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Friday, December 26, 2008

We're All Here

One of my favorite authors is Mark Buchanan. I share this excerpt from one of his books I haven't yet read but anticipate greatly:


by Mark Buchanan
An excerpt from The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath

I made an astounding discovery several years back. It was one of those discoveries that, once made, you wonder why it took so long to make it. It was this: thankfulness is more than an act. It’s an orientation. It’s a way of seeing the world. Thankful people are thankful, not because they have more than others to be thankful for (in fact, people with much to be thankful for often go in the other direction, and become chronic complainers), but because they’ve chosen to be thankful. They choose to see their lives as a gift. They choose to see the transcendent in the ordinary. They choose to believe in a God who works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called to his purposes.

But let me illustrate. [finish]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Service @ Sr. Center

 Christmas Eve is almost here and we're working hard to bring you a special Christmas Eve service that night at Grace Christian Fellowship. If you live in or near Summerville, I hope you and your family will join us.

In the meantime, while you are enjoying office parties, school parties and doing your last minute shopping, don't forget to invite people to join us! Looking for an invitation to print to hand out or share via email? Here's one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Earthquakes

Last Tuesday we had a little seismic activity in the Charleston area. It was around a 3.6 on the Richter scale. Anyway, as you'd expect, it was the buzz around town. 

Some people heard/felt it and were curious. Others (like us) felt the boom and were scared. It sounded like a huge piece of furniture fell over upstairs (on someone?!). Others said it sounded like a car ran into their building. And while many heard/felt it, others didn't even notice. 

It occurred to me that the birth of Christ was a seismic occurrence as well--albeit of biblical proportion. And, like our event, some noticed it and were afraid, others curious, and some missed it altogether.

Which are you? Do your eyes glaze over at the mention of the Christ-child? Perhaps you're losing Jesus in the chaos of shopping, sentiment and busyness.
Do you hear about the baby in a manager and find yourself curious but unengaged? Perhaps you have missed the implications of eternity apart from Christ.

Or maybe you are learning about Jesus and understand that He's coming back one day. This time, though, not as a baby but as a King. The King. And that He comes to judge those who believe they are good enough to get God to go to heaven on their own terms. I imagine that if that's you then you fear death. And well you should. After all, when you tell your own Creator that you don't trust Him and that you want to live your life on your own terms, it's got to be scary meeting Him face-to-face. 

The theme for Christmas is that you don't have to be afraid.

God sent His son Jesus to reconcile you to Himself. He has solved the problem of sin, if we'll just trust Him. He wants to forgive us (and we need that forgiveness because all of us have sinned against holy God). 

Will you humble yourself and trust Jesus today? Will you ask Him to forgive you for your sinful and self-centered attitudes and lifestyle? Will you surrender your life to Him and trust Him to lead you from here? He's awaits your humble request.


Receive the ultimate Christmas gift and you'll be giving one too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Resumes and football

On a lighter note, I got this from Joe Bryant on his "Random Shots" email, his weekly ramblings on the week's NFL trivia...

I love Mike Tomlin. Steelers RB Willie Parker made some comments after the game that the Steelers weren't running the ball enough. Tomlin handled it just right. "Every morning I come to work I walk past five Lombardis, not five rushing titles. The issue is winning." What can you say to that?

Reminded me of the story about Steve Spurrier when Florida was looking to hire a new coach a few years ago. Spurrier inquired about possibly coming back and the athletic director smugly told Spurrier that he'd have to submit a resume. The story goes that Spurrier told him to get up out of his chair, walk down the hall, and take a look at the trophy case. That's pretty good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bird Brain

Editors note: I wrote this June 7, 2006. dg

OK, so I'm sitting in my favorite booth at Atlanta Bread working on my laptop and I hear this thud on the window. Out of the corner of my eye I see enough to notice that a bird has just flown into the window. 

It reminded me of those hilarious Windex commercials where the birds keep flying into the oh-so-clean windows trying to get inside. (Yes, these windows had just been cleaned too) 

So I'm sitting here wondering what I can learn from this experience...

Seeing isn't always believing-or not seeing in this case. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't real. "You can't see the wind but you can see the effects of the wind" said Billy Graham on DC Talk's Jesus Freak CD. Meteorological instruments can measure the wind speed, moisture content and temperature even though our eyes do not see it.

Lessons: 

* Don't get too caught up in what you can see. Live in light of eternity. 

* You can't always see what's most real. This is similar to the last one. We tend to think what's most real is what's most visible. The bible teaches that what's most real is actually what we can't see...yet. CS Lewis calls this world the "Shadowlands". The bird learned that lesson the hard way. 

* Watch where you're going mister! OK, so I'm venting my driving pet peeves a little. People can't drive around here!

But seriously, we need to watch because it matters where you're going. You may be moving through life at a quick clip, but you may be heading the wrong way on a road with the bridge ahead out of commission. Open your eyes. In fact, ask God to open your eyes. You may be surprised at what you end up seeing.

