Which One Is The Best?

Wynona did it this year. So did Peter Cetera. Bette Midler also did it. Gladys Knight did it, Pipless no less! Let’s not leave out James Taylor, Sarah McLachlin, Brad Paisley, and Hall & Oates. Oh, and I almost forgot, Twisted Sister did it too. So, what can this odd cast of characters have in common? They all released Christmas CDs this year. This is probably only the tip of the iceberg. But thanks to ITunes, I am made aware of these. Should I pay for a Twisted Sister Christmas CD? Don’t laugh. Lita Ford has a duet with Dee Snider. I’m sorry, but I just can’t picture those two crooning, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas“. Sigh.

Well, this is my annual dilemma. I love Christmas music. I especially think it’s great when someone I enjoy hearing otherwise, grabs ahold of a great Christmas song and does a great job with it. Unfortunately, everybody has a Christmas CD out and how would I possibly purchase them all? Aside from that, how many versions of “The Christmas Song” do we really need? And I think the Christian artists have an edge because Christmas becomes a matter of faith, not just presents and trees and Santa. (Not that I object to presents … let me be perfectly clear about that!) Still, I find myself wanting to get so many Christmas CDs, and that’s just not in my budget. So I may need to pick out one new one and be satisfied with that. Not sure what it will be. One thing’s for sure. If I’ll just procrastinate, Christmas will be over and I won’t be nearly as interested in it anymore. That’s a plan!

What is your favorite Christmas CD? Or maybe top four or five? Do you like Christmas music? Well, there are all kinds of Christmas CDs. I was just listening to one I bought in Wal-Mart by an unknown (to me) group called V.I.P. called Chrismas A Cappella. It’s very well done. I’ll use some of those as some background music as people gather for worship on Sundays and in between worship and class. That sets a happy mood, to me. Anyway, it’s not going to make my all-time favorites list. Well, here’s my list of favorites. I can’t call them “best of”, because I like them all equally!

*For a real bluegrass feel, grab Emmylou Harris’ Light of the Stable. She does The First Noel without instrumental accompaniment and it is beautiful.

*For city slicker sound with a good country twang, Garth Brooks’ Magic of Christmas is full of brass with great arrangements and his signature vocals.

*George Strait has two or three Christmas CD’s out, but I like Merry Christmas Wherever You Are. There’s just something about that title song that grabs you by the heart. Plus George has lots of steel guitar and some Texas swing in the mix. I like it.

*Probably one of my all time country favorites, though, is the duet album featuring Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton called Once Upon A Christmas. I think it’s a perfect Christmas collection. And I am unanimous in this!

*If you like Jazz, join me in loving Harry Connick, Jr.’s awesome CD called “When My Heart Finds Christmas“. The title song alone is worth buying the CD.

*The Beach Boys Christmas Album is a great collection … and every song is so cool…it’s the Beach Boys…what else could it be?

*A CD that is THE SOUND of Christmas to me is The Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait. It’s perfect.

*City on a Hill did a three or four compilation CDs featuring Third Day, Leanne Nash, Caedman’s Call, and a bunch of other folks … in that set is a Christmas CD called It’s Christmas Time. It is excellent by every standard. Third Day has a new Christmas CD I haven’t heard yet!

I’m sure there are others I’m not thinking about. I’d like to get Doris Day’s Christmas CD I just noticed is available on Amazon. Yes, DORIS DAY…what a beauty … and she was a good person. And for some bust out my speakers big vocals I may pick up Clay Aiken’s Merry Christmas With Love. Somewhere, if it survived Katrina, I have a mountain music Christmas CD and a big band CD that are both instrumentals. I like them a lot also. Oh, wait, there’s Sandi Patty’s The Voice of Christmas. I’ve always been a fan.

So, you can see, I’m hopeless. I love Christmas music across most genres (I still can’t do Christmas rap, and I don’t like the song about the grandmother who gets run over by the reindeer!). Anyway…I reserve the right to ammend this list if I think of others. What are your Christmas favorites? I know, Thanksgiving was just yesterday. We should give the dressing time to digest, but time marches on! Thanks for reading!

And just to show that everyone gets into the Christmas spirit, here’s Cyndi Lauper and Martha Stewart with Winter Wonderland.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzsZx9uCnY8]

A Couple of Notes…

According to Wade Tannehill’s blog, fellow blogger ‘Preacherman’ is in ICU with serious problems. I cannot get his blog to appear, but apparently his wife will be posting an update. Preacherman’s blog is HERE.

 Many will be traveling on Thursday, as will my family. We pray for safe journeys for everyone.

My friend Mason McClain is re-writing his True Hope Report on a new blog located HERE. It’s a good read. If you missed it the first time, you’re in luck!

 Please read the post below and comment if you have time. Thanks!

Upside Down Thanksgiving

Perhaps we have Thanksgiving all wrong. We all know we should give thanks every day. I certainly have no objection to a day dedicated to this important practice. But Thanksgiving ought to be a day with your family if possible, and not a day of service. Is this a shocking statement? Churches across America are offering ‘Thanksgiving dinners’ to the needy. There are special offerings, people who give up the luxuries of their life in order to bless those who struggle in life. I’m glad that this spirit exists, but how did it get to be exhibited on a special day … only? It seems to me that we ought to be offering help and service to the disadvantaged every day. We ought to care about the homeless and hungry as a regular routine of life. Instead, we do all these special things on Thanksgiving and Christmas and feel very satisfied. Too satisfied. In the middle of March, who is asking about the poor? No one.

Hunger is on the rise in New York City.   That’s what the soup kitchens say, as they feed so many. The U. S. Governement doesn’t like to use the word “Hungry” any more. It’s ‘food insecurity’. Would you like to play Bingo to have a bed for the week? These examples and others plague us. What can we do? The problem is so big … and we feel we have little to offer to help things get better. I think we have to focus on a few, and not be overwhelmed with the giant problem. There are ten thousand tear-jerking stories in every community. But what have we done for even one?

What stops us? The scams and rip-offs, the disingenuous and just plain ole liars! Larry James tells about a scam that he encountered this week. And then there is that sickening story of the ‘couple’ who appealed to a Memphis church for a home. The church was moved … spent $75,000 on a new home on the Coast and excitedly presented it to the couple. A few months later they sold it for $88,000 and moved to New Orleans. They are unashamed of their actions. The damage is done, though. How will this affect the willingness of people to give? Read about that HERE.

I do not have all the answers. This week’s Christian Standard has this blurb: Broadway Christian Church (Lexington, KY) opened its building for service—as well as services—this past weekend. On Saturday morning BCC used its facilities as a location for medical and dental screenings, distribution of food and winter clothing, and even hot showers for the needy in the community. www.broadwaychristian.com I think we have to start thinking outside of our loop a little bit and seeing the needs we previously ignored.

I really am thankful for everyone who reaches out during a holiday season to help others. But I think we need to focus on the other times. Asking our readers:

*Do any of you attend a church that provides lodging for emergency cases?

*Do any of you attend a church that provides short term lodging to help someone who needs to get back on his/her feet? (Someone recently released from jail, someone coming out of rehab, someone who recently lost their home for whatever reason.)

*Do any of us attend churches that participate in community food banks? Has anyone ever established a community food bank? (I need to talk to you if you say ‘yes’!)

*Do any of us have ongoing ministries aimed at the poor (aside from food pantries and clothes closets)?

Thanks for reading on this holiday weekend. Enjoy your families. Take a break. Learn to relax. Have a nap. Rest. It’s an upside down Thanksgiving. Re-energize your mind and body for service. Then serve as many as you can the rest of the months of the year.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqzItJkS4Ho]

New Rules For Driving

I hope your Thanksgiving week is going well. I’m sure that many who read this blog will be driving down the road … over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, as it were. I hope you all have safe journeys. I’m looking forward to being at my parent’s home on Thursday. I’ll get to see my brother and his wonderful family. We only see each other about once a year. I wish we lived closer together.

But since many of us will be driving, I wanted to remind you of the New Rules For Driving. I know, most of you took Driver’s Ed, but that’s a long time ago.  (Do all Driver’s Ed teachers have that nervous tic?) Back in the old ages, the rules were clear. But today’s postmodern driver doesn’t know about the things you learned. It’s a touchscreen world in a cashless society where the less real something is the more they like it. Driving is considered “free time”, and it begs to be filled with something meaningful. You know, you want to do something useful with your time while you are careening down the road at 80 miles per hour in a two thousand pound vessel of steel and rubber. So I wanted to fill you in on the New Rules for Driving.

1. Wide Medians are Turning Lanes. Don’t sit at the light with your right blinker on, just drive down the wide median as if it were a turning lane. I’m sure that the people who designed this road meant to make it a turning lane … look how wide it is. And why should you have to wait for the light when you could pull out in front of someone and be merrily on your way? The person who is sitting at the light and about to make a right turn should realize that people are driving up to the right of him … and he is still living in the old world where rules mattered. Sad, sad, sad the way some people still live.

2. Cell Phones in Position….Next To The Ear. Look, you’re driving. It’s easy. What could go wrong? Call a friend and talk to them while you are driving. Don’t use one of those things on your ear. Nobody can hear you. Plus, it makes you look like an alien. Put the phone up next to your ear where it belongs. Prop your elbow up on the windowledge of your car. If you don’t talk to someone while you are driving, you are just wasting precious time. It’s even better if there are three or four people in the car, all on their own cell phones. You can get a lot done on the phone while you are driving. If you miss a few cues … red lights … stop signs … it’s no big deal. It’s something you can tell to the person you are talking to … assuming you survive. People who drive down the road without a cell phone to the head usually look sad. I think it’s because all their friends are too busy to talk to them.

