A Lemon Meringue Pie Connection

I don’t believe in wandering “Spirits” but I must tell you my story. First let me begin by telling you about my Christmas. It began as it does most years with our annual Christmas Eve service. So many were involved, and the candles and the singing of “Silent Night” really   enhanced the Christmas Spirit.  This was followed by a family portrait around the Christmas tree courtesy of Don McDonald. We then went out for pizza and then home for our annual view of  “White Christmas”.

This year Debbie and I hosted Christmas dinner at our home. Courtney, Brad, Brittany, Peighton, Gage, and Grandma Nell were here most of the day. Oh! I almost forgot to mention Wags was here, too.

Waffles, pancakes and bacon were the fare for breakfast. We then opened stockings, and exchanged gifts. It was delightful.  To be sure, I don’t know of anything better than the enjoyable presence of grandchildren.

The dinner menu included a honey glazed spiral ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, crockpot corn, broccoli salad, and warm rolls. The dessert cart consisted of cheese cake and my homemade lemon meringue pie.

As I said, I don’t believe in wandering “Spirits”. I do believe however, that God blesses us with “connections” to our loved ones who have already died. These “connections” often just pop up out of nowhere.

A few days ago Debbie, Courtney and I were discussing what to fix for Christmas dinner.  When it came to choices for dessert Courtney stated emphatically that she wanted a lemon meringue pie and that it was one of her favorite desserts. I never knew she had ever tasted one.  I know she never had one at home and never ordered one when dining out. It was so random.

Right then I sensed the “connection.” My dad’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie. My mom made one for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.

I confess that as I thought about it, tears came to my eyes, not from sadness, but joy. It was as if my dad was joining us for Christmas dinner, to enjoy and visit with his great grandchildren for the first time, and he wanted us to enjoy his favorite dessert.

Now I know he wasn’t there as a wandering “Spirit”. However I felt the presence of his spirit all day.  As we all sat around the table, Peighton on one side and Gage on the other I felt a “connection” of the past with the present and the future. I am always thankful for those “connections” that appear unannounced.  Thank you, Lord!

What Have You Discovered?

In our study of Jesus’ Birth, there really isn’t anything new to learn. However, as we re-read it and focus on the narrative perhaps there are some discoveries we can make.

Before we read the conclusion, I want to ask how did Zechariah, Elisabeth, Mary, and Joseph each react to their news?

  • Perhaps their reactions give us some insight as to how God’s plans affect our lives.

 Luke 2:1-7 NLT

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously
pregnant. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

  • What is the importance of vs. 1-2? That is, why would God lead Luke to include this information?
  • Why did Joseph and Mary have to come to Bethlehem (vs. 1, 3-4)   
  • Read Micah 5:2, and give another answer.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.

  • Was there some practical reason why the inn was full when Mary and Joseph arrived (vs. 7)?
  • Was it unexpected, or a surprise that all the rooms were filled? So why is it mentioned?
  • What are some reasons people have “no room” for Jesus today?

Luke 2:8-20 NLT

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the
radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring
great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is
pleased.” 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had
happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

  • What three titles does the angel give Jesus (vs. 11)?
  • How do you think the manner of Jesus birth affected his “world view?
  • Why do you think Luke notes the special announcement to the Shepherds?
    (Consider Luke’s audience and the place shepherds held in Jewish society)
  • What did the shepherds do when they got the good news from the angels (Lk. 2:15, 16, 17, 20)?
  • Are there lessons in this for us?
  • Do you think most people today find “great joy” in Christ’s coming, at Christmas time? Why? (Or why not?)
  • What are appropriate ways of expressing good news and great joy?
  • Would you include anything else in the Christmas story?

 

 

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

I am writing this as the first reports of the tragedy in Newtown, CT are coming in and being processed  I feel so sad for the parents and families of those innocent little children. The scar on the people and the community will never disappear.

School safety wasn’t so much of an issue when I was in school. I remember when my brother and I were in grade school, maybe 5th and  3rd grade. We got brand new jack knives for Christmas and brought them to school every day. Most kids carried a knife in their back pocket. My how have the times changed.

