Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sharing the Christmas Story

We all have family or friends that we feel like we can’t talk to about Jesus.  Even sitting around a  Christmas tree, right next to a Nativity Scene, we have a hard time finding the words to talk about the gift we have in Christ.  Yet at the same time, we might send numerous emails or text throughout the week to these same individuals.  Maybe you could reach them in the same way you are already communicating with them.

Note:  I’m not telling you to bombard them with cheesy, precious moments, glittery image, Christian quote or story with a curse added to the end if they don’t love Jesus enough to forward it on to ten other people.

Anyway,  try sharing showing this awesome video.  In my family, when one person plays a cute video, there’s usually 3-5 more before we get off  youtube.  Throw it in the mix.  Reinforce the story.  Share it on Facebook or Twitter.   

Whether you use the video or not, find a way to point people towards Jesus, and the real meaning of Christmas, this week.

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Some More Great Free Christmas Music Downloads

There are some great organizations and artists giving away free Christmas music this December.  If you’re having people over for Christmas or be ready for next year’s Christmas parties, visit these sites in the next couple of days for all the songs you’ll need. 

  1. Here are 3 free albums, 18 songs, from Folk Angel.  Free through the 22nd.  Enter the password, COMPASSION, in all caps.Amazon.com is unveiling a new free Christmas song every day leading up to Christmas.  You can get all of their free songs through Christmas Day here.
  2. Here’s another low key free album Christmas Dei from Missio Dei
  3. Here are 25 more free Christmas songs that are mostly folk or indie
  4. Here’s a new song by Josh Wilson, Jesus is Alive
  5. Here’s an entire Christmas album from Culby X
  6. Here are a few good songs from the Northpoint Church 
  7. Amazon.com is unveiling a new free Christmas song every day leading up to Christmas.  You can get all of their free songs through Christmas Day here.

If this isn’t enough great free Christmas Music, Find more Great Free Christmas Music here.

Why I Won’t Be Teaching My Children About Santa Claus

Last week in the Core Group meeting for our church plant, we had a great conversation about Santa Claus.  Obviously Santa is one of the most beloved and well-known characters in the West.  Yet, should Christians teach their children about Santa?  For my wife and I, we will not be teaching our daughter to believe in Santa for a few reasons:

  1. Christmas is about Jesus.  It’s His birthday, not Santa Claus’.  In fact, the word, “Santa Claus” actually comes from the Dutch word meaning St. Nicolas.  He was a 3rd century Bishop of the Christian church in Myra Turkey.  He was at the Council of Nicaea.  He spent his life defending the faith and sharing his wealth with people in need.  He was famous for following Jesus.  Everything he did, all the gifts that he gave, was in response to the greatest gift he’d been given, eternal life through Jesus Christ.  We should follow his example and make Jesus center of our Christmas season.
  2.  Santa not only distracts from the greatest gift we have, eternal life in Jesus Christ, but it also  distracts from the love of parents.  I know many people who give 3 gifts from “Santa” and one or two from mom and dad.  So the child grows up thinking that Santa loves them more than mom and dad.  He gives bigger, better, or more gifts.  Children don’t see how much they are blessed with the love of their parents, but rather their affection grows for someone else…who isnt’ even real.
  3. Teaching about Santa can damage the faith of our Children.  Think about it.  Many parents tell elaborate stories to their children about Santa.  They have their kids leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve.  Then in the morning, presents have appeared under the tree from “Santa.”  The cookies and milk are gone.  Some even go the extent of dressing up like Santa and visiting with the kids as the presents are delivered.  Parents take their kids to the mall and they can meet Santa, tell him what they want, and it ends up being there on Christmas.  What happens when the child finds out Santa isn’t real?  How can we expect them to believe what we teach them about Jesus, who’ve they have never seen or talked to, when the Santa the had seen in the mall was a ruse? 

Now I’m not saying get rid of anything that has to do with Santa.  Nor am I telling you that you should teach your kids to crush the hope and dreams of their friends by proclaiming that Santa isn’t real. 

Rather I am encouraging you to tell your children the truth.  Don’t lie to them about something that distracts from the true meaning of Christmas. 

I still enjoy Tim Allen’s “The Santa Claus” films and frosty and Rudolf films.  I’ll tell my daughter that they are fun made up stories, but I’ll teach her about the real St. Nick and how he always pointed to Jesus.  I’ll teach her that Christmas is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  It’s all about Jesus.  He is the greatest gift the world has ever received.  So to celebrate that gift, we focus on Him and we give gifts to others, because we were given life through Jesus Christ. 

Resources

If you are interested in learning more about the real St. Nicolas or about how the modern Santa Clause legends came about, visit the St. Nicolas Center’s website

Concordia Publishing House sells a great book, Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend.  It’s a great resources for teaching children about the real St. Nicholas. 

