CHRISTmas OR christMUST – Advent Devotional Resources

Yesterday, I challenged us as a church to prioritize 4 things in our schedules and celebrations this month - God's Word, God's Church, God's Poor, and God's Kids. These are 4 places that JESUS guaranteed to meet us, speak to us, and change us. Let's try to put these practices on the calendar before the other "musts" this Christmas:


Jesus promises to meet us in his Bible, so let's commit to engaging Jesus through some Advent Devotional practice. You can obviously use our Weekly Reading Plans to guide your study, but if you want something more, check out these options: 


Two Free Resources from John Piper and DesiringGod

A Daily Women's Devo From SheReadsTruth


There are hundreds of ideas out there for this from Joshua Trees to Following the Wisemen to Truth in the Tinsel. Here are three and here is a great Facebook feed of ideas for Families trying to celebrate with kids. 

Download a Family Advent Calendar from Focus On The Family

Book of Family Advent Devotional Ideas

Read a Chapter a Day from the Jesus Storybook Bible


God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller

God Came Near by Max Lucado

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Nov 27 – Dec 4

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.


Questions to Guide You:

This Christmas we’re thinking about celebrating CHRIST versus accomplishing all the things we MUST do socially or culturally. With all the social obligations demanding our time, we will look at what we actually MUST do this CHRISTmas. This week we’ll “Count the Costs” of celebrating CHRISTmas.

  • Christmas is an expensive time of year. How much does it cost you and your family to celebrate Christmas? What are the financial, social, relational, and cultural costs?
  • What did the Angel tell Mary? What would it cost Mary to accept this invitation? What financial, personal, physical, cultural costs? What does she risk by agreeing to Christmas?
  • How would Mary’s family respond? How would her husband respond? How would it change her living situation and finances?
  • Does the way you welcome Jesus at Christmas cost you any of the same things? Should it?
  • Luke 14 helps us count the costs of being a disciple of Jesus. How did Mary hate her “mother and father” in order to celebrate Jesus? How might radically putting Jesus first offend your mom and dad this Christmas? How might it offend your boss? How might it altar your traditions?
  • After accepting her task, Mary flees to her Aunt Elizabeth’s house. Why might she go there? Do you think she went to celebrate or avoid anyone noticing her growing belly?
  • In her song, Mary focuses on the “humble” and “lowly” and “hungry”. How has her new life as Jesus’ mom thrust these things upon her?
  • Matthew records the same story from Joseph’s view. What did it cost Joseph to celebrate Christmas? How did it affect his traditions, family, job, and even living arrangements? How did putting Jesus Christ first affect his relationships with family and friends?
  • After Jesus is born, in Luke 2, they take Jesus to be circumcised and there a prophet, Simeon, tells Mary several things about Jesus. What does he tell her about the cost of welcoming Jesus and how people will respond to Jesus?
  • Are your holiday plans determined more by family traditions and obligations or by celebrating Jesus? Which events get put on the calendar, and which get filled in around the edges? Which are negotiable and which are granite?
  • What habits, events, celebrations, decorations, worship services, or parties might you put on the calendar right now to welcome Jesus even if it means your mom and dad and boss have to wait?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Poinsettias in Honor and Memory

Every Advent, our Sanctuary is decorated with dozens of Poinsettias given in honor or in memory of our loved ones. 

Here is this year's list:

