Archive for January 2012

Are You Ready for Sunday?

January 23, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

It was a Saturday night ritual growing up at my house.  It probably did not occur every week, but often enough that it holds a place in my memory, as early as kindergarten age.  My dad would spread some old newspaper over the kitchen table and announce the shoe call.  My two older brothers and I would bring our “Sunday” shoes to the kitchen where dad would polish them in preparation for going to church the next morning.  It was fun to watch him work up a shine on our very best pairs of shoes.

Along with shining shoes, Dad also assumed the responsibility of making certain we all had an “offering” for Sunday School – it usually was a quarter in those days. I recall being in the car and, I think on a Saturday, he would stop somewhere to buy a pack of gum so he could use the change from his dollar bill to give us Sunday School offering for the next day.

Of course, mom’s role was to take care of our “Sunday” clothes, and to see that we were properly dressed and looking our best for church on Sunday.  I was not always thrilled about what I wore – I remember crying about it one time in first grade because my “outfit” included shorts, suspenders, bow tie, and knee socks!  I must have been adorable, so much so that it embarrassed me to be seen in public!

The result of all this fuss was that it instilled in me the importance of going to church regularly, and always seeking to give (and wear!) my best for Jesus.  I was raised in a family that made church attendance a high priority – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revival services – we rarely missed church when the doors were open.  But what I have grown to realize is that preparing for church is about so much more than having shiny shoes, nice clothes, and a quarter in my pocket.  While physical preparation is necessarily part of the process, the primary focus is preparation of the mind and heart; for attending church is not a social event, but a time for praise and worship with others to the living God who calls us to himself.

That takes me to one more memory of preparing for church as a kid.  On Sunday mornings while we were eating breakfast and getting dressed, gospel music would be playing throughout the house, as well as in the car on the way to church.  I did not make the connection at the time, but the music was part of our spiritual preparation for worship.  It penetrated our ears, minds, and hearts to awaken our spiritual senses and prepare us to hear the word of God through Sunday School teachers and preachers.

So, as you prepare for church this coming Sunday, include a time of prayer for your Sunday School leaders, small group leaders, worship leaders, and your pastor/preacher.  Ask God to prepare your heart and mind for what His Spirit will bring to you through fellowship, praise, and worship.  To often we do not really begin preparation for worship until we walk through the front doors of the church.  Why not begin preparation when you awaken Sunday morning; or begin Saturday, or even today?  When you arrive at church next Sunday, will you be ready?

Just Thinking!

January 18, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

Just Thinking: Today is January 17.  Among the celebrative events in history, the cartoon character Popeye made his debut on this date in 1929,  Kids have loved spinach ever since!  Well, maybe not.  Also on this date in 1773, British explorer and Royal Navy Captain James Cook became the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle.  This was accomplished on the second of 3 major voyages from Britain to the Pacific Ocean. 

In three voyages Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions. (Wikipeida)

I recall another explorer of sorts, a missionary named Paul, who made 3 major journeys, opening the way for Christianity to peoples who had not heard the Good News.  Like Cook, he devoted himself wholehearted to the cause and ultimately was killed for his endeavors.  Paul’s leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups that worshiped the God of Israel.  Thirteen of the 26 New Testament books are attributed to the authorship of Paul.

Of course, there has never been so great a pioneer as Jesus Christ, the author and finisher (perfecter) of our faith. I will elaborate on that 2 or 3 Sundays from now to conclude our Liquid Faith preaching series.  I am not really a history “buff,” but I cannot help but wonder where we would be without the pioneering efforts of those who open the way for a better life. 

If It’s Too Good…

January 18, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

TV ads usually do not catch my attention, but this one did: “Lose weight without exercise and eat all you want.”  Now that is my kind of weight-loss plan!  You may be among the 90% of Americans whose New Year’s resolution is health-related.  The national survey conducted by MorningStar Farms reported that more than two-thirds of New Year’s resolutions specifically center on weight loss.  The findings also revealed that 88% of those surveyed admitted failing in their quest, most of those within the first 3 months.

