ARLINGTON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
(Disciples of Christ)

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From the Pastor's Desk

 


Lee.jpg As I sit at my computer and work on the newsletter, the weather forecasters are excitedly talking about below-zero temperatures coming later in the week.  Their excitement is not as high as it was last December when Lexington set an all-time recorded rainfall for the year.  It must be a high point of their job to inform us about things that make us miserable.  I totally understand that - imagine telling people day after day that it is going to be sunny and 75 degrees.  For a weather person, unusual weather is something to look forward to.

The cold weather is worth being excited about -- but in a negative way -- because it can bring great hardships to people.  If you work outside, it is miserable to be so cold.  If you can stay inside, your heating bills will be higher than you planned for.  If you are homeless, well, it can be deadly.  Again this winter our church has been giving some men from the Hope Center a warm place to sleep at night.  We can’t bring in very many, but we help make room for more at their own facilities.  The men who are here seem to like having some extra space and the quiet they find in our Fellowship Hall.

Cold weather is not the only cold that can be deadly to a person.  I came across this poem that I had never read before.  It brings up a kind of cold that should be unknown to a Christian - a follower of Christ Jesus.

THE COLD WITHIN
James Patrick Kenney

Six humans trapped by happenstance,
in bleak and bitter cold,
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first man held his back,
For on the faces around the fire,
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way,
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give,
The first his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes,
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use,
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat and thought,
Of the wealth he had to store,
And how to keep what he had earned,
From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge,
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood,
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group,
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hand,
Was proof of human sin,
They didn’t die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.

Unfortunately, each of these six men represent thoughts and feelings that are present in all people.  Don’t try to deny that you have ever shared in one of them.  Even the most devout Christian has found themselves with dark thoughts about some one, or some group, or some type of person.  (Just because we consider that person to be evil doesn’t clear us.)  When we do, we can discover that we have an advantage over these six men.  Instead of giving in to our feelings and acting on them, we have the ability to ignore them, or overcome them, or get rid of them.  We have a savior, a teacher, a leader, an example that can strengthen us to overcome our feelings.  Jesus can take the wrong in the world and make it right.

A dad was trying to read a magazine, but he was being pestered by his little daughter, Vanessa.  Out of desperation he tore a sheet out of the magazine that had a map of the world printed on it.
Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Vanessa, and said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this back together like a puzzle."  After a few minutes, Vanessa came back and handed him the map correctly taped together.  He was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly.  "Oh," she said, "on the other side is a picture of Jesus.  When I got Jesus in His place, then the world came out all right."

May Jesus make your world all right,
Brother Lee.


PREVIOUS NOTE FROM THE PASTOR



Have Joy All Year Long A Scott county woman bought a lottery scratch-off ticket this Christmas - and won a million dollars.  She said it comes at a good time because she is pregnant with her fifth child.  I wonder which circumstance brings her the most joy?

Too many people have become slaves to the happiness of the world and have gotten away from the JOY of CHRIST.  The world is a fickle friend.  In the end it takes away more than it gives.  "How can I be happy with what I'm going through?"  "How can I can be happy when my marriage is falling apart?"  "People have wronged me and I'm not going to be happy until I get even."  "If I had more money, I'd be happy."

We live in a world filled with problems, doubts, worries, and fears.  We don't always feel much joy.  Our joy-in-faith can wobble in the face of adversity.  The Apostle Paul was constantly telling his faith-family to stand firm in the face of anything that came their way.  Let the enemy attack as he will, but stand firm!

There is a similar term "Stay in the traces."  It comes from the days when roads were dirt and people traveled by horse-drawn wagons.  The wagon wheels dug deep ruts that hardened, and they were called "traces."  Once a driver had his wagon wheels firmly in the traces, it was almost like a self-driving car.  The horses just pulled the wagon to the destination.  That reminds me of a Christian's spiritual life.  Most days nothing exciting happens.  You begin to wonder, what does God want me to do?  Is it to get up each day and do what I have to do?  Yes it is.  If you like it, that's great.  If you don't like it, do it anyway.  All of us are tempted to "jump the traces" from time to time.  We don't like being caught in a rut.  But sometimes we end up trading one rut for another rut - a less joy-filled one.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!"  This can be difficult.  W. C. Fields said, "I start off each day with a smile, and get it over with."

"Rejoice always," isn't about a positive mental attitude or "put on a happy face" or "look for the silver lining."  This rejoicing is not based on outward circumstances.  Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote this.  He was on trial for his life with no certain hope of release.  I doubt Paul enjoyed being in prison but he found reasons to rejoice even in that difficult circumstance.

How about a little New Year's homework?  Take a sheet of paper and write "I Have Reasons to Rejoice Today."  Spend about five minutes and list as many reasons as you can think of to rejoice in the Lord.  Here are some "I haves" you may come up with:  My sins forgiven - A Savior - Many Christian friends - A good church - The Word of God to guide me - The Holy Spirit to lead me - Someone who loves me - Pretty good health - Enough money to pay my bills - Many answered prayers - People who pray for me - Worthwhile projects for the future - A new year to get a new start - Hope that when I die, things get better not worse.

Happy New Year!
Brother Lee