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“For nothing will be impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37
 

    I’m sitting all snuggled under a fluffy lap blanket my Mom made me. I am warmed by the fire of our staring at the Christmas tree and its quiet ans still. The rain is softly falling and the only sound is the crackle of the fire and the tick tock of the mantle clock. My quiet time this morning was wonderful. I’ve had a marvelous visit with the Lord and now I am reflecting back on Christmas’ past.

    I love this time of year. I love the whole thing, every corny old Christmas song and sappy tear jerking old movie, every smell and seeing all the houses in our neighborhood decorated and fully lit up. I even love the hustle bustle of the traffic during the holidays, it just doesn’t seem to bother me that much. I love all the planning, gift wrapping and hoilday lists. I love stopping in the mall to watch the children with their starry-eyed excitement and great anticipation written all over the cute little faces as they wait patiently in line to see Santa. Oh I know the true, real meaning of Christmas, and actually I love that most of all. I know Christmas is more than hollyberries and mistletoe, snow fall and presents. However, I still love all that stuff.

     One summer, when my oldest daughter was around 10 or 11, she and I went shopping together for her Mom’s birthday gift. However, the trip turned complicated when she broke in with this perplexing question. “Daddy?” she said.

“Yes Honey” I replied.

“I can always talk to you about anything, can’t I Dad?”

“I hope so! I said, Why? What’s up?”

“No matter how silly or strange the question is , you will always tell me the truth. Huh Dad!?” 

    At this point I became a bit nervous as to where this might be heading. “I hope so, I said, I try to give you a honest answer to everything, if I know the answer. Why? What do you want to know?”

She said, “You will always tell me the truth, won’t you Daddy!? I can always count on you for the truth, huh Daddy!?”

At that point I began to really panic, I was afraid she was going to ask me about the ‘Birds & Bees’

She said, “Daddy tell me the truth! I really need to know . . . Is there really a Santa Claus?”

At that moment I could have just died. Why did she have to ask that question? I mean I’d rather it had been about the Birds & Bees’ anything but that one innocent defining moment. I didn’t know what to say. I began praying for the right words. I didn’t want to lie but I was so sad to think I was going to lose a valuable part of her childhood. And now I believe God gave me the perfect answer and the way to present it.

I said, “Well, you know sweetie, I’ve never really met Santa in person myself. And I don’t think those guys dressed up at the mall are him. So I don’t have first hand knowledge. Of course I’ve never really met the President either and I still believe in him. And I’ve never seen God in the flesh either but I know He exists. But I will tell you what I do know. I know this . . . every Christmas magic seems to happen. Little children who never get anything all year long, seem to get toys and plenty of food and clothing at Christmas. Hungry people are fed and clothed all over the world. And even in the battlefields where men are killing each other, all over the world, on Christmas Eve there comes a brief time of peace, a cease fire and men stop shooting at each other. Families come back together and start speaking to one another. And there seems to be a cheer that fills everyone. Crotchety mean people who grumble most of the time start saying things like Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. So, Honey, I said, . . . I don’t know if Santa is real or not. But I do know magic happens at Christmas. And I also know that children who believe in Santa get more presents than children who don’t.”

She just stared at me and said, “Oh I believe in Santa Daddy! I really really do!”

    So what is Christmas to you? What do you believe?

Is is really true that “nothing is impossible with God” ? (Luke 1:37) Could a virgin have a baby? Could He or would He, or did He truly become a man and come to save us? If you haven’t really openned that gift before, don’t miss it this Christmas.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Your brother,

Sam

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Truly Thankful

“Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body;
and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:14-16

 

At Thanksgiving time we are barraged with reminders that we need to be thankful, and we do have so much to be thankful for. So in a way, I guess you could say this is just another encouragement toward that end. However, as Christians we should be living with “Thankfulness” all the time, not just mindful of it one day a year. If we are not living in a constant state of “Thankfulness”, we find ourselves drawn to the dark side of grumbling or complaining. Heaven knows we have enough of those grumblers & complainers around. But we are to be different, we are encouraged to look for the good in others and speak truth and love where-ever we go. We are the ones who are to turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile. Well, . . . we are supposed to live like that anyway. Maybe we don’t always abide by that standard, but if not, it could be an indicator that we are not truly living Thankful lives. After all, when you stop and consider where we Christians are going and what glory lies ahead, how in heaven’s name could we not be a THANKFUL? There should be no way anyone could even wipe these silly grins off our faces. Oh I know it is not all peaches and cream all the time and we all get down dooby do down down at times but for the most part our over all demeanor, attitude and outlook should be hopeful, THANKFUL, for we are most blessed. Colossians 3:14-16 reminds us to put on love and unity but before those verses we find in verses 12 and 13 a reminder to us that we are chosen of God, holy and beloved, we have been forgiven. If we can’t muster a Thankful heart over those three facts alone we are missing nothing but the boat. Dear brothers & Sisters we need to cultivate this attitude of Thankfulness, truly thankful for God’s blessings and attention.

