THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

I saw this on the internet and decided to share.  Take a look… -anita

***************************

The true meaning of Christmas often gets lost in the rush of the season: the shopping, the parties, the baking, and the wrapping of presents. But the essence of the season is the greatest gift of all time — God gave us Jesus Christ, his own Son:

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah, NLT)

The gift of Jesus brings great joy to everyone who receives him. The purpose of Christmas is to share this gift so the whole world will know the love of our Savior.

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

In today’s day and time,
It’s easy to lose sight,
Of the true meaning of Christmas
And one special night.

When we go shopping,
We say, “How much will it cost?”
Then the true meaning of Christmas,
Somehow becomes lost.

Amidst the tinsel, glitter
And ribbons of gold,
We forget about the child,
Born on a night so cold.

The children look for Santa
In his big, red sleigh
Never thinking of the child
Whose bed was made of hay.

In reality,
When we look into the night sky,
We don’t see a sleigh
But a star, burning bright and high.

A faithful reminder,
Of that night so long ago,
And of the child we call Jesus,
Whose love the world would know.

–Submitted by Brian K. Walters

PEACE! BE STILL..

At church, we have been doing a series called, The Star.  Yesterday’s sermon was on Peace.  It reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years back.

If you search the Scriptures, you will see that God’s Word has much to say about peace!

There were three points to the sermon.  Take a look….

  1.  PEACE IN THE MIDST OF YOUR STORM….  Remember this:  “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but it is the Presence of God!-Mark 4:35-41

     2.  PRINCE OF PEACE….  You must align yourself with the source of your Peace, which is God Almighty! -Psalm 46:10

    3.  PEACE FOR THE WORLD….  The peace of God is too great to be restrained by the limits of this world! – Phil. 4:6-7

I share my poem with you now…

When on life’s stormy ocean,
My ship’s tossed to and fro,

While sinking fast and drowning,
HE reminds me where to go.

Down on my knees I fall,
And there, His power is made real…

When The Captain comes on board,
And whispers to me, “Peace…be still!”

The tempest raged before me,
And my ship rocked back and forth;

I felt I was alone…
And that my vessel had no worth.

But then, The Captain stepped on board
And held me close until,

I heard Him in His still small voice,
Whisper, “Peace… be still!”

There was nothing loud within His voice…
Just quiet authority;

Yet the winds and waves obeyed His will,
When He whispered, “Peace…be still!”

He quieted the storm around me
From the consequence of sin.

The tempest calmed before me…
It was smooth sailing once again.

Now my days are filled with singing…
And I KNOW His peace is real;

For in my storm, He stepped on board
And whispered, “Peace…be still!

Written by: Anita Mondragon, published 2009

******************************
May God’s peace be with you today, and always! -anita

 

AM I LIVING ON BORROWED TIME….AND DOES IT MATTER?

Here’s a good one from Lee.  Take a look…. -anita

*********************

 

I’m 70 years old and I sometimes think of the Scripture verse in Psalm 90:10:  “The length of our days is 70 years—or eighty if we have the strength.”  I understand, of course, the Bible is not saying here that we are guaranteed 70 years of life. In fact, when this book was written, the average lifespan was comparatively short. In one study I found (University College of London) that examined age attained at death in Roman times (based on census data from Egypt between AD 11 and AD 258, admittedly after the Psalms were compiled) most men and women were dead by their 50s. Even more telling, almost half of the females counted, and over a third of the males, died before they completed their teen years. Lifestyle, poor health, and diet were most likely chief contributors to the likelihood of fairly early death.

 

So, I know there is no guarantee of long life. In fact, I’ve had many extended family members and numerous good friends pass away at ages much younger than my 70 years. So what is my point? First, I would say that we should be astutely aware of how short our life truly is: Ps 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” In short, be wise with your time; it is very limited. I know I waste many hours doing things that have little meaning or benefit to others or even myself. My hard-charging wife, who is busy every single day, likes to say that she will sleep more when she is in her 90s.

 

There’s a part of me that feels like I’m living on borrowed time, given the fact that I had open heart surgery/triple bypass at the fairly young age of 48. The doctors used a vein from my leg to create a bypass artery for my heart. I’ve read that such a procedure is usually good for about 10 years, sometimes even less, and it has now been 21 years plus. The good news is that I feel good and am still going strong, so I thank God profusely for each “extra” day He gives me.

 

I think about dying sometimes. I don’t dwell on it; I don’t even fear it. The Bible assures us in 2 Tim 1:7 that, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  I feel pretty strongly that these “extra” years God has given me has been a gift, if you will. I’ve gotten to see my youngest daughter grow up and become successful at her chosen career, and my wife and I have had many great years together. And I’ve been busy watching my grand children grow up (the youngest is still only 6) and I work hard to be active and a part of their lives.

 

No matter what is the state of my life or yours, we are supremely blessed if we know Him and if we can honestly say, “Whenever You want to take me home, Lord, I’m ready.” That means not holding tightly to our temporal life here, our things, or even our relationships on this earth. The point of this life is to prepare us for the next one. One of my favorite Bible verses puts it this way: “But I trust in You, Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in your hands.” Ps 31:14-15

 

Prov 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”  I can still comb mine so that’s a small blessing in itself, I guess!

Lee Pierce

Sermon Notes from Dec. 10

Acts 4

My Church Does Not Care About Me

Have you ever said this?

Let’s look at the early church and what it was like.
The Believers Pray

Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

 

Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop, The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church

“Scripture teaches that the community that matters is community built by God. We may cultivate it, feed it, protect it, and use it. But we dare not pretend to create it.”

“How you run your schedule on Sundays says much about what you expect of your people. What if they’re ushered from the parking lot to the nursery and right into your theater-like seating area—then gently rushed out afterward to make space for the next service? It says that church is primarily about the experience of what happens during the service rather than the relationships that form around the service. . . Consumers rush in and out of the service, viewing church as a spiritual ‘drive-thru.’ But providers show up early and, as able, stay around afterward. They see church more as family and less as an event.” (144, 145)

“Absent supernatural community, the church can’t compete with the world to attract non-Christians. For people bent on pleasure and ambition, the world will always be a more attractive place than your church to spend a Sunday morning. You can’t out-world the world.” (193)

 

Colossians 4  MSG

2-4 Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

5-6 Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

7-9 My good friend Tychicus will tell you all about me. He’s a trusted minister and companion in the service of the Master. I’ve sent him to you so that you would know how things are with us, and so he could encourage you in your faith. And I’ve sent Onesimus with him. Onesimus is one of you, and has become such a trusted and dear brother! Together they’ll bring you up-to-date on everything that has been going on here.

10-11 Aristarchus, who is in jail here with me, sends greetings; also Mark, cousin of Barnabas (you received a letter regarding him; if he shows up, welcome him); and also Jesus, the one they call Justus. These are the only ones left from the old crowd who have stuck with me in working for God’s kingdom. Don’t think they haven’t been a big help!

12-13 Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello. What a trooper he has been! He’s been tireless in his prayers for you, praying that you’ll stand firm, mature and confident in everything God wants you to do. I’ve watched him closely, and can report on how hard he has worked for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

14 Luke, good friend and physician, and Demas both send greetings.

15 Say hello to our friends in Laodicea; also to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.

16 After this letter has been read to you, make sure it gets read also in Laodicea. And get the letter that went to Laodicea and have it read to you.

17 And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, “Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.”

18 I’m signing off in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember to pray for me in this jail. Grace be with you.

The early church was ignited by the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit were given to encourage the church. We must seek to activate our Spiritual Gifts for one purpose: to build other up!

