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    Spiritual Goals

    Happy New Year 2017!  It's natural for us at the start of something new to take inventory of  where we have been and consider goals for the future.  The beginning of a new year is always a good place to make resolutions for change.  There are lots of great helps when it comes to initiating changes, but I always am amazed at how few address the spiritual aspect.

    We are spiritual beings and without considering the spiritual, I am convinced that our resolutions and goals are doomed to fail.  Have you noticed how many resolutions / goals focus on the "output"?

    Based on an internet search, here are the top 5 resolutions for the new year : I want to stay fit and healthy / I want to eat less and move more / I want to enjoy life to the fullest / I want to spend less and save more / I want to have closer relationships.

    What would be the impact if we changed our focus to the "input"?  First: all of those same resolutions would require us to have our heart & mind right... this is a natural overflow of seeking God first above all things (Matthew 6:33).  Then we would be empowered by His strength and not just what strength that we can resolve to manufacture.  The focus becomes our relationship with Him!  Then together, those same resolutions / goals are transformed.

    As you consider your resolutions and goals for this new year, I encourage you to consider some specific spiritual goals... read through the Bible this year one day at a time / pause and read one verse a day before you get out of bed / memorize a verse a week <Fighter Verse app is a great tool!> / spend 5 minutes daily in prayer before you leave the house / invite one person a week to church / identify one person a week that I can encourage in their walk with the LORD... etc

    It's amazing the change that God brings to our lives when we focus on first things first!

    Post your resolutions in the comments and we will pray for you!

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    Advent Season

    Advent means “coming!”  During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.  

    The circular advent wreath is made of evergreen to symbolize growth and everlasting life.  The candles represent weeks of preparation as we are reminded of the growing light of Christ's presence.

    1st Candle (purple) : Candle of HOPE or Prophecy : We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us.  Our hope comes from God.  (Romans 15:12-13)  Jesus is HOPE… Psalm 62:5-8, “5Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. 6He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 8Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

    Hope lets us choose to be defined by Whose we are
    and not what we have done.

    2nd Candle (purple) : Candle of LOVE or Preparation : God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem.  Preparation means to "get ready."  Help us to be ready to welcome you, O God!  (Luke 3:4-6)  Jesus is LOVE… Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Christ did not love us because we are lovely, but to make us lovely. ~ Tim Keller

    3rd Candle (pink) : Candle of JOY or Shepherd's Candle : The angel sang a message of JOY!  (Luke 2:7-15)  Jesus is JOY… Matthew 1:21-23, 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah]: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means, "God with us."

    JOY comes from realizing “the Lord is near!”
    John 15:11, [Jesus said] “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

    4th Candle (purple) : Candle of LOVE or Angel Candle : The angels announced the Good News of a Savior.  God sent His only Son to earth to save us, because He loves us. (John 3:16)  Jesus is PEACE… Luke 2:10-14, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for ALL the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests."

    Isaiah 9:6b, “…And He will be called Wonderful Counselor,
    Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE of PEACE.”

    5th Candle (white) : CHRIST Candle : The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins!  His birth was for His death.  His death was for our birth!  (John 1:29)

     10… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:10-11


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    Fill A Shoebox = Share the Gospel

    Operation Christmas Child is a valuable way to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the globe!  After receiving a shoebox gift, children have the opportunity to enroll in The Greatest Journey, our dynamic, 12-lesson Bible study course guiding them through what it means to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.

    Get a shoebox and fill it to share hope!  Bring the completed shoebox by 11/20/16 to begin the journey around the world!

    Follow the link for all the details!

    https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/what-goes-in-my-shoebox-suggestions/


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    As we go

    How many around us find themselves not just tired from a full week, but empty?  They still smile on the outside, but are desperate for encouragement and hope to keep moving forward.  What if God is positioning us right now to encourage others in Jesus Name!

    We all feel the demands and drama of life... I do!  However, one of the reasons why I am so ready for Sunday worship is to be together pursuing God's presence!  When we get together in worship, God has a way of supernaturally infusing me with the strength, love, hope, and so many other things He knows I need for this moment!

    So rewind back to now... God lovingly reminds me that this Friday night and Saturday, there will be many I cross paths with that need a God worship encounter too!  Matthew 28:19, So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations...  

    Imagine the excitement level it could add to our Sunday worship if we went not just expecting to encounter God ourself, but also we had an expectancy about how others we invited would experience God too!

    How can that happen?  Pray now that God would make us aware of people whom we can encourage tonight and tomorrow in His Name.  While at the game, doing yard work, shopping at the store, grabbing a bite to eat, and even taking time to be online like you are right now, let's look for those divine appointments to share Jesus and invite them to Northshore Family.

    Look for "on ramps" to the conversations!  They will be filled with "NOTS!"  Things are NOT going well..
     I was NOT prepared for...  I am NOT from here...  I am NOT connected... then know that it is your turn to speak up for His glory!

    "LORD, give me eyes to see and a boldness to speak in Jesus Name for Your glory"


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EASTER : Mardi Gras - Ash Wednesday - Lenten Season

EASTER : Mardi Gras - Ash Wednesday - Lenten Season

EASTER : Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ on the third day after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based (1 Corinthians 15:3-4,14). The four Gospels make it clear that Jesus was crucified in conjunction with the Jewish Passover (Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-15; John 18:28,39; 19:14). The four Gospels also make it clear that Jesus was raised from the dead three days later, on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19). Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Whether we call it “Easter” or “Resurrection Sunday,” what is important is the reason for our celebration, which is that Christ is alive, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!

In some Christian traditions, Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of LENT (Old English for Spring). LENT is a 40-day period (before Easter, excluding Sundays) of fasting and repentance culminating in the celebration of Holy Week. As a Christian, the Lenten season beacons us to deepen our understanding and appreciation for the abundant grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ's saving work on the cross. LENT began by early Christians in an effort to identify with biblical 40 day periods of trial and fasting (Genesis 7:12,
Exodus 34:28, Numbers 13:25, Numbers 14:34, 1 Samuel 17:16, 1 Kings 19:8, Luke 4:2, Acts 1:3)
leading up to Easter.

ASH WEDNESDAY begins the Lenten season and is six and a half weeks before Easter every year. Ash Wednesday is the tradition (not a requirement) of putting ashes on the forehead in the form of a cross as a sign of humility and recognition of our own sin (the ashes usually come from the dried and burned palms from Palm Sunday the year before). "From dust you came, and to dust you shall return. Turn from your sin and receive the good news." By reminding ourselves of our need and willfully submitting to Christ's authority, we prepare our heart to celebrate Easter with a renewed sense of joy and amazement!

Many equate LENT with SELF DENIAL and give up something enjoyable (like meat or chocolate or movies) for the 40 days as a way of focusing more intently on the meaning of the season. While there is certainly nothing wrong with preparing for Easter through some form of self-denial or intentional good works, it is important to realize that these will not win us God's favor, earn special blessing, or increase His love for us. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is! If you plan to give up something, please make sure to use the margin created to grow in love and appreciation with Christ. Remember the Lenten season is about preparing the heart; so, if you plan to give up something, then make plans to REPLACE it with something that would turn your heart more toward Christ! Maybe take the challenge to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) or memorize certain scriptures during Lent. (see the YouVersion Bible App for Bible reading plans and FighterVerse for Bible memorization tools!)

FISH : Catholics practice various acts of penitence and spiritual self-discipline during Lent. One of those disciplines is a fast that requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. The rule is based on the authority of the Church, not on the authority of Scripture. The stated reason for Catholics not being allowed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent is to remind the faithful that Jesus died on a Friday. Jesus gave up His body (His flesh), and Catholics, in an effort to attain greater communion with Christ, refrain from consuming flesh.

MARDI GRAS : Pre-Lenten celebrations (Carnival, Festival) culminate with Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French or Shrove Tuesday) the day before Ash Wednesday. Since Christians have often chosen or been taught to fast from all sweet food during Lent, including milk, eggs, and meat, the traditional dinner on this night is pancakes to use up their milk and eggs and syrup so there won't be any of the tempting stuff around during Lent. Many have mutated this season as an excuse for indulgence before the fast. It is often looked on as one last “binge” before having to give something up for 40 days. These celebrations foster the unscriptural notion that you can do whatever you want on Fat Tuesday, as long as you show up in church on Ash Wednesday.

Regardless of how much you know (or don't know) about Lent, or how much (or how little) emphasis your church places on the observance, it's not a bad idea to set your sights on Easter and start thinking now about the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. Read Psalm 51:1-17 and think about your sin. Pray for forgiveness. Consider making a special offering or sacrifice to God to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the new life He gives, and the true forgiveness that He offers!

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