The Messenger: December

Letter from the Editor

Do you ever get so excited for something – so eager and expectant that all you can think about is that one thing? But then, when it finally arrives/happens/et cetera, you are left feeling just the slightest bit…disappointed?

I tend to overhype. I am so hopeful for what could be! As a planner, I get so excited by all the possibilities that all too often, I am left wondering why the fiction in my head was so much better than the reality.

Often my overactive imagination gets the best of me during, yep, you guessed it, Christmastime. My thoughts are consumed with the what-ifs and could-bes (alright, mostly about presents and, oh my goodness, thank you, husband, for the surprise trip to Bora Bora!) Usually, I am left feeling letdown. (more…)


“Mr. Michael is Joseph!”

“Look, the donkey!”

“Oooooh, an angel!”

This year, Sunday, December 20, is a special day in Preschool Sundays, our Sunday school program for children ages 3, 4, and 5. On that Sunday, the children receive the gift of a silent Nativity acted out outside the window of our preschool worship room on the second floor of the Upper Campus building. They watch in amazement as their “big friends” wear costumes and portray the amazing story of Jesus’ birth. The children will hear the story over several weeks prior to December 20, so on this day the story comes to life for them and they are so proud to know exactly what is happening! They watch with eyes open wide and big smiles, and when the little play is complete we sing Silent Night together. 

Who are these “big friends” who are not too cool to dress as sheep, angels, or shepherds, and share the news of God’s love for us? They are our Preschool Sundays youth volunteers: middle and high school students, who faithfully welcome, guide, and teach our preschoolers each Sunday. They bring a sense of fun, joyful play, careful respect for our safety rules, and listening ears to our classes, and the children look up to them. 

Nativity in the Window shows the children that God’s gift of baby Jesus is for all of us – little children, cool teenagers, moms and dads, single folks, grandmas and grandpas. Through the youth volunteers, the preschoolers learn that the true importance of Jesus’ birth is how we respond and share His love with others. Under the Belong + Grow umbrella, Family Life Ministries seeks to be intergenerational and relational in all our programs. God calls and uses people of all ages to teach and encourage children and youth.

Come and peek in the hallway window on Sunday, December 20, at 9:20, 10:05, or 11:20am, and share in the gift of wonder, excitement, and joy that is the birth of baby Jesus! 

Book Review: All the Places To Go: How Will You Know?

By John Ortberg

What do Dr. Seuss and God’s will have in common?

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose…
Oh, the places you’ll go!…
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.”

This sounds very much like decision-making and God’s will. At least author John Ortberg thinks so.

So, here we have yet another book on God’s will. What makes it different from all the others? This one is fun to read and easy to digest. Each page is sprinkled with quotable phrases that can be recalled at a moment’s notice and will be influential for a lifetime. For instance: “Open doors never exist just for the sake of the people offered them.  They also involve the opportunity to bless someone else.” (more…)


What are you becoming? Author M. Robert Mulholland, Jr, says, “We fail to realize that the process of spiritual shaping is a primal reality of human existence…”

Everyone is in a process of spiritual formation! Every thought we hold, every decision we make, every action we take, every emotion we allow to shape our behavior, every response we make to the world around us, every relationship we enter, every reaction we have toward the things that surround us and impinge upon our lives – all of these things, little by little, are shaping us into some kind of being.

We are being shaped into either the wholeness of the image of Christ or a horribly destructive caricature of that image – destructive not only to ourselves but also to others, for we inflict our brokenness upon them. (Mulholland, Invitation to a Journey, 23)

We are each being spiritually formed through every interaction and action of the day. The question is whether we are becoming formed into the image of Christ, or into something else.

Transformed into the image of Christ. (more…)

How Financial Peace University Made Life Better

I’d like to share with you a story that touches my heart as much today as it did ten years ago. I have no doubt that God was orchestrating behind the scenes in what took place in my life and my family’s life.

As I recall, it was tax time, 2005. You know, doing the taxes always has a way of stirring things up, forcing you to take a look at your money, and where it’s going. And that’s exactly what happened to us.

