The Johnston’s love Christmas. We bake a lot of cookies, drink a lot of eggnog, and watch as many Christmas movies as possible. We can quote movie lines from Rudolph, Charlie Brown and Elf. We start listening to Christmas music as soon as stations start playing it, and are constantly comparing Christmas songs (my favorite novelty song is “The 12 Days of Christmas” by Straight no Chaser. If you love 80’s music, and who doesn’t, you will dig the sweet little ‘Africa’ part.) We have two Nativity scenes in our house. We have an elf named Anakin who sometimes hides in the same exact spot two days in a row. We go out of our way to find Christmas lights. And my wife’s cheesy, sausage biscuits on Christmas morning come a close second for reasons I get up early on that morning.

            Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of Christmas that are not all raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (this is not a Christmas song!!!) The lines at stores are way too long and never have enough cash registers open. My kids want everything that they have ever seen on a commercial, or that their friends have. Someone wishes me a “Happy Holiday” instead of a “Merry Christmas.” Family and friends want to spend time with me or my family, instead of just letting me spend time in my recliner. And it seems as though, there are way too many versions of A Christmas Carol.

            Hopefully you laughed at that last paragraph. Long lines are an inconvenience, but not nearly as much as not being able to go to a store. My kids’ lists are, really, less than a page long. I don’t particularly care what you wish me, but you will get a “Merry Christmas” from me. My recliner, though comfy, is less entertaining than my family and friends. Also, can you really have too many versions of A Christmas Carol? (I have currently watched nine versions of it! Top that!!)

            Christmas really is a time to enjoy the many blessings of God. I know that for some people this time of the year can be depressing. Pain, suffering, and loneliness are magnified during a time when others are celebrating with loved ones. If that is you or you know someone that is like that, please remember that Christmas really is about gifts, or more exactly THE GIFT. It is because of the gift of Jesus that we have a hope that this world can never defeat us (Jeremiah 29:11). It is because of the gift of Jesus, that our mourning will be turned into joy (John 16:20). It is because of Jesus, that we are never alone (Hebrews 13:5). It is because of the gift of Jesus, that are goodbyes do not have to be permanent (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). You are not alone and you are not unloved.

            Christmas really is a time of joy. It is a time for us to smile more, laugh more, give more, and love more. It is a time to drop by and see someone that is alone or hurting and spread some JESUS cheer. It is a time to hug your kids more, no matter how old they are. It is a time to celebrate. It is a time to celebrate that Jesus stepped out of heaven and put on flesh to save a lost and dying world. It is a time to remember just how much God loves us. In case you forgot how much, let me share one of my favorite Christmas verses: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

            Now excuse me, I just saw there are about 10 more A Christmas Carol movies, that I need to see.


Shallow Well,

Thank you, so much, for making my family feel so welcome here, and in this beautiful community. Jennifer and I have desired for a long time to be a part of such a caring and warm church family. You have gone out of your way to make us feel welcome and have been so sweet to our children (we know that it is much easier being sweet to them than to us.) We are looking forward too many fruitful years serving you and this community.

I want to make it a habit to share with you weekly, through our website, some of the things that God has put on my heart. Please check weekly the website for important information about events and announcements and messages from Pastor Donald and myself. Feel free to call me out if a couple of weeks go by without a message.

I have truly enjoyed the past week here at Shallow Well. As silly as it sounds, one part of my day that I enjoy is lunchtime. Not necessarily because I love food (which I do very much), but because for most weekdays for the last four years, I have eaten lunch in a 20-minute time interval while surveying a lunchroom full of middle schoolers while trying to carry on a conversation with several stressed-out teachers. Some days we simply had to laugh at how ridiculous the situation was.  Today, I simply went to my office and ate my sandwich in peace. I had the radio playing praise songs as I check emails, sports scores and anything else I wanted to search.

It is often said that the little things make all the difference. I do believe that sometimes this is true. Eating lunch without having to make sure Johnny Middleschooler is not dumping milk on someone, is a little thing that has made my life a little better. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Johnny Middleschooler, but I also love listening to Lauren Daigle sing “You Have My Surrender” (if you don’t know who she is you should! Google her and listen, it will be worth it. I promise.)

As much as the little things make life better, let us not forget the BIG THING. Jesus is the BIG THING. He has come to give us life, and life more abundantly. He has come to give us peace that flows like a river. Peace at lunch is great, but peace in life is much better. The next time you are marveling at the little things that make your life better, please don’t forget that the little things come from God to point us to the BIG THING, which is Jesus. Every good gift is a gift from the Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can ever imagine, and much more than we ever deserve.

Now excuse me as I have a few more minutes for lunch. I think I might turn off the radio and just enjoy the quiet.

** However, in the future, if you are ever in the area for lunch I also would enjoy the company of my church family.


It was he who “gave gifts to people”; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. 12 He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:10b-12)


The book title made popular by Hillary Clinton, It Takes A Village, has been used and adapted to many different kinds of situations. We are in the midst of our annual Vacation Bible School at Shallow Well, and as I observed, it takes a church to pull off an event like VBS. Let's look at some of these in Biblical prespective in no particular order.

First, there are the folks who provide the meals, we might call these people servants. They give of their time, money and talent to buy, prepare, and serve the food to a lot of hungry children and adults. They work hard, yet it is all gone in half the time it took them to prepare it as the VBS participants gobble up the food. Yet I noticed something about these "servers." They seemed to have big smiles on their faces as child after child came through and filled their plates. This seem to be their reward for their hard work. Isn't it true that those who serve in Christ's name seem to always be blessed by it. We couldn't do without these servers.


