IN THIS UPDATE:
THIS SUNDAY we continue our series entitled He Will Be Called, looking at the different descriptions/titles of Jesus as recorded in Isaiah 9:6. On Sunday we’ll consider Jesus as the Everlasting Father.
WEAR YOUR CHRISTMAS SWEATERS ON SUNDAY: Wear your most BEAUTIFUL OR HIDEOUS Christmas sweater to Gold Coast on Sunday!
WORSHIP CENTER RE-MODEL PROJECT: After thirteen years, it is time to give our worship center a facelift! With Gold Coast people volunteering the manpower, the estimated cost of materials and supplies for the project is $10,000. We are looking to raise those funds with over-and-above gifts/donations. Our Christmas Offering this year will be used to fund this project.
It would be great to have this project fully funded by the close of the year. Will you consider a year-end gift to help us get there? Be sure to check out thedisplay table in the lobby this Sunday. You’ll be able to see pictures of the concept created by Aaron Nicholls as well as sign-up to volunteer to serve on the project.
The project begins in January. Volunteer opportunities include carpet removal, loading dumpsters, recovering sounds panels, painting, carpentry, etc.
Questions? Contact Sharon Wilson at 805-204-8644.
I appreciate the following short article from Dr. Jim Denison and want you to benefit from it.
FOUL-MOUTHED SANTA FRIGHTENS CHILDREN, December 14, 2018:
It was the nightmare before Christmas.
Children were lined up to visit Santa Claus in the English town of St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, last Sunday. An alarm at a nearby but unrelated event caused an evacuation of the building.
Organizers euphemistically said later that Santa “assisted in the evacuation of the building.” Here’s how: Parents and children were leaving when Santa tore into the room, ripped his hat and beard off in front of fifty children, and started shouting and swearing at people to leave.
One mother said she had to tell her children that the man wasn’t really Santa but an imposter who would be going on the “naughty list.” Organizers will try again this weekend but have not said whether the same Santa Claus will return.
Christmas As A Spiritual Buffet
In a similar vein, I heard recently about an unusual manger scene.
Chris Brooks is a brilliant pastor, cultural theologian, and radio host. He tells about a good friend who was jogging in his neighborhood and passed a nativity scene. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi were all present. But the baby Jesus was missing.
As Chris noted, some traditions don’t add Jesus to their manger scenes until Christmas Eve. Perhaps that’s what this neighbor intended. Or perhaps this nativity scene is a sign of our times.
It seems to me that “Christmas without Christ” could be a theme of our holidays these days. Christmas specials are televised nightly but seldom refer to Jesus’ birth. Christmas decorations in my Dallas neighborhood feature inflatable Santas, snowmen, reindeer, and a plethora of lights, but few mangers.
William Booth predicted that the coming century would embrace “Christianity without Christ.” In a day when “spirituality” is replacing religion, more and more people see their relationship with the divine as a spiritual buffet where they can pick from religious traditions as they wish.
If Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” ethic of love appeals to them, they’ll include that. They might add Buddhism’s withdrawal from materialism, or Hinduism’s offer of a next life based on this one, or the New Age claim that we can find the divine within ourselves.
What matters is that we discover and embrace “our truth.” Or so we’re told.
Apply this thinking to any other sphere of life. Imagine that you’re not feeling well, so you pick from a variety of medical options according to your personal inclinations and claim the results as “your body’s truth.”
Or you’re designing a bridge over a river and make engineering decisions based on your preferences rather than physical realities. Or you’re driving home for the holidays and choose the roads you’d like to travel whether your GPS agrees or not.
One of Satan’s most subtle strategies is to convince us that spiritual realities are subject to our subjective whims. I once talked with a man who stated definitively, “I don’t believe in hell,” as though his opinion had anything at all to do with hell’s reality. Imagine saying, “I don’t believe in Canada” and expecting Canada to vanish as a result.
Here’s the problem: Christians who would never say that biblical truth is subject to “their truth” can be tempted to live as though it is.
A.W. Tozer: “Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.”
Our Christmas Problem
Before we can expect our culture to put Christ in Christmas, we must put Christ in Christianity.
