Last night was the Awana Christmas Party at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. In addition to the usual learning of verses and Bible stories, the kids also enjoyed hot dogs, chips, and Christmas cookies. See you in 2014.
Monthly Archives: December 2013
While most Christ followers acknowledge that Jesus made a huge difference in their lives, sharing that knowledge with others is not the easiest thing for us to do.
Is Evangelism Going Out Of Style? is the latest research from the Barna Group that shows the difference between evangelical’s thoughts about evangelism and our practice. If you are like me, the article will prompt you to reevaluate your approach and practice regarding this subject.
Granted, firefighters need to be flexible and adapt to any situation, but this event certainly took it to a new level.
Oddball stories tend to catch my attention, even more so when they occur near where we used to live.
How do you celebrate Christmas?
Do you attend Christmas activities like the Nutcracker Ballet or drive through the Bright Nights at Forest Park? Or do you approach the season with the “Bah, Humbug” of Ebenezer Scrooge?
Do you use NORAD’s Santa Tracker to follow Santa Clause’s deliveries? Or do you have the conviction that Christians should not promote Santa at all?
Do you use an Advent calendar, a story like Jotham’s Journey, or a Nativity set to teach the meaning of Christmas? Do you enjoy a festive family feast on Christmas Day? Or do you skip the meal and instead serve at a homeless shelter or the Union Gospel Mission on that day?
Do you exchange gifts with others? Or give donations to a cause such as Angel Tree or the Salvation Army instead?
How do you celebrate Christmas?
The story of Anna in Luke 2:36-38 provides us with a model of how to celebrate Christmas. Her example teaches us that we can celebrate Christmas best by praising God for Jesus and telling others about him.
Anna was a godly senior citizen. She was married for seven brief years and was a widow for the rest of her life. Anna chose a lifetime of service over remarriage.
Anna lived with a sense of expectation. She was part of the remnant looking for the Messiah. Anna knew her only hope was in the mercy and grace of God.
Anna demonstrated single-minded devotion. She made the temple her permanent home. Anna was not idle, but made worship, prayer, and fasting her chief occupation.
Anna was in tune with God. In God’s providential timing, she was in the temple near where Simeon stood as he blessed Joseph, Mary, and Jesus (Luke 2:25-35). Without an invitation, Anna approached the baby Jesus just as Simeon had done. She recognized what God was doing in the person of this child.
Anna responded with praise. She gave thanks to God. Anna’s long years of passionately petitioning God gave way to an outburst of joyous praise.
Anna responded by telling the good news to others. She did much more than sing praises and give thanks. Anna turned to the other worshippers and announced that the Messiah had come. She could not stop talking about Jesus.
Look for opportunities to praise God during the season of Advent. Consider making the commitment not to criticize or complain during December. Instead, look forward with confidence to what God will do in your future. Find something new each day to give thanks for. Give praise each day for a different aspect of God’s character. Study the prophecies about Jesus and give thanks for how God kept his promises. Read the five songs of praise in Luke 1 & 2 (Elizabeth, Mary, Zechariah, angels, Simeon). Celebrate Christmas by praising God.
Look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Consider hosting a birthday party for Jesus and inviting the neighborhood children to attend. Deliver cookies to your neighbors along with a gospel tract. Go caroling to shut ins. Ask God to open your eyes to someone in need. Give a gift without expecting one in return because of what Jesus did for you. Celebrate Christmas by telling others about Jesus.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on December 15, 2013. It is part of a series on Christmas. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
During this time of year, we are aware of CEOs who come to church. They are the Christmas and Easter Only attenders. Now, Kevin DeYoung has written a thought provoking article on “The Scandal of the Semi-Churched.” These are the folks who are here one Sunday and then gone for two. He concludes with five questions each Christian should ask themselves about their commitment to the local church. I’d encourage you to read the article.
I started reading Finish the Mission: Bringing the gospel to the unreached and unengaged, by John Piper & David Mathis (editors). It is a collection of messages from the 2011 Desiring God National Conference. I was captured by two paragraphs in Louie Giglio’s chapter, “The galactic God who invites us into his glorious plan.”
Early in his essay, he writes about what our purpose in life is to be.
Christians are not at their leisure–that’s the heartbeat of what I sense God wants me to bring in this chapter. We are not at our leisure. Rather, we are under the mandate of the grace of God–grace that found us, restored us, redeemed us, breathed life back into our dormant lungs, and brought us back from the grave for a purpose. And that purpose is that we would, with everything in us, become an amplifier of the beauty of Jesus among all the peoples on this planet. This mission is crystal clear.
He begins his conclusion to the chapter with these thoughts.
If you want to be close to Jesus–and maybe you haven’t felt very close to him lately–if you want to dwell intimately with the Son of God and feel the breath of heaven on your life, then you need to be where Jesus is. Perhaps you have spent way too long trying to get Jesus where you are. What you need to do is start getting onboard with the idea of getting where he is. And I’m telling you where he is: going to all the unreached peoples of the earth. That’s where Jesus is. If you haven’t felt a real intimacy with Christ and closeness with the Holy Spirit, it may be because you’re off doing your thing, and God is elsewhere doing his thing. He’s not responding to all your invitations to come over and join up with your thing. Now it’s finally time for you to respond to his invitation to join up with his thing.
Giglio closes the chapter with this paragraph.
So who’s asking? The one asking is a God who doesn’t need us but who’s inviting us, out of kindness and generosity and love, to get onboard with the thing he’s doing in the world right now, and until the end of time. He’s inviting us to walk with him as we share a role in his glorious plan.