Crafty Christmas at The Railyard in Opelika

Crafty Christmas at The Railyard
Band Plays Christmas Music Outside at the Crafty Christmas in The Railyard
Crafty Christmas in The Railyard
Band Plays Christmas Music Outside at the Crafty Christmas in The Railyard

Tonight we went over to the Crafty Christmas at The Railyard in Opelika. This was the first  “Crafty Christmas Craft Show,” which is a fundraiser for BigHouse Foundation, a non-profit ministry in Lee County, AL that supports foster care families. The show was held Thursday, November 29th from 6-9pm at the Cotton District on Railroad Avenue in downtown Opelika, and of course, they had some of my favorite live local performs to bring an extra bit of excitement only they could accomplish.

The turnout looked great, and it was the first time I had been able to get over to The Railyard, a really neat venue just across the railroad tracks from the main downtown area. Above are just a few of my favorite shots of the band, and yes, this was a fundraiser in the form of a craft show, so there was a lot more there than just the guys pictured above, but they were my favorite crafted art. Have a good weekend wherever you might be this November 29.

Christmas Eve, Where Christ Lights Up the Darkness

It was a wonderful night at Cornerstone tonight celebrating the coming birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I always love the candles, it is such a reminder that Christ is the one who brought light into the darkness of this world, and walked among us as well. Merry Christmas everyone.

The Sunset is Just an Amazing Display of God in Creation

We have had a stormy few days leading up to Christmas this year, with some really weird warmer weather. I took this photo above yesterday with my cell phone as I was walking across the pasture to my house. I had forgotten something at my house that I needed to fix my mom’s computer, and literally as I was walking, I decided to take a few shots of sun through the clouds with my phone. I’m always amazed at the beauty that is before us all the time, but because we see it every day, day in and day out, we forget it’s there, or fail to recognize it’s beauty.

Of course this is no accident, and we are told over and over again that this display, the very display we can now capture on a phone, shows the existence of God to us all, and therefore, we are without excuse to say we have never known God to be real, to have shown his beauty to all of us. Today this photo also serves as my Project 365 [Day 23] image (see the rest of :2012 here).

This is what David says in Psalm 19.1-6 where he said

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork… in them, he has set a tent for the sun… its rising is from the end of the heavens… and there is nothing hidden from its heat

and again, what Paul says in Romans 1.20

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

I have seen photos taken by Hubble that truly astound and boggle the mind, but sometimes we only have to go as far as to look around us, because God has displayed himself everywhere in His creation, from the Orion Nebula to our own backyard.

Come Join The Cornerstone Church Food Drop 2012

This year at our church to celebrate Christmas, instead of doing fancy decorations and traditional garland we have been planning for quite a while now to do a “food drop” for the Auburn area. So if you were to walk around the church right now you will see boxes everywhere. A Christmas tree made out of boxes, presents made out of gigantic boxes, and the filled and returned boxes we started to give out this past Sunday. The way we have tried to communicate this on our own website is that we are never more like Jesus then when we serve others. And throughout the month of December, Cornerstone members and attenders (or anyone who wants to be a part giving back to our community) will be given the opportunity to serve others using a simple box.  We are asking everyone to:

  • Pick up a box and packing list from the Cornerstone lobby.
  • Pack the box full of food for families in Lee County.
  • Return the filled box to the church by January 1, 2012.
  • Saturday, January 7, gather at Cornerstone and pack the SUV’s, minivans and pickup trucks with these boxes and head out to specific communities to pass out these boxes to families in our area. (We will work with the Food Bank of East Alabama to target the communities in the greatest need.)

This is an opportunity to make a tangible difference in someone’s life by offering basic necessities that many of us take for granted. We can make the New Year great for our community with our simple gift of a box of food, and we are trying to have over 1,000 boxes filled by January 1st. For more information you can also visit the Cornerstone Food Drop 2012 info page, or visit Lee’s blog post as well.

If you are reading this and saying to yourself, I don’t go to Cornerstone so that’s nice and all but who cares… well, you don’t have to, but you can still participate. If you are in the Auburn-Opelika area, just come by the church lobby and pick up a packing list and a box and return it before January 1st.

Either way, whether you participate or not, I hope you can make it a priority this Christmas to go beyond the normal gift giving and remember others who are not as fortunate. I love that about Cornerstone, and I love seeing the church be the church. We need to think, learn, study, and understand God’s word, but we also need to go… and do. How can we say we believe what the scriptures say unless we actually do what it says. I hate the commercialization that always goes along with this time of year, but I love this. Hope you will help make it a success as well.

Receiving a True Gift Does Not Create an Obligation

Now that the Christmas holiday is over and the gift giving has basically gone back to normal, I have a few observations.  As simple as we try to make Christmas, it seems to get more complicated each year.  To try and simplify things at our house this year we went back to the German tradition of opening all our gifts (which is basically one each) on Christmas Eve after we got home from our church service, then have a relaxing and calm Christmas Day.

Throughout the several weeks leading up to Christmas I started noticing a common and expected behavior repeated over several people and basically saying the same thing.  When they were given a gift there was an expectation of something in return.  This is not new of course.  Many times when someone gives you something they expect something in return, or when you receive something, you feel obligated to return the gift with something of the same.

I am not sure where this “tradition” got its roots, perhaps it was just customary of the culture or something we have come to expect.  Something with strings.  If this is the government talking, yes, I would expect strings.  Many times close friends or family put strings on things, but not always.  To me, there is not much that follows the example Jesus gave us less than giving a gift with an expectation attached to it.  God didn’t do this to us did He?

One of the most famous verses in scripture is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”.  If we briefly break apart that sentence, we see that God did what he did out of “love”, and He “gave”.  The word gave or give appears in scripture so much that you can’t even get out of Genesis without those two words being mentioned over 50 times.  The example God gives us is to give out of love, and expect nothing in return.

So, if you received a gift from us this year, I do not want to receive an obligitory gift in return, and don’t expect one either.  If you feel like giving someone something, great, and if someone wants to give you a gift out of love, accept it for what it is and don’t add the obligation or expectation of something in return.  Personally I would rather receive nothing that a gift given in expectation rather than love.

He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease :: John 3:30

This past Sunday we were privileged to have Brian bring the message to us and he spoke around John 3:30, He must increase, but I must decrease.  It was a thought-provoking message but it left the details on how we are to carry this out in our lives something for us to think about and tackle on our own.  There were and are many applications for this, but I started chasing my rabbit trying to think about why, and somehow landed on the song, “When Love Comes to Town” by U2.  If everything we do and have comes from the Lord, and our actions are to glorify the Lord, then how do we do this.

To do this, we must not take His glory for ourselves.  Not something very easy to accomplish, especially when you take today’s culture and modern technologies into consideration.  We do almost everything for ourselves, with ourselves in mind.

Driven and drilled into us from day one in our great country (for those who live in the U.S.), life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which sometimes seems like the pursuit of ourselves.  The American dream, to own a house, 2 cars, have 2.4 kids, a good career, and a full 401k.  For some reason, “when love comes to town” reminded me of the reason for Christmas and even moving on into Easter, and the love He showed for all of us when He became flesh, and is why He deserves the glory.

The point of this message (at least in my interpretation) was to bring the Christmas season series to a close and bridge into our new and upcoming series on bringing our spiritual life alive, but I think we use the example we were given and use love to accomplish this.  For God to increase, I must decrease, for me to decrease, I must do this out of love.  To me, matters of faith start from the heart.

I was there when they crucified my Lord
I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword
I threw the dice when they pierced his side
But I’ve seen love conquer the great divide

When love comes to town I’m gonna catch that train
When love comes to town I’m gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town

As the year comes to a close, I always start thinking about a recap of where, what, when, and how of this year and what is coming up next year.  This year and leading into next year, to bring my spritual life “alive”, I must decrease. [I am not sure why we only do this at year-end instead of all year-long, but it just seems like a natural break where we mark a point in time that has an end and a beginning at 12:00 midnight at on December 31st.]

Some random thoughts on how I can try to extend this into next year:

  • read more
  • do less for my reasons, more for His reasons
  • work as if no one will ever know or see the results of my labor but God Himself
  • remember I am working for His glory, not any one person
  • give more :: time, money, effort, support, attention
  • give up more :: control, of self…
  • don’t give up when… I feel like it
  • appreciate :: time, life more (not to be confused with Time Life)
  • serve more
  • make a don’t do list, and don’t do the things on my don’t do list

I like top ten lists but all the items above can be narrowed down to “love”, and I did what I did before love came to town.  Happy New Year everyone.

