Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Snow From Heaven

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11) So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Perhaps the human soul is never more tranquil than when the senses are engaged with the soothing sound of raindrops, or the silent stillness of a falling snow. It seems falling precipitation possesses a transcendence, an undefinable presence, that overwhelms the disquietude of earth’s care. At any rate, it’s likely the simple, therapeutic value of summer rains and winter snows have yet to be properly quantified, nor truly appreciated.

For example, how subtly the cluttered mind is cleared when a well-bundled body treks in solitude through solitary fields and forests under the pristine silence of falling snow? An hour of contemplation in such an environment releases immeasurable antidotal qualities; and a soul alerted to creation, cause, and Creator, through nature’s cloud-draining refreshment, can avert the missteps common in busyness.

Likewise, when nature itself is overlain with snow, our commonplace landscapes, easily unspectacular through daily routines, are magically transformed from winter’s exposed brown earth, fallen leaves, and drab fields to a seemingly unimaginable, creative display of speechless charm. Though winter cold envelops the slumbering countryside and snow conceals much of nature’s intricacy- yet innumerable, unexpected portraits of creation come into existence.

How embellished, then, are the conifer forests of green, when laden with snow’s complimentary, colorful contrast? And what brisk, gurgling brook is not picturesquely advantaged by fresh snowfall adorning its harsh rocks and sharp edges? And what tufted cardinal, though plumed majestically with the deepest of red, is not gladly photoshopped if juxtaposed on the snow-clad branch of the pine?

So it is with snow that Isaiah metaphorically elaborates on the effects of God’s immaculately delivered Word! Descending in human form to a lifeless and corrupt earth (and it spiraling uncontrollably toward terminal death), the Word became flesh and lived among the deplorable and destitute, engaging personally, impartially, and affectionately with both great and small.

Such was the hopeless ground into which this promised Snow fell. Into a world of fallen humanity, a creation separated from its Creator through disobedience, sin and death- this Life-giving substance was given the assignment of resurrecting the spirits of unworthy masses.

And, oh, what an awakening and reviving this most improbable Snow brought! What the prophet had declared centuries before is now humanity’s reality: the barren earth is now watered, the hardened seeds are now softened, and green buds are emerging all over a parched planet! Now the sowers of seeds have seeds to sow, and eaters of bread have bread to eat! And a land accustomed to poverty and shame is experiencing unmerited favor and blessings unmatched in the history of mankind! Oh, the infinite increase rising from heaven’s most enriching snow!

And there’s more! Yesterday’s foreboding mountains and problematic hills are now singing the praises of the watering One! The trees of the wood and grasses of the field are waving their hands in worship of the Blessed One! The scourging thorns and thistles unrestrained in uncultivated and barren lands are now gone, and in their place the silviculture of firs and myrtles!

And not only is the land materially blessed (sorry, sounding like one of those sleazy infomercials!), so is the crown jewel of His outpouring- The Redeemed- those chosen to inhabit the most envied of all nations, His eternal Kingdom! From that sovereign place of divine blessing- peace, joy, and glorious destinies are the promised, eternal norm! And to see all of this is contingent on descending rain and snow personified in the Son of God!

And as an additional assurance, the Word sent as rain and snow on humanity’s famished heart could never return as an unwise investment! This divine Precipitation must not return void! This Snow, sent in a season appointed by the Father, must accomplish precisely the purpose of its descent! Dust-made humanity, those creatures made in His image, must receive the life giving substance of His incomprehensible grace! And religious systems propping up mankind’s lifeless form must cease and desist under the cleansing and purging powers of an incomparable grace!

And of that Grace have many been healed! And of that Life have millions received forgiveness of sins! And of that Gift have innumerable sinners been born again! All made new for a time such as this- to demonstrate through word and deed this magnanimous life! To the hungry, bread to eat; to the filled, seeds to sow; to the worker, fields to harvest!

Now, according to prophecy and the prayer of Jesus, the glory of heaven has descended to earth; and that single, divine, gracious outpouring has the Church worshiping, angels singing, and heaven rejoicing!

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Maximized Living

A few weeks ago we celebrated (if, from a comfy recliner questioning the sanity of Times Square masses huddle in ten degree weather till a ball drops is considered a celebration, then yes, we did!) the ending of one calendar year and the beginning of another. And while calendar-consciousness should never govern worship, in some subliminal way the gift of time is a reminder of grace. Since, according to Scripture a fruit-filled Life, relative to time and chance, is the great pleasure of the Father – so as life affords us opportunity, our eternal purposes are satisfied in maximizing them.

As Christ in His earthen ministry went about doing good, healing those oppressed of the devil, so those in Him are admonished to follow His example. Contrary to fleshly instincts, but true according to scripture, we find Christian duty a rather simple and doable life. So that as God always works in us, both the will and the doing of all that pleases Him, so those indwelt of His Spirit are always in acute demonstration mode!

So let’s slow down and say this little truism together:

It’s… not… that… difficult… to… be… a… spiritual… light!

Yet, should we lack inspiration or direction (it happens sometimes!), here are a few quippy confidence boosters or compass readjusters!

  • Give thanks, not only in agreeable things, but yes, in everything!
  • If it’s to be done… do it wholeheartedly!
  • Rejoice in the Lord always! And for those in the back- Rejoice!
  • Forgive, ok. But how? As God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven us!
  • In giving… Press it down, fill the corners, shake it till it runs over!
  • In blessing, pour it on thick, especially on the few who dislike you!
  • In condemning, don’t! Just don’t go there!
  • In love… it’s pretty simple… Love all, at all times and in all places!
  • And to those perceiving the times and seasons of our present day: Be filled with the Spirit! Be pure! Redeem the time! Stay woke! Be holy! Pray always! Look up! Be honest! Encourage others! Be patient! Avenge not! Grumble not! Go to work! Be like Jesus!

And how amazingly opportunistic this wonderful life becomes when the Holy Spirit is given space to stretch! Knowing the mind of God and recognizing the Day of Grace, the Spirit excels in displaying Christ through those believing! And knowing things will not always be as they presently are, and that fulfillment of all things is nearer now than when we first believed, the Holy Spirit desires, above all, an undeniable manifestation of the children of God!

Have we noticed grace poured out now in desperate places? Yes, we’re witnesses. Is there in our preaching an urgency of reconciliation with creation and Creator? Is there a longing among the Chosen to be nearer to the heart of God – further from the divisions, violence, mistrust, scandals, hate, and the evils that sever the brotherhood? Have we noticed in our churches an increased hunger for fellowship around the Word of God? Are the mists, mysteries and mazes of man-made doctrines and religions being exposed – their authors, followers, falsity, duplicity and entrapments laid bare?

Yes, the Holy Spirit is doing perfectly what Jesus said He’d do!

Do we anticipate joyfully the great day of the Lord? Are we confidently sharing the Good News? Are our fears being overcome by love, our doubts removed through a reminder of His promises? Do we live in such joyful contentment that our sanity could sometimes be questioned by those without? If so (and I believe we do!), the glory inherent in Christ is by inheritance ours through faith, and soon to be our eternal reality! This will be our greatest year ever!

Numbered Days

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”Psalm 90:12

My daughter turns five this year. A truth, that honestly, is inconceivable. As a newborn she was colic. Therefore, she and I shared many mornings watching the sunrise without ever having slept. In the haze of sleep deprivation, her turning five seemed light-years away. Yet here we are. Soon I will leave her in a kindergarten classroom while my sweet husband is tasked with dragging me away. I’ll be the mom  sobbing like some kind of lunatic. I can hear time shouting, with volume I’d prefer to mute, “Like it or not here I come!”

Four years have passed. Four precious years consisting of a collection of moments that are unable to be retrieved. There are no do-overs and the clock simply can’t be rewound. James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life, here on earth, is astonishingly brief.

