Monday, December 31, 2018

4 reasons Christians should care about politics

"During the course of a presidential campaign, it is common to hear evangelicals, especially younger ones, quip, 'I’m just not that interested in politics,' or, 'Politics just aren’t my thing.' These dismissive remarks are often delivered with a veneer of piousness implying that political engagement is inherently defiled, occupying an arena unfit for those serious about the gospel. For those inundated with television ads, robo-calls, campaign mail and the overall negative tone of politics, this might be a tempting position to adopt. However, it is not a position Bible-believing, gospel-loving Christians can or should accept as congruent with Scripture.

The message of the gospel is that by grace through faith sinners can be reconciled with God (Ephesians 2:7-8). This message transforms individuals and enables them to lead godly lives. Mandated by Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20), Christians are charged to share the good news and disciple others in faith.

The gospel is a holistic message with implications for all areas of life, including how Christians engage the political process. Here are four reasons Christians should care about politics:"

Friday, December 28, 2018

Mary Poppins Returns - Delightful!

The new Mary Poppins Returns movie delivers 
warmth, fun, and a jolly holiday with Mary! 
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Watching the new movie feels like a natural sequel 
to the beloved 1964 Mary. The new one 
contains many respectful
and creative nods and similarities to the original 
while containing its own story and sound.

How wonderful to enjoy a musical with dazzling 
colors, sounds, and costumes - and without any 
socio-political agenda nor any suggestive 
sexual or potty humor. 

I tapped my feet, clapped my hands, and left 
wanting to see it again. Watching several of the 
scenes, like the over-the-top lamplighters number,
captured me so much like watching 
a Broadway show. Those numbers delivered 
more than my senses could take in and
left me wanting more!

I hope 2018's return of the big, positive, Broadway-style

movie-musical, with The Greatest Showman and 
Mary Poppins Returns, will encourage movie-makers to 
continue producing similar family-friendly projects.

And to top it off, viewers get to enjoy
Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury. 
When I left the theater,
I told my wife, "It was delightful." 
We give it an A+.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Lost Week of the Year

See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:15-16

"The last week of each year tends to become the lost week.

Have you noticed? Once we turn the corner of Christmas, everything blurs. From December 26 to January 2 we slip into a state of "hyper-holiday suspended animation." As far as truly fruitful living is concerned, we might as well have spent the week on Mars.

I've prepared a list of suggested activities to allow you to keep enjoying the spirit of the holidays, while still making solid use of those transitional days. 

Lord willing, these suggestions will help keep the blur out and the focus in! This week--call it 'Countdown Week' as we approach the New Year--you might give a day or a part of one to any or all of the following."

Cherished Traces of a Merry Christmas

Here's a good word for the days 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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas from the Wilsons

December 2018 

Christmas greetings to one and all from the Wilsons!

We will remember 2018 as a season of change for our family. After living in the same house for eight years and in the same county for nineteen, in the past twelve months we lived in three houses in three different South Carolina counties!

In February, we sold our beloved house with its woods and tree house on Southdale Drive in Laurens. Though it was hard leaving our house and yard where the children grew up playing and living, we were excited to move to the Greenville-Spartanburg area. Though it was short-lived, we enjoyed living in Lyman. Rhett felt like he moved home, living twenty minutes from his high school, running into old friends and frequenting familiar places. In August, our family moved to Lancaster, which is Tracey’s hometown. We live literally three doors down from her parents (we might write a country song called Three Doors Down!).

Rhett worked as a Financial Advisor with Modern Woodmen of America in Greenville from January to August. He learned much about the financial business and began building clientele. After moving to Lancaster, we decided for him to not continue, since his market was Upstate-focused. This fall he worked on building his freelance writing and editing. Check out his author website at and his blog at  You can see his devotions in the January edition of Open Windows (Lifeway) and his article, “Be Intentional,” with Tracey in January’s HomeLife magazine. He contributed a story to the collection Moments with Billy Graham, published in November, and another one to the book Romantic Moments by Grace Publishing, to be released in 2019. He also attended the Transitional Pastor training this fall sponsored by the state Baptist convention.

Tracey began serving her home church, Covenant Baptist, in January as an Interim Minister of Music. We expected it to be short-term, though Rhett told her after the second week, They are going to want to hire you full-time! Sure enough, before long, they asked her to consider doing just that. After much thought and prayer, she accepted the position in a full-time status, and the Wilsons moved in August. After about a decade hiatus homeschooling children, Tracey is again stirring her gifts of worship leading and choir directing. The church has been extremely warm and welcoming to our family, and they respond so positively to Tracey’s leadership. Covenant is a wonderful group of people, and we have enjoyed getting to know them. The adult choir presents their Christmas musical this weekend.

