Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We pray that your holidays are blessed as you spend time with family and friends!
We are taking a little break to spend time with our families and to restore ourselves from "The Light of Christmas."
Phillipians 4:8 KJV
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
God has blessed us in 2015 and we anticipate the same for 2016! We give Him all praise and glory.
In Christ Alone,
Sherry & Kathy
It’s the week after “The Light of Christmas” and I’m flooded with emotions. What a blessed time we had singing together, praising and exalting the name of Jesus! The whole experience was a giant leap of faith for Sherry and I.
I remember when we first dreamed of what God might have us do. It began with a vision in my prayer loft of a single candle entering in the dark carried by a dancer dressed in white to the music of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel. " In my mind there were lights everywhere and beautiful star/cross panels.
And then we would tell the story of His coming. We would sing about His light, proclaim the Scriptures from Genesis - Revelation - the thread of the Messiah, the Light of the World coming for you and for me. We would invite musicians and actors to join us who have ministered with us through the years. And we brainstormed and prayed with our team and searched for music, and a place to present our offering as drama and narrations were written. We invited the community and they came! It was a beautiful and glorious evening. A heart warming testimony of God’s faithfulness and His heart of love. It was truly an outpouring of grace. There were lots of challenges and battles, but there was more prayer to overcome them.
That first rehearsal when 50 people gathered in my living room and the sound filled our home, I knew God had much more in mind than we had ever imagined. As our hearts and voices joined together, exalting the name of Jesus was our focus and desire. And there were sweet reunions of old friends and new friendships formed, healing and beauty, perseverance and hope. On December 12th, the people came and they joined their hearts and voices with us to honor the King of Kings and I wept for the joy of it. Over 80 participants from 15 different churches joining with 400 worshipers! Glory to God!!!
We began with the entrance of the single light and told the story in glorious song and powerful drama. Then we closed out the evening singing “fall on your knees ...glory to the new born King. What a privilege to be a part of the body of Christ coming together to rejoice and celebrate His coming, His light! The year of preparation and evening of worship will be forever cherished in our hearts. We are so grateful for everyone who participated and encouraged us through prayer and sponsorship and for those of you who joined us for "The Light of Christmas." I learned so much about trusting God’s faithfulness and provision. I love to tell the story of His birth and have been doing so through music, drama and narrations for over 30 years. I learn something new about the Savior and His heart each time. I’m grateful that He called me to journey with Him creatively through the Scriptures once more. I’ll never be the same for the work He did in me through the process. It has challenged and transformed me. It has made my heart even more in awe of the sacrifice Jesus made when He, the Light of the World, chose to step into the darkness of my world to save me. He did the same for you.
Suddenly, after a year of work, it’s finished. The set pieces are loaded up, the space is cleared out, the rehearsals are over, the sheets of music are put away and I’m pretty tired. But oh, how I will miss the process and especially the people involved.
As I walked into the house after the event, I’m astonished at the lack of attention in my own home. It’s basically a disaster area! There is the advent wreath on the only table that is cleared off, and then there is mess everywhere. I mean everywhere! There are still pumpkins at my front door and the Christmas tree, which we did manage to buy, is still sitting outside! There just weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
And so now it’s time. The kids and grand baby are arriving soon and I’m sending Ken into the attic to pull out the tubs of garlands and ornaments and wreaths. As I uncover the manger scenes from the boxes, my mind goes back to the story again. I have two manger scenes that I set out each year. One is white marble. It's beautiful and I love it because my mom gave it to me. It’s similar to the one she always put out when I was growing up. I always surround it with little white lights.
Then there is the manger scene we found on our trip to Jerusalem made of olive wood. It’s simple and exquisite. I love it too!
As I set them in their places, my mind goes back once more to the story. That’s why we put manger scenes in our homes. Of course, they are nothing like the reality of what really happened. The filth of a stable, the awestruck mother and father, the shepherds, angels, and wise men all had their part in the story. The hard pieces of my manger scenes made of marble and wood represent real people whom God chose to weave into the story of His coming. They serve simply as a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.
As we prepare our homes and our hearts for the celebration of Christmas this week, travel with me once more to the manger and let’s take a look at the ones who came to be part of the story over 2000 years ago. Let’s revisit the Scriptures from Luke 1 and 2 and the drama that unfolded.
In the process ask the Lord to show you how you fit into the story. Jesus was born for you. Try to picture yourself in the scene. Enter the story. Imagine the sights, the smells, the sounds, the wonder of it all!
God revealed the depth of His love for us at Christmas. Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph and God chose this couple from all of God's children to become the parents of His most fragile, and yet His most powerful gift - His love incarnate, His only Son.
