Devotions

While there’s a world full of incredible, biblically sound devotionals, there’s something special about a shared experience with those you attend church with. At DCC we want to provide a resource for anyone interested in investing in time with the Lord that they can discuss with others who attend DCC or frequent our website. Devotions are provided during Advent each year, and during the year as special needs arise.

Advent 2022: Sunday, December 25

January 3, 2023

As Simeon prayed, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). Every time we look at a nativity scene, we can quote this verse because we, too, have seen God’s salvation. This is why Christ can say that we are the “light of the world” (Matt 5:14). Rejoice and be a light!<br><br> Merry Christmas!<br><br> Jim, pastor

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Advent 2022: Saturday, December 24

December 24, 2022

<strong>The Birth of Jesus as told by an eyewitness, a lowly sheep named Ollie with the help of St. Luke</strong><br><br> It all started a long time ago because some guy named Caesar Augustus decided that his whole empire must be registered. At this time Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone had to go to his birthplace to register.<br><br> Now there was a guy named Joseph who was engaged to a young lady named Mary, and even though she was almost ready to have a baby, they had to travel to all the way to Bethlehem. Now Bethlehem, the city of David, was very far away and not an easy trip, but Joseph was of the house and family line of David. Right after Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, it was time for Mary to have the baby. After he was born, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because all the rooms in the town were filled up. Can you imagine that?<br><br> Now this is where I come in. Guess who was the first to know? My boss, a shepherd who was watching over us little sheep because he didn’t want us to stray was the first to see the huge bright light in the sky. When all of a sudden, an angel of the Lord was standing right there. Right there in front of us! Talk about being scared…we were all shaking in our little hoofs. And then the angel told us not to be afraid because he had good news for everyone. He said that a baby was born in Bethlehem who was the Messiah, the Lord. Wow! I was thinking, after hearing about everyone waiting for this Messiah, that something special was happening.<br><br> The angel then told us that we should all go visit him. This angel was pretty smart because he knew everything about this kid. Then all of a sudden there was a whole big bunch of angels and they were all singing, praising God and giving him glory. What a great time it was! What a party!<br><br> We were all so excited to go see this baby when my boss and all the other shepherds decided to go. We packed our sacks quickly and off we went. We found the Mom and the Pop and that baby lying in a manger, just like the angel told us. And guess what? I got to lie up close right next to the manger. They needed us little guys to help keep the little baby warm. Boy, did I feel special! I felt like God’s honor Guard!<br><br> After we all finished our visit with this holy family, we left and on our way we told everyone what we saw. Then we all headed back to our pastures, singing, dancing, praising God and thanking him for choosing US, lowly shepherds and their sheep to be the first to hear about our Savior, Jesus, the newborn King!<br><br> Donna Tyburski, elder

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Advent 2022: Friday, December 23

December 23, 2022

Romans 15:13 <br><br> “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”<br><br> With Christmas fast approaching, I find myself continually seeking and yearning for peace and quiet… It’s not that I have faced extreme difficulties or trials this year, quite the contrary I feel very blessed. <br><br> However, there is just something about the anticipation of Christmas, the build-up of emotions that arise with the holidays and the expectation of the new year, that makes me long for our Savior. <br><br> I assume it has to do with how life was intended as we are all designed for fellowship, not only with other believers but especially with our Creator.<br><br> Hopefully, this verse can become a prayer you hold onto throughout the advent season and into the new year… carve out some time to spend with the Holy Spirit, seek his peace and share it with others.<br><br> (Full Disclosure, I have been struggling with what to share, but an early morning and an unplanned breakfast at IRON HOUR helped focus and organize my random thoughts. So many thanks to the early risers at DCC ……)<br><br> Brett Confer, elder

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Advent 2022: Thursday, December 22

December 22, 2022

As a young girl of nine siblings, I remember when Christmas approached. We would all await the Sear’s Christmas catalog to come in the mail. Mom and Dad asked us each to make a list of our dream present in hopes Santa would bring the one toy we wanted. My favorite part of Christmas morning was once we were ALL awake, we could enter the family room. Santa neatly made piles for each child. You knew your pile by your Stocking.<br><br> It was one Christmas in Dec 1982 when I had moved to college in Maryland and lived with my brother, and his family. Well to my surprise, on Christmas day as we awoke, there wasn’t a rush to the gifts or the stockings. Actually, this was my first time away from home and my Joy of a stocking didn’t happen, but what did was a pivotal moment for me.<br><br> As my brother and nephew gathered us near the Manager. Denise comes out with a little white iced round cake filled with many colors. I noticed it said, “Happy Birthday Jesus.” Jason went to the hutch drawer and pulled out Baby Jesus to lay him in the Manger on that Christmas Morn. As I was trying to process the message, they started to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, HE was the one we were honoring. WOW, I experienced the true meaning of Christmas!<br><br> I saw thru the eyes of a Child the true meaning of Christmas. It wasn’t the Sears catalog, the commercials on TV for the Easy Bake Oven. It was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Thru the eyes of a 3 yr. old. I learned the TRUE meaning of Jesus’ birth and what this Babe will bring to us as believers. Advent brings me Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.<br><br> Leslie Brooks, wonder woman at the front desk

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Advent 2022: Wednesday, December 21

December 21, 2022

“And He appeared, and the soul felt it’s worth.”<br><br> This might be my favorite line of any Christmas carol. It so simply and profoundly describes the amazing power of the Spirit of God. The human soul can only truly feel it’s worth in God’s presence. Only when we seek God, look for him, invite him in, embrace him! Then, we feel our own soul’s worth and value. <br><br> We live in a world where we humans are searching for our worth in ways that have no spiritual basis, but are affirmed and encouraged by earthly thinking, earthly desires and aspirations, earthly comparisons. I’m trying to think if my soul ever felt it’s worth after a day of toil, of struggle to comply or compete or compare or measure up. Have I ever done a day-end soul check? Nope. Never have.<br><br> Many of us struggle to understand the size of God’s love for us. The mystery of God is, well, a mystery! How can I have worth to the Creator of the Universe, when my worth and value don’t measure up in my own neighborhood, workplace, family, or my very physical, present, and right-here-right-now world? <br><br> Because God says I have worth. He wants to show it to me, because he knows it is the only way I will know.<br><br> “And He appeared, and the soul felt it’s worth.” That’s enough for me.<br><br> (By the way, my second favorite Christmas song is “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” It just cracks me up. Maybe God’s laughing a bit, too?)<br><br> Jude Mitchell, church lady

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Advent 2022: Tuesday, December 20

December 20, 2022

Is Christmas Pagan?<br><br> I said, “Merry Christmas!” and he replied “Did you know Christmas is based on pagan traditions?!” ‘Huh, a strange way to say hello.” I said to myself. It is a criticism I have often heard leveled against Christmas and John Lovell, who I often listen to, had this to say, “They are actually right. But hilariously, they miss the entire point of Christmas. Jesus came to rescue a fallen and broken world by redeeming it. Similarly, Jesus came and took a fallen day and redeemed it for a better one in the same way that he comes and rescues us as fallen and redeems us.” Jesus has always been about redemption. He takes us as rubble and rebuilds us from the ground up. To bring peace to those on whom his favor rests, choosing to live in flesh among us and to die in our place, so that we could be reconciled to God. Now that's good news if I have ever heard it! I used to find that criticism irritating but from now on I want to use it as a reminder of God's redemption for us. So, keep saying Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas to you all! <br><br> Arel Svenson, tech guru

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Advent 2022: Monday, December 19