With three teenagers at home, life seems to move at full-speed. Sometimes Tracey and Rhett miss those simple preschool days, but we also enjoy watching our children develop into young adults. We heard for years parents say that when they have teens, they run a taxi service, and now we understand!

The children began the year attending Greenville Classical Academy. They liked their friends, community, and activities with GCA. After moving to Lancaster, for the first time all three children entered public school. It has been a big adjustment, but all three kids gave it their best shot. Hendrix attends Andrew Jackson High School, Anna-Frances, Buford High, and Dawson, Buford Middle.

Hendrix (18) takes life by the horns and earns respect wherever he goes. A natural leader, this young man makes his parents proud. In the spring, he participated in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Artios Academy of Greenville. This summer, he traveled to Colorado with some of his Artios buddies. Hendrix dove head-first into AJ High School, landing the lead male role in the school play Cinderella this fall. “Prince Charming” got involved with the student council and plans on dual-enrolling next semester at the local university.  He impresses his parents how he tries to influence other students at school towards the Lord and morality. Hendrix takes a strong interest in politics. He and Rhett often compare what they’ve read and heard from their favorite authors and news hosts. He volunteered this fall for the SC GOP, making calls for the governor’s race. Currently, he is applying to colleges and scholarship applications. This year he visited Liberty, North Greenville, and Anderson Universities. Hendrix still makes music on the guitar and occasionally plays the drums for church. He and Rhett took a road trip this summer to the Songbirds Guitar Museum in Chattanooga.

Anna-Frances (16) just had her sweet sixteen birthday, and her parents can hardly believe it! She began the year playing basketball and then softball for GCA, enjoying the comradery with her teammates. Now she plays for the Buford Yellow Jackets (which is her mother’s alma mater). This fall she learned about farm life in her Agricultural Science class and even raised quail at home. She jumped right in at church and stays involved. She plays the bass guitar for their youth band and began the fall joining in with the church’s volleyball team. An avid reader, Anna-Frances is a deep thinker and voracious learner. She usually works on three or four books at a time in her room. One of her favorite subjects is learning about Creation Science. She loves living near Tracey’s family. Tracey and Anna-Frances worked diligently in 2018 to get the Wilsons on a healthier eating plan, and it was nice to see the pounds dropping. The Wilson girls took a trip together this summer to Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Dawson (13) spreads fun and enthusiasm just about everywhere he goes. He and Rhett actively participated in the Trail Life boys’ program both in Simpsonville and Lancaster this year. This spring, we threw on awesome Under the Big Top murder mystery birthday party for his 13th. Entering Buford Middle in the summer, he jumped into about as many activities as possible. Currently, he is on the library council, the student leadership team, the Academic Challenge Team, and the arts society. Always one for a good time, he makes friends easily. He loves participating in Covenant Church and immersed himself in life there quickly. He plays in the hand bell choir, plays on the basketball team, and is learning how to run a sound board. He and his dad kayaked on the French Broad River in September and hung out in Brevard, NC. This summer, Dawson swam on the Devenger Dolphins Swim Team in Greer. Rhett swam in the SAIL division in Greenville more than 30 years ago, and it was fun participating this year.

For the first time in our marriage, we live in the same town as Tracey’s family. The children can ride their bikes or walk down to their grandparents’ house. We pop in several times a week on Pop and Meemie and come together at least monthly with the entire family. Though we miss the Upstate and our friends in Laurens and Greenville, being close to the Funderburks has been a new blessing. Rhett’s mother still lives in Greenville, and we enjoy seeing her when we can.

We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Monday, December 24, 2018

6 Short Prayers for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

I found this article by Bob Hostetler very helpful!

"Everyone wants to make the annual celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth more meaningful. Some do it by going to church. Some by observing a particular tradition. Others try something else. But anyone can make Christmas more meaningful with prayer.

It doesn’t even take much effort. It requires little preparation (beyond the reading—and perhaps printing—of this short blog post). But just six short, simple prayers can thoroughly change the way you experience Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year. 

I like to pray the following six prayers at regular intervals—morning, noon and night—beginning on the morning of the day before Christmas and ending the evening of December 25. You may certainly choose to do something different, but I hope these prayers enrich your celebration:"

Read the entire article here at Guideposts.

picture used by permission from Pixabay

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Most Jews Wish You a Merry Christmas

Apparently, many Americans have forgotten that Christmas is not only a Christian holy day, but also an American national holiday. Just as we wish one another a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Happy Fourth,” so, too, we should wish fellow Americans a “Merry Christmas.”

