Each month, we will feature the post of a guest writer. This month, we are excited to share the thoughts of one of our students, Caleb Davis. Caleb is a sophomore at South Point High School. He serves faithfully with our worship team in the A/V department. This week, he takes a look at the telling of the Christmas story and why it is important to us.


In today’s world, everyone (Christian or not) knows the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a known story. Angels talk to Joseph, Joseph marries Mary (who is a virgin, yet bares a child) Joseph takes Mary to Bethlehem where they are denied entry to an inn and sent to a stable where Mary gives birth to a child named Jesus. Angels the tell of Jesus’s arrival to some kings and shepherds who follow a certain star where they find Jesus and praise him with gifts. Typical Christmas story, but recently people have been going through to find things in the story unmentioned and filling in a few gaps. Questions like how many shepherds/kings met Jesus (a lot) and was Jesus even born in December (no) have been answered and focused on in the past century. But, that is not what my devotional is about (even though that would be fun.) My devotional will simply be about how the story is told through the 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the bible (NIV edition)

We will start with the first of the 4 gospels, Matthew. The first chapter of Matthew talks about the genealogy of Jesus. It basically outlines one of Jesus’s family trees. To sum it up, it starts with Abraham and works it ways through the tree to Jesus the Messiah. After that, is the part where Joseph accepts Jesus as a son. You know… angel comes to Joseph, Joseph is afraid, angel says to not be afraid and accept Mary as his wife and that she will bear a child who is actually the son of God. Joseph tells the angel to check his facts and slow down (not really.) Then Joseph wakes up and that is the end of the dream. After the part where Joseph wakes up from said dream, the story skips to the part where Mary gives birth to Jesus and then the chapter ends. The second chapter tells the part of the story of when the (no direct number given) kings who are sent by king Herod to find Jesus. Obviously, the kings bring gifts of gold (expensive), Frankincense (expensive) and Myrrh (take a guess) to present to Jesus. After they worship the one true king, they decide to ignore king Herod (on purpose) and head off to somewhere Herod was not. The next part of the chapter is about Joseph, Mary and Jesus moving around to avoid Herod, so that is basically where Matthew stops the birth story.

Next up is the good ole gospel of Mark. The weird part about Mark is that it does not start with the birth story, instead skipping to John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus’s baptism. Because Mark does not have anything that is essential to the birth story, we are hoping to move on to the next gospel, even though Mark is interesting in its own rights.

Unlike its fellow gospel of Mark, Luke starts with an introduction, then starts as far back as the foretelling of John the Baptist’s birth! For time (and word count) sake, we will skip the parts about John the Baptist’s birth foretold and Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Before we go too far however, we will briefly talk about Jesus’s birth being foretold. The foretelling of Jesus’s birth tells the part of the story where Mary is visited by the angel named Gabriel. He told Mary the game plan for Jesus’s birth. To sum that part up, Gabriel is sent by God to tell Mary the she is going to bear a child (as a virgin), then give birth to a child to which she will name Jesus. Now we skip to chapter 2, where Jesus is born within the beginning of the chapter. Chapter 2 is the Christmas story most everyone knows by heart. It starts with the census and ending (on line 22) when Jesus is given his name.

The last of the 4 gospels, John, starts in yet another different way. The gospel of John starts with a summarized first chapter of genesis before going into a summarized version of the birth of Christ. The big difference is that the focus is actually telling how John was born with the light to preach about Christ Jesus being born before telling about how Jesus is the one true Son of God. Just like the gospel of Mark, John does not have a distinctive story about the birth of Jesus, but instead a side story with important lore.

Overall, each gospel gives its own information as well as lore to the story of Jesus that further cements and solidifies the story about the birth of Christ. But, why does it matter? (*gasp* why would he say that!). While the story of Jesus’s birth is a good story and each gospel giving its own story is cool, the reason it matters is because the birth of Jesus, is the birth of our salvation. Jesus is not just a baby in a manger in an aged (yet enthralling) story, Jesus Christ is the salvation and savior of the world. Jesus’ birth is one of the most important story to Christians next to the crucifixion because it describes how God’s love and grace was given to us again through a man who was actually the savior of the world.

