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You Are Not Alone 
Monday, January 30, 2006, 04:48 PM - Extra Christy
Living in the Pittsburgh area for 6 years I've learned to eat my salad topped with french fries, expect my sandwiches stuffed with cole slaw, and watch my football in Steeler black and gold. These are all rare in the Akron, Ohio area where I now live.

Yet last Fall, I was discussing football with parents of a preschooler that attends the Color our Rainbow Academy here: "There are Steeler fans here", Brian assured me. I was doubtful. Okay, I didn't believe him, Brown fans are legendary, the Browns' Dawg Pound has been recognized by the US Congress! How can there be Steeler fans in this brown land?

The prophet Elijah had some lonely times. He complained to God:

He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." 1 Kings 19:14

Yet God corrected him; telling him there were seven thousand faithful still left. What an undercount!

And now that the Steelers are going to the Superbowl...I see diamond flags flying from Akron homes, a steeler cap on the head of the owner of the corner restaurant, and even a Steeler team jacket worn inside the church! (We are inclusive folk!)

When you think you are alone, God tells you to look around, the faithful surround you. So get out of your cave and surround yourself with friends and fans that encourage and support you.

Hoping you always feel a part of God's winning team!

(sent as this week's Extra Christy.)
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Knowledge and Power 
Sunday, January 29, 2006, 02:58 PM - Church
I was discussing how "knowledge puffs up...love builds up" from 1 Corinthians 8:1 and managed to use my favorite current commerical. You can see it here: Nextel:Dance Party.

Since I only had audio, the contrast of the dancers vs. the must know it all worker now didn't come across as as well. (Someday, I'll have video for worship!) But for now, you can get both at the link above, (after a commerical before the commerical.)

(The song is Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It", thanks to the ever patient and always helpful Robert Ramsey for finding the clip.)

:LOGO
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Glory Road 
Saturday, January 28, 2006, 04:57 PM - Entertainment
Bette Lynn and I saw the movie "Glory Road" Friday night. (Our date night!) If you want a feel-good sports movie about racial tension and team building I recommend Remember the Titans. But for a sour taste of what prejudice meant a generation ago, (and today?)...this is a good movie to see. The music is fun, with a battle of the bands on one of the bus rides. We bought the soundtrack which includes old standards from the period and 3 songs with Alicia Keys.

Stay for the credits! The actual players are interviewed and film of the actual game is shown while the names roll.

(Glory Road official site)
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Homebound Visits 
Wednesday, January 25, 2006, 07:29 PM - Church
Today I went out with our parish associate to visit some of our homebound members. It started out slow since at our first visit our friends wouldn't answer the door. (The associate had called them to arrange this visit.) So I called them and after pleasantries, told them we were on the front porch. They gladly let us in. It seems they didn't have their hearing aids in so they didn't know we were banging on the front door and ringing the doorbell.

I wonder how often God has been banging on my door and I didn't hear him. Hope he doesn't give up on the call.

:LOGO
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Surrounded by Saints 
Monday, January 23, 2006, 09:34 AM - Extra Christy
Yesterday was 22 years since my older brother, Ric, died just two blocks from the church I now serve. So it has been over two decades since I've seen him or heard his voice. Yet, he still comes to me now and then in my dreams. In them, he doesn't speak anymore, but in my dreams he doesn't need to speak for I always find his large, protecting presence calming and comforting.

We had our differences when we were younger, maybe more severe than some siblings, not so much as others (Cain and Abel come to mind), but we made a truce when we were in high school and later he was best man at my wedding. Even before our truce, he didn't allow anyone to pick on me, his little brother. After all, no matter how annoying I was, I was still his brother.

One of the most common questions I get in times of grief is “Will I see my loved one again?”. Along with praying and crying, we talk about the promise of being with Jesus in paradise made to the thief on the cross in Luke 23 and other helpful scriptures. For me, the most vivid image relating to this yearning is found in Hebrews after a listing of the great men and women of the Bible:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — Hebrews 12:1
I picture all who have gone before me in a huge stadium cheering with all their might for the players still working out their salvation with fear and trembling on this earthly field.

And somewhere, I imagine my not silent brother, a large man in an army surplus jacket yelling the loudest and telling others around him, “Cheer! Will'ya? That's my brother down there.”

Hoping you can hear the cheers

(sent as this week's Extra Christy.)

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