The Rock Loudoun and FCA Make a Perfect Match for Reaching Teens

Wouldn’t it be great if middle and high school Rock students could reach their classmates for Christ at their schools? They can! And they do!

Through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), students lead on-campus ministries at several local schools. Believing and non-believing students participate. “Some non-believing students attend because they consider themselves Christians,” said Katherine Watson, Associate Director of The Rock Loudoun. “They know they’re not Muslim and they’re not Jewish, so they think they must be Christian.”

“And it really is student led,” said Donnie Cohn, Pastor of The Rock Loudoun.

“That’s the best part!” Katherine chimed in.

“The student leaders grow a lot through these groups by learning to lead a Bible study and building their confidence in evangelism,” Donnie said.

Why FCA?

Donnie Cohn speaking to FCA students

About three years ago, Donnie and Katherine felt the Lord challenging them to reach students out in the community rather than expecting them to show up at church. They chose to work with FCA because of the organization’s focus on reaching students where they are. “And there’s a little bit of a cool factor with the sports aspect,” Donnie said.

An FCA huddle needs a teacher-sponsor and student leaders. Many also have an outside volunteer leader who supports the student leaders—Donnie and Katherine are outside volunteer leaders. The teacher-sponsors are limited in providing spiritual leadership because of their role in the school, but a volunteer from the community can help in that capacity.Currently, Donnie supports FCA huddles at Heritage High School and Harper Park Middle School (Harper Park students become Heritage students), and he is working to start another. Donnie also periodically is invited to other FCA huddles to speak.

Katherine supports Stone Mill Middle School, Farmwell Middle School, and Broad Run High School. “Farmwell feeds into Broad Run, and I’ve seen the middle school students grow into leaders at the high school. It’s cool to see them grow,” Katherine said.

Bringing Students to Christ

Natalie Supp leading a devotional with her FCA group

“My passion is that revival comes to Loudoun County,” Katherine said. “I think that starts through this generation. And if you can reach the kids then you can reach the parents. If you get kids fired up about Jesus, they just want to share it with their friends. I just get really excited!”

Donnie said, “Fifty percent or more of the students at a typical FCA huddle won’t be in church the following Sunday. So, we really are getting them where they are and giving them a chance to hear about Jesus. That’s unique,” he said. “It provides opportunities that the typical youth group outreach model doesn’t.”

Fruitful Outreach

This ministry has been fruitful!

  • Rock students have been inspired to start FCAs at their own schools.
  • High schoolers have begun serving as leaders in the Rock’s middle school ministry.
  • Donnie and Katherine have prayed with students in FCA huddles to accept Christ!
  • Students who have not been in church have come to our church and been baptized.
  • They even have an intern this year, Kennedy Knight, whom Donnie met through the Heritage High School FCA.

Students praying at "See You at the Pole"“I got involved in FCA because my brother was in it,” Kennedy said. “There were only 5 members then. Now, four years later, we have 30-40!

“The first year that I led, I did the games. The next year I led messages. I do not like public speaking! I had to fully rely on the Lord for strength.”

“I love the fun element to it. It breaks the stereotype that all Christians are boring!” Kennedy laughed.

“It’s common to put on a façade. We’ll act like everything’s perfect. (FCA is) a safe place for people to share what’s really going on.

“But my favorite part,” Kennedy said, “is seeing non-believers step up and ask questions. For some, it’s the only good news that they get to hear.”

Are You Inspired?

Student leading an FCA devotional

If you are a parent of a Rock student, your student has the opportunity to participate in the Rock’s FCA outreach. There is a list of FCA huddles in Loudoun County schools available on the Rock web site (scroll down to “School Outreach“). Your teen does not have to be an athlete to participate. Many FCA leaders and regular attenders do not participate in organized sports.

Volunteering

If you’d like to get involved with your teen’s FCA, they are always looking for parents to help with communications and snacks. Donnie or Katherine can put you in touch with the leaders at your student’s school.