 

In conclusion, while the story of Jesus Christ’s birth is a fun and classic tale, we as Christians need to remember the real reason for the season, Jesus left his throne and came down into a broken world fully of sinners (like me and you) just to live a perfect life, then die on a sinner’s cross, all because he loved us, and give us new life. So, enjoy the holidays, but remember the real reason we call it CHRISTmas.

Tis’ the season – for joy, laughter, community…and busyness, worry, and stress.  It is no secret that the holidays are some of the most stressful times of the year.  In fact, studies show that people of all ages, but especially teens and pre-teens, are facing more stress and anxiety than ever.  Pressures that previous generations didn’t have to think about until they were nearing graduation (college choices, scholarships, career choices) are now being pushed on students starting in the sixth grade.  What this pressure leads to is an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, confusion, unpreparedness, and anxiety on students who very recently were still learning basic multiplication.  This is a very real issue that we, as people who care for students, must understand and accept as reality, and then learn – just how do we deal with this?

Many will suggest some kind of behavior modification – some form of ‘just suck it up, don’t let people know you’re freaking out’ kind of tool for coping with stress.  This isn’t healthy.  On the flip side, enabling dangerous behaviors such as poor eating choices or binge watching Netflix during down time is similarly unhealthy.  I want to suggest that in order to help our students (and even ourselves!) manage stress, we can actually take one cue from secular brain science and another from scripture in how we cope with the stress that is beginning sooner and sooner in our lives.

You see, there have been several studies in the past few years on an area of the brain called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC).  The ACC is unique in that it has connections to both the area of the brain that controls emotion and the area that controls logical progressions.  This area of the brain is responsible for triggering responses in the body to situations where there is potential for mistakes, and regulating the severity of those responses in response to the perceived severity of said mistakes.  Studies have show that, for those who believe in God, thinking on the things of God during stressful times actually greatly reduces the activity in this part of the brain, reducing anxiety and allowing for more positively coping with the stress of the situation – leading to more positive outcomes from stressful situations.  How powerful is it that just thinking about the things of God relieves stress and helps us manage our lives more efficiently.

It is tempting to think that this is a new revelation unveiled by modern science, however we see this calming effect of meditating on the things of the Lord as a common theme throughout scripture.  The psalmist writes in Psalm 16:8 – ‘I have set the Lord continually before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken’.  By thinking on the things of God continually, the psalmist is able to remain steadfast – much like the effect thinking on God has on the ACC.  In fact, meditation on the things of God and His Word are mentioned more than 20 times in the book of Psalms alone in relation to finding comfort in stressful life situations.  Another example of meditating on the things of God in stressful time we find in Luke Chapter 2.  In this scene, the angel of God has just appeared to Mary and informed her that she will be birthing the Messiah.  While we, as people who grew up going to Christmas events and hearing the Christmas story, often take this news for granted, for a Jewish girl who was quite young and not even yet married, this was both utterly amazing and downright terrifying.  But, instead of having an anxiety attack or going on a shopping spree, check out what Mary did in reaction to this news: ‘But Mary treasured all these things; pondering them in her heart’.  Wow.  Mary knew that the message she received was from the Lord, and dwelled on His promises for her life, just as we can today!

Here’s where the rubber meets the road – in order to think on the things of God, they have to be in our minds in the first place.  We cannot think on what we do not know.  And, let’s be honest, hearing about God once or, at best, twice per week is NOT enough exposure to bring these thoughts to the forefront of our minds during stressful times.  It isn’t for me, and it isn’t for you.  What this means is that a daily time with God is necessary and crucial to hiding His Word in your heart.  There is no ‘secret sauce’ to get it in your brain a different way, and no amount of great preaching can make up for spending time with God everyday.  As believers, we must spend daily time with God.  Parents – please talk to your kids about their daily quiet times.  Just ask them what they read and what they learned, and if they are pleasers who will give you the same three answers and passages over and over again – call them on it!  Encourage them to read different passages in the Bible – and you do the same.  By hiding His Word in our hearts, we can greatly affect the way we handle stress by simply thinking on the things of God during stressful times.