3. Secret Weapon To Be Used Against Red Lights. If you are driving through a city, stop lights can add a lot of time to your trip. Sitting there at those red lights … for sometimes two minutes at a time … can be be maddening. The secret to making those things turn green is to have something important to do. For instance, if you are totally relaxed, singing a little church song to yourself, with a smile on your face, you are going to get caught by a red light. Red lights do the work of the devil and they do not like happy faces. Keep a stack of mail in the seat next to you. When approaching a red light, reach over and start looking through the stack of mail. It is even better if there is a personal letter in that stack that you want to read. Try to open it one-handed. Your red light experience will be so brief, that you will cruise through town without a hitch. Another trick is to dump your wallet on the floorboard. When approaching a red light, start trying to pick it up.  I saved the best for last. It is for professionals only. When you are approaching the red light you should dump your coffee (see below) onto the floorboard of the car. While it eeks out of the sipper top, the choices between driving, going through the light, and saving your coffee (and carpet) make this a no-brainer. Save the coffee. You will never sit at a red light again.

4. Coffee. You must have coffee while you are driving. This will help you stay awake. It will help you look cool (especially if it is in a Starbucks cup), and it will give you something to do with all that free time you have while driving. Of course it also means that you must stop more often to rid yourself of the liquid … but that’s just another chance to get a refill. Also, do not be intimidated by the daunting task of talking on your cell phone while drinking coffee. It is your obligation to inform the person to whom you are speaking that you are drinking coffee and what kind it is. This lets your friend know that you are hip. All postmodern drivers under the age of 24 have learned to hold on to the cell phone, and sip their coffee, steering their automobile with this little knee maneuver. This should be practiced first on an interstate at 80 mph before trying it in the city.

5. Call for help. If you happen to have the bad luck of a flat, call for help. No one knows how to change a tire any more. Postmoderns cannot change tires. First, they have never known a time in their lives when they didn’t have at least three cars in the family – and one of them always works. Second, changing tires requires some unbendable rules … and rules just do not play well with postmoderns. Third, if you try to change your tire yourself you cannot talk on the cell phone and your coffee will get cold. Just call for help. Of course some good hearted person from the old days who knows how to change a tire could stop to help you. Then again, it could be some serial killer from a Lifetime movie and you may end up at the bottom of a lake as a part of a sick garden made up of floating dead people. Just call for help.

6. Get lost. Definitely pass up your exit, take the next one. It’s so boring to get a Google map, follow it explicitly, and then arrive at your destination with nothing to say. It is much better to have a tale about taking the wrong exit, not being able to get back on the interstate at that exchange, having to drive through a scary part of town, finally making it to where you were going. Doesn’t that sound like more fun? I have experienced this many times. It is a part of postmodern angst to note that our paths do not always take us where we desire. But sometimes when you take a wrong exit you find a Krispy Kreme with a red light on. Amen.

7. Video While Driving. Take a look.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa53hhvnmk4]

 Well, I hope that little guide helps you along on your trip. Have a great time and don’t forget to say howdy when you get back.

 ***Links***

 There’s something about THIS that makes me ill.  It’s creative … and I’m sure there are people who would want to buy this stuff. And maybe someone can use it for good. It just seems so ….  SECTARIAN. And honestly, most anything these days that smacks of sectarianism gives me the heaves. I’ve had my fill of that kind of thinking. Can you imagine Alexander Campbell having this pillow on his couch?

 ***Blogs***

Bobby has a really great prayer posted on his blog. Do you ever use another source for your prayers? If so, share it with us! How about the Psalms…great prayerbook. Somebody should write a book about praying through the Psalms. I bet several somebodies already have!

Marcia describes the Thank Offering Supper. Sounds like a great feast…but not as great as the one that God prepares

Mark asks, “Do Harding Students Tilt Elections?”

Gary writes about Worship Attitudes. Excellent post.

Tim talks about being thankful.

***News***

Prescription Dog gets a long ride but finally ends up at home.

Kansas woman, 95, prepares for final exam.

Emeril Lagasse brings his cuisine to Gulfport.

PRAYER ALERT

PRAYER ALERT: 43 students and a driver were on a school bus that flipped off I-565 this morning and landed at Church Street.  Three students died at the crash scene.