Supporting

If you would like to support FCA financially, then please support the local FCA staff. They raise their own support, and that’s their salary. They really are doing missionary work. Go to the Loudoun FCA web site to donate.

Praying

Prayer is always appreciated! Please pray that God would build up student leaders and bring more students to hear about the love of Jesus Christ because #LoudounPrays.

 

 

Uganda Update 6–Juvenile Detention Center

January 2, 2016

by Jackie Care, #LoudounUganda Team Member

Pastor’s Conference for Saint Gate’s

This morning we had the wonderful experience of getting to sit under the teaching of Cyrus and Dave at a pastor’s conference for Saint Gate’s. Cyrus taught us lessons about grace through the stories of his personal experiences. Dave gave a sermon on marriage that got us all thinking about how we can better our relationships.

Juvenile Detention Center

After the conference, we went to the government-run Juvenile Kids at the Juvenile Detention CenterDetention Center. The youngest age of a prisoner there is 12 years old and the oldest is 17. Many of the kids get sent to the detention center because of small things like petty theft.

Picked Up Off the Streets

This facility also houses kids who were picked up off the street but didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. These children are significantly younger – some as young as 4 years old.

Building’s Updates

I visited this detention center 2 years ago. At that time, the buildings were gray, the floor had large chunks of concrete missing, there were not enough beds, the kitchen had been involved in a fire, and all of the walls and doors were distorted and falling.Juvenile Detention Center

Today when we drove up to the center, the walls were painted bright colors, the kitchen had been renovated, and there were new mattresses on the beds. It was an incredible contrast and it brought us a lot of hope as to what ministry can do to influence some of the poorest places in Uganda.

Sharing the Gospel

Vijay shared the gospel and several children decided to respond by accepting the Lord. We spent a long time there playing with the kids. Several girls have babies at the prison because of getting pregnant there, which was very hard for us to see. Many of the kids seem so depressed and needed the hope that the gospel and playing with them delivered.

Few Visitors

It was such a blessing to be able to visit this facility. They only get a few visitors per year (we signed the guestbook and found only 8 pages of visitors separating our names from Dave’s name last year). We were so glad that we were able to go. And we look forward to what the Lord is going to do in the future.

Uganda Update 5–Children in Luwero

January 1, 2016

by Chris Gordy and Kari Wilson, #LoudounUganda Team Members

Sister Barbara in Luwero

Today was a shorter day of ministry since we were recovering from our late night New Year’s Eve celebration. We took a short road trip to Luwero and visited the local church.

We were greeted by Sister Barbara who was overflowing with joy and happiness upon our arrival. She was so excited to welcome us that she wouldn’t let us get off the bus before giving each team member a hug.

Barbara is an amazing example of God’s faithfulness through her love and commitment to the children of Uganda. Watching her serve these children and seeing the sacrifices she makes helps us understand the importance of having Godly leaders within these communities. It’s an honor to be able to stand alongside and support local leaders like Sister Barbara.  All of us were impacted through our interaction with Sister Barbara and the kids.

Clothes for the Luwero Children

We were able to provide roughly 300 pounds of clothes for the local children in the area. This church does not receive visitors very often, so to be able to come and bless the church was an amazing experience. Because of this, these kids were a little more reserved than others we’ve met. But once we started spending time with them they opened right up. They grabbed our hands, sang us songs, and played games with us. We also organized a race with the kids which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Pastor Fred and Wife Liz in Kampala

Dave with Pastor Fred & his new motorcycle

After visiting Luwero, we met Pastor Fred and his wife Liz for dinner in Kampala. Both Pastor Fred and Liz shared their testimonies, and we were able to pray for them and their ministry at Saints Gate and Destiny.

It was a great ending to a very rewarding day of ministry.

Editor’s Note: The photo on the right is Dave Kroeze with Pastor Fred and his new motorcycle. Pastor Fred had to take a taxi 30 minutes to get to church, paying money he doesn’t have. He also is involved in 3 communities and had difficulty getting around. MBC Loudoun provided the $1200 to buy him the motorcycle to get around.

Uganda Update 4–Mulago Hospital, Destiny School, & New Year’s Eve Bash

December 31, 2015

by Chris Gordy, #LoudounUganda Team Member

Mulago Hospital

Today we began by visiting the children’s section of the Intensive Care Unit at Mulago Hospital. As we made our way to the hospital, we were stunned by the business that was set up dead center in front of the hospital. This business specialized in casket making for the deceased because there is only two ways out of the hospital and that’s dead or alive.

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the hosts and escorted directly to the NICU. It was difficult for us at first to adjust to the environment and see some of the sickness up close that these little children had. It was encouraging to see that despite their circumstance they were still filled with joy.

Destiny School  Dave Kroeze with kids at the orphanage

Destiny itself is an orphanage and a primary and secondary school consisting of 1700 students. We visited the campus and got a better feel for the vision and need for the future of this great place.

We went on a tour of the multipurpose room that was built by us through our Rock Ministry. This addition has fulfilled a great need for Destiny and is being used as a cafeteria, conference room, and training center.

As a whole, we as Mclean Bible Church have a very important relationship and want to continue our partnership in tangible ways that will impacts lives for the future.at the orphanage

New Year’s Eve Bash

I think all of us can agree that we have never experienced a New Year’s Eve quite like this one. We brought in the New Year by worshiping together at Saint’s Gate Church. The Ugandan people were so excited to have us spend time together as one church.

When we got off the bus the children ran up to us like we were family and would not let go of our hands. The tradition here in Ugandan churches is to pray the new year in through the entire night. The worship was very lively. The entire building was filled with the joy of the Lord. They all grabbed any nearest object (chairs, purses, plants, baskets, etc.) to raise in the air to symbolize carrying their burdens as the Jews carried their burdens out of Egypt.

Each of us are establishing close relationships with the staff and members of Saint’s Gate Church. Cyrus preached the Gospel message and 15 people came to the front and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior!

This service was an amazing experience. Our God is the God of every country, and it is such a blessing to worship with believers in a different culture.

Happy New Year!

Editor’s Note: Dave posted a video of the New Year’s Eve bash on Facebook. You’ll find photos of other parts of the trip on Facebook as well. http://www.facebook.com/mbcloudoun

A Christmas Miracle–Right Here in Loudoun County

by Cheryl Krichbaum

When God wants something done, it gets done!

A Christmas Miracle Right here in Loudoun County

Here is a true story of a Christmas miracle that happened right here in Loudoun County through MBC Loudoun’s Gifts of Joy. (Many of the names below have been changed for privacy.)

Once upon a time not too long ago (November 2015), in the village of Leesburg was a young girl named Emma who really wanted an American Girl Doll. What better way to feel like an American than to have an American Girl Doll?

But, her parents were poor. They lived in a trailer park. They didn’t speak English. And some of her family were still in Central America.

In the meantime in another part of Leesburg, a mom named Susan saw a deal on TV for an American Girl Doll. She bought it for her daughter who is about the same age as Emma. The doll was adorable! She came dressed in pink. She had a beautiful hat and a sweet nightgown for bedtime.

Only the daughter didn’t want the doll. “Thanks, Mom, but I don’t really like dolls.”

The doll laid in her box, waiting.

But God had a plan.

It was Christmas season, and I was having a conversation with friends Gifts of Joy Luke 2:10-11on Facebook about opportunities to give that would involve our kids. Susan and another friend, Grace, asked, too. I told all of them about Gifts of Joy, which is McLean Bible Church’s version of Angel Tree but for under-privileged kids identified through our partnerships with Loudoun County schools, explained how it worked, and even provided the link to the web page.

Marie, my friend who goes to church at the Loudoun campus, liked the idea of participating in Gifts of Joy, but Susan and Grace did not get involved. Perhaps it was a little uncomfortable to go to a new church to pick up a gift request.

Weeks later when all the gifts were turned in, I asked Outreach Pastor Dave Kroeze if all the gifts were purchased. “I still have a few requests to fill,” he said.

