Twelve Days for the Whole Year

The following is the article I submitted for The News Tribune (Tacoma) for today. I have been thinking recently about this secular sense of the “season” of Christmas. In reality, Christmas is not a season but an everyday reality throughout the whole year. That is the inspiration for this article.


January 5 will be the twelfth day of Christmas – and no, it is not about drummers drumming and ending with a bird in a fruit tree. The twelve days of Christmas is just the prelude to the rest of the year as we live in the promises of God through Jesus Christ. And so, with that, I offer this new rendition of the popular Christmas song: The 12 Days of Christmas. Enjoy and to God be the glory.

My true Love doesn’t give me things like partridges or turtle doves, French hens or pipers piping, dancing ladies or egg-laying geese. My true Love does not give me silly things like these.
But my true Love gave to me…

(1) Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, I have a Savior who died for me.
(2) Instead of two turtle doves, I have His love that came down from above.
(3) Instead of three French hens, I have the faith to boldly pray my amens.
(4) Instead of four calling birds, I have His inspired, infallible, inerrant holy Word.
(5) Instead of five golden rings, I have a Spirit-renewed heart that sings.
(6) Instead of six geese a-laying, I have confidence that with Him I will be staying.
(7) Instead of seven swans a-swimming, I have a joy that is more than brimming.
(8) Instead of eight maids a-milking, I have His promises fulfilled that He’s not bilking (yes, that’s a word – and used correctly).
(9) Instead of nine ladies dancing, I have a place in His holy court, at whom I won’t be just glancing.
(10) Instead of ten lords a-leaping, I have security in His hands in which I have safekeeping.
(11) Instead of eleven pipers piping, I have the sure and certain hope that my tears He will be wiping.
(12) Instead of twelve drummers drumming, I have excitement that my Lord Jesus will soon be coming.

My true Love gave me everything I need for all that I need is Him through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Christmas Preaching

This is the prayer I wrote that I will use before I preach tonight. May all preachers grab hold of the opportunity to boldly preach the Gospel as there will, no doubt, be people in attendance who don’t know Jesus. Don’t drop the ball. Give them Jesus.


Holy and awesome God, when sin fractured Your perfect creation You immediately proclaimed hope to a fallen world. Jesus is that hope – Your Son and our Lord. We praise You for Your faithfulness to rescue a lost and fallen creation – and may Your mighty power continue this night.

If there are hurting hearts present who are mourning the loss of a loved one – comfort them. If there are un-convinced hearts present – show them the Light. If there are lost hearts present – claim them. If there are searching hearts present ~ reveal Your Truth to them. Holy God, use my words this night and may they not return to You empty, but continue to work in order to rescue lost people. Awaken hearts and enliven souls as only You can do, oh God.

And now, Father God, as the shepherds made haste to find the Christ-child, a Savior born for all, may we too join in the joyous procession – living in the joy and love of Christmas all year round. To You be all glory, honor, praise and worship through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Shepherds

Shepherds came at Christmas time
to a lowly manger stall.
A sign proclaimed by angels bright,
Good News the angels did chime.

With all haste they ran to see,
a Savior born for all.
Wrapped in cloths for them to find.
They gazed at him with glee.

All who heard them wondered much,
But Mary treasured it all.
As they left they praised our God,
For their hearts had now been touched.

What say you of this Good News?
You sinner condemned to die.
Jesus Christ was born for you.
Receive him and be renewed.

Will you come at Christmas time,
To hear of Love being born.
This is Life for you my friend,
And not just a cute little rhyme.

Never Over

The following is the article I submitted to The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) for Saturday, Dec 21. To God be the glory.


In a couple more days it will be Christmas. It is what we have been waiting for since sometime before Thanksgiving. Decorations slowly were slipped into department stores around Halloween and Christmas aisles were set up. As Black Friday inched closer, Christmas ads ramped up and then – BAM! – we finished our Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas unofficially started. The mayhem of shopping, decorating homes, planning parties, rehearsing for Christmas programs and baking all those delicious goodies commenced. The hustle and bustle of the season has worn many people down, yet, at least for me, it has been a good tired. The calendar may say that Christmas is almost over but know this – It is NEVER over.

Once the family Christmas gatherings end, the cleanup begins. Lights around town slowly come down and there is almost a depressing quality to the whole process. The festival atmosphere slowly gives way to the dreariness of winter. The Christmas music ends. The bright Christmas cheer fades. Life returns to a sense of normalcy. But why does this have to happen?

