Monday, December 29, 2008

From Emil Turner

This is simple advice. And you know what? It will work. Will you try it? If you're not a Sunday School teacher, offer to help your teacher with these things!

| Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Sunday School and Reaching Lost People



“Hey, Emil. How’s it going this week? Anything I can pray for you about? Great! I’ll see y’all Sunday.”



Every week my Sunday School teacher called every couple in his class. If I missed a Sunday, he’d come see me. Our class started a new class about every 18 months. And we reached lost people.



Pastor, you may want to share this with your Sunday School teachers. You don’t have to change the music to grow. You don’t have to spend a lot of money (although you will need to spend some). You don’t need to paint murals in the children’s department.



If 75% of your Sunday School teachers to do a good job your church will grow. What should they do?



1. Invite everyone (age appropriate) they encounter to attend their Sunday School class.



2. Call every member and every prospect every week. (You can call both groups while you are watching TV. Voice mail will work as well as a conversation.)



3. Plan a social gathering once a quarter.



4. Organize the class so that there is an assistant teacher, an outreach leader, an activities planner, and a prayer coordinator. Give them job descriptions.



5. Utilize email or snail mail to learn and share prayer requests and church events.



6. Invite the pastor to visit your class on a regular basis.



7. Visit and minister to prospects at home or at work.



8. Make it your goal to average more this year in Sunday School than last year.



9. Lead the class to pray for lost people and prospects by name.



10. Make it a goal to start a new class in 2 years.



If your Sunday School averages 70 in attendance, you probably have ten classes. If each class averaged one more per year, you’d soon average 80, and the following year 90. If 3 of your classes made new classes you’d have 13 classes and soon you’d pass the 100 mark. Your budget would grow, and you’d need more space (you’d clean out some closets first, and meet in those.)



And more people would go to heaven and less people would go to hell.



Its not “rocket surgery”, but it is work. We can help train Sunday School teachers. Email Sonny Tucker. stucker(at)absc.org


turnere.JPGEmil Turner serves as executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his wife, Mary, have two sons and two grandsons. Turner enjoys fishing and hunting in his spare time.

Continuing Advent devotionals

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 29 - I WILL TURN THEIR MOURNING INTO JOY


By Jodi Beyeler, news bureau director/writer



THIS WEEK'S THEME: I will turn their mourning into joy

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
Elkhart County, where I live in Indiana, is experiencing some very hard economic times recently. To be sure, this is true for much of the country and the world right now, but with unemployment having suddenly jumped from under 5 percent to over 10 percent in a very short time here (making us the state leaders in this unwanted category), this is a new situation we find ourselves in.

We are used to high school educated workers being able to make more in a factory than if they got a college degree. We are used to non-profit organizations flourishing financially. We are used to the food pantries having fully stocked shelves for the relatively few people who needed that service. Many of us are used to not knowing people who are really struggling financially.

None of those realities are true anymore. In this place that has long been a land of opportunity for many, there is much mourning and lamenting.

But, it has also become an opportunity for many to turn pain into goodness. When we think everyone has enough, we become lax in our service and giving. When everyone is fending for themselves, we forget the necessity of a caring community or a compassionate God. When we have everything we need, we spend time and money on the frivolous. All of that is being turned on its head. We are all in this together now, with an awareness that others’ mourning impacts us, as does their joy.

I don’t wish anyone economic struggle or deprivation, but I do hope in 2009 we can each experience one of the gifts God desires for each of us: a community that cares about and for us in the midst of whatever we are experiencing. Though it seems like a bleak mid-winter, God's face is breaking through here in Elkhart County. Be attentive and you too will catch glimpses of the in-breaking.




View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu
---------
The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped around
* passionate learning
* global citizenship
* servant leadership and
* compassionate peacemaking.
Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?
Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.
Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support our mission.
_______________________________________________
Devotions-fulltext mailing list

Saturday, December 27, 2008

God's Guidance

This, from the evening side of Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, I will comment on:

How often do I try to be guided by other things? By the feeling of the moment? By the circumstances of life? By the will of others? By my own good sense? And yet, God has promised the He, Himself will guide my continually. That sounds so much better. My prayer is to learn to heed that guidance, and to follow Him.

Doug

Evening Verse
"And the LORD shall guide thee continually." Isaiah 58:11

"The Lord shall guide thee." Not an angel, but JEHOVAH shall guide thee. He said He would not go through the wilderness before His people, an angel should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, "If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel's guidance: He Himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall--"The Lord shall guide thee." How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious "shalls" and "wills" are better than men's oaths. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at His heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for "the Lord shall guide thee continually." There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. "Jehovah"--mark the word--"Jehovah shall guide thee continually."
—Morning and Evening

Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Challenged by Spurgeon

I read this this morning in Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotional. There's nothing really for me to add:


"Can the rush grow up without mire?" Job 8:11


The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received from His hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my integrity? then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend Him out of love to Himself are His own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in Thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain.
—Morning and Evening



Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Friday, December 26, 2008

Advent Devotionals #24 & 25

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 26 - WORTH THE WAIT


By Jeff Hochstetler, admission counselor



SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
Most people hate waiting. Perhaps even worse than merely
waiting is waiting for something promised to you. Your
stomach churns, nerves tingle and heart jumps at the thought
of its arrival. As a child, I remember waking my parents up
at 6:30 in the morning to open Christmas presents. Living
away from them now, I feel the same excitement about
returning back to my childhood home to see close friends and
family.

Waiting on God's promises feels no different. As if God
should answer to us, we often lament when things don't
happen when we expect them to. Now imagine, Simeon and Ana,
both righteous and upright, waiting many years for God's
promised Messiah. After many years, there was probably a
temptation to overlook the joy of God's coming promise with
their daily routines.

Waiting requires perseverance. And yet, do you suppose
that in all their years waiting that Simeon or Anna had ever
regretted waiting for that moment when they saw Jesus? The
face of God shone through the birth of a child, the infant
of an out-of-town young couple. God’s promise seems surreal;
an aging Simeon blessing the baby who is to become light of
the nations. God often works beyond our own expectations to
deliver promises. Surely the arrival of Jesus was worth the
wait.

Like Simeon and Ana, may we also learn what it means to
wait as we continually seek God’s mercies.

----------

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 148 (NRSV)
When the time came for their purification according to the
law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present
him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord,
'Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the
Lord'), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is
stated in the law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtle-doves or
two young pigeons.'

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;
this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the
consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It
had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would
not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided
by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the
parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was
customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and
praised God, saying,
'Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word; for my eyes have seen your
salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all
peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to
your people Israel.'

And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was
being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to
his mother Mary, 'This child is destined for the falling and
the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be
opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed
-- and a sword will pierce your own soul too.'

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of
the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived
with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as
a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple
but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day.
At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to
speak about the child to all who were looking for the
redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of
the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of
Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with
wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.



DEC. 25 - THE BEST GIFT


By Sam Gordon, a senior American Sign Language Interpreting
major from Sugarcreek, Ohio



SCRIPTURE: Galatians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
Merry Christmas everyone! As I sat here thinking about
this holiday season, I came to think about the tradition of
gift giving. Where did this tradition start and why? I
thought of this because I have no idea what to buy my family
members. I mean, what do you get someone that seems to have
everything? The answer is…I have no idea.

However, I did happen to read this Scripture today and I
realized something. The best gift is free! I know that the
story has been told a million different ways, but here’s my
version. The best gift does not come from a store. It is
God's gift to us, his gift of his son Jesus that he may
become one of us and then die to save us. Guess what? That
didn’t cost us a thing!

Today take advantage of this gift. God gave us his only
Son! I don’t know of any father that is willing to do this
other than God. I think that what I’ll do for my family is
to love them and give them little reminders of how much they
are loved by me, but most of all, how much God loves them. I
challenge you to do the same. Love your family and friends
unconditionally, showing them the love that our heavenly
Father has shown us.