I told Dave that I’d check with my friends on Facebook to see if they’d like to shop for kids at the last minute.

Grace said yes. Susan said that she had found another opportunity to give. But then Susan sent me a private message asking if I knew anyone who wanted an American Girl Doll.

Wow! Well, I didn’t know but offered to take the doll for a future giving opportunity. I thought perhaps the church could give the doll to a homeless girl for her birthday.

At the office the next day, Dave gave me two gift requests for Grace and then started walking away saying, “Now to figure out how to get an American Girl Doll.”

“What!?!”

Dave explained, “We don’t usually take gift requests for anything this expensive, but that’s all this little girl wants.”"God wanted her to have that doll." said Dave Kroeze

“I have one for you!”

“Really?” But Dave didn’t seem as surprised as I was. Later when we were telling this story to LeAnne Smart, Director of Kids Quest, Dave said matter-of-factly, “God wanted her to have that doll.”

I sent a message to Susan to confirm. Yes! She wanted to donate that doll, saying “I knew I shouldn’t sell it!”

That night I stopped by Susan’s house to get the doll. Her daughter was at the door. She was shy, but I could tell that she was excited about giving the doll.

She wanted to give the girl all her money.She held out a ziplock bag of coins to me. “What’s this?” I asked.

She didn’t want to talk, so Susan explained: “She wanted to give the girl all her money.”

Cue the tears!

“Oh, how sweet!” I gave her a half hug–after all, we had just met! Then I showed Susan’s daughter the two dove tags with the gift request on one and gave her the other–the ornament–to keep. I told her that the ornament was so that she would remember the girl and be reminded to pray for her.

So, you would think that this story is over. But, no, God wasn’t finished.

Dave, his wife Meredith, and Lori (our MBC Loudoun Campus Administrator) decided to buy outfits for the American Girl Doll, a matching outfit for Emma to wear, and the puppy that is the doll’s companion.Emma and her American Girl Doll in matching outfits

Dave’s mom, who lives in Chicago, found out about this story, and she bought a picnic set for the doll.

Dave’s brother, who lives in California, found out about this story, and he bought outfits for the doll.

Delivery day came. Claudia Rabe, our wonderfully dedicated volunteer at Embrace Catoctin, went with Dave and me to translate. Claudia is so good about making sure each family knows about the resources available at Catoctin Elementary. They call her “the church lady,” and I try not to think of Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live. If you know Claudia, you know she is not uptight at all! And everyone at Catoctin loves her.

We went during the school day so that Emma wouldn’t know. It was a privilege to go along. It was a privilege to be involved at all. I didn’t buy the doll. I didn’t buy any outfits. I just “connected the dots.”

I drove into the trailer park, remembering what it was like to live in a trailer. But the trailer park I lived in wasn’t so packed. So many homes, so close together.

I was 10 when we moved out of the trailer park. I don’t think I had been in a trailer since. Everything seemed so small. I was actually a little envious, thinking about how little time I would have to spend cleaning if I lived in a smaller home.

Then I felt guilty–what I have is never good enough, is it? I changed my attitude. God has provided for me, and I am grateful.

Emma’s mom was quietly excited. Through Claudia, we found out that Emma’s parents had explained that they couldn’t afford the doll. Emma said, “Okay, I’ll just have to wait.”

We also found out that Emma’s birthday is in January, and she was hoping that by then she could get an American Girl Doll.

Wouldn’t she be surprised?

Dave said, “Well, the dog that goes with the doll hasn’t arrived, yet, so I’ll wrap it up, and you can give it to her for her birthday.”

I remember Christmas in our trailer. I can only imagine, though, to be new to the United States. To be learning a new language. To want to fit in. To know that your family is too poor to get you what you really want.

I wonder what it was like to see her open that gift.

But God knows. He did His Christmas miracle. And someday when I’m in heaven, I’m sure he’ll show me the movie reel.

It’s a privilege, Lord. Thank You for using me. I can only wonder what seeds You planted this Christmas day.

And I continue to pray for Emma as well as for Susan’s daughter. Will you join me?

