Coffee and Scrolls

“Should I stand up and read the Christmas scroll to everyone here in the coffee shop?” my dad asked me this morning as we sat down together in a cute small coffee shop.
“Not if you want me here,” I replied with a smile, feeling that wasn’t the best approach. 🙂
He laughed.
Thankfully God did provide gospel opportunities at the coffee shop, and ones that were a bit more natural.
Dad gave Christmas Scrolls (which contains the Christmas account from the Bible) to people at a couple tables next to us. Then we thanked the girl who worked there as we were walking out.
“Have fun setting up your tree!” she told us (we had told her we just came from cutting down our tree). She said, “I’ve never had a real tree, we’ve always just had an artificial one.”
“Well, you know what I tell people?” my dad replied. “It’s okay to have an artificial Christmas tree. But it’s NOT okay to have an artificial Christmas!”
She heartily agreed.
Then my dad continued, “Today Americans are biblically illiterate. They know more about the Grinch than about Christ.”
“Preach it!” another lady drinking her coffee said.
My dad laughed.
“We’re trying!” we said.
As we walked out I told dad, “You should have said, ‘Really?! Preach Here? Now?'”
Dad laughed.
Christmastime provides so many new ways to turn people’s thoughts to spiritual things. May the Lord open opportunities for all of us.

Christmas Scrolls Across the Nation

We’ve been very encouraged by the response to our newsletter and by how many are wanting to distributing Christmas scrolls this year! We have thousands of scrolls going out in the mail today.

Nickie processing orders

Almost every family in America celebrates Christmas, yet most do not actually read the Bible and probably don’t even know where to find the account of Christ’s birth. So our family began thinking, “What if we gave them a copy? What if Christians all over the country distributed one-page copies of the Christmas account from Matthew and Luke? Not only would families have something short and readable in their hands, but, if they read it, they and their families would be hearing a part of the Word of God for themselves.”

Last year, we printed 5,000 “Christmas Accounts,” and many of you helped to hand them out. This year we ordered 18,000. They are printed on attractive, glossy paper, and we like to roll them up like scrolls, and band them with green paper or a ribbon. People received them enthusiastically. At the Christmas parade in our town last year, people thanked us and many made comments to the effect that they “had always wanted to read it for themselves.”

If you’d like to join us, you can purchase a pack of 50 from our online store for $6 or a pack of 100 for $11.

Here are some ideas of how they can be distributed:
• Hand them out when you check out at stores over the Christmas season. (Carry pre-rolled scrolls inside an empty paper towel roll to keep them from getting squished in your bag or purse.)
• Give a plate of Christmas cookies to your neighbors and include a Christmas scroll with each plate, or give one to houses in the neighborhood of your church.
• Encourage other families at your church to give them to their neighbors too.
• Go Christmas caroling and hand them out at each house.
• Send them with Christmas cards or letters to relatives.
• If your town has a Christmas parade, that is a good place to hand them out and get into witnessing conversations.
• If there is a Live Nativity somewhere in your town, you could suggest that they give one to all who come.
• A college town is a good place to hand them out, especially to international students.

Here’s some of today’s shipment. Please join us in praying for the Lord to use His Word in the homes in America in which they will land.

Scrolls Multiplying like Bread and Fishes

Last week a group of young people from our church loaded up into our van to pass out “Christmas scrolls” downtown before a parade.

Here was our team who braved the cold, 23 degree F weather! 😮 The only problem was that we had more helpers than anticipated, and we didn’t have as many scrolls as we would have liked. It’s a disappointing situation to have the manpower but not enough resources to give away.

Thankfully, Edie and Brad Dukek had rolled and brought several large bags of scrolls downtown and had them waiting for us (about double the amount you see in this picture). What a wonderful sight that was. God had fixed our problem.

We had a good hour passing out several hundred of them before the parade. My dad liked to tell people with enthusiasm, “This is the Christmas story FROM THE BIBLE!” and he said people responded with warmth to that–like they were getting “the real thing.” And they were!

I was also grateful for a few discussions I was able to have because of a Christmas questionnaire I used. I thought I’d share my questions in case any of you would find it useful in starting discussions this season. I’d start by saying, “Hello, I’m doing a little Christmas questionnaire — would you be able to answer a couple questions?” Then I went through the first four questions fairly quickly and spent the most time on the 5th question.

1) What was Jesus’ primary purpose for coming to earth as a Man? (John 12:27-28, Hebrews 2:14)
2) Do you know what the name “Immanuel” means?
3) Can you name some of the prophecies that were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth? (Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2)
4) What was the good news of great joy that the angel spoke about? (“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10-11)
5) Jesus is called a “Savior.” What does He save people FROM and how does He do it?
6) The Bible tells us quite a bit about Jesus’ first coming. Do you know what it says about His second coming?

One man named Carlos told me he thought you get to Heaven by faith plus works. I was just about to explain the key concept found in Ephesians 2:8-9 when a drunk guy came up and was a big interruption to our discussion. Thankfully I was able to get back to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Carlos told me he was touched by the encounter. These interruptions at key moments are common and they are a reminder that we are in a spiritual battle and need to persevere in sharing the truth.

We returned invigorated, ready for a warm dinner, and grateful for those who helped us get God’s Word into many hands, and thankful to the Lord who allows us to be involved in His work.

Dad Witnessing At Christmas Tree Farm

After my dad and I picked out and cut down our Christmas tree this afternoon, we began talking about how we should witness to the guy who was working there. We thought that a good strategy for getting into a conversation would be to ask what he thought the second coming of Jesus would be like.

After my dad tied the tree to the top of our vehicle, he remembered he never paid for the tree. 🙂

When he went to pay, he asked his question about the second coming and they ended up talking for 10 – 15 minutes. I joined part way through.

“How’d that conversation go?” I asked dad as we were pulling away.
“Great,” Dad said.
As he began to explain the story to me, I pulled out my camera and started recording, hoping it might spark some new idea for others who might get into discussion this Christmas.

Dad Shares About Witnessing to Christmas Tree Farm Workers from Tomorrow's Forefathers, Inc. on Vimeo.

Nine Tips for Christmas Caroling Evangelism

A few nights ago we went out Christmas caroling. The girls in our Bright Lights group LOVE doing this. And the elderly neighbors around our church LOVE it when they come.

Here are a few practical tips if you’d like to arrange an outreach like this in your neighborhood or church neighborhood! You don’t have to do it with a Bright Lights group — you could do it with a church group or group of friends. (Our church is planning to do it on a coming Wednesday night.)

1) Don’t take too large of a group – it takes too long to move from house to house. We split into smaller groups of about 12 each. This way we can also reach more houses.

2) Knock, ring the doorbell and then start singing! If they don’t come to the door after one verse, we usually go on to the next house.

3) Have the carolers bring cookies pre-made on little plates (with about 5 cookies per plate) so that you can leave a little treat at each home. Also give them a Christmas gospel tract or Christmas scoll. Give each girl involvement by letting different girls give the plate of cookies to the home resident each time.

4) After you finish the first song, greet the person who came to the door with a warm “Merry Christmas” and explain who you are and what you are doing. (I usually say, “We are from a girl’s Bible study group that meets at the little church around the corner!”) Then we often ask, “Do you have a favorite Christmas carol you’d like us to sing?” However, this is a little risky. It has led to some embarrassing attempts at singing “Silver Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

5) If they don’t come to the door, instruct the carolers not to announce loudly, “I see a man in there — he’s watching the TV!” because walls are not very sound-proof and we don’t want to be a bad testimony or seem rude.

6) If there is snow on the ground, try not to turn their glistening white front yard into a yard covered with muddy boot prints (i.e. take the sidewalk or street).

7) Instruct your carolers in advance to smile!!

Christmas caroling door to door is kind of a thing of the past. Some elderly people remember doing it when they were young and are shocked and ecstatic when carolers arrive at the door!

8) Sing only the first verse of common Christmas carols. The carols my team sang the most were, “Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy to the World.”

9) Have one person in your group be the scribe. Take notes of which houses you went to, and which houses were especially grateful. You’ll want to make sure you hit those houses again next year. We have some elderly people around our church who wait for us to come each year, and have been extremely touched.

When you regather inside your warm church (or home) discuss what the Lord did and pray for the people that you reached. Celebrate with hot cocoa and Christmas cookies!

We need more “carolers for the harvest” :). Please leave a comment if you have done this and have additional tips.

Christmas Witnessing Tool

“Have you read the Christmas story from the Bible yet? Here’s a copy for you!”
This is my dad’s favorite line to say in the month of December as he passes out the Christmas account from the Bible.

This year, we decided to order 5,000 “Christmas scrolls.” The scroll is almost entirely Scripture. Our objective is to get people reading the Word of God!

Scripture written on the scroll:
Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-12, John 1:1,14, John 3:16-19 (Scripture quoted from the NASB.)
Old Testament verses contain various prophecies of Christ’s coming.

We like to roll them up and give them out like little scrolls. People receive them as a festive Christmas gesture. Thanks to my Grandpa, who works for us at our office daily (even though he is 91 years old), we have 200 rolled for our next outreach this Friday night: the Peppermint Walk downtown Marion. For those in our area, if you’d like to come and help pass out the scrolls, you’re more than welcome.

The scrolls are perfect for attaching to a plate of Christmas cookies for neighbors, teachers, coworkers, and friends. You can purchase them in packs of 25, 50, 100, and 250 from our online store. (Note: they come flat and you have to roll them yourself.)

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Note: I have not yet mastered the art of carrying these as I’m Christmas shopping (to give to cashiers) and not wrinkling them. If you come up with any solutions to this problem, I’d be interested.

Get GOOD Christmas Tracts!

Some gospel tracts are boring and dry. I don’t even feel like reading them, so why would an unbeliever? The gospel is the most exciting news in the world, and I think it should be shared with enthusiasm and creativity! So when I ran across these fun and tastefully written Christmas tracts, I quickly ordered a bunch for our store. I appreciate their engaging style and their approach of teaching the foundational concepts of the gospel (something our Biblically-illiterate generation really needs!). You can read/purchase them online here if you’d like.

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Christmas provides a very natural opportunity to witness to your dentist, doctor, neighbors, music teachers, local fire station, etc….. We can simply make an “appreciation plate” of cookies, add a Christmasy message (tract) to the top, and drop it off with a warm greeting. I don’t know about you, but this is a great solution for me in reaching people that I want to witness to more than I have.

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Some other recommended Christmas resources:

The Christmas Story from the Bible Scroll is something my mom especially enjoys giving people at the store. She was just telling me the other day how people receive it very well – it seems special to them. (You can print them off yourself – follow the link to see English and Spanish version.) You can also order them glossy and color from our online store here. We sell them in NASB or KJV in a variety of quantities.

“Uncovering the Real Nativity,” is a booklet from Answers in Genesis that I really enjoy giving. I usually share a quick summary of what it’s about to spark their curiosity. (Read it here if you’d like.)

“What are Christmas and Easter All About?” teaches the gospel with very clear and simple language and is illustrated beautifully.

“The Greatest News Ever Told…” is just Scripture–all the way through. When I pass it out, I like to explain, “It’s a big string of Bible verses!” and I have found people to receive it gratefully and with interest.

Who knows? This could be the last Christmas season before Jesus comes back. Let’s give Him ALL our love and energy and pour our efforts into what is on HIS heart–lost souls for whom He died.

” … and you will testify also, because you have been with Me … ” (John 15:27)

Christmas Dinnertime Challenge!

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For those who don’t get our family’s e-newsletter, here’s this month’s article!

Dinnertime is an important time for families! Here is a list of 25 items to talk about during family dinnertime discussions this month. There is one for each day, starting today (December 1st) and concluding on Christmas Day. These questions are designed to be done when the whole family is together.

If your family completes this challenge, email us after Christmas, and we will send you a free copy of your choice of either Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends, Before You Meet Prince Charming, or Will Our Generation Speak? 🙂 (If you start a day or two late, that’s fine, as long as you complete all 25. Also, the time of day is flexible. The “deeper” questions are optional.)

1) What is your favorite Christmas carol and why?
Deeper: Which Christmas carols best explain the gospel?

2) Christmas is much more than a birthday—it is a coming! What is the difference between a “birthday” and a “coming”? Why is it important to make this clear?
Deeper: What could be some of the negative effects of referring to Christmas as a birthday?

3) When we wish people a “Merry Christmas,” what are we actually wishing them? Make a list of 10 things to help families have a true merry Christmas. (After making a list, see some ideas at the end of this email.)
Deeper: What is the difference between what the world thinks is a “ Merry Christmas” and a true “Merry Christmas”?

4) What is your first Christmas memory? What is your best Christmas memory?
Deeper: What is something that God taught you at Christmastime in the past?

5) What is your favorite Christmas tradition in our family? Can you think of any new traditions we could start this year that would help us to focus even more on Christ?

6) What does the word “Incarnation” mean and why is it so important? (John 1:14) How would we explain the Incarnation to someone who had never heard?
Deeper: Here is a suggested project. Print out the Christmas account from Matthew and Luke (download here). Ask people if they have read the Christmas account in the Bible yet this year, and ask them if they would like a copy. See how many you can give away as a family this month.

7) In what way is a Christmas card similar to an angel? Is there someone in particular who would be blessed by a surprise Christmas card from us this year?
Deeper: Why do you think God used a star in Matthew (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10) and an angel in Luke (Luke 2:8-15) to announce the birth of Christ?

8) Why did Jesus have to be born as a baby? Why couldn’t He have come as a grown man?

9) Who is a person or family in need that we could reach out to this Christmas season? What could we do for them?
Deeper: How did the shepherd’s respond to the angel’s message? How can we imitate them today?

10) How do people in the world today demonstrate the same attitude as King Herod? How do people respond like the wise men?
Deeper: What wicked Old Testament King played an important role in the Christmas story (Isaiah 7-9)? Why did God offer what He did?

11) Read Luke 2:19. What do you think were some of the things Mary was pondering in her heart?
Deeper: In Jesus’ own words, why did He say He came? What verses can you find?

12) Read the story of Anna (Luke 2:36-38). What can we learn from her example?
Deeper: Why did Jesus come when He did? Why didn’t He come earlier or later in history?

13) What is your favorite Christmas gift you ever gave? What are some good aspects of giving Christmas presents? What can be some negative aspects of it?
Deeper: Can you think of any times in Scripture when the Israelites sent presents to each other? (See answers at the bottom of this email.)

14) What are the ways that Jesus’ birth was specifically humble?
Deeper: How are Jesus’ first and second coming different?

15) What Christmas ministry has our family been involved in over the years? How have we seen God work?
Deeper: Why is it better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)? What is an example of a time we saw this concept to be true in our family?

16) How can each one of us be like the star? What was the star’s purpose? How can we fulfill that same purpose?
Deeper: What did the star in the Christmas account ultimately represent? (Numbers 24:17, Revelation 2:28, 22:16)

17) What does the name “Emmanuel” mean and why is it important?
Deeper: When was the last time in Israel’s history that there was a command to kill baby boys? Can you think of any other similarities between these two times in history?

18) Read and discuss Micah 5:2. What does the word Bethlehem mean?
Deeper: Why do you think God arranged for Jesus to be born in that particular town and a town with that name?

19) What is the first Christmas verse in the Bible? (See answer at the bottom of this email.)
Deeper: Which of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob) prophesied the coming of Christ? (See answer at the bottom of this email.)

20) What are some ideas of things we could do for our neighbors this Christmas?

21) Why is Jesus the Prince of Peace?
Deeper: How many names can you think of for Jesus and what do they mean? What do the names of Christ listed in Isaiah 9:6 tell us about some of the roles He fills?

22) What is a fun family memory from Christmas?
Deeper: How do we know that the angels and the wise men did not come at the same time? (There are at least 2 reasons.) Was the star in the east or the west?

23) How many different people are mentioned in the accounts of the Christmas story in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2? Name them all. Pick one person and share something that we can learn from them.
Deeper: What prophecies can you think of that were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth? (Genesis 3:15, Genesis 49:10, Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Micah 5:2)

24) Why did God name the baby Jesus rather than allowing Joseph to choose a name for Him?
Deeper: What are two reasons Joseph was told to name the child “Jesus”? (See answer at the bottom of this email.)

25) Without looking, what were the “good tidings of great joy”?
Deeper: Why was Jesus’ birth “glory to God in the highest”?

Also, we will be tweeting the daily question(s) from @BrightLightsMin and @TFInc.

I love how Malachi 3:16-17 reminds us that the Lord is listening to our conversations!

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.
‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’” Malachi 3:16-17

Answers:
Question 3: Honor Christ, Read Scripture, Make Christmas “merry” for someone else, Sing carols, Witness, Give generously, Be excited about the coming of Christ!
Question 13: Esther 9:22, Nehemiah 8
Question 19: Genesis 3:15, Genesis 49:10
Question 24: 1) It means salvation and Jesus would save His people from their sins. 2) It is the same name as Joshua who delivered the people and brought them into the Promised Land.

Reading Stories of Missionary Perspectives at Christmas

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Because of bad weather, the Christmas program at our church became a Christmas “get together” in a home, but it was a special evening. Each family had prepared a special song to share, and in between songs, one of the mothers in our church, Crissy Jarmon, and her children read some missionary Christmas stories they had found.

The missionary stories were very touching – communicating the struggles and perspectives of missionaries around Christmastime. These stories can really help us keep our focus right this time of year! If some of you are interested in reading a couple of these stories with your families this Christmas, you can follow these links:

“Christmas is about Leaving Home … Not Going Home”
“I Gave Myself”

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On a more lighthearted note, Sarah and I wrote a song for the evening– it’s mostly inside jokes, but we thought those of you who have been to our church may enjoy it. [smile]
(P.S. To see the words, click on “vimeo” to watch it off our church’s vimeo channel – the words will be below.)

Christmas Party With Neighbors

20131216_224131_25275 Last Monday evening we had our neighbors over for snacks and harp music. We haven’t done a neighborhood Christmas party for years, but we’ve been realizing that getting to know our neighbors better takes … well… effort. [smile]

Monday was one of those days where many things seemed to go wrong. I spilled grain all over the basement floor and cleaned it up just in time to find that my mom had splattered her green drink all over the kitchen. She had left her metal spoon in her blender and turned it on which caused it to break (while it was blending) and spray everywhere. I will just say it wasn’t the ideal start to the day.

20131216_200229_25255 But, praise the Lord, everything got taken care of before people began to arrive… and we were so encouraged by the number of neighbors who came and by their response!

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20131216_203703_25266 The evening enabled us to have many good conversations.

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20131216_203651_25264 The neighbors seemed to really enjoy getting to know each other better. We also sang Christmas carols and my dad shared a “Christmas verse” with everyone from Genesis 3.

If you would like to do something in your neighborhood, here are some suggestions:

-Make a little invite and personally deliver each one.

-Don’t worry about not having enough space. Being a little crowded just makes it cozy!

-Consider showing a short video, doing a puppet show, skit, or special music.

-Set up a table with some Christmas booklets or resources that people can take if they want to.

-Don’t be stressed about having a bunch of people over who don’t all know each other. Just be friendly and tell them, “We all live so close, we thought it would be nice to get to know each other better!” You may be surprised at how much they appreciate the evening.