Singing the Blues!

I may have the post-Christmas, yard decoration pack up, three-tree tear down, 437 plastic bins and boxes blues.

Here I am at 4:30 in the blessed A.M. writing a blog on a day off. I am not in the office today, nor will I be making phone calls. There are no emails or texts to send. And if any are received, I probably won’t know since I have no intention of checking my phone; it’s a day off.

Nevertheless, I have the post-Christmas, Monday morning blues. So blue that doing any of the aforementioned tasks seems unlikely. Not to suggest that they don’t need doing or that doing them wouldn’t result in making my wife exceedingly glad; for it would.

But no. You see, I have the blues.

Some say there are two kinds of people: those emotionally oriented and those who are not. I am of the former and have always been. It’s neither good nor bad, admirable nor avoidable. It is what it is, and I am it.

I relate to the world on an emotional level. Most men are the opposite; they connect on an intellectual level. Occasionally they will stumble into an emotion beyond the euphoria of a team winning or an animal expiring. I get the team winning thing, but the other alludes me; it always has. Not that I haven’t tried. I’ve killed rabbits, quail, and doves and I’ve gone deer and varmint hunting. Don’t get me wrong; I have no moral issues or issues of conscience about shooting animals, it just isn’t for me. My greatest outdoor passion, actually my only one, is fly fishing in mountain rivers and streams. I’ve caught and kept fish from saltwater, but the last freshwater trout I kept was 40 years ago. I always release them.

What does any of that have to do with post-Christmas Monday morning blues? Nothing at all. But this style of blogging, this stream of consciousness, fills my time and keeps me preoccupied, which justifies not packing up another year of Christmas.

I’ve often wondered if Jesus got the blues. Do you think he might have? Did he ever wake up and think, “No, not today.” Or did he ever blow off the afternoon schedule and go fishing with the apostles? Maybe? Maybe not? Jesus probably did the right thing, regardless of how exhausted or emotionally drained. I admire him for that.

Maybe some of this is my fault? Given the year that we are about to finish, it wouldn’t be surprising to feel depleted, empty, and lacking the energy to get up and get busy.

In writing this blog, it occurred that I left 75% of my 2020 vacation time unused. Why didn’t I use my vacation time? Sounds silly not to. Maybe I just felt it was never a good time to be gone? Perhaps it wasn’t? Was it my emotional self making poor decisions?

Anyway, I’ll close this blog, giving praise and glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for as far as I can tell, he never allowed fatigue or the blues to keep him from doing what needed to be done.

Can you imagine Jesus saying to himself,
“Uh, I don’t feel up to dying on the cross today. I had a bad night’s sleep, and the people have been gobbling up my time and energy. Perhaps I’ll see how I feel in the morning.”

Me either. Boxes and bins here I come. After all, you outside lights aren’t going to pack yourselves.

What would a 6-year-old say?

If you surveyed a dozen people about the true meaning of Christmas, would you get a dozen different responses? Might some of them be like this:

  1. A national holiday observing a rich heritage 
  2. A special occasion with family and close friends
  3. An annual day for giving and sharing
  4. A beautiful season of lights, decorations, and traditions
  5. A religious observance based on the Christian faith

WOULD the ages of those responding influence their replies? Would a six-year-old say something different than a sixty-year-old? 

NOTICE the word “true.” Not just the meaning, but the true meaning. Is there a difference? I believe there is since Christmas is observed both as secular and religious. However, if we assign partiality to the spiritual, then what is the true meaning of Christmas from that perspective? 

  1. Is it about a baby?  
  2. How about the star? 
  3. The angels and shepherds?
  4. Fulfillment of OT prophecies? 
  5. Something to do with God? 

TRUE demands that nothing be false. So, the meaning must be real, not a vague story with warm and fuzzy feelings. I have nothing against warm and fuzzy providing it’s based on something authentic.

FOR me, the reality of Christmas is rooted in Immanuel’s truth, that God came to his people. That he arrived as the infant king of kings and became the Lord of Lords to set us back at one with the Father.

THE one who came was born to die. He entered this dark world with the divine light of illuminated truth. He left to give us the greatest gift ever given: the Holy Spirit.

My true meaning of Christmas: Jesus Christ, God’s anointed, came to save us. 

Shalom

Because of the Kids

In addition to being a minister and pastor, I am also a writer. I have written two books, “Jesus Our Messiah,” examining the Old Testament to see how Jesus became the Messiah, and “Odd Uncle Charlie, a book about the Holy Spirit. This spring, “Diving In” will be released, it’s about God’s transformational power through the new birth.

But lately, I have had a growing interest in writing for children. If you follow my blog, you know that kids are a frequent topic. Over the years they have become more important to me, and maybe it is because I do not have grandchildren. Anyway, I have lots of friends who are children and I wrote a book for them.

It is a story about Chunky, a curious raccoon, and Chester, an energetic little squirrel. Their first adventure discovers the true meaning of Christmas. Our little friends find a way to travel back in time to see the infant King and to learn about why he came. Each book to come will focus on an exciting Bible story that kids know and love.

The series will promote respect, good character, and the value of friendship. Each one will encourage faith and help instill a growing awareness of God’s love.

This First Volume
Chunky and Chester’s Fantastic Adventures
Book One: Discovering the meaning of Christmas

Chunky and Chester’s Fantastic Adventures.

If interested, you can order a copy by clicking the link below and follow the Event Registration Tab at the top, and it will take you to my books.

www.southeastonline.org

For those who are local, the book will be available this Sunday at the Southeast church.

God bless you, and have a very Chunky Christmas!

An Actual Christmas Event!

This past year seems like one long disappointment. Trips, vacations, sports events, family reunions, and many other activities have been canceled. The primary reason has been the concern of COVID-19 spreading to others and ourselves.

We are beyond tired of wearing masks, and as the days roll on, of hearing conflicting reports regarding their effectiveness. Cases have spiked just about everywhere, and the pandemic remains a significant contributor to the demise of many. 

Even so, the nation moves forward. We are working because not working creates certain problems of another kind. We are flying on planes, taking taxis, using Uber, and going places again. The masks and social distancing remain intact but are no longer the restricting force they once were.

As was the case on Saturday when our church held an event. It was called “A Storybook Christmas” and was attended by young families who yearned for something normal, for something fun that COVID wasn’t going to cancel. The event was well planned and respected safety protocols. 

The Event

  • a Christmas story was read to the children
  • tables were set up for each family to enjoy holiday crafts
  • decorating Christmas cookies was a lot of fun
  • a photo op with Santa, but no sitting on Santa’s lap please

It was fun, and everyone had a good time. Parents got pictures of their kids with Santa, appropriately distanced. But Covid took it in the teeth on this one. A Storybook Christmas didn’t get canceled and it was a sweet event for young families with young children. It happened, and it was glorious.

It reminded me of some other things:

  1. Noah finished the ark, as difficult as it was, and saved his family from a threat that lay dormant for so long and then flooded upon the scene. 
  2. Abraham and Sara waited for God to fulfill his promise to give them a son. It got tricky a time or two, but still, they waited and received what had been assured to them. 
  3. Hannah was grieved and hurt. She asked God to give her a son and remove her shame and bitterness of soul. He did, and she named him Samuel. 
  4. The world waited for redemption. At times patiently, and at times the other thing. But come it did, gloriously and beautifully. And each year, we remember the story and are reminded of how great it was that our God came near. He was Immanuel, the Son of God.

Not everything happens on the day, month, or year of our desire. It often happens in His moment, and so we wait in faith, trusting that he will keep his word and fulfill his promise. 

We wait still. We wait for redemption from a world often characterized by heartache and heartbreak. This world has many problems and troubles, and at times we groan for the day when we are relieved by his reveal. 

Will it be today? It might.

Anyway, this past Saturday, we got to do something sweet, fun, and exciting. The dreaded COVID did’nt not knock it down, beat it up, or force it out. 

Hang in there. The things we dread will not defeat us. They will not render us sad and bitter. They will not be the final word. God will have the last word, and it will be one of eternal promise.

Have a blessed day!

The Children Were Shouting

Yesterday morning, in our Family Service, we experienced something extraordinary. Our Family Minister gave her weekly Children’s Moment, a brief lesson geared for younger kids that reflects the sermon theme. She does it well, and it blesses the children and not a few adults. It is well received and popular. 

What was extraordinary was that maybe eight to ten young boys and girls had been recorded reading scripture. Our Family Minister told the story about Mary and Elizabeth’s sons’ miraculously coming into the world. As she spoke, she would pause, and one of the kids appeared on the screens to read verses from Matthew and Luke. Then she continued and would pause for another child to read, and so on until she was finished. 

It was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever experienced in a worship service. It was beautiful, enriching, and so very encouraging. I was proud of the kids. It made me emotional, and I was still moved when I stood to deliver my lesson. 

Some Observations

  1. Our Children’s Minister is very creative.
  2. The children who participated were fantastic. 
  3. Their parents were filled with joyous pride. 
  4. It would have never happened in the church of my youth.

Of the many reasons I love Jesus, here is one of my favorites–that he looked for what was right instead of what was wrong.

In the heritage of my spiritual roots exists an idea that anything different was wrong. That anything unordinary was suspect. That anything encouraging, edifying, and uplifting but out of the ordinary was automatically rejected. Children would not have been allowed to participate in the worship service, and indeed not the girls. 

Paul wrote, 

“test everything, hold on to the good, and avoid every kind of wrong.” 

He also wrote,

” Everything may be permissible, but not all things edify.” 

His perspective was to look for the good, to find the riches of encouragement and comfort. And if something didn’t build people up, or encourage them, then don’t do it. It may not be wrong in itself, but if it lacks real spiritual value, why do it? 

What a gloriously enriching idea. Look for something’s worth by its capacity to benefit others. Perhaps hundreds of times, I have heard from church leaders about an idea or suggestion, “Well, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it.” That was the litmus test, was there anything wrong with it. 

Granted, if there is something wrong, then it needs to be recognized as such. But can we turn it upside down, turn it 180 degrees to first look for the good in something?

Paul also wrote,

“Everyone who speaks (within the context of worship) must speak for the strengthening, encouragement, and comforting of others.”

TO CLOSE

I want all things to point to HIM! I aim to remain rooted in the center of HIS heart. And our hearts should be aflame with the Spirit of God as we praise and glorify his son. 

When children were shouting Hossana to Jesus, the strict and strenuous leaders found fault with it, couldn’t see the good, only saw that it was wrong, and chastised Jesus for what the children were doing. 

Jesus didn’t stop them.