Advent: The Hope Of His Arrival

Advent: The Hope of His Arrival

What Is Advent?

Advent is a four-week season in the Church calendar dedicated to anticipating the arrival, or “advent,” of Jesus of Nazareth, the long awaited Messiah and King. Christians from many backgrounds celebrate this time with reflections on hope, peace, love, and joy. And while their practices may look different, all focus on the hope-filled arrival of Jesus.

What Does Advent Mean?

Advent means “arrival” and signifies the start of an event or the arrival of a person. In Christian communities around the world, Advent refers to a four-week season of remembering and celebrating the arrival of Jesus on Earth. It’s a time to reflect on the unexpected nature of Jesus’ humble birth and join in the anticipation of when he will come again to reunite Heaven and Earth once and for all.

Why Is Advent Important?

Advent can be a simple and fun tradition of counting down to Christmas. But for others—particularly those who believe Jesus to be the incarnation of God and the long-awaited Messiah—Advent is a shared experience of meditation and prayer that celebrates the arrival of Jesus.

How Is Advent Typically Celebrated?

In some traditions, followers of Jesus devote the first two weeks of Advent to remembering Jesus’ promise to return and renew Heaven and Earth. Then, during the last two weeks of Advent, these communities focus on the birth of Jesus.

In other traditions, people reflect on the concepts of hope, peace, love, and joy—one for each week leading up to Christmas. People may light Advent candles, prepare unique wreaths, hold special
church services, or read specific Scriptures each day to reflect on the arrival of Jesus on Earth.

What Parts of the Bible Inform Our Understanding of Advent?

From the first story to the last, the Bible is full of narratives, poetry, prophecy, biographies, and personal letters that inform our understanding of Advent. When the Bible talks about humans waiting for the promised anointed King who would deliver them, it can help us connect with their anticipation (Amos 9:11-13). When we read about people choosing joy and hope in God’s promises despite their circumstances, the meaning of Advent can take on a deeper meaning (Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1-5; Luke 1:26-2:20). And when the New Testament talks about a second advent, the return of Jesus, we can join in that time of waiting, shared by Christians throughout history.

Advent Reflections Reading Plan on the Bible App

BibleProject designed Advent Reflections to inspire individuals, small groups, and families to celebrate the arrival of Jesus. This four-week plan incorporates animated videos, short summaries,
and reflective questions to help you explore the biblical meaning of hope, peace, love, and joy. Follow the link below or type/paste it into your browser. It is hot linked if you’re working from a digital version of this article.


Source: The Bible Project (https://bibleproject.com/guides/advent/#what-is-advent)

Sunday, December 3rd is the first week of Advent. For the next four weeks we will discuss the two “arrivals” of Jesus—his first coming, when he was born, and his second coming . We will reflect on the four themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. This week we will discuss the hopeful expectation of those who welcomed him at his first appearing and the hopeful expectation we have of when he comes again.

I’ll say more in my lesson.


By | 2023-12-02T20:59:34-07:00 December 2nd, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Prayer & Discipleship

Prayer & Discipleship

“Prayer is the most important weapon we have in our arsenal as we seek to expand the Kingdom of God.”  This is one of the most important ideas that has come out of the long term church  planning sessions the Elders and Ministers have participated in over the past few weeks.

We have spent some dedicated time outside our normal Sunday AM meetings discussing the future of this church and how we can meet the challenges that are ahead of us. We have identified many of these challenges and discussed a variety of possible solutions.

In such discussions, it is easy to get caught up in the fads and superficial (even cosmetic) suggestions of the church growth movement.  These amount to little more than “tweaks” in current practice and appeal to more of a consumer based view of Christianity (“if you build it they will come”).

Of course, this does not mean we abandon striving for excellence in every area of our ministry. We want to do our best and present our best in everything we do. The “attractional” model is still, at the moment anyway, our primary means of introducing new people to the church. The flaw behind the attractional model is that it caters more to “transfer growth” (sheep stealing) and there will always be someone who does it better than us (or at least in the consumer driven minds of many). 

Equally flawed is the idea of borrowing programs from other “successful” churches. This was a very common practice during the height of the church growth movement within churches of Christ
(late 1980s, early 1990s). Large, “successful” churches would invite smaller churches to workshops to showcase their cutting edge programming. Often elders and ministers would rush back to their home congregations to implement these new ideas only to have them fail miserably. The flaw? No congregation is alike. What works in
Dallas, probably won’t in Podunk, Arkansas. Further, smaller churches do not have the same resources of larger congregations— financial or human. Another real issue was the definition of “success.” If you define success only as bigger, richer, more programming, etc., you open the door to blatant consumerism, church competition, and sheep stealing (including membership loss when someone can do it better than you). Do greater numbers really equal greater success, when we just steal members away from somewhere else? Would not Kingdom Growth—new disciples, maturing disciples, faithful disciples, evangelistic disciples—be a better definition of success?

