Mission-Minded Christmas #7 — Surrender

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, surrendered everything when He came to this earth — not only to save us, but to provide His salvation for the whole world!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

(John 3:16)

Focusing on SURRENDER:

    This Christmas . . .

    What if God would ask your family to give something BIGGER than ever?

    What if He would ask you to give something even greater than gifts to your loved ones, or a special missions-offering, or a few extra dollars in that red Salvation Army bucket?

Brace yourself . . . as you consider . . . “What if . . . “

    What if . . .

  • What if God wanted you to sell something of value, specifically to support MISSIONS, and to help expand the kingdom of God . . . perhaps even something really really BIG . . .
  • What if God wanted your family to pray about taking a short-term mission trip in 2012?
  • What if God would want you to prepare yourself and your family . . . to perhaps pack up everything, and to move overseas to begin a season of fulltime foreign missionary work?
  • What if God would ask you, as a loving parent, to release one of your own precious kids or young adults into fulltime, international, and perhaps even dangerous, Christian service?
  • What if someday one of your own big kids, out of direct obedience to God’s call, was called to live across the world . . . and he or she wasn’t always able be with you and your family for Christmas?

YIKES!!! YIKES!!!

As parents, would you be supportive and encouraging toward God’s call on your child’s life . . . or would you be God’s greatest hindrance?

I know it can be scary; but I also know that whenever God calls an individual to follow Him, He also provides His GRACE and JOY (and if God would someday call one of your kids to something a bit “out-of-your-comfort-zone” or downright SCARY, He also has a GRACE and JOY for you, as parents, to be able to handle it.

Mission-minded Christmas carols:

  • “Go, Tell it on the Mountain!”
  • “Silent Night”
  • “Joy to the World”
  • “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

William Booth, Founder of Salvation Army, (1829-1912)

Did you know that “General” William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, had a fervent PASSION for SOULS?
In the early days of his ministry, he had banners with the words “BLOOD and FIRE!” and one of his famous mission motto’s was “Go for souls, and go for the worst.” He and his wife, Catherine Booth, also had a great love for their family. All of their eight children loved the Lord and devoted their lives to fulltime Christian service.

Related articles: Mission-Minded Christmas

Mission-Minded Christmas #6 — Hanukkah

Hanukkah . . . as a mission reminder:

During December, it’s common to find many references to this Jewish holiday, especially as stores and schools attempt to be culturally sensitive to families who don’t celebrate Christmas. We usually see Hanukkah reminders in store windows, in the wrapping paper aisle, and even at the post office.

Hanukkah is a perfect time to share with our families about God’s love for the people of Israel and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

In the history of Hanukkah (or Chanukah); types and shadows point to our Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the World. May we be lights for Him.

Mission-Minded Families in December — #2 —
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Dates of Hanukkah, 2014

The first day of Hanukkah 2014 is December 16th, meaning the first candle of the menorah is to be lit on the nightfall of the 16th. The holiday extends for 8 days, ending this year on December 24th, 2014.

Holiday Hanukkah reminders and decorations provide perfect “on-the-spot” teaching opportunities to talk with our children about the need to pray for the people of Israel, and to share how Jesus Christ came as God’s promised Messiah for the whole world.

As you see these decorations throughout your shopping times, take these moments to talk with your kids about loving the people of Israel and praying for their salvation.

We’ve learned a few interesting things about this Jewish holiday:

  • Did you know there is a biblical reference to Hanukkah is in the New Testament?
  • Did you know that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah?
  • Did you know that Hanukkah is the feast of lights and the feast of dedication?
  • Many aspects of this holiday point to the coming Messiah . . . and did you know that Jesus Christ completely fulfilled this celebration by being our Light of the world?

Hanukkah . . . in the Bible

“At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.

Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”

The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

John 10:22-33

Isn’t that exciting?

On this feast day, in the wintertime, Jesus declared His divinity!!!

Read the Bible selections that refer to Hanukkah, and talk with your children about how Jesus came to fulfill this celebration. He is our light of the world.

  • John 10:22-33
  • Matthew 20:28
  • John 8:12

As you’re at the post office, deciding which holiday stamps to buy, take a moment to mention (to the post office worker, or to other people waiting in line next to you), “Did you know that in the Bible, it says that Jesus actually celebrated Hanukkah?” You can then share how Jesus Christ came to earth as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. He came as the Messiah of Israel and God’s Light of the WORLD!!!

Hanukkah Crafts Ideas:

Have your children make a few simple Hanukkah craft projects.

  • Star of David Ornaments – Make two cardboard triangles and cover them with aluminum foil. Staple them together and add a ribbon. (Our children made these and hung them on our Christmas tree. See photo above.)
  • Menorah – You can craft a simple wooden Menorah candle stick with nine (birthday) candles. (See the photo at the top of this post.)
  • Blue stars – Anything with the Star of David, the color blue, or candles can make a Hanukkah reminder.
  • Pinterest – Check out Harvest Ministry’s board on Pinterest — “Hanukkah Light” for more fun ideas we’ve found!

The Light of Hanukkah:

Here’s a short excerpt from the Jews for Jesus website blog. The article is entitled “The Light of Hanukkah” and it’s a good summary of the spiritual significance of Hanukkah and how it relates to Jesus as our Messiah:

The Hanukkah candles are traditionally lit by a special candle called the Shammash. Shammash is Hebrew for “servant.” In the shammash candle, we can see a symbol of our Messiah Jesus, for as the Gospel of Matthew says,

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

The shammash serves the other candles by bringing light to them. In the New Testament, Jesus is frequently referred to as “the Light,” and Jesus Himself once said,

“I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Just as the shammash gives light to the other candles, Jesus came to give the world His Light. As we celebrate Hanukkah, it is good for us be reminded of that light each night as we light our menorahs. As believers in Y’shua (Jesus), Hanukkah should hold precious meaning to us. The miracles we celebrate at Hanukkah – the defeat of an enemy army, the oil lasting for eight days – show how God keeps His light burning in the hearts of His people, even when they face what seem to be impossible odds or situations. With God, all things are possible. His light cannot fail, or go out.

For the entire article on the Jews for Jesus website: “The Light of Hanukkah”

Have a Happy Hanukkah . . .

and a Mission-Minded Christmas!

Celebrating JESUS our LIGHT of the WORLD!

For celebration details and answers to common questions regarding Hanukkah (Chanukah) from a Jewish perspective, look here.
More articles on having a Mission-Minded Christmas.

Mission-Minded Christmas #5 — Presence

Mission-Minded Families in December #1 —

During this busy season let’s remember to focus on our relationship with God. Jesus Christ is our Emmanuel. Our God with us. Let’s never forget how amazing He is and what an awesome JOY it is to spend time with Him.

Have a Mission-Minded Christmas
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Bible Reading and December Goals:

Come take a look at what’s happening over at Daring Daughters:

How I Use a 1-year Bible Reading Chart, without legalism
(3 minute audio, by Ann Dunagan)

Meet One Momentum-Changing Goal . . . in December
(4 audios – Goal-Achieving Workshop, by Ann and Anna Leigh Dunagan)

Mission-Minded Christmas #4 — Home

We all know the clichés, how, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and “Wise men still seek Him”;
but have you and your family ever considered your willingness to surrender to God’s mission-minded purpose for Christmas, in every nitty-gritty area?

Have a Mission-Minded Family Christmas
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Focusing on GOD’S HOME

Where will you spend Christmas this year?

For many families, where to spend Christmas is at best, a yearly dilemma; for others, it’s an all-out annual battle, with heated discussions and terribly hurt feelings.

Quite a while back, an informal “counseling” question with a newlywed bride turned into a delightful yet passionate discussion about world missions and family life. This God-loving friend and her new husband were having a common early-marriage struggle about where to spend their first Christmas. Since they were already living near his family and relatives, wasn’t it “right” that they celebrate Christmastime with her family?


“I’ll be Home for Christmas” is an awesome song, with a heart-tugging theme.

With four of our seven children now “grown-up” and living on their own, it’s a momma-dream I can relate to . . . sprinkled with annual hopes and anticipation. Christmas-at-home brings to mind favorite traditions, thoughts of yummy delicacies, memories of siblings laughing together and playing games, and of course, snow and mistletoe.

However, as a surrendered mission-minded believer, I’ve come to understand that my lovely “Home-Sweet-Home” Christmas-dream isn’t necessarily a guaranteed “momma-right” I should expect or think I “deserve.”

As I shared my heart with my newlywed friend, and encouraged her to surrender her “rights” and expectations to God, I shared this inspiring true-life Christmas story about a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators:

I’ll be Home for Christmas?

