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Chosen and Pursued by the Relentless Love of Christ

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As a young girl growing up, I had no idea my home was faithless. Sundays were a day to play just like any other, having no significance except to signal the start of a new week. Periodically, there was a prayer at the dinner table, and my dad would make a silly sing-songy rhyme in a larger-than-life voice, sending my brother and me into a fit of giggles. Although I never thought twice about it, I didn’t have a clue as to why we were praying, as it merely seemed to be a formality before we could get to the business of eating.

Despite the lack of faith in my home, my mom enrolled me in a Lutheran preschool. Kiddie College was where I met Mrs. Schmidt, my first teacher of godly influence. I fondly remember her warm eyes, all-encompassing hugs and words of gentle affirmation as she encouraged me in a multitude of ways. Her presence gave me a sense of safety, comfort and peace that my young soul longed for, and I imagine it’s because she was a beacon of Christ’s light.

At preschool, I learned prayers, read Bible stories and sang songs about Jesus, which I wholeheartedly embraced. Despite this, I came to understand my school environment was quite different than my home life. There were many a times when my family would pile into our old sky-blue Honda hatchback, and my dad would look over at our neighbor’s house and launch into a rant about “those Christians.” His disdain-filled tone of voice gave me the impression that the term Christian was a dirty word.

When my preschool years came to an end, so did my exposure to God and Jesus. Sadly, I don’t recall any significant memories surrounding faith until my middle school years.

In seventh grade, I regularly visited a neighborhood Methodist church with my closest friends. Together, we attended the Sunday morning service, religiously sitting in the back of the church in hopes of avoiding any adults. On this particular Sunday, I sensed the service was coming to a close. I was eager to bolt out of the church doors and make a beeline to the local pizzeria. But as my friend’s dad would remark from time to time, the preacher was longwinded. I tried to remain respectful and not let my mind drift into teenage angst over my desire for freshly baked garlic sticks stuffed with mounds of mozzarella cheese.

The pastor’s face spoke of seriousness, so I refocused. “John 3:16 tells that God so loved the world that he sent his only son. That whoever shall believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” He continued, “I know there are some of you here today who do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. We want to invite you to come forward to the front of the church and have someone pray a simple prayer with you. In doing so, you can take hold of the free gift of salvation offered to all who confess they are sinners in need of a Savior.”

Cue the dramatic music because the next few minutes gave way to a spiritual wrestling match deep within my soul. My heart started to race as my stomach commenced to doing flip flops. Timewise, everything seemed to shift to slow motion. I studied the scene as two individuals made their way from the crowded pews to the center aisle, embarking on what seemed like a mile-long journey to the front of the church. Upon arrival, several men greeted them as they exchanged inaudible words and then bowed their heads to pray.

The pastor continued, “I know there is someone out there that the Lord is calling you to Him. Please come up to the alter and let us pray with you.”

I knew deep down to the core of my being he was talking to me. I wanted to go up to the front of the church, but I was paralyzed with fear. My legs seemed to weigh 50 pounds apiece, and my anxiety skyrocketed.

As the internal battle ensued, I kept feeling a call to “Go!” to which I blatantly ignored, firmly replying in my head with a resounding “No, I can’t!”. In the background, the church organ kindly beckoned me forth; but I didn’t budge.

In fact, I didn’t budge from that spiritual stance of prideful fear for many years thereafter.

I had a come to Jesus moment, and I didn’t come.

By the time I had arrived in my young adult years, I was lost and broken. Chaos ruled the day, and I had a nagging sense of being unfulfilled, often questioning whether there wasn’t more to life than just getting through each day only to do it all over the next. I was hungry for something but had no idea for what. At times my life seemed depleted of joy, and I felt dread mingled with anxiety much of the time.

One day I opened my mailbox and pulled out a flyer for a local church. I studied the pictures of couples and families who looked genuinely happy. Intrigued, I flipped the mailer over to reveal an invitation to join an upcoming marriage series. My husband and I were newly married and needed some help in the marriage department. For a brief moment, I felt a surge of hope. Unfortunately, my brevity of hope came crashing down when my husband emphatically opposed. So, I threw the mailer and my optimism into the trash.

One year later, I opened the mailbox to find the same mailer advocating the same topic at the same church. This time I knew I was going, even if solo. After debating back and forth, my husband reluctantly agreed.

Attending the first service was a sensational experience. I truly felt welcomed and found it refreshing to see people casually dressed. There was a café for coffee and breakfast snacks, and the worship setting was void of pews, hymnals and Bibles, which was vastly different from the traditional churches I visited in my youth. But the music sang to my soul, and the pastor’s message was Monday-morning relevant. By the time the service came to an end, I knew I was home!

What I did not know was that this was an outreach church, meaning their primary mission was to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and lead people to salvation. Within the first few visits, the pastor invited those of us who did not know Christ to change the course of our lives both here and in eternity by saying a simple prayer while sitting in our seats. He said, “If you are ready to decide to give your life to Christ, please pray these words with me.” My heart raced; I knew it was my time to join the family of God. I sat there quietly while boldly repeating his words. “Today I ask Jesus into my heart to live as my Lord and Savior. I confess I am a sinner and ask for forgiveness of my sins. I believe Jesus died on the cross for me and was resurrected so that I may have eternal life with Him. Amen.”

After the words came forth, I felt something shift internally. The Scriptures say the heavens rejoice when one person is saved (Luke 15:10 NIV), and although I did not know God’s Word or that truth, I do believe that what I felt was a wave of joy wash over my spirit. After feeling empty for so long, I felt fulfilled in Christ. I felt His love, mercy, grace and goodness welcome me like a long-lost child who had just come home.

I feel humbled and amazed that at any age or stage of my life, Jesus Christ has relentlessly pursued me.

He pursued me as a young child when I was innocent and easily impressionable.

He pursued me as a braced faced, defiant teenage girl, fearful of becoming a Christian.

He pursued me as a young adult woman who looked to the world for validation and acceptance.

Even when I fought, said no or walked away, the God of the Universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords came for me! I was wanted, sought after and a grace bearer of His unfailing love.

It took me years to say “Yes” to God and Jesus. Praise the Father for being a patient, gentle, kind and merciful God who knows no boundaries or constrictions due to time. Praise the Lord whose arms were always outstretched and wide open, providing me with an invitation to come anytime.

When I was ready, I ran at warp speed, diving headfirst into a security and assuredness that can only come from the Savior. He swooped me up into His loving embrace and has taught me how to walk hand in hand with Him to live the abundant life. As John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (NIV).

Thank you, Lord, for choosing me! It’s by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me this side of eternity, and I will sing of your praises all the days of my life!

Miranda Jo Davis

Chosen and pursued? Find out for yourself this winter in the Gospel of John. Our women’s and men’s Bible studies will be back with studies all about Jesus that you can be part of online. The Gospel of John tells the stories of Jesus’ personal friendships and counter-cultural conversations, His prayers with God the Father, His fierce love for the world and the miracles He performed. Learn more about the studies and sign up today with the links below.


WOMEN IN THE WORD > 

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Katie Morris

Katie Morris

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The Christmas Story

When we hear the Christmas story we’re reminded of the miraculous birth of Christ. But God wants us to be sure and know the rest of the story. God had a purpose for sending His Son into our world. He came to be our Savior, just as the angel announced to the shepherds. But why do we need a Savior if we try to be good?

The answer is that God is perfect and holy and no matter hard we try, we are not. But God still wants a relationship with us. So He sent Jesus into the world to offer a way for sinners to have a relationship with a holy God. God placed our sins on His sinless Son on the cross, so that we might be forgiven and become a child of God. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He paved a way for us to come to God as well.

Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus is the greatest Christmas gift ever given.

MSM Meeting Times

MSM families, we miss you guys! We are determined to stick together as one big MSM ministry. Be sure to check out everything happening online. We are here for you guys!

Campus Day Time Location
Fort Worth
Sundays
5 p.m.

Host Home

West
Wednesdays
6 p.m.

Host Home

South
Wedesdays
6 p.m.
CHOOSE YOUR CAMPUS

FORT WORTH

3701 Birchman Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

817-731-4329

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WEST

3910 E. i-20 Frontage Rd. S.,
Willow Park, TX 76087

817-945-2399

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SOUTH

428 SW Johnson Ave.
Burleson, TX 76028

817-546-0822

LEARN MORE >>

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HERE TO HELP

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5+6 Meeting Times

5+6 families, we miss you guys! We are determined to stick together as one big 5+6 ministry. Be sure to check out everything happening online. We are here for you guys!

Campus Day Time Location
Fort Worth

Sundays

4:30 p.m.
West

Sundays

1:30-2:45 p.m.
South

Sundays

5-6:15 p.m.

HSM Meeting Times

HSM families, we miss you guys! We are determined to stick together as one big HSM ministry. Be sure to check out everything happening online. We are here for you guys!

Campus Day Time Location
Fort Worth

Sundays

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Host Home

West

Wednesdays

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Host Home

South

Wednesdays

6-8 p.m.

*Every the 3rd Wednesday of the month, West campus meets at Worship Center

What is Christmas … Really?

The Christmas season is full of stories. There are favorite movies like “White Christmas,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Elf,” Santa Claus and reindeer, and lots of traditions that go back many, many years. All of these stories share messages of hope and cheer, good news and happy days, giving and serving — and they all encourage us to look forward to a bright future.

The reason that all of these stories have similar themes is because in one way or another, they are all a reflection of the very first Christmas story — the true, real life one that happened two thousand years ago in a small rural town called Bethlehem. (The story is told throughout the Bible, but if you’ve never read it for yourself, a great place to start is Luke 2.)

The date was sometime between 3 B.C. and 6 B.C. in Israel. The Roman Empire, which controlled the region at that time, was requiring that everyone return to their hometown so that they could complete a census.

There was an engaged couple who were among the many people who had to travel home to complete their part of this census. The couple, a man named Joseph and a woman named Mary, were not well-known or uber successful. They were regular people who lived in a small town. Because they were engaged, they headed together to Joseph’s hometown, Bethlehem.

As Israelites, both Mary and Joseph had grown up learning the history of their people through the Scriptures. Israel was a very small nation surrounded by great world powers – and yet, God had always protected their people. In fact, God, had promised that a savior would one day come and save them. No one knew when that would happen, but generation after generation, the people of Israel waited with hope for that day.

Months before Joseph and Mary set off on their journey to Bethlehem for the census, one of God’s angels appeared to Mary with a very surprising message. He showed up out of nowhere one day to tell her that God was not only pleased with her, but had chosen her to be the mother of the savior that everyone had been waiting for! And while that may have been a great honor to Mary, she was confused about how that could happen because she was most definitely a virgin. The angel told her that through the power of God, she would become pregnant. This baby was God’s Son and He was to be named Jesus because He would one day save His people. And because Mary had grown up knowing these future promises of God, she believed the angel.

Months later and nearing her due date, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for the census. Because so many people had come to town for the very same reason, there was no room available at the town’s inn. Now in labor, the only option the couple could find for a place to stay and have the baby was in the inn’s stable. So there, in a cave among the animals, the long-promised and long-awaited savior, Jesus, was born.

A few miles from that stable, a group of shepherds was laying out in a field. It was night and they were there to make sure that their flock was not harmed or picked off by animals or thieves. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, an angel appeared in the sky above them. Shocked by the angel, they were completely terrified, but the angel quickly told them that they had no reason to be afraid. In fact, they were about to receive some of the best news ever: that very night, a savior, THE Savior that they had been waiting for, had been born. The angel told them where they could find this baby and in excitement they got up and ran to find Him.

And it was just as the angel had told them: the baby was in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth, a fulfillment of God’s great promise to them. After seeing the baby, the shepherds told everyone they met that God had indeed kept His promise and sent their Savior.

That Savior, Jesus, grew up and as God’s Son, one day gave His life for the whole world. Only a true Savior could do this — and because Jesus was the Chosen One sent by God — He could. He was crucified by the Roman government, died and laid dead in a tomb for three days. Then, by the power of God, He came back to life. Many people witnessed His death and then saw Him alive again.

Jesus, having come from God and entered human history as a baby, grew up and fulfilled the promise of being a Savior. Through His death, every person on earth can be saved and can know God personally. Because of Jesus, every person can have hope and cheer, good news and happy days, can look forward to a bright future. Through a relationship with Jesus, we can live the great joy of Christmas every day. That is what Christmas is really about.

College Meeting Times

If you are a college student, we’ve got worship, solid community and more for you!

Day Time Location
Sundays
10 30 a.m.

Common Grounds

3110 Greene Ave.

Wednesdays
6 p.m.

Christmas Gift Tags

Looking for the perfect finishing touch for the gifts under your Christmas tree? Download our custom gift tags! Just click the “Download” button below and pick your favorites to use. Whether you decide to write a note or fill in the “To” and “From” blanks, we recommend using permanent or metallic markers.

Here are a few tips for printing the labels:
Planning to tie the tags to your gifts? Download the PDF and print the pages you need on white card stock. After printing, trim each tag to size with scissors, then punch a hole at the top, thread your ribbon, yarn or twine through it and attach the tag to your gift.

Want to skip the ribbon and turn the tags into labels? Easy peasy! Print on 8.5” x 11” full-sheet label paper, then trim each tag to size and you’ve got gift labels! (Printing Tip: For best results, make sure you’re printing at 100% scale, or “actual size.” )

Merry Christmas, and happy gift giving!

9 Socially Distant Things to do This Christmas

Holly, jolly and socially distant, that’s the name of the game this Christmas season. We’ve rounded up some places in our community where you can go and safely continue favorite holiday traditions, along with a few ideas for making the most of the season at home with your family or roommates. Here’s to celebrating this year … maybe, especially this year. 

Drive-Through Holiday Lights 
This is the year for drive-through holiday light displays! Really, could they be any more perfect? There’s no getting out of the car required and plenty of dazzling holiday lights to see. Luckily, you can have your pick based upon where you live and how far you want to drive. There’s Radiance in Weatherford, Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway, Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie and Christmastime in Texas located in Joshua. 

Walk-Through Holiday Lights 
There are several places in the Metroplex where you can enjoy incredible light displays while keeping to the outdoors. Luminova at Globe Life Field is keeping crowds at a limited capacity so that you have space to wander through its three million lights of creative holiday landscapes. And don’t forget about The Modern Lights in Fort Worth! You can walk the grounds of The Modern off of University Drive and 7th Street after sunset and take in the incredible feat they’ve accomplished of wrapping every limb of every tree surrounding the museum. 

Holiday in the Garden 
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Christmas is coming to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden with Holiday in the Garden. There will be food trucks and live music (including the Fort Worth Opera who will be delivering strolling performances throughout the garden), an artisan market and a Christmas tree farm. It looks like an ideal day in Fort Worth for Christmas! 

Watch The Nutcracker from home 
This year instead of heading downtown to Bass Hall, you can take in the incredible leaps, spins and tricks of the Texas Ballet Theater from home! They will be streaming performances of The Nutcracker December 14-26. Sorry, no precipitation comes with the purchase of your tickets — you’ll have to find your own way for snow to magically fall from the ceiling … just like in Bass Hall! 

Panther Island Ice 
Panther Island Ice, Fort Worth’s outdoor skating rink, is open with limited capacity this year for all your Christmas-skating dreams come true. Reserving space for your group ahead of time is required, so make sure to plan out when you want to go this year. 

Coyote Drive-In 
The beloved drive-in theater is a great way to watch a holiday movie safely with others. Plan an outing with friends and park next to each other — you’ll still be watching together, but from your own car/bubble of space. You’ll want to check the theater’s website for updated showings. They play Christmas movies throughout the season. 

I Love Christmas Movies at Gaylord Texan 
Do you love classic Christmas movies? Then you may want to check out the Gaylord Texan’s new immersive Christmas experience. The exhibit, appropriately dubbed I Love Christmas Movies, has recreated famous movie scenes from the likes of Elf, The Polar Express, A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation that you can step right into and enjoy. Masks are required and social distancing will be observed throughout the experience. 

Go big at home 
What if you make this Christmas extra festive at home? You could make a plan for a special service project every week or a schedule of holiday recipes to try out. You could order Christmas pajamas for your whole crew, hang twinkle lights everywhere or have a virtual ugly Christmas sweater contest with your family over Zoom by using your leftover wrapping, bows, ribbon and such. 

Christmas Eve at Christ Chapel’s Internet Campus 
Are you looking for a way to celebrate on Christmas Eve? Christ Chapel’s Internet Campus is streaming services all afternoon and evening. You’ll get to mark the holiday with a community of friends, sing some holly jolly holiday songs and hear an encouraging message to send you off into Christmas Day. Plan to join us at live.ccbcfamily.org. 

Holiday Bucket List

While you’re spending more time at home this holiday season, why not make a holiday bucket list for those long winter nights and weekends? Click below to download a bucket list. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started: bake cinnamon rolls for neighbors, watch a favorite holiday movie, write and mail notes to family members you won’t be seeing over Christmas, go to a Christmas Eve service, make paper snowflakes. 

Holiday Scenes

Leave it to the internet to create some seriously delightful holiday scenes to play in the background of your day! While you’re busy at home working, cooking, helping your kids with school or just hanging out, any of these scenes are sure to bring some cheer and probably a few chuckles. 

Classic Yule Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LssTi4X8jY 
 
Beach Bonfire (for anyone missing the beach this year): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wesLXOzom24

Snow-covered Mountain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V37Q3l6AFAU

Sleigh Ride with Real Reindeer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dHETOyiE6U 

Log Cabin with Crackling Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9caj-VdGzM

Christmas Village with Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjMLWXOK_vM

Captain America’s 1940s Living Room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBi29OnappU&feature=emb_title

Cat Riding a Roomba: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1Xkt1E7PJY&feature=emb_title

8-Bit Yule Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSO-iitdc2k

Snowy Train Ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=facDr2lTAUM

Hulu Holiday Scenes: You’ll need a Hulu subscription to stream these, but Hulu has amassed a small army of holiday scenes to bring delight your way. Their collection includes a Gingerbread Home Remodel, a thrilling Thermostat War (a must-watch if you’ve ever worked in an office setting), a Puppy White Elephant Party and a Sap Story (yes, that’s sap falling out of a tree — it’s riveting and oh-so-soothing). Just look for the “Holiday” tab the next time you open Hulu.