Another short post. I believe that God does have a sense of humor, how else can you explain zebras? And there is this: God gave me a love of music of all kinds and there is very little that I don’t listen to (there are exceptions and they are Rap music and Opera); I love music that I find on YouTube that is older than I am and a lot of music by folks that I have never heard of. (the other shoe dropping) however God did not give me any talent to play an instrument or to sing – yep my singing voice is terrible but I still sing if the right song is playing (Under the Boardwalk by the Drifters is one of them).
|The Coal Basket Bible
The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could.
One day the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?”
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”
The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.
This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead.
The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.
At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”
“So you think it is useless?” the old man said. “Look at the basket.”
The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean. “Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.” That is the work of God in our lives. To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the image of His son.
Take time to read a portion of God’s word each day, and remind a friend by sharing this story.
“Live Simply, Love Generously, Care Deeply, Speak Kindly, Leave the Rest to God
From the blog I read called “Beauty Beyond Bones”. I don’t know the writers full name but let me tell you she has the best and most interesting blog posts. A young lady who has deeper and more interesting thoughts than I have even on a good day. Without further ado I am going to copy it and past it in here because I think it is a subject that the world needs to think more about.
Is Christianity Dead?
Well folks, another Christmas is in the books!
Christmas 2K16 is officially behind us. The eggnog has been consumed. Gifts gifted. Food coma endured. And for those brave souls who took on a real tree this year, its pine needles are officially all over the floor and will be mysteriously appearing in random crevices for the next 4 months.
Ever since I was of “appropriate age,” my family has always gone to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It is one of my favorite memories and traditions. The caroling at 11pm. The candles. The trumpets. For the past, say, 15+ years, we have been going, and every year, we’d always get there right at 11:00, throwing elbows, and staking out our pew, as it is always standing room only. And don’t even bother coming at 11:15…because there will be no parking and you’re guaranteed to be standing – two deep – in the back.
But over the past couple years, I’ve noticed that each Christmas, we don’t have to arrive quite as early. And the full-court-press/box-out/battle-to-the-death to get and save a pew has ever so gradually deescalated.
Until this year.
When the church was half empty.
For Midnight Mass. Christmas Eve.
There wasn’t a snow storm. The zombie apocalypse hasn’t happened….unless of course, I am terribly mistaken about that one..
And I couldn’t help but ask myself, as I looked around and saw several dozen teenage boys counting the ceiling tiles, looking as though they wanted to die…is our faith on life support?
Are we experiencing the decline of faith and church as we know it?
Is Christianity dead?
And that friends, is not the type of thought pattern you want to be mulling over while in church, literally celebrating the birth of Christ.
As with everything in life, looking in the mirror is a hard thing to do. Facing the truth, acknowledging and accepting it…is an exercise in extreme humility, to say the least.
But let’s call it how it is…we are experiencing a decline in Christianity. Look it up. Pew studies. People identifying as Christian. Church attendance. Prayer. Christians actively living their faith are going down. Especially in Gen X’ers and Millennials.
And that. Is scary.
Leafing through the church bulletin after mass, I was almost in a fog. Nevermind the fact that it was nearing 2am and I had just come off a 7am flight from NYC the day before…but my mind was just swirling after witnessing the stagnant, lifeless state of my once vibrant and spiritually ablaze childhood parish. So I was numbly flipping through the pages.
And there was something that caught my eye.
There was, of course, a big “welcome” section in the front. Offering Christmas greetings to parishioners, out-of-towners, guests, non-Christians joining us, etc. All nice. Great.
And then there was the line, “We are your church family and are here for you!”
And I hate to admit this, but I’ve got to be honest….that really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt painfully disingenuous.
There’s a stereotype about “church people.” And I for one, hate even giving the time of day to negative stereotypes about people. Because they’re always hurtful and typically untrue.
But desperate times…
There is a decline in our faith, and it’s time to not mince words and take a cold, hard look in the mirror. Because like it or not, we are the face of the church.
But the stereotype is that “church people” are incredibly “judgey” people. That they prance around all hoity-toity and look down on “non-church people” and scoff at their “heathen ways.”
How are we going to fix that?
Because I can attest to the fact that that stereotype is, for the most part, false.
But the commonly accepted (albeit misconceived) notion is that church is a boring, out-of-touch institution that is full of either judgy snobs, dowdy/orthopedic-shoe-wearing shut-ins, or “Jesus-freaks.”
And people don’t want anything to do with that.
So they just don’t come.
And I want to pause here for a second. I know this is only one factor. There are a lot of other issues – people having different priorities, having other interests, adopting “spirituality” while leaving behind “religion.” Not to mention the church’s often unpopular stances on hot button social issues, such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, etc. This stereotype is only one contributing factor.
But you and I…we have a personal responsibility.
We have a job to do: and that is to change that stereotype. Turn people’s minds around. Change their hearts to be open to Christ and open to faith.
Is Christianity dead?
Only if we let it.
You can’t give away what you don’t personally have.
And if I want to share Christ’s love and have it be attractive and inviting to another person, I need to have it in my heart myself. I need to have His love be overflowing in my own life, so as to attract another person to Him. And attract them back to church.
The pathetic church attendance on Christmas Eve…I partially blame myself. Because I ask myself…how am I personally fighting to set the record straight on how a “church person” looks and acts.
Because I’m going to be honest…(and I hate to admit it)…but I don’t really wear my faith outspokenly on my sleeve, for fear of being labeled a “church person.”