Bonnie Adams                                             

In honor of Keli, Dell, Cristy & Rett Adams   

In honor of Vernie Mae Adams

In memory of  Matthew & Judy Hair

In memory of Donald & Ethelene Matthews


Keli Adams

In honor of Keli, Dell, Cristy & Rett Adams

In honor of E. O. & Bonnie Adams

In honor of Dylan Drayton

In memory of Odell Adams

In memory Aubrey Wilford

In memory of Dakota Morgan


Rudy & Pat Baker

In memory of Peggy Bjorling

In memory of Jimmy & Lula Bass

In memory of Floyd & Mozelle Braswell


Larry & Pat Barbour

In honor of our children

In honor of our grandchildren

In memory of our parents

In memory of Pat’s sister, Willa Mae & brother, Kenneth


Gloria Barnes

In honor of my children & grandchildren

In memory of Earl Barnes


Jimmy & Elaine Benson

In honor  of Lessie Blackmon

In memory of Theron Blackmon

In memory of Edna & Judson Benson


Dennis & Norma Blackmon

In honor of Lessie Blackmon

In honor of Dennis Blackmon Jr. & Sondie      Niehaus

In honor of Steven, Jeannie, Jacob & Carly Barefoot

In memory of Theron Blackmon

In memory of Buck & Louise Allen

In memory of Daniel Lee Allen


Richard & Margaret Boyd

In memory of Rev. & Mrs. Dalton Honeycutt

In memory of Richard & Doris Boyd


Tammy Boyd & Family

In honor of Bessie Pronier


Rob, Beth, Robin & Reece Braswell

In memory of EB & Mary Ellen Wallace

In memory of LP & Ada Braswell


Kate Dulmaine

In memory of Suzanne Nagle


Melinda Garvin

In memory of Mr. & Mrs. W. A. Montgomery

In memory of Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Garvin


James & Michelle Gillis & Girls

In memory of Dell Stephenson


Russ & Betty Gowin

In memory of Linda Weeks

In memory of Glenda Germann

In memory of Helen Lambert

In memory of Juanita Jackson

In memory of Paul Gardner

In memory of Tom Gardner


Donna Kelly & Wells Hayes

In memory of Mr. & Mrs. W. K. Huggins

In memory of Sgt. Emmanuel Pickett, Iraq ‘08


Liam & Sam Leonard

In memory of Betty Ann Hedrick

In memory of Roy Leonard


Beth McGee,  Kolby & Josey

In honor of Vernie Mae Adams


Cindy Miller

In memory of Jean Holt, Beck & John Cashion


The Partins

In honor of Kirby & Betty Hill

In honor of Luther Partin

In memory of Shadrick & Cleo Phillips

In memory of Evelyn Partin


Mike & Becky Stancil

In honor of our children

In honor of our grandchildren

In memory of Floyd & Mozelle Braswell

In memory of Rayford & Margilene Stancil


Jim & Pat Tabler

In memory of Pat’s sister, Betty L. Intemann

In memory of Jim’s sister, Lee T. Dougherty


 Lanny & Helen Thomas

In honor of Jamie, Christy, Preston & Abby


In memory of Joe & Jean Thomas

In memory of Jim & Betty Stephens


Wanda Watkins

In honor of Ed & Shirley Watkins


Don & Mary Williford

In honor of Ed & Deborah Williford, Josh & Jamie

In memory of our parents

Milton & Velma Johnson

Jamie & Ruby Williford

In memory of Don’s sister, Sonja Yarborough


Ed & Deborah Williford

In honor of Don & Mary Williford

In memory of Ralph & Gerri Durrette


Preston & Fannie Lou Woods

In honor of Ashley, Chad, & Megan Massengill


The Wright, Thompson & Dalton Families

In honor of our families and friends

In memory of William Wright

In memory of Nancy Bolger Thompson

In memory of Shirley Thompson

Family Advent Devotional

Download a Family/Kid Advent Devotional Book

Hey Gang,
So I’ve never found anything quite like this. It is an Advent Devotional Book for families with young kids. If you have young ones and you’re trying to find a way to teach them the Christmas Story and get them asking good God questions, this might be helpful. If you have one of those chocolate Christmas countdown calendars, maybe you can read this before you open the chocolates and then discuss the questions while you enjoy them!!

It was designed and written by the church I attended in college, Lake Forest Church. I’d recommend printing it out and stapling it together, since the layout is all wonky in PDF view.

Merry Christmas!

Here is what Mike, their Pastor had to say about the book on his awesome blog:

Last Sunday we handed out a daily Advent devotional at the Kidtropolis check-in stations and I offer it today for your use.  It is primarily geared for parent(s) to lead their child(ren) through, as a user-friendly way to be in God’s Word daily and focus on Jesus this December.  But I am using it as my daily devotions this season personally, and want to invite you to as well.

The authors of this devotional guide are Aron Gibson (our kick tail WestLakeForest pastor) and Tracy Grubbs (our self-named ‘Creative Arts Chick’ at LFC – I allow people to write their own job titles). There are two things I like most about it:

  1. It models for us that our daily engagement with God’s Word doesn’t have to be exhaustive, long, or exhausting to be meaningful.  Sometimes a brief focus and prayer over a single verse has more sticking power for the day, and in the heart, than reading a whole chapter. And that can be done in a few focused minutes.
  2. They chose an Ignatian approach to a family devotional, by making one simple statement about each Bible reading, then posing a question or two.  Parents, this is tutoring you in how to be a ‘spiritual director,’ or shepherd, to your child.  Use the questions as starting points, let your child and yourself explore them, and gently turn them to consider God’s presence in their lives that day.

I’m asking the LORD to gift me with a more child-like heart this Advent season as I follow this guide.  Thank you Aron and Tracy.

You can download the LFC Advent Family Devotion here. Note: Because of how the booklets are set up for our printer, this download will not have the dates in order. You’ll just have added family bonding time searching for the dates as a first step 🙂 (also we will have a few more to handout in Kidtropolis this Sunday)

SPECIAL WORSHIP SERVICE – Hanging of the Greens 2015



This service was written to teach us the history and meaning of the symbols, which surround us at Christmas. The goal is not just to learn Church History or to decorate the church's buildings, but rather to saturate Christmas with Christ, so that no matter where we look or what we see, all of it drives our hearts and minds to Jesus. 

For those interested, here is a Hanging of the Greens Service Script and the Bulletin for the service. Feel free to use or reproduce them. 


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Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Nov 29 – Dec 6

Greater Than - 11.29-12.6 - Weekly Reading Plan Slide

Questions to Guide Your Study:

  • Why do you think the Serious religious folk wanted signs so badly? Had Jesus given them signs previously? Instead of signs what should they be focused on? How are we like the sign-craving people?
  • How is Jesus is Greater than Jonah? We read Jonah earlier this year, but it might be helpful to reread Jonah 1-4 to compare Jonah with what you know of Jesus?
  • How would you describe Jonah’s attitude? His preaching? His follow-up with the Ninevites? How does this compare to Jesus?
  • Hebrews is a book about Jesus being Better than everyone in the Old Testament. Heb 1:1-4 says we have the clearest picture of God, and so how are we “more guilty” if we ignore God’s gospel according to Heb 2?
  • How does Hebrews 3 compare Jesus to Moses? What are the major differences? How is Jesus greater than Moses?
  • What benefits do we have because of Jesus that the Ninevites didn’t have with Jonah and the Israelites didn’t have with Moses? How should this change our celebration of Christmas? Do you celebrate Christmas like you’ve been given the clearest, greatest gift ever given to humanity?
  • How can we soften our hearts and encourage one another to hold firmly to Jesus this Christmas?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Nov 29 – Hanging of the Greens Service and Dinner

Hanging of the Greens

A Christmas Service with a Christmas Dinner

On November 29, 2015 at 5:00PM we'll get together to decorate Oakland for Christmas, but this year we're going to take time to remember the symbolism of the decorations we put up around our homes and church. 

Afterwards, we'll gather for a Christmas dinner complete with Ham and Sweet Potatoes. 

Our goal is to recover the latent meaning of so many common symbols around us, and to learn to use them as visible reminders to enjoy Jesus and to celebrate his birth. We want to put Christ back in Christmas, but even more we want to make Christ all of Christmas, so that there is no part of Christmas decorations or events that doesn't drive your heart and mind to love and cherish and celebrate the baby that was born to die. We want to surround ourselves with reminders of the great Rescuer, who left the safety of Heavens and came behind enemy lines to save us.