The world is searching for genuine joy. They may call it something else or look for it under the guise of fun or pleasure, but the basic need is still the same: joy. And what a time to find and express joy: Christmas, the incarnation. God has stooped to meet man’s greatest need: sinless God for sinful man. While the joy of Christians is unspeakable, our sense of humility is understandable. What would we be without our Lord’s work on our behalf? It is a time to contrast what we deserve with what we enjoy. The wide path to eternal hell and exchanged for the crown of life and eternal glory.
This is the reality of Christmas joy and is expressed so eloquently by H. R. Bramley in his incarnation poem.
A babe on the breast of a maiden He lies,
Yet sits with the Father on high in the skies,
Before Him their faces the seraphim hide,
While Joseph stands waiting, unscared by His side.
Oh, wonder of wonders, which none can unfold!
The Ancient of Days is an hour or two old,
The Maker of all things is made of the earth,
Man is worshipped by angels, and God comes to birth.
The Word in the bliss of the Godhead remains,
Yet in flesh comes to suffer the keenest of pains,
He is that He was, and forever shall be,
But becomes what He was not for you and for me.
This Christmas remember the most memorable gift, the most remarkable event, the most unspeakable joy.
We come to the final episode in our series on Christmas, and it brings us to the point that we want to end on: Christmas is Gospel! It is Good news! The reason for Christmas is proclamation. The Shepherds did not stay silent when they found baby Jesus and neither should we. Join Charles and Daniel has they encourage you to proclaim!
Dear Friends of the Ministry,
We were nearing the end of our time at P4C 2016 when an attendee approached me with some much appreciated words of thanks. I will not quote him verbatim, but he asked a question something like this, “How did this happen? How did your family come to minister together like this?” He added that it was something he would like to do one day. His question was both surprising and humbling. It’s answer is an occasion to give our God thanks and moves me to tears even as I write. How is it that the Cavanaugh family came to minister together as we do?
As I told my brother then, such things do not come together on a whim. They are or should be the fruit of life. As a young man I noticed most young people did not seem to have the same passion and hunger for Christ and His truth as their parents. As I grew older, God gave me the desire and hope to avoid such generational decline. When I entered the pastoral ministry, I longed to have a lasting influence on men and their families. He gave me a wife who shared that desire. We wanted the Cavanaugh family to love Christ together and to show that love for His glory. My prayer and vision was that God would use us to touch the nations, to proclaim His Word, and to touch the next generation for Christ.
The Cavanaugh family is just a small part of what God is doing, but we are grateful to have that part. When I first began to pray about these things, there was no such thing as a blog or podcast. Today we produce “CrossTalk” – a weekly podcast – and maintain a blog on our website. My prayer to touch the nations has witnessed God’s gracious providence in leading Daniel and Micah around the world to minister Christ. Daniel has lead several trips to South America, and since Daniel’s marriage, Micah has continued, leading a trip to Ecuador just last Summer and Summers before that. Many of you have had a part in this, including a trip Pam and I took to Ecuador to lead a Family Leadership Conference a few years back. Micah not only has recently led annual trips to Ecuador, but also serves the Lord in a local church in New Braunfels, TX. God has also placed him strategically in the field of politics and government where he can have an impact for Christ.
The Cavanaugh family as always enjoyed encouraging pastors and their wives, having picnics for local pastors at our home. I have recently had the privilege of teaching a pastoral ministries and leadership class at our church as well. It is our hope that the Lord will open other doors for ministering to men of God. Perhaps the biggest blessing to the Cavanaugh family in all of this is Passion4Christ Summit. It kicks off the Christmas season for us and is the highlight of our year. Our anticipation builds as we look forward to seeing familiar faces and making new friends in Christ. Since 2008, over 500 Christian singles have attended P4C. If we have been allowed by our Lord to have any influence at all, it is that we have encouraged those who have come to carry the reality of Christ and His Gospel effectively to this and the next generation.
One of the great blessings is that Vision4Living is no longer four but five. Daniel’s wife, Michelle, is an answer to prayer, having been raised in a Christ-centered, ministry-minded family. She shares in the vision of the Cavanaugh family to touch and change the next generation for Christ. And part of the fulfillment of that vision is that by God’s grace she will deliver another little Cavanaugh into the Cavanaugh family in February. Michelle’s heart for God and love for people will be used by our Lord to make the Cavanaugh family more complete as she and Daniel raise up a generation to know and love Christ and make Him known to their generation and the generations to come.
As I answered the question of that young man at P4C 2016, I sensed the need to make one thing very clear. The Cavanaugh family is not a special family. We are a very ordinary family. We sin. We have conflict. We have to work through these things as much as you and your family. We need Christ moment by moment and day by day, and we live by His grace. Our hope is that the years to come will find us faithful to Him and to the vision and task of touching and changing the next generation for Him. We ask you to prayerfully consider joining the Cavanaugh family in this work by giving to Vision4Living Ministries during this year’s Reasons to Give Campaign. If you are not able to give, we understand. If you choose not to, may our Lord bless you in whatever way may please Him to use you in the great cause of the Gospel. Christ and His glory are always the Reason to Give. Thank you and thank the Lord for all you mean to us.
To God be the Glory,
Last week we ended our episode on the anticipation of Christmas touching briefly on the Person of Christmas himself. This week we want to delve deeper into the incarnation of Christmas and why this is the pinnacle of biblical history and the very reason we celebrate Christmas. Join Charles and Daniel as they discuss ‘The Incarnation of Christmas’.
Have you ever done or said something and suddenly or soon thereafter wished you could take it back or have a redo? Unlike TV shows or fantasy fiction we cannot undo the past. In fact, one of the most certain things we have in life is what has already happened. You must live with your decisions. But how do those decisions affect you in the long term?
Many years ago, 20 now to be exact, I was riding my brother’s bike on a warm August day down the sidewalk in front of our family’s home in Louisville, Kentucky. I had secured the bicycle after protesting my mother’s initial misgivings about me riding a bike that one, was bigger than mine and two had handle brakes which I was unused to. She was baking cookies and decided not to argue with me further. As I wheeled my prize out to the driveway I took no thought for the future, only the impending adventure I was about to enjoy. Less than 30 minutes later I lost control of that bike and went face first over the handle bars and skidded violently into the pavement. Or so I’m told because you see I have no memory of what happened. My face however told much of the story.
I remember waking in the ambulance and being unable to move. I was told to stay still and I can still hear a voice asking my mother questions. I can hear her voice talking to me and telling me it was going to be all right. Little did she know that after they had done a CT scan on me, sewn my bottom lip torn like a piece of paper towards my chin, bandaged my scars and run numerous tests, that four weeks later an aneurysm would form in the upper lobe of my brain.
Our family was out late at another family’s house. We got home, and I had become somewhat quiet and non-responsive in the back seat of our ’88 Plymouth voyager. My Dad carried me into the house and laid me at the foot of the stairs to the second story of our home. He instructed me to get up, put my pj’s on and go to bed. Mom came, but minutes later, and half dragged me up the stairs laying me near the bathroom door. I should insert here that I was a known sleepy head and unresponsive once I was asleep. I began violently throwing up on the bathroom floor and try as I might could not move my body to the toilet. Mom and Dad came in and tried to get me there, Mom kept telling me to sit up and finally Dad said, “Pam, maybe he can’t”. I tried to respond to my Dad’s questions, but it was as if all my motor function skills were gone. Actually, that is exactly what had happened. My aneurysm had bled, instead of bursting like most do and it was causing me to have a seizure.
My family got me to the hospital and wouldn’t you know it God had the most renown brain surgeon at the time touring Kosair Childrens’ hospital that night. The last time my parents saw me I had tubes out my face, shaved head and taped eyes. 9 and a 1/2 hours later they would receive the words that I was in recovery. But along the way so many things would happen in surgery. The vein around the aneurysm was clear, but they put two titanium clamps in my head to hold the ends of the destroyed vein.
