Merry Christmas everyone!!! So enjoyed the Christmas Eve and Morning services at Crosspoint!!! You are a dear body of Christ to the Sorrells family! I love you all!!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
As we worship with one another the Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem, we remember the joyous news of His birth. Immanuel means God is with us. The shepherds were the first to receive the announcement of His birth. Such ordinary people for such extraordinary news!
While observing the farmers back home in Tennessee, I learned something new about shepherding. Regardless of their efforts to curb the loss of sheep to coyotes, flocks were dwindling to numbers forcing many farmers to stop raising sheep and goats. It was alarming! Then one year I asked Bud how his flock was doing. He said, “They’re doing fine ever since I got that sheep dog. I haven’t lost a single one this year.” He further explained to me that this was no ordinary dog. The Pyrenees Sheep dog is huge, white and boasts a very deep bark.
When still a puppy, it is weaned from its mother and fed along with the sheep by the shepherd farmer in the safety of the barn. It sleeps with them and begins to live with them 24 hours a day until several months old. Then the farmer releases the flock onto the open range of the farm, ever accompanied by the Pyrenees shepherd. I have observed this in action and it is quite amazing. One cannot get near the sheep without a fierce encounter with the protective, ever-present guardian.
You see the picture I am sure. The dog left its world to live among the sheep. He protects them. In a way, he saves and holds them. That is a picture of what we celebrate at Christmas. God with us! God came to be with us in Christ Jesus, His Son. He saves us and holds us through the power of His will, grace and favor. Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will to all men!
Merry Christmas Friends!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Merry Christmas! The celebration of Christ’s birth is just over a week away!
This week I read in Wednesday’s paper the new and understandable decision by many families this year to postpone Christmas until later in the year 2012. One parent even shared her plan to write a note signed by Santa that he was just too busy, and that his helpers (Mom and Dad) would bring gifts later when the prices were more affordable. Given the cultural understanding of a holiday stripped of its pure meaning, one might concede that this is pragmatically wise. No doubt our economy has created situations that force these kind of decisions.
Joseph's and Mary's betrothal was threatened with being postponed. Their lives were demanding a time-out to figure things out, seek solutions, and make plans to make circumstances return to normal. Fortunately, their ultimate response gives us direction in handling circumstances outside of our control. Ultimately, Joseph listened to the wise counsel of God's angel over the cultural norms surrounding him. Because of his and Mary's faith and obedience, they were able to experience first-hand the joy of Christ's incarnation--God in human flesh.
For many in America this year, Christmas could be a revelation, an epiphany, a whole new change of perspective. I wonder if we all might need a check on the whole meaning of life, festivity, and celebration. This week, do not postpone Christmas. Continue Christmas. Being stripped of the material focus of Christmas in America is a wonderful alternative and opportunity. A common phrase we hear these days is “Return to Bethlehem.” Let’s do just that. Let’s return to Bethlehem. Let’s learn from the original event the real joy of Christmas-God with us! “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’” Matthew 1:23.Coach/PJ
Thursday, December 8, 2011
How I love the Christmas season! I still bask this time of year in the wonder of the lights, the manger scenes, and the scents of Christmas and the anticipation of joy. Our home is filled with decorations, Christmas delights that are tasty to the palate, and Christmas music. Tina always creates a wonderful Christmas feel in our home. She loves the many Christmas movies. Our favorite is The Polar Express! I am not sure there is a better movie that captures the wonder of Christmas from the Santa Claus perspective. Watching can really move your emotions to the memories of childhood and Christmas.
Some may criticize too far the whole Santa deal! But if you would bear with me, I was struck once again the other night by the theme of this and many Christmas movies. BELIEVE! Children as well as adults are challenged to keep the “spirit” of Christmas alive by continuing to believe in Santa Claus. Children fuel the spirit of Christmas by their unwavering belief in what parents and culture has taught them. It is easy as a child, but comes under attack by older siblings and know-it-all friends at school.
Jesus challenged man’s faith in the same way—that we are to come to Him with faith as a child. He even compared faith to a small seed. The little boy in The Polar Express is reminded near the end of the story to believe. It is a sad reality to see the adults no longer able to hear the sleigh bell ring for a lack of belief. This Christmas, let us be reminded that our faith is strengthened by belief. With each ringing of the bells, state your enduring belief in the Christ-child of Christmas. When your faith is weak, ask the Father to increase your unbelief. I believe!
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Today, I read a devotional from Voices of the Faithful, written by a foreign missionary among the Southeast Asian peoples. It encouraged me so I thought I would share it with you. Todd’s 9-year-old daughter, Anna, loved horses, singing, dressing up and playing the piano. She also loved her Jesus and wanted others to know Him. Although shy and handicapped by language skills, Anna befriended four girls. They went on walks, played in the rice fields, and picked leaves from trees. Innocent fun! Anna so wanted to share with her new friends the message of the gospel and Jesus’ love for them. She began praying earnestly for God to help her share with them. Just one week later, these missionaries lost Anna in a tragic bicycle accident. The four friends came to her memorial service and heard the gospel proclaimed in their own language. Todd then wrote, “What a privilege to have been entrusted with a daughter whose heart belonged to Jesus.”
As we enter this Christmas season, what is your perspective? Have you entrusted to Jesus your heart? What of your children? Have they trusted Jesus as Savior? Are they living for Jesus? Are they seeking a growing relationship with God? Are your children preparing for some American dream or are they seeking God’s perfect plan for their lives?
The very best Christmas present is to know Jesus as Savior and Lord and to know that those whom we love the most are living for Jesus also.Coach/PJ