THE ‘POST-CHRISTMAS’ QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS

By Steve Freeman
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention

Steve Freeman

Steve Freeman

Hello Tennessee Baptists!

Another Christmas season is in the books! If your experience is anything like mine, it seems as though Christmas rolls around much faster each year and before you know it — it’s all over! The excitement and anticipation of the season is a wonderful experience … then it’s all done! Life simply returns to “normal” and the normal “everyday” routine seeps back into our lives. The “post-Christmas” question is “what are we supposed to do now?” This is why I am so thankful for the Bible because it provides for us, as God’s children, every answer to every question that we may have in our lives. This certainly includes an answer to the “post-Christmas” question!

Consider the “excitement” of the first Christmas — after the long-awaited and prophesied Messiah had been conceived in the virgin womb of His chosen mother, after Mary and Joseph had persevered through the scandalous scrutiny of “being found with Child” during their engagement, after the long-awaited and anticipated birth of their unique first-born Son, and after the appearance of the angelic hosts announcing the birth of Jesus to wise men from the East and shepherds “abiding in their fields keeping watch over their flock by night” prompting them to “go straight to Bethlehem then and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:1-15, Matthew 2:1-2). [Read more…]

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CHRISTMAS — A REMINDER OF WHY WE HAVE HOPE

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Lonnie Wilkey

Lonnie Wilkey

I was reading a novel recently and saw these words: “Where there is life, there is hope.”

That sounds good and it works — for fiction. But in real life, hope is available only through Jesus Christ.

We live in a fallen, sin-filled world. Turn on the news every day and you will be depressed within the first five minutes, if not sooner. Just last week in Nashville, there was at least one homicide a day for three days in a row. During my recent recovery from knee surgery I had to spend a few days at home doing nothing but resting and staying off my knee. In between reading and napping, I watched television reruns of shows such as “Dateline” and others that show investigations of people who have been murdered in a variety of ways. Talk about depravity and a fallen world. Those shows are supposedly based on real events. [Read more…]

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HAVE YOU MISSED CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR?

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

Centuries ago, an angel appeared to shepherds outside the city of Jerusalem to announce that a Savior was born. Sadly, untold millions of people have missed Christmas over the centuries because they failed to connect with that baby born that day — Jesus Christ. — Photo by Matt Jones, International Mission Board

Centuries ago, an angel appeared to shepherds outside the city of Jerusalem to announce that a Savior was born. Sadly, untold millions of people have missed Christmas over the centuries because they failed to connect with that baby born that day — Jesus Christ. — Photo by Matt Jones, International Mission Board

Dust particles diffuse the saturated orange of a sinking sun and smooth the warm tones evenly across the horizon. The limestone walls of Jerusalem absorb the light and the city practically glows, like it is on fire. In a sense, it is. Jerusalem’s Old City has been a battleground for thousands of years. Lingering hostility between Jews and Muslims still smolders within, waiting to flare with the slightest gust of cultural friction. The peace for which the psalmist tells us to pray (Psalm 122:6) is noticeably absent.

However, just across the way, atop the Mount of Olives, stands a devout Jewish businessman, eyes closed, arms outstretched, olive skin glistening as he faces the city and the sun. His expression is strained and his lips move rapidly as he silently pours out his heart on behalf of his beloved city.  [Read more…]

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MOST CHURCHES TO OPEN CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR’S DAY

By Bob Smietana
Lifeway News Office

161222lifeway-churchNASHVILLE — More than half of Americans plan to go to church at Christmastime. And most Protestant pastors will keep the doors open for them.

Nearly nine out of 10 Protestant senior pastors say their churches plan to hold services on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, as both fall on a Sunday, according to research from Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Research.

More than 7 in 10 Protestant senior pastors say their churches plan to hold Christmas Eve services. And more than a few will be open on New Year’s Eve. [Read more…]

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GOD’S CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing Columnist, B&R

Carolyn Tomlin

Carolyn Tomlin

Remember when your family made the traditional trip to the meadows and woods in search of that perfect Christmas tree? Or, you cut armloads of holly, pine, and cedar to bring the scent of winter holidays into your home? Perhaps you recall home made ornaments that held a special place on the cedar tree. This holiday season recapture the joys of making family memories while using greenery and seed pods from nature for decorations. Don’t stop with tree decorations — carry the designs to door wreaths, table centerpieces, and mailbox garlands. 

As you find greenery and dried seed pods, think of numerous ways to use these as creative objects in your home.  [Read more…]

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WHAT TO DO WHEN CHRISTMAS IS NOT “MERRY”

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

depressed-man-christmas-windowBRENTWOOD — Let’s face reality. Circumstances sometimes leave people depressed during the Christmas season — a time of hope created by the birth of a baby boy in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.

That baby boy would grow up to be Jesus Christ and He died on a cross 33 years later. His death and resurrection offers eternal life to all who confess their sins and profess belief in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. [Read more…]

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DAD PONDERS QUESTION, ‘IS CHRISTMAS DONE?’

By Todd Brady
Vice President For University Ministries, Union University, Jackson

Todd Brady

Todd Brady

Although 2015 Christmas celebrations are getting smaller and smaller in our rear view mirrors, a recent question by my toddler several weeks ago continues to linger in my head. On the first Friday in December, we gathered with friends for one of the holiday’s first Christmas parties. We enjoyed the tasty food and the great conversation. A unique twist on our Christmas ornament gift exchange had us all cracking up. It was a lot of fun.

As our family began gathering our things and heading out the door to go back home, 3-year-old Miller grabbed my pants leg and asked “Is Christmas done?” [Read more…]

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

By Roc Collins
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention

151224christmas1Christmas is here!! In just a few days we will celebrate Christmas. It is one of my favorite times. Surely the songwriter had it right when he penned, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” What makes it so wonderful? Some will say it is the gifts and decorations, the shopping and parties, the food and fun, among other things that make Christmas enjoyable. Yes, Christmas can be enjoyable because of these things but they are not what makes Christmas wonderful. Christmas is wonderful because of Christ! You know you can’t spell Christmas without Christ so you surely can’t celebrate and understand Christmas without knowing Christ. [Read more…]

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5 NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS FOR YOUR FAMILY

By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing Columnist, B&R

family, Christmas, dinner, tradition, culture, eating, dining, dinner, celebration, grandfatherShops overflow with holiday gifts. Carols ring out from every street corner. Bell ringers collect monetary contributions for needy families. For Christians, this season reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas — to focus on the birth of the Christ Child born in a manager over 2,000 years ago. If you’re like many families at Christmas, you continue the same traditions handed down by parents and grandparents. Could your clan honor their history while starting a few new customs? Perhaps these suggestions will work for you.

•    Collect small Christmas tree ornaments from other countries. As family members travel outside the U.S., ask them to purchase a locally made ornament to hang on the tree. Inexpensive and requiring minimum luggage space, they will be symbolic of your vacation or mission trip. During a holiday get-together, share something about the country you visited and the people you met.

•    Video creating a favorite family recipe. My mother was known for her chicken and dressing. She knew the exact amount of sage, black pepper, onions, and stock to make it delicious. The problem: she never wrote it down. Like many great cooks of this generation, she cooked by taste. Today, with Smartphones and other technology, we can make a short video and e-mail it to others. The auditory and visual presentation will provide the knowledge of keeping those favorite holiday recipes around.

•    Adopt a family project each year. Correspond by phone or e-mail with family members and make a checklist of available service projects in your area. Ask each person to vote on their choice. The project with the highest number of votes will be the winner. Suggestions could include “Adopting a Family” for Christmas, scheduling a “Make-a-Difference Day” in December for the entire family; or preparing and serving a holiday dinner to a homeless center. Children can request extra chores and donate part of their allowance for a month. Adults can save change and forgo restaurant meals. Celebrate the spirit of giving back to those less fortunate. Claim Matthew 25:40 as your family’s verse.

•    Attend a Christmas service of Scripture and Carols. Churches and Christian colleges present free community concerts during the Christmas season. Sit together as a family and support those who have spent hours in preparation. Afterward, meet for light dessert and coffee. Plan to make this an annual event.

•    Donate to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Does grandfather really need a necktie with blue toadstools? Or does Aunt Sally have space for another wall hanging? Instead of all the relatives exchanging gifts, donate to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This offering goes to support international mission work that includes presenting the gospel, education, supporting missionaries who serve and other expenses.

As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, think of new traditions your family can enjoy. Adapt some of the older customs with these fresh ones. Thank God for making families part of His plan.

— Tomlin lives in Jackson and writes for the Christian market and teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers.

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MINISTERS’ WIVES: SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS

By Barney Self
Pastoral Counseling Minister, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville

Barney Self

Barney Self

A minister’s wife lives in a fishbowl. She is viewed from every angle and in every way. Pressures are brought to bear on her that others can barely imagine. The daily life struggle is to maintain an appearance that is acceptable including make-up, clothing, and hair style. Next, the children have to be presentable and dressed “appropriately” as well and their actions must conform to a standard that is above the rest of the population. Her house must be ready for House and Garden inspection at any point. She must relate to everyone as her best friend even if others are hurtful to her or her husband. She must be willing to pick up any task in the church when there is a need even if it is not in her gifting because she is considered part of the paid staff because her husband is the pastor.  If these stressors and pressures were not enough, the Holidays arrive. [Read more…]

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