January 17, 2018

Don’t Let the Devil Steal Your Joy II


Recently, Nancy and I had breakfast at Simply Crepes in Canandaigua, New York where the menu is especially seductive for anyone who is anxious about being overweight. 

Despite my concerns about the calories, I opted for the oatmeal topped with crème brûlée, banana, strawberries and powered sugar with a cinnamon crisp on the side. For the rest of the day, I was in a guilt funk until a friend reminded me that oatmeal is a good source of fiber, fresh fruit is healthy and breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

My “Gloomy Gus” mood changed, and I began singing, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” which incidentally, in a recent study replaced Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” as the the most popular song, other than hymns, played at funerals.

I ate judiciously for the rest of the day, and when I stepped on the scale the next morning, I discovered I lost weight!

I am grateful to my friend who encouraged me to take a second look at my culinary adventure and treat. The Devil tried to steal the joy I experienced eating my remarkable breakfast at Simply Crepes, but my friend reminded me that my attitude toward any experience is always my choice. 

In his book Strengthening Your Grip, Pastor Charles Swindoll described the power of attitude:
“I believe the single most important decision I can make on a day-to- day basis is my attitude choice . . . Attitude alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.”

December 16, 2017

There Was Room in the Inn

Wallace Purling, a second grader who had trouble keeping up in the classroom, was chosen to be the innkeeper in the church Christmas Pageant. Wally was big for his age, so his refusal of lodging for Joseph and Mary would be convincing. Besides, he only had a few lines to learn.

On the night of the pageant, Joseph appeared, slowly guiding Mary to the door of the inn where Wally waited.

When he heard Joseph knocking, Wally opened the door and asked brusquely, “What do you want?”

“We seek lodging for the night,” Joseph answered.

“There is no room in the inn,” said Wally loudly.

“Sir, we are weary and my wife is heavy with child.”

Now Wally looked down at Mary, and there was an embarrassing pause until the prompter whispered his cue from the wings.

“No, be gone,” said Wally. 

As Joseph and Mary began to walk away, this Pageant suddenly took a turn that made it unlike any other.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally ad libbed. “You and Mary can have my room.”

A few people in church that evening thought the Christmas Pageant was ruined. Others considered it the best Christmas Pageant they had ever seen.

December 10, 2017

A New Look for A Christmas Pageant

The annual Trinity Church Christmas Pageant was always eagerly anticipated by the congregation and the children who were involved. Mrs. Andrews, the director for thirty years, knew precisely how the Pageant must be performed for it to be perfect.  

That’s why she suspected that an angel descending on a wire from the church balcony when the shepherds appeared on stage was not a good plan, but the idea was promoted by the pastor, and she couldn’t say no. 

A few days before the performance, the pastor tested his idea, and when he discovered the angel moved too slowly down the wire, he put several  hymnals inside the hollow cherub for extra weight. Unfortunately, he never took the time to test the heavier angel, and the night of the performance, it charged down the wire so fast, it nearly decapitated poor Joseph.

Then the time came for Mrs. Andrews to retire, and Sarah, young drama student from the local college took her place.

On the night of the Trinity Christmas Pageant under the new director, when Mary placed the baby Jesus in the manger, she was smiling from ear to ear, a look that replaced the pensive and sedate appearance Mrs Andrews had required for her Marys. Some people in the audience were surprised by Mary’s smile until they realized the mother of the Christ Child was displaying her genuine delight over her new born baby.

Then when the shepherds appeared, the children dressed as sheep who accompanied them wandered all over the sanctuary. Where were the disciplined sheep who followed Mrs. Andrews’ shepherds?

Some people in the congregation that night thought the Christmas Pageant was spoiled. Others thought Sarah’s new approach to the Christmas Story was perfect. Maybe it was even better than perfect. It was real.

October 6, 2017

The Las Vegas Massacre: Where Was God?

Sunday, October, 12017 was a dark day in American history planned and executed by the depraved Devil's puppet, Stephen Paddock. In the Las Vegas Massacre, the worst mass shooting in American History, Paddock killed fifty-eight people and wounded hundreds of others who were enjoying an open air concert. Undoubtedly, Paddock's loathsome act prompted some people to ask, “Why doesn’t God prevent human suffering?”

In her newest book, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, author Rhoda Janzen writes: 
“None of the world religions promises fewer problems for people of faith. In fact every major world religion observes that suffering is inevitable and constitutive. We suffer as part of the human condition. Think about it: If we didn't suffer, would we still be human?"  
God created us as free moral agents who are able to move toward him or away from him as we choose. Within each of us are the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence.  For some few, the result is evil beyond our comprehension and belief.

In response to unimaginable tragedy, people also ask, "Where is God?”  The answer is apparent to people of faith. God is in the same place he's always been, ready and waiting to comfort and support us. In times of trouble, God is right where we need him, readily available to lift us up and touch the hearts of others who help us ease our pain.  

We gather strength from our faith in the Lord. Let us be bold in our witness and our belief that God can heal all wounds
  The Lord upholds all who are falling, And raises up all who are bowed down.
Psalm 145:14