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November 12 / November 19 / November 26

November 5, 2017 - Psalm 90:12

There are moments in life that you are just so grateful God allows you to experience. Well, I had one of those last Sunday when this great church went out of the way to be a part of my birthday celebration. You guys were awesome. Thank you for the many expressions of love, generous gifts, and so many well wishes. Even with the Astros playing the greatest game 5 in World Series history, you still came out to bless me. Thank you so much for that evening. I will certainly remember your kindness and love for the rest of my days. It is one of those moments for me. THANK YOU!

Birthdays are some of the events that cause you to remember things. Hitting the 60th mark has its high's and low's. I remember blogging when I was thirty-something and I remarked that I was almost half way through my life. Now I don't really want to use mathematics to evaluate life anymore. Can I say that every day is a special day moving forward? But, in my simple calculation, this year we are entering our 38th year of full time pastoral ministry. That's a long time. It seemed like just yesterday that I stood behind a pulpit and preached my first message. I was scared to death and it wasn't very good, but it was only 15 minutes long (in an age when 1 hour is normal). I do remember so many people coming up and thanking me for a great message...and adding a thank you for keeping it short. I remember doing my first funeral on Christmas Eve. The Senior Pastor's car got lost and the cemetery workers wanted to go home early, so they said "Young pastor, you're up next. Let's go, we want to go home." So I officiated my first home going for a godly 95 year-old man. And I also remember the many young people who gave their lives to Jesus Christ. I rejoiced greatly with the angels in heaven for each one. Wow, time does fly and in a blink of an eye, 60 years just flew by for me. Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Great advice from the Psalmist for all of us to live by. Once again, thank you all for making my days so full of blessings. You mean the world to me.

November 12, 2017 - Christmas Music

Well, it seems like I am in need of serious therapy. I heard on the news that listening to Christmas songs are bad for you. According to Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist in England, listening to Christmas music too early is bad for your mental health. Well, I have been listening to my Pentatonix Christmas album for more than 3 weeks while driving. And I have been thinking about buying another one to add to my clinically deranged syndrome. I am not alone though, some stores have already been playing Christmas music (Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Michael's, etc.) and Walmart will start tomorrow. There is just something wonderful hearing those memorable Christmas tunes and the lyrics are awesome! They are about the greatest person in the universe, Jesus Christ, and about the greatest thing that was even done for us, his gift of eternal life, and about the greatest hope that mankind can ever wish for, salvation. I guess if these things will hurt my mental health, then I don't really mind being a bit deranged.

In this modern era with sophisticated gadgets, there are a lot of things you can do with your "spare time". You know those moments when you are traveling to work, waiting for an appointment, or during your lunch time. What will you do? Many of you will watch, read or listen to something. You are in-putting things into your mind, and perhaps even deeper, into your soul. There's the daily news which often are disturbing. There are the opinion pages about life... hmmm, so many different opinions these days. Then there are music and artsy stuff. Believe it or not, they can get even deeper into your essence than just information. Some music can literally change your moods within minutes. What will you do? According to this psychologist, don't put anything Christmas into your life because it is bad for you. Well, I want to politely disagree loudly with her diagnosis. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." And a good way to hide his word in our hearts is through listening to great Christmas music. So, let's get those albums out!

November 19, 2017 - Hope

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful week of events that will remind you of the blessings God has given to you. As we contemplate on Thanksgiving, we pretty much know how it came to be. A bunch of people in Europe who were looking for a better life, we call them Pilgrims, came over to America. They found new possibilities in a new land. They experienced freedom from oppression. They grabbed opportunities and made the best out of them. And most of all, they discovered freedom to worship the Lord without persecution. All these things we take for granted now, but those folks didn't have them in old Europe. And for that, they gave thanks to God and they celebrated with family and friends in a church prayer worship. Later they made it an annual day of Thanksgiving. People in the millions still come to America today. Most still have the hopes that the Pilgrims once had. They may be somewhat different, but still they all surround the idea of "hope".

Hope is such an important element to life. There was a story about an American Vietnam POW who was promised by his captors that if he would be obedient and do certain things for them, they would eventually let him go. So he was diligent in all the tasks they gave him and worked hard at them, believing he will get his freedom. After a number of months, he realized they were just lying to him and had no desire to ever release him. His fellow prisoners recalled how he became depressed, had no desire to eat, to work or to do anything, and crawled up in a fetal position in his cell and eventually died. Without hope, life is almost not possible. It is merely survivable... maybe. The idea of "America" for more than 200 years revolves around hope. That's why millions of people from all walks of life and diverse countries want to come. That's why someone receiving a visa from the US consulate is often seen with giant smiles. That's how most people see this country, as a possibility of hope for them. Let me add that the main reason is because of the freedom to worship the Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ. No matter how some have tried to bring revision to our history, they can't change the fact that those who experienced a life full of hope given by God started the idea of "Thanksgiving". So go and enjoy this wonderful holiday, but remember the great hope that it points to, Jesus Christ and his love for us.

November 26, 2017 - Share The Greatest News

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and everything that came with it. It's a bit late, but I was reading about how often big arguments can come out of the Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, I was told that 20% of police calls come from domestic fights due to such arguments during the holidays. Yikes! Well, here is a list of 10 things we are told never to discuss over these family meals, and some may surprise you.

Here we go...

  1. An on-going disagreement/fight with another relative.
  2. Politics and what you think about President Trump.
  3. The money your brother still owes you.
  4. Your view on gun control.
  5. Your kids' amazing accomplishment.
  6. Why your brother is still not married.
  7. How someone seems to have gained some weight.
  8. How come your sister still doesn't have any children?
  9. Giving out parenting advice.
  10. Religion.

Now most of these things are either hot topics or insensitive critique of others. But the last one...religion too? It seems that in our country, someone's religion is a private matter and to discuss it is inappropriate. Even more, to try to convert someone to your religion has become an outright "bad" thing. Try doing that in your workplace and you probably will get reprimanded. Do it in a governmental place like a school and you will be suspended. Unless you are in a Christian environment, you will experience negative reactions. Guaranteed! I used to do a lot of street witnessing by passing out tracts and other things. Most just ignored me, say something derogatory, but I have been verbally attacked and even spat upon. That's just what religion, particularly Christianity, can bring out. So it is not surprising that even around the holiday meals, arguments can happen. So what should we do? Never talk about our faith with those closest to us if they are not believers? Well, we will have to be very sensitive and look for opportunities. But never forsake the discussing of the gospel. Remember what Paul says about it. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." So we just have to discover the best ways to speak about it during these holiday gatherings. Know this, for some it may be the only times they will hear the gospel, and you may be the only person who will tell them. So, stay away from the other 9 things, but look for opportunities between the passing of the turkey and the gravy to share the greatest news of all, the love of Jesus Christ.