crowds. I feel confident in saying that God surely must have been pleased.
Now, the challenge for us all post-revival -- Don't let the revived sprit be quenched! You seemed so excited to contact the lost sheep who once grazed spiritually within the Woodsfield Church of Christ. Don't let that excitement fade. You seemed so excited night after night to worship God, to be reminded of his Son, and the Christian walk. Don't let that excitement to fade!
Bear in mind that as pleased as God may have been with the past week in Woodsfield, Ohio, the devil was as equally displeased. he is surely anxious to show God that our spirit-filled enthusiasm cannot last, that our joy will fade, that the present unity we are enjoying will turn to bitterness and cynicism. Let us strive to prove the devil wrong. Let us continue to please God.
Truthfully, revival must take place daily for the child of God. So keep the revival in our life going. Be revived by your prayers. be revived by the goodness contained with God's word. be revived by your worship to Him.
If you missed the Fall Revival, Teddy Tackett's sermons are available here.
Veterans' Day (formerly know as Armistice Day) is a national holiday in the United States. It is observed annually on November 11 in honor of war dead and veterans of American wars. To commemorate the end of hostilities in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 Armistice Day in 1919. Memorial exercises have been held annually since 1921 at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans' Day in 1954.
Our hearts swell with emotion for those who have died fighting for our freedom in America. The "Star-Spangled Banner" brings tears to our eyes on this day. We must never become too casual about this day.
Many years ago at Deanfield in Ohio County, Kentucky, Harold Bellamy heard two elderly men who had worked in coal mines tell about their being trapped in a mine following a cave-in. The men said they were using carbide lamps, and they were working a mule in the mine. They said the mule got terribly excited and was breathing deeply and rapidly.
The space where the men and mule were trapped was very small. The men realized that their air supply was very limited. They also realized that the mule was much more of the air than they were, so they decided they should kill the mule. One of the men had a hawk bull knife with which he cut the mule's jugular vein. The two men said the mule did not even flinch but stood still and bowed his head and seemed to sense he was to die. They said it was pitiful sight in the light of their carbide lights. The mule bled to death!
When the men were finally found, so little air remained where they were trapped that they were very weak and about to become unconscious. No doubt they would have died had they not killed the mule. The mule died for them.
Our Veterans and this mule will emotionally stir and move us. But I wonder if we are still stirred by the story of Calvary. May it never become so familiar, that we become careless and cold about the story of our dying Savior.
via The Friendly Visitor
Check out the Upcoming Events at the Woodsfield Church of Christ and around the valley.
"The Devil uses a vacant mind as a dumping ground."
To look around is to be distressed.
To look within is to be depressed.
To look up is to be blessed.
Today is all I need,
All I want,
And all I can handle.
- "If Christianity is true, then it ought to follow that any Christian will be nicer than the same person if he were not a Christian." - C.S. Lewis
To Be A Christian
A 10 year-old little girl was asked by another classmate, "what is it like to be a Christian?". The girl replied, "it's like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in and washes all the dirt off of you. Then, he cuts open the top and scoops out all of the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc., and then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."
Thanks So Much
Thanks so much for the great support of the golf scramble hosted by the Stepping Stones. Thanks to this congregation & God's grace, we had a great day filled with noteworthy hole prized, great golfers (well some :)) and wonderful food. Thanks again!