TobyMac is a Christian rapper. If you listen to Christian radio, you’ve heard his music at some point. He’s been around for a while.

Back in October, TobyMac’s son, Truett, passed away. He was 21 years old.

Recently, TobyMac released 21 Years as a tribute to Truett

Have a listen.

Have you dried your eyes yet?

I am sorry anytime anyone has to endure such a loss.

What I appreciate about TobyMac’s song is twofold.

First, listen to his honesty. He affirms God’s presence, but acknowledges his own pain and questions to God. Second, he weaves a part of the story of God seamlessly through his own. Yes, his loss is great. Still, he finds a connection to scripture that helps frame how he will move through such a loss.

Of course, TobyMac is an artist.

Most of us might not feel like we could ever produce anything like he can. But we can find our story within the stories of God in the Bible.

When we do, we learn just how significant having God’s word is.

Stay blessed…john

My top 5 Christmas songs

Maybe I should have made 2 lists.

But I decided to do one list and give you a caveat. The message and world-altering aspect of Christmas is the most meaningful aspect of the season. Christ came into the world to save sinners!

The gifts, the decorations and all the fluff of Christmas don’t do all that much for me.

But there are some songs I can’t wait to hear and sing!

So, here’s my top 5 list of Christmas songs.

#5 O Come All Ye Faithful

Joyfully and triumphantly we can praise God because the promise of Messiah has been fulfilled. God’s faithfulness, indeed, endures forever!

#4 All I Want for Christmas

She doesn’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree, y’all! I don’t know how you hear this song and don’t crack at least one smile. It’s fun and catchy.

Just ask my kids how much I love this song. And just ask my wife how much I love listening to Mariah Carey.

#3 Some Day at Christmas

Most people wouldn’t consider this a hymn or spiritual, but I do. I sing it as a prayer because it resonates so much with the freedom Christ came to bring. No lie, I tear up with this one.

#2 Joy to the World

Joy to the World is not a Christmas carol. It points to the second coming of Christ more than the first. We see that, in part, because the earth didn’t receive her king when Christ first came.

That’s fine, but there is a joy following Christ brings, and he invited all to come and follow him even if not all did.

Since it’s not a Christmas hymn, do I get an additional spot on the list?

#1 Emmanuel (His Name is Called Emmanuel)

Tears again when I sing this one.

It’s so simple, yet all we need to know about what makes Christmas meaningful. If we miss this, we miss everything.

Those are my favorites. What’s on your list of favorite Christmas songs?

Oh, and just in case I get another pick, how about: The Christmas Song or Christmas in Hollis?

The Middle Child of Holidays

Face it.  Thanksgiving is the middle child of the holiday season.

People make a great fuss about Halloween.  Of course they do; it’s the holiday first-born.  First-borns make us “parents for the first time.”  Duh! Your other children wonder why you don’t affirm that obvious piece of information about them.  After all, they made you parents for the second and fifth time.  

Likewise, Halloween inaugurates the holiday season, and its popularity seems to have grown over recent years.  It’s like National Blueberry Popsicle Month doesn’t even exist.  

Spooky costumes and candy corn have this strange way of prepping us for Christmas.

And Christmas can do no wrong.  Obviously!  The baby of the family gets away with everything.  You don’t have to have a baby sibling to know that.  Just watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off again.  

Everyone thinks the babies are so cute.  By the way, that drives older siblings crazy because they (we) know better.  If you don’t think that applies to Christmas, ask yourself why we sing Away in the Manger so many times before and after December 25th.  I wasn’t there, but I’m guessing fleeing from an imperial killer and having a stable-birth wasn’t that cutesy.

In the middle of the excitement of Monster Mash and Charlie Brown’s tree creeps in Thanksgiving.  Sure, we knew it was there all along.  We love it unconditionally.  We don’t mean for it to appear like we forgot about it. We just wanted to start decorating for something else, 2 months early.

When T-day comes we’ll do what it takes to make it perfect.  In the mean time, we’re still regretting the Halloween pounds and beginning to stress about that fact that Christmas is almost here. Six-month countdowns will do that to you.

Middle children understand.  They’ve heard it all before.

I think it’s time we realize how much we’ve neglected our holiday middle child.

Considering all that God has done for us, giving thanks is a meaningful part of life and faith.  Undoubtedly, someone will remind you that is something we do everyday and not just on one holiday.  

It may be annoying when they say it, but they are right.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).  God’s faithfulness lasts forever.  So, our thanksgiving should endure more than the last Thursday of November.  

But maybe that one day can teach us something important so that we can learn to give thanks more often. You may have to put a little effort into it.  There’s only so much football and overeating can teach an American, after all.

Find/make/renew a tradition to make thanksgiving the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Just know, however, that people tend to wait until after Halloween to ask if you’re getting ready for Christmas.  Thanksgiving gets no such R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   But you’ve got thanksgiving on your mind.  

So, when they do ask about Christmas before Advent (don’t even get me started),  you just ask them what they have against your middle child.

In all, wow can you make Thanksgiving (the holiday) more meaningful, and thanksgiving (lower case t, the way of life) more frequent?

Stay blessed…john