Thank you Father for giving us the most precious gift of
all!

----------

SCRIPTURE: Galatians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem
those who were under the law, so that we might receive
adoption as children. And because you are children, God has
sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba!
Father!' So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a
child then also an heir, through God.




View all of this season's devotions at
http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu
---------
The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by
each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and
thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages
thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and
contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the
official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church
USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped
around
* passionate learning
* global citizenship
* servant leadership and
* compassionate peacemaking.
Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?
Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and
affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.
Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support
our mission.
______________________________
_________________

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The First Day of Christmas

Today is the First Day of Christmas!

Now, in the song, on the first day, you get a bird. In a tree. A bird you can't eat, and a tree that produces fruit later.

That makes me think of how one of our greatest hopes from Christmas is that we have a delayed gift, a gift that we long to see realized, our hope of heaven. Jesus came to this earth to live a perfect life as an example, then to die for the sins of mankind. So that we don't have to be eternally separated from God. This is glorious news, and in it is found our hope of heaven.

It's like the pear tree in winter. A hope of the future!

As far as the bird, it doesn't make me think at all...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Spurgeon's Evening Devotion

Evening Verse

"The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." Isaiah 40:5

We anticipate the happy day when the whole world shall be converted to Christ; when the gods of the heathen shall be cast to the moles and the bats; when Romanism shall be exploded, and the crescent of Mohammed shall wane, never again to cast its baleful rays upon the nations; when kings shall bow down before the Prince of Peace, and all nations shall call their Redeemer blessed. Some despair of this. They look upon the world as a vessel breaking up and going to pieces, never to float again. We know that the world and all that is therein is one day to be burnt up, and afterwards we look for new heavens and for a new earth; but we cannot read our Bibles without the conviction that—


"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun

Does his successive journeys run."


We are not discouraged by the length of His delays; we are not disheartened by the long period which He allots to the church in which to struggle with little success and much defeat. We believe that God will never suffer this world, which has once seen Christ's blood shed upon it, to be always the devil's stronghold. Christ came hither to deliver this world from the detested sway of the powers of darkness. What a shout shall that be when men and angels shall unite to cry "Hallelujah, hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!" What a satisfaction will it be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are they who trust themselves with this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with Him, doing their little in His name and by His strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter wherein to lose is to lose and to be lost for ever. On whose side are you?

—Morning and Evening
Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Can we swap Governors?

With all of the bad things I've ever said about Louisiana, and I still would rather live in Arkansas, I want to make a Christmas wish:

Can we swap Governors?

Want to know why I want to swap? Read these links and see:

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe:
http://governor.arkansas.gov/newsroom/index.php?do:newsDetail=1&news_id=1363

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:
http://blog.bobbyjindal.com/2008/from-our-family-to-yours/


Because if our Governor can't handle the historical truth of Christmas, what else will we lose here? Arkansas is, in my opinion, one of the best places in America to live. You get a great climate (every day is different!), mountains and lakes, and the best people you will ever find. I think we deserve leadership that will stand up and be offensive when it's right to do so.

So, Louisiana, can we swap? Or, maybe the winner of the Battle of the Boot can get the good governor? If so, Gov. Jindal, pack your bags! You're ours until Thanksgiving!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to one and all from the Doug for President Campaign. All of us here hope that you are able to celebrate with those you love.

To those of you who are celebrating without your loved ones we say this:

If you are serving our country overseas: Thank you. Our earthly peace is bought with your sacrifice. May the Prince of Peace reign over all of us, that you may have safety.

If you are protecting our safety here: Thank you, too. Without you, all of the travelers would be at much greater risk. Thank you for your service.

If you are grieving: the Baby born in Bethlehem wept with His friends, and He weeps with you as well. May His peace strengthen your hearts.

If you are separated by the miles, by walls, borders, or bars: Unto us a Son is given, and He is: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. He is Immanuel, God with us. I hope that brings you a measure of peace even with the distances between you.

