Pastor Larry's Blog
a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.
Christmas memories, how are yours? I think about many of our Christmas memories with such fondness and grateful for the family God has given me. Ingrid blessed our family with many of the traditions that she grew up with—the celebration of Advent (calendars, songs, stories, candles and the like), reading the Christmas story from Luke 2, having a birthday cake for Jesus and more.
I didn’t grow up in a traditional Christian family so all we basically did for Christmas was open presents and go to church. Needless to say, I absolutely loved incorporating these traditions in our family together and creating some new ones as well (cutting down our Christmas Tree, Christmas farm activities, making Christmas desserts and even Matzah ball soup (not exactly ‘Christmassy’ but fun nonetheless).
As you may or may not have heard, our family is growing with another grandchild (and this one looks to be our first grandson). We are very excited to add this new baby to the family and, Lord-willing, bring him up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Our family is evolving and, as the Scriptures remind us, “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Our goal, as a family, is to bring honor and glory to the Lord for which we were created (Rev. 4:11). While it’s never too late to start a new tradition, modify an older one, or simply pray about what God would want you to do with your family, the key is to remember that we exist to glorify Him.
Especially during this Christmas season, let us seek to become more like Christ. As Paul wrote to the believers in Col. 1:15-23 we need to be the “visible representatives of the invisible God.” Why? Because Christ has redeemed us and we can celebrate that not only at Christmas but also for eternity!
Let’s make some memories that will be around for the generations that are coming after us! In the wonderful words of Charles Studd, “Only one life 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.”
Offering even a cup of "hot water?"
Matthew 10:42 says, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Would that work for hot water as well?
One of the many blessings I’m able to see is when our kids and leaders minister to others. Last weekend was our “Mission to Madison” (M2M) where our team of middle school students and leaders did an incredible job of ministering to the homeless with food, hot drinks (thus the question above), coats and prayer, participating in village projects in Oregon, collecting food for the Oregon Food Pantry and doing random “Rake and Run” projects in our city. I could give you a bunch of numbers on what was accomplished but the stories that came from this weekend are things you’ll hear from our middle school students and leaders…possibly at this year’s “Prayer, Praise & Pie” next Tuesday night at Hillcrest.
This weekend (Nov. 17-19) our high schoolers and leaders will be going to Chicago to accomplish many of the same objectives and a few additional ones. As always, our goal is to be faithful stewards by showing God’s love and grace to those we encounter. So whether we’re praying with those that are homeless, feeding the hungry, befriending strangers or whomever we encounter, we want God to receive the glory and just get out of the way. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see our teams do this from a full heart. Desiring to adopt a “how can I help?” attitude with them taking a back seat so that God is glorified—not them, Hillcrest or our student ministry.
While their reward is most definitely in heaven, where neither rust or moth can destroy (Matt. 6:19,20), lives are being touched because they’ve made themselves available to do what God has called them to do and to be what God has equipped them to be. I’ve said many times that the almighty God of the universe is more than able to do whatever He wants. But, when it comes to His kids, God is much more interested in our availability than our ability.
Pastor Larry’s Blog--The second in a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.
Matthew 5:16 says, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” I’m not sure where I remember hearing it but I love this phrase—“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” I don’t mean to imply that I don’t love listening to sermons but, and I think you would agree, those things that are done are far more impacting than when they’re just said.
God calls us to lead by example when it comes to serving Him, our families and anyone else He puts in our path. I’m not sure if this is your experience but I had no idea on just how selfish I was until I became a father. It is such a wonderful title to have but it calls us to consistently put the needs of our family before our own.
I do remember the first time I heard someone say this and actually mean it, “Do as I say, not as I do.” At first, I was like, “Did he really just say that?” And unfortunately, the answer was “yes” and he meant it. While words are important, we all realize that actions are better taught when they’re caught in example.
God wants us to model Him just as Jesus did. In Col. 1 Paul tell us that Christ “Is the image of the invisible God” (vs. 15) and God holds us to that standard as well. It’s so important for us to understand that our kids will reflect the example we show to them. I still remember the first time I heard sarcasm come from one of my sons when they were very young, that same sarcasm that I unfortunately had modeled way too many times. Our sin is an ever-present reality but when we see that same sin lived out in the lives of our kids it seems to sting even more.
It’s a high standard that God calls us to when He asks us to be “salt & light” in our own family (Matt. 5) but it’s a standard that we need to model. As we abide in Christ (John 15) He gives us the power to lead by example and to walk as Jesus walked (I Jn. 2:6). So, let’s not sell ourselves short, we can be those “living sermons” where our words and actions complement each other as we strive to lead by example and embody what Paul said in I Cor. 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Why? Because children are great imitators so give them something great to imitate!
For God’s glory…not ours.
Pastor Larry’s Blog--The first in a series of bi-monthly thoughts that will hopefully give you some joy in the journey of parenting and living life to the fullest.