THE END

Do you have a Christmas miracle story? Share it in the comments below.

Uganda Update 3–Clinic, Slums, & Fellowship

December 30, 2015

by Jackie Care, #LoudounUganda Team Member

Day 3 at the Medical Clinic

Today was the third day for the medical clinic at Saint Gate’s church. Most of us changed up our roles today so that we could get a different perspective of the medical clinic. We have gotten down the system of the clinic, but God had many surprises for us throughout the day that showed us His power.

Sharing the Gospel at the Clinic

Vijay, Kari, Pascal, and Jackie were responsible for sharing the gospel and their testimonies for the patients coming into the clinic. It was amazing how God gave each one of them peace when speaking to the crowd. They each recognized the fact that the Lord was going to speak through them.

Thirty-five people accepted Christ today through the hearing of the gospel. One man, who came in wearing garb that signified he was a Muslim, was at the front accepting the Lord by the end of our message. He said that he was giving his life to Jesus with “all of his heart.”

We had opportunities to pray with many people who were struggling with physical, emotional, and spiritual problems.

Medical Tests and More

Mary Beth was trained to take Jackie’s place and administer the HIV/Typhoid/Malaria/Syphilis tests.

Karen continued to her role in using her medical background to help the patients. Muyambi, Erin, and Christine were keeping the clinic running smoothly through the day.

Worship!

Sean had an amazing experience getting to play his guitar amongst some of the most talented worship leaders in Uganda. He said that he was so nervous at first, but he had an incredible experience with the Lord that gave him complete peace, which was all the confidence he needed.

Walking the Slums of Katwe as a Team

We walked through the slums of Katwe and got to see the community as a team. We all had emotional experiences in seeing the people who live there.

Karen’s takeaway from Katwe was that we walk into places like this and we feel bad for the people because they live in these conditions. But the people there smiled to all of us and seemed genuinely happy and friendly.

Fellowship

Our team was blessed with being able to spend a few hours together over dinner, laughing and discussing the day. God was faithful to keep us not only safe and healthy but joyful and feeling purposeful.

We have shed tears and felt the pain of each other’s tough experiences–this is why it is all worth it. We have come to Uganda with the hope that we will help them, but they are changing the way we see the world and see our own lives.

Uganda Update 2-The Clinic, The Slums, The Conference

December 29, 2015

By: Sean, Kari, and Dave, #LoudounUganda Team Members

Working at the Clinic

Today, the team spent another day at Saint’s Gate Church working with the medical clinic. Because we were there yesterday, we all knew our roles and the people with whom we were working, making the process as smooth as possible.

The clinic served 357 people the first day. Because the needs of the individuals were so great, the church ran out of necessary medicine. MBC Loudoun was able to purchase all of the medicine and supplies needed to serve enough people for today and tomorrow. It was such a blessing to be able to serve the church in this way.

Chris, Vijay, and Christine continued to present the Gospel upstairs while the rest of the team worked in the clinic downstairs. Chris spoke with a man whose family had converted from Islam to Catholicism, and the man was considering converting back to Islam. The man was going through a really rough time. After hearing Chris’s testimony, he came forward and made the decision to follow Christ.

Walking the Slums of Katwe

Erin, Renee, and Sean had the opportunity to take a two-hour walk through the slums of Katwe and got to experience the poverty firsthand.

Sean was walking through the slums and had amassed a following of small children. He was approached by a baby who was barely able to walk. The baby had crossed an unstable bridge over one of the many sewers running about 4 feet underneath. The bridge was made of wood with a few nails sticking up. The baby grabbed onto Sean’s shorts. Sean felt like Paul and Jesus in the New Testament as people tried to grab onto their garments and tassels for healing, although Sean was most likely grabbed because he stuck out like a sore thumb!

The baby turned away because Sean was focusing on the older kids who could understand him, but then Sean realized that this baby was the “least of these” and deserved just as much attention as any other kid living in the slums because his hope is most likely the same.

Sean started to sing the chorus of “10,000 Reasons” to the small baby, dressed only in white underwear with no shoes. Although the child was unaware of anything going on, other than that he was getting the attention he was looking for, it was a spiritual experience for Sean because he felt like he was singing to Jesus himself, feeling that whatever you do for the “least of these, you do for [Jesus].”

Dave at Pastor’s Conference

Dave had a great time at the pastor’s conference in Kigumba. Over 500 pastors participated and we were able to provide the additional bibles for each of them. He mentioned that he had never seen a group of people so impacted by the gift of a Bible.

The lives of those at the conference have been transformed, and they have requested that we come back next year to continue their education. We look forward to continue our partnership with these village pastors in the coming years, Lord willing.

One of the greatest moments of this conference was seeing one pastor, a teenager, and a child give their lives to Jesus for the first time. This pastor confessed to Dave that he had never been told the Gospel before yet he was overseeing the spiritual needs of the village without the resources or salvation to serve them effectively. This pastor has an entire new outlook on ministry because of what the Lord has done!

God has been glorified in the far reaches of the villages. Disciples who make disciples are being made.

Uganda Update 1–In the Slums of Katwe

December 28, 2015

by Kari Wilson, #LoudounUganda Team Member

Today was an amazing day. The Lord did more than we could have ever asked or imagined. Our ministry took place at St. Gates Church in the slums of Katwe. The church was running a free medical clinic for people in the area, offering treatment for acute medical problems and screenings for HIV, Typhoid, and Malaria.

Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS still effects 7.3% of the Ugandan population and many people have been effected by a cholera epidemic, so it felt purposeful for us to be a part of the treatment process for these people.

The Lord definitely stretched each one of us out of our comfort zones today as we were all facing challenging roles that we have never experienced before. Vijay was responsible for sharing the gospel to the groups of people coming into the clinic. Although he was extremely nervous to speak in front of a group of people, our Ugandan native team member Muyambi said that once he got up to speak, Vijay’s words were flowing perfectly, and it was apparent that God was speaking through him to share His specific message.

Sean, Christine, and Chris had similar experiences when sharing their testimonies to patients. Christine said, “I would have never been one to talk about myself in front of a group of people but when the opportunity arose I felt strongly on my heart to share my testimony to them.” Through the sharing of the testimonies and gospel message, 40-50 people decided to accept the Lord today at the Saint Gate’s Church!

Karen, Jackie, Kari, Erin and Renee were put into medical roles that they had never experienced before. The team faced the challenge of helping the Ugandan medical team with patients due to a language barrier. Hundreds of patients were seen each day and received free screenings and medications as needed.

Erin, Kari, and Renee spent hours taking notes from each patient on their symptoms and doing the best they could to direct people through the clinic.

Jackie facilitated the testing for HIV, Malaria, and Typhoid.

Many of our team members had never seen such poverty or poor conditions in their life and were deeply effected emotionally, yet it was an amazing opportunity to show us how other people live and that despite the poverty, people were still very happy.

God showed us today what it meant to rely on Him in our weakness. We realized that we all have our roles in the body of this team. Sometimes it’s hard to see God in the midst of all the chaos that we experienced today, but overall the Lord sees and was the ultimate Director of the medical clinic.

As far as our team is concerned, we have become so cohesive that we have already established great relationships through laughing, praying, and worshiping together.

Don’t Lose the Wonder–Swaddling Cloths

Growing up in a Christian home, I heard the Christmas story every year. We did advent calendars and Scripture memory together, which I treasure nowadays as an older believer.

Ashamedly there were some years I coasted through Christmas season with a “yeah, yeah, I got this Jesus’ birthday stuff” mentality, without truly pondering the “reason for the season.”Jesus, our King, was welcomed into this world with no fanfare, no Facebook post, no fancy birthday announcement, no Pinterest-worthy outfit.

However, one year in seminary, a professor camped out with one phrase of the Christmas story that we naturally skim over with each reading: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

Swaddling cloths? Like the nice, linen-type receiving blankets that all newborns are placed in? Not exactly…

In the days of Jesus, it was customary for those traveling to wear “swaddling clothes” underneath their garments in the event that they would pass away. This way their body would already have the necessary covering as to not make someone “unclean” in touching a dead body.

