Merry Christmas

Good morning on this Beautiful Christmas Day.
I don’t usually post on the weekends, but this morning on my early walk l was struck by many things that sent my spirit soaring.
It is always dark when I start my walk, but there was an unusual “lightness” in the sky. The stars twinkled, the sky was clear but they created such a Peaceful presence.
My pace was slower than usual, as I tried to take in the calmness. It was unusual not to have to dodge cars coming and going and to my amazement no dogs barked as I passed by. But there was a new sound, one that probably has been there all the time, but today I finally noticed. A Wind chime in someone’s back yard was ringing so clearly. I was reminded of the song “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. It was written during wartime but the message is still the same today. “God is not dead, nor doth He slept, The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”
Surprised, I did not hear the sounds of traffic from the nearby highway, but the train whistle still sounded. First I heard it from the north, soon it sounded from the East, not too long later, it sounded on the south, and finally I could hear the faint sound coming from the west as the train stretched through the city and on it’s way to another destination. I realized that God was reminding me of His Faithfulness. He is always on schedule (His not always ours) and He is always on time.
Nearing home, the sun began to share it’s rays over the horizon. The black gave way to various shades of blue, then the transition to oranges and reds, and finally the bright ball of light illuminated the entire sky.
For some reason, this day, God was speaking in the cool of the morning. I wondered if this was what Adam experienced. God walking alongside him, conversing with him, teaching him. All I could say was, “God I hope to never break this relationship that we are enjoying today”.
You may not take a morning walk like I do, but do know this. God is always looking for ways to speak to you every day. Like myself, sometimes we just need to listen more closely. He is always speaking in ways of blessings.
May you and your family have a Very Blessed Christmas Season.
Pastor Don Milner


THE PURPOSE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE DATE

DECEMBER 23

   Much about Christmas remains veiled and puzzling.  It harbors a mystery of faith and has a rather checkered history.

   For more than 300 years after Jesus’ time, Christians celebrated his resurrection but not his birth.  The later Christmas festival was even banned in 17th century England and in early America.

   The observance first begin in fourth-century Rome, timed to coincide with a midwinter pagan festival honoring the imperial army’s sun god, Mithra.  The December date was taken over to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

   But on what day he was born is unknown.  Even the precise year is uncertain. However, it was not in the year 1 A.D., as the calendar’s Anno Domini (Year of the Lord) suggests.

   Its dating system derived from an error about the year of Christ’s birth by a sixth-century monk in Rome, Dionysius Exigus, in working out the starting point of the Christian era.

   Scholars since have calculated that Jesus’ birth came in about 6 or 7 B.C., meaning paradoxically “Before Christ”.  The revised time was determined partly by the fact that Herod the Great ruled Judea when Jesus was born and history records that Herod died in 4 B.C.

   In what month the birth occurred, or on what day, has been a matter of speculation for centuries.  Possible dates include:  January 6, February 2, March 25, April 19, May 20, October 4, November 17.

   A British physicist and astronomer, David Hughes, has calculated that the date was September 17, 7 B.C., based on various scientific evidence, including that of a conjunction of two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, in the constellation Pisces on that date.

   He concludes in a book that this extraordinary celestial display was the “star” seen by the distant wise men.

   The 17th century German astronomer, Johannes Kepler, similarly had calculated a three-planet conjunction, including Venus as well as Jupiter and Saturn, in the same constellation in 7 B.C.

   In any case, a variety of months and days have been used over the centuries in different parts of the world to celebrate the occasion. Some Eastern Orthodox churches still do it on January 6.

   Christmas was banned in 17th century England when Oliver Cromwell and his puritan followers gained temporary rule, forbidding what was called the “heathen celebration of Christmas.”

   The holiday similarly was banned in colonial New England. Christmas wasn’t made a legal holiday in Massachusetts until 1856.

   For all of the clouded chronology and legal background of Christmas, however, the biggest mystery is in its message — that God has entered the human race in love for it, on with it, and one of it.

 

   “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth,” the Bible says.

   That is the mystifying core of Christmas, an awesome concept that has challenged hearts and minds since.  It  holds that Jesus was truly human, sharing the nature of all people, yet also truly God. “Emmanuel — God with us,” Scripture says.  “The light of the world.”

 

See:  Matt 1:22-23; John 1:1, 14

          — The Biblical Illustrator

 

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck…

 How to live in a world that’s politically correct?

 His workers no longer would answer to “Elves”.

 “Vertically Challenged” they were calling themselves.

 And labor conditions at the north pole

 Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.

 

 Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,

 Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

 And equal employment had made it quite clear

 That Santa had better not use just reindeer.

 So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,

 Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

 

 The runners had been removed from his sleigh;

 The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.

