Monday, December 31, 2007

Another Fun Pass

This is a phone prank done on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. It too is a "fun pass." Try listening to this mean usher without smiling.

Fun Pass

Try watching these clips and not smiling at some point. You can't do it!

12 Days of Christmas Remix

This Is How We Do It (inspired by Montel Jordan)

Stand By Me (live at Burger King)

The groups is called Straight No Chaser. Does anyone know where I can find a cd?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keeping CHRIST At The Center Of Christmas - Part 5

5 more reasons to celebrate Christmas for WHO Christ is...

21. Christ is our security.
John 10:11 = I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

22. Christ is our access to God.
1 Peter 3:18 = For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

23. Christ is at the place of highest honor.
Philippians 2:9-11 = Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

24. Christ is the center of heavenly worship.
Revelation 5:12 = ...saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"

25. Christ is our soon returning King!
John 14:3 = And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

How do you celebrate Christmas?

More than any other Christmas (or Christmas season) that I can remember, I have thought much this year about how I (and my family celebrate Christmas). I was challenged at the beginning of the month to have an exalted view of Christ, especially at Christmas time. As I reflect back on previous Christmases and on what my focus has been, I'm not sure that Christ has been at the forefront of my mind during the Christmas season. My parents raised me in the church - First Baptist Church of Paw Paw to be exact, so I have known from a young age that Jesus is the reason for the season. I could still sing you a children's song or two that proclaims this. However, even though I have always known the "real Christmas story," I can't say that my thoughts, conversations, affections, and activities have celebrated Christ. I don't say this to discount all of the wonderful Christmas times that I have spent with my family. I treasure these times, and I have greatly enjoyed my time with my family this year. I also enjoy many of the traditions that we have. Every Christmas Eve we eat hodge podge soup at Grandma Wilson's house. We usually watch a few Christmas movies - Elf, Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, etc. On Christmas day we usually go to the movies together. We exchange gifts amongst one another. I am not "anti" any of these things. I am not anti-Santa Claus. I am just really thinking about how I (and my family) can inject more of Christ into all of these activities of the season.

This year, for the first time that I can remember, we went to the Christmas Eve service at our church. I think that this must become a regular thing in our family.

I spent time throughout this month reading the Scriptures that focus upon who Christ is as well as the passages that describe his birth and the events leading up to it.

At our tutoring program's final night (before Christmas break), we watched the "Nativity Story" with the kids. It is a powerful movie. It does a great job in creating a sense of anticipation for the birth of our Messiah.

As a ministry staff this past month we have read about the historical and theological significance of the various symbols of advent. This was very new to me, and is definitely something I want to further research and celebrate in future years.

One thing that I have thought about this Christmas season is how the life of Christ was such a life of sacrifice. Jesus was the ultimate sacrificial gift - He gave His life. I think this is where we got the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas. But I wonder how much sacrifice is involved in the gifts that we give (and credit card debt is not considered sacrificial giving). Is giving gifts to only those that we are related to or have a relationship with what it is all about? Should we instead focus on sacrificial gifts (could be of love and service) to those whom we expect nothing in return from? Isn't that what Jesus encouraged/exhorted us to do when we host a "dinner party?" Maybe our Christmas parties should look more like this? Maybe we should invite those who don't have a family to celebrate with, maybe those who can't afford to buy gifts, maybe those who are going through a tough time? Wouldn't Christ be more exalted if this was how we celebrated Christmas?

Does anyone else have an idea (or ideas) of how we can better exalt and exemplify Christ during the Christmas season? Please share them if you have them. I am definitely learning and looking for ideas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Not About Stuff

This is a very timely message by John Piper that someone forwarded to me. As we all feel the commercialization of Christmas, this video really resonates.

Keeping CHRIST At The Center Of Christmas - Part 4

5 More Reasons to Celebrate Christmas for WHO Christ is...

(16) Christ is the SOURCE of eternal salvation
Hebrews 5:9 = And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation.

(17) Christ is the mediator of a new covenant
Hebrews 9:15 = Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

(18) Christ is the founder and perfecter of our faith
Hebrews 12:2 = looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

(19) Christ is our advocate.
1 John 2:1 = ...But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

(20) Christ is our sanctification.
Hebrews 10:10 = And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Keeping CHRIST at the Center of Christmas - Part 3

5 More Reasons to Celebrate Christmas for WHO Christ is...

11) Christ is the light of the world.
John 8:12 = ...I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

12) Christ has all authority.
Matthew 28:18 = ...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

13) Christ is full of grace & truth.
John 1:14 = And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

14) Christ is the Lamb of God.
John 1:29 = The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

15) Christ is our sufficiency.
John 4:14 = But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Every Life Counts...

Earlier this month a University of Chicago graduate school student was robbed and killed just a few blocks east of where I live. He was originally from the Senegal and his plan was to return to his home country once he had earned his PhD. It is a tragic story and a tragic loss.

At the end of last month a young woman's body was found (about 8 blocks west of where I live). She had been raped and killed and her body had been burned. She was also pregnant. Again, it was a crazy story and sad to think of not only her life, but also the child that was in her womb.

Earlier this fall, a 14 year old 8th Grade student was shot and killed across the street from my condo. (I blogged about this a couple of months back). Everyone said he was a young leader, full of potential. I watched as family and friends mourned his loss.