 

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;

 just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:12-13

 

Pray and consider the gifts of God in our lives and the dark clouds soon dissipate. Fear and doubt cannot stand when we exercise faith and especially not when it is steeped in thankfulness.

    I remember long before I was a believer, back in my music traveling days, I was living in New York City working in the studios. I was a bit homesick for Texas and my family and becoming a little depressed. As I was sharing that with my agent, he grabbed his coat and said “Hey Kid, lets take a walk” We walked down 5th Avenue and then turned into Central Park. I remember it was a cold December afternoon. He led me to the Zoo area and we stopped and stood by the fence looking in at the ugliest, smelliest animal I’d ever seen. It was a musty, dirty matted old Yak. Now maybe in the wild Yaks are beautiful creatures but this bad boy was not pretty, and he stunk to high heaven, he smelled like a college sophomore’s 4 week-old-gym-socks. My friend, Lenny told me that whenever he got a little down he would always take a stroll down here to the park. He said, “I look at that old Yak and I thank God He did not make me into one of these creatures. This helps me put things into a little better perspective.”

    Godly perspective: We have been chosen by God, saved and given gifts and endowed with purpose. We live in the greatest nation on Earth and we are surrounded by family, friends and great opportunities to make a difference. I am Truly Thankful! How about you? Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Your brother,

Sam


For the last year we’ve heard nothing but candidate’s names plastered on the news, radio, and billboards. The big question has continually been, “who are you going to vote for?” I came across this wonderful message from David Barton that I want to share with you. He encourages believers to exercise their responsibility to vote, and to change our mindset from the “who” to the “what.” As believers it’s our responsibility to vote for things that clearly matter to God. Take a listen, and join us in constant prayer as we head into election week. God is in control.

Your brother, 

Sam

http://www.drjamesdobson.org/popupplayer?broadcastId=287d45a8-b272-40bc-8a3e-8243b4eafa8a

Do Not Fret! 


 “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

Psalm 103:19

 

    Its an election year here in America, as everyone and his dog knows by now. And we are now down to the wire, a week away from voting. We are being barraged by political talk everywhere we go, TV, radio, newspapers, the internet and even our city streets are lined with political posters. The news is fixated on the poles and almost every conversation you and I get into ends up talking about the latest scandal and fears for the future. If you are like me, you are sick of all of it and so tired of each election ending up with having to make a choice between the lesser of two evils. I know you’ve heard enough, so I don’t want to throw my measly two cents worth into the fray and add to your fears. But what I do want to do is help us all get a more positive perspective. Oh, I have a person that I will cast a vote for, for President, I believe it is not only a privilege to vote but a sacred responsibility. That being said, lets not forget what God’s Word says, He is God who puts into power who He chooses, for God is truly sovereign over ALL things!

 

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” – Romans 13:1

He will do what He will do and that is reassuring in itself, because He is good!

    I remember as a young boy my Mom bought me some white pants. Don’t ask me what she was thinking at the time, they were probably painters pants and she got a good deal on them at Sears or something. But here I was a rag tag mess of a young boy walking around in white pants. One afternoon right after school, two of my “Huckleberry Friends” and I decided we would skip riding the school bus home and jump on the slow moving freight train that passed by our school each afternoon right as school was letting out. We ran along side the slow moving train and swung ourselves up into an open freight car. Everything was going great until the train started picking up speed. As we neared the spot where we were planning to jump off we realized the train was going way too fast. We decided to wait until the train slowed down at the big curve at the end of town. Unfortunately, it didn’t slow down very much. My friend Jerry jumped first, then Bobby, as I watched in horror as both of them hit the ground rolling over the rocks. I was petrified! I looked toward the front of the train and saw what looked like a big green mattress of leaves so I planned my jump just perfectly to leap into the arms of those soft green leaves but in fact it turned out to be a huge stickery bush of Dewberries. After I recovered from the fear of the jump I realized I was not only bruised and battered but I was covered in dewberry juice, those white pants were ruined. As I walked toward home I began to imagine how hard I was going to get spanked for ruining those new white pants. I decided to stop over at my Grandma’s house to ask her advice. My grandmother was wonderful and she always knew just what to do. Well, she said, “Don’t worry.” She began to add bluing and soap and a couple of other magic potions to her ringer washer machine. She told me to strip off my pants and I began to pray. Boy did I pray. As I stood there in my ‘whitie tighties’ shivering, she said, “Oh Sweetie don’t worry. It will all come out in the wash.” Her words come back to me now, “Oh Sweetie don’t worry. It will all come out in the wash.”

