Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

lily.jpgChristmas is one of my favorite times of the year, not only because I enjoy the holiday music and gift-giving and festive spirit but chiefly because of its reminder of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  It is one of the most profound times of wonder and worship in my calendar.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that the most wonderful time of the year is what we Christians celebrate this Sunday: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is the highlight of the Christian year.  Without the Lord’s resurrection, there would be no Christianity, at least not true Christianity.  A religion might have come into being following the teachings of a very good, but very dead prophet, Jesus of Nazareth.  But the hope, the confidence, the joy of eternal life only comes from the One who possesses and offers such life.  Of course the New Testament says it best:

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20, NKJV)

There is much more I could say on this, but again Scripture does it far better than I:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, NKJV)

I often try to remind our congregation as we gather on Sunday mornings that the very reason we meet on Sunday morning is to commemorate the Resurrection.  We should remember and celebrate it each Sunday.  However, the truth of the resurrection should always remind us of another truth: the certainty of His imminent return.

So, just as the amazed disciples stared into the clouds after Jesus ascended into Heaven, we would all do well to pause to look upward this Sunday and every Sunday.  Perhaps this will be the day!  Even so, come Lord Jesus, our RISEN SAVIOR!  We look with love for your appearing!

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Reflections

pr27143.jpgIt’s difficult to believe that I have been blogging here for twenty months now.  Wow!  The old adage “time flies” certainly seems to be true.  Blogging is officially my favorite hobby now, even though I engage the blogosphere less frequently than in previous years.

The year 2007 was a most eventful year for Red Rocks Baptist Church, where I serve as an assistant pastor.  After years and years of waiting, praying, selling, and moving to interim locations, we finally moved in to our new facility in March.  It was so nice to finally be “home” as far as the permanent physical location for the ministry.  The facility is beautiful and spacious and has provided a highly visible and trafficked location for us.  In these first several months, the Lord has brought over 400 first-time visitors to our building.  We have seen nearly an hundred of them added to our fellowship.  It has been difficult to keep up with the the contacts, and we are constantly trying to improve in this area.  The Lord is still sending new families each week to visit the ministry.  Many of the new families have jumped right into ministry opportunities (after a required short period of orientation) and added to the life of the church.  While the acoustical treatment of our auditorium is not quite finished yet (problems with HVAC, etc.), the worship of our church has been vibrant and we are so delighted to see many weekly responses to the preaching of the Word.  We just finished a very busy Christmas season; and once again, the musicians in our church did a really wonderful job presenting the story of Christ’s birth.  The music was excellent in quality and the people “had a mind to work.”  I am privileged to lead such a faithful group of ministers.

Our family continues to grow as well (not numerically!!).  My oldest daughter broke the teenage barrier this past July.  So I now parent a 13, 12, 10, 6, and 4 year old child.  Parenting is truly one of the great joys of my life and great frustrations of my life.  It is a joy because we share such a wonderful bond of love; it is a frustration because they are growing so quickly!  It is difficult to comprehend that my oldest will likely only be under my direct supervision for another 5 years.  There is so much to teach.  There is so much to learn.  Deborah and I celebrated 15 years of marriage this past June.  She remains a wonderful spouse and mother who is constantly growing in her parenting skills.  It is wonderful to watch her age with beauty and wisdom.

I have not done much “deep” pondering in the area of worship in the last few months so I am doing some catch-up reading from the growing pile on my desk.  I just finished an interesting book this morning called Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views.  The six views being represented are the formal-liturgical, the traditional hymn-based, the contemporary music-driven, the charismatic, the blended, and the emerging.  Each of the 6 authors presents the case for their viewpoint and then gets to give response to the other 5 viewpoints as well.  It’s a fascinating read.  I’ll let you know which view I give the most credence to in a future post.  I’m also planning to read Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts by Harold Best.

Of course, the crazy political season is already upon us with the primaries revving their engines louder each day.  I’ve been a supporter of Mike Huckabee and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with him and several of the other campaigns as well.  Politics is probably my third hobby, behind blogging and music, though it is certainly a daily event already.  For the record, I am a firm believer in the local church and do not believe that changes in the government will usher in the Kingdom or anything like that.  My favorite pastime is not interacting with candidates but converts.  It has been a tremendous joy to invest time and teaching into both adults and children this past year as they follow the Lord Jesus.

Finally, a big thanks to those who read and interact with me here on the blog.  It is interesting to see which topics attract which people and how many.  The discussions may seem to get heated at times and the subjects certainly get controversial; however, be assured that I greatly appreciate both the encouragement and challenges of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I learn much from you and hope that at times I can be an encouragement to you as well as we all run the race set before us.

Happy New Year!  May the Lord come soon!

Come, Let Us Adore Him!

rembrandt07.jpgI adore my Jesus more today than ever in my life.  This Christmas season has provided me the opportunity to delve more deeply into, think more biblically about, and appreciate more fully the Incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth than I can remember.  I am so overwhelmed by this Gift that I even choked up during my worship leading last Sunday morning just talking about King Ahaz and the connection to Isaiah 7:14!  The mercy of God is not a concept easy to embrace or to appreciate as fully as it deserves.  I think many theologians and even songwriters are right to speak of “floods” of mercy. Continue reading

Merry Christmas from Mike Huckabee

One Matthew; Many Timothys

matthewmurray.jpgFive years ago, things were very different.

At that time Matthew Murray was enrolled in the Youth With a Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado, preparing to go overseas with a ministry team.

How different was Matthew from the best Christian young people you know? 

  • Came from a “very, very” religious family
  • Home-schooled
  • Had an Uncle who is a pastor.
  • Participated in Youth Missions training.

Fast-forward to Sunday, December 9th, 2007. Continue reading

A Heart of Thanksgiving; A Heart of Worship

I apologize to my regular readers for my dearth in blogging in recent days.  It seems that as the Christmas season approaches each year, I become mired in neck-deep details surrounding seasonal performances.  Of course, then, there is my “regular” life too, which consists of helping my pastor shepherd a congregation full of needs.  Oh, and there’s that family stuff too… 😉

Due to the recent conversations here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, I have begun writing an article on the whole secular/sacred dichotomy.  It has been good to think through this area again and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and mulling over them with you!

This morning, SharperIron re-posted one of my articles on thankfulness.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it before, you can find it by clicking here.  Hopefully, it will be an encouragement to you.

I wanted to just jot a brief note here to share what I am thankful for today. Continue reading

Why I Hate Christmas

tree.gifWell, here we are again…December…my least favorite month.  I can’t stand it.  Well, I’m finally going to do something about it.  I’m going to publish the Top Ten reasons I can think of to hate Christmas.  You better watch out–I might convert you too!!

1. I HATE CHRISTMAS because I am lazy and Christmas calls for my hardest work.   Anyone knows that it is the busiest time of year for a music pastor.  Between the kids program, the school program, and the church programs, I am stuck in hyper-drive until I collapse in a heap on my bed on December 25th.  I’m sure Jesus never meant for me to work this hard to promote His cause, did he?  Continue reading