December 2014
Church Press Newsletter
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Christmas Creed  
(For worship service)

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, who sent His Son as my Savior on Christmas Day.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, my Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, announced by the angels, worshiped by the shepherds, adored by the Wise Men, who lived to suffer, die and rise again to free me from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

I believe in the Holy Spirit who has brought me to faith in the Christ of Christmas and by whose continuous work in my heart I am ever led to lay before the feet of Christ the treasures of my love and live under Him as my King both now and forevermore. Amen. 
A video of what...

happens at a food court in a mall in Welland, Ontario, when unannounced, people start singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Quite amazing. This is a MUST SEE. 

Consumer Reports for March 2014. . .

on page 48 reads that when Paul Scheier had cancer return at age 86, he said no more hospitals, no more chemo. It then details some good choices he made. Article includes finding the right hospice, no need of an attorney, and taking care of lose ends. It's a very informative article. Get a copy if you can.

Church Signs of the Week

They deal with Nobody's Perfect, Open Psalms, and Spiritual Service. Click signs for a pick-me-up.

My Immigration Status: Beloved
By Adriana Mondragon, Christianity Today, 10/21/14 

In Christ I am more than the 'crime' I committed at age 5. As proud as I am of my Mexican heritage, there is only one place I can call home: the United States. I belong to the wave of immigrants who arrived in the country as children . . .

I tried to dodge every insult fired at undocumented immigrants, but I felt the effects . . . Guilt, shame, depression.

Much good came from the learning center: tutoring, role models (including the first positive male role model of my life) . . . But nothing more beautiful and powerful came from the center than my introduction to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I was 13 when I first heard in detail about the living God . . . I started asking questions and getting answers that filled my heart as I heard the Good News for the first time. 

(Note: These are just a few extracts. To read the entire article click Adriana.)

For Pastor's Eyes  Only

The Qur'an and the Bible - A Comparison
by Rev. Rick Richter (LCMS). What does the Qur'an say? What does the Bible say? An excellent comparison
New $18.95. 171 pages. Free (including shipping) to the first pastor who emails us.

For Church Secretary's
Eyes Only

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans. The tale of a widow and the young family who moves in with her. Together they discover the first gift of Christmas and what it is all about. Hard cover. Retails for $15.95. Free (including shipping) to the first secretary (or office administrator) who emails us.

Most Important

The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Catholic by Don Rhodes. 

Has tools you need to effectively talk to Catholics about their faith and guide them to the good news of God's free grace through Jesus Christ. Detailed information on the Catholic view of the Bible, the role of Mary and the Church Hierarchy, justification by works, and more.

128 pages, #319, $9.99. To order click Catholic or email us or call 303-980-8863.
Be Courageous
By Brad Lomenick, Outreach 9&10/2014, p. 73-74

What would you pursue today if you weren't afraid to fail? If you knew for certain that you were the one to make it happen? Go do that.

Making a difference many times starts with just simply making a move. We can't live and lead in a state of fear and inactivity. Don't sit on the sidelines. As followers of Jesus, if we're not chasing after something bigger that is much bigger than we are - and there's no way we could ever accomplish it without God - then we are playing it too safe.

"Fear not" and "do not be afraid" as Scripture reminds us. No matter what you're calling it or what challenges you're confronting, every leader must make a choice. You can sit on the mountaintop and enjoy the view, or you can leap into the free fall of riskiness. The jump may be risky, but the decision to stay where you are is even more so.
A Special Church

Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Lincoln, NE, has very practical website. Rev. Mark Ebert is lead pastor assisted by Rev. Michael Brown.

It's colorful and contains a great deal of information. Good eye appeal. Click Redeemer Lutheran to start your study. Jot down ideas for your website.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Sets

Each set has the needed candles and accessories. Includes Pastor's Candle, 6 Usher's Candles, 125 Congregation Candles (#341 $51.55) or 250 Candles (#342 $78.60) or 425 Candles (#343 $113.55) and drip protectors. Just click candles to order on the website or email us or call 303-980-8863.

