February 5
5:00-6:30 p.m.

Whether downtown or in your town, church is about community. Gather and get to know other FBJ people that live in your neck of the woods for a quick time of fellowship and food at our first ever Community Nights meetup. Host homes will be scattered throughout Madison, Ridgeland, Flowood, Brandon, Clinton, and Jackson so we can simultaneously gather as a church family in our very own neighborhoods. Sign you and your family up today!

christmas at fbj blog

by: Bonnie Snellgrove
Preschool MInister

God’s Great Love

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

When we think about scripture and all the holidays in the year, we tend to think more on this verse at Easter than we do at Christmas. This is our focus verse this month with our FBJ Preschool because it helps them see an aspect of Christmas that their minds can easily grasp, LOVE.

There are scriptures and songs that we read and sing with preschoolers and children that I feel as adults we tend to just read or sing without much thought to the meaning because we have heard them so many times. When we stop and dwell on the words and meanings, they are still very applicable to our lives today just as when we were young children.

Let’s look at the first part of this verse and how it shows us the importance of love in the Christmas story.

“For God so LOVED the world…”

God loves each and every one of us, no matter our age. As a mother, I look at my children and think my heart can hardly contain all the love I feel for them. Think about how much Mary loved her baby boy. Can you imagine how God feels when He considers His children?

“That He gave His only SON…”

And because He loves us so much, He came down. He came as a baby who needed to be cared for. He came so that we might know that He is not so far above us that He cannot hear our cries for help. He came so that we may see His love on full display. So that we may know Him and experience the fullness of His grace, mercy, and love.

As we go through the holidays and the days beyond, I challenge you to take the time to pause and reflect on how immense and incredible God’s love really is. How can we show this kind of love to our family, neighbors, co-workers, and everyone around us? I pray that we will all shine His light and love brightly into a world who desperately needs a Savior.

As we go through the holidays and the days beyond, I challenge you to take the time to pause and reflect on how immense and incredible God’s love really is. How can we show this kind of love to our family, neighbors, co-workers, and everyone around us?

christmas at fbj blog

by: Zach DePriest
Student Pastor

The Prince of Peace

The Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cooler weather (at least on some days), getting to eat potato soup with way too much cheese in it, seeing the Christmas lights as I drive around town, and listening to my favorite Christmas album on repeat – starting after Thanksgiving of course. As much as I enjoy the Christmas season for those reasons, there are several reasons the Christmas season can be a difficult one for everyone. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the season can make Christmas seem anything but peaceful. We might finally experience a little bit of peace once all of the food is prepared, exams are finished, deadlines at work have been met, and all the decorations have been put up – but even then we have this feeling inside knowing it won’t last long and that dishes will need to be cleaned, spring semester will soon begin, holidays at work only last so long, and the attic will soon be calling for the boxes of decorations to be put back in place.

As peaceful as we picture Christmas to be, we often times miss out on taking time to reflect on the true peace of Christmas. I love how John records Jesus’ last night with the disciples on the night of his arrest. Starting in John 13 all the way until his arrest in John 18, we see Jesus have special moments with his disciples and with just Him and the Father while praying. Jesus pours his heart out to the disciples with all sorts of “final words of wisdom” He has for them. In the midst of it all and telling them what was going to happen, He tells them to find peace in Him. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to just have peace that things might be okay one day. He doesn’t tell them to find peace in the season or in each other. He tells them that in the days, months, and years ahead when their life will be challenging because of what they believe and are going to teach, when their master is no longer walking with them, when it seems like all hope is lost, to find peace in Him. That is the peace of Christmas – found only in Jesus. My prayer is that we never seek our peace in anything other than Jesus. Seeking anywhere else will leave us in a place where we never have or understand true peace. Our peace is found in Jesus – the Prince of Peace.

 

Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to just have peace that things might be okay one day. He doesn’t tell them to find peace in the season or in each other. He tells them when their life will be challenging because of what they believe and are going to teach, when it seems like all hope is lost, to find peace in Him.

christmas at fbj blog

by: Emily Oswalt
Children’s MInister

The Gift of Joy

Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? It’s the most wonderful time of the year and sometimes the most hectic too. Many stores and homes are decorated for Christmas with lights, trees and stockings which are always fun and festive! There are holiday parties, activities, plays, and performances to attend. From creating to cooking to giving, our days are certainly full! So, how do we focus on having a Christ-centered Christmas, remembering the true meaning of Christmas not just during this season but all year round?

