I’m sitting in Starbucks looking out the window. This is a typical Friday for me. Today, I’m trying to write a sermon for an event I’ve been asked to speak at in West Virginia in a couple weeks but I’m having trouble focusing. I often find a place to work away from my office where I can sip some coffee. And today, in less than an hour, I’ve seen no less than four cars drive by with “Jesus For All People” window decals. One person wearing a “Jesus For All People” t-shirt came in to order a non-fat latte. I was talking to two people I know who are part of the community of First Christian Church, where our vision, motto, and heartbeat is “Jesus For All People”, and as we were talking, two more people who attend FCC that I’ve never met stopped to tell us how glad they are that God brought them to FCC.
I’m sitting at the same table in Starbucks where I sat two-and-a-half years ago in an interview for a job that everything within me (and a few close friends) told me I shouldn’t take. It meant taking a pay cut to move to a city I didn’t know, to become the leader of a struggling ministry within a church that many on the inside and outside thought was dying, in a city that has been struggling economically for well over a decade.
Christmas is complicated. It’s busy. And especially if you’ve had an unexpected experience this past year that brought pain in your life, it can be really difficult to understand how it’s even possible to experience joy this time of year.
This past Sunday, we kicked off our Christmas teaching series at First Christian Church. We dug into Luke chapter 2 and the idea that Jesus came to be a source of real, lasting joy in our lives. If you’re struggling with finding joy this Christmas, I hope this encourages you.
And whether you are someone that believes in Jesus or not, I hope you hear that the true message of Christmas is simple: Good news. Great joy. Peace. All people.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
It’s about a God who is so interested IN you that He came TO you to SAVE you and bring peace and joy to your life not because of who you are, but because of who HE is.
What do Indian food and Syrian refugees have in common? I’ll tell you.
I (mostly) love Indian food. There’s this buffet in Canton that I go to once in a while, and it’s the perfect way to eat Indian food. I can take as much chicken curry as I want, and walk right by the weird vegan……thing……they have at the far end of the line. I can get extra naan bread and just a little bit a few other things I like to eat with it, but only a bite or two before I’ve had enough. I can take what I want and leave what I don’t.
Buffets are great (* – Golden Corral is the exception to this rule) for eating. But conceptually, it doesn’t work in other areas of life. You can’t do that whole buffet thing at work, only doing what you like and not doing what you don’t. You’d get fired in no time.
You can’t do that in your family. Lots of people try, and it always ends in broken homes.
And you can’t treat following Jesus like a buffet.
Last Sunday at First Christian Church, I spoke about temptation and how Satan works to bring destruction in our lives. The message was based on Matthew 3:16-4:11. Here’s the video, as well as a few highlights and key thoughts from the message:
I’ll bet that if you and I were to sit down over coffee and I asked you if anything is worrying you or stressing you out, you’d be able to rattle off a handful of things without even thinking about it. I could too. There are a few things I’ve lost more than a little sleep over.
Maybe you can relate to this: sometimes there are extended periods of life where it feels like that’s my reality. It’s more than just a season or a phase…stress just becomes part of the routine. You’ve most likely experienced the same feeling.
We explain it away, try to ignore it or brush it under the rug, or do what we can to endure it. But worry is toxic. It’s a slow-moving poison that is deadly. And because it tends to creep in a little at a time, we usually don’t do anything about it until it’s too late.