Monthly Archives: December 2013

2014 Get Ready To Live It!

It’s amazing how fast a year passes. And it seems the older I get, the faster time flies. If you remember, this past year has been devoted to strengthening our relationship with God. We called it, “2013: The Year Of Resolutions.” Each month we tried to focus on ONE thing we could do to help us live better lives. Just as a reminder, and perhaps a continual challenge, here is what we tried to accomplish this past year…

January – Pray More

February – Read More

March – Give More

April – Attend More

May – Get More Involved

June – Share Our Faith More

July – Call On Others More

August – Invite More

September – Fellowship More

October – More Acts Of Kindness

November – Serve More

December – Focus On Christ

And here we are, ready to ring in yet another new year. This week I was thumbing through some old Our Daily Bread’s that I have collected in my office, and I came across an article that I like. Let me share part of it with you. “Each year, one of my goals is to read the entire Bible. While listing it among my New Year’s resolutions, I noticed a bookmark on my desk. On one side was a brief appeal for people to take in foster children. On the other side were these words referring to that appeal: “Don’t read it. Live it. Real children. Real stories. Real life.” The people who produced the bookmark knew how easily we absorb information without acting on it. They wanted people to respond.”

God said to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 33:32,”…they hear your words, but they do not do them.” In Matthew 7:24 Jesus said, “Whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

I pray that we do more than just hear what God has to say to us. I pray that we do it. James challenges us to not just be hearers of the word, but to be doers. In 2013 we read about all the things that we should be doing. And hopefully we were taking baby steps at becoming the kind of followers that God desires us to be. But for 2014 can we commit to LIVE IT!

No more baby steps, throw off the training wheels, and let’s start living the lives that God intended us to live. Don’t just look at that list of things above, go out and DO THEM! When we hear it in a sermon, don’t just hear it, LIVE IT! When we study it in a Bible study, don’t just study it, LIVE IT! When you read it in your personal study times, don’t just read it, LIVE IT! When you see qualities of a good Christian in the lives of those around you, don’t just see it, LIVE IT!

I hope that 2014 greets you with many great things in life. I wish you the best of luck when it comes to all your New Year’s resolutions. But when it comes to your faith, and your relationship with God, I do more than hope and wish, I PRAY that we can all begin to LIVE IT! 2014, ready or not, it’s time to LIVE IT!

In Christ,

Josh

Lost In Space

In a pre-holiday surprise, flight controllers at NASA Mission Control had to revamp their plans for the remaining spacewalks scheduled for the space shuttle Endeavour.  During a visit to the international space station, a crucial tool bag floated out to space during a repair trip.  The briefcase sized tool bag drifted away from an astronaut as she cleaned and lubed a gummed up joint on a wing of solar panels on the space station.  The errant tool bag will presumably float in space for a long time and then eventually reenter the earth’s atmosphere as a fiery speck.  A sad ending for expensive government tools!

When I read this news article I wondered at how small things make the news when large things go untold.  Things that matter the most are often hidden from public view.

Such was the case of Jesus’ birth over two thousand years ago.  If Bethlehem had a newspaper on the day Jesus was born, it would have certainly carried a story about the unpopular tax grab by the Roman government or the lack of hotel rooms at an affordable price.  Lost in the nothingness of the day’s news was the birth of the Son of God.  And not that God didn’t give anyone advance notice.  The prophets had predicted in detail the Messiah’s arrival at Bethlehem and the circumstances surrounding His birth.  But when the day arrived no one was looking.  The greatest birth event ever would have gone totally unnoticed if it were not for a star to lead the Magi and an angelic visitation to some sleepy shepherds on hillside.

Christmas 2013 could easily go by without acknowledging the real story, were it not for followers who were willing to share it.  I pray that this Christmas, YOU will be one of them.  I hope that you keep your family focused on the real celebration.  And it is my hope that the people around you will catch a glimpse of what Christmas is really all about as well.  At Christmas we are like the star that guided the Magi and the angels that announced Christ’s birth.

I know it’s not your typical Christmas passage, but God had a great plan to reunite us.  John 3:16-17 tells us His plan, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

It’s the greatest news the world has ever heard.  A savior has been born, He is Christ the Lord.  The barrier between us and God can now be filled, by the cross.  Yes, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, but make no mistake, He came here to die for you, and for me.  This Christmas, make sure the message of Christ, and the story of God’s love for us doesn’t get lost in space.

In Christ,

Josh

Focusing On The Real Celebration

“2013: The Year Of Resolutions.”  The challenge has been to end the year in a better place than we began it.  Unlike most years with one big resolution, we have had a 12 step program to help us get there.  And here we are, the end of yet another year.  Just a reminder of what we have tried to do.

January – Pray More

February – Read More

March – Give More

April – Attend More

May – Get More Involved

June – Share Our Faith More

July – Call On Others More

August – Invite More

September – Fellowship More

October – More Acts Of Kindness

November – Serve More

And now we round out the year by focusing on the real celebration.  On Halloween night this year, I made a quick stop at the store where I stumbled onto a crew of workers quickly tearing town candy from the shelves.  It was only around 6, but they assumed the Trick-Or-Treat crowd had already bought all the goodies they needed.

What made this night so memorable, was that the Halloween treats were immediately replaced with Christmas candy.  The dead bodies of Halloween had not even grown cold, but the artificial spirit of Christmas was already taking over the stores.

So this year, let’s put to the side the commercial side of Christmas, and let’s focus on the real celebration.  The key to having the “best Christmas ever” is getting past the shopping and wrapping and decorating and cooking and partying and cleaning up and returning gifts.

And once we get past all of that, it’s all about focusing on what matters most.  The real celebration of Christmas is found when we pause to celebrate God’s love for us in sending His one and only Son into this world, not for His benefit, but for ours.

Go back and re-read the Christmas story as told in the Bible.  It really has very little to do with presents, decorations, parties, or even the big guy in the red suit.  As you read God’s story of Christmas, it has to do with only one gift.  And that gift is His Son, Jesus.  Jesus, God in the flesh, came to this earth, lived a life as we do, died and horrible death, not because of what He had done, but because of what we have done.

And why did He do that?  All so we could have our relationship with God restored, and we could be given the greatest gift of all, eternal life in Heaven with Him.  That’s what Christmas is really all about.  So make sure that you take time to focus on the real celebration.  Don’t take Christ out of Christmas!

And with that, we near the end of yet another year.  Here’s hoping that “2013: The Year Of Resolutions!” has been a tremendous success for you!

In Christ,

Josh