December 19, 2022

A Christmas Tradition our family always looked forward to was picking out our Christmas tree and getting it ready for Santa.<br><br> This would be the weekend before Christmas on a Saturday. Mom, Dad and all nine of us piled into the blue wood panel station wagon to get the PERFECT tree. As you can image, nine kids running around a tree lot, we all thought we had the perfect tree picked out. Usually, it came to what our dad thought would fit in the stand and in the living room. So, the tree was picked out placed on top of the wagon and off we headed home.<br><br> SO, once the job of lights were done, it was OUR TURN. We as little ones, could only put on the decorations that we made in Sunday school, school or a craft. Now I am only putting my decorations on the lower half and front of the tree of what I can reach. The older siblings were able to put the glass ornaments or the special family ornaments, plus they could reach higher. Once we were all finished with lights and decoration, Angel on the top of the tree, usually leaning, it was time to put the trees skirt under the tree and place the Manger under the tree. We all step back and take a look once Dad turns on the lights... AND wow we were all in awe at the beauty of our tree.<br><br> Well years later as an adult the tree has a much GRANDER meaning. My husband and I have cut trees in the past when we lived on the East coast. Since then, we have purchased our tree with lights. In a matter of minutes, connect the three sections of the tree and you have a tree with lights. My dad would be amazed at this new concept!<br><br> So, and Dan and I decorate our tree, we unwrap each ornament from it wrappings from last year and it is like Christmas morn again. You never know what ornament you are unwrapping since many come from our travels. This is our time to reflect on our trips and how Blessed we have been to be able to do the travels that we have done.<br><br> This is where Advent has more meaning as an adult. We reflect on the Peace, Love, Hope and Joy of advent. The Joy each ornament gives us, the Hope of future blessing to travel, the Love we share with each other at this special Season and the Peace to know that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. So, now when we step back, turn off the lights in the living room and turn on the Tree, The Light of Christmas has Grander meaning of Peace, Love, Joy and Hope.<br><br> Merry Christmas and may Jesus light shine in your heart!<br><br> Leslie Brooks, wonder woman at the front desk!

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Advent 2022: Sunday, December 18

December 18, 2022

I was recently reading the Parable of the Sower from a wonderful book of the Gospels I have (KJV). In Matthew 13, Jesus is described as sitting among the multitudes, where he told them, among other things, the Parable of the Sowers, describing the importance of the ground on which seeds are sown.<br><br> “Some fell upon stony places with not much earth … and they sprung up because they had no deepness of earth… and when the sun was up they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matthew 13:5,6)<br><br> Additionally, seeds which fell among thorns, were choked out by the thorns and died. <br><br> “But others fell into good ground and brough forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty-fold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13: 8)<br><br> This Parable reminded me the importance of our foundation. How stable and strong is the belief that sustains me? How faithfully do I add good soil to stabilize and nourish what seeds I grow on this earth? Do I cast my seeds on fertile soil, or on barren stones? The answer is probably both.<br><br> We dwell in God’s amazing garden! I hope to learn to be a “sower” who can bear some fruit.<br><br> Christmas is a time that reminds me of the incredible stronghold, foundation and amazing nourishment the birth of our Savior represents. His “birth to earth” represents entirely that God has planted the best seed to nourish our world and our faith, and he prepared, sacrificially, the soil to sustain us through his Son! <br><br> Jude Mitchell, church lady

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Advent 2022: Saturday, December 17

December 17, 2022

Christmas was always warm fuzzys for me growing up, until I became a Christian at age 18 and started reading the Bible and came across the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, Psalm 22:1). It broke my heart. The little baby Jesus, all grown up, now dying a horrific death and doing it all voluntarily and out of great love for us.<br><br> So, as I prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, this glorious Christmas time, I get on my knees and humbly thank God, that this little baby did such a powerful sacrifice for his brothers and sisters.<br><br> Praise God for Jesus. Praise Jesus. He is our savior, born poor and simply, to a girl who loved him as any mother would love her newborn baby.<br><br> Thank God that this little baby, obeyed his father and finished his Fathers work.<br><br> Tim Morris, elder

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Advent 2022: Friday, December 16

December 16, 2022

Distractions<br><br> This time of year, everyone is vying for our time, attention, money, etc. There’s always something more exciting going on at different parties with more interesting people than wherever I find myself. However, this ought to be a time when we get to slow down and spend time with our family and those closest to us. <br><br> I think the reason I’ve found myself in this situation before is because I’m not thankful and content where God has placed me. I’m allowing distractions and even jealousy into my life where fellowship and community ought to be. There will always be somewhere else to be and something else to do, but there will not always be the people I know and love around the same table in the same room. I want to focus on that this Christmas: being present with those around me while remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ.<br><br> Lelan Eberly, student ministries

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Advent 2022: Thursday, December 15

December 15, 2022

One of my favorite Christmas traditions I had, when my children were young, was pulling out all the decorations and putting them on the tree. The grandparents added one each year to the collection and the special ones were handmade by the kids at school. <br><br> After the lights and decorations were all up, we would get our sleeping bags and pillows out and sleep under the lighted decorated tree that night. My kids then would anticipate the many gifts to come that will be under the tree.<br><br> Christmas is one of the happiest holidays because during this season, people are more generous than any other time of the year.<br><br> And yet, Christmas is not about the decorations, shopping or presents. It’s about the gift of Jesus, that he forgave us our sins and gave us the gift of hope and eternal life.<br><br> In this season what gift will we give to Jesus? All he wants is our love and to have a personal relationship with us. He wants us to seek him first in all that we do.<br><br> I have in my window a favorite decoration that I bought years ago for our house which says, “The Magic of Christmas is not in the presents but, in His presence.”<br><br> Michele Thompson, elder

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Advent 2022: Wednesday, December 14

December 14, 2022

“But the greatest of these is Love.” As we think about the Advent Season and the other everyday(s) that happen the rest of the year, I think about the command that we are given throughout the New Testament. 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is Love.” Jesus taught that the greatest two commandments, which each include love, to be the greatest gift. “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”<br><br> Whether it is the Advent Season, the off season or the peak of ski/mountain bike/hiking/hunting season, I challenge you to ask the Lord to help you with your “Love” commandments as you go through the day.<br><br> When you wake up, thank the Father for loving you and ask him to be a part of your day.<br><br> If someone smiles at you, smile back and say thank you, whether out loud or in your heart. If someone frowns or yells, smile and show mercy, and know that they may be having a rough day and sure could use a bit of Love. If you are having a bad day, take a step back, a breath, and think about how much you are loved, so much so, that a Son gave his life for you, and that a Father allowed it to happen so that we could be with the two of them in a place that is and will be amazing.<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br> Jim Anderson, elder

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Advent 2022: Tuesday, December 13

December 13, 2022

Why did Jesus come? To follow the Rules? To bring Righteousness to the Earth? Show Satan who is Boss? How does Jesus set the prisoners free?<br><br> What are we bound with now? Is it just the tendency to go against what we know God wants? Is it following our own agenda? Why do we do these things? Where does it come from? <br><br> God said he will write his laws on our hearts. He will give us new hearts. Are we listening to our new hearts? Do we actually believe that we have new hearts? Or do we believe the lie that we still have a heart of stone? <br><br> Are we listening to those around us? <br><br> Merry Christmas,<br> Tim Seeling, elder

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Advent 2022: Monday, December 12

December 12, 2022

I recently came across a box of sermon notes that belonged to my Grandfather Reverend H. L. Kinzel who served the congregation at Capitol Hill Christian Church in Des Moines, Iowa. He, like many in the ministry, had an extensive library full of resources to pull ideas from for each sermon. I wanted to share this timeless prayer by Stevenson, a 19th Century, Scottish Writer that was in Grandpa’s box of notes, appropriate and meaningful still today. Merry Christmas!<br><br> Cindi McDonald, elder<br><br> <blockquote>“A Prayer for Christmas Eve” by Robert Louis Stevenson<br><br> Loving Father, help us to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the songs of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen</blockquote>