Jesus called us “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The definite article means that we are the only light of the world. If you’re the one person with a flashlight in a dark room, whose fault is the darkness?
Christmas can be a happy season to celebrate the beauty of the holidays. Or it can be so much more. It can be a time when we join the shepherds in their wonder and the Magi in their worship. It can be a time when we make Jesus the center of our lives and the subject of our conversations.
Here’s the problem: you and I cannot live spiritual lives without the power of the Spirit.
My purpose this morning is not to ask you to try harder to do better. If you didn’t want to know Jesus and make him known, I doubt you’d be reading this article. But we are fallen people in a fallen culture. We can be as distracted from the reason for the season as anyone.
That’s why we need to ask the Holy Spirit to control and empower us every day (Ephesians 5:18). Would you pause and ask the Spirit to lead you to Jesus again today and to lead others to him through you?
A.W. Tozer again: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from your life today, who would know?
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES ARE MONDAY, DECEMBER 24 at 4:00 & 5:30 PM: Enjoy spending time celebrating Jesus’ birth with your loved ones!
CHRISTMAS EVE SIGNS FOR YOUR YARD OR WINDOW: If you have a Christmas Eve yard sign from last year, it’s time to start displaying it! If you don’t have a yard sign, you can pick one up tomorrow at either entrance of the Gold Coast facility. Display one in your yard or window. Let’s get the word out about Gold Coast’s Christmas Eve Services at 4:00 & 5:30 pm!
DIGITAL INVITATION POSTCARDS TO CHRISTMAS EVE AT GOLD COAST: Be thinking and praying about who you can invite to experience God’s love this Christmas! Go to goldcoastchurch.org/christmasto download the postcard.
AN EASY ADDITIONAL WAY TO SUPPORT THE MINISTRY OF GOLD COAST: Are you using Amazon in your Christmas shopping? Amazon will send a small percent of every purchase you make to the charity of your choice. Just go to: smile.amazon.com, and select “Gold Coast Christian Church” as the charity you wish to support from the drop-down menu under the amazon search bar. Once you make your purchases, Gold Coast will automatically receive a small donation! This works with both Amazon Prime as well as the regular Amazon. Please note: you must continue to use smile.amazon.com to utilize the donation feature on subsequent purchases; this will not activate on amazon.com!
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30: Mark your calendars- the Sunday after Christmas, we’ll join together for one worship service at 10:00 am!
BAPTISMS, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30: If you are interested in being baptized, please write “baptism” on your Connection Card this Sunday and/or contact Pastor Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
LIFE GROUPS START THE WEEK OF JANUARY 6th: The primary purpose of LIFE Groups is joining with other believers, doing life together in community as we spur one another on to grow in following Jesus and helping others begin a relationship with Jesus. If you are new to a LIFE Group or wish to change to a different LIFE Group, sign up through the church website or visit the Welcome Desk this Sunday.
TAKING DOWN DECORATIONS, FRIDAY, JANUARY 4: We need about 6-8 individuals to help take down the Christmas decorations. We’ll be starting at 9 am and should be finished by about 10:30 am or so. If you can assist, please write “Take Down” on your Connection Card tomorrow or go online. Want a free artificial Christmas tree? There will be two Christmas trees and some lights that will be available to pick up at noon that day. Questions, contact Darrell Foote at 805.660.3061 or email@example.com.
PRAYER TIME EVERY SUNDAY MORNING: You’re invited to Sunday morning Prayer Time from 8:30-9:00 am in the Youth Room every Sunday! Come for a couple of minutes or stay longer. This is open to everyone! Prayer cards with suggested topics will be available – you can pray aloud or silently. You can contact Anne Romero if you have any questions at anne2grace@gmail.
DAILY BIBLE READING SCHEDULE:
Friday December 14 Heb 12-13; Jude
Saturday December 15 Jas 1-5
Sunday December 16 1 Pet 1-5
Monday December 17 2 Pet 1-3; Jn 1
Tuesday December 18 Jn 2-4
Wednesday December 19 Jn 5-6
Thursday December 20 Jn 7-8
Friday December 21 Jn 9-11
Saturday December 22 Jn 12-14
Sunday December 23 Jn 15-18
See you Sunday, donning a shirt for the season,