Tuesday Celebrations

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  Jesus paid to redeem you, buy you back, so you could be forgiven and be free to love and follow Him.

Christmas Week is here!  Invite someone to share in the Christmas services:  Dec. 23 @ 7 PM and Dec. 24 @ 4 and 7.

On January 4, I’ll be explaining our vision and focus for 2015 – the With God Life.  I hope you will be here!

Thought: Religion is trying to figure out what you have to do to get to God; Christmas is the day when God tells you “I love you so much I came to you.”

Directions December 18, 2015

Push…

 

Her face shone with sweat.  She didn’t know how long ago the last contraction was; watches weren’t invented yet.  She leaned against a manger filled with hay and braced for the next pain.

There wasn’t time to find the midwife of Bethlehem.  She’d felt the contractions the last few miles of the trip.  They came faster and faster, announcing the imminent arrival of her baby.

The little town was jammed.  There was no room on the square, and every house overflowed.  One kind soul offered them a cave behind the house where the animals were kept.  It was better than giving birth in the street; at least there would be some privacy.

She had seen women in labor in her home village of Nazareth.  She had seen some of those women die during labor and die after labor from blood loss.  When the angel spoke to her nine months earlier, she was not naïve.  To agree to carry God’s child carried the real possibility of her own death.

The tightening began again.  The intensity quickened.  This time there was no let up.  The moment had come.

She told her husband, “The Baby is coming. Help me.”   He offered his arm, she squatted over the dirt, and strained.  She felt the movement of the baby.  Aided by gravity, he was making his way into his world.

Her husband knelt for a look.  “I see his head!” he exclaimed.  “We’re almost there!”

The intensity was overwhelming.  The moment was here.

Joseph looked at her, and said “Push!”

She strained.

Out came the head, the shoulders, the chest, and finally, the legs.

With that last push, God with us – Immanuel – arrived at last.

Grace

Clay

From all the Smiths – Clay, Gina, Abram, Hannah, and Sarah – May the God who is with us bring you blessings of love, belonging, and grace this Christmas and this New Year.

Directions

I Follow Jesus, So What Am I Supposed To Do About the News?

 

Am I the only one who feels like the world has a little more crazy these past few weeks?

A police officer shoots a man in Ferguson, Missouri, and riots ensue.  A Grand Jury refuses to indict another police officer for using a choke hold that caused a death in New York.  Protests break out.  A new report accuses the CIA of more brutal torture.  While Ebola has faded from the front pages, it is not gone; over 5,000 people have died and more are infected each day in West Africa.  The Russians still seem to want more of Ukraine.

Impacting us in Sumter, our military was ready to disengage (finally) from Iraq and Afghanistan until ISIS/ISIL asserted itself.  We are still sending friends and neighbors to the far side of the world to defend our country.

The bad news can be overwhelming.  That’s why some of you have stopped watching the news.  I spoke this past weekend with a woman who had not heard of Ferguson, Missouri.  She told me with pride that she never watches the news or reads the paper.  All that bad news, she said, upset her.

The bad news upsets God too.  He did not make the world to be this way.  Our God is a god of justice. He never decides who to love or favor based on the color of skin.  He is the god who woos, and does not torture us into obedience.  Our God heals.  Our God wants peace between all the people He made.

If we truly follow Jesus, it means what upsets Jesus, upsets us.  Maybe we can’t go to Africa and care for Ebola victims.  Maybe we can’t speak to the rioting crowds.  Maybe we can’t sit Putin down and have a conversation about loving your neighbor as yourself.

What I can do is pray.  This only sounds feeble if your idea of prayer is small.  When I hear the news, I can pray and join with God.  I can tell God I am on His side.  I can offer myself as tool for justice.

When I pray, God alerts me to injustice that exists in Sumter.  I can begin to see that people need to know love and grace, whether they wear a badge or have been caught in a criminal act.  My heart remembers that each person who dies from Ebola is not a statistic, but someone Jesus loved and died for.  When I  pray, I remember that if God can use a pagan king like Nebuchadnezzar, Putin is not off limits.

If I follow Jesus, the news is my prayer list.  And my prayers will not only change the world, they will change me in the world.  So pray the news.  God is at work.  Join Him.

Grace

Clay

Tuesday Celebrations

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday: You are blessed, because God chose you!  Now will you bless God by surrendering to Him?

Great music – over 80 on stage sharing the songs of the season with us!

Great time serving the Deployed Spouses at Shaw supper last night.  We care for these who are separated from their loved ones.  Looking forward to Special Needs Banquet Thursday night.

Invite someone to share in the Christmas services:  Dec. 23 @ 7 PM and Dec. 24 @ 4 and 7.

Smile:

Child:  Mom, can I please have a cat for Christmas?

Mother:  No, you will have turkey like the rest of us.

Directions 12/4/2014

Jeremiah …

 

We no longer need the big “Mom” SUV.  All our children drive and live away.  But once a year, we all ride together to Florida for Thanksgiving.  That’s when it is good to have generous friends who have a car lot.  For the past several years, my friends have lent me a large, used SUV so we can all ride in comfort down to Florida and back.

We were trekking down I-95, making good time.  We found ourselves in the five o’clock traffic in Jacksonville, but everything kept moving.  I was thinking it might be time to stop for gas, but the gas gauge indicated a    quarter of a tank.  I thought this Tahoe gets better gas mileage than I thought.

There a place on the south side of Jacksonville where two exits are spaced very close and they are doing construction.  It was at this place the Tahoe quit.  I tried to crank it.  It turned over, but didn’t catch.  Suddenly the reason for the outstanding gas mileage became clear – the gas gauge was broken.  We were out of gas.

I hit the emergency flashers, told Gina to call 911, told the girls we are not going to die, and got out to raise the hood.  There was nothing to do but cause a traffic snarl and wait for a tow.

Out of nowhere, a 1983 Ford F-150 jacked up pickup swung in front of me.  Out jumped a young man, about 28 I’d say, with a blue shirt that said, “Jeremiah.”  He said, “Do you need a tow?”  We hadn’t been there thirty seconds when the answer to our need jumps out of a truck.

I told him the gas gauge was broken and I needed to get to a gas station.  He told me no problem, reached in the back of the truck and pulled out a tow rope, which is what every good working man keeps handy.

I started to get down to loop onto the frame, but he looked at me, and said, “I better do it.”  He hooked us up, and off we went, swinging through five o’clock traffic in search of the nearest gas station.

When we found a station and put a bit of gas in, the Tahoe cranked right up.  Jeremiah refused to take any money, and once again got on the ground to take the tow rope off.  He checked to make sure everything was alright and off he went.

It all happened so fast.  We looked at each other and said, “Jeremiah was sent from God.”

The name Jeremiah means “God is lifted up.”  On Thanksgiving Eve, on a busy interstate, we gave thanks and lifted up God, because Jeremiah was the answer to our need, before we could even think to pray.

You don’t have to be named Jeremiah to be the answer to someone’s prayer.  You just have to willing to stop.

Grace

Clay