A Christmas Story from South America

It was only a few days before Christmas as Bernie May, a pilot for Wycliffe Bible Translators successfully delivered emergency medical supplies to the isolated Amazon village. Now he eagerly anticipated being back with his wife and children in their South American home-away-from-home. Yet as the evening grew dark, he knew he would not be able to fly out until the morning.

With his pontoon plane waiting on the river, Bernie arranged for temporary protection for the night. But then . . . it began to rain. The rain continued, even up until Christmas Eve, the missionary felt increasingly depressed by his misfortune. His wife, Nancy, and their boys were six hours away; and by this time, they would have received his radio message: he would not be home for Christmas.

As a family, they had prepared their hearts to be separated from their loved ones and friends, but it was Christmas Eve . . . and they were now separated even from each other.

Back in Pennsylvania, everyone would be coming home from church-to the sounds of caroling, the smell of roasting turkey, and the sight of falling snow. But where was God’s missionary? Here he was . . . stuck in a remote jungle . . . in a makeshift shelter . . . in the pouring rain . . . alone.

In Ruth Tucker’s book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Bernie May tells of his experience:

“Oh God,” I moaned, “I’m in the wrong place.” . . . But that night, under my mosquito net, I had a visitation from God-something like those shepherds must have had on the hills of Bethlehem.

There were no angels, and no bright lights. But as I lay there in my hammock, desperately homesick, I felt I heard God say, “My son, this is what Christmas is all about. Jesus left heaven and on Christmas morning He woke up in the ‘wrong place’-a stable in Bethlehem. Christmas means leaving home, not going home. My only begotten Son did not come home for Christmas-He left home to be with you.”

(Excerpted from The Mission-Minded Family
– Releasing Your Family to God’s Destiny
, by Ann Dunagan)

Christmas, and everything about true Bible-believing Christianity, is all about God and His greatness (including God’s Greatest Commandment, to love God and love others: Matthew 22:36-40, and God’s Great Commission, to go into all the world to share God’s love with others: Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15).

As your family is trying decide where to spend Christmas this year, remember to keep the big picture in your mind, and in your heart.

Christmas is about so much more than our home, our family and our “rights”.

The true meaning of Christmas centers on the reality of God’s home in heaven (because that’s why Jesus came), and loving people into His family, and surrendering our “rights” to Him, so others can go to heaven too.

Mission-Minded Christmas #3 — Simplicity

As we prepare our homes and our hearts for Christmas, let’s remember the simplicity of Christ’s birthplace and the simplicity of that first Christmas.

42201_Ornament_C_world_globe_replogle_ChristmasGod has never had budget-limitations, time-constraints, or geographical borders. Jesus could have been born anywhere and at any time. God could have chosen an elaborate palace or a richly decorated mansion.

Christ’s first home (and that first Christmas) was incredibly simple and more eternally glorious than any human could have imagined. The GLORY of that Bethlehem moment was GOD Himself.

Today, the true GLORY of our Christmas celebrations will not be in our glittery ribbons and fancy cuisine. The GLORY of Christmas, then and now, is GOD Himself. As Christian women, let’s welcome Christ’s presence into our homes and into our lives. He is Emmanuel. God with us.

The Heart of Simplicity

Ann wrote a Christmas article for Christian Homemaking — over on another website, The Heart of Simplicity. Come see . . . “The Simplicity of the Manger”

Mission-Minded Christmas #2 — Peace

Instead of being directed by the overwhelming needs of the moment, Jesus took time to pray and to seek the Heavenly Father’s perfect direction for each day, and did exactly (and only) what needed to be done . . .

The will of God —
nothing less, nothing more, nothing else.”
— F. E. Marsh

How to find peace . . . in a busy season

Writing Christmas cards. Decorating the house. Buying and wrapping presents. Cooking. Baking. Preparing for parties and hospitality. Getting ready for church events. Just thinking about all these things we “need” to do can be exhausting.

‘Tis the season to be jolly . . . yet often overly busy.

As we’re heading into the Christmas season, a time to celebrate God’s PEACE and joy, let’s make sure to seek God for what should be done (and what activities could be eliminated to bring more of God’s presence into our homes and family). Let’s remember to take TIME for prayer, and to keep everything in balance.

Think of everything Jesus needed to do!!!

Jesus only lived 33 years on earth and spent just 3 short years in ministry.

