Make Your Home a Jolly One

This Christmas season is going to be different in some ways than the ones before. We should pray for churches that are not meeting, for tyrannical mayors and governors, for people who are ruled by fear, and for those who are elderly and immune-compromised.

Given that we are in this situation where many things that we would love to do are not happening this year, what should we do? We should take what has been called the most egregious policy blunder in the history of American government and turn a profit on it.

You will be home more this Christmas than likely any other. So be diligent to make your home a place where you and everyone in in your family wants to be. What’s far worse and more tragic than not being able to go somewhere and do something is when people in families don’t want to be together.

This starts with confession of sin, each person taking responsibility for their sins to God. This means keeping short accounts with Him. The only barrier to the joy of your salvation is the length of time it takes you to repent and confess your sin. Do this quickly and thoroughly. Don’t just say sorry to those you’ve sinned against, but name your sin the way God does, and seek forgiveness. Husbands and wives do this with each other and with your kids. Demonstrate this for your children, and lead them to do the same. Fathers, take responsibility to make sure this is happening. You may have to repent of your frustration at having to sort out the squabbles occurring in your home, which at the center of your calling to lead. So don’t neglect this work in your heart and life. Ask God to give you wisdom, diligence, and grace to make your home the place where everyone in it wants to be.

The results of doing this are spectacular. We can lose the public performance of Handel’s Messiah and all kinds of other wonderful things, but still have what really matters—the abundant joy of Christ. Make sure you open this Christmas gift early and often–every day—and make time to give it away this season. People are afraid, confused, disappointed, and more afraid. In other words, there has never been a better time to share the hope and peace of the gospel.

But we can only give away what we have. We can only share what are enjoying ourselves. So make your home a jolly one.

Make A Decision

On February 21st, at the age of 99 years old, Billy Graham went to be with the Lord. He was the greatest preacher of his century, preaching to over 100 million people in person and millions more through TV and radio. He did all this without personal scandal because he remained humble before God. He wanted everyone to call him “Billy” because he really wanted to be friends and knew he was only a forgiven sinner.

This humility made him many friends, but it was his boldness that brought a multitude into the kingdom of God. Almost everyone knows someone who was converted through his ministry, and however we might differ with some his methods, Billy Graham preached a message that required a response from all who heard. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people believed on Lord Jesus Christ in true faith through the preaching of Billy Graham. Continue reading

The Right Fear this New Year

We serve a God who has overcome fear. The second person of the Trinity took on flesh in order to destroy the devil, his works and effects, and the fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15: Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

For everyone who dies in Christ, death is victory, and we trust God to provide for those we would leave behind. He is sovereign and good. Jesus tells us plainly, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Lk. 12:4-5). Continue reading

One in Ten

In Luke 17, on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee. In one village ten lepers called out to Him, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!” (Lk. 17:13). He told them to the go show themselves to priests, and as they went they were cured of their leprosy (v14).

We note that in this instance Jesus didn’t heal them immediately. He didn’t reach out and touch them, but in the process of doing what He said to do, they were made whole. George MacDonald said “Obedience is the opener of eyes.” For these ten, obedience was also restored worship. Jesus sent them to the priests because then they would be ritually cleansed and able to worship God with His people.

But only one of those lepers, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, glorified God, fell down at His feet, and thanked Him. Jesus commented on this to the disciples: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (v18). He was a Samaritan, not someone expected to seek the Lord.

Ten lepers sought Jesus, ten obeyed Him, and ten were healed as they went. But only one came back, glorified God, and thanked Him.

Moralism vs. Christianity


Moralism and Christianity are mortal enemies. Moralism and Christianity serve different masters.

It’s been said that the great between the salad and garbage is timing. Salad is salad for a time, but eventually it wilts. The difference between moralism and Christianity is much greater. Moralism, doing right for whatever reason, is never Christianity. Moralism is always garbage. Continue reading

In Season, Out of Season


The new year always brings in new hopes, new ideas, and new inspiration, and this is well and good. No good thing should be despised.

But since the point of aiming is to hit something, we should pick something achievable. By one measure only around 8% of people achieve their resolutions, so we should sets goals and resolutions that are simple, specific and achievable.

