Monthly Archives: December 2012

“Christmas Un-Cut” – Luke 1:26-38 and Matthew 1:18-25


Here’s a quiz for you…… How many of the 25 most popular Christmas songs in the U.S. have something to do with Jesus? If you guessed one, you are, according to Wikipedia, correct! And that song is………..(drum roll)…….
“Little Drummer Boy.” Well, I guess in between the “pa, rum, pa, pum, pums” there are a couple mentions of baby Jesus who, we are told, smiled at that little drummer boy. And what book of the Bible was all that in?!

This Sunday we’re going to look at an Un-cut Christmas story from the perspective of Matthew and Luke. We’re going to learn what God was doing in a scene typically cut from the local church nativity play and not ever mentioned in any of the Christmas songs you’ve heard. Everything that God did at that time over 2,000 years ago had eternal significance and is worthy of our consideration.

SPECIAL NOTE: All the songs we’ll sing this week focus on our Lord’s first advent, as we give God praise for His glorious grace.

Christian formation classes start at 9:15 AM and Worship is at 10:30 AM. Invite someone to church this week!

Credit to Carl Laferton for the sermon title, taken from his book that caught my eye a couple weeks back.  A great book on Christmas for those who don’t know the whole story.

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Faith in Action in 2013


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:8-9)


We spent our Sunday mornings in 2012 discovering who Jesus is through the inspired words of Mark’s gospel.  Jesus words and actions themselves proved that He is the King of Kings and the Son of God.  His perfect life, death on the cross for our sins and resurrection form the basis of the Gospel, the good news that God has provided a way to redeem those who place their faith in what Jesus did.  He is the One who will redeem not only us, but the whole creation from its current state of falleness.


But what happened to the disciples when Jesus ascended into heaven?  The Apostles, and Jesus’ other disciples, had a hard enough time following Him when He was right there in front of them.  Now that He has gone, how can they possibly carry on His ministry, if that is even what they should be doing?  As hard as it may be to believe, something positive began to happen to the disciples after Jesus left.  It seems, they were not left alone after all.  The Holy Spirit came to work through them and used them to witness to Jesus.  They faced many challenges but every challenge was met with an offsetting measure of God’s grace.  This little movement soon extended through much of the known world.  All of this was an outworking of the Gospel.  The book of Acts records their journey for us, that same church today, to see.  We’ll be looking in on that journey, as we begin 2013, through a Sunday morning sermon series and also through the Tuesday night men’s fellowship.


New Testament scholar, Bishop Tom Wright says, “The book of Acts is full of the energy and excitement of the early Christians as they found God doing new things all over the place and learned to take the good news of Jesus around the world. It’s also full of the puzzles and problems that churches faced then and face today—crises over leadership, money, ethnic divisions, theology and ethics, not to mention serious clashes with political and religious authorities. It’s comforting to know that ‘normal church life’, even in the time of the first apostles, was neither trouble-free nor plain sailing. There isn’t a dull page in Acts.”


It is my hope and prayer, as we begin 2013, that God will use this book of Acts to transform our hearts and minds, causing us to put our individual and collective faith into action in such a way as to be amazed at what the Holy Spirit has accomplished among us by this time next year.  I pray that we will see the outworking of the Gospel in our individual lives and the lives of our church, in the manner seen in the first century church, complete with revival and awakening.  I ask you each to regularly set aside time to join me in praying for this kind of spiritual progress in our midst for 2013.  Soli Deo gloria!

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“On Ahead” – Mark 15:42-16:8


empty tomb
Mark’s gospel ends up circling around to where it began.  Mark wants you to see who Jesus is and consider what that means for you.
While we’re very much focused on the incarnation of Jesus at this time of year, if it wasn’t for His resurrection, we never would have heard of Jesus.  But Mark is not simply calling us to know about Jesus, rather, he is calling us to truly know Jesus.  Knowing Jesus is much more than assenting to the historical truths about Him or inviting Him into your heart.  Knowing Jesus is about union with Him and about an ongoing and radical, Holy Spirit transformation of the heart and mind resulting in a desire to follow and be conformed to Christ.  It can happen to anyone.  It can happen to you.  No one is too far gone and no one is the “perfect” disciple.  Truly knowing Jesus is about trusting Him for salvation and for life.  It is about surrender and abiding in Christ alone.
Maybe you’ve been blind to or putting Jesus off.  Perhaps you’ve been waiting to have all your questions answered, only to push the line in the sand of trust a few steps further away, keeping Jesus at what you consider a safe distance from your heart.  Perhaps you consider yourself a disciple of Christ, but have held back from surrendering all to Jesus because you feel too inadequate, fallen or weak to be used by Him.  Well, the same power of God that came over Mary and conceived Jesus is the same power that raised Him from the dead.  And it is that same power of God in which you can trust to transform your mind and heart and which He will use to fulfill Jesus mission for His Church through your inadequate, fallen and weak person.
Really, what are you waiting for?  Who is Jesus to you and what does that mean for your life?  That is the most important question anyone can ask and it is one all must face.  What is your answer?

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“W.J.D.” – Mark 15:33-41

centurion at cross
Although our passage, the next to last one in our journey through Mark’s gospel this year, appears to be a straight forward, factual report of Jesus’ death, it actually it has a lot to say about the true meaning of Christmas.  Yes these few verses, describing the way in which Jesus died, tell us  the reasons why He came in the first place.  Mark wants us to know that what brought Jesus to the manger was accomplished on the cross.  You might say he provides us reasons for the season.
At this time of year, as always, it is good to focus on W.W.J.D. (what would Jesus do?), but I find it more helpful to focus on W.J. D. (what Jesus did).  When we take a careful look at the reasons why Jesus came and at what He accomplished, life is put into perspective.  The stress of the Christmas rat race and the challenges we face at this time of year don’t push us over the edge.  I’m not talking about denying reality.  I’m talking about God’s transformative power working through W.J.D. to provide a transcendent peace to navigate this time of year and the difficult times we live in.  Mighty is the power of the cross!

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