Over the past few weeks I’ve contemplated all I may have missed already. What did my kids want to show me while I scrolled aimlessly on social media? What divine set-ups have I overlooked hurrying through my self-imposed to-do list? Did I miss something of eternal significance when insisting on folding that last load of laundry?

I am thankful for the last 20 days of prayer and fasting. Fasting isn’t a new idea. It has, in fact, been shaping and reshaping individuals for centuries. This intentional stripping away of distractions and wholeheartedly leaning into God’s presence is good for us. Read the rest of this entry »

Fasting Has Promises Too

Isaiah 58:11 The Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

The promises above demonstrate God’s care for those fasting for God-honoring purposes. These prophetic declarations, as well as many others found in Isaiah 58, establish comforting guidelines for making the spiritual exercise of fasting a thing of deep beauty and long term benefit.

Remember, God’s displeasure came not from Israel’s lack of fasting (in that, they were dutiful and obedient), but in the enthroning of self by flaunting their dietary restraints. Essentially, their sacrifices had become a means whereby self’s interests could be satisfied – whether notoriety, elevation, vindication, piety or condemnation. And it was for such flagrant indiscretion that God’s blessings became noticeably withheld.

But greater than God’s discerning of Israel’s faulty rituals and ensuing poverties were the abundant blessings awaiting those who fasted properly – for those who withdrew from nature’s course to know and fulfill God’s purposes and interests. To those, a litany of enviable advantages was provided, and an incredible coverage of helps was available to those serving from a pure heart.

Contemplate on the character of God when comprehending His promises to reward obedience. The depth and breadth of His commitments are held together and appropriated by nothing less than His faithfulness! And faithfulness is the cornerstone of all that God is; as faithfulness is shown through nature, through His mighty works, through His clarion words, and above all, through the sacrificial life of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son!

In one single verse, God, in multiple ways, declares blessings that under-gird the revered practice of fasting. Assume also that the path of obedience regarding fasting will entail difficulties, as any positive service for the King is quickly noticed by many detractors. Yet, and according to scripture, it’s through various tribulations that we enter the Kingdom!

So, as we lessen the intake of food, may we expect also the intake of His superior guidance, protection, provision and power! As this period of restraint draws us closer to our Creator and with one another, may this corporate agreement provide innumerable answers and opportunities for an even greater display of Kingdom service!

Fasting 2018

I would like to extend an invitation to our church for a 21 day period of intentional devotion and refreshed commitment to God. It is common to hear about the importance of prayer in personal and corporate revival. However, the Bible includes an additional element of consecration that if done purely, can enhance and intensify our pursuit of God. That element is fasting. Although, fasting is prevalent in the pages of scripture, it is possibly the most overlooked admonition to the New Testament church. Many heroes of our faith were known for their exercise of this practice. Moses, David, Esther, Jehoshaphat, and Jesus himself all had recorded periods of fasting. Jesus instructed his followers to fast and the book of Acts accounts the fasting of the first century church. Lastly, Paul speaks of his time of fasting in a letter to the Corinthian church.

The posture of fasting in its simplest form is about putting God first in our lives. Prayer is the pursuit of God while fasting is the disconnection from things of the world, namely food, to intensify that pursuit more fervently.   In our fast-paced, ever-evolving world, it’s important to take time to remind ourselves of our true priority. Closeness with God is the one and only thing that can bring us true peace, fulfillment, joy, and assurance.

Fasting is not always a comfortable journey for your physical body, but if you commit yourself to prioritizing God for the next 21 days, you’ll find there’s nothing better for the health of your spirit and your relationship with God than to intentionally put Him first.

We are all at different places in our relationship with God. Likewise, our jobs, daily schedules, and health conditions are all different and place various levels of demands on our energy. So, most importantly, whether you have fasted before or this is your first time, start where you are. Your personal fast should present a level of challenge to it, but it’s very important to know your own body, know your options, and most importantly, seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.  Remember, the goal of fasting is not just to go without food. The goal is to draw nearer to God.

We will be using the Daniel Fast as our basic guideline. However, we encourage you to adapt and modify it according to your schedule, health, and leading of the Holy Spirit. Please consult a physician before determining your personal direction.

The following is a reading plan for you and your family for the next 21 days. We will meet every Wednesday night beginning on January 17th to pray together corporately and encourage one another in this endeavor. The fast will be complete on February 6th and we will all come together for a Night of Worship on February 9th.  I encourage you to make a short list of 2-4 specific prayer requests that you would like to emphasize. Pray over those needs daily with faith and patience. I can not wait to see how God moves in our life and church!

 Reading Schedule:

 1/17 – John 1                     1/24 – John 8                      1/31 – John 15

1/18 – John 2                     1/25 – John 9                      2/1 – John 16

1/19 – John 3                     1/26 – John 10                   2/2 – John 17

1/20 – John 4                     1/27 – John 11                   2/3 – John 18

1/21 – John 5                     1/28 – John 12                   2/4 – John 19

1/22 – John 6                     1/29 – John 13                   2/5 – John 20

1/23 – John 7                     1/30 – John 14                   2/6 – John 21

Night of Worship – Friday, February 9th

The Good News

 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”” Luke 2:10

I’m a rule breaker when it comes to traditional Christmas décor etiquette. I don’t wait until Thanksgiving is over before I begin transforming our home into a winter wonderland. Therefore, in our home, we’ve spent six weeks decorating the house, counting down days, reading scripture as a family, and doing advent activities with our toddlers. We orchestrated family gatherings, purchased gifts, and prepared the honey roasted ham.

Christmas Day arrived, in all its glorious splendor, and we spent the entire day celebrating the transformative truth that our King has come. We rejoiced over the miracle found in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Christmas Day is gone and, along with it, all the decorations I love. They have been carefully placed in boxes that will remain in storage until they are opened again in November. While the beautiful decorations are gone, He is not; nor is the miracle of Christmas. His name is still Immanuel; God with us. It’s a relief to relish the truth that He was here on Christmas morning as we celebrated His birth and He’s still here on New Year’s Day as we rejoice over new beginnings. He’s here on every ordinary Monday morning and typical Tuesday night. We don’t have to be sad that Christmas is over and longingly look forward to December 25th, 2018. The Christmas story is just as relevant this morning as it was one week ago.

On this first day of the New Year the good news is still good. Jesus Christ came and changed the course of history for mankind forevermore. He came to demolish our chains, restore relationship, and set things right. Personal revelation of His coming and all that His arrival means yields great joy!

This morning we continue the joyful celebration of a Savior, so wildly in love with us, He willingly laid down His life to purchase our freedom. His extravagant love compelled Him to step into the confines of time and take on our frame just so we could know Him better. He demolished our limited understanding of love with a clear depiction of what love looks like. Love is Jesus outstretched on a cross intent on redeeming and being with His sons and daughters. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:17) The Christmas story is ultimately about His relentless pursuit for you and me.

The Word says that after thousands of years of silence all of heaven rejoiced and announced His arrival on that beautiful night. They knew, full well, the weight of that moment. We are now presented with the opportunity to do the same. We can accept the spectacular gift of Him, the good news that changes everything, and join them in proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

No sickness is as untreatable as homesickness. No doctor can cure it, and Walgreens has no prescription for it. And for the unlicensed practitioner, no early warning signs are available. Volatile and capricious, public embarrassment can be the fruit of its emotional shifts. For those with control issues- good luck; for most any little thing can set it off. A song, picture, sound, smell, word, postcard, phone call, or even a distant memory. Yeah, I think memory is actually the most unmerciful instigator for chronic homesickness, because memories are huggers and won’t leave. But for balance, consider that homesickness is only possible when former times were good, when life was full. So here’s to good times, memorably great times, and lots and lots of them! (Hey, we’ll address the aftermath later).

When high school graduation flashed in the rear view mirror, and what to do next was looming like Mt. Everest- I found myself sixty miles away in an unknown city with unknown thousands at a largely impersonal state university. A move of that magnitude may not be recorded as the most courageous of all eighteen year olds, but had you known the socialization womb that formed me, you would have had compassion for the unceremonious uprooting my upbringing was experiencing.

Leaving the fields and forests of youth to assimilate into concrete, traffic and skyscrapers was a process, a rather necessary, but unnatural transition. It’s not to say that travel and discovery didn’t stimulate emotional and mental exhilaration. It did. That new life was action packed- people, places and pleasures of which I’d never experienced was creating new “highs”, and identifying with new surroundings produced a challenging metamorphosis of sorts.

Life continued to unfold after university life, as employment came in our nation’s Capitol with the Federal government. Now, hundreds of miles from the tall pines, rolling hills and dirt roads of rural North Carolina, opportunities to go “back home” were becoming less and less. Yet intuitively, something was amiss in my transition to this supposed “glorious” adulthood.

Something within was yearning to renew something remembered.

Being away, nothing stirred memories of home like December, and especially at Christmas time. The cold and snows of northern Virginia, in both climate and culture, were constant reminders of former times. The faceless masses, concrete sidewalks, blaring sirens and seven lane traffic bombarded my virgin senses; and what was thought to be the “good life”, became the antithesis of what sensibility had engrained. And no matter the efforts to homogenize, a primordial “call of the wild” crept in. Like the proverbial salmon fighting upstream to return to its birthplace, there seemed an instinctive return to native culture and landscape. Existentially, the “home” of my roots had produced a profound effect, and nothing could undo its power.

Lighted trees, creative wreaths, boxed gifts or flashy commerce does not activate the tear ducts. Yet mine did. A lot. And my heart longed for home. Something more than jingle bells and Frosty the Snowman pulled my heart back home; something more internal, something far more spiritual. The trips home for Christmas weren’t mere escapes from the hustle-bustle of city congestion or breaks from work load routine; there was an innate rightness about those returns- the reasonings were meaningful, logical, and a wise alignment with what ought to be.

I was coming home to the truest sense of the word. To what really mattered. To a home of love, of trust, of joy, of peace, of grace; and a life that was created in quietness, was now screaming for a visit.

To mom and dad. To brothers and sister. To family and friends. To fireplaces and fruitcakes. To beagles and pickup trucks. To axes, tractors and wood splitters. To spirited checkers and competitive chess. To skinning deer and squirrel pie. To snowball fights and midnight sledding. To indoor football and hide and seek. To hugs and tears. To singing and scriptures. To pranks and front porches. To pianos, mandolins and guitars. To debates and drama. To dreams and destinies. To love and respect. To hellos and byes. To I really miss you, thank you, and when do I see you again?

Nothing big. Just people. Simple. Real. Life.

T.S. Elliot stated, “Home is where one starts from”; and if true, then no one outgrows his roots. We’re captured by first things, as true as a mother is to a child. I’m persuaded the power of “home” has greater rule than circumstances, or even the will. Two millennia ago, Pliny the Elder said, “Home is where the heart is”; and regardless of human wanderlust, a craving remains for the place remembered as “home”.

Would that everyone had a place called home, but I’m not naive enough to think all have that luxury. So if that holy place has only been a dream, then my prayer is that you with God’s help, create that place- a sanctuary where love reigns supreme. Maybe at home. Maybe at church. Actually, most any place where one could breathe deeply, meditate, and recline. They’d all be perfectly acceptable.

A place where others would come, to hang, to stay. A place to talk, to cry, to remember, to unload, to encourage. A place where timeless simplicity invites the most anxious, fretted, confused, and tired of all God’s creatures. A place where joy is contagious, where making messes lead to laughter, and where old folks and children play with Tonka trucks. A place where life takes precedence over problems, where small talk is delightful, where grace decorates every room.