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee to a virgin named Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored: The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid Mary, You have found favor with God. You will be with Child and give birth to a son and you are to give Him the name, Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel,” since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most high will overshadow you. So the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God'.” Luke 1:26-32
Joseph, a simple carpenter was confused by the reality that Mary was with child. In a dream an angel came to Joseph and told him to take Mary as his wife. He had been chosen to be the earthly father of God’s beloved Son.
In obedience, Mary and Joseph trusted God and surrendered their lives to His calling.
“In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Everyone went to his own town to register. So Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, the town of David.
While they were there, the time came for the Baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7
God’s gift of love had entered our world.
He came down from the throne of heaven for you.
This little Child would change the world forever.
His name is Jesus,
the Light that ends our darkness,
the Love where hope begins.
Emmanuel, Heaven’s Child came in the most unexpected way as a helpless Baby Boy on that miraculous night.
A lowly band of Shepherds were the first to hear of his coming. While they watched their flocks in fields nearby, “an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:9-14
God revealed Himself to the humble shepherds for no life is insignificant in the eyes of the Savior. The heavens above the stable burst forth with song and light and the fear of the Shepherds soon turned to rejoicing as they hurried to Bethlehem and found this newborn King and worshiped Him.
There, they found majesty in the midst of the mundane,
holiness, in the filth of a stable.
At last, the Savior, the long awaited Messiah had come.
The shepherds left the stable that night and “told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” Luke 2:20 They beheld His glory and their hearts were burning with the news.
Jesus chose to come close, to be with us, to be with you wherever you are....so that you are never alone.
In those places where you feel rejected, broken, small, or unworthy ...
your life can be touched by this God- Child
It is a great mystery that the love and glory of God in the highest heavens would come down to our depths and choose to wrap Himself in human flesh. Grace was laid in a manger that night. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled.
“ 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. “ Isaiah 9:6
The very One whose fingers had created the stars and celestial wonders of the world, now reached out a tiny finger to grab hold of His young mother’s hand.
Come, kneel close. His grace will meet you there.
God waits for you to draw close to this love that saves and offers hope.
Close....to this light of life that will shatter all of your darkness.
The prophet Isaiah said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2
The coming of the promised Messiah went unnoticed by most of the world that He came to save,
but for those who had ears to hear and eyes to see it was a night of wonder, glory, hope, and transformation.
Magi, wise men from the East saw the Bethlehem star, a celestial marker placed in the heavens by the hand of the Creator. They were seekers of truth and were compelled to follow the brilliance of God’s light to worship the child. They came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews: We saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When they found Jesus they laid their most precious gifts before Him...gold, frankincense and myrrh...and bowed down and worshiped. Matthew 2
The wise men came and worshiped. They laid down their most precious gifts to the Greatest Gift Giver of all.
Christmas is the season of giving gifts.
And you can choose to unwrap God’s gift of love and grace this year.
Take some time this Christmas week to pause and reflect on the wonder and mystery of the incarnation of Christ,
the long awaited Messiah for God’s people.
The story was written for you, given to you.
Let us respond with the shepherds and wise men in worship and praise.
Like the lowly shepherds you can come just as you are to worship the King of Kings.
This Christmas, seek His light and respond with a heart that cannot help but rejoice and join the angels in songs of adoration.
O Come Let us Adore Him!
For He Alone is Worthy!
The Christmas story is not just for angels, shepherds or wise men of long ago. The light and love of Christmas found in the Savior is not just a celebration once a year.
Christmas is an enduring love story for every soul in need of hope. Jesus comes near every moment of every day..waiting... that we would come near and behold Him.
This is our God...
reaching out to you and to me, sacrificing His Son on the cross for our sins that we might have
life and light to live.
"For unto us a Child is Born, unto us a Son is given.”
This is our Jesus...
He is God’s Son.
He is the sinner’s Savior.
He is the Breath of Life.
He supplies strength to the weary
Hope to the hopeless.
He delivers the captives.
He gives light to our darkness,
Comfort in our loneliness,
Life to the lifeless.
He forgives and He forgets.
He creates and He cleanses.
He restores and He rebuilds.
He heals and He helps.
He reconciles and He redeems.
He comforts and He carries.
He lifts and He loves
He had no predecessor and He will have no successor.
He is the Lion and He is the Lamb.
He is God and He is Man.
He is the seven-way King:
He is the King of the Jews...
That’s a racial King.
He is the King of Israel...
That’s a national King.
He is the King of righteousness...
That’s a moral King.
He is the King of the ages...
That’s an eternal King.
He is the King of Heaven...
That’s a universal King.
He is the King of glory...
That’s a celestial King.
HE IS THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS!
