January 1-21, 2011
Sunday, November 28, 2010
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;” Jeremiah 29: 12-14a
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Christians Against Poverty is urging people not to give in to the temptation of a loan to cover the cost of their Christmas celebrations.
The U.K.-based debt counseling charity says it is not out to kill the festive season but that it wants people to have a clear spending strategy to see them safely into the New Year.
CAP Chief Executive Matt Barlow believes such a strategy is wise as yet more economic uncertainty looms on the horizon.
“These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say 'at least we’ll have a great Christmas' and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got,” he said.
“If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear."
“The New Year is full of uncertainty: job losses, VAT will be going up, benefits are changing, energy bills are rising and we don’t know what interest rates will do," he noted. “If we were ever going to get our spending under control at Christmas – it should be this year.”
The charity said that around half of its clients with “out-of-control” debt had taken out a loan at some time to help cover the cost of Christmas.
It warned that many of them went on to lose their homes, suffer mental health problems, contemplate suicide and find themselves unable to feed and clothe their children.
“We’re not party poopers," Barlow said. "We just want people to enjoy Christmas and not be anxious about whether they will be able to pay it all back.”
The charity has released its top ten tips for avoiding festive debt. In addition to never taking out a Christmas loan, they include being honest with family members if things are tight, not buying gifts for others out of obligation, and collaborate with relatives to buy the kids’ presents.
- Decide what you have to spend. Make a list and be realistic. Paying in cash may help you keep control. Let your children see your careful planning – you’ll be teaching them a valuable life-long lesson.
- Manage expectations early. If things are tight don’t be afraid to say so to family members. You’ll probably all be in the same boat and it may lead to a happier Christmas for them too!
- See if relatives will club together with you to buy children what they would like, rather than individually over indulging them and all feeling out of pocket.
- Buy fewer presents but more cheaper trimmings like paper chains and crackers. They all add to the fun without costing very much.
- Never take out a Christmas loan! Remember the possible consequences could be disastrous for you and your family.
- Give ironing or baby-sitting vouchers or make presents as opposed to buying them. For example, delicious homemade biscuits, chocolates and fudge make a lovely gift and show you've spent time and care.
- Remember, you can't buy love. Don't feel guilty if you can't afford the latest present for your children. Your love and affection will last longer in the memory than any toy can.
- Don't fall into the trap of reciprocal gift giving and don't buy out of obligation.
- Don't overspend in the January sales, in spite of how good a bargain you might see. Make a budget and stick to it and if possible, leave those credit cards at home.
- Enjoy all the low cost things on offer – the lights in town, get togethers, making mince pies, playing family board games, seeing your kids in the school nativity – and have a very Happy Christmas!
[By Charles Boyd - Christian Today Reporter]
NOVEMBER 28, 2010
1 The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
3 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.
5 Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
A Song of Ascents, of David.
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
2 Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
3 Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
4 To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD—
An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 “May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
8 For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
40 “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
43 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
[Revised Common Lectionary. 2009. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]
Friday, November 26, 2010
Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. The Eastern churches' equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs both in length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on September 1.
Advent typically starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive.
Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. We believe that the season of Advent serves a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.
This Sunday, November 28, 2010 is the first Sunday of Advent this year.
- November 28 - First Sunday of Advent
- December 5 - Second Sunday of Advent
- December 12 - Third Sunday of Advent
- December 19 - Fourth Sunday of Advent
Set on the branches of the wreath are four candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. In the center of the wreath sits a white candle. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
Each week on Sunday, an additional candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger.
On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy.
The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the "Angels Candle," represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.
On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
Celebrating with an Advent wreath during the weeks prior to Christmas is a great way for Christian families to keep Christ at the center of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.
It has been an honor and a privilege to minister outside North America for the past several weeks. The world has become a smaller place with a need for a true and living God everywhere. The Great Commission still includes the ends of the earth, all nations and all peoples.
While the challenge seems great, there is a great revival underway in South America. To God be the glory.
As Thanksgiving passes and Advent arrives, we will go back to work providing resources for Pastors and churches on the Blog. It is an exciting time of year.
If you ever need us, we are just a phone call away.