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Archive for December 2014

Making Space for God

How much space did you make for God in your life in 2014? How much time did you spend practicing one of the spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading your Bible, serving God, worship God, or solitude and reflection on God? How much time did you spend celebrating God in your life?

Richard Foster writes in his book Celebration of Discipline that “joy is the keynote of all the disciplines.” He says, “The purpose of spiritual disciplines is to liberate us from the stifling slavery to self and fear. And the primary requirement of spiritual disciplines is a longing for God.” The psalmist writes, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1). Do you have a longing for God in your life…a longing so deep that it causes you to want to make space for Him in your life in greater ways than you have before? I do!

You see, for me, and I imagine the same is true for many of you; 2014 was a very busy year. For most of the year I served as an interim pastor. In addition to that I was a stay at home dad, a husband, a friend, and a coffee drinker. The point is that I was so busy that I wasn’t making space for God. You might ask, if you were preaching every week, then weren’t you spending time with God. The answer is yes and no. I was preparing sermons, but I wasn’t making space for God. I wasn’t consistently practicing a discipline for my own spiritual transformation. The result was increased irritability in my life, lack of patience, and lack of quality time with my family and God. I wasn’t the husband I needed to be, the father I needed to be or the man of God I needed to be. By the grace of God, I came to realize what was happening and have made changes in my life that that will help me once again make space for God and begin the practice of spiritual disciplines in my life.

Spiritual disciplines aren’t unpleasant, they aren’t a measure of spirituality, and they aren’t a way for you to earn favor with God. Spiritual disciplines are not a way to make you feel guilty about not spending time with God. Rather, they are an activity that helps you to live life as Jesus taught and modeled. Spiritual disciplines are a way for us to makes space for God in our lives and they serve as a catalyst for spiritual transformation and conforming us to Christ likeness.

So if joy is the keynote of all spiritual disciplines and the result of them is to conform us to Christ-likeness, where do you need to make space for God in your life? What distractions do you have in your life that you need to address to allow you time to practice a spiritual discipline? Less TV? Less work? Anger towards God for something? Depression?

This week, think about those distractions that are keeping you from making space for God and start 2015 by implementing the practice of at least one spiritual discipline in your life.

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

The Gift of the Manger

One part of the Christmas story that we are familiar with is the manger. But as is often the case with familiarity, meaning is lost. So, let me ask you, what do you see when you look at the manger? When I think of the manger, two thoughts come to mind.

First, Luke tells us that “…a Savior has been born to you…” (Luke 2:11). That little child born 2000 plus years ago and placed in the manger is our Savior. But what did He save us from? This is the question I have been pondering. For me, I know that Jesus is saving me from selfishness. He is saving me from my life of lust and comparison of others. He is saving me from my judgmental ways and He is saving me and in many ways has already saved me from becoming my worst possible self.
The Gift of the Manger
You see, He saves us all from guilt and shame, from hopelessness and despair, from fear and death. He saves the addicts from their addictions and gives them new life. He save us from being self absorbed, resentful, bitter, angry people, and transforms us into people who live with freedom, hope, and joy. We all need a Savior and that is what that little baby who was placed in a manger on that first Christmas night is. So, in what areas of your life do you need a Savior?

Secondly, Luke mentions the manger three times in his account of the Christmas story (Luke 2:7, 12, 16). For the shepherds, the manger was a sign; it was where they would find the Christ child. I wonder if the manger is also a sign for us. The manger is where God’s creation comes to eat. Friends, what we really hunger for, what we really desire cannot be fulfilled with a gift under a tree on Christmas morning. We all hunger for meaning, for joy, and for hope in the face of despair. We hunger for a love that will not let us go. We hunger for life and triumph in the face of death. We hunger for forgiveness and salvation.

But here’s the thing. What we are hungry for, what we desire the most comes only from the baby who was born in a stable and placed in a feeding trough. We must come to the manger to satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.

“May God’s greatest Gift be our greatest joy.” – Ann Voskamp

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Trust in His Plan

When you think of great men in Bible, names like David, the great king might come to mind. Or maybe you think of Solomon and all his wisdom. Some of you might think of the great soul winner, Paul. But for me, when I think of great men in the Bible, Joseph is the first name that comes to mind.

His story is one that none of us would want to live. He is engaged to be married, but learns that his future wife is pregnant with a child that is not his. The only logical explanation for this was that Mary had been unfaithful to him. It’s not hard to imagine what Joseph felt upon learning this news from Mary. It would have been devastating to him. No doubt he felt betrayed, dishonored, disrespected, humiliated and hurt by Mary. His trust had been violated and his whole world would have been shaken by this news.

But Joseph responded in a way that most of us would not when faced with similar news. You see, if he told others what had happened, that Mary was pregnant with another man’s child, Mary would be stoned to death (Deut. 22:23-24). Mary’s life was in his hands, yet through his hurt, he did not want to see Mary die. So Joseph began to devise a plan to break off the engagement quietly. He knew that after the engagement ended, people would soon discover that Mary was pregnant. The assumption would be that Joseph was the father and that he had slept with Mary prior to being married and then broke off the engagement. The shame would be his, not Mary’s. Mary’s life would be spared. Joseph was willing to do this because he was a “righteous man” (Matt. 1:19). I have great respect for Joseph.

