Monthly Archives: December 2014

HOPE BREAK IS GOOD!

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Hey VSM!

Hope you had an amazing Christmas with family and friends! The VSM leaders have missed you guys and will miss you another week! Just wanted to give everyone a reminder that Winter camp is coming up quickly. This is something you DO NOT want to miss! Get signed up and get money in and get ready to have a good time. This cold weather is a great sign because it means we will most likely get snow! (Yes real snow) DO NOT miss this event. If money is an issue talk to one of us VSM leaders and we will figure something out. We love you guys!

 

Sincerely,

VSM leaders

THE PURSUIT OF GOD

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Reading_The_Bible

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
— John 15:4
A glance at today’s headlines could lead us to conclude that we live in pretty bleak times. There is great uncertainty about the future, especially among teens and twenty-somethings. Many feel they have nothing to grasp, no one to believe in, and no one to trust except themselves.

I would like to say there is something to grasp. There is someone to trust in, but it is not ourselves. It is the God who created us.

Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? These are questions that everyone should ask as they look to the future, especially if they are young. If we have no goals, purpose, or guiding principles, then we will waste our lives like so many others have wasted theirs. As it has been said, if we aim at nothing, we’re bound to hit it.

According to the Bible, you don’t find happiness, fulfillment, and joy by just looking for them here and there. These things are by-products of a relationship with the living God, in Christ. Let me put it this way: If you seek God and live according to His plan for your life, then you will find happiness. You will find joy. You will also find fulfillment—not through the pursuit of those things, but through the pursuit of God. So seek Him!

5 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR DURING CHRISTMAS

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LoveChristmas

 

The whole Christmas season celebrates God with us. Because God is with us and for us, we are not alone. And neither should our neighbors be, as we have great opportunities during this season to connect with them.

Recently my family and I moved. With moving comes all the obligatory tasks of packing boxes, finding moving trucks, and bribing friends to help you with copious amounts of pizza.

What else comes with moving? A new set of neighbors. People who God knew I was going to live by and who I have been called to know and love.

We can often get lost in the question, Who is my neighbor? Our lives are filled with different places where we connect and relate to other people. These are the places where we shop, work, and live. Jesus taught us that no matter if it’s at work, the gym, the play area at the mall, or right next door, a person in need is your neighbor (Luke 10:25–37).

A JOYFUL SEASON—FOR SOME
I grew up in Las Vegas, a city where many people go to spend their Christmas alone. Often it is a place to numb their depression about being alone during a time of year when connecting with family and friends is so important.

The truth is that you don’t have to be in Vegas to find people who are alone during the Christmas season. Many of us have neighbors or co-workers who have a deep sense of dread rather than joy about the Christmas season. Their disdain for Christmas is not rooted in an ideological culture-war, but rather in an emotional pain—they have little to celebrate or few loved ones to celebrate with.

Jesus taught us that no matter if it’s at work, the gym, the mall, or right next door, a person in need is your neighbor.
The Christmas season is amazing. We get to remember and rejoice that Jesus loves us enough that he would not stay far off at a distance, unfamiliar with human life, but rather he became a human to experience all that we experience. He would be a God who is able to empathize with all our struggles and joys (Heb. 4:15).

The whole Christmas season celebrates Jesus as Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:22–23). This changes everything for us. Because God is with us and for us, we are not alone. And neither should our neighbors be, as we have great opportunities during this season to connect with them.

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Here are some ways we can express Jesus’ love to our neighbors this Christmas season:

1. LOVE LISTENS
Throughout the Old Testament, God constantly heard the needs and cries of his people. All around us are people with needs during this holiday season, but because we are so busy we often don’t take notice. Take the time to really listen to the needs of your co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Be proactive in finding out if they have somewhere to go. In the midst of all the great Christmas festivities, don’t miss the needs of people around you.

2. LOVE DRAWS NEAR
When God heard the cries of his people, he didn’t stay removed and wish the world well. Instead he drew near: he came down to earth and took up residence with us. He wasn’t content to just give us distant instruction, but rather close, transforming connection.

Because God is with us and for us, we are not alone. And neither should our neighbors be.
Take a step to draw near to your neighbors this week and include them in your holiday parties, family traditions, and church worship services. This is the time of year where people are usually more open to connecting, conversing, and church. Take advantage of that.

3. LOVE TAKES THE FIRST STEP
Here is where it counts. Jesus did not wait for the world to embrace him or roll out the red carpet. Even to this day much of the world stands in opposition to him. Yet Jesus chose to engage and take the first step because he loves first (John 3:16).

Because we are loved by Jesus, we are called to take the first step toward our neighbors. We can’t wait until we just bump into them at the mailbox or while taking out the trash. Let’s go over and knock on their door. For many of us, this could be a life-changing decision. Maybe we have lived next to someone for years and still don’t even know their name. This year, invite them to come over to that ugly sweater Christmas party and drink too much eggnog. Or tell them to come hang out for that inevitable white elephant gift exchange with your community group.

4. LOVE IS INCONVENIENT
Jesus wasn’t in need of more friends or relationships. He had perfect fellowship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Yet Jesus chose to move toward us at great expense. Becoming human, he experienced loss, betrayal, and even death. It is a major understatement to say that Jesus was willing to be inconvenienced to reach us. Jesus’ love motivates us to endure the inconvenience of disrupting our plans to reach out to our neighbors and invite them into community.

5. LOVE ENDURES
After the Christmas season has passed and the tree is back in the box or out in the dumpster, let’s not put these new relationships away. Rather, we should endure in loving our neighbors and seeking to draw them into community with us and Jesus. This is exactly what Jesus has done with us, showing us patient love that does not give up (1 Cor. 13).

This is the time of year where people are usually more open to connecting, conversing, and church. Take advantage of that.
So yes, go nuts in filling up your schedule with great holiday activities and events. Have a blast in making memories with your family that will last a lifetime. Just look around and see who you can bring along with you. Draw near to those who are alone and don’t forget them during this significant time of year.

Jesus draws near to the broken-hearted and those who feel alone. When you were alone in your sin, Jesus came looking for you so that you would never be alone. Because this is the love that saved us, we can love like this as well.

So reach out. Extend joy to your neighbor and be generous about loving and connecting with others. That is the whole point of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS ISNT JUST ABOUT BABY JESUS

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BabyJesus

 

BABY JESUS EVERYWHERE
I’m starting to see “baby Jesus” everywhere—on cards, in stores, on the television. It’s a bit much. It’s not that Christmas décor is inherently bad, but rather “baby Jesus” is not only what Christmas is about.

We have made the grave mistake in our country of making Christmas about only “baby Jesus.” This is one of the most reductionistic things that we as Christians can do.

BABY JESUS IN THE MOVIES
This time of year, I’m reminded of one of people’s favorite scenes in the movie Talladega Nights. At the dinner table with his family, Ricky Bobby prays alternately to “Lord baby Jesus,” “your baby Jesus powers,” and “tiny, infant Jesus.” Of course, he can hardly finish this line before his wife chimes in— “Hey, you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up.”

As hilarious as the scene is, there is a lot of truth pertaining to the way Christians act during this time of year. Yes, we should be celebrating Jesus’ coming year-round, but here’s the problem: Ricky Bobby’s wife is right! Jesus did grow up!

BABY JESUS ONCE HE GREW UP
Did Jesus enter into human history as a baby? Yes. Is Christmas meant to celebrate the coming of Jesus into human history? Yes. So what’s the problem?

The reason we celebrate the coming of Jesus is because of what he did on the cross about 30 years after his birth. In other words, if this man, Jesus, was born 2,000 years ago and lived for about 30 years and died, and that was it, end of story, then we would have nothing to celebrate.

If we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are only celebrating because of what he came to do and the fact that he accomplished what he came to do. To celebrate only baby Jesus is to forget why he came. To celebrate only baby Jesus is sentimentalism.

BABY JESUS IN ISAIAH
The book of Isaiah includes all aspects of Jesus’ life. In chapter 9 we read about a child being born to us. Isaiah 53:2 says, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground.” This prophecy goes on to say in, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (v. 5). The chapter ends with this: “Yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (v. 12).

THE GAP BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND EASTER?
Think this sounds like more of a passage about Easter? Maybe. But this Christmas, I’d ask you to consider this: maybe Christmas is not just about baby Jesus, but more about the man Jesus than we thought.