I can hardly believe it but we are entering the last month of the calendar year! Not only that, but we are closing out the first decade of the new millennia! Where has the time gone? I was just reading on Time.com and they are calling it, “The decade from hell.” When you think back on the past 10 years, that title is not overly surprising – two major financial crises’, 9/11, the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things. When I look back on my own life over the past 10 years, however, God has done an incredible work within me and transformed my life. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone the new has come.” Every Christian can relate to that glorious verse. Some might think that this past decade was from hell, but we know that God is at work in a mighty way and his purposes will always prevail. I want to encourage you that as long as you are living for God and following Jesus, it really does not matter what is going on in the world scene – all that matters is bringing glory to our great God and King.
The month of November was an exciting month at Hope Church. We had our annual Missions Conference where David Holdcraft challenged us to live missional lives. Specifically, he challenged us to be missionaries wherever God has placed us and to be prepared to defend the truth. In our weekly small group, we have continued to be challenged as we work through the New Testament book of James. We also put together 36 shoe boxes for the Samaritan Purse outreach for needy children this Christmas. That smashed our goal of 20 shoe boxes and Donald Auck has already set a goal for next year. We are aiming high – really high – 7000 shoe boxes! Donald’s not kidding so we better get to work! Finally, this November we had the great joy of celebrating Thanksgiving and remembering the faithfulness of God.
As we look ahead to December, there is much to look forward to. 2000 years ago, our Savior entered the world in the most humble of circumstances. Jesus was and is the greatest gift that has ever been giving and we get to celebrate his birth in a special way every Christmas season. This year, we are going to be taking an offering on the last Sunday before Christmas (Dec. 20th) that will go towards our Advent Conspiracy. What is the Advent Conspiracy, you might be wondering? The basic theme is two-fold – sacrificing and giving more. Instead of getting caught up in worldly consumerism that has dominated the Christmas season for years, we want to sacrifice in order to give more. All the money given in the Advent Conspiracy will go towards the needs of people in the third world. I also want to encourage you to bring all your friends and family members to our Christmas Eve service this year – it’s going to be fantastic and it is also a wonderful outreach opportunity. We are handing out 200 Bibles this year as we go caroling and along with each Bible will be an invitation to attend our Christmas Eve service. Please pray that God would use the Bibles and our Christmas Eve service in a powerful way and that He would draw many people to Himself. Until next time, God bless you and Merry Christmas.