Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DOUBLE FOR YOUR TROUBLE (early release of Shepherd to Sheep)



(Zec 9:12) Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.

Trouble. It’s something we are all familiar with. We don’t ask for him but he shows up anyway. We opt for the smoothest life possible but then this unwelcome visitor appears on our doorstep with his luggage. He smiles with that menacing grin and puts his foot in the door. We try to push him away but he angles himself in such a way that he finds himself inside our life. He unpacks his bags like he’s going to stay awhile. He fixes himself a big meal and sits down and puts his feet up on the table. How do we get trouble out of our life? What good could come from his visit?

Job said it well: (Job 5:7) Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward. Difficulties and problems are just a part of life. We have to tell ourselves that we live in a fallen world. Christ did not promise us a problem-free life. That is what I like to term a “Disneyland mentality.” Where did we ever get that concept that knowing the Lord would be pain-free? (John 16:33)

Like Job we have to accept adversity and learn to deal with it. (Job 2:10)…Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"… We’ve got to remember to turn our troubles over to the Lord and let Him deal with things. (1 Pet 5:7) casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. We must claim the promise that we’re growing stronger and that He won’t give us more than we can handle (Rom 5:3-5; 1 Cor 10:13). Then we have to remember to stay in the “NOW” and not borrow trouble from tomorrow. (Mat 6:34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

But may I submit to you something in addition to the above? Something we don’t usually think about as believers in Christ? This is the promise that the Lord will not only help you through trouble but He will also give you DOUBLE FOR YOUR TROUBLE! That means that God will work everything out for good and that your future blessings will far exceed your past troubles! (Job 42:10) And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Psa 71:20-21; Joel 2:25-26)

At this juncture you might begin to barter with this because you might be saying to yourself that your trouble has been self-induced and that God surely can’t bless the mess you have created. Ah, but think again! Because of God’s grace even your mistakes can be turned into T-bone steaks of God’s blessings. (Isa 61:7) Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs. Don’t you just love the Lord? Isn’t His grace amazing? Are you ready to receive DOUBLE FOR YOUR TROUBLE?


Friday, December 26, 2008


Hope your Christmas was blessed as much as ours.
Clockwise from left is my daughter parents Mavis and Bill Monteith, my daughter Kelsey, Cheryl's brother Roger, Josh and his mom Judy (Judy is Roger's girlfriend), Dianne (Cheryl's mom) and Cheryl. I'm taking the pic and am ready to eat the awesome meal Cheryl made.

(Psa 128:4) Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Tonight the Christmas Eve service was such a blessing. The kids did such a great job sharing the Christmas story. We all enjoyed the presentation and it reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas...JESUS!! MERRY CHRISTMAS everybody! (Luke 2:11) "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PRISONERS OF HOPE (early release of Shepherd to Sheep)



(Zec 9:12) Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.

Think about this past year. So much has happened. It’s been a time of struggle in our nation. It’s been a time of struggle in our own lives and in our families. But a new year is upon us and we are ready for a change. Can we put the past behind us or do we have to be held captive to our burdens for another year? I’ve got good news for you. God’s going to make you a prisoner of hope!

Israel was coming home. They had been in captivity in Babylon for seventy years for their idolatry. A new era was ahead of them. They were leaving the past behind. The prophet Zechariah was prophesying about their future. He was speaking of their Messiah who would come to them and build them a new tomorrow. Based upon these promises they were then prisoners. Not of Babylon. Not of their disgraceful past. But they were prisoners of hope. They were now bound by a promise of a brighter day ahead. Their past was forgiven. New glories awaited them as they returned to the land to rebuild their Temple, rebuild their city, and rebuild their lives.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like us? Things happened that put us in a bad way. Maybe it was beyond our control. Maybe it was our fault. Whatever the case may be our lives seem to be in captivity. We become captives of poor circumstances. Poor choices. Poor prospects. But then we hear the Word of God and we start to get encouraged. We hear the message of grace and love through Jesus Christ. We respond with hope. Our spirits revive and we start feeling better about our expectations in life. We break out of the bondage to our past and it’s affects upon our lives. We now feel bound up in a wonderful outlook on what will be. We don’t know all that lies ahead but excitement builds in our hearts in regards to what God is going to do in our lives.

Listen to what God told Moses: (Exo 3:7-8) And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. {8} "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. God sees our oppression and sorrow. God hears the cry of our heart for freedom. And God has come down to deliver us from bondage and bring us into a good land. Jesus said…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

May you abound with hope in the coming new year (Rom 15:13). Happy New Year in Jesus!


Monday, December 22, 2008




(Luke 2:7) And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Can you imagine? No room for the Son of God at any residence or place in Bethlehem. Someone was kind enough, though, to allow the couple to stay out in the barn. Jesus was born. No crib for a bed. Just a manger . . . that’s a fancy way of saying an animal feeding trough. The first Christmas fraught with misunderstanding and just plain indifference. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (John 1:10)

Can you imagine? A nation based upon the Bible and the faith of our forefathers now taking down crosses and the Ten Commandments? And now employees are told not to say “Merry Christmas” to their customers for fear of offending someone. America wants to put Jesus out in the barn. No room for Him in the inn because He’s not “in.” But remember it’s not the first time.

Without Merry Christmas there can be no Happy Holidays: (Psa 144:15) . . . Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!

So what do we do? Have a Merry Christmas by letting Jesus “in” our hearts. Will He find a warm reception in your heart? (Rev 3:20) "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for Thee!”


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Here's some of the notes from this morning's message entitled "How Low Can You Go? We talked about how Jesus humbled Himself in coming to the earth. I know I went fast so you note-takers can get all the points and references:

Paul says in Philippians that Jesus not only was found in appearance as a man but that He humbled Himself even further by becoming obedient to death and even the death of the cross. But before we talk about the cross let’s talk about our Lord’s birth. Before we speak of Easter let’s talk about Christmas. We find Jesus was lowly all throughout His earthly life. Let’s identify some of the points of His life in this regard:

- Born in a manger – This was an animal feeding trough.

- But let’s go back even further. Think about it. Nine months before He was born, the divine Son of God was a single cell! He made Himself of no reputation (Phil 2:7). This means He emptied Himself of His privileges of deity.

- Born into poverty – His parents had no money to influence someone to give them a room. Later on they offered the poor sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves at the time of purification (Lu 2:24).

- Lived in a lowly town called Nazareth. (Mat 2:23)

- Lived in obscurity for thirty years (Lu 3:23)

- Was not educated (John 7:15).

- Chose humble disciples (Mat 4:18-22)

- Had no home (Lu 9:58)

- Did not promote Himself or showcase His signs (Mark 8:25-26)

- Rode on a donkey (Mat 21:7)

- Died in the most undignified way between two thieves (Mark 15:25-32)

- The soldiers gambled for the only piece of property He owned…His robe (John 19:23-24).

- He was laid in a borrowed grave (Lu 23:51-53)

- His spirit even went lower as His body lay in the grave - (Eph 4:9) (Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?

(James 4:10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Friday, December 19, 2008


This morning was awesome! Each year the GO! Team puts on a Christmas party and passes out bakery goodies and gifts and have people share from the Word. People walk around giving encouragement and the sweet aroma of Christ fills the room.

This is Mary loving on a lady.
Jerushah plays a few Christmas carols on her violin and glorifies the Lord.

Preach it Tony!
Brian leads worship and Mary is the mike stand!

Ron Ayala with his daughter Maria (left) and Julie Kirkconnell

Ginny Lumley along with Jonathan and Jerushah. Jonathan just had his cast put on before he came. He injured his hand at Youth Camp (but still had a great time!).

(2 Cor 2:15-16) For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. {16} To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?


Last night we had Patrick and Ivetka Higgins in from Slovakia along with their two young boys Gabriel and David. They are one of our GO! missionaries. Patrick is from Cherry Valley so he is visiting his family for the holidays. Since he was here we invited him to speak at our midweek study. The Monteith family was able to visit them on the mission field this past summer and we saw first-hand the work they are doing. It was so good to see them and to spend some time with them and to get caught up.
(Rom 1:12) that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Josh and Regina Dean are here from Japan!

It's great to have Josh and Regina in from Okinawa Japan where they are serving as missionaries. We were able to hang out with them and get updated a little bit on their lives and ministry. Where's their daughter Claire you might ask? She was off charming everyone in the room!

They will be here for the holidays and then for the Mission's Conference in Murrieta the first week in January. Josh will be sharing soon at church and give us all a first-hand update.

