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					   Christmas at Concord Community
         Sunday, November 28, 2010
  10:15 a.m. – Advent Celebration of HOPE

         Sunday, December 5, 2010
 10:15 a.m. – Advent Celebration of PEACE
    Little Ones’ Birthday Party for Jesus

         Friday, December 10, 2010
 6:00-10:00 p.m. – “Parsonage Open House”
    6:30-9:30 p.m. – Polar Express Party
           (Children K-5th grade)

        Saturday, December 11, 2010
6:00-9:00 p.m. – Women’s Ministry Christmas
                   Party

         Sunday, December 12, 2010
   10:15 a.m. – Advent Celebration of JOY
      Little Ones’ Nativity/Kidz Choir

          Sunday, December 19, 2010
  10:15 a.m. – Advent Celebration of LOVE
Celebration Choir – “Welcome to Our World”
 Jesus’ Birthday Party (Children K-5th Grade)

         Friday, December 24, 2010
     10:00 p.m. – Christmas Eve Service
                              Advent

Advent means “coming.” It is the season of preparation when
Christians anticipate the birth of our Savior and celebrate the
promise of His coming again. This season (originally 40 days)
represents 4000 years in which the Hebrews waited for the
Messiah. For Christians, it begins on the closest Sunday to
November 30th and four Sundays from Christmas Day.

The Advent wreath comes from both German and Scandinavian
traditions. It developed from the use of a simple evergreen spray
placed near the home fireplace. The Advent wreath tells us in a
dramatic way about the dark and waiting world. The evergreen
branches symbolize eternal life found in Christ Jesus. The Advent
candles arranged within the spray symbolize the coming of Jesus,
the living Light, into the world. The traditional act of lighting one
more candle each week demonstrates the increasingly bright light
of His coming.

Our hope is that you and your family will use this booklet to guide
your devotions during the Advent season. We encourage you to
use an Advent wreath and candles as you prepare for Christ’s
coming. A simple formula that you may use would be to have your
Advent devotions at a mealtime. First, light the candle, and then
have someone read aloud the written devotional of the day.
Discuss what the scripture says, and then dismiss in prayer.

On the first day of Advent, light one purple candle and re-light it
each night during the first week. The second week of Advent light
two purple candles each night. The third week, light two purple
candles and one rose candle. And on the fourth week, light three
purple candles and one rose candle. A large Christ Candle (red,
purple, or white) can be placed at the center of the Advent wreath
to be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

We hope the beauty of the devotional time together will deepen
the understanding of Advent as a time of personal preparation for
the coming of Jesus Christ.
Special Thanks to Our
          2010 Devotional Contributors:

                 Bob Barnhart
                Sherri Barnhart
                  Debra Biehl
                 Jan Chatterji
                  Ruth Drury
                Allison Dumas
             Jonathan Duranceau
              Cameron Edwards
            Dave and Carol Erickson
                  Luke Frame
                 Duane Harris
               Aletha Hinthorn
               Lindsay Keveren
                   Lisa Lane
                John Ludeman
                  Bob Merke
                Chester Seaney
                Cathy Simpson
                Becca Sommers
                Kristie Spencer
               Lydia Sunderland
                 Donna Taylor
                  Cathy Todd
                 Kendra Todd
                  Kevin Todd
                   Tom Todd
                 Gerald Willis
              Christy Winsinger
                  Christmas with Children

Marty and I have such an appreciation for having little ones in
our home once again during Christmas, for they bring an
excitement to the holiday season unlike anything else! I think
this is so fitting since our celebration is all about the Christ
Child. Our grown children now share memories of Christmases
in our home which centered around cherished traditions, as
well as Christmases where we did something very different
from the usual. The following list from Creative Children’s
Ministries by Barney Kinard provides just a few ideas for
making special memories with your children.

    1. Make Birthday Cards for Jesus
       You can feature the different names of Jesus based
       on Isaiah 9:6.
    2. Design your Own Christmas Cards
       You can design an original just for grandparents or
       special family friends. You can remake cards by
       cutting up old ones.
    3. Kids Decorate their Rooms.
       Of course, you will need to help the younger ones.
       Keep it simple. A small tree, a nativity, or a string of
       lights can provide meaningful fun!
    4. Go Caroling
       This is still a great way to share the good news of
       Christ’s coming. You might visit those who are home
       alone or in convalescent homes, and consider doing it
       with another family.
    5. Include Others in your Celebrations.
       Are you aware of persons who would appreciate
       being included in your family celebrations? Christmas
       can be a very lonely time for some. This is a great
       way to model for children the importance of reaching
       out beyond themselves.
    6. Trimming the Tree
        Great traditions can be built around the buying and
        trimming of the tree. Let the children have a voice in
        picking one out. Make some decorations, like popcorn
        strings, and allow them to help decorate the tree. Put
        on some Christmas music, provide hot chocolate and
        cookies, and you have the makings of a favorite
        evening of the season.
    7. Make a Christmas Chain
        Cut out red and green strips of construction paper.
        Loop and staple them together. Use only the number
        of loops as there are days until Christmas. Allow a
        child to take one off each day. This is a great visual,
        especially for younger children, to understand how
        much time is left until Christmas Day.
    8. Try a Variation of the Nativity Set
        You could put a different figure in front of a family
        member’s plate at dinner. That evening, ask each
        person to share who the character was and what he
        gave at Christ’s birth. (i.e., Joseph gave Jesus a
        home, the angels gave the good news announcement
        and a song of praise).
    9. Giving of “Yourselves” via Coupons
        Children can give “work coupons” to parents (i.e., I
        will clean the garage; or, I will dust the living room)
        and parents can give their kids gifts of their time (i.e.,
        I will give you one hour of my time; or, I promise to
        take you to one ball game). Coupon books really work
        and they last a long time!
    10. Have a birthday cake for Jesus!
        Prepare a special cake for the occasion and sing
        Happy Birthday. This can become an event all its own
        or be used as part of a celebration.

Pastor Ruth
          Sunday, November 28, 2010

 Advent Wreath Companion/Reflection*
         Sunday Week 1: HOPE

Directions:
Light the 1st purple candle

Scripture Verse(s):
Luke 1:26-38
Isaiah 7:10-14

Additional Scripture Passages for
Reflection:
Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 1:18-24

Reflection:
    How was Christ a hope for
     Israel?
    How is Christ a hope for our
     world today?
    How can Christ bring hope to our
     lives personally?
    What ways can you bring ‗hope‘
     to someone this week?

Weekly Activities:
    Light the Advent wreath each
     night at dinner or before bed.
     Read one of the scripture
     passages above and reflect on
     the ‗HOPE‘ Christ brings to you
     and your family.
    Adopt a child for Christmas from
     an Angel Tree Ministry.
    Donate gently used toys/clothes
     to a local shelter.
    Visit and take a meal to someone
     who has experienced a loss of
     some kind this past year (job
     loss, death, etc.).

*We hope that you take time to build an
Advent wreath together as a family.
Wreaths can be made from simple
greenery & branches you can find
outside with your
children/grandchildren or loved ones.
Even if you decide not to make an
advent wreath, please join us in
reading the scripture verses for the
day and reflecting on the scripture
passages. Additional passages have been
listed for those who would like to
devote more time and study during this
Advent Season. We hope this time will
bring you and your family closer to God
and closer to each other.
         Monday, November 29, 2010

I remember the flight home. Gazing
out through the tiny window of that
jumbo jet I began to think about what
would happen when we landed and an
alarming notion rushed over me...‖Now
what?‖

Nearly six months prior Jessica and I
were confident God was calling us to a
ministry in East Africa. He opened
the doors and made it clear that He
had a plan for us in Kenya. While
there He gave us courage to face a
world of unknown and poured out His
Spirit of Blessing on us. It was an
amazing journey and the Lord was with
us every step of the way. Then, as we
traveled back to the states, it seemed
the mission was over and uncertainty
began to creep in.

I sometimes wonder if that might have
been how Mary felt, for even just a
moment, after the Angel visited her
and explained that she would give
birth to the Son of Christ. I can
only imagine how exciting it was to be
chosen by God to fulfill the scripture
and give birth to our Savior. Talk
about being in the presence of God!
Then, the Angel left Mary. I can
picture Mary after the shock of the
news wore off and reality set in. What
would Joseph think? What would
everyone else think? Am I ready to
raise any child, let alone the Son of
Man? Thankfully, Mary trusted in the
Lord and what ensued is the greatest
story ever told.