If we look back to when Jesus was born, life was hectic too. It was tax season. Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. There was no place for them to stay, and Mary was about to have a baby. Amid all the chaos, Christ came. It was in a humble, hay-filled manger, that the Holy Child was laid in swaddling clothes. It was so commonplace that even the townspeople and guests did not notice what was taking place. The shepherds would have missed the event had it not been for the angel proclaiming, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The gospel of Matthew declares, “And His name will be called Emmanuel, God with us.” This is the true meaning of Christmas.

In God’s plan, the little things are the big things; the weak things are the powerful things; the commonplace things are the most extraordinary things. The easily overlooked things tend to be the most important. The birth of a Savior, little and weak, hidden in a manger in a village, tells us this is so.

Let us remember this Christmas that the parties, plays and performances will end, and the decorations will be put away, but Christ came to stay. He is God with us. This good news that causes great joy for all people is life changing.

 

In God’s plan . . . the easily overlooked things tend to be the most important. The birth of a Savior, little and weak, hidden in a manger in a village, tells us this is so.

christmas at fbj blog

by: Tom Washburn
Associate Pastor
Pastoral Ministry/
Adults with Seniority

The Hope for All

 Christmas is full of surprises. People you don’t expect to see, gifts you didn’t expect to get, pounds you didn’t expect to gain. Expect the unexpected at Christmas. Let’s discover one of the biggest surprises of Christmas in a very unusual place. That place is easy to skip over when you are reading God’s Word. The place I mean, is in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, in that seemingly boring genealogy of Jesus. In this seldom dusted corner of God’s Word, you and I can find the wonderful gift of HOPE.

Matthew makes sure we are well aware of Jesus’ “pedigree.” The ancient Jews didn’t need 23 and Me, because they knew their heritage. These were folks very aware of their ancestry. It is vital to them that Matthew prove that Jesus is a “pure-blooded” Jew, who could trace His ancestry to Abraham and King David. If Matthew can’t quickly show his first readers this important connection, then they are not going to be open to reading this account. Matthew does this so well that the enemies of Jesus never thought about questioning His ancestral line, to dispute Jesus’ claims.

Every family tree has a bad apple, I suppose, and Matthew makes a point to include those in Jesus’ family tree. Amongst the heroes of faith, there are folks in this list who have moral failures, and those whose pride led to the division of their nation. There are rough characters in this list among the good ones. Matthew presents the factual genealogy, warts and all! And in doing so, reminds us that Jesus had outlaws for in-laws! Christmas reminds us there is HOPE FOR SINNERS!

 And goodness, Matthew dares to do the unthinkable in that day – he included WOMEN! Rahab is listed, and her profession surely would have excluded her. And get this, some of the women were not even Jewish. Do you hear Matthew reminding us that there is HOPE FOR OUTSIDERS. There are so many ways we can feel like an outsider today, but take heart – Jesus understands, and includes outsiders!

Tamar is another in the list, and her story reminds us that families sometimes fail. Those with failed families find HOPE WITH OUR LORD.  

Those in this genealogy with less than stellar pasts, might make us ask “WHY?” But Jesus, Himself, answers that in Matthew 9, when He says, “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Apparently failed lives are welcome in Jesus’ family!  The HOPE of Christmas is that Jesus calls us all to Himself like we are, and He changes us!

One last group worth a quick look, would be the nine names in this list who are not known to scholars. There are nine names listed that don’t appear anywhere else in the Bible. What a great reminder that there is HOPE FOR THOSE WHO FEEL FORGOTEN. It is easy to feel forgotten this time of year. If you feel like nobody knows you or remembers you, find comfort in this list of nine included folks nobody knows!

The fact that Jesus chose these outlaws, these hurting people, these foreign people and these unknown people, is a great reminder for us that He choses us! Hear today His wonderful invitation: “WHOSOEVER will, may come”. Come to Jesus and find the HOPE you have been looking for.  

 

The HOPE of Christmas is that Jesus calls us all to Himself like we are, and He changes us!

christmas at fbj blog

by: Bruce Warf
Associate Pastor
Discipleship / Family Ministry

The Light of Christmas

Do you have a Christmas tradition in your family or ever had one? Maybe it is the annual Christmas tree hunt, making a gingerbread house, going to the local Christmas parade, or the Christmas Eve dinner together as a family. Family traditions solicit memories of the past, joy in the present, and expectations for the future.

One of our families’ favorite traditions and one that I grew up with, is going to look at Christmas lights. Christmas itself is about celebrating THE light! Scripture shows us that Jesus is the light that was sent into the darkness to be reveal His glory, majesty, and give each of us an opportunity to have a relationship with Him so that we could have eternal life. Scripture also shows that you and I have an opportunity to share that light.  Briefly read Luke 2:8-9, Matthew 2:2, John 8:12, and Matthew 5:14-16.

The thing about light is that it gives us direction. When there is light, darkness is absent. We see things more clearly and know exactly where we are going. Light is comforting. Like a warm blanket on a cold winter night, it brings warmth and arguably even a feeling of “home.” Light also dispels fear. Specifically, drawing closer to THE light we know our Creator walks with us.

This Christmas season focus on the one light that came as a baby boy in Jesus. Reflect on Him and His light. Give the dark uncertainties of your life to Him and replace them with joy knowing that our Heavenly Father loves you. For the next few weeks our family ministry staff hopes that you will find direction, hope, comfort, and peace in the One who was sent as light to the world.  A familiar song that we all here this time of year captures perfectly the birth of Jesus meant for the world then and for us today.  Ever more, our “weary world” today can find joy in Christ.  May we all be filled will a “thrill of hope” this Christmas as we focus on Him.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

 

Family Challenge:

Drive around this Christmas season looking at the lights while listening to a few of the following songs together focusing on the true meaning of the season:

  • Light of the World, Lauren Daigle
  • Behold, Phil Wickham/Anne Wilson
  • Christmas Day, Chris Tomlin
  • King of Kings/Angels We Have Heard On High, Maverick City

This Christmas season focus on the one light that came as a baby boy in Jesus. Reflect on Him and His light. Give the dark uncertainties of your life to Him and replace them with joy knowing that our Heavenly Father loves you.

read to feed the soul

Written by FBJ Women for Women

A Squirrelly Tale

“Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” Jeremiah 23:24

It’s a confession I have to make – there’s a bit of “squirrel” in me! I will explain. Squirrels are forever hiding their winter food supply (acorns) in and among my flower beds. Evidently their memories are a lot like mine. They forget where they hide their stashes because those stashes sprout in the spring and show up as miniature trees in my flower beds.

I hide things or tuck things away for safe keeping. It’s probably a good thing, but like the squirrels, I forget where I tuck them. I’m always surprising myself when I come upon an item – especially extra money – that I’ve put away for another day or need.

Just a few weeks ago I pulled open a less-used dresser drawer to look for a particular item. A bit of green peeped through from the bottom of the drawer’s contents. I pushed back the top layers to find $120 in 20-dollar bills! I could not remember when I had tucked them into this hiding spot, but I had a spell of rejoicing at such a weekday find!

Immediately my mind began to count the number of garden plants that find would purchase. It would buy enough compost bags to make every tree and plant that lived in our yard rejoice. It would cover the cost of a new outdoor umbrella and maybe a small ceramic pot. As I covered the new found stash and closed the drawer I continued to mentally shop. That spring day in the future was about to have a grand shopping experience!

A couple of weeks ago our congregation was reminded of a challenging goal for our Annie Armstrong Offering. I rejoiced that our church had set such a challenging goal for such an eternal project. While I was relishing the thought of giving more, God took me to my stash in my dresser drawer. I’m honest when I say I didn’t immediately rejoice that I had an extra amount to give to Annie, but I am thankful that I didn’t argue with God or try to compromise about how I blessed others with my flowers. Annie had just secured an extra $120 from me.

Then I felt a flood of joy to know I had such a watchful Savior. There is nothing hidden from Him. He sees and knows all, and that omniscient care is for His children. I took home an Annie Armstrong offering envelope that Sunday for my stash offering.

LORD of the universe, thank you for seeing and knowing all and everything. My mind cannot comprehend such truth, but I praise You and ask that our obedience might always be the immediate kind. In Jesus’ name I ask this. Amen

read to feed the soul

Written by FBJ Women for Women

Exposed!

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” John 3:20.

It’s a truth I must face. I tend to be partial to the cloudy, wintry days that arrest the bright sunlight and hold it at bay – only when it comes to the indoors. Let me explain. I’m an outside person – digging in the dirt, raking leaves and debris, planting seeds, trimming shrubs and lugging heavy stones from place to place – it’s the world I love. The inside of our dwelling is an entirely different animal.

I detest housekeeping which I understand to be ridding it of dust, grime, stains, germs and clutter. If I nurture and care for a blooming plant outdoors, the plant rewards me with new life and beautiful blooms. If I “housekeep” our home, it sparkles and gleams for an abbreviated time only to be revisited with dust, grime, stains, germs and clutter. It’s an endless task.

As for the cloudy, wintry days, they camouflage the dust and give me lengthier days between cleaning and dusting. Then here comes spring and summer with its piercing rays that flood through our “need-cleaning” windows onto our furniture and glass table surfaces that wreak of dust. The bright rays expose not only my dust but my poor rating as a proficient housekeeper. There’s no escaping the evidence. The sunlight makes it obvious.

Perhaps that’s why a lot of believers neglect regular Bible reading. Isn’t it amazing that manuscripts written by multiple persons over centuries of time are still so relevant and can actually call our name through the readings? The Word is light and shines that light into any darkness. The Word exposes sin – not just “their” sin but mine!

Prayer works the same way. In the stillness and silence of prayer, we seek audience with a holy God. Sin stands as a wall, separating me from the Father. As I pray, He shines His light into any sin that shrouds my life – touchiness, anger, unforgiving spirit, pride, selfishness, gossip, hate, judgmental attitude . . . The list seems endless, but the Father longs for our fellowship, so He shines His blazing light into our hearts to seek out those separating sins.

His radiant light is pure and as we repent and confess, the Light warms our hearts and reflects His Light into the lives around us. And – when we consider that His Holy Spirit is dwelling in the hearts of all believers, shouldn’t we be vigilant to provide Him a spotless, squeaky clean home?

Spotless Lamb of God, increase our desire to keep our temples clean, free from sin, so that You may be glorified in the way we keep house. In Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.

read to feed the soul

Written by FBJ Women for Women

Thirsty for Jesus

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1

It was summer during my childhood – revival week to be more specific. Our picturesque white board structure with its wide double doors and steeple pointing to our future home was the setting where I first understood “thirst.”

My spiritual thirst would come later. For this chapter in my young life I experienced the reality of physical thirst.

The giant ceiling fan was our central air which wasn’t always adequate to cool down those August services. One explanation was the all day playing with my siblings and the Mississippi sun that had left its mark on our exposed skin. Add to that our dwindling “battery life” from a full day of play.

All those factors made for a physical thirst, but the clincher fell to the preacher or evangelist. Some prominent committee head provided a glass of cold water on the pulpit for the visiting preacher. During the heat of his message he inevitably would pause, grip the sweating crystal glass and quench his thirst.

My longing for water skyrocketed. However I knew a tugging on my parents’ arms would not gain me permission to leave the service for anything but a fire alarm. We learned to sit quietly during church services and always take care of restroom needs before we filed into our pew.

My parents were convinced we would never die from thirst, even though I still remember those grueling nights of insatiable thirst.

That was then. I’m now concerned about spiritual thirst. Am I thirsty for more of Jesus, more eager to stay in His presence, to stay fixed on Him?

Jesus knew about human thirst and spiritual thirst. His invitation reaches to all: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” What a rich offer! How can we be content to drink from worldly, polluted puddles or “broken cisterns that can hold no water?”

That glass of water that used to sit on the pulpit could never have been mine regardless of my thirst or longing, but the water that Jesus gives shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life. For any who say, “Lord, I thirst,” Jesus says, “Come to me.”

Lord Jesus, thank you for the living water and that we can drink freely. Amen

read to feed the soul

Written by FBJ Women for Women

Daily Perspective

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

How our world near and far has changed. A global pandemic stretched across this giant globe with a vengeance that distances couldn’t affect. It found no barriers. Now COVID is a universal word, recognized and feared by most.

As we swap our calendars for 2022, we linger over the thoughts of what this year holds. Will the pandemic continue to mutate into other challenges and fears? Will cold wars continue to escalate? Will inflation create and demand new lifestyles for families? Will crime continue to rise? Will corruption and immorality become an accepted trend?

The questions could lead us down a tunnel of doom and gloom – especially when we focus on the “what ifs” instead of our Refuge and Protection.

We church-goers are all familiar with the Lord’s model prayer. It’s a routine prayer in some congregations and consists of words that can flow from our lips without sinking into our hearts.

How often I have prayed in unison: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Yet I tend to think in weeks – even months. Jesus told us to observe the birds. Their daily supply never ends. His design is for His children to depend on His care and provision a day at a time.

Just stop and think how much stress would dissipate if our tomorrows didn’t rob us of today’s blessings. We would live today solely in today and depend on our caring Father for these twenty-four hours. After all, tomorrows never actually come.

Lord of all, Your directions for the abundant life aren’t complex. Teach us to live one day at a time with trust and joy to the extent we make the lost long for what we have. Amen.