Christmas Conspiracy

We want to invite you to join us in a conspiracy during this Christmas season. It’s a conspiracy to take what the devil has meant for harm and to bring glory and honor to Jesus in the midst of it.

Every Christmas season we are faced with the temptation to become consumers and hoard more and more stuff for our loved ones and ourselves. And by the time the season is over, “the most wonderful time of the year” has become “the most stressful time of the year.” Why stressful? The stress of money to buy what everyone wants, or what we think they want; the stress of time to go to every party, every event, decorate, shop, cook, plan, make sure everything is perfect so that we can “enjoy” these holy days. It’s no wonder people feel empty or stressed out when they focus on external things rather than the most important person – Jesus.

At LOFT City this year, we are challenging our people to fight against this consumerist mentality and instead make a difference in the life of a family this Christmas season. We’ve introduced to our community what we have called “Christmas Conspiracy.

[pl_blockquote]The Christmas Conspiracy is all about spending less on Christmas gifts in order to give more to those that are in need, thereby loving them the way God intended us to. This allows us to worship fully the One that sent His only Son to be born in a manager for the salvation of mankind. Worship Fully. Spend Less. Give More. Love All.[/pl_blockquote]

Through one of teachers who attend our church, we were recently introduced to a nine year old young lady that has been diagnosed with leukemia and also is dealing with diabetes. Her pancreas is enflamed and she has trouble eating. It’s a very delicate situation for her. She is a former student of this teacher. I had the opportunity to go spend an hour with this young lady in the hospital.

She is one of four kids (ages 13,9, 7 and 1). Her dad does yard work but hasn’t been working since the daughter has been in the hospital. Mom is at home taking care of the one year old. They are going through an incredibly hard season full of stress, worry and questions.

We want to conspire to bless this family in a tangible way this season so that they are reminded that there is a good God whose eyes are on them and cares for them. Because of your faithful giving, we had funds available to help cover the balance of their rent for this month.

We want to go even further with this family. For the next eight weeks we will be collecting funds so that we can love this family the way Jesus would love them. Our prayer is that as this family takes care of their precious daughter and other children, the last thing they have to worry about are their finances.

What do we HOPE to do? If we are able to raise enough funds, we want to:

  • Buy all the children Christmas presents this year.
  • Take care of diapers and baby needs for a few months.
  • Cover their rent through the winter season when work is slow for the dad.
  • Provide some extra money for food and expenses.

We want to invite you to join us in on this conspiracy of spending less and giving more, so that this family will be pointed toward a good God this season. I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle John, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:17-18).

You can choose to mail in your donations to LOFT City Church, 525 West Arapaho Road, Suite 30, Richardson, TX 75080.

A People With A Story

The holiday season is upon us and with the holidays often comes time with family. Time with family looks different for everyone, but for me, it usually means telling stories. When I first married George, one of the observations he made as an “outsider” was that mine is a storied family. I had never quite thought about it like that, but he was right. My family is constantly recounting stories from our past, especially on Christmas Eve.

Every year we would return home from church and settle in by the warmth of the fire and glow of the christmas tree to sip eggnog and eat shrimp with cocktail sauce and cheese ball with crackers. My mom would read a corny poem she had written about things that had happened that year and inevitably the stories would start flowing…

We would laugh at the vibrating football table my dad had gotten for Christmas as a kid and recall my sister’s tears the year my mom forgot to put any of her presents under the tree. Soon the conversation might turn to how accident prone I am, everyone recounting where they were when they found out I was hit by a car, what a diva my sister was growing up, or how my parents would strap my brother to his chair with a belt at the dinner table when he wouldn’t sit still. I could go on and on but the point is these stories are important to me. They are a part of my history and have played a significant role in shaping who I am – the good and the not so good.

Recounting stories like these brings my family together, it unifies us as we tell our common history. We remember and we’re filled with joy and gratitude, hope and love, privileged to know and to be known. Some of you may be able to relate and others may not, but no matter what your biological family is like, when you entered the family of God you became part of a storied family.

We as God’s people share a common history. We too are a family that has been shaped by stories: stories of creation in all its majesty, the triumph of the exodus, the sorrow of prophets and stubbornness of kings… stories of stunning miracles and the long-awaited Messiah, of bitter death and a resurrection of hope…stories of the early church and persecution. All too often we stop there and simply look forward to the promised end. But God’s story continues… in catacombs and cathedrals, in monasteries and missionary movements in the lives of our mentors and friends.

