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be rich 2018

As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Briefly tell us the STORY.

Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

We gave it to _________________. __________ has been working hard in their recovery from depression and has been low on income for the past year or so. 

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be rich 2018

As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Briefly tell us the STORY.

Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

My classmate,  ___________. She’s a single mom and working so hard. I think she works every job she can find plus going to school. She commutes to our school (in Richardson from Ft. Worth). Sometimes she comes to class with no sleep. We love her and wanted to bless her and her daughter _____________.

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The book of Acts is the historical account of a revolutionary movement, not a violent physical overthrow of governments but the transformation of human hearts. Jesus spoke of this transformation. In fact, what was in the heart of God from the beginning was fulfilled through Jesus. God has always wanted to have a close relationship with us, but God is Holy and we are not. God sent Jesus, His Son, who became a man, God wrapped in human flesh. Because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection we may know what God is like and be transformed, made right with God. This is the gospel of Jesus and the book of Acts is continuation of the book of Luke. It is the story that changed everything!

Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He told them that the Holy Spirit would live in each believer and empower them to fulfill God’s will. In fact, the gospel is the only power that can change and transform human hearts. 

The gospel was so revolutionary that it was said of the disciples that they turned the world upside down. Jesus’ disciples were ordinary men who were transformed by the gospel and empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to share with all who would listen. They could not keep this good news to themselves. Their message spread like wildfire as individuals gave their lives to Jesus and acknowledged Him as their Savior and Lord. Miracles often accompanied their preaching and lives were changed. When persecution of the church broke out, it fulfilled Jesus’ mission to reach all the world. As believers were scattered, they shared the gospel wherever they went. 

Part of Jesus’ revolutionary plan was to build a spiritual kingdom of believers united to fulfill His will on earth. God wanted to create a diverse community where people are equal and where their unity and faith transcends all divisions of race, color or nationality. The Church of Jesus is not a building made by human hands but individuals who worship together and are united for His purpose – to share the good news, teach, help, and encourage each other. It is His plan to reconcile to Himself all who will believe on Jesus and receive His gift of salvation. This is the role of the Church and importance of the local Church is center stage in the book of Acts. He loves the Church and calls it His bride. 

God is still in the business of changing hearts and lives. Today, the gospel is still God’s good news to all mankind. Jesus is alive and His message is still the same. His Holy Spirit continues to empower men and women to spread His story and to build His Church, even today. This is the story that changed everything, including me. Who is Jesus to you?

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be rich 2018

As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Briefly tell us the STORY.

Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

“I gave the money to a family that has a hard year. Dad had a heart attack, mom has cancer and is in treatment. She is still working but struggling.”

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be rich 2018

As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Tell the story.

Over the next few weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

“I have a young friend who lost his brother just a few years ago. This same friend has now suddenly lost his Dad and has dealt with a lot of other life difficulties.  When I heard what we were doing, I knew I wanted to give it to him. I did!”

 

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3AF78E1900000578-0-image-a-11_1480704960331While the small town slept He entered into our world. Angels proclaimed the good news to shepherds and told them where to find the newborn King. Only the shepherds were looking for a King born in a stable, lying in a manger, a feed trough for animals in a little, obscure village called Bethlehem.  Yet, His birth was predicted over 600 years before, and scriptures even pinpoint the exact town and region in Micah 5:2. He existed before the world began, and created all things but He chose to come as a helpless infant.  Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus willingly humbled himself and came as a human being. Even those who knew that a King was to be born in Bethlehem were unaware of His birth. How did they miss it? 

They didn’t expect a king to be born in a stable. The religious leaders were looking for an earthly king, one who would free them from the tyrannical rule of Rome. Maybe they expected a grand entrance, with all the regalia of an earthly king and with a great show of strength. But Jesus came humbly, as a Servant King to set us free from our slavery to sin and to overcome death as foretold in Isaiah 53. Few took notice that God had come to live among men, although even His name means “God with us”. The scriptures tell us the story as recorded in Matthew 1:20-22

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him (Joseph) in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[a] because he will save his people from their sins.”22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us.” 

 Do we recognize Jesus for who He is and why He came? What are you looking for this Christmas? Are you looking for a Savior? We may only see the baby in a manger and may miss the truth that the cross is at the heart of the Christmas story. God chose a stable which seems a very unlikely place for the birth of His Son, unless we recognize Him as the one whom John the Baptist proclaimed, that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29, Isaiah 53:7 

God reached out to us through time and eternity by sending His Son to give us eternal life through Jesus, His Son.  Jesus Christ will come again and when He comes everyone will see Him as the King of Kings in all His glory and He will reign for all eternity. Still He came first to us as an infant in Bethlehem to save us from our sins. God gave His best gift – His Son to be with us. He’s here among us in our hearts and lives through the presence of His Holy Spirit if we trust and accept God’s greatest gift, His Son as our Savior. Will you accept God’s greatest gift? He is Here with us.  

Please take a few minutes to listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EosUH0orVUg

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maxresdefaultThe best Christmas cartoon special ever was too controversial for TV in 1965! Network TV executives and sponsors asked for a Christmas cartoon special from Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, but when they read the script, TV executives and sponsors thought that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” TV special would be too controversial. They wanted Schulz to remove the scene of Linus reciting the gospel of Luke 2:8-14. They thought TV audiences would find it too religious. And this was 53 years ago! They thought it would flop. Boy, were they wrong. In fact, Schulz won two awards for the special.  Charles Schulz wouldn’t compromise and thus we have the classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, the first of the “Charlie Brown” specials. 

The sweet simplicity of the story of Charlie Brown’s search for the meaning and joy of Christmas continues to capture our hearts today, though our increasingly secular society may still find the subject controversial. In the story, Charlie Brown thinks something must surely be wrong with him, he’s in a foul mood and decides he just doesn’t understand Christmas. You may relate to Charlie Brown’s Christmas woes as he bemoans the commercialism and the absence of joy that he believes should accompany the season. Like Charlie Brown, we often try to make Christmas “picture perfect” and still we’re left with the feeling that somehow, we’ve missed Christmas.

Charlie Brown’s quest for the meaning of Christmas leads him to finally, in frustration ask, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” And Linus, yes, the thumb sucking, blanket dragging Linus delivers his great theological epiphany, “Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” Then Linus recites the gospel of Luke 2:8-14, the story of Jesus’ birth-

 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Linus then sums it all up, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” There is the answer!  All the activity and things won’t fill up the emptiness or bring us true Christmas joy. Only Jesus fills up the God shaped void in our hearts. Linus reminds us, of the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus coming to earth to be the Savior of the world because of God’s love. And that maybe, just maybe, I can be the Linus that tells another Charlie Brown what Christmas is truly all about. There may be those around us searching for the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe you can be like Linus and share the true meaning of Christmas, too! 

Read the book of Luke, a little more than a chapter a day, and you’ll finish just in time for Christmas! 

John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave us His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

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