So go build that home, and watch travelers enter those inviting doors. Engage them genuinely. Feed them with hope. Warm them with compassion. And when time comes, let them leave- it’s ok. Your home became their friend, and their heart will never forget. And as it was intended and should be- neither will you…

And may we remember the gracious words of the One we celebrate, the One who makes all things whole and does all things well: “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 unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Don’t Stop Short

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

This narrative immediately following the birth of Jesus is straightforward and direct. It is simple to comprehend and understand; Jesus was born, and men came to worship Him. However as is the case with most of scripture, there are so many truths and so much revelation that lies just underneath the easily accessible surface. This passage is full of grace and glory and would take pages to unwrap its fullness. It teaches us of God’s nature, His sovereignty, and of His power. It provokes us out of our convenience and instructs mankind how to appropriately respond to His coming.

To fully understand the depth of what is transpiring we must first understand who these strange travelers are. These “Wise men from the East” are the most unlikely of worship candidates. They are not Jews. They are not students of Judaism culture, they are not well-versed in the writings of the prophets, nor are they fully aware of the generations who have waited in eager expectation for a Messiah. They are called Magi. The same root where we get our word magic or magician. They are sorcerers from Babylon who were very interested in astronomy and astrology. These Magi would study the placement and alignment of stars and planets and use that information to make conclusions about future events and forthcoming happenings. They were known and respected for their wisdom and their learning.

In their study, they came across a star that seemed misplaced and could not be identified. Anything out of the ordinary they would consider to be an omen or a secret message that needed investigation and interpretation. This star lead them to the nation of Israel and then to the city of Jerusalem where they spoke with King Herod and lastly to a little town in the region of Judaea called Bethlehem. As they had anticipated so many times before, they expected that this star would bring revelation, understanding, and wisdom. They were hoping it would answer ancient questions and offer solutions for longstanding uncertainties. Their sight was on the furthest and highest terrestrial actuality they could see; the stars.

Many have stopped here to worship. Much of mankind has ended its search and exploration at the extent of earthbound realities and there we have created idols.  Much of history records cultures who have worshipped the sun, water, or the moon.  Before we criticize their foolishness though, our modern cultures have created gods of our own just as laughable.  Many have chosen to idolize wealth, health, recognition, or fame. However, as is the case here, God only uses the vastness and grandness of the natural world to point to something much more wondrous and astonishing.

The star was not to be the object of revelation or the answer to unsolved ancient queries. God used that which the Magi had looked to for centuries to point to something greater and grander; something, rather a someone, who actually deserved worship. The star was not the object to be worshipped, it was a miraculous sign in the hands of an Almighty God to direct the Magi’s attention to the wonder of the Christ being born into the world He created. On this infant’s shoulders rested the hope of all mankind. He is our savior!

This Christmas do not stop short to idolize the beauty or wonder of the things we can see. They are just signs pointing us to the wonder of all the ages; Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Our King Has Come

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Last week our family was the first to arrive at the Christmas tree lot early Thanksgiving morning. We walked around a few minutes admiring the vibrantly green Fraser firs of various shapes and sizes while breathing deeply of the long awaited Christmas scent that only accompanies real trees. My husband spotted the most symmetrical tree I’ve ever seen and the following day we spent hours hanging green, red, and gold ornaments on its branches. Our afternoon was blissful as the Christmas music played and the scent of apple cider simmering in the crock pot filled the air.

As an adult I cherish the Christmas traditions of my childhood. I am, however, now presented with the profound opportunity to create memories, like those of last week, with my toddlers. I enjoy many things about the Christmas season such as twinkling lights, priceless time with family and friends, the chestnut praline latte from Starbucks, and thoughtfully chosen gifts. But above all I long for our children to collect memories of our family keeping Christ at the center of all our Christmas celebrations. My favorite
tradition, therefore, is remembering the Advent season together.

For many there is confusion surrounding the meaning and purpose of the Advent season. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival or coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. The Advent season stretches for four Sundays leading up to Christmas day. During this time we, as believers, look back and joyfully celebrate Christ’s coming whilst simultaneously looking forward with great anticipation to His certain return. Advent prepares our hearts to celebrate
the greatest gift humanity has ever received – Jesus Christ.

