Should Christians Participate in Christmas / Easter?

Should A Christian Participate in Christmas / Easter?

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Many have questioned what relationship ancient and present ways of worship engaged in by pagans have to do with Christian practice and liturgy today. For a long time in my life I believed (and taught as a Church Pastor) that any celebration of these two events must come from pagan origin since some of the accoutrements predate Christianity.  My parents celebrated Christmas in traditional ways until I was twelve years old, but when they became members of what was then called the Worldwide Church of God, we stopped – cold turkey!   The teachings of the WCG during those early years (1966 for our family) labeled both Christmas and Easter as pagan celebrations and therefore displeasing to God.  We judged others who celebrated these days as misinformed at best, and ‘Christians so-called’ or ‘deceived by Satan’ at worst. Continue reading “Should Christians Participate in Christmas / Easter?”

The Milk of Human Kindness

The Milk of Human Kindness

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)

 by Pastor Steve Schantz

cupSomeone could write a book about the inflated prices charged for incidentals at airports. Location – Burbank, CA, Bob Hope International. Item – a cup of Tully’s Coffee purchased at a stand near the departure gates. Tully’s offers a steaming cup of exported adrenal rush shipped in from their Northwest headquarters. I was next in line as the customer in front of me paid five dollars for her cup of Java, turned away from the counter momentarily, and then stepped back to ask the clerk for a soy-milk creamer to go with the dark brew now warming her hands. She didn’t ask for a container to go, nor that it be steam pressed it into her cup. She didn’t ask for mocha, vanilla, butterscotch, or creme brulee syrups to stir in. She just asked for enough creamer to lighten her serving. “Soy creamer is .65 per serving” the cashier blurted out.” “You’re kidding!” she replied with annoyance. “I won’t be stopping here again for coffee!” and gripping her black brew she turned on her heels and marched past me toward a seat near the departure gate.

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Wash Before Using

Wash Before Using

By Pastor Steve Schantz

Rom 6:1  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV)

1 John 3:19  This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (NIV) Continue reading “Wash Before Using”

Laughing With Church Lady

Laughing With Church Lady

by Pastor Steve Schantz

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”                                                       (Gen 21:6-7  NIV)

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  (Luke 6:21 NIV) 

                Laughing with Church Lady

Sometime in the late 80’s I discovered Cal and Rose Samra’s volumes I & II of Holy Humor, (still available for about $2 a copy at on-line sites and sponsored by the Interdenominational Fellowship of Merry Christians.) I came across these well-worn gems at a used book store in Cape Coral, Fl, one shelf down from the ragged edged Harlequin Romances, (which I passed by). Before the computer revolution and on-line resourcing they took up new residence in my Pastoral library.

The illustrations, jokes, and anecdotes shared by the Samra’s began showing up in my preaching – an anecdote during an offertory message here, some church announcement bloopers there, and a healthy dose of cajoling for our Christian insensibilities sprinkled generously everywhere. Pastors are assumed to have discriminating literary taste buds.  So, like many, collecting pulpit jokes had not been a high priority item on my assigned reading list. But humor and laughter are not a supposed to kind of experience.  And in similar manner but at another level, neither is truth – or God, for that matter.  As Michael Jinkins observes the creator smiling at us through His freedom, “Creation is grounded in the delight of God, not in divine compulsion.” (Invitation to Theology, p. 88)

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“What Happens in Vegas..”

“What Happens in Vegas..”

by Pastor Steve Schantz

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.                                                                      (Heb 12:9-11 NIV)

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32 NIV)

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“What Happens In Vegas…”

Rural Upstate New York can be a lot of fun in the winter.  Before snowmobiling captured our teenage attention outdoor fun involved skating, sledding, building snow forts, and of course many snow ball fights with siblings and neighbors.  When my little sister was all of 8 and her brothers were 11 and 13, we decided to find out if “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”.

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“You Got Peanut Butter In My Chocolate”

 “You Got Peanut Butter In My Chocolate”

by Pastor Steve Schantz

 

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

 

The unexpected joy and success of a finished musical work where one artist contributes the lyrics and another the melody by choice has been common to the industry for a long time.  In the world of taste, a chef pairs a particular food and beverage together to produce a culinary delight.  Some of us enjoy the way that Reece’s candy cashed in by bringing two separate and unique tastes together in one successful confection.  With chocolate covered tongue in cheek we join the commercialized exclamation, “You got chocolate in my Peanut Butter!” Continue reading ““You Got Peanut Butter In My Chocolate””

Spiritual Footprints

Spiritual Footprints

by Pastor Steve Schantz

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isa 43:5-7 NIV)

 

Etched in my childhood memory is the joy of plodding through thick blankets of untouched winter snow laying over the hillside behind our home in rural upstate New York. Leaving the first set of foot prints in new fallen snow is fun no matter what your age. Journeying across the pillowy canvas, my brother and sister and I would stop and drop, arms and legs flailing as we each carved unique angels in the snow. Every foot print and angel mold became an icon for the snow pilgrims who would follow. Leaving a creative legacy behind doesn’t only capture the imagination of a child, it has also inspired explorers like Sir Edmond Hilary and inventors like Benjamin Franklin. Continue reading “Spiritual Footprints”