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December 29, 2016, 11:52 AM

Reach Out

For our January newsletter I want to propose an emphasis for First Christian Church, San Marcos, in 2017. I believe we are ready for this to be a year of “reaching out”.

Here is what “reach out” means according to the online Free Dictionary:

1. To extend one's grasp outward: The vines along the path were full of grapes, so I reached out and grabbed some. I reached out for the boy's hand and pulled him out of the water.

2. To extend one's grasp through something: The kids reached out the car window and the clerk handed them each an ice cream cone.

3. To extend one's circle of friends, contacts, or experiences: He has been rather isolated, but now he's reaching out and meeting new people.

4. To strive toward something; aspire to something: She is reaching out for a job that is more challenging.

5. To reach out to seek help, comfort, or support from someone: Given the way you wrote this letter, it seems that you're reaching out for someone to talk to.

For a Christian, to reach out has a special meaning. It is contained in what we call the Great Commission:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

To be a Christian is inherently to be “an ambassador for Christ, God making his appeal through us”. We are called to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”.

We reach out to our neighbors, our families, our communities, our nation, and our world, because God has reached out to us. The story of Jesus is one about God coming to our world and living with us and as one of us, to share good news of hope and help. We love because He first loved us.

So, here is my proposal: this year let us as a church and as individuals focus not on ourselves, but outward. Let us reach out to help, comfort, support, encourage, and share our love and hope and joy. Let us seek ways to bring light to the shadows of life. Let us give expecting nothing in return. Let us forgive and uplift. If we have experienced such an outreach from God, we can reach out to others.

December 27, 2016, 3:26 PM


The New Testament of the Bible was written in the Greek of the first century AD. Greek in the Roman Empire was like English in the 21st century. It was the universal language of the empire. Many of the Jews in Palestine in Jesus’ day would have spoken Greek in order to do business, to talk with foreigners, and to speak to Roman soldiers.

But, the native language of Jesus and his countrymen was Aramaic. It is a language very similar to Hebrew. And, in the New Testament, there are eight Aramaic words or phrases preserved for us. You can read them in the following passages:

Matthew 5:22, Matthew 27:46, Mark 5:41, Mark 7:34, Mark 11:9, Mark 14:36, John 20:16, and 1 Corinthians 16:22.

Among the first Christians one Aramaic phrase became common no matter what other language they spoke: Marana tha! It means, Our Lord, Come! Paul alludes to it in I Corinthians 11:26, and uses it to end his letter in 1 Corinthians 16:22. John concludes his Revelation with the phrase translated into Greek: Our Lord, Come! Revelation 22:20.

Over 2000 years have passed since Jesus lived among us. In every generation since then, his followers have remembered his first coming, his first “advent”. And every generation continues to pray for his 2nd coming, his second advent. Amen. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

December 27, 2016, 3:21 PM

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings

November is our nation’s month of Thanksgiving. Traditionally, we pause to remember and appreciate all the ways that we have been blessed. Thanksgiving is the appropriate attitude of Christians who recognize that we are children of God who are loved, provided for, and protected by our loving and forgiving heavenly Father. This year November happens to be the occasion of our presidential and other elections. While this has been a contentious and bizarre election campaign, we should be thankful for the freedoms and choices we have that are not available to most people in the world today. None of our blessings should be taken for granted as though we deserved them and as though they are inevitable. History shows that not to be the case.

So, let us be thankful:

For friends, past and present.

For family and encouragement and support.

For security and protection and the rule of law.

For our military and police and fire and EMS service people.

For free public education for our children.

For our church and fellow Christians.

For our jobs and homes and the ability to survive and thrive in our society.

For our dignity as human beings and children of God.

For our heroes and mentors and the special people in our lives who give us hope.

For our calling to salt of the earth and light of the world which is our mission and purpose.

For our faith which enables us to overcome temptations and trials and remain joyful.

For our very life and all our experiences, the bad and the good, which have made us who we are.

For Jesus, who died for us while we were yet sinners, who taught us how to live and how to die.

For love, wherever we have experienced it, both being loved and being able to love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

September 27, 2016, 9:25 AM

Thy Will Be Done

In the month of October we will be emphasizing the outreach ministries of First Christian Church of
San Marcos.  In doing so, we recognize that we are, after all, a church. A church is defined by its
mission. A church without a mission is not really a church at all. It’s just a club or fraternity. It may
be “Christian” in the sense that it says nice things about God and Jesus, and encourages
everyone in it to be decent, law-biding citizens. But it is only when a group of Christians gathers together to do the
work of their Lord that they meet the requirements of a church.  

Of Jesus, the Scriptures proclaim: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good
news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to
release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19)

And, when asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as
(Luke 10:27)

Later in his ministry Jesus observed, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been
doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
(John 14:12)

And...“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from
me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:5)

His first disciples understood that we are to follow Jesus’ example. John wrote, “Dear children, let us not love with
words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
(1 John 3:18)

And from James: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I
wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same
way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
(James 2:15-17)

The world is in desperate need of compassion, mercy, love, kindness, friendship, hope. It needs God. And we who
are followers of Jesus, are called to be the light of the world. Ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal
through us. We do it not only by our words, but most especially by our actions.

This month we will be looking at some of the outreach ministries supported by FCC. Let us be glad that we have
been called to work together for the Kingdom of God. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in

August 26, 2016, 1:47 PM

Practicing the Golden Rule

The month of September is “Service Month” at First Christian Church, prompted by our young people, who have chosen to make September 24 “Youth Service Day”. You will be invited in the next few days to submit needs that our youth can help with this month.

“Service” is a good word. It is, in fact, the essence of our Christian faith. To put it another way, it is the dynamic that makes our faith active as opposed to mere “lip-service”.

Please read and reflect on the following few Scripture texts, reminding us of the importance and meaning of putting others before ourselves as the most fulfilling way to live. It is the way of faith. It is the way of the cross. It is the way to be close to our Lord and our God.

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
(quoting Isaiah 29:13) Matthew 15:8-9 (ESV)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17 (ESV)

What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a (ESV)

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”        Matthew 20:25-28 (ESV)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?" Luke 6:46

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21 (ESV)

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV)

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