So why would Mary and Joseph wrap their newborn child, who they had just given life to, in such a morbid exterior?

Because they knew He was born to die. Both Mary and Joseph had been told this child would be the Savior of the world, God’s chosen Son, to be the ultimate sacrifice and bring redemption to His people (Luke 1:32-33; Matthew 1:21-23).

But it doesn’t end there. Another mention of swaddling clothes is found as the angels triumphantly proclaimed Jesus’ birth to the shepherds in the fields nearby.

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 NKJV

Why would swaddling clothes description be an important enough detail to share with the shepherds? You would think a baby laying in a manger, outside of an inn would be obvious enough.

These shepherds only job in life was to watch sheep. They were to care for dumb animals. Dirty animals. They never darkened the doors of the temple to offer worship or sacrifice. They most likely never heard the Law of the Lord or any part of the great Scriptures read aloud.

Instead, they took care of the pure, spotless lambs that would be chosen and used as sacrifices in each year of the Atonement. These lambs that roamed at their feet could have been the ones that were chosen to take on the sins of the people.

In order to choose these lambs, they had to be carefully inspected to not have a blemish or imperfection. How do you think they were able to inspect wiggly little lambs with four limbs and loud mouths baa’ing? They would wrap these lambs up in swaddling clothes to inspect for any spot. Death clothes, because sheep were born to serve a purpose through their death.

And that first Christmas night, “there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock” (Luke 2:8) when they were the first to receive the news that “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11) was born for them. The one, perfect, saving Lamb of God had arrived!

Everyone who heard the story from the shepherds were left in wonder (Luke 2:18). Here I am – left in wonder – that God would make it so clear to the least of society that He had come, just as prophesied (see Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:1-2, Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1-10, Jeremiah 23:5).

Jesus, our King, was welcomed into this world with no fanfare, no Facebook post, no fancy birth announcement, no Pinterest-worthy outfit. He was wrapped in death clothes and welcomed by shepherds, the lowest in society. That is the wonder of Jesus. The most unlikely of people and places. Yet that is where the greatest glory is received – in the individual hearts of those who seek Him out.

Today, don’t lose the wonder – that Jesus was born to die, which He makes known so that we will go tell others!

At the Christmas Eve Services, We Will Sing to Him!

When I think of Christmas, I think of “Silver Bells” by Bing Crosby and Elvis’ Christmas album.

Since about age 5, we have always played “The Chipmunks’ Christmas” while we decorate the tree in Marion, Ohio, my hometown.

All secular music!Christmas Eve Services at McLean Bible Church Loudoun

But for me, these are the sounds of Christmas. They initiate a feeling and emotion that begins to draw me into the real sense of magic.

Even though they’re secular songs, they still are in the spirit of love and giving.

The week before Christmas, it’s all classical for me. Handel’s “Messiah”–things like that.

The night before Christmas, I get alone and listen to several different version of “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” It has a haunting melody–both mysterious and celebratory.–“Rejoice! Rejoice!”

It’s a lament. So very few songs are laments, crying out “O come o come Emmanuel!” It has a very Messianic feel to it. It’s my favorite sacred Christmas Song.

Music is the emotional gateway to memories. It’s universal.–Music is universal. Everyone, no matter where in the world, sings.

We are commanded to sing to God. God loves it when we sing!

Whenever I would visit my Grandma, who was not a Christian, she would make me sing to her. Now imagine God asking me to sing–It gives us keen insight into God seeing us as His children, loving it when we sing to Him.

At the Christmas Eve services, we will sing to Him!

At the 4 and 6 pm services, it’ll be a family party! “Joy to the World!“, “Hark, the Harold Angels Sing,” “Christ Has Come” by Big Daddy Weave. All amped up!

At the 8 pm service, we’ll sing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Silent Night.”

What music draws you into the real sense of Christmas magic? Comment below–I want to know!