Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 5


Hi Friends!

Just reflecting upon the fact that there is so much build up to Christmas...and then in a single day most move on to the pace we call life...someone once said (I'm paraphrasing to the best of my memory) that life is what happens while we're busy making plans how to live.

I'm not ready to say so-long to Christmas this year...when a child is born is when others have the opportunity to enjoy the life conceived...that's my focus in transitioning to the New Year...I want to take the life conceived in Christ with me and enjoy life in Him.

My goals for the church in 2014 center around that journey...they are two-fold with the theme of "Modeling Jesus"...and a song by Stephen Curtis Chapman "Love Take Me Over" serving as the rhythm for our days.

Goal 1: Go Deeper in the Word (allow His love to take us over)
Goal 2: Go Deeper in the World (share His love in the world without becoming worldly)

So in essence I want to continue to Celebrate make a Crescendo for Christ in the New Year...I'm not ready for Christmas to end when the Christ-child was born so I can live each day like Him...what of you?

The lyric video for "Love Take Me Over" is posted below...I hope you will be blessed by watching and listening to Model Jesus I know I must rely much less on me and much more on His Spirit to produce love in and through me.

Will you join me in committing to rely more on Him in 2014?

God's Peace,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 4

Hi Friends!

Christmas week is one of the busiest and most exciting of the year and sometimes I find myself rushing only to realize that I am running after good things instead of the best thing. How about you?

I can't help but wonder if Joseph rushed to Bethlehem with respect to Mary's condition or if he took his time?  I'm thinking he did his best to get there as quickly as possible. What would that look like in the church? the world? if people did their very best to deliver the good news of Jesus in the most timely fashion possible?

I encourage you to measure your steps and check your pace. Are you running after the best thing this Christmas? If so you are sure to find the firstborn Son of God wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Jesus is still the best thing of all the good things in Christmas so continue to run to Him and share His love with others this Christmas.

Merry Christmas and God's Peace,

Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 3

Hi Friends!
In last week's lesson at Connections Christian Church, I mentioned on a couple of occasions my disdain for the abbreviation "Xmas" in our culture for the word Christmas. I succeeded in making a "crescendo" as it was a topic of discussion after the service, although in reality it was just a minor thought in relation to the Christmas Carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," which was our theme for the day. You can research the origin of the abbreviation on several on-line sites for additional information but the section highlighted below is from and I believe accurately reflects the origin and also speaks to my concerns.
First of all, the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.” In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.”  As lovers of the alphabet, we are transfixed by the flexibility of “X.” The same letter can represent the sacred, the profane (“rated X”), and the unknown (“X-ray“).

So to clarify, I consider it a sacred privilege to have studied Greek (many moons ago) under the late Dr. Donald Nash, a scholar considered by most of his peers to be an authority on the New Testament use of the language, and to actually (with the grace and help of God) have received an "A" for my understanding of the language at that time. That does not make me an expert by a long-shot and admittedly my use of the Greek today is mostly from a Lexicon or Greek Grammar as opposed to my ability to freely translate or otherwise use the language.
That said, my thought is that few people in America are reading Greek today and few people know the origin of the word, and that most advertisers are cutting corners with Christmas to play the game of political correctness. In hindsight, I need to be more careful to represent the truth with greater compassion (not just passion) as my passion in that moment probably outweighed my compassion with respect to seeing the word Christmas spelled out in English in our culture.
To summarize my thoughts...

Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins and I'm a sinner and you are a sinner and everyone born into this world except Jesus Christ is a sinner. And so I am most grateful Jesus Christ was born sinless to God and the Virgin Mary and that He willingly died by crucifixion on the cross of Calvary to pay my sin-debt and yours and arose from the grave to give us eternal life. It gives me great joy to know that Jesus is looking down from the right hand of His Father in heaven and is pleased when ministers of the gospel passionately and compassionately preach "Joy to the World" which is the next carol in our Christmas series.

Forgive me if you must for assuming that while Jesus not only can read the Greek but also authored the language, that while looking down on America in 2013 that He just might prefer His name to be included in full in "Xmas" as the Christ of Christmas. I believe few Americans in the 21st Century know that "X" is Greek for Christ rather than a commercialized substitution for the word Christ in English speaking America. That is my opinion pure and simple and I should have stated it more clearly and much more compassionately as such.
Speaking of JOY...our son gets to come home for Christmas before heading off to a College Bowl Game with Ball State University. We are pumped about seeing our son and I am equally pumped that he recently sent me the link below to increase my JOY! I hope by watching it that it will increase your JOY too and that you will keep "Christ" in the center of your life and your Christmas! As Ravi Zacharias points out in the video clip, I don't really need to worry about God taking care of His name in culture. EnJOY!
God's Peace,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 2

Hi Friends!

We begin our Christmas Series at Connections entitled "Crescendos from Carols" on Sunday December 8, 2013. See the prior blog entry below (November 30, 2013) for an explanation of the theme.

In our first lesson we will look at the word "hark" which means to "pay attention" and the word "hail" which means "to acclaim or acknowledge" and suggest applications of those directives during this Christmas season.

I hope you'll join us as we enjoy some insights from some of the most prolific hymn writers in history. My prayer is that the "Crescendos from Carols" will overflow from your heart into your homes and neighborhoods and around the world!

Luke 2:8-12
New International Version (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

God's Peace,

Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections

Hi Friends!

Have you ever wanted to turn the volume down? I would really like to turn the volume down on some noise this Christmas season: things like consumerism, over-eating, road-rage for parking spaces at the mall, to name a few. On the other hand, I would love to turn the volume up, to literally crescendo in culture, as a part of Connections Christian Church. defines crescendo as follows:

[kri-shen-doh, -sen-doh; Italian kre-shen-daw] noun, plural cre·scen·dos, cre·scen·di [kri-shen-dee, -sen-dee; Italian kre-shen-dee] adjective, adverb, verb, noun

1. Music.
a. a gradual, steady increase in loudness or force.
b. a musical passage characterized by such an increase.
c. the performance of a crescendo passage: The crescendo by the violins is too abrupt.
2. a steady increase in force or intensity: The rain fell in a crescendo on the rooftops. 
3. the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak: The authorities finally took action when public outrage reached a crescendo.  adjective, adverb
4. gradually increasing in force, volume, or loudness (opposed to decrescendo or diminuendo ).
verb (used without object) 
5. to grow in force or loudness.
My goal this Christmas Season for Connections Christian Church is for us to embrace the crescendos of Sacred Christmas Carols and apply them with increasing volume in our culture. Try to imagine what the final crescendo might be?
  • Hint...there is a Contemporary Song by Steven Curtis Chapman with this title?
  •'s Love Take Me Over!
And so the invitation is to embrace the crescendos of Sacred Christmas Carols, learn how they find their origin and application from God's Word, and allow them to peak through your life.
My hope is as "Love Takes Me (Us) Over" at Connections that the crescendo in our culture will be more people accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord and allowing His love to flow through them.
We'll launch the series on December come ready to sing...come ready to crescendo...think love with lots of volume being played out in culture as empowered by the Holy Spirit living in you!

And remember...some people may want you to turn the volume down while others will want you to turn it pray specifically that God's love will take you over in such a way that more people will desire to tune into Christ Jesus!
God's Peace,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

ACTS of Kindness-Praying for Silver Saints

Hi Friends!

The above prayer was offered by the Apostle Paul in antiquity for the church and contextually from Romans 15 is relevant for unity and harmony and spiritual health in the church for eternity. To that end I am adopting this prayer for some members of Connections Christian Church during this season of Thanksgiving.

Specifically, I am asking you to join me in praying for our Silver Saints by inserting their name where the above text says you and then offering this prayer in entirety with Thanksgiving for their faithfulness to our Lord.

A suggested prayer schedule is listed below and can be printed by right-clicking on this page. If you would like a daily email contact me at and I will add you to a growing list of Christ-followers who are seeking to love others as God does.

Please accept my sincere apology and let me know if I inadvertently omitted one of our Senior members from the prayer schedule below. My heart is filled with gratitude this Thanksgivng for our Silver Saints...for your trust in God and your joy and peace and hope in His Spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving and God's Peace,

Monday November 25, 2013

Wanda Allman
Marlene Collier
Martha Downing

Tuesday November 26, 2013

Wanda Dunn
Richard Hiatt
Marlynn Hill

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Russ Hoffer
Joanna Jones
Nancy Langdon

Thursday November 28, 2013

Irv Maxwell
Mary Maxwell
Virginia McHargue

Friday November 29, 2013

Helen Nicholson
Vera Schmueszer
Larry Stivers

Saturday November 30, 2013

Wayne Spry
Gwen Spry
Glenn Vearil

Sunday December 1, 2013

Donna Weitzel
Floyd Wulfeck
Judy Wulfeck

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Principle of First

Hi Friends!

There are so many competing priorities in life that we sometimes forget that our personal relationship with God is to be FIRST! The Principle of First was established by God in the Old Testament and carried forward in the New Testament.

The FIRST of Ten Commandments in the Old Covenant is for God is to be FIRST (Exodus 20:3) and the FIRST and Greatest Commandments in the New Covenant is for God is to be FIRST (Matthew 22:36-40).

God so loved the world that He gave His FIRST Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice to redeem us from our sins (John 3:16). Jesus Christ reminds us (see Matthew 6:19-34) not to lay up treasures for ourselves or worry about competing priorities in life but to seek God FIRST and everything will be taken care of in its proper order.

During this season of Thanksgiving I am compelled through prayer and Bible Study and the Holy Spirit to remind the church that our relationship with God is to be FIRST! I'm reminded of the hymn that says "I'll put Jesus FIRST in my all that I say and in all that I do."

Check out the link below and by doing what it says you will be putting Jesus FIRST and you and your family and your church will be blessed for your faithfulness to His Word. Our relationship with God is to be FIRST in all that we say and do including the stewardship of our finances.

God's Peace,

Friday, November 8, 2013

ACTS of Kindness

Hi Friends!

So many people traverse through life and especially the holidays with little joy, little peace, and little and sometimes no hope. If you read the headlines, listen to sound bites, follow twitter and facebook, or just look into the eyes of colleagues or cashiers, then you know what I'm talking about.

We live in a culture that is filled with countless commercials and cunning campaigns that promise to radically rock and elevate the mood meter in the world. Why? No gurus needed as the answer is pretty straightforward: people lack joy, lack peace, and lack hope.

We tune into Reality TV to fantasize about celebrity to learn that much of celebrity has been nipped and tucked to look and feel worse rather than better with age. We idolize athletes who are payed millions of dollars to play childhood games to learn that some star in racism and vulgarity and even murder.

Do you believe people in the world need authentic hope?

Yes or No?

If so, as we enter into a special season of thanksgiving for God's goodness, fully realized in the incarnation of His Son and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the church, would you join me in praying the prayer outlined in the Scripture above? Imagine the impact you can have in the world as the Holy Spirit infuses the joy and peace of Jesus through you into others!

Here are some opportunities @ Connections Christian Church to allow hope to overflow...

*Soles-4-Souls: donate shoes for those who have none: November 10th @ 12 PM
*Veterans Day: honor Veterans at Madeira Elementary School: November 11th @ 2 PM
*Connect-2-Adults: Bible Study and Prayer Groups: November 14th @ 7 PM
*Operation Christmas Child: donate gifts for orphaned children: November 17th @ 12 PM
*Senior Citizen Honors Luncheon and Care Baskets: November 24th @ 12 PM

I'm convinced, if you look closely, that you'll see the cry for the hope of Jesus Christ in celebrities and athletes and headlines and tweets. And what's more, if you look closely, you'll see the cry for the hope of Jesus Christ in many of the people you share life with every day.

So let's pray this prayer and allow the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus to overflow into the world. Envision joy in the world. Envision peace in the world. Envision hope in the world. Envision all these gifts of God in Christ Jesus in the world through you (the church) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God's Peace,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kingdom Initiative-My Hope America

Hi Friends!

History teaches that oftentimes the most profound teachings are afforded near the end of one's life as maturation and life experiences provide greater wisdom and conviction about that which matters most with respect to all other matters.

We've seen that in our current lesson series (The Kingdom Initiative) at Connections Christian Church as we have studied the Epistles of the Apostle John which he wrote near the end of his life as the elder statesman of the 1st Century Church.

In light of our studies we have been praying to be filled daily with the power of the Holy Spirit. Specifically, we have been asking the the Holy Spirit to empty us of our own agendas and empower us to be fully surrendered to God's agenda.

I John 4:4 tells us that the one living in Christians (the Holy Spirit) is greater than the one living in the world (the spirit of Satan) and will empower us to overcome evil and share the love of Christ with everyone in the world (God's agenda-initiative).

To that end, I encourage you to listen to Dr. Billy Graham on Thursday November 7, 2013 @ 10 PM EST on Fox News as he shares his wisdom and conviction about the "The Cross" and about Jesus Christ being the hope for America!

I believe the opportunity to hear Dr. Graham as a now elder statesman of the 21st century church who is nearing the end of his earthly life will inspire Christians to courageously love others as Jesus does through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

See the trailer below and if you miss the broadcast on Fox you can view it on-line or via a free DVD at the following link: Continued prayers for the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh to fulfill God's Iniatitive in the world.

God's Peace,

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kingdom Initiative

Hi Friends!

In writing to the church, the Apostle John reminds us that the one living in us (the Holy Spirit) is greater than the one living in the world (the spirit of Satan). Literally, John says we can overcome anything in this world that is not of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps you're reading this blog and are struggling with a sin, a relationship, a decision, a significant health challenge, the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one? Perhaps you're facing a challenge where you feel powerless to claim the peace that is yours that passes all human understanding in Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord?

I encourage you to deliberately pray and ask God to continually fill you anew with His Spirit each day. If you are like me, that may require you to make room for the Holy Spirit in your heart by emptying your heart of your own selfish agenda, or more specifically, the sin of self-reliance. Simply said, I encourage  you to confess your need for God afresh.

As I was doing that today, I received an email from a friend of mine that contained the link below. Thing is, had I not clicked on the link I would have missed the message my friend had for me and I would have missed in-part, an answer to prayer. But I clicked the link and it served to renew the Spirit in me. Thank you Wayno for this link!

The Apostle John assures us that we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. I think sometimes the reason we miss the peace and victory that Christ provides for us, the reason we fail to overcome or doubt if we will overcome the challenges in this world, is because we fail to click the prayer link to to receive afresh and release the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

As Connections Christian Church, most would call us contemporary in our worship style and while that may describe our style, the link below is consistent with our Spirit. May you be filled anew with power of the Holy Spirit as I was when I chose to click the link below and listen. This is my prayer for you today!

Lean back and listen and be renewed in His Spirit living in you! If time does not permit you to listen in entirety I encourage you to be sure to scroll to 1:32:45 and give special attention to this portion of the video. May you be blessed in His Spirit!

God's Peace,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Blog

Hi Friends!

Last week I accidently deleted my old blog and have discovered that it is next to impossible to recover it. That said, I look forward to starting afresh and hopefully sharing some thoughts that will bless those who take time to read and follow these postings. Will be in touch soon. Until then, give your consideration to the Scripture below. Be blessed and be a blessing!

God's Peace,