Refocusing Christmas-Generosity

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Some of the good things include delicious food, family time, parties, seeing the excitement of your kids and the story of Jesus. The not so fun part of Christmas centers on how commercial it has become. There are pressures with this holiday including the need to please, not feeling like you have bought enough, getting yourself into debt and trying to keep up with others. The true meaning of Christmas gets lost in all of the materialism. It’s time to refocus on Jesus because if you don’t this will be a time of year that you dread instead of a time of celebration. The Christmas season is an opportunity to pay it forward, show others the love of Jesus, put differences aside and be generous because of what God has done in your life.

Pastor Michael read scripture from Timothy 6:17-19 which talks about teaching those who are rich in this world to place their trust in God who richly gives you all you need rather than in your money which is unreliable. God wants you to rely on Him. Having more than your friends and colleagues causes one to feel rich. Rich is a moving target though and in a world of competition and comparison, it’s often challenging to feel rich. God has richly blessed you in so many ways and provides opportunities for you. One of God’s blessings is generosity, which was created in you when He sent Jesus into this world.

The world is deprived of the real meaning of Christmas. It is not about the presents. It’s about what Jesus did for you. God has made you rich by giving of His grace, love and forgiveness. You are a conduit to show others what God is like. Generosity empowers you to experience true life. Don’t let everyday life get in the way of your good intentions. Refocus on God, volunteer your time, donate money or gifts and be a light to others. When you act generously, you look like your Father in Heaven.

Why is it so hard to love?-Pastor Jack Daniel


Pastor Jack told a story about an incident that Jesus was involved in early on in his ministry.  Jesus was invited to a dinner party at the home of a Pharisee named Simon.  A woman, who was a known prostitute in the town, showed up at the party crying for her sins.  She began to weep and her tears fell on His feet.  The woman proceeded to wipe His feet with her hair, kiss them and pour perfume on them.  It was an awkward situation.  As Simon watched the woman, he thought that she didn’t belong in his home as he never associated with those type of people.  Simon viewed her as below him and put her down.  Simon commented to Jesus that if He were a prophet then He would know this woman is a sinner.  A prophet had two jobs and one of them was to point out sin.  The other job that Simon forgot about, was to proclaim the forgiveness of God on people.

Jesus told a story in response.  It was about two people that owed money to a lender.  One owed 50 days wages and the other owed 500 days wages.  Neither of the people had the money to pay him back, but he forgave the debts of both.  Then Jesus asked which one would love the moneylender more?  Simon answered the one who had the biggest debt forgiven and Jesus agreed.  The woman had given Jesus water for His feet and kisses since she arrived at the house.  Simon had not.  We compare and categorize people all the time to make ourselves feel better.  The bottom line is that both Simon and the woman were in the same category because they both had sins.  The only difference is that the woman’s were more obvious and Simon’s were hidden behind a cloak of respectability.  Both of them are debtors.  Jesus had called Simon out.

There are times when we get down on ourselves and feel unworthy, unattractive and unloved.  It’s difficult to love others when feeling that way because if there is not enough love for yourself, then how can you possibly share?  Being fearful that there is not enough love to go around can cause you to hoard it for yourself.  God says there is plenty of love to give away and still have enough left for you as the supply is endless.  God is there to answer prayers, take care of you, and guide you.  When you know how much you are loved, then you are able to love.  Ask Jesus to fill you with an awareness of His love for you so it will spill over.  The need to hoard is gone when you realize how much you are loved.  That feeling occurs when you recognize that God’s grace is for you and that He will pour unlimited blessings into your life. You can act generously when you feel rich.  If you feel poor, you will act poorly and that is when it’s hard to love.

Noel’s Mission Trip to Tijuana Mexico

Noel LeVasseur shared with FBC the experience he had while on his first mission trip. He was presented an opportunity to partner with Calvary Four Square Church to help a family that lost everything in a fire. Since Noel had some construction experience, he felt he would be a good addition. He prayed about it and decided to go. There were 11 people on the team and they were able to build a house for this family from start to finish in four days, minus the plumbing. The members of the team varied in age, but they bonded and worked well together.

One of the things that stood out to Noel was how proud the people of Tijuana are. They live in extreme poverty, but they do not beg for money. At stoplights they will try to sell you a bottle of water, a flower or offer to wash your windshield. They use scraps of paper for business cards to write the information of what they can offer you, so they can get paid for their service. It made Noel think of how we live in such a privileged country and take so many things for granted. Americans tend to have the “how can you help me?” mentality instead of the “how can I help others by serving God?” mindset.

Noel also realized how important family is to the people of Tijuana. The family, including the children, participated in the building of the house. They stayed strong even during difficult times. Flora was one of their children that helped everyday. She even made each member of the team a heart out of the scrap electrical wire to show how connected she was to the team. The father gave the key to Flora so she could be the first to open the door to their new house for the dedication feast. That was a special moment for Noel.

Noel attended church while on his mission trip. It was a modest building, but they had a band and televisions like FBC. The pastor had great energy and preached in Spanish and English. Noel felt comfortable and that he was in a place that was judgment free, much like being at FBC. The pastor’s sermon included the same clip from the Gladiator movie that Pastor Michael played during a sermon when Noel first started attending FBC. Noel knew that God was speaking to him. God was letting him know that He would always be there for him no matter where in the world he was. Noel has realized what it means to serve God and the reward that is felt from doing so. This experience was very powerful. There are so many ways that we can serve God. It’s not about us, but about how we can help others. Remember, what we do in life echoes in eternity.

Thank you so much Noel for giving FBC this incredible testimony.

Father’s Day – Staying Connected

Who are you being a role model for? For most of us the answer is our children. The more important question is, what are you teaching them? Being a parent is a tough job and is only one of the many roles you have in life. Often times your family doesn’t get the best version of you as you give your best at work all day. When you get home, your family gets whatever energy you have left. Pastor Michael shared the principal for being great in any area of your life. It is believed that Jesus shared this at the last supper beginning with John 15:1, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.”

You want success, great relationships, a passion for life and to be a world changer. God wants that for you too. God prunes your life so you can be more successful. He will cut off the dead branches and sometimes even the healthy ones in order to make the whole you produce more fruit. The trials in your life are a result of God’s pruning. Sometimes it hurts, as He has to cut off branches in your life that you thought were alive and doing well. The challenging times are what shapes you into the person you are supposed to be. God wants you to be mature, complete and not lacking anything. God also prunes you through reading the Bible and during your quiet time with Him.

Jesus went on to say in John 15:5 that “Yes I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” The secret to being fruitful in life is to remain connected to God. You will not be able to work your way into Heaven. That path comes from your connection to God. It’s not enough to just come to church on Sunday. God needs to be a priority in your life everyday. Get in the habit of reaching out to Him first and not last after you have tried everything else. Stay focused on God and see how He is moving in your life and all the good He is bringing you. To understand real love, patience, forgiveness and grace you must be connected to God. When you disconnect from God you will wilt, but will rejuvenate and grow when you remain in Him.

Together-Serving

You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all together, irrespective of how we got here, in what He is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.

Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the Cornerstone that holds all the parts together.

We see it taking shape day after day, a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a sanctuary in which God is quite at home.

Pastor Michael opened today by stating he feels God creates waves of direction. God has uniquely designed you and placed something on your heart that moves you individually. He gave several examples of how people at FBC have used what moved their hearts to give back to their community. Pastor Kelleen is passionate about prayer and created the worship on the water event. Jason Gibbons has used his love of basketball as a way to spread a powerful anti-bullying message and several food/ hat & mitten drives took place to fill a need in our schools. One person can make a difference. Kim beautifully sang “The Man in the Mirror” to reiterate the point that change begins with you-the person you see in the mirror everyday.

Pastor Michael then posed the question of what can a whole group of people do together? We have size in our favor and being unified by God allows us to change our community. God is blessing and leading us in the direction He wants us to go. FBC is made up of people with a variety of backgrounds, beliefs and skills making us more powerful in reaching the lost. Due to our strength together, the only weapon the enemy has is distraction causing us to stand alone to fight our own individual battles. When Christ is not the cornerstone holding us together, our core becomes weak. When we are weak, we have a hard time accomplishing anything. When we unite as one, we can accomplish what is not supposed to happen. Then we not only survive, but we win. One person can make a difference, but together we are unstoppable.