Category Archives: Faith

Who else do you know who is celebrating their 2,000th birthday?

While sitting at a psychiatric help desk that costs a mere five cents – the classically beloved Schultz character Charlie Brown begins to unload his burdens, “Actually Lucy, my trouble is Christmas. I just don’t understand it.”
Two thoughts came to mind when I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with my kids this year:
1) Medical Insurance obviously never effected Charlie’s time as it does our current time, and
2) Jesus’ birthday is still being misunderstood and misconstrued 2,000 +/- years later.
So I asked myself: How is it that after all this time some people – sorry Charlie – don’t “understand” Christmas?
Earlier in this classic, Charlie had confided his quandary of misguided Christmas spirit to his friend Linus.
“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem,” Linus replied.
Well, again Christmas as a problem apparently has flooded our un-cartoonish world just as has problems with medical insurance.
Luckily for Charlie, and those of us who watch this holiday staple year-after-year, Linus later gave the Biblical – true- meaning of Christmas, which can be found in Luke chapter 2. I know its Christmas time, but I won’t tell that story now. However, I did provide the location for those who aren’t familiar with where to find it.
Speaking of Christmas as a problem, many people deny that Jesus was the Son of God. Many deny that Jesus rose from the dead. Many deny that Jesus was brutally hung from a cross until he bled out and died. Many deny that Jesus could’ve been born to a virgin. And yes, there are those who deny Jesus ever lived at all.
The answers are all around us if you look, and you don’t have to be a believer in Christ to see the answers. That’s right. Science – an earthly study of things we can see – also attempts to explain Jesus. There are several TV shows by the History Channel and their subsidiary channels that try to scientifically explain Biblical artifacts, as well as attempting to answer the question, “Who was Jesus?”
Using 3D computer imagery – along with a CAT scanned, carbon-dated skull of a 1st century 12 year-old Galilean, scientists input the data into the software trying to understand what an adolescent Jesus would’ve looked like.
Archeologists are still unearthing the earth that now covers the ruins of where Jesus grew up in an effort to scientifically explain, not only who Jesus himself, but his family and how he may have been treated by other Galilean/Nazarene teens. Laying out historical events – Jesus witnessing Roman invasion and wealth, as well as witnessing ultimately impoverished people around him, etc – these modern-day “wise men” try to explain how Jesus got his vast knowledge of Jewish scripture, as well as how he possibly “came up” with the parables He used in His teachings. I assume these wise men would not be able to blindly follow a star on faith.
“Maybe Lucy’s right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Brownist,” I quote Linus again. Perhaps he might say that to these scientists, archeologists and historians.
Sure, a historian’s bread-and-butter is in explaining people – who actually lived I will add- such as Alexander, the Caesars, the Buddha, the Pharaohs, King Herrod, and yes even (Insert Famous name here). But do you know any of those famous historical people’s birthday, hmm?
Instead of telling the Christmas story itself, I was reminded of a passage in Acts 5, in which Luke – a historian himself- tells of the apostles being arrested for preaching about Jesus.
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” the high priests said to Peter in vs. 28 (NIV).
(29) Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! (30) The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – who you had killed by hanging Him on a tree. (31) God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”
To keep your attention on my lengthy holiday explanations, I may skip a few verses, but everyone is welcome to pick up a Bible and read the whole story for yourselves.
(33) When they heard this, they wanted to put them to death. (34) But a Pharisee named Gamaleil, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all people……
What is a Pharisee some might ask? Well, completely in my opinion which comes with no theological degrees, I think the Pharisees and Sadducees were kind of like our modern-day Republican and Democratic Party leaders. They had opposing views on Jewish law and its interpretations, both groups believed that all who were under the law had to follow it to the letter, but yet many of them thought that the law didn’t apply to them.
Sorry for the sidetrack, back to Bible now.
(35) Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. (36) Some time ago Theadus appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all of his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. (37) After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. (38) Therefore in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. (39) But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will find yourselves fighting against God.”
(40) His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, AND LET THEM GO.
(42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
I ask you readers, if Jesus was not of God, would His teachings still be heard around the world today? I don’t think so.
I know, I know. We have to go back to science because it indicates that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25, of the year 0. But seriously, the whole world – every country- knows what Christmas is, whether they celebrate/acknowledge it or not.
I will leave you to ponder two thoughts:
1) is the title of this column “Who else do you know who is celebrating their 2,000th +/- birthday?
2) A summation of Peter’s words: God raised Jesus from the dead and brought Him to His own side “as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness.”

“That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown,” – Linus.

A Call to Love

(Matt 22:37-40 HCSB) He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

As Christians we are called to love. This is not compulsory, it is something we must strive to do. God has a desire for us to put aside the selfish drive of our human condition and care for something more than ourselves. Love is more than an emotional response, it is an unselfish, loyal, benevolent intention and commitment towards another. Our God is a relational God and wants us to be in a relationship with him. This relationship is to be put first and foremost in our lives. God wants to give him all we have and all we will have. After this relationship God’s desire is for us to have good relationships with those around us. For most, this is where love gets tricky. It is one thing for us to have devotion towards God but we are called to be devoted towards others as well. Other people we come in contact with are hurting. They may be going through hard times that you could hardly imagine. Showing compassion and love to someone could make all the difference in someone’s day or even life. Sometimes the love we show is the best witness to others the work of Christ.
Love, according to Paul is proof of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life (Gal 5:22). Are you in the practice of putting others needs above yourself? Are you ready to answer the call to love?

Warning There is a Dress Code in Heaven

Jesus tells the marriage story of the King’s son in Matthew Chapter 22, verses 1-14. One of the guests came to the marriage without a wedding garment. The guest had no excuse and the King ordered: Bind him in hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13)
The wedding garment represents the righteousness of Christ. Isaiah 61:10 states: He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robes of righteousness… Refusing His garment of righteousness are those who think they can gain Heaven by their own works of righteousness. The Bible says all of our righteousness are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). In other words no matter how good you are, you will never be good enough to be allowed admittance into Heaven.
The outer darkness is the destination of every person who does not receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. If you reject Jesus, you will be cast into eternal darkness. Jude 13 describes the setting of this final “resting” place as the blackness of darkness forever. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hell, reflecting the great pain and endless agony there.
Where will you spend eternity, Heaven or Hell? So many people refuse to acknowledge that they care about what happens to them after they die. God has provided you with a way out of Hell and a way into Heaven by dying on The Cross in your place for your sins.
Eternal life is a gracious gift for which only Jesus Christ, who was sinless, could have paid the cost. Salvation is not in any way deserved or earned. It is the gift of God, dispensed impartially to whoever believes and receives His Son, Jesus. The Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; It is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9-9).
God is ready to receive you. Open the door of your heart and invite Jesus to come in and become your Lord. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).Don’t miss the greatest opportunity of your life, the opportunity to live with Jesus forever.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ – Romans13:14

Kyla Rowland: “People”

II Chronicles 7:14

We come to the third word in this powerful verse, the word “people.” Each article will be different in that not all of them will be a one word exploration. For instance, the one following this will examine the phrase, “which are called.”

It’s just that the first three words speak volumes on their own. “If” tells us that what follows will be conditional; “my” identifies the owner; and “people” identifies who is owned and to whom the message is addressed.

It’s interesting that “people” could mean only two persons just as well as two million. In this case the number is open ended. Yes, God is talking to His people, the Jews, but as so often is the case, Old Testament promises and commandments apply to everyone who will ever belong to the God of Israel. Aren’t you glad that you fall into that category of His people,” that He owns you, and what belongs to God can expect to receive the finest of careful attention.

God loves His house and He longs to see us in His house worshiping Him, but the “house” is not primary. For 480 years after God brought the Hebrew nation out of Egypt, He did not emphasize building a Temple for Him. In I Kings 8:16, God tells them “I chose not city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.”

God is personal to His people. It is that intimate sweetness between Him and each of us that He is always most interested in. Throughout the entire Bible it is the people who take preeminence in God’s plans, in His heart. As Genesis opens, it’s all about Him and His creation: He created light, day, and night, evening and morning. Then, He created the Heavens and the waters, dry land, grass, herbs, and fruit.

God created the seasons, the moon, and sun and stars, every living creature, then He made man. All that He created prior to making Adam was for the survival and enjoyment of His crowning achievement – mankind.

As the New Testament opens, it’s all about this man He created. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. This list of men from which Jesus was descended included men who were full of faults, failures, doubts, fears, and their lives were like ours; full of trouble – but they belong to Him. They were all His creation.

Then we look further into Matthew and see that, even though every man and woman is His creation, they are not all “His people.” But He wants them to be, longs for them to be, and died a death of all deaths to give them an opportunity to become His own. How it must grieve His heart when one of His creation rejects His love. God wants everyone to be His people and gave us the gift of His Son to prove it and make it possible.

God cannot commune with trees, oceans, animals, or the moon. He only communes with man. To the lost He communicates to them their need for Him and His love for them. To the saved, communication is endless and boundless. He relates to us on so many levels: Father/Child, Physician/Afflicted, Potter/Clay, Shepherd/Sheep, Vine/Branch, and beside all this, we are friends. He cannot be friends with a blade of grass.

God wants to talk to His people, be involved in our lives, be joyful when we are joyful, cry when we cry. And He wants us to talk to Him, “Cast all your cares on me,” “Pray without ceasing,”… He wants us to communicate with Him, we are HIS PEOPLE.

In Jesus’ prayer, John 17:23, hear the intimacy, the undying devotion and tenderness of God’s love. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one: and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

In the next verse, Jesus expressed His desire for us to the Father, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”

He wants us with Him. He looks on us as a gift from God. Oh, children, how could we doubt such love? “His people” – a precious term of everlasting endearment.

LaFollette United Methodist Receives Check for Handicap Ramps

Marie Kile, from the Church’s Sawing Circle, accepts the check from Peoples Bank CEO Jack Reynolds and Bank President David Reynolds.

Peoples Bank of the South recently presented a check on behalf of Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati for $1,040 to the LaFollette United Methodist Church.  The money is provided for residential handicap ramps.  For more information on the ramps, please call the church at 562-7348.