I want to encourage you to consider shaping at least one resolution in a slightly different way. George MacDonald said, “That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to Him, “Thou art my refuge.”” Continue reading

The Cost of Christmas

Every true reading of the Christmas story includes the hardships endured. Jesus was not born with a heavenly force field protecting Him from pain and trouble. As the hymn Once in Royal David’s City puts it, “Tears and smiles like us He knew”.

What would you think of a pregnant couple who had no reservation at the hospital nor midwife available, so they had their baby in the equivalent of an abandoned trailer, and grabbed part of a chicken coop for the basinet? Behold, the holy family. That’s where the Son of God of was laid when there was no room at the inn.

Poor and unimportant at home, Joseph and Mary would soon flee for their lives to Egypt because their Son, though underprivileged, was hunted. Only their dreams would tell them when to come back to Israel, when Herod was done slaughtering the baby boys two years old and younger and the coast was clear. Continue reading

Advent is About Jesus


Now that Thanksgiving is over and this is the first Sunday of Advent, we are officially singing, thinking, talking and shopping for Christmas.

Some people have noticed that many retail establishments busted out the Christmas stuff back in October and lamented it the another example of commericialism at work. While this may be true, it’s also true that Christmas can’t be contained on December 25th or even in the 12 Days of Christmas. We only stop officially celebrating because you have to draw the line somewhere.

Many Christians are familiar with the spiritual disciplines: prayer, Bible reading, giving, fasting and the like. The season of Advent and Christmas is a prime opportunity to dedicate ourselves to the fundamental biblical discipline of joy. There’s more than one reason to get the Christmas stuff out early.

You heard (or if you didn’t hear) our announcement about resources for making Advent significant and festive. We would never require anyone to observe this season, but this is a time when our culture still has a remnant of traditions driven by biblical truth. It’s lawful and we find it helpful. Observing Advent, celebrating in small ways to get in shape for Christmas, is not adding a burden to an already hectic season. It’s being thoughtful and intentional to remember and celebrate the rich truths of the incarnation of the eternal Word of God.

So consider for yourself and your family how you will incarnate the wonder of Jesus being born for sinners, for all the Bible gives us to ponder and enjoy. The singular focus of Advent is Jesus. Focusing on Him never allows us to ignore anything else that matters. He is the answer to all of our problems, born to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

A Day at a Time


One of the things God gives us is enough troubles of our own. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrrow because that is what tomorrow is for: “33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:33-34).

These should be the most liberating words to us. We’re not allowed to worry about what might come. This of course doesn’t forbid us from being prudent, buying insurance, and having a plan. But it does forbid us from worrying.

If Jesus forbids us from worrying about our own troubles, how much more should we not worry about the troubles of others? If we can’t see what’s ahead on our own path, how much less can we see what’s ahead of others? If we don’t even have enough information about ourselves, we certainly can’t plot a course for others.

When we follow Christ and discipline our thoughts and actions, the surprising result is that we are ready for what comes. When Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing but faith in God, they found out that God provided for them, and that was why He sent them out with nothing. God teaches us over and over that we are not in control of our own lives much less the lives of others, and when we embrace that truth, and cheerfully acknowledge that He is in control, we have peace and wisdom for what to do.

God the Father

When we think of the Fatherhood of God, it’s important not to make Him in our image. God is not our Father because He is like an earthly father. He is not our Father because He became one at some point, or when Jesus took on flesh and became His incarnate Son.

No, Scripture teaches us that the first person of the Trinity, the Father has always been the Father because the Son is eternally begotten.

Malachi 1:6 says, “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor?” In Ephesians Paul writes, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15).

All Fatherhood, (Gr. Patria), comes from the Father of Jesus Christ. As we see our culture disintegrating around us, at the very center of our troubles is our disdain for our God and Father, and therefore for fatherhood that derives from Him.

At the end of Malachi, we have this solemn warning and promise: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:4-5).

When we turn our hearts to our fathers, first we honor them for that fact that God gave them to us. They bear a noble office, and we salute the uniform regardless of what they have done or not done. Second, we honor the ways they imitate God the Father, and we imitate them as far as we can. The first kind of honor kills all resentment. You can’t turn your heart to your earthly father without first turning it to your Heavenly Father, and to turn to Him requires us to forgive the way we’ve been forgiven. The second kind of honor, or expression of honor, fosters gratitude and holiness.

God our Father gave His own Son that we might become His children, and so that we would be partakers of their divine life of the Trinity. But we must turn our hearts to Him.