It’s officially December. It’s one of my favorite months of the year. It’s not only because of the celebration of Advent and Christmas. It’s because December is the month we celebrate and recommit ourselves to being a church that is “on mission.”
We want to be an Acts 1:8 Church that serves as a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ in our own “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and ‘ends the earth.’” For those first century followers of Jesus, this commitment required them to pray continuously, give sacrificially and go courageously to the places God would send them. The same is true for us today.
We Are Acts 1:8
For the past year we’ve been studying the book of the Revelation. It presents a beautiful and compelling picture of people from every tribe, tongue and nation worshipping around the throne. (Rev 7:9-10)
This picture is what fuels our missionary heart as a congregation. The task of reaching the world remains unfinished and God’s chosen vehicle for accomplishing the Great Commission is local churches like ours.
Parachurch organizations are great and we partner with many of them (as you’ll see from our 2022 budget.) But, in the end, it’s people like you and churches like ours that finish the task.
As in previous years, we are firmly committed to our International Mission Board through the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to supporting the IMB through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we are also getting the privilege of sending IMB missionaries through our own local church!
At some point in 2022 we will also have the privilege of commissioning the Clarke family to Krakow, Poland. They will be working with a missionary team reaching unreached college students through a university setting. They are perfectly suited for this role and it’s been amazing to watch the Lord work in them and in us to arrive at this point.
Tanner and Kendra Clarke give a video update about their journey into full time missionary service with the IMB.
We are also increasing our commitment to church planting here in the US. We have renewed our partnerships with Living Stone Church (Broomsfield, CO) and Redemption City Church (Fort Worth, TX). We plan on having trips to both locations at some point this summer.
This year, we’re also adding a new church plant out of Houston’s fifth ward named Cross Community Church. Our Family Mission trip is dedicated to helping this church reach their community. Our dates are schedules for July 25-29, 2022. Be praying for them and their pastor Del Traffanstedt.
Internationally, we are still committed to making disciples through our partnerships in West Bengal, West Africa, Lesotho, Romania, and Brazil. While we are not able to physically go to all of these places, we are able to make an impact through our partnerships on the ground and the generous gifts that fund those efforts.
How You Can Participate
I know we all only have a limited amount of money. Jesus taught that all of our money only has a limited amount of time. Our possession of “earthly mammon” is temporary. It’s a stewardship and we’re accountable for how we invest.
Let’s partner together and invest our worldly wealth to “make friends for ourselves in eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)
Jesus is worthy of our very best. Why not give your best gift to Jesus this Christmas by donating to our World Missions Offering? Pray about what God would have you to give. Then, joyfully invest that amount for the advancing of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Join me and my family in making a sacrificial one-time-cash-gift for the month of December. Then, consider a smaller monthly investment that will grow that December gift for the rest of the year. If all of us give something, imagine the impact we could make!
Please prayerfully consider how the Lord wants you to participate.
And may God be glorified through our sacred effort!
In addition to our World Missions Offering this December we’re also highlighting a local missions opportunity to bless families in need through our Families in Need Tree. There are ornaments placed on the tree in our Gathering Place that have items written down on them.
If you are able, please take one (or more) of the ornaments and go shop for the gift along with your other Christmas shopping. After you purchase the item you’ll need to wrap it and then bring it back to put under the Christmas tree.
All gifts must be purchased, wrapped and returned under the tree by December 19th.
The families and needs represented on this tree come from two of our area schools, our West Campus and Main Campus populations.
This is a great way to mobilize your whole family around the idea that Christmas is more about giving than it is receiving.
Joy To The World Celebration
Food & Fellowship: 2:30-4:30
Caroling & Christmas Lights: 5:30-7:30
This weekend we’re hosting our Joy Ministry Christmas Gathering: “Joy to the World.” You’ll want to bring a gift for the gift exchange ranging from $5-10 in value. There will be plenty of finger foods, games, Christmas music and fun.
After the gathering everyone is invited to go Christmas caroling and looking at Christmas lights. They will sing carols to some of our shut-ins and ride will be available for anybody who doesn’t want to drive at night.
Typically, the app costs users $40 a year for all of the features. However, we believe so strongly in the transformational impact of engaging God through His Word that we’re making it available to the people in our church for free.
The last thing I wanted to mention in this week’s update is a campaign going on in the City of Abilene called “Project Destiny.” You can read about the movement and what they aim to accomplish on their website. We are joining other Abilene churches in collecting signatures so that this ordinance can be put on the ballot in our next election.
Essentially, this ordinance makes abortion illegal in the city of Abilene at every stage of pregnancy (except for life saving measures to project the life of the mother.) You can read the full text of the ordinance here. (I would encourage you to do so before signing the petition)
Abortion is in the news right now with the Supreme Court hearing a Mississippi case that has the potential to roll back Roe v Wade. I know that the topic of abortion has become one of the most politically divisive issues of our day but the moral question is pretty clear according to Scripture.
Abortion prematurely and unjustly ends human life. All human lives are precious because every human being is created in the image of God (regardless of their stage of development.) This ordinance rightly acknowledges that truth and enforces our “state laws” on abortion through the creation of a private enforcement mechanism (lawsuits on those who perform or aid in performing abortions.)
Why Do We Need This Ordinance?
When I first heard about this ordinance, I wondered why we even needed it. There are no abortion facilities in the city of Abilene and Texas just passed a heartbeat bill that essentially makes the future likelihood of an abortion facility in Abilene very low.
In addition to that, this ordinance will invite lawsuits on our city which will cost taxpayers money. It will ignite a polarizing political discussion and may even create division between people in the church.
Given that there aren’t any legal abortions taking place now, are these costs really worth the value added?
Having wrestled with questions like these, my answer is yes.
While sympathetic to pro-life advocates who disagree with this ordinance, I believe it’s passing would act as a preventative measure to ensure that Abilene remains a sanctuary city for unborn human life. It also makes it much more difficult for people who are performing abortions (illegally) in our city right now.
When Roe v Wade is overturned (which we may see very soon), the laws policing that act will fall to the States. Having an ordinance like this prepares us for that day.
But I Have More Questions…
Undoubtedly, there are many more questions that people may have. I would just encourage you to familiarize yourself with the ordinance. If you think you can get behind it, sign your name to the petition (located in the Gathering Place on countertop). We will collect them for the rest of this month. They need 7,000 signatures in total for the city to place the ordinance on the ballot.
I want to be clear that you can be “pro-life” and be against this ordinance. I have friends who disagree with the wisdom, language and timing of this ordinance. I understand where they’re coming from and do not question their sincerity. Please remember that fact as the “politics” of this ordinance continue to unfold in our city.
Christians should not only be known for their “stance” on any given issue. We should be known for our “love.” Always remember, this issue affects PEOPLE: unborn children AND grown adults. For many, abortion isn’t a theoretical political discussion. It’s a past decision that brought confusion, pain and regret.
Whatever your “stance” let us “speak the truth in love” and honor the Spirit of Christ.
Before closing out this week’s email, I need to update you on one more thing.
We were scheduled to host our disaster relief training this coming Saturday but due to lack of registrations we are going to postpone the training until a later date. The basic training can be done online and I would encourage you to go ahead and do that when you get the chance. The mud out training must be done in person and will be scheduled for a later date next year.
Our next update will have some additional updates about our World Missions Offering as well as information about our 2022 General Fund budget. As you can see from the financial update below, the Lord has provided above and beyond our needs for 2021 and we are finishing the year with a surplus. It’s a different set of circumstances than what we were looking at last year at this same time.
I’m so thankful for the good work that the Lord continues to do in and through our church family. 2021 was different in so many ways but God’s faithfulness has remained steady throughout every season.
If there’s anyway I can pray for you please let me know by replying to this email. I hope you have a great rest of your week!