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How to Have a Happy New Year 
Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 12:52 PM - Extra Christy
Posted by Administrator
Looking for Happiness in 2010?
Let me join others in wishing you a "Happy New Year".

Did you know the word that "Happy" is sometimes used instead of "Blessed" in translations of scripture? Most notably in the 1966 edition of my favorite translation of the Bible for personal devotion, The Jerusalem Bible. (In the most recent edition, "Blessed" returns.)

There is much written about the difference between the two words. I think the difference is that you're Happy when your life is going your way and Blessed when your life is going God's way.
These ways are not always the same. Christians work to get their path to follow God's way. So, if Happy and Blessed are the same for you...you are traveling on God's way.

Let me add to my wish. May you have a Blessed New Year and find a holy happiness in that blessing.

A Blessed New Year

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5:1-12


Bible quotation from The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Christmas Gifts 
Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 01:01 PM - Extra Christy, Christmas
Posted by Administrator
Finding the Perfect Gift
Lots of my friends are tweeting and facebooking about their shopping for Christmas gifts.

This week I'm in worship mode leading 8 services in 6 days. When I surface from notes and scripture, (today is the one day without a service) I realize that I've been shopping for gifts as well.

When I asked for help, our music director completely planned one of the services in addition to playing at 7, and bringing brunch to one! We unwrapped a new recruit who will operate the sound system for worship. Calls went out and members rallied the week of Christmas to provide a home cooked meal for 50 people after one of the funeral services.
Not being on the shopping list didn't stop one homebound member from sending in pies and casseroles. With a phone call, others gathered to greet, welcome, and care for the family and friends before, during and after the service.

Other members this week have chaperoned strangely reluctant boiler repair people toward the goal of keeping our buildings warm. Members have quietly stepped up to commit intentional kindnesses and Christ inspired acts of beauty. All while I've been caught up in preparation and presentation.

I don't know what will be under our family's Christmas tree Friday, but the gifts given by the good people at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian are piled higher than the tallest tree.

I hope the gifts of love and faith you experience are greater than the ones that fit under your tree.

Gifts for a King

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - Matthew 2:10-11

Bible quotation from The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Baby Budget 
Wednesday, December 16, 2009, 08:16 AM - Extra Christy
Posted by Administrator
Planning for Something Great

Tonight our church board meets to finalize the budget for next year. Dreams will be herded into a spreadsheet corral and branded with a line item number. Necessary but difficult for both the herders and the dreamers.

According to babycenter.com, a couple like my wife and I should expect to spend just over $300,000 if we plan on having a baby in 2010, but that is over 18 years, (ignoring college). The 2010 cost is just under $17,000.


A heartless person just considering finances might question putting $17,000 in a 2010 budget anticipating a final cost of over a quarter of a million dollars before any monetary return on investment is possible, almost two decades away from that 2010 budget commitment. Thankfully, most parents don't budget with a quick or financial return in mind.

I hope our budget meeting participants act like loving parents giving to the next generation even though it doesn't make sense in a yearly budget.

Maybe thinking about the great cost God invested in us when he came as a baby long ago in Bethlehem will help us plan for the next generation's babies in next year's budget.

Great Cost for Great Benefit

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:3-11


Bible quotation from The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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A Christmas Prayer of Confession 
Sunday, December 13, 2009, 06:15 AM - Prayers, Christmas
Posted by Administrator
We want presents but You give presence. We want programs to enjoy and You give us the joy of justice. We search for deals when You call for zeal in dealing rightly. Forgive us for settling for the package of Christmas instead of opening Your presence in Christ. Help us put a bow on our hearts and give ourselves to others living Your love to the world delivered in Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray, Amen.
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Out of the Way 
Tuesday, December 8, 2009, 09:15 PM - Extra Christy
Posted by Administrator
Closing in on an Open Door

Well meaning folks sometimes open a door for a friend of mine that uses a electric cart.

He rather they didn't help because as they hold the door they stand in the doorway blocking the opening they created. Very few open the door and then step out of the way behind the fully open door.

Groups that want to grow in numbers, including church congregations, focus on opening doors; but seldom see how they are standing in the way. Leaders are not exempt from blocking the way forward by taking up the space that others need to enter to continue on their way.

Maybe Thomas Paine's saying, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way" needs to be updated to, "Lead followers by getting out of the way."

I hope when you are in a position to open an door as a leader, parent, or an "abled" person; you invite others forward by getting out of their way.
Being in the Way of the Way

'But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. - Matthew 23:13-15


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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