Second, there's our Youth Director Kimberly, full of life and energy leading the children in the intro to the night's lesson. I watch the children's faces as they respond to her enthusiasm. Their eyes are glued on her every move, they smile, then sing, and without even realizing it they are learning about the love of Christ. I think how blessed we are to have her at Shallow Well.


Third are the helpers, those charged with checking the children in, those who "keep the peace", those who ferry the children from one place to another, those who assist the teachers with the decorating, music leaders, craft leaders, recreation leaders, picture takers, those who clean up, and (I hope I didn't leave anyone out) so much more. They are a God-send, for without their commitment we could not have VBS. They too are often- times the unsung heros of the church; they are the Andrews who work quietly in the background.There would be no VBS without them.


Fourth are the teachers, those brave souls who prepare lessons for squirming children and wonder if any child learns anything in their classroom. They leave wondering if what they taught was "on target" or did they really get their points accross? They "cast bread upon the waters" and hope that "it will return after many days." The best a teacher can expect is that one of these children will return in the future to say, "teacher, you really made a difference in my life teaching us about Jesus." These teachers are filled with love and commitment to Christ and their pupils. They are the "Pauls" who are teaching people the Gospel.


Last, but by no means least, are the Director and Committee who planned it all, got the supplies together, set the schedule, organized the whole layout and make sure every night that things run smoothly. Thank God for those who are willing to step into leadership positions. It too can be a thankless job, for all to often a leader hears too few "well dones" and too many "you should have done this or thats." But leaders by design stick their necks out, they take the point and call out "follow me." I think about Moses, Joshua, Peter and Paul, all leaders who suffered at times because they stuck their necks out. But unless some leads, no one follows. Let's be reminded that the Bible challenges us "not to become weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)


Yes, it takes a church, or should I say all the people of God to "pull off" an event like VBS. I am thankful that Shallow Well Church has many of these people ready to answer God's call and respond, "here am I, send me!"

I was going through some of my old files the other day and ran accross several things that had been buried under a mound of paper. One of them was a "Bible 9-1-1 Index." It was where to go in Scripture when you have a specific problem. Unfortunately we can't really dial 911 for spiritual emergencies, like commiting some sin we regret, or when we are afraid of the future, or we're sick; well, you get the picture. So here it is, your Bible 9-1-1 Index:


When in sorrow, call John 14.

When men fail you, call Psalm 27.

If you want to be fruitful, call John 15.

When you have sinned, call Psalm 51.

When you worry, call Matthew 6:19-34.

When you are in danger, call Psalm 91.v

When God seems far away, call Psalm 139.

When your faith needs stirring, call Hebrews 11.

When you are lonely and fearful, call Psalm 23.

When you grow bitter and critical, call 1 Cor. 13.

For the secret to happiness, call Col. 3:12-17.

For idea of Christianity, call 1 Cor. 5:15-19.

When you feel down and out, call Romans 8:31-39.

When you want peace and rest, call Matt. 11:25-30.

When the world seems bigger than God, call Psalm 90.

When you want Christian assurance, call Romans 8:1-30.

When you leave home for labor or travel, call Psalm 121.

When your prayers grow narrow or selfish, call Psalm 67.

For a great invention/opportunity, call Isaiah 55.

When you want courage for a task, call Joshua 1.

How to get along with fellow men, call Romans 12.

When you think of investments/returns, call Mark 10.

If you are depressed, call Psalm 27.

If your pocketbook is empty, call Psalm 37.

If your losing confidence in people, call 1 Cor. 13.

If people seem unkind, call John 15.

If discouraged about your work, call Psalm 126.

If you find the world growing small, and yourself great, call Psalm 19.

These emergency numbers may be dialed direct. No operator assistance is

necessary. All lines are open hours a day!

Feed your faith, and doubt will starve to death!

- Author unknown.

A Matter of Heart - An Update 

By Rev. Donald Thompson

As I write this on June 25, 2014, I have just been to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for a heart biopsy (I am going every two weeks right now, and after I go in two weeks I'll go once a month) to make sure there are no signs of my body rejecting the new heart. I have to be there at 7:30 am where they prep me for the procedure which is done about 8:30 am. After that I go for an ultrasound of the heart to make sure everything is functioning properly. I then return home and I get a call in the early evening giving me the results. Good news once again, everything is fine and no sign of rejection! I give thanks to God for my great blessings. I continue to recover from my heart transplant without any complications (the medical staff tells me they expect at least one serious episode of rejection/infection, but so far so good)


I am trying now to get back to my normal routine, and plan to preach and lead Holy Communion on July 6. I will still need to exercise precautions about touching people (just in case someone may be getting sick and not know, etc.), and being in a lot of close contact with crowds of people. I still haven't been to nursing homes since there tends to be more sickness in places like that. All this will change as I get further out from the transplant and my body adjusts to the lower immune system. In the mean time I hope you understand if I don't shake your hand or hug you, nothing personal, just being cautious.


I am truly grateful for the love and support I've felt through my journey over the past 18 months. I couldn't have made it with knowing of your prayers and support. It tough being the one cared for, when you're used to being the one providing care, but I've learned some good lessons from all this. I can't explain why I have been so blessed (I surely don't deserve it), but I give thanks to God that I have. Perhaps God has used this journey of mine to give encouragement to others who are going through trials and tribulations in their own lives - I don't know, but I do know that God uses those situations sometimes. So, keep the faith, "for in due season we shall reap if we faint not..." (Gal. 6:9)

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