I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Chaska Valley Family Theater production of White Christmas.  It was a very enjoyable evening.  For anyone interested, they have 5 more shows coming up this weekend.  You can find more information at www.cvft.org.

The show follows the tale of a couple of army buddies who, after returning home from the war, find themselves helping out their old commanding officer who is struggling to make ends meet at an inn up in Vermont.  They pull in some help from their Broadway pals and put on a Christmas show that packs in a crowd.  The story has some great, memorable musical numbers, including the famous “White Christmas” song from the title.

Julie and I wound up getting to the event a little early and spent some time talking with one of the patrons of the theater.  He talked about how this show will help many people get into the Christmas mood, because he speculated that a lot of people were not focusing on Christmas yet.

I am not sure if that was a correct assessment or not, but even those who may be in the Christmas spirit, might not be focusing on the right things. It is actually pretty easy to get into the traditional Christmas mindset.  It is easy for us to find ourselves dreaming of a white Christmas or thinking about a jolly, overweight man in a red suit climbing down our chimney to bring us gifts.  It’s easy because everywhere we turn at this time of year we find ourselves bombarded with Christmas carols, television specials, and deocrations galore that constantly turn our eyes toward the holiday season.

But if we want to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, that doesn’t happen naturally.   If we are not careful, our entire Christmas season can get eaten up focusing only on the materialistic celebration of the holiday instead of on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

So, how do we get ourselves dreaming about the celebration of the birth of Christ instead of just a winter wonderland?  That’s a good question.  I believe the key is being intentional about putting Christ in the forefront during this time of year.  There is nothing wrong with Christmas shopping, decorating the house, baking Christmas cookies, listening to carols, and watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.   But if that is all that we do, then Christ will fade into the background.

One of the things that we do as a family is to spend some time each evening reading an advent focused devotional storybook.  The one we are reading this year is entitled “Jotham’s Journey.”  We have done it before, but whenever we read it again, the children enjoy it.  The story follows the journey of a young boy named Jotham who has been separated from his family and as he gets closer and closer to finding them, he also gets closer and closer to finding the Messiah.  It is a great story that helps us focus our minds and hearts on the birth of Christ.

Another way to help ourselves focus on the true meaning of Christmas is by making Church a priority.  Over the next several weeks we will be focusing on the Christmas message on Sunday mornings.  And this Sunday evening, at 5:30, we will be having a special Christmas party at the church with a focus on the message of Christmas.  If you are free, come on out and join us for a Christmas focus along with food and fellowship.  Let’s make it a priority to focus on the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season!

All I Really Need

My 3 year old daughter has a CD that she likes to listen to that features a children’s musician named Raffi.  One of the songs she likes is a song called, “All I Really Need.”  Here is a taste of some of the lyrics…

“All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly, and love in my family

All I really need is a song in my heart, and love in my family

And I need the rain to fall

And I need the sun to shine

To give life to the seeds we sow

To give the food we need to grow”

It is a sweet little song with an encouraging message, but whenever I think of it, I am reminded of a scene from the movie “The Jerk.”  For those of you who have never seen the movie, first let me say, that I am not recommending it.  I learned a long time ago, to not recommend movies, because different people have different ideas about what is good and what is acceptable.  But I saw this movie many years ago and there is one scene in particular that I remember.

The movie stars Steve Martin and at one point he is leaving and as he is walking out he is picking things up while saying, “And that’s the only thing I need is *this*. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray… And this paddle game. – The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need… And this remote control. – The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need… And these matches. – The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball… And this lamp. – The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that’s all *I* need. And that’s *all* I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one… I need this. – The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I’m some kind of a jerk or something! – And this. That’s all I need.”

That movie scene and the song by Raffi are not the same thing at all.  The movie is more a reminder of our messed up look at life and how we are not content without silly little things that don’t really matter, while the song is a reminder that we have a whole lot of things that we take for granted that are all we really need.   And when we are reminded of those things it can encourage us to give thanks.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t give thanks nearly enough.  It is far easier for me to grumble about what I don’t have than to give thanks for what I do.  But all that typically changes around Thanksgiving time.  That is when I tend to remember all of those simple things that I really need, that I tend to take for granted.  And it is a time when I finally take the time to stop and give thanks for those things.