Has there been a time where thinking on the things of God has helped you manage a stressful situation?  Have you memorized scripture that you think on when times are hard?  Who do you talk to about what God is teaching you daily?  Feel free to comment your answers below!

Discover more about the Anterior Cingulate Cortex – Click Here! –

-Stuart Payne, Middle School Pastor

We are excited to take students to WinterJam once again this year! We have a maximum of 60 spaces open for this trip so register early! Here are the details, schedule, and the flyer for this year’s event. There are several changes to this year’s event, so please read all of the details.

EVENT: WinterJam
DATE: Sunday. January 21, 2018
COST: $15 (pre-paid this year, See below)
REGISTRATION: PRE-REGISTRATION FOR WINTERJAM has ENDED! We STILL want you to go but… you’ll need to find a ride and bring your cash with you.
LOCATION: Spectrum Center, Charlotte
DEPARTURE: BC Student Center, South Campus 12:30pm
ARTISTS: See Flyer

SCHEDULE:

12:00p – Lunch at the BC Student Center (South)*
12:30pm – Vans depart BC Student Center (South) for Charlotte
1:00pm – Arrive/Park in Charlotte near Spectrum Center
1:15pm – In line for the long haul (What about Dinner**? See below)
6:00pm – Doors Open
10:30/11:00pm – Show Ends*** See below
11:30pm – Depart for Gastonia (Hopefully we leave earlier but plan on this)
12:00am – Arrive at the BC Student Center

  • *Lunch Details – At 12:00pm, a hot dog lunch will be served with chips and a drink for all WinterJam participants at no charge. Students not wishing to have hot dogs for lunch must arrange to have lunch or go get lunch but we WILL be leaving at 12:30pm. Please get it to go and bring it back so you don’t miss your ride.
  • **Dinner Details – Within walking distance of our line will be Subway, Moe’s, etc. It is recommended to bring enough $$ to buy an early dinner while we wait in line. We will dismiss students in small groups with leaders few at a time to go get food. There will be a group of us ordering pizza that evening for $5/person. You may choose to do this. Simply select that option on your registration and add the $5 to your entrance fee for a total of $20.
  • ***DEPARTING FOR GASTONIA – Keep your eye on our Instagram our twitter, or our Facebook. As the show ends, we will update on these social media spots about our progress back to the vans and then our ETA to the church.

Registration: We have 60 spots to fill. If you are going with us…

Payment: We are taking the $15 before we leave so we can pay all together. You can pay online or bring it in to YouthQuake, Alive, or HSM Sunday Nights. Visit our PushPay App through Bethlehem to pay (CLICK HERE) – NOTE: Use Giving Typer “Other” and in Memo type “Winterjam – Student Name

Weather: As the date approaches, be aware of the weather. We will spend most of the day outside. Many times it has been mild to warm in the afternoon only to turn chilly and cold by evening time. Bring clothes that will help you be ready!

More Money?: All of the artists and speakers will have souvenirs, music, and books to purchase. You will need money for these things. You will not be required to buy anything but your entrance fee and your dinner that evening.

Here is the 2018 Flyer:

Today, Pastor Jaron speaks a little bit on the two verses included below. Take a few minutes (>5m) out of your day to consider his insight on what these Scriptures are saying to us.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?    As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.    They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.    But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”’

Luke 6:46-49
https://www.bible.com/bible/111/LUK.6.46-49

 

 

‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.   ‘

James 1:22-25
https://www.bible.com/bible/111/JAS.1.22-25

Today we are introducing a new element to our ministry. We are calling it “The Tuesday Article.” Every Tuesday, you will find a new article right here on our BC Students Blog that may challenge you in your faith, inform you on issues facing us today, and more. This is not only for students but for everyone! Some weeks it might be a written post, others, you might find a video, an interview, or maybe even some music. We’re not quite sure what it is going to look like yet but we are excited about it. Over time, you will hear from each of us Student Pastors here at Bethlehem as well as some of our students and leaders. If you would be interested in writing for “The Tuesday Article” let us know!