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Advent 2022: Monday, December 5

December 11, 2022

As a young child Christmas was always an exciting time in our home. The excitement all began with the first Sunday of Advent. First, we went out to get a wreath for the front door and then we pulled the crèche out of the attic. I always got to help set it up. We unwrapped all the characters very gently and placed them around the stable – the angels, the shepherds with their two tiny sheep, the three wisemen with their gifts, a cow or two and a donkey. Then we put in the manger and Mary and Joseph close by. Baby Jesus was not placed in till first thing Christmas morning.<br><br> The crèche is still an Important part of Christmas to me. So much time and energy are spent with gifts and cards and the Christmas tree, but the crèche tells the true meaning of Christmas. Every year we set ours up by gently unwrapping each piece and placing them around the stable. Today there are so many different kinds of crèches. Some are big. Some are small. Some rustic and some works of art. I even saw a bear family and moose family crèche up here in the mountains. Some even have live characters. I had a part in a living crèche when I was about 9 or 10. I was St. Joseph. What a special time that was for me!<br><br> So, as you get ready for Christmas this year, set up your crèche before you get involved with all the other trappings of Christmas so that you can look at it every day as you count the days to the real meaning of Christmas, the coming of our savior, Jesus, once again.<br><br> Donna Tyburski, elder

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Advent 2022: Tuesday, December 6

December 11, 2022

Hope<br><br> Hope is a choice, based on the knowledge of God’s promises to us. When we believe and trust that God keeps his promises, we can make the choice of hope in even the most difficult circumstances. Before Christ was born, the people of Israel looked forward to the birth of the Messiah. Even though it had been hundreds of years ago that God had made this promise, many Israelites still clung to the hope that God would come to earth and redeem humanity.<br><br> Today, hope is possible because Christ was born, suffered, died, and rose again. Death no longer has power over us, because we can see the existence of an afterlife in Christ’s resurrection. This hope of eternal life in turn impacts our everyday lives because we now have an eternal focus, a Kingdom mindset. We no longer view the things of this world the same way. We can see through the incredible pain of this life to the future God has promised us. It is this hope, even through the darkest of times, that shines out to the world and sets us apart – that no matter how bad the circumstances, that we have hope that God will work all things for good.<br><br> Lelan Eberly, student ministries

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Advent 2022: Wednesday, December 7

December 11, 2022

Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. Four words we use during Advent to describe things that Jesus brings us when we keep our eyes on him. On Thanksgiving this year, two of my dear friends’ fathers passed on. Both were believers that we trust are now with their Savior. But in the sadness that comes with their deaths, we can see the opportunities to show the message found in these four Advent words. HOPE, is our having the faith and trust to believe what we cannot see or are not certain of, because we know that Christ is graceful and true to those who believe in him. For these fathers, it’s the trust that God will make a place for them with Christ and other believers (John 14:1-3).<br><br> PEACE, yes the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6). We ask “why?” knowing that there is no answer that satisfies, that there is nothing we can do to understand God’s ways. Yet, in him we can find peace because although we do not know his ways, we do know that in all things, God works for our good when we love him and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28). This is especially true in our most difficult times, the times that really test our faith.<br><br> LOVE, oh the love of Christ that resulted in a sacrifice so great and so costly that it took away our sins (Galatians 1:4). God loves us all, and he decides when it is time for our fathers, and all our friends, family, and other loved ones, to come home. But God’s promise, as Paul testified, makes death our gain as we will spend eternity with him (Philippians 1:21).<br><br> Finally, JOY, the joy that one feels when we have given of ourselves, whether it be for family and friends, or just the person we meet on the street, in the store, or on the ski lift. While we mourn the lost opportunities to share, laugh, and love those who have passed, there is joy in knowing that our loved ones are in his presence, experiencing things we can hardly imagine.<br><br> My heart was saddened for my friends and their families, and I will continue to pray for them and be there for them now and in the weeks and months ahead as they process their losses and deal with their pain. Yes, we need to recognize that there will be pain. But there will also be Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy as they reminisce and remember why Christ came: that their fathers might be saved from death as we know it! So, this holiday season, I encourage all of you to speak and share the hope, peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing Christ, so that others might know him and that you might experience the same in sharing what you believe. <br><br> Rob Strode, elder

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Advent 2022: Thursday, December 8

December 11, 2022

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is sending and receiving Christmas cards. Friends near and far, carefully choose and send cardstock treasures with well wishes for a Merry Christmas. <br><br> I hold these cards so dearly during the Christmas season, hanging them proudly and considering how children have grown or lives have changed. However, at the end of the holiday season I'm faced with a decision on what to do with those memories. For some of you, the choice may be easy, you take the card and dispose of it in the trash can. Bravo! Good for you! Unfortunately, I am not that person... I hem and haw over what to do with that precious family photo and consider the time and money it took to send me the card. For years, instead of throwing them in the garbage, I would bundle them with a rubber band and stick them in a bin to be shoved in my crawl space. Sadly, the cards never saw the light of day again, but I felt like I have served that family well.<br><br> One of my friends solved this dilemma in a meaningful way. After Christmas she takes all the cards her family received during the holiday season, gives them a single hole punch, and puts them on a binder ring. She and her family then take one card per week over the course of the next year and pray for that family. She even reaches out to let you know she is intentionally praying. What a beautiful and honoring way to utilize those Christmas cards! This Christmas I want to encourage you to honor friends and family by praying for them outside of the holiday season (whether you have their Christmas card or not). Give them the gift of prayer year-round and perhaps save those precious Christmas memories while you're at it ;)<br><br> Julie Andrews, children’s ministry

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Advent 2022: Friday, December 9

December 11, 2022

I was skinning up Arapahoe Basin the other morning while thinking about Christmas to come. The sunrise was just hitting the North Pole. It was a bright light on the peak and all else was still in shadow. I thought of Santa Clause. As a little boy, I believed in Santa Clause and the North Pole. Still as a little boy, I came to the realization that Santa wasn’t a real person. Nevertheless, I was convinced there was a spirit of Santa or maybe a spirit of Christmas. I told my mother this revelation. She didn’t correct me. She just listened.<br><br> In hindsight, I see God used all the cultural Christmas celebratory traditions to point me toward the Christ. As a little tiny boy, I realized there was something big happening. And I knew it was good, even if I couldn’t understand it. God was doing something, way bigger than me, way bigger than my family, way bigger than America. It was news for the entire world; for ALL of humankind! <br><br> This was very significant for me at the time, for by the age of 6, I had earned the nick name Terrible Tim. For various missteps, like catching the family house on fire the day after Christmas. I was already headed down a bad path. My parents said later, Tim will be very good, or he will be very bad… like go to prison bad. I liked doing bad things and didn’t feel much guilt about my escapades. But, through the Christmas season, I sensed there was something better than my adventures. God was bigger and I was drawn toward him. <br><br> It took 18 years for God to bring me to my knees before his grace and mercy (that is another story). But this advent season, when I see a Santa, I have a warm feeling in my heart. God is using our silliness and even ignorance to draw us to Himself.<br><br> I pray all those who are near and far from God would be awestruck this advent season and want to know what/who is bigger than all of the worries of the world and able to bring truth to a world full of lies.<br><br> Peace and Grace.<br><br> Tim Morris, elder

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Advent 2022: Saturday, December 10