This is the story we are living out now at LOFT City Church, and the telling of this story brings about growth and unity in the family of God. We tell and retell, remember and reflect, and are filled with joy and gratitude, hope and love, privileged to know and also to be known. This is why God’s call to “remember” is so prevalent throughout all of Scripture – eat and remember, drink and remember, sing and remember, gather and remember who God is and what He has done. In the remembering and telling, the story shapes us and binds us to our Father and our family. God’s story is a story of grace and redemption, brokenness and healing, failure and hope, one in which WE play an integral part. This holiday season, as we gather around fires and meals, lattes and trees, let’s remember and tell God’s story, our story, to each other and to the world – inviting them to join the family.

“Give thanks to Yahweh; call on His name;
proclaim His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him; sing praise to Him;
tell about all His wonderful works!
Honor His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice.
Search for the Lord and for His strength;
seek His face always.
Remember the wonderful works He has done,
His wonders, and the judgements He has pronounced,
you offspring of Israel His servant,
Jacob’s descendants – His chosen ones…
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Proclaim His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,

His wonderful works among all peoples.” – 1 Chronicles 16:8-13,23-24

Close up photo of the church mosaic by avmedved. Dollarphotoclub

Whoever started Christmas should be found, strung up, and shot!

A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After hours of scanning the shelves for toys and gifts, and after hearing her children begging for all the things they wanted, she finally made it to the elevator. The doors opened and the elevator was packed with people. She managed to squeeze in with her bags and children. When the doors closed she let out an exhausted sigh and said, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot!” From the back of the elevator a voice responded, “Don’t worry, we already crucified him!”

In the busyness of the season we call Christmas, it is easy to forget who started this whole season. Cards have to be written and mailed out, parties need to be attended, the children have their programs, shopping bags filled, lights hung, trees decorated, snow shoveled, house cleaned, relatives entertained and more! It’s exhausting just typing all of this.

[pl_blockquote]On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Corinthians 1:10b)[/pl_blockquote]

Why is why we need to keep a clear focus: Christmas isn’t about us! It is about Jesus. It is about God who became flesh. It is about the One who left the perfect home for a smelly manger. It’s about Him who exchanged the worship of angels to hang around with thieves, liars and murderers. It’s about the One traded the robe of majesty to be clothed in swaddling clothes. It’s about the One who can hold the universe in the palm of His hand, but gave that up to be conceived in the womb of a teenage girl. Its about the sinless, perfect, Son of God who came to die for sinners like me.

So let’s not forget who started Christmas or why He started it. This busy season, remember Him no matter what you are doing. Whether it is wrapping a gift or cooking a meal. Think about Him at your children’s programs or while shopping in the mall.

At the end of the day, this season is about putting Jesus first. Because He put His life on the line for us. He humbled Himself and became a man – a man who lived and died a once-and-for-all death for our sins. The salvation of our lives was more important than the saving of His life.

[pl_blockquote]Question: As things get busy, is your focus on the stuff of Christmas or the One who started Christmas?[/pl_blockquote]

Photo courtesy of ©Christopher Vu under the Creative Commons License 3.0

The Firstborn Of All Creation

This Christmas season is special in the Chacko household because on May 30 of this year our third son, Micah, blessed us with his presence into our world and lives. His existence began nine months earlier in his mother’s womb. Before that he didn’t exist at all – even though the Bible says that the days ordained for him were written in God’s book before even one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). His story is pretty straightforward. He was conceived and entered the world on a certain date.

The birth of Jesus is kind of similar, yet dissimilar to our births. He was born two thousand years ago to a mother in a city called Bethlehem. Yet, his existence pre-dated His conception. When the eternal, immortal God became mortal, it presents a difficulty of where and how we start telling His story?

[pl_blockquote]He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)[/pl_blockquote]

Maybe that is why none of the stories of Jesus’ birth in the Bible start in the same place. Matthew starts his story with a long genealogy; tracing the history of Jesus all the way back to Abraham. Mark begins his story of Jesus with a prophecy from Isaiah about a messenger who prepares the way for the One who will come. Luke takes a very historical perspective and talks about the days when Herod was king. John goes back to a time before there was time when He says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then just a few sentences later he talks about how “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Apostle Paul starts the story by saying that Jesus is the “firstborn over all creation.”

See the story of Jesus is completely different from ours. God doesn’t fit into our boxes, not in any way, especially in respect to the birth of Jesus. He was there before He was born. Think about that. That’s fascinating. The wonder surrounding the birth of Jesus, the fact that it is something bigger and more complex than my birth and your birth, makes it extra special. It points to the fact that there nothing regular about the birth of Jesus. It’s extraordinary and supernatural. And because it is, because its both like ours and unlike our stories – because it’s God’s Story – this Christmas season, we can rejoice.

[pl_blockquote]Question: How does your story intersect with the story of Jesus?[/pl_blockquote]

Photo courtesy of ©Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery under the Creative Commons License 3.0