Obviously I survived, and let me tell you I’ve omitted hours of this story. I had to learn to walk again, saw double vision for months, had the worst headaches you can imagine, days of being carried to the bathroom, being bathed because I had so many wires connected to my body. I still have the scar on my right hand where they tried unsuccessfully to stick an IV in me. I have the scar on my head that runs from sideburn to sideburn that reminds me of all this and more.
All this because I chose to ride my brothers bike on that warm August afternoon in 1996. What if I hadn’t? Our decisions do affect us. What if I could have a do over, would I take it? Have you ever wished you could have a do over? Maybe meet someone for the first time again or maybe a second chance at a first date.
I’ve been thinking a lot about do overs lately. You’ve heard the saying; “You only get one chance at a first impression”. Every day is our only opportunity for what we do with that day. Are you living with regret for things you wish you could change? You can’t have those situations back,’ but even if you could should you change the past?
The past affects the future. Thank you captain obvious, right? Consider Romans 8:28, a verse we are all likely familiar with, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God works in and through your decisions to bring about His perfect will. Perhaps you should have made a different choice to avoid painful outcomes but does that limit what God can and, according to Romans 8 will do through that mistake? When we live in the past and dwell on our mistakes, we limit the reality of the sovereignty of God in our lives. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes or choices, or even that we shouldn’t ask forgiveness for when we are wrong, but we cannot allow those choices to control our current reality out of fear or discouragement for what might have been.
If I could go back to August, 1996 when I was standing in front of 2306 Burrell drive, would I change my decision to ride my brother’s bike that day? It is not for me to decide. The choice was made and now it is up to me to live with the reality that my decisions have made. God’s grace is sufficient for your mistakes and your wiser choices. Do not actively resist that grace by dwelling on your mistakes.
There are moments I have wished I could take something back or have a redo. But I cannot go back. So I’ll work on moving forward and using the time I am given. Hindsight is a funny thing, it can be a source of great discouragement if you let it. Let it motivate you to live more fully for Christ and in His grace. Live! Every moment.
When we think of Christmas, we can’t help but realize there is a lot of anticipation that surrounds this holiday. As Christmas approaches, how should we anticipate Christmas? Join Charles and Daniel as they discuss it.
Truth: a debatable idea; a negotiable commodity; a historical relic? Is the idea of truth as a sure and certain reality lost and gone forever? This incredible question with profound implications for the 21st century church is what we gathered to consider at Passion4Christ 2016.
Our attendance was a bit lower, but joy and love in Christ were in no way diminished as we gathered on October 26 to relax, pray, interact, learn, and worship. We enjoyed good food, inspiring decor, unusual theme dinners, reflection, fellowship, and instruction from God’s Word. We were served by a volunteer staff who “set the table” so to speak. They did this with joy so the attendees could focus on the Word.
We came to meet with God; to hear from Him; to be challenged to engage and confront a culture of darkness and death with the light and life of the Gospel.
What shall we use to confront a skeptical world. The Scriptures are the only adequate tool we have. We also addressed the question of the existence of God and the absolute necessity of moral absolutes woven into human conscience and the truth of Scripture. These questions were addressed by Charles Cavanaugh and Matt Shackelford. And Daniel Cavanaugh challenged us to be ready to confront the culture by following Paul’s example on Mars Hill.
In the midst of these sessions, we stopped to have our first ever Q&A at P4C. The response was positive with good questions indicating thoughtful listening. Then Dewey Novotny urged us to consider why we are here, to live our lives to the glory of God. This was followed quite naturally by the challenge that we are created in the image of God which gives meaning to the answers to all these questions.
If we are to face an unbelieving world with confidence, we must invest our lives, our futures, and our eternal hope in that which is of ultimate value. This was our closing exhortation. Our lives are not valued by temporal and earthly investments or achievements but in the eternal truth of the Gospel, for which we must be willing to give our lives. We were challenged to “Buy the truth”. All of the things we enjoyed at P4C2016 were for this; to believe in, embrace, and give our lives for the truth in Jesus Christ. Our brothers and sisters left with this ringing in their ears. May we all live it in the days ahead.