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From the Pastor's Desk



Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see everything exactly the way it is.  Well, this is the year to do that - 2020 (20/20).  Sorry for the bad joke.  I am not so sure how much of a blessing that kind of perfect vision would be.  Yes, it would be wonderful to see all the colors of nature just as God created them and to see the beauty in the smile of a new baby.

But there is a downside.  We would also see all of our faults and shortcomings with perfect clarity.  I am not so sure I would like that.  How about you?  Do you want to be constantly reminded of your imperfection?  We are called, by our faith, to look at ourselves with perfect vision every day.  When we see dirt, we are to clean it - and keep clean.  It’s called repentance.  John the Baptist and Jesus both preached repentance.

John came to prepare the world for the Christ by calling for a change in life.  He warned us to look at ourselves with perfect vision and then make ourselves into beautiful people we will enjoy seeing.  That warning is still viable 2000 years later.

Make a New Years Resolution to live your faith every minute of 2020.  Your life here will be better and your life after here will be the best.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Happy New Year,
Bro. Lee


Nice Gift!

What is the most-bestest (not a real word), Christmas gift you have ever received?  Some people have received so many to-die-for gifts they can’t pick out just one.  Few of us fit into that group, but that doesn’t mean our answer is any easier to come up with.

Were you one of the young people who Santa Claus brought you everything you asked him for?  Or maybe he brought a better gift than you asked for (something you didn’t think of).

For some women, it may have been an engagement ring their (cheap) boyfriend gave them thinking he could save buying another Christmas gift (I know a couple of guys who did that).  For some men, it may have been hearing "yes" from that woman after he gave her the buy-now-pay-later diamond (very honest marketing).

Since this is a church newsletter, I guess I am required to steer this article toward a faith-based answer.  That was my plan from the start, I just needed a lead-in.

Christmas gifts come in a variety of sizes and shapes.  Some are custom-fit, while others are one-size-fits-all.

There is one gift that is all of the above - and above all.  It is a gift that can’t be bought, but it can be costly.  You may find it while at Walmart, Macys, or Krogers or a park, a school, at work, at home, or at a church.  Some people will tell you that once you have it you will always have it, and others will tell you it requires a lifetime of work to keep.  Most of the time you find it through a family member, but many have friends who have introduced them to this gift, and for some it is a real miracle that they got it.

This most-bestest Christmas gift is the one whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas.  He wasn't a king.  He wasn’t wealthy.  He was born into a carpenter's family.

He allows people to be forgiven of their sins and to have eternal life in heaven.  What a gift.  Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life..."  He did not consider himself to be an option.  He is more than an inspired teacher or a prophet.

The early church found him announced in the Old Scriptures.  The prophet Micah said he would be born in Bethlehem.  David said he would be one of his own descendants.  Isaiah said he would minister in Galilee and die by torture.  Well over 100 specific prophesies helped people identify the coming Messiah.  Jesus fulfilled every one of them.

At first people followed Jesus because of the miracles he performed to meet peoples' needs.  He gave sight to the blind.  He allowed the lame to walk.  Jesus' healing went beyond the physical.  He met deep emotional needs.  To a paralytic man, Jesus said, "Take heart, your sins are forgiven."  Who wouldn't want to be declared forgiven?  Who wouldn't want peace and joy?  Jesus gives people a whole new life.

Life can seem to be without real meaning.  We can finally receive the gift we've wanted for ever, but life still feels empty.  That's because God created us to be most fulfilled by being in a relationship with him.  Jesus gives us that relationship.

A lot of people try to earn God's acceptance by living a "good" life.  Then they reason with God.  "God, I've been a good person.  I sometimes go to church.  I've prayed."  Sounds good, but Jesus said we need to know what HIS standards are.

Number one on Jesus' agenda for coming to earth was to pay for our sin.  The Bible says, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us."

If it were possible to have gained a relationship with God based on our living a good life, Jesus wouldn't have needed to come to this world and he wouldn’t have needed to die on the cross for us.

There is no greater gift at Christmas than the joy of entering into a personal relationship with Jesus.  You can look forward to Christmas by having the peace and joy that comes from a relationship with God.  Instead of just knowing about God, you can know God personally, and understand what Christmas is all about...  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him, should not perish, but have eternal life."

The catch is we must individually accept this gift.  A relationship with God is not something that just "happens" to a person.  It's a personal decision.

God offers us a relationship with himself, and we have to decide whether or not to respond to his offer.  If we do, we can begin to experience his unconditional love for us.

Merry Christmas,
Brother Lee