If you are separated from family by your own stubbornness or pride: Get over it, and go love your family. Life's too short for that nonsense. Apologize, forgive, be forgiven. Don't waste another day, especially this one.

Yep, at Christmas, some people are nuts.

Ananova - Greedy workers take the cake
Ananova:
Greedy workers take the cake

Two postal workers sparked a worldwide data theft alert after stealing a Christmas cake and replacing it with another package.

The courier workers gobbled the cake and simply put its address label on a parcel that was supposed to be going to Germany's LBB bank in Frankfurt.

The bank package contained the personal details of thousands of customers around the world who were warned their accounts might have been compromised.

But the mystery was solved when the computer discs finally turned up at the home of the family who's been expecting a Christmas cake.

"What a pair of idiots. They caused an international police operation and terrified a lot of customers just because they felt a bit peckish," said one police source

From Spurgeon's Morning Devotion

I'm revving up to be back in full swing next Monday, but I thought these were challenging thoughts:


December 24

Morning Verse

"For your sakes he became poor." 2Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but "though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor." As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had imparted to us of His own abounding wealth, and had become poor to make us rich. Had He remained upon His throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving His salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, that the righteous Saviour should give to His sinning brethren of His own perfection, and that we, the poor and guilty, should receive of His fulness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness ere the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments, or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory; and He must wash them in His own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship.

O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus "became poor" that He might lift you up into communion with Himself.

—Morning and Evening
Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Advent Devotional #23

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 24 - SO MANY VOICES OF PRAISE


By Ben Bouwman, a junior social work major from Woodridge, Ill.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 148 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
This Psalm speaks for itself; only having read the first four verses, the message is very clear: Praise the Lord! The Psalmist goes on to explain everything that praises God, from the people to animals to the snow to the trees.
Everything that God has created praises God.

Working at a summer camp for the past two summers has helped me listen and appreciate God's creation and the song it sings. One specific activity that we do with the campers is "Deer’s Ears." While sitting in nature, everybody cups their hands around their ears and in the minute of silence, we listen to anything we can hear. It is amazing all of the noises and sounds that are happening without us even realizing it. And once we actually stop and listen, there are so many voices singing and praising God. The gentle wind brushing through the branches praises God. The birds chirping to one another lift their voices to God. The loud baa's from the goats singing their praises to God.

I always look forward to the first real snow fall of the season. Although it means the beginning of a long cold Goshen winter, the beauty never ceases to amaze me. I can see what is seemingly an inanimate object reflect the creativity and the beauty of our Creator. Something so simple can transform a brown, dead earth to a bright shining world. On a sunny day following the first snow fall, it is often so bright that one must squint to block out much of the light. God’s bright snow shines on our faces.

Although, I look forward to this first snow fall, I know there are many more children who are eagerly awaiting this first snow fall more than I am and can’t wait to get out and play. We need to be like these children and eagerly await God’s face. God's face can be seen in so many places, but we must be willing to look for it. In our search for God's face, our faces will soon reflect God's face and we will shine! May our faces shine in praises to our Lord, the Creator of all the Earth!

----------

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 148 (NRSV)
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike, old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!


View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu
---------
The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped around
* passionate learning
* global citizenship
* servant leadership and
* compassionate peacemaking.
Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?
Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.
Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support our mission.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You need to read this story

This is a part of what Christian schools, Christian sports teams at Christians schools, and Christians in general ought to be about. Read here, from ESPN:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3789373

And yes, it made me cry.

Advent Devotional #22

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 23 - THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL

By Paul Keim, professor of Bible, religion and philosophy

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (NRSV)

Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:

The check is in the mail. That's good news. Soon it will arrive, be cashed and rest securely (I hope) in the bank, powering up my debit card. In the meantime, it’s in the mail, getting closer, but not here yet. I hope "check in the mail" is not a euphemism for payment being delayed. I keep getting calls reassuring me that indeed, the check is on the way. It will arrive shortly. That's awesome.

