Parenting Conference 2015

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Advent and Christmas Candles

During advent we light the candles each week on the advent wreath. A different family from the church light the candles at each service, increasing by one candle each week until all 5 are alight. Here are some pictures from this past advent. (click on the thumbnail to see the full sized picture.
















At the conclusion of the Christmas Eve service each person has a candle lit, as we sign silent night. Click on the video below to be a part of this year’s experience.


United We Bow

Philippians 2:1-11

As followers of Christ we are united by that which is stronger than anything that tries to pull us apart. Jesus gave Himself for us so that we might be reconciled to our Heavenly Father.

In this beautiful passage from Philippians, Paul is strongly encouraging the church to be united through Christ and to show this in motive, attitude and purpose.

Many of you will be familiar with our church’s mission statement – Connecting people with God, each other and ministry.

This passage follows a similar pattern, as it begins by pointing out how we are united with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

V1 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,”

Paul moves next to talk of being united to one another

V2 “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

Then we are reminded that our response must be to think of others and minister to them.

V3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility value others above yourselves. Each of you should look not to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”

The remainder of our reading today tells us how to do that, by pointing to the example of Jesus and the fact that we need to be like Him.

V5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”

The aim of all we do, say and experience is to be more and more like Jesus. Dying to self and becoming more like him in our attitudes and actions. Not to earn our salvation, but to bear the fruit that gives witness to the reality of our relationship with Him. Prayerfully, the purpose of which is to give glory to God and that others may come to an understanding of their need for Him.

V11 “and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

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Surprises In The Family Tree – Psalm 89

It’s very clear from both these Old Testament and New Testament texts that Jesus’ name has staying power!

I’ve met people before who tell me that when they die, their family name will die with them; they’re the last remaining person of their particular name. This will never happen with Jesus! His name continues forever!

Read through Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew, chapter one. Matthew summarizes it when he writes in vs.17, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ”.

What amazing symmetry and balance! This verse teaches us that God has an orderly plan for history. Nothing happens by chance or accident! This also means that God has a plan for my life; nothing happens by chance or accident! Isn’t that good news! God knows everything!

Further, as we scan the names in Matthew, chapter one, we see some very surprising names! Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, Jacob, Judah, some of these people were not even Jews, some were women (Jewish lists did not normally include women) and some had morally questionable backgrounds! Their inclusion in the genealogy of Jesus teaches us that God’s love transcends barriers of nation, gender, race, behavior and culture. Remember, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)  This means that our love should also be inclusive of all types of people.

Finally, God uses sinful people to achieve His purposes. Some of the people in the list lived spiritually questionable lives too. Jehoram’s name appears in vs.8. The Bible describes Jehoram as proud and unfaithful to the Lord (2 Chron 26:16). Manasseh, another wicked king also appears in the list. Why does God include these people instead of spiritually upright people like Sara or Moses? It teaches us that God’s grace is so large it includes imperfect people, people just like us! What good news to remember as we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth. Merry Christmas!

Practical Praise – Psalm 150

The psalmist communicates great passion in Psalm 150. He’s excited; he’s thrilled about praising the Lord! In just six verses we read this exhortation, “praise the Lord” or “praise him” thirteen times!

What does the phrase, “praise the Lord” mean? We use it frequently in church so it’s important that we understand what it means. It means to lift up, or exalt the Lord in our hearts and minds.

Psalm 150 provides detailed instructions for praising the Lord. First, it speaks of where we should praise, namely the “sanctuary” and “in his mighty heavens” (vs.1) A sanctuary can be an ancient cathedral, a stately wood structure, a small chapel in the woods or a lawn with grass. It’s a place set apart for worship. When we worship today, we prepare or warm-up for heaven.

Second, we read of why we should praise the Lord: “for his acts of power, for his surpassing greatness”(vs.2) The Bible includes many demonstrations of God’s awesome power. But God’s power was not manifested only in Old and New Testament times; we can experience God’s power afresh today too!

Third, we read of the how of praise: with music! In vs.3-5 we read of various musical instruments used to praise the Lord. God has given us a special gift with the gift of music. Music has the power to touch deeply into our souls, minds and hearts.

Finally, we read of the who, who should exalt and lift up the Lord? The answer appears in vs.6 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”. “Everything” includes all of God’s creation, including humans! I want to challenge you to make regular worship a habit in your life. God wants you and me to exalt and lift up His name each Sunday with God’s people!

Together – Psalm 133

I love Psalm 133! This psalm emphasizes the importance of relationships in the community of faith. We learn this important truth: that we as God’s people must strive to live in unity in the midst of community. Live in unity in the midst of community!!


The psalm is very brief. David uses a figure of speech called a simile. He describes unity in community like “precious oil” in vs.2 and “dew” in vs.3. The precious oil was used to anoint sacred people, such as priests in the Old Testament and sacred furniture in the Tabernacle. Precious oil symbolized the presence of Almighty God. In Psalm 133:2 David likens unity among God’s people as precious oil; in other words, we should treat each other as God’s special people! We should treat everyone in the church with respect, kindness, dignity and love.


Dew falling on Mt Hermon is an interesting simile. I believe David wants to convey the image of freshness. Dew dissipates every day. It’s new every morning! Unlike snow or ice which can remain on mountains, dew disappears quickly. We should treat each other in the church with freshness! Beware of “sizing people up” and judging them indiscriminately. Cursory judgments create barriers, distance and disunity.


Finally, in the second part of vs. 3 David mentions the Lord bestowing his blessing on his people. The source of church unity descends from above, from the Lord!

Let us pray for it every day! We can live in unity in the midst of community by praying for God’s power and blessing to make us one, by avoiding selfishness and by living with a spirit of freshness.