Yes, I understand the lights and decorations coming down but why end the Christmas cheer? Why the embracing of the winter doldrums? Christmas is not a secular holiday that shows up on the calendar. It is not just an excuse for an extended family vacation. Christmas is the Good News of a Savior being born for you and for me. Christmas is the love of God blasting its way into the world through the humblest of means. Christmas in a word: JESUS. And let me tell you something, Jesus NEVER ends.

For centuries, Jews were waiting for a Messiah to come. Isaiah, Malachi and other prophets foretold his arrival. John the Baptist appeared and prepared the way of the Lord. Then Jesus appeared in a big way. He performed miracle after miracle but most notably, Jesus was crucified and then rose from the dead for the forgiveness of sins – your sins. Jesus now reigns and lives forever, and since that is the case, how can we say Christmas ends? Christmas does not end, just the decorations, music and presents. The Spirit of Christmas, however, is year-round and the Good News of Christmas is eternal.

I encourage you this Christmas to find a church that faithfully proclaims this Good News – the Word of God – for the true joy of Christmas is only found through the Love that came down at Christmas time. The true joy of Christmas is only found in Jesus. Don’t get caught up in all the secular hype but get caught up in the Holy Spirit through faithful preaching of the Word. With that, I invite you to check out Living Word this Christmas (see the accompanying ad). If that doesn’t work for you then stop by our website and you can watch/listen to the sermons.

May the joy of the Christ child fill you with peace this Christmas season and beyond. To God be the glory, always and forever. Amen.

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!

Jesus is Coming!!!

Luke 1:44 (ESV) ~ For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

If you want an excellent argument against abortion, well, an unborn child leaping for joy should do it. Don’t try to tell me an unborn child doesn’t matter. But I digress as I am not here to preach to the choir on this social issue.

Christmas is coming. Jesus is on the way. And an unborn child leaps for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice; knowing that Jesus is near. How’s your leaping been as of late? Are you tired of leaping through hoops? Are you tired of leaping over life’s hurdles? Whatever the case; whether you’re tired or not, remember that Jesus is coming…and that is even better than celebrating the birthday of a 2000+ year old man. This is the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is to come.
Coming to claim you.
Coming to bring you home.
Coming to show you God.
Coming to stomp out death once and for all.
Coming to establish God’s Kingdom.
This Lord and Savior is coming for you. Has you heart leaped for joy yet? No? Then drink some coffee, pinch your arm and re-read what I just wrote.

JESUS IS COMING!!!

The Pastor -|—

The Reason for Christmas

Holy Father,
As we inch ever closer to Christmas,
we are reminded that the point of all our preparations is
to worship our Savior,
Jesus,
who was born to die for us.
Many have suggested that Christmas has nothing to do with death,
but without the death and resurrection of Jesus,
we are left with nothing;
no hope,
no peace,
no JOY.
May the JOY of the Advent season fill our lives
so much so,
that Jesus radiates from us
and therefore brings You glory.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

JOY

Holy God,
we are ever reminded that
the JOY of this season is not found in
gifts
or food
or decorating.
Our JOY is not in
stuff
or vacations
or even in our families.
True and unending
JOY is found only in
Jesus;
something that can not be taken away
by anything
or anyone
of this world.
May that JOY overflow in abundance
that you may be glorified through our lives.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Much To Do

Father God, there’s so much to do;
more presents to buy,
traveling arrangements to make,
sermons to write,
details to nail down,
packing to do,
loose ends to tie up.
and other things that I haven’t thought of yet.
Father God, there’s so much to do.

And in the midst of this “much to do”
I often find myself to focused on the “much to do”.
Help me to take a step back
and gaze into the manger,
to look upon Jesus,
and remember the gift that he is.
May the “much to do” not become my Christmas.
Jesus is the reason.
Jesus is the season,
ALWAYS.

Father God, there’s so much to do,
to make me more like Jesus.
Take me.
Form me.
Mold me.
Shape me.
Transform me.
Make me more like Jesus.

Amen.

The Pastor -|—

The Promise of Christmas

Holy Father,
You came bursting onto scene in holy Love
and You paved a way through the wilderness;
straight into Your holy courts
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Your power has defeated
Satan,
sin
and death
and Your love has redeemed your lost children.
May we cling to the promise of Christmas
as we bask in Your glory.
Through Jesus Christ we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—