When little Joshua opened his eyes it was still dark, yet he wasn’t tired. There was an excitement in him, an anticipation tingled in his skin. He could hardly stay still. He couldn’t wait for this day to begin. Yet he lay there in bed dreaming. You see, Joshua loved this day because of the special time he got to spend with those people who loved Him so much. He couldn’t help thinking about how they would show him love through the gifts, and the party, and, oh, the singing… More than anything, little Josh couldn’t wait for his Mom and Dad to come into his room to wake him up with a big hug and say, “Happy Birthday, Joshua! We love you so much!”
Now imagine if little Joshua wasn’t noticed on his birthday. Imagine if he was laying in bed, waiting for that birthday hug from Mom and Dad, but it never came. What if he went the whole day without hearing, “Happy birthday, We love you so much! We’re so happy you’re in our lives.” How do you think he’d feel?
Worse yet, imagine if Everyone threw Josh a huge amazing party. What if everyone in town showed up, they even sang some songs about him and hung his baby pictures up in their own homes, but the rest of the year, no one really talked to him? They never said, I love you even once.
They really didn’t notice him or pay any attention to him.
Imagine another scenario. What if Joshua was laying in bed waiting for his birthday greeting and hug from his family and he heard his parents voices from outside, and Joshua got up, went and opened his window to hear his parents and siblings praising the neighbor boy, Nick, telling him how great and special he was and how they were so thankful for him? What if, on Joshua’s birthday, he came down the stairs and saw the house decorated for a party, but It was his neighbor, Nick’s, name written on the banners and it was his pictures hung all over the house?
All these scenarios are true. There’s a poor little boy named Joshua or Jesus, who is forgotten about every year on his birthday. Sometimes his loved ones make a big deal of him for his birthday and forget him the rest of the year. Other members of his family show up to his party and say it’s only magical, special, and meaningful if Nicholas (Santa Claus) is there and so they talk about Nick , and tell stories and sing about him rather than the birthday boy.
The amazing thing is, because Christmas is about Jesus it’s about us as well. Imagine if little Josh, on his birthday, got up and was full of excitement, not because of what people would give him, but because of what he would give them. What if he gave all his presents away? Imagine if he spent his the entire day serving, and giving and loving others. Imagine if Joshua made his birthday all about everyone else.
On Christ’s birthday, he did just that.
On Christmas Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t receive gifts. Rather, he gave them. He gave us the greatest gift, Himself. He’s given us Love, joy, peace, and hope. Let’s make Christmas about him. In fact, because he’s so great and because all he’s done, lets make life about him as well.
You might also like:
- Why I Won’t Be Teaching My Kids About Santa Clause
- Please Don’t Teach Your Kids About Santa
- 7 Ways To Be Missional This Christmas
The other day I shared the conference audio from Calvin Theological Seminary’s conference: A Missional Reading of Scripture. The video here seems to be an extra that N.T. Wright did in the evening at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. If you don’t have the time or interest to listen to the Conference Audio, you should still check out this talk.
Disclaimer: I think what Wright has to say is great concerning the Mission of God and is spot on. However, I do not agree with what Wright says about The Fall and who Adam and Eve in the Q & A at the end of this talk. A literal Adam and Eve and a Fall into is essential to understanding the Gospel.
- What did you think the Bible was primarily about before you heard this talk? How did this change your view?
- What surprised you about this talk?
- How does this help you understand the full bible Story?
Calvin Theological Seminary, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently held a conference on reading and understand the whole of the Biblical Narrative through the lens of mission. Here’s what the say about it:
Over the past century a number of scholars have recognized that mission is not simply a peripheral theme in the biblical story. Rather, it is a central thread in the biblical writings and central to the identity of the church. Thus, a missional hermeneutic is a way of reading Scripture in which mission is a central interpretive key that unlocks the whole narrative of Scripture. It does not simply study the theme of mission but reads the whole of the biblical canon with mission as one of its central themes. This conference will explore what it might mean to read both the Old Testament and the New Testament with a missional hermeneutic, and what that might mean for missional praxis of the church, specifically preaching, theological education, and the life of the local congregation.
The Conference featured speakers such as Christopher J.H. Wright, Michael W. Goheen, N.T. Wright, Darrell L. Guder as well as many others.
In our new church in Jackson, Missouri, The Exchange Community, we spend three weeks talking about God’s Identity. We just finished four weeks talking about our Identity in the Gospel. We believe you always need to begin with Who God is, What he’s done through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Who we are because of it, and then What we should do. If you get this messed up, you’ll live a life full of stress, regrets, and worries.
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We owe much to Soma Communities for these teachings and Identities.
