Advent 4: PEACE

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

If you’re a Christmas carol connoisseur, you’ll recognize this verse from a popular one: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. In the song, the line is actually:

Peace on the earth, goodwill to men. From heaven’s all gracious King!

Because of Jesus, we have peace – peace with God, peace in God, and peace with each other. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and because of His selfless sacrifice, we can have a relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He fills us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

We can have confidence and assurance that whatever comes our way, we can be at peace because of who God is and what He says He’ll do. It isn’t a peace we need to go searching for, but it’s a peace that’s within us thanks to Jesus.

Uneasiness, trials, tribulation, and anything else we face has nothing on us! The Bible says that nothing (not even death) can separate us from the love of God. Jesus is proof of that because He was sent by God to the place we’d least expect Him… here with us. So have peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7) this week as you can rest assured in the love that came on Christmas day…

Jesus.

Reflection Song: God Our King

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Advent 3: JOY

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” – Luke 1:46-47

Parking for Christmas shopping. Trying to pick out the right gifts. Standing on line to checkout.

Some things during this season (or other times) just don’t make us so happy. But Christmas isn’t about being happy. It says in Luke 2:10 that the angel brought good news of great joy that Jesus is born! So what’s the deal with joy?

Happiness could be more of a feeling or an emotion. It’s temporary and mostly momentary. But joy is more of a state or attitude of the heart. It’s a bit deeper. We can be happy and grateful for who Jesus is but because of what Jesus did, we are filled with great joy inside and out. Knowing Jesus brings us joy, so you could even say that joy is happiness in Christ.

The fact that Jesus lives in us (and us in Him) should bring us great joy because not only did Christ arrive in Bethlehem but His Spirit resides in us as well. What an amazing truth and honor! Emmanuel is God with us, and Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. That’s the kind of power that doesn’t just make us feel happy, but causes us to live out lives of joy… joy that is an outcome of a humble baby changing everything. A baby who is our Savior.

If you’re looking for joy this week, spend more time with God & get to know Him more. The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord! So maybe you need to allot more time for Him. Or if you’re finding it hard to be joyful because of difficult times, give them up! James said to consider it joy when we face trials. Having faith and trusting in God fills us with joy and peace. We’re given so many reasons and so many opportunities for joy.

So be more than happy or “merry”. Be joyful so that the world would see the true source of our joy: Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Messiah!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!”

Reflection Song: Only You

Advent 2: LOVE

The holiday season is known to some as the “Season of Giving” because there are so many opportunities to give to those who are less fortunate. Clothing drives, food drives, toy drives, you name it. There’s always a way to help make someone else’s Christmas more memorable.

It reminds me of 1 John 4:8 which says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Hopefully during this Christmas season, you aren’t kind or generous for the sole purpose of it being Christmastime, but because inside you is love. This stems from the One who loved us first, our great & mighty God. A couple of verses later says just that: that it isn’t us loving God but because He loved us that He sent Jesus Christ. (1 John 4:10)

In fact, O Holy Night touches upon this as well… “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.” Wow!

It’s amazing that not only has God shown love, but He IS love!

So this Christmas, let’s remember that God’s perfect love in the form of His one & only son Jesus is born as a sign in your life. Not because of our love but because of His great & massive love. As we get to know God more through Jesus Christ, let’s spread that love we get to experience firsthand. Let’s be filled with gladness from that fact as we continue to prepare & anticipate His birth. Keep trusting in Him and love others just as He loves us.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.1 John 4:16

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

Advent 1: HOPE

With Christmas on the way, have you thought about what you hope for?

Hope is an interesting topic because it gets tossed around a lot, as we hear it on a regular basis in TV shows & movies (“We have hope… Rebellions are built on hope!”) or even our daily conversations (“I hope they have that game in stock at Best Buy!”). But the hope we focus on during the Advent season is a little more.

As Pastor John Piper has once said, hope is a desire for something good in the future, the thing in the future that we desire, and the basis or reason for thinking that our desire may indeed be fulfilled. There’s great anticipation for this kind of hope, the same anticipation we should have for Jesus on Christmas.

We can hope for a specific gift on December 25. We can hope that we get accepted into the school of our choice. We can hope for a lot of things to happen for us. But true hope is waiting for something good to happen in the future, and actually expecting it to happen with confidence.

It’s the kind of confidence that aligns hope with faith. What I mean is that true biblical hope is founded in God because we can have that kind of assurance, confidence, and faith in things to happen for our good. (Romans 8:28)

What do you hope for?

As we wait during Advent, I want to challenge you not to wait mindlessly but with intention. We have hope in God, which means we can hope for big things from the God who is who He says He is and from our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, the hope of glory! So let’s put our hope in Him!

Reflection Song: Christ Is

Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

So often in life we say, “thanks”. We instinctively reflex and it comes out, or we say it begrudgingly, or sometimes (sometimes) we really mean it. But just as many of us grew up reading, the Bible gives us one really good reason to be thankful:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…”Psalm 107:1-2

During Thanksgiving time, it’s easy to “give thanks”. Going around the dinner table sharing what you’re thankful for, or going to church and giving a little more for offering during Thanksgiving. I mean, what’s not to be thankful for?

Plenty, actually!

We can count our blessings, be grateful for all the stuff we own, or the people we know, but what about the difficult situations? What about the difficult people? For some of us, what about that difficult job, or that difficult family member? Are you still thankful?

I was reminded of the story of the Israelites fleeing from Pharaoh’s men in Egypt. There was no guarantee of safety. There was an army chasing after them. It seemed like the worst day in the world. How can they give thanks? How can they be grateful?

