Saturday, November 26, 2011


”For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.”  1 CORINTHIANS 1:18

Have you ever seen the Energizer battery commercial on television? You know that is the one where the little bunny appears beating a drum, and the announcer says" still going! On he goes, across the desert, over mountains, on lonely highways. Nothing seems to stop the little bunny. Now, I want you to understand that the point of the commercial is not the bunny, but the battery.
It’s important to have good batteries because weak batteries cause problems. Cars with weak batteries have problems starting. Once the motor starts the car usually runs, but it takes a good battery to get it started. Particularly in cold weather, a weak battery just won’t do it.

But even a good battery is only half the solution. There was a woman who was having trouble getting her car started. Every time she would turn on the ignition she would get a clicking sound. So naturally she thought that her battery was dead. Without checking with anyone, she sent her son down to purchase a new battery. When he return he put the battery in and she tried to start the car again, but she got those same clicking sounds.

Finally, she called a mechanic who took one look at her cable ends and analyzed her problem. He said “Ma'am, you have a good battery but your cables are bad.” That day she learned a good lesson about her car; you must always make sure that you have a good connection to the battery. My brothers and sisters, we too, as “born again” Christians, must make sure that we have a good connection to our power source; and that source is Jesus.

Now, in our text, the Cross of Christ represents the power of God unto salvation. It also represents the power of God for every believer to live in the spirit. But like the battery, we must have clear contact to keep the power flowing. We must be in harmony with the will of God to benefit from the power that is available to us.

It is of little or no value at all to have the power of the Almighty God at our disposal, and let our connection get rusty and corroded. You see, that corrosion causes a bad connection. There are too many believers who go through life hearing the "clicking" sound that suggest that there is power under the hood that can't get through. Many of us have the ability to achieve greatness through the exercise of our gifts, but every time we turn the switch all we get is a clicking sound.

We, as Christians, need to keep a clear and uninterrupted connection with God. Yes, others might think that we are foolish for doing so, but we who are saved know that our power comes from the Cross, the Power of God.

In our text, Paul writes to the church at Corinth about the wisdom of preaching the truth of the cross of Christ. Paul explains that those who are saved recognize the cross as a symbol of the power of God. But to those outside of the faith, the church seems to be involved in foolishness.

What is this foolishness of which Paul speaks? Maybe it’s the command to love your enemies or to pray for those who use you. Maybe it’s your belief that what you hope for will become evident through your faith. Maybe it’s your belief that you are blessed when men revile you and persecute you, and utter all manner of evil against you falsely.

Now, notice in our text, it says, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”. And Romans 10:14 reminds us that the first step to releasing the power of God is by hearing the Word of God. Hear the Word of God:

”How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher?” Now watch this; verse 17 says this: “So faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”       

Singing, praying, testimonies and other forms of worship are inspiring to me, but it is the Word of God that connects us to our power source. It is the Word of God that directs me to the foot of the Cross.

When Paul spoke of the cross as the power source for Christians, he was not talking about the wooden stake or post in the ground that was used for capitol punishment. When Paul spoke of the cross as the power source for Christians, he referred to what the cross symbolizes…that symbolism includes the sacrifice of Christ, His blood shed on Calvary, His death, burial and resurrection.

The crucifixion of Christ transformed the cross from a symbol of shame and embarrassment to a symbol of the Mighty Power of God. The Cross embodies this symbol because Christ’s death on the cross blotted out all sin and man’s foolish laws from which there could be no redemption.

This is what Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians, Chapter Two, verse fourteen; “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, (Christ) took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” When Paul preached about Christ and His crucifixion, the Jews considered it a stumbling block. The Greeks said that it was foolishness. But I stopped by to tell you that those who perish are those who reject the power of the cross. They’ve heard the story, but they refuse to accept it’s truth. They view preaching as a waste of time…foolishness…. And they will perish.

But to those of us who are called, both Jew and Greek, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Those of us who are believers know that, at the foot of the cross, we find our ability, our strength, and our power.

Our knowledge of the historical account of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is our power source; it is our spiritual energizer that just keeps us going, going, and going. There are many who are hooked up to the wrong source; they’re trying to use a six-volt transistor to empower a twelve-volt understanding. What am I saying? I’m saying that too many of God’s created people are depending on their own skills and education to get them through life. Educational skills are necessary, and I wish that every one would get a degree from the college of their choice. But when trouble comes, that battery is too small for the job. When you need real power, you’d better be hooked up to the power that holds the world in the palm of His hand, and lights up the night with the moon and the stars.

Now, in order to get the needed energy from your power source, you must have the right connection. You can have a good battery but if the connection is wrong, there is no power. And since we are talking about connecting to a power source, we must also determine the type of connection required.

There are two types of current, A/C and D/C. Some folks in our churches are A/C in nature. They suffer from being hooked up to an alternating current. They attend church on alternating Sundays. They pray on alternating occasions. They tithe on alternating occasions. What I’m trying to say is that they come to church when they feel like it, pray when it is convenient, and give when they want to.

Then there are those who are hooked up to the D/C, or direct current. God is looking for some D/C folks…dedicated Christians; people on whom He can depend. People who just don't do things when it’s convenient for them, but “press toward the mark” daily. God is looking for those who will keep on going no matter how hard it gets.

Now, if you have a good battery, and the connecting cables are good, there’s still one more thing you need to know. The connection must be tight! The battery must be free of external interference. There can be no space separating the cable from the battery post.

Paul said it best when he declared, “nothing shall separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” And when it comes to the life of a Christian there must be no space that separates us from the Master. The life of a Christian must be lived in such a way that there is nothing between our soul and our Savior.

And what can corrode your connection with God? Well, pride will corrode your cables and interfere with your connection. Hatred will keep you from having a good connection with God. Jealousy will keep you from having a good connection with God. Strife will keep you from having a good connection with God. And there are many more. Get rid of the things that are keeping you from having a good connection with your power source.

And finally, make sure both cables are connected. Along with the hot wire, there must be a ground cable. Somebody, today, is trying to get a prayer through and you’re not properly grounded. You’re trying to sing His praises but your ground wire is loose. How do I become grounded?

You are grounded when you accept Christ as your PERSONAL SAVIOR, confess with your MOUTH the Lord, Jesus Christ, and believe in YOUR HEART that He was raised from the dead. Abide in the Word of God. Ground yourself to the Cross of Christ….then plunge into the “foolishness” of loving those who hate you. Plunge into the foolishness of believing with seeing. Plunge into the foolishness of praying for those who use you, and finding a blessing in persecution.

Ground yourself to the belief that in Christ we live, move and have our beings. When you need power you need to go to the one that created the trees and the flowers. When you need power you need to go to the one that is able to heal the sick and raise the dead.

Yes, when you need power you need to go to the Rock of (your) Salvation and His name is Jesus. If you are looking for a good power source let me introduce you to God's original power source.

Before there was a 36-Month Goodyear Power Source….Before there was a NAPA 40 Month Power Horse…..Before there was a Sears 60-Month Guaranteed Power Source…..Before Sears and Roebuck ever thought of the name, Jesus was the original Die-Hard.

Yes, Jesus is better than Ever-ready; and He's got power to spare.
They crucified Him on the cross, they buried Him in a borrowed tomb, and they tried to drain Him of his power. But early one Sunday Morning, My Die Hard, My Ever Ready, My Energizer, My Duracell, rose with all power in his hand… “Wonder working power”, “soul saving power”, “healing power” in His hand. Are you connected to His power?

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Friday, November 25, 2011

What is Black Friday? Is it really worth it?

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving.  I hope you wasn't overwhelmed by the Black Friday spirit.  Today is considered the busiest shopping day of the year.  Retailers hope to get a strong boost heading into the Christmas season.  Crowds sack their favorite stores to try to rack up deals that may only appear once in a life time.

Unfortunately, in some parts of the country, Black Friday was quite violent.  People fighting over merchandise.  Mobs trampling people to death as they rush through the doors to beat others to the bargains.

What is Black Friday?  Where did it come from? When is Black Friday?  I have found the answer to these questions by looking at

  The history of Black Friday began in 1966. This is when a story appeared in an ad in The American Philatelist. The Philadelphia Police Department used the name to describe the traffic jams and crowding in the downtown stores.
Black Friday has been the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season since the 1930s. In fact, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week during the Great Depression because retailers wanted an extra week of shopping revenue. This pleased retailers, but irritated shoppers, who had to change plans.