You see, Joseph’s righteousness didn’t come from his pursuit of justice or being obedient to what the law required, which stated that Mary should be stoned to death. Rather, it was his compassion and mercy towards Mary that led Joseph to be called righteous. Who in your life do you need to show compassion and mercy to?

Friends, we all receive news in our lives that has the ability to crush all of our hopes and dreams; news that will make that day the worst of your life; news that requires us to go on a journey that we would rather not go on. This is how Joseph must have felt. But at that very moment when Joseph was at his lowest, when he felt like he couldn’t go on, God was at work in Mary’s womb orchestrating the birth of the Savior and God was inviting Joseph to be part of the greatest this great redemption story.

Here’s the thing, when life gets hard and painful and you feel like you can’t go on, remember Joseph and his story. Just when everything seems all wrong, maybe, just maybe, God is doing something remarkable that you simply cannot see. So when you’re facing moments of disappointment and hurt and uncertainty and you’re on a journey you don’t want to be on; turn it over to God and invite Him to make “all things work together for good for those who love God, and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

One of my go-to prayers when I’m facing those dark and trying times in my life is, “God, You are on the throne.” Where in your life do you need to release control, trust in God, and pray, “God, You are on the throne?”

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Update From The Manger Build


The manger build last week was a great event for dad’s and their children. Last Wednesday night 62 were built and 113 this past Sunday morning meaning 175 families were blessed. One little girl was asked by her parents the best part of Sunday’s Christmas festivities at the church and it was building a manger for baby Jesus over a live nativity and ice cream! Dads were given a devotional to lead the family in during the week of Christmas that revolves around the shared experience of building the manger.

If you missed building a manger with your children there are leftover kits available this Saturday morning during the Morning in Bethlehem at Christ Community Church. A $10 donation per kit is encouraged.

Volume 5 of 33 the Series: A Man and his Marriage

New Men’s Group:
Volume 5 of 33 the Series: A Man and his Marriage. Beginning January 11th for 6 weeks at 10:45 AM at CCC in D227. There are many important relationships in a man’s life and none deserve more care, focus and investment than his relationship with his wife. Volume 5 lays out an inspiring picture of God’s vision for marriage that will change everything for those of you who are “stuck” and encourage those who are thriving. For more information contact Clark Osborn at clark.osborn1@gmail.com.

Face the Impossible

For many of us the Christmas season is a time of joy, but for others…not so much. Maybe they received a bad medical report or just lost a loved one. Perhaps you just lost your job or your marriage is falling apart. Whatever it is you’re going through, the holiday season has a way of magnifying the hurt you’re experiencing. You wonder how you can possibly get through the circumstance that is happening in your life; know this, you’re not alone.

You see, as followers of Jesus, we all face times, situations, and circumstances that are going to seem impossible to get through. As I was preparing my Christmas series to preach, I was reminded how Mary’s life was changed by news she received (Luke 1:26-38). She was told twice that she was favored by God (Luke 1:28, 30), but God’s favor in her life meant not a life of bliss, but a life of risks.

It is hard for us to imagine that this was what it meant for Mary to be favored by God. Mary’s life reminds us that sometimes God’s call in our lives is difficult. It may require us to set aside our own hopes and dreams. It may require us to go places we don’t want to go, or take risks we don’t want to take. It may even be frightening and result in a loss.

But, the angel Gabriel also reassured Mary with one of the greatest statements of God’s power that is recorded in the Bible (v. 37). This verse undoubtedly comforted Mary in the following months, as it has comforted countless believers who are faced with difficulties in their lives and wonder how they are going to get through the moment, the day, the week, or the year. You may not think you can get through, you need to know this, you are not alone.

So, whatever challenge, whatever hardship, whatever loss you may be facing right now, you’re not alone. Let the truth the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary become your truth and remember that He can help you get through the bad medical report. He can help you get through the loss of a loved one. He can help you save your marriage. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

Where Does Your Joy Come From?

In our lives there is an interesting relationship between happiness and place. Many people pay a lot of money to live in a place that they think will make them happy. But here’s the thing, the happy life or, in our case, the meaningful life is rooted where you are spiritually and not where you are geographically.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul says that he is writing to the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi (Philippians 1:1). In other words, they are in Philippi geographically, but they are not buying into the mindset and not buying into a culture where wealth, honor and status are the marks of one’s identity and happiness. Rather, the saints are in Christ Jesus. What matters to them, what brings them joy and meaning is whose they are and where they are spiritually.

You see, there is no place, no circumstance, no external situation (money, health, beauty) that can bring lasting happiness. The location that really matters is your spiritual location and that you are in Christ Jesus.

What does that mean? That means Jesus is it for me. Jesus is with me. Jesus is in me. Jesus is by me.
Jesus is for me no matter what. Jesus is always working through me. He’s always standing beside me. He’s always going before me. He’s always watching over me. He has my back. He’s in my heart. He’s at my side. He’s in my corner. I may be in trouble, in debt, in prison, in suffering, in a hospital bed, but if I’m in Christ Jesus, I am good to go!

That’s the good news of the gospel, and Paul says if your spiritual location is in Christ Jesus, your geographical location can be any place on earth, and your ultimate well-being is not at risk. Not at all!
“Rejoice.” He says, “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4). Rejoice because Jesus our Lord is the great joy bringer.

So, what are you rejoicing in? Is it in a place or is it in the One who makes your joy complete?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)
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