Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praises 12

Psalm 118:24

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

christmas-12During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, because most people demonstrate a spirit of happiness and giving. 

This Christmas season, however, is very different than years past. Throughout the year I have experienced several losses of loved ones, financial hardship, ministry challenges, employment reductions, and seen a large spike in violent crimes in our community. With all the telltale signs of the end times, most would agree that we may be in them or steadily approaching them. That does not stop us from serving Christ in the capacity he wants us to. We often use our struggles and hardships to learn things and Christ uses them to help others in need.

The true meaning of Christmas is often lost though. The worldly version we are familiar with equals giving presents, having large meals, spending time with family and demonstrating a cheerful attitude.  The Christ portion of it is downplayed in the spirit of the holiday. Whether we use the prophetic name Emmanuel or the word in flesh name Jesus—the holiday is about his birth.

Every year, I feel honored to participate in Warm Nights—shelter for the homeless, Angel Tree—gifts for children with incarcerated parents, Food drive—stocking the LARS food pantry, and many other mission related events. Not only do I get great joy out of helping others,  but I see it as my spiritual gift—Faith and Deeds. 

Church is not a building or location—it is each individual who makes up a community of believers who gather together to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. Good, bad, or indifferent that is what we do as a collective spiritual body.

As my favorite author wrote: 

IN OUR WALK, WE WILL SEE THE MOST HONORABLE OF INTENTIONS, BOTH THE MOST NOBLE AND VILE OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR, AS WELL AS DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE.  I INVITE YOU TO BE INSPIRED BY THAT WHICH IS HONORABLE, CHALLENGED BY INDIFFERENCE, AND SEPARATED FROM DEPRAVITY.”   F. M. BELL

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Said – Come To Me

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

RayMcDOk – Christmas is coming – ready or not. I mentioned yesterday in the sermon – I already opened my Christmas present from my wife. I love it and we are enjoying it already. She hasn’t opened her gift from me yet. We’ll probably have to install if while she is away after Christmas visiting our daughter.

Have you gotten your shopping done yet? It is easier if you don’t put so much pressure on yourself to buy too much. Remember – Christmas is not about how many gifts you get or give – but about Jesus. It is His birthday celebration – not ours. I urge people every year to not go into debt for Christmas – but to keep it simple and within your means.

Even with Christmas just around the corner – we are First Church have had a rough month or so. We had a number of deaths and a number of accidents (a number of hand injuries and falls). One of our oldest members is it he hospital fighting for his life. Another older member had a fall at home and is home healing. Our Administrative Board chair was among the deaths we have experienced. It has been a difficult time. Continue reading

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: