So Much of … Everything but Jesus Over the Holidays

Everything but Jesus over the Holidays?Think about what tends to happen over the holiday season. So much of our time, attention, efforts, and resources go into preparing for the holidays that we barely enjoy this special time of the year. We can become so distracted that we lose focus of the One who deserves our praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and wholehearted devotion.

So much hustle and bustle over the holidays:

Already a busy people, we become even busier around the holidays. Though a time of year our thoughts should be centered around the Lord, we can become too busy to spend real time with Him.

Take this Challenge: Keep Jesus a priority.

So much emphasis on the newest and best gift-giving and decorating:

Already a material people, we become even more dazzled in finding the latest fad or most popular brand, the newest decorations or table settings. Does our quest for getting it just right crowd out sharing of the best gift — Jesus Christ?

Remember: Jesus is more than a fad. He is always relevant for Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So much stress and depression during the holiday season:

Already a stressed out and emotionally fragile people, we become even more burnt out or feeling alone at the holidays. Yet, during this time of thanksgiving and celebration we should feel more alive because of the hope we have in Jesus.

Make a Choice: Lay hold of that abundant life Jesus came to give you that’s full of peace, joy, and contentment.

So much financial, physical, and relational drain during the holidays:

Already maxed-out, we become even more in debt, tired, and wanting to get away from people. Yet, it’s a time that should bring us together, grateful for people in our lives and for all we have been given.

Run to Jesus: He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Adult Curriculum to Help Us Find Our Way Back to Jesus:

Tips for Dealing with the Effects of Holidays on Church Life

Holidays affect the normal flow of church life whether intentional or not. Pastors, teachers, ministry leaders and workers should be aware of the effects of holidays, prepare for them, and make the most of them. Remember that we are exhorted to make the most of every opportunity (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5).

Holidays Effects on Attendance:

Holidays often bring a fluctuation in attendance. Regular attendees might be absent due to travel and visitors might be present as they are spending the holidays with your church member families. Tips:

  • Be prepared for a different group dynamic.
  • Be sensitive to newcomers.
  • Use it as time to share the Gospel.
  • Don’t bemoan who isn’t there but rather, remember them in prayer and maximize the time with those who are there.

Calendar of Events Over the Holidays:

Holidays often pull focus and resources from normal church life onto planning special programs and emphasis. Tips:

  • Use holidays to bring home points not usually covered throughout the year but remember that there are still on-going needs and ministry to be addressed.
  • Build margins into your schedule to be available for on-going ministry unrelated to the holidays.
  • Don’t lose focus on the essentials of life in Christ in the busyness of the season. Continue to nurture your own walk with God and encourage others to do so as well.

Holiday Effects on Giving:

Holidays often bring a fluctuation in giving, sometimes more and sometimes less. Tips:

  • Establish a means for those traveling for the holidays to still give to the ongoing work of the church.
  • Plan for ways to use extra giving beyond the budget for special projects, benevolence, etc.
  • Don’t pressure people but at the same time, keep stewardship and the vision before them.

Holiday Effects on Church Members’ Lives:

Holidays are often a more stressful, busier, and even an emotionally difficult time. Tips:

  • Be sensitive to people’s schedules and distractions in the way you plan.
  • Be available for counsel, to pray with and assist them as needed.
  • Don’t add more stress and turmoil to their lives.
  • Be a beacon of light and comfort to help them navigate these times.

The next post will look at how the holiday season can affect our lives. Subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

Effects of Holidays Like Intruders in ClassroomALSO:
The holidays can also affect the teaching-learning process in Sunday school or other Bible classes. Prepare your teachers to turn these intrusions into opportunities by ordering this two page teacher training document: Intruders in the Classroom that Steal & Vandalize: Holidays & Other Special Events

Labor Day Is . . .

Labor Day Reflections for Christians in the Workforce

Labor Day, celebrated the first Monday of September in the U.S. and Canada, is a holiday to honor the labor movement and contributions workers have made. Other countries celebrate it on the first of May.

As Christians, we can use this day to reflect on work from God’s vantage.

Reflections for Christians in the Workforce: Labor Day Is …

a time to reflect on the provision of having a job and be grateful to God.

That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God. (Eccl. 3:13)

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil – this is a gift of God. (Eccl. 5:18-19)

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deut. 8:10-14)

a time to reflect on the profit of work and understand how the benefits of working outweigh living on welfare when you don’t have to.

Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. (Prov. 10:4)

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (Prov. 12:11)

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Prov. 14:23)

One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Prov. 18:9)

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. (Eph. 4:28)

a time to reflect on the purpose in working beyond the paycheck and let it affect your attitudes and motivations in going to work.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Col. 3:23)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

a time to reflect on the pause from labor and admit your need for renewal.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, … For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex. 20:9-11)

a time to reflect on the priorities greater than a job and maintain perspective.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. (Jn. 6:27)

Graduation is . . .

Graduation is a Time to Trust in the Lord

God has brought graduates to this time of celebration. Just as He has been faithful in the past, so can He be counted on with the future. Each step forward can be taken in full confidence, knowing that wholeheartedly trusting Him rather than leaning on one’s own understanding leads to that which is best and for the good.

Graduates, look at graduation as . . .

a time to look back

… with gratitude for all who helped get you to this point, especially God.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Col. 3:15)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

a time to look forward

… with anticipation of what God has in store for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)

a time to look current

… with trust for what steps God wants you to take now.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Ps. 55:22)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Resources: Graduation Ministry Resources

Father’s Day Is …

Father’s Day is a Time to Remind Fathers

Father's Day Reminder
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  • a time to remind fathers to bring up their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) by “encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:11-12)
  • a time to remind fathers to work at leaving a positive impression on their children, not to provoke or exasperate them (Eph. 6:4)

Father’s Day is a Time to Remind Children

  • a time to remind children that to honor and obey their fathers isn’t just for the benefit of the parent but also for their own good “so that it may go well with” (Prov. 19:26; 20:20; 23:22; Eph. 6:1-3)
  • a time to remind children of the joy they can bring to their father by living wisely, not merely by what they say on this one special day (Prov. 15:20; 23:24-25; 29:3)

Father’s Day is a Time to Remember the Greatest Father

  • a time to remember God as “a father to the fatherless” (Ps. 27:10; 68:5) who comforts those who did not grow up with a father or who perhaps had an ungodly father who wasn’t there for them as he should have been
  • a time to remember God as the Greatest Father who can serve as a role model for earthly fathers (Matt. 7:9-11; Heb. 12:7-10; 1 Jn. 3:1)

The next post will look at God as Our Father. Subscribe to this blog to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

You might also be interested in: Father’s Day Ministry Resources

Easter is . . .

What Easter Demonstrates about God
(Click to enlarge in Pinterest & repin.)

 

We know that Easter is about Jesus dying on the cross and then being raised from the dead. But, Easter is more than a nice story.

It’s a reality that demonstrates truths about the kind of God we serve. Jesus Himself said that He shows us what the Father is like (Jn. 14:9).

Easter is . . . a demonstration of God’s love and grace.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

For more:

Easter is . . . a demonstration of God’s judgment on sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Rom. 4:25)

For more:

Easter is . . . a demonstration of God’s power.

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. (1 Cor. 6:14)

For more:

Easter is . . . a demonstration of God’s wisdom.

but we preach Christ crucified … Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23-24)

For more:

Easter is . . . a demonstration of God’s plan for the future.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom. 8:11)

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:19-20) But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:23-24)

Praise God for Easter!