Even after the exiled Israelites had begun returning from Babylon to Jerusalem under the messianic rule of the Persian King Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1), the promised restoration wasn't happening. Jerusalem was still a ruin. The check was in the mail, bit it hadn't arrived yet.

But the prophets foresaw a fully restored Zion and couldn't stay quiet about it. They just kept right on

announcing: Vindication is underway. Salvation is afoot.

They will spring up like shoots from the earthly garden.

Then you'll be wearing your salvation on your sleeve, decked out in bridal finery, sporting the tony turban of a bridegroom.

Only poetic metaphor could do justice to their vision -- as when the Psalmist declares: "When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed" (Psalm 126:1)! Zion's glory will once again shine forth like the brightness of dawn, her vindication like a burning torch for all to see. The new reality demands a new name: "City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 60:14).

----------

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (NRSV)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.

(You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College

http://www.goshen.edu

---------

The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped around

* passionate learning

* global citizenship

* servant leadership and

* compassionate peacemaking.

Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?

Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.

Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support our mission.

_______________________________________________

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Devotional #21

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 22 - A LIGHT FOR REVELATION


By Michael Sherer, director of Information Technology Services

THIS WEEK’S THEME: A light for revelation

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DEVOTIONAL:
There is a mystical quality in language, particularly metaphorical language. We know what light is in concrete terms, but when John says that Jesus is the light, his purpose in choosing those words was not so much for them to be understood as to be pondered.

Jesus is the light. Light illuminates; light reveals; light purifies; light contrasts with darkness; it symbolizes truth and knowledge and wisdom; it is associated with happiness and optimism. And so if Jesus is the light, then we can ponder all the layers of meaning of light and what it means for Jesus to be our light. We can ponder them for hours or even a lifetime and still discover new insights that enrich our spiritual lives.

This week's theme, "A Light for Revelation," is more specific but still leaves plenty of room for the pondering of mystery. What specifically is Jesus revealing? God?
Truth? Wisdom? The way we should live? God's plan for our lives? The future? We cannot know for sure. We can only ponder, and savor the mystery.

----------

PRAYER:
God, in this holy week of Christmas, help us to turn our hearts and minds towards you in devotion and wonder at the gift of Your son Jesus, light of the world. As we walk through the story and symbols and experiences of this blessed season, reveal to us Your way and Your will in the light that is Jesus Christ. Amen.




View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Devotional #20

Calvary Baptist Church Mail - [devAdvent08] DEC. 19 - WHEN GOD MAKES A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT - brodoug@calvarymonticello.com
Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 19 - WHEN GOD MAKES A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT


By Tina Peters, a junior physics major from Yellow Springs,
Ohio

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
The main character in the annunciation to Mary is of
course Mary, but she is not who the story is about. This is
the story of the identity of Jesus. The Angel Gabriel says
to Mary, "And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a
son, and you will name him Jesus."

In Hebrew, the name Jesus means "God saves." From the very
beginning, with the naming of the child, we learn that Jesus
will save those who depend upon God. This is the plan that
will unfold throughout the Gospels, but it begins here with
a name, Jesus.

With this name comes the titles proclaimed by the angel,
an identity in two parts, the Messiah descended from David
and the Son of the Most High. The title Messiah descended
from David shows his human lineage and is reminiscent of the
promise in II Samuel 7, the passage we read from Tuesday.
Jesus' identity as the Son of the Most High shows his direct
descent from God as explained by the angel in Luke 1:35.
Jesus' identity is in two parts, descendant of David and of
God in Spirit.

Though Luke's main message is Jesus, Mary brings a
valuable lesson as well. When she responds to Gabriel, "Here
am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according
to your word." Mary is not only consenting to be the
physical mother of Jesus, but she also becomes the first to
hear the proclamation of God's will and to do it. Mary's
"fiat," her yes to God, is the first example of Christian
discipleship and is a model for all that follow her.

