Rethinking Christmas

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Yes, that made me like every other kid.  And I should confess: It was the gifts.

Now, to be sure, there were other things that made Christmas-time nice: houses covered with lights; school parties; Dickens on the Strand; and Christmas vacation. If one of those were to be left out I would feel like I was missing something, that Christmas was a bit incomplete.

There are activities today that take the place of those childhood expectations. Thankfully, I have learned none of those things make Christmas.

Perhaps I am preaching to the choir, but that’s okay.

For many people Christmas is another reminder of a great loss. Many families know this will be the first Christmas since their loved one passed away. Also, even at Christmas, tragedy always finds itself on the news. Surely, then, Christmas has to mean more than red-bowed gifts and office parties.

Indeed, it does!

Christmas is the reminder that God is with us—that God came to us and will always be with us. In our joy or sorrow we can trust that God is with us. Without that, there is no Christmas. May God’s presence, then, be everything to you this Christmas.

Stay blessed…john

Tie a tie

The professionalization of ministry will blind you to the fact that what happens in this video is part of the real, every day life ministry scripture describes.  It’s about taking time to care for someone else, even if that means something as small and quick as tying someone’s tie for them.

Question: Outside of church activities and events, what does your faith in Christ compel you to do for other people?  I can’t wait to hear the ways you put your faith into action.

Stay blessed…john


My Reading List

I’ve come a long way with reading.  Here’s how far: 0 books per year (unless it was required for a class) to an average of 2 books per month.

As a pastor, I offer a yearly report of my reading within my Continuing Education Report.  That usually means I keep track of the books I read from November to November.

Here’s what I’ve read this last year:

Launching a Leadership Revolution: Mastering the Five Levels of Influence
By Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward

Tattoos on the Heart
By Gregory Boyle

Ministry in the Digital Age
By David T. Bourgeois

The Presence Based Church
By Terry Teykl

A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation
By Naim Ateek

Mother Tongue
By Leonard Sweet

Judas: The Definitive Collection of Gospels and Legends About the Infamous Apostle of Jesus
By Marvin Meyer

The Bad Habits of Jesus
By Leonard Sweet

The Volunteer Revolution
By Bill Hybels

Sticky Church
By Larry Osborne

Finding Our Way Again
By Brian McClaren

Reading John For Dear Life
By Jaime Clark-Soles

Worship in the Early Church
By Ralph P. Martin

America’s Prophet
By Bruce Feiler

Leadership and Liberty
By Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward

Sabbatical Journey
By Henri J.M. Nouwen

The Preaching Life
By Barbara Brown Taylor

Never Split the Difference
By Chris Voss

Never Eat Alone
By Keith Ferrazi

Forgotten God
By Francis Chan

What to Expect When No One’s Expecting
By Jonathan V. Last

Growing Young
By Kara Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin

The Celtic Way of Evangelism
By George G. Hunter III

I spend a lot of time at Half Price Books and the public library, and I tend to read whatever someone asks me to read.

I’m already chipping away at three books to add to next year’s list.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about church history.  So, I think I’m going to spend a good amount of time reading up on that subject.

What are you reading?

Stay blessed…john

The scariest costume ever

My idea for the scariest Halloween costume came to me this morning. Yes, on Halloween day. Have I ever told you I’m a procrastinator?

It won’t cost you much money. You’ll be dressed in no time. In fact, where whatever you want. Dress up. Dress down. Wear your work clothes. Dress like a minion (There’s a joke in there somewhere). It doesn’t matter.

Next, crab a pile of index cards. Write the word “DARN” on each of them. DARN as opposed to D**N just in case the children are reading. Then give a card to anyone you meet.

“Who are you?” they’ll ask. And you’ll say, “I’m someone who gives a darn.”

That’s the scariest thing for a selfish world! Can you imagine if there were more people who walked the earth that did give a darn. Perhaps I should clarify. Give a darn about important things.

I often return to Galatians 6:2. It reads:

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

When I give a darn about you, I’ll bear your burdens with you. When I give a darn about abused children, I’ll bear that burden with them. Drug addicts? Homeless families? Dropouts? Criminals? Those thinking of suicide? Divorced families? When I give a darn, I’ll find ways to bear their burdens with them, and, thus, fulfill the law of Christ.

Hopefully, it won’t just be a costume.

Stay blessed…john

Playing church

Playing Church

When you play church
you stop playing

Then what happens
to the holy church
you were playing

Stay blessed…john