September 2011 October 2011
Making Room... When there is none p.40
VMS EXCLUSIVE WITH
OF CASTING CROWNS p.22
Foolish Conflict? Dealing with or Failing because... p.20
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Theresa Valladares, MD Board Certified in Family Medicine
“During Christmas may we remember we have been given the gifts of unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness through our Savior Jesus Christ. May we also remember that we are called to readily give those same gifts to others.”
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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December 1 - 31, 2011
The best kept secret is out! The biggest display of Christmas Lights in Texas just got bigger! Join us with your friends in Hidalgo and celebrate a Tropical Christmas!
Date 1 Thurs. 2 Fri. 3 Sat. 4 Sun. 5 Mon. 6 Tues. 7 Wed. 8 Thurs.
Entertainment Parade ‘A Tropical Christmas’ Estudiantina Guadalupana Estudiantina Guadalupana Estudiantina Guadalupana Valley View Elementary Schools Choir Hidalgo Jr. High Band and Hidalgo Jr. High Mariachis Faith Christian Academy Choir Pharr Oratory of St. Philip Neri School Choir Estudiantina Guadalupana 9 Fri. Estudiantina Guadalupana 10 Sat. Estudiantina Guadalupana 11 Sun. Estudiantina Guadalupana 12 Mon. Hidalgo High School Band and Hidalgo High School Mariachis 13 Tues. Milam Elementary "Alebrije" 14 Wed. Ramon Ayala Christmas Posada 15 Thurs. Valley View Mariachis “Nueva Era” 16 Fri. Valley Community Choir 17 Sat. Magic Valley Chorus 18 Sun. Latter Day Saints McAllen West Stake Youth Choir Additional Entertainment: Dec. 1 Jim King and Texas Connection Band 2-30 Willy’s Washboard Jamboree 19 Un Regalo para Jesus, Ministerio Maranatha Christmas Village at the Pumphouse Dec. 1 - Jan. 31 – Mon. – Friday Hours 10 - 5 Fri. – Sun. on Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18. Open 6 - 9 p.m. Ice skating at the "Ice Palace" Memorial Park Pavilion, December 1-31 The Lights are up all month and are FREE!
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www.hidalgofol.com or call 956-843-2286
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ed! t i v n I You’rTe H nual
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Music & Videos
x e ind 22
Q&A With Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall
Volume 1 / Issue 9
Christian Torres Publisher
Irma d’Santiago “morett” James Alexander Distribution
PHOTOGRAPHERS Aaron A.H. Acosta Gabriela Romero Lance Krueger Nati
11- At Home With: Jaime Loya of VICC 22- VCM Exclusive: Mark Hall 25- Children Nativity Drawings 29- Ministry Focus 36- Jeremy Camp/Francesca Battistelli concert photos 42- Photo Roundup: Colonial Days 44- What to Read and Christian Atheist Review 46- David Crowder’s Christmas CD 48- New Christmas music 49 - Events/Planetshakers at CFC
On The Cover
32- Jerrell Jobe takes a deeper look at what “no room at the inn” really meant.
Cam Jeremy photos
Cover Art by 4thoughtmedia.com
National Columnists 16203850-
Greg Laurie James MacDonald Luis Palau Dave Ramsey
Valley Contributors 8151826244044-
Christian Torres Henry Miller Mike Masso Milton Gonzalez Nan Riegert Jerrell Jobe Miguel Paredes
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CONTRIBUTORS Jerrell Jobe Milton Gonzalez Mike Masso Miguel Paredes Nan Riegert For Advertising contact:
956.314.0161 phone 956.688.6336 fax To submit story ideas, events, or comments:
www.valleychristianmagazine.com Texas Christian Publications c/o Valley Christian Magazine 3827 North 10th Street, 301 McAllen, TX 78501 Valley Christian Magazine is a free monthly magazine published by
Valley Christian Magazine is a publication of Texas Christian Publications (a 501c3 organization). Texas Christian Publications reserves the right to edit, modify, revise, rewrite and reject editorial materials and assumes no responsibility for accuracy, errors, omissions or consequences arising from it. All correspondence to this publication becomes the property of Texas Christian Publications. Texas Christian Publications shall be held harmless indemnified against any third-party claims. Texas Christian Publications accepts no claims made by photographers, agents or contributors. Writers’ and columnists’ opinions are not necessarily those of Texas Christian Publications or its publishers. Advertisements appearing in Texas Christian Publications present only the viewpoint of the advertisers. We assume no responsibility for advertising claims made in this publication. Valley Christian Magazine is printed in the United States. Reproduction without the expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Copyright 2011. Printed in the USA.
I’m sure the house is perfect. House lights have been strung to a tee. Out-of-town guests and the gatherings with the in-laws went off without a hitch. There’s plenty of money to get the perfect gifts. There’s an abundance of time to get everything done and decompress during your “days off” from work. Did I mention…No Stress?! Should I go on with the rest of the unrealistic pressures we put on ourselves to have the “perfect” Christmas. Most of these came right out of the Torres Family Christmas handbook. One thing I did notice this year…Christmas falls on a Sunday. I stopped and stared at the calendar. Not sure how to react. I thought “how is this going to affect days off at work.” (admit it…you did too) Then I thought…how cool. Christmas on a Sunday. Now this will definitely change up our typical Christmas rhythm. Our rhythm usually involves a Christmas Eve Service and dinner, a before-the-sun-comes-upwake-up-call from my kids, breakfast and presents with family along with lunch. I love that we get to go to “Sunday” church too. (I know many of you have services on Christmas day, but for our house that’s not a norm.) I picture thousands of people filling the churches to celebrate Christmas. Nice. Now Christmas on a Sunday might change up our house, but what is not different? The Great Story. The birth of Jesus Christ. What’s not different is who He is. What’s not different is what He has done. What’s not different is what He can do for you. Christmas time is great because people are so open to talking about the birth of Jesus Christ. People are open to hearing The Story. People are open to sharing. People are open to invitations . Take time this season to invite someone OR say yes when you’re invited. Who are you going to invite? A friend…parent…co-worker… Don’t stress about our idea of a perfect Christmas. We have the greatest news in the world. And it’s news that simply must be told. It’s time. Be bold. Be clear. Invite. Connect. Watch God move. Then celebrate like you never have before. Christian Torres and his wife, Stephanie, live inand McAllen Christian Torres his with their 3 daughters wife, Stephanie, live Madeleine (11), in McAllen with their 3 Natalie (8), daughters Madeleine and Courtney (6). (11), Natalie (8), They are members of and Courtney (6). They are members of Palm Valley Church of Mission.
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FROM DR. RAULITO PEÑA INTRALASIK CATARACT SURGEON
8 7 3 3 FOLLOW US
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Wednesday, 7 pm. - Bilingual Sunday 9 a.m. – Spanish 11 a.m. – English 1 p.m. - English
HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR WIFE:
I met my wife when I was 16, visiting a church in Harlingen. She was leading praise and worship. I got to know her and her family and she got to know mine. We married when I was 18. Then I went to bible school locally. Then we became youth pastors at the same church we met.
SO THIS CHURCH STARTED OUT FROM THERE?
A year later we started this church – in a living room in Harlingen. It was my wife’s family and mine – 12-13 of us. Now on an average Sunday we run 1,200-1,300 just in San Benito, not counting our separate campuses.
Y’ALL ARE GROWING FAST. HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THIS? Not at all. We leased this land with the option to buy it and there
was just this one little building. We struggled to keep the doors open. The temptation to give up was strong in those early days. We had every reason to. The money wasn’t there, the people weren’t responding. There was even a time when I doubted whether God had called me at all. That maybe this was just us, that we just thought it would be a good idea.
WHAT KEPT IT GOING?