Of course, the next day is Black Friday and then we decide that all we really need is that lamp, and that new Blu-Ray player, and that washing machine, and…

This Sunday Pastor Rob will be taking a closer look at the story of Noah and the Flood and tying it in with the heart of Thanksgiving.  Join us at The River, 2510 Chaska Blvd. at 9:30 a.m. to hear more.  And if you miss this Sunday, you might want to check out our online sermon link to listen online.

Caller ID

Caller ID is a very interesting part of our society.  I would imagine that Alexander Graham Bell probably never would have guessed that the telephone would eventually become so prevalent that people would have a service that would allow them to see who is calling so that they could decide whether or not they actually wanted to answer.  We see this all the time when we are out and about and someone gets a call on their cell phone.  The first thing they do is to look at the screen to see who the caller is, so that they can decide whether or not they want to take the call.

Caller ID is a nice feature, but when you are on the other side of the phone call, wanting to have the person answer, it can be very frustrating.  No matter how badly you need to talk to the person, it is up to them to pick up the phone.  And you can just envision the person on the other line, looking at the screen, seeing your number, and saying, “I’ll just let that go to voicemail.”

Caller ID is a convenient feature, but it has allowed us to pick and choose who we will allow to have access to us and gain our attention.  The question I want to ask is, do we ever do this with God?  Do we hear Him calling us, and yet just ignore Him, because it is an inconvenient time or because we are scared of what He might say, or because we just don’t want to focus on what He wants to talk about right now?

I think we do use a little Caller ID to help us ignore God at times.  And that is not a good thing.  God has the right to interrupt our lives whenever He wants.  He is our Creator, our Father, our Lord.  When He calls, we should be ready to stop whatever we are doing and listen to Him

This Sunday, we are going to take a look at a man that God took the time to talk to.  His name was Moses and God called him to a very special task.  I invite you to join us this Sunday for a look at Moses and the Burning Bush from Exodus 3.   And then we are going to ask ourselves some questions that will help us be ready for when God wants to call us.  Hope you can make it.

Are You Too Busy To Read This Blog?

Life is busy isn’t it?  We all have so many different responsibilities and different things that are vying for our attention.  We find ourselves often running from one thing to the next.  But while life is busy, ultimately we really all have time for things that we consider to be important.

For instance, if we place a high value on physical fitness, then we are going to find the time to exercise.  It may mean that something else has to go, but we will find the time to run, or bike, or swim or whatever else we do. Each of us make choices every day about what to spend our time doing.

This blog is even an example.  For some reason you chose to take the time to read this blog.  You didn’t need to do it.  Maybe right now you are wishing you didn’t.  Anyway, it was a choice, and at least to some extent you put reading this blog as a priority over other things you could have done with this time.

In the same way, I make the choice to put a priority on writing this blog.  Unfortunately the blog has not made it to the top of the priority list the last couple of weeks.  Things have been a little extra busy around here.  But regardless of how busy I feel, basically it means that I put a higher priority on the other things I had to do over the last couple of weeks, and this blog was a casualty of those choices.

Anyway, that leads me to my point.  We all have the time for the things we choose to put a priority on.  And the question is, are we making the right choices?  Are we putting the right priorities on the right things?  This Sunday, I will be talking about putting a priority on our relationship with God.  Of course, in order to hear the sermon, you are going to have to put a priority on coming to The River, 9:30 Sunday morning at 2510 Chaska Blvd.  Hope to see you there!

We’re Moving!

For the last 2 years we have been meeting on Sunday mornings at The Rex Cinema in downtown Chaska.  That is about to change.  Sunday, September 25 will be our final Sunday morning at that location.  Beginning Sunday, October 2, we will be meeting at 2510 Chaska Blvd.

