One of the problems I have with celebrating Christmas, or the incarnation to be exact, is that in it’s attempt to memorialize the coming of Jesus, we can fall prey to segmenting the Gospel.
Baby Jesus never meant anything to me growing up. That was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The more I study the life and ministry of Jesus in scripture, the more impressed I am with my Creator, the more humbled I am to be favored with His love and forgiveness. This love produces a very real hope – something that helps me see beyond temporary, reaches into eternity and claims, by faith, my life ‘hidden in Christ.’
When we unpack truths in the Gospel, like the virgin birth and story of the long awaited Messiah – it’s richness and delight is a packaged sort of thing. He came to die for sinners, He suffered on a brutal cross for mankind to witness and forever know the sacrificial character of God. Embrace the tragedy of a loving God rejected, not just the providence of his birth. To it together, the humility of the manger, the humility of the Cross. Why? Because in the ugliness of sin and destruction are the seeds of real hope.
Some of you may have had a very difficult year. The longer I live, the more I realize life is truly a series of trials, difficult situations and thankfully, many joys. It’s a mixed bag. Nothing in this life will provide the sort of motivations that move us beyond maintenance and survival. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any desire to simply survive in 2017. I want to tap into the sort of spiritual reality that fills and propels me to trust God beyond my abilities, and sees God move through the coming year.
So my prayer as we move ahead into 2017, that we would live each day in the hope and anticipation of Jesus return. Baby Jesus isn’t going to empower your faith to stand firm and trust Him for tomorrow – The full Gospel will! He, God, came. He, God, lived among us. He, God, suffered and died for us. He, God, rose! He, God, is coming back soon. Let’s celebrate and share His love 364 days in 2017, then set aside one to recall together the amazing Christmas story.
Thankful for your love and support, it’s been a really cool year. This year we, in no particular order:
- Hosted Minsk/Texas Team for Awaken Week
- Expanded our Lighthouse Staff
- Started Lighthouse Studio
- Created a Skatepark!
- Several trips to Minsk & Leadership planning
- Distributed Children’s Bibles to all 1st graders
- Had our first Summer Interns (local students)
- Club 180 Youth has seen a number of hearts respond to Jesus
- Bought 2nd Floor Pellet stove (open daily now for outreach)
- Rented our first Billboard
- Hosted class of students for onsite teaching from Minsk.
- Hosted a city wide VBS (60 kids)
- Sponsored our first Ukrainian for Bible School.
- Took a team of students to Worship Marathon in Minsk.
- Took a team of students to Steiger conference in Kiev.
- Fed +40 Widows monthly, as well as outreaches, blankets.
- Started Pizza and finally Gas on! Fed the town free pizza.
- Launched our first Lighthouse Website! (click to visit!)
- Hosted +10 worship and prayer events this year.
- Bronwyn went to YWAM Germany, and Africa for DTS
- Broderic Augustine College
- Deb and I went to Greece
- I was able to tour 3 days by car Germany (Wittenberg,Hernhut)
- Broderic visited us for Christmas after being away 1.5yrs!
- Brent had his first stint working on farm for summer Canada.
- I tried to farm chickens, but neighbors dogs ate all but one!
- Deb is still amazing and looks 30.
We anticipate some new things this year. We still hope to host some teams. It’s been really cool to see many area churches embrace and get involved at different levels as we do outreach and projects together. The teams of young people really boost the faith of students we are trying to reach for Jesus, and also encourage the saints locally.
We are believing God will open more doors for the Gospel and our families involvement in Belarus especially this year. We ask you to pray, and consider supporting the efforts that will come from this. We want to ultimately see God work, and His Spirit open the hearts of the blind. We believe He will do this through creative means, through music, and even Coffee.
For His Glory,
Bruce & Deb