Lord, as we approach the Christmas
Season, help us remember that you are
the same yesterday, today and forever.
Sometimes we forget that the God who
was with us on the mountaintop is with
us everywhere. You have a masterful
plan for our lives. Please give us
the courage and faith to follow you.
Thank you for the blessings in our
lives. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
Beginning and the End, says the Lord,
“who is and who was and who is to
come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

Jonathan Duranceau
         Tuesday, November 30, 2010

“He‟s making a list, and checking it
twice. Gonna‟ find out who‟s
naughty or nice…”

Is everyone making lists these days?
 Well perhaps not, but if not, with
gifts to buy and wrap, gatherings to
prepare for, and visits with family
and friends, how does anyone get
everything done? My memory is
shorter than ever these days, and if
I don‘t write it down, it may never
get done! At least a list gives me
a focus for how I will be using my
time.

And what satisfaction being able to
cross things off a list! That‘s
real accomplishment!

But how do my lists measure up to
God‘s lists…

Matthew 5 lists those God blesses:
those who are poor, who mourn, who
are humble or hunger and thirst for
righteousness, those who are
merciful, pure, who work toward
peace, and those who are persecuted
for Him. Their blessings? The
Kingdom of Heaven, comfort, mercy,
and the title of ―Children of God‖.


I Corinthians 12 has a list of
different ways God chooses to work
in us - gifts or powers we receive
from His spirit to support and edify
His body, the church: wisdom,
knowledge, faith, gifts of healing,
miracles, prophecy, distinguishing
the spirits, various kinds of
tongues.

Isaiah 11 gives a list of ways the
the Spirit of God will manifest
itself as it rests on the Messiah:

“The spirit of wisdom and
understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear
of the Lord,
And He will delight in the fear of
the Lord,
And He will not judge by what His
eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears
hear;
But with righteousness He will judge
the poor,
And decide with fairness for the
afflicted of the earth.”


Matthew 22 has the best short list
in scripture - the two greatest
commandments: “„You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul and with all
your mind‟. This is the great and
foremost commandment. The second is
like it, „You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.‟”

God‘s lists don‘t have to do with
simply what we will accomplish in
our day. God‘s lists focus on
being, rather than doing. On
loving, rather than just ‗getting it
done‘.

As you are making your lists (and
checking them twice) be sure it
reflects ways you are loving God,
and loving those around you. Oh,
that we could always be so focused!

Donna Taylor
         Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Summer Girl. I am always a summer
girl, when the fall comes I think the
leaves are pretty, and then I‘m ready
for spring to get here. I don‘t like
cold weather. I tend to get down in
the cold months and long for the
warmth that summer brings. I don‘t
like gloomy skies, I don‘t like the
fact that ice falls from the sky,
makes the roads slick, and doesn‘t
leave me anything to play in. To get
myself through the winter, I indulge
in hot chocolate, my favorite
comfortable blanket, and a ton of
twinkle lights on the Christmas tree.

Think about the things that give you
comfort and warmth. It‘s a simple way
to reflect on God in our lives. Christ
gives me warmth, comfort, and light.
He‘s that sip of hot chocolate, the
comfortable blanket I‘m curled into,
and the light shining through my
window into the neighborhood. He was
that light and comfort to the wise
men. He IS that warmth, comfort and
light to all Christians. There is
something really amazing about a baby
in a manger that puts things into
perspective.

Psalm 139: 7-12
  7
     Where can I go from your Spirit?
     Where can I flee from your
presence?
8
    If I go up to the heavens, you are
there;
     if I make my bed in the depths, you
are there.
9
   If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
     if I settle on the far side of the
sea,
10
    even there your hand will guide
me,
     your right hand will hold me fast.
11
    If I say, “Surely the darkness will
hide me
     and the light become night around
me,”
12
    even the darkness will not be dark
to you;
     the night will shine like the day,
     for darkness is as light to you.

What daily things can remind you of
what Christ means through this season?

Kendra Todd
         Thursday, December 2, 2010

John 3:16- 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.

Christmas is always a special time
of the year for me. The weather is
cold, the year is closing in and
everyone is in such a good, caring
and giving mood. Even though many
people don't exactly understand why
they should be caring, giving and
happy, they just are. When I was
younger, I noticed how different it
was from just any other time of the
year, but I also, like many others,
didn't understand why.

I knew Christmas was all about
celebrating Jesus and His birth into
this world, but I also knew that no
one really knew when He really was
born, December 25th is just when we
recognize it. Because of that, I
would think to myself, shouldn't we
be giving and caring all the time,
shouldn't we share God's love for us
all year long and share the good
news that God sent His only Son to
die for us?

I love the mood that is set for
Christmas time. It makes me wonder
what the world could be like if we
all had the "Christmas Mood" all
year long. What I like to do is
find ways to give to others more
than I like to ask for things for
myself. Which isn't always as easy,
but I have realized it really feels
good to give all you can and do all
you can for others. There is
something about stopping and buying
a homeless paper, taking old clothes
to someone who doesn't always get a
lot, or using your lunch money or
spare change to give someone who
doesn't normally get to eat
everyday. Those things put you in
that "Christmas Mood" all year
long.

Matthew 25:40- “The King will reply,
'I tell you the truth, whatever you
did for one of the least of these
brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Lydia Sunderland
          Friday, December 3, 2010

JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON:
So often, we are reminded of this in
Christmas cards, church marquees,
ladies' Christmas sweaters and even
men's ties! We all know the true
meaning of Christmas, but most of us
find it so easy to be enthralled with
the aura of twinkling lights, scented
candles, specially decorated packages
and festive parties! And that's okay!
Okay…as long as we remember in our
hearts, minds and actions that it is
the things we cannot see that are
important. God's gifts of love,
kindness, compassion, forgiveness,
patience, sincerity and respect are
just a few of the actions we should
practice daily; as these are
attributes our Father desires us to
share with one another. Not only in
this holiday season, but year round,
we need to remember the reason for the
season and honor God and mankind with
these thoughtful practices. The many
gifts HE has bestowed on us are
everlasting. He never gives up on us.
NEVER!!!!

As a Christian, have you ever thought
about what would be the ultimate
gift? In I Thessalonians, Chapter 3,
Timothy talks about the most precious
gift of all. This gift arrives at the
moment we finally meet Jesus face to
face. We stumble at times as we
journey through life, but through His
grace and forgiveness, we have been
blessed with the opportunities God
has created for us. What a wonderful
gift from God! HIS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
FOR ALL OF US!

The Tuesday prior to this year's ―NEW
YEAR'S EVE," I was in my physician's
office to obtain medications for a
"chest cold." Within an hour, I was in
the ER at Williamson Medical Center.
My cardiologist "just happened‖ to be
on call that morning. Within 48 hours,
I had a 6 by-pass surgery at St.
Thomas Hospital
with no complications and best of all
NO HEART ATTACK. WHAT A GIFT!!!!! We
praise His name for complete recovery.

Friends, continue to celebrate the
birth of Jesus with twinkling lights,
scented candles, laughter and song at
festive parties; remembering that in
all that you do, all that you say and
all that you are...you continue to be
a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.
My "M&M" (the medicine in the message)
for you today is to be
JUST FAITHFUL. AMEN.


PRAYER: With patience, O Lord, as we
rush through this Advent season, help
us to pause and reflect on the real
reason for the season. Your gift of
your Son and the sacrifices HE made
for us are so magnificent. We thank
you for your love and grace, which
sustains us day in and day out.
Father, you have ordered our steps to
walk in the way that leads to life
eternal. We are indeed grateful FOR
YOUR GIFT OF LIFE and as always we
strive to be...faithful. Amen

“Test me, O Lord, and   try me, examine
my heart and my mind;   for your love is
ever before me, and I   walk continually
in your truth.” Psalm   26:2-3

Dave and Carol Erickson
         Saturday, December 4, 2010

            Mary‘s Plan B

Recently I was recommended a book to
read called Plan B by Pete Wilson,
an up & coming minister in the
pastors‘ ―hall of fame.‖ I just
laughed and said, ―I must be at
least on Plan E by now.‖ I
respected the one making the
recommendation, however, and as I
moved into the thoughts and insights
of Pete, I realized that life is
more like a series of Plan B‘s.
Some of them come by way of minor
disappointments, but others are
painful, frustrating and even
tragic. All are difficult.

