Call Me Buddy the Elf

I remember as a kid that right around this time, right after Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations started to pop up I stores.

Guess what? That ain’t the case no more. Now, it’s long before Halloween that we see jingle bells and decorative snowflakes going on sale. People complain about it, but I kind of embrace it.

As the song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and I really believe that it is.

This really is the most wonderful time of the year for people who are connected to Christ. Why? Families come together at Christmas, people practice traditions, and, at Venture Church, we start ramping up for a season when people are open to hearing about a baby who came whose name was Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us.”

We’re getting ready to do Christmas Crack Up – a comedy night with lots of laughter that raises money for those less fortunate in our community.

This leads up to our Christmas Experiences and, this year, we’re doing SEVEN! (By the way, the series leading up to Christmas is all about Christmas carols and is all about preparing ourselves to experience Jesus over the holidays).

Christmas is an Opportunity 

Over the next month, we get to share the greatest news that could ever be shared with anyone: you don’t have to be lost in your hopelessness, you don’t have to be lost in your guilt, you don’t have to be lost in your work or your worries. Why? Because the lord Jesus, that baby who came, was brought to us to give purpose, fulfillment, forgiveness, and hope.

So, yea, I’d say it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

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A Tradition of Gratitude

The big day is coming! Maybe your family celebrates with turkey or prime rib or ham or maybe you just pile your plate high with those delicious scalloped potatoes. Maybe you can’t wait for a slice of pumpkin pie over coffee or maybe you’re anticipating that someone will bring that one salad that somebody makes every year because it looks good but nobody eats it.

Whether your Thanksgiving is full of good traditions or bad traditions or new traditions, I want to take a second to talk about what this holiday really centers upon.

You know what Thanksgiving is all about? It says in 1 Thessalonians that in everything give thanks. Give thanks in the good time, the bad times, the high times, the low times, and the meaningful times. Because if we have breath to breathe then we have an opportunity to experience God’s goodness. Maybe this year it’s a good idea to stop for 5-1o minutes before the feasting begins and just give thanks for all the blessings you have.

And, remember, sometimes the greatest blessing are not the megaphone moments sometimes it’s just a song that plays at the right moment and puts a little bounce of life back into your step.

Sometimes it’s just a sunset or sunrise, or the mist coming off the lake, or those subtle symbols of God’s creation and beauty. It may be that moment where you see a father showing unconditional love to a son or daughter, or when wife and husband taking each other’s hands. You may experience these moments or be a witness to them, but guess what? Those are all blessings to be thankful for!

What I’m the most thankful for is that even when I blow it I know I can find forgiveness through God. When I mess up I can go to Jesus and learn from it. Every single day God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit works in me and fills me with gratitude for this journey he’s got me on.

So, I don’t want to wait until the gobble-gobble-stuffing-stuffing-mashed-potatoes-gravy actual day of Thanksgiving to talk about what I’m thankful for.

  • I want to thank God for my wife – she’s definitely the better 3/4 of this duo, and if there’s been any stability in our home, she’s brought it.
  • I also want to thank God for my children. Every one of my children know Christ, are walking with Christ, and are serving Christ. For that, I’m incredibly grateful.
  • I’m thankful for my daughter-in-laws – they are a blessing. They add so much to our family. I thank God for that.
  • I thank God for the guy in my daughter’s life, he’s growing in Christ and, not only that, but he’s also taking good care of my daughter and that’s a priority.
  • I thank God for my grandkids, they bring new life into the world with their unique personalities and they have totally changed our family dynamic.
  • I thank God for those people who pray for me on a daily basis, because without them I would be a shell of who I am today.
  • I thank God for the people who faithfully serve every single week at Venture Church, expecting nothing in return. They do it out of love for God and a love for others.
  • I thank God for each and every day because I get to wake up and serve Christ, know Christ, and learn more about Christ’s mission and purpose on this earth.
  • I thank God for daily encounters and promptings as I journey closer to Him.

Every day is a gift, every day is an opportunity and as long as God gives us breath and life, we are blessed. I could go on and on, but maybe today is a great day to look at what you do have not what you don’t have.

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Re-election of Mike Duggan

I was really encouraged the other day. With all of the conflict and distrust that there is today, it was kind of uplifting to see that people can get a long and they can cross racial divides to come together to better their communities.

What am I talking about specifically?

A white mayor, Mike Duggan, was the first white mayor in the predominantly black community of Detroit since 1970. He has been mayor for four years now and last week the city of Detroit re-elected him.

Now I’m not going to say that I agree with everything that Mike Duggan does – that’s not the point. African American leaders in Detroit, along with a white mayor, have shown that there can be progress and that they can mutually come to the table and talk. As a result, the community is growing and there is a new awakening taking place in Detroit.

People are coming together, businesses are moving in, and millennials are living in the city. Now I understand that there are a lot of areas in Detroit that are broken and untended to. But it would appear that the trajectory that the present administration is on, with civic leaders and community organizers, is leading to great things happening in the city.

  • Plans to spread affordable housing units across all areas of the city
  • Renovations to the Randolph Career Technical Education Center
  • Creation of the Little Cesar’s Arena
  • Major road and parking improvements

This teamwork is showing us that people can live together, work together, strategize together, and make a difference together.

Well done, Detroit. We are far stronger working together than tearing each other down.

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