PRAYER VIGILS FOR THE LEE HIGH STUDENTS:

Rightway Church of God in Christ host a prayer vigil at 6 pm tonight at 5307 Mastin Lake Road NW in Huntsville.The Youth Ministry of First Baptist Church in Huntsville invite students affected by today’s bus accident to gather together for prayer and mutual support at the home of Gregg and Pam McDaniel, 106 Jones Valley Drive SW at 7 pm.

Life Church International will hold a prayer vigil tonight at 6 pm for students affected by the bus crash this morning.  The vigil will be held at 3912 Pulaski Pike in Huntsville.

Christian Union Church of God also has a vigil scheduled for 6 pm.  The church is at 2701 Christian Lane, next to Lee High School.

St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church will hold a prayer vigil at 6:30 pm.  St. Luke’s is located at 1800 Sparkman Drive.

Abounding Love Ministry at 256 Dan Tibbs Road in Huntsville will hold a prayer vigil at 6 pm.

Draper Memorial Church of God in Christ at 313 Beirne Avenue in Huntsville will hold a prayer vigil at 6pm tonight.

Phillips Christian Methodist Episcopal Church held a vigil this afternoon that started at 3 pm.  at 200 Davis Circle in Huntsville.

Word of Truth Outreach 2717 Winchest Road in Huntsville will hold a service tonight at 6:30 pm.

New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church will hold a vigil at 6:30 pm at their location on 4906 Blue Spring Road in Huntsville.

Monday Notes

We had a very good Sunday at Central with several community visitors. We studied Philippians 2 in both the sermon and the Bible class. I still do not have my podcast problem solved, but hope to very soon. As is our new custom on third Sunday nights we visit an area congregation. Twenty of us visited the evening services of the Vancleave Church of Christ. We heard a good message from their minister, Buck Hall. They shortened their services by twenty minutes so that they could go to Mobile for a singing. However, we were still glad we went. When we got back in the bus to head home, we had a call from the Seabs. Sue had passed away into the arms of Jesus, where she will be safe. We rejoice for her, but our hearts are left with sadness. Please say a prayer for the Seab family, especially Fred who has lost the love of his life … until they are together again.

One week from today I will have my other carpal tunnel surgery – this time on the left hand. I’m thankful that things have gone well with my right hand. I don’t think it will be nearly the adjustment that having my right hand in a cast for a week was.

Today also marks the end of two weeks on the South Beach diet. I do not own a set of scales, but I feel assured that I have lost some weight. How much? I’m not sure. But the number on the scale is not the important factor here. I plan to continue on with just one blip on the radar: Thanksgiving day at my mother’s. I’m just going to be guarded that this is one day … not the beginning of a two-month binge!

My friend Veto Roley who works for The Mississippi Press quoted me in a news story (linked below) on hunger on the Coast. One thing that is lacking is Pascagoula is a community food bank for the impoverished. It’s been on my mind for the past few weeks that there ought to be one place where people can go for food … instead of having to hoof it to ten different churches to get a bag of green beans from each one. It also seems to me that all of the churches in town would welcome such an effort and contribute food and funding to keep it open. Does your community have a place like that? Why wouldn’t Christians volunteer to staff it … and keep a database so that we can make sure we get the most of what we have to the most deserving people? I’m sure there are organizations that would also provide materials. Anyway…it’s been on my mind and I do not know what will come of that.

According to the Poverty USA website, a Catholic outreach, Mississippi is first on the list of states that has the greatest percent of people living below the poverty level (17% of the population).  We are second in terms of having the largest percentage of children living in poverty.

 The following is a repeated paragraph from Saturday’s blog … but for those who do not read on the weekend and might not check back:

Thirsty For God is the theme of an evangelistic outreach at Central for 2007. Plans are currently being made for a kick-off week January 28-February 4. Only my friends (who know I’m a sports ignoramus) will believe me when I say that I was using this ‘kick-off’ terminology long before I knew that February 4 was ’super Sunday’. Anyway, we hope to have a week where we can stir up some Bible studies and interest using the contacts we already have. Following that, we would like to keep two – four people here at all times who are only going to be following up, continuing studies, and working with those we have reached. They will also be mentoring people in our church by taking them with them on visitation and study efforts. If you are interested in participating and being in on the ground floor of the planning, please feel free to join our Yahoo! Group called GodThirst.

Hope you have a good Thanksgiving week!

***News***

Hunger An Issue on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Ten Foods That Are Health Horrors.

***Links***

Charles Spurgeon’s All of Grace is being offered in audio format free of charge HERE.

Out Here Trivia Remains
Daily Trivia

***Blogs***

Dusty wants to know what would happen if the church lost its freedom.

YOU MUST READ Edward Banesh’s post called UNAFFLIATED. It is prolific.

Grant Boone’s really neat tribute to his 8 year old son.

Greg Taylor offers Ten Tips for a Simpler Christmas. Good stuff.

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