All three of these situations are tragic. My heart goes out to everyone that knew them and that miss them. However, one thing is glaring about these 3 deaths is the media coverage that was given to each of the losses. I think you can probably guess which of the 3 made national news. I am not trying to juxtapose these tragedies against one another. I believe that each life is just as valuable in God's eyes, and that each loss is just as tragic. Therefore, it is interesting why one story is a "metro brief" on page 21 of the paper, and one is a story on CNN.

A reporter for the Tribune recently did an article on the top two events and how the neighborhood is responding given the dynamic between the neighborhood and the University. You can check it out here...,0,6589395.column

Shortly after that, the Executive Director of Sunshine blogged about it. Here is his perspective...

One of our neighbors left me a message last week saying “Hi Joel, a reporter from the Chicago Tribune would like to visit with us at the ministry center about the recent murders in the community and the rift they evidence.” I knew what she was talking about, we had discussed it at a staff meeting the previous day. The whole thing had me thinking about the parable of the good Samaritan and Micah 6:8. Let me first tell you what happened.The most recent murder in the neighborhood was a tragic scene (as they all are) that occurred midway between our ministry center and my home. Amadou Cisse was a young Senegalese student at the University of Chicago. He was killed by a few young men looking for some money. 3 weeks previously he had successfully defended his dissertation for his PhD, but with one gunshot wound to the chest his brilliant life was brought to an end.People of reputation responded. The police, local politicians, and media (local and national) responded strongly. We have a new police station set up with 24 hour monitoring as a result just a few blocks from here. It was covered nationally and locally. Community bulletins were circulated. Money was raised for the family in Senegal. The case was pursued and the culprits were apprehended. A well attended memorial was held and the doctoral degree awarded posthumously. A good overall response to a serious calamity.What stings about the whole thing, however, is that Mr. Cisse’s murder wasn’t the first one this summer. It was just the first one that “counted”. A few weeks ago the body of Theresa Bunn (21 and pregnant) was found burnt and stuffed in a dumpster 4 blocks from here. A few weeks before that 2 people were shot and killed. A month or so before that a 14 year old young man was murdered a block from the home of one of our staff members. But none of these were students at a prestigious university. None of them bore a reputation. Therefore none of them garnered comparable attention or proactive response.In Luke 10 Jesus tells about a man of no reputation, beaten and left for dead. Those who came along had means to respond but didn’t. Then a Samaritan man (a man of ill-repute!) came along and saw the beaten man as a neighbor worthy of response, worthy of love, worthy of attention. The Good Samaritian responded in a personally costly way to someone no one else wanted to help and in a way that was virtually invisible to the outside world.It is interesting to me that in this story Jesus was not primarily asking his disciples to come up with a crime prevention strategy (there is a place for that and people to do it!) but rather to be Micah 6:8 people. To LOVE MERCY and give it in abundance, especially to those of no reputation, those who are outcasts, those who you never hear about or from. Our neighbors.As we pursue our calling to live out the principles of Micah 6:8 and Jeremiah 29:7 here in the city we needn’t become hardened toward those of reputation who respond vigorously to others of reputation in need. Instead we must thrive at responding to those of no-reputation with loving-kindness and even those of ill-repute with great mercy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Words Of A Young World Changer

Right now one of my roles at Sunshine is coordinating our after school program called Club 2-5-2. It is a 3 day a week tutoring program for 2nd through 5th graders. I tell our students all the time that they are world changers and scholars and we talk about what that means. Today one of our 5th grade students brought me a poem that he had written at school. This is the evidence of a young world changer.

“In My World”

In my world, you got to stay strong
In my world, a lot of things are going on
Killing, murdering, I hear it all the time.
People who do it, they get away by lying
Drinking and smoking, some people think its cool.
That stuff is not really good for you.
Don’t take drugs, that will mess up your life.
Being on the streets, you might lose your life.
This is all I’m sayin…
Get an education or you’ll be on your knees prayin’.

Keeping CHRIST at the center of Christmas - Part 2

Here are 5 more reasons to celebrate Christmas because of who Christ is...

(6) Christ is the head of the body of Christ
Colossians 1:18 = And he is the head of the body, the church.

(7) Christ is the hope of Jews & Gentiles
Romans 15:8-13

(8) Christ is our liberator
Romans 6:1-14

(9) Christ is our way to peace
Romans 5:1 = Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(10) Christ is THE WAY
John 14:6 = Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Keeping CHRIST at the center of Christmas - Part I

This past weekend I was at our camp (Sunshine Cove) for a retreat. The speaker for Saturday was by brother, Aaron Roy. He really (especially in the 2nd message) challenged us to have an exalted view of Christ. In other words, we must see Christ as high and lifted up. We must see Christ in His full splendor and might. This is important especially at Christmas as we celebrate His birth. On the Sunday of the retreat, we visited First Baptist Church of Elkhart where my friend Pete's dad is the pastor. He hit on some of the same points, as the title of his message was "Why Do We Celebrate Christmas?" His first main point was that we celebrate Christmas because of WHO CHRIST IS. I want to elaborate on this point with a 5 part blog, as I give 25 reasons to celebrate Christmas because of who Christ is. So here are 5 to kick this off...

1) Christ is God
John 1:1 = In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2) Christ is preeminent.
Colossians 1:18 = He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.

3) Christ created all things.
Colossians 1:16 = For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

4) Christ is the Wonderful Counselor.
Isaiah 9:6 = For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,...

5) Christ is the divine one.
Isaiah 7:14 = Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us).