With less than a week to go before Christmas and the celebration of our glorious Saviour, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish you a season full of overflowing joy and blessing.
If you are looking for Christmas Scripture reading plans at this time, you will find a link to YouVersion Bible on our homepage or click here to access this information.
YouVersion also provides a Christmas story tracker so that you can locate the number and location of others currently reading the Christmas story. (see here)
Please remember that our summer series on the Parables of Jesus will resume in the new year and I would encourage you to join us for this special series.( see below)
At the heart of the Christmas story is the Creator who humbled Himself to become a baby. What does humility mean to us? This question was posed to the 'man on the street'. Check out the responses and the entire clip.
_ Angels We Have Heard On High
Angels we have on heard high
Sweetly singing ore the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14 KJV
What gives you awe? What things cause you to become speechless when you see them? Is it the sight of a family member you haven’t seen in years? Is it visiting a majestic place like a mountain or a historical place like the ancient pyramids of Egypt? The night Christ was born was the most monumental and awe-inspiring event that as ever occurred in human history as God sent His one and only Son to earth so that we could ultimately have eternal life. There has not been an event in history before or after Christ’s birth that resulted in such celebration that the angels themselves made their physical presence known and their voices heard in song. Can you imagine how the shepherds’ jaws must have dropped at the site and sounds of the angels? That moment was so majestic that we probably cannot fully comprehend what it was like because honestly, none of us have encountered such a sight.
It seems like people tend to have fewer experiences these days of complete awe. Technology has brought so much of the world to our living rooms and fingertips that we can see anything we want and feel like we are at anyplace we want to be. Unfortunately, most of us probably have fewer awe-inspiring moments with God than we should. Our relationship with Him often becomes too comfortable and even ordinary. This Christmas, make an attempt to regain those awe-inspiring moments with God. Strive to make your relationship with Him something so inspiring that it causes you to rejoice like the angels did. Don’t let your relationship with Him be ordinary, but rather make it extraordinary. (lifechurch.tv)
Describe some of the awe-inspiring moments you’ve had with God.
How have these moments impacted you?
What changes do you need to make in your life so that you can start having more awe-inspiring moments with God?
This article from Matt Redmond and ChristianityToday places a note of needed perspective on Christmas and, in contrast to the artifice pushed by the world of festive laughter, fun and celebrations , reminds us of the simple manger and the hope of Christmas in a world filled with hopelessness.
We are by now accustomed to hearing about how Christmas is difficult for many people. The story of Scrooge and his--ahem—problems with this season are no longer anecdotal. It is now par for the course. Maybe it always has been. Maybe the joy of the season has always been a thorn in the side of those who can scarcely imagine joy.
Not too long ago, I heard from someone about how difficult Christmas would be because of some heartbreak in their family. There was utter hopelessness and devastation. Christmas would be impossible to enjoy because of the freshness of this pain. It's been a story hard to forget.
I get it. I mean, it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Maneuvering through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce, or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.
But allow me to push back against this idea a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They have not gotten lost on the way because of the GPS they got last year. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their ginormous flat-screen. We live and act as if this is who should be enjoying Christmas.
But this is backwards. Christmas—the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer—is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue.Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus' first recorded worshipers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beat down by life and labor. They had been looked down on over many a nose. Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to "wing night" alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want "home" but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children's marriage fall into disarray.
Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the