Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

...unless you're a music minister, that is. I get a Sunday off this week, but Kyle and his choir and orchestra are burning the candle at both ends getting ready for our annual Christmas concert this Sunday. I hope you'll be there. I know they will do an outstanding job reminding us of the glory of the God we serve...Emmanuel, God with us.

Don't forget about our two candlelight services on Christmas Eve. And yes, I will get to preach once more before then, on December 21. Next week, I'll give you a little preview of that message here.

In the meantime, here's news on Reaching for the Prize, the spiritual growth emphasis we'll start on January 4 (this article will also appear in your next issue of the Westbury Word:

If you watched the recent Olympics, you probably found yourself inspired as I did. No, I’ll never ran as fast as Usain Bolt, or dunk a basketball like Lebron James and the rest of our basketball team did. And I will never have abs like Michael Phelps (sigh), not to mention his eight gold medals. Yet I found myself marveling at the thought of experiencing a Christian life that would be that exciting and victorious. Imagine no more stumbling into the same old sins, wallowing in the frustrating quagmire of temptations we thought we had overcome. Instead, we conquer sins, standing in the glory of growth and achievement. Imagine a spiritual life where we always knew where God was leading us, and so spiritual disciplines aren’t dull and difficult, but refreshing as an early-morning swim.

Actually the analogy isn’t as ridiculous as it might sound. Paul was rather fond of comparing the spiritual life to athletics. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run is such a way as to get the prize (1 Co. 9:24). Those aren’t just empty words meant to encourage people who are born losers; God’s Spirit is constantly working to make us spiritual champions: Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). All we have to do in order to experience that renewal, that victory, is to get on board with the training program God has already custom-designed for us.

With that in mind, Westbury will begin a spiritual formation campaign called Reaching for the Prize on January 4. For five weeks, all adult and youth members of WBC will be challenged in three ways:

· A daily devotional guide.

· Weekly Bible study lessons led by your own Bible study teachers.

· Sermons that tie into what you’ve learned during the week.

I designed Reaching for the Prize because I believe that WBC should be an Open Door to New Life. That means that people who don’t know Christ should meet Him through our influence. But it also means that every one of our members—from those who have been following Jesus a few months to those who have known Him for decades—should be experiencing new life, consistent growth, and amazing victory. My prayer is that by the time you finish the five weeks of Reaching for the Prize:

You will know exactly what God is trying to accomplish in your life.

You will have a detailed list of goals for your spiritual growth, along with a plan to achieve those goals.

Your Bible study leaders and staff ministers will have a better idea of how to minister to you and the rest of our church.

Please be in prayer for this campaign.

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