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 -|—

Groaning

My most recent article in the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT)…

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [Romans 8:22-25]

I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of groaning recently. I wrote in my last article about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in our culture and called for men to step up and change this culture of abuse. Since writing that article, things have continued with more “big name” people being fired, and more politicians being accused. No, I didn’t expect my article to have an immediate impact, but I am still groaning at the depth of this sin in our culture.

I also groan over the hurt in people’s lives close to me. I groan over the hate that continues to run amuck in the world. I groan over the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. I groan, I sigh, and I lift my eyes to the heavens. I cry out to God for redemption. I cry out to God for renewal. I do all of this in hope, though, remembering God’s promises that came to us at Christmas time.

Yes, it is that time of the year, yet many people see increased tension as to-do lists become longer and household budgets get stretched. The Christmas season is upon us with Advent beginning on Sunday. “What is Advent?” you may ask? Advent is a time of waiting; a time of preparation. No, I’m not talking about decorating or searching for that perfect gift. Advent is a time of preparation as we wait for our Lord Jesus. It is a time to prepare our hearts and make room for him, and not just make room, but clear house.

Advent is also a time of hope as we groan, for the birth of Jesus signaled the beginning of the end of God’s plan of redemption for creation. It is not just us groaning but all of creation and thus we wait in patience; knowing that Jesus’ birth means that our groaning will soon come to an end. Thus, this is a season of joy and peace and love. This is a season of celebration and expectation and anticipation.

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Jesus was born. Jesus lived on this earth. Jesus was crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. These are all verifiable facts. Now we wait for Jesus to come again. That is where my hope is placed. We live in a world of groaning, but Jesus is coming to end all groaning. Prepare and make room for Him, for Jesus was born for you.

Happy Advent
and
Merry Christmas

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 -|—

“Inconvenient” Peace

Below is an opening paragraph for the sermon this coming Sunday (Advent 2). The theme is peace and the context is your life. The text doesn’t follow the lectionary but I’ve never been one to stay in line 🙂

So here you go:

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. [Luke 1:26-27]

We’ve heard this situation over and over again; a young girl betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was going to become pregnant during an inconvenient time. Actually, for Mary to become pregnant during the betrothal period, even by her own husband, would subject her to stoning; something that many of you have heard before. And to some it may sound like I am belaboring some basic biblical story details but these details are important. These details set the scene for the peace that Mary would soon receive following some incredible news. Because really, these details highlight the chaos in our own lives. They set the scene for God to enter our lives with Good News and at times that may seem inconvenient or at times we do not expect. And that’s exactly how God works. God works in situations and at times that we would not expect. God does this that God may receive the most glory because it is only God that can give peace during those “inconvenient” moments. And when one sees that God is in control in those moments, something amazing happens, as we will see with this young, betrothed, peasant girl.

May God surprise you during this Advent season and bring you an “inconvenient”peace. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Christmas, Enough Said

Waiting
Anticipation
Excitement
Joy
Celebration
Fellowship with family and friends
Worship

CHRISTMAS!

But…

What are you waiting for?
What are you anticipating?
Why are you excited?
What is causing your joy?
What and why are you celebrating?
Why are you in fellowship?
Who/what do you worship?

You see…

The answers to the above questions vary for some. For some Christmas is about the wrong answers. For some Christmas is about the wrong reasons. For some Christmas is about worshiping false gods. For some Christmas is nothing more than a holiday for which you get time off from work or school.

But…

Christmas is about Jesus; born for you, who later died for you, and then rose from the dead for you. Christmas is about hope, peace, love and joy. Without Jesus, Christmas is not Christmas.

Christmas
Jesus
Enough said.

The Pastor -|—

Immanuel, God with Us ~ A Prayer

I am back after a Sunday off; celebrating Christmas with my family. I hope and pray the joy of Christmas continues to reside in you; drawing you closer to God through Jesus Christ. Let us pray…

Loving Father, Holy God,

You came to us at Christmas time
as Jesus;
Immanuel, God with us.
You came to us in love to give us hope.
You came to us as light to scatter the darkness.
You came to us as our Champion; defeating death.

Oh God,
words escape us
as we ponder the implications of this holy birth
as too often we take Christmas for granted.
Too often we get caught up in the
lights
and sounds
and smells
and tastes of the season.
Too often our gaze is diverted from the manger
to imaginary creations of the season.

Holy God,
send now Your Holy Spirit
to tune our ears to Your words
so that we may fix our eyes on Jesus.
May our hearts swell with joy
and pulsate with a desire to proclaim this Good News;
Jesus Christ,
Immanuel,
God with us.

May all glory be to You through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Open Letter to the Doyle Rices of the World

[From a story posted on Kare11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; written by Doyle Rice from USA Today. This is in reference to the winter solstice (first day of winter).]

And why is the Earth tilted? It’s probably the result of collisions with various proto-planets and other massive objects during the formation of the solar system billions of years ago, according to NASA. Just a bit unsettling to realize that the reason the Earth has the perfect temperature for life to form is a few random collisions with other space rocks a few eons ago.

Oh Doyle Rice, if only you knew that the reason the earth is perfectly tilted isn’t due to “random” collisions. If only you knew that this perfect planet was created and put into perfect motion by God Almighty, our Creator. If only you knew that the only “unsettling” part of all of this is that your very life (and ours) are in the hands of an Almighty God.

But…

The Good News is that your very life (and ours) are in the hands of a loving, Almighty God who came to us on Christmas Day in Jesus Christ. And through faith in Jesus Christ, redeemed a lost and sinful people.

Therefore, when you look at creation, it should send you to your knees in humble worship of an awesome and powerful and loving God. There is NOTHING random about God. Creation is NOT a fluke. Life DIDN’T just happen. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of details about our universe, galaxy and planet that have to be perfect in order for life to exist. That is NOT random. That was NOT an accident. Collisions DIDN’T just happen and bump things into perfect place. Nature doesn’t work that way. If any collision is responsible for the earth being tilted PERFECTLY then God’s mighty hand guided that collision to make sure it was perfect; as God guided and formed all of creation.

One CAN NOT just pass off life as a cosmic accident.

And so to all the Doyle Rices in the world, I appeal to you to meditate on creation and consider the perfectness of all those thousands of factors and then look to God Almighty and worship HIM through Jesus Christ; for you are not random but rather wonderfully created.

So don’t be “unsettled” over randomness and accidents and chance, but rather worship and praise this awesome God of ours as we live in this perfect masterpiece called creation.

All praise and glory and honor and worship be to God, always and forever.

The Pastor -|—