We are often referred to as the “microwave” generation, said to prefer instant gratification over waiting. Some think, then, it’s impossible for us to imagine how the Israelites must have felt waiting for Jesus to come. After all, the coming of the Messiah was promised thousands of years before He actually arrived.

But He came.

John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” The wait was long but God’s promises were fulfilled. Aren’t we also waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise? Over 2,000 years ago Jesus said prior to ascension, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). As we reflect on Jesus’ first coming we can rest assured of His fulfilled promises in the future. He said He would return for us.

He will come.

Observing Advent does not require elaborate daily activities. We don’t need the stress of adding a ton more to our already full “to-do” lists. The key, here, is simply celebrating a God so wildly in love with us that He humbly sent His only son as a human baby to be born in a dusty stable. It’s remembering a God so trustworthy that we know, without a doubt, that He will send His son once more to get us just because He said He would.

Here are some ways to intentionally celebrate the gospel story in our homes this Christmas season:

  1. Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Calendar Printable + Reading Plan
  2. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
  3. Bible Verse Advent Cards
  4. Jesse Tree Ornaments
  5. Printable Nativity Set

Remember: Advent is a gift. It’s an opportunity for us to resist the cultural norm of hustle that typically occurs during the holiday season. It’s an invitation, instead, to slow down and savor the miracle that is Jesus Christ! I hope you enjoy the resources provided above and enjoy this Advent season to the fullest!

Still Thankful

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Oh, the irony of Black Friday following Thanksgiving! How bold! We just had the most thoughtful prayer alongside baked turkey, grandma’s dressing and a living room full of football; and lo and behold, here comes Friday making us forget how thankful we were yesterday!

But hold on, we’re shaming no one, nor the system, for our hyperactive push to engage our purchasing power. For its likely neither Black Friday nor any other marketing scheme is to be blamed for finding great deals. Let’s uncover an issue far deeper and more devilish than the half price of a long awaited recliner or smart TV.

From Eden’s Garden to the merchandise-loaded screens of today’s computers, the invitation to bargain for things we supposedly lack is simple and ageless. From deceiving Eve in thinking that even God was withholding something good, to the never ending task of keeping up with the Joneses, the heart of humanity is ever in quest of possessing “enough”.

Of anything, actually. For from clothes to tools or from food to mobile devices- our wardrobes are tight with new threads, pantries are stocked with staples, garages hang with gadgets, and our phones are quickly short on memory! From education to insurance to transportation to entertainment- we’re always in need of something else, or something more. So, for those under a rock the last few thousand years – hey, welcome to the real world!

Though material-overload and mammon-driven mindsets are the easiest lifestyles to adopt, it’s also true that the spiritual are most awakened when those temptations arrive. It’s then that we determine what’s important and essential. To know that godliness with contentment is great gain is to purify the motive of every goal and aspiration. It’s only then that we prove we “get it”! It’s then that we truly understand this one thing: to possess the eternal virtues and life of Jesus is the true measure of wealth, and to invest that Life through a mortal body set apart for His glory is to bring harvests and increases only Heaven can store!

Regardless then of status or caste, we must somehow digest the truth concerning our short time on earth in these temporal bodies. “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be content.” There are few verses as profound; and few verses so unilaterally equip us to direct our daily decisions. Through these we resolve to be wise in our choices, and wisdom has chosen well: Christ alone is our treasure!

Convinced through scripture of our completeness, wholeness and “lacking nothing life” in Christ, any rush for another purchase, project, pacifier or pal is summarily checked and filtered. If things advance the purposes of the Kingdom, we go for it! If they distract us from our eternal purposes, we boldly say no to earth’s sideline attractions! We’ve evaluated both time and treasure, and a life surrendered to Christ has no comparison and no regrets!

Ultimately, life’s decisions made with Christ in mind produce the greatest peace, the sweetest joy, and contentment beyond words!