There’s a new film coming out called Nicholas of Myra: The Story of St. Nicholas which looks to be a good quality film being made on the real St. Nick. 

Have a Blessed Christmas!

Missional Training # 9 – A Coca Cola Community

Sometimes a commercial, song, or film can really capture a great idea.  Check out this Coke add below. 

  1. What kind of community or gathering does the video depict?  Is it small or large?  Is it inclusive or exclusive? 
  2. How does the community from the commercial reflect the yearning of the human heart?  How close is it to the community of the church?
  3. How effective would the Christian message be if Christians blessed their neighbors and acquaintances with such a community? 
  4. How often do you gather with the people who you know?  Have you held a “Bridging Event,” a community building party for the express purpose of getting to know the friends and acquaintances of your friends?

How can you create this community? 

  • Consider throwing a party, only don’t invite your closest friends.  Instead, invite mainly acquaintances and people you barely know.   Maybe ask them to bring someone else.  Focus on getting to know everyone better and connecting people together

Or

  • Consider working with a few friends or neighbors to throw a party.  Have each person invite people they know well and not so well.  Ask those people to invite a friend as well.  Again, focus on getting to know people and connecting others. 

In either case, You’ll be bringing the better wine.  You’ll be blessing those around you. This might establish or strengthen relationships.  It might prepare the way for later chances to share the gospel. 

For my Core Group,  for next time read the Gospel-Centred Life Chapter 9, Decisions.

Missional Training #8 – Engaging people where they’re at and where you live

On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he exorted his followers to live in a community of live.  He said,

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

We’re called to be a community that is exemplified by love, and that witnesses through that that community to the love of Christ.

Watch this short video about this man’s attempts to reach others:

  1. What was his big mistake in planning his large event?
  2. What eventually built relationships that led to sharing the Gospel?
  3. Where are people already meeting in your community?  How can you engage people in those  venues for the sake of buidling relationships? 
  4. What is keeping you from going there?  How can other Christian help you
  5. How does working together with other Christians make evangelism and community building easier?
  6. What are your Christmas plans?  Can you help hold a Christmas party for your neighborhood or social group?  Are their already Christmas parties going on that you can “bring the better wine” to? 

For my Core group, Read the Gospel-Centred Life Chapter 8, Look Forward to Eternity.

Check out this site as a great resource for reaching out to your neighbors

Missional Training # 7 – Triperspectivalism

 

In the Old Testament, there were three primary types of leaders that guided and governed God’s people, Israel.  These were Prophet’s, Priests, and Kings.  Kings were meant to govern the people.  Priests prayed, interceded, and made sacrifices for the people’s sins.  Prophets called people back to God’s ways and revealed where those ways were taking us.  Each of these three offices Christ filled Himself.  He is ultimately our great prophet, priest and king.  He told us what God’s will was (Prophet), He cared for the people and sacrificed himself for them (Priest), and he’s the son of David and will establish his throne on the last day in Jerusalem (King). 

We can take these three offices and apply them to different types of leadership. 

Prophets primary focus is vision.  They tell the people, “This is where God is leading us”

Kings are great with systems and control. They tell the prophets, “This is how we get to your vision.”

Priests are caregivers and are all about people.  They make sure people are taken care of and included along the way.

As you can tell, each type of leader is needed.  We can go into much greater detail, but first let me ask, which way do you lean.  Are you a prophet priest or king?  Do you tend to know, feel, deduce from God’s word the direction we have to go. You might be a prophet.  If you are all about statistics, organization, or systems…if the technical detail intrigue you the most, you might be more kingly.  If you are primarily concerned with people, their feeling, hurts, and development, you might be priestly. Each person tends to have a dominant and secondary perspective.  What are your’s?

Personally, I’m a Prophet-Priest.  I know where we need to go.  I can see the large steps of the plan, but sometimes I have difficulty figuring out all the little steps between.  I also lean more towards people and their care.  Yet, I’m lacking most in the kingly perspective.  So I definitely need someone who is kingly in my life to help me implement the plan that I envision.  I also need people who are primarily priestly.  Since the plan is foremost, I can still leave hurt people in my wake if I’m not careful.  As a new church, we’ll need all three types of leaders to guide us.  Yet on a smaller level, each of our Missional Communities should have shared leadership in each of these three areas in order to have a productive and edifying community. 

Below is a great chart describing Triperspectival leadership that was put together based off of a talk that Drew Goodmanson gave.  Do they fit you?

For my core group, we’re reading the Gospel-Centered Life for chapter 7, Look Around at the Community.  Be prepared to discuss the chapter.   Also be prepared to share what perspective you have, prophet, priest, or kingWe’ll also continue with the Story of God. 

For some additional resources on Triperspectivalism go here.

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