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Dear Reader, please forgive me but the following is not intended to offend. I have been saddened by the talk of a war on Christmas, which I don’t believe is true. It’s just my opinion. Well here goes. I first must add the disclaimer that I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I also love my neighbor. Each year I hear people in an uproar about being wished a Happy Holiday. The poor grocery delivery man didn’t know what to wish us, “um happy holidays, I mean Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it, um” Yes I thanked him, verified that I do celebrate Christmas, asked him about his holiday and wished him well in return. I have heard people brag about confronting cashiers in regards to their holiday greeting, as if they had a right and were righteous to do so. That’s not what Jesus would do. The poor cashier, teller or whomever has no idea what you celebrate, probably doesn’t care, just wants to be polite and really just wants to go home, rest their tired feet and aching back. Holiday is derived from the words Holy Day so have yourself a happy holy day. No offense. It does take away from a Christian testimony to be offended by holiday. Bing Crosby didn’t think so when he sang Happy Holidays. The word Christmas is not used in the bible and as any biblical scholar can tell you Jesus was not born on December 25. I myself cringe when I hear any news organizations reporting about this war on Christmas. War is a serious word and a serious matter and I don’t think it should be used so frivolously. What war? There are no tanks coming to take down my Christmas decorations, we are not in danger of being arrested for Christmas cheer. We are free to attend church on Christmas. A priest called it silly on fox and friends and he was right. I have seen Christmas decorations in the stores since September in some and just before Halloween in others. We do not purchase our Christmas items underground in secret. I love my Christmas decorations, especially my tree, I have a very pretty one, some years I have had two. It doesn’t take away from my holiday enjoyment to call it a holiday tree. Jesus didn’t have a tree at his birth. He really didn’t. They are lovely and wonderful and I love them too but Jesus didn’t have one nor are we required to have one, but they do make things joyous. A Christmas tree or holiday tree is not a holy object. Holy means to be set apart by God, the tree has originally pagan origins, still fun, still festive, still traditional but not worth fighting over semantics, at least I don’t think so. The Christmas season holds many wonderful memories for me and I look forward to it all year long but lately it has become not so friendly. I have seen manger scenes and Christmas trees in town meeting places and in schools. It’s true some may not have them, but, if someone is upset by the lack of a Christmas tree or manger in the public arena where is the outrage during Easter when the government doesn’t display a cross. There is none. This year can we all honor the King of Kings, remember His birth and celebrate with family and friends by treating each other the way we would like to be treated. That is my Christmas wish. It’s also my holiday wish. While we are shopping and preparing will the people who interact with us see Jesus in our behavior? I hope so. Merry Christmas. While we argue about keeping Christ in Christmas let’s remember to keep Him in our hearts.
On this first day of advent I am preparing for the holidays by putting away our thanksgiving decor, the little ceramic pilgrims, native american figures, turkey knick knacks and pumpkins. Our family is getting ready to bring out the Christmas tree, wreaths and nativity scene to deck our halls and our home. This year though I am moving a bit more slowly, enjoying the company of my family and friends a bit more, hurrying around quite a bit less. Typically in our home we would have had the tree up right after thanksgiving, some years we had it up the night before our turkey feast. This year Christmas is taking a different tone, a more meaningful one. There have been no Christmas photo cards prepared, we will be sending e-greeting to loved ones. There has been no mad dash to the store to begin a frenzy of Christmas shopping, the few well chosen items and requests will be ordered online; all the better to spend time at home with my husband and sons. Having come through hurricane Sandy after having no heat and no power, being without electricity for thirteen days brought a new perspective. We were blessed to be relatively unaffected other than being inconvenienced for two weeks. It was a challenge but when the lights came back on we could see all that we had and all that we have been given and also those who have not. This Christmas we will not be adding to our collection of ornaments and holiday sweaters. All good and perfect gifts come from God and we have all that we could ever hope for or need. This Christmas we will be remembering those less fortunate, giving to food drives, toy drives and asking who we may help. Sometimes just asking if you may be of service to someone is enough to let them know that they are loved, thought of, cared for. It’s a lovely thing to tell someone that you are praying for them but prayer plus an offer to help is being the hands and feet of our Lord. This Christmas we will celebrate the birth of the Savior, rejoicing to be a family and decorating our hearts with Christ’s love.
As I reflect back during this thanksgiving surrounded by my family and friends I cannot help but to recall those friends who I have met through my “church hopping” travels and those strangers unaware who have become my Christian family. I often take notes during church services and on one particular instance it was stated in the message that the pastor was not the congregations brother. Fascinated by the matter of fact manner in which this statement was delivered I was driven to delve into a study of Christian brethren and the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of man. And I am of course curious to what other people think about the subject. Are we not brothers and sisters united in Christ? Are pastors, preachers and teachers also our brothers or are they to be considered spiritual advisers mentors, fathers and mothers. Is is just semantics or is there a biblical response to the question “Are you my brother?” Are we the spiritual brothers of Jesus? It is written in Mark 3:34 that those who do God’s will are his brother and sister and mother. If John 1:12 instructs us that all who believe in his name , he gave the right to become children of God. Does this make the body of believers brothers and sisters? The apostle Paul addresses Romans chapter ten to his brothers and sisters. With this in mind is it a correctable offense to suggest that pastors, teachers and preachers are our brothers, and sisters. 1 Peter 2:17 teaches us to: Honor all people, Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. It is perhaps a stumbling block to resist the name “brother”, or “sister” when no disrespect was intended. If we are indeed brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope and pray that we treat one another accordingly, for only then can we win any soul for the Lord. As the children of God and body of believers let us all rejoice and honor the King of Kings and give Him thanks on this Thanksgiving.
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Confessions of a Church Hopper was written as a short story of a lifelong spiritual journey. It is not a tale bearing tale but rather an encouragement to those who have sought the Lord in their personal lives, are seeking a church home and who have traveled through churches and denominations seeking God and service to Him. Written with humor and love it is the hope of the author to uplift those Christians who long for fellowship by sharing her personal story.
Thank you for your purchase of Confessions of a Church Hopper and I hope you will be blessed by its story as I have been blessed by sharing it.
Available on Amazon.com in softcover and Kindle edition
I have returned to the verse in Proverbs 3:5 time and time again in my life. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your path straight. Whether a decision to choose a church, a health, family or financial issue I have learned to look to God first but I did not always practice this habit. It has come in time and with maturity in my faith. I can remember a time I was praying for God to change a situation that had burdened me for years. After much prayer and reflection I could hear God’s answer that the heart which needed to be changed was my own. It was a lesson that not only changed that one circumstance but my outlook and manner in which I live my life. To learn to look at people and circumstances through the eyes of Jesus and not through my own “understanding” has been humbling and has been a blessing.
Why wait for New Year, this autumn I resolve that……
I will judge people less and love them more
I will treat people the way I want to be treated
I will offer the benefit of the doubt
I will try to see people through the eyes of Jesus
I will remember that as long as humans have one mouth and two feet, they are bound to meet
I will give thanks with a grateful heart
I will cast my cares and worry less
I will trust the Lord and lean not on my own understanding
I will rake a big pile of leaves and jump in
I will stop trying so hard to succeed and simply do my best
I will commit to the Lord whatever I do
I will drink hot apple cider and carve a pumpkin
I will attend church service and worship with all my heart
I resolve to have a little talk with Jesus
Do we or do I expect too much from people? Are the expectations of treating other people the way you want to be treated too high? I would like to think that everyone would live by this simple rule and that we would all be slow to anger and think before we speak. While knowing that all fall short of the glory of God and that there is none righteous, not one, still I am surprised at the amount of rudeness that abounds even in those Christian circles that we travel in. It is my prayer that we will be kind to one another as we are commanded to love one another and to turn the other cheek and put any hurt feelings aside. If we are to consider others better than ourselves and show respect to all, why is it that we don’t? Is it pride, perhaps, is it that the old nature never really leaves us and we need to be mindful to guard our hearts? Could be, be good to one another, be forgiving, and keep moving forward. Whatever the cause of our tendencies towards being ill-mannered I hope and pray to be humble enough to forgive and forget and thus be a living testimony to Christ alone.
Choose a church to turn towards, choose Jesus and become a part of the body of believers.
I am currently reading Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Miracle in the World” and I am inspired by the choices that we are given the free will to make. Choose to love, not to hate, choose to worship, not reject, choose to laugh, not to cry, choose to live, not to die. Choose to believe, not to scorn, choose to encourage, not to belittle, choose to pray and not turn away, choose to ask, seek, knock and it shall be given unto you, choose faith, choose His path, choose to search, choose to find, choose to forgive, choose to forgive yourself , choose joy, choose peace – God Bless you for reading and joining me on Confessions of a Church Hopper