Dark Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday…deals, deals and more deals. If it was important enough, you left the Thanksgiving leftovers and the football game, got up at four in the morning or surfed the Internet for hours upon hours trying to find the perfect deal. What it teaches us is that we make time for what is important to us. If the price is right and the value of the gift is equal we made the sacrifice to fight the traffic, wait in lines and deal with difficult people that all comes along with the deal. If you didn’t get out for the deals, well something else was more important; Thanksgiving, football, sleep, family or friends just to name a few that might have been a priority over the deal.
Not much has changed in 2000 years. Jesus came to this earth yet so many of those we thought would have made it to His birth missed it. Why? Because something else was too important; the innkeeper missed because his Inn had never seen so much traffic, the merchant missed it because there was too much money to be made and the religious missed it because He didn’t come the way they thought He would. Who could have imagined that God would come robed in flesh in a manger in the sleepy town of Bethlehem, it was unthinkable.It’s also unthinkable that anyone could miss Him; His presence is so overwhelming, His miracles too grand but yet during His 33 short years here on earth many people missed Him. Caught up in the busyness of life, reaching for social importance or climbing the ladder of success, they missed “God with us.” Today, though He is not with us physically, we still miss Him, especially at Christmas. The office parties, the hustle to get Christmas gifts and even in all the events that we do to celebrate Him many times cause us to miss His simple presence.
Who caught Him in the moment; those who were in tune with His presence, those who understood and appreciated His value and those who truly longed for Him. It was shepherds, wise men and hurting souls longing for hope. As we go about all the “events” of Christmas make sure we don’t miss the gift to us, the present of His presence. Truly it is the only gift that keeps on giving. Merry Christmas from the Hudson’s – Jon, Mary, Gentry and Risa
Do you have big dreams? Does it seem as though your dreams have been overrun by chaos? Are your fears overwhelming your faith? Keep the faith; you’re likely exactly where God wants you to be. Life is full of seasons; seasons of intense heat, dormancy, dying out and times of amazing growth, whatever your in the middle of, its just a season and it will pass. David went from an amazing high of being anointed future king to a difficult time where even his own family despised him. He went from a ticker tape parade after defeating the Goliath to finding himself hiding in caves within just a few months and he went from where there seemed to be an adversary at every turn to a time of total peace from every enemy.
Seasons, we all face them, but as we walk through each one we must understand that God is “working all things together for our good, according to His purpose.” There are two important things to see in the verse Paul wrote in Romans 8. First, God works all things together for good. If you were to taste the individual ingredients it takes to make a cake there would be many ingredients that we would say, “yuck, that taste horrible,” but when they are mixed together “the yuck” becomes yum. So it is with life, while individual moments may seem like a “yuck,” when God gets done putting them all together it will come out as a “yum.” Second, notice that Paul said that is the good was according to His purpose. The good is not always what we would ask God to do, but trust Him, His purposes are better than our dream.
When God finishes you will be amazed. David had a desire to build God a permanent home, stone, expensive wood, gold, sliver and brass; a place for the whole world to look to. To David and even Nathan the prophet, it looked like an amazing dream, in fact Nathan in essence said, “David, what a great dream, go for it.” But then God stepped in and said, nice dream David, I have a bigger vision for you than your dream. You’re not going to build me a house; I’m going to build a legacy through you. Your dream of wanting to build me a temple that is temporal is kind and thoughtful but I have a bigger idea. I’m going to use your linage to come into this world and change the course of history; your name will be remembered forever.
What’s my point? Simple, dream big dreams, work hard, serve God but expect more. We think too small, we think way too little of our God and ourselves. Dream big, but expect more!
September is Month of the Family at Life. We kick things up a notch and fill the month with lots of activities and special services. This year’s Month of the Family kicks off with three days of prayer and fasting followed by special services for both our men and women. We close out the month with a fresh commitment to God with Communion. There are lots of activities too! Our ladies have a trip to Brown County, the men a Monday Night Football Night, our Youth have a Paint War and Kids Connection has both a crazy hat day and creative cupcake day. There is so much going on that we actually close out the Month of the Family in October! It all ends with our famous Chili Cook-Off where families throughout the church bring their best chili…or hottest chili and its judged by our newest members. Lots of fun games for the kids, our annual volleyball tournament and, of course corn-hole and a hayride! I hope you’ll make plans to be a part of all the activities and get connected to your church family.
