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Learn Live Lead

The Authenticity of Disciple Making

Month: December 2013

Merry Christmas to All…

Merry Christmas to All…

All. A word we hear and understand, but seldom do we think of the depth of this simple three letter word. Jesus died for ALL the world, and we are to teach the world ALL things concerning the gospel, with the promise that he will be with us ALL-ways.  There are those in our world that have never heard the truth of the gospel. There are those who might not get that chance…but there is hope!

Hope is found in the form of a child giving her Lottie Moon Christmas Offering during Sunday School. Hope is found in the form of a family doing with less so they can give more. Hope is found in the form of one on the fixed income giving sacrificially. Hope is found in missionaries being sent out to unreached areas of our globe. Hope is found in the willing couple ready to move their young family to another country to bring the light of the gospel. Hope is the Gospel of Jesus Christ…The real reason for the season!

Let us continue on with the legacy of many Southern Baptist and give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Every dime of this offering goes directly to fund the mission work that brings hope to the hopeless. This money has become the vital funding needed to keep our servants on the field. While giving through the Cooperative program helps to fund many of our SBC causes, this special Christmas offering is designated specifically for the missionary work going on around the world.

My prayer is that we ALL have a merry Christmas, not because of the cool widget we got from the Uncle Louie, but because we shared in the spreading of HOPE. My prayer is that we consider the “ALL” in this world that live each day without the HOPE of the gospel. Merry Christmas to all!

 

The Joy of Giving

The Joy of Giving

As the season of Christmas begins to take shape all around us, something familiar comes to mind. There is a special feeling that some people call “the spirit of Christmas.” When people begin to look out for the needs of others and put those in need at the front of the line, we see a glimpse of what it means to be a servant of Christ. As we go through this season that we treasure, we begin to have hope for humanity after all.

Hope. What a special word. Hope could be defined as faith with expectation, and in regards to following Christ, there is much to anticipate. We have hope for a brighter future, and hope for a better tomorrow, but real hope is in Christ coming again and taking us home. During Christmas we are reminded of the first coming of our savior, but we hope for His soon return. We are reminded of the gift of Christmas, but we hope for the gift of heaven. We celebrate the gifts that have already been given, but realize that the true joy is to give.

The Christmas season is special because we learn to be givers. (It’s a great reminder to receive a few as well, but the joy comes in the giving.) We reflect on the gift of the savior with each unwrapped present, but must be reminded of the great need to continue giving and being a blessing to the world. Let the Christmas season also remind us of the responsibility to give so that others may know this gift that is Christ.

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is a special opportunity for our church to get intimately and personally involved in world mission work. Not everyone is called to live in the Pare Mountains of Tanzania, but we can all cooperate together to help that family that is called to such a ministry. Let us be generous givers as we remember the joy of giving.  Let the gifts of Christmas remind us of the gift of Christ being taken around the world by missionaries. As we celebrate Christmas with our families and loved ones, let us pray for those who are hearing of the true gift. As we make plans to spend money on our loved ones to honor them with presents, let us also plan to give a worthy offering to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Every dime we give to the LMCO will go directly to the missionaries projects and the spread of the gospel.

 

Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm 2013

I LOVE winter weather! I really like winter weather in Texas, you know, where people run home and board up the front door while preparing to hide in the closet at the first snow flake to fall. I love going to Wal Mart or Albertsons to watch the hysteria ensue over milk and bread. The most recent ice storm hit North Texas about 9 days ago…and I think the bread shelves are still empty…really…no bread in Texoma. The milk shelves were replenished a couple days ago, but they had also been completely void of delicious dairy products. I did see some organic vanilla almond milk at Albertsons, but in North Texas the demand for organic vanilla almond milk is pretty low, even when it’s the only milk-like substance on the shelf.

Grayson County has declared a state of emergency. I understand that means more than “the sky is falling,” but I must say it should not have caught us by surprise. The weather teams on every news outlet were warning us for a week. Even the Farmer’s Almanac warned of cold and wet precipitation. There should have been an orderly preparation process for all of us as we moved toward pending doom. But, there was no order.

People went into panic mode and began to not think properly. I went to buy fuel and people were hanging out the windows of cars and moaning/screaming “The End is near!” Ok, that last one was a bit of an exaggeration…but not much.

Playing in the ice/sleet mix was fun, but 9 days later we still have ground cover. No more panic. Just ready for normal.

Don’t get caught unprepared spiritually. Whatever scenario that may send you into a panic, begin preparing now. You prepare for the unknown by learning to trust Christ on the easy days, and then it’s not so difficult on the days of surprise. We know that there are things that are going to be difficult in our future, but we must trust Christ through those days just as we are trusting him for the simplest of things on the easy days. Grow in your understanding of God and in faith in Him. Move from milk to meat, and grow up into salvation. Grow and be prepared!

1 Peter 2:1-5

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Chainsaw

Chainsaw

I had the opportunity to harvest several cord of oak firewood from a house just up the road from my house. That meant I had the opportunity to run my beloved Stihl 290 multiple times. Many life lessons can be learned while running a chainsaw.

That sick of wood will heat you up three times.

                You will warm up during the cutting of the wood. You will warm up during the splitting and stacking of the wood. And, you will warm up when its being burned.

Sharpen your chain early and often.

                Just do it. Stop what you are doing and sharpen the chain. When the chips flying out of your saw look like dust, its past time to cut. It will save you time to stop and sharpen.

Safety glasses only work when they are on your eyes

                I had my glasses on my head, but not on my eyes. They were perched on the bill of my cap when a piece of sawdust flew into my eye. It happens, and I knew better.

Timing is everything:

                I guess I have learned this in a lot of places and different ways, but timing matters. At the end of cutting and before putting your saw up for the rest of the season, you should drain the fuel tank and run the engine completely dry. The plan is to run out of fuel after you finish cutting, but that is not the way it always happens. Yesterday the blessing of God was obvious. I usually run out, or break down just before I finish up. These untimely break downs cost time usually, but not yesterday. Yesterday I was cutting the very last branch. It was about 14 inches across and hard as a rock. As I held on to the Stihl 290 and guided the cut, the two pieces release from one another, my saw quit. I had run out of fuel…completely out of fuel…just after the last piece of firewood was cut. Perfect timing is not based upon planning all the time.

                I hope I run this race in such a way that I use everything up and run out at just the last moment. I don’t want to run out early and be cranky and unfit for kingdom work, and I don’t want to reserve all my energy for a time that I’ll never get to use it.

1 Corinthians 9

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Let your light shine before men

Let your light shine before men.

                  In a time of uncertainty and strife, John Lennon writes a song called “Happy Christmas.” He writes: “So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.” There is a somber tone to a song with a happy title, but reality demands the truth. If all we see is that we have spun the odometer one more time, and accomplished another year, then we are missing the joy of the season. Lennon was attempting to write a song celebrating peace, but we are certain that the only source for peace is in Christ alone. The Prince of Peace came to earth, God in flesh dwelling among us. That is a miraculous, life giving truth that gives us the HAPPY season of Christmas, but for all the right reasons.

The Christmas season brings a joy and spirit that causes grown men to become like children, mom’s and dad’s to sacrifice in order to give, and children to wonder in amazement. There is a special feeling in the air throughout the community and people begin to think of others. It is a special time! The cynic in me might explain these acts of kindness as individuals reverting back to the “naughty/nice” conditioning they learned as a child, but realistically there is something else to it.

When we love others, it becomes more natural and easier to love more. When we serve the Lord, it becomes natural to find things to do to serve and do things for the kingdom. When we become accustomed to things that we were created to do in the first place, we find ourselves happy, joyous, and fulfilled. I think that is what is happening at Christmas. We are called by Holy God to serve our community, and to give gifts to our family and community. It is who God intends for us to be. The generosity may not always look like a wrapped package, but it is a gift nonetheless. We do what we are created to do…and it makes us happy. Go figure.

Jesus said, “Let you light shine before all men, that they may see your good works and praise your father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) This Christmas and every day beyond, do what you have been called to do. Let your light shine, and let the Lord use you for His glory. Be a gift to this world, and get the gift of fulfillment and joy. God is AMAZING in the way he brings peace and blessing.  Let the light he has given you SHINE forth and bring blessing to the world.

 

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