Archive | November 2014

A Season of Waiting

candles 1There are many ways to wait. You can wait with annoyed impatience in a checkout line that’s moving about as fast as molasses in January when you’ve got places to go, people to see, and things to do. You can wait with fear and dread for an upcoming exam at school or a report from the doctors office. You can wait with bored indifference or maybe even resignation for your moment of fame in the dentists chair. Or you can wait with eager anticipation like a kid looking forward to presents on their birthday or the student counting down the days until graduation. But, as long as we live here on planet earth we will go through seasons of having to wait at one point or another.

As we enter the season of Advent today we find ourselves in a different, maybe unfamiliar kind of waiting. Many of us didn’t grow up observing the Advent season. Advent at best – if acknowledged at all- was probably just a precursor to Christmas; the appetizer before the main entree rather than an important season in its own right. Important because it creates a space to help us focus our  hearts and minds on the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of the crazy, commercialized, secular celebration that surrounds us. Not that there’s anything wrong with all the trappings of Christmas or the cherished traditions with which we mark the holiday, but there is much more to Christmas than the trees, lights, family dinners, and gift exchanges. It takes a wee bit of effort to create that mindful space for reflection and contemplation for ourselves within a society that pressures us to conform to the sometimes mindless/mind numbing, frantic activity that surround the holiday season, but it is so worth the effort.

So we invite you to slow down a bit this Advent season. Join us in taking time to think about what we’re celebrating and why. Let’s spend some time in thoughtful, purposeful waiting as we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth. There are tons of ways to do this. A few intentional ways to help you accomplish this are: Advent Calendars that have scripture and/or devotionals, or devotional books geared specifically toward Advent themes, online Advent devotionals, Advent trees or wreaths, or other ideas to count down the days until Christmas. There are also some really cool, fun ideas out there that are geared for families with kids, but will work for just about anyone. Here are some links to help you get started on your Advent adventure.

http://www.loyolapress.com/advent-calendar-for-adults.htm

http://kidsstuffworld.com/2013/12/season-giving-31-days-spreading-joy/

http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/random-acts-christmas-kindness-printable-advent-calendar/

https://www.goshen.edu/devotions/

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/holidays/making-meaningful-christmas-memories/celebrate-advent

http://faithfulprovisions.com/20-ways-to-celebrate-advent-season/

 

There are so many resources available to help you out there for the taking – many more that we’ve listed here. The Lord bless you as you wait!

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Knock Knock

Today’s devotional by Holley Gerth reminds us to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking

kid knock 2“We’ve all heard the saying, “If God closes a door, He always opens a window.” That implies that as soon as we see the door is closed, it’s time to move on.

But Jesus tells an interesting parable in Luke 18. He tells of a widow who goes and beats on the door of a wicked judge over and over until she gets justice. He then says if a wicked judge even answers the persistent, how much more so will God.

That made me wonder, “What if closed doors are just an invitation to keep knocking?” I know there are times when the door is not only closed but there is also a big “Keep Away” sign plastered on the front. I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about the many grey closed doors that are not clearly a “no” from God but we take them that way.

Why would God want us to keep knocking on the door? I think it’s because He wants us to come to Him over and over. We serve an intensely personal God. He wants us to be part of the process.

Perhaps a closed door is really just an invitation to press in, knock harder, ask louder, and draw nearer to Him.

Perhaps He knows that we’re building spiritual muscles by banging on that door—muscles we will need when it finally swings open.

Perhaps He’s building perseverance and strength in us.

Perhaps He knows we will value what we receive on the other side of the open door more if we had to really seek after it rather than just having it given to us.

I don’t know what all of God’s purposes may be for closed doors, but I do know I just may start knocking longer and louder than I ever have before. You too? “

(c) 2014 Holley Gerth Used with Permission http://holleygerth.com/dont-give-up/

Creativity Forever

Creative people unite! Don’t sit at home alone working on your favorite craft, come join the JCC crafters and make some new connections or strengthen old ones as you craft together with some really cool people. You don’t have to join up or pay up; it’s free and all are welcome to attend whether you are a JCC member or not. The crafting begins Friday, November 21st at 6:30 PM at 728 Norman. If you have any questions contact us at info@akjoy.com.

Men’s Ministry for November

Ready, set, get fired up, men! JCC’s Men’s Ministry is helping men get fired up about serving God. Friday, November 21st at 6:30 PM the men of JCC are gathering for their November get together. This will be the first meeting with the new Men’s Ministry leader, Steve Webb. All men are welcome to attend; you don’t have to be a member of JCC to join us. Bring your Bible and come hungry for the word from the Word.

Who is This Man?

That’s the question of the hour, isn’t it? Who is this man Jesus? The disciples asked the same question when they were in the boat on the stormy seas – who is this man that the wind and seas obey Him? It’s question that we must answer as well. The Word of God tells us that He’s the King of Kings, the Lord of Glory, the Mighty God, along with the hundreds of other titles ascribed to Jesus.  The wind and waves obeyed Him. Death obeyed and gave up the dead. Sickness and diseases obeyed Him. The demons obeyed Him and left their victims. How is it then that we humans have such a difficult time obeying Him? Click on the arrow below to listen to Sunday’s message by Steve Webb to help you ponder the subject of resistance.

 

 

Here is this week’s bulletin  JCC Bulletin 11-16-14

When Someone Barks at You

My curiosity was piqued when I read the title of today’s devotional by Holley Gerth. I think you will enjoy this fresh take on trusting God when people aren’t nice.

What to do when someone barks at you

My husband, beagle-basset {aka “bagel”} Katie and I stroll along a neighbor street as autumn leaves turn colors and occasionally toss themselves toward us like confetti.

We round a corner and a trio of dogs sound the alarm. Two small. One large. They each offer their version of a bark–a deep, gruff warning; a high-pitched yap; and a trying-to-be-intimidating whine.

I’m startled for a moment and stop in my tracks while my dog keeps moving right along, tail wagging happily. I look in the direction of all the noise and realize why: those three dogs are firmly behind a fence.

Katie {affectionally nicknamed “the beast”} is wiser than me in this way. She pays no attention whatsoever to anything that can’t actually hurt her. Not a single “woof!” in response. Not a missed step. Not a concerned look.

She doesn’t engage in unnecessary vocal back-and-forths. She doesn’t run over to the fence just to show her strength and protect her image. She doesn’t wag her tail to convince them to change their minds and like her. She just carries on.

I, on the other hand, pay a disproportionate amount of attention to barking–even when the source has no real power over me. The enemy of my soul growls a discouraging lie and I consider giving up on my dream. A criticism comes in from the far corners of the internet and I think about throwing my computer out the window. An offhand remark from an acquaintance hits a tender spot and I bristle.

I’m in a season of reevaluating where and how I spent my energy and emotion. I find myself often asking this simple, hard question about each choice I make: Is this really worth it? And when it comes to responding to the barking that comes from behind fences the answer is clearly this: Nope, it’s not.

If you hear barking ask yourself this:

Can this actually hurt me or is this simply triggering my fear?

What will it cost me to engage in this?

What do I risk missing out on if I get sidetracked by this right now?

I keep going back to the same passage in Hebrews 12 a lot lately:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I always thought of those in the “great cloud of witnesses” as cheering us on. And, mostly, I hope they are. But I think the real point is this: there will be all kinds of spectators in the race of your life and your job is to simply persevere and keep moving forward with your eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter what anyone else says or does.

In other words, pay no attention to that barking from behind the fence.

It’s not worth it. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

You have places to go. You have dreams to pursue. You have a purpose to fulfill.

Your Master is beside you. And in the end, nothing else really matters.

(c) 2014 Holley Gerth  Used with permission http://holleygerth.com/barks/

But Words Will Never Hurt Me

Words. They surround us on every front. Whether written or spoken, words are inescapable. For this reason it is imperative that we use our words for good and not harm. When we were kids we chanted the little ditty “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” when taunted on the school ground. As we matured, however, we stopped reciting that phrase because we learned that that saying is a lie; words do hurt us, and can even kill. Sunday’s message by Mike Fields, following on the heels of Saturday’s devotional, reinforces the truth that we must use our words to heal rather than destroy. Click on the arrow below to listen to the message and glean some helpful hints on watching our words.

 

 

Here is Sunday’s bulletin   JCC Bulletin 11-09-14