Tag: christmas

A Christmas Letter from Jimmy – 2014

Merry Christmas Antioch Family!

Have you ever been running around your house looking for the keys when someone helping you says, “Hey, they were right here! Right in front of your nose!”?  I find that is similar to what happens in this season. We run around in circles looking for something that is literally right in front of our nose.

Every person is made for a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is right in front of our nose.  Isaiah 9:6 says, “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” This promise is true for everyone. God’s great love, counsel and care are there for us in the person of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

So what are a few ways that we can connect with Jesus, both individually and together as a family this holiday season? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Start your day alone with Him. You can take passages like Psalm 103:1-6 and Isaiah 9:6-7 and pray through each verse. Pausing and spending time with Jesus, day by day, connects you with the one who created you.
  • Spend time with Jesus as a family.  Check out this post from our blog for creative Christmas family devotional ideas.
  • Most holidays, we pick a family game to play every day and build on it throughout the holiday. It can be a card game or a board game, and we find so much joy and love by doing something fun together.
  • Before you open presents on Christmas Day, read the story of Jesus from Luke 2:1-20 and sing one Christmas carol together.
  • Before each one opens a present encourage them in what you see in them and how God sees them. Take a moment to let them know that they are loved.
  • Take at least one day to put your phone down.  Decide on a certain time everyone can text or check their email, but take a few hours to resign from the frantic, constant communication and spend time together with your family. During this season, it is so important we pause and take time to engage with the great love Jesus has for us and our love for one another.
  • There are so many other things God may lead you to do. As you pray He may lead you to give to someone in need, love a neighbor or a family in a unique way or reach out to someone who is alone during this season. If you ask Him, He will lead you and your family to connect with Him and His great love by sharing His love with others.

Lastly Laura and I and our family are so blessed and thankful for each of you. Our prayer is that our love for Jesus and our love for one another would abound beyond anything we have ever experienced before.

In His strength and love,


Week{end} in Pictures – Christmas Edition

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!


The Arrival: Hope Arriving

“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.

In Response

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

A Christmas Letter from Jimmy

Dear Antioch Family,

Merry Christmas to you and your family! I pray this Christmas Day and these holidays are days of deep connection; personally in your own relationship with Jesus, but also with family and friends.

Through the years many people have asked Laura and me about how to connect with family at Christmas. Here are a few practical tips for Christmas Day:

1) Take time to read the Christmas Story together. You can read a modern day version or a children’s version, but recounting the story connects you to one another and God’s purpose for Christmas. You can read the story from Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-2 or Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20 or find it on this website.

2) You can get creative and act it out. The kids can act out the parts of the  shepherds, Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.

3) Take just a moment to thank God for all He has done this past year. Just going around the room and saying one thing you are thankful for is always a boost of encouragement. If and when you do a gift exchange, before someone can open a gift have them answer a question like, “What are you thankful for?” or “Name a thing Jesus has done in your life this year?” That makes the gift exchange have a little more life in it and connection to each other while we open gifts.

4) Sing Christmas carols.  The great thing about the internet is that you can get all the words to your favorite songs and print them and pass them around. Some of my favorites are Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Oh come, oh come Emmanuel. Make sure you have copies of the lyrics. It gets a little funny when everybody isn’t able to sing together.

5)Take a moment to pray for someone who you know is lonely or doesn’t have family, and if you do have the freedom, pray for one another as well. Those times of bringing Jesus in on Christmas Day always creates great grace.

6)Here are some additional conversation starters – both serious and fun for young and old:

  • If you had to give all of your possessions away for Christmas, which would be the hardest and why?
  • What has been a new relational highlight in 2013? Someone you are significantly closer to than you were a year ago.
  • What was one favorite memory in 2013?
  • What is one characteristic of another family member you would like to grow in next year? (This could turn into an encouragement time.)
  • What were your highlights and lowlights of 2013? How did God use them to teach you more about Him and what did you learn about yourself?
  • With those of you that have little one’s going on road trips to relatives you could play a game called “What to do when.” What is the first thing we do when we get to their house (meaning- how do we greet them)? What do you do when you are offered something to eat that you do not care for? What do you do when something inappropriate is being watched on TV?
  • Come up with an honor plan to deliberately honor the elders in your family.

I hope this is a wonderful Christmas for you and your family! More than anything, He truly is the reason for the season. As the people of God, when we honor and celebrate Him in the midst of our family life, we will find the true richness that God so desires in and through our lives.

In His strength and love,

Jimmy and Laura Seibert


Childrens Christmas Performance 2013

We were so excited to have our four, five and six year olds share a scripture  and sing their Christmas song for us this past Sunday!

It was an incredibly cute start to the Christmas season!

Isaiah 9:6

 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

How to Stay Out of Debt This Christmas

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Or at least that’s what the commercials promise.

If I were honest, I don’t really love Christmas. I love getting to spend time with my family and having a nice meal and opening up gifts, but I just can’t get into the whole Christmas season thing. My wife, on the other hand, started playing Christmas music on November 1st.  And after six years of marriage, I have finally come to grips with the fact that Christmas starts early in the Lawson household and it is a really BIG deal.

Our first year of marriage I asked Jenny how much she wanted to spend on Christmas. After I peeled myself up off the floor, I looked at her with a dazed look and said, “You want to spend hooow much?” It seemed like we were going to buy gifts for everyone including my long-lost Uncle Frank. We eventually worked through it, but not until after tears were shed on both sides.

Over the next few years I would meet with families who would confess to overspending for Christmas. Many of these families would blow through a year-end bonus, empty out their savings or even end up putting it on their credit cards.

It was painful to listen to the countless number of families who had so much heartache and regret connected to what should be a joy-filled occasion.

So, here are FIVE SIMPLE WAYS you can avoid debt this Christmas:

  • 1. Set An Amount to Spend:  This amount should be what you currently have available in cash reserves. If you don’t have anything already saved up for Christmas, then you either need to get creative or you will need to sell things to get some extra cash. Either way, set a concrete amount to spend and don’t go over that amount.
  • 2. Make a List and Check It Twice: Once you have your set amount to spend, it’s time to work through your gift list. Remember, you can’t please everyone and Uncle Frank really doesn’t need another tie. It might hurt you not be able to get your great-great Aunt Sue something this Christmas, but overspending will hurt a lot worse. Get together with your spouse and decide who MUST-HAVE a gift this year, and then prioritize the rest of your list from there.
  • 3. Get Creative: If you don’t have a whole lot of money to spend then don’t assume you can’t get someone a gift. Be creative and think of something you could make, bake or create that they would love. One of the best Christmas gifts I have ever given to my mom was a video montage of my parents’ early years. She adores it still to this day and it cost me absolutely nothing.
  • 4. Disconnect from the Fray:  Christmas time is a marketer’s dream. They pump our televisions, inboxes and mailboxes full of advertisements to stir up the “wanter” inside of us. Disconnect yourself from the madness of Christmas and stick to your plan.
  • 5. Someone Else: The power of accountability is most needed in stressful and emotionally-charged times. Christmas tends to be both. Open up with another person or family and ask them to hold you accountable to saying no to debt and enjoying the true meaning of Christmas. 

What are some other creative ways you can avoid the pitfalls of debt this Christmas season?

By Josh Lawson, Director of Community Engagement

Josh Lawson