Merry Christmas to My Blogroll with Some Linklove

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

This is usually one of the busiest days for getting from place to place with family functions, but for us, it is normally a nice quiet day here at the house. Today was similar. I was able to take a nice bike ride and enjoy some quiet time here at our house. I do this every so often but for Christmas today I wanted to highlight some of the blogs I read that are based somewhat on or about our faith in Jesus. So are you on the list? If not, please let me know, I love to add new blogs to my feed reader and it might be I just haven’t come across your blog yet.

Some here is some Christmas link love for some of the blogs I read.

Continue reading “Merry Christmas to My Blogroll with Some Linklove”

50,000 Pairs of Shoes in 50 Days :: Update

Christmas is fast approaching and soon (for some) the gifts purchased up to this point will translate into a lousy January, but if you haven’t finished quite yet, please consider the 50,000 Shoes campaign.  I wanted to give a quick update to my post back in November called Soles4Souls Blogging Challenge, 50,000 Pairs of Shoes in 50 Days. As b/ said in his post, there are so many worthy charities around this time of year, but one that is truly worthy is spending just $5 for 2 pairs of shoes for someone who doesn’t have any shoes.

I was listening to a song called “The Christian” this morning when I was getting ready for work, and it made me think, is how people see Christians, or perhaps how we see others who call themselves Christians?  The third verse really stood out to me (in bold below) as I thought about the 50000 shoes campaign and how easy it should be for us bloggers to meet the goal put forth by Anne Jackson (they are even giving away really cool stuff like a Nintendo Wii and a MacBook).

What good does it do to just talk.  I love when I find people who have taken their blogs or websites and have actually done something worth wild.  Even if they don’t reach their goal it was great to see how many shoes have been donated from total strangers across the Internet.  Consider these verses below.  They may not have anything at all to do with shoes, but this (secular) song points out how we put ourselves first.

It’s a hell of a time to be thinking about heaven
Didn’t you forget the golden rule
You’ve been acting like Jesus owes you a favor
But he’s a little smart for you to fool

You complain how you forgets the gospel
You remind them seek and you shall find
Maybe youth will have a time for seeking
After they clean up what you left behind

You were right there when the plate was passed last Sunday
That’s the second time you’ve been to church all year
Could you really call yourself a Christian
If charity cost half as much as beer

You pray a little more as you grow older
You get religion as your hair turns gray
But you don’t need to worry about hereafter
Just worry what you’re going to do today

Cause it’s a hell of a time to be thinking about heaven
Didn’t you forget the golden rule
You’ve been acting like Jesus owes you a favor
But he’s a little smart for you to fool
Yes my friend I think you’ve blown your cool

—- The Christian, [Buffett]

After reading Tony Morgan’s post about 50,000 shoes called All Talk and No Action?, where he talked about the correlation between words and action, I was quite disgusted, or more like disappointed I guess.  At that point, over 3500 blog posts had been written about the 50,000 shoes and only 1500 of those posts translated into the action of actually purchasing a pair of shoes.  That means not only did not all the blog writers donate, but they also didn’t get any of their readers to donate either.  We are talking $5 here, less than that cup of coffee at Starbucks or that 12-pack at the grocery store.

Just a quick look this morning found these blog posts from just the past few hours and days.  Let’s be bloggers of action, not just words.

My blog has approximately 100 subscribers.  If each one of us donated $5 that would translate into 200 pairs of shoes.  Deb and I are going to go ahead and make another Christmas donation and I would ask my readers if they were led to give to a worthy cause this Christmas check out 50,000 shoes.  I know Anne Jackson personally (although briefly) and I know she has put a lot into achieving this goal.  You can’t go wrong by giving someone a pair of shoes who doesn’t have any.

How is Your Simple Christmas Going :: Friday Feet

Our church has been going through a series called Simple Christmas and it was going well until this week.  This week has been so incredibly crazy for me I haven’t even had time to do a blog post.  Part of it is the photo in my Friday Feet post today.  You can see a better description of this new entry into our house here.

I have a huge list of blog entries and all kinds of new posts to do here, hopefully I can get to them over the weekend.  Have a nice weekend everyone.