CHRISTMAS TIME TRUSTING

(December 14, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring Christmas comfort…

Forget about timewasting debates about when Jesus was actually born, the day, the month… no one knows! The point is that he was born and for many years the church has traditionally been celebrating this historic event of good news from heaven on December 25 and calling it Christmas Day!

With joy we praise our caring heavenly Father for his special  ‘Christmas gift.’ For Christians and the church the carol Tis the season to be merry is very relevant! Thank God for his love and goodness in sending Jesus!

Let’s be as happy as Mary and Joseph, the astounded shepherds and the faithful magi who came along later would have been. Precious people who were trusting God in uncertain times.

This is the month when one sees posters everywhere advertising cherry Christmas carolling either in churches (organised by churches) or in local parks (organised by councils or community-minded organisations)… a time of expected good cheer, family fun and caring friendship. Even several stores are playing pleasant traditional Christian carols relaxing their customers.

Christmas is indeed meant to a joyous time, especially for Christians and the church of Jesus Christ. But, sadly, we’ve been hearing from some folk that it won’t be so for them as some tragedy has hit them or their family hard… such as unexpected lost jobs, passing of loved ones, ministry upsets or abrupt changes, marriage problems, lack of godly pastoral wisdom/counsel, strange health issues, sleepless nights, troubled minds. And other nasties …

Some friends have also expressed concern over Christians being harassed, bullied, even imprisoned in India, North Korea and elsewhere – and about the increased crime rate in our so-called ‘Lucky country.’

Christmastime concerns can steal Christmas joy
Yet while we hear many people wishing one another ‘Merry Christmas!’ – as yet we haven’t heard one add the traditional ‘And a Happy New Year.’ Neither from Christians or non-churchgoers. It’s like the 2018 catchphrase of ‘moving ahead’ has done a back-flip with some people and a vision for 2019 just isn’t there. Yes 2019 will reveal fresh satanic attacks on Christianity and churches but our hope is always in the head of the church, Jesus, the one we praise God for at this Christmas season.

Personally we feel for everyone with heavy hearts at this time, who have lost their joy due to dwelling on negatives, unable to find comforting answers and good advice. These concerns can be so side-tracking and destructive. This week we ourselves had what immediately seemed a disaster drop on us out-of-the-blue that could have thrown us! (more…)

CHRISTMAS – A TIME OF EXPECTANCY

(December 9, 2018) Maureen McQuillan shares a Christamas reflection…

December – this mad month of packed shops – many playing unassociated loud, ear bending music (like certain churches!) – are busily selling Christmas decorations and presents. It’s great to note that some stores are season-minded and resound with timely precious carols such as Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Christmas – the time to be joyful, give gifts, demonstrate love, and especially for Christians to celebrate with thanks the gift of God of his Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Overall Christmas is a time of expectancy, even down to ‘Where to park, what gifts to get’ and later ‘What will be inside my parcel Christmas morn? What Christmas lunch?’

It’ll be fun in our home… we’ll have our precious daughter Wendy who was born on Christmas Day – I was certainly expecting that Christmas quite some time ago! – and family members for lunch, even though our rental is on the small size! (Our new home is being built so our furniture is packed away and we only have a tiny four-place table to work around).

But it’ll be fun though, a time of love shared in jovial companionship, caring for each other and good tasty food – I’ve been busy working on a well-planned spread that will ensure we all enjoy our time together! Our expectation?  A day well shared together.

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CHRISTMAS – AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO SHARE THE GOOD NEWS

(December 11, 2018) Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes reminds us that Christmas is an opportune time for sharing the real Christmas message… here at home!

It’s virtually Christmas! This is a time when people are expecting good things and encouragements by way of cards and gifts. The gospel speaks of the greatest gift of all – God’ gift of his Son, Jesus Christ who would become our Saviour.

Paul made it very clear in Romans 3:23 that ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ – John 3:16 is still the most relevant of all scriptures: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Having been associated with world missions for decades, naturally overseas missions and missionaries are very much on my heart. But, bringing my blog closer to home at this Christmastime I would say this to every Christian at home: We may not be a missionary overseas but as missionaries abroad share the good news of Jesus as Saviour even here at home we can be missionaries by fulfilling the great commission in our local suburbs!

Let’s be Christians of action – moving in faith and seeing the impossible become possible! We can find opportunities to share the good news of the gospel, the real reason for the season.

A time to be daring in sharing
A little but great booklet God’s Little Instruction Book, has a powerful saying in it – ‘Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see!’

Now that’s a saying that tends to stick in one’s mind as it encapsulates a fundamental truth.

Jesus taught us that God’s word is truth (John 17:17). God’s word is his instruction book – the Holy Bible! And it declares that …

  • ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God!’ (Hebrews 11:6).
  • It is not possible to be a Christian without faith.
  • It is equally impossible to live the life of a believer without believing.
  • With the assistance of the Holy Spirit the first disciples began fulfilment of Jesus’ Great Commission commandment of Matthew 28:18-20 in their local suburbs – in Jerusalem! (See Acts 1:8).

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A MISTAKE THAT CLARIFIED THE ‘MYTH-TAKE’

(December 11, 2018) Ed Delph shares another timely thought-provoker…

Here’s a true story I think you’ll enjoy by an unknown author about Christmas. Read and enjoy!

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorising songs for his school’s Winter Pageant presentation. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher who assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation, that all parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of dress rehearsal, I filed in and found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

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CHRISTMAS OR CHRISTMYTH

(December 9, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, once again challenges us to think outside the proverbial box…

I admit it! There is no such word as ‘Christmyth’ in the English dictionary but I have formed it to make a point of contrast.

The word ‘Christmas’ is first found in Old English, in 1038 and was called Cristes Maesse. It referred to the festival that celebrated the coming of Christ into the world. Maesse, which means ‘dismissal’, refers to the sending out of the worshippers who had celebrated the good news of the birth of the Saviour.

I find that to be so appropriate for the message of the Incarnation is one of redemption and hope that Christians need to ‘go and share’ throughout the world.

My ‘made-up’ word ‘Christmyth’ refers to what I see to be the dominant expression of the festival today. A glorious, unrepeatable, rescue event expressing the loving heart of God has been transformed into a happy myth-laden tale with jolly Santas, red-nosed reindeers and fun!

And in so many ways the church has bought into this sanitised and shallow version of the biblical story by placing an emphasis on the sweet baby in a manger, the heavenly choirs and the ‘silent night.’

Don’t misunderstand me. I really am not a Grinch!  I too enjoy the ‘myth.’ At Christmas time it is so good to see the excitement in the eyes of children and the coming together of friends and families and the singing of the old familiar carols. But I sense that along the way we have so developed the ‘myth’ of Christmas that we have sold-out on the essential truth of the event.

Let’s take this further. (more…)

MEET WHAT WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU

(November 11, 2018) Ed Delph shares another timely thought-provoker…

A burglar who needed money to pay his income taxes decided to rob the safe in a store. On the safe door he was very pleased to find a note reading, ‘Please don’t use dynamite. The safe is not locked. Just turn the knob.’

He did so. Instantly, a heavy sandbag fell on him, the entire premises was lit by floodlights, and alarms started clanging!

As the police carried him out on a stretcher, he was heard moaning, ‘My confidence in human nature has been rudely shaken.’

Watchful godly fear
This story illustrates what I would like to introduce us to today. We may stifle it; we might quench it; hurt it or even defile it. However, we will never be able to escape it. It will always be there attaching itself to the highest standard we know. Everyone has heard it talk to us, congratulate us, convict us, remind us or try to guide us. (more…)

CALLED BUT NOT CHOSEN

(November 11, 2018) George Forbes, missionary spokesperson, shares on the missionary calling…

As mentioned in August, although not classified as a missionary, Billy Graham was certainly called by God to be an evangelist to the world!

I do praise God that many have responded to God’s calling to be missionaries… but in doing so I remember that Matthew 22:14 states, Many are called, but few chosen.

Called but unprepared
This text has been interpreted in different ways; however I wish to write about the fact that though God calls those whom he has chosen, many are unprepared to activate their full response to the call of God because they have yet to complete the essential preparations for cross-cultural ministry.

Sadly for some, it is more to do with personal growth in Christ and learning how to walk in the Spirit. (more…)

FEARLESS FAITH

(November 10, 2018) Jeff Benson shares from the heart…

Like most people, I have many weaknesses. My greatest weakness by far has been my ‘fear of man.’
Such an inbuilt thing for me… a bit like when it comes to a fear of heights, when you walk up to the edge of a cliff or lean over a guard rail from up on top of a tall building and instantly feel that fear …

The fear of man can be the same. There’s often no conscious thought associated with it, we just feel that fear…it just happens … you just automatically and instantaneously feel that fear.

My journey…
For me this feeling fear has been a huge issue… (more…)

DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER!

(November 10, 2018) Tomorrow, Sunday, is Remembrance Day and Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reminds us to remember some important matters we should never forget…

100 years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War 1 came to an end following a signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany. After four and a half years of bitter fighting, which directly involved 32 countries and in which around 100 more participated in that bloody conflict with countless tragedies, peace was finally agreed.

Horrendous destructive trail
The war had lasted for 6 years and was now over. But what a horrendous trail it left in its wake. There was destruction everywhere. The human toll was truly overwhelming. It has been estimated that the total number of military and civilian casualties was around 40 million. Life would never be the same again for countless people whose families were torn apart, whose homes were reduced to ruins and whose countries were almost wiped off the face of the map. Wars had always played a gruesome role in human history but no war had ever before been more devastating than World War 1. It was truly the first global war.

Woodrow Wilson, the United States President at that time described it as ‘The war to end all wars.’ But it wasn’t! Twenty one years later and World War 2 began with even more sophisticated weaponry and once again Germany engaged the Allies and again another horrendous cacophony of hatred, lies, violence, inhumanity and destruction was visited upon the earth. Before it ended, around 80,000,000 people were dead. (more…)

VICTORIOUS SPIRITUAL ASSISTANCE

(November 10, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a challenge…

Dr Jim McClure’s Teaching article this month is timely as tomorrow is Remembrance Day – which remembers that the horrific WW1 came to an end a century ago and the tragedy of the sacrifice of so many lives so young and not so young!

Yes WW1 freedom came at a staggering price… Dr Jim also reminds us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly paid the greatest price of all in dying for every sinner.

In our modern society many may not be engaged in outright war but there is a great enemy that grips many, even Christians – fear! Pastor Jeff Benson in his article encourages us that God can set us free from personal fears and weaknesses.

 

 

 

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