Monday, December 26, 2016

Cherished Traces of a Merry Christmas

Here's a great word for the day after Christmas . . .

"The silence inside my small house made it feel huge and empty. No laughter. No little feet racing around. No clinking silverware, crinkling gift wrap or squeals of surprise. 

I peered through the streaky glass of the sliding doors to my backyard, a window to a typical winter day in Michigan–gray and dreary. That’s how I felt too. The holidays were over and I was alone again. 

On Christmas Eve, my house had overflowed with family–my three children, their spouses and my nine grandchildren. We spent the afternoon devouring appetizers and decorating cookies. My grandkids enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather, racing in and out to the backyard to play."

Read the entire article by Diane Kalusniak  at Guideposts here.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Prayer

by Peter Marshall

We yearn, our Father, for the simple beauty of Christmas -- for all the old famliar melodies and words that remind us of that great miracle when He who had made all things was one night to come as a babe, to lie in the crook of a woman's arm.

Before such mystery we kneel, as we follow the shepherds and Wise Men to bring Thee the gift of our love -- a love we confess has not always been as warm or sincere or real as it should have been. But now, on this Christmas Day, that love would find its Beloved, and from Thee receive the grace to make it pure again, warm and real.

We bring Thee our gratitude for every token of Thy love, for all the ways Thou hast heaped blessings upon us during the years that have gone.

And we do pray, Lord Jesus, that as we celebrate Thy birthday, we may do it in a manner well pleasing to Thee. May all we do and say, every tribute of our hearts, bring honor to Thy name, that we, Thy people, may remember Thy birth and feel Thy presence among us even yet.

May the loving kindness of Christmas not only creep into our hearts, but there abide, so that not even the return to earthly cares and responsibilities, not all the festivities of our own devising may cause it to creep away weeping. May the joy and spirit of Christmas stay with us now and forever.

In the name of Jesus, who came to save His people from their sins, even in that lovely name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

That's What Christmas is All About, Charlie Brown

Holiday at Peace

My family loves downtown Greenville, and this weekend we enjoyed attending the Holiday at Peace concert by the Greenville Symphony at The Peace Center.  This was our fifth time to attend, and it has become a Christmas tradition for the Wilsons.

Here we are Christmasing in Greenville . . .

Friday, December 9, 2016

Simple Ways to Remember Christ this December

Everybody is rushing this time of year.  Last Friday, we had an outpatient surgery, a basketball game, a piano recital, and a choir rehearsal all in one day.  Whew! 

We all need simple ways to help us reflect on Jesus during the December days.  As we go about the weeks before Christmas, let's take time to worship Christ in our spirits - and take opportunities to share Him with others.

Some simple things that help me experience Jesus in the midst of a busy December . . .

1.  Make sure and start every day with the Lord - with some prayer and Bible meditation.  I often remember Johnny Hunt's words, "If you give your time to the Redeemer, He will redeem your time."
2.  I love Christmas music, as does my family.  However, in the midst of the "fun" holiday music, I keep a CD or two in my car or computer of Christmas music that says a lot about the Lord.  For my personal tastes and wiring, no Christmas music helps me worship Jesus any more than the classical kind.  I keep CD's handy of The Robert Shaw Chorale and the St. Olaf Choir.  They bless me greatly  as they sing classic Christmas carols about the Lord - His redemption, incarnation, birth, holiness, etc.  My tastes may not be yours - but find something that helps your spirit worship Jesus - even in the midst of holiday rush.  Today I was listening to BEAUTIFUL STAR by The Centurymen.

3.  I keep some easy reading handy - on my desk, in my bathroom, in my backpack, in our den.  By easy reading I mean Christian writing that is not too elaborate.  I have a few simple books by Max Lucado, Jack Hayford, and others that contain simple meditations that can be read in 2-5 minutes.  I read one this morning over breakfast on Jesus being the Bread of Life, and my mind and spirit have meditated on it all morning as I have been doing other things.  One of my favorites is Come . . . and Behold Him! by Pastor Jack Hayford.

4.  It always helps me in December, after everyone has gone to bed, to sit down by the lit tree for just a few minutes and "be still and know that [He] is God."  A few quiet moments to reflect, give Him thanks, and perhaps read a few Scriptures.

Perhaps these simple things may help you, in the midst of the holiday rush, to connect with Christ.  It is as we connect with Him that we have something to share with others.

Christmas Moments - Encouraging and Inspiring Stories

 Looking for a good, easy Christmas read for you or someone you love?

Christmas!  For many people the holiday season is steeped in traditions such as decorating, family gatherings, food, Christmas programs, parties, and carols.  

The books Christmas Moments and More Christmas Moments are great coffee-table books filled with encouraging and inspiring stories of the Christmas season.  Authors share personal stories about the joy, excitement, change, sorrow, loss, and beauty of Christmases.

In Christmas Moments, I share a story of God's provision for me one Christmas.

In More Christmas Moments, I share about one of the favorite gifts I ever gave my wife the year we agreed to not spend any money on presents.

All proceeds from the books support Samaritan's Purse ministry.  Books are available from Grace Publishing, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday

I've enjoyed Black Friday shopping since 1999. This year I had two extra elves to tag along. When you don't have any one thing you HAVE to have, it can actually be enjoyable!! The only day of the year I like to shop!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Through the Years

"George Washington was first in war, first in peace, and in November 1789, the first president to proclaim a national day of thanksgiving, openly acknowledging God as the source of all 'the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.'

Among the 'favors' were a Declaration of Independence that inspires us to the present day, a remarkable military victory over the most powerful nation in the world, and an ingenious Constitution of checks and balances that places 'we the people' at the center of our government.

For the next fourscore and seven years, most states honored a November date as a day of prayer and fasting, but there was no national celebration. Of the early presidents, only James Madison, in 1814 and 1815, issued proclamations."

Read Lee Edwards' entire article here at The Daily Signal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

15 Favorite Ideas to Create a Meaningful Thanksgiving

Here are some great ideas from FamilyLife:

1. Start Thanksgiving Day by spending some time with God. Read through Psalms that talk about giving thanks to God: Psalm 50:14; 69:30; 95:2; 100:4; 147:7. And then focus on Psalm 9:1, which tells us, "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds." Write down some of the ways that God has worked in your life and your family.

2. List God's blessings. As you approach Thanksgiving, here's one way to cultivate a thankful heart: Spend time listing God's blessings in your life. And don't stop until you've listed at least 10-15. The exercise will force you to think creatively about God's care and provision—even in small things.

Listing God's blessings in your life forces you to focus on Him, and in the process you catch a glimpse of His love, care, and compassion.

Read the entire article here.

Thanksgiving - The Forgotten Holiday

Candy Arrington shares some great ideas for how to remember the Thanksgiving holiday during the month of November . . .

"Sandwiched somewhere between Halloween and Christmas is a Thursday holiday that is slowly becoming more miniscule in the minds of millions of Americans Thanksgiving. If you search hard, you might find one small section of Thanksgiving cards, autumn decorations, and a turkey platter amid the aisles and miles of Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations, and toys.

For some, Thanksgiving is a day to get a list together prior to a day of marathon Christmas shopping. Somehow our perception of Thanksgiving Day has gone askew. We've forgotten the reason for celebration that first Thanksgiving. Gratitude for survival!

Historically we think of Thanksgiving as a time of feasting for the Pilgrims and Indians. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims had been in America less than a year. During those months, over half their original population died from disease or starvation. The Pilgrims hosted the first feast not to try out their latest recipes, but to celebrate life with their Indian friends and give thanks to God for His provision in difficult circumstances."

Read the entire article by Candy Arrington here.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I love the beauty of the leaves as October turns to November, reminding us that autumn is passing and winter approaching.  And it aggravates me every year when the stores try to sell Christmas to us way-too-early.  The pursuit of the dollar tempts us to overlook one of the year’s most important observations: Thanksgiving.
Here is one holiday that avoids commercialism, brings people together, offers fantastic food, and calls us to forsake our selfishness and instead practice gratitude.  Don’t lose the spirit of Thanksgiving.  Claim it, prepare for it, and practice the art of that holiday.

As we plan for Thanksgiving this month, here are a few ways to intentionally lead your family to be thankful.
Read the entire article, Preparing for Thanksgiving, here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Once in a Century: Reflections on the 2016 Election

“The victory is staggering.  It is not possible to overstate how important this is. It is difficult to assimilate the magnitude of this victory,” stated conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager on his November 9th program.
Peggy Noonan described it as “deeply historic – a rebuke to Barack Obama” during the CBS coverage on election night.

“A modern-day political miracle happening before our eyes,” said Sean Hannity on a telephone interview on the FOX News coverage on the night of November 8.

Cal Thomas said, “This was more than a change election. It was a revolution.”

At our house Tuesday night, we prepared our electoral college print-outs and grabbed our red and blue markers.  We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning.  We began the evening, like most voters, with some fear and hope.  As the night progressed, our hopes became reality.  We clapped with each new red-state announcement: Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin.

As we celebrated, though, many Clinton supporters around the country staggered in disbelief.  We flipped back and forth between CBS and NBC, watching their shock.  The champion they and the liberal mainstream media worked hard to propel to victory was losing.

Stephen Colbert planned his late-night show to be a bawdy celebration of Hillary’s victory.  Surely by 11:30 the queen would conquer.  Instead, reporters described his broadcast as dark, ominous, and nervous.  Guest Mark Halperin, a journalist, said the incredible statement “Outside of the Civil War, World War II and including 9/11, this may be the most cataclysmic event the country’s ever seen.”

His overblown statement illustrates the fact that talent does not equal wisdom.  There are many talented, famous people in America lacking wisdom.

Before Tuesday, many people described it as the most important election of our lifetime.


1.  It was a major defeat for the media and the establishment in American politics. 

Charles Krauthammer said, “She [Clinton] is the poster child for the establishment. . . .  It is an ideological and electoral revolution of the kind we have not seen since Reagan.”

Yes, the people have had enough of Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday night vividly revealed how out-of-touch much of the media is with mainstream American voters.  Dennis Prager, conservative talk-show host, said on Wednesday morning that the media is not believed by one-half of our country:

If she [Hillary] won, then our country would be very troubled.  The end of eight tragic, destructive years of Barack Obama.  If only that, it would be enough, of what Barack Obama has done to this country.  If only a repudiation of the media of utter contempt.  You didn’t even act neutral.  The contempt with which you in the media are held.  Their task is not to be objective during this election but to elect a Democrat.

The victory is staggering.  It is not possible to overstate how important this is.  We may have saved America yesterday.

Once they control the judiciary, Congress becomes meaningless.  It is difficult to assimilate the magnitude of this victory.

Sean Hannity said, “The American people have said that enough is enough.”

Trump overcomes the media establishment, the political establishment, and the globalist establishment.  The Trump voters reacted against the mainstream media, the Hollywood and Miley Cyrus self-proclaimed pundits, the out-of-touch establishment of both parties, and the arrogant elitism of the last eight years. 

Trump heard the working class of America, which has been neglected by politicians since Ronald Reagan thirty years ago.  Perhaps even more than a Republican vs. Democrat election, this was a mainstream America vs. the establishment one.

Todd Starnes wrote, We were mocked by Hollywood and dismissed by academics. We were marginalized by the media – bullied and belittled by sex and gender revolutionaries.

But all that changed on Election Day – when Donald Trump became a champion for the Silent Majority. He gave us a voice.  And now the Silent Majority is silent no more.

We the People have decided that it’s time to drain the swamp.

2.  It was a rejection of Barack Obama’s radical leadership and policies.

Tucker Carlson said it was a "reaction to the people in charge."

Meghan McCain said on election night, “Barack Obama’s legacy has just been dismantled.  He [Trump] is going to sign away every one of Obama’s executive orders.”

Obama is a likeable individual.  He has charm, a sense of humor, and a good-looking family.  He is a skilled orator, and he briefly became the Messiah for liberals wanting change in 2008.  On a personal level, it is hard not to like him.

Election night of ’08, as my wife and I watched his victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.  As Jesse Jackson and Oprah cried, my spirit grieved.  While I wanted to celebrate the first-ever black President in our country, I could not.  I felt as if a dark cloud was moving over America.  I feared what was to come.