Gracious Father, Holy God...Thank you that You have invited us to enter into the powerful story of Your Son who came to save us, redeem us and restore us. Thank you for pursuing us with a love that will never fail. May the Light of and Love of Jesus burn brightly forever in our hearts and our lives so that we become a reflection of your beloved Son, Jesus in our dark and needy world.
May you have a blessed Christmas celebrating the story and the gift of Jesus!
Resources: Images Pinterest, the Nativity Story, L, Mixon and personal photos,
This is our Jesus, writing compiled from Anne Graham Lotz, Just Give Me Jesus
Last night was a glorious evening as Restore Ministries presented it's largest evening of worship to Christ our King! A vision that was birthed a year ago finally came into existence. The body of Christ so beautifully came together to "Come and Worship" as we presented a musical & drama offering of "The Light of Christmas." Approximately 400 worshippers met together with nothing but expectation in their heart! A joyous occasion and one of which you will be hearing more about in another blog. Today, please welcome a word from my Aunt Judy, who prays for us and this ministry faithfully. I am grateful for her servant heart, to help write this blog during our busy time of winding down from the event and getting everything packed up and put away. Have a blessed Christmas, Sherry
"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Isn't this a glorious season? We are blessed to have the privelege of celebrating the birth of the Son of God, our Saviour. As I re-read once again the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, I was overtaken with emotions. This familiar story, God's story, is so awesome and so amazing it reads fresh and new time and time again. This story, this truth, this entire Bible is for everyone.
"I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.
All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book."
The Christmas story includes: kings, governors, princes and prophets down to the lowliest shepherds. Involved were chief priests and scribes, wise men, Caesar, an angel, a star and a multitude of heavenly hosts. Oh what a night! What a most Holy Night. This story has been told for hundreds of years and has withstood the test of time. Five generations of my family heard the preaching of the late John R. Rice who once said:
"You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face
and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift."
The Bible is so full of compelling insights into the birth, life, and death of Jesus. This Christmas season we are reminded of his sinless life and the sacrifice He made for each of us.
"How many observe Christ's Birthday! How few His precepts!"
Gifts, the gift, which gift, the perfect gift? How involved we can get and how much time we can spend giving at Christmas. It took me a long time to realize I could never give a gift that was truly worthy of the person receiving it. I really tried and somehow always felt saddened. The gift would always seem so insignificant although I had labored long in choosing what I thought to be the perfect one. Gift giving is usually from a loving heart, therefore, the thoughtful gift is a good gift. Vance Havner said it so well in this phrase:
"Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man - His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God-when we present our bodies a living sacrifice."
This is the greatest gift we can offer to our Holy God , ourselves. Just as we are and the whole of who we are. To serve Him, to worship Him, and to live daily in the light of His presence will help us to give to others the joy He has given to us
"The Son of God became a man to enable men to become Son's of God." C.S. Lewis
Let us worship the King of Kings today and everyday, joyfully and willingly. As the stars seem to shine brighter than any other time of the year let us look up and rejoice because we know their "Creator."
"Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o'er all the earth. Ye who sang creations story now proclaim Messiah's birth. Come and worship, Come and worship, worship Christ the new born King."
Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and yours.
As we approach the New Year we will face surprises and questions and possibly fear; so when that happens think on Joseph and Mary and the surprise they encountered and know how God, " Works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.
Celebrating the Birthday of a King,
In His Love,
It’s Advent! I love the season. We’ve been celebrating Advent since our children were little. We first started off with four candles, one for each week of Advent, and a devotional book for children to guide us through the season. No matter how crazy the days of Christmas were, we tried to slow it down, at least for a moment, and focus on God’s love story. Those are sweet memories for us. It wasn’t always easy, with the preparations for Christmas musicals, the shopping, the cooking, but it is so important to remember why we celebrate. And so as a family we would gather around the candles at the table and open the Word and Jesus would open our hearts and woo us into a deeper understanding of Christ as our Savior.
Certainly, there were years when we missed it, when we let the busyness and preparations for Christmas overtake the preparation of our hearts, overtake the pulling away in the stillness, overtake the privilege of pondering the wonder of how and why God sent His Son. But when we did, it was better, richer, and full of reflection on the promises of Christ.
The lighted candles are a beautiful visual reminder that the Light of the World chose to step into the darkness of our world and light the way for us. I pray that the process planted seeds for the unwrapping of His love and light in the hearts of our children as well, for they are now grown and making homes of their own.
In recent years, it has been just the two of us opening the pages of Scripture together in this season. We’ve expanded our celebration to include a candle for each day of the season placed in a wooden advent wreath. And now we use the book the “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp to guide us through the Scriptures of His story. I love this devotional because it starts at the beginning in Genesis and traces the thread of Jesus coming throughout His Word using the symbol of a Jesse tree. As we make the journey together as a couple each year, we are amazed all over again that God would choose to weave us into His love story.