As I look back on my own life, I
realize that although my later years
have indeed been a series of Plan
B‘s, my earlier adult years went
pretty much according to Plan A. I
graduated from college, married Mr.
Right, taught school, gave birth to
2.3 children, had lots of wonderful
friends and enjoyed involvement in
successful ministries. It was at
the point that God decided to uproot
all that was familiar that I had my
first encounter with the dreaded
Plan B.   And the real problem with
Plan B‘s is that they are not my
plans. Even those of us who are not
control freaks like the illusion of
being in control. It‘s when things
seem to get beyond our grasp that we
become fearful, frustrated or
worried.

The Christmas story starts with a
young virgin girl being thrown as
big a Plan B as one can receive. An
angel appears to her (scary!) and
tells her that she will become
pregnant by the Holy Spirit (even
scarier!) Unexpected pregnancies
are always a Plan B, but when you
are an unmarried Jewish girl who is
already promised to someone, it is a
plan that could ruin you and your
child‘s lives forever. The angel
warned her not to fear and assured
her of God‘s plan and purpose.
Mary‘s response is critical, ―Let it
be done according to your word.‖
Although she had absolutely no idea
how this was going to play out in
her life, she pushed her panic aside
and relinquished control to the God
whom she loved and trusted.




…And we all know how the story went
from there. Mary‘s Plan B turned
out to be the Plan A for all of
mankind!
As you encounter the Plan B‘s in
your life, regardless of how big or
small, be reminded of the Christmas
Story. Remember that if we too put
our fears aside as the young Mary
did and relinquish control to God,
we can live in peace, knowing there
is no Plan B too big for God! He
will not only see us through a Plan
B, but may turn it into the biggest
Plan A of our life.

For nothing will be impossible with
God. And Mary said, “Behold the
bondslave of the Lord; be it done to
me according to your word.” Luke
1:37-38

Ruth Drury
          Sunday, December 5, 2010

   Advent Wreath Companion/Reflection
          Sunday Week 2: PEACE

Directions:
Light the 1st purple candle
Light the 2nd purple candle

Scripture Verse(s):
Isaiah 2:1-5
Matthew 3:1-6

Additional Scripture Passages for
Reflection:
Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

Reflection:
    Think about the events during
     Christ time on earth. How did
     He bring peace to the
     Gentiles/Jews?
    Reflect on what it may mean for
     us to ―walk in His path‖ in
     light of his journey to the
     cross.
    Is there something in your life
     that you may need to ask God
     for forgiveness? Is there
     someone you need to make peace
     with in your life?

Weekly Activities:
    Light the advent wreath each
     night at dinner or before bed.
     Read one of the scripture
     passages above and reflect on
    the ‗PEACE‘ Christ brings to
    you and your family.
   Think of those people in your
    life you may need to make peace
    with during this Advent season.
    Send them a card or give them a
    call.
   Pray for those in the military
    or law enforcement and their
    families. Pray for those who
    experience violence in the home
    or are in the midst of war.
   Visit military personnel, a
    local fire station, or police
    station and express your
    gratitude for their sacrifice.
   Go to a local park and reflect
    on Christ as ‗Prince of Peace‘
    in the midst of nature.
          Monday, December 6, 2010

   "GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN- AND
             EVERYWHERE"

"Go home to your family and tell them
how much the Lord has done for you and
how He has had mercy on you" Mark 5:19

I ask myself; am I telling? Do the
people I come in contact with today
know Jesus Christ is born? That He
lives and helps me live? How do I tell
them? Must I know all the right verses
and passages before I attempt the
telling? It is good to know and be
familiar with the verses and passages
of salvation, but do I prevent myself
from opening up my mouth because I
fear I won't know the right formula of
verse to show them? Am I living it?
Does my life represent what I
speak? Am I aware of the people I come
in contact with each moment? Can I
say or do something for this person
that would allow them to see a "small
bit" of Jesus‘ love for them?

Several weeks ago I had my day off and
was cleaning the kitchen. I was nearly
finished, only a couple of items left.
I looked out the window and noticed my
Russian neighbor walking back and
forth on the road, exercising. I felt
a little urge to go out and talk to
her but I told myself I would as soon
as I completed my cleaning. Suddenly,
I remembered my goal to be more intent
and purposeful in sharing Jesus. I
dropped my rag, opened the door, and
walked down the drive to chat. It was
a great time of sharing! I learned so
much about her; how she came to the
U.S., how concerned she was for her
daughter and grandchildren. She told
me she did not believe in God. That
in Russia "there is no God." I simply
told her I do believe in God. God the
creator and Savior of the whole world.
She listened and we continued talking
of concerns. After 45 min., she said
she needed to go back in and help her
husband. We hugged and I thanked her
and God of this opportunity I almost
missed.

I only hope I remember this lesson of
taking the moments that come, and act
on the gentle nudge God gives me. This
good news must be shared! GO TELL!

Jan Chatterji
          Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As many of you know, our church
blessed us this year with a gift trip
to the Holy Land for our 20th
anniversary at CCC. It was an
incredible two weeks we will always
treasure. Many have asked me what my
favorite time or place was. My usual
response has been, ―Every minute of
it!‖ There were many times I had an
overwhelming sense of God‘s presence
and stood amazed to see places where
our Lord actually walked, healed the
sick, and gave His life for us.

One such time was on our boat trip
across the Sea of Galilee. It was a
beautiful, sunny day with a gentle
breeze blowing. The waters were calm
and a deep blue. I was surprised to
see how small the ―Sea‖ is. It is more
like a huge lake and is actually only
32 miles in circumference. Our guide
shared how quickly the water can
become turbulent with stormy weather.
My mind drifted back to the story in
Matthew where Jesus came to the
disciples, walking on the water. Jesus
had fed the 5,000 and instructed the
disciples to get in the boat and go
ahead of him to the other side. Jesus
dismissed the crowd and went by
himself to pray on the mountainside.
Meanwhile, the boat the disciples were
in ―was buffeted by the waves because
the wind was against it‖ (Matthew
14:24).
Is your life being tossed by the
waves? Do you feel the fear of
drowning in despair? Is your boat
taking on too much water…your life
crammed with more responsibility than
you can manage?

We can take heart, as the disciples
did, when they saw Jesus walking out
to them. At first they cried out in
fear, but Jesus said to them, ―Take
courage. It is I. Don‘t be afraid.‖
(Matthew 14:27)

He alone can calm the waves in our
lives and give us courage to face the
circumstances surrounding us daily.
When Jesus instructed Peter to walk to
Him on the water, he obeyed but began
to sink when he felt the wind and
waves around him. He cried out, ―Lord,
save me!‖ Immediately, Jesus reached
out his hand and caught him. ―You of
little faith,‖ he said, ―Why did you
doubt?‖ And when they climbed into the
boat, the wind died down. Then those
who were in the boat worshiped him,
saying, ―Truly you are the Son of God‖
(Matthew 14:31-33). Our
responsibility is to turn to God for
help in our circumstances. We know the
peace and calm Jesus alone brings to
us when we cry out to Him and He fills
us with His presence. Truly, He is the
Son of God, our Savior and is able to
bring peace in the fiercest storms!

“I have told you these things, so that
in me you may have peace. In this
world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

“Now may the Lord of peace himself
give you peace at all times and in
every way. The Lord be with all of
you.” II Thessalonians 3:16

Cathy Todd
        Wednesday, December 8, 2010

As Jesus and the disciples continued
on their way to Jerusalem, they came
to a certain village where a woman
named Martha welcomed Him into her
home. Her sister, Mary sat at the
Lord‟s feet, listening to what He
taught. But Martha was distracted by
the big dinner she was preparing. She
came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn‟t
it seem unfair to you that my sister
just sits here while I do all the
work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear
Martha, you are worried and upset over
all these details! There is only one
thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it, and it will
not be taken away from her.” (Luke
10:38-42 NLT)

By now we are in the full swing of the
Christmas season. It is a time of
shopping, dinners, parties, special
events or services at church,
decorating, and more shopping. In all
the busyness that this season brings
to our lives, how easy it is to forget
to stop and just ponder what Christmas
really means to us.

In this story, we see Martha who is
consumed with making sure the guests
are fed and entertained. She is
determined to make the dinner a
success. Her sister Mary just wants to
sit and bask in the presence of Jesus.
My mind‘s eye can see Mary sitting
Indian style or perhaps lying on her
stomach with her head resting in her
palms like a child listening to a
story being read. Except, she was
sitting at the feet of the Almighty
God, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Mary was soaking up the moment, less
concerned with the superficial and
only focused on the divine.

While we will always have Christmas
parties, dinners, shopping, and
special events, will we be more like
Martha or will we be more like Mary?
Will we make the time to sit in the
presence of Jesus and listen to what
He has to say to us as we celebrate
His birthday?

I hope that during this season, we too
can discover it as Mary did.

Duane Harris
         Thursday, December 9, 2010

       The CHRIST of Christmas

Comforter – “Come to me, all you who
are weary and burdened and I will give
you rest. Take my yoke and learn from
me, for I am gentle and humble in
heart, and you will find rest for your
souls.” Matthew 11:28

Helper – “Keep your lives free from
the love of money and be content with
what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I
forsake you. “So we say with
confidence, “the Lord is my Helper, I
will be not afraid. What can man do to
me?” Hebrews 13:5

Ransom – “Just as the Son of Man did
not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for
many.” Matthew 20:28

Intercessor – “Therefore he is able to
save completely those who come to God
through him, because he always lives
to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

Strength – “God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in
trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Truth – “Let not your heart be
troubled; you believe in God, believe
also in Me. In My Father‟s house are
many mansions; if it were not so, I
would have told you. I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare
a place for you, I will come again and
receive you to Myself; that where I
am, there you may be also. And where I
go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not
know where You are going, and how can
we know the way?” Jesus said to him,
“I am the way, the truth, and the
life. No one comes to the Father
except through Me.” John 14:1-6


May Christ bring you the joy of
knowing Him as your peace and comfort
during this Advent season.

Chester Seaney
          Friday, December 10, 2010


          Your Love Language

Author Gary Chapman has written
extensively on the topic ‗Love
Languages‘; the love languages of
husbands & wives, parents & children
and singles. All written with the
purpose of helping the reader
understand that each of us feel ‗love‘
in different ways and how we show a
person love should encompass that
person‘s love language. The author has
identified five ‗love languages‘:
quality time, acts of service, gifts,
touch, and words of affirmation. He
states that each of us has a primary
and secondary love language. Now
that‘s not to say you cannot have a
bit of all of the above but more than
likely you have one that is more
dominate and another one that is close
behind.

As Christmas comes nearer, many of us
are already using the love language of
gifts and are on the path of finding
the perfect gifts to give our loved
ones. Christmas is definitely the time
of giving and receiving gifts! We just
know every one wants a gift BUT is
that truly their love language? Don‘t
get me wrong, I enjoy receiving gifts
but I have recently discovered that it
is the ‗event‘ around receiving the
gift that is more important to me. I
have determined that I am more of a
‗quality time – love language‘ person.
I have even told my sons that this
year, my gifts from them can be
‗quality time.‘ Now whether that‘s
going out for hot chocolate and
looking at Christmas lights, attending
a Christmas concert or going out for a
festive meal, it doesn‘t matter. I
just want them to plan it and spend
that time with me. As I look back on
past events I had planned around the
Christmas season, I see that I
selfishly planned those ‗quality time
events;‘ yes, I was wanted to create
memories but I was also trying to
fulfill my primary love language of
‗quality time.‘ I have and still
sacrifice a lot so I can have that
time with those I hold dear.




My secondary love language seesaws
back and forth between ‗words of
affirmation‘ and ‗acts of service.‘
Wanting to be told that I have done a
good job or that I am admired for
something I have done is rewarding and
many times ‗soaked up like a sponge.‘
Yet when those I love do ‗acts of
service‘ without being bribed, forced
or harassed into doing it, then I
truly feel blessed and loved.
Now some of you by this time may be
asking, why is she going off on this
‗Love Language‘ tangent? You thought
this was supposed
to be a Christmas Devotional – you
know – stories about: Baby Jesus,
Angels from the Realms of Glory and
Wise Men from a far!

Just as important as knowing the
correct ‗love language‘ for those
around us, we need to also understand
and convey our love to our God...our
Lord and Savior.

So, what is God‘s Love Language?

Best ‗ponder‘ on that one...more to
come tomorrow.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as
dearly loved children and live a life
of love, just as Christ loved us and
gave himself up for us as a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2

Debra Biehl
          Saturday, December 11, 2010

         God‘s Love Language?
                Part 2

I hope it‘s not too much of a shock to
hear that God doesn‘t have a primary
and secondary love language…Our
Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus
Christ use all five of the love
languages when reaching out to us!

Like I stated previously…Christmas is
the season of gifts. Some of us have
family members who‘s love language is
‗gifts‘ and you have been handed a list
a ‗mile long‘ to help make sure your
‗gift‘ for them is one that is desired
and will put you in their good graces.
I have always told Roger that he is
lucky that:
    I am not one that wonders if ‗He
      went to Jarrod‘
    or if my card reads ‗Hallmark!‘
    or if the card is holding gift
      cards from retailers so I can do
      my own shopping!

When it comes to Gifts, God gave the
biggest – most unforgettable gift of
all:

“For God so loved the world, that He
gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16.

How‘s that for a gift…Jesus Christ…not
perishing…everlasting life!
What about Quality Time…God yearns for
one on one time with us. Since the
beginning of time, when He walked in
the garden with Adam and Eve‖ and even
now, the scripture from Revelation 3:20
rings true:

“Behold I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and open the
door, I will come in to him, and will
sup with him and he with Me.”

Does God really „Touch‟ us?   Anytime I
am drawn to how God ‗touches‘ lives…I
cannot help but sing the following
words from the Gaither classic:

Shackled by a heavy burden, beneath a
load of guilt and shame. Then the hand
Jesus touched me and now I am no longer
the

same. He touched me, oh He touched me
and oh what joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know He
touched me and made me whole.

The New Testament has many examples of
those who reached out to ‗touch‘ or be
‗touched‘ by Jesus so that they would
be physically healed…not realizing that
His ‗touch‘ would heal their spiritual
needs too.

“Words of Affirmation”: It‘s really
hard to find just the right scripture
to use as an example here - how about -
THE WHOLE BIBLE! You see God speaks to
each of us in unique ways. Most of the
time it is through the written word:
The Holy Bible. So, it‘s not fair for
me to just point to a few meaningful
scriptures. It is very important that
we read God‘s word…to hear God speak to
us…to receive those words of
affirmation that are needed and to know
how much we are loved!

God‘s „Acts of Service‟ comes to us
many times in disguise because God uses
those around us to do ‗His Will.‘ God
uses His Holy Spirit to ‗nudge a gentle
- humble soul‘ for the ‗working of His
Good.‘

“For it is God who works in you both to
will and to do for His good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:13

We may see at Christmas time, many
doing ‗good deeds‘ behind the
scenes...being the hands and feet of
our Lord and Savior.

Do you remember the Christmas song,
―The Gift Goes On?‖ Love itself is a
gift that is passed on and on and on,
from God to us to others.

So the bottom line is…do you love God
and is that love going on and on and
on? Do people see God‘s Love Languages
evident in you and flowing forth?

“A new commandment I give unto you,
that ye love one another, as I have
loved you, that ye also love one
another. By this shall all men know
that ye are my disciples; if ye have
love one to another.” John 13:34-35

Debra Biehl
         Sunday, December 12, 2010

 Advent Wreath Companion/Reflection
         Sunday Week 3: JOY


Directions:
Light the 1st purple candle
Light the 2nd purple candle
Light the rose candle

Scripture Verse(s):
Isaiah 9:6-7
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Additional Scripture Passages for
Reflection:
John 1:19-34; Philippians 2:1-11

Reflection:
    What brings you joy?
    How has God given you joy in
     the past? Present?
    How has someone brought joy to
     you during a time of sorrow?

Weekly Activities:
    Light the advent wreath each
     night at dinner or before bed.
     Read one of the scripture
     passages above and reflect on
     the ‗JOY‘ Christ brings to you
     and your family.
    Pray for those who have lost a
     loved one or may be battling
     with depression or sickness.
   Pray for those who minister to
    the sick.
   Make a card for someone in the
    hospital, nursing or assisted
    living facility and take it to
    him/her.
   As you shop or work this week,
    purposely stop and share a
    smile or friendly greeting with
    someone who may appear
    downtrodden.
   Greet your wife/husband/child
    at the door when they arrive
    home.
         Monday, December 13, 2010


        COME, LET US ADORE HIM

Do you have a favorite Christmas
Carol? How do you choose one as they
express the wonder, the joy, the
hallowedness of the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ? The carols admonish us
to ―bring Him incense, gold and
myrrh.‖ What sacrificial gift do we
have to lay at His feet? Are you the
one gifted to ―Go, Tell It on the
Mountain‖, or, in some way, is that a
charge to each of us?