And I am filled with such shame typing that out, but it’s true. I don’t want to be labeled as “weird” or “out of touch” … so I keep my faith private. Let that be a personal part of my life that is between me and God.
But I realize now, that I am part of the problem.
My faith can’t be hidden. I can’t just be a silent by-stander as my church is red lining, in desperate need of rebranding and resuscitation.
I’m going to go out on a limb. For God. Invite someone to church with me.
Because at the end of the day, if Jesus can stretch out His arms and die on a limb for me, I can go out on one, for Him.
Tomorrow is Christmas and I am wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a great new year. And by the way please do attend the church of your choice and thank God for everything we have and the beautiful world he has given to us.
Our state has early voting, and I voted this week. As I got out of my car, a lady approached me and asked if I wanted a list of the Progressive candidates. I told her no thank you. You know, the word Progressive is just a way to try to make secular and godlessness sound better and more up-to-date. I told this lady that Progressives are for the most part atheists—and they’re not going to stand for God’s laws and for His direction in our country. Beware, and be sure to know what you are voting for and who you are voting for.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
Given this week’s news, I didn’t expect Hillary Clinton to be in a very cheerful mood. But I’ve noticed that just about every time I’ve seen a clip of her speaking this week, she was launching an aggressive attack of some sort. Maybe at James Comey, but usually at Donald Trump, whom she repeatedly portrays as a mean, crazy, vicious, sexist, racist, dangerous lunatic who will blow up the world with nuclear weapons – and even worse, he insults people!
Meanwhile, Trump gets …in his shots, but I mostly see him talking about policy: how he’ll repeal and replace Obamacare, cut taxes, bring back manufacturing jobs, restore law and order, rebuild inner city neighborhoods and so on. I also notice that he does it with a lot of humor. He throws in funny jabs at the media, sarcasm, hyperbole and self-deprecating ad-libs. Of course, these exaggerated humorous asides are misconstrued by the media as literal expressions of what he seriously believes, so they can pretend to be OUTRAGED!!! But if you actually see the speeches, you realize that Trump is having a ball joking with the crowds, and his optimism about America and his chances of winning is contagious. Hillary scowls that Trump is the “angry” candidate, and the media echo that accusation; but when you see him on the stump, he comes across as a Happy Warrior, fighting hard but enjoying every minute of it.
That’s why I predicted months ago that he would win, in the face of all the media assurances that Hillary was unbeatable, and I’m standing by it. I think voters are finally starting to see through the 24/7 character assassination of Trump and realize that he’s offering them positive reasons for vote for him, not just fear and paranoia about his opponent. That’s what most voters are hungry for.
All that is the perfect set-up to this story from Pew Research that looked into which candidates’ supporters really are the more tolerant of those with diverse views that differ from their own. Some call this a “shocking result,” but I’m not even surprised. I suspect you won’t be, either.
After so many WikiLeaks revelations, Americans might be tempted to echo Bernie Sanders and say they’re “tired of hearing about Hillary’s d***ed emails.” But Bernie shouldn’t have said that, and neither should we. At the link, an explanation of why the news that broke last night of the FBI finding 350 previously-unknown (not duplicate) Hillary Clinton State Department emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop is a major deal, possibly the first crack in exposing what could become “t…he biggest scandal in US history.”
Also worth noting: the story was broken by CBS News. Not Fox or Breitbart or the Internet. The MSM have made it their duty for the past year to act as Hillary’s palace guard, even sending her campaign their stories to edit before printing them. If even CBS senses that what’s coming is so bad, there’s no point in trying to protect the Clintons anymore, and therefore news outlets had better get back to protecting their own reputations, then the dam might be about to burst. Stay tuned.
My favorite prophet in my youth..Stepenwolf” said “There’s a monster on the loose and has our heads into a noose and he stands there watching”. I think they were right.
The monster is a corrupt “progressive” machine that has our schools, mainstream media, one and a half of our political parties, the executive branch of our Government, half of the Supreme Court and about half of congress.
I believe this election and all the scandals will bring their evil house of cards down or seal their deal. I pray for the innocent to prevail and evil to be defeated. Evidence is mounting. The cockroaches are scurrying away from the light. Innocence need not hide or bleach emails nor fear any leaked info. Man this is awesome spiritual warfare.
Forgive me if this is more rambling and not as structured as I would like it to be.
I grew up in a Christian home and church was a big part of my life even though I did not appreciate it at the time. As I’ve gotten older (ok. . . . downright old) I think about church a lot and I wish I could find a church like the one I grew up in but they apparently do not exist anymore as they all have a contemporary service style now.
I have been going lately to a Wesleyan church here in Waterford and although I like it I wonder if the “perfect” church is out there for me. The answer of course is that there is no perfect church there is only a perfect God. Over time I will adjust to the guitars and drums and the new modern music, I just wish they would throw in one of the old hymns once in a while like “In the Garden” or “The Old Rugged Cross”.
I have recently gone to a small group and the discussions were very interesting and I got to know some of the other church members better. It is nice to be able to discuss Christian ideals and principles with others and the sharing of ideas is helpful to me. The lessons were taken from a DVD by John Ortberg and he is good at presenting and stimulating discussions.
Yesterday I have a meeting with Pastor Paul and will be joining the Welcome / Greeting committee. That seems like an odd fit for someone like me who has trouble talking to people. Maybe that is what I need to motivate me into a more outgoing person; that would be good after all these years.
After watching my parents and their church activities over the years I have come to realize that you get out of church more if you serve or put more of “you’ into the church.
I will close this for now.
May God Bless You,