 And people had started to call for the cops

 When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.

 Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.

 His fur trimmed red suit was called “Unenlightened.”

 

 And to show you the strangeness of life’s ebbs and flows,

 Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose

 And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,

 Demanding millions in over-due compensation.

 

 So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,

 Who suddenly said she’d enough of this life,

 Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,

 Demanding from now on her title was Ms.

 

 And as for the gifts, why, he’d ne’er had a notion

 That making a choice could cause so much commotion.

 Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,

 Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.

 Nothing that might be construed to pollute.

 Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.

 Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.

 Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.

 Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.

 Nothing that’s warlike or non-pacific.

 

 No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.

 Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.

 And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,

 Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.

 For they raised the hackles of those psychological

 Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

 No baseball, no football…someone could get hurt;

 Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.

 Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;

 And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

 

 So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;

 He just could not figure out what to do next.

 He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,

 But you’ve got to be careful with that word today.

 His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;

 Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.

 

 Something special was needed, a gift that he might

 Give to all without angering the left or the right.

 A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,

 Each group of people, every religion;

 Every ethnicity, every hue,

 Everyone, everywhere…even you.

 So here is that gift, it’s price beyond worth…

 “May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth.”



PRAISE HIM IN SECRET

DECEMBER 3

Thank You God for these intimate moments, that I can hide away and be here alone with You. You’re so wonderful and Your presence is so amazing! Jesus I love You. I love Your Spirit and how You wrap around me as I pray. Be here with me and bless me again with Your presence today.”

Focus on His presence and be grateful He is with you now. Focus on Him and listen to His voice. Worship Him sweetly and softly in your alone time.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalms 91:1

“But you, when your pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matt 6:6

From 30 Prayers of Praise by Adam Houge

 

 

At a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear coworker who was leaving the company due to ‘downsizing,’

our manager commented cheerfully, ‘This is fun. We should do this more often.’

Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare.

This was a lunch at Texas Instruments.

 

I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself

and for the sake of her life, couldn’t understand why her system would not turn on.



PRAISE FOR GOD’S BLESSINGS

NOVEMBER 19

Who am I that you would make a covenant with me? You’re so wonderful Lord!  Who am I that You would make me eternal live and love me? thank You for Your precious promises! I praise You Lord because in Your promises You have reflected Your heart toward me! I’m not worthy of Your goodness! Thank You for the hope I have through Your promise.

Sit in the secret place and reflect on all the Lord has in store for You. He intends eternal life, and eternal peace. He will give You a future and a hope. He will make You live in a land where there is no suffering. Think of all His promises and reflect on what He’s giving you, then worship Him for it during this time.

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

 

 

 

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about. Until one day . . .

For all those years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.

He asked her about the contents.

“when we were to be married,’ she said, ‘my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.”

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back the tears. Only two Precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all these years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

‘Honey,’ he said, ‘ that explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?”

“Oh,” she said, “that’s the money I made from selling the dolls.”



PRAISE FOR DELIVERANCE

NOVEMBER 15

Lord, You’ve been so good to look on the many afflictions of Your servant and to deliver me out of them all. Your hand is so kind and You always lead me in the way gently. I’m not deserving of Your goodness Lord. Thank You for everything You’ve done to save me out of every trial, tribulation, and persecution.

 

Reflect upon the ways God has delivered you. Not only in salvation, but in all things He has saved you in. 

Reflect upon the various trials of life and how God made them all come together for your good. Then as you reflect, worship Him because of His faithfulness. Worship Him because He is your salvation in EVERYTHING.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Ps 27:13

“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Tim 3:10-12

From 30 Prayers of Praise by Adam Houge

 

 

The Second Ten Commandments

  1. Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
  2. Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.
  3. Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.
  4. Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time anyway.
  5. Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.
  6. Thou shall not borrow other people’s problem, They can better care for them than you can.
  7. Thou shall not try to relive yesterday for good or ill, it is forever gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now!
  8. Thou shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It is hard to learn something new when you are talking, and some people do know more than you do.
  9. Thou shall not become “bogged down” by frustration, for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action.
  10. Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one


TIME FLEES – GOD DOESN’T

SEPTEMBER 28

          “I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there too – your reassuring presence, coming and going.  This is too much, too wonderful –  I can’t take it all in!  Psalm 139:5-6  The Message Bible

          I can hardly believe that September is almost over.  Time seems to have rocket burst speed these days.  Another new year is on the horizon with promises of changes and better and easier lifestyles. Have you ordered your new IPhone?  How can we live without it. Technology changes every day hour.

          But there is one thing for sure, God has never changed and He is constantly surrounding us, in front and in back for our good. The Palmist indicates that when he looks ahead of him, he sees God.  And when he reflects on the past, he sees the hand of God.  God has had an integral part of his life and will continue to do so.

          It is so assuring that, for the believer who is walking in daily obedience to God, to know that his steps are ordered by God.  The only thing that will cause us to get out of step is our own attempts to walk alone.

          Many people ask how to know what the will of God is for their life.  And most of the time, they want to know what their future destiny will be.  Usually they are most concerned about their job, their future mate, their success, etc.  But the best answer that I have learned about the will of God, is simply, “obey the last thing He told you to do.”

          God knows that if He tells us too much, too early, we’d all be overcome by His blessings. So, we take each day as it comes, with God’s presence engulfing us.

          So today, look behind you.  Look ahead of you.  See God there, and your day will be headed in the right direction.

          Pastor Don

 

The Pastor’s Plight

The pastor of a church is in a precarious position; he can’t please everyone! 

It has been said:

If he is young, he lacks experience; if his hair is grey, he’s too old for the young people.

If he has several children, he has too many; if he has no children, he’s setting a bad example.

If he preaches from his notes, he has canned sermons and is too dry; if he  doesn’t use notes, he has not studied and is not deep.

If he is attentive to the poor people in the church, they claim he is playing to the grandstand; if he pays attention to the wealthy, he is trying to be an aristocrat.

If he suggests changes for improvement of the church, he is a dictator; if he makes no suggestions, he is a figurehead. 

If he uses too many illustrations, he neglects the Bible; if he doesn’t use enough illustrations, he isn’t clear.

If he condemns wrong, he is cranky; if he doesn’t preach against sin, he’s a compromiser.

If he preaches the truth, he’s offensive; if he doesn’t preach the truth, he’s a hypocrite.

If he fails to please somebody, he’s hurting the church and ought to leave; if he tries to please everyone, he is a fool.

If he preaches about money, he’s a money grabber; if he doesn’t preach spiritual giving, he is failing to develop the people.

If he drives an old car, he shames his congregation; if he drives a new car, he is setting his affection on earthly things.

If he preaches all the time, the people get tired of hearing one man; if he invites guest speakers, he is shirking his responsibility.

If he receives a large salary, he’s mercenary; if he receives only a small salary, well-it proves he isn’t worth much anyway.

-Author Unknown

 

 



BE LIKE BABIES. . THEY LIKE CHANGES

March 18

  ” Proverbs 13:19 (LB) says, ‘It is pleasant to see plans develop. That is why fools refuse to give them up even when they are wrong.”  Wise people sometimes change their minds – fools never do.  Be open to God’s change in your plan.  It is a sign of strength to make changes when necessary.”

  “The longer a man is in error, the surer he is he’s right.  Defending your faults and errors only proves that you have no intention of quitting them. An obstinate man does not hold opinions – they hold him.”

   “Where we cannot invent we can at least improve.  A ‘sensational new idea’ is sometimes just an old idea with its sleeves rolled up  – if you itch for ideas, keep on scratching. Everybody is in favor of progress.  It’s the change they don’t like.  Constant change is here to stay.  Most people are willing to change, not because they see the light, but because they feel the heat.”

  “Great ideas still need change, adaptation and modification in order to prosper and succeed.  Henry Ford forgot to put a reverse gear in his first automobile.  Few knew of his oversight.  Few don’t know of his success.  Success and growth are unlikely if you always do things the way you’ve always done them.”

         John L. Mason,  You’re Born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy                               

 

True Navy Humor

Radio conversation released by the chief of naval operations 10.10.95:

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision

Americans: This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No, I say again divert YOUR course.

Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS ENTERPRISE, WE ARE A LARGE WARSHIP OF THE US NAVY. DIVERT YOUR COURSE NOW.

Canadians: This is a little lighthouse.  Your call.

This was the transcript of a radio conversation between a US naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland.



“IN THE BEGINNING . . GOD”

March 17

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1)”

  “In the time it takes you to read this page, you will have entered a moment you have never been in before.  God said before we can form His name in our heads and speak it forth, He will be there! (Isaiah 65:24).  Before any defeat; before any distress; before any sorrow; before any pain or discouragement. . . He has already been there and made all the necessary arrangements to ensure you make it into the next moment of your future with Him.”

   “With God in charge, every moment can be a brand new beginning.  In the next moment, if you will let God be bigger than the pain of the last moment, you will have a new beginning in Him.”

   “Before you think about all you went through yesterday, think about where you are.  And right there is God – bigger than all your problems!”

   “As you start this day, put God in the beginning of every moment, and let Him lead you through a year of victory!”

                    – Rod Parsley, “Covenant Devotional”

 

Brickbats: Terse observations and other mild forms of humor

My boss hates “yes” men and I have to agree with him.

Can a person be chalant? Can weather be clement? And are children ever ruly?

My best pickup line is: “Hi, I’m Bob. Do you speak English?”

Somewhere in my office, in the vicinity of my desk, there exists a black hole into which all my pens disappear.

A woman was scooping up an armload of toaster pastries just as I was contemplating their ingredients. I said to her, “These things could kill you.” She said, “Well, they’re just for the kids.”

The penalty for bigamy is two wives.

Baseball Rules Section 3.12.5 — The strike zone shall consist of an area from the kneecap to the midpoint between the waist and shoulders vertically and shall be as wide as the home-plate umpire’s hind quarters.



LOOKING FORWARD

March 16

   “‘Misery is a yesterday person trying to get along with a tomorrow God,’ says Mike Murdock.  Don’t let your past mistakes become memorials. They should be cremated, not embalmed.  It is important to look forward – your calling and destiny are there.  The apostle Paul said, ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 3:13-14 NIV)”

   “Those who predominantly talk about the past are going backward.  Those who talk about the present are just maintaining.  But those who talk about the future are growing.”

   “Some people stay so far in the past that the future is gone before they get there. The future frightens only those who prefer living in the past.  No one has ever backed into prosperity.  You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday today.  Yesterday has passed forever and is beyond our control.  What lies behind us is insignificant compared to what lies ahead.”

   John L. Mason -You’re Born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy

 

Strangest US Laws

  Minnesota:

  –It is illegal to tease skunks.

  –Every man in Brainerd is required by law to grow a beard.

  Michigan:

  –A state law stipulates that a woman’s hair legally belongs to her husband.

  –Under state law, dentists are officially classified as “mechanics.”

  –In Clawson, it is legal for a man to “sleep with his pigs, cows, horses, goats, and chickens.”

  Oklahoma:

 –Whale hunting is strictly forbidden.

  –People who make “ugly faces” at dogs may be fined and/or jailed.

 Virginia:

  –In Richmond, it is illegal to flip a coin in any eating establishment to determine who buys a cup of coffee.

  –In Lebanon, it is illegal to kick your wife out of bed.



GOD HAS A PLAN

March 15

   “What does God think about your future?  We find the answer in the book of Jeremiah (29:11, NIV): “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  All of what we are, good and bad, is what we have thought and believed.  What you have become is due to the price you paid to get what you used to want.”

   “All of the important battles we face will be waged within ourselves.  Nothing great has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that God was superior to any circumstance.  First John 4:4 says, ‘Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.”

   “Don’t put water in your own boat; the storm will put enough in on its own.  Don’t dream up thousands of reasons why you can’t do what you want to: find one reason why you can.  It is easier to do all the things you should do than spend the rest of your life wishing you had.  The first key victory you must win is over yourself.  “You can’t consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself,” says Zig Ziglar.”

   “Building a case against yourself is like a microscope – it magnifies trifling things but cannot receive great ones.  To keep from building a case against yourself; multiply your prayer time, divide the truth from a lie, subtract negative influences and add God’s Word.  We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.  Both faith and fear may sail into your harbor, but allow only faith to drop anchor.”

     John L. Mason,  You’re born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy 

 

Good-news-bad-news…

The following letter from the family’s solicitor is addressed to a

member of the British aristocracy who has been spending much of the

summer in his residence in the south of France leaving his wife in the

United Kingdom to look after the ancestral home.

Dear Sir Royston,

I hope you are having a good time on your holiday. 

I say this with sincerity because I am afraid that I have some bad

news for you, although there is good news too. First the bad news. I

am sorry to tell you that your favorite dog, Honey, is dead. The vet

says that she died instantly and could have felt no pain. She was

kicked in the head by your horse, Sherbert, though I’m sure that no

blame can be attached to Sherbert, frightened as he was by the fire in

the barn.

I’m afraid that Sherbert was in the barn along with your other

horses when it burnt to the ground.

I should explain how the barn came to be on fire in the first place.

You see a spark from the house blew over and set the roof alight. The

fire started in the main hall of the house where, as you know, your

Mattisse and your Picasso once hung. I say ‘once’ because they are not

there now. Fortunately neither of these paintings were damaged in the

conflagration as they were stolen beforehand by the burglar who

started the fire.

Although all of this may seem to you very serious it is not in fact

the bad news that I wrote of. Your wife and brother had been visiting

your Insurance Agent in prison where he is serving a three year

sentence for fraud. I’m afraid that none of your insurance policies

are valid. This is the bad news.

As I said, there is some good news. The heat from the fire warmed your

greenhouse and brought your flowers on.

Regards,

Morgan




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