December 11, 2022

One of my best Christmas memories was when I was about 12 or 13 years old. We lived in rural Iowa where the winters were usually very cold. After being bundled up tight, and with my other brothers and sisters, Mom and Dad would take us for evening winter hikes. Usually right after Sunday dinner, where we would head down the old road in the back side of Black Hawk Park, along the Cedar River. We had hiked this trail many times before while growing up. Always seeing white tail deer, fox, and other little creatures. Snowball fights, angels in the snow and laughter always kept us as warm as possible.<br><br> This night was different. It was very quiet as the big flakes of snow fell silently on my face. Walking in the twilight with my family, I felt a sense that this might be my last time hiking down this trail. My senses were amped up to a higher level! Somewhat fearful, no, maybe anxious. No, maybe excited. Trying to figure it out, I kept thinking about what I had done. That morning, in our youth group at the basement of our Church. I declared Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior! Looking back on that moment, I know that it was Jesus and the Holy Spirit filling me up with an increased sense of awareness which eventually turned to Joy. I was in the infantile stage of Christianity. This was truly an AHA moment in my life!<br><br> Merry Christmas, <br><br> Mike Graham, elder

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Advent 2022: Sunday, December 4

December 4, 2022

As I was driving home from work the other day (with all my friends), I had plenty of time while stopped in traffic and thought about the following.<br><br> Several years ago, there was the corporate legend of different groups of people that organized “lingo” bingo games. During corporate meetings, motivational talks and staff gatherings, folks would have a bingo sheet in front of them with all the buzz words of the day. So, during the course of the event, whenever a participant said a key “lingo” word, you were able to check off the buzz word in the square provided on the bingo card. As we know what happens if anyone got a full line, whether vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, they would yell out bingo.<br><br> Well, as I was driving and having fun with all my friends, I said to myself, “What about a fruit of the Spirit bingo card.” I thought more about it and felt that this idea is brilliant, and that I was ahead of my time and that this surely had never been thought of before.<br><br> So, it goes something like this: During the day you have the all the fruit of the Spirit listed in different boxes on your card and as you go through the day and you exhibit or partake in a particular fruit of the Spirit, you can check off the box with that certain characteristic. When you can get towards the end of the day or maybe mid-morning depending on how “Fruity” you are, you get to say “bingo” in a little prayer with the Lord, because you've checked off the row and been able to exhibit the “Fruit of the Spirit”. Have fun!<br><br> Jim Anderson, elder<br><br> <div><img src="https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/6001088ee670da048d5fb278/638d5afedabb6ad087ca4126_Screen%20Shot%202022-12-04%20at%207.43.54%20PM.png" loading="lazy" alt=""></div>

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Advent 2022: Saturday, December 3

December 3, 2022

The Quietness of Winter<br><br> A few years back my family and I went looking for a Christmas tree. Among the consistent appraisal and discussion of the trees; there came an opportunity for a rest. So, like any Colorado kids I leapt back and was swept into the sweet embrace of the freshly fallen snow. The green of the trees contrasted by the unsullied white flakes falling from the muddied gray sky brought me a realization. “Wow, it’s quiet!” (Heck of an epiphany I know). The blanket of silence enveloped me. At the time I didn’t think much of it. But that moment stuck with me. It's necessary to stop and think or not think, I certainly find the latter easier. Being present with God is something I never do enough. C.S Lewis said it best “For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which God has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.”<br><br> Whether it's joyous gatherings or in the silence of falling snow, take advantage of the gift God gave us… The present! Ba dum tss<br><br> Arel Svenson, tech guru

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Advent 2022: Friday, December 2

December 2, 2022

A lot of things make me smile. For this I am grateful, as I’d rather have a smile on my face than be scrooge! Recently I was antique shopping with my sisters in a store in Montrose, CO. Antiquing is absolutely one of my favorite past-times! I suppose I can blame my parents for this obsession, they did drag us through hundreds of antique malls, auction houses, and dusty old barns on any given weekend in the Midwest. I can’t say that I am a collector of any one item, I just enjoy the hunt for the perfect find. Old skis, vintage trade blankets, hand-colored photos of the outdoors. These things seem to catch my attention, and on occasion find a way into my home. On this particular outing I came across a hand painted sign (more farmhouse style than vintage /antique) that caught my eye. Written in bold letters it said “JESUS LOVES ME, this I know.” I couldn’t help but smile. A simple phrase most of us learned in a song in Sunday School long ago. <br><br> How many times have you heard that little song and never really thought about the impact of the words? The second half of the phrase “this I know” was the part that really spoke to me. Yes, I KNOW Jesus LOVES me! I know Jesus loves me by the way he guides me through the difficult times of my life. He gives me strength & courage to keep going and to face whatever the future holds even when I feel like crawling back into bed. I know He loves me when I receive answers to my prayers, and his love fills me with a peace that nothing else can provide. I know Jesus loves me by the blessings I have enjoyed, even when I don’t really deserve them. Do you KNOW that Jesus LOVES you? Maybe it’s time to look at your life and your faith, time to dig deeper into the Bible and examine how much he LOVES us. What a great reminder at Christmas that God sent us his Son, a Savior who LOVES us. Sent to earth to be with us in the flesh, one of us! The beauty of his love is we don’t have to be perfect. We just need to look for and experience the ways he loves us and has loved us since the very first Christmas. Yes – JESUS LOVE ME (and you too) and knowing this makes me smile!<br><br> Cindi McDonald, Elder

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Advent 2022: Thursday, December 1

December 1, 2022

I am reading through the Bible in a year. Presently, I am reading in the Minor Prophets. I have been hearing over and over how the Israelites sinned against God by turning away from him. God compared them to the gentiles, who not having the written law, still pleased God by turning to him in their hearts. I see a parallel to the time of Jesus and later Paul, when those who knew the law, were lawless, but the “sinners” heard Jesus and were drawn toward God.<br><br> I see another parallelism, as thousands of “Christians” pile into churches this advent season to celebrate Christmas. Who have the law of Christ written in their hearts, those in the church buildings or those outside of the buildings? I am not condemning organized religion, but am thankful for true believers, whose law of Christ is written in their hearts. And at times, I am humbled by what I witness. <br><br> I am so thankful, that my relationship to God is not dependent on my sinfulness or sinlessness. I am praying that God’s Spirit will lead me, and you toward himself and as we get closer to Jesus, that we better understand his heart and do accordingly. <br><br> Oh, to have the God of all creation, humble and loving enough to take on human form and suffer with us and for us!!! It is sobering and breath taking. We are loved! <br><br> See the Christ. The little baby and praise our savior! Enjoy Christmas this year!<br><br> Tim Morris, Elder

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Advent 2022: Wednesday, November 30

November 30, 2022

Life is not necessarily about us. We are not the central characters of the story. <br><br> Maybe the greatest things I do prove to be great and consequential indeed. Maybe. Or I am simply a minor character, and the way I play a role in history is simply by being a friend to one who goes on to play a minor role of teaching the teacher of the one who will do something “great…” or even some even lesser role. But that too, is good. <br><br> For Simeon, one of the great saints of Israel, it was enough merely to see, and to see only the beginning of the most important life to be lived in the history of humankind. To be the center, the main character, to play an important role—that is not up to us, not in the least. Even to see, to witness, the great events of history is beyond our ability. <br><br> We can hope for these things, invite these things through our hunger and thirst for righteousness, lives spent in contemplation of the word of God, and faithful obedience. But this at least we can do—to pour over Scripture, longing, as a second Simeon, for the return of our Lord.<br><br> Merry Christmas!<br><br> Tim Seeling, elder

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Advent 2022: Tuesday, November 29

November 29, 2022

Luke 2:8-11<br><br> <i>That night there were shepherds in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”</i><br><br> Isn’t it amazing that God decided to announce the birth of His Son, to a bunch of shepherds? You would think that the Almighty God, the Creator, would have made this announcement to the leaders of the Jewish people, the High Priests, who have been waiting so long for the Messiah. <br><br> No, God chose a bunch of shepherds whose sole purpose was to lead, feed and keep from harm their flocks, to bring the “good news of great joy to all the people.”<br><br> Jesus didn’t come to be the Savior, the Messiah and the Lord, to a select few. He came to be the “Shepherd” to all people.<br><br> So, as we gather this Christmas with our families and friends, may we allow the radiance of the Lord’s glory to surround us, and remember what the true magic of Christmas is. <br><br> Merry Christmas!<br><br> Michele Thompson, elder