In this short time period, Jesus had more on His “to-do” list than any of of could ever comprehend.

  • He was responsible for providing God’s only way of salvation for all humanity.
  • He had to establish a brand-new worldwide training program (through scriptural teaching and personal example) to explain God’s eternal kingdom.
  • He had to equip His ground-level leaders (in deep theology and practical life skills) for future global impact.
  • And on top of all that, He couldn’t sin or make a mistake . . . not even once!

Even with such a limited time allotment, an eternally important job, and such spiritual “pressure” (from our point of view), Jesus was never rushed or stressed-out. In spite of all He needed to do (and because of all He needed to do), Jesus always took time to pray.

God’s perspective is so much different than ours.

During his 33 years on earth, Jesus took 30 years to live as a simple carpenter and to simply “be” with His Heavenly Father. Jesus was totally perfect and totally God-in-the-Flesh, yet throughout His life He took time to seek God’s direction and guidance. Even when everyone else was busy and multitudes had pressing needs, Jesus took time to be quiet and to get away, and to pray.

Mark 1:35-38 says, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He [Jesus] went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for you.”

But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

Finding PEACE . . . through PRAYER!

If you haven’t been praying regularly, it’s a good idea to begin by setting aside a particular new “MEETING TIME” with God:

  • perhaps set your morning alarm a bit earlier
  • perhaps establish a habit of reading God’s Good News (the Bible) as you’re sipping your morning coffee
  • perhaps take time for the Lord during your noontime lunch hour
  • perhaps before bed in the evening

Instead of being directed by the overwhelming needs of the moment, Jesus took time to pray in a solitary place (and He didn’t even tell His disciples where He was going). After this personal prayer time, Jesus knew the heavenly Father’s perfect direction for that day, and He did exactly what needed to be done.

If prayer was that important to Jesus, it should be important to us!


May God bless you with PEACE this Christmas season . . . as you take time to seek Him in the quiet place, in a time of prayer.

Blessings to you!
Jon & Ann

A few helpful links about PRAYER & BALANCE:
Daily Bible Reading Chart
More articles about PRAYER
More articles about BALANCE

Mission-Minded Christmas #1 — Giving

All to Him I Freely Give . . .

For God so loved the WORLD, that He GAVE His only Son. This Christmas, let’s remember the world and the lost, as we thank God for the greatest gift of all times. God gave His own life for our world; let’s give of ourselves . . . for Him and for others!

 

A Christmas Story from Africa: “I Gave Myself”

It was Christmas, and the Liberian Christians had been asked this year instead of receiving gifts, to help carry the Gospel to others. As in many mission fields, they brought, not money, but produce. Presently, the great plates were piled high with offerings of rice, cocoa, bananas, palm nuts, pineapple, and cassava.

There was a moment’s pause . . .

Slowly, a twelve-year-old boy walked forward and solemnly placed his feet in one of the plates. Afterward, when the missionary questioned him, the boy said . . .

“We are very poor. I did not have anything else to give . . . so I gave myself.”


A few MISSION-MINDED baby-steps

Here are a few baby-steps to begin to incorporate a mission-mindset into your family’s yearly Christmas celebrations.

  • Incorporate a GLOBE into your Christmas celebrations. Perhaps use this to bring a mission theme into a corner of your living room or family room. Add some garland and lights, or place a mini-nativity beside this globe (or map), as you encourage your children that Jesus came to earth to be the Savior for ALL people.
  • If your decorations are looking a bit old and shabby, and you’re wondering about using them another year, remember 1.6 million people around the world have yet to hear the Christmas story . . . for the first time!
  • Read aloud a Mission-Minded Christmas story such as this story, “I Gave Myself,” or “Home for Christmas?”
  • Plan a specific family giving project for Christmas. Perhaps put a coin jar under your tree and begin saving coins for a specific mission need.

As mission-minded families, if we really want God’s direction in every areas of our lives, we need to begin by surrendering ALL of our “rights” to God.

 

All to Jesus, I surrender.

All to Him I freely give.

I will ever love and trust Him.

In His presence daily live.

I surrender all. I surrender all.

All to Thee, My Blessed Savior.

I surrender all.

 

This Christmas, we invite you to seek God’s purposes for your family.

Have yourself a MISSION-MINDED CHRISTMAS!!!

With Love in His Harvest,
Jon & Ann Dunagan, & Family

More Mission-Minded Christmas posts
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