We at The Exchange Community are taking a number of our MC leaders and members down to Jonesboro. We’ve learned a lot from Jeff, Soma, and the GCm Collective. So we thought we’d share this great opportunity. Here is what is publicized about the training:
We believe that communities centered around mission are the heart of what God has called His Church to be and do. Soma has helped developed successful missional communities all around the world. This one-day training with Jeff Vanderstelt will tackle the nuts and bolts of living and leading missional communities. Our recent One Day focused on the “Why” and “What”. This training will focus on “How”…
- How to make disciples with your family
- How to love and bless your neighbors
- How to live everyday life with gospel intentionality
- How to make disciples out of the overflow of the gospel
- How to listen and follow the Spirit for fruitful mission
MEET JEFF VANDERSTELT
Jeff Vanderstelt is one of the leaders of Soma Tacoma, a multi-expression, church-planting church. He is the Visionary Leader of Soma, a family of churches spread throughout North America. Jeff is married to Jayne and together they love and shepherd their three children in gospel, life, and mission.
This event will take place on Saturday from 9am-4pm at Fellowship Jonesboro, with registration from 8–9am.
The cost is: $49/individual or $69/couple and includes lunch.
Please register for this event by 10am, Friday September 13.
You can register at Eventbrite
Our new church, The Exchange Community is starting its weekly gatherings this Sunday, September 8th, at 9am. We’ll be meeting at The Creative Edge, at 160 N Enterprise Ln, Jackson, Mo 63755. I think we are going to cook a brunch afterwards for anyone who would like to stick around. More will come as we solidify plans for the meal.
- What is the common perception of the church today?
- What do you see that’s wrong with the church?
- What is good about the church?
- What do you think the church should be like?
I love sharing God’s word through preaching. Since I’m moving to preaching every week, as we launch The Exchange Community in Jackson, Mo, I thought It would be good to reexamine my preaching and how I interpret and display God’s word. I remembered a friend of mine shared, a number of years back, that Tim Killer and Edmond Clowney team taught a class at Reformed Theological Seminary on Preaching Christ in a Post-Modern World. As I started to listen through these teachings, I desired to share them with other church planters, preachers, and pastors that may not be aware of their existence. Even if you don’t fit in these categories, this is an excellent resource to understand and share scripture.
Course Material in PDF These notes were extremely difficult to find. I believe they are notes from this course as it was later modified. They do not seem to match all of the titles found on iTunes, but do seem to follow what is referenced in the class.
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Introduction to the Christ Centred Model of Preaching
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ through the Structure of Redemptive History Part One
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in through the Structure of Redemptive History Part Two
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Introduction to Christ-centred Application
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting to Christ
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in through the Structure of Redemptive History Part Three
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: Telling God’s Story, Narrative Analysis
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting Down to Earth Part One
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting Down to Earth Part Two
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: The Parable of the Prodigal Son
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: Christ and the Law
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting inside their world part one
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Adoring Christ: Getting Inside their World Part Two
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in the Psalms
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in the Wisdom Literature
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Adoring Christ: Spiritual Reality
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ:Asking Questions, Discourse Analysis
- Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Adoring Christ: Communion with God
Picture found here
I love this quote from an African Archbishop:
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because Jesus will wash you clean and then tell you to go play again. He does not say, “Stand in the corner and don’t you dare get dirty again.” Just like a mother, he bathes a dirty child and then tells him to go outside and play again.
Sometimes we’re so worried about our safety or cleanliness that we lose out on life. I’m not saying we should try to get dirty with sin, but to boldly live as children loved by their heavenly Father. We do our best to live by his ways. We often fall short, but that NEVER changes his love for us. He’ll wash us as many times as we’re dirty.
Quote found here.
Picture found here.
I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot from Soma Communities, on Church Planting, Sharing the Gospel, and missional communities that we are implementing in the creation of The Exchange Community in Jackson, Mo. Recently Soma did a fast track training for their missional community leaders. This is some great material to go through if you’re leading a missional community or are interested in starting a missional community
Here’s the links to Soma’s Fast Track Training Audio/Video and their notes:
1. The Story of God // Caesar Kalinowski
2. Vision for Missional Communities // Jeff Vanderstelt
3. Gospel, Power & Purpose // Jeff Vanderstelt
4. Gospel DNA // Jeff Vanderstelt & Abe Meysenburg
5. Gospel in Everyday Rhythms // Jeff Vanderstelt
6. Gospel Fluency // Jeff Vanderstelt
7. Creating a Disciple-Making Enviroment // Jeff Vanderstelt
8. Gospel Shepherding // Abe Meysenburg
9. Missional Community Covenant // Jeff Vanderstelt
10. Spirit Led Life // Jeff Vanderstelt
11. Spiritual Warfare // Jeff Vanderstelt
Here’s a link to all of their materials
Picture found here along with the post: Ten Reasons Missional Communities Fail