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Advent 2022: Monday, November 28

November 28, 2022

Over the years, as I have watched my daughters grow and become young adults, our family traditions around Christmas have also matured. However, I have always pondered one trivial question during the holidays. “Is it ok to embellish the truth during Christmas?”<br><br> We tell half truths about the origins of presents, Santa, and Rudolph. My wife tells me I still look good in my favorite Christmas sweater, and we justify it all in the name of “holiday spirit.” Christmas Eve services celebrate the manger scene with well-behaved animals and mysterious wisemen, shepherds appear, and a clean happy baby is the center of it all.<br><br> Thankfully, I don’t think it really matters what tradition we celebrate as families if we focus our time and belief in the miraculous child who is the center of that manger scene. The truth of Jesus’s birth has not changed based on cultural context, family traditions or mainstream marketing. Christ was born, he lived as a man, he died for our sins, and he is coming again.<br><br> Merry Christmas and enjoy your traditions…<br><br> Brett Confer, elder

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Advent 2022: Sunday, November 27

November 27, 2022

Imagine waiting for thousands of years to see the Lord to fulfill his promises… but never seeing it happen before you die. That is faith! And that was exactly what the faithful in the Old Testament experienced. No wonder Mary was stunned when the angel appeared to her! And what did she do? She broke out in singing praises to God (Luke 2:46). Waiting for the ADVENT of the Messiah Jesus… that’s reason we celebrate Advent. But, we are no different. We have waited 2,000 years for Messiah to return and bring justice, righteousness, true healing of all diseases, and so much more.<br><br> Are you ready to celebrate Advent 2022 together? We will continue to wait faithfully for his return and laugh and sing while waiting.<br><br> Rest and enjoy,<br> Jim Howard, pastor

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 25

December 25, 2021

Christmas Day!<br><br> He has come! He did not forget us!<br><br> “…my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).<br><br> “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ <br><br> “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, <br><br> ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:8-14)<br><br> Is it any wonder that there was so much excitement and joy surrounding the birth of the Messiah? This morning, take a moment and thank the Lord for coming back for us, for coming back to fulfill his promise not to forget us, for coming back to save us!<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br> Jim Howard, pastor

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 24

December 24, 2021

World at War<br><br> What is the only thing an army can do to win a war? They must invade enemy territory. To set hostages free you must go and pull them out of captivity. A prisoner is chained to the wall. Can he move on his own? The first Adam gave control of the Earth to Lucifer. The second Adam has come to take it back. Jesus has infiltrated the territory of Satan. He has come to set the prisoners free. Free from "everything that entangles" to be able to live as Jesus meant us to. It has been said "we are his hands and feet", we are also his weapons... Only if we "love God and love others". These are the armament of God. Satan can only be defeated by love. As Martin Luther King said: "hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that". This is not a passive resistance; it is being and doing what Jesus has set you free to do. Be the weapon of love.<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br> Tim Seeling, elder

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 23

December 23, 2021

Have you ever noticed how balance (or lack thereof) seems to dictate so much of the peace and joy you experience in life? Standing on one foot with your eyes closed, looking at what you usually eat, your bank statement, how many hours you work, how much you play, time spent with family/friends, time spent in reflection with God—all will give you an idea of where you have balance or... not.<br><br> Christmastime seems to magnify the issue. Our own unrealistic expectations and those of our culture force us to look at the way we handle our time, our finances, our relationships, our generosity. The signs of Peace and Joy! that are all around us are merely “wished for” places we would like to experience. Yet it is a time of celebration of the birth of Jesus—the only one who ever modeled true balance in all areas of life.<br><br> If we are willing to trust in Him and believe he truly wants us to have peace and joy in life we can ask Him—the one who mastered it—to show us the way... what a concept! What a gift we received when he was born!<br><br> Judy Morgan, treasurer

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 22

December 22, 2021

Preparation. Tradition. Excitement. <br><br> These three words are the first ones that come to mind in describing Advent. The hanging of Christmas lights on the newly installed Christmas tree prepares our homes for the Christmas season. Excitement builds as the date draws nearer and gifts begin to pile up underneath the tree. Plans are made for Christmas eve and Christmas day, and families fulfill their unique traditions to celebrate. <br><br> The Jewish people in the time of Jesus had these three characteristics as well: the promise of a Savior created excitement, while Jewish traditions and prophecies pointed towards the coming of the Messiah, and John the Baptist prepared the way. <br><br> But Jesus brought one more word to the Christmas season—simplicity. Born in a lowly manger to humble parents, Jesus turned the world upside down. The King and Creator of the universe entered Earth as a crying and helpless babe. As he grew to an adult, he remained committed to simplicity: showing us how little in life truly matters. By revealing how worthless our indicators of success are (wealth, status, power), he stripped us to our true, spiritual selves. As Jesus entered the world as a simple child, he commands us live our lives likewise: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).<br><br> Lelan Eberly, high school director

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, December 21

December 21, 2021

What Does Christmas Sound Like?<br><br> During Christmas time, one thing I’ve noticed is that there is a veritable smorgasbord of sounds. From music and carols to the ringing of Salvation Army bells, so many sounds bring us into the season through our auditory memory.<br><br> I loved hearing the subdued voices of my family as a child, as treats and surprises were planned, and now as an adult, as our loves conspire to provide for and surprise each other. Hearing the whispered, low-toned communications fuels a sense of anticipation, fun and even a sense of being precious to someone.<br><br> I wonder if the Wise Men approached the manger with such a sense of awe and anticipation. Were their voices subdued in excitement as they approached Christ in the manger, with their gifts? Were they hushed by the importance of what they found by following the star?<br><br> “Faith is believing that all power can’t be seen”. (Sometimes we can hear it …)<br><br> Jude Mitchell, Church Lady

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Advent 2021: Monday, December 20

December 20, 2021

We haven’t celebrated Advent much in our family. So, my thoughts have been more serious towards Advent this year. Perhaps because I feel the stress of work as much as ever, so I am feeling guilty about missing the joy and peace of this season. Perhaps it is because my grown children get a tree and put up lights, but I don’t see them rejoicing in Jesus our Savior. So, I admit, it is with some sadness I look towards Advent.<br><br> My gorgeous and precious little girl, Hilary, just had her first child, baby Idris, 5 pounds 8 ounces 😊. Our entire family is rejoicing in this little girl. We think she rocks! Yet she is entirely dependent on us to live. This draws me to baby Jesus in a new way. The irony of the creator with power over all, to put himself in the form of a baby who would die if his teenage mom and clueless dad didn’t care for him. God put his trust, his life in our hands, the hands of humanity in the parents of Mary and Joseph.<br><br> I will put my trust in God. I have hope and now I have peace.<br><br> Tim Morris, father, grandfather, elder

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Advent 2021: Sunday, December 19

December 19, 2021

GOD, coming for us. What does he want? What is he after?<br><br> What was lost at the fall? God walked with Adam and Eve. They were in conversation, learning, give and take, joking (naming animals, not in Latin!) and so much we don't know about. How could we? We have never had that physical as well as spiritual bond. But what was lost is exactly what Jesus came to restore. Did Adam have a set of rules besides the one to live by? Was he concerned with being righteous enough for Eve or God? <br><br> He was just... well, Adam. All the time. And that is who God wanted. God didn't need a caretaker of creation; he could do that with a Word. Why did the Father put the whole of creation into motion? To give something for the man to do? No. God wanted to expand the confines of LOVE. The strongest proof of the Trinity is... LOVE. Can you really love by yourself? You need someone else to love. If God is love... he can't be alone.<br><br> God created us to be... us. Sure, we have the Natural Man to contend with. But God created us to be us. Jesus came to rescue... us. Not something we will become some day in Heaven. He wants our hearts, personalities, our attention. He wants US. You are what he wants so he can love us and teach us how to love. Jesus died so we can be free to be us.<br><br> Tim Seeling, elder

