Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Christmas Book

Well, I know this is a little late, but in case the topic of Christmas has ever fascinated you, this is the best book I (I have only read five books on the topic) have read on Christmas.  I can't believe how ignorant I was about the season I love so much.

For example, did you know....
  • For three centuries Christians did not celebrate Christmas at all (in fact it was banned in England and New England.
  • Dickens, Queen Victoria, and Prince Albert did more for the current development of Christmas than any other force.
  • Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season.
  • Coca-Cola helped fashion Santa Claus's look in an advertising campaign.

It's a quick read with a great summary of the origin, history, and development of Christmas.  Forbes also has a good chapter at the end of what to do with all the information (i.e. how to respond to Christmas from a Christian's perspective).  The annotated bibliography and index are both gold... worth the price alone.

Every pastor should read this book as it will make them much less ignorant about the traditions and history of the most celebrated time of year.  Buy it here or borrow it from my library.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

People are Reading!

I just received a sitemeter report and it told me that this blog recieves an average of 9 views a day for a total 473 views to date.

I started this blog on a trial basis to increase the communication (both in scope and effectiveness) of things relating to our church.  My goal has never been narcissistic in nature (the world doesn't need another pointless blog) but to be a useful tool for the tech-saavy members of our church and community.  By useful, I mean that people would be encouraged, enlightened, and inspired to be the church.  I hope that this has been true for you.

So... you are one of the 9 visiting today!  Thanks for reading and responding as we endeavor to be clearer reflections of Jesus.

2010 is in Sight!

2009 was a really weird year for me and many others I know.  Challenges came in all shapes and sizes and the result was a year of tough growth.  But then again, does true growth come any other way?

I know people that have lost jobs, changed careers/roles, faced financial challenges, journeyed through spiritual struggles, endured hardships, and experienced loss.  Some have come through tired and weary.  Others have been able to adjust and their resolve is stronger than ever.  Finally, a few are still facing significant challenges.

My hope is we will continue to look to Jesus for strength, guidance, and hope.  My challenge is that we as the church would bring Jesus into these situations through prayer, help, encouragement, love, and support.

My overall read on our church is that 2010 will be more than just a change in the chronological clock of our family, bu that the lessons we learned through the winter of 2009 will bring about greater fruit in the year to come.  We will enter 2010 with greater wisdom because we will enter 2010 with greater humility.  More than ever our challenges teach us of our need for Jesus and His presence in our lives.  We learn to lean on Him more, trust in Him more, and hope in Him more!

My prayer for 2010 is that we as a church would see God's goodness even in the dark times so that in the good times we may maintain perspective and our dependency on Jesus.  That we wouldn't hoard the fruit of our labour but that we would give it away (because it's all really His anyways).  That we would take great joy in coming together under Jesus' name and working together to bring God's love and goodness (through the person and presence of Jesus Christ) to our community.  That we would be people who are Spirit-filled (empowered by His Holy Spirit to be His presence on earth)... relying on the Spirit to illuminate the Scripture so that we may live healthier lives that will bring glory to God.

I am excited to continue following Jesus in this New Year, confident that as we obey Him, He will continue to prove His faithfulness, goodness, and power to save and transform!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Little Drummer Boy

I had a fun time this morning at our Sunday gathering.  I enjoyed having a number of conversations during our continental breakfast and hearing four of our worship leaders lead on one team!  We sang a few Christmas carols of which "Little Drummer Boy" was one.  I've never actually reflected on the words of the song until today and never realized how powerful they are.  My eyes welled up with tears when we sang that song as I was reminded of how little I have to offer my Saviour, but in my offering it to Him, He is pleased!

Although Wilf and the team did a much cooler version, and this version below is much cheezier, take time to hear the words.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Words to Live By

Psalm 32
1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. "Selah" 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. "Selah" 6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. "Selah" 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

My First Experience with Coffee

My biological clock is ticking.  This August something in me (not my wife) said that I needed to stop wearing t-shirts and start wearing more age-appropriate clothing.  So I went out and purchased a few shirts and sweaters on my own (risky venture, but Angela approved of my purchases).  Now there are usually 1-2 days a week wear I have a relapse and my t-shirt drawer calls my name, but for the most part I've started dressing a little more mature.... just a little.  Don't get your hopes up too much.... I'm still decades away from a suit.

Then in October I started to desire coffee like never before.  I wondered if this was just a random urge, but having another kid and starting a new role at the church fanned into flame my desire for the devil's brew (that's what Christians in Rome called it medieval times).  The desire just wouldn't go away.  I had never had coffee before (not even a sip) and always looked at my discipline with a sort of pride.  I pitied people who couldn't function in the morning without it; making their way to the coffee maker or Starbucks like zombies.

But after eight weeks of sleepless nights, I broke down.  The social pressure to drink coffee, my tired eyes, and the lure of the aroma overwhelmed me and so I took my daughter on our weekly Starbucks date and ordered a grande dark roast.  I took a sip and it was disgusting.  I took a few more sips and disliked it even more.  Then I added a bunch of half and half, but that didn't help at all.  So round one of my introduction to coffee was horrible.  I think next time I'll try a triple-triple from Tim Horton's.

Scary Santa Claus

There is something about big old men in bright red suits that is scary (just ask our two year old daughter)!  From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Big B Will Be Missed

UPDATE:  A memorial service will be held in our auditorium on Saturday, January 9, 1:00pm.

This past Sunday a beloved member of our church was promoted and is now with Jesus!  If you are new to our church, you might not have had the opportunity to meet B as he had been struggling with serious health issues over the past few years (and most of his life).

When I reflect on Big B's life I can't do anything but smile.  I remember always hearing him before I saw him (he had a loud booming voice and when he wanted your attention, he got it).  I remember his sarcastic comments and how most of them were humourous in nature :).  I also remember how encouraging and generous he could be as well.

Big B also made our church a better church.  Due to his physical and social challenges many people would have written him off, but our church loved and supported him.  We gave him rides, advice, prayer, visits, meals, cleaned up his house, helped him move things, rescued him when his scooter died, and friendship.  While all of these things cost us something (time, money, and energy) our relationship with B helped us become a better a church.  We are more patient, more loving, more accepting, more forgiving... more like Jesus.

I would like to thank all of those who accepted and helped B just the way he was... you were a great help to him and have encouraged and inspired us.  Thank you!