We have enjoyed our time at The Rex Cinema, but we are looking forward to this new opportunity as we will be sharing space with an Hispanic congregation from our community.  A couple of months ago Noe Lara, the pastor of Ebenezer Christian Church approached The River about the possibility of sharing space with them on Sunday mornings.  We will have use of the facility on Sunday mornings for our worship service at 9:30 and then they will meet at 11:30.  That will enable us to have a little overlap in between our two services, so that our two congregations can connect together.

We are still committed to being a church without walls.  Our midweek events and meetings will still take place in people’s homes and in the community, and Pastor Rob will still be using Dunn Bros. as an office location.  But this new location will give us more flexibility and the opportunity to have more of a presence in the community.  It is a space where we can put up a sign; and where we can meet during the week when needed.

The best advantage to this new space, is the opportunity to partner with Ebenezer.  In John 17 we find Jesus, a little while before his crucifixion, praying for us.  He was praying for all those who would eventually believe in Him down through the ages.  In other words, He was praying for those of us who would eventually make up the Church.  And He prayed specifically that we would all be one.  His desire is to see us come together in unity, and I believe that this connection with Ebenezer would be pleasing in His sight.

We will be in the new facility at 2510 Chaska Blvd., beginning on Sunday, October 2.  Feel free to come and join us!

I think we have the problem fixed

I still don’t really know what was going on, but I think the blogs are back to working again.  I am sorry for all those who have tried to follow us over the last few months, but hopefully we will have some smoother sailing from here on out.  Thanks.

Why No Blogs?

Over the last month and a half I have not been able to post new blogs.  I have been trying to figure out what the problem was and kept hitting a brick wall.  Every solution that I came up with proved to be no solution at all.  I actually wrote three separate blogs thinking that everything was working fine, only to find that when I went to post the blogs they simply disappeared and all my work went down the drain. Believe it or not, I actually thought for a moment that maybe it was God not wanting me to blog about a particular topic, but after the problem persisted I quickly ruled that out.  I thought it was a problem with the WordPress software or our hosting site, but after checking with our site administrator, he assured me that things were working fine for him.  He suggested that I check my firewall settings, because I had recently purchased a new computer and that is when the problem started.  I tried every firewall and internet setting that I could think of and nothing allowed me to fix the problem.  It was very frustrating.  Finally today I found out that it was simply a problem with the way Internet Explorer version 9 was handling the blogging site and so I switched back to the IE 8 interface and everything went back to normal. 

For those of you who check back regularly at The River website for new blogs, I am sorry if you have been frustrated over the last month or so.  I plan to get back to my regularly scheduled blogging practices moving forward.  Thanks for your patience!

Neighbor

Yesterday in church I talked about loving your neighbor.  The sermon was from Matthew 22:34-40, where Jesus answers the question, “which is the greates commandment?”  To hear the sermon you can go to “pages” above and use the link for “online sermons.”  I wrapped things up this week with a very specific, almost homework-like challenge for us to love our neighbors this week.  We are to do that by praying for them throughout the week and then doing some act of kindness for them on the weekend.  This coming Sunday we will follow things up to see how it went. 

I am excited to hear the stories when we get back together next Sunday.  This is something that God has commanded us to do, so we know it is His will.  And when we are operating in His will, watch out, because He does some pretty incredible things. 

So maybe you were in church on Sunday and heard the challenge, or maybe you are just hearing about this for the first time right now.  Either way, let me challenge you to choose to tangibly love your neighbor in some way this week.  And in order to help, here are a few suggestions…

  • Mow their lawn
  • Rake their leaves
  • Take over a pan of brownies
  • Order a pizza over the phone and have it sent to their home instead of yours
  • Make a nice homemade card just to let them know you were thinking of them
  • Pick up the trash on your street
  • Help them with a project they are working on
  • Wash their car
  • Deliver the newspaper to the front step
  • Invite them over for dinner

If you have any other ideas, please feel free to post them.

Special Event on October 31

We have a special Sunday event coming up on October 31.  “Revealing The Fingerprints of God” with Dr. Don Bierle, FaithSearch International.  Dr. Bierle will use evidence from nature, history and personal experience to answer the question, “Is the existence of God only imagination or wishful thinking?”  Come and join us on October 31, 9:30 a.m. at The Rex Cinema.

Pages:  1 2 3 4 5