Many carols call us to our knees in
adoration. This, Kenneth Leech says,
is the result of having a disciplined
life of prayer: ―We do not create
prayer, but merely prepare the ground
and clear away obstacles. Prayer is
always a gift of grace, the flame
which ignites the wood; the Holy
Spirit gives prayer. The human
response is one of adoring love. It
is the posture of adoration which is
the central posture of worship…adoring
prayer calls for concentration. But
it is not a fierce mental
concentration so much as a focusing of
our love, an outpouring of our wonder
towards God.‖ That is true adoration!
―O come let us adore Him, Christ the
Lord‖ who is the Word who ―became
flesh and made His dwelling among us.
We have seen His glory, the glory of
the One and Only, who came from the
Father, full of grace and truth.‖
(John 1:14). He alone is worthy of
our adoration.


Bob Merke
          Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My friend‘s routine was to get up before
sunrise and go to the terrace of the home
where she lived and spend an hour alone.
One morning God spoke to her from 1
Samuel 3:21: ―The Lord continued to
appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed
himself to Samuel through his word.‖

She said, ―Since that time, I‘ve always
found my Shiloh wherever I am. And there
He reveals Himself to me through His
words.‖ Her Shiloh is the place where she
can be alone with God.

For a time she lived with others in a
small home and slept in a room with
several children. Yet, even there the
Lord gave her a table at 5 in the morning
to call her Shiloh. Sometimes her Shiloh
has been a path where she walked and
listened to God.

One man‘s Shiloh has been his drive to
work. During the 25 minute drive, he
places beside him a prayer list and
brings those names to the Lord as he
drives.

A couple find they enjoy praying as they
walk. Their path through their
neighborhood has become their Shiloh.

It is always possible to find a Shiloh.
Susanna Wesley had nineteen children, but
even she found a Shiloh. She had no
specific place for prayer, so at her
chosen time to be alone with God she
would take her apron and pull it over her
face. Her children knew to never disturb
their mother when she was praying in her
apron.
The word Shiloh means ―tranquil‖ or
―place of rest‖ and comes from a word
that is used of one who enjoys security
and prosperity-a great description of our
spiritual lives when we do not neglect
finding a time and place to meet with
God.

Dear Lord, thank you for the joys of
dwelling in the secret place of the Most
High-my Shiloh.

“I will meet you and speak to you…and the
place will be consecrated by my glory.”
(Exodus 29:42,43)

“He who dwells in the secret place of the
Most High shall abide under the shadow of
the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1 NKJV)

Aletha Hinthorn
Director of Come to the Fire Conferences
Used by permission
        Wednesday, December 15, 2010

      Why I celebrate Christmas…

A friend has challenged me to really
think about why I celebrate Christmas
(the birth of Jesus) on December 25th
when we really do not know the exact
date that Christ was born. After many
hours of reading, researching, talking
to my spiritual mentors and praying,
this is the reason I celebrate
Christmas…

I am not really celebrating a
particular day, December 25th; I am
celebrating a day that represents a
birth; the birth of my Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. For me, it really
doesn‘t matter that his birth may not
have occurred on December 25th, it
wouldn‘t matter if he was born in
September, what does matter is that
his birth occurred…and not only did
his birth occur, but his death and
resurrection occurred as well. I
celebrate the birth of Jesus, his
death and his resurrection. If it were
not for these three events, there
would be no hope for our future…

I celebrate Christmas because it
represents Christ‘s birth which marks
the beginning of God‘s redemption plan
for sinful man. It is a period of
reminding the world that a Savior was
born!!! I think that celebrating ―the
good news of great joy for everyone‖
alone is reason enough to celebrate.
I pray that with all the hustle and
bustle during the holidays, you will
stop and think about why you celebrate
Christmas…

―Then the angel said to them, ―Do not
be afraid, for behold, I bring you
good tidings of great joy which will
be to all people. For there is born to
you this day in the city of David a
Savior, who is Christ the Lord.‖ Luke
2:10-11

Cathy Simpson
         Thursday, December 16, 2010


―And she gave birth to her firstborn
son and wrapped him in bands of cloth,
and laid him in a manger, because
there was no place for them in the
inn.‖


Anyone who has ever made that
infamously frantic journey to the
hospital as an expectant parent can
certainly resonate with Mary and
Joseph‘s need to find a place of
security and comfort for the highly
anticipated arrival of Jesus. Though
Luke‘s description of these expectant
parents‘ journey is brief, the phrase
―because there was no place for them
in the inn‖ fills our imaginations
with thoughts concerning the possible
inhospitable encounters Mary and
Joseph likely faced in search of a
place of comfort and peace where they
could welcome Jesus into the world.

Each passing year many Christians
living in Mexico, other Latin American
countries, and here in the U.S.
observe a nine-day preparatory
celebration called ―Las Posadas.‖
―Las Posadas‖ originated in Spain and
literally means ―the inns‖ or ―the
shelters.‖ Each evening, beginning on
December 16th and ending on December
24th, fellow Christians join each
other in a reenactment of Mary and
Joseph‘s arduous journey to Bethlehem.
The reenactment includes a journey to
several homes requesting a place to
stay only to hear an inhospitable
―No!‖ As the celebrants make this
journey singing a pilgrim‘s song, they
finally arrive at a home into which
they are welcomed with a loving
―Enter, enter, holy pilgrim.‖

Las Posadas, built upon Luke‘s
troubling phrase, invites us to
consider the ways in which we struggle
to be the hospitable people God
created and recreated us to be. Are
we the kind of people who would open
our doors to a pregnant teenager
carrying a seemingly illegitimate
child? Or would we simply be another
door where the expectant parents hear
yet another inhospitable ―No!‖? And
we‘re also invited to consider who
around us is presently knocking on our
doors needing us to be hospitable and
gracious people. Undoubtedly there
are people who are ―knocking‖ on the
doors of our lives as individuals and




our lives as a community, needing us
to show them the unhesitating
hospitality and lavishing love of God.

Certainly all of those inhospitable
innkeepers had no idea that in
welcoming the poor, pregnant, Jewish
woman they would have been welcoming
into their shelter the very one who
was bearing the Hope of the world.
And we must remember Jesus‘ words to
his disciples recorded in Matthew 25:
―I was a stranger and you welcomed
me.‖ In light of these words from
Jesus, Mary and Joseph‘s difficult
journey also invites us to consider
how the people who are presently
knocking on our doors are bearers of
the One who is our Hope. Will we be
just another inhospitable ―No!‖? Or
will we enact God‘s love by saying
―Enter‖ with our lives to all those
around us, particularly the poor and
the needy, who are seeking signs of
hospitality? May God give us the
grace and courage to be that ―Enter‖
for those knocking on the doors of our
lives and our community.

Kevin Todd
          Friday, December 17, 2010

   Can Mary and Joseph Give Us Some
              Guidance?

Have you ever wondered about Mary and
Joseph? I have. Though we know little
about their personalities, I believe,
they were amazing examples of living
the Christian life. Mary‘s song in
Luke chapter 1 speaks volumes of her
faith; the fact that Joseph chose to
follow the angel‘s directions, despite
the craziness of the circumstances,
proves his Godly commitment! Since
they were chosen to parent the Son of
God, Redemption in Flesh, undoubtedly,
they were two people whom God knew had
an undying love for Him.

Bob and I have unending discussions
and prayers on knowing God‘s wisdom in
teaching our girls about the love,
commitment, and responsibility of
knowing Christ as their Savior. We can
truly say that in light of our world
today, without God‘s reassurance, the
task would be incomprehensible.

This makes me wonder how Mary and
Joseph would parent their children in
the 21st century.
    Would Jesus be born in a
     homeless shelter?
    Would Mary and Joseph raise
     Jesus in a neighborhood of
     people who have little
     comprehension or opportunity to
     watch and hear God‘s love?
   What would they watch at the
    movies and on TV?
   What would their church
    commitment and support be like?
   How would they value their
    paychecks and spend their money?
   Would the heart of their family
    be servant-hood?
   What priority would they place
    on family togetherness?
   Would their hearts break because
    of babies dying unjustly?
   How would they teach their
    children to handle the world‘s
    claim of tolerance?
   Add some of your own questions;
    they are unending!




No easy answers! Challenging thoughts!
In my questioning and while reading
the New Testament, the Holy Spirit
reminded me that Joseph and Mary were
privileged to see their Son live out
the answers to the above questions;
and we have the answers in writing!
The Bible, the Book of Parenting and
Living! It’s in the book! The Holy
Spirit will answer us!

Enjoy the season and ask God for life
directions in the 21st century!