 Black Friday 2011 is the day after Thanksgiving, November 25 2011. It officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, as 195 million shoppers usually hit stores during the Black Friday weekend. This is important for the economy because nearly 20% of retail sales occur between Black Friday through Christmas. For some retailers, such as jewelers, it can be as high as 40%.
For 2011, the National Retail Federation said that shoppers usually spend about half of their total holiday gift shopping on Black Friday. The NRF forecast that shoppers are more optimistic in 2011 than they were last year. Holiday sales will be up 2.8% to $465.6 billion. This is higher than the 2.6% increase experienced in the last ten years, but lower than the norm (3.4% annual increase) for the decade before the 2008 financial crisis. It's unlikely growth will return to those levels anytime soon, since most of this spending was fueled with credit card debt. This debt has been declining in the last three years.
On average, each shoppers said they expect to spend $704 in 2011. However, it's possible they could spend more than their expectations, because that's just what happened during Black Friday 2010. They said they would spend $688 each, but they actually spent $719 each. Shoppers will spend less than the all-time high of $755 per person set in 2007. It's much better than the recessionary low of $682 per shopper set in 2009.
That increase could be because shoppers have delayed big purchases during the year to take advantage of holiday sales. Nearly two-thirds (60%) said they would buy non-gift items for themselves and family. They said they would plan to spend $130.43 each to buy apparel, electronics,and household items on sales. This is up from $112.20 they spent on non-gift items last year.
Most of the money ($403) will be spent on gifts for family members. The rest will be spent friends ($68), co-workers ($21), and others including pets ($23). In addition to playing Santa with presents, shoppers will celebrate the holidays by purchasing candy and food ($96.75), decorations ($46.73), greeting cards ($26.52), and flowers ($18.23.)
Ever since the recession, retail trends show a shift to thrift. This is not just a search for the lowest price, but also an interest in finding the best value for the price. The 2011 Black Friday survey shows the same. Nearly half (41%) said sales and price discounts are the most important factor. However, 15% said quality of merchandise was most important, while 6% were most interested in superior customer service.
Shoppers head toward the retailers that meet their need for discounts and bargains. For this reason, most of them will visit discount stores (66% vs 65% in 2010). Department stores, that have learn to provide more savings through private labels, will see an increase in the percentage of shoppers planning to visit them -- 57% vs. 55% last year. Shoppers plan to spend more time visiting a variety of retail outlets to find the best bargains. For that reason, more will visit clothing or accessory stores (35% vs. 34%), drug stores (21% vs. 19% last year), and grocery stores (49% vs. 47%). More of those looking to make their own gifts will visit crafts and fabric stores (18% vs. 16% in 2010).
For recipients, gifts small and large are expected to make big impressions this year. For the fifth year in a row – and at the highest level in the survey’s history – 57.7 percent of shoppers say they’d like to receive a gift card this holiday season. What kinds of gifts do people want to receive? Well over half (58%) simply want a gift card, so they can be sure they won't be disappointed with their gift. Others trust their gift-givers' taste in clothing and accessories (50%), consumer electronics (35%), jewelry (23%), and personal care items (19%).
Nearly 80% are getting a head start on their holiday shopping, with 40% starting before Halloween, and another 40% will beg starting before Black Friday. Another 17% will wait until the first two weeks in December, while 4% will procrastinate until right before Christmas.
According to National Retail Federation, stores will hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, about the same as the 495,000 workers they hired in 2010. In addition, retailers added 100,000 workers since August 2010. This is another important way the retail industry affects the U.S. economy. (Source: National Retail Federation 2011 Survey)

The above stats concern me.  Too much of our economy depends on Black Friday and the Christmas season.  The confidence or the lack of confidence over the first quarter or two of next year will depend on this period of time.  We have materialized Christmas so much that the very health of our country depends on it.

I hope everyone got the things they got up early or camped out and stood in line for.  Every year the Christmas season is pushed back to where Thanksgiving and Halloween are loosing their status of even being a holiday.  Our materialism is causing us to forget the meaning of the holidays.

Like everyone else,  I like the bargains.  But I'm afraid that little by little I'm afraid we are losing the true meaning of the holiday seasons.  What are we leaving for our kids and grand-kids?

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