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!

Aching Heart Prayer

I read a story this morning about a church for whom my heart aches. I hate to see them going astray and so I penned (as it were) this prayer that I plan to use in worship this morning. To God be the glory!


Holy God, I don’t claim to be perfect, but there are many straying from the truth – ones who once held to the truth but now have been seduced away. They have gone the way of the world in search of calmer and more peaceful waters. They search and search, drifting further and further away. They water down Your Word to make it more palatable. And worse yet, they think they are being faithful. Oh, my God and King, my heart aches for them. Their only hope is a supernatural breakthrough by Your Holy Spirit. And so, I boldly ask that You may steer them back on course. Send now Your Holy Spirit – not for the sake of unity but for the sake of Your glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Raise up faithful leaders in these apostate churches, oh God. Show them the Truth. Forgive them. Redeem them – as you have redeemed me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Tenacious Love

Holy Father, good and gracious.
Your love for me is tenacious.
Unyielding and true, it holds me.
Holy Father, how can this be?

Sinner i am, i know it’s true.
Corrupted i am, through and through.
Death i deserve, there is no doubt.
For sin’s within me, all about.

Ashamed i am, oh God help me.
My sin, oh God, i want to flee.
Draw me closer to Your great love.
Draw my eyes to Your throne above.

Jesus my Lord, Your Son does reign.
Oh God my heart, from sin constrain.
God i want to glorify you.
And give You worship that you’re due.

Holy Father, good and gracious.
Your love for me is tenacious.
For You are Love, first and always.
Into Your love God, i will gaze.

God Still Reigns

In this tumultuous political climate, I take great comfort in the fact that no matter who is in secular leadership, Jesus is still King and always will be. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the King of Glory. He is the Son of God, Redeemer and Savior. Jesus is our hope and life. He is Immanuel – God with us. And what a great reminder as we move into the Advent season next week – a season of waiting and anticipation. No, we are not waiting for a birth but for the second advent of Jesus – his coming to claim his bride, the Church. And so, as you watch leaders fight and scrap for power and position in this world, take comfort in the fact that God already reigns – full of power, authority and dominion. God reigns over all creation and God is for you. Tumultuous now, but peace forever in His kingdom. Praise be to God. Amen.

Love Not Hate

There are many people with whom I disagree, but it doesn’t mean I hate them. Even if they hate what I stand for and call me names, I do not hate them. Satan would like it if I were to hate them but I will not. I confess that it is hard at times but that’s why I commend this to God and ask Him for help. Only God can give me the strength and fortitude to stand strong in the face of opposition. Only God can love me with a love that spills out for others to see that glorifies Him.

In the past, I didn’t always think this way (not that I am perfect now) and for that I confess my sins and repent of my behavior. Not that I necessarily hated the people with whom I was disagreeing, but I can see now how some of my statements would come off that way. You see, I have often taken to social media to express my beliefs and run to the defense of like-minded people/organizations. As if those who oppose them are going to be swayed by anything I say or write. At times, I have been downright feisty – sometimes to the point of my heart racing with emotions and crossing the line at times. Once again, I repent.

As Christians, we are never going to lead people to the Truth – Jesus Christ – through hatred, but only through love. You can’t hate someone and then proclaim Christ to them. It’s as it says in James 3:10-12…

10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I regret the bridges that I have burned through hasty speech on social media and through other mediums. God forgive me. Brothers and sisters, let us bridle our tongues/words as we engage those with whom we disagree. Don’t come off as arrogant, morally self-righteous, or anything of the sort. Humbly approach each and every person and situation with the love of Christ – genuinely wanting people to come to the knowledge of the Truth. Pray for your heart. Pray for those who oppose you. Pray for your words. May blessings flow and not curses, that God may be glorified.

Holy God, bless the fountain that is my mouth and have holy dominion over my tongue. May the words that enter the arena for others to see/hear be holy words that glorify You. May disagreements be seen as mission fields and not battle grounds – opportunities to witness to the Truth. May my words be Your Words. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.