A Somber Celebration

When the hour for the Passover meal came, Jesus and his apostles reclined on cushions around a low table. Although usually a joyous occasion, this Passover meal would be a somber celebration. It would be a time of revelation, new covenant, and request for remembrance.

Jesus told the twelve he eagerly desired to eat this meal with them before he suffered. His statement held both an eagerness in eating the meal and a sense of finality. Once again he told the disciples, his closest companions, his time of suffering neared. Jesus told them there would be a time when he would eat with them again.

Later.

When the kingdom of God came.

While offering the final cup of the Passover meal, Christ told his followers the cup was a new covenant in his blood poured out for them. It was a new agreement between God and his people. This covenant was superior to the covenant under the law handed down to Moses.

As soon as Jesus offered the bread and cup to his disciples, he revealed a traitor was in their midst. He knew Satan would enter the one who walked with Jesus for the past three years. Jesus knew the plot would unfold quickly in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew whose hand would receive blood-money from the high priest. Jesus knew who would betray him with a kiss.

While Jesus knew all this, the disciples wondered who the betrayer could be. Jesus prepared the disciples for what would soon take place that evening and the next day, yet they didn’t understand the gravity of his words. Instead, in their need to prove they weren’t the betrayer, they argued over who was the most loyal. Who was the greatest.

Jesus reminded his disciples they were not to be like those in the world who boast and try to outdo each other. He told them the greatest should be like the one who serves. He reminded them greatness in God’s kingdom is found in serving others instead of serving self. As an example, the Son of God stooped to wash the feet of men.

Jesus reminds us the same thing today. We are not to be like the world, boasting and trying to outdo each other. We are to be like Christ. Humbly serving others with a heart like his.

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“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. I must die. It is part of God’s plan. But, oh, the horror awaiting that man who betrays me.”

Then the disciples wondered among themselves which of them would ever do such a thing. Luke 22:21-23 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Guest Post – I Am Coca-Cola

Today’s guest post, I Am Coca-Cola™ written by Dave Peever first appeared on Live 4 Him.

I Am Coca-Cola™

The “I Am ______” series continues but something’s different this time. In the past it has been people from the Bible, I am Paul, Mary, Thomas, Samuel, Peter, Adam, Judas, The Rich Young Ruler but this time it appears that I am a soda pop. Some of you may be thinking that your limited knowledge of biblical languages has excluded you from being a part of a small group of biblical scholars and therefore a carefully kept secret that Coca- Cola™ is a name in the original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic scrolls that somehow is lost when translated into English. Let me assure you I am no scholar nor do I have inside information about some type of biblical connection to the name Coca- Cola™ all I know is I am Coca- Cola™.

1985 was not a good vintage for Coca- Cola™.

In response to a decrease in market share the make-up of Coca- Cola™ was reformulated to more resemble what was perceived as a threat to future sales, Pepsi™. It was a success for a short time with an increase in sales as predicted but it wasn’t long before the backlash started. They were messing with something that was fine the way it was to attract those who weren’t interested in it in the first place. The diehard fans of Pepsi™ weren’t going to move over to the New Coke™ and the diehard fans of the original Coca- Cola™ weren’t happy with it either. I am Coca- Cola™.

The Attraction Model years have not been a good vintage for the church.

In response to a decrease in market share attendance the make-up message of the church was reformulated to more resemble what was perceived as a threat to future sales attendance, the attractive messages of worldly living. It was and, in some places still is a success with an increase in sales in attendance as predicted but it wasn’t long before the backlash started. They were messing with something that was fine the way it was to attract those who weren’t interested in it in the first place. The diehard fans of worldly living weren’t going to move over to the new more attractive version of church and the diehard fans of the original church weren’t happy with it either. I am and many churches are, Coca- Cola™.

Changing the main ingredients to attract people only works if the ingredients are wrong.

The problem isn’t change. If the original Coca- Cola™ tasted bad, not as a matter of personal preference but truly tasted bad, it would need to be changed. It turns out the taste wasn’t the reason market shares were down but rather the brand needed to be better represented to the public. The attention garnered by the reintroduction of Coca- Cola™ under the name Coca- Cola Classic™ later the same year that the New Coke™ was introduced, breathed new life into the same old product. I am and churches are tempted to be the New Coke™ early 1985 when they need to be the Coca-Cola Classic™ of late 1985, same ingredients, new packaging.

The recipe stays the same it’s the way we communicate that needs to change.

