Author: Joe Bradley

When Is The Right Time For Christmas Music?

Every year around this time the same thing happens.  Social media blows up with multiple rants. “It’s not right!” “It’s too early” “Why does it keep happening earlier and earlier every year!?” The age-old fight about Christmas music. Seriously, though, when are we supposed to start playing it?  Can we start when Christmas decorations hit the store shelves? Can we start when the weather cools down?  Do we have to wait until after Thanksgiving or even until the first day of December? My opinion? I don’t care. Seriously, it doesn’t matter one bit to me. I personally love Christmas music. I have a playlist on my Google music app (honestly, I have two different Christmas playlists) and I start playing them the hint Christmas comes around. Think back to the first Christmas… Jesus was born, our Savior came in the flesh to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  What was the “Christmas music” to herald His arrival? John the Baptist. And there were some arguments about the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth as well …

Why do you give what you give?

In the Old Testament, there were actually many different tithes required under the law. A tithe is 10% of something.  There was a tithe to the Levites, a tithe for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land. After Jesus’ death and fulfillment of the law, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:2 that monetary gifts should be collected at the first of the week.  Nowhere in the New Testament does it specifically state how much we are to give. But time and time again it does imply that we are to give: individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionally to our income. The biggest problem most people have is that we want someone to tell us exactly how much God wants us to give, when to give it, and how it’s supposed to be given. I want to do exactly what I’m supposed to: no more, no less. I want to know what it takes to keep God happy and prevent Him from smiting me. But God doesn’t really work that …

Revisiting What the Time of Remembrance Represents

The night before Jesus was to endure suffering and humiliation for all of mankind, He sat down with His disciples to share in the Passover (Pesach). This is one of three major holidays in Jewish customs. The Passover is to remember what God did for the children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. Its purpose is to remind the Israelites of the final plague when the angel of death passed over their firstborn and cemented their release from captivity from the Pharaoh (see Exodus 12). During Passover, Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. When He broke the bread, Jesus said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then He took a cup of wine and said “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people — an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you” (Luke 22:19-20). After they finished eating, they sang a hymn and then went out into the …

Parenting Every Day With the Mercy of Christ

So, we’ve been going over “adulting” the past few weeks.  I’ll be honest there are times that I still don’t see myself as an adult.  Yes, I have a job, I’m married, and I have children.  By most standards, I am considered an adult.  But then there are times that this quote rings true: That horrifying moment when you’re looking for an adult but you realize that you are an adult.  So you look around for an older adult.  An adultier adult.  Someone better at adulting than you. And, let’s be honest, nothing is better at pointing out your “adulting” faults than children.  You start off with very good intentions. Okay kids it’s time to clean up your toys and get ready to go to bed. *30 minutes pass* Guys, really please clean up. *15 minutes pass* (now in Batman voice) I’m the father you need, not the one you deserve right now.  Clean your room in 2.7 minutes or I will throw everything you own away. Adulting, in general, is hard. Adulting as a …

Show the World What Love Is

Love is a term we use often in today’s society. Sometimes I think it’s a little over used. My son Jack, when he was about 2 or 3, had received a balloon for something. He played with that balloon incessantly, walking around the house and letting the balloon float lazily behind him. But the real fun came when the helium leaked out and it fell to the ground. He would run around outside pulling the balloon while screaming, “I WUV DIS BAWOON!” over, and over, and over, and over. Did he actually wuv dat bawoon? Depends on your definition of love. Many people have debated what love actually is and what it means. Oh, we could go into great detail about love, especially in biblical times as they had four different words for love. Agape – A divine love Eros – An intimate/physical love Philia – A brotherly love Storge – A familial love Love doesn’t have to be pigeon holed into one specific set of standards or definitions. Love can mean many things depending …

When Love Looks You in the Face

Growing up there was always a special bond between my mother and I.  There’s an unattributed quote that says “There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything quite so special as the love between a mother and a son.”  And that especially rings true with my life, because if my mother’s love wasn’t straight from God, I’d be dead. I found this on Facebook the other day: My friend asked me what is was like to live in a house full of boys. So I peed on her bathroom floor, ate everything in her fridge, told her 800 stories about Minecraft, farted 20 times, and when she was ready to kill me I gave her a hug and told her she was pretty. I used to ride the thin line of my mother’s nerves and when that line became a shadow I would step back, look my mom in the eyes and tell her “I love you.”  I never really understood why that worked, I just knew that it helped tremendously in keeping …

Are You Doing It For The Win?

If you’re not first, you’re last. – Ricky Bobby Who would have thought Will Ferrell could offer such poignant insight into our current culture?  In the movie Talladega Nights Ricky Bobby, Will Ferrell’s character, is obsessed with winning his races.  So much so he routinely wrecks his car in the pursuit of first place.  Now, in the real world such a racer would be fired immediately for his reckless behavior, but in the context of this movie, he is adored by the fans. Ravi Zacharias coined this phrase from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s writing, “At first art would imitate life, then life would imitate art, and finally, that life would draw the very reason for its existence from arts.” The world we live in idealizes winners and those who win are the people with the most stuff, the best stuff, and the biggest stuff.  Winners have the corner offices, the most friends, and receive the highest accolades.  In the world we live in, those things matter.  But to Christians, those things are to mean nothing. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know …

Inconceivable! What Poison is Living in Your Heart?

Ah, the battle of wits between Westley and Vizzini.  If you don’t know what this is, stop reading and go watch “The Princess Bride” right now. At this point in the movie, the hero, Westley, challenges Vizzini to a battle of wits.  He presents Vizzini with some iocane powder which is supposed to be an odorless, tasteless, and extremely deadly poison.  Vizzini tries to figure out which goblet has the poison; would Westley put the poison in the glass next to him or the one in front of Vizzini?  After Vizzini makes his choice and picks one with poison in it, Westley reveals to Buttercup that Vizzini would have died either way because he put poison in both cups.  Westley had successfully built up immunity by slowly drinking a little poison at a time over several years. Now, from a medical perspective… that don’t work.  You can’t build up immunity to poison.  If he had really been taking small doses of poison for years he would have either already died or he would be frail and …

This Marriage of Mine

Mine! Me have it! Me like it.  I really do like it! We hear these phrases a lot in our house.  Our sweet little girl that we are fostering has a unique way of asking if she can have something.  She doesn’t understand the proper way of asking for something is to say “Can I have this?”  or “I would like to play with this.”  She has a much more direct way of stating exactly what her heart desires.  She doesn’t want the potential to acquire these things, she wants these things to be her’s and that reality comes out in her words. I go through life believing that I have a much more sensible way of living.  I delude myself into thinking that because I use better grammar and a larger vocabulary I strip away that selfish desire of me. I got married because I love my wife. My marriage is between me and my wife. Mine! I want my wife to respect and love me. I want everyone to know I love my …

The Good Samaritan Ain’t Got Nothing on You

The Good Samaritan is a good story, isn’t it?  A guy gets beat up, left for dead and eventually a good person comes by and helps him.  We hold this guy up on a pedestal, but I think we’ve all done something like this.  We see a random person in need and help them.  I remember once when I saw a guy’s car literally broken down in the middle of a four-way stop. While every other car would just honk, I pulled my car off to the side of the road and helped him push his through the intersection to safety. I’ll be honest, I felt good after doing that.  Looking back, though, I was just being a decent human being.  It’s actually very easy to help people that I’m pretty sure I’ll never see again.  I provide a random act of kindness and then send them on their way.  I may even offer extra help, going above and beyond what’s expected like the Good Samaritan did, but I send them on nonetheless.  It’s much …