Battle Creek Tabernacle
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The Miracle and the Mystery
There is a painting entitled simply, The Nativity. The longer you gaze at it the more it seems to tremble with the mystery of the “starry, starry night” long ago. Perhaps it was the way the artist captured the brooding face of the husband-not-father as he leans forward and pensively stares at the newborn at his feet in that crude box of hay. Or maybe it was the utter “spentness” of the young mother, exhausted, now prone on the cold floor, save for her slumping shoulders propped against the stable wall.
Ellen White writes, “The work of redemption is called a mystery, and it is indeed the mystery by which everlasting righteousness is brought to all who believe. Hiding His divinity, laying aside His glory, He was born a babe in Bethlehem.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 915.
Richie, a seven year old boy, was asked by his mommy to please shine her shoes, as she was busy wrapping packages. Soon, with a proud smile only a seven year old can muster, he presents the shiny shoes for inspection. His mother was so pleased she gave him a quarter.
On Christmas morning, as she put on her shoes to go to church, she felt a strange lump in one shoe. Taking if off, she shook it and out came the coin wrapped in a small piece of paper. On it was written, “I done it for love.”
That is it, is it not? In a dark stable, we unwrap the very first Christmas gift, and on the wrinkled wrapping paper the handwriting of God: “I done it for love.” Pause and wonder on this gift of love. What impact has it made on your life?
Luke 2:7 “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.” Vicki Skinner, Bible Worker
Claim the Promises...Pray for the Spirit
"'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the Lord of hosts." Zech 4:6
"Take the promises of God, and ask God in living faith for the out-pouring of His Holy Spirit.” Review & Herald, Feb 25, 1890
2014 DEVOTIONAL BOOKS: It’s time again to order your 2014 Devotional Books at our church’s discounted price with no shipping charges. Call the church office or fill out an order form located in the church’s foyer area.
A very special Christmas program called “Praising the Giver” will be presented by the Reflectors Sabbath School class and friends at the worship service December 14 at 10:35 a.m. It is a major program featuring many musical groups including a men’s chorus, women’s chorus, combined choir, bell choir, triple trio, large brass band, BCA chorus, BCA K-2 students, soloists, duets, narration, nativity skit, and power-point production. A similar program was presented three years ago and is being presented again because so many people have requested it.
Please plan to be there and bring your family and friends. This is a program that will be enjoyed by one-and-all and is a great opportunity to invite folks to visit our church for the first (or hundredth) time. Mark your calendar—December 14, 10:30 a.m.—wonderful Christmas program!
Yo Youth from David Tenold
A. T. Jones wrote a valuable book on the importance of the Bible in Christian Education. In his book, he stated that Socrates taught the way to arrive at knowledge was through doubt. Plato, one of Socrates top students, continued this line of reasoning, and shared it with his students. Now let's move forward in time. Shortly after the apostles died, the early Christian church fell into the hands of the church fathers, who were largely of Greek descendent. These men were heavily steeped in the writings of Plato and Aristotle, who espoused the method of doubting as the means to arriving at knowledge. This line of reasoning eventually crept into every level of the church. When the Protestant Reformation began, however, the reformers immediately dealt with this erroneous teaching. They were united in presenting the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They taught their students and congregations that to arrive at knowledge you must begin with truth. And when confronted with truth, you must believe and not doubt. Maybe that's why Ellen White wrote that students at our schools should not waste their time reading infidel authors.
Now let me illustrate the importance of combining faith with truth. If little Johnny's first grade teacher writes on the chalk board A B C and then says, "How do we know that A is really A? And how do we know that B is really B? And how do we know that C is really C?" And then she states, "We really don't know if these letters are valid symbols or not. They may be a figment of your imagination." You know as well as I do, this way of teaching would only lead to confusion and a lack of knowledge. Why? Because to gain knowledge, you must begin with truth. And then you must believe that it is truth. So why not believe the Word and receive the Word and allow the Word to accomplish the Will of God in your life?
Church Family News
CONGRATULATIONS: Brad Miller was baptized November 16 by Pastor Bayani Pastrana following Bible studies by Ozella Marshall and attending the Prophecy Seminar.
REMEMBERED: A few months ago, one of our senior members was moved out of her home by family members, leaving no forwarding address. We just learned that Patricia Harrington had died August 30. She was 74 years old and had been a member for seven years.
REMEMBERED: Joseph Kulikowski died unexpectedly at home on November 20, and his memorial service was November 25. Joe was 55 years old and a member since 1997.
Ellen White, writing from Switzerland, on December 26, 1886, wrote, "Yesterday was Christmas. Did you do as the Wise Men did by offering your gifts to Jesus? Or has the enemy changed the order of things, and directed the worship to himself? The gifts are now bestowed upon friends instead of Him who has made so great a sacrifice for us.... Shall not the gifts be turned to a better account than heretofore?"
What a blessing the practice of bringing a special Christmas offering has proven to be for our church and the world-wide church as a whole! We have been able to provide for many needs both here and abroad. As in the past there are a number of projects that we hope to accomplish.
Our Annual Christmas Offering will be taken up in the worship service during our Christmas Program on Sabbath, December 14. If you cannot turn in your gift that Sabbath you can still mark it "Christmas Offering" and turn it in any time in December.
In addition to our supporting our Youth by helping them go to the GYC Youth Congress in Orlando and helping fund portable radios for mission work through Adventist World Radio, there are several local projects. These include helping to make up the deficit in our church budget, 1) replacing our church office copier, 2) remodeling the lower level bathrooms in the Sabbath School department area, 3) changing our rear entrance doors and improving the heat flow in that area, 4) changing our exit signs to energy efficient LED lights, 5) updating the exterior window protection for our stained glass windows.
Why No One Is Ever Truly Giving
The truth is that whenever we give, we’re always getting something in return. Generosity is not a zero-sum game, no matter how it may look to us at times. All too often, we think that if we give to someone else we’ll be left with less than what we had before. When we’re giving money, it’s easy to make that case based on what we see remaining in our wallets or bank accounts. When we give of our time, we can measure the opportunity costs for everything else we might have done with that time.
But it gets more challenging to measure what we give away when we offer a kind word or a welcoming smile. And how much is it worth to us to offer a listening ear, or to surrender a stereotype or tear down a wall in a relationship?
The Gift that Always Gives Back: The problem with thinking of giving as a one-way, giver-to-receiver transaction, is that giving always gives something to us in return. What we receive can come in many forms, such as: (1) The feeling of satisfaction at having helped another person. (2) The personal fulfillment of meeting goals for your own spiritual growth. (3) The perception of others that we are generous. (4) Favors that might follow in appreciation for your gift. (5) Tax deductions.
Even if we get none of the above in return for giving, when we give for the right reasons we receive God’s favor. Having our Creator pleased with us is no small reward; in fact, it may be the highest reward of all when measuring eternal value.
Why We Give: Far from discouraging us from giving, facing the reality of what we get out of giving puts the focus back where it belongs – on our motive for giving. It’s hard to think too highly of ourselves for giving when we know that we are always receiving something in return. It sort of takes the fun of pious bragging, even to ourselves, right out of it.
When we stop thinking of giving as some form of loss, we see Christ turning loss into gain – our gain. We see Him working through us with His resources for His purposes. We just get to enjoy it all and be part of working out His will on earth as it is in heaven. And that just may be, when we give, the very best thing we get. Why do you tend to give? Have you noticed the benefits that come to you from being generous to others?
Submitted by Chris VanderWaal (Stewardship Secretary)
Taken from www.patheos.com
NEWS AND REPORTS:
ADDRESS UPDATES: Just a reminder—please let us know when your mailing address changes. It costs the church 55 cents when the post office notifies us of your address change.
HISTORICAL CHRISTMAS STROLL: The annual Christmas stroll through the Historic Adventist Village will be December 7 at 6:00 p.m. Come experience an event of the past.
BAGS OF LOVE volunteers want to thank you for your devotions of love and assistance in putting these bags together for the children going to foster care homes.
Holiday Communion: Our communion service this month will be an afternoon Vespers Communion December 14 at 4:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The Bell Choir has been practicing and will be providing a inspirational and relaxing concert during the program. Don't miss this. It is always a highlight during the Christmas Season!
TABERNACLE CONCERTS: We have four outstanding concerts planned for you this winter. January 11, we will celebrate the 100th birthday of our piano with pianist Dick Tunney and his wife Mel. February 1 will be baritone singer Jarrod McNaughton and March 1 will feature our own Buddy Houghtaling. The series concludes April 5 with a special Easter concert with singer Michael Card. This concert will include a choir and string ensemble. The first three concerts are free; tickets for Michael Card’s concert are $10 or $40 per family. Tickets go on sale January 11. There will be a pre-Christmas online sale of Michael Card’s tickets, beginning November 22. For more information, visit our website.
TASTE BUDS ARE TRAINABLE: Did you know we have teachable taste buds, it’s proven—two bites at a time. The key is to just take two bites of every new and REAL food every time. When this is done repeatedly, we will begin to enjoy more wholesome foods that we are not accustomed to. The tongue is continually regenerating new taste buds—so give them a chance to explore. They might learn to accept that which they once spurned. (Rise Rafferty, Health Educator)
SERVICE CANCELLATIONS: If we need to cancel any meetings or programs because of snow or weather issues, cancellations will be listed on WBCK 95.3 FM and WBXX MIX 104.9 FM. We will also put a message on our Tabernacle office by-pass phone line and you can call 962-1132 to get the latest information direct.
Heaven's Most Precious Gift
The story is shared of a woman who waited until the very last minute to send her Christmas cards. She rushed into a store and quickly purchased a package of 50 cards without really looking at them. Still in a big hurry to try and get them into the mail so her friends would receive them before Christmas, she addressed 49 of the 50, signed them without reading the message inside and put them in the mail. On Christmas Day, when things had finally quieted down somewhat, she happened to run across the leftover card. Picking it up off the counter, she finally read the message she had sent to 49 of her friends. Much to her dismay, it read like this: "This card is just to say—a little gift is on the way." Suddenly she realized that 49 of her friends were expecting a gift from her—a gift that would never come.
Have you ever been promised something that never came? It can be a real disappointment. The real tragedy of history would have been if the promised Messiah had never come. But He did. And at Christmas, Christians everywhere acknowledge the birth of Jesus as heaven's most magnificent and precious gift.
For us as Seventh-day Adventists, the story doesn't end there however. Adventists have been raised up and called for the purpose of sharing with others the soon coming of the Lord. That is the reason we exist. And everything we see around us proclaims that He is coming soon—very soon! Curiously, even though many believe Jesus to be the Son of God, most of the world around us go on living like Jesus wasn't the Lord and the second coming will never happen. God calls you and me to live differently than the world. He calls us to show through our lives that we believe the promise of His coming is real. He asks us to be serious about the mission of sharing His truth with those around us and the entire world. What a privilege! What a challenge!
The pastors and office staff would like to wish each one of you a truly joyous Christmas. It is also our prayer that God will bless each one of us so that as we gather together with family and friends our lives will give witness to our belief that the gift of Jesus is indeed the greatest gift that has ever been given.
May you sense the presence of Jesus with you in a special way this holiday season! From the pastoral staff: Pastors Bruce Moore, Bayani Pastrana, David Tenold; Vicki Skinner, Candy Ledoux