(Prov 25:25) As cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a far country.

Cesar leaving for Puerto Vallarta to serve the Lord

Cesar Rodriguez leaves for Mexico this Monday December 22 to serve the Lord at Calvary Chapel Puerto Vallarta. He will be a full time GO! missionary under the leadership of pastor Bill Martin. He is originally from this area and wants to go back home to be a light to his family and to reach out to all in the love of Christ. He's been saved a little over a year and was able to attend the six-week Mission Training School this past summer at CCNorco. Here he is pointing to where he will be in Mexico as he is standing with his Riverside Community College Christian Club friends. We will miss him but let's keep him in our prayers. Lord willing we will take a group down there for a week of outreach.

(Mark 16:20) And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I couldn't believe the snow on our local foothills. It was at the lowest level since we've lived here. Spectacular! It arrested my breath. It reminded me of the scripture:

(Isa 1:18) "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

Struggling with your walk lately? Take a look outside and thank the Lord that He has you covered by His blood. Red applied to black turns to white as snow!!

(Eph 1:7) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

THE MEANING OF A NAME (Early release of Shepherd to Sheep)



(Isa 7:14) …Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

(Isa 9:6) … And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

You’ve probably seen your name on a key chain or something like that with the meaning of your name next to it. Usually in the gift shop all the names have positive meanings. Louie means “famous warrior.” Sometimes I wonder if they are stretching the truth so you will make a purchase! But what about the name of the Messiah? He would be given a name by the angel Gabriel of “Jesus”…for He will save His people from their sins." (Mat 1:21; Luke 1:31) But Isaiah hinted at His name 700 years before He came.

IMMANUEL – (Mat 1:23) "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." The Lord became a man (John 1:14). He understands our frailty (Heb 4:15-16). He’ll never leave us or forsake us! (Heb 13:5)

WONDERFUL – (Mat 21:15) …the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"… (Psa 72:18) Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! Why do I wonder about things I don’t understand when I should wonder at the greatness of our God?

COUNSELOR – (Isa 28:29) This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance. The Lord listens to me when I tell Him my concerns about today and my worries about tomorrow. No one else can figure me out except Jesus! (my wife is close!!)

MIGHTY GOD – Another prophecy from the Old Testament concerning the deity of the coming Messiah. (Titus 2:13) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

EVERLASTING FATHER – A contradiction of the Trinity? No, it just means “father of eternity” and emphasizes the eternal reign of the Messiah. (Rev 11:15) …"The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

PRINCE OF PEACE – I love this name of the Lord. How I need abiding peace from the Prince of Peace! (John 14:27) "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

(Psa 113:2) Blessed be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forevermore!



Christmas tree - - - CHRISTmas tree

If you’re having a hard time seeing Jesus in the Christmas holiday, think about the following words to a song I wrote awhile back. Here’s to a great Christmas in Jesus!


Christmas is a time for some
To forget the Lord in all their fun
But I don't go for what they say
For I see Christ in this holiday

I see in the lights the Light of the world
And in the snow how His blood cleansed my soul
I see in the tree how He died for me
Yes, everywhere I see Christ in Christmas

Christmas is a time for some
To not decorate for fear of wrong
You respect a man for his private ways
But I see Christ in this holiday

I hear in the music the angels sing "Glory!"
The bells are to me are just ringing His story
I see in the gifts God sending His best
Yes, everywhere I see Christ in Christmas

Friday, December 12, 2008


Want a health tip from the Bible?

(Ruth 2:14) Now Boaz said to her at mealtime, "Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar." So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back.

We studied this last week at midweek service. I mentioned that portion control is nothing new. Fad diets never work. Remember the Atkins and South Beach fads? And the tons of fad diets before that? (Remember the Grapefruit diet?!)

Ruth ate until she was satisfied. And then she kept some back. We don't have to eat everything on our plate! Take a mental picture of your plate and tell yourself how much you're going to eat. Slow down and enjoy your food. It's true it takes ten minutes before your stomach catches up to your taste buds. Why shovel it in when you next meal is just a few hours away?

Portion control is just good old self control. Don't have any you say? Here's good news:

(Gal 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is...self-control....

Hallelujah! There is help for us yet!

Now I took a risk teaching this as I know most of us struggle with our weight. I don't want to get off on issues like politics, social issues, or even weight control. But I really tried to share this in grace as our weight is such a personal and sensitive issue.

Well guess what? A brother in the Lord came up to me a week later at Bible study and said he really enjoyed me sharing this health tip as it really helped him a lot. Praise God!

Now don't worry, I'm not going to write any health book soon or go off on the "Christian lifestyle" circuit. But I just think it's interesting that through the Word we find all things that pertain to life and godliness...including health tips! (2 Pet 1:3)

Woops! Got to sign off. I'm hungry!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

THE VIRGIN BIRTH (from the archives of Shepherd to Sheep)



(Isa 7:14) … Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel…

(Luke 1:35) And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, "Jesus Christ." The questioner said, "And what would you like to ask Him?" King replied, "I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me."

The Virgin Birth is the doctrine that Jesus was miraculously begotten by God and born of the virgin Mary without the agency of a human father.

Why is this doctrine so significant for Christians? Jesus was not born in sin; that is, He had no sin nature (2 Cor 5:21; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26). It would seem that the sin nature is passed down from generation to generation through the father (Romans 5:12, 17, 19). The Virgin Birth circumvented the transmission of the sin nature and allowed the eternal God to become a perfect man. Thus Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God offered for the sins of mankind (John 1:29).

Is there support for the Virgin Birth? The gospels of Matthew and Luke say that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin and that Jesus was divinely conceived. The Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed, the two most widely used Christian creeds, affirm belief in the Virgin Birth. Consider also the Hebrew word translated virgin (‘almah) which means “a young woman of marriageable age.” The Greek Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made in the second century b.c.) translates the Hebrew word into a Greek word that expressly means virgin. Only in more modern times have Bible critics begun to try to cast doubt on this doctrinal truth that the Church has long since historically upheld.

Can a person be saved without believing in the Virgin Birth? (John 8:24) … for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." Believing in the Virgin Birth will not only define history for a person but also define their eternal destiny. And if you have a hard time believing in the Virgin Birth, what other doctrines will you have difficulty with?

By the way…some believe the New Testament teaches that Mary remained a virgin (defined as the doctrine of “The Perpetual Virginity of Mary”), but it appears that she and Joseph had several children after the birth of Jesus: James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and sisters (Mark 6:3).

There is worth in a study of the Virgin Birth. Jesus was God when He came to earth. And this provides for your new birth! (Mat 1:21) …for He will save His people from their sins."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BAILOUT! (Early release of Shepherd to Sheep)



(Eph 2:1) And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

Recession. Depression. Two brothers from the economic dark side. Their cousins are Aggression, Repression, and Oppression. How many times do we have to go through these hard times as a nation and meet these unwelcome guests? I guess we get a little fat and need to go on a forced diet every now and then. But it gets scary doesn’t it? Lay offs, unemployment, foreclosures, cut-backs, and... This sector hit. Now that corporation went belly up. It’s dominoes in the market. Who’s next? How close to home will it get? It’s time for a rescue! Everybody’s talking about a bailout!

Man sinned in the garden. Sin was introduced into the world. They got kicked out of paradise. How quickly sin transferred to the kids. Cain killed Abel. Then man got evil and violence covered the earth. So God sent rain to cover the planet to wash it all away. Man emerged and proved himself a sinner again. Immorality spread throughout the land. It manifested in an acute way in Sodom and Gomorrah. God rained down fire and brimstone.

Israel was chosen as a nation. They were given God’s laws and a beautiful land to live in. All they had to do was obey. They started cutting corners. It caught up with them. They were deported to Babylon for a long time-out.

World empires have risen and fallen. Nations have come and gone. God holds mankind accountable. His laws never change. (Isa 1:19-20) If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; {20} But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"…

My life. Born in Newport Beach but really born in sin. Had a great dad and was a college grad but I’m really bad. Had the best mom and can write a song but I’m part of the Adam bomb. On the way to hell but couldn’t tell until someone told me I fell. But that’s not all. God sent His Son to give us the great bailout! Far out! Somebody shout! There’s a way out. (2 Cor 5:21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Now that’s so cool but I’m still a fool. I get myself in trouble and sometimes it’s double. Like the nation I need rescue. (Psa 144:7) Stretch out Your hand from above; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters…

He can do if for me. He can do it for you. He can do it for my uncle...Sam! (2 Chr 7:14) "if My people…will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Sunday nights are awesome. We study the Bible verse by verse averaging about five chapters a time. Right now we're in Song of Solomon. We now have childcare so families can be in the Word together. Here's a pic of Cheryl leading worship. She usually sings the old hymns and gospel songs. Some people wonder what kind of instrument she is playing. It's a folk instrument called an Autoharp.

(Acts 20:27) "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


The women of our church met at the Riverside Marriott for their annual Women's Christmas Luncheon. What a great time they had in the Lord! Worship, special music, great fellowship, good food, special speaker (June Hesterly), a skit, and just getting that CHRISTmas glow of the Spirit for the holidays.

(Mat 2:2) saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

Friday, December 5, 2008


Remember how the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus like a dove? (Mat 3:16) When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

It is interesting to me that there are 9 fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and 9 gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:8-10). Leonard Ravenhill, the great British revivalist, once said that a dove cannot fly without both wings. And just as a dove has nine primary flight feathers on each wing, there are nine Fruits of the Spirit and nine Gifts of the Spirit.

Some think the gifts of the Spirit are not for today. That would be like a dove flying with only one wing. Is that how some Christians "fly?"

Let's be balanced Christians and get off the ground and serve the Lord!
(Acts 1:8) "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The following is an email I received that I want to pass onto you. It's a good reminder:

JESUS is Better than Santa. Santa lives at the North Pole. JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh. JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year. JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies. JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited. JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa. JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap. JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?" JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly. JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO. JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry". JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

Santa's little helpers make toys. JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes andbuilds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but, JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree, JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. We need to put Christ back in Christmas. Jesus is still the reason for the season!

(Isa 9:6) For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The gospel can be presented in many ways. Watch this video from A Charlie Brown Christmas and listen to Linus share the true meaning of Christmas.


The church surprised me with a special gift for Pastor Appreciation month (October). It was a gift basket with cards and sentiments and three gift cards to Verizon store. I guess the info got out that I was in the market for a new phone. I was attracted to the new Blackberry Storm that has the touch screen like the Apple iPhone. That's what I got! This phone has Internet and email and works internationally when I go on my mission trips. Thanks to all who shared their hearts and gave toward this awesome gift. Your words and expressions of agape are very much appreciated. The Lord bless you all!

(Phil 4:15-19) Now you Philippians (saints at Calvary Chapel Norco!) know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. {16} For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. {17} Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. {18} Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. {19} And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS (Early release of Shepherd to Sheep)



(2 Cor 11:3) . . . the simplicity that is in Christ.

Each year I experience the same range of emotions regarding the holidays. First I dread them, then I ease into them, and finally I get the Christmas glow. But it’s that early dreading part that I have to deal with and work through in my heart. First I complain that the season is so commercial . . . that it shrouds the true meaning. Then it’s the energy part . . . having to put so much time into planning, decorating, shopping, traveling, etc. Then last but not least is the financial part of it . . . going for broke and avoiding a stroke. But is there a way to not only endure the holidays but to really enjoy them? Is it possible for a modern-day Scrooge to thrive instead of survive this time of year? I believe it is possible if we approach the holidays with a mentality of:

Sacredness – Christmas is all about Christ! We celebrate His coming into the world to be our Savior. We know He was born to die for our sins and to rise again to be our risen Lord and soon-coming King. Christmas is a time to worship the Lord and to keep focused on the true Reason for the season.

Simplicity – You can go wild at Christmas time and overdue the whole thing. But let’s keep it simple! Keep in mind the first Christmas. It was just Joseph and Mary and Jesus in a stable. Nothing elaborate. Humble. Along came the shepherds and then the wise men. That’s about it. The world passed Jesus by. Too busy . . . mind on other things . . . just like today.

Sacrifice – Making that purchase, wrapping that gift, and offering it to another person at Christmas is a worthy sacrifice. You can view it as completely obligatory and a waste of time and money, or a true expression of love to that person in your life. It points back to God’s sacrificial gift of His own Son. True love is always sacrificial.

I hope this will help you ease into the holidays. Yes, the world overdoes it but we can rise above it and get that Christmas glow early so we can remind people about Jesus Christ, the Light of the world!