very year during this time I like to bring something new to the story...in previous years it was the sermon about the Little Drummer Boy (the Kingdom principle of using what's already in your hand to be effective), and Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer (the thing that you thought was a weakness in your life...the thing that caused everyone else to shun you...may be the very thing that, "for such a time as this" will bring you to greatness). I love exploring the concepts of reconciliation and inclusion (the wise men who sought Him, and the shepherds who didn't, all receiving the same Good News). That subject is one of my favorites, but all of it is about this:...the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been REVEALED to His saints. (Colossians 1:26)
evelation is what this season is all about...the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us...the invisible becoming visible...a time when we acknowledge the possibility of giving birth to the impossible:
For unto us... not unto me… not unto you... but unto us, the collective, corporate community of mankind...the household of humanity...unto all of us, a child is born; unto us, the global family, a Son is given, and the responsibility of the government will rest on His broad shoulders. In fact, all the governments of all the peoples of the world will ultimately recognize Him as their one true foundation, for the earth is His, and He belongs to all of us . He will be the physical embodiment of the “I Am,” the God who defies description; and, in an attempt to define the indefinable, He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase and expansion of His kingdom and government and peace there will be no end. He will reign initially from David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing it and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time, on into the eternal now. The passionate zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6,7 - The Bible In The Now)
ight now, I only want to focus and concentrate on these things...to rejoice in the reality that unto us a Son is given. No doubt, a lot of changes have occurred in my life and in my ministry in recent months...in fact, you could say that I've just generally been in transition in pretty much every area...but I must say that as I sit here writing this, I have absolutely no regrets, and I have no fear of the future. I've never been more excited about the possibilities that are ahead of me/us...the potential for new areas of ministry is, I believe, limitless. Personally, I've never been happier, and I've never enjoyed preaching more than I have lately. Counting my blessings is easy...I don't have to remind myself to "forget not His benefits", because they surround me constantly. I'll probably watch It's A Wonderful Life again sometime in the next few days, but this year it won't be a reminder to me to appreciate my life. I already got that...my life is truly wonderful, and I know that, in my own way, I've been able to make a difference.
ou all mean so much to me, and I want you to know that you and your families are all in my prayers. Of course we all have our plates full, but for the next few days I want every one of us to put those full plates down, and pick up real plates full of turkey and ham and all kinds of delicious and fattening things (I even like egg nog and fruit cake...how extreme is that?!), and just enjoy Christmas in the now! You can watch what you eat later...this is a time for celebration! You can deal with your stuff later, too...it will most likely still be there...or, maybe not...who knows what Christmas miracles can and may occur in the next few hours?
“Peace I leave with you; I’m talking about My own, personal sense of peace, wholeness and well-being; I’m actually transferring it to you. You see, My peace is unlike the peace that comes from this realm...the peace that is reactionary and temporal, dependent on outward circumstances to determine its strength and presence. My peace is other-worldly – settled, absolute – causing you to be in harmony with your whole life – past, present, and future – and ultimately with the whole of creation. It will empower you to refuse to let your heart (your inner world) become troubled, agitated, or upset, no matter what is happening around you, and you can be fearless because you will be at peace with the Father, with yourself, and with the universe."
(John 14:27 - John In The Now)
hoose to be happy and grateful for all that you have this week...choose to take time to count your own many blessings...choose to embrace and manifest all of the best sentiments of the season like "peace on earth, good will toward people" (especially the people in your life and personal world), and "God bless us, everyone (there are enough available blessings to go around...more than enough for all of us)!"
What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. - Agnes M. Pharo
ave yourself a merry little Christmas, bloggers and Facebook friends. Regardless of what you may have gone through in 2010, the fact is that you made it...you're here now...and you have lived to see another holiday season. So you need to enjoy it...every bit of it...even if it really is only a merry "little" Christmas this year. God is good (all the time), and He has been good to you throughout 2010 in ways that you can't even see right now. You know, we probably overuse the Romans 8:28 "all things work together" phrase and concept (I wrote a whole book about it, in fact) to help us deal with all the unexplainable and overwhelming things that often happen in our lives...but in the big picture, that's what is really going on. Take a minute out of the holiday hustle and bustle to get quiet, and in your spirit you may hear Him say, "I really do know the plans I have for you..."
EAL PEOPLE EXPERIENCING THE REAL GOD IN THE REAL WORLD...for many of us this Christmas, this trademark of Church In The Now has become much more than a slogan or even a concept. Because of all that has happened and is happening in the world around us, and at CITN, we have no choice but to walk this idea out...manifesting it as living epistles to be read by all. Mary and Joseph's reality was certainly altered when the angel told them that they would become the mother and step-father of Jesus, but their whole world was turned upside down when they found out they had to go to Bethlehem in the third trimester of Mary's pregnancy, supposedly to be taxed. Of course, the real deal was that they had to get there so that the Messianic prophecy about the birth could be fulfilled. Sometimes what we think is an inconvenience or even random chaos in our life is actually God getting us to where we are supposed to be, so that a prophetic imperative can be confirmed. And part of the end result of surviving that rugged trip to our own "Bethlehem" is that what emerges...indeed what is "birthed"...is something that is completely REAL.
n a word, we have everything to be thankful for...every reason to sing JOY TO THE WORLD...we also have, as I've already said, every reason to enjoy the holidays...to have a Merry Christmas (Jesus is the reason for the season), a Happy New Year...even a Happy Hanukkah (Shalom, y'all)...and an awesome Kwanzaa! Why not celebrate it all?! Why limit Thanksgiving to a single Thursday in November?! You don't have to have a turkey to remind you to celebrate and to be grateful and to rejoice! The holiday season...especially Christmas...is a state of mind...an attitude...a realization...a remembrance that God is good and life is good, and life in Him should be appreciated and cherished and valued, regardless of what may or may not be happening in the world around us...Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What the gladsome tidings be Which inspire your heavenly song? Gloria, in excelsis Deo! Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
o I am praying for all of this community to grasp this (just like the little monk praying over there on the altar that forms the letter "S"), but my prayer is really just a declaration of faith...an affirmation...a blessing that I now pronounce over you and your household and your family and your loved ones...a blessing over all that you are, and over all that you will become in the new year...I bless your dreams...I bless your vision...I bless your spirit and your soul and your body...I bless your memory of Christmas past, and your imagination of Christmas future...most of all, and most importantly, I bless your paradigm of Christmas present...Christmas in the NOW! A thrill of hope, The weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night divine, O night, O night divine!
is the season to be jolly...and thankful...and positive...and proactive...and open and optimistic and full of faith for the future! It's time to reflect on the journey, and to look back over all of it without second-guessing a thing. It's the season to expect the unexpected...to re-connect with the wonder of childlike belief. Call it magic or miracle, the truth of it is that this is the time when we open up our hearts to believe that the clunky and clumsy logic of natural laws is done away with...and suddenly we dream a world of possibilities where angelic choirs serenade shepherds, and eastern astrologers are led by celestial lights, and virgins conceive, and birth is given to the impossible! It's the most wonderful time of the year!
ay your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be right, as you see everything in your life the right way! I speak joy to your world, and say that all of your nights are silent, so that you may sleep in heavenly peace. No matter what lies ahead for you, let nothing you dismay...remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day...and because He was, the only things that you need to concentrate on are tidings of comfort and joy! The hopes and fear of all your years are met in Him tonight! He deserves all of your praise. He knows our need, Our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King, before Him lowly bend, Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
nd so, as I come to the end of this year's BLOGINTHENOW Christmas post, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful people in my life, and send them my love. Obviously, I appreciate Debye and her amazing support, especially through this last year. She is a great woman, and has a bright future ahead of her. We will always have an unbreakable bond. And I am so thankful for my amazing kids, Jared, Christina, Judah, and Jonah...they are all champions, and I love them with all of my heart (and, of course that includes Daisson, and my little angels, Sofia and Olivia). I really am so proud of each of them. I want to send a special thanks to my great staff at CITN...they actually are more like family to me than anything else, and have shown me an unconditional kind of love this year that has simply amazed me. And as I mentioned earlier, the Care Pastors who have remained with the ministry are wonderful beyond words. My meeting with them yesterday was transformative (I love you guys soooooooooooo much!). It goes without saying that I love the CITN community, and believe its bests days are ahead...and the Pastors and Churches that have remained with Now Ministries are a blessing in my life that I thank God for every day. I also want to send a shout-out to all my new FB friends...you all really are awesome! And a special thanks to the reporters and media people who have been so gracious with me and my story in recent days. I even want to thank the people who write the critical and often nasty things about me online...you guys have given my church a lot of free advertising, which has brought us some beautiful new people and a lot of attention...thanks, and keep up the good work! Jesus said to beware when all men speak well of you, and so I thank you for the balance you bring to my life.
ELAH! GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE!
But the angel spoke immediately and authoritatively, saying to them, "Do not be afraid! I am here to announce good news to you...good news of a great and joyful event, and of a new reality! And this good news...this new reality...is for all people everywhere...it is for the entirety of humanity! This very night a Savior has been born in the City of David...a Savior who will perfectly embody the Christ, and will be known as the Lord! If you seek Him you will find Him...and this is what you're to look for: a baby swaddled in a blanket, and lying in a feeding trough for animals!" As soon as the angel made this declaration, the sky above the shepherds' heads lit up, and was filled with a seemingly infinite number of angels who formed a thunderous, mass choir, singing God's praises, and shouting, "GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST PARTS OF THE HEAVENLY REALM...AND IN THE EARTHLY DIMENSION, PEACE...PEACE TO EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE EARTH...AND A REVELATION TO THEM THAT GOD'S WILL TOWARD ALL OF HUMANITY IS ONLY GOOD!" (Luke 2:10-14, Luke In The Now)