God gave us strength, whether through encouraging words or we’d see a sign, or a new family would show up – or even seeing just one new person would be enough to keep us going. Sometimes someone would give us a special donation, something just enough so we wouldn’t have to have services in the dark.
DID YOU EVER HAVE SERVICES IN THE DARK?
No, but we may have had a couple with no A/C. We also had a couple where nobody showed up. We would preach to ourselves – and sometimes not all of us would show up. We know what it is to have children’s church in a van. We had purchased a van to pick people up and we would use it as our chil-
dren’s church. They would sit in the seats, we would turn on the A/C and they would have children’s church. Our first youth ministry started under a tree – a big tree that’s still out there. And our nursery would be in a little storage unit.
WOULD YOU DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN?
There are definitely some things I would do different, but I wouldn’t change the lessons. You don’t know that God is all you need until God is all you have. We didn’t have the money at times, didn’t know how we’d make it. Each time God would show up – just enough to keep us there another week, to make us keep ministering another month to make us not give up on that day. These are the things that really move me and bring me fulfillment. We’ve had some powerful services here. For example, sometimes we’ll have 200 kids singing - they fill the altar and steps and everything. Then to think if I had I given up, it’s very possible those children would not be there.
WHEN DID THINGS CHANGE?
When God put in our heart to do more community outreach. We went to the city to see if there were some things we could do for them outside in the parks. The first thing the city asked me was “Why?” I was stunned. One man said “I’ve worked for the city for 20 years and not one church has ever asked to do something for us so that’s why I’m asking why you want to do this.” We got permission, we canvased the neighborhood and had a good turnout. Our 60 people we had attending at that time grew to 250 within a year. We started having two services. We started having that growth – we went outside the four walls and took the idea and definition of what it means to be the church and we started putting that into practice. We haven’t stopped growing since. When we took the Great Commission seriously, we began to see the fruit.
NOW YOU’VE BEEN PLANTING CHURCHES ELSEWHERE
God had always instilled in us that we would one day plant what we call significant or life-giving churches in areas where they were most needed. So we’ve planted six churches up until now throughout the valley and parts of Mexico. Some have evolved into their own church where we’ve placed a pastor and he’s running the church.
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It might be a city God places on our heart. We had a lot
of people coming from the Brownsville area – I’m talking a significant number of families and we’d see some for a while. Then they’d stop coming. When we followed up they would say “well it’s just too far.” God put things together. We got existing families here and relocated them to Brownsville and launched a church and on our first day we had 407 people. We’ve been there almost two years. They are an extension of our church. The same goes with Raymondville and the church we planted there. It’s a smaller community but we have been in Raymondville two years and we are probably the second largest church in Raymondville. Of course the largest in Raymondville has like 100 people and we have 60-70 so we are doing well. We’re looking to possibly launch another church in the near future, maybe in the McAllen – Mission area.
HOW DID YOUR YOUTH BUILDING – FUEL 7 – COME ABOUT? Well, it’s in downtown San Benito, about two miles from the church. We didn’t have room here to add another building to our property. We decided to find a building in a central location where youth could meet.
The idea was drop your youth off at the center and come to the main sanctuary. It caught on pretty quick and the youth really like the idea of having their own place, their own building. We dressed it up to be “youthy” and made it in such a way where they could feel at home. We average anywhere from 150-200 youth on a Wednesday night. The neat thing about having a central location is that there are churches that don’t have anything for their youth on Wednesdays and they will bring them to our building on Wednesday to be part of the ministry, part of the service. We don’t put the name of the church on it per se because we want to be just a youth center. We have youth who come from different places and group homes that bring their youth who have been on good behavior.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING NAMED THE 46TH FASTEST GROWING CHURCH IN THE NATION BY OUTREACH MAGAZINE. There are 10s of thousands of churches surveyed by that magazine and by the grace of God we
were recognized. We had a 35-percent growth increase from last year to this year.
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THAT?
This is part of the Good News amidst all the bad news you hear. We aren’t the only ones – there are many churches doing significant things. I accept this reward, this honor on behalf of any church in the Valley that is making a significant impact in their community. Because that’s what we want to do, that’s what we intend to do. When we think about how we want to do church and reach people, we didn’t think about how we could make “The List.” We thought about how we could make a greater impact. We just so happened to make the list.
OK, SO HOW ARE YOU GUYS GROWING?
A lot want to know “How are you guys growing?” especially when so many are declining. And we’ve done things like going to multiple services and multiple campuses but the key is to not focus on church growth but to focus on church health. Anything healthy will grow.
WHAT DOES CHURCH HEALTH MEAN?
Too many times as pastors we focus on how we can get more people in our church or in our pews. I’m all for big days and strategies. We’ve done them but I think our focus shifted to a healthy congregation. That we had healthy marriages, that we had healthy families and that we had a healthy congregation. By default people started inviting, evangelizing and coming more often – we were concerned about their spiritual health and well-being. When they see that sincere concern for their state of being or family or their children’s education – they began to be drawn.
WHAT DO YOU TELL PASTORS WHOSE CHURCHES AREN’T GROWING?
If you’re not growing you need to stop praying for the harvest and start looking at why you’re not growing. The harvest is ready, people are ready. If I could recommend something it would be that there’s a growing demand for multiple services. If a church feels it has a call to reach its community and has a relevant message that resonates with most people, then multiple services could spark growth. It’s like I was told one time “the only / 13 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
people who like packed churches are pastors” because people don’t. They don’t like the inconvenience of having to park a mile away; they don’t like to take their kids with 30 other kids, some coughing and sneezing; they don’t like not being able to sit with their families because they couldn’t find four or five chairs in a row. So creating multiple services – creating options – will usually result in growth - either with new people or people who come back.
AND YOU ARE BUILDING A NEW CHURCH. HOW’S THAT COMING?
It will be about 70,000 square feet and seats 2,000 people on almost 14 acres. Everything is paid off, we are debt free as of now and a little more than half complete. Hoping to be in there God willing by first quarter 2012. It will be the second largest building in San Benito – Wal-Mart is 110,000 square feet.
QUITE A RIDE, HUH?
You think about those humble beginnings. We were 17-year-old kids – look what has happened from one little “yes.” I was 17 when I said yes to God. I wasn’t really sure what I was saying yes to but I knew I needed to be forgiven and I needed a Savior and said yes to whatever He had for me. I didn’t give up when I had every reason to give up. I tell people what you see here at VICC, whatever we’re doing, whoever we’re reaching all came about from a 17-year-old’s decision to give his life to the Lord. All this came about from a man who didn’t quit.
YOU HAVE TIME FOR ANY HOBBIES?
My hobbies are fishing and hunting. I’m not a big sports guy like some of my colleagues and counterparts. I just go – whether freshwater or saltwater, whenever I can.
EVER GO DEEP SEA FISHING?
The last time I went, I never wanted to go back. There were like 14-16 foot swells, and a hurricane brewing. It was a church charter trip and the captain even told us that he didn’t recommend us going. He was willing to give us our money back. But the men of faith that we have at the church we all said lets go anyway and out of the 25 of us that went, 23 of us got sick and ended up coming in early because it was so bad. Captain looked at me and said I told you so, no refunds now. I haven’t gone back since – that was eight years ago. I would probably go again – if guaranteed to not get sick.
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Maria Elena: A Courageous Woman By Henry Miller The beatings weren’t supposed to happen again. Being paraded in front of her children while her husband called her sexually explicit and demeaning names were supposed to be part of a forgotten past. Instead, just a few days after she and her family returned from hiding thanks to Mujeres Unidas, everything started up – even worse. It was oppression, physical abuse and mental torture.
“A sergeant from the McAllen Police Department told me one of these days someone was going to end up dead,” Elena said. “And then he said it wouldn’t be him (the husband). “I knew I had to get out. I knew the Lord would help me and protect me but I didn’t know how. But I had to make a lot of decisions. I couldn’t just stay there. I had to take action and He helped me through them.”
Her husband, as a result of Elena and the family going into hiding, would time her on her trip back from work. “If I was more than five minutes late,” she said, “he would be waiting at the mailbox for me.” However, because of her working with Mujeres Unidas, the local police force and her faith in God, Elena was able to push forward through the recurring nightmare.
“I have to pinch myself sometimes,” Elena said. “It’s sometimes so surreal that I got out of that lifestyle and instead of sitting in a cemetery, I’m sitting behind a desk.” She’s been remarried to a man whose Christian faith has helped her path to recovery. But her time at Mujeres Unidas, where she recently returned to visit as part of her doctorate work and ended up a guest speaker, is something she plans on encouraging women to seek out – and let them know there is hope.
Mujeres Unidas/Women Together Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to “provide shelter and crisis intervention programs for women and children who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.” The organization’s 24-hour hotline alone took more than 2,100 calls in 2010. Its shelter provided services to nearly 300 women and more than 500 children. “My son thought he was big and strong enough to defend me,” Maria Elena Betancourt said. “He wasn’t and so he started taking horrific beatings.”
Now more than 15 years later Elena – who was a teacher during her first marriage – has earned her master’s degree, is a year away from a doctorate degree and is director of elementary curriculum for the Donna Independent School District.
Who better to give that type of advice than someone who once was called the most derogatory of names and lived in that world? And, who better than someone who soon will be called…. Doctor. Elena finally had enough. Now it was more than her life in danger, but that of her children as well. She filed for a restraining order, had the menace evicted and eventually filed for a divorce. Those were the first steps to finally breaking the domestic abuse pattern. The divorce became final November 1995. “It was intense. It was real pain and a lot of it. But I knew no other way. I had become a teen wife, parent and mom and knew no other way of life. I was scared – terrified. I didn’t know what my future – or what my children’s future – would be like.” / 15 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
Henry Miller has been in the publishing business for 25 years. His work has been in more than 150 newspapers and dozens of magazines, and he has been a syndicated radio personality on more than 60 stations nationwide. He and his daughter Camilla (7) attend Palm Valley Church in Mission. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re All Just Moving Away Everyone is immortal. Everyone lives forever. Whether you are a Christian or an agnostic or an atheist, you live forever. Every Buddhist, every Hindu, and every Muslim lives forever. Every person lives forever. We won’t stop existing. But the question is where will we live forever? Let’s say that I bought you a one-way plane ticket and told you, “I am going to send you off on a journey next week.” You get excited and start packing your bags. Bzzut before you get excited, the thing you need to be asking me is, “What is the destination for this one-way plane fare?” If the destination is Siberia, don’t be too excited. But if the destination is Maui, then get excited.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
In the same way, the issue is not whether we will live forever as much as it is where we will live forever. And according to the Bible, there are only two options: heaven or hell. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you go to heaven. And in a sense, you don’t die.
Do you believe this?” John 11:25–26
Jesus said. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). I am not in denial. I understand that the body breaks down and sometimes shuts down quickly—unexpectedly, even. I understand that when we die, we are placed in a grave. But I know that in another sense, we don’t die. General MacArthur, in his famous televised speech in April 1951, stated, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” Well, we could also say, “Old Christians never die; they just move away.” And where do they move? They move away to heaven.
He is Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riveside, Calif. He began his pastoral ministry at 19 by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Since then, God has transformed the small group into a church of 15,000-plus, one of the largest churches in America. For more, visit:
Used by permission from: Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, P.O. Box 4000, Riverside, Calif., 92514
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117 W. GRIFFIN PARKWAY / SUITE A / MISSION TX email@example.com / 956.572.9085
“Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 NET
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The Path of Have you ever noticed how we tend to take the same route to work, church or wherever we frequently travel? Most likely, it is because there is typically less traffic, or we go the same way in order to avoid deciding which route would be the best at the moment. All these reasons have the common idea—the path of least resistance. Our habits many times can become ruts that desensitize us along our paths. We can become numb to what is happening around us when we are in our ruts. Someone once described to me that a rut is like being in a coffin with both ends kicked out. (Think that through awhile...) Have you ever heard someone your riding with point out a new business, along the road you often travel, and realize that you had never noticed it? It reminds me of when I opened a new Boot Jack Western Store on the busiest street in town. Three years later, I decided to paint giant dairy cow spots all over the building. All of the sudden, for the next several weeks, we had customers coming in saying they were so glad we opened a new store close to where they live. Over the years, I have heard people tell me how they “took the high road” when dealing with conflicts. In reality they were telling me they decided to simply let the issue fall by the wayside, ignoring it in the hopes that the person will change or that the situation would just go away. Maybe, in some cases, this is wisdom. What about those situations that should not be postponed or ignored? I asked someone once “Why do you think you are taking the high road?” Unfortunately, their response was loaded with lame excuses in an attempt to avoid dealing with the problem at hand. Within a few months, “taking the high road” approach escalated the situation into a tragedy, leaving a trail of legal problems and very wounded people. Satan’s regime will wreak havoc in the lives of those who choose the path of least resistance. It becomes a breeding ground for denial, neglect, and co-dependency—which are all forms of false peace. True, most of us prefer to evade confrontation and avoid establishing healthy boundaries. We justify our actions (or lack thereof) by saying that we are taking the “high road” or holding onto “faith” that the situation or person will change.
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Least Resistance We rationalize our position with the intent to not add stress to those involved, or we put it back on God saying, “The Lord will take care of it.” When the reality may be that God wants to use you to establish healthy boundaries, intervene in unhealthy or abusive situations, or just plain confront someone in love with the truth that may very well be their key to real freedom. When you think about it, the “high road” is up and can be more difficult to take than the lower route (i.e. path of least resistance). A few years ago I visited a first-class substance abuse rehab center to hear testimonies from those who were graduating from their treatment term. I noticed a common theme from the rehabilitated addicts. Many said they continued in their addiction as long as there was someone around that would not draw boundaries with them. They explained how this allowed the addict to take advantage of other people’s resources so they could continue getting their “fix” without having to face the resistance of change. The addict’s path of least resistance fed off another taking a path of least resistance who would not establish boundaries—thus a critical link in a chain reaction of co-dependency.
By Mike Masso
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” ~Galatians 6:1-3 (NLT) “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” ~Matthew 18:15 (NKJV) “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” ~Ephesians 4:15 (NLT-emphasis mine) “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” ~Ephesians 4:25 (ESV)
Too often we fail to embrace situations that seem difficult, because we prefer to avoid the hassle of conflict, face fear of failure, appease expectations of others, or because we choose to take the path of convenience. When we do this, we not only keep others from growing, but we keep ourselves from being empowered to break free of character deficiencies that are keeping us from all that Christ has for us.
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is married to Robyn Masso and they have four children. Mike and his family have been involved in the Rio Grande Valley community most of their lives in ministry and business ventures. Mike is the Director for Leadership Development Alliance, LLC, President of Viva Life Christian Book Shop and Owner-Broker of Prime Ventures Commercial Real Estate.
Fool! OR NO Fool?
By Dr. James MacDonald
There are seasons of incredible joy in ministry, and there are inevitably seasons where conflict rears its ugly head and needs to be dealt with. I have come to believe that failure in the season of conflict—failure to deal with it, failure to learn from it, failure to move beyond it—prevents entrance into a new season of joy. For that reason alone, I have tried to handle conflict in the best possible way. Two verses tucked away in Proverbs 26 have been very helpful to me, and I have been reminded about them again just recently. On the page they look like a contradiction, but in real life they work together like hand and glove, if you let them. Here’s the first one to master:
“Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:5
Answer the fool—he thinks he’s so smart, has it all figured out in his brashness and needs to be set straight. Do your job, don’t fear the fallout. Tell him directly and with kindness what his folly is and why his insolence or block-headed pride or denial are destroying him. Step up to the plate and take one for the team. There is nothing worse than a fool on the loose, and they can devastate any organization or ministry. Do your job, stop the fool in his tracks and set the fool straight. OK? Just do it! The problem is, fools do not like to be set straight. Which leads to the all-important balance of the proverb in closest proximity.
Beware your noblest attempts to get a fool what he wants least of all, truth! Sometimes we care too much and end up playing the fool while trying to help a fool. I know that I have tended to overestimate my ability to change the behavior of others. One thing we have learned through much pain and many failed attempts to fix a fool: “When you want it for someone more than they want it for themselves, it’s not going anywhere good.” Putting these two verses together, I have returned often to this principle: “Tell them once with clarity and brevity. Anything more than that draws us into the web of folly.” I have known this for a long time, but an emergency meeting Saturday night, a surprise conversation in the hall between services, an email that should not have been sent, no matter how well intentioned—all dealing with different issues in the church, all together reminding me of a lesson I return to again and again. Say it once, clearly and lovingly. Anyone seeking wisdom will get the message and benefit. Fools will argue, debate and blame-shift—and if you don’t get off that train in a hurry, you will become a fool trying to help a fool and that doesn’t help anyone. Proverbs 26:4-5. Put them together in a season of ministry conflict and you can look forward to another season of joy, just ahead.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”
Listen to Walk in the Word locally
Fools are fools for a reason, and it’s not because they are deaf or blind; it’s because they are dull of hearing. Just one verse earlier we are told, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.” And knowing that we cannot bring the rod to bear upon a fool in our churches, we try to ‘bring the rod’ with many words. This has been one of my greatest errors in ministry. Becoming a fool to try to get a message to a fool about their foolishness. Have you ever heard yourself doing the same? Have you seen yourself stooping to the level of foolish arguments? Have you felt yourself allowing the intrusion of pride? Have you heard your own tone rising to meet the challenge of a fool?
weekdays at 5:30a.m. James MacDonald is founding and Senior Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in northwest Chicago. James’ teacing canbe heard on Walk in the Word, a daily radio program reaching more than 3 million people across North America. Used by permission of Walk in the Word, Elgin, Ill., 61023. To subscribe to the Weekly Walk, a weekly e-devotional, visit: www.walkintheword.com Used by permission of Walk in the Word,Elgin, Ill., 61023.
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/ 21 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com / Sports Performance Corporate
Q&A With Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall Recently, Casting Crowns’ lead singer Mark Hall called Valley Christian Magazine as the band awaited the final results of where their new album Come To The Well would land on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. Many had predicted they would be No. 1. Adele took that spot, however, but Casting Crowns finished second. Hall and VCM’s Henry Miller talked about what it would be like to be No. 1, the movie Courageous and being a dad. VCM: What are your thoughts on getting a No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts?
HALL: That’s pretty awesome. Just having this conversation about being number one is huge. God has been good to us as far as the Christian market goes, but this is a whole other level.
VCM: Would being No. 1 add any pressure to y’all?
HALL: There’s absolutely no pressure if it happens. If we went to number one, it’s gonna be like “who is Casting Crowns?”
VCM: And that’s a good thing?
HALL: What I like is that if people start looking into Casting Crowns, they’re gonna learn about Jesus very quickly. There’s no other message than knowing God and make Him known. It is a cool idea if someone gets our record because we’re number one. Just spread His word everywhere.
VCM: Casting Crowns is like a group of rock stars. Everywhere you go, you sell out and have enjoyed so much success. How do you stay grounded?
HALL: Well I’m driving to church right now….(chuckles). We lead worship on Sunday mornings, and in the office on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday with student worship. It’s still what we do and who we are. We are connected to people every day – not in a tour. Our songs come from our ministries and I don’t think we would have the songs if we weren’t connected to families. It keeps us grounded. On tour we spend time together – we make sure we have our perspective right.
VCM: You recorded the title track for the movie Courageous. How’d that come about?
HALL: I was at a National Day of Prayer breakfast and Alex Hendrick (director, co-writer of Courageous) told me they were in the conceptual stages, working on an idea about fathers. I was gushing all over him. This is where I am as a dad right now – I have a son who is 13 and at his journey to manhood ceremony there were 12 men plugged in to speak to him, encourage him and challenge him.
VCM: It has to be something seeing all these kids at your youth meetings. You feel like a dad in some ways to all of them? HALL: Dads are raising a modern day knight now. With the youth I really am trying to let them understand that to walk with God is about being something bigger than yourself. A lot of student ministries are just orphan care. Dads / 22 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
maybe are not absent, but they are spiritually absent. I look around and see myself surrounded by broken families.
VCM: We also have a question from one of our readers and Facebook followers – Jj Be JjBe: Mark, I know that aside from being a lead singer for CC you are also a youth pastor...so being a single mother of 2 boys I would like to ask what advice you would give me on raising strong Chrisitian men of faith in today’s society...
HALL: Well two things. One is walk through the book of God together, taking a story at a time, asking God to make you more like Jesus. Study and read what John wrote about the life of Jesus, and connect on a spiritual level. The second is I’m in a church where there is a strong student ministry. You need to find them, where they will pour into your sons. The body of Christ men in your church needs to come around and be that example in their lives.
VCM: Can you recall going to any certain cities where it was obvious the Spirit was working?
HALL: We’ve been to some places and saw some things going on. Las Vegas sticks out. There was a very weary crowd and it was like everybody came to the well that night. Another was in Salt Lake City. So many people were in tears in the meet and greet, before anything got started. They said “Christian bands never come here. Thank you for not forgetting about us.” That was a really, really neat night of encouraging.
celebrate the wonder of...
A Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service Saturday, December 24 at 5 p.m. Join us for an evening of candlelight, communion, carols, and a special message for the whole family.
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Damian Rendon & Blanca Vasquez
EDINBURG 2610 Cornerstone Blvd. Edinburg, TX 78539 Ph: 956-668-1818 Fax: 956-668-1819
MCALLEN MISSION RIO GRANDE CITY *2108 South M Street, 1112 E Griffin Parkway, *5412 Brand Street, Ste.6 Ste. C Ste. 3 McAllen, TX 78503 Mission, Texas 78572 Rio Grande City, TX Ph: 956-668-7433 Phone: (956) 271-4565 78582 / 23 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com / 956-488-1818 Fax: 956-668-7183 Fax: (956) 424-3785 Ph:
Fax: 956-488-1819 ROMA 1402 W. Grant St. Ste. A Roma, TX 78584 Ph: 956-849-1818 Fax: 956-849-1822
Keep your Focus on the Right Place!
By Nan Riegert
The holidays should be a time of reﬂection and expectation. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the season in which we are thankful for God’s bountiful blessings. We look forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior on Christmas. Unfortunately, unless we are prepared in advance it catches us in a whirlwind, leaving us nowhere near “merry and bright.” At the announcement of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2, an angel told the shepherds “be not afraid.” As God’s messengers, what would the angels say to us this holiday season? Are we afraid, worried, angry, lonely, sad, stressed out, sick, confused? A busy schedule, incoming packages, gifts to wrap, holiday decor and all the other trappings of Christmas can be cumbersome. Add an unexpected event and it’s overwhelming. Often there is a disconnect between how we think things should be and how they really are and this and this can cause unhappiness. Making the most of the hustle and bustle and busyness of the holiday season, we need to plan in advance to be prepared to receive the season of Advent. • Be Contemplative After the shepherds heard from the angels and visited Jesus, “Mary pondered these things in her heart” and so should we. Jesus is the centerpiece of the holiday season. Make time for introspection. • Be Focused “Glory to God in the highest.” If we are not careful, families, friends, schedules, and responsibilities can replace Jesus as our focus. We need to seek Jesus “with all our heart, mind and strength.” We can do this by being realistic. • Acknowledge our feelings to ourselves and to God. Sometimes our emotions are in conﬂict with how we think we should feel at Christmas time. • Acknowledge our boundaries to ourselves and to God. There are limits to what we can do. We can only be in one place at at a time..We have limited ﬁnances. Broken relationships, geographical distance from loved ones, and health concerns also pose boundaries. • Plan ahead. Gift-giving, decorating, hosting and attending festivities all require time, effort and money. In unusual or difﬁcult circumstances it helps to know in advance we can say no to unrealistic expectations even when they are traditions. In easier circumstances, we need to set aside time for gathering and preparing everything from ingredients, to decorations, to gifts to what we will wear. This coming season, whatever your circumstance...whether you are scratching your head wondering where you saw some inspiring source of creativity for your own holiday cheer, whether you are running around with your hair on ﬁre or unexpectedly spending time by a loved one’s hospital bed, lets keep Jesus the centerpiece of our focus.
Nan Riegert serves in leadership positions in ROAD Ministries, Bible Study Fellowship International and P.E.O.. She has served her church in leading womens Bible studies through W.i.T. (Women in Touch) and teaching childrens Sunday School classes at Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen. Nan is married to David and has two daughters, Mackenzie and Eliza.
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THIRD-GRADERS FROM CENTRAL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL, FAITH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY AND AGAPE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL PARTICIPATED IN VALLEY CHRISTIAN MAGAZINE’S “DRAW YOUR NATIVITY” EVENT. ENJOY WHAT THESE CHILDREN DREW AND MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM US AND THEM CENTRAL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
1. JULIANA M. 2. MIRANDA K. FUENTES 3. RICHARD MONTALVO
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2 FAITH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 1. ZELMA LEMONS 2. JOSUA SANCHEZ 3. ARATH SEPULVEDA 4. JOSIAH TORRES 5. DIEGO FLORES 6. RAUL OROZCO 7. GERVIE GUMLAN 8. ANUSCHKA MAI 9. ISABEL FLORES 10. MAJOR WALLACE
6 9 7 / 26 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
7 10 11
AGAPE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
1. DEVIN SAENZ 2. MAJOR WALLACE 3. ALICIA GOMEZ 4. Emily 5. JIMMY SHUMACK 6. JAVIER TABOR 7. DANIELA SANCHEZ 8. ALEX GARZA 9. SARA PRESAS 10. JADA BROOKE ESPINO 11. ASTRID CANALES 12. GIULIA MAYHUA 13. LEONARDO 14. NICOLAS / 27 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
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Focus on Ministries: Yo UNG LIFE
I had no excuse for struggling, but I still was struggling.
beautiful weather and a camp like nothing I’ve ever seen or been exposed to.
things get tough and we don’t have the answers.
I came from a good home on the South side of San Antonio. My parents took us to church. They worked hard. We struggled at times but they still provided.
Over the loudspeaker I heard secular music playing. I went up to the leader and said “wait a minute….you can’t play this type of music at a church camp.” He smiled graciously and said, let’s talk at the end of the camp. I was like “you got it…I will be your eyes and ears of what’s going on around here.”
That’s what we did….living life together. Later, He would be the best man in my wedding.
That night I heard this guy talk about Jesus in a way I had never heard of before. He didn’t share the typical God loved me story. He told me that God liked me and wants to have a relationship with me. I had never heard it like that before.
What is Young Life about? Young Life is based on relationships and starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them -- on their turf and in their culture -- building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight -- they take time, patience, trust and consistency.
As a teenager, I was stuck in life. A friend told me she was getting ready to leave in a few days for Colorado. Just the thought of getting away sounded amazing. She said it was with some group I had never heard of and would cost $350. Oh well, I thought. No way can my parents afford that but I asked if I could go anyway. She called her leader. There was one spot open. If you were willing to do some work projects it would be paid for. Mind you, I’ve never been to the North side of San Antonio let alone outside of Texas. But there I was Saturday morning…on a bus heading to Colorado.
That week, I was able to get ownership of my faith between me and God that I never had before. It wasn’t my parent’s faith. My relationship with God began! I also began to develop a great relationship with my leader.
The trip was an adventure in and of itself. I didn’t know anyone else on the bus except for my one friend. The people were different….in a good way. I arrived to snow-capped mountains,
He became the first mentor in my life. He showed me that he didn’t have it all together…because he didn’t. He showed me that it was a journey and together we will look at scriptures when
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This is Younglife. This is Mario Ornelas, Younglife Metro Director for the Rio Grande Valley.
We log many hours with kids, listening to their stories and learning what’s important to them, all because kids’ lives are dramatically impacted when caring adults come alongside them, and share with them the truth about God’s love. The choices they make today, based upon God’s love for them, will impact future decisions - careers chosen, mar-
MARIO AND DEBRA ORNELAS
riages formed and families raised - all ripples from the time when a Young Life leader took time to reach out and enter their world. Kids were made for relationships, and Young Life was made for kids. Because we believe in kids, we go where they are, build relationships with them based upon trust and invite them into experiences of fun, adventure, grace and truth. Over the past seven decades we have been committed to caring for kids, and seeing positive change in their lives, as they consider what it means to walk in relationship with a God who loves
them. Are you interested? Think that maybe YOU were made for this? Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. Theyâ€™re moms and dads, college students, working professionals, retirees and other compassionate adults who want Godâ€™s best for kids. The diversity of our volunteers helps us make an eternal difference with all kinds of kids in all kinds of places. How Can I Get Involved? We have opportunities to serve all across the Valley: Harlingen, McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, and Pharr
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Serve on a committee/board You can help with a tax deductible financial gift. Individuals can give a one-time or monthly gifts Businesses can support with an end-ofthe-year gift. Assist in Grant Writing Proposals Help pay for a camp (just like how Mario got started.) Please call or email to get involved 956-307-9738, email@example.com Big or Small, We all have something to give.
Looking for an exciting, tasty, fundraising event? Youth Groups
Christian School Groups
Non-Profit Organizations Partial Proceeds to benefit the:
What will you be selling?
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6 dozen cookies in a â€œGod Bless Americaâ€? box
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email: firstname.lastname@example.org Objective: 1. To provide funds to support the Make-A-Wish foundation of the Rio Grande Valley.
2. To provide an avenue to allow for local non-profit organization to raise money for their needs. 3. To produce a high quality product that customers will be please with. Costs and distribution of funds 3.00-Cost of cookies and packing. 0.25-Cost for box 0.75-Cost of office, clerical, and delivery epenses 3.00-To the Make-A-Wish foundation of the RGV 3.00-To the non-profit organization selling the cookies
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The Word on Los Lagos Ministries Isaiah 58 instructs us to feed, clothe and take care of the poor.
Ray and Esmer Perez along with Pastor Donald Williams are living symbols of those teachings. Ready at a moment’s notice when the call comes in for assistance, Lagos Ministries, through contributions of clothing and food, goes out into the poorest of communities. Once they share the food and clothing and showing them that there is hope in all circumstances, they connect the people with a local church in their barrio. Recently Lagos Ministries took part in The Way of The Cross ministry in Mercedes where thousands of people came out to serve and receive assistance. “It was amazing, we are just trying to be faithful…God will provide and lead,” Ray Perez said. If you’d like to help The Word on Los Lagos Ministries, you can help with their ministry project, a golf tournament to raise money to build a structure to help feed the area along with providing an area for children’s ministries. You can also donate food and clothing all year long. “We depend on donations to provide for others,” Perez said. Call 956-569-6270 or 956-907-2961 or at 2300 Freddy Gonzalez #2330, Edinburg, Texas 78539 / 32 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
Cruzadores de la Fe Crusaders of Faith Mexicans along the border down of Reynosa have been robbed of many freedoms due to the escalating violence the drug wars of have brought. Neighborhood streets once filled with cheerful children playing are now desolate as fear-stricken families seek the shelter of their homes. Joe and Brenda Greagrey have been faithfully been crossing the border into Mexico for more than 23 years. “God has been faithful and His hand of protection has been with us.” Brenda said.. “Help us shine some light upon the grim situation that these children are living in.” Brenda said. They will be taking toys and gently used clothing to more than 5,000 children this month. Monetary donations are also accepted and are tax deductible. Please make checks payable to Word of God Missions and write Brenda and Joe Greagrey on the memo line. For more information or if you would like to join them during these days, call 956-655-5322 or email email@example.com
“The enormity of this project is bigger than what we can do,” Brenda said. “Thank you for your faithfulness and prayers.” / 33 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
Santa Needs Helpers. Volunteers are needed for: • selling tickets • taking tickets • souvenir shop • narrating trolley and train tours • and other fun ways to help Dec. 1 - 30 except 24 & 25 Contact: Kay Wolf or Maggie Cabrera at Hidalgo City Hall for more information 956-843-2286 Santa needs all the help he can get!
Mujeres Unidas/Women Together 420 North 21st Street McAllen, TX (956) 664-2826 Mujeres Unidas/Women Together Foundation is a non-profit agency with a mission to provide shelter and crisis intervention programs for women and children who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. The agency maintains a 45-bed shelter facility and transitional housing consisting of 16 apartments. The foundation covers Hidalgo and Starr counties. Services are provided at no cost to clients. Below are some statistics detailing some of the families or individuals served in 2010: Crisis Shelter provided residence for 298 women and 508 children. More than 40,000 meals were prepared for clients.
Join our team! Looking to join an exciting new Christian Ministry Team? Full & part Time Sales Reps are needed throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
Therapeutic, support and life skill groups were provided for 164 boys and 145 girls. More than 2,100 calls were handled on the 24-hour crisis hotline. More than 800 volunteers throughout the year tallied more than 20,000 volunteer hours. If you’re looking to donate items or to volunteer, call (956) 630-4878.
Call us at 956-314-0161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also volunteer opportunities in the following areas: direct service programs, 24-hour crisis hotline, rape crisis hotl ine, children’s activities, clerical, outreach and sorting donations, among other areas.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about advertising your business? Don’t wait any longer! Help support this ministry today! Help make a difference in our community. / 34 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
Mary Lou Henry Broker/ Owner, ABR GRI
Cell: (956) 451-2623
email@example.com Valley Christian Magazine
1520W. Dove, Ste. G - Blog 2 McAllen, TX 78504
Hablamos Espa単ol !
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Concert Photos by lance krueger
JEREMY CAMP, FRANCESCA
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BATTISTELLI IN THE RGV
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Communion with God By Luis Palau
Some years ago a doctor asked an elderly Christian woman in England, “If I asked God for five pounds, would I get it?” The old woman answered with a question. “If you were introduced to the Prince of Wales, would you ask him for money at once?” “No, not till I knew him better,” replied the doctor. “Well,” remarked the woman, “you will need to know God a great deal better before you can expect Him to answer your prayer.” Someone commented on this incident by observing, “Many people presume to ask God for things upon mere acquaintance with Him.” Isn’t that often the case? Prayer, as we said before, is simply two friends talking together. The Bible is God’s side of the conversation. When I read the Scriptures, I soon find myself whispering a petition. When I pray, God’s Word comes to mind. When I listen to His Word, my soul bows in adoration. Bible expositor W. Graham Scroggie wrote, “In the Bible God speaks to us, and in prayer we speak to God.” The Bible and prayer are intertwined strands forming the intimate cord of communion between God and ourselves. Read the great prayers of Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, and Daniel. In their petitions they spoke God’s words back to Him. This is the prayer language God delights to answer. As you pray, let Him bring Scriptures to mind. Pray them back to God as they apply to you. Before you spend time reading and studying the Bible each day, pray that God will make your heart sensitive to His Word. Martin Luther said, “Having prayed well is having studied well.” We cannot have one without the other. George Müller fellowshiped with God as few men in history have ever done. Listen to what Müller said about his times alone with God: “I begin to meditate the New Testament early in the mornings. . . . Invariably, I have found that . . . after so many minutes of meditation, my soul is guided to confession, or to give thanks, or to intercede, or to make a request. So, even when you couldn’t say that I had given myself to prayer, but rather to meditation, nevertheless, it turned out that almost immediately the meditation turned into prayer.” As God’s Word spoke to Müller’s heart, he naturally responded back to God prayer. He enjoyed intimate fellowship with his Lord.
Luis Palau’s ministry has shared the Gospel with more than 1 billion people through evangelistic events and media. He has spoken in person to 25 million people in 72 countries with more than 1 million registered decisions for Jesus Christ. He has authored close to 50 books and has counseled with business and political leaders and heads of state around the world.
Communication is the key to any relationship. Our relationship with God can grow only as we communicate our adoration, confession, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving to Him through prayer, and as we listen to His voice through the daily study of His Word. How well do you know God? How intimate is your relationship with Him? Could you come to God, ask Him for five pounds, and know his heavenly Father would somehow supply his need. Could you ask God for that, or are you only an acquaintance? / 38 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
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In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7) 1
Christmas season rarely passes without the sharing of this account. There are multiple layers that can be explored in this passage. It’s full of history and culture, as well as the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. However, there’s another element to explore – the social-relational elements at work underneath the surface. The passage ends by stating in a matter of fact fashion that there was “no room for them (Joseph and Mary) in the inn.” What exactly was “the inn” and what does it mean that there was no room? Why was there no room? The text indicates that Joseph and Mary very well may have been in Bethlehem for some time. It doesn’t imply that they arrived at midnight, or that everyone was already in bed.
Making room By JERRELL JOBE
It doesn’t state that her water broke just as they were entering the city. Rather, the text reads, “while they were there.” This could mean that they had been there for a while. Enough time, that is, to ask around and look for a place to stay. The story continues, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) Many translations say, “there was no room for them in the ‘inn.’” All across America during the Christmas season there are Nativity plays. And no doubt, there will be a Mary and a Joseph looking for lodging only to be turned away, as an innkeeper informs them that the inn is full. May I point out that there is no knocking on an inn keeper’s door, nor an inn keeper in the text? The Greek word (katalyma) used here for “inn,” literally means “guest room.” It was / 40 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
most often associated with a guest room of a private residence. It’s the office with a futon that gets converted to a spare bedroom for out-of-town guests. It’s the pullout couch, even the extra space in the living room, where you drop an air mattress. In other words, the word “inn” here does not refer to the Motel 6 or La Quinta Inn. Interestingly, Luke uses this same word in Luke 22:11 in reference to the upper room. In fact, there’s another Greek word (pandocheion) that would have been used if it were an “inn” as we typically think of it. Luke actually used this word in Luke 10:34 in the story of the Good Samaritan. Further, Bethlehem was a small town, with no major roads going through or by it. There most likely would not have been a hotel in such a small place. This all leads us to the question, why was there “no room” for Joseph and Mary? The following are a few possible reflections: It was a busy, hectic and chaotic season. In a very short amount of town, this quiet town became bustling with people, crowded with families arriving from near and far due to Caesar’s decree for everyone to return to their hometown for the purpose of the taxation census (see Luke 2:1-3). Literally, overnight, this small town became filled with busy markets, full of people buying the needed food and supplies for their stay. Not to mention, the recent influx and imposition of soldiers, census takers, and no doubt, tax collectors lurking to maximize the moment for some monetary gain. Perhaps, in all the commotion, Joseph, Mary (and Jesus) simply got edged out, pushed to the margins of the city, unable to find a place to stay. Perhaps everyone was so busy, scared, nervous, even calloused to care for or make room for Jesus. There simply, was “no room…” Reflection: Busyness has a way of dulling the senses and hardening the heart. The Christmas season, if we are not careful, can become a season we love, yet more often than not, merely endure. We endure added traffic, longer lines, impatient shoppers cutting in line and snagging items off the shelves. We endure awkward work parties, social functions and family gatherings. These are all good things, yet amid the buzz of busyness, we can easily become preoccupied with a myriad of lists and duties. The nativity story reminds us to pause and ask ourselves is there “room” within us to truly engage others and the presence of Christ? How many people have you run into lately, who simply lamented of how busy they are? The season in which we should be the most reflective can become the very season where reflection is the last thing for which we have time. In such times, we, like the people of Bethlehem may be in danger of missing the very moment before us - the Presence-Nearness of Christ.
intersection and the pregnant girl, about to go into labor, wobble her way to knock on a few doors. Surely she could have mustered up some sympathy! In addition to all this, there were ancient Laws of Hospitality. It would have been second nature to make room for someone, even a stranger who was passing through, especially under such circumstances. How much more a relative! Could it be, that the rumors of illegitimacy had reached the city with them? Stories of indecency, adultery and affair, skepticism and speculations of angelic visitation shrouding the arrival of this teenage girl with child. Perhaps the folks of Bethlehem, including Joseph’s relatives simply refused to listen. Perhaps there was no room, much like we “don’t have any change” when approached by a beggar at the gas station. We come out with a 20oz coffee, but we don’t have any change. We have money, just not change. If we wanted to, we could pull out some dollars, or even go back into the station and make an ATM withdrawal, but we don’t want to – we’re skeptical. After all, won’t this person just use it to get drunk? Perhaps, they couldn’t see the sacred (Christ), through the haze of the stories they’d heard surrounding this betrothed couple... Could they have missed the Present-Presence because of their preconceived suspicions of Mary’s past? They simply lost the ability to see and the capacity to listen… Reflection I wonder if this happens to us as well? Could there be people that we’ve frozen in time and space around a circumstance, situation or event? Perhaps a family member, co-worker, spouse? We correspond with them, but never really engage. We’ve frozen them in the past, unable to relate to them in the present. Or, perhaps we become so busy with our own internal noise, that we lose the art of paying attention and the ability to listen with the heart. Christ was present, yet overlooked.
Could He be present and active in those we encounter, yet, like those in Bethlehem – we miss it? What if we became intentional about engaging people from the heart this holiday season? What if we approached each person as if one was created in the image of God? What if while we interacted with others, we sought to discern what God is doing in their lives and how He has made them unique? What if by God’s grace people really can change? How would it look for us to engage people in their present state, rather than through an incident and memory of them in the past? What if we simply made room for others...? When we pause, suspend our presuppositions, judgments and boxes that we’ve held people captive in, we become aware of the very presence of God. In fact, we ourselves, demonstrate the very qualities of God. For this is the heart of God, that we reflect on during this season. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~John 3:16 God gave of Himself. When we listen, we give of ourselves. Perhaps, this Christmas the most valuable gift we can give to another is ourselves - through the act of watchful listening and engagement. In doing so, we take on the attributes of Emmanuel. We learn to see Emmanuel Himself – God With Us. Here… Now… In this place… In this person… We are in essence making room.
Jerrell Jobe is a teaching pastor at Palm Valley Church in Mission. He is married to Charissa and has three children: Michah (8), Naylah (6), and Avi (4).
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Colonial Holiday COVENANT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
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The Great White Throne Judgment ADVERTISEMENT
The Book By Danny J Johnson SR
There is an old cliché, “There is nothing as sure as death and taxes.” But there is one other thing as for sure as dying and even one thing more for sure than taxes, Gods Judgment. Hebrews 9: 27; Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face Judgment. This Novel through five main characters, traces their lives from birth until death and after death their eternal Judgments. Their lives intertwine with many others who become a part of the story of their life experience. Throughout the course of each of their lives decisions with eternal consequences are revealed. As with the people within this story every man and woman throughout the course of their lives must face the ultimate question, the question that we cannot escape or ignore. The question of where we will spend our eternal destiny. How will we choose, life eternal with God or eternal Judgment in what the Bible calls the “Lake of Fire.” Our answer will determine the final outcome of our eter-
nity. But either way we will face a Holy and Righteous God as Judge of our sin or Lord of our lives. How will the people in this story choose and even more importantly, how will you choose? There is no decision you will make in your life more important than what you choose to do with Jesus. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death, the Lake of Fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire. ( Revelation
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Bookse a7-2011 e Rteel : 12-2
TheChristianatheist Checklist Do’s
Read the Bible Listen to Christian radio Go to church Give to church Give to missionaries Pray
Get drunk Smoke Curse Lie Cheat Steal
There! That does the trick. Well, maybe not. Christianity is a lot more than that. Faith in God means living out what you believe, BUT . . . do I really live like he is impacting my life? I believe in God BUT . . . Oh, the high school years. I was a mess. I believed in God, but I did not believe in Jesus as the One who died on the cross for my sin. I was not a Christian. Living like an atheist just made sense since I did not go to church or know much about the Bible. I was ignorant and naïve. I knew a bunch of people who went to church and called themselves “Christian,” but their lifestyle and interests didn’t seem to match up with their profession. Now, as a Christian, there are enough things that I do and don’t do, so I can be more comfortable in my profession.
Do I really know him? I know Chuck Swindoll, well known Christian speaker and author. I’ve seen him preach several times. And I met him once. So it was only for 10 seconds. All right, I don’t really know him. If we’re honest our relationship with God is similar. We know of him, but we don’t really know him. I believe in God BUT . . . I don’t think God is fair. How is it that an irresponsible teenager is able to have babies and my brother and his wife, who have the love and means to support a child cannot have children? It does not seem fair, yet they have opened their home and hearts to three
Review of The Christian Atheist by
wonderful children who are now a part of our family. I believe in God BUT . . . I sure do tend to want to trust in the mighty dollar more. Granted, money is needed to pay the bills, support the family and get around. I find myself wanting more. Isn’t it my job to secure a future for my family with financial planning? Where is the balance between really trusting God verses my bank account? In The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel explores 12 things that can keep us from living out genuine faith. When you believe in God but . . . • • • • • • • • • • • •
Don’t Really Know Him Are Ashamed of Your Past Aren’t Sure He Loves You Not in Prayer Don’t Think He’s Fair Won’t Forgive Don’t Think You Can Change Still Worry All the Time Pursue Happiness at Any Cost Trust More in Money Don’t Share Your Faith Not in His Church
One of my co-workers picked up the book and started reading it. He said, “Can you leave that book there? I normally don’t read, but I could not stop reading that book.” Groeschel writes from his personal experience as a “Christian atheist” with good Biblical truth. His personal stories are compelling and humorous. He keeps your attention and speaks truth that you can consider applying to your life.
Books and Music featured available at:
Is a teacher at Edinburg North and earned his Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is married to Brenda and has four children, Diego (9), Karla and Andrea (6) and Charis (2).
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The Hole in Our Gospel What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World
By Richard Stearns
“Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary.” - St. Francis of Assisi
It’s 1998 and Richard Stearns’ heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda. His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa. It took answering God’s call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America’s finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.
This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel. Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.
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Rumors of God Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only Heard About By Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson In his classic work, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis likens an encounter with God to coming to life: “This world is a great sculptor’s shop and we are the statues. But there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.” However, today many Christians live with tension. What the Scriptures promise seems like a far cry from what we experience in our lives. As a result, God seems distant, and the life described in the Scriptures seems more like a series of rumors than reality. Does God still do great things today? Is it possible to really experience Him? Can we close the gap between what we hear and what we see? Rumors of God is a rally cry for the church. Authors Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson share compelling stories about the work and activity of God today. Packed with fresh cultural observations and illuminating Scriptural insights, Rumors of God will ignite a passion in your heart to see your faith come to life.
Longing A Bailey Flanigan Series Book By Karen Kingsbury
Next Generation Leader By Andy Stanley A growing number of next generation Christians are eager to learn, grow, and lead in ministry or in the marketplace. Mentoring young leaders, as they face the unique issues of a changing world, has been pastor and Visioneering author Andy Stanley’s passion for more than a decade. Here, he shares material from his leadership training sessions, developed to address essential leadership qualities such as character, clarity, courage, and competency. This is the perfect guide for any new leader -- or for the mentor of a future leader! Clear, stylish typeset, with user-friendly links to referenced Scripture.
Dad, If You Only Knew… By Josh Weidmann and James Weidmann Welcome to Your Teen’s World It doesn’t matter if you have the most pictureperfect, ideal-in-every-way teen or one who’s in full-swing rebellion. That teen you love is a “riddle wrapped in a mystery.” No father can know what his teen is really thinking. That’s why youth communicator Josh Weidmann teamed with his father, Jim, to help you bridge the gap. In Dad, If You Only Knew…you’ll get an open, honest glimpse inside the teen mind. Josh’s extensive research, combined with pointed direction from a father’s heart, provide you with the practical guidance you need to establish a healthy, thriving father-teen relationship. It’s one you desire, your teen needs, and you both can’t afford to miss.tips within the broader context of God’s principles for parenting. / 45 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
Longing, book three in the Bailey Flanigan Series, picks up where Learning ended. After a long and lonely silence from Cody Coleman, Bailey Flanigan becomes closer to her one-time Hollywood co-star, Brandon Paul. Nights on the town in New York City and long talks on the balcony of Brandon’s Malibu Beach home make Bailey dizzy with new feelings and cause her to wonder if her days with Cody are over forever.
As the David Crowder Band’s career comes slowly to a close, the group wanted to make sure they didn’t leave the music scene without their own Christmas Album. The band has released Oh For Joy, just months before the Grammynominated band will debut their final album. Oh For Joy will include eight Christmas classics such as “Joy To The World,” “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night” and more, presented with the band’s distinct mark, final track listing below. The unique, nutcracker-
themed cover is a near perfect resemblance of the band. “Back in January we decided to start working on a record. It was to be a final masterpiece, our last statement, if you will. But we got sidetracked, and we made a Christmas album instead,” explains the band in a statement to their fans. “This is something that we are very excited about, something that we have wanted to do for years and years. Well, that Christmas album is now officially finished.” Announced first to their fans, David Crowder Band will additionally be unveiling their final studio record on January 10, 2012. The album title is forthcoming, and the band is at work on the final project in their Texas recording studio. To read the original statement from the band, visit http://www.davidcrowderband.com/. Named among the “most thoughtful, progressive and exciting acts in contemporary Christian music” by The New York Times, the popular yet unconventional David Crowder*Band released their album Church Music in the fall which debuted at No. 1 on the Christian retail chart scanning over 35,000 units. This gave the band their larg
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est street week to date ranking in at No. 11 on the Billboard Top 200. The band is also part of the Passion Movement, participating in university student gatherings in the US and around the world. The group’s leader David Crowder is further an acclaimed author, having penned two books, including his acclaimed, highly personal, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die: Or (The Eschatology of Bluegrass). Oh For Joy Track Listing: 1. Joy To The World 2. The First Noel 3. Go Tell It On The Mountain 4. Angels We Have Heard On High 5. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 6. O Holy Night 7. Silent Night 8. Carol of the Bells / Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
1. Matthew West
Strong Enough CD: The Story Of Your Life
2. Matt Maher
Turn Around CD: The Love In Between
3. Aaron Shust
My Hope Is In You CD: This Is What We Believe
4. Casting Crowns
Courageous CD: Come To The Well
5. Steven Curtis Chapman Do Everything CD: re-creation
6. Francesca Battistelli Motion Of Mercy CD: Hundred More Years
Move CD: The Generous Mr. Lovewell
8. Tenth Avenue North
Strong Enough To Save CD: The Light Meets The Dark
9. Third Day
Trust In Jesus CD: Move
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Hillsong Born is the King / 48 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com /
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The Christian Rock/Pop band The Planetshakers performed in front of a packed Christian Fellowship Church audience consisting mostly of youth attending the Aftermath Youth Conference held at CFC and Word in Season Church in Harlingen. Planetshakers originally began as a Christian youth movement and its annual conference grew into an international ministry and large church in Melbourne, Australia. Planetshakers mission is to “empower a generation to win a generation.”
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Should we catch up first? Dear Dave, I love your plan, but I have one question before getting started. Should I catch up on any past due bills before saving up $1,000 for Baby Step 1? Solita Dear Solita, Absolutely! First, get current or make payment arrangements with anyone who’s willing to work with you. Make sure your necessities come first. I’m talking about food, clothing, shelter, transportation and utilities. After that, get current with any credit cards and other types of debt you may have. Once you have these things taken care of, it’s time to launch your Total Money Makeover! You’ve already mentioned getting $1,000 in the bank for a starter emergency fund. That’s Baby Step 1. After that, begin your debt snowball, which is Baby Step 2, and pay off your debts from smallest to largest. In Baby Step 3 you’ll save up and increase your emergency fund from $1,000 to three to six months of expenses. Once you reach this point, you really start looking to the future. In Baby Step 4 you start investing 15 percent of your income into Roth IRAs and other pre-tax retirement plans. College funding for any little ones is next in Baby Step 5, and Baby Step 6 is a biggie—pay off your house early! But Baby Step 7 is the real deal. When you’re able to build wealth and give, you’ve reached the pinnacle of smart money management. Not only are you securing your family’s future for years, but you can help others and your community in a big way! —Dave * For more financial advice please visit daveramsey.com
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It is fair to say that when I first set out to become a lawyer, I was focused on accumulating wealth, power and prestige. However, after practicing law for the last 18 years, I realize that I have a higher purpose and calling. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s plans that prevail.” Had I held on to this truth since I first became a lawyer, it is clear that my journey would have taken a different path. But, all is not lost. I also understand as the Bible says in Genesis 50:20 “That which was meant for evil, God meant for good, to bring about this purpose in me.” In my years of practice, I’ve had my peaks and valleys. I understand now that even as Christ washed the feet of his disciples, I, too, am called to serve my community in whatever capacity I am asked to help. It is my desire to serve in that Christ-like manner and honor God in all my dealings. As Micah 6:8 says, “The Lord has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” I pray that the Lord will enable me and empower me to do that which He requires of me. So whether your case pertains to personal injury law, family law, business law, criminal law, a real estate matter or estate planning, I will see your arrival at my office as a divine appointment. I recognize that in honoring God, I will be honoring you, my esteemed and valued client.
Raul “Rudy” Rodriguez
Phone: 956.380.1421 / Toll Free: 877.480.1421 / Fax: 956.380.2920 / Mobile: 956.655.5455 511 W. University / Edinburg, TX 78539 / e-mail: / 52 / www.valleychristianmagazine.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Dec 1, 2011
Merry Christmas! VCM interviews Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, Jerrell Jobe takes a deeper look of what "No Room at the Inn" really means, Jer...