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,”

Romans 8:28

Oh I still have my political opinions, but I am choosing to focus on trusting God for His perfect plan.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” 

Proverbs 3:5&6

Your brother,

Sam


 

Then David said to himself, “Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul.”

1st Samuel 27:1

 

    These words from 1st Samuel 27 come from the same David who had been anointed and promised by the prophet Samuel to one day be God’s chosen leader, the King, of all of Israel. But David out of his fear and frustration let his heart betray his faith. He took his mighty men and fled to the land of his enemies, the Philistines. Now before we get all self righteous, judging David for his lack of faith we need to stop and think about how many times we end up doubting the promises of God that He has given us. For instance, He says in His Word, “He will never leave nor forsake us”(Hebrews 13:5) and that, “if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness all these things we need will be added to us.”(Matthew 6:33) But do we always walk as though we truly believe those things?

 

    Years ago our family was struggling financially. I was working hard but it was hand to mouth every day. My wife came up with a unique way of handling the bills. Whenever the money came in she would always make out the tithe check first and foremost. But since money was tight we didn’t always have enough to pay every bill at the same time, so she would write a check for the amount of each bill we owed, put each one in an envelope, then write the check amount up in the right hand corner of the envelope. Then she would wait until enough money came in to pay a bill, as soon as an amount was enough to pay a bill she would then place a stamp over the penciled amount and mail that check. She kept all these pre-paid bills in a basket on our buffet table. Now God always provided just what we needed when we needed it, even if it came in at the eleventh hour it still always came in. One afternoon when I arrived home from work my wife asked if I’d moved the envelopes somewhere. I said, “No, why?” “Because the basket is empty and I have no clue where the envelopes had gone.” We began searching the house. I thought perhaps they had fell behind the buffet but they weren’t there. Suddenly the phone rang, it was our oldest daughter who lived only a few miles away. She said, “Mom I came by to see you today but your were out. And by the way, since I had to go to the post office on my way home I picked up your mail, stamped it all and dropped it off at the post office for you.” When my wife hung up the phone she told me what had happened to the envelopes . . . we both panicked. There was over $ 800.00 worth of checks in those envelopes. And we did not have anywhere near enough money in the bank to cover all those bills. We immediately went to our knees in prayer. I was racking my brain trying to figure out how in the world I was going to come up with that kind of money. I thought about every one who might owe me money, and what I might be able to sell. We agonized for a long time there on our knees in prayer until my wife finally said, “I’m going to check on the kids.” I stayed there praying while she was gone and suddenly I felt the Lord begin to speak to my heart. “Son, you can’t fix this can you?” He asked. I said, “No Father, I can’t.” He said, “There is no way you can come up with that much money is there?” Again I said “No Lord!” He then said, “Now you sit back and watch me work and never forget that I am your provider.” When Colleen came back into the room she found me in tears but with a smile on my face. She said, “You heard from the Lord didn’t you!” I shook my head yes and told her what He’d said. Over the next two weeks we watched as God moved miraculously and graciously, little by little the money began to trickle in. We would immediately deposit it, and then one by one each check came through and would clear the bank. At the end of those two weeks all the checks had been covered and we were back on track. We even had to write a couple of more checks to buy food during that time but still God protected us and provided. We have never forgotten God’s provision and the miracle He performed for us. Our faith was encouraged and stretched.

 

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:6

 

     The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures. Lets not forget that God is the rewarder of those who trust Him. He always rewards faith, He never rewards fear.

Your brother,

Sam

Who’s Watching?