I’m not saying nothing good came from this movement; many good ideas, including Life Groups, are easily transferrable to other settings. The simple fact is, though, programs don’t work. They never have. God works.

That is the reason our discussions keep going back to the fundamentals of the faith—prayer and discipleship. It is our mission to “be and make disciples for Christ” following and cooperating with Jesus in the Great Commission.

In recent lessons, we have learned that a great spiritual warfare is being waged between the powers of good and evil. We, Christians, are a part of that struggle. Jesus has given us the victory over the powers of darkness and we are now enlisted in his army to take back the nations one person at a time. We are a part of his Kingdom and we are marching through this world to conquer in his name until his “will is done on earth as it is in heaven.”

In this fight, prayer is our most important weapon. This is a battle that only can be won with his power, not our own cleverness.

This is true success, true growth, Kingdom growth! I’ll say more in my lesson.

— Joey

By | 2023-11-25T22:31:16-07:00 November 25th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Gripesgiving Day

Why I Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving

Do you still celebrate Thanksgiving? What an outmoded and hypocritical practice! We gripe, moan, criticize and complain every day of our lives about family, church, politics, the economy, sports, work, our health, our healthcare system, the president, congress, the right, the left, the preacher, the elders, our house, our apartment, our rent, our mortgage, our husbands, wives, children, in-laws, our circumstances, and it goes on and on.

Then, we dedicate one day a year for Thanksgiving and we say all piously, “Oooo, let’s give thanks for all our blessings.” We gather as much family together as we can stand and suggest such hypocritical practices as, “Let’s all hold hands and one by one share what we are thankful for.” Or, we ask uncle Bob to offer thanks for the meal and we say, “Now, be sure to include gratitude for us all being together another year.” — when none of us can really stand uncle Bob because of his ignorant political leanings and the fact that he always pulls for the opposite team during the football game and he consistently takes more than his share of the mashed potatoes.

Afterward, we all go back to our corners of the house, the city or the world (because we actually travel to give expression to this hypocrisy) and we then complain about the experience. “The turkey was too dry, wasn’t it? When will Charlotte just break down and buy a Butterball. You know, it tells you when it’s ready. I think it’s Bill’s fault; he is just so cheap. Did you notice they skimped on the desserts again this year? Aunt Silvia used to bake all of those award winning pies. Did you see what she brought this year? — Edward’s. She didn’t even bother to thaw it out! I hate watching football with Joan — you know she talked through the whole game. I never get to see the kids; they sit down for fifteen minutes to eat and then go back to their rooms for their video games. Did you notice, they couldn’t even put their phones down to eat? Why did Sadie bring up Trump and Biden at the dinner table? She knows it always leads to arguing. I think she does it on purpose.”

Nope, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving any more. I suggest a new holiday—Gripesgiving Day. Let’s just be honest about it. Let’s set aside a holiday for complaining. We can give vent to all of our
complaints. We can argue and bicker from sunrise to sunset. Just imagine! 24 straight hours of permission to vent all our frustrations, problems and gripes. It would be glorious!

But here’s the catch, if we choose one day of gripesgiving, we have to spend the next 364 days of the year being thankful for everything in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV). No griping or complaining allowed. Doesn’t that make more sense? If we “flip the script” on Thanksgiving, I think we would be a healthier and happier people. What do you think?

Author’s Note: I shared this with Tina and she asked me, “Do you think people will understand that this is satire? You know we tend to be black and white thinkers.” I said I would give a little
disclaimer at the end clearly identifying it as satire and in case people still misunderstood, I would explain more in my lesson.

She retorted, “This isn’t going to be another long lesson is it? It’s all I can do to sit through a regular….” I interrupted her, “Save it for Gripesgiving Day!”

— Joey

By | 2023-11-18T11:26:25-07:00 November 18th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual Warfare: Storming The Gates Of Hell

Spiritual Warfare:
Storming the Gates of Hell

Introduction & Review:

  • We are Skeptical of the Supernatural.
  • The Spiritual Realm Consists of Good Guys & Bad Guys…
  • Good Guys include the One True God & Other Created Spiritual Beings .
  • These Other Spiritual Beings have Free Will and Can Sin.
  • Bad Guys: There have been at Least Three Rebellions, but Jesus Has Prevailed Against Each one of these
    • # 1– Genesis 3—Serpent/Satan (Postponed God’s Plan, Marred God’s Image in Man through Sin; Claimed Humans in Death).
    • # 2– Genesis 6 —Sons of God/Nephilim/ Unclean Spirits (Tried to Create Imagers of Their own to Rival God; Though Punished, Unclean Spirits Remain to Torment Humans and Further Marr God’s Imagers)
    • # 3– Genesis 11 —Powers of This Dark World (Originally tasked with Ruling the Nations by the Will of God, they Put Themselves in the Place of God to be Worshiped and Further Lead Humanity Astray).
  • Jesus Has Prevailed Against Each One

Storming the Gates of Hell

Conclusion: Fighting the Good Fight

By | 2023-11-11T20:13:18-07:00 November 11th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual Warfare: The Bad Guys – Powers Of This Dark World

Spiritual Warfare: The Bad Guys –
Powers of This Dark World

Introduction & Review:

  • 1. We are Skeptical of the Supernatural.
  • 2. The Spiritual Realm Consists of Good Guys & Bad Guys…
  • 3. Good Guys include the One True God & Other Created Spiritual Beings .
  • 4. These Other Spiritual Beings have Free Will and Can Sin.
  • 5. Bad Guys: There have been at Least Three Rebellions.
    • a. # 1– Genesis 3—Serpent/Satan
    • b. # 2– Genesis 6 —Sons of God/Nephilim/ Unclean Spirits.
    • c. # 3– Genesis 11 —Powers of This Dark World
  • 6. Who/What are these Powers? (Ephesians 6:12; Ephesians 1:20-21; Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 2:8).

More Bad Guys

1. The Third Rebellion — Genesis 11:1-9; Deuteronomy 32:7-8; Deuteronomy 4:19-20; Psalm 82; Daniel 10:12-13, Daniel 10:20-21.

2. What Do these Dark Powers Do?

3. Sacred Space and Holy Ground

  • a. Holy Ground in Wherever God Is.—Eden, Tabernacle, Temple,
  • b. Everywhere else is the Domain of the Dark Powers.
  • c. Implications for Israel and Us.


I’ll say more in my lesson.

Blessings, Joey

By | 2023-11-05T00:13:39-06:00 November 5th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual Warfare: The Bad Guys – Demons, Unclean & Evil Spirits

Spiritual Warfare: The Bad Guys –
Demons, Unclean & Evil Spirits

Introduction & Review:

  1. We are Skeptical of the Supernatural.
  2. The Spiritual Realm Consists of Good Guys & Bad Guys…
  3. Good Guys include the One True God & Other Spiritual Beings Created by God.
  4. These Other Spiritual Beings have Free Will and Can Sin. Some have Sinned.
  5. Bad Guys: There have been at Least Three Rebellions.
  6. Last Week We Discussed the First Rebellion of the Serpent in the Garden (Genesis 3). Satan and His Descriptions.
  7. This Week We will Discuss the Second Rebellion (Genesis 6) and how it Led to the Creation of Demons and Unclean Spirits.

More Bad Guys

  1. The NT Affirms the Existence of Demons & Evil Spirits.
    1. Eight Times They are Called Evil Spirits (Matthew 12:45; Luke 7:21; Luke 8:2; Luke 11:26; Acts 19:12-13; Acts 19:15–16).
    2. Over Twenty Times they are Called Unclean Spirits (Matthew 10:1; Matthew 12:43; Mark 1:23, Mark 1:26–27; Mark 3:11, Mark 3:30; Mark 5:2, Mark 5:8, Mark 5:13; Mark 6:7; Mark 7:25; Mark 9:25; Luke 4:33, Luke 4:36; Luke 6:18; Luke 8:29; Luke 9:42; Luke 11:24; Acts 5:16; Acts 8:7; Revelation 16:13; Revelation 18:2).
    3. Thirty-three times Evil Spirits are Called Demons. The verb form “demon possessed” is used 11 times.
    4. However, the Terms are Used Interchangeably.
  2. What Do these Demons Do?
    1. They Do the Devil’s Work (Matthew 9:34).
    2. They Inhabit Humans (Matthew 12:43-45).
    3. They Exert Some Degree of Control over those they Inhabit (Mark 5:1-15; Acts 19:15-16).
    4. Cause Disease/Disease Like Symptoms (Matthew 9:32-33; Mark 9:17-27; Luke 9:42). However, the Bible also makes it clear that Jesus Healed Sicknesses NOT Related to Demon Possession (Luke 6:18).
    5. They Demonize/Torment Humans (Matthew 9:32-38); the purpose of demonic possession is to distort and destroy the image of God in man.
  3. The Origin of Demons: The Second Rebellion—Genesis 6:1-5
    Bad Guys# 2 –Evil Spirits & Fallen Angels

    1. The Sons of God Wanted to Procreate in their Image.
    2. The Nephilim, their Offspring, Further Corrupted the Ancient World Precipitating the Flood.
    3. These Angels Were Confined in Chains of Darkness.
    4. These Nephilim Were Killed in the Flood.
    5. Apparently this Happened Again Post Flood.
    6. Our Modern Minds Have Trouble with this Narrative
      1. Supernatural Factor – Weird. Haven’t Heard of it Before.
      2. We Get Hung up on Angel Reproduction & Hybrid Humans.
    7. It is the Best Supported View
      1. The Old Testament (“sons of God” are angels)
      2. The New Testament (2 Peter 2:4-6; Jude 5-6; “unclean”)
      3. Ancient Jews Through NT Period
      4. 2nd Temple Literature
      5. Pagan Parallels


  1. Does Demon Possession Still Occur Today?
  2. Can Christians be Possessed by Demons? No (Colossians 1:13-14)
  3. Can Christians be Harmed/Influenced by Demons? Yes (2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Romans 6:12-14; Ephesians 4:27).
  4. The Work of Christ has Freed Us from Demonic Control (Colossians 2:15; Colossians 1:13-14; Romans 6:17-18; Matthew 28:19-20).
By | 2023-11-05T00:14:59-06:00 October 29th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual Warfare: The Bad Guys – The Big Bad

Spiritual Warfare: The Bad Guys –
The Big Bad

Introduction & Review:

  1. We are Skeptical of the Supernatural.
  2. There is a Spiritual Realm that Exists Parallel with the Physical.
  3. The Spiritual Realm Consists of Good Guys & Bad Guys…
  4. Good Guys: The One True God and Creator of All Things
  5. Good Guys: Other Spiritual Beings Created by God
    1. Cherubim & Seraphim
    2. God’s Heavenly Council Consisting of Princes, The Sons of God, and Messengers

In This Lesson we Begin to Introduce the Bad Guys.

  1. A Few Characteristics of Created, Supernatural Beings

    a. They are
    Spirit Beings (Hebrews 1:7; Psalm 104:4).

    b. They are
    NOT All-Powerful (Matthew 24:36; 1 Peter 1:10-12).

    c. They are Superior to
    Humans—rank, provisionally immortal, power (2 Peter 2:11).

    d. They Have
    Free Will (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

    e. They are
    Fallible (Job 15:15-16)

    f. Some Have
    Sinned & Rebelled Against God (2 Peter 2:4).

    g. There is
    NO Redemption for Them (Jude 1:6; Hebrews 1:14, Hebrews 2:16).
  2. The First Rebellion—Genesis 3
    a. Bad Guy # 1 –The Serpent

    1. Origin (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Revelation 12:3-9 ?)
    2. Identified in NT as
      1. The Devil (slanderer, accuser, Matthew 4:1)
      2. Satan (adversary, Matthew 4:10-ll)
      3. The Tempter (Matthew 4:3)
      4. Ruler/Prince of Demons (Matthew 9:34)
      5. Beelzebul (Lord of the Flies, Matthew 12:24)
      6. The Evil One (Matthew 13:19)
      7. The Enemy (Matthew 13:39; Luke 10:19)
      8. Liar/ Father of Lies (John 8:44)
      9. Ruler of the World/Ruler of the Air (John 14:30; 1 John 5:19; Ephesians 2:2)
      10. “god” of this Age (2 Corinthians 4:4)
      11. Belial (wickedness; worthlessness) (2 Corinthians 6:15)
      12. Adversary/opponent (1 Peter 5:8)
      13. Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9)
      14. The Accuser (Revelation 12:10)


  1. We have a Powerful Enemy (1 Peter 5:8)
  2. He Can Be Resisted (James 4:4-10)

I’ll say more in my lesson.

Blessings, Joey

By | 2023-10-21T15:46:45-06:00 October 21st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Spiritual Warfare: The Good Guys

Spiritual Warfare: The Good Guys

1. The One True God (Elohim) – God with a Capital “G”
Also, Referred to As:

2. Other gods (elohim) – gods with a Lower Case “g”
Any inhabitant of the Spiritual Realm is called an elohim (god).
Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Samuel 28:13; Psalm 82:1; Psalm 8:5.

  • a. The Cherubim & Seraphim (Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezekiel 10:14-15)
    They are the Guardians of Sacred Space.
  • b. God’s Heavenly Council (Psalm 82:1-8; Psalm 89:5-7; 1 Kings 22:19-23).
    They are Made up of…

  • c. What Do They Do?
    • i. Assist God in Governing the Universe.
    • ii. Deliver Messages; Give Reports; Keep Records.
    • iii. They Minister/Serve God and Humans.
    • iv. The are Watchers—Vigilant Guardians, Agents of Justice.
    • v. Members of His Host—Warriors with God as Chief.
    • vi. Praise God.


  • There is a Spiritual Realm and there are Spiritual Realities we Cannot See.
  • There is an Entire Heavenly Bureaucracy Appointed to Do God’s Will .
  • If God is for Us, who can Stand Against Us (Romans 8:31).

I’ll say more in my lesson.

Blessings, Joey

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy.” Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5

By | 2023-10-15T00:55:34-06:00 October 15th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Do You Believe In “Ghosts”?

Do You Believe in “Ghosts?”

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5

Hamlet has been told by the night watch that the ghost of his father has appeared to them. Hamlet and his friend, Horatio go up to the battlements and the ghost appears. Horatio is a practical, down to earth scholar and he is stunned by this – he doesn’t believe in ghosts. He says: “O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.” Hamlet replies: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” He is suggesting that the human imagination is limited and that there are many things we don’t know, things that haven’t been discovered and, in fact, things we haven’t even dreamt of.

I’ve been promising you a series on spiritual warfare – supernatural beings in conflict with God and his people. While technically NOT GHOSTS as we think of them, they are spirits from the spirit world. In this first lesson, I plan on dealing with our own skepticism regarding the unseen realm. Like Horatio, we tend to be skeptical of things that don’t fall neatly within our post-enlightenment worldview. We claim to believe in God and his activity in the world, but practically we see the world and events in almost exclusively rationalistic and secular ways. We like neat natural explanations of the unknown and limit spiritual phenomenon to what God did or allowed in the past, but not today.

God’s word clearly teaches that we are involved in a spiritual battle with malevolent beings opposed to God’s will and intent on our destruction. Paul’s words in Ephesians 6 come to mind.

Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

MP<I’ll say more in my lesson.

Blessings, Joey

By | 2023-10-07T13:53:17-06:00 October 7th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Mountain States Children’s Home

Mission Statement

Mountain States Children’s Home Extends Christian services to wounded children in an effort to meet their physical needs, heal their emotional hurts, challenge their minds, and teach them moral principles, in order to reach the goals of reuniting them with their families or preparing them for independence. This is accomplished by utilizing a family model of care, strengthened by professional counselors and teachers.

A Deeper, More Comprehensive Level of Care

Healing and restoration for wounded children do not occur merely through a singular type of treatment. We are whole beings: body, mind, and spirit. Each aspect needs to be addressed to pave the healing journey. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” We desire that those words could be spoken of each child who passes through our doors.

That’s what sets Mountain States Children’s Home apart. We offer a depth of care that is far more comprehensive than what stand-alone counseling services, typical group homes, or even many foster or kindred care homes can provide. Our children are placed in a safe and secure environment in one of our loving family homes where we begin to build them up in every aspect of their lives.

We Want These Children to Become Truly Successful

Success can be defined in many ways. A person may have a thriving business that brings great financial gain. Success may be fame or a position of influence politically, in a community, or professionally. It may be a physical accomplishment such as climbing a mountain or winning a race.

Our goal at Mountain States Children’s Home is to teach children to be successful in a different way. Our desire is for our children to learn godly character traits such as loving others, treating others as they would like to be treated, dependability, forgiveness, gratefulness, honor, humility, obedience, responsibility, respect, self-control, truthfulness, and wisdom. These are some of the foundational principles of true success in life.

Providing a deeper level of care to help children grow and succeed educationally,
physically, spiritually and emotionally

Source: https://www.msch.org/mission-statement/

We have been supporting this ministry for years through their Fall and Spring food drives. We recently participated with Linder Road and some other churches in a summer youth mission project. We will learn about this trip Sunday.


By | 2023-09-30T23:46:07-06:00 September 30th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments