I read this week of a man who took his whole family around the neighborhood to sing Christmas carols. He was a resident of Hillsboro, California. As his family gathered together in the front of the first house, he knocked at the door and a woman came to the door, distraught and said, “Look, fella, I’m too busy, The plumbing went out, I can’t get anyone to fix it, and there’s a mob coming over for dinner tonight. If you really feel like singing Christmas carols, can you come back at 9:00, OK?” And the man politely said, “Yes, ma’am.”
The man’s name? Bing Crosby. That Lady missed out on a serenade by the entire Crosby family because she was too busy to really take time to think about the significance of the season.
Sometimes that’s easy to do, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in one of the busiest seasons of the year. With festivities to plan and parties to throw and presents to buy, sometimes it’s easy to lose the real joy of the season. It really involves a conscious, continuous effort not to let the reason for the season to slip by. This Christmas don’t let the busyness of the season rob you of the joy of the season. Let’s remember that Christmas is about God entering this world as a little child to save us. My deepest prayer for all of us is that we will allow this Christ Child to be born within our lives in new ways this year.
A favorite Christmas movie is the kid’s move, “Home Alone.” It’s a comedy about a little boy named, “Kevin,” who, as part of a big family, is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for a European vacation. The comedy occurs as this little boy repeatedly messes up the plans of a couple of bumbling burglars by setting up all these wild traps.
What captured my attention was what happened on Christmas Eve as Kevin is all alone. He goes to church and meets an older man who is unhappy about family problems. As the two talk, Kevin admits feeling guilty because right before his family left he told his mom in a fit of anger, “I wish you would just go away!” and now he was missing her terribly.
The old man then said, “You’re in church now and this is the place to come when you’re feeling bad about yourself.”
He was right, wasn’t he? The church is the body of Christ and it would have never come into existence if it wasn’t for Christmas. It’s the place to come when we need comfort; when we need forgiveness; when we need strength; when we need direction; when we need a new start.
In 1939 a man named Robert May worked in the publicity department for Montgomery Ward stores. He was asked to come up with a new story for Christmas so he mixed two stories… the story of Santa Claus and the story of the Ugly Duckling and came up with a new story called, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
You know why we like the Rudolph story so much, don’t you? Not just because it’s a cute story that was made into a catchy tune. No, we like this story because it’s about rising above defeat. It’s about turning a defeat into a victory. Rudolph was teased and taunted because of his red nose… but then in the end, he becomes the hero.
Jesus came into the world as a baby. He came into a world in which people felt down and out without any hope. But Christ came to give us hope and confidence that with Him nothing is impossible. He showed us from the manger to the cross that His love is the most POWERFUL and REDEEMING THING IN THE UNIVERSE… and that if we would simply believe and trust Him; nothing can defeat us.
This Christmas I invite you to come and let us adore the one who is able to give us abundantly beyond anything we can think or imagine (Eph 3:20) and in His presence let us receive the ultimate healing that comes from His grace.
I believe one of the most powerful prayer teams is when a HUSBAND and WIFE pray together as One Flesh. I think this is one of many reasons why the enemy tries to destroy marriages. He realizes their potential in Christ. I know many Christian couples that PRAY on a regular basis, but not together.
Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, that He is there in a powerful way. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. There is POWER when a couple comes together for PRAYER.
When I think of praying together I think of Gary Thomas’ book SACRED MARRIAGE. I love the subtitle of that book: What if God designed marriage to make us HOLY more than to make us HAPPY. I think of a quote out of that book, “We truly do not know how selfish and sinful we are until we live with someone in marriage,” and he goes on to write, “Our spouses to do not change us as much as they REVEAL US.” Wow. That is so TRUE. Personally, I have found MARRIAGE to be the single greatest tool God has used to expose my own SELFISHNESS and NOTHING brings that out than PRAYING with my wife. Praying with my wife has also been one of the most INTIMATE things I have ever done.
On Tuesday, September 6th at 7 PM, Medina UMC had its official Church Conference vote to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church under paragraph 2553 of the UMC Book of Discipline. There were 95 people in attendance (surprising, being it was the day after Labor Day). The vote was unanimous to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Conference.
The reasons for disaffiliation were that we, as a church body, could no longer in good conscience be in a denomination that ignored or in some cases celebrated the practice of homosexuality. I want to make one thing clear: we grieve the fact that the United Methodist Church forced us to take such action. We love the homosexual, but we will not be a part of celebrating sin. I could give multiple examples at every level of United Methodism where such disobedience is taking place, but I am tired of fighting over this issue.
I do not intend to comment on the subject of disaffiliation again. I am ready to shake the dust off my feet and move forward. I think of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I encourage you to join me with that upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The good news is that a great deal of the hard work is done. There is bureaucratic paperwork that still needs to be done; however, now we feel free to pursue our mission of “Knowing Christ and Making Him Known” with all our hearts.
I encourage you to keep Medina Community Church in your prayers, asking God to give us visions and dreams of all the things He has for us to do. May we give Him all the praise and all the glory.
A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats. – Charles Spurgeon
The picture is Ms. Penny Cost (a play on Pentecost). Ms. Penny Cost is reportedly the first Drag Queen in the world to become a Certified Candidate for Ordination within the United Methodist Church. As a member of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the UMC, he works as the Associate Pastor at Hope United Methodist Church.
Afghanistan is falling apart. As the United States has withdrawn, the Taliban has stepped in. Russia and China have now offered support to the Taliban. The world’s stage has literally changed overnight.
The situation is dire in Afghanistan. The pictures are horrifying. The Taliban is hunting down Christians and anyone that supported the United States.
The question a lot of people are asking is, “Where is God in all this?” The answer is that He’s in you and me. We are to be God’s presence in this chaotic world. I would encourage you to spend less time watching the news and more time on your knees. Jesus tells us to pray for God’s Kingdom to be established here on earth, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
The Bible says that we are His ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) You can think of the church as His embassy. Jesus said of this embassy, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Jesus’ embassy will never be overrun or taken by the enemy.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in Afghanistan, but I do know God is in control and that His church will continue. I also know that the real battle is not going to be won with guns and ammo, but with fasting and prayer. (Matthew 17:21)
It’s time to put on the full armor of God and fight this battle in prayer.
1. Physical protection and provision 2. Spiritual protection and provision. 3. Gospel Advance.
Don’t forget to pray for our Leaders.
Remember Jesus words, “In this world you will have tribulation, but I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Were all in this together,
Anne Graham Lotz has a great prayer to pray for the Afghan people:
I just wanted you to know that we’ve had three (3) people test positive for COVID this week and many more in the community.
Most of this summer we have had a period of calm with little or no cases of COVID, but in recent weeks there has been a sharp increase in cases. I believe part of the reason for this sharp increase is that a lot of people have forgotten or neglected all the common-sense safe practices. Therefore, I ask that you take the appropriate precautions. In other words, WASH YOUR HANDS, people! Also, if feel sick or have been around someone who has been sick, STAY HOME.
A couple of things:
Don’t Freak Out. Be cautious, but not fearful. God is still in control. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and SOUND MIND. (2 Timothy 1:7) “Sound Mind” implies that we think clearly and exercise a little common sense. All indications is that while this new variant of COVID is a lot more contagious than the previous stain, it’s not as deadly.
Stay United. It breaks my heart how divisive we’ve made this virus. This should not happen among Christians! Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask. Get vaccinated or don’t get vaccinated. Come to church or watch on the Live-Feed. Let’s just not point fingers and condemn others over issues in which the facts are in dispute.
We will continue to have church. There are no plans to shut down. The Live-Feed will continue to be available.
On a personal note, I plan to be tested for COVID every Friday for my own conscience’s sake and if I test positive, I will not be in church.
I love each and ever one of you. Let’s really come together through this and make Christ SHINE.