Each person faced multiple problems of low income, attending school, leading a church, maintaining a family life and trying to spend personal time with God. In any other profession, this would be a formula for disaster. Yet, each one was passionate about the future and their relationship with God.
For many, Jesus doesn’t seem that close anymore. Are people attending church to celebrate the birth of Jesus or merely out of habit? As pastors, are we still excited about the God who called us into ministry or are we preparing our professionally organized message with all the right words but none of the passion?
The stress and burdens of day-to-day living often become a long line of real-life suitcases. We can carry two or three, maybe even six or seven but as stress and burdens increase, our capacity to carry the load diminishes. Eventually, we must ask for help. Christmas can bring additional stress and burdens to an already full load.
“Confess and Repent?” What a depressing way to think about Christmas. Aren’t those terms outdated? Today we prefer: Codependency, Dysfunctional, Fetish, Psychosis, Neurosis and other fancy sounding names. Why go back in time? Yet every year during Christmas and Easter, pastors talk about a prophet named John the Baptist and his emphasis on confession and repentance. Why?
In 1971, I had a lot in common with a little roadside stand, Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Cue. We were both just beginning, and our future success depended upon so many factors. Looking back, I realize the reason we are both still around is because of the support we received along the way. Now, I encourage youth to become a visible part of our worship services. I pray they will receive the same sort of encouragement that changed my life.
My pastoral dignity was completely forgotten as the curses began to flow. Fortunately, we lived in an isolated area and only one person heard me! Unfortunately, that one person was my daughter and I was about to learn a hard lesson.
But over the years, I have discovered something profound. God has a wonderful sense of humor and God’s creatures were created to laugh as well as cry. Jesus said in Luke 6:21. “God blesses you who weep now, for the time will come when you will laugh with joy.” What a great promise!
This is what I’ve learned about laughter:
• Laughter can calm your fears.
• Laughter can restore your hope.
• Laughter can ease your pain.
• Laughter can strengthen your resolve.
• Laughter can turn arrogance into humility.
Amidst “Praise the Lord Anyhow!” stickers and four-leaf clovers, Lucy sensed she was leaving behind a legacy for her sons to follow within the pages of this Bible. She wrote: “My children are my life. I love each one as I do the other. I would give my life for them and my grandchildren. God knows I love every one of them. I would give all my treasure to the God who made it all possible.”
“Does God really ‘call’ us? Can we “call” on God?”
Yes, of course, but don’t take my word for it. If you do a word search in the Bible you will find that the word, “call” or “called” or “calling” appears in the Bible over 700 times. Here are a few examples: