Tag Archives: travel

The Blurriness of Christmas

The Blurriness of Christmas

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11

Consider the last few days in this month of December.  Lots of people are talking about “holidays” and Christmas. Many people appear to worship Christmas instead of worshiping Christ.  It is an easy thing to do.  There are holiday parties, travel to grandparents, gift exchanges and more.  I enjoy the holiday decorations, lights and nativity scenes we see all over the place.  The movie industry, commercial sales industry, and society as a whole are celebrating.  But, it is clear they are celebrating something other than the events in the Bible. The busyness of Christmas can give us blurry vision.

When the wise men saw baby Jesus they kneeled down to worship Him.  They did not loose sight as to why He was here and what Jesus was doing on the earth.  Just like when the cold temperatures outside and the warm temperatures on the inside causes the windows to fog up sometimes, we can have a hard time seeing Christmas for what it really is.  There is such a disparity in the perceived “reasons for the season” in the world today.

Pray and ask the Lord to help you not loose sight or have blurry vision during this holiday season.  With all the busyness and possible distractions of this season, take some time to kneel in prayer, thanking and praising God for His Son and our Savoir Jesus, the Christ.

 

 

 

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How I Prepare for Attending Church

How I Prepare for Attending Sunday Church

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” Acts 20:7

It became an every week event.  God’s people would gather in a designated area to hear preaching, pray together, sing to the Lord, and to enjoy encouraging fellowship.  It was every Sunday.

Depending on the church, there would be a pastor such as James preaching. Sometimes it was Paul as he traveled through.  Others rose up as pastors, missionaries and evangelists to declare God’s Word to those who gathered as the “Church.”

Church attendance is something that should be on each Christians weekly agenda.  For Sunday worship to be truly a “day given to the Lord” then a plan of action would help.  Sunday church should be greatly anticipated in our households with pleurae and expectations for God to work in our lives.

The following are methods that I use to prepare and get ready for attending Sunday church services.  They are not “rocket science” but proper preparation does require personal and family discipline.

Here goes:

  1. I do not start major home improvement projects Saturday if they have no definitive stopping point. If in planning it looks like a project will take a lot more time than I hoped or if it would leave the house in conditions that would distract or even prevent the family from being able to easily go to church I will save that part of the project for another day.  If it can be started and finished, or even “paused” by around 2:00 PM then it is a project I may try to tackle.  Projects may take more time, but our children will be less likely to misunderstand our priorities.
  2. I leave a “margin” for time and distance when traveling so that we would arrive home in time on Saturday to set everything back in its place so that Sunday morning preparation is a breeze. Late Saturday night arrives home from long or short trips are avoided.
  3. I check the “weather” ahead of time. Forecasts are educated guesses, but I like an idea as to how I will need to dress.  Hot or cold, rainy or snowy?  It makes a difference in how you prepare for a day.  Check Saturday night if you can.   This helps with planning what to wear.  Selecting the cloths you plan to wear the night before can also be a help. Some people will set them “out” to be easy to find.
  4. I go to sleep early on Saturday night. 9:00 PM is a good time for me.  Perhaps because I am the one preaching.  A low energy guy like me needs good rest to preach.  You and I have both noticed Sunday School teachers that could use more energy Sunday morning.  Even those not preaching or teaching would do well to be well rested so they can be more engaged with the events of the church services. Our children go to sleep earlier than I do.
  5. I like to eat a breakfast with protein, get some “prayer” walking (about a mile) in, and read a chapter or two out of the Bible in addition to a few moments of prayer. Message preparation is at a different time for me.  These are things I do if I am preaching or not preaching in the church services.
  6. I know where my Bible is. Have your Bible ready to go. Your Bible and the Bibles of each family member should have a regular place it is set when not in use.  For me it is on the corner of a kitchen counter top.  Every time.
  7. I leave the TV off. Some of our senior saints enjoy some of the Bible teachers on TV, and that can be good.  I would encourage you to avoid watching cartoons, turning on a movie, or being absorbed by the “news.”  I glance at the major headlines online to ensure I know of any major attacks, events, or trouble that people may ask me about – but Sunday morning is not the time to study the problems of the world on the TV.  There are many online radio stations that offer encouraging, conservative, and worshipful music that may help.  Please see the page of this site about “Christian Radio.”
  8. I do not play video games on Sunday morning. Many teenagers today are “glued” to their phones playing video games.  I encourage each parent to take the phones away or have them turned off.  Some teens play during the ride to church, all during Sunday School, and even the church service.  Sometimes when greeting teens in the pre-service, it is difficult to get their attention to say “hi” because they are so focused on their game.  That is not a good way to be “prepared for meeting with God.”  Parents and adults are just as prone to “zone out” on Facebook.  A distracted heart is not as inclined to “hear” God’s message or as engaged in the church service.
  9. I avoid the rush. That rushed feeling can be avoided if you leave the house at a reasonable time.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to church, then leave 30 minutes before.  Even if you live close to the church like I do, add time or “margin” so that you are not rushed.  Kids who are “rushed” to Sunday School and church and still show up late do not receive as much from the lessons because their hearts are racing, they have probably been yelled at by a parent to “move faster” and their mind is not as engaged as it would be if they got there early.  “On time” is really 15 minutes before the service or class begins.  Try that for a while and see how it calms your spirit.
  10. I enjoy a nap Sunday afternoon following our family meal. Sometimes we go out to eat.  We avoid major projects, yard work, and big outdoor activities that could cause a person to not be ready for the Sunday Evening Church services.  We have found it best not to get on a boat or take a hike Sunday afternoon.  Choirs, fellowships and the church services come fast.  Being involved is terrific but it does take effort.

There are so many distractions from giving a day of worship to the Lord.  With a little discipline, we can be ready with hearts prepared to worship Jesus.  With better planning than you do for school and work, you can plan and prepare for making it to church services on time and ready to learn, worship, connect to others and grow. I hope these ideas that have helped me and my family are a blessing to you as you get ready for church this Sunday.

 

Travel with Us to Israel

I was blessed in early 2015 to be given a trip to the Holy Land.  The Wilton Baptist Church, the people I pastor, sent me on a trip of the lifetime to Israel.  I am very thankful for their generosity and kindness!  It was an incredible experience that really brought to life the Bible locations that I study each week.  It was a life-changing time for me as the pages of Scripture took on a fresh interest. The landscape and having been “on location” has helped me further understand the events of the Bible in relation to geography, weather, and human experience.  For example, walking up to the Mount of Olives means more to me now after having walked it on a sunny day.  Traveling across the Sea of Galilee during a storm was exciting!  The wind and rain assaulting our little ship gave me a glimpse of the times when Jesus sailed the Sea.

Dr. Richard Harper, the evangelist, and myself are planning to go again in February of 2017.  In 2015, we went to nearly 60 locations and I took around 4000 photos!

Below are the details of the 2017 trip.  Perhaps you would like to go.  I encourage you to sign up.  If you send your pastor, his preaching will never be the same.  I encourage churches to send their pastor as it will not only bless him, but will also reciprocate in stories, photos, and greater depth of understanding that will return to the church from the pulpit.

A person does not need to go to Israel to be a great preacher or to know the Bible, but visiting there can be a help to gain insights that you may not have considered before.  Please read the details below.  Begin to pray and begin to save money for the trip if you feel the Lord would have you go.

2017 information