Every Christmas Eve, I make cinnamon buns for the family. I have used the same recipe for about 15 years, and it is perfect as you can prepare it the night before and then in the morning bake it. All night long the yeast slowly works its magic as the buns sit in refrigerator. When they are taken out in the morning they finish rising and then are ready to bake.
This Christmas, I took the buns out of the fridge and said… this doesn’t look right. I don’t think they rose at all…matter of fact, I don’t remember putting in the yeast. I decided to bake the buns anyway and they were heavy, dry, and disgusting.
A few times in scripture we see yeast (or leaven) discussed. One of the most famous places is when Jesus talks about the yeast of the Pharisees. In Matthew 16:6, “Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Yeast is extremely important in baking, it spreads throughout the whole batch and has a direct affect on the outcome. Likewise, bad yeast in our life, might be small and subtle, but it can spread and have a negative affect. As we enter 2021, may we not allow the yeast of Pharisees to infiltrate us, but instead be filled with the Spirit of God.
What do you bring when you’re invited for dinner? In GM, the answer is almost always a cake! Whether chocolate, or fruit-filled like this one, local bakeries do a great job making their creations both pleasing to the eye and the tastebuds.
Multiplication is a beautiful thing, and this is coming from someone who does not enjoy mathematics! We praise God that one of our original members of the very first Community of Faith that formed years ago is currently not only leading 3-4 small groups on her own, but she is also modeling how to lead for others to observe so they can start and lead new groups of their own. Please pray for B, that as we continue to disciple her, that she would then take what she has learned and pass it on to others who will in turn pass it on….. so His kingdom would continue to multiply!
***A photo of a recent small group meeting B led online.
In the Fall of 2020 I began reading a devotional, “Flourish” by Margaret Feinberg. There was a chapter about being “rooted in trust” where she challenges the reader to grab a jar and write “God’s got this” and whenever God reveals his competence and faithfulness write it down and put it in the jar. Our family opened this jar on New Year’s Day and read note after note of how God had cared for the smallest of details to the hugest of problems in our lives. I challenge you to pray as I prayed, “God show yourself as competent and faithful in my life.” With each God-encounter, your roots of trust will grow deeper, and you’ll live every day just a little more fearless.” (Pg. 45)
When you live in a country that celebrates Christmas in January, you might think you could get away with leaving your decorations up until…I don’t know…February? I tried that our first year in GM, however, a local friend told me that all decorations should be down by Epiphany–January 19. Oops!
Of all of the names of Jesus, Prince of Peace resonates so deeply with me. Recently, on a walk with friends, we listened as one of them described his search for a way to continue in this life. We were able to name what he’s searching for–Peace– and its source. Please join us in praying that Jesus will reveal Himself to our friend, and that his searching will end.
Candles are used for a variety of purposes in both religious and non-religious contexts. In my house, it is rare that a candle isn’t burning as my wife loves to infuse the home with seasonal scents. In the Orthodox Church, candles are used regularly in worship. Parishioners light a candle to symbolize the light of God.
Every year on Christmas Eve (January 6th), devout Orthodox light candles and put them in their windows. Not only do these candles represent the light that has come into the world through Jesus, but also as a reminder that their home is open for Jesus to come. If you remember, when Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, there was no room for them to stay. Our prayer is that Jesus would truly come and dwell in this place, that many would come to know Him and find salvation in Jesus. May all of us also “light a candle” declaring that we are open for Jesus to come and reign in our lives.
One of the most interesting things about GM is the mix of old and new. You can see it in the way people dress, the architecture, and even in the calendar! That’s why many local people actually celebrate New Year’s twice–once on January 1 and then on January 14.
2021–here we go! Please join us in praying for new birth and new life for the people of Green Mountains. A good friend of ours took this photo in our city, and we love the way the sky seems to be breaking open with light and hope. May that be the case for many this year.
The backstory of this photo is that our friend who took it chose to follow Jesus in 2020. Not only that, but his family did as well. Many of you prayed for him, and God answered in mighty ways.
We see God’s faithfulness in drawing people until Himself–come Holy Spirit, open eyes, open hearts, and bring rejoicing in both Heaven and on Earth.