* Seeing and seeing aren't always a package deal. Just because you have 20/20 vision doesn't mean you can see what really matters or lasts. The birds have working eyes. But they are not good enough to see clean glass apparently.

The bible says that our eyes are not good enough to see spiritual truth either--unless God enables us to. Pray that God would open your spiritual eyes to allow you to see what is true-clearly. 

* We can get so focused on what we're looking for that we miss what's right in front of us and what is most important. (I can't see the forest for the trees kind-a-thing) I don't know what that bird was so focused on (maybe my pastrami sandwich) but he was on a mission to satisfy himself. Mission NOT accomplished! (pass the Advil)

We can get so focused on pursuing what we think will make us happiest that we miss true joy and happiness. Life apart from God will always be inferior to true joy and happiness found in Christ. Don't let the eye candy of this world tempt you to fall for it either.

What's the best way to see well? Stay close and stay clean.

Stay close to God and his word and let him know when you mess up. As you confess your sin and turn away from it, God cleanses you from all unrighteousness. He sees you as if you've never sinned. That's cool...clearly.

Revenge of the birds

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God never gives up on me!

Someone shared this cool reminder this week. (thanks Linda) Rest in the truth that God never gives up on those who trust Him...

From Linda: I am sending you something I read about Meeting the God of Encouragement. It really is appropriate for the challenges of today with all of us in the Body of Christ. When times are so uncertain and promises are broken God never gives up on us.
 
Throughout time, though God's people often forgot their God, God didn't forget them. He kept His word. God didn't give up. He never gives up. 

When Joseph was dropped into a pit by his own brothers, God didn't give up. When Moses said,"Here I am, send Aaron," God didn't give up. When the delivered Israelites wanted Egyptian slavery instead of milk and honey, God didn't give up. When Aaron  was making a false god at the very moment Moses was with the true God, God didn't give up. When only two of the ten spies thought the Creator was powerful enough to deliver the created, God didn't give up. When Sampson whispered to Delilah, when Saul roared after David, when David schemed against Uriah, God didn't give up. When God's word lay forgotten and man's idols stood glistening, God didn't give up. When the children of Israel were taken into captivity God didn't give up. He could have given up. He could have turned His back. He could have walked away from the wretched mess, but He didn't. He didn't give up.

When He became flesh and was the victim of an assassination attempt before He was 2 years old, He didn't give up. When the people from His own home town tried to push Him over a cliff, He didn't give up.
When His brothers ridiculed Him, He didn't give up. When He was accused of blaspheming God by people who didn't fear God, He didn't give up. When Peter worshipped Him at the supper and cursed Him at the fire, He didn't give up. When people spat in his face,He didn't spit back. When the bystanders slapped Him, He didn't slap them.When a whip ripped His sides, He didn't turn and command the awaiting angels to stuff that whip down that soldier's throat. And when human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn't the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus steady. It was God who held them steady. For those wounded hands were the same invisible hands that had carried the fire pot and the torch 2000 years earlier. They were the same hands that had brought light to Abram's thick and dreadful darkness. They had come to do it again.

So, the next time doubt walks in, escort him out. Out to the hill. Out to Calvary, Out to the cross where, with the holy blood, the hand that carried the flame wrote the promise," God would give up His only son, before he'd give up on you."
 
How encouraging it is to know that God is constant in His promise to remain. This is encouraging to me when mothers are burying their children,when one spouse says "I Quit" when employers say "don't come back" .When the bank says,"You must vacate."  God says, "I will NEVER leave you or forake you.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Books & DVDs: 40 Days of Community available

If you are looking for large numbers of the devotional/study guide books from 40 Days of Community, just give us a call. This is the blue version that has both the 40 devotionals plus the study guide for the small groups bound together. Now when you buy them, you have to buy them separately. We have about 50 (some new, some used). 

We also have about 20 DVDs (brand new).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Joy is being free!

Joy is being free. Why? Because Jesus came to set us free. Free from what? Free from sin and death.

Just like Moses was sent to Egypt to set the nation of Israel free from Egyptian slavery, Jesus was sent to set all people free from the slavery of sin.

Jesus means "The Lord saves." The angel said to Joseph, "She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

How does that happen? First, somebody has to take the punishment for sin. Jesus did that on the cross where he died for my sin and yours. As a result, God the Father can now show mercy and forgive sinners who bank on what Jesus did on the cross for them. When I accept the infinitely gracious act of Jesus' death in my place, I become a child of God. I receive forgiveness and lose guilt. I am set free from sin and death!

And that's why we celebrate Christmas. Because the baby who was born to die came down. God himself putting on flesh; the Creator mingling among his creation to share this message of hope that leads to joy that changes everything.

May we embrace this joy and become ambassadors of joy to all people.

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11