 

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

 

    I remember, as a young man, the words of my Grandmother whenever I would ready to go anywhere . . . “Remember, Jesus is with you where-ever you go.” It actually felt kind of like a warning back then, a way to spoil my fun I thought, but my Grandmother was trying to teach me a valuable life lesson, she was trying to shape my character into being a young man of God by encouraging me to make wise choices, live a life of integrity and honor. Now that I’m older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I find great reassurance in the fact that Jesus is with me where-ever I go. I guess I finally got it. My wife and I have tried to pass those same values down to our children. When-ever they leave we tell them, “We love you! Make wise choices.” Oh they roll their eyes sometimes or make a joke about it but they hear it. Isn’t making wise choices in life about the best you can do? But making wise choices often is something hard to discern, often we find ourselves struggling against our fleshly desires and temptations, and often times we choose a response out of anger or frustration, or perhaps we just let our guard down and follow the crowd. Setting solid standards of behavior, those dos and don’t that govern and guard our life choices is key but it doesn’t happen by accident it is a series of wise choices adding up to wise habits that hold us steady. If we fail to set our minds on the things of heaven we risk the danger of falling prey to this world’s guiles. And after all wise life choices are our own personal responsibility. There are no excuses, we can’t say things like, “It’s not my fault, it was because of the way my parents treated me. I am just this way because of all that life has dumped on me. It’s because I just can’t get a break that my finances are messed up, OR, I just have bad luck!” WRONG! You always have a choice. Life is not always fair, but that is when we truly realize that God is there. He says,

 

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

1st Corinthians 10:13

I bought a used car for my daughter when she was in high school. I bought it from a friend who just happens to be a non-Christian. He is my friend, but we have a different set of values. My friend thinks you have to be able to work the system, play the angles. He is a good guy just not a redeemed soul. I believe you answer to God for all your decisions, so I try to do it the way I think He would want me to. While we were filling out the pink slip and bill of sale on my daughter’s car, He said, “Sam, just put down you paid less for the car. Because it will cost you less taxes that way. And besides only you and I will know the true amount, and I’m not going to tell anybody.” I smiled at him and said, “I can’t do that. God will know, and saving a buck is not as important as pleasing God. Besides, it is God that gives me my money in the first place. He’ll give me the extra money I need to pay the taxes.” He was frustrated with me and bewildered by my response. He said I was being foolish. I don’t think so. God is watching and God does care . . . Foolishness is to ignore God in the process.

 

“The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;”

Psalm 138:8

 

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them.”

Psalm 139:17

 

Keep your eyes on Jesus He is always watching over you.

Your brother,

                      Sam

list

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

When is the last time you sat still and took a deep breath? I mean a real deep, slow methodical breath?

I think we all just shallow breath most of the time. That’s why I defend us snorers, that’s the time we really breathe deep, or at least I feel like I do. The world around us is a world filled with grumbling and complaining but we are not to be of this world. Yes we live in it, but we are called not to be of it. We are called to be citizens of heaven. When was the last time you sat down and wrote out a list of your many blessings?  I remember as a young boy, I was singing all the time, constantly, everywhere I went. BUT, I still ended up doing a lot of grumbling. One day as I was being a little whiner, my Grandmother said very casually, “Oh Honey sing me that little song you sing about numbers.”

“I don’t sing any numbers songs, Nannie.”

“Oh sure ya do, you know, the one where you count up stuff.”

“You mean, “Count your blessings?”

“Yeah, that’s the one I like so much. You sing it so well. Sing it for me.”

Well, as I began to sing I realized she was subtly telling me to stop complaining and start counting up my blessings.  You know what?  It worked! And actually, it still works to this very day! I’ve said this a million times, we need to stop telling God how big our troubles are and start telling our troubles how big our God is.

When’s the last time we did that?  Just to name a few things we should be praising God for, if you know Christ, think about it . . .  You can go to Him at anytime day or night. We actually have free access into the throne room of God! And whenever we ask, God will always give us wisdom. He is quick to forgive and holds no records of our wrongs. He picks us up, dusts us off, provides for all our needs, works all things together for good for those who love Him, and His treasury never runs out, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He promises to provide for all our needs, IF we but seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. He comforts us, and hath said, “He would never leave us nor forsake us.” He paid the price for all our sins, and has cast them as far as the East is from the West. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. And when all this mess is over, we get to spend eternity with Him in a heaven, a wonderful, beautiful place. We get new incorruptible bodies. (I’m gonna ask for hair when I get there.) No matter what comes our way, there is purpose for our lives and we really matter to God. In fact, He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son for us, even when we were sinners He did that. All this stuff we worry about and concern ourselves with will soon be past, But He will work all of it out the end. . . WOW! I feel better already. Maybe I’d better work that old “Count Your Blessings” back into my song list, what do you think?

   Count Your Blessings

Written by: Johnson Oatman Jr. 1897

2nd verse:

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by

Chorus:       

II: Count your blessings name them one by one

Count your many blessings see what God hath done. :II

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, 

And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You.

If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.”

– Psalm 40:5

Your brother,

Sam