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Rebuilding: Turning Ashes Into Opportunity 

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die  a time to break down, and a time to build up  –Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

On the morning of August 24, 2008, our home telephone line rang much too early. My husband, Pete, was in the shower getting ready for work, and so I answered the phone. It was an employee of his company, who also happened to be a friend. On that particular morning, his normal friendly, chatty tone was not there. All he said was, “Can I talk to Pete?” It was obvious something was wrong, and so I hurried to hand the phone to my husband, and then watched as his face fell and a look of panic and fear came into his eyes. He said, “I’m on my way,” and hung up the phone.  

“The (office) building is on fire  I’ve got to get down there,” he said as he threw on some clothes and headed for the door. Needless to say, there was no time for questions, and I already knew he didn’t know anything more than he’d been told. My heart raced and my mind whirled around with thoughts and fears. I said a quick prayer, and then had to continue making breakfast and bagged lunches for our three daughters in order to get them ready for school.  

My morning routine, however, always included watching the Today Show, so the TV was on and on the next local news segment, I saw the flames and smoke with my own eyes. The NBC helicopter was circling the office building that housed the company that my husband had owned and led for 11 years; the building that housed the company that provided for our livelihood, and that of the more than 100 employees who worked there; the building that housed the company in which my husband (and really, our family) had invested so much of our time and treasure in and had sacrificed so much for; the building that housed the company that we thought held our future. Those are the thoughts that coursed through me as I watched the commotion; but luckily, I knew it was also the building that housed the company that my husband considered his ministry. I knew he had honored God in the way he ran the company, both internally and externally, and that God would be with us and promised to work this for good (Romans 8:28). 

And He did.

I would come to find out later that God was comforting my husband with that same verse. Even though Pete admits that he was thinking “everything I have worked for might be lost” as he arrived at the building, he says he also knew “my identity wasn’t invested in that business. If I hadn’t known that, I would have been in the fetal position.”

He remembers saying a flash prayer: “Ok, God, where are we going with this? What’s the plan?” And then, he says, “Romans 8:28 came to mind, and I trusted God that something good would come out of this.”

Interestingly, the fire came at a time immediately after my husband had committed to devoting more time and energy to kingdom causes. He had just hired a president of the company (someone to replace himself in the day-to-day, while he would continue to serve as CEO); his intention was to create more margin in his schedule so that he could serve others and share his gifts outside the company more often. Pete was excited about the plan and had spent the last few months (before the fire) laying the groundwork for it to be possible. As smoke poured out of the building, he says it was hard to not question why God would be allowing this to happen. 

But we all know that God works in mysterious ways, and even in the calamity of the fire, He was there. Pete’s company was (he has since sold it) an employee engagement software platform for Fortune 1000 companies, so his computer systems and servers were the lifeblood of the business; and by God’s grace, they never went down. His technology team had convinced him not too long before the fire to install a firewall and cooling system around the servers. At the time, Pete thought it was “overkill” and “not worth the money,” but consented; without those protective systems, everything would have been lost. The fire, which started from a space heater left on overnight under a desk, primarily damaged the corporate office areas (the servers were spared, the inventory was spared, and the manufacturing and shipping areas were spared) which were, without a doubt, the easiest thing to replace. Temporary buildings were brought in, restoration teams began their work, and plans were drawn for the rebuild.

While obvious, I think it’s worth noting that the definition of rebuild is to “build something again after it has been damaged or destroyed.” I also think it’s interesting to note that often when we “rebuild” we don’t build it back exactly like it was. We use the opportunity, provided by the rebuild, to change the things that we had wished were different in the original design. We add an electrical plug where we needed one before but didn’t have one. We open up the wall between the kitchen and the family room for more “open living. We turn the garage into an office. So improvement is, in essence, part of rebuilding! We build back stronger, better, more efficient. We learn from our mistakes or the flaws in the “old design,” and the result is a finished product that is even better than the one we started with!

That certainly was the case with Pete’s office. The company had grown and evolved since he had moved into that office. They were needing a larger conference room; they needed more desks in customer service; they needed a more substantial break room, etc. The fire forced them to rebuild, but left them with the opportunity to redesign the space to better fit their needs and the insurance money with which to pay for it! God blessed Pete, and the company, through the trial of the fire. Pete says, “While that experience was incredibly painful, it brought my team together like never before, gave us the time and opportunity to evaluate how we wanted to redesign the office space, and ultimately ended up launching a period of incredible growth in both the company and my faith.”

Now, what I have failed to acknowledge so far, is the fact that the rebuilding process itself can be messy! The starting point, whether the “demolition” is forced, as in a fire, or intentional, as in a planned home remodel, is often barren (“stripped down to the studs” as they say), dusty, cold and dark. Progress can be slow; there are often “setbacks” and unexpected hurdles or complications; and it always comes with a price. In addition, it can be hard to imagine what the finished product will look like, and how all of the moving parts will ultimately come together, when all you see is the debris and disarray. But slowly, but surely, with intentionality and hard work (and usually a group of people working together, not alone), the pieces come together. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes it takes years, but a day will come when the project is over and you are finally able to enjoy the end result.

As Christians, we believe that God is, in fact, the architect of our lives, so it makes sense that His plans override our plans. When He schedules, calls for or allows a rebuilding period in our lives, the more we can embrace the challenge, lean into the process, and work with and trust in God that something good will come of it, the more beautiful the end result will be! After all, we are told in Matthew 7:24 that “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” He is, without a doubt, our firm foundation! And to take this building/construction analogy even further, is it lost on anyone that Jesus Himself was a carpenter while here on Earth? Interestingly, according to my study Bible notes, the word that is translated as carpenter can also mean builder or laborer.

If we are to rebuild anything — our Christian life, our church life, our marriage, our career, our concern for those around us, our home, our office or our life in general — we must do it with the help of THE carpenter; we must pray and put our plans in the hands of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1).

Isaiah 43:2-3 promises, “When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned and the flames shall not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” 

I also like what Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries says about trials: “It’s a great thing to know that when the Lord lets His children go through a fiery trial, He always keeps an eye on them and an eye on the thermostat!”

We serve a “great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and His commandments.” May His “ear be attentive and his eyes open to hear the prayers of His servants” (Nehemiah 1:5-6). And may we, His humble servants, be ever ready to work  to build and to rebuild  to bring glory to His name; and may we always feel His presence during times of trial.

 

Raney Chambers

Katie Morris

Katie Morris

Author Bio Goes Here

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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!

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Fort Worth
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5 p.m.

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West
Wednesdays
6 p.m.

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Wedesdays
6 p.m.
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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

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4:30 p.m.
West

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

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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.

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West

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6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

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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.

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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.