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Happy New Year to our IARBC Family,
I am sitting in our family room, looking outside past our Christmas tree. A light snow is falling on a blanket of snow from earlier in the week. It is cold, but the wind is light (a nice change) making the dry snow swirl before it gently lands on the ground. It is absolutely beautiful. I no longer dream of a white Christmas, and I am very happy to have dry roads, but I have to admit I am thoroughly enjoying this winter scene that God has orchestrated. I do not pretend to understand the treasures of the snow, but I do praise the Lord for its beauty!
Of course Christmas is not really about snow; it is about the incarnation of the Son of God, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It is about the coming of a Savior who is Christ the Lord, Emmanuel, who is God with us. It is about the good news of great joy that would be for all people. For us as believers, Christmas is first and foremost about Jesus, born of a virgin, and then laid in a manger. It is about Jesus who was revealed to the humble shepherds, then visited and worshiped by the wise men from the east. They gave Him gifts that were worthy of a king. Christ Himself was a gift from the Father to a sinful and needy world. Although “commercial” Christmas (as Dr. Kevin Bauder puts it in his recent Nick of Time article) can easily usurp the true meaning of Christmas, giving and receiving gifts can have a rightful place in our observance of Christmas.
For our family, it has worked to celebrate Christmas, complete with the exchanging of gifts, over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Some of the details have changed over the years, but some traditions are pretty deeply ingrained and are not to be trifled with. One of these traditions is stocking stuffers. For some reason Sandy & I bought Christmas stockings for each member of our family at K-Mart. I guess we liked the way they looked and they were reasonably priced. Though uniquely different, each of them has a similar look. As family members were added through marriage and the birth of grandkiddos, each received their own (K-Mart) Christmas stocking complete with their name in gold glitter puffy paint across the “fur” at the top. At times extra stockings would be purchased in advance just in case there were more grandchildren and spouses along the way as we never knew from year to year how much longer we could find stockings at K-Mart. The adults had the privilege of writing their own name on their stockings with puffy paint and we typically made a big deal out of it. To some degree, it was another way to say they were now family. Two Christmases ago, when Amy (our youngest daughter) and Christopher were getting pretty serious, Sandy & I decided to give him a provisional stocking. There could be no puffy paint as there was no ring yet (though it was not long before they were engaged), so Sandy put Christopher’s name on his stocking in block letters using blue painters tape. The stocking was put away after Christmas…until their wedding day. At their wedding reception, Christopher tore off the blue painters tape, and ceremoniously wrote his name in puffy paint on his Christmas stocking. Their daughter Addie has her own (K-Mart) stocking now and is celebrating her first Christmas with all of us. We will exchange stocking stuffer gifts in a couple of days.
Christmas has its traditions. We all have our ways of celebrating, and I think giving can play a meaningful role in our
Christmas traditions. Giving that is driven by gratitude for the rich blessings that we have in Christ. We all have so
much to be grateful for…
Grateful for the salvation we have in Christ.
Grateful for lives that are transformed by the Gospel.
Grateful for the privilege of serving the Lord.
Grateful for God’s grace, sovereignty, and His provision, even in the face of sorrow and grief.
Grateful for our family.
Grateful for the the ministries that God is using for the cause of the Gospel.
Grateful for the people that mean so much to us in life and ministry.
There are so many more but I want to focus on the last one. People that mean so much to us in life and ministry.
One such person, for me, is Brenna Capon.
Not only is she a wonderful daughter-in-law, she is a wonderful help to me and to our IARBC family of churches as our IARBC Administrative Assistant. Her husband, Danny, is the pastor of Grandview Park Baptist Church in Des Moines and together they serve the Lord there. She is a good and godly wife and mother. She is a faithful servant of the Lord who loves people and who loves our churches. God has gifted her in so many ways and she willingly uses what God has given her to serve Him. She is pretty tech-savvy (for which I am very grateful) and knowledgeable about finances and bookkeeping. She is a very good editor and information gatherer which is a big help with managing our website and posting Inside Iowa email updates. She is extremely efficient, and as such, is always looking for a better, quicker, more affordable way to do things. She might say otherwise, but I think she is very creative. She is a hard worker and doesn’t give up until she figures things out. This might be the math teacher in her, but, in any event, it is true.
However, sometimes the work load is more than one person can handle, so I am also grateful for Sadie Hatting. She is a faithful member of Grandview, a good friend of Brenna, and a great help with mailings, printing projects, and many other administrative tasks. She is responsible, capable, and a delight to work with.
I imagine Brenna and Sadie to be like the people the apostle Paul commended in his letters as fellow workers and co-laborers in the Gospel. It is not a stretch to say that I could not do what I need to do without them. They are an incredible blessing to me and to our IARBC family of churches. I am grateful to God for them and I wanted to let you know a little about them and what they do to serve the Lord through serving our IARBC.
A time to reflect on the incarnation of the Son of God.
A time to spend with family & friends.
A time observe some traditions.
A time for giving.
A time for being grateful.
Thanks for your prayers, words of encouragement, financial support, and for the opportunity for Sadie, Brenna, Sandy, and me to serve the churches of the IARBC.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year,
Tim, Sandy, Brenna & Sadie
“Because of your partnership in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5)