This TV ad targeted such persons!  Conducting a brief internet search, I found several websites with the same claim: Lose weight without exercise and eat all you want.  One site reported that, “Overweight, sedentary people who spent a week at an elevation of 8,700 feet lost weight while eating as much as they wanted and doing no exercise. A month after they came back down, they had kept two-thirds of those pounds off.” 

Another ad for losing weight without exercise touted a special belt to be worn around the waist while sitting still.  The belt has multiple settings and is designed to pulsate against the tummy for 15-30 minutes each session.  In other words, it is doing the workout for you!

Well, like they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  Most experts will tell you that the most effective and permanent way to lose weight is proper diet and proper exercise.  Many people suffer because upon reaching their desired weight loss, they stop dieting and return to life as usual.  Proper weight maintenance for most people, however, is a continual process – a daily, or at least weekly monitoring of food consumption: what, when, and how much.  In other words, the process never ends!  It must be a lifestyle of eating right foods and following a proper exercise routine.

The same can be said of most things in life.  Family counselors contend that marriage requires work, effort.  Why?  Because the relationship grows and changes with the passages of life and surrounding circumstances.  There is a continual monitoring and adjusting in a relationship.  This also is true about your occupation, your friendships – even your church.  In terms of life in this world, most of our time is spent on the journey rather than at the destination.  There is no easy answer, no quick fix.  We must determine to develop good habits and right priorities, an ongoing process of daily living.  At the heart of it all, we must allow those things that matter most, those things of highest value to us, to serve as our compass and purpose for living.  As for me and my household, we will serve the living God.

Autumn of Life

January 18, 2012

Autumn of Life.

A Fresh Start Can Make All the Difference in the World

January 18, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

               I love books.  I have read most of the books on my office shelves.  I also enjoy reading book titles as I peruse the bargain book tables, where once in a while I will come across a book that has the potential to be a gem, but was never able to make its best-seller mark in the literary world.  One such book I found a few years, and I have read it a couple of times since.  As I recall, I purchased the book for less than five dollars.  I have other books by the same author, but I had never heard of this one:  If Only, by David A. Seamands.  The descriptive subtitle reads, “Moving Beyond Blame to Belief.”

Those two words, if only, are filled with regret and blame, and we say them, or at least believe them, often in life.  We are prone in our culture to see ourselves as victims, leading us to rationalize our failures and behaviors by placing the blame elsewhere.

As we enter a new year, 2012, there is no magic in the turning of a calendar page, but we do acknowledge it as an opportunity of hope, a new beginning to a better and brighter day.  Do you recall the days of your childhood when the first day of a new school year arrived?  For some of us it meant new clothes, new shoes, new notebooks, new pencils, new lunch box, new teacher, new friends – – it created a positive attitude and made school fun – – at least for a little while!  I especially remember those years when I went to that first day of school in anticipation of learning something that the older kids already knew, such as cursive writing and multiplication tables.  I was determined and excited.

Similarly, this new year is a time for each of us to start fresh.  In the Bible, the apostle Paul expressed these thoughts, “One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which we were called heavenward in Christ Jesus…”  He does not mean that we try to erase the past from our memory, but that we refuse to live in the past or to be bound by it; rather, we learn from it in order that our present and future can be better.

Let’s take this opportunity of a new year to rise above the “if onlys” of our lives, choosing to live responsibly for our deeds.  May we live not only for ourselves, but also for those around us, determined to brighten our world.  In 1970, singer Glen Campbell released the album, “Try A Little Kindness.”[1]  The title song calls the listener to promote peace and goodness as a lifestyle.

If you see your brother standing by the road with a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed,

The kindness that you show every day will help someone along their way.

You’ve got to try a little kindness, show a little kindness.

Shine your light for everyone to see.


Shining the light of kindness, have a great 2012!

[1] United Recording Studio and Capitol Recording Studio, Hollywood, January 1970.c