Written by Marshall Commons
I asked my colleagues at work what they think of when they hear the word "Christmas". These were their responses: presents, trees, winter, weight gain, scotch tape, temporary satisfaction, Santa, ham, ornaments, snow and reindeer. I wonder how many of these same words come to mind when you hear "Christmas". When you clear away the ribbons and wrappings, the cookie crumbs and receipts, what is at the heart of Christmas?
If you look carefully, I believe that you will find the most famous verse of scripture known to believers and non-believers alike...John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son..." Jesus-God's greatest gift, sent to "seek and save the lost". A missionary from heaven sent into a dark world to not just bring light, but to actually be the light of salvation. Knowing what lay ahead, the Father's passion for us outweighed the pain He would feel.
Sharing the Father's passion for the lost and having His heart for His children is the mission of the church and what I love most about Central. As a newly baptized, young believer I came here with my family in 1974. I was discipled by Jim Yost and later guided into mission work by him. I had the privilege of standing shoulder to shoulder with some great, godly men and women while serving together on our Missions Committee and later being served by them as a missionary myself. Dot Isbell, Jewel Yost, Hope Ingraham, Don Hart, Jon Ottinger and Veltie Jessup. They were the links between those serving on the field and us at home. The missionaries were their friends, their family and their teammates. We supported them with our finances, our prayers and often-our tears as we shared in their struggles.
I believe Central has been blessed by God because we share His heart. Sending out missionaries around the world to bring the good news is like having Christmas year-round. A gift with no receipt-although it cost the Father everything, it is free to those who will receive it.
Like most of you, I just put up lights on our home. Plugging them in at 4:00 pm did not have much of an impact. I could barely tell that they were even on. However, they look pretty great at night. Where will you let your light shine this Christmas? Will it just be absorbed by all of the other light around or will it stand out as a beacon of hope in the midst of darkness?
God is the God of Mission. He sent His word, His law, His prophets, and above all He sent His Son. This Christmas, take a moment to stop by our wall of missionaries (it's in the lobby of the auditorium, in case you are wondering). Look at their pictures, and thank God for them. Pray for them. Send them a note of encouragement.
A few weeks ago, we heard from our missionaries Harold and Connie Knepper about their expansion program for the Hope of the Nations Bible College. Last week Scott Pernice from City Team shared about their desire to redo the courtyard of the Men's Recovery Ministry facility making it a safe and fun environment for kids to connect with their Dads. Won't you consider partnering with these and with us as a family?
This Christmas let's Give Hope!