“… Mary, you have found favor with
God. You will be with child and give
birth to a son, and you are to give
him the name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31

“…Joseph son of David, do not be
afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is
from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:30


Sherri Barnhart
         Saturday, December 18, 2010

                 Remedies

Christmas has always been a time of
coming together. From the largest
family gathering to the simplest
girls shopping day, the Christmas
season has marked itself as the
holiday of being together with those
we love. We even see in the first
Christmas story from Luke that the
event of Jesus birthday heralded
shepherds and wise men to ―gather‖
together and share in a common
theme.

Christianity is about serving and
being in relationship with our Lord
and Savior, Jesus Christ, but it is
also about serving and being in
relationship with others. I don‘t
know how many times in the past,
around the Holidays, I have heard
people say that they wished they
could see each other more often. Or
they use the coming of the new year
to make pledges to stay in contact
with their family and friends more
frequently. When, however, the days
turn to weeks and weeks to months,
we slowly but surely forget about
those that are not in our immediate
present, and our New Year‘s
resolutions get swept away in the
comings and goings of life.
Fortunately for us there are a
couple of remedies. Most often, we
so rarely communicate with each
other that when we do talk it seems
like we have to catch up on a lot
more. We then dread the
conversation because it will take a
large chunk out of our busy day.

Something that can help is what I
simply call the ‗short
conversation.‘ Dedicate yourself to
calling anyone you want to keep up
with on a regular basis. Don‘t let 4
days go by without giving them a
call. Yeah, that‘s quite frequent,
but the key is to keep the
conversation simple and to the
point… just checking in. You might
be surprised at how much more you
want to call and check in on those
you love when you know the
conversation will be under 5
minutes.




The other remedy is more simply
explained. Get involved in social
networking. Yeah, I know sometimes
things like Facebook and Twitter can
get a bad rap, but the bottom line
is communication. All you have to do
is be active on a social networking
site and have your friends and
family do the same and you will be
able to see much of what is
happening in each others lives on a
day to day basis.

There is really no reason why anyone
should lose touch with anyone this
year. There are many, many ways to
connect with those you love and keep
your many valuable relationships
strong and healthy. So this
Christmas, when you inevitably will
say, ―We really need to get in touch
with them more often‖… do it.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to all, especially to
those who are of the household of
faith.” Galatians 6:10

Luke Frame
          Sunday, December 19, 2010

   Advent Wreath Companion/Reflection
          Sunday Week 4: LOVE


Directions:
Light the 1st purple candle
Light the 2nd purple candle
Light the rose candle
Light the 3rd purple candle

Scripture Verse(s):
Isaiah 52:7-10

Additional Scripture Passages for
Reflection:
Malachi 3:1-5; Romans 8:18-25;
Revelation 21:1-4

Reflection:
    Think about people in our world
      who experience persecution.
      Reflect on how the love of Christ
      can impact these situations?
    How can the ‗good news‘ of Christ
      heal relationships with those who
      are culturally and socially
      different than us?
    How has the love of Christ
      impacted your life?

Weekly Activities:
    Light the advent wreath each night
      at dinner or before bed. Read one
      of the scripture passages above
      and reflect on the ‗LOVE‘ Christ
      brings to you and your family.
    Pray for those who have
      experienced hate crimes.
   Pray for the persecuted church,
    for missionaries, pastors and
    leaders who are giving to share
    the love of Christ.
   Think of ways to show your
    immediate family and friends you
    love them: extra hugs/kisses;
    devote time to actively listen to
    your spouse, child or friends,
    help with chores, etc.
   Give of your time or money to the
    ‗unloved‘ in our society today:
    the homeless, the orphan, the
    widow, the immigrant.
         Monday, December 20, 2010

Although gifts are certainly not the
most important part of Christmas, they
are, without a doubt, one of the most
anticipated parts. The problem with
most gifts is that they, sooner or
later, fall into disrepair or are
misplaced, broken, or the gift is…less
than pleasant, and its receiver would
rather forget about it. The sentiment
may still remain, but…gifts don‘t last
forever.

Except for one!

Even though it‘s an old cliché, ―Jesus
IS the greatest Gift of all,‖ and
there‘s plenty of reason for that.
Besides salvation and redemption, and
all the benefits of being a child of
God, there is also the comforting fact
that He is eternal! There‘s no reason
to worry about Christ abandoning us or
forgetting about us. He was there when
you were three years old; He was there
when you were a teenager; and He is
with you right now! Jesus will be with
you for the rest of your life (though
whether or not you will spend eternity
with Him is your choice.)

Christ is the Gift that lasts forever.
And even better, you get to share this
gift! So go out, brothers and sisters,
and give the best Gift anyone could
have!
“For the wages of sin is death, but
the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
NIV

Cameron Edwards
         Tuesday, December 21, 2010


“Taste and see that the Lord is
good. Oh, the joys of those who take
refuge in him!”
                     Psalm 34:8 (NLT)

The deepest chambers of God‘s heart
contain everything a human being
needs in order to have abundant
life.    However, in our fallen
state, sin separates us from God and
from the capacity to have a Life-
giving relationship with him. Thus,
a person who has not received
salvation in Christ Jesus is dead in
every way: spiritually, mentally,
and (eventually) physically.
Unbelievers spend their lives
pursuing anything in this world that
looks like it will sustain and
satisfy them, but the search is
always in vain. Even believers
(including myself), though they have
tasted and seen that the Lord is
good and nourishing, will often
spend most of their days in want,
spiritually and otherwise. We do
not realize how much abundance is
available to us in Christ Jesus. Do
we really believe God is the only
thing we need?

I pray we, as a community of
believers, would finally come to a
place where we rest our souls in the
love of a God who is yearning to
satisfy us. He is our anchor in an
unreliable world. He is our true
Bread when all we can find on the
earth is junk food (literally and
figuratively!). He is a river of
pure, Living water in an age where
every well of water around us is
polluted or has run dry. When God
finally begins to be everything to
us, only at that point can we begin
to live the lives we were created to
live. The frantic pace, the coming
and going, the searching, the
anxious longing, the persistent
hopelessness and sorrow, the
dissatisfaction, the unnecessary
pain, and the frenzied consumption
of all the world has to offer- all
of this and more- can come to an
end. All of our searching can find
its end in God.




This holiday season, instead of
dwelling on what we do not have and
what we want to obtain, let us turn
to Jesus. Let us look no further
than Him! He becomes, ―Himself, the
fulfillment of our need.‖
“It is not, therefore, the hungry
seeking for bread, but the Bread
seeking the hungry; not the sad
seeking for joy, but rather Joy
seeking the sad; not emptiness
seeking fullness, but rather
Fullness seeking emptiness. And it
is not merely that He supplies our
need, but He becomes Himself the
fulfillment of our need (We Would
See Jesus).”

Lindsay Keveren
        Wednesday, December 22, 2010


 Jesus, five loaves, two fish, and a
          Christmas shoebox


Most all of us are familiar with the
New Testament story of Jesus feeding
the 5000 found in John chapter 6.
Well, here is a modern day
equivalent that also makes quite a
Christmas story. It is told by
Hannah Zimmerman, a student who had
the privilege of helping to
distribute Operation Christmas Child
shoe boxes in Bolivia:

“One main thing God showed me
through this trip is His bigness.
There is a major story that really
illustrates what I mean by this.

We got off the van on our third
distribution and looked out over a
basketball court. There were the
most children on the court that we
had seen yet at any of our
distributions. I was not very good
at estimating, but I would have said
about 150. So we got out and prayed
over the cartons of shoeboxes (the
children did not know they would be
receiving gifts yet). We prayed that
each box would have what each child
needed and that we would have enough
and that each child would leave with
Christ's hope. We then proceeded to
pass out the shoeboxes. It was a
great time! I passed out my shoebox
at that distribution to a 10-14 year
old girl named Rebecca. Her favorite
was a little stuffed animal I had
put in the box. There were smiles,
giggles and pictures taken. Each
child received a shoebox and we had
seven extra boxes as we pulled away.

The next day, Benecia, one of our
National Leadership Team leaders,
stood up in front of us on our bus
and said, "I want you to know
something very important: with
faith, all things are possible.
Yesterday we had 100 shoeboxes."
(Now when she said 100 shoeboxes, we
knew that was exactly how many we
had since all of the boxes that are
shipped to Bolivia are from Canada,
who only uses the Operation
Christmas Child premade boxes. Each
carton



contains 25 of the shoeboxes.). She
then held up a list and told us,
"These are all of the names of every
child who walked away from that
distribution with a shoebox. There
are 208 names on this list". God had
more than doubled the shoeboxes! He
knew that each child that came to
the basketball court that day needed
the hope of Christ and it didn't
matter how many shoeboxes we had. We
serve a BIG GOD.”