----------

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a
town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a
man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The
virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said,
'Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.' But she was
much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of
greeting this might be. The angel said to her, 'Do not be
afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now,
you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will
name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son
of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the
throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house
of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.'
Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a
virgin?' The angel said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come
upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow
you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be
called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her
old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth
month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be
impossible with God.' Then Mary said, 'Here am I, the
servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your
word.' Then the angel departed from her.




View all of this season's devotions at
http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu
---------
The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by
each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and
thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages
thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and
contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the
official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church
USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped
around
* passionate learning
* global citizenship
* servant leadership and
* compassionate peacemaking.
Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?
Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and
affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.
Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support
our mission.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent Devotional #19

We continue today reposting devotionals on the coming of Christ from Goshen College.

Some of you may be wondering why I chose a Mennonite School in Indiana as the source for this. I admit, it seems a little odd that a strongly conservative Southern Baptist would reach that far to get something. Well, that was actually part of the point. We Baptists, while I believe we have the best handle on understanding the Bible, don't have the only handle. Goshen's devotionals this year were written by a spectrum of people from campus life, students, faculty, theology teachers, administrators. This accomplishes one of my goals, that I want us to learn to see the world through different eyes. The world is not just what we see from here in Monticello, but there are lots of things going on out there. I wanted us to see some of those differences.

And then, I wanted us to see that Christmas is still the same: The celebration of the Incarnate Word of God, of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 18 - NAME A MYSTERY


By Sheldon Good, a senior communication and business double major from Telfod, Pa.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 16:25-27 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:
The mystery is revealed! In his closing doxology, Paul proclaims the mystery that was "kept secret for long ages"
is finally disclosed. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has been named.

Paul named the greatest secret of all-time. But mysteries still exist in our lives today. I invite you to consider naming a mystery in your own life.

As a senior in college, the mystery that constantly beckons me -- care of both my own personal deliberation and the constant intrigue of others -- remains what to do when I graduate from this institution. This May, no longer will I get asked, "What are your plans for next year?" The query will shorten to, “What are you doing, now that you’ve graduated?”

Now that senior year is underway, I feel a sense of urgency. I have an idea of what I’d like my future to look like. But there are no guarantees, especially in today's marketplace.

I don’t know the plans God has for me. I know they’re out there. I hope and pray that through obedient faith, I can discover this mystery.

Together may we allow God's face to shine through the mystery that is revealed in Jesus Christ. There will always be unknowns in life -- those question marks on our internal balance sheets. May we each name a personal mystery and rejoice in the naming of these secrets. And may our obedient faith in Jesus Christ allow God's face to shine. To God be the glory! Amen.

----------

SCRIPTURE: Romans 16:25-27 (NRSV)
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith -- to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever! Amen.




View all of this season's devotions at http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College
http://www.goshen.edu
---------
The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped around
* passionate learning
* global citizenship
* servant leadership and
* compassionate peacemaking.
Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?
Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.
Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support our mission.
_______________________________________________

Christmas Song Test

Answers are below. No cheating!

The following words are alternate titles for several well-known Christmas
carols:

Bleached Yule:

Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a Conflagration:

Singular Yearning for the Twin Anterior Incisors:

Righteous Darkness:

Arrival Time - 2400 hrs - Weather - Cloudless:

Loyal Followers Advance:

Far Off in a Feeder:

Array the Corridor:

Bantam Male Percussionist:

Nocturnal Noiselessness:

Jehovah Deactivate Blithe Chevaliers:

Red Man En Route to Borough:

Frozen Precipitation Commence:

Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle:

The Quadruped with the Vermilion Proboscis:

Query Regarding Identity of Descendant:

Delight for this Planet:

Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings:

The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals:

ANSWERS:

Bleached Yule: White Christmas

Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a conflagration: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Singular Yearning for the Twin Anterior Incisors: All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Righteous Darkness: O Holy Night

Arrival Time: 2400 hrs - Weather: Cloudless: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Loyal Followers Advance: O Come, All Ye Faithful

Far Off in a Feeder: Away in a Manger

Array the Corridor: Deck the Hall

Bantam Male Percussionist: Little Drummer Boy

Nocturnal Noiselessness: Silent Night

Jehovah Deactivate Blithe Chevaliers: God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen

Red Man En Route to Borough: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Frozen Precipitation Commence: Let it Snow

Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle: Go, Tell It on the Mountain

The Quadruped with the Vermilion Proboscis: Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer

Query Regarding Identity of Descendant: What Child is This?

