“Home for Christmas
” … that was our theme for last night’s Christmas Coffee House, and that what it was! Our children did a wonderful job playing and singing. Our Praise Team and others did a great job performing and leading. Special thanks to Lucas Ebert (Praise Team Leader) and his team for making this year’s Coffee House a special event.
“Home for Christmas” … that will be my theme for the next three weeks. Laurie and I will travel to the States to spend Christmas with my mom along with my sisters and their families. We look forward to sharing this special season together for the first time in five years.
Of course, my mind and heart are never far from my IBCB family. I’ll be praying for you and those who will continue overseeing our family during my vacation during the holidays — the leaders (Klaus and Jeff) and our deacons (Mark, Lucas,Faith, Pedro, & Kasub). I’m happy to have Juergen and Mark filling the pulpit during my absence. Give them the same encouraging support that you give me on Sundays.
I’ll look forward to returning home to IBCB for 2014 — an important year in the life of our church family. It’s a year where we sense God wanting to do something big in and through us during this year of “2nds” — pastor, service, & church. Only God can accomplish this God-sized calling for our church.
Quite frankly, I’m praying that God will increase my faith because I know that apart from his intervention we are not able to accomplish what we believe God is asking us to do. However, I know that with God all things are possible when we place our trust in him and follow his lead. So, for the first 21 days of 2014, we will again set aside the “first fruits” of the year to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and to renew our faith in him in an all-church emphasis — “21 Days of Experiencing God.”
Have a blessed Christmas season and a New Year of God’s peace. Get ready for an exciting year of God-sized challenges as we put God to the test and as we stretch our faith.
Getting ready for Christmas means thinking through the ways that we can show our love and appreciation for family friends by giving them a thoughtful and appropriate Christmas gift. That’s what makes Christmas special.
But whose birthday is it anyway? Have you considered showing your love and appreciation for Jesus and his family by giving him a birthday gift through our church?
Our November and Year-To-Date (YTD) finance reports (see below) show that we’re in the “red” (deficit spending) for the month and for the year. Why not consider a special offering to Jesus — above and beyond your tithe — to move us as a church from “red” to “black” (surplus giving).
For us to move from “red” to “black” would require that we receive a total of approximately 42,400 Euros in December alone. Humanly speaking … and considering our giving habits … it seems impossible. But with God, all things are possible.
Prayerfully consider how you might give Jesus a birthday gift by bringing a special offering during December.
“No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and ‘Consumerism’.” Matthew 6:24
Consumerism is the “god” of our age! We live in a materialistic world where productivity, accumulation, and consumption have taken over every dimension of our lives. We are bombarded with advertisements tempting us to find fulfillment in products that promise what they cannot deliver — security, status, happiness, relationship, and more. The spirit of consumerism demands we pay homage to him bringing offerings of busyness and buying.
Jesus reminds us that we cannot serve consumerism while at the same time serving God. We have to make a conscious choice. Choosing righteousness and the Kingdom of God means that we must turn away from the altar of consumerism and worship only God.
One way to slay the spirit of consumerism is to purposefully choose to “live simply.” What is “simple living” and how does is break the spirit of consumerism?
Simple living is nothing more and nothing less than living in a way that chooses to be outwardly simple in order to live rich inwardly. It’s making the choice to focus on contentment, spirituality, and relationships rather than consumption, materialism, and self-centeredness.
Living simply is a spiritual discipline that emphasizes the values of our Lord Jesus Christ — time for God and one another, serving one another, sharing with each other. It is living intentionally … or on purpose … giving priority to the life of following Jesus and expressing the Kingdom of God. Simple living is a prophetic witness that challenges the god of this world through “conspicuous non-consumption.”
What changes can you make to live more simply? How does your schedule need to change to make more room (i.e. create margin) for time alone with God, opportunity for fellowship in a small group, etc.? How can you streamline your expenses so that you can tithe to your church, save for irregular expenses, pay cash for your vacation, provide for your family, and give generously to others?
Are you willing to take the necessary steps to break the spirit of consumerism and to serve God only? Will you choose to live with margin — in your time and treasures — in order to live on mission?
God wants us to experience the abundant life he’s promised to those who will follow him as disciple-makers. Two specific pressures keep us from the reward of that kind of life: time and money.
Our agendas are too full of fluff and our bank accounts are stretched too thin. The result is anxiety, stress, worry, and busy-ness. We have no room … no margin … in our agendas or accounts to experience the fullness God intends. What’s worse, we get preoccupied with ourselves and can’t live God’s purpose in the world!
What are we to do? God want’s us to “THRIVE” by living with margin … room in our agendas and accounts … to be free from worry so that we can live for him in our families, church, work, and world. Our current sermon series is presenting some practical ways that you can begin to live with margin so that you can live on mission.
Live With Margin: Goals
- Simplify your spending through practical budgeting
- Give first and save second and live off the rest
- Automate the important: giving and saving
Live With Margin: Steps
- Pray and Fast on Mondays
- Pick up a simple “budget worksheet”
- Commit to a “tithe” in Nov
- Attend the 2 hour finance workshop 23. Nov
- Ask for one-on-one financial counseling
Live On Mission: Goals
- Every family and small group go mission
- Practice generosity as individuals/families and a church
- Make 2014 a Year of “2nds”—Service, Pastor, Church
Live On Mission: Steps
- Organize local and global “on mission” projects
- Establish Thrive Project 2014 for generous giving
- Introduce “Go On Mission” Class Fall 2014