Thursday, December 24, 2009

Isn't there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?

I love "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It is the classics classic! There just something about that old - mostly hand-drawn cartoon that warms the heart every year. Perhaps the best part, however, is when Charlie Brown - in anguish - cries out ... "isn't there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?" Linus steps in - "sure Charlie Brown - I can tell you ... lights please ..."

And - with a little more of the expanded story - and yes - from a different translation of the Scriptures ... here you are ....

1 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 fiancĂ©e, 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 a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
8 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.

"That's what Christmas is all about."

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To cry or not to cry ...

I love the movie "A League of Their Own" - in one important and well known scene, Jimmy Duggan has just "chastised too vehemently" one of his players with the well worn line ... "Are you crying? Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball."

As anyone who has watched the Little League World Series knows, that phrase just isn't true. In the last few days, many have made a point to criticize, condemn, make fun of, you name it ... a sports hero - but more importantly, a life hero because of all things ... he dared to cry on national television. It is sad in our day that a man who is vaulted to the top of a pinnacle and falls hard - how many "Tigresses" are we up to now ... and I have not seen any sign of condemnation toward him in the Facebook community ... and yet a man who wears his faith in his eyes ... well - just under them - does something as humane as demonstrate his emotions ... and an entire group - "Tearbow for Criesman" pops up. I'm just not sure I understand.

The other evening, ESPN ran the "Jimmy V" acceptance speech from the ESPY Awards in 1993. In that speech, Jimmy V said this ... there are three things we should do every day ... "number one laugh ... number two think ... number three 'have your emotions moved to tears.'"

Arguably one of the best coaches in the sport of college basketball - Jimmy V summed it up ... "If you laugh, you think and you cry, that's a full day ... that's a heck of a day ... you do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

If showing your emotions on the side of a football field ... knowing this is your last hurrah ...knowing that the better team won that day ... but knowing still that God is still God ... well ... I suppose I'd rather be sitting right there next to 'Timbo" having a good cry!

By the way ... just in case you were wondering ... this is the verse those tears were running through ... John 16:33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like .......

It's that time of the year again! The music has changed ... the streets are brighter than normal ... houses take on a cheerier glow ... traffic is increased in certain parts of town ... and of course ... let's not forget the food! From cookies to cakes to pies and hams ... it is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

So why is it that during this most wonderful time ... there are folks who forget all about things like ... "love, joy, peace, patience , kindness, gentleness and self-control?" I was in a national store of some notoriety while on vacation recently and was "moved" not once ... not twice ... but at least three times by different people in their attempts to secure their precious merchandise which I'm sure their "wonderful little angel" deserved more than life itself. I have seen people battle for parking spots (while I myself prefer to park at the far end of the parking lot and walk - it's good exercise - I can say this confidently as I know my wife doesn't read my blog!!)

Black Friday ... Cyber Monday ... and don't forget ... the Post-Christmas rush to return what didn't fit ... didn't like ... wrong color ... wrong intention ... etc. Or to buy those last remaining decorations at ridiculously low prices only to store them away until next year with great intentions to use them - only to discover sometime in February of the year after that those hidden purchases!

All the more reason to ask the question ... What If ... ... That's the series I'll start December 6. I think there is one verse of Scripture that answers that question well ... it covers who, what, how, when and where! Until then ... allow me to share a verse of one of my favorite Carols ... "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas ... only a hippopotamus will do ...."

Have a HAPPY Day!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Just an observation ...

I was looking through the local newspaper the other day (which for those who don't live where I live ... it doesn't take too long!) Anyway, I noticed all of the announcements for the upcoming "holiday" on October 31. I found it quite interesting the "wording" of our "Christian" versions of the day. It is as though we do not want to be considered heretical if we refer to October 31 as ... dare I say it ... Halloween. (inserting pause as you gasp in horror)


There ... are you back with me. You see, what intrigued me was this ... perhaps for the first time I recognized the irony of what WE do all the time ... "we" being "Christians." We chastize, criticize, demoralize, demonize, and ultimate polarize any and all who would take Christmas or Easter and illegitamize their names with things like "Winter Festival" or "Spring Holiday." We rail against corporations who would dare threaten their employees to say "Happy Holiday's" instead of "Merry Christmas." But yet, we, not wanting to appear in any form Satanic will legitimatize our own "Halloween" celebrations with a term like ... "Fall Festival."

It's just an observation ... but don't we sometimes get so caught up in the semantics that we miss the opportunity? Don't we sometimes miss the "forest through the trees?" Go ahead, call it a "fall festival" if it makes you feel better ... but for me, I'll still wish you a "Happy Halloween."

Oh ... and just in case you're wondering ... YES ... I will wish you a "Merry CHRISTmas" even if you offer me a "Happy Holidays." And hopefully, somewhere along the way ... I'll earn the opportunity through my relationship with you to share The One to whom we all owe our life to ... The One Who I call "Lord and Savior." For it is only through His Grace and Mercy that I write ...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comparitively Speaking ...

I attended a memorial for a friend's grandmother yesterday. It was an "interesting" service. The deceased was a member of a particular "religious group." I had many conversations with other members of that group in the past, but never really understood their teachings ... until yesterday. I patiently listened as the "Elder" shared memories and then a sermon that "the departed wanted us to hear." I was intrigued at how often he mentioned that this was "her faith." I wondered about his. I'm sure he is passionate about what he believes, but he only referred to what "she believed" through the message. Beyond that, he made reference to Scriptures that aren't in most Bibles and the ones that he did use, he pulled from context in many different ways. I suppose the part that got me the most though was this ... his reference to Jehovah God and Jesus ... being under Him ... in other words ... being much less than God Himself.

I wondered what he would do with passages like those in Isaiah which reference a coming Messiah ... calling Him "Immanuel" - meaning "GOD with us." Or what about John Gospel which opens, "the Word WAS GOD and the Word WAS WITH God." I know that this particular group has a passion for their message - they are on my street often - but being passionate about an incorrect message is still wrong.

I must wonder - however - why we who call ourselves "Christian" - who have the LIVING WORD of God ... sharper than any double-edged sword ... proven over the course of time ... continually living in our lives ... pointing us toward the ONLY hope for this world ... why aren't we as passionate with THE TRUTH as those are who do not know the truth? We are told ... "the truth shall set you free." If that is the case, shouldn't we be sharing that truth?

On a totally different topic ... I share this link for you ... it links to Sherwood Pictures Next Movie ... they are the ones who did "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof"

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The other day, I visited with a new friend over coffee and breakfast. He shared how he had kept up with me through my blog ... last year. I suppose somewhere along the line it did not occur to me that I had not kept up with this. I'll try to do better!

As the second year of RCC is well under way, it is clear that Satan will not tolerate a good thing too long. He is a master craftsman at devising schemes, addictions, even doubts that can cause fear and intimidation in the lives of many. Often I wonder if it is worth the fight. Then I am drawn to a story like that of Cave City, Arkansas football player Thamail Morgan. He is an amazing football player who, during his junior year, received numerous scholarship offers from many Division 1 schools. Then ... he messed up. Satan distracted him long enough to lose his right to play football for his prestigious high school team and ... in the process ... lose those scholarships. That's when he was allowed to transfer to Cave City and at least have the hope of playing for this well-hidden team.

A couple of weeks ago, Cave City played Yalleville-Summit ... a co-op team that has so few players, the coach brings extra uniforms to the game - I suppose just in case he needs to pull someone from the stands. Late in their game, with Cave City clearly in the lead - Yalleville-Summit scored and then, surprising everyone, kicked off to Thamail Morgan. Thamail ran, as he nearly always did, through the pack and into the open field and prepared for one more touchdown. And then, inexplicably, he stopped.

He stopped at the two-yard line - backed up a few steps to the five and knelt down ... choosing to end the game there rather than score one more unnecessary touchdown.

Satan would have said ... go ahead ... rub their noses in it ... you deserve to score again. However, I think, Thamail realized that enough was enough and it was time for him to stand up and do the right thing ... or in this case, kneel and do the right thing.

I suppose the point is this ... we all have our own choices to make. We can choose to allow Satan to call the shots and constantly get us in trouble ... or we can take a knee and allow God to be glorified.

And sometimes ... that is not the popular thing to do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Family Christmas Letter

Well ... it has been a while since I've posted anything new, so I thought I would simply share with you my Family Christmas letter ... Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Well, here we are at the end of another year. It always amazes me how quickly a year passes and this was quite a year. In fact, I really have not caught that “Christmas Spirit” this year. However, the joy and the “return to normalcy” that I think my children are looking for needs to happen! So … with that, let’s do a quick recap of 2008.