Delight for this Planet: Joy to the World

Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals: The Twelve Days of Christmas

today'sTHOT============================

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.

=======================================



PASS IT ON!
Yeah, you can send this Funny to anybody you want. And, if you're REAL nice, you'll tell them where you got it! www.mikeysFunnies.com

===============================

http://www.mikeysFunnies.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Build-up makes it harder

I have a friend who posted on her twitter feed about going to the dentist, and it being less than pleasant, since she hadn't been in a year.

I haven't been in 14 years. The buildup of stuff that needs corrected is going to be enormous when I go next year. I just don't look forward to it. But I am going to go, anyway. Why? Because I have realized that I can't keep my teeth on my own. I need help from someone more knowledgeable, more skillful.

So are we all, spiritually. If you haven't found someone to help you with your journey with Christ, someone to help you understand and grow in your knowledge of God's word, find someone. Find a church, find a Sunday School class, find a local preacher. Finding a good tv/radio/podcast preacher is ok, but not the same thing as being in church. Find someone to help you grow. We all need it.
Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

Blog Drought

I've been in a blog drought lately. Just haven't had much to say. Now, I'm realizing that it was because I wasn't really taking on anything new. My feed unit was basically stuck.

So, I've moved past that, and am now happy and glowing again, right? Not quite. I've just realized that I have to commit myself to moving forward, whether it's comfortable or not, whether I feel like it or not.

So my thoughts for the day are:
1. Keep up whatever it is you are doing, if what you are doing isn't morally reprehensible.
2. Don't wait for feelings.
3. Bottling things up just makes for bigger explosions later. Don't blow it.

Have a good one!

Christmas funnies are due to post in a day or two!

Taxation!

Doug for President would prefer to run the government without taxation, but that seems a little impractical. It would take too much government wind-down too fast to get it done. Is it possible? Absolutely! Why? Because America's abundant natural resources, the ones on public lands, the ones under the sea in our waters, our rivers, these belong to all of the people. As do the airwaves through which your wireless phones, TV signals, and satellite signals come through. It might be possible to run a minimal function (defense, little else) government on the royalties and proceeds of selling/accessing these resources. You could then utilize only federal fuel taxes to pay for national highways (which is a reasonable plan. Fuel taxes charge people to use roads, then you use the fuel taxes to pay for roads. Not unreasonable. The people that drive the most pay the most.)

However, if you want a revenue neutral idea that would work, look here: http://www.fairtax.org. It replaces all federal payroll/income/capital gains taxes with a consumption based sales tax. True, the consumption tax number looks insane! But think about how much of a chunk you pay out every week in income taxes, plus your company pays them. Then, the companies you buy stuff from are paying taxes for their profits, which are priced into your items. If you eliminate all of these taxes, and charge end-users a consumption tax, this could be done, apparently, revenue-neutral for the US.

What? That's right, the government could get the same funding they get now. And this would close the loopholes that can be used to game the system. The plan would allow people living at poverty level and below to get a monthly rebate (or prebate, paid ahead of time) of their consumption tax, thus allowing the working poor a tax break that allows the opportunity to hopefully get above that line. And there would be no loopholes for anyone to exploit. Spend $50,000? You paid taxes on it. Spend $2 Million? Pay taxes on it. Save your money, thus preparing for your kid's education, health care problems, retirement? No tax on that money! Health care? Doctors are not going to pay taxes on the income in their practice, and you would have no tax on medical services, so there's a chance for some savings.

The Doug for President Campaign, even if it becomes the Doug for Dogcatcher/Coroner Campaign, heartily endorses the FairTax plan.

