Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Merry? Christmas:

Since this STTA has an editorial flavor, I'm posting it here as well as over at the STTA site.

It has begun.  I speak of course of the annual--at least in recent memory--fight over whether store-clerks and such should say "Merry Christmas," or "Happy Holidays."  And, "Is that evergreen in the park, the one with all the lights on it, a Holiday Tree or a Christmas Tree?" 
There are some inconvenient facts that line up on each side of the argument.
On the side of Merry Christmas:
  • It is the name of the Holiday in question.
  • There is our undeniable heritage as a nation--"Christian" or at the least strongly influenced by Christian thought.
  • Most Christians don't seem to get bent out of shape when Jewish merchants recognize Hanukkah, or Muslims observe the fast of Ramadan.  "Why," we ask, "all the fuss over Christmas?"
On the other side:
  • Though not a majority, a significant element of our population belongs to a non-christian religious group.  
  • A minority of Christians find the 21st Century Christmas celebration offensive and want no part of it.  (I'll leave aside the fact there is a significant group of Christ-followers who observe Christmas in January.)
  • It is the task of the church, not Walmart or the US government to proclaim Christ.  
  • Business people should be free to observe, or not observe, religious based holidays, and we should be free to steer our business to those businesses we choose to patronize.
The middle ground is strewn with, "Yeah, but!"s and ugly accusations.
For the record: I have already started wishing folk "Merry Christmas."  I am seeking to use the holiday as an opportunity for spreading the name of Christ.  I appreciate it when businesses enter into that spirit.  You'll notice, I even donned a Santa hat for the season.
I am, however, going to avoid any Yuletide arm-twisting, and I encourage my Christian brothers and sisters to do the same.  Rather than demanding that Merry Christmasbe on store clerks lips, let's put our energy into living and witnessing so that the Christ of Christmas is more likely to enter their heart and make them truly Merry.
It's STTA.
Find lot's of information about how God stepped into our world to meet needs we cannot meet on our own, here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Thanksgiving began tonight.
For the last, who knows how many, years Covington Bible Church has participated in a Thanksgiving service with several other local churches.  This year it was our turn to host the service.  We chose to keep it simple, to emphasize the ministries of labor in our churches every week, and to give an offering to others who have needs.  I hope the other folk who were part of the service appreciated it as much as I did.  I am thankful.
It was good to be reminded of why we should be thankful, even in hard times.  It seems that we have gotten really good at whining and complaining.  It was good to be reminded that what we ought to be doing is offering thanks.  No one who participated in the service was whistling in the dark.  They were folk who had lived long enough, looked hard enough, and yielded to God's plan completely enough, that they have come to see that indeed God is good.
A group of young people from our church presented a funny and thought-provoking drama about the importance of thanksgiving.  I confess that there are times in my life when I could be rightly arrested for failure to be thankful.  Lord deliver me.
It was good to be reminded that I am part of a team.  Several churches banded together in tonight's service.  I could focus on those who weren't there--if you look at the rolls of the participating churches there were far more who weren't there than were--but I choose to focus on those who were: fellow pastors, dedicated missionaries, solid leaders, dedicated workers--the kind of people who build the Kingdom of God.
Thanksgiving began, for me, tonight.  May it last all year.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Christianity is about faith in Christ

From the message this morning at Covington Bible Church, from Acts 24:24-26. The rich, powerful, and beautiful Felix and Drusilla, heard Paul on faith in Christ Jesus.

In our day of pluralism and tolerance gone amok, we need to be very clear.  Christianity is about faith in Christ.  Not just faith in a generic Supreme power kind of a God, the great Architect of the Universe, or the Higher Power however you define she, he or it.  We are talking faith in Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, Who was born as a man, lived a sinless life, died as our substitute, came forth from Grave in victory and lives today to intercede for and save forever all who put their trust in him.We need to be kind and polite and respectful to Jews and Muslims and believers in the gold mega-ball, but we cannot back off one inch from the reality that there is “one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  We must not compromise from the absolute conviction that there “is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”