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 18

December 18, 2021

Many may remember the old movie “Pollyanna” where the main character (Hayley Mills) lived to spread the message of finding the good in everything regardless of one’s circumstances. It was a “feel good” movie with a proper ending that left me thinking, even as a little girl, that I should do the same. <br><br> Today we are exposed to many books and articles that tell us the same thing--be grateful, find something to think positive about every day, be thankful for everything. What a concept!! These secular ideas mimic the very same things taught in God’s word—"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”. (Phil 4: 8). “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). Let us truly rejoice in the Lord’s birth and ask Him to give us the heart of gratefulness and the power to live out these verses.<br><br> Christmastime is the best time to start if you haven’t already!<br><br> Judy Morgan, treasurer

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 17

December 17, 2021

The Jesse Tree<br><br> When I worked in Parochial schools during my teaching career, every Advent we had a Jesse Tree on display in a very prominent place for all to see. The Jesse tree was just a branch from a tree. The whole school gathered each day around the tree to hear a Bible story about someone on Jesus’ family tree. We also hung an ornament symbolizing the story on the Jesse tree.<br><br> This tradition comes from Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesus is descended from the line of King David, Israel’s greatest king. Jesse was David’s father. And Jesus is the branch that God promised would sprout from the family tree of Jesse.<br><br> Here are some of the Bible stories that we read surrounding the Jesse Tree.<br><br> <ul> <li>Creation of Humans, Genesis 1:26-31, symbol Adam & Eve & globe</li> <li>The Fall, Genesis 3, symbol snake and apple</li> <li>Noah’s Ark, Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-8:3; 9:8-13, symbol Noah’s ark</li> <li>The Promised Land, Genesis 12:1-7, symbol Tent and camel</li> <li>God’s Promise to Abraham, Genesis 15:1-6, starry sky</li> <li>Joseph, Genesis 37:1-36, symbol Joseph’s coat of many colors</li> <li>The 10 Commandments, Deuteronomy 5:1-22, tablets</li> <li>Rahab, Joshua 2:1-21, red rope</li> <li>Ruth and Boaz, Ruth 2:1-4:12, grain</li> <li>God Chooses David to be King, 1 Samuel 16:1-15, shepherd’s crook</li> <li>Elijah & God’s Triumph over Baal, 1 Kings 18:17-24, 36-39, fire & altar</li> <li>Esther Saves Her People, Esther 4, scepter (staff or baton of a king)</li> <li>Isaiah’s Prophecy of a Savior, Isaiah 9:2-7, sun</li> <li>Prophecy of Savior Born in Bethlehem, Micah 5:1-5, city of Bethlehem</li> <li>Elizabeth and Zechariah, Luke 1:5-25, praying hands</li> <li>John the Baptist, Matthew 3:1-6, baptism shell, water</li> <li>God Chooses Mary, Luke 1:26-38, Mary</li> <li>Angel Appears to Joseph, Matthew 1:18-25, Angel of the Lord</li> <li>Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem, Luke 2:1-5, sandals</li> <li>Jesus is Born, Luke 2:6-21, Baby in the Manger</li> </ul> <br><br> None of these readings are long, but hopefully all will learn something from them. You don’t have to do them all. The children were so excited each day to see what the new story was. I had my whole school to share them with, but they are also great to share with the family and friends.<br><br> Donna Tyburski, elder

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 16

December 16, 2021

Recitals, plays, shopping, parties, gift exchanges, decorating, cooking, baking, homework, finals… the list goes on and on of things that fill our time during the Christmas season. Good things! Events that bring us together, tasks that help us think about the people in our lives… if that’s the motivation behind them.<br><br> Oftentimes, we get too caught up in our “performance;” do they like my food, am I wearing the right things, will they like the gift, are my kids behaving? And not focused enough on God’s performance. Goodness, he sent his one and only Son because he loves us so much!<br><br> Why am I attending this party? So that I can be seen as important, so my family thinks I’m trying to make the season special, so I can try out a new recipe. NO! Because the Spirit fills me with love for this community! Why am I giving gifts? To check it off the list, so I can be seen as a good gift giver, so I can be seen as generous. NO! Because it gives me an opportunity to fill my thoughts with that person. What do they like, how do they fill their time, what makes them smile?<br><br> This year, I’m trying not to selfishly check things off my Christmas to-do list, I’m going to let God guide me through my interactions and chores. I’m guessing I’ll be filled with his LOVE, JOY and PEACE! And hopeful it will rub off on a few people :)<br><br> Jenn Odell, director of middle school ministries

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 15

December 15, 2021

Have you ever pondered the possible humor in the birth story of Jesus? The potential for situational humor is great. Consider this: In Mathew’s account it says, “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.” What was the conversation that Joseph had in his head with the Lord? As a guy, I can only imagine. “I know you said that what was conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, but come on… Really??? Now I gotta wait another nine months and who knows how long! Dahhh!” <br><br> Or can you imagine Joseph trying to sell overly pregnant cantankerous Mary on the idea of traveling to Bethlehem for the census? Mary: “He wants a census? A Census? Now??? Well you tell him he can stuff it!” Josheph: “Now Mary, come on, it won’t be that bad.” Mary: “That’s easy for you to say! You won’t have a watermelon pressing down on your bladder the whole way to Bethlemhem.” Joseph: “I’ve got a donkey!?! That’ll make the trip real easy. Smooth. Traveling in comfort like a queen. And besides, Bethlehem is really nice this time of year and the journey is only about 103 miles. Piece of felafel!” Mary: “Don’t you ‘piece of felafel’ me!” <br><br> Or how about this scenario: Inn keeper: “Sorry mate! No room. You can sleep in the barn if ya want.” Joseph: Ahhh… ok… thanks.” (then to himself) “Oh poop! She’s gonna kill me! I knew I should’ve made a reservation. How am I going to sell this one?” (then to Mary) Ahem… hahha… Um… Hey Mary, so… um.. they have given us a very nice room. Plenty of space, nice views, relatively quiet, not too crowded with humans… real nice, quiet luxurious really when you think about it the right way. Quite the experience. Experience of a lifetime really! How do you feel about Egypt?” Mary: “...” <br><br> Well, it seems funny to me and so I thought I’d share. As it is said, “Laughter doth good, like a medicine.” I have also heard it said that “If there is one noise the devil hates, it is the sound of laughter.” May your Christmas this year be filled with laughter, and I pray that if it is not easily found that you will look for and find it. <br><br> Rob Schmidt, pastor of worship and arts

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, December 14

December 14, 2021

As the years have gone by, I’ve noticed myself longing for a simpler time, especially during this sacred season.<br><br> This past 18 months has certainly affected my perspectives on so many things, most meaningfully, the incredible gift of life that God has given us all. That life, for every one of us is limited in capacity, talents, perspectives and of course, time. This pandemic has given us an amazing opportunity to observe ourselves and others’ responses to uncertainty and outside influence. An opportunity to trust God’s way and His will, or not.<br><br> I have watched so many cringe in fear, devolving into anger and helplessness and judgement. I have watched so many boldly defy, devolving into anger, self-righteousness, and judgement. In each case I have wondered firstly, where am I on that continuum? Secondly, where is our faith in this time of uncertainty and confusion? Where is God?<br><br> The manger reminds us that He’s been here all along, of course. Christ was born for such a time as this. This Christmas, yet another reminder of God’s grace and love for us, allows us to stop the internal chaos to let His quiet love, wisdom and provision into our spirits. This brings a calming which helps us realign. This pandemic has shown us the ugly truth that we are not, after all, in charge of the universe. Who knew?<br><br> So now once again, I lean on the knowing that God reigns, and, well… I don’t. A child was born to redeem my life, however long it is, and whatever I do with it. What an amazing Christmas gift… each and every year a new gift of life. How amazing!<br><br> May you be blessed with God’s gift of life.<br><br> Jude Mitchell, administrator

