Monday, December 14, 2015


One of the extraordinary opportunities of the Christmas season is to engage in public worship and witness through the playing and singing of Christmas Carols.  Have you ever thought of Christmas Carolling in that way - as public worship and witness?  Look closely at the words of the well known carol 'Hark The Herald Angel Sing':

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!

This carol begins with words of worship!

Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

This carol then gives witness to what Christ has done.

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

This carol ends with worship.

As expressed at the beginning of this carol, “Light and life to all He brings” is the real hope of the Christmas message that witnesses to the gift of ETERNAL LIFE found in Jesus Christ both in the present and future.  Eternal life starts today and keeps on giving as we move from this life into the life that is to come.  Jesus was born for no other reason than to break the curse of sin and death and restore life to humankind!  Jesus himself affirmed this in John 10:10…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

This is also the message that Jesus gave the woman at the well as He journeyed through Samaria.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:10-14)

The water in this encounter provides a powerful metaphor for the “gift of God” Jesus spoke of, as we all understand what it means to thirst and we all experience the continual need to quench that thirst.  Drinking water is not a one off action but a continual reality as long as we live.  If you don’t drink, you die!

The woman came to the well to draw water that gave her life for a moment.

Similarly, we receive and give gifts at Christmas that bring temporary joy.  We exchange a form of hope that does little to change the trajectory of a person’s life.

I’m not for a moment wanting to devalue the giving of Christmas gifts, but to remind us that we have something so much greater to give at Christmas time!  I love to give my children gifts, I love the joy we bring to underprivileged people in our community through our Christmas cheer giving, and I love the global impact we can have through giving the ‘gifts that keep on giving’ through Just Salvos. 


Jesus came to the well and offered water that gave the woman life for eternity.

Therefore, we can receive and give a gift this Christmas that brings eternal joy.  We can exchange a form of hope that can radically transform a person’s life.

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.”  Jesus offers a gift that keeps on giving, that is, the gift of ETERNAL LIFE!

While I enjoy and engage in many of our cultural expressions of Christmas, I grow increasingly frustrated by our consumer expectations of Christmas that create an endless pursuit of something that ultimately leaves us unsatisfied.  In fact, if we are honest, often our attempts to have and give a “good Christmas” leaves most of us exhausted, some with a credit card debt, many  with a few extra kilograms that require a New Year’s resolution to lose, and others with rekindled family tensions!  I’m not sure that is the gift of Christmas that Christ intended. 

Do you look for LIFE through the scourge of endless spending in the commercialism of Christmas?  Or, will you find LIFE through the source of endless supply in the Christ of Christmas?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


What do you consider to be worst kind of evil or sin in our world?

Each one of us tends to grade sin through a set of moral lenses that are coloured by our world view or faith perspective.  Even those of us with a biblical world view who understand that we “are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God” would not consider ourselves as sinful as some of those really evil people out there!  You might say that our sin has a little ‘s’ as compared to others whose sin has a big ‘S’.

Yet, how does one grade sin before a righteous God who is completely without sin – big ‘S’ and small ‘s’?  Whatever scale we may use to rank our own righteousness only serves to expose the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God that cannot be measured or moved by our standards.

The unpopular truth is that our own self-righteousness does nothing to resolve the issue of sin in the world because it is the fallen nature of our humanity that is the source of the very thing we are trying to resolve.  No moral code, no government legislation, no humanistic values can deal with the issue of sin in the world.

The Apostle Paul addressed the issue of sin in his letter to the Roman church.  He teaches us through his letter two important truths that should reframe the way we view sin:

1.  The origin of sin came through the disobedience of one man bringing condemnation and death for all humankind.
2.   The cure for sin came through the obedience of one man bringing justification and life  for all humankind.

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)

The curse of sin was broken through the gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS!

The good news and hope of Christmas is that this was not a one off gift for one time for a select group of people, but a gift that keeps on giving to all people for all time.

This gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS was given to Joseph not because of his righteousness, which would have led him to quietly divorce Mary as not to expose her to public disgrace (Matthew 1:19).  However, God’s righteousness required Joseph’s obedience:  “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a soon, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

This gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS was given to Mary not because of her righteousness, as she was a virgin pledged to be married but found to be pregnant (Luke 1:27).  However, God’s righteous found her to be highly favoured and also required her obedience:  “Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favour with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:30-33).

The gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS was granted to Joseph and Mary through the power of Holy Spirit who overshadowed their inadequacies and gifted them with the very presence of God through a son named Jesus Christ.

This same gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS continues to give today as His presence remains with us through the gift of HOLY SPIRIT.

Therefore, Paul’s message resonates with us today as clearly as when it was written:

“…how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

The gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS is a gift of grace…
The gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS is a gift of life…
The gift of RIGHTEOUSNESS conquers the power of sin…

We are made righteous before a holy God because of the obedience of one man named Jesus Christ!  Will you receive and share this gift of Jesus who keeps on giving this Christmas?