When Ken and I began again this year, at the end of the first day we came to the question,
“What are you waiting for, yearning for this season?”
There was silence after Ken read the question.Then He looked at me and said, “Wow, what a difference a year makes.” We were both thinking of our answers from last year to this same question. We were so broken. Our lives were suddenly very quiet with the loss of jobs and ministry, so unexpected at this stage of our lives. There was pain and the uncertainty of our future. And oh, how desperate we were for His Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and knowledge. We waited in reverence and fear of the Lord for His revelation and vision for our lives.
It was a good place to be, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. It was a time of waiting until God chose to birth something new within us. Once again, this Christmas, our days are very full of preparation and the glorious sound of His music as we prepare to deliver the gospel message of Christmas through Restore’s offering of “The Light of Christmas."
Perhaps your life seems a little lost and broken this year. He is your hope. Out of that brokenness comes a yearning, a longing for more of the only One who knows the answers,
the only One who can carry you, sustain you, and hold you.
If you are wise, you will choose to come close and linger at the manger in worship,
and lay your need for Him there.
Because what you really need is grace.
Grace was laid in a manger on that Christmas night so long ago.
So come, regardless of the circumstances of your life this year.
Come and kneel, bow your heart, and listen for His Words of truth.
His grace will meet you there.
Jesus waits for you to draw close to His love that saves and offers hope.
Come, prepare your heart once more for the celebration of His coming.
Draw close to the Light of life that will shatter all of your darkness.
When you draw close, rest there and ponder anew the story of His Advent for you and me.
He is Emmanuel. God with us!
“And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.
And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word.’
And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:35-37
Mary said yes and God moved in!
Jesus moved into the womb of Mary and took on flesh,
and He can move into your life as well, if you will let Him.
It takes time to look deep within yourself.
It takes a willing heart and obedience.
And it takes quiet, a stillness of the heart and spirit.
The Living Word became flesh for you!
The very One whose fingers had created the stars and celestial wonders of the world now reached out a tiny finger to grab hold of His young mother's hand.
Reflect for a moment with me and imagine Mary holding those tiny hands, examining each little finger as new mothers do. Those tiny hands...
Holy hands of a King, born in the filth of stable...
Hands so fragile, yet so powerful...
Hands that would hold the scrolls at the temple and read the Words of life He had written...
Hands that would touch the lepers wounds and heal...
Hands that would wipe away the tears of grief for the widow, the wounded, the desperate...
Hands that would bless the children and deliver miracle after miracle.....
Hands that would scribble in the sand and offer grace and life to the adulterous woman...
Hands that would take a cup of water and then offer living water to the woman at the well...
Hands that would overturn the corrupt tables of the money changers at the temple...
Hands lifted up in prayer to the Father, interceding on our behalf...
Hands that washed the dirty feet of the disciples, broke the bread, served the wine...
Hands covered in tears and the sweat of blood from the anguish of the Savior's prayers
in the garden of Gethsemane...
Hands that would be nail pierced and stretched out on the cross for our sin... Hands of love and hope that reach out from the pages of Scripture to you and to me..... Hands that ascended into Heaven and sit at the right hand of God the Father to rule and reign over every detail of your life...
We must wrestle with how we choose to respond to these Holy, loving hands. The God-child grew inside of Mary until He had to come out and live among us.
He does the same for you as a believer.
He grows inside of you until He comes out.......
in your hands, in your words, in your actions,
in the way you love and live.
Because you are also beloved, blessed, chosen and appointed to deliver Christ into the world!
“For nothing is impossible with God.”
Remember this Advent season, Christ lives in you!
Come and Worship!
Father, “Let it be to me according to your Word.” - Luke 1:38
Oh that we would be so full of our Emmanuel, Christ within us,
that our hands would deliver the touch of your love and truth.
And Father, by your grace, may our lives speak these words
of Paul to our dark and needy world,
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
In the coming weeks of Advent seek out the stillness, the Word, resist the rush
and rest a moment in the loving embrace of His hands. Let them hold you.
It is His gift of grace to you.
Then rise and let the fullness of His Spirit that lives within you guide you
along His way during the days of this Christmas season.
Held in His hands,
Resources: Images Pintrest, The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp
Restore Ministries would like to give special thanks to all of you who will be joining us
December 12 for “The Light of Christmas”. The event is SOLD OUT. Once again God
has shown His faithfulness as we step out in faith to deliver the gospel message
through the creative arts to our community. Over 80 singers and musicians will gather
from 14 different churches to offer our worship and praise to the Savior, our Emmanuel.
To God be the Glory!
We would be so grateful for your prayers in the final days of preparing our hearts and voices!
Praise Jesus, the Light that ends our darkness,
the Love where hope begins!
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