Sunday, November 30, 2014

Humbug Theology

Praise and Worship
The Message

Humbug Theology

The holiday season brings out the worst in us.  This is humbug theology.

When things are actually kind of exciting, sometimes things just do not go according to plan.

Outside we have it all together, but inside is like the Griswold's turkey.

The heart is a desperate place where hope lived before disappointment set in. It does not have to be that way!

The eighth chapter of Isaiah depicts doom and gloom, but chapter nine begins "Nevertheless."  A light has dawned!  There will be no more gloom.  Our hope is founded in the "nevertheless."

As we search the news, it is no wonder we suffer gloom and despair; it seems overwhelming.
When our expectations are not met we get discouraged.

The only hope: a glimpse of the Light of Christ.  The Light of the World will pierce the darkness and give hope.

The situation may not be all that important in the big scheme of things.  Hope in the Lord.  The situation is not final.

If you keep your eyes on Jesus you have nothing to worry about.  We win, if we remain faithful.

C.S Lewis said, "Hope is the continual looking forward into the eternal world."

God, the eternal God, has eternal plans, and you are in the midst.  "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." --Romans 8:28 KJV

When you are discouraged, when you are in your darkest moment, remember
God is working!

Align your life with what God is doing, then there is hope.

"Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."

Start now to battle against the humbug.  Focus on the Hope of Christ!

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Friday, November 28, 2014


The passionate person can be ruled by inflaming his passions.
The thinking person is a free person, and dangerous.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Blessings

Thanksgiving Day. A national holiday, a day set aside specifically for the purpose of reflecting on our blessings and expressing thanks to our Creator and Provider for the blessings we have.

Are we truly thankful? And should our thanks be expressed only on a designated day? Thankfulness is an attitude of the heart; to be thankful and to give thanks is a choice. We need to be in such a posture every day of our lives, come what may.

I find the phrase "give thanks" thirty-four times in the KJV. The phrase "praise the Lord" appears thirty-two times. Doesn't it seem that we are under a very powerful injunction to choose thankfulness and offer praise and thanksgiving?

Thankfulness is expressed by the words of the mouth and by the works of the hands. Be thankful: praise the Lord. Be thankful: help someone.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Bargain, Anyone?

Yeah, but I've had twice as long to have to feed myself, too.

Now, I take advantage of "senior discounts" (though as I have pointed out before, I am not fond of the euphemism).  Nevertheless, I rather admire this merchant's business model.  I think vendors should know the value of their goods and services and charge accordingly to each and all.  Coupons, loss leaders, come-ons, and twofers are definitely among some of my least favorite gimmicks in today's world.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SoulShift: Consumer to Steward

We need to flip the pursuit of happiness upside down.

Philippians 4:10-20  We find that Paul, rejoicing and in thankfulness, is concerned not with what he could gain, but with that he could give.  Paul related so well to the church at Philippi because a spirit of giving was in its nature.

What is in your nature?  Are you about getting, or giving?  Are you consumer or steward?


  • What's in it for me?
  • Never satisfied.
  • Live by "checks and balances" ideal.
  • Will only give out of abundance.
  • Lack inner fulfillment.  In relationships, suck life out of others.
  • Have sense of entitlement.
  • I'm in it for Him; how can I serve?
  • Content with circumstances.  "I have Christ; I have enough."
  • Thankful for what they have.
  • Wise and honest in their business dealings.
  • Faithful in tithing.
  • Generous with resources.  Use what they have to bless others.
Giving and Receiving
  • Poured out-- yet full.
  • Gratitude not for consuming, but for serving.
How content are you?

Words from John Wesley: "Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can."

A Thanksgiving Message
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shift: Me to We

The scripture from Philippians 1:3-6, 27

Must find a balance between solitude and community.

Purpose of solitude: to build one's relationship with Christ, our identity is shaped an formed.

The ability to function in unity is dependent on the relationship built in solitude.

We must know who we are before we can contribute to community.

Solitude is absolutely important.  How much time do you spend alone with God?

Community:  personal relationships meeting together for partnership; a place of spiritual belonging, where you feel bonded together in love.

The characteristics of community:  love and unity.  An organization purporting to be community that has not both of these characteristics is not the real deal.

Solitude---------> Community-------------> Service.

Jesus, alone, prayed throughout the night.  In the morning  He called the disciples together.  In the afternoon He sent them forth to serve.

Unrealistic expectations: 1) Everyone should always get along, and 2) everyone should always agree.This DOES NOT define unity.

True unity is found when we submit to one another in service to Christ.  Ephesians 5:21

Forgive.  Celebrate Christ who brings us together.

Shift: Me to We.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday Morning
These few lines do not begin to represent the depth of the message as delivered.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Home Economics

"Hon, would you stop at the store and pick up a few items.  I don't really need to shop this week."

"Sure.  What do you need?"

"Pick up my 'script, get a half-gallon of whole mile, a packet of shredded mild cheddar, and a couple pounds of hamburger."

"Not a problem."

In the store.  Meds, check.  Cheese, check.  Milk, check.

Then to the beef counter.  Prices of hamburger range from $5.49 to $8.99?  You cannot be serious. Serious as death, and that may come sooner rather than later if these grocery prices keep escalating at the current rate.  Yikes!

I drove to the meat market where their 92% ground chuck was $5.99, exactly one dollar the pound more than those beautiful center-cut pork chops.  But I am faithful, and reliable.  So I bought three pounds, or $17.97 worth of hamburger and went on home.

Probably a fortuitous experience.  Perhaps need to find some way to infuse a bit more cash into the grocery budget.  But really, rob Peter to pay Paul?  Gotta eat.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lifetime Renter

Herkimer and Matilda Bitterman have lived next door since they married fifteen years ago.  Herk and Tildy are good neighbors, keep the place up nicely, and don’t bother me unduly.  Herk will borrow a tool now and again, but he always returns the item by and by.  The Bittermans rent the house from Herk’s father.  Now the elder Mr. Bitterman, “Bitty” to his friends, is married to Herk’s high school classmate, Lyla.

Six years ago when Bitty told his son he was going to marry Lyla, Herk said, “Dad! What are you thinking?” 

“That,” replied his father, “is none of your business.”

And that was so.

I once asked Herk why he rented.  Wouldn’t his dad sell him the house, I wondered.

“Here’s the deal.  Dad has the monthly income from the rent.  Part of his retirement package, you see.  If I bought the house, Lyla would go through the money in a week.  Then where’s his income?”

“Your dad could sell it to you on contract.”

“True.  But it would pay out eventually, income stops.”

“But your father is surely going to pass before Lyla does.  Then she’ll get the house, and you will be out of luck.”

“Not at all.  Dad’s will specifically conveys the house to me and Tildy.  Lyla gets the house where 
 they live and the IRA.”  Works for everyone.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grammar Policeman Arrests Self

Filling the gas tank, cold rain and wind blowing.  Glanced across the street.  New message on the sign at the corner of our restaurant. (I call it "our restaurant" because we typically eat there twice a week.)  Egregious grammatical error.  I reach for the camera.  "Ha," I think, "I'll post that."

Nobody likes a smart-aleck.  And everybody despises a pedantic smart-aleck.

I am trying to be more tolerant, more loving; less critical, less pedantic.

And in this endeavor, less is more.

Ouch! Just sprained my arm patting myself on the back.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Herkimer Bitterman stopped by his dad's house to drop off his rent check.  Dad invited him in, so they were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee.  Herk's stepmother, Lyla, came in, "Hi, Herky! So are you going to our twentieth class reunion on Saturday?"

"Are you?"

"Sure.  I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Then no," said Herkimer.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Shift: Self to Others

Paul's letter to the Phillipians, 2:19

  • Moxie is completing whatever you started..
Paul, a strong spiritual mentor.
Paul's moxie to serve God:  Relentless
Paul's every action was motivated by his service to God.
  • Three types of people
Goats.  Stinky, nasty, noisy, annoying; reluctant to make changes; sour, self-focussed.  They taint the air with their disgusting mean attitude.

Sheep.  Look a lot like goats.  Are struggling with their desires vs. what God wants them to be.  Need direction.

Shepherds.  Live among the sheep; lead, protect.  A shepherd smells like the sheep.
The shepherd is available; the shepherd is trustworthy.
The shepherd is a mentor; the shepherd has moxie, long-term commitment.

God is calling us to be shepherds, to care for others.
  • Shift: From what you need to what others need.
A shepherd has a flock.  No sheep: no shepherd.

Who is your flock?

Pastor Joe Deckard
Sunday morning

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Just Kidding

She:  Would you like a dish of these strawberries?
I:  I'll save mine for my nine o'clock ice cream.
She:  If I ate ice cream like you do, I'd weigh 500 pounds.

That evoked an image.  Oh, yeah/no.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Everyone is an Expert

So many things today rubbed against the grain.  Scarred the surface? No! Ate deep into my brain,  A rant?  You don’t want to read it  Certain sure that you don’t need it.  Upset with everything, this mental midget.  I’m sure you’d label me an idjit if I spouted off here.  But it would be sincere.

The pony in the pile: The laundry is folded, the bed is newly made, fresh linens, and I have only to wait for bedtime!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I have a 6 x 9 spiral notebook with a rather attractive multicolored cover which I pressed into service as an address book many years ago.  Many, many years ago.  This is my personal address book featuring friends, family and acquaintances, all people whom I thought enough of to preserve their addresses for quick and easy access.  (Yes, it is more efficient than digital address books.  Not open to debate.)

As time passed, I found myself marking various names thusly: /DEC, sometimes followed by a date.  In this manner I have kept track of those close f, f, and a who have preceded me in death.  I was addressing an envelope a few days ago, and on a whim I thumbed through the pages and counted the /DEC notations.  41 names so marked.  41 people I cared enough about to enter in my collection of personal friends.

Mortality: It's for everyone!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

He Chose You

Scripture: Philippians 3:4-16

You have one task:  Keep your eyes on Jesus.

We were in a place we've no business to be; He took hold of us.

He has called us Heavenward.  We are to live up to what we have already attained.

We no longer live as slaves to sin and death, but as joint-heirs with Jesus!

The Shift:  From slave to child.

He chose you; He is not stuck with you.
(nt: think adoptive parent choosing the child)

You can be redeemed!

A reminder of how special you are.

Now, don't gloat.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning