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Most of us know the story. Luke 15:11-32 talks of two sons who have an inheritance to collect from their wealthy father, the younger of whom asks for his and leaves home with it. The elder son works the land and obeys what his father asks of him. After the younger son spends all of his money and experiences a great famine, he becomes hungry and decides to go back home. His father sees him coming and runs toward him, thankful that he is back. The younger son tells his father that he has lived a wild life of glutony and he is sorry for his actions. The father then dresses him and kills a calf for everyone to feast on. When the elder son hears of his brother’s return and the celebration being thrown for him, he becomes angry. His father had never thrown such an extravagant party for him and he felt that it was unfair since the younger brother had made so many bad choices. He had never lived the way the younger brother did. When this story is told, it usually revolves around the younger brother and what it meant for him to repent and learn from his mistakes. You might be able to relate more to one of the brothers more than the other, but you can’t completely ignore the faults of the elder brother. He shows his sin in a different way. He, perhaps, is more lost than the younger brother because he has prided himself on his disciplined life, but he has, in turn, established a sense of entitlement and superiority. He has become selfish in his thinking and does not see the good in his brother’s return. The elder son is told in Luke 15:31-32, “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” It is so easy to see the forgiveness and love that the father offers to his younger son, which doesn’t necessarily seem deserved. It’s a good representation of God’s love for us and how He has forgiven us. We should all celebrate our faithfulness to God and be proud of others who live a life of discipline and good deeds, but we should also rejoice with those who have found their way back. Which brother do you relate more to?

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Do you follow Todd Rhoades? He’s a Christian blogger who discusses current events ranging from his own personal experiences to what other churches are doing around the world. Some of his stuff has an edge to it, which usually makes for an interesting read. One of Todd’s most recent posts was about how North Point Community Church, in Atlanta, GA, had a goal to raise $1,000,000 and collect 25 tons of food to give to those in need. After a month, North Point has raised $2,000,000 and has collected 41 tons. One charity said that they received so much food that they don’t have room to store it all. Kudos to North Point for their exceptional generosity & selflessness and thanks to Todd Rhoades for the great post. This story is inspiring and this effort just goes to show that we can all help, whether it be in a big or small way. How are you making a difference this Christmas?

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Thanks to brainyhistory.com, I found these facts about what has happened on this date in history. It’s good to look back at past events and be grateful for our blessings and for what has gotten us to where we are today.
  • 1992 NBC announces that “Cheers” will go off the air in May, 1993.
  • 1987 Jack Sikma, of the Milwaukee Bucks, begins NBA free throw streak of 51 games.
  • 1987 Occupied Palestinians start “intifada”, which is an uprising against Israel.
  • 1984 Ringo Star appears on Saturday Night Live.
  • 1982 A man named Norman Mayer held the Washington Monument hostage on this date because he demanded an end to nuclear weapons. He was killed after 10 hours.
  • 1980 The Bravo network premieres on cable.
  • 1966 U.S. and U.S.S.R. sign treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space.
  • 1963 Lightning strikes a jetliner, causing a crash with 3 fuel tanks. The crash caused an explosion (killing 81 people) near Elkton, Maryland. This lightning strike is the only case of lightning causing a crash.
  • 1962 A newspaper strike begins in NYC and lasts 114 days.
  • 1956 “Singing the Blues,” by Guy Mitchell goes #1 for 10 weeks.
  • 1952 First TV acknowledgement of pregnancy takes place on “I Love Lucy”.
  • 1951 “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” closes at Alvin Theater in New York City after 267 performances.
  • 1948 Jordan annexs Arabic Palestine.
  • 1941 U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan (one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor) and the U.S. enters WWII.
  • 1940 The first NFL championship that airs on national radio happened on this date. The Bears beat the Redskins 73-0.
  • 1936 NAACP files a suit to equalize salaries of black and white teachers.
  • 1930 Broadway Theater opens at 1681 Broadway, New York City, NY.
  • 1923 The German – U.S friendship treaty is signed.
  • 1896 Today is the start of Sherlock Holmes “The Adventure of the Missing Three Quarter”.
  • 1874 The Jesse James gang takes a train at Muncie, KS.
  • 1869 The 20th Roman Catholic ecumenical council, Vatican I, opens in Rome.
  • 1863 Abraham Lincoln announces a plan for Reconstruction of South.
  • 1863 A Jesuit church in Chile catches fire and 2,500 people die.
  • 1863 President Lincoln offers amnesty for confederate deserters.
  • 1854 Pope Pius IX proclaims Immaculate Conception and makes Mary free of Original Sin.
  • 1813 Ludwig von Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A, premieres.
  • 1792 The first cremation in the United States takes place.
  • 1776 George Washington’s retreating army crosses the Delaware River from New Jersey.

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Today is the 70th anniversary of “the day that will live in infamy”, when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States officially entered into WWII. Pearl Harbor survivor, former Tennessee state senator, and author Bill Jim Davis joins us for a riveting eyewitness account of that fateful day. Mr. Davis also explains what growing up during the Depression and serving in politics taught him. He will conclude with the ingredients for a happy life. We, as a nation, are indebted to Mr. Davis and others like him who answered the call to duty and performed with valor. If you cannot view the video below, click here to watch it!

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You might have heard of “Heaven Is for Real” by a small town pastor named Todd Burpo. It is a New York Times Bestseller and has already impacted over a million people. The story revolves Todd’s son, Colton, who underwent a life-saving surgery back in 2003 and awoke from it to tell his family what he had encountered while he was under anesthesia. At just 3-years-old, Colton told vivid and detailed descriptions of Jesus, Heaven, and the people that he met there. He knew about things happening with his parents while he was in surgery, he knew about things from the past and he told stories about what would happen in the future. A miscarriage had devastated the Burpo family before Colton was born, and being only 3, Colton had never known about it, much less ever been told what a miscarriage was. After his trip to Heaven, however, the little boy surprised his parents one night by telling them how he had met his older sister, who had “died in mommy’s tummy”. The descriptions that he had about Jesus, Heaven and the angels were also very similar to details that are documented by other children who have claimed to have gone to Heaven. After Todd started preaching to his congregation about his son’s miraculous experience, people told him that he needed to write a book. Some of Colton’s experiences had really impacted those who heard his story and brought hope to many people struggling with pregnancy or doubts with God. I have never read a book that has touched me so much. I want to tell everyone about it and encourage you to go out and find it. It’s a short read but it’s very convincing and inspiring. Do you have a favorite Christian book? What is it?

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Take the kids to school. Get to work. Go to the gym. Take kids to soccer practice. Walk the dog. Cook dinner. Do laundry. Make the kids’ lunches. Help them with homework. Sleep. Repeat. We’re all busy. Well, maybe not all of us… but as humans, the majority of us strive to survive and we want the best for ourselves and our families. We know as Christians that our relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important relationship that we can have. To ask it simply, how much time do you invest in God on a regular basis? We get into the swing of things and figure if we can just get through life with very little obstacles and we squeeze in the Sunday morning worship services, we can still have a good relationship with God. If you are a pastor, you are more likely to spend a good amount of time each day with God. If you work in a church, you might feel like you are surrounded by godly people and you therefore have a good amount of time to think about or talk to God. If you are like me, going to church once or twice a week and praying sporadically throughout the day makes you a “good Christian”. It doesn’t hurt, but ask me how much time each week that I set aside to study my Bible.  I don’t even want to tell you… it’s not good. Anyway, with all of that said, it’s important to remember through all of the hustle and bustle that we reserve just enough time each day for God as we do for watching TV, surfing the internet or decorating the house. I might be preaching to the choir here, so if that’s the case, it’s something that I just need to tell myself (and act on). Do you set aside daily or weekly time for devotionals? What are your worship habits?

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Know what’s strange? The Bible. Yes, the Bible is strange. Think about it. Many people think they know the Bible from what others have told them or from what they have learned in church, but it’s not an easy book to read. Unless you have studied the entire thing, it’s bound to still surprise you… even if you’ve grown up going to church. The Bible isn’t necessarily a book that you read front to back, either. Many people recommend reading it in sections, and many have their own ideas about what to read first. It is a very inspirational, loving, wise, and true book. It is also dark, sad, and somewhat disturbing. Since it was originally written in the Hebrew and Greek languages, the Bible has been translated many times. Through translation, you discover the need for interpretation. My Sunday School leader made an interesting analogy the other day about why it’s important to use the Bible’s various interpretations. He said that you wouldn’t have tried making your Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole without a recipe or first cooking the sweet potatoes… right? The potatoes are hard and impossible to mash when they are raw, so it’s difficult to try and prepare them unless you have the recipe and they have been fully cooked. Like the potatoes, the Bible can be difficult to understand. People have spent a lot of time studying and interpreting different parts of it, so use that knowledge to help you understand it better.  A small group can also be a great way to learn with like-minded people who can help walk you through the process. How do you read through the Bible? Do you devote time each day to studying it? What tools do you use to learn the Bible at a deeper level?

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As we all know, the first Thanksgiving took place when the New England settlers came together to celebrate friendships, food, and their new lives in America. On this Thanksgiving, all of us at Shelby wish each of you a safe, happy, and restful holiday. We hope that you all have a wonderful day and remember all of the blessings in your life and all that you are thankful for. We will be closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 so that we can celebrate with our friends and family. We will reopen on Monday, November 28.

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Now, I know that many people have issues with using smart phones or tablets in church… some even with technology in general, but what about an iPhone app that gets your kids more involved in the church service? According to the Christian Post, a mother of three created just that. Ann Goade thought of “Big Church Bingo” after she became frustrated with the lack of attention that she and her family were giving to the Sunday morning messages at their church. Goade was giving her kids coloring sheets and other distractions during church, but they weren’t paying attention to what the pastor was saying, and in turn, neither was Goade. She was looking for a way to get her kids involved in the sermon while having fun doing it. The idea of the app is to tap the screen when any of the available words are said in church (which then darkens the words), and after five of your words are darkened in a row, you have won. The words can be customized or you can choose from commonly used church words that are already built into the app. Goade said that this app has given her kids the chance to play and learn at the same time. It has also given her the chance to give her full attention to the sermon again. Do you have a strategy for getting your kids more involved? Would this app be helpful for the Children’s Ministry at your church?