The word Advent means expectation, and the Advent season is a time of remembering the 400 years of silent anticipation of the arrival of our Savior. Many people celebrate and reflect on the Christmas season with an Advent calendar or special book to help them connect to the heart of the season and the eternal truth that Great Light has come and illuminated the darkness.
TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF OUR FAVORITE BOOKS FOR THE ADVENT SEASON:
Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio // The Christmas season is one most of us look forward to, yet the rush and chaos of the holidays can leave us dizzy. Often, at this time of year, we realize we are all waiting for something: a solution, a relationship, a breakthrough, a rescue and so on. Christmas is a time that reminds us: God made a promise and then He fulfilled it. This daily devotional book by Louie Giglio will show you what to do while you’re waiting and how to encounter hope over the holidays and throughout your life.
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp // Divided into daily readings starting on December 1st and going through Christmas Day, Voskamp artfully draws the reader into the full love story of the season. She reaches back into the pages of the Old Testament to explore the lineage of Jesus — the Greatest Gift — through the Advent tradition of “The Jesse Tree.”
Unwrapping the Name of Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu // Throughout Scripture, Jesus is referred to as, “Alpha and Omega, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, Messiah,” and so on. In this devotional beginning on December 1st, Asheritah Ciuciu takes a deeper look at who Jesus is, and what His arrival means for us.
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas // Watch for the Light is a compilation of stories and readings that allow readers to connect with the heart of the season. The book includes writings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Friedrich Foerster and many others. The writers explore the significance of the birth of Jesus, not only during this season but every season.
The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent by Ann Voskamp // Based on her book, The Greatest Gift, Voskamp takes families through the tradition of “The Jesse Tree” and creates a platform for the whole family to connect to the heart of the Christmas season.
Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide // Jotham’s Journey is a great book for you to read with your children. Each day has a reading that takes you through 10-year-old Jothan’s journey across Israel as he searches for his family. Along the journey he encounters wise men, shepherds and innkeepers until he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.
This week we begin Advent. A time of remembering the 400 years of silent anticipation of the arrival of our Savior. Many people are celebrating the Christmas Season with an Advent Calendar or special book to help them connect to the heart of the season and the eternal truth that great light has come into the darkness. Here are some of our favorite books for this time of year.
Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio – The Christmas season is one most of us look forward to, yet the rush and crush of the holidays can leave us dizzy. Often, at this time of year, we realize we are all waiting for something: a solution, a relationship, a breakthrough, a rescue. The word Advent means expectation. And Christmas is a time that reminds us: God made a promise and then He fulfilled it. This daily devotional book by Louie Giglio will show you what to do while you’re waiting and how to encounter hope over the holidays and throughout your life.
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp – Divided into daily readings starting on December 1 and going through Christmas Day, Voskamp artfully draws the reader into the full love story of the season. She reaches back into the pages of the Old Testament to explore the lineage of Jesus — the greatest gift — through the Advent tradition of “The Jesse Tree.”
Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide – Jotham’s Journey is a great book for you to read with your children. Each day has a reading that takes you through ten-year-old Jothan’s journey across Israel as he searches for his family. Along the journey he encounters wise men, shepherds and innkeepers until he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.
You may also want to revisit last year’s Advent blog written by Family Pastor Van Vandegriff:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
On the night Jesus was born, Angels appeared to the least important people in ancient society; the Shepherds. Make no mistake, the wealthy and prestigious wise-men had seen a sign in the heavens as well, however the lowly shepherds received a message they couldn’t miss. I love that God communicates so we can hear Him, no matter our education or background.
On that special night, the angels communicated that a savior had been born. This was news all the people had been waiting for. However, before the angels left the shepherds to return to heaven, they said something amazing; “Peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
The peace of God can be thought of as both a blessing and sustaining power. Peace resides on the inside of us acting as a counter pressure against all the stress and anxieties of this world.
Jesus never promised that life would be perfect once we started following Him, but He did promise to be with us.
Where Jesus is, peace is present.
As we celebrate the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas, I want to encourage you to take time everyday to connect with the counter-pressure peace of God. Daily time reading God’s Word, the Bible, and speaking with Him through prayer is the only way to access the peace of God. If you’ve decided to follow Jesus, His favor, and therefore His peace, is available to you.
If you’re unsure about where you stand with God and want to explore what relationship with Jesus looks like, I would like to personally invite you to join us for the next Alpha Course starting January 6th, 2015. May God grant you an amazing new year, and give you His peace.
And don’t forget to join us on Christmas Eve as we celebrate the best gift we’ve ever been given; our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We’ll have services at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and kids are invited to join us in the auditorium for the service.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor
“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” Proverbs 10:28
I’ve Got the Joy
We are now halfway through Advent and the anticipation of Christmas Eve is building! If you are celebrating with an Advent wreath and candles, you may be wondering why this week’s candle is pink and not red like the others. The answer is simple. It’s the happy candle. Meant to stand out. Meant to say, “let’s party.” Meant to say, “this is good news.”
Abraham Lincoln once said that if every person who had fallen asleep during church on Sunday was laid out end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. We can definitely forget there is a difference between a religious service, which can sometimes be less than inspiring, and experiencing Jesus, which is always a blast. Jesus said He came to earth to give us life and life abundant (John 10:10). In the midst of a broken world and in the midst of our own challenges, Jesus has promised us joy. A biblical definition of joy is: solid, unmoved internal satisfaction that Jesus is bigger than this world, my struggles and my emotions….and my life is in His hands.
Do you have joy? What areas of your life are ruled by feelings (which go up and down every day) instead of steadfast joy? Take some time today to exercise the joy promised to the righteous people of God in every area of your life. Then celebrate until your emotions arrive there as well.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We especially love it when our pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners sing Christmas songs for us and share Scriptures like they did on Sunday. It was an incredibly cute start to the Christmas season!
Special thanks to Eric Guel for taking these great photos for us!
“By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
The Love Boat
The Love Boat was a TV show in the late 70’s and 80’s. (Sorry that you’ll now be humming the theme song the rest of the day). The plot always revolved around the crew’s ability to help couples and friends find love for each other once again.
In much the same way, Jesus said the Church should be a “love boat;” a place where relationship is built and not torn down.
When Jesus came Earth as a baby, He showed God’s love for us. He was being the humble initiator to restore our broken relationship with Him. His act of moving toward us was the model He would then ask us to follow with each other. He would go so far to say that our ability to be relationship builders within the church would determine everyone else’s ability to understand His act of love for all.
Relationships are difficult because people are imperfect.
It’s hard to love imperfect people! However, taking Jesus as our example, let’s examine our hearts towards others today; especially others in the Church.
Ask yourself, “If my interactions and thoughts about others were put on international news tonight, would the world see a person of love and good will?” Receive God’s love for you personally today. Ask God to help you be a relationship builder toward others.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
I Hope I Win the Lottery.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a few people say to me, “I hope I win the lottery so I can pay off the new Antioch church building!” Never mind they have a greater mathematical chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery. I guess somebody has to win. However, I’m more interested in probabilities that play in my favor. How about a 100 percent guarantee I will win? Sounds good to me! What game offers those kinds of odds? The game of life.
Christian hope is a 100 percent guaranteed winner. The Bible calls the ability to maintain confidence in what we hope for “faith.” However, what exactly is this jackpot Christians are hoping for? Well, it’s not a thing.
It’s a person; the person of Jesus.
At the end of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi tells God’s people that a Savior is coming. Then there is a 400 year gap of silence between the end of the old testament and birth of Jesus. That’s a long time of hoping yet not seeing.
Yet for those that have experienced God’s character, we know that hope in God will never disappoint.
This week we begin Advent. A time of remembering the 400 years of silent anticipation of the arrival of our Savior. Let us once again be reminded that God is who He says He is and He will do what He said He will do. Our hope in Him will never disappoint.
What dreams, desires and hopes are you holding in your hands? Is your faith waning in the waiting? Press into Jesus and ask Him to give you confidence that anything from Him is a 100 percent guarantee.
By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor