Monthly Archives: December 2014

What is Your Gift to Jesus This Year?

What is Your GiftHave you been frantically searching to find the perfect gifts for everyone you know, overspending and charging it all? Or have you peacefully bought things throughout the year and spent a calm evening wrapping gifts with soft music playing in the background? Either way, I don’t care, my real question for you is: What is your gift for Jesus this year?

That’s right, for Jesus. After all, without His birth, what would we have to celebrate? The blessings and horrors of the world would just be the way it is. But with His birth, comes His death, and the knowledge and assurance we can have that with faith in Jesus we will live forever in a much better place.

So I ask you again: What is your gift for Jesus this year?

Take a look at this picture, do you see something?

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Let’s zoom in.

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Now do you see it? A stocking for Jesus. Do you have one for Him? We have been putting Jesus’ stocking out for years. Inside it you will find birthday cards and little notes telling Jesus what we are doing for Him to honor Him on His birthday. It’s our gift for Jesus.

I am not talking about serving in a soup kitchen or helping someone across the street. This gift isn’t really a gift for yourself, like a trip or new electronic toy. It’s a gift for Jesus. You need to kick it up 1,000% and it will still pale in comparison to what He can do.

A gift like this will pinch your pocketbook or put a kink in your perfect schedule. It requires you to give without strings, without reservations, and without expecting anything in return.

This gift needs to be done in secret. If you go out and share it on facebook, twitter, or whatever, you aren’t doing it for Jesus, you’re doing it for your own glory, so don’t even bother. Decide what you will give and do it in secret and anonymously. That warm glow in your heart will keep you going for a while and you will want to duplicate it again.

Need some suggestions? Here you go:

  • Buy all the food needed to serve meals in a soup kitchen or shelter for a day or a week.
  • Love a family in your school district. Ask your local school if there is a family they know who needs help. (And there will be.)Then send the school gas and food store gift cards for that family. They’ll see that it gets there. I challenge you to give them as much for food as you would spend on your family, plus some.
  • Commit to giving your time to a project or service you believe in and make it a regular part of your life. Then, never find an excuse to say you can’t make it because something else ‘better’ came along.
  • Find a missionary to support. Decide how much you can give them each month above and beyond your regular tithe. Then jump start your giving by sending in a support check that will cover an entire month.

These are just some suggestions. Look around your community and you will find a need that is waiting to be filled by you. It’s not too late, Christmas is still a few days away. Take the focus away from your needs and wants and turn it to others.

In fact, if you really want a challenge, I dare you to add up your total receipts and then give that amount (in secret) as your present to Jesus. After all, why wouldn’t you give a present to the one who’s birth we are celebrating? Merry Christmas!

Church Planting: We Turned 2!

So, this past Sunday marked the 2nd birthday of our church.  Two years ago we officially launched with two cars full of stuff, a new worship leader, some crates of stuff for kids to play with, a ton of invites, and a lot of prayer. So what do we have to show two years later. Well, it all depends on your perspective of things.

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On one hand, we have so much to be thankful for. We have been fortunate to have moved to a new community to start a church and actually really love where we live. We have some people who came to the first service and still come to this day. We have moved into a great new rental location that is better for our size and needs. Plus, we can leave our stuff there and don’t have to load it all up every week. We have two small groups going with a variety of people from all different backgrounds.

Our church has become a recognized church to a certain degree in the community. People have heard of us. We have baptized a good number of people who now know Jesus as their Savior. The church has people who help with different areas on Sunday morning. And, we have a nice crowd of young kids, the future of any church. We are thankful and praise God for these many blessings.

So, you knew if I said ‘on one hand’, that there must be a ‘but, on the other hand’ coming. Right? Well, here it is. On the other hand we still struggle. Let’s be honest. Church planting is like starting a new business. It’s a lot of grunt work with a lot of people trying to tell you what or how to do things and after two years, that still exists and it is tiring. Sometimes you plan stuff and people back out or just don’t show up. Five Sunday months make it hard to fill all the morning jobs when you have just barely enough people to do four Sundays.

Sometimes I just get discouraged. I know people say faith is a marathon, not a sprint, but I feel like my legs are starting to get rubbery and weary. I’m a teacher. I know most statistics say new teachers leave the profession within five years. They just get burnt out from all the JUNK that gets in the way of actually doing what you love. I’m finding church planting is the same way.

But, that all being said, we aren’t giving up. Just like we would never give up on one of our own babies, we won’t give up on this church in its infancy. We must continue to reach out. We must continue to hold on to those we have by sharing Jesus’ love and hospitality. We must love the children that come. We must mask our disappointment when things don’t turn out as we expected. We must remember that we are only human. And, we must remember it is not all about ‘we’. It’s about God.

Change one letter in ‘we’ to ‘He‘ and everything looks better. He can help us find ways to reach out. He will grow people’s faith so they continue to learn and know Jesus’ love. He loves the little children more than we ever could. He is sad when we are sad or disappointed, but He knows what to do better. He knows we are human and sinful and so that is why He sent His son, Jesus. He is the one it is all about. He is God.

So I lift my cup of apple cider vinegar water (because I feel a sore throat coming on and I have concerts this week!) and toast to our church’s 2nd birthday. And, if it is like human two year olds and this is the terrible twos, then I say, even if we think we can’t we must remember that He can! Happy 2nd Birthday!1207140826a

 

 

Caught in Earthly Snares

Proverbs PictureFear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Do you aim to please people? At work, at home, or in social circles, do you try to do what people expect so there is little conflict or so you can make as many people happy as possible? I know I have been in this situation at work before. There are times when I do worry about what others will think as I take on a project and do it differently than what was expected. Sometimes it isn’t even worrying about what people will think as much as it is do I have the desire to listen to everybody’s opinion about what I’m doing.

I am getting caught up in the earthly snare of humans. I am worried about what others think. People’s comments, looks, and sighs all creep into my life and what I am doing and they begin to gnaw away at my confidence in what I am working on. You have probably been there at some point. It is hard work to keep negativity at arm’s length and not let it overtake your life.

So what to do? Well, the second part of this Proverb tells us that, “…whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe”. In the midst of when I feel like I am failing and fearing man, I need to remember that it is God who I need to fear and trust. He is the only one whose opinion matters in regards to what you do. He will keep me safe from man’s grasp.

If you keep God on your radar when you are working, playing, socializing, or whatever situation you may be in, then the fear of man’s opinions begin to fade. Again, this is not easy. In this materialistic and all about me world it is hard to keep focused on Jesus and not be distracted. In order to trust Him, you need to give Him your problems. Pray to Him, ask Him for help, and let Him know that you need and depend on Him to get you through. And then, you need to let Him guide you. It is easier to fear people and let those fears hold you back. But try to take a step towards trusting God more today, see where He takes you, and let Him keep you safe.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25