Even though it is normal and natural to be overwhelmed by fear when these   tragedies occur, the reality is that statistically our kids are overwhelmingly safe at school. (Click here to view article)

Right now I grieve and cry for the families and community of Newtown, CT, but I must not allow fear to paralyze my life. I confess that is a struggle I confront often.

For example, I no longer look forward to the joy of flying in an airplane. All the security doesn’t make me “feel” safer. It just reminds me of how vulnerable we have become. When I have to remove my shoes, I think, how ridiculous. What if someone is hiding explosives in their shirt or pants?  Is that next?   Like all parents, I have  also become very protective of my children and grandchildren in public places. I even find myself a little anxious when I am preaching and a stranger enters the sanctuary.

However, the message of the Gospel is that even in frightful and threatening circumstances we can know peace. How often I’ve read, “Fear not …”. Oh that I might embrace His presence and comfort more often. Rather than fear may I experience the peace of God that transcends human understanding.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Celebrate the Wonder

This is a big deal! That’s how I would describe it. What I’m referring to is the presentation of “Celebrate the Wonder” Sunday by the sanctuary choir. They have been working diligently since August. Their preparations will be evident this Sunday at 10:15 AM.

God has blessed Walnut Street Baptist Church in so many ways. Isn’t it amazing how God takes ordinary people like us and blesses our efforts in order to bring honor to Himself. In the end, it is our availability to God that makes all the difference.

Please make every effort to be in attendance. Your presence is an encouragement not only to those who sit around you, but to the Lord as well. Also, be sure and invite and bring someone along with you.

I know several of our folks who are sad because they are physically unable to attend. And, I know several more who are physically able but simply choose to redeem their time in other ways.

Please don’t forget to come back Sunday night when our Preschool and Children’s departments will present their Christmas program. We will conclude our evening in the fellowship hall enjoying refreshments and fellowship. Please bring finger foods to share.

We have been quite busy this month at Walnut Street Baptist Church. Let us not be so busy that we forget to thank everyone who helps make these activities a reality. Without everyone’s assistance and involvement we could not be the people God has called us to be.

We Labor Together with God,

THANKS FOR THE CAKE

A little boy is telling his Grandma how EVERYTHING is going wrong. School, family problems, health problems, etc.

Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks the child if he would like a snack, which of course he does.

“Here. Have some cooking oil.”

“Yuck” says the boy

“How about a couple raw eggs?”

“Gross, Grandma”

“Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?”

“Grandma, those are all yucky!”

 

To which Grandma replies: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake!

Life works the same way. Many times we wonder why we have to go through such bad and difficult times. But when these things are all in the right order, they always work for good! We just have to trust that they will all make something wonderful!”

-original source unknown

INGREDIENTS. What “ingredient” are you for other people in your life? What do your friends, family, colleagues, associates, and others who encounter you feel like you add to their daily existence? Might some of them say you were “bitter” or “bland” or “difficult to mix in with the rest”? Perhaps you need to work on your sweetness!

I am sure there are plenty of people in your life who would say you are a great addition to their lives, and here is your challenge for this week: Can you take those positive attributes and increase the amount you offer to the people around you in your life?

A Soldier in the War on Christmas

I’ve never enlisted as a soldier in the “War on Christmas.” but I soon may. What has stirred my fury is the increasingly successful attempts to sever the holiday celebrated on December 25th from the word “Christmas”.

It’s no longer acceptable to say “Merry Christmas”. No longer can the Manger scene find a home on the public square. That big, decorated, and lighted evergreen located in the city building is now called a “Holiday tree”.

I understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I also realize that the constitution explicitly forbids the “establishment of a religion.”

However, I am equally aware of the fact that Christmas is a legal, federal holiday signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on June 28, 1870. In that bill introduced by Rep. Burton Chauncey Cook of Illinois, December 25th is specifically referred to as “Christmas Day”

To be prohibited in the public arena from attaching the word Christmas in reference to the holiday celebrated on December 25th would be akin to celebrating Presidents Day and banning the mention, study, and recitation of anything presidential!

If one is offended by the recognition and celebration of the birth of Jesus, petition Congress to repeal the law and the holiday. Until then, Christmas should be afforded the same permissions as every other federal holiday.

Where do I enlist?