Thursday, December 30, 2010

EDITWord (Every Day In The Word)

There is no better way to feed your soul, ward off discouragement, convict your heart, or gaze upon Christ than reading the Bible every day. Do you realize that just 15 minutes a day will get you through the entire Bible in one year? How great will it be to look back on 2011 having read the Bible cover to cover! Here’s how:

1. Find a plan.There are many Bible reading guides available. May I suggest the “Ever Day In The Word” plan. This plan features a reading from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs each day. This plan divides the text into 365 sections, so you can read through the entire Bible in one unforgettable year—in as little as 15 minutes a day. In one year, you read the Old Testament, New Testament, and Proverbs once, and the Psalms twice. You can read online, receive this electronically as an email or RSS news feed, or you can print out the plan here.

2. Find a place and time. Decide right now what is the best place and time for you to read. Now make a firm appointment with God and try to guard the time carefully.

3. Read to feed.Don’t try to master all of the content all at once. Ask the Lord to give you something to feed on each day. By reading from several sections of the Bible every day, you are sure to find good food for your soul.

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

“He comes to make His blessings known far as the curse is found”

Those words from Isaac Watts classic carol, “Joy to the World”, point to a powerful truth that Jesus’ birth inaugurated: the overturning of the curse! What curse? The curse that Adam’s sin brought to humanity and all creation. When Adam fell into sin, all his progeny fell as well. And what’s more, all of creation fell and now groans awaiting it’s redemption.

But with the birth of Jesus all that began to change. Truly, ((to steal a phrase from C.S. Lewis) time itself began to work backwards!

I got some great insights into this last Sunday when I was handed a card with some thoughts of “Undoing the curse”. I thought they were so thoughtful that I would share them with you all! Here they are:

David’s census brings a curse to his lineage (1 Samuel 24); Caesar’s census brings Jesus into the city of David to undo the curse of David!

David’s reign ends with a census; Jesus’ reign begins with love!

The shepherds are the “church”, receivers of the “evangel”, testifiers against Caesar and the power of the world. God’s legion appears to announce Jesus’ coming, the toppling of Rome!

There is so much going on on that “Silent Night”, I’m sure you could add to those insights. But please do, find a quiet place to treasure these things up in your heart. And have a very Merry Christmas.

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Give Different...

I hope we have gotten the message that the Advent Conspiracy is not a call to stop giving gifts. It’s a call to give a different kind of gift. The Advent Conspiracy is a call to give the kind of gifts that God gives. And how does God give?

1. God gave us his presence in Jesus

Immanuel means “God with us”. When God saw our need he didn’t simply send a solution, he sent a person: himself! He gave His very presence. We are surrounded by “pseudo community”: twitter, facebook, etc… These “social networks” have their place but fail to give us any real “face time” with each other. We need to be “with” one another. We need to give “presence”.

2. The Gift of Jesus was personal

Luke tells us that the angels announce that “unto you” is born a savior. The gift of Jesus is to “you”, it’s personal. God was paying attention to our need. So relational giving means paying attention to the person you are giving to. Relational giving means thinking about your relationship with another and giving “presence” according to who they are.

3. His Gift was costly.

God’s gift cost everything! God didn’t just become man so he could just hang out and have coffee with us. Ultimately the cradle would lead to the cross. The give of the presence of Jesus cost God greatly. And it will cost us. Not nearly the cost Jesus paid. But a cost nonetheless, in time, energy, and thought.

So don’t run up a debt this season. The only debt we should have is the debt to love one another! (Romans 13:8)

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Great Reversal

“He has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.” Luke 1:52-32 (emphasis mine)

How come I never really thought about Mary’s “song” at Christmas? How come I never thought about the “great reversal” she sings of – you know, bringing down the mighty yet exalting the humble, sending the rich away but filling the hungry with good things? And how come my celebration of Christmas doesn’t look like that?

Can I really say I am celebrating Christmas if I am not doing something to exalt those of humble estate and filling the hungry with good things? Shouldn’t my affections, attention, and resources be spent on the humble and the hungry? Shouldn’t I at least be doing something to move my Christmas in that direction? Shouldn’t my Christmas be wrapped around those ideas?

Well, my Christmas should be wrapped around CHRIST (duh)!

But Jesus loves the humble and the hungry. And I love Him. So – I should love the humble and hungry too. And I can love Him by loving the humble and hungry (Matthew 25:34-40).

So let’s conspire together to wrap our minds around this concept, wrap our hearts around Christ, and wrap our arms around the humble and hungry!

That’s Christmas wrapping that Jesus really loves!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom

(p.s. See “mission” below for some ways to do this!)

(p.p.s. I want to hear your stories on how you are “spending less” yet “giving more” this year! Let’s share ideas on how we can give relationally and give redemptively this year! I’ll send out a post with the “idea bank”!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Advent Conspiracy

The Advent Conspiracy

This year Southwest Church is “conspiring” with West Orange churches to do Christmas differently. We are seeking to learn what it means to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. We are partnering to build a well for Chapa Community, a school and orphanage in Ethiopia. This could be life changing for this area!

WHAT TO DO : We are challenging ourselves to spend less so we can give more, specifically to provide clean water for those who do not have access to it.

WHO WE ARE HELPING: We hope to build more than one well (at least one in Ethiopia and one in Haiti), which costs approximately $6000 each. But the 1st well will be for a village in Ethiopia near a group of orphans and school kids supported by “” – through a partnership with Living Waters International.

WHY IT MATTERS: Because 90% of illnesses in our world are from water related issues, because the lives of a village are changed when there’s access to a deep-water well for clean water, and because the culture of the village is changed forever because less time fetching dirty water means more time being educated and planting crops and serving one another.

THE BOTTOM LINE: We are asking folks to give between now and December 26th as they participate in the conspiracy. We will collect all the money given and we will write a check to Living Water International for at least one well (hopefully more)!!!

Thanks so much for joining the conspiracy!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom