My Favorite Christmas Songs on Video

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I trust everyone had as wonderful a time with family and friends as I did this Thanksgiving. We are now in the midst of the Christmas season. Every holiday season brings its own unique memories.  I remember my first white Christmas in the 1980’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I am kind of strange because I have always loved the cold and dark. I remember as a teenager, my parents picking me up from my after school job and going out to eat at Furr’s cafeteria at the Farm Shopping center at 51st and Sheridan. It would be dark by 5:30 or so, and afterwards we would go shopping, and the shopping center, with its Christmas decorations and dark, cool, atmosphere gave me a calm, tranquil feeling.  I remember while living in Fort Worth, for a while I worked at UPS form 3 to 8 in the morning and had a daytime delivery job on top of my preaching and giving Bible studies.  One Christmas season, between both jobs I was working from 2am to 6:30 pm most days. Finally on my last day before going home for Christmas, I finished my last delivery and then ducked into a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant to grab a bite. This again may sound funny, but it was so nice to just relax after a few weeks of working 16 hours a day, and enjoy a meal by myself before driving home for Christmas. I just sat there and enjoyed my meal thinking about how happy I was to have friends and family during the holidays, and after 16 hour works days, some money to enjoy it all. I have no clue why that memory sticks out in my mind and brings me such warm fuzzies but it does. Those work days about killed me at the time, but now I look back with nothing but fond memories. I remember playing games with my nieces, watching football with my parents, and running all over the place with my sister and brother-in-law.

 

Now that I am in Florida I enjoy a different kind of holiday season. To be honest, I miss the cold weather this time of year. It still gets dark early, I still get to be with my family as each year makes new memories to be treasured forever.  The combination of Christmas lights on palm trees still takes a little getting used to.  Christmas music is always one of my favorite things about Christmas. Each song is associated with its own memory and time. I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas songs with you. Here they are on video. Just click on each song to enjoy!

 

10. Some Day at Christmas, by Stevie Wonder

 

 9. Do They know it’s Christmas, by Band Aid

 

8.  Mary Did You Know, by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd

 

7. Christmas Cannon, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

When I was out working my 16 hour days in Texas during Christmas time this song was played a lot on my car radio. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra became a favorite of mine and I have been to two of their concerts.  I have all of their CDs I think.

 

6.  Oh Holy Night, by Evie Tornquist

Evie was one of my favorite singers back in the ‘70s when I first got into contemporary Christian music and this album was a favorite of mine.

 

5. So This is Christmas, by John Lennon

 

4. If I get Home on Christmas Day, by Elvis (Not to be confused with “I’ll be Home for Christmas”)

 In 1979 my family and I went to Brownsville, Texas for Christmas. We hit an ice storm on our way back home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. We averaged 13 MPH on our way home on the ice. We picked up a service man hitchhiking and took him from San Antonio to Austin. We played the Elvis Christmas tape in our car over and over and this song always reminds me of that Christmas.

 

3. Christmas in Dixie, by Alabama

 

2.  Sweet Little Jesus Boy, by Casting Crowns.

These words are so true.

 

1. Little Drummer Boy, by David Bowie and Bing Crosby  

 

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Season!

 

You May find studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Praise God!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. Glad to have my parents with me today. Here my mother and I are at the Pier in St.Petersburg.

I just wanted to share some thoughts from the devotional book “Amazing Grace” by Ellen White as we celebrate Thanksgiving day.

     I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel. Isaiah 63:7. 
     When a sense of the loving-kindness of God is constantly refreshing the soul, it will be revealed in the countenance by an expression of peace and joy. It will be manifest in the words and works. And the generous, holy Spirit of Christ, working upon the heart, will yield in the life a converting influence upon others. . . .  {AG 325.2} 
     Have