Sunday, December 25, 2011

the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the land
Everyone headed home
at Augustus' command

A carpenter peasant made the
long journey south
He soon would nurture the Christ
straight from the angel's mouth

His fiance' Mary,
now great with child
Humbly went along, a disposition
meek and mild

Finally, they came
to their taxing destination
no shelter was found
much to their consternation

After a search,
they settled in a stable
tried to get ready
as much as they were able

Nearby in a field
shepherds saw in the night sky
An angelic message
"Peace on earth" was their cry

By the time they arrived
to the manger turned bed
the baby was born
as the angels had said

A Savior is born
now mankind can live
Love, life, hope
all God wanted to give

Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the house
all hearts are stirred,
but not by a mouse

God loved us first
this much is true
Christmas is a gift
for me and for you

Monday, December 19, 2011

all is well

There's an old hymn from my old church background called, "It is well". The message of the song is basically that no matter what happens, "it is well with my soul". Christmas is a time of year that brings natural reflection for me. The word "well" has double meaning for me right now as I sit in "the well" (the name for our new atrium) and reflect. The well is due to be finished for this week's Christmas Eve services. We had about 2/3 occupancy on Sunday and it was good to see everyone doing family in the new space. Did you know that behind the well (water feature/baptistry) upstairs is a prayer room designed to be a quiet place for devotion. Check it out if you haven't.
It is well with my soul right now because there is a place for taking a deep breath and thinking of all that God has done this year. He alone deserves all the credit for what has happened in my life and ministry this year. It has been a privilege to serve.

It is well with my soul because of the responses to yesterday's invitation time in both services. I never cease to be amazed at the way the Spirit moves so differently in each service, but there were sincere prayers, baptisms and decisions of repentance made as people came forward in each service. So blessed to know that God still is moving hearts.

It is well with my soul because there is some good family time coming's good to connect with family (even when they aren't as normal as you are...remember they are thinking the same thing!) I'll be in Cincinnati some and Indianapolis some. It will be a good time to just hang out, eat together, etc...

It is well with my soul because the traditional things of Christmas take me back to the story of the Christ child in a fresh new way each year. The music refreshes, the Christmas Eve service inspires, and the lights on the tree glitter with childhood wonder. Now, I need some snow!

Monday, December 12, 2011

eastview staff christmas

Well, it's the day of the annual staff Christmas party. Tonight we'll go Alexander's for some great steak, fellowship and laughter. You may think this isn't very important, but I think it is one of the most critically family building things we do each year. One of the events that will take place at tonight's party is my presentation of awards to those who win the annual office decoration party (yes...I love Christmas and have encouraged the decoration of offices since I have been Sr. Pastor). You'll have to look on our facebook sight to see some of the pictures, but I will tell you this, Jim Probst as ELF made me fall on the floor with laughter. Also, much props to the outreach department for their "tis so sweet to trust in Jesus" candyland extravaganza. It really is a fun time and right after prayer time today much of the staff walked through the halls with me as I judged. I know that all of you who go to Eastview know this, but I have to say it as a praise to God: This is the most awesome staff of serving, gifted, passionate, focused people. Thanks to God for this great staff! Looking forward to hanging out with them is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The reading of the word

The pace of minstry around here simply amazes me. We have just come off of an awesome weekend where we blessed nearly 800 families with winter coats, toys for children and food in our annual "Imagine" outreach. I was blessed to see many new friends at church yesterday from this day! Then, this weekend we have our Christmas concert, Saturday night is sold out and we're getting close on Friday night! It will be a great weekend of celebrating the birth of Jesus, but in between these two things something else significant is happening.

I just came from the atrium (now "the well") and the reading through the entire Bible is well under way. We began at 6:00 a.m. and we are well into Exodus. I don't know if that is a good pace or not, but we've started. What some of you might not know is that this year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. In 1611, it became the first authorized Bible in the English language! Several British actors are reading it in it's entirety at Shakespeare's theatre in London to commemorat the date. This is cool, but reading the entire Scripture has been practiced throughout the history of God's people. Moses read the entire book of the law, Joshua did it when they came into the land (Joshua 8:34) and Josiah did it (II Kings 23:2) and Ezra did it (Nehemiah 8:8), and Paul told Timothy to devote himself to it (I Timothy 4:13).

So we won't do any ministry in the well until the entire Bible has been read in it...a kind of consecration. I noted as I was out there a few minutes ago that the sound of construction is going on in the background as the Word is read. A reminder that the loudness and bustle of our lives go on and God is talking beneath it all if we will just listen!