We all have storms in life. We go through things where it feels like there’s no hope. But just as the Israelites did, we need to trust God even in the rockiest moments. And maybe you’ve had that kind of moment already where you can look back and realize that God was working on a solution for you, where God pulled you to safety so that you too would have a story to share. …Maybe you’re going through that moment even now. But that shouldn’t stop us from praising the Lord or offering a heart of thanksgiving.

It’s easy to be thankful for the great & fluffy things. But look at the trials & storms around you. Can you be more grateful for these as well, for how God is using them and using you to give you a story of His faithfulness? I know I need to work on this as well! So won’t you join me this Thanksgiving and shift your perspective a little bit so that we ask God for His clarity in order to see that indeed He is always good & that His love endures forever. Let’s truly give thanks for everything with a grateful heart…

Reflection Song: All To You

Fourth of July Giveaway!

With July 4th just around the corner, what better way to celebrate freedom than with some freebies?

Since our EP God Our King recently released, we want to give some copies away next week to celebrate. Entering is super easy and we’ll have 3 winners!

Friends, all you have to do is simply subscribe to our monthly mailing list… That’s it! If you’re already subscribed, then you’re in it to win it. You have until July 4th, 11:59pm EST to sign up. Winners will be contacted by e-mail on Monday, July 6th and will be mailed a physical copy of the CD.

Easter Faithfulness

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

Today we rejoice and celebrate for our Lord Jesus is risen from the dead and is victorious over sin & over death. He has overcome the grave and just as He lives, we live – lives that are lived for Him. Just as God reminds us of His faithfulness on this day, we too live lives that are faithful to Him. For because of the cross where Jesus died for our sins, we are made new, made alive to God, and dead to sin.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Happy Easter, everyone!

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Goodness (A Good Friday Blog)

Why is it called Good Friday if Jesus suffered and was crucified?

“Good” in this sense can also mean “Holy”, which is why you may also hear it as “Holy Friday”. And goodness in Greek, agathosune, can be defined as an uprightness of heart and life (for the benefit of others). So when we think of today and all that happens, we see that Jesus lived a life and died a death that shows this kind of holiness in action.

We could not have Easter without Good Friday (because death is needed before resurrection) and, likewise, we could not have Good Friday without Easter (because His story doesn’t end with tragedy). So when we take a step back and look at this day as a whole, we see the significance and necessity – that Jesus, with the love of God, was sent to the earth in order to take our sins to the cross, suffer, and die. We could take James 1:17 quite literally when it says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” Jesus Christ was the perfect gift and the perfect sign of love.

All the way to His death, Jesus was humble and obedient. He exemplified this holiness, this goodness, this agathosune, for all to see. He was selfless. And as we prepare ourselves to be the same, especially today, we look to the cross where Jesus died for our sins. In fact, 1 John 2:2 says that as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world!

So even though Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) is right around the corner, let’s pause for a moment today to contemplate the cross. Jesus, the perfecter of faith, endured the cross and scorned its shame (Hebrews 12:2). It’s a suffering and death we deserve but He bears it all for us, even descending into hell before raising up from the dead.

What an amazing sacrifice made for us today! It always amazes me when I think about the meaningfulness and symbolism of this day. And even though it would be easy to see today in terms of tragedy, suffering, death, and all-around horribleness, we know that leading up to Resurrection Sunday it really is a Good Friday.

Reflection Song: Here I Stand


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 1: Dirty Foreheads (An Ash Wednesday Blog)

“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:9

…a verse that we often hear on this day to remind us that we came from dust and will return to dust. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the day where we mark our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. It also marks the beginning of the 40 days of fasting many of us tackle each year – from junk food, to shopping, to the internet, to games… we usually fast something to imitate Jesus in the desert.

And though Ash Wednesday isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, we follow this tradition to reflect and prepare for Easter. You may or may not be attending a church service for it but as you think about the countless number of dirty foreheads going around the world today, consider the significance and meaning of it. In the shape of a cross, some may leave it on for a moment, and some may even leave it on all day as a public profession of faith.

And soon (about 40 days), we’ll contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Let today be a reminder of that as you see the foreheads around you. We were once dirty but made clean because of Jesus, continually being made more like Him. And during this Lenten journey we will post weekly thoughts like last year so that we can prepare the way of the Lord together for Easter.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Perfect Love (A Valentine’s Day Blog)

The other day at our church small group, a few of us were talking about the unfortunate lack of communication these days and how that’s impacted our signs of affection. It’s gotten to the point where we aren’t sure what “I like you” means anymore because some feel the need to differentiate “I like you” with “I like like you”! That’s some real emphasis there!

With Valentine’s Day so imminent, those who have a date may be getting ready for whatever’s planned – but those who don’t may be wondering “does he/she like like me?”, much like the classic “he loves me / he loves me not” flower petal plucking…

But I think it’s great that Valentine’s Day lands on a Saturday this year because the following day is Sunday, the day we gather together to worship the One who truly loves us. And in case you aren’t sure how much God loves you, let’s take a look at the very famous verse, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

You see, God showed His love for us on the cross with His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. There’s no doubt about it after reading that verse that it’s because of God’s perfect love. And in case you need that extra emphasis or clarification, take a closer look: “For God so loved the world…” – that’s like saying, “For God loved loved the world”! That’s quite some love! It’s the same perfect love that casts out fear and insecurity (1 John 4:18)… the perfect love that helps heal & cure… perfect love that we are made aware of and get to experience every day.

So whether you’ve got plans or you’ve got plans to stay at home, God so loves you… in fact, God is love and His perfect love is unconditional, unmatched, and unmeasurable.

Reflection Song: One Thing Remains