―Be anxious for nothing, but in
everything by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving, let
your request be made known to God,
and the peace of God, which
surpasses all understanding, will
guard your hearts and minds through
Christ Jesus.‖ Philippians 4:6-7

John Ludeman
        Thursday, December 23, 2010



               Celebrate

Christmas is a time for celebration.
This Christmas, for the Barnhart
family, we have extra to celebrate!
Mom is here! Nine months ago we
were given little hope that our mom
was going to be celebrating
Christmas with us. The cancer
diagnosis was grim; a course of
action for treatment was devised.

From the beginning of this journey,
Mom had a peace and an uncanny
assurance that God was going to do
the miraculous and bring healing to
her physically. Her faith in Christ,
the baby born in a manger, was her
anchor. She weathered a difficult
emotional and physical nine months.
Many who do not know the Christ
child as their Savior listened to
her words of belief that God is in
total control. Many unbelievers
supported her weekly in Bible study.
They will never forget her
testimonies each week.

My siblings and I are especially
celebrating Mom this year, but when
the communications of celebration of
the ―clear cells‖ (which left the
doctor shaking his head) were
shared, I quickly reminded my family
that there is a healing God wants
for us that is far greater than our
bodily healing; this healing brings
the true purpose of Jesus coming to
earth as a babe in human form!

Because of the spiritual healing
that has been given to us through
Christ, my personal Christmas
celebration with Mom is extra
special! I celebrate Christmas
because it leads to the cross and
Christ‘s redeeming work. For, ―I
once was lost, but now I‘m found. I
was blind but now I see.‖




I celebrate Christmas because it
leads to an empty tomb! Christ has
risen and his resurrection power is
available for each of us to bring
hope, healing, strength, peace, and
transformation!

I celebrate Christmas because of
Jesus!
Life is hard, and the reality is
that tomorrow is not guaranteed for
Mom or for me, but the true
Christmas gift, eternity and peace,
are promised!


“In Him was life, and that life was
the light of men.” John 1:4

Bob Barnhart
         Friday, December 24, 2010

For as long as I can remember, my
family has had a Christmas Eve
tradition that involves making our
favorite Christmas snacks and
desserts, watching ―It‘s a Wonderful
Life,‖ and opening our gifts from
each other.

It‘s the little things like this
which mean so much to me. It
wouldn‘t have mattered if I never
got another Christmas present as
long as I could share those moments
enjoying life and the Christmas
season with my family. No matter
what we all had going on, all was
right with the world on Christmas
Eve.

There‘s just something about that
experience that can‘t be replaced by
Christmas parties with friends or
huge impersonal gatherings. It‘s so
easy to get distracted and end up
celebrating the commercialism that
comes with Christmas. While this
seems like something that should be
so obvious to Christians, I find
that I have to remind myself more of
that this year as it is my first
Christmas as a wife. We now have
double the amount of people to
visit, and of course we have to host
our annual Ugly Christmas Sweater
Party! Then there are church
parties and work parties, and I
can‘t even begin to imagine what the
Christmas season must be like for
those families with children.

So this year, maybe we all need to
ask ourselves: should I go to all
three of those parties this weekend?
Or is now the time to start (or
renew) a tradition with my family?

“I thank my God upon every
remembrance of you, always in every
prayer of mine making request for
you all with joy, for your
fellowship in the gospel from the
first day until now, being confident
of this very thing, that He who has
begun a good work in you will
complete it until the day of Jesus
Christ” Philippians 1:3-6

Allison Dumas
        Saturday, December 25, 2010

 Advent Wreath Companion/Reflection
    Christmas Day/Week 5: LIGHT

Directions:
Light the 1st purple candle
Light the 2nd purple candle
Light the rose candle
Light the 3rd purple candle
Place and light a white candle in
the center of the wreath

Scripture Verse(s):
Luke 2:1-20

Additional Scripture Passages for
Reflection:
Isaiah 9:1-6; John 1:1-18; Titus
2:11-14

Reflection:
    How is Christ a light to our
     world today?
    How can you allow Christ to
     illumine the dark places in
     your life (fear, abuse, doubt,
     etc.)?

Weekly Activities:
    Light the advent wreath each
     night at dinner or before bed.
     Read one of the scripture
     passages above and reflect on
     how Christ brings ‗LIGHT‘ to
     you and your family.
   Drive or walk around your
    neighborhood and look at
    Christmas lights as a family.
    Reflect on how ‗Christ‘
    lightens our way.
   Think of ways to bring ‗light‘
    to those who may be in a dark
    place in their lives: make a
    phone call, visit, pray, donate
    time/money to a charity,
    abuse/addiction center, or the
    American Red Cross.
   Turn off all the lights in one
    room and light a candle or turn
    a flashlight on. Reflect on how
    Christ illumines the darkness
    in our lives.
         Sunday, December 26, 2010

              The Manger


With each passing year, we realize
Jesus matters more to us than
anything else in the world. Through
all the rituals of everyday living
and in times of stress and problems,
His presence is our comfort and joy,
our stabilizing force. He is always
there for us. But we can‘t think
about the manger without thinking
about the cross.

The greatest gift God ever gave was
the Person of His Son. Sent to us in
human form so that we might know
what God the Father is really like.
The only adequate revelation of God
– the one real appearance of God to
make known to man His nature, will,
grace and demand – occurred in Jesus
Christ who came as a ―babe‖ in the
manger. But I can‘t think about the
manger without thinking about the
cross.

“Your attitude should be the same as
that of Christ Jesus: Who being in
very nature God, did not consider
equality with God something to be
grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And
being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became
obedient to death – even death on a
cross. Therefore God exalted him to
the highest place and gave him the
name that is above every name, that
at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, in heaven and on earth
and under the earth, and every
tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the
Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Pastor Willis
         Monday, December 27, 2010

Nate Saint was one of the five
missionaries martyred by the Auca
Indians in Ecuador in 1956. His son
Steve remembers standing on the bank
of dirt as a young boy and watching
his dad take off to fly in the jungle
each morning, and then anxiously
waiting for his return. Steve was
nearly five years old the day his
mother told him that his father would
never return.

Steve made his first trip with his
aunt to live with that tribe when he
was nine years old. He learned about
living in the jungle, and also
developed relationships with many
members of the tribe. In June 1965, he
was baptized by two of his father‘s
killers who had since converted to
Christianity. Steve eventually learned
that the man who delivered the spear
that ultimately killed his father was
Mincaye. Today Nate and Mincaye
consider themselves family. Steve
harbors no resentment.

Steve says he has never forgotten the
pain and heartache of losing his dad.
―But I can‘t imagine not loving
Mincaye, a man who has adopted me as
his own.‖ He believes that all of the
men died as part of God‘s plan. ―I
know that might offend some,‖ says
Steve. ―But I don‘t think what
happened to my dad and his four
friends caught God by surprise.‖
The Israelites believed the ultimate
success was to be blessed in their
children. So perhaps the greatest
blessing God could give to Nate Saint
for paying the ultimate price, was to
bless his son Steve. God blessed Steve
with a spirit of forgiveness and a
passion to help them. Today Steve is
still caring for these people who
brutally killed his father. He has
developed a flying car for use in the
jungle. (See www.eaa.org
(multimedia/video) and search-Maverick
to view video of car)

“Blessed is the man who fears the
Lord, who finds great delight in his
commands. His children will be mighty
in the land; the generation of the
upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-
2

Aletha Hinthorn
Director of Come to the Fire
Conferences
Used by permission
         Tuesday, December 28, 2010

         A star in the East…
          The Virgin birth…
 The dream directing the wise men to
    return home a different route…


This time of year we joyfully
celebrate God‘s wondrous gift to the
world. We marvel at the way God
worked to assure the safe birth and
survival of His Son, our Savior. Many
people think miracles don‘t happen
anymore, that God doesn‘t work as
dramatically in the lives of ordinary
people today as he did thousands of
years ago. But I know differently…

2008…the middle of the night…a phone
call—the phone call every parent
fears--―There‘s been an accident…‖

Our son Rob was traveling on I65. He
lost control of the vehicle.
Suddenly, the truck was flipping over
and over and over. Broken glass and
crushed metal were everywhere. The
driver behind who witnessed the
accident said that it didn‘t occur to
him that he would be pulling a live
body out of that truck when he stopped
to help. Both he and the officer on
the scene said that there was no
explanation for our son‘s survival.
But I knew better—God had intervened!

