Christmas With the Shepherds

Nativity 2019

Greetings in the Name of Jesus!

As we all prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord, our family of ministries and I pray that your hearts will be filled with the “great joy” that the angel declared to the shepherds when he proclaimed the “good news” of the birth of the Messiah that fateful night long ago (Luke 2).

These men—these shepherds—were chosen by God to be His witnesses to the grand spectacle of “a multitude” (read that “thousands”) of angels, packing the sky over the fields surrounding the birthplace of the Great Shepherd, exuberantly proclaiming,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!” (Luke 2:14)

They came from a long lineage of noble shepherds: Abraham, Moses, David—even God Himself (Psalm 23; Psalm 81). Their very lives were a living portrayal of willing self-sacrifice, compassionate suffering, agonizing loss, and wearying labor, and they understood full well what we now know would face the Shepherd-descended-from-shepherds.

What a poetic choice of the Master Artisan! Can you see it? Can you see the delight on the Father’s heart as He bestowed on His image-bearers His priceless gift, the gift of Himself to one day pay the price for His creatures to be restored to their rightful place in His family? Can you hear the awe-filled song of the angels, see the dark sky flooded with the glory of the Lord that shined around them, resonate with the joy of the announcement?

As you and those you will be spending the Christmas-time days and evenings with gather together, remember this: No matter what your relationships have been like up to this point, Jesus came for each and every one of you as if you were already His family!

For those who have experienced loss this year, remember that He knows your pain and aches along with you—He lost friends and family to death and to betrayal.

For those who have experienced newness of life this year, remember that He came to give us life and that abundantly!

For those who are in the midst of uncertainty, remember that He is not just the Suffering Servant, He is also the Conquering King—and you are His!

And, no matter what this last year has been like for you, Emmanuel—“God WITH us”—has been right there with you, laughing with you, crying with you, hoping with you, lamenting with you, praying with you, and both going before you and walking alongside you.

May this Christmas Season be your time of re-anchoring yourself to the One who loved you from the first instant that the universe was spoken into existence, and He will continue to love you for the rest of eternity.

Celebrate—truly rejoice and be grateful! —that, while we were helpless, ungodly sinners who were God’s enemies, He showed His love for us by sending His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. (Romans 5:6, 8, 10; 1 John 4:9)

We pray God’s richest blessings on you all.

Merry Christmas!

In the Love of Christ…


As a Believer, How Am I to View the Enneagram?

This is a question that is coming up in conversations among Christians more and more often over the last few years. Just recently, in a biblical counseling situation, I was told by the counselee.

I did the enneagram test and found out I am a 6, a Loyalist. When I looked at what that means, it really helped my understand myself, understand why I am the way I am. It helped my understand why I battle between strong emotional bonding and loyalty to others; and codependency, anxiety, and low self-image.

As we talked through her self-assessment, it was clear this person has little clear, biblical understanding of not only how we end up with the battles we do, but also what God’s answers and solutions are to those matters.

This blog post in an effort to clarify for this person and many others who ask me, “How am I as a Christian to think about and view the enneagram?”

Instead of reinventing the wheel, if you will, I am reblogging an article by Kevin DeYoung that was posted on The Gospel Coalition’s website on February 1, 2018: Enneagram: The Road Back to You, Or to Somewhere Else?

(While I cannot agree with and support everything The Gospel Coalition publishes, there often are excellent articles written that are worth reading. This is one of those.)

Continue reading


Tired…SO tired…
Hungry…no food or water for hours…
Bleeding…smashed and beaten by so many people so many times for so many hours…
Shamed…spittle dripping from a beard with chunks missing…
Abandoned by my closest friends…
Betrayed by one…
Flesh torn in jagged hunks from my back…
Innocent of any wrong…
Condemned to die…
Rough, jagged timber scraping open wounds…
Labored breathing…
Spikes driven through wrists and feet…
No one to come to my aid…

Hope After Abuse & Betrayal


“I don’t want to hurt anymore!!”pexels-photo-268533.jpeg


The following is by a young woman who has been healing in the gentle and steady redemptive relationships of God’s people.

Dry. Parched. Lifeless.

The wild animals blazed through my delicate branches, stripping me of my bark. The wind came and went and my base toppled over. The blazing sun came out. With my roots exposed my soil dried out and my leaves withered, my branches dried. I was without hope. My pot was cracked. My branches on the ground. I wept. Cried out for help, but no aid came. For days, months, years I laid there. I withdrew inside and lay there. Lifeless.

One day, the Master of the garden came. He saw my broken leaves, my scarred flesh, and my exposed roots. He wept. He then scooped my little, broken body, that was so close to death and planted me by the stream. He nourished my roots, surrounding the soil around my roots with rich food. He propped me upright. Patiently he waited. He continued to tend to my needs, coaxing my mangled and pain-stricken self, to come out of hiding.

Flickers. No longer alone and neglected – hope flickered. Dare I hope? Dare I begin to trust? Time. I need time.

Time is what He gave me. Faithfully tending to my unresponsive arms, roots, and soil.

One day, without realizing it, a bud sprang forth. How? When? Where? Did this truly come from my dead self? The Master of the garden saw this and delighted in my new growth. He continued to care for me. Reviving me gradually with His tender care.

As time went on, new buds and shoots continued to appear. I could hardly recognize myself! I had new life! I had the hope of a future! I could barely believe it!

The Master of the garden saw this and was pleased, there was life in this little tree. But, now that there was life it was the appropriate season to begin shaping and molding. He painfully pruned the branches that were overburdensome and sucking the nutrients away from the parts of me that needed nutrients. My pain was difficult, my trust in the Master wavered. Why would He coax me out of my hiding from the pain and hurt and mend that brokenness, only to hurt me Himself?

Little did I know, He knew better than I and had a plan. As time went on He continued to prune me. I grew and grew. And I no longer feared His shaping tools.

Foreign and new to me, buds formed on my branches. Flowers bloomed and fragrant aromas filled the garden. He was delighted!

Fruit! Fresh, sweet fruit! My once barren branches THRIVED under the Master’s hand. All along He saw the beautiful and majestic tree I was designed to be and the fruit that I would bare!

Crystal C

And, fully in keeping with 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, God is mightly using her to bring this same comfort to others so deeply wounded.

Abuse and betrayal occur in relationships; healing and hope are found in Redemptive Relationships rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Abuse and betrayal are redeemable. After all; God brought redemption into the world through abuse and betrayal.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Picking Through the Rubble

Doug has captured well the dissonance and incoherence of those who rail against the Bible alone as God’s Word to mankind. Well worth the read, I say…

the sanctified muse

image006I was trading e-mails with an old friend the other day when, quite unintentionally, I declared myself to be “the supreme authority on the meaning of Scripture.” Really. That’s what he said.

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