When Life Is A Juggling Act

Yesterday - Pick up my mother in law from the airport.
Today - Get Sunday services ready, help unload the truck for this weeks dance performance.
Tomorrow - Finish up Sunday and go to the dance rehearsal to shoot photos.
Friday - Last minute details to Christmas Sunday and a Friday night performance. More pictures.
Saturday - Two shows, more photos.
Sunday - Am service, two shows, more photos, tear down the set and pack up the truck.  Unload the truck.
Monday - Take my mother in law back to the airport.

If the old saying that "The devil is in the details" is true, then I can tell you that the devil is mean!

If I miss a blog, you know what happened.  I'm passed out somewhere for exhaustion.

So when life picks up speed, what do you do?

Keep the main thing the main thing.

Don't gripe and complain, you probably agreed to this.  Complaining takes energy away from you, and you'll need all you can get.

Stay sweet.  Pressure will tempt you to cut corners with your witness.  Don't do it.  Remember. John 13:35 - Love one another.  1 John 2:3 - 6 keep his commandments.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me juggle well today.  AMEN

Running The Race Well

A couple of days ago I received a phone call.  My dear friend Jay Dockins had gone home to heaven. It wasn't expected, I was in shock.

Jay and I met in 1979.  As unusual as this sounds it was in Panama City.  No, not Florida.  Panama.  I was 14 years old, and he was 20 or so.  I irritated him to no end, and he was just as irritated with me.

A year later we shared a room at our fellowship's campgrounds in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  There we developed a friendship.

Fast forward another year, and I was a freshman in Bible college.  Jay was now the youth pastor at my home church.  So during my summer break, I would stop by and visit.  I helped out wherever I could, and he exercised a great deal of patience with me.

From there our lives occasional crossed paths.  An email or phone call.  Then a few years ago he called to ask if he could speak at the church I pastor.  I didn't even know that he was traveling. That night we stayed up late and caught up on years of life, marriage, raising kids, and ministry.  From that point on, we never lost touch again.

A couple of years after that he and his lovely wife Kim came down and stayed with us a few days.  She had never been to Florida before so we took her on the obligatory trip to the beach.  They didn't want to leave.

Jay had some health challenges which involved a heart valve replacement.  He and Kim went into semi-retirement and built a home in the mountain of Arkansas.

Then the phone call.

Jay had the wittiest and sharpest sense of humor of anyone I know.  "Laugh till you cry" was a common phrase used to describe him.  He had a powerful sense of right and wrong and wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed in.  He was a mountain of a man but a gentle giant.  He loved people with a strong passion and He loved Jesus even more.  It wasn't uncommon for him to call me and ask me how I was doing?  He would pray for me, my family and my church with great love and faith.

In life, you may have the privilege of knowing 1 or 2 people who will connect to you this way.  Their voice is one of love and support.  Their commitment to you is unwavering, and their life influences you from now on.

I am reminded of Pauls words in 2 Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 

You fought a good fight Jay, you finished well, and you did keep the faith.  See you again someday.

For those of you who are reading this, I have a question for you.

Are you a "Jay" in someone's life today?

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to finish my race well someday.  AMEN  



Fa la la la la la la la la

Name That Tune!

Deck The Halls!  I know - it took me a minute too.

Music and Christmas go hand in hand.  Christmas carols like Silent Night or Hark The Herald Angels Sing to old classics like Jingle Bells, and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

Here is the most popular Christmas song of all time according to Billboard Magazine.

1. "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey
2. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee
3. "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)," Nat King Cole
4. "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms
5. "Feliz Navidad," Jose Feliciano
6. "A Holly Jolly Christmas," Burl Ives
7. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams
8. "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)," Trans-Siberian Orchestra
9. "White Christmas," Bing Crosby
10. "Last Christmas," Wham!

Ephesians 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

You might have noticed that "Joy to the World" didn't make a list.  It isn't the goal of these songs to be popular, it is their goal to allow us to express our praise and worship to Christ. 

As you worship in church, whether you sing a timeless Christmas hymn or a new Christmas melody written by a worship artist, allow the words to touch your heart, allow the music from your heart to sing unto the Lord and let others know that you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I'm going to worship You today with all my heart.  AMEN  

Joy To The World

"Joy to the World" As of the late 20th century, was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.  The words are by English writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98, 96:11-12 and Genesis 3:17-18 and was first published in 1719.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_to_the_World

The second collaborator was an unwitting one, George Frederic Handel, the famous composer residing in London. Portions of Handel’s Messiah was used to develop part of the hymn. Such borrowings were common in that day.  

The third collaborator was the Boston music educator, Lowell Mason. He published his own arrangement of Handel’s melodic fragments and named the tune Antioch.
https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-joy-to-the-world

So "Joy to the World" was never supposed to be a Christmas hymn?  It is a hymn about the second coming of Jesus, the rapture of the Church.  It is clearly a song about the full expression of His glory.

"Joy to the world! The Lord is come;" is the only part of the hymn that could refer to Christ's birth.  The rest of the song speaks of His rule and reign over the earth.  

"Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,"  Let everyone accept Jesus as their personal Savior. 

"Let men their songs employ;"  Don't keep it a secret, worship Jesus and let everyone know. 

"He comes to make his blessings flow"  May we experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and embrace the blessing of the changes He brings. 

"He rules the world with truth and grace," Jesus taught that we are to pray that heaven would come down and rule on earth (Matt 6).  Here we see that His presence changes the rules.  From lies and deceit, hatred and suffering to truth and grace.  

But Christ doesn't want you to wait until He returns.  He wants to rule and reign in your heart now.  Truth and grace, His blessing and our worship being today.   

Psalm 96:11-12  11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;  12 let the field exult, and everything in it!  Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, may my life bring Joy To My World today.  AMEN



Sometimes

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

Sometimes when you are working on something you think, "Is this ever going to work?"  As a pastor, it happens at least once a week.  It's about halfway through your sermon preparation.  Then all of a sudden, WOW!  Well, that happened to me today.  Expect it wasn't this weeks sermon (I'm going to have to revisit it tomorrow).  But the Christmas Sunday sermon just happened this morning.  

Christmas Sunday for us is Dec. 16th.  The kids and youth are going to be helping me out during the service.  But this sermon!!

Now some of you are thinking, "Well, you think every sermon is a home run."  No - there isn't a pastor anywhere who will say that.  I've gone to the pulpit with some sermons and thought to myself, "This isn't going to go well."  Then I'm surprised and see people really respond to it.  

When I see God really move on a message like He did today, I know that there is something special about it.  God is going to show up in a big way.  But the plan has to come together.  

People have to pray for that day.  
People have to bring their friends, family, and acquaintances to hear this message from God, especially ones that haven't placed their faith in Christ.  
People have to be ready to receive.  Never assume anything, always come prepared.  

How are you helping prepare your church this Christmas?

First of all pray for your pastor, pray for people and pray for the people who need to hear your churches message this holiday season. 

Secondly, set the example.  Invite people to attend church with you.  Tell them that you will be there and here is a great idea.  Get to church early and meet them at the front door.  That way they will see a friendly face. 

Thirdly, purpose to celebrating the birth of Jesus through your worship.  The holidays are great.  Traditions are wonderful, but worship is the best. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, walk with me this holiday season and let my life and my church honor You.  AMEN