RSS Robot

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  1. Do you love your church? Jesus does! Jesus loved the church enough to die. Do we love Him and His church enough to live? To give? To really make His bride a high priority in our lives? Here are ten simple ways that you could greatly strengthen your church this season and in the new year… 1. Really Pray—Really pray for your pastor, your church, your own role in the body. Really pray for God’s provision and power. Really pray that God will take your church forward this Christmas and in the New Year! 2. Really Participate—Many people will casually “attend” church this season—but far fewer will truly participate with passion. In what ways are you engaged with your church on mission with Jesus for the gospel? With what energy will you really engage in worship, fellowship, and service? Be faithful to services, and bring an expectant heart and a ready spirit. 3. Bring a Guest—People all around you are looking for an opportunity to be in church this Christmas. Your kind invitation could be what brings them within the sound of a clear gospel message at your church. God could use you to bring them to Jesus—just because you invited them to Christmas services. 4. Be Extravagantly Generous—Remember who’s birthday we really celebrate—Jesus! In the midst of all of your giving, decide to put Jesus and His church at the top of the list. Will you “tip” God with a little extra change, or will you truly and deeply consider all that He’s done for you and bestowed upon you? Give Him your whole heart, and your generosity will follow! 5. Serve and Encourage Others—Begin with Jesus, then move to your family and friends, your church family, your neighbor—just look for opportunity to give yourself away and think of others before self. Write a kind note, bake something, tell someone how much you love them. Be a joyful voice of blessing! 6. Remember Someone’s Pain—Within your reach, there are broken hearts having a very difficult Christmas. For them, this season is merely magnifying loss, hardship, or sorrow. A kind note, a personal touch, a gift, or a thoughtful ministry gesture will go a long way towards encouraging people who are having a “painful Christmas.” 7. Randomly Love—Pick a stranger, pay for their coffee or give a small gift—do something randomly kind—and attach to it an invitation to your church. The unconditional and unexpected love of Jesus is delightful and life-changing! 8. Forgive and Forbear—Churches are made of people, and people have issues. People hurt people. Decide to strengthen your church by personally deciding not to hold a grudge or an offense. Let it go and decide to grow. 9. Walk with Jesus Privately—Your private walk with Jesus will overflow into your place in your local body. Your church is as strong as you! Be real. Be done with casual Christianity. Choose to more fully love, embrace, and engage in the call of Jesus Christ and His work. 10. Purpose in Your Heart—Christmas quickly turns into a New Year, which provides us with an opportunity to set direction, set goals, turn the page on last year’s successes and failures—and chart the course for spiritual health and depth. Decide to grow deeper and stronger in the new year! Decide to be a better church member and a more faithful Christian through 2017! I recently heard a pastor asked his church family three questions: —What are you doing that makes your church stronger? —What are you doing that makes your church weaker? —If everyone followed you example, what would happen to your church? Good questions! Convicting questions! Fair questions. If everyone followed your example, would your church close? Flounder? Flourish? Explode? As we close 2016, somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 churches closed their doors last year. More than ever, America and the world needs healthy local churches. Healthy churches only happen if Christians are healthy—growing stronger in grace and commitment to Christ and His body. This Christmas, give Jesus a gift that YOU KNOW He will love! Give Him a STRONGER BRIDE! View the full article
  2. Remembering the Children: 46 Claims Filed in 2 months to Catholic Priest Abuse Victims Program LTRP Note: This news story is another reminder that untold numbers of children have been and continue to be sexually abused (and not just in the Catholic Church) around the world. It’s an epidemic that still remains hushed in many cases today. Let us not forget that the power of sexual abuse lies in its […] The post Remembering the Children: 46 Claims Filed in 2 months to Catholic Priest Abuse Victims Program appeared first on . View the full article
  3. One of the reasons I love the Christmas season is that it is such a great time of year for initiating gospel conversations. Between the special church events and the fact that many people still do want to go to church to celebrate Christmas, this is also the easiest time of year to invite people to church. Our annual Christmas musical service at Lancaster Baptist is this weekend—Saturday night and Sunday night at 5:00 both evenings. We’ve been inviting our community and are praying for many people to trust Christ through the gospel preaching. (If you live near Lancaster, please join us! And if not, feel free to join us via live stream at lbclive.tv.) But even in a season like Christmas when it may be easier to invite people to church or begin a gospel conversation, it still doesn’t happen automatically. It usually requires that you and I take the initiative to share Christ. Here are ten ideas to help you take that initiative: Join in special times of church outreach. This past Saturday, our church family canvassed thousands of doors with invitations to our musical. Taking advantage of scheduled church outreach allows you to reach people you don’t already know, gives you a partner to go with, and lets you be part of strategically reaching your community with your church family. Reach out to your neighbors. Bring over a plate of Christmas cookies or a simple gift and ask them to be your guest for a Christmas service. Bring the Christmas spirit to your coworkers with invitations to church. Bring donuts or hot chocolate to your coworkers or leave in the break room at work with a “Merry Christmas” note and a stack of church invitations. Invite friends via text. Send a simple text to an unsaved friend, “Hey, are you free this Saturday at 5:00? Would love for you to be my guest at my church’s Christmas musical! Will feature awesome Christmas music and a practical Bible message.” Pay for someone’s coffee or meal, and leave a gospel tract or invitation. Another idea is to leave a large tip for your waiter at a restaurant with an invitation. Follow up on previous prospects. Who has told you in the past they would come to a church event but hasn’t made it? Who on your soulwinning prospect list might come? Special events are a great time to reach out to previous prospects. Share church Christmas events on your social media. Whether you are reposting your church’s social media or creating a post of your own, use your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels to invite your friends or followers to come. (Even just liking your church’s posts on Facebook makes it more likely for those posts show up in your friends’ feeds.) Purchase and deliver gifts to needy families. Do you know a parent who recently lost their job? A single parent? A family up against hard circumstances this Christmas? Bring gifts, and deliver them with the love of Christ and the gospel message. Always be ready to share the gospel. Even if your primary goal in a gesture of kindness (such as donuts in the break room at work) is simply to invite someone to church, ask the Lord to open opportunities to be able to verbally share why Jesus came and the salvation He offers. Involve your children in sharing the gospel. Incorporate some of these ideas into your family time. Have a family night baking and delivering cookies to the neighbors. Bring your children with you to bring gifts to needy families. Invite your neighbors over for a Christmas gathering in your home, and let your children help prepare for it. In these ways, you’ll be sharing Christ with your neighbors and with your children. There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than to invite others to receive the gift of eternal life. Related posts: Voices of Christmas 7 Ways You Can Keep Christ in Christmas ’Tis the Season…for Soulwinning! View the full article
  4. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4) The search for identity and meaning can drive one to great successes or tragic failures. For the Christian, however, the question is answered throughout Ephesians. We are chosen! We are selected as a favorite out of “many [who] are called” (More... View the full article
  5. “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” (1 John 2:5) The New Testament is emphatically clear that we are saved entirely by the grace of God through faith in Christ. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; . . . it is the gift of God” (Ephe... More... View the full article
  6. Caryl Matrisciana Has Gone to Be With the Lord Dear friends: Around midnight on December 2nd, Caryl Matrisciana passed away peacefully at her home. She had been battling cancer for over a year. Caryl was a devoted mother and grandmother as well as a film maker, author, speaker, and a valiant defender of the Christian faith. She has left a legacy that many will […] The post Caryl Matrisciana Has Gone to Be With the Lord appeared first on . View the full article
  7. Letter to the Editor: My Children Asked to Read About Benefits of Yoga in School To Lighthouse Trails: My kids are taking an AP English class and were asked to read articles that show the benefits of Yoga in schools. The question was not if Yoga was good or bad, but whether detention using Yoga was effective, reading an article that said it was (per query of the students’ getting […] The post Letter to the Editor: My Children Asked to Read About Benefits of Yoga in School appeared first on . View the full article
  8. “The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” (Numbers 6:25) This request is part of the well-known Mosaic benediction for the children of Israel (Numbers 6:24-27). The first occurrence in verb form of the word “shine” is in this verse, although in the noun form, translated as ... More... View the full article
  9. “Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.” (Psalm 109:26-27) There is disagreement as to the proper interpretation of this psalm of David. Its center section (vv. 6-20) consists of a strong denunciation and curse, while the beginning and ending sections petition God for ... More... View the full article
  10. American Missionary to Nicaragua Pleads Guilty to Helping Ex-Lesbian Who Fled Country With Daughter LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has been following this story for over seven years. We are advocates for the protection of children, even if that sometimes means breaking laws of the land if the laws of the land have become immoral and outrightly harmful to children. Today, still in hiding with her mother, Isabella is nearly […] The post American Missionary to Nicaragua Pleads Guilty to Helping Ex-Lesbian Who Fled Country With Daughter appeared first on . View the full article
  11. You’ve heard it (and maybe shared it): “Keep Christ in Christmas.” It’s a great thought…but do you do it? December can be such a busy month. Even busy with ministry. But sometimes in all the busyness of the season, we’re as guilty as the innkeeper of not making room for Jesus, even if our reasons are well intentioned. How can you, throughout the month of December, not only keep your head above water but actually make this month a season of worship? Here are seven suggestions: Attend every church service. You might be inclined to think that cutting back on church attendance during a busy month would relieve your schedule, that coming to every service just adds to the busyness. In actuality, if you come with a heart to quiet the white noise of the season and worship the Christ of Christmas, it doesn’t add to the busyness—it adds to the worship. (It could also add to your gospel opportunities if you invite a friend.) Schedule time for personal worship. Carve out time daily to open God’s Word and spend even just a few moments reflecting on Christ’s love, humility, and grace in coming to be our Saviour. Don’t wait until December 25 to read the Christmas story. Begin today reading Matthew 2 and Luke 1–2. Read Philippians 2. Reread them. Read them all in one sitting. Then read again just a few verses a day. Meditate on them. Even if you are a pastor immersed in ministry for Christmas, take time to immerse your own heart in the rich truths of the Incarnation. Use a Christmas devotional. If you read just one short book this month, make it a Christmas devotional that will encourage you to reflect on Christ and what His coming to earth means for us. Christmas Is a Gift (also available on kindle or iBooks) could be a helpful one. For a short devotional sent to your inbox each morning, you can subscribe to Daily in the Word. These daily devotions are featuring Christmas passages and truths all of the month of December. Teach children the meaning of Christmas. Whether it is your own children at home or helping in a class at church, teach a child the true meaning of Christmas. Or a new Christian. There is nothing to remind us of the wonder of familiar truths like seeing it through the eyes of a child or a new Christian. Think about the carols as you sing them. In some ways, Christmas has built in reminders to make room for Christ if we will simply think about what we do as we do it. Our Christian Christmas carols are among those. As you sing them in church, hear them in the mall (that’s one thing I love about this time of year), or play them from your phone…think about the words. Invite a guest to church. This is the easiest time of year to invite a family member, co-worker, friend, or neighbor to church. Between children’s presentations, church choir musicals, or a candlelight service, there are usually events at every church to which you could invite a guest. This year, Christmas itself is even on a Sunday! Give the gospel to someone. Beyond inviting someone to church, pray for an opportunity to fully share the gospel with someone. There is no better way to keep Christ in Christmas than to tell someone else the reason He came: to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Related posts: ’Tis the Season…for Soulwinning! 7 Guidelines for a Joyous Christmas Soulwinning Knows No Seasons View the full article
  12. By Jcgumpal - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, No – that’s not our nativity set. In fact, we don’t put up a nativity set – but my daughter does. The baby in the manger, surrounded by parents, shepherds, various sheep, cows but no Magi, no camels laden with gifts. They are across the room because they didn’t arrive until the family moved into a house. That’s her personal statement that most nativity sets – as the beautiful one above, does not reflect the correct chronology as told in the gospels. The unreality is not my reason for not setting up a nativity scene. Mine is simply that at our age and physical condition, we do little decorating that has to be unpacked, arranged, enjoyed, packed and put away. Unlike our doctor and hospital visits, those activities are not necessary. We do put up a “tree” as a signal that we know what season it is: Yes, it does take some work to put up and take down, but not much. I hope it tells people that we do celebrate Christmas, that we’re pretty much country people but not much more. No angels – though they did herald His birth. No stable – though He lay in a manger, most likely surrounded by farm animals. No shepherds – though after hearing the angels they did come in from the fields. Absolutely no wise men/kings or camels – though they came later and are included in the story of his birth. And it’s His birth we will celebrate. Not as the date He was born, but as a date chosen by men. Not as a celebration whose attention is required by scripture, though the story of His birth is detailed from conception to the flight to Egypt. We celebrate because: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 KJV) Paul understood this: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV) Every day I live in thanksgiving for God’s love. Every Sunday I meet with others to celebrate Christ’s resurrection – the awesome sign given His followers. On December 25, a Sunday, we’ll add the celebration of His birth in services and include dinner with family and extended family in remembrance of God’s gift and His love for the world. I do this because I love the Lord, not because of any other person’s traditions. I do not wish to change anyone’s mind about how they view this national holiday in a world-wide setting. I do ask for the same scriptural understanding from other Christians that was given to us through the Apostle Paul: One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Romans 14:5-6 KJV)View the full article
  13. “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11) The pungent phrase “from the beginning” occurs no less than nine times in the first three chapters of the little epistle of 1 John. Thus, while in one sense, Christ’s command to love one another was a new commandment, in another sense it has... More... View the full article
  14. To Ray Yungen, from Castle’s in the Sand Author, Carolyn Greene: A Tribute LTRP Note: Carolyn recently mailed this letter to Lighthouse Trails. She wrote it shortly after Ray passed away (on October 16th). Carolyn is the author of Castles in the Sand and Dangerous Illusions. Dear Ray, How I have missed you, and always will. The first time I heard about you, I read your book, A […] The post To Ray Yungen, from Castle’s in the Sand Author, Carolyn Greene: A Tribute appeared first on . View the full article
  15. “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 106:48) Many is the speaker who, after he has made some point which he considers especially good, will then say: “And all the people said, ‘Amen’” (meaning “that’s right!&rdqu... More... View the full article