Even though it would actually mean higher taxes for Doug. Because Doug would be losing some of the loopholes he uses to reduce his tax bill.

Doug does ask, what does the FairTax plan do with people who are registered objectors to the Social Security System? Would that program simply fade away?

Advent Devotional #17

Today's devotion from Goshen College:

DEC. 17 - GOD'S FAVORED FAMILY LINE

By Ann Hostetler, professor of English

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (NRSV)

Scroll down for complete Scripture.

----------

DEVOTIONAL:

As I watch my blue-eyed, olive-skinned granddaughter play with her blocks, I marvel at how she is very much herself, yet bears the genetic codes of multiple family "lines" in her DNA. Her descendants on three sides are Swiss-Mennonites that can trace their genealogy back to the Reformation. On the fourth side she has a Taino Indian, African and Puerto Rican heritage. Her grandfather from this side remarks to me on Thanksgiving, when our families are together, that it must be nice to have so many pictures and books from my family in our house. My family "line" has been made known to me from birth by parents who were also historians and genealogists and it is now my responsibility to preserve it and pass it on. This sometimes feels like a burden, but, through another's eyes, I am reminded that it is also a privilege.

Psalm 89 begins with gratitude and a hymn of praise to the Creator who has promised: "I will establish your descendants forever." The psalmist seems to be suggesting that God has, in fact, favored a particular family line whose throne will endure "for all generations," who will produce a king who is "mighty" and will "crush his foes." When we read the Psalmist's lines, we want to identify ourselves with this heritage. And yet, to a contemporary ear, these lines sound tribal and exclusive. If God favors only one line, who is being left out?

In reading the New Testament, we come to understand that family line is only an earthly metaphor for the heritage of salvation that Jesus offers. The psalmist, like all poets, draws on metaphors from the life he knows, much as I have drawn on the example of my granddaughter. Such metaphors help us to relate an idea to our own experience, but they can also prevent us from seeing beyond it.

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus in this Advent season, let us remember to look beyond our earthly ideas of greatness to the source of goodness and mercy and justice that exceeds the bounds of such limited, and sometimes limiting, symbols. Jesus, who came to fulfill God's promise, often defied ideals of earthly power by acting more humbly -- and also more faithfully -- than King David ever did. Likewise, Jesus transcends an exclusive genetic heritage, and claims all believers -- beyond nation, race, gender or creed -- as descendants of his family line.

It is not the physical features of a particular genetic heritage that identify us as members of this family, but rather God's love that shines through the faces of believers everywhere.

----------

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (NRSV)

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.

(I declare that your steadfast love is established for ever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, 'I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:

"I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations." ' Selah

( Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and

said: 'I have set the crown on one who is mighty, I have exalted one chosen from the people.

I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him; my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.

The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him.

I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.

My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him; and in my name his horn shall be exalted.

I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers.

He shall cry to me, “You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!"

View all of this season's devotions at

http://www.goshen.edu/devotions

Goshen College

http://www.goshen.edu

---------

The views and beliefs expressed in the devotional piece prepared by

each individual reflect their own spiritual growth journey and

thoughts, and while created in a campus environment that encourages

thoughtful questions and reflection on biblical Scripture and

contemporary Christian themes, do not necessarily represent the

official institutional positions of Goshen College or Mennonite Church

USA.

We welcome students who desire a Christ-centered education shaped

around

* passionate learning

* global citizenship

* servant leadership and

* compassionate peacemaking.

Do you know someone who would be a good fit at Goshen College?

Find out more at http://www.goshen.edu/dev/admission .

To keep this unique community of faith and learning vital and

affordable for students, Goshen College welcomes your financial support.

Visit http://www.goshen.edu/give/devotions to learn how you can support

our mission.

_______________________________________________

Service/Sermon Recap for October 25 2020

Good morning! Here are the service replays from today: Facebook Morning: YouTube Morning: Facebook evening: Wednesday Evening: And remember ...