Adventing with Peace

The following is the opening paragraph from the sermon I am preaching on Sunday, December 8 — the 2nd Sunday of Advent. The theme is peace that only God can give through the birth of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior who is coming again.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Matthew 3:2]

Those are the words of Jesus as he prepares his disciples for this eventual departure – a death they do not and can not understand right now. But it is a death that will usher in the peace that Jesus is leaving with them ~ for he is the Prince of Peace as prophesized through Isaiah. It is a peace that goes beyond comprehension. It is a peace that can not be manufactured, copied or imitated. It is a peace that, really, can not even be imagined – only hoped for with complete confidence. And I say confidence because – well – Jesus left it and because God promised it long before the man, Jesus, came on the scene. We talk about peace, but rarely do we pursue it rightly. The world imagines a peace where wars cease, racism is eliminated, discrimination is gone. Governments try to legislate peace. Churches pass meaningless resolutions that claim to eradicate racism. Basically, they try to ban sin which cannot be done by humans. Shalom – the peace that Jesus brings is so much more and is only ushered in through Jesus and the arrival of God’s kingdom. Let our Adventing continue.

Adventing Explained

The following is an article I submitted for The News Tribune of Tacoma for Saturday, December 7. The topic is something I introduced recently in a poem titled, “Adventing” ~ a new word that I have created. Here it is explained.


There are times when I do things that cause my wife to roll her eyes at me. I won’t bore you with the list, but I will share with you one such eyerolling moment. This past Sunday I coined a brand-new word: Adventing. Before you start rolling your eyes at me as well, allow me to define and explain my new word. Adventing is an active and hopeful waiting for the One (Jesus Christ) who has given true hope. You see, Last Sunday, December 1, the season of Advent began. It is a church season that takes place during the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a season of preparation and anticipation. It is a season of hope, peace, joy and love – all of which are found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet, for many, this is a season that takes on a flavor that is anything but Jesus as the god of materialism is hoisted high for all to see and worship. It reminds me of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3 who made an image of gold and demanded that the people worship it when the music played. Three defied the order: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were exiled and carried off to Babylon from Israel. They refused to worship this image of gold because God almighty was their God. Their defiance raised the ire of the king and they were thrown into the fiery furnace – in which God saved them. Today, retailers raise this “image of gold” but need not make any demands. People are more than willing to worship and offer their sacrifices to this false god. Their places of worship are the malls and retail stores. Some hide their idolatry through online shopping. Whatever the case, many seek hope, peace, joy and love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Their active and hopeful waiting are for things and people that only fulfill their hope, peace, joy and love for a moment.

Jesus is different. He is God’s promise from all the way back to Genesis 3. Immediately following the Fall and before God confronted Adam and Eve with their curse, God cursed the serpent in verse 15. He said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” That is the first proclamation of the Gospel. This is talking about Jesus, through whom we are reconciled to God. He was born, died on a cross and then rose from the grave for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus crushed Satan’s head as he was bruised through his death. And now, through faith, we wait for Jesus to return to bring believers home – back to the Garden where it all began – and this time forever.

Today, Adventing is living your faith in Jesus out loud for all to see in hopeful expectation that Jesus is coming again. Not hoping as in wishing for something, but confidence because if God promises something, it will happen. May your Adventing be for the right person – Jesus Christ – for he alone has been raised up for all to see. To God be the glory. Amen.


[I have the privilege of submitting articles for The News Tribune the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. To God be the glory!]

Listening

Been up since 4 AM,
Listening to the silence of a sleeping house.
Listening for the still, quiet voice of You.
Listening with expectant ears.
Listening with a hopeful heart.
Listening
This world is noisy and my ears are tired.
Too many voices.
Too many sounds.
But now the silence, oh the silence.

[Tick, tock]
[Distant car engine outside]
[House creaking]

Even those small noises are loud.
Longing for silence, if just for a moment.
No distractions.
Just You.
I need Your voice.
I’m here,
Listening,
For You.

Hope-Filled Heart

Merry Advent everyone! That’s right, Advent is here but better yet, Jesus is coming. No, not some earthly birthday party where presents are exchanged in celebration, but rather our King is coming – here – soon – to bring his Church home.
That’s the joy in my heart.
That’s the excitement in my soul.
That’s the longing of my heart – my hope.
So join me in worship as we sing praises to God our Father through Christ Jesus the Lord.


Father in heaven, it is fitting and natural to sing Your praises at all times and in all places as joy overflows from our hearts. You sent Jesus to be born in our likeness – to take on our frail form and then to suffer and die, only to shatter the fetters of death that we may be free. And now we anxiously await Jesus – this time to gather his church for an all-out banquet feast as we engage in uninhibited worship of You, oh God, with all the saints. And so, we prepare our hearts to receive our King as we join with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing our joy-filled refrains of praise to You.

Adventing

Everybody is waiting for something:
Sales
Opportunities
Meaning
Healing
Everyone is waiting,
and waiting,
for something.
Waiting anxiously
Waiting hopefully
Waiting expectantly

But how time is wasted waiting wrongly?
How much energy is expended?
How much hope is drained?

Dashed hopes

Wait on Jesus and you won’t be disappointed.
Hope
Peace
Joy
Love
Wait on Jesus

Thanking the Lord

I thank the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight…

Thanksgiving has come and gone and thus the Christmas music season has begun. Overheard on my Pandora Christmas music station this morning were the above lyrics. Being the feisty pastor that I am, I immediately took notice –

thanking the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight.

Hmmm, but I really should not be surprised by this because, after all, that is the mentality of our culture today: Materialism. Children clamoring and begging for the newest toys and gadgets. Adult scrambling for the best Black Friday sales. And apparently buying your spouse an expensive car for Christmas is so common place that car manufacturers produce Christmas commercials urging and supporting such a practice. [heavy sigh]

Yup, people left and right are thanking their lord (notice the small “l”) that new stuff is coming soon.

Each and every year I am reminded very quickly of the mission field in which we serve. You see, you don’t need to create opportunities to witness your faith – those opportunities are all around you. People are begging for meaning and purpose. They are grasping for something to which to cling. Your friends, family and neighbors are thanking the wrong lord. Make it a point this Advent and Christmas to thank the Lord (notice the capital “L” this time) above that Jesus Christ is coming to town…soon.

Yes, Jesus is coming. Through his death and resurrection (The best “door buster” ever), Jesus has conquered death and now is THE Way to eternal life. This is awesome news – that Jesus is coming to bring you home. And that my friends, is the best Black Friday deal around. There is no waiting in line for that. Just receive Jesus as your Lord, confess your sins and receive forgiveness, and repent – giving him thanks and praise.

Every Black Friday deal of this world will fade away and fall into obscurity. Jesus Christ is you Life and Hope and Salvation, forever and ever.

I thank You, Lord above, that Jesus Christ is here and coming to town for me, that I may live with him in everlasting peace and joy. Amen!

Bless My Child

I wrote the following prayer as I sat in my daughter’s room last night. We had just finished stories and prayer time. I tucked her in, kissed her forehead and said, “Good night my sweet“, and sat down to watch over her. She always wants me to stay until after she falls asleep, to which I am happy to oblige. As a sat looking at her I started praying and the following prayer started to take shape. I finished my prayer for my little girl and then prayed this for my little boy.

Parents, this probably goes without saying but I’ll it anyway:
Pray for your children.


Oh bless my child this night.
Give her rest.
Guard her dreams.
May she wake in the morning
With a smile that beams.
Protect my child this night.
Keep her life.
Guard her soul.
May she wake in the morning
Feeling that she is whole.
Thank you, God, for my child.
I’m thankful,
And praise You.
May she wake in the morning
And see a day that’s new.
Oh bless my child this night and always.
Give her peace.
Give her hope.
Give her Jesus.