As Susan, my beautiful wife, and I were going through the usual paperwork, an uneasy feeling started to creep over me. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I was beginning to see that we were losing control of our money. Human beings have this great capacity to live in denial, and we were no exception. The truth was that we had been living month-to-month for a long time. Not only that, but we had not made any provision for our retirement. We didn’t really know where our money was going. (more…)

Welcoming Peace in Israel/Palestine

It’s near the end of our trip. We’re on our way to Hebron on a day where there are no known protests scheduled. Looking out the window of the bus, I realize just how weary I’ve grown of looking at that wall – the physical symbol of a very broken world. The black water tanks on the roofs quickly tell me that we’re in a Palestinian neighborhood rather than an Israeli neighborhood. And the checkpoints. Soldiers board the bus and ask if there are any Palestinians on-board. The soldiers have their fingers always on the trigger – soldiers the age of my children. And we do have a Palestinian on-board today – he’s a Palestinian Christian, works at World Vision, educated at the Vatican. He has a “P” on his Israeli passport. We’re told that Charlie’s lucky—he’s got blue eyes. Could go back to the time of the British occupation or all the way back to the Crusades.

The thing that most hits me about the young soldiers is that they’re being put in this awful situation.  They’re given authority over other peoples’ lives that they probably aren’t mature enough to handle and it’s a no-win situation that the government puts them in. There were two of them – a girl and a boy. And I say “girl and boy” because I think they weren’t much more than 18. In a couple of more casual situations, they seemed really young and almost casual about toting these guns around – kind of like they were playing soldier.   (more…)

Worshiping Jesus at Christmas

The Christmas holiday may be a blessing for some folks but a stressful, lonely time for others.

If you are one whom is depressed, talk with Jesus.

He wants to hear from you.

Jesus was born to comfort and love us. He needs to be near always, not just at Christmas.

Take time for worship.

The parties and celebrations can wait,

Jesus wants to hear from us.

He is a constant friend.

Shopping for just the right gift can be frustrating and expensive.

Decorating the home has its challenges.

Traveling to another town in traffic jars ones nerves…

Taking children to see Santa Claus takes a toll.

Planning a Christmas dinner can be a plus for some, but a negative for others.

Take some time everyday for prayer,

Open your hearts to the birth of Jesus.

Let Him fill your soul with thanksgiving

The reward is peace and joy.

Everything Is About to Change

It was a crisp Saturday night and my wife and I were on the way to a church movie night at a local gym. Napoleon Dynamite was on the docket, a favorite of both of ours. We were about halfway there when my 8-month pregnant wife asked me to stop because she needed to use the restroom. For those who have children, you know this routine well. Restroom breaks become more and more frequent as the due date gets closer. So without hesitation I pulled into a parking spot and I waited for her in the car. As I sat there, I went over all the details involved in setting up a large projector and sound system to put on the movie night. In a flash, my wife came back to the car with a puzzled look on her face. She got in the car, looked at me and said, “I think my water just broke?”

Everything was about to change. (more…)

Behind the Scenes with Diane Muscutt and Christine Gilbert

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” –Father Strickland, Jesuit Priest, 1863

My interview with Diane Muscutt and Christine Gilbert started with this quote, and spoke volumes to what type of persons these two wonderful, exuberant, and humble secret servants are as co-leads for BelPres’ Sanctuary Chorus, the 120-voice choir that sings three Sundays a month from September to June. (more…)

Birth Announcements December 2015

Elaine Mary Flugstad
Born 8-29-15 to
Nick and Erin Flugstad

Abel Joseph Hulderson
Born 8-13-15 to
Eric & Erin Hulderson

George Gallagher Franck
Born 8-25-15 to
James and Amanda Franck

Ryder John McFadyen
Born 9-6-15 to
Stacey and Mark McFadyen

Reese Lindsey Miller
Born 3-6-15 to
Jeffrey and Kelley Miller

Dean Edward Carper
Born 9-24-15 to
Mike and Michelle Carper

The New Baby ministry seeks to greet new babies in our church community with the love of Christ. If you know of a family who is due to have a baby or adopt a baby in the coming months please contact Di Alexander or the Church Office, 425-454-3082, so we may include them in this ministry.