I did not protest.  I did not loot.  I did not put out on social media that he should be assassinated.  And I certainly did not retreat to a "safe zone."  I got up the next day, went to work, and tried to trust God.  But I grieved.

For the next eight years, America experienced a Saul Alinsky radical attempting to lead our country.  Obama became the epitome of far-left arrogance and elitism.  He went around the world apologizing for America.  He said that Islam had as much a part of shaping America as Christianity.  His administration would be marked by more corruption than any one in history.  He repeatedly ignored the Constitution, ignored Congress, and ignored the principles that made America great.

On Tuesday night, voters rejected much of the politics and results of the Obama-Clinton era: Obamacare, the Stimulus Plan, the disastrous Iran Deal, countless executive orders, out of control justices, corruption, and the need to bring the Supreme Court back to the United States Constitution. Wow. 

They said it would be a repeat of election night 1980, and boy was it!  The silent majority that Hillary Clinton called the "basket of deplorables" spoke up.

With the Republicans winning the Presidency, the Senate, and the House, they will be able to begin to undo the stamp of Barack Obama.   

Pat Buchanan observed: “Few anticipated Tuesday morning what we would have today: a decapitated Democratic Party, with the Obamas and Clintons gone or going, Joe Biden with them, no national leader rising, and only the power of obstruction, of which the nation has had enough.”

Charles Krauthammer said, “Obama’s legacy is toast.”

And what about the future?  "[A] Donald Trump [administration is] going to be among the most extraordinary, creative, inventive, exciting periods in all of American political history," Newt Gingrich told Sean Hannity.

3.  It pulled our country back from the cliff.

Prior to the election, Christian apologist Eric Metaxas aptly warned, “I don't think Trump is going to save America. I think Trump would pull us back five feet from the cliff so that we have bought ourselves a little time to keep the republic. I think if Hillary Clinton is elected, we are not going to have that ability."

Tuesday night we stepped back from the cliff's edge. I am utterly thankful. Trump was certainly not my first choice for Presidential candidate, but I knew Clinton had to be defeated to save the country. I’m thankful that Hillary cannot select our Supreme Court Justices and continue the Obama-Clinton legacy.  I'm so thankful my children and grandchildren won't suffer the consequences of a Hillary Clinton Presidency.

I sat my family down on Wednesday night after the election and told them, “I want you to know that I believe God saved America last night.  I believe He spared us from destruction.”

Cal Thomas correctly writes, The courts may be saved from secular progressives for years to come and the Constitution respected again. That is victory by anyone's definition. An added bonus is that Mr. Trump can use executive orders to immediately reverse President Obama's executive orders, which he used to bypass Congress. An even bigger bonus is that the Clintons have been swept out of politics. Foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation will likely close their checkbooks now that Hillary won't be able to do anything for them.  All the pieces are now in place to yank America back from the brink. This is an opportunity that comes along once in a century.

I wrote a blog article one month ago entitled Why a Southern Baptist Pastor Will Vote for the Unvirtuous Donald Trump.  Viewed almost 20,000 times, it explains why I believe we were about to go over a cliff – and why I believed a vote for Donald Trump was the wise choice.

Our choices were a Jezebel or a Samson. If Hillary won, judgment was coming on the country.  If Trump was put it, then we would have a reprieve to make corrections.  

Tim Wildmon writes, the "presidential results have given us a reprieve for America. We were about to go over the cliff. The knock-out punch was about to be delivered to the America that our Founding Fathers handed to us." 

Tony Perkins echoes those observations, I must have missed the Christians' riots in 2012 when the most pro-abortion, faith-hostile president in history was reelected to a second term. Obviously, what we're seeing are the children of lawlessness, spawned by eight years of a lawless administration. Honestly, if God-fearing, Constitution-respecting voters hadn't intervened on Tuesday to stop Hillary Clinton, we would have continued down this reckless path -- which, as we're seeing, leads to all kinds of chaos.

4.  It was a dynamic answer to lots of prayer.

I never remember in my lifetime Christians praying as fervently for our nation as they have during the past year.  For a long time the church in America was asleep to political activity.  While secular, atheistic progressives meticulously worked to take over our nation, the church largely stayed out of the public square.  I believe the election of Obama, the most pro-abortion, faith-hostile president in history, in 2008, shook the church awake in America. 

The possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming President and being able to cement the “change” machine of Obama scared the church enough to make her pray for her nation like never before.

I have never known as many Christians to add fasting to their praying for our country as we did this past year.

Franklin Graham, who spent the year traveling to every state capital on his Decision America Tour, asking Christians to pray and vote their biblical values, put the following on facebook on November 10:

Did God show up? In watching the news after the election, the secular media keep asking How did this happen?” 'What went wrong?' 'How did we miss this?' Some are in shock. Political pundits are stunned. Many thought the Trump/Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. None of them understand the God-factor.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians from across the United States have been praying. This year they came out to every state capitol to pray for this election and for the future of America. Prayer groups were started. Families prayed. Churches prayed. Then Christians went to the polls, and God showed up.

While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our country.”

Graham’s sister, Anne Lotz, shared, "God's people have poured out in prayer for this election a thing that is determined as Mr. Trump said in his acceptance speech the destiny of America.  I see what happened in this election as being a tremendous movement of God in answer to prayer.  So now my challenge now is that God's people would not stop praying," she admonished.

We must not stop praying.  God is giving us a reprieve.  An opportunity to make reforms.  We must not fall back asleep.

"Mr. Trump did not win because of superior political strategy or performance," George Barna explained. "God produced a miracle in response to the prayers and fasting of His people... The challenge is now for the body of Christ to be agents of reconciliation and unity, and to now lead the country toward policies and behaviors that will honor God and His life principles."

I believe that the election of 2016 was a decisive moment in United States history when Providence intervened.  I’ve never witnessed a time in my life when I believed that as much as I did this past week.

As I wrote elsewhere, our hope is not in Donald Trump.  He is not our Messiah nor our hero.  He is far from ideal.  But he led a movement that was able to overturn the Clinton machine and open the door for some wise and God-fearing people to come back to the table.

The evangelical Christian vote turned out - and turned out in support of the Trump-Pence ticket. Now evangelicals need to pray earnestly for President-elect Trump and his team.

5.  It is time for decisive action.

President-elect Trump has an opportunity to act decisively and keep his campaign promises.  This is not a time for meandering.  It is a time for action.   We can undo many of the bad choices of the past eight years.

A Presidential election has not given Republicans control of the Presidency and both parts of Congress since 1928 with the election of Herbert Hoover.

Cal Thomas suggests that Trump has a window to re-write the narrative on American politics: 

Recall what Democrats did when they won the White House, the Senate and House in 2008. They rammed through legislation that reflected their worldview. Trump should do the same, but without triumphalism. He must prove his policies work and can achieve the goals he has set: economic growth, more private-sector jobs, bringing corporations home from overseas with a lower corporate tax rate, and defeating the Islamic State. The only reason to have power is to use power. Democrats understand this. Too often timid Republicans don't. They must now use it, or they will lose it.

Pat Buchanan wisely shares, “Donald Trump said in his campaign that that this is America’s last chance. If we lose this one, he said, we lose the country.  The president-elect should ignore his more cautious counselors and act with the urgency of his declared beliefs.”

Yes, we have an opportunity before us that comes perhaps once in a century.

David Lane writes that "anyone who thinks that Christians won anything other than an election last Tuesday is confused. This stunning 'miracle' offers us an opportunity to restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Biblical-based culture-IF we will stay engaged. This opportunity likely will not come around again in our lifetime. Like a neon sign flashing high in the sky, the Obama Administration serves to remind us that departing from God’s fixed boundaries consistent with His moral character will bring judgment on a nation."

I framed the Electoral College map that my eleven-year old used.  I want to remember election night 2016.  I want to get on my knees and thank God for that night.

Prager wisely said, “The victory is staggering.  It is not possible to overstate how important this is.  We may have saved America yesterday.  It is difficult to assimilate the magnitude of this victory.”

And Todd Starnes of Fox News wrote in his commentary on Wednesday morning,
"Our long national nightmare is over and the Republic has been saved."

May God bless America.

7 Harsh Realities Of Life Millennials Need To Understand

"No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your 'safe space' away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home."

Read the entire article by Tyler Durden here.