Millennials don’t need a low calorie form of Christianity. Gen X and Baby Boomers don’t need a sweeter Christianity with new ingredients or at least new amounts of each ingredient. Each generation may need Christianity expressed in new ways with new music, language and styles of communication but the main thing is still the main thing. The ingredients and the importance of each ingredient does not change in an attempt to wow the world because we are worried that our market share is slipping.

I have no problem dumping the Christianise of the generation before or retranslating the Bible into a language that is more representative of the day. I have no problem with stylistic changes in music and messaging. To me the problem only exists when our desire to reach the world leads to a change of message to suit the world. When our worry about not being the “in thing” or the accepted belief system leads us to franticly look for a way to make the message like the competing message and our culture like the culture of this world. Out of fear I am New Coke™ when I need to be Coca-Cola Classic™.

Christianity has all it needs in the pages of the Bible. We can change how we communicate to each generation but we can never change what we communicate – the recipe stays the same even if the packaging changes.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Who is Dave Peever? I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. My specific call is to creatively present various aspects of life as a Christ follower and as a member of a collective of Christ followers I use my background as an actor, director and playwright/writer as well as my music, preaching and leadership skills to assist churches in transition (between pastors) with their desire to be more effective. I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren all who currently reside in central Ontario Canada. I have been in ministry for 22 years.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Meet Carlton Hughes Author of Adventures in Fatherhood

Today I am deviating from my usual posts, and excited to introduce my friend and author, Carlton Hughes to you, along with information on his latest book, Adventures in Fatherhood. Carlton and I met several years ago at a writers conference. Imagine my surprise to find out he lives in the same area of eastern Kentucky where my dad grew up. Not only that, Carlton knows my cousin Marilyn. Carlton and I both have multiple devotions in The Wonders of Nature, Let the Earth Rejoice, and So God Made a Dog.

Welcome, Carlton. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you decided to become a writer?

I am an only child, so I had a lot of time by myself as a kid, which fostered my imagination. I had to makeup playmates and adventures! When I was in eighth grade, the high school journalism teacher was assigned to teach my English class, and he noticed my talent for writing. He invited me to join his staff as the middle school correspondent, and that was it—I became addicted to bylines! I served on the journalism staff all through high school and then majored in broadcast and print journalism in college. Even though I ended up being a teacher, I still wrote—had a column in the local newspaper for years. About 15 years ago, I felt God calling me to write for Him, and I haven’t looked back.

That’s a lot like our son, Pie. He is an only child, has quite the imagination, loves to write, was editor of his high school paper, and wrote for a local newspaper while in high school. He also majored in Journalism in college. Tell us about your latest release. What was the inspiration behind the book?

My latest book is Adventures in Fatherhood, a 60-day devotional co-written by Holland Webb. He and I are both on the “back end” of raising kids, as our children are beginning to forge out on their own. We felt like we could share stories from the “front lines” of fatherhood, telling stories of raising our kids and what God taught us in the process, to inspire fathers on the journey. Holland and I have different experiences in being fathers—Holland was a single dad, while my experience was more of a traditional family setting.

What a great idea to come at fatherhood from two different perspectives in order to reach multiple needs. Any moments when you felt like giving up on your book? How did you push through and get it finished?

Getting a book from proposal to contract to actual book is a long process, and I am not a patient person by nature! Writing the proposal and then waiting for a publisher to “bite” was agonizing at times, but I kept clinging to God’s promises. As for the writing process, once we got the contract, we had a VERY tight deadline—less than two months. That looming deadline kept me focused! I work better with a deadline.

Two months! That is an extremely fast turnaround. Good thing you work better with deadlines. You are so right…no matter what we find ourselves waiting on, it can be difficult, but clinging to God’s promises can help get us through it. Great is his faithfulness. What’s next on the horizon for you?

I have several proposals for additional devotionals that my agent is pitching, and I am working on another proposal. Nothing is set in stone yet.

I’ll be waiting to hear about your next book release. Any words of wisdom for the fathers who read this blog?

Hang in there and enjoy the small moments. The old adage “the days are long but the years are short” is so true. Also, remember the only perfect Father is God. You don’t have to be a perfect dad—just a present, involved dad. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay.

That’s good advice for mothers and anyone else who cares for children. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I once did the “Y-M-C-A” dance/motions in front of a big crowd at a cheerleading competition (My son’s girlfriend—now my daughter-in-law—was competing).

Yeah. I can see you doing that. Bet it was a hoot! Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I like fiction—not much on adventure, but I like “human” stories about real people coping with life (and humor helps).  I also read nonfiction and enjoy devotionals and stories of real people doing extraordinary things. I am attracted to good storytelling, whatever the form.

Carlton, you are one of the funniest people I know, so it doesn’t surprise me to see humor on your list. Maybe a humorous book for children could be next? What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

On a personal level, having a good marriage and raising wonderful kids to love God are things I am proud of (and we’re all still works in progress). A few years ago I received the Shepherd’s Cup award for service in children’s ministry in my denomination, and that was a great, unexpected honor. Finally getting a book published ranks up there as well! With God, anything is possible.

Congratulations on receiving the Shepherd’s Cup award. Wonderful honor. Well deserved I have no doubt. What is your favorite food?

Chocolate! All the chocolate!

Especially when we can buy it half price the day after Valentine’s Day and Easter, right? What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Getting motivated to sit down and to focus is probably my biggest issue, and I am still working on it. I am the type of person who needs a deadline, so I try to set those for myself. But it’s still hard at times!

Yep. Focusing on the work at hand instead of thinking about what we should be doing, or could be writing instead can be difficult. How can readers find your book?

It is available on the various online outlets as well as in stores. This link provides helpful information: http://bit.ly/AdventuresInFatherhoodBook

How can they contact you?

My email contact is carltonwhughes@gmail.com, and I am on Facebook and Twitter.

Readers here’s what you can expect to find within the pages of Adventures in Fatherhood.

Adventure along with two dads in a devotional journey full of wisdom and warning.

Being a great father is not for the weak of heart! It’s an adventure every step of the way. Whether you’re fixing boo-boos and changing diapers, or coaching soccer and carpooling teenagers, you’ll find spiritual insight and practical advice in this devotional by Carlton Hughes and Holland Webb. The authors blend personal experiences with humor and spiritual application to encourage you, dad, to do your best for God and for your family.
Ellie Claire’s devotionals offer short inspirational readings, paired with inspiring quotes and Scripture verses to encourage your heart.
FEATURES:
  • Devotions written specifically for dads

  • Rugged, durable package

  • Perfect size for coat pocket or briefcase

  • Presentation page for personalization

  • Ribbon marker

  • A great gift for Father’s Day, dad’s birthday, or Christmas

Sounds like a fantastic book, doesn’t it?

Carlton Hughes, represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary, wears many hats. By day, he is a professor of communication. On Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, he serves as a children’s pastor. In his “spare time,” he is a freelance writer. Carlton is an empty-nesting dad and devoted husband who likes long walks on the beach, old sitcoms, and chocolate–all the chocolate. His work has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, The Wonders of Nature, Let the Earth Rejoice, Just Breathe, So God Made a Dog, and Everyday Grace for Men. His latest book is Adventures in Fatherhood, co-authored with Holland Webb and released by the Elle Claire imprint of Worthy/Hachette Publishing.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

I wish you well,

Sandy

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Sing Our Praise

In the morning, while it is still dark outdoors, a wren happily sings a song for all to hear.

I eagerly look forward to the bird’s song each day as I sit at the breakfast table. The song reminds me even when it’s dark, even when there may not be anyone around to hear us, even if no one knows we exist, it is good to sing our praise to the Lord who created us.

It is good to sing our praise first thing each day in thanks for all God is and all God has done and all God will do.

It is good to remember…God sees. God hears. God knows.

God sees when others act like we’re invisible. God sees when we make him proud.

God hears when our pain is too deep for words. God hears when our praises rise up to him in song and pray.

God knows when our heart breaks. God knows when our heart overflows with the good things he provides.

The following untitled poem comes from Streams in the Desert. I hope it brings a song to your lips just as surely as a song rises from the wren’s throat.

Don’t let the song go out of your life
Though it chance sometimes to flow
In a minor strain; it will blend again
With the major tone you know.
What though shadows rise to obscure life’s skies,
And hide for a time the sun,
The sooner they’ll lift and reveal the rift,
If you let the melody run.
Don’t let the song go out of your life;
Though the voice may have lost its trill,
Though the tremulous note may die in your throat,
Let it sing in your spirit still.
Don’t let the song go out of your life;
Let it ring in the soul while here;
And when you go hence, ’twill follow you thence,
And live on in another sphere.

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Sing to the Lord, all the world!
Worship the Lord with joy;
    come before him with happy songs!

 Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
    He made us, and we belong to him;
    we are his people, we are his flock.

Enter the Temple gates with thanksgiving;
    go into its courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise him.

The Lord is good;
    his love is eternal
    and his faithfulness lasts forever. Psalm 100

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Pause for Poetry-Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Today’s Pause for Poetry is the lyrics from Helen Howarth Lemmel’s (1863-1961) song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Helen Howarth Lemmel

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are

And turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

His word shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

And turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.