Welcome! Please come in. To be human is to wonder and wander; it strongly suggests that we are not really and fully at home. Now for some deeper thinking. "I Wonder As I Wander" is a Christmas carol written by folklorist and singer Jacob Niles on July 16, 1933. Take a moment to wonder more deeply. Watch, listen or sing along as you think.
I Wonder as I Wander
I Wonder as I Wander

How to Handle Christmas
Sermon by Pastor Don Ginkel

"And there were in that same country children keeping watch over their socks by firelight. And lo, Santa Claus came upon them, and the glory of his presence shone 'round about them, and they were enthralled. And Santa said unto them, 'Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great gifts which will be to all people with money to afford them. For unto you is cooking this day in the oven of your kitchen a turkey which is surrounded by pudding and cakes, and this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the gifts wrapped in sparkling paper and lying in a pile under the tree.' And suddenly there was with the children a multitude of earthly relatives, praising each other and saying, 'Thank you, this is just what I wanted.' And it came to pass as Santa and the relatives were gone away into their own homes, the parents said one to another, 'Let us go even unto bed to avoid the mess which the kids and guests have made known to us.' And they came with haste and found peace, quiet, and rest lying in a bed until morning."

Doesn't really sound like Christmas, does it? But this does. Luke 2:25-32 [read more]

Why Go to Church?
Shared by Pat Parker

A church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in all that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting their's by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu of a single one of those meals. But I do know this. They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests
By Thom S. Rainer, LifeWay, Nov. 2014

If you attend a church regularly, you've probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.

I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them. Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency. [read more]

Teaching the Teachers

One of the best things we can do for our teaching staff (Sunday School, Midweek, etc.) is to teach them. We have found that meeting twice a month for training really pays big dividends. We suggest a two hour session twice a month preferably with the pastor doing the teaching. The enthusiasm and instruction from the pastor is critical. Remember that the old rule-of-thumb is still good today: a teacher should know ten times as much as the students and have a very meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We like this breakdown:
  • A one hour detailed study of the text for the following Sunday including application of text for the teachers and then the students.
  • Thirty minutes on methodology. First know what to teach and then how to teach.
  • Last thirty minutes on problem solving and brainstorming.
Setting Goals for Yourself and Your Ministry

Zig Ziglar once said, "A goal properly set is halfway reached."
J. C. Penney once said, "Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll show you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk."

Set goals for yourself and your congregation. Make each goal a positive statement. Make the goals precise. Have a lot of goals, but priortize them. If you've not been setting goals, start now, for December and for next year. Write them down, including how you plan to reach each goal. If the goal is large, break it down to incremental steps.

Stack of Stuff

Christmas Caroling an Outreach Tool? Yes! How would you like to have a large number of first-time visitors at your Christmas Eve Service? We can't imagine any of you saying, "Oh, I don't know." You better not. That being the case, here are the easy steps to making it a great success: [read more]

"If you have no opposition in the place you serve, you're serving in the wrong place." - G. Campbell Morgan

Watch for opportunities each day
to give a sincere compliment to someone, and, when possible, do it in the presence of others - not to make a show of it, but to encourage others to do likewise.

Take a peek at two Christmas Eve Worship bulletins 
from 2013 which were used at Ascension Lutheran Church (LCMS), Littleton, CO. Stephen Pruitt is the Minister of Music. To see a pdf of the 4:30 Service, Drama, Holy Eucharist, & Candlelight click 4:30. To see the 7:00 Service, Carols at Prelude, Festival Eucharist & Candlelight click 7:00.

Tim Tebow may not be on the field anymore, but he got caught in the act again. Tebow became well-known for publicly expressing his faith through prayer on the football field. Nowadays the free agent is spending more time in a suit and tie, but some things just don't change. Reporting from Gainesvile, FL, on Saturday with the SEC network, Tim was caught leading a prayer with his co-hosts while they were supposedly off-air. Tanner Clark snapped a picture of the private moment and shared it on Facebook. Click pic for an interesting photo (The pic may be slow to load).

Few weeks ago I asked my sister, Tami Toso, in Owatonna, MN, what encouraged her a great deal during her recent chemo treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She said that each week during the process a different member of her Church (Good Shepherd Lutheran), sent her a card of encouragement which included a personal hand-written note. Good for them! Consider a ministry like this for your Church. She also said that her Pastor's wife gave her a book entitled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young; it offered daily comfort - Don

Seen on a church sign: Tweet others as you want others to tweet you.

Repeat the words of Luke 1:28, 38 from Gabriel and Mary frequently this month: "I am highly favored" and "The Lord is with me" and "I am the Lord's servant." To help you remember, print these words or this paragraph out and place it on your refrigerator door.

How would your life be different if there were no Church on earth? Is the life you are living any different than it would be if there were no Church on earth? Try to imagine that. Not good. Not good at all!

"How dare we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! We are saved from hell and total destruction, and then we talk about making sacrifices?" - Anon.

Many seniors face the holidays alone at home or in a nursing home. Have someone make a list of the people, both members and nonmembers; then, ask for volunteers to make visits. Be sure they share the Good News of Jesus and have a short prayer. Try to make this a big deal in your church... because it is a big deal!

