14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.-Isaiah 7:14
If the hope truth and love of the Christmas story is something that should be lived out every day, something that should be woven into who we are as believers then there is a big question we need to ask ourselves. Are we willing to leave ourselves behind to embrace a life with Christ following the Holy Spirit? In Matthew 16:24 it says 24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus asks us to put aside our own agendas to live out the fullness of Christmas. Now setting our selves aside and putting everything we have into a life following Christ seems like a hard and at times unattainable goal, but that is the promise and the hope we have in the Christmas story. In the account of the Christmas story in the book of Luke Angels appear to the Shepherds and the first thing they say is “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy THAT WILL BE FOR ALL PEOPLE” (Luke 2:10- My own emphasis added) The angles prompted the shepherd to go with out fear. This would mean leaving behind everything that defined then (their flock) and see the good news that had come. One of the best parts of this story is in Verse 14 is when a multitude of heavenly hosts appears praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14) These hosts came assuring the promise of God through Christ Jesus. If we are to fall in love with the Christmas Story, if we are to take it to heart and live it out each day we need to praise God for His promises. Then apply His lesson every hour of every day. Following the Holy Spirit, and trusting God living in the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23) that we gain by His Spirit. Only then we will be living and loving the Christmas Story.
Take some time to read the account of the Christmas story in the book of Luke
This Christmas season God has put it on my heart to really think and wonder about the Christmas story. About how it truly is an incredible story with centuries of prophesies leading to the day that would set into motion the redemption of all creation. So for our devotions for this month I want to take some time and pose a question and a challenge. What would it look like if we truly fell in love with the Christmas story? If we focused on the beauty, the truth, the hope and the peace found in the Christmas story? I want you to look at an account of the Christmas story from scripture to read. This first one will be from Matthew 1:18-25 and Matthew 2:1-13. I would encourage you to find some time to sit with the story, to read to pray, and to meditate on how amazing it is that our Father sent his Son to be our redemption in the midst of a broken world full of Chaos. No matter what we’ve done what we will do, or how much we think we don’t deserve it God sent a Savior for us. The tipping point was and is the Christmas story. I also encourage you to read the story from a different lens. Read it from a point of view of this being a new story try and remove all of the predispositions you have of the Christmas story and read it with fresh eyes, and a open heart.
The Reading is out of Matthew Sections of Chapter 1 and all of Chapter two I am posting everything is the ESV version of the bible. Feel free to read form your own bible in whatever translation you prefer.
The Birth of Jesus Christ
18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
The Visit of the Wise Men
1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.8And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.11And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
The Flight to Egypt
13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Herod Kills the Children
16Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
The Return to Nazareth
19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene
Well folks, the Kickstarter is going well, and I am looking forward to starting work on the new record in the next couple weeks. I wanted to post the link of the Kickstarter for those of you who wish to contribute. I also wanted to share a video of an instrumental track I wrote called “A Way Back Home” . There has been a lot of buzz about the guy who has raise forty some thousand dollars to make potato salad, so I thought I would put something on Kickstarter that is a little better than Kickstarter potato Salad. I will be giving a final version of this song to all of my backers on Kickstarter. Enjoy.
(Coming out of the song “Hear My Worship”)
“Here as I worship You”….. Thats just it, right here right now. Worship is always the here and the now, in hope of the future, because of the past; when God gave us His grace. Our worship is living our lives in pursuit of God’s will, in the pursuit of Gods call on each one of us. It’s funny I have never been one of those people with stories about hearing God’s voice. About Him leading me to something in a super natural way. Until recently when I realized that Gods voice is not something I am going to necessarily hear out loud. The clouds may never open up and angles come pouring out blowing trumpets and God telling me to move to some far off land and leave everything behind. But if I am living a life of worship being persistent in learning who Jesus is, and what He asks of us I will hear Gods voice almost every day.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”.
You want to hear God’s voice? You want to know God’s will for your life? Its right here in the bible one of our major values here at LifeBridge is to be rooted in scripture and that’s our value because to find God’s call to find our purpose, and to live a lifestyle of worship through acts of praise we have to be rooted in and committed to God’s word. One of the intentional acts of praise we take part in every week is communion the act of coming together and sharing in a meal of sorts as a church family, as God’s word has asked us to do.
This has been quite a crazy year so far, just wanted to give you a few updates. The Generation is still playing a little our drummer Jesse has decided to pursue music as a full time gig, and was on tour opening for Matchbox 20 and The Googoodolls, for a while, and will now soon being going back out on tour opening for the band Parachute. Be praying for him this is a great opportunity and we are pumped for what this means for him. As for me Work on the new album is going very slow, I have taken a position as the interim worship pastor for LifeBridge’s Johnstown Milliken campus, and I am loving it! its a great community with a very unique style of praise. That being said as things settle down i should be kick the recording process back up, and will be starting a kick starter hopefully at the end of August. Keep and eye out for more updates, and dates for shows on the calendar.
A Good friend of mine is a great poet and a huge Hip Hop Head, and does great spoken word pieces. This is the short version of his testimony in poetry fashion check it out!!
As I have gone through my life I have never been a person, who thought they “needed” a mentor. My life has been one of scattered of pride, bitterness, and self-centeredness. All things that could have been helped if I had charged someone with the idea that they could call me out, they could hand me a good piece of humble pie, which is what inevitably God has done (Not to say I am cured of all those things, they will be a life long journey of change). The more and more I look back on my life I realized I have had several mentors of different kinds but not one specific person, who I could unpack the things of life with, transition, pain, large decisions. I have put little things out there to people, but not put my full trust in any person. Now you can look at it, as people will always let you down, which is probably truer than some people would like to admit, but true mentorship aligned with Christ’s message and goal is the only way I think we can truly live the fulfilled life, we were created to live.
The mission of Christ was to pour into people, so they could be filled up, and go out and pour into others bringing glory to His Kingdom. Another more recent discovery about my self is that one of the ways I feel most alive is in teaching, and in guiding people through the lessons Christ has taught me over my twenty-four years of life, which further more made me realize the need for me to get a mentor of my own. Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another man.” We were made to be in community, and we were made to come along side one another, and equip them to come along side other people. I recently attended a leader ship conference in which one of the speakers gave us two questions to ask our selves everyday “who did I add value to today?”, and “how did I add value to them?” What would our work places, friend groups, volunteer groups, Churches, and teams look like, if everyone asked him or herself these two questions everyday and acted upon them?
But if we are not equipped to come along side others, we can never expect to have a life of adding value to others, which takes us back to my initial point, find a mentor, find a person who can do life with you, and look at your life from an outside perspective. Then when you are ready and then be that person for someone else. I pray that we have a world full of mentors, and people who are truly seeking to learn from them, so that one day they too can equip the next generation.