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Advent 2021: Monday, December 13

December 13, 2021

One of the lessons many of us learned during COVID was the value of community.<br><br> Scripture talks of the various gifts given for creating community in the church (Romans 12: 4-8). Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”<br><br> We need each other. Our faith grows, our friendships are deepened, and our lives become richer as we practice love, friendship, and community as believers.<br><br> Let’s make this Advent and Christmas season richer and more meaningful by spending time together celebrating what Christ has done for us.<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br><br> Don Wolf, elder

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Advent 2021: Sunday, December 12

December 12, 2021

I find it interesting that Christmas and the new year are only 8 days apart and both provide us a time to reflect on the last year and hope for the new year. Like many, this past year has been a year of loss for me. My spiritual mentor and long-time friend of 45 years passed away this August and my only brother passed away in September.<br><br> Feelings of grief and emptiness are natural when we lose something or someone dear to us. Coupled with this loss, is the recognition that our own time is limited. Regardless of our age, it is important for us to wrestle with the reality that our days are numbered. As we think about the days ahead, we need to strive to live them well and fill them with love and purpose.<br><br> As Christians our purpose is simply to “Love God and love one another”. Each of our paths are different as to how we will do this, but I find it reassuring that in some small way we can each play a role in making this world a more loving, peaceful, and just place. As we play our role, we also have the promise of God at work, transforming us to be more loving and Christ-like. Slowly chiseling off our rough exterior, to reveal the beautiful creation that God has designed and destined us to be. In this metamorphosis we are slowly freed from the self-destructive desires and actions that may at the time seem scintillating and fun but end up destroying our lives and the lives of those around us.<br><br> In this Christmas season I pray that we can recognize the great gift we have been given in the birth of Christ. His gift includes purpose, meaning, peace and joy as we walk thru this life in the here and now. And the best part is, that this is only the beginning. <br><br> Merry Christmas!<br><br> Steve Hill, elder

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 11

December 11, 2021

“Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath. And when He stood up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written:<br><br> ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’<br><br><br><br> Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him, and He began by saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”<br><br> I hope Advent is not focused on buying gifts and filling our refrigerators with rich food, but as we wait for Christmas, we remember why Jesus came and provide good news for the poor, offer a helping hand to those imprisoned by sin, drugs, or mental illness, and walk with the lame.<br><br> “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.” (Micah 6:4)<br><br> Tim Morris, elder

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 10

December 10, 2021

As a child, growing up in rural Iowa, my mom and dad always emphasized the 4 seasons. Starting with the end of winter, Spring rapidly moved into the fore front. Watching the melting snow, warmer days, the change of color from gray to green. Warm winds and the smell of black dirt filled our senses. Sowing time. <br><br> Summer showed up with a hot blast and rain. Working in humid corn fields and gardens, family picnics and cool dips in the sand pits, were always on the agenda. Growing time. <br><br> The window in my bedroom now closed as hot summer nights were gradually replaced with cool fall evenings. And the smell of burning leaves filled the air. Combines and pickers worked the fields and gardens, and the vegetable stands were filled to the brim. Barn dances and Friday night football games. Harvest time. <br><br> Days became shorter, fireplaces now burning longer. Snow covering roadways and our walks getting shorter. Warmth, Family, and friends Thanksgiving. Quiet Silent nights. A time for Reflection and Celebration. <br><br> I did not have a favorite season. They were all good. They were all divine displays of God’s creation…especially with the advent of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! <br><br> Mike Graham, elder

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 9

December 9, 2021

The small child, helpless in His mother’s arms. The crowd gathered around, the pair staring in wonder and cherishing the moment at hand.<br><br> The Father, off to the side, but a part of it all. Proud, and knowing that the answer is nigh.<br><br> The starry night sky above, the heavenly hosts singing “Hosanna in the Highest”. <br><br> The story starts off sweet, but ends triumphantly, with the life of the babe, Knowing that the answer is His, starts a journey that saves us all.<br><br> Jim Anderson, elder

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Advent 2021: Monday, December 6

December 8, 2021

In Middle School youth group this month, we’re looking at different Christmas traditions and how we can reach out to different groups of people through them.<br><br> Christmas cards! I always overcomplicate this one and try to find the perfect family picture to send out. But it can be so simple to write a note that says, “I was just thinking of you today, Merry Christmas!” A grandparent, a cousin, a friend who lives far away, how much would they love to hear from you? What a sweet blessing you can give them! <br><br> Christmas cookies! Who doesn’t love them?! A little bag or box filled with cookies and delivered to a neighbor is a simple way to spread some Christmas cheer. Little, unexpected gifts like this can make them feel seen and cared for. <br><br> Service to others! With all the time off work and school, we are given plenty of opportunities to find a way to serve those closest to us; siblings, parents, children. Do her dishes, make his bed, give her the best seat to watch a movie, tell him something you like about him, give her the biggest piece of dessert! <br><br> It’s easy to look at our family tradition as “ours,” instead, let’s use them to include others and bless those around us, near and far!<br><br> Jenn Odell, director of Middle School ministries

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, December 7

December 8, 2021

Nelson Mandela completely changed South Africa. After 27 years in prison on Robben Island, he focused on forgiveness and healing of his country’s divisions. He said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we lived; it is the difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”<br><br> As we celebrate the Advent season, we think of the life lived by our Savior who gave His life that we might know joyous hope in a lost and dark world. This is of ultimate significance. Jesus has called each of us to be light and salt by our lives. I would like for each of us to read and dwell for a few minutes on Ephesians 3:14-20, and I Corinthians 13 as we reflect on Christ’s life, our response to Him, and to what ultimately counts in a life well lived.<br><br> Don Wolf, elder

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 8

December 8, 2021

The not so Cheerful Giver<br><br> Every year my wife and I talk about how this year we want to focus the spirit of Christmas around giving to those who need. I suspect that I'm not alone in feeling like I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to buy for people in my life who really don't need anything. Don't get me wrong. Gift giving and this is certainly a fun way of showing each other our love, but it never seems to bring me the joy and satisfaction that one would expect.<br><br> Recently I was pumping gas in my car when I spotted a man with a gas can walking toward me. As he passed up the other pumps, he confirmed my suspicion that he was going to hit me up for some free gas. Reluctantly, I put my nozzle in his can. As I pumped, I couldn't help but feel a spirit of resentment. I got cornered, suckered in, and was now at nearly $4 a gallon, I was being taken advantage of. To add to it he felt at liberty to inform me that the can holds 6 gallons. Well, I gave him a couple, since I was nobody's fool and he left. <br><br> As I got in my car I felt as though I had failed. My heart was not ready to give, and as a result I failed to give generously because of my pride. More importantly I failed to share the love of Jesus with someone who didn't just have an empty fuel tank. Perhaps my fuel tank was empty because I had not bothered to fill it up, or I had not allowed God to fill it. <br><br> The act of generous giving blesses both the giver and the receiver when it is done through the love of Christ.<br><br> On the bright side, I know I'll get another chance. <br><br> “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).<br><br> Matt Dayton, elder

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Advent 2021: Sunday, December 5