A do and and don't for Christmas Eve Services: Do be sure that your nursery staff is increased. Do not embarrass guests by asking them to stand or raise their hands. Oh, yes, do invite them to worship with you the following Sunday.

How It All Started

Years ago we wrote our first Bible Study - I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU for adult instruction classes in our congregation. Soon neighboring pastors asked if they could use it. We ran copies off on an old hand-operated mimeograph machine. The requests increased. One day a sister in Christ suggested we have a printer print the book. Our response, "We don't have the money." A few days later she came to us again and said, "My husband and I will finance the printing of the Good News book on one condition: We'll take half the profits." 


The next day I went to the bank for a loan. That was scary. We borrowed enough money to have 3,000 copies printed. In a matter of months they were gone. Now, as we look back, we have provided well over 800,000 Bible studies on various topics to pastors and churches in the U.S. and Canada. We are humbled by the opportunity to serve in this small way. We give special thanks to the Lord Jesus who honors all of us with the privilege to teach and share His Word. - DFG


Ministry to Immigrant Kids and their Families 

Nadine and I have discovered a great ministry to immigrant kids and their families in Littleton close to where we live. It's called North Littleton Promise. Its goal is transformation through Christ and has a lot of hands on support. Pastors and people from nine different churches including the Church we belong to support it. The need for ministry to these kids and their families is huge. To learn more, please take a peek at their website. Click North Littleton Promise. - Don

Faith or Experience? 
By Oswald Chambers

We should battle through our moods, feelings, and emotions into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus. We must break out of our little world of experience into abandoned devotion to Him. 

Think who the New Testament says Jesus Christ is, and then think of the despicable meagerness of the miserable faith we exhibit by saying, "I haven't had this experience or that experience." Think what faith in Jesus Christ claims and provides - He can present us faultless before the throne of God, inexpressibly pure, absolutely righteous, and profoundly justified.

Stand in absolute adoring faith "in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).

7 Ways God Will Evaluate Your Faithfulness
By Rick Warren, Rich Warren's Ministry Toolbox
  1. Do you possess the right values? A faithful person knows what's important in life and what isn't important in life. A faithful person knows how to invest his or her life. A faithful person makes their life count. A faithful person knows the significant apart from the trivial. Proverbs 28:20 says, "A faithful man will be richly blessed but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished." This verse contrasts faithfulness with a desire to get rich quick. He's not talking about making money. He's saying that what we have to realize is there is more to life than just the accumulation of things. The Bible says we're to live like fish swimming upstream in a very materialistic world. Faithfulness is proven by our refusal to buy into the system that says the almighty buck is the number one thing in life. Faithfulness is often proven by choosing a simplified lifestyle to allow more time for ministry. [read more]
"I'm leaving the church!"
Brief excerpts from an article by Rev. Pete Scazzero in Outreach Magazine

"Pete, I'm leaving the church," my wife, Geri, muttered quietly. I sat still, too stunned to respond. "I can't take any more of this stress - the constant crises," she continued. "This church is no longer life for me. It is death."

I remember the day well. When a church member says, "I'm leaving the church," most pastors don't feel very good. But when your wife of nine years says it, your world is turned upside down. "I no longer respect your leadership."

"That is out of the question," I bellowed. "All right, so I've made a few mistakes." But she calmly continued, "It's not that simple. You don't have the guts to lead - to confront the people who need to be confronted. You don't lead. You're too afraid that people will leave the church."

This encounter led me to a Christian counselor's office.

(Now: Finish how you think this story played out or how it should play out.)

A Time to Laugh... or Cry (Free Bible Study)

Until December 31 we are offering as many copies as you wish of the ten-lesson Bible study, A Time to Laugh... or Cry Part 1, written by Pastor Ginkel. Discover God's love in the midst of tears -
  1. In the Beginning With Adam and Eve
  2. In the Garden When Everything Went Wrong
  3. At the Flood With Noah
  4. When God Made A Promise to Abraham
  5. When Abraham Faced the Supreme Test
  6. When Jacob Received the Biggest Blessing
  7. With Joseph the Slave, the Prisoner, and the Prime Minister
  8. When God Called Moses to Lead Israel
  9. When Israel Was Saved by the Blood of the Lamb
  10. When God Gave the Law on Sinai
Student guide Part 1 #154, 80 pages, regular price is $5.95. Order as many free copies as you wish. We'll include one copy of the Leader's Guide free. You just pay Media Mail shipping. To order click email.

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