For some … if not many or all … of you , much of what you will discover on this page is not new to you. 2008 began unlike many other years – the Tennessee Volunteers actually won their bowl game!!! Chris and I witnessed an incredible game from just 10 rows up in the end zone. As January proceeded, Caitlyn continued her Barbizon training. Denise continued teaching. I continued preaching. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

I suppose that is why God decided I needed a little excitement in life. Too make a REALLY LONG story short … things happened at First Christian Church of Inverness that were not admirable to God’s leading. (Any time you reduce “the lost” to “giving units” …) Anyway, after many left FCCI intending to simply worship elsewhere, the thought occurred to them … ‘why worship somewhere else separately when we could worship somewhere else together?’ And so, on May 14, a new church was born. A small group of 14 quickly grew to 25 then to 30 then to 40 then to … well, you get the idea. Through the “wise council” of my lovely bride and the continued knocks to the head that God was presenting to me nearly every day, I was approached by a good friend who simply responded to my question “what can I do to help?” with the words … “You can come and be our preacher!”

So, on Father’s Day, I concluded my ministry with FCCI and a month later began a ministry with Redemption Christian Church. We’re still in the same general area … in fact, I think RCC is a little closer to us! But, the way God is blessing this group is tremendous.

Well, enough about me! Caitlyn graduated from Barbizon School of modeling and is well on her way! She is going to Los Angeles in January for the International Modeling and Talent Association show and is also trying to get her foot in the door with Premiere Modeling in Ocala. (Not that I’m a proud Dad or anything!!!)

Chris is … well … he’s 9! Nuf said!!! Chris is actually doing very well … so well, in fact, that he would really like to be home schooled. He is typically ahead of nearly everyone in his class and he really wants to study some special things in the sciences and math. So … possibly in a year or so – middle school time – we may consent and start home schooling him.

Cassie and Jonathan are doing well. He is back in Iraq for a second tour of duty … hopefully his last! He’s only supposed to be there 10-12 months. Cassie is somewhat jobless right now! She is preparing to go back to school in January and will graduate in May with her A.A. in Nursing degree. She’s planning to pursue a P.A. degree and can get a good portion of it done while Jonathan’s is away.

Courtney and Daniel are doing well also. Both are still at Florida Christian College, although Daniel will graduate soon (I think!) and Courtney still has some time to go on her Elementary Education Degree but is really enjoying it (or so it appears!) Both are also doing really well at Universal. (I still think they’ll end up owning the place some day!)

That’s the ‘good’ update. There have been other things this year that have been challenging and I suppose that is why I’ve been a little tardy in this Christmas letter. In August, Mom went home to be with the Lord. For someone that never went to a doctor and seemed in relatively good health, her last days came very quickly. It’s been different not getting a card from her on our anniversary and Thanksgiving and now Christmas, and, while I know that death is a part of life … “a time to live and a time to die” … it is still a part of life I don’t like too much. Watching many of my childhood memories carted off by others at an Estate Sale and seeing the only home I ever have known simply sold off as a “part of the estate” is a memory I didn’t expect to make this year. Thankfully, Debby and Steve have really stepped in to handle the “legal” side of things that I don’t fully understand! Mom … in spite of being VERY meticulous in some things … never completed the will she had always talked about. So … the State of Florida VERY GRACIOUSLY stepped in to help!!

In October, Jonathan began his next tour to Iraq by first going to Texas and then flying to Kuwait the week before Thanksgiving. Then, just as soon as he arrived, we learned that his grandfather … one whom he had spent many a summer … passed away. Thankfully, the army allowed him an emergency leave and he was able to be home for the funeral.

And then, while we were in Georgia for Thanksgiving, my little buddy … Fezzik … went to Doggie Heaven … if there is a such a place. Beth, our good friend watches our house while we’re away and she came in Wednesday before Thanksgiving and found that my little pug had apparently died in his sleep during the night. For some, it’s just a dog … but for me … he was truly ‘man’s best friend!”

There are years when life seems to throw a lot of curve balls at you and this has been one of them! But in all of that, there is one thing that I know for an absolute certainty … GOD is STILL GOD! THE gift of Christmas … Immanuel … still means “God With Us” … and He is.

Through the miles, our love and best wishes extends to each of you and our prayers for a wonderful 2009.

Through Christ … “Merry Christmas,”

Todd, Denise, Caitlyn and Chris