Monthly Archives: December 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR

See you in church . . right!?   That would be a great way to begin your New Year

 

TRYING HARDER IN THE NEW YEAR?

Trying harder is a commitment we have all made in our mind and with our words. There are good qualities about seeking to try harder, but there are also some unbiblical and counter productive qualities about “trying harder” especially when we are discussing “trying harder to please God” or “trying harder to be a good Christian” or “trying harder to stop a certain behavior”.

As many of us think about New Year’s Resolutions, it would be helpful to have the right perspective of “trying harder”.

Ed Welch from The Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) wrote an article on this subject. I clipped a section for you or you can read the entire article here

“I must try harder” comes from the set of beliefs in which Jesus, at most, is our [distant] coach, giving direction, encouragement, and a good tongue lashing from the side-lines while we try to compete, without much assistance, against someone clearly more skilled than ourselves. Victory is never really possible. We just hope to avoid an embarrassingly lopsided loss.

Life in Jesus, however, is restless rest, with the accent on rest. Faith, which is the primary human response to God, means that we trust him and not ourselves. More specifically, faith means, “Jesus, help!” And this is very different from a foundational belief, “I must try harder.”

I want to try harder too, but in the right way. We need to be activists in our rest. We actively ask God to show us the way, to do what he is calling us to do, in the Spirit’s power. But the belief I hear most often is the resigned, self-reliant version of “I must try harder.”

Now is always a good time to assign ourselves a new task, such as to rest in, abide in, believe in, trust in, know and enjoy the rescuer of our souls

 

 

SHARING THE JOY OF GOD’S GIFT

BLOG by DEBBIE HUBER

When I was a child, I remember not wanting Christmas day to end.  I wanted to extend that “Christmas feeling” into New Year’s Day.  My brother and sisters and I would leave our opened presents stacked under the Christmas tree and the week after Christmas would be filled with friends and family visiting, eating Christmas cookies and watching us as we excitedly showed them our Christmas gifts.  We would, in turn, visit their homes to see their Christmas presents.  It was exciting to share the joy of the gift giving and receiving.

As Christians, there is no gift that can compare to the true Christmas gift of Jesus.  There should be no letdown after Christmas, just anticipation of how we can continue to share the gift.  He is the sovereign God of the universe who humbled himself to be born as a baby so He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins!  We have a gift that should bring us so much joy everyday of the year that we cannot help but show Him off to others!  He is “God With Us”, always actively working in and through us.

Are you sharing this gift with others of what Jesus has done for you?  Do you believe that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in you everyday to help you to grow and to share the gift of Jesus with others?  Do you see every interaction, no matter how seemingly insignificant, as a God-given opportunity to demonstrate godly love and how this gift has impacted your life?

How do you respond when you hear that your co-worker was alone for Christmas?  She needs to hear that you care and that your God cares.

How do you respond to the relative who starts complaining about a family situation that happened during the Christmas holiday?  Demonstrate that your love for God and others has changed you in how you respond to difficult family situations.

Do you seek out opportunities to connect with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers so you can share the Gospel with them? God uses us to tell others about His gift!

We should be overflowing with thankfulness and gratitude for this gift that changed our eternity!  Use interactions with others to show that you care and more importantly that you care because God has saved you!   Let us not tire of the excitement of showing off this gift everyday of our lives!  Kyle has been preaching to pursue others.  God’s gift pursued us – let it be a joy to pursue others with the most precious gift of all!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end”

 

START A NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITION

Start a new Christmas tradition of reading the Christmas story with your family, or on your own Christmas morning.  We began this tradition when our children were young.  Each of us reads a different section from the biblical account of Jesus birth. Last year we read it with Debbie’s family before opening gifts. The adults enjoyed it as much as the kids.

To read the Christmas story in order, you have to go back and forth between Matthew and Luke which present different parts of the story.  Years ago I photocopied the different parts, pieced them together in order, and recopied it as a flowing story.  Today, all that can be easily done on a computer.  Our church now has the Christmas story printed and given out as a gift on Christmas Eve.

If you want to read the Christmas story in order, these are the passages:

Jesus birth announced to Mary Luke 1:26-38

Jesus birth announced to Joseph Matthew 1:18-25

Jesus is born Luke 2:1-7

Angels appear to the shepherds Luke 2:8-20

The arrival of the wise men Matthew 2:1-12

You may want to begin with the Old Testament foretelling of Jesus birth Isaiah 9:6-7

HAPPY 58th ANNIVERSARY!

Today my parents, Gene and Susan Huber, celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary. This picture was taken at their wedding on December 21, 1953. They were a young couple without much in the way of possessions, but they were deeply committed to serving Christ and His gospel.

My parents have five children, all of whom also serve the Lord whole-heartedly. This by itself would be a wonderful testimony to their life together.  But in addition, thousands of people have been directly and deeply affected by them. Many of these were eternally changed – perhaps you are one of them.

Over these 58 years a number of people touched by them, now serve the gospel in full time ministry. Only God knows how many people have then been affected by these ministries. If such things are known in Heaven, we all can gather together for a big celebration!

Joining their celebration today is more than sharing in the joy of a lasting marriage, or two lives well lived, it is rejoicing in this wonderful truth – God gladly uses the lives of those who love Him, and He uses them well!

ALWAYS PURSUE

In a recent sermon I encouraged the church to “always pursue”. What I meant is that we should always be looking to take a step with people, rather than holding back. This really is a big issue if we want to impact the lives of people around us fore the gospel.

We are continually tempted to hold back and avoid taking even simple steps with people. We hold back due to busyness, intimidation, relational strains, fear, awkwardness, lack of paying attention and a host of other reasons.

A few weeks ago I saw a woman who had stopped coming to our church. When she saw me, she pretending that she didn’t. I was faced with the choice of either going up and saying hello and letting her know she was missed – or I could take the more comfortable step of going along with pretending we never saw one another. To my shame I held back instead of taking a simple step. I failed to pursue.

Taking a step does not guarantee results, but it does put us in a position to make it possible; and it does please God, when we take a step and pursue people because we love him and his gospel.

When we are attentive to it, there are many little steps we can take to be used by God in someones life:

Be a friendly and helpful person

Make eye contact and say hello – don’t wait to see if they will greet you

Ask about people’s lives

Listen to people instead of just waiting to speak next – people like those who listen to them

Pray for people you see regularly

People complain regularly, tell them you will pray about their situation and follow up next time you see them

Put aside the pressure of trying to solving people’s problems, just seek to be supportive

Instead of waving to neighbors, walk over and say hello

If a relationship is strained, bring it up and tell them you want the relationship to be whole

Stop being offended – just stop it!  This keeps us from being used

Exchange your expectations for people, with God’s expectations for you

Look for a small kindness you can show someone

Go out of your way for someone

Practice the attitude of putting people first in your driving

Think who you are thankful for and tell them

Call someone who was a help to you years ago, who never heard you are thankful

When sending emails, add a comment of encouragement

Pay attention to what is happening in people’s lives through Facebook and ask for updates later. It shows you were thinking about them

Ask God to guide you in ideas that work for you and your situation. God is eager to use you

Tim Lane from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) shares a story about recently finding out how God used a little step he took years ago to pursue someone. Here is the article is entitled “Meaningful acts of easily forgotten kindness”.

Oh, and the woman who pretended she didn’t see me, I sent her a note letting her know she is missed.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.19.11

“Impossible and Glorious”  Luke 1:26-38

Luke 1:37 tells us God does the “impossible”

We should never be intimidated by the world’s opinion about God’s miracles:

People are inconsistent in their opinions: God is not big enough for the Christmas story, but they want Heaven to be true

Their opinion will eventually be changed: When God’s word is vindicated; those who lived by it will be vindicated

Christians do not struggle to believe God does the impossible

We easily believe Jesus is God in flesh, he was born of a virgin, and he was raised from dead

This supernatural faith is evidence that God truly did come into our life

If we believe nothing is impossible for God, we should live by it

We all disconnect God’s possibilities from our situations

Why do we let fear grip us, as if all things were not possible for God?

Why do we compromise in relationships or in finances, as if God cannot meet our need?

Why do we remain in the muck of sin, as if God has not delivered us?  (Romans 6:5-14)

Why do we let doubts keep us from taking next step for Christ, as if he cannot enable us?

Proclaim the full Christmas story to yourself vs 32-33

Lay out all the impossibilities accomplished through the Christmas story (which is completed when we are glorified in heaven)

Ask yourself: is this God intimidated by your situations? Then why are we?

Tell yourself: the Holy Spirit, who made the virgin birth possible v34, dwells in you. He is all we need!

We don’t have to understand HOW to trust WHO v38

Mary did not understand how she would have a child, but she trusted who said it

Make God the main character in all your struggles: when we are the main character, we have reason to fear, since we cannot control our situations or over come all our difficulties. But when God is our focus, we can have peace!

Always start with God: praise him – look to his word – obey him

Yet, God who can do all things does not always do the things we want

Why don’t we see God work impossibilities in our situation? We are not looking in the right places.

God makes himself the main character in all he does. Everything he does is for his eternal glory. If we trust in his gospel, we will enjoy that eternal glory

The Christmas story reminds us to view glory from God’s perspective

This was a glorious event; but not from a human perspective

Think through the virgin birth from the experience of Mary and Joseph. No one believed them, they were scorned and accused – did that seem glorious to them?

Consider Jesus experience. The Son of Glory entered a life of suffering and humility. Jesus had to wrestle with this truth before his death. Although the cross was filled with glory, it did not feel glorious to Jesus as he faced it (Mark 14:36)

So what makes anything God does glorious?  The result

How do you measure the glory of what God is doing?

Don’t be fooled by what the world thinks is glorious. The world’s sense of glory rests on temporary things

Let us open eyes wide to see what truly is glorious

Anything is glorious if it helps us to depend more upon Christ

Anything is glorious if it brings joy to the heart of God

Anything is glorious if God uses it to reach others with his gospel

The responses of Mary and Joseph are part what makes the Christmas story glorious. They accepted what God gave them, because they trusted him

Expect God to do the impossible (what we cannot accomplish) in truly glorious ways (what will eternally glorify Him)

THE SCHOOL OF APOLOGY

James MacDonald presents a description of what is an acceptable apology and what is not in this two and a half minute video clip. It will probably challenge you to listen, but be willing to consider what you may want to brush off as too extreme of an opinion.

 

A GAME PLAN FOR WORRY

This is probably one of those blogs that does not relate to you, but one of your “friends” could sure benefit from reading it. Today we look at our response to worry and anxiety. Actually I am going to do something far better than write about it myself. I am going to connect you to some excellent and practical thoughts from the always thoughtful, David Powlison.

This particular article was posted on the Christian Coalition Blog a few weeks ago. My wise and wonderful wife Debbie, found it for me – not that I would ever need it, but I might have a “friend” who would find it helpful to read. So for all of you who have “friend”s that worry and get anxious, please read . . um, I mean, have them read this article entitled “A Game Plan When For You Start to Worry”.