Although cuts and scrapes covered his
entire body—there was even glass in
his mouth—our son sustained no serious
injuries. Later, Rob shared with me
that he wasn‘t wearing his seat belt,
yet his body didn‘t move an inch. He
said that he could feel something
pressing him into his seat, like hands
all over him. I believe those were
hands of angels sent to protect Rob
that night. Why Rob? Why our son?
Obviously, God has a plan for Rob,
just as he has for each of us that has
yet to be fulfilled. How exciting! I
can hardly wait to see how God uses
this life that he mercifully saved.

Now, here is the question that pierces
my heart...Am I that excited to see
what purpose God has for my life? Are
you? We are still here; so, God still
has a purpose for us—a daily calling
on our lives. Are we readying
ourselves? Are we eagerly seeking?
Are we willing? What if God‘s purpose
takes



us out of our comfort zones? What if
people will think we are ―nuts‖? What
if we must give-up something we value?
What if we have to suffer a little…or
a lot? Are we willing to sacrifice to
fulfill God‘s purpose for our lives?
God no doubt suffered as he watched
His
Son suffer on the cross. And the
suffering that Jesus endured is beyond
our understanding.
Over 2000 years since the birth of our
precious Savior God is still working,
working in the lives of ordinary
people, pouring-out his power and
love.    Our God is a God of love,
mercy, miracles and purpose.

   Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Holy Father, thank you for
your miraculous plan that will result
in our spending eternity with you.
Thank you for working through ordinary
people.   Please help us to seek your
purpose for our lives and to be
willing to do all it takes to see that
purpose fulfilled, even if we must
suffer for Christ‟s sake. Amen.

“For we are His workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus for good works, which
God prepared beforehand that we should
walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“For I know the thoughts that I think
toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of
peace and not of evil, to give you a
future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Lisa Lane
        Wednesday, December 29, 2010

  Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a
 dream, and no one can interpret it.
But I have heard it said of you that
    when you hear a dream you can
  interpret it.” “I cannot do it,”
 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God
   will give Pharaoh the answer he
              desires.”
        Genesis 41:15-16 (NIV)

    Job Loss                  Illness
 Death within                   Taxes
  the family                   Broken
Broken down car             appliances
   Car crash              Marital strife
Debt collection                Cancer
     calls                 Failed dreams
 Disrespectful
    children

The lists vary little from person to
person, but our answer to them, on
occasion: ―I CAN‘T‖. To God they
may look as insignificant as a rain
cloud but to us, our whole world is
falling part. God‘s promise for any
of these is the same ―You can‘t but
I can‖. His love will sustain us &
provide a provision. This was the
truth that Joseph knew. Not just in
the bible stories of his youth but
in his very being.

This past year has thrown some
overwhelming circumstances to some
of us. Others have been blessed
with a season of peace. But either
you are facing the ―I can‘t‖ or it
will come. Temptation will come,
the tests and trials come, and this
we are promised too. But God will
sustain us. God WILL provide for
us.

Thousands of years ago God provided
for us. No matter what you are
going through, you may feel in your
gut that you ―can‘t‖ but remember
that ―God will give‖. God gave us
the promised Messiah thousands of
years ago. God gave us the ultimate
sacrifice to redeem our lives.




This coming year, our Loving Father
will continue to give; peace as we
face trails, love as we face
rejection, hope as we face hatred,
all of these growing our faith.

―I can not do it, but God will
give‖… allow God to work through
you. Allow God to give to you too.
With this New Year, accept God‘s
greatest gift, the sacrifice of His
Son Jesus Christ, then give Him all
your heart – all your soul – all
your mind – all your strength.
The ―I Can‘t‖ moments will be there
but then you can answer:
                He CAN
               He WILL

Kristie Spencer
        Thursday, December 30, 2010

Being Refined: No one said it would
              be easy.

  “For you, O God, tested us; you
refined us like silver.” Psalm 66:10

As another year comes to a close, I
find myself looking back over the
last 12 months and evaluating all
that transpired. If you are like me,
you think about the happy memories
first and then let your mind drift
to the memories that cause you to
wince a little. Maybe it‘s the loss
of a family member or friend, the
loss of a job, a ―valley‖ that you
had to walk through or are still
walking through. We can all
recognize that each year brings
change, a refining process if you
will.

Change is defined as: to make the
form, nature, content, future
course, etc., of (something)
different from what it is or from
what it would be if left alone.
Refine is defined as: to bring to a
fine or a pure state; free from
impurities.

This year I find myself recalling
one of the most wonderful changes
and adventures I‘ve ever
experienced: pregnancy. Each day
brought about change for my growing
daughter and it reflected on the
outside of my growing tummy! The
change often brought a lot of
discomfort with morning sickness,
little sleep, headaches, back aches,
foot aches, swollen ankles and
stretch marks. The wonderful thing
is that now I‘m on the other side of
the change, I remember it was
uncomfortable but I find I remember
it with fondness. The little kicks
in the middle of the night, hiccups
that made my tummy bounce, even tiny
fingers tickling my ribs! It‘s
amazing. Once the change is
complete, once we are able to see
the beauty that can come from
discomfort, we quickly forget how
painful it was to get to the end.

As this year ends, I can‘t help but
think about our Refiner, what He
desires for us, and the process
through which we will pass to comply
with His desires. Gold and silver
don‘t refine themselves. They are
filled with impurities that are
inherently there.




Only a Refiner can put them in the
fire, work out the impurities, heat,
bend and reshape the material.
There is a reason this process is
referred to so often in scripture.
We cannot refine ourselves; we
cannot bring about the change that
Christ wants for our lives on our
own. We are inherently riddled with
imperfections.

This year I don‘t want to make
resolutions with the intention of
bringing about change that I think I
need; change that I think I can
accomplish in my own power to look
better, feel better, be better. I
want to begin the year acknowledging
that only God can bring about change
that matters. Going through change
is never easy. The day to day
refining often causes us to wince a
little and feel uncomfortable. But
when the changes are complete, when
the end has come, we are left with a
miracle. You may ask, ―What
miracle?‖ The miracle, that God can
take us, all broken and filthy, and
bring beauty.

I encourage you to embrace this new
year and the change that God will
bring into your life. Allow Him to
refine you, rather than trying to
shine yourself up. I‘m confident
that His changes will accomplish
much greater things and last much
longer than any change you can make
yourself!
** For some reflective worship time
I encourage you to listen to
―Refiner‘s Fire‖ and consider the
lyrics. **

Becca Sommers
         Friday, December 31, 2010



“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation, old things
have passed away; behold, all things
have become new. Now all things are
of God, who has reconciled us to
Himself through Jesus Christ, and
has given us the ministry of
reconciliation, that is that God was
in Christ reconciling the world to
Himself, not imputing their
trespasses to them, and has
committed to us the word of
reconciliation. Therefore we are
ambassadors for Christ, as though
God were pleading through us.” 2
Corinthians 5:17-20

Many of us at this time of year
begin to anticipate what changes we
would like to see take place in the
New Year. Our tradition is to make
resolutions that express areas of
personal concerns that will either
make us feel a sense of
accomplishment or improvement.
Unfortunately, most of the
resolutions we make are violated and
not kept as early as 30 days into
the New Year.

The apostle Paul in this passage
lays before the believer a new
challenge. When we recognize that
God through Jesus Christ has
reconciled us to Himself, our lives
are transformed instantaneously by
His presence and continue being
renewed and transformed into the
likeness of Christ. Our mission in
life from this time on is a mission
of reconciliation. Paul uses the
term ‗ambassador.‘ We are a living
representation to others regarding
God‘s restoration. Recently, I read
an article in Christianity Today
about the reasons other religions
find it hard to accept the faith of
Christianity. The author says that
the problem is expressed in how we
live. The confusion presents itself
in a culture that says it is
Christian, but its practices do not
support its values and teachings.




What does my life and yours reveal
to those around us about God
reconciling us to Himself? People
are looking for evidence. It‘s more
than an identification or label. Our
lives must exemplify a death to the
old life and transformation that
reflects a difference Christ alone
can bring.
As we enter into a New Year, I
challenge you to become an
ambassador for Christ. Believe that
God will bring reconciliation,
restoration, and transformation in
the lives of others as they see the
difference Christ has brought in us.

Ambassador for Christ,

Pastor Todd

				
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