Find a way to share your gift   ________________________________

__________________________________________________________

 

Prepare words of encouragement to:  _____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

Pray for Open Doors

Connect with ________________________________________

GOD’S LOVE…

I saw this on FB this morning, and decided to share it.  My cousin, Dena is married to this wonderful man.  He is a great Bible teacher!  Hope you enjoy…,  Thanks for sharing Chet!  -anita

*********************************

 

GOD’s Love toward us is NOT based on how much we love HIM. HE Loved us even while we were lost in our sin. While we were in a Godless condition and without Christ, GOD Loved us and sent HIS Son, Jesus Christ to pay our sin debt!
I struggle with the concept that I MUST be a perfect follower of Jesus Christ. Yet daily, even minute by minute, I realize that this thought is foolishness. I allow “things” to create a great amount of stress within my life.
I lose sight of what Christ has done for us. We are to “cast our cares upon Him who cares for us.” Our salvation, is though the finished work of Jesus Christ. His death, burial and resurrection has freed us from the bondage of sin. There is no work that we can do, to bring salvation to ourselves. For by Grace you are save, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Romans 5:6-11
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

-Chet Womack

RELENTLESS…

I just came back from taking my son to the bus stop.  I was listening to a song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, called, “He’ll do whatever it takes.”  The song speaks about the fact that you can not run from God’s love…you can’t go too far…YOU ARE NOT BEYOND REDEMPTION!  As long as you’re breathing…there IS hope!

God is relentless in His pursuit to redeem us unto Himself

Take a look at the following Scriptures….

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.      2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

7Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

12Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

15My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

21Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

22I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

–New American Standard Bible 

WHAT JESUS WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS…

Here is a sermon my husband gave about a year ago.  There are some important things written here that we should all consider!  Take a look….  -anita

******************************

 

Christmas is all about Christ. Have you ever wondered what Jesus would include on his Christmas wish list if He had one? While we don’t have the specific answer, we can gather some insight from His prayers, specifically John 17. Jesus says, “Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am” (John 17:24).

Jesus states that His Kingdom to come, which will eventually bring justice to all, is very concerned with the poor and the underprivileged. The Bible tells us, “None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Jesus expects us, whom He has called and commissioned to represent Him as Ambassadors on earth, to share his love and concern for those in positions of need. How can we better keep the Christ in Christmas and be the hands and feet and heart of God? What is it that Jesus desires from us? 

Here are six things I think Jesus wants from us this Christmas.

  1.  Jesus wants us to love Him with the same love God has for Him.

Jesus’ goal is not only for us to see Him in all of His glory, but also for us to love Him with the same love that the Father has for Him. Jesus says, “ And I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26). Jesus’ longing and goal for us is that we see His glory and for us to be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for His Son. This doesn’t mean that we simply imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father’s very love becomes our love for JESUS, and our 1.fellow-man. This is what the  Holy Spirit places in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit, which is then passed on to our brothers and sisters on earth

2.  JESUS WANTS US TO help those in need.

As Christians, we are commanded to help one another but we are also called to help those who are less fortunate than we are. Proverbs 21:13 says, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” 1 John 3:17 also says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” A great way to help the poor and needy during the holiday season is by volunteering or donating to those in need. The Salvation Army, or Denver Rescue mission are great charities! Getting involved in giving to your own neighbors! What better gift to Christ than to help our fellow neighbor in need? Be sensitive to those around you and seek God to impress upon your heart where you should give. You may be surprised at what he reveals to you! How many of us declare we are going to do this year, but never get around to it because we are too busy, or some other reason? Let’s make a concerted effort to put feet to our faith this year. It does not have to be a major undertaking how about making a casserole for a sick neighbor or friend, or a small monetary donation to a shelter. That gift you bought for yourself? Give it to someone else… see how it makes you feel. It may reveal something to you about your character….

3.  Jesus wants to be first in your life.

Anything or anyone other than Jesus that holds first place in your life is an idol. This Christmas, Jesus would want you to choose to make Him first, ahead of your finances, interests, relationships and schedule – even your troubles. OUCH… this one hit home for me. I have no troubles giving when the Father impresses me, but I do like my ” things” as my wife will tell you….but all idols aside, This starts by giving Him your heart. The Bible tells us, “Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Your heart is what you love, value and care about most. One way you can give Jesus your heart this Christmas is by giving your resources to His work. This doesn’t mean that Jesus needs your money, but He wants what it represents – your heart.

4.  JESUS WANTS YOUR TRUST

One thing that would probably be at the top of Jesus’ Christmas wish list is your trust. Do we really trust God? Remember, faith is a voluntary matter. And easy sometimes, but Jesus doesn’t have your trust unless you give it to Him. Trusting in Christ means that you’re not relying upon yourself but on Jesus. This is another area where I personally struggle. If things are to get done, I have to do them, or so my thought process is. The most important part of following Christ is to learn from Him. By relying on Christ as our Teacher, He shows us how to change our thinking and leads us into living a new life that is more in line with His will and truth. Jesus shows us how to live and will even guide us in how to pray. When we learn what Jesus wants from us, then we rely on His strength and power, through the Holy Spirit, to do be able to accomplish His will.

5.  HE WANTS US TO WITNESS

What better gift you can offer Christ than to be a powerful witness to His life and

what He has done for us and bring others into the family of believers. He wants followers who choose to love and trust Him. This is the very reason we celebrate Christmas. You can invite someone to Jesus this Christmas by telling them what Jesus has done in your life. We know from Scripture that the Wise Men didn’t just give Jesus whatever they had leftover when they visited Him on the first Christmas. Instead they gave Him three very significant and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). As you bring other people to Christ, you are giving Jesus a gift far more valuable than the ones the Wise Men brought. JESUS values souls over any other gift we can offer. 

6.  JESUS WANTS US

One of the greatest gifts you can give Jesus this season is the gift of you. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Closer and deeper than the past. Of course, Jesus wants other people too, but you are not in a position to give other people to Jesus. They have to make that decision for themselves, realizing that we all need a savior. However, you have the power to witness. God will do the rest to bring others to Christ. This first begins by truly giving yourself to Christ. You can begin by taking these four steps. First, you can give yourself to Christ by giving Him your time, your talent and your money. Second, you can give yourself to Christ by serving others instead of yourself. Third, you can give yourself to Christ by living a holy life in an ungodly world, spending time in His presence, listening to Him. Finally, you can give yourself to Christ by teaching others about Him.

What better gift can we offer Christ this Christmas than seeing Him in His fullness and accepting all that He has to offer us. Christ is always showing us His glory, but we have to find satisfaction in His glory and delight in it. This Christmas, be committed to growing in your relationship with Jesus and doing all that you can to reflect His love and greatness to those who do not know Him or need , or desire a closer more intimate relationship with him!

Michael Mondragon

LIFE COACHES…HOW DO YOU FIND THE BEST ONE?

Now days…you hear a lot about Life Coaches.  Everyone wants their own, ‘personal” life coach.  I know I need to make some changes in my own life…so I went to google to find out exactly just what a life coach really is.  Here’s what google told me….

We help people move forward and set personal and professional goals that will give them the life they really want. Most life coaching clients are healthy, successful people who might be a bit stuck or simply want to make a big change in their lives and want the support of their own personal coach to do so.

Okay.  That’s exactly what I thought a life coach was 🙂

Then I wanted to know the cost of employing a life coach….

 life coaches charge rates similar to other helping professionals. Most life coaches charge somewhere between $75 and $200 per hour. However, you can find coaches who fall outside of that range.

Well, I shared all of that with you because we are ALL IN NEED OF A LIFE COACH!!

You see, its human nature to get stuck, obtain habits-especially bad ones, be fearful of moving on and challenging ourselves to be better.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford a ‘life coach’ with those rates!  ….  BUT I do know a Life coach that has already picked up the tab for me!  His name is JESUS!  I can call on Him 24/7, and He’ll never put me on hold, or be out of His ‘office’; I’ll never get a busy signal when I call on Him, and He will never ask me to leave a message.  He has  never told me He is unable to take my call right now, or that He will have to get back to me.  And…I don’t have to pay by the hour…or pay at all; HE has already paid my debt in full!  He did it when He died on the Cross for my sins!

All you have to do is ‘call’ Him up.  He will NEVER turn you away.  He will never say He has too many clients or obligations to take on a new person.  In fact, when you ask Him to be your life coach…He doesn’t call you a client…He calls you His child, and makes you a Son of God!  You not only benefit from His 24/7 service, you’re made an heir to part of His Kingdom!

I read an advertisement in His Manual, in John 6:37 that says, ” whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”  You can be sure…He will NEVER turn you away!  And, He won’t just be there for a short time…He will be your own personal coach for all of your life…and even into eternity!  This Manual,  gives you day-to-day instructions on ‘how to’ be the best you!

How can you lose????  Just call Him up at, JESUS-I NEED HELP!  He’s waiting to give purpose to your life!

So…What are you waiting for??

Anita

IS THE REFORMATION OVER…DID THE WHOLE PROJECT FAIL?

Get yourself a cup of coffee and find a comfortable seat….  Our own Lee Pierce has blessed us with another post!  Keep ’em comin’, Lee! -anita

***********************

The Reformation movement, which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year, was launched out of Martin Luther’s commitment to sola scriptura—the principle that the Bible is the final, infallible authority on life and doctrine. As Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. puts it in an article he penned on this topic: “When Scripture speaks, God speaks.”

As Christians, let there be no uncertainty about the fact that the Bible and its contents are under attack, even by sources within the church. But, there’s nothing new about that fact. Such attacks have existed virtually since the Bible was accepted as canon by the church. Dr. Mohler has spoken extensively on the subject of postmodernism and its corollary topic of relative truth, i.e., there really is no absolute truth. In effect, truth is what I say it is! “…postmodernists are committed to total war on truth itself, a deconstructionist project bent on the casting down of all religious, philosophical, political, and cultural authorities,” he says. Needless to say, the Bible with its claims to truth from God Himself, is a favorite target of the postmodern movement. This movement attempts to tie everything to a scientific model of rationality; in essence, unless I can observe something with my five senses, I won’t accept it as true. Clearly, this obviates the Bible with its aspects founded on the supernatural and upon a God who is not subject to the physical world (that He created, mind you!).

Dr. Mohler states that the only way to escape the rationalist claims of the modernist movement is to cling to the truths, the doctrines, of the Bible: “God has spoken to us in a reasonable way, in a language we can understand…which is His gracious disclosure of Himself.”

In my view, unless we have an objective source of truth, i.e., God’s own word, we’re all just playing with words and wallowing in our own, personal priorities. Mohler puts it this way: “Without the authority of Scripture, our theological convictions are merely conjectures and our preaching becomes nothing more than a display of human folly.” I, for one, have no desire whatsoever to put my eternal wellbeing in the hands of those who make up truth as they see fit (usually for their own selfish designs).

As Christians face continual opposition from both proponents of false gospels and from the culture at large, Dr. Mohler counsels us to protest. To hold high the banner of truth that is the basis for the Protestant Reformation. “We must not fail in seeing Scripture rightly proclaimed, the church built up, and the message of the gospel reach every corner of the earth,” he says. As modern-day beneficiaries of the great work of the Reformers, we have a duty to continue to press on with God’s truth as contained in the pages of Holy Scripture. I don’t know what this battle to sustain God’s truth will look like over the coming years, but I know the church will prevail: Jesus said “I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not overpower it.” [MT 16:18]

As long as Christians seek truth from God’s own words, the Reformation and its tenets will continue on and its purposes will be successful. You and I are examples of that very success! Praise the Lord!

-Lee Pierce