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  • Are You Ready For Christmas?

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Apr 22, 2020

    John the Baptist told people to make preparations to meet Jesus that were very different from our preparations for Christmas.

    I hope we are all making some progress towards being ready for Christmas. We know the drill, decorations, shopping, Christmas cards, wrapping presents, cooking, and so on. Today we meet John the Baptist, who gives us a very different list of things we need to do to be ready to more

  • John The Baptist: Challenge For A Deeper Life

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Apr 22, 2020

    John the Baptist didn't follow in his father's footsteps as a priest in the temple. He challenged people to break out of normality and live radically new lives.

    (John, entering from the back, in costume, down the center aisle.) Wake up, everybody! God’s Messiah is coming! That’s really good news! Get ready! Things have got to change around here! God’s blessings are coming for you! But you have to be ready! Clean it up, folks! (John standing in more

  • Point Them To Jesus

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Apr 22, 2020

    Churches easily get struck in a rut and decline. John the Baptist serves as a model for vital ministry: focus on Jesus above all else.

    Last week we started looking at the ministry of John the Baptist. He was a prophet. He cared for the spiritual health of his nation with all of his heart. He saw clearly what needed to be done and he spoke out what people needed to hear, boldly, without any sugar coating. His boldness was what more

  • A Family Like Ours

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Apr 22, 2020

    We may be tempted to skip over the account of Jesus' ancestry, but it is an important part of the good news of Jesus.

    If you had the job of writing up the story of the life of Jesus, one of the decisions you would make would be what to do with the opening paragraph. You know how important the opening is. You want something to grab people’s attention and pull them into reading the whole thing. What would you more

  • It' Not About Us

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Apr 22, 2020

    We love our church traditions and are proud of the good things we do. But our calling is to honor Jesus above ourselves and change any tradition to better point people to Jesus, like John the Baptist.

    One of the fun parts of the Christmas season is getting letters from old friends and learning how their kids are turning out. Erik, whom I confirmed years ago, is in the Air Force now. Annie is a commercial artist. Allen, who used to get bullied, is a police officer now. Tim is married, with more

  • The Price Of Peace

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 26, 2020

    At Christmas time we may dare to dream about peace on earth, but it doesn't last long. In Jesus, God showed us the way to true peace and it is not cheap.

    “In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good more

  • Jesus Grew

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 26, 2020

    Have you been saved? Great. But that's only the beginning. Jesus had to learn obedience and effective ministry. Are you on the path to becoming a useful disciple for God?

    Last week we looked at a touching moment in Jesus’ infancy. His parents brought their infant son to the temple to be dedicated to God. They wanted nothing but God’s best for their special son. And in the temple God brought them across the path of one of his true saints, Simeon, who loved their more

  • His Father's Business

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 26, 2020

    Even for Mary, Joseph and Jesus there were some messy family days. But that may be a necessary, healthy part of letting our teens grow up.

    Have you ever found yourself in the situation where someone really impresses you, and you ask yourself, “I wonder what that person was like as a child?” You might be impressed with them for good things, or bad things. But you wonder about their childhood. For centuries Jesus has impressed more

  • The Journey From Bethlehem To Nazareth

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020

    We have our dreams for a perfect Christmas, but don't feel God has failed you if your dreams aren't met. Imagine how Mary's dreams for having a perfect birth for her baby were disrupted.

    If we made a list of what it would take to make a perfect Christmas, it would be quite a list. Of course all the family needs to be together, all at the same time. Just that can be really complicated. For us, as near as we can tell, we’ll have one son coming in on the afternoon of the 25th and more

  • Not Such A Silent Night

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020
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    If your Christmas isn't coming together the way you would like, remember that our God is a God for the rough times, too. Look what Mary went through on the first Christmas.

    If a good fairy appeared and said you could make a list to put together your perfect Christmas, what would you put on your list? Every year around Christmas time we get several chances to watch various versions of Charles Dickens’ classic story about Ebenezer Scrooge and the various spirits of more

  • The Angels' Celebration

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020

    When we think of the wonder of what God did at Christmas, we just have to celebrate.

    We love the quietness and intimacy of many parts of the Christmas story. The arrangements are made by angel messengers, who appear very privately, to Mary, face to face, and to Joseph in a dream. Mary ponders the wonder of it all, deep in her heart. A peasant couple quietly slips into Bethlehem, more

  • Shepherds?

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020

    It was lowly shepherds who got the most impressive announcement about the birth of the Messiah. That tells us a lot about the God we serve.

    I think the presence of the shepherds has to be one of my favorite parts of the Christmas story. They don’t say much. They don’t do much. But it sure was important to God that they be there for the birth of Jesus. And that says a lot. When the time came to tell Zechariah about the birth of more

  • The Christ In A Manger

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020

    We have heard the story so often that it seems obvious that Christ was born in a manger. But that would have been shocking to the world of that day.

    I always enjoy the chance to meet people from different cultures and learn how 2 people from 2 different cultures can look at the same event and see it differently. Years ago, we lived in New Delhi India. Kathy and I had to take a bus to a shop in the old city, so I brought my Bible along to more

  • Peace On Earth

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020

    We might read a Christmas card that says "Peace on Earth" and not think anything of it. But the hope of God's peace is revolutionary.

    In years past at Christmas time you would see the phrase, “Peace on Earth,” quite a bit. It might be on a banner in a store window or on Christmas cards or decorations in someone’s front yard. We did get one Christmas card with the phrase, but not as many as in years past. As the years go by we more

  • Dedicating Our Children To The Lord

    Contributed by Stephen Aram on Mar 24, 2020

    We share in Mary and Joseph's desire to give our kids the best possible spiritual foundations

    I want all of us who are parents to think back to a time when you presented one of your children for baptism. What was it that you were asking God to do when you brought your child for baptism? Grandparents, if it’s fresher to think about your feelings at the birth of a grandchild, do that. What more