Family is important to God, in fact if you look in Genesis one of the first things he does after creating this earth was to set up a family; a man and woman, Adam and Eve who becomes the central theme. When Jesus came to save mankind He compared his relationship with His church to a bride and groom. Society is trying to redefine the meaning of family these days but regardless of what laws they pass or what opinion men may have God has established a family as a man, a woman and children if God chooses to bless and they chose to have kids. What makes for a successful family? Pretty simple in my eyes; keep the basics a priority. Make the Word of God the foundation of your home. Let it be your instruction manual, your road map and the final decision maker in all you do. Prayer must be an essential. Spend time as a family praying together; share your needs and success with one another and God. Finally, go to church regularly and spend time together. Make “together” one of your highest priorities. Protect your church and family time. Play games, ride bikes, take walks; be creative, but whatever you do make memories. Make this year the best Month of the family your family has ever had!
Last year I planted my first garden. Went to Lowe’s and got my plants; tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and strawberries. For a first timer I must brag that it turned out pretty well; strawberries didn’t make it but we had plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. This year we are at it again, we skipped the strawberries but added peppers, so far so good, though we’re still waiting on tomatoes. I was thinking about how I got exactly what I planted. I didn’t plant cucumbers and get watermelons or plant tomatoes and got potatoes No, what I planted is what is growing and it’s also what we’re enjoying. Though I wouldn’t call myself a master gardener I do have this much figured out; we’re going to plant what we like to eat. No need in planting asparagus or broccoli, Mary would eat it but the rest would either be given away or go to rot. So we make sure we plant things that we’ll eat and what we will enjoy.
The principle that works in our garden works in life. It’s one of God’s Biblical laws, what we sow we reap. If we pray, we get hope, answered prayer and faith. If we read God’s Word, we get vision, direction and understanding. Be faithful in giving and attending God’s house and you will likely see God’s goodness, blessings and favor in your life. Simple principle. But be reminded that if we plant worldliness and carnality in our home and family, we will likely reap that harvest in the future as well. Some people can’t figure out why they keep having problems in their lives and homes. For me it’s simple, it’s that they are planting one thing and a hoping to reap something else. Not once have I planted squash and expected tomatoes, but for some reason we think we can put anything before our eyes, listen to any media or come to church one time a week and think we’re not going to see any effects of what we’re planting. Paul says in Galatians 6:8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Make sure that each day you are investing in the right things in your life; plant so that you are blessed. One other thing that I should mention, when I plant one tomato plant I get dozens of tomatoes. What’s the principle? Simple, you’re always going to get more than what you plant. So plant wisely. Pray, give, worship and be faithful and God will send it back to you pressed down, shaken and running over! I challenge you to be with us each Wednesday this month as we learn how God’s principle of blessing works as we watch together the DVD series, “The Blessed Life.” Come, be challenged, be blessed and watch your life change in ways beyond your belief.
We live in a time when much of society is looking for something that is genuine and authentic. They have seen so much fraud in so many areas that they have become skeptical of almost everything. They have seen government officials lie, big business’ swindle and church leadership fail morally. No wonder they question everything and long to see something that is truly as it says it is. George Barna recently stated that more important than great music and dynamic oratory in churches, many are looking for a church that is real in living its faith. So what is required to be authentic? I believe what it will take to draw people to Life is when our daily life matches the faith we profess on Sunday. So how do we get there? As God said in Deuteronomy 6, we must love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. I believe we must become people who desire to live filled with the Holy Spirit, are willing to be led by the Spirit and attempt to walk in the Spirit daily. That means we will have a desire to read the word of God so that we know what pleases Him, that we will submit our lives to the Word and that we will spend time with Him in prayer daily, seeking His direction for our day. Loving the Lord and living in relationship with Him will cause there to be an aura about us, one that reflects His glory. Also, by living with a consistent prayer life we will have an aroma about us; one that only comes by spending time in humble submission and seeking His will for our lives. When this happens no longer will people see a religious person, but a Christian as was described in the book of Acts. When authentic Christianity, empowered by the Holy Spirit takes place in our life and world, there will be an impact that can only be described by looking at the disciples in the books of Acts. Their authenticity caused a skeptical and callused world to say, “these are they who have turned the world upside down! Lets be authentic.
It was just a sign, but a warning that caught my eye. Within seconds of seeing the sign the road changed and you could feel the difference. Wouldn’t it be nice if life had a rough road sign ahead? A sign that lets you know that sickness was about to hit, a financial challenge is getting ready to come your way or a relationship is about to be strained. Unfortunately there are no such signs but we can take comfort in that God knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11). No matter what come are way, God is never caught off guard and since He is aware we can rest that He is with us. Want proof? Jesus told His disciples, lets go to the other shore, on the way a powerful storm arose. The disciples were overwhelmed, afraid and fearful for their lives. Where was Jesus? Sleeping. What was He trying to teach His disciples and us? Trust Me; no matter how it feels or what it looks like, I am in control. Facing a rough road? Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
I was privileged to watch Team LC run the 500 Mini Marathon Saturday. As we were watching my mind went to verse where Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It was then that it occurred to me, everyone in the race has one goal; the finish line. It didn’t matter how they ran, some were slow, and some walked, some ran bare-footed, some were in wheel chairs and I even saw a person who was blind in the race. The outfits were colorful as a rainbow, there were costumes, army fatigues, one ran in a firemen’s suit and I even saw several in tutu’s, but all ran with one purpose…to finish.
May I encourage all of us to do the same, lets run the Christian walk with one goal, to finish! It doesn’t matter how you get there, just keep running! Some will run with great discipline, some will be fast and swift, others will stumble and fall, some may look like they don’t belong, but lets encourage one another to do one thing, finish! The disciple’s personalities were as colorful as the outfits we saw in the race, but each one had one goal, to complete the course, to finish the race and stand victorious with Jesus. Today make up your mind, I will fight the fight, keep the faith and finish the race!
Perspective is so important. It’s how we see things and more importantly, how we see God, His Word and His love for us. Many things influence perspective; upbringing, attitude and education just to mention a few. Why are there four gospels in the New Testament? Perspective. Each author witnessed the same event, the life of Jesus and the cross, yet each book is written so differently. Luke, as a physician, writes from a perspective of compassion and spends much time talking about how Jesus helped women and children. Mark, writing on behalf of Simon Peter, wrote about the actions of Jesus. Matthew wrote with a love for his heritage, his perspective was all about showing that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament. John’s perspective was making sure that everyone knows that Jesus is God in flesh. How we see God, His Word and how we worship is often dependent on our perspective. That’s why sometimes God has to change our view of Him and ourselves. Sometimes He has to change our perspective and let us see how great His grace and mercy is while other times He must humble us so that we see our need and dependency on Him.
Job is a perfect example of God changing a man’s perspective. Job had a perspective of himself and his relationship with God that was a little messed up. Job thought that he was blessed because of his works and righteousness. Job sacrificed daily for himself and his family. Job’s perspective was that he was saved because of his works. God, in His great love for Job, allowed a great test to come to his life and by the end of the trial Job’s perspective of himself and God had totally changed, causing Job to say, “once I have spoken and I will not answer. Even twice, and I will add nothing more.” What a change in perspective, in just a short time Job came to realize how insignificant he was and how great God was.
Nicodemus came to Jesus asking about the changes He was about to bring to the world. Talk about changing man’s perspective. Jesus basically told Nicodemus, I’m moving from one man behind a veil to all access for everyone, I’m moving from being confined to a building to filling any man who seeks after me. The great fight Jesus fought was getting religious people to change their perspective That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus, The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. It takes a man who is hungry and who is willing to allow God to change his perspective to see the great things God can do. My prayer for LC is simple, keep us hungry and help us to always allow God to change our perspective.
Do you glow? Do you radiate? Do you reflect? No, I’m not concerned that you may have spent time in a nuclear reactor. What I mean, does your life have an aura that creates an atmosphere that makes other sense God is near? In life I have had those rare encounters with people that glowed with God’s presence. After Moses came down from an encounter with God he had to wear a veil, the glow of God was so bright upon his face. Stephen’s glow was so impactive on a young man by the name of Saul, that it changed his name and changed His life. That day who would have imagined that the glow of Stephen would impact the world in such a powerful way. The Pharisee’s and the Sanhedrin who had crucified Christ and were trying to rid themselves of what they considered a scourge of Israel, the disciples, had no choice but to take notice of changed disciples after their Spirit infilling and say, “they have been with Jesus.” A dynamic encounter with the almighty changes us, not only on the inside, but how we are viewed. No longer are we a reflection of ourselves, but we are a reflection of His glory. Step outside on a clear night and you will see a powerful example of the power of reflection. The moon, a simple rock with no energy to create light in itself, positioned in the right place, reflects the sun we see in the day. What is my point? If we can get ourselves in the right place with God there is no telling how our life can reflect in this world. My goal for each one of us this year is that we might position our lives in such a way that we glow, that we radiate; that we reflect Jesus. How do we get there? It all starts with prayer. Make it a priority every day; stop by the church, spend five minutes as you crawl out of bed and be at Saturday at Seven prayer. What else? Humble yourself before God; read His Word and submit yourself to His wishes and desires. Get in the right position to reflect God’s glory in 2014.