A Tribute to Our Seniors

May is always a busy month for those around our schools, be it teachers, students, parents or those connected in some other way.  It's a time when kids are counting down to summer.  Unfortunately for our schools, the summer break begins in June this year which shortens summer a bit.  But for a few students this will be the end of their journey that started way back in 1st grade, and we have the privilege of celebrating that major accomplishment with them!  Our four graduates, Leah Crawford, Madison Duncan, Hannah Littlepage and Ross Thomas, have had connections with this church as long or longer than they've been in school.  From VBS to Mission Trips and everything in between they've been a vital part of the life of our church, and we want to take a moment to tell them just how very proud of them we are and thankful for all the memories we've made together.

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First the Passion, Then the Celebration

Yes we're nearly there!  That day when we celebrate the risen Lord and His defeat of sin's power over us!  Leading up to the celebration, though, we sometimes lose sight of the brutality that our Savior endured for us.  At an annual gathering of area church youth groups we watch the "Passion of the Christ".  It's not a movie you sit down with a bowl of popcorn and watch for entertainment, but it is a movie that we feel should be watched over and over, especially around Easter due to the importance of its content.  As graphic as it may be, it likely depicts the most accurate account of Jesus' Passion.  It is very hard to watch, though; I agree.

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Yes, that is a new word that has yet to find its way into Webster’s dictionary, but is being used as a defense by some who find themselves beyond the realm of boundaries.  "Affluenza" is a term used for those that suffer from being extremely affluent, wealthy beyond just rich I guess, to the point of not following what we would call common sense guidelines.  If you haven’t heard of this yet then read about the defense team for a 16 year old who had killed four people and left two others seriously injured in Texas while driving drunk: Prior to sentencing, a psychologist called by the defense, Dr. G. Dick Miller,  testified that [Ethan] Couch's life could be salvaged with one to two years' treatment and no contact with his parents.  Miller said Couch's parents gave him "freedoms no young person should have.”  He called Couch a product of "affluenza”, where his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.  He said Couch got whatever he wanted.  As an example, Miller said Couch's parents gave no punishment after police ticketed the then 15-year-old when he was found in a parked pickup with a passed out, undressed, 14-year-old girl.  Miller also pointed out that Couch was allowed to drive at age 13.  He said the teen was emotionally flat and needed years of therapy.”

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Know God

"This is what the Lord says: "Don't let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.  But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!"  (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 "The heart cannot exult in what the mind rejects."  This quote by Dr. Stephen Myers pretty much sums up what the prophet Jeremiah said.  Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, will find our worth in one of  three world views: wisdom, intelligence or education; athletics, art or politics; or security in career and position.  As I finish writing I know I've left out other good descriptions that you may have too, but for space constraints let's just look at these.  And let's remember that God has fashioned us to have intellect and wisdom, given us other special gifts to accomplish amazing things, and given us an abundance of resources to bless and be a blessing monetarily and with our time and talents.  All of these are good things as long as we remember that they're not the ultimate things that define us or give us worth.

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Looking Forward to a New Year

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him"  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

As we start into 2014 we are reminded that with Christ, people are continually becoming new.  Regardless of date or time or any of those things we gauge our existence by, we see in Jesus a fresh beginning each and every day.  What an awesome new year we have because any year, month, day or moment is exceptional and amazing as long as we are in Christ and He in us!  I hope and pray that during this year you'll see the potential to touch as many lives as possible in bringing the hope and love of Christ to a hurting and lost world!  He is blessing us so we can bless others - a never ending stream of Grace that is continually poured into us so we can in turn pour into the lives of others.

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Slow Down and Celebrate the Light!

As I write this article we are a week away from what used to be the beginning of the holiday season.  Can you still remember when Christmas decorations weren't put out until after Thanksgiving?  Now Halloween has to compete with the beginning of the shopping season.  Before you know it July 4th will be the beginning of the Christmas season.  Oh yeah, they're already doing that.  Why is there such a rush?  What's happened to just enjoying the particular season we're in instead of ushering in the next one way too soon?  Are we that consumed with getting things under way that we've lost the ability to just live in the moment?

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We are fast approaching cooler temperatures, and fall will soon become winter.  It reminds me of a time in my life when something else marked this time of year, Deer Season!  More specifically Gun Deer Season!  It was a family tradition that during the fall season those of us who hunt would gather at my grandmother's house, called the Pink House, to carry on what we and those before had done for several years.  My uncle referred to it as thinning the herd down, and as a farmer he appreciated the help as we tried to fill our freezers with venison.  My Daddy and his brothers and my brother and cousins and nephews and aunts and others in the family would converge on those acres of woods and fields of crops to take part.  It was early mornings and sometimes late nights when we shared stories of the ones we got and the ones that got away.  We helped each other track and clean and advise on where to go and not go.  It's what we did and it was a tradition that we shared for several years.

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