Today, we focus in on the passage of Scripture we are on in our Word of Life Quiet Time Journals. The Scripture for today is Galatians 3:23-29. To get the most out of this post, it would be helpful to grab a Bible. Don’t simply read the focus passage. It’s usually best to read the six chapters first (relatively small). Then focus in on the chapter and specifically the passage. Doing so gives you context for what it is we are studying.

Our quiet time journals do an awesome job giving us insights into this passage. Here at Bethlehem, we teach our students to begin their study in Scripture looking for five specific things.

Sins to avoid
Promises we can claim
Examples to follow
Commands to obey
Truths to learn

Today, one of the key truths to see and learn appears in verse 24. In the ESV it reads:

“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24, [ESV])

Far too often, we try and equate God’s love for us with how much we have followed His law. In fact Christ said just the opposite. When we follow His commands it is a demonstration of our love for Him. What Paul says here is that the Law of God was put in place to bring us to Christ. Because of our inability to follow God’s law on our own, our need for a Savior is made evident. There is no hope of following the law of God close enough to be made righteous by our own actions as written in Romans 3:10-12 as well as several other locations. It doesn’t matter how many ladies you help across the road or if you share your Cheerwine with your brother every day. You will never be made righteous enough by trying to good deeds. There is only One person who can accomplish this for you.

Truth: It is only by faith in Jesus Christ that we can be made right with God. Trusting in anything else is hopeless and empty faith.

At the end of each day in the quiet time, there is a spot to share a phrase, a thought, or a truth. Today, it is the words of Watchman Nee, 20th century church leader in China. He said:

“God’s requirements have not altered, but we are not the ones to meet them. Praise God, he is the Lawgiver on the Throne, and he is the Lawkeeper in my heart. He who gave the law, Himself keeps it.”

There are other things to note in this article. Can you see a promise in here? Another truth about your identity in Christ? If so, consider dropping what you see into the comments below!

To get your Student or Adult copy of the Word of Life Quiet Time, check out the info desk in our Student Center!

 

Cody Mummau
Student Pastor
Bethlehem Church

Over the next couple weeks, BC Students will be discussing the movie “The Case For Christ” will all of our age groups. Both our West and our South Campus will be watching the movie and then we will spend a couple weeks breaking down some of the main arguments it presents for the Christian faith. Here is how YOU can be a part of the whole thing.

SOUTH CAMPUS:
Middle School – On Wednesday, December 6th, we will be showing “The Case For Christ” movie in its entirety from 6pm-8pm. Dinner (Pizza and a drink for $2) will be served during the movie. Please arrive by 6pm in order to see the entire film. If you arrive after 6pm, we STILL want you to be here. Just please enter the Student Center quietly as you would a theater already in progress.

High School Guys– On Saturday, December 10th, ALL of our South Campus High School guys are invited to come to the Mummau home (email cody@bethlehembc.com for directions) to watch The Case For Christ. We will have dinner at 5:30pm and the movie will start at 6pm. We would LOVE to know if you planning to attend. Text Cody or email (cody@bethlehembc.com) and just say you are planning to be there Saturday evening.

High School Girls – On Sunday, December 11th, ALL of our South Campus High School girls are invited to come to the Mummau home (email kristina.mummau@gmail.com for directions) to watch The Case For Christ. We will have lunch at 12:45pm and the movie will start at 1:15pm. We would LOVE to know if you planning to attend. Text Kristina or email (kristina.mummau@gmail.com) and just say you are planning to be there Saturday afternoon.

WEST CAMPUS:
ALIVE – On Wednesday, December 6th, we will be showing “The Case For Christ” movie in its entirety from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Dinner (Pizza and a drink for $2) will be served during the movie. Please arrive by 6pm in order to see the entire film. If you arrive after 6pm, we STILL want you to be here. Just please enter the Student Center quietly as you would a theater already in progress.