Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


Several hours ago I went to the Christmas Eve Church services at our church. My role is basically an attender at this thing now. Back in Fremont, I started an 11pm Christmas Eve service, which was our family tradition as a kid and my most anticipated service all year. It’s one of my favorite memories from my years there and one of the few things I started that they still do.

Anyway, for over a decade, my normal Christmas Eve consisted of preparing the final details on our service and showing up at like 9pm and finally leaving around 12:30am on Christmas Day. I loved that service and still miss it.. maybe that’s why it’s 12:30am on Christmas Day and I’m still up. I still miss being able to end the service by saying ending a prayer and saying, “Welcome to Christmas Day. God is with us.” Maybe someday I’ll start one here. But for now, our family roles have reversed.

I have the primary job of being Dad on Christmas Eve and have evidently started a new tradition of washing the car and buying the Cinnabon Sweet rolls for the next day. In the meantime, Shannon sings in all the services. This year my boys decided they wanted to go to their respective Sunday School classes for their Christmas shindig there. But, since their mom was singing, we also then all went to the service together to support her and sit as a family.

During the 4pm service, while my boys were in their classes, I read all the Christmas Cards that have been sent to our house. We just put them in a big basket. Shannon reads them as they come when she gets the mail. I wait until the end and read them like a book. It was fun to see old faces and to get caught up on people’s stories. I was so inspired by a friend of Shannon’s who went around the world on a “teaching ship” where she taught high school biology at sea and from port to port. How cool is that?! I also have some friends who took 6 weeks and went and toured the whole North East of the United States on a “home school teaching journey” where they saw all these sights and lived out of an RV… adventure is in the air. They reminded me of these family vacations I used to do as a kid for 2 weeks camping across the country. Shannon and I talked about it and decided that SUMMER 2009 is our goal for a month off and a HUGE road trip with our boys to go camping and sight seeing all around this side of the country. I’m EXCITED. How fun would that be? Better start planning and saving my pennies.

Anyway… when I got to service, I was blown away by the whole experience. What great music and dancing and video and teaching and celebration on Christmas Eve! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The message was about at least 2 things that INSPIRE ME. The first is my favorite Bible topic… it’s POTENTIAL- the fact that God loves to use the undesirable to do the unthinkable. I love that about God. I love that he loves to use the underdog. I think God is inspiring to me because of that part of the Bible. We see it in stories of Mary, Jesus himself, Abraham, Moses, Paul, Matthew, David, Gideon, so many Bible characters. It’s a major theme of the Scripture.

The second is something I’ve been stewing on for a while. It’s the fact that the saddest part about living disconnected from God is not an “eternity without him”, it’s a present without him. Our pastor talked about it as missing the “wow” of life with God. That’s a bummer. That’s a bigger bummer than eternity without him. Obviously eternity is longer, but how sad is it to have 80 years on this planet and to spend them without Jesus? That was his message anyway. It was not, “Don’t follow me and you’ll rot in hell.” It was, follow me so you don’t miss the WOW of a life lived with me. Yes, there is a post death implication to the present decisions. But it’s the present ones that are more compelling to me and was the essence of Jesus’ message. Incidentally, for fun, if you’re looking for proof of this as a value, do a word study on the word “today” or “this day” (it’s the same Hebrew word in both cases) in the book of Deuteronomy. It’s used there more than any other book in the entire Bible. If you read all 74 verses in the ESV… you’ll see why Jesus quoted Deuteronomy more than any other book. It’s all about the call to a nation of Israel to embrace the covenant as a value for them TODAY… not a contract with God and their ancestors… not something for their children. NO, it’s for them today, and then and only then does the past have purpose and tomorrow have hope. Today is the day of salvation… because it is about TODAY.

I hope and pray that he uses all those who feel useless and that they embrace him Today….. that is the JOY of the gospel… that is the message of Christmas. That’s how I need to live everyday I have… embracing the journey and loving the process of a life lived connected to and enjoying the chasing of the God of all Wonder. That is a life of true adventure that will lead me through amazing times of serving, blessing, trial, and love. That is the life I yearn for and that Jesus embodies.


  1. Brian, I love your collage. It’s really beautiful. Great summation of the point of the service, too.

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