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Christmas is a Time to Stoop

The announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn't ask God if He knew what He was doing. Had He gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had He gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the business people, they would have first checked their schedules.

Instead He went to the shepherds who didn't know enough to tell God that angels don't sing to sheep and that messiahs aren't wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.

Today, a small cave outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. The entryway is so low that you can't go in standing up. You have to stoop.

The same is true of Christ today. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Saviour, you'll have to get on your knees.

What a privilege that we can come to Him, our Creator and the God of this universe, in a very real way through His Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords!

May you know His amazing, awesome, and perfect Love today, this Christmas, and always.

....portions by Max Lucado

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

 Supposed Birthplace of Jesus

Supposed Birthplace of Jesus

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#METOO

When an actor named Alyssa Milano told her personal story of sexual assault in October 2017 and added "#metoo," the hashtag began to rapidly trend online. It provided women and men a platform to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault. Milano had the idea to start #metoo from a friend, for women and men to share their stories, simply identify as a victim, or know that they are not alone and to let others know how rampant the problem is. This message of support has encouraged many people to tell their similar stories.

A very close friend of ours - a young woman - wrote the following piece in response. May God encourage you to tell your story. And be sure to journey with someone who can walk with you into the pain and into the healing that the good news of Jesus' gospel gives.

"I grew up in the safety of a family, with a protective, loving father and equally protective brothers who made sure I knew I was valuable. They gave me reason to believe that I could trust men. But reality strikes as a woman walks outside. Comments, advancements, and unwanted touches have led me to be far more fearful than trusting. And I am not alone. Many girls and women, [and sometimes even boys], experience it in far worse ways, but not just outside, sometimes in their homes. It makes my heart so sad to know that so many live in constant fear. 
(One small example of how fear affects daily life for me is: since moving where I live now, I have not run on my own due to fear, and I hate that! I love running on my own, especially in the forest! I hate that we are robbed of those simple joys. How much more do other women experience this?)

This a call out. This is a call for all to remember that we are made in the image of God, that we are intrinsically valuable. We are not objects. We are human. Protect and care for one another. Speak out against violence. Teach value. Let us truly love one another!"

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Modern Expressions of Ancient Words

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. These are five ancient words written in a letter to a community of faith filled people in ancient Ephesus by a man named Paul. Beyond the more rigorously specific definitions of these words are the modern outward expressions of ideas contained within these same words. Maybe you can find yourself in these expressions.

  • The apostle gift often plays itself out in people who lead businesses or start new ventures.
  • The prophet gift is sometimes at work in artists and musicians or in those who highlight social justice issues that need a voice.
  • The evangelism gift displays itself in those who have the great ability to convince others. Great salespeople have an expression of this gift.
  • The shepherd gift is at play in good counselors or in other helping professions.
  • The teaching gift is seen in those who are good at training or teaching.

Do you identify with one of these expressions? Would you consider taking a risk and asking God to show you why you have this gift expression and how it might grow and develop for the purpose of making a greater positive difference in the world? Jesus exhibited all five of these gifts with amazing evenness and capability. Getting to know Jesus through reading about Him in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John will help you discover why you may have these gift expressions and how best to use them. Why not take another step?

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A CANADA DAY 150 PRAYER

A Prayer on our 150th Anniversary! Written by a friend named David. Happy Birthday Canada!

Eternal God, Lord of history, today and tomorrow, thank you for the great gift that Canada is for us, for the spacious geography, for the abundance of water and land, for the forests and rivers, for the seasons, especially the warmth of summer.

We thank you for the first nations to whom you entrusted this land for hundreds of years before the rest of us arrived and what they have to teach us about respecting the earth and its waters.  We thank you for the opportunity to welcome people from other nations to make their home here with us. Thank you for the mosaic of cultures and traditions that make up this nation today and for the laws that keep us safe and make us a stable nation.  We thank you for the freedom to speak, to travel, to assemble, to study and to work as we please.  Thank you for the freedom to worship and to raise our families in peace and opportunity.

We thank you for those who for 150 years have served as law-makers, peace-keepers, teachers, artists and industrialists, making us the nation we are today, for the decades of social and economic progress, for our health-care system and so many other gifts of common grace.  We give special thanks for those who have preached and taught your word, who planted churches who have raised children to teach the next generation to love and serve you across the world.  I personally bless you for campus ministries and camps, for the work of EFC, Christian Direction, Visions Ministries and others like them who strengthen the church across Canada to extend your reign.  Thank you especially for Jesus who teaches us how to truly love the world in which we live without being seduced by it.

We confess that in many ways we have fallen short of the privilege you have entrusted to us.  We are a fragmented nation.  So we pray that you will pour out your Spirit on us to be a transformed people who will serve the nation as salt and light.  Make us people of the Cross showing the community around us the unsearchable riches of knowing Jesus as Lord.

We pray that you will have mercy upon this land and make Canada to be a true refuge for millions, a land of shalom, a model of repentance, of reconciliation and of grace.  We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

David Knight, Waterloo, ON

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