It doesn’t matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by guess who? Jews.

“White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin (birth name: Israel Isidore Baline).

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — Johnny Marks.

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” — composed by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn.

“Silver Bells” — by Jay Livingston (Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (Raymond Bernard Evans).

“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” — Mel Torme and Robert Wells (Robert Levinson), both Jews.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Anti-Christian Bigotry or Ignorance?

"MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is in the news for being critical of Liberty University. No university is perfect, but let me just share a little bit of the background of this great institution. 

From very humble beginnings, Liberty University was started in 1971 by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell. Early on, the school was financially on the precipice, struggling to make payroll and build the needed facilities. Dr. Falwell stayed true to the vision God gave him to build 'Champions for Christ,' and God blessed his commitment and calling. Today Liberty University is an academic powerhouse with a total enrollment exceeding 100,000 students—15,500 on campus and 94k+ online. Here’s a school that’s less than 50 years old and has $1.3 billion in endowment and incredibly beautiful, new, cutting-edge campus. Today they’re ranked as one of the top universities in the country and they have 17 colleges and schools including a school of medicine and a school of law. This just shows you what God can do when you’re faithful to Him and His calling. 

God bless Jerry Falwell, Jr. as he continues leading and building this great institution." - from Franklin Graham

Read more about Rachel Maddow's ridiculous comments at Todd Starnes' Is MSNBC's Rachel Maddow an Anti-Christian Bigot or Just Ignorant?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Life to Life Discipleship

"And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." - 2 Timothy 2:2

Yesterday I took a trip to Greenville to catch up with some of my favorite people. One of those is Morris "Moose" Keller. Morris and I are cousins, brothers, and friends. His grandmother and my father's grandmother were sisters (I think that is right!). So we are cousins. He is my brother in Christ. And we have been friends for many years.

Moose, a former professional football player, and my family worshiped at the same church in the 1980's. I was involved in a children's Bible Drill program. At my great uncle's funeral, Moose walked up to me - a 3rd grader - and encouraged me to continue memorizing Bible verses.

Years later, as a young eighteen-year-old who was looking for some godly male influences, I was drawn once again to Moose. During my college years, we met every few months. Our long lunches included discussing many topics: what it means to be a godly man, how to practice spiritual habits, including Scripture memory, how to influence others for Christ and share our faith, and how to trust God during trials.

Moose was discipled years ago by Gene Warr of Oklahoma City. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association once honored Gene with a lifetime disciple-making award for his lifestyle and efforts in intentional disciple-making. Gene and Moose, both heavily influenced by Navigator-style, man-to-man discipleship, remind me of the godly people described in Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:7-8.  

You can view Gene's Discipleship Library here.

Moose continues to be an encourager in my life. We enjoyed catching up some yesterday.

Into whose life are you investing for eternity?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Simple Ways to Remember Christ this Christmas

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.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Danger of “I” in Christian Prayer

Wise words from Dr. Albert Mohler . . .

"Over the past several decades I have noticed that many Christians tend to begin their prayers by presenting their needs. Of course, in some sense, I understand why we naturally turn to petition almost immediately upon entering into prayer. We tend to begin with petitions because prayer reminds us of our deep need for God to sanctify us in our circumstances and save us from our trials. Additionally, our circumstances and trials are often the very thing that drives us to pray in the first place. Thus the tyranny of the urgent has a remarkable way of consuming our intellectual life and our thought patterns. As a result, our prayers, from beginning to end, are often marked by petition.

But the Lord’s Prayer begins in a very different place. Petitions certainly are a part (a major part, in fact) of the Lord’s Prayer, but Jesus does not begin with requests. He begins, instead, by identifying the character of the God to whom he prays while at the same time challenging our individualism in prayer. Jesus does all of this in the first two words, “Our Father.”

The word 'our,' at first glance, seems like an insignificant little pronoun. But Jesus is making a tremendously powerful theological point by beginning his prayer with the word 'our.' Jesus is reminding us that when we enter into a relationship with God we enter into a relationship with his people. When we are saved by Christ, we are saved into his body, the church. In fact, this emphasis on our place in the corporate identity of the church is reiterated throughout the prayer. One way to notice this emphasis is simply to read through the prayer and stress each personal pronoun:"

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Baby, I'm Offended Outside

Here we go again. In the past several weeks, someone decided Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and the song Baby, It's Cold Outside all wreak of offense.

Just a few years ago in our society, such implications would have been laughable. Silly. Immature. But the "grow up and be mature" culture is systematically being transformed into a "I need a safe space" one.

Poor Franklin

Now Charlie Brown is racist. At the popcorn Thanksgiving meal, they audaciously sat Franklin, the black kid, on the opposite side of the table and gave him a deplorable lawn chair. Oh, the horror. How have black children for decades been able to be victimized by watching such atrocities?

What they failed to say is that, in opposition to the producers, Charles Schulz insisted the Franklin character be in Peanuts. He intentionally wanted the gang to have a black friend who was one of them. Schulz drew the line and said if there is no Franklin, there is no deal.

I read this anonymous post reposted on a friend's social media site this week

"If you're offended by 'Baby It's Cold Outside' you're going to have a tough go of it in life. And so are your kids.

First, you are completely ignoring the fact that the song is 74 years old--when women were ladies and men were gentlemen.

Her 'protest' was typical of a way a lady would speak to a man instead of just downing some drinks and hopping into bed with him.

No one seems offended by that, but you hear that 'rap' on the radio ALL YEAR LONG. Men actually had to court women back in those days, a subtle dance that for both men and women no longer exists. Sad but true.

Secondly, 'what's in this drink?' does not imply that she was roofied, or at least it didn't in 1944. Get a grip! She's obviously deflecting her indecision toward her drink, which again, came with the times. She was not being drugged. (Should we stop watching The Wizard of Oz because when they fall asleep in the poppy fields that means Dorothy is on heroin?)"

Feeling Excluded

The Left in America thrives off of labeling and division. The Left has repeatedly taught us to become a "culture of offense." They have taught us to feel excluded, victimized, and mistreated.

Does saying "Merry Christmas" exclude non-Christians? Read here what one Jewish American says in his article, Most Jews Wish You a Merry Christmas.

As I wrote in my article, The USA: A Graceless Place, we lack grace in our society. We lack forgiveness. The availability of the internet and social media hastens a short fuse and an inflated sense of self-importance. 

We lack margin. You know margin - the space in a book around the words on the page? We don't want to read a page filled only with words. We enjoy reading pages with good margins.

We need to step back and learn to take a big chill pill.

I'm Offended

Being offended is a part of life. Yes, it is.

It offends me when I hear rap music filled with profanity, sexual subjects, and demeaning words towards women blaring from another car at a gas station. 

I was offended when the White House lit up in the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement the day the Supreme Court overstepped their legal bounds, defied the legal bounds of the American system, and decided to redefine marriage.

I was offended yesterday when the Walmart clerk as the photo center overlooked me and helped another person.

You know what? Being offended is a part of life. I do not live in a world where I can control my environment to make it completely safe for me. That is what heaven is for. And maybe Dollywood.

In short, I have to deal with it and not expect everyone around me to protect me.

This culture of offense needs to turn around. Do you remember just a few years ago when someone decided the 1980's hit show The Dukes of Hazzard was too offensive because of the Confederate flag on top of the General Lee? 

Ben Jones, "Crazy Cooter" of the show, described it as a “wave of political correctness that is unprecedented in our nation of free speech and free expression.”  Jones compared it to the burning of books by the Nazis. 

I wrote about the Hazzard County fiasco in my article Focus on the Right Things.

Let's put on our big boy pants. What I can do is stop getting offended. Or, at least, stop letting my offense make me try and control everyone else around me.

The anonymous social media author I referred to earlier later wrote, "[H]ave you seen violent video games or watched modern TV or listened to modern radio? And you're still worried about a 74 year old Christmas song? If you are still offended by these things . . .  be offended. But please don't imply that the rest of us lack morals or good judgement, especially when it comes to parenting. If you want to raise your kids to be on the lookout and offended at every little thing that they might not understand or agree with, have at it. At my house we will be watching Rudolph when it's cold outside."

The Bible says, Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. (Proverbs 19:11)

We must stop the descent into madness. We must resist the culture of offense. 


Robert E. Lee and The Culture of Offense

The USA - A Graceless Place?:  The Culture of Offense, Part 2

Focus on the Right Things

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Conversion of Ebenezer Scrooge

After Christmas last year, I decided that during December this year I would read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to my family.  Somehow at my age I’ve never actually read the story, though I have enjoyed numerous television and movie takes at the classic Christmas story.  My favorite is still the 1980’s George C. Scott Ebenezer Scrooge.

Dickens’ written tale is, perhaps surprisingly, a blatantly Christian story.  It is a story of a conversion to a Christian worldview (though not as blatant as a modern evangelical gospel tract).  Of course, our Hollywood and Disney takes on the conversion of Ebenezer leave out the Christian details, but it is obvious nonetheless in the book!  Hear Jacob Marley’s lamentation of having a selfish heart when he lived as a human . . .

Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode?

Read the entire article here at Inspire a Fire.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.