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Getting Ready for Christmas

December 4, 2014

JoyMeetsWorldAppArtSquareAre you ready for Christmas? We spend a lot of time getting ready by shopping, putting up massive decorations, and sending out Christmas cards. In fact we spend a lot of time and money during the Christmas season getting ready, but what about getting ourselves ready for Christmas?

The opening verses of Mark give us some practical ways to get ready for Christmas while we’re looking forward to the BIG day to arrive, so that when we wake up on Christmas morning, we’ll have done everything we can do to be ready for the best Christmas ever.

Here are 4 ways to get ready for Christmas from Mark 1.

Give the Gift of Jesus.

The best Christmas gift is the original, God’s free gift of eternal life.

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and He will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for Him!’” Mark 1:2-3

John the Baptist had a very specific job to help people get ready for the ministry of Jesus. Our job at Christmas can be like that too. We are preparing the way for Jesus to change people’s lives. And there’s nothing better than helping someone cross over that line of faith.

When you help someone connect with Jesus, that’s the gift that keeps on giving. And best of all according to Romans 6:23, it’s FREE. We know that many people who normally never come to church will come for Christmas services. Everybody is in the flow of Christmas, so many people are more prepared to hear the Gospel now than at any other time of the year. So we want to intentionally invite as many people as we can to be a part of our Christmas events at The Connection Church.

Get your heart ready.
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. Mark 1:4-5

When people heard John’s message, they confessed their sin to God, turned to follow after God and were baptized. If you’re ready to go public with your faith, Christmas is a great time before the next year begins. We’ll be celebrating baptisms in all of our services on December 13-14. You can go here to sign up now or find out more information.

Prepare for Christmas by asking God to search your heart. In Psalm 139:23-24, David said, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

You’ll renew your connection with God when you ask Him to examine your heart. When you do, it’s a simply a matter of agreeing with God about what we’ve done and asking Him to forgive us and make our hearts clean. In fact, He promises to make us WHITE AS SNOW.

On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 1 John 1:9 (MSG)

Do Christmas differently this year.

If you want different, you couldn’t get much weirder than John the Baptist. Mark 1:6 describes him like this: His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

In other words, John was a wild man. He stood out. He was different. To experience what Christmas is meant to be, we need to do it differently this year.

A.W. Tozer convictingly said, “Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate his coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year… He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them.”

Different for you might mean doing what we do as a family and bringing your biggest gift to Jesus this year through our First and Best Offering day on December 13-14.

Finally, and most importantly, keep your focus on Jesus.

John was all about making Jesus greater. He helped people focus on Jesus.

In Mark 1:7, John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

The season we’re in is traditionally known as Advent, which means “coming.” It’s good for us to build up anticipation for Christmas by intentionally taking time each day to spend with God digging into the meaning of Christmas on your own or with your family. Click here to download a Christmas Bible Reading Plan to use during December.

I want to personally invite you to be with us at The Connection Church this Christmas this weekend as we kick-off Joy Meets World. In this brand new series, you’ll discover how to live a life full of joy this Christmas and all year long!

Countdown to The Big Ten

October 30, 2014

In our first 10 years, God has done great things through our church family. Now we’re reaching over 1200 people every week in our mission to connect people to a real relationship with God and others. As much as we’re celebrating what God has done during these ten years, we’re even more excited to imagine what we believe He will do in the next ten years. We are confident that God has even BIGGER plans for us to change lives in South Central Texas.

We believe the local church is the hope of the world and are ready to step out in BIG ways to see God’s VISION become a reality. This week, we’re kicking off a new Vision Journey called The BIG 10. We’re putting a stake in the ground, looking forward to our next big steps that we’ll be taking together. In this new series, we’ll be walking through the Old Testament book of Nehemiah to discover from God’s Word how your life can be a part of God’s Big plans.

As we move forward through The BIG 10 vision journey, we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us. It’s the chance to know God more intimately, and see thousands of lives changed. This will be a blessing for all of us as we follow hard after God together.

You can find out more about what’s happening at YourBigTen.com. I look forward to seeing you this weekend to get in on what God wants to do next as we get ready for The BIG 10!

Wake the Dead With Us

October 1, 2014

There are so many people who are going through life half-dead, just hanging on, barely existing. It’s easy to feel that way in our modern world. You might even call it a ZOMBIE lifestyle, just trying to survive, going through the motions, and consuming others in the process. But Jesus said He came to give us real life, more than just going through the motions.

In our new series that we’re kicking off this weekend, we’ll be talking about how you can escape the ZOMBIE existence and discover the full life that God wants for you. It’s called Waking the Dead, sort of a different take on the popular series, The Walking Dead. So you can expect that we’re going to have a lot of “can you really do that at church?” fun, including zombies. We expect God to do great things over the next month and I want to personally invite you to be here with us.

We’re also kicking off a new service time, now with 4 different options to choose from! Our new times include Saturdays at 5:30 (where there’s still enough to go out with family and friends afterward), and Sundays at 9am, 10:30am, and Noon.

So make plans not to miss a single week of Waking the Dead at The Connection Church, where you’ll discover how to really COME ALIVE!

What the Tech?

September 5, 2014

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Our smart phones, tablets and laptops connect us like never before, but we’re also connected to them in ways that aren’t very healthy. Their constant presence becomes a drain, not just on battery life, but on our lives too. The way we present ourselves on social media is a reflection of our hearts. Through technology, we can make our voice heard and even share our faith, but sometimes, without realizing it, we have allowed our technology to have too much of a hold on us. In this new series called What the Tech?, we’ll discover how to bring out the good in technology and minimize the bad by setting guardrails in place.

I want to personally invite you to be my guest at one of our Celebration services this week as we kick-off this timely series. This is a perfect week to bring a friend along with you. It’s all happening this Sunday morning at 9, 10:30, and Noon. I can’t wait to see you there!

Life is a series of LINKS, some positive, and some not-so-positive. In many ways, these links define us. In this new message series, you’ll discover the 3 most important links you can make in your life and how to secure those links for life!

What are the LINKS? They’re the reason we exist as a church.

We exist to link with God. This is our most important link. On Sunday, August 17th, we’ll talk about 4 ways that you can strengthen your connection with God.

We also need to link with people who will walk on the journey with us. You’ll find out how to best make that happen on August 24th.

On August 31st, we’ll get prepared to live out our mission of connecting people with God through a personal relationship with Jesus. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what drives us as a church.

So be with us over the next 3 weeks for LINKED at 9am, 10:30am or Noon every Sunday. Bring a friend, and I’ll see you there!

Linked Message Series Intro from The Connection Church on Vimeo.