December 5, 2021

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa 7:17).<br><br> As a child growing up in Colorado, the anticipation of Christmas and the excitement it brings, was generally accompanied by snow… this paradigm remained as I grew older, usually with the changeover of summer toys for winter…<br><br> However, this year has been quite different. I have found it difficult to get into the spirit of the season, especially as I look outside and see a beautiful summer-like day and contemplate if I should head out for a bike ride.<br><br> This lack of excitement has fashioned an internal conflict within me. What exactly am I looking for this Christmas season; am I focused on worldly, self-gratification or on “our Savior, which is Christ the Lord?”<br><br> What sign are you looking for this Advent season?<br><br> Brett Confer, elder

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 4

December 4, 2021

Growing up in a large family, we had some strange Christmas traditions. For many years, we didn’t even have a Christmas tree! With so many siblings, none of our gifts were anything expensive either. And we always worked on Christmas too: the calves had to get fed somehow! And yet, Christmas was still a special time that our family spent remembering the birth of Christ, eating good food, and enjoying each other’s company. The tree eventually comes down and the gifts end up in a box in the attic, but the memories we have of time well spent are priceless. I pray that each of you are able to enjoy Christmas with loved ones and celebrate the gift of life! <br><br>Lelan Eberly, director of High School ministries

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 3

December 3, 2021

This Advent season we are highlighting the various “players” in the Nativity story. How often have we talked about the Virgin Mary or the animals surrounding newborn Jesus but not stopped to interpret or investigate what each of those characters brought to the birth story. <br><br>The Angels and Shepherds were tasked with the amazing job of announcing the birth of our Savior. I mean, wow! Can you imagine being the bearer of that news? If you’ve ever played the game Telephone you know how things can get lost in translation... no pressure! <br><br>Then there were the animals who gently and sweetly looked down at baby Jesus and “meowed” or “mooed” at his cuteness... or wait, did they? Intuitively we think that the setting should be filled with all sorts of animals, but the Bible never mentions any in the story of Jesus’ birth... <br><br>The Wise Men followed on their camels to bring the infant Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh... oh wait... they didn’t arrive until Jesus was two (they should be far from your household nativity set)! And there are no accounts of them riding camels... <br><br>Then the most amazing piece of the story, Joseph and Mary. How terrified the Virgin Mary must have been to face a town full of people that couldn’t find her a place to lay her head let alone have a BABY! What mother wants to give birth anywhere other than those cozy birthing rooms in our modern hospitals?! <br><br>Each of these characters has an amazing and crucial part in the story of Jesus’ birth. A baby who could have entered the world as a grown man, a King, entered the world in a stable (perhaps with the company of animals?). Imagine how humbling it would be for the Lord to choose us as unknowing participants in a story such as this. <br><br>Julie Andrews, director of children’s ministries

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 2

December 2, 2021

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matt 5:37). <br><br>Have you ever dropped the ball? Promised something to someone and then just absentmindedly or very deliberately failed to follow through? If you answered “No” to this question you are a better person than I. Now for the rest of us normal fallen knuckleheads, if you were to give answer to the question “Why did you drop the ball?” you might run down a list of excuses that would give account for your shortcoming or hide the motivations behind your transgression. But make no mistake, your actions did not match your words. <br><br>Perhaps one of the great challenges in life for every human and especially for the Christian is to have the confessions of our mouth line up with way we conduct ourselves every day. So, this Christmas, consider that one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family, friends and to the world at large is to let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No”, “No.” And you just might be surprised to find that in so doing you will be giving yourself quite a gift as well; namely freedom. For as Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31b-32). <br><br>Rob Schmidt, pastor

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 1

December 1, 2021

The traffic, the lines, the people, all of whom forgot how to think, or so it seems… like a scene from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the Island of Mis-fit Toys. You wonder if it will ever end, or at least get any better? <br><br>Pull over, step aside, slow down, and take a long deep breath. Then, dig for that prayer, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name.” The Father, The Almighty, knows what we are going through. He has given us an answer, One who came as a small helpless babe, Born in the place where few wanted to go, let alone stay. <br><br>He came for you, for us, for everyone. He is the Christ in Christmas. <br><br>Jim Anderson, elder

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, November 30

November 30, 2021

Advent is a time of watching, waiting, praying and giving alms. We are to prepare our minds and hearts for the coming of our Lord on Christmas day. It is the time four weeks before Christmas. <br><br>Many, many years ago when I first got engaged, I remember a time of waiting. My Mother told me that she and my Uncle George had ordered something for me as an engagement/Christmas gift, BUT that it wouldn’t get there till after the holidays sometime in January. She gave me some hints, but nothing helped. I tried and tried to get her to tell me what it was. No matter how hard I tried, she would not give in. I asked all kinds of questions… what’s it made of? How big is it? What can I do with it? It just didn’t work. Nooooo! I had to wait. <br><br>Waiting is not easy, no matter what we are waiting for—a gift, some news, medical test results. Waiting for the Messiah was that way for the Jewish people. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, very few people realized what was happening. Then the waiting was over. The Messiah was born. <br><br>As Advent begins we should realize what is commemorated on Christmas and what He did for us. We need to get ourselves ready for His coming. Let’s focus on our coming Savior this Advent, born in a cave with all the animals, without Whom we can do nothing—not even breathe. <br><br>Donna Tyburski, elder‍

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Advent 2021: Monday, November 29

November 29, 2021

Advent! Ah, preparing for Christmas! This is a good thing. <br><br>I grew up in the Presbyterian Church where Advent seemed to be overlooked. But in the fall of 1979, I headed off to the University of Vermont to get an education while playing rugby, drinking lots of beer and chasing the girls. A bold young man came into my dorm room one partying Wednesday night and told me about Jesus. I had heard of Him all my life, but never realized there was a decision to make, a life changing decision. After several weeks of study and discussion, God brought me to my knees, I had to turn to him. I prayed for forgiveness and devoted my entire life, come what may, to Jesus my Savior. This was late fall of 1979. <br><br>My first advent, my first Christmas, which was about the Savior of the world, not Santa Clause. I wasn’t even aware of the word Advent at that time. I was just in awe this first Christmas, seeing Christ through new eyes. I was a new creation! <br><br>I flew back home for Christmas, to my family and my homies in British Columbia, Canada. The same beer, the same ski slopes, the same old friends I had grown up with, but everything looked different. My old friends were now sons and daughters of the Most High deserving of respect and needing redemption. And skiing wasn’t the end all it had been, it was a gift from God to be put into perspective with all of God’s gifts and subjugated to his Lordship. <br><br>I am older now, but still a new creation. I have seen 40+ advents, AND I still need to be in awe of the Lord’s supreme act of coming to earth in human form and calling us all back to God. Let us bow down and worship Him! <br><br>Tim Morris, elder‍

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Advent 2021: Sunday, November 28

November 28, 2021

Advent! What a special time of year. Yes, Advent has to do with remembering the Lord’s coming and appearing to redeem us, but it is so much more. It is an invitation. An invitation to enter into relationship with Jesus (who has made God known). An invitation to receive his forgiveness. An invitation to experience his redemptive grace. An invitation to enjoy his deep love and to feel his embrace! In a time of overwhelming consumerism, confusions, fear, and division can you accept his invitation?<br><br>“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).<br><br>Rest and enjoy,<br>Jim Howard, pastor

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No Fulfillment Found in Wisdom

September 16, 2021

Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)

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No Fulfillment in Wisdom!

September 16, 2021

Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)

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Balance

March 24, 2021

Paul Tripp, author of our favorite devotional, New Morning Mercies, recently posted that there are 3 central attributes of our lives… “God, relationships and work.” Thinking about work, we can easily find reward, satisfaction, security, recognition and friendships. In fact, we are so drawn to work that our family relationships and spiritual life often suffer or are neglected.

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