Limitless: Living Life to the Full

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it too the full.” – Jesus in John 10:10

I hope you all had a meaningful and wonder-filled Christmas as we celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we begin another year, let us continue to move forward in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and in or relationships with one another.  

In John 10, Jesus said that He came to give us life to the full, an abundant life, a limitless life that is grounded in the greatness of our God. Our life in Jesus is limitless because it’s eternal, and it starts now, by the way. Yet we often feel like we are not living limitless.

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The Wonder of Christmas

“O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” – Psalm 40:5 NLT

Wonder is such a great word to describe Christmas. I remember the feeling of wonder when, as a child I ran down the stairs on Christmas morning, to the beautifully decorated and lighted tree, surrounded by mounds of presents. That sense of wonder was fleeting however.

According to the dictionary “wonder” is a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable. “Wonder” also means to ponder, think about, meditate on, reflect on, puzzle over, speculate about, or conjecture, and to feel admiration, amazement, to marvel.

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Thanks Living

“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; You are my God and I will extol You.  Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” – Psalm 118: 28-90

We are quickly approaching the thanksgiving season.  Our culture often ignores Thanksgiving… except of course for the big turkey dinner, the football games, and the one day family gathering… in favor of the more the commercial holidays of Halloween and Christmas.  And now black Friday has been pushed back to become “Thanksgiving Thursday” so that even the one day set apart for “Thanksgiving” is being overshadowed by special deals that lure people away from the attitude of thanksgiving and into the mode of consuming, spending, and buying.

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Back to Basics: Discipleship 101

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

“Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen” – 2 Peter 3:18 NLT

Peter tells the churches to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus. But what is grace? “Grace” is a very churchy word that we use often, we consider God’s grace one of the basics of Christian faith and life, but what does it mean? Why is grace so essential to the Christian Life? And how does that relate to other practices of the Christian faith? Maybe we need to go back to some basics!

When I went back to seminary for the second time, I was glad I did not have to retake courses such as church history 101. However, with the Bible Classes, although I did not have to retake Old Testament 101 or New Testament 101, I was happy to review, and to make sure I still knew the important basics, so I could stay on track! When you learn a new sport, it’s best to begin with the basics, with the fundamentals of the game. And it’s important to review the basics regularly. Read more Back to Basics: Discipleship 101

Enough…Stuff!

He (Jesus) told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds…The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” – Matthew 13:1, 22

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of “stuff.” By stuff, I mean material things I have purchased over the years. In fact, my collection of “unused stuff” gathering dust in my house, was a major stimulus to suggesting we have an all church rummage sale this past spring. As I was looking around at my house, I saw many items that I had used once or twice, or may have used at one time, but my situation has changed, and I no longer use them.  They are stuffed on shelves in closets, or in plastic tubs in the basement.  I even had items that I had purchased at one time or another, but then never really used. And by the turn out of “stuff” we received for that fund raiser, I suspect many of you have extensive collections of “stuff” that have accumulated in your houses too. Read more Enough…Stuff!

Come Be our Guest!

“When God’s people are in need. Be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:13 NLT
“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7 NRSV

In the movie Beauty and the Beast, the residence of the Beast’s house sing “Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test…we only live to serve.”  That is a great description of the practice of hospitality. But home is not the only place we practice hospitality. Practicing Hospitality is a key ingredient for a healthy, growing church. Paul in Romans 12:13 in the Message Bible tells the church to “Be inventive in hospitality.”

What does it mean for the church to practice hospitality? Robert Schnase in his book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, says: “radical hospitality is authentically going beyond expectation, to offer gracious invitation, reaching out to others, and becoming truly welcoming as a congregation because we have experienced God reaching out to us in Jesus Christ.” Read more Come Be our Guest!