Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Christ's Birthday!

The picture was made using a photo I took at last year's Christmas concert by our adult choir (i.e. the angels in the clouds!) Also, here is one of my favorite Christmas songs , Michael W. Smith's "Anthem for Christmas" (the words follow). The first minute and a half is instrumental, so if you're rushed, go to the 1:20 mark in video for the words! Have a great Christmas celebration of our Savior's birth!!

Anthem for Christmas

by Michael W. Smith

In the space of the beginning

Was the living Word of Light

When this Word was clearly spoken

All that came to be was right

All creation had a language

Words to say what must be said

All day long the heavens whispered

Signing words in scarlet red

Some have failed to understand it

So God spoke His final Word

On a silent night in Judah’s

Hills a baby’s cry was heard

“Glory!” sang the angel chorus

“Glory!” echoed back the night

Love has come to walk among us

Christ the Lord is born this night

All creation sing His praises

Earth and heaven praise His name

All who live come join the chorus

Find the words His love proclaim

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For Unto Us A Savior is Born

It would be hard to improve on this reminder of what all Christ-followers need to be celebrating tomorrow (and every day of our lives!)!

Happy Christ's Birthday Everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The True Essence of Secular Christmas Gift Giving - RECIPROCITY!!!

One of CBS's breakout hits is the situation comedy "The Big Bang Theory" about four super intelligent, super-nerdy, geeks trying to live in a non-geeky world. The centerpiece of the ensemble is Sheldon who is too smart for his own good, having 2 Ph.D's and a complete lack of empathy regardless of the subject. Here, he responds to his neighbor's (Penny: a non-brilliant waitress/actress want-to-be) announcement that she's gotten him a Christmas gift.

With my current emphasis on the Advent Conspiracy (, which focuses on spending less money on conventional gifts, while learning to give more meaningful "relational" gifts...Sheldon's comments are right on target for much of our cultures current practices of gift "exchanging" vs. true "giving." His quote:

"You bought me a present? Why would you do such a thing? I know you think you're being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven't given me a gift, you've given me an obligation. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you've given me. Ah, it's no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year."

I know the following clip is long, but the payoff is great, especially for those people who think they have to spend a lot of money to give a great gift. I can spiritualize further by noting that Sheldon, brilliant though he is in the world of theoretical physics, he completely underestimates the power of Penny's gift. The lesson: no matter how "smart" we think we are, our Father's gift of Himself through Christ at Christmas, is beyond all others and should send us reeling (as Sheldon reacts to his gift) with joy and wonder and amazement! May this happen to you on the morning of Dec. 25th (and every morning for that matter!). Enjoy the clip!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Give Something Homemade For Christmas...Like This...

Part of the Advent Conspiracy (see is to spend less on gifts you buy (in order to save more to help the poor), and to give creative gifts to those you care about including gifts you make. Here's a "handmade" gift I wouldn't mind serves no real purpose except to showcase someone's creativity.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Give Jesus the Gift of "Shhhhhhh!" for Christmas!

The "shhhhhh" is FOR us to BE QUIET, NOT for Jesus!!!!

(Note: click on the picture to go to an online Advent devotional site to help you give the gift of silence/solitutde to Jesus this December!)

I know it's hard to believe, but there have been a couple of embarrassing times in my life where I was "shushed" by a librarian. My most embarrassing time of "shushing" came when I was a teen-ager at the practice rounds of the Masters golf tournament. Being "shushed" so someone could putt was most humiliating! (You'd think I would have learn my lesson by now!!!)

Sunday I challenged my congregation to give Jesus TEN MINUTES A DAY of silence/solitude every day in December as we approach Christmas. For those who already practice the much-needed discipline of silence/solitude, ten minutes may seem like a joke. My hope is that out of this baby step of faith, my congregation can have a fuller, more meaningful, more Christ-honoring, Christ-serving, Christ-sharing kind of Christmas.

As I had my silence this morning, I turned off my TV, house phone, church phone, and cell phone. The simple act of doing that reminded me that I am WAY TOO CONNECTED...with each connection being another huge pipeline of distraction feeding right into my head!

I told the church that they can read the Bible and pray before or after the ten minutes, but to set aside ten minutes of silence, of being open to our Father as He speaks to each of us. Even if He doesn't; to give up time each day to focus on Him by removing yourself from distractions is, of itself, an act of faith.

Christ died so that we could "become" something, not simply so we could "do" a lot of somethings. It seems that in the rush of life (especially at Christmas), we get so busy "doing," that we forget the importance of "being."

I hope you'll consider giving Christ at least ten minutes a day of your full attention. Turn off the TV, cell phone, computer, etc. so you can "be still and know that He is God!" (Psalm 46:10)

You may be surprised at what ten minutes of silence a day can do for your celebration of Christmas!!!

To help you on your Advent journey, don't forget to check out the "Following the Star" online Advent devotions at For the rest of Advent you can even set your home page to this website so you'll be reminded daily to BE QUIET for JESUS!!

Additional links about Advent and solitude: