Thursday, December 20, 2018


Jesus, Christmas, and the Gifts I'd Like to Give

Every year I think about the gifts I would like to give but can't.

Here is what I mean.

I have two really good friends that are going thru the holidays without their wives this year.  The gift I wish for them is the peace that passes understanding and the certainty that they will see their wives again.  I can't give that gift.  But Jesus can and does.

I have family and friends suffering from cancer.  Prognosis seems better than it has been but it is going to be a hard holiday for them and their families.  I wish I could give them healing.  I can't.  God can.  And He will.  Either here or later.  Because of Jesus.

I have friends overwhelmed by their addictions and brokenness. I can't fix it.  I can't make it go away.  Only Jesus can forgive, heal and restore. 

I have really good friends in my spiritual family who are hurting.  Feelings of betrayal, or hurt because of church situations.  Friends who feel like they have to find  new church homes and friends who hurt because others are leaving.  Politics.  Power struggles.  Different ways of viewing the Bible.  Real or perceived attitudes that wound others. Harsh words spoken.  Can't fix this either.  I can't make things better.  Or restore broken relationships or lost opportunities.  Only Jesus can heal and only thru him can forgiveness be extended.  Jesus. 

And I have not even mentioned the friends I have that have not surrendered to Jesus.  Life is hard even with him because we live in a fallen world.  But I know life is a even harder without him.  And I can't make them believe. 

So here is what I have concluded about Christmas and the presents I cannot give.

Jesus is the only gift the that can fix the pain and hurt and sin of this world.

And God already gave that gift.  All anyone has to do is accept it. 

So I think this year I will work even harder at making sure the hurting people in my life hear one thing from me.  Jesus is the only gift that really matters.

So I need to remember it.  I want my family to remember it.  I want my friends to remember it.

He is the gift I most want to be in my life.  And I want everyone else to see it -- and have it -- too.

Jesus.  The gift that really will change everything.  Now and forever.

Jesus is not just a reason for this season.

Jesus is life.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Jesus, Cousin Eddie, and the real gift that keeps on giving

I am going to just go ahead and get this out there.  I watch Christmas Vacation.  And I laugh every time at the Jelly of the Month club.  Especially when cousin Eddie calls it the gift that keeps on giving. 

That is such a great way to start a Jesus conversation with non-believers this time of year.

We are talking about the movie, then about gifts that keep on giving, and then about how I get to do Christmas all year long as a believer.

I love getting gifts, and I love getting gifts.  As a Christian, I get and give all year long.

I talk about John 3:16.  After all, even many non-believers have heard this verse.   God loves us so much that he gave his only son so we could have eternal life.  The gift that really keeps on giving.

I might mention Romans 6:23 and talk about how I do not deserve to live forever in heaven with a holy God because of my sins.  But God has given me a free gift.

We might talk about how hard it is to live the Jesus life.  And I get to mention that when I believe in Jesus and change the direction of my life by repenting and being crucified with Christ in baptism, not only are my sins forgiven, but God gives me another gift.  The Holy Spirit.  Helps me to become holy and to live holy.  They can read it for themselves in Acts 2.

I might talk about the God who wants me to ask for anything I need and that he will give it.  Just like he promised in the Sermon on the Mount.  Receiving gifts all year long. 

And I will talk about how as a Christian I give gifts all year long.  I will even laugh about the churches that seem to only want your money.  Give, give, give.  And then show them that even when talking about money, that real Christians give themselves to God first, then to others.  We are the gift.

I have even been known to suggest that the greatest gift ever given to any of us ought to be accepted.  Give themselves to God in baptism and be forgiven and get the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Give to others. 

Getting gifts and giving gifts all year long.

Just a few thoughts on how to share your faith this season.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018


My Church Does Not Look Like I Thought It Did

For a long time Marsha and I did church life with mostly the same people from mostly the same congregation.  But a lot of things have happened recently to remind me how important it is that my church is not just one congregation.

Some of our church is still at Southern Hills.

Right now, I am preaching at Winters the Sundays I am in town.  Been doing it long enough they are our church.

Met with our small group last night.  We go to three different congregations now.  Still people we do life with.

The team at Herald of Truth is our church.  We are members of different congregations but do life in Jesus together.

My family.  Still my favorite church people.  Our family gatherings are church. 

Spent four Wednesday nights recently speaking over at University.  Been thirty years since I was on staff there.  But still some of my church there.

Been deeply involved this week with people dealing with suicide, depression, job loss, life crisis, sin, and some trying to decide where and how to find a church family to worship with.  All our people.  All our church.  Doing the Jesus life together.

And Marsha and I are reading Luke each morning.  Doing a lot of praying.  We are church.

So I had a lot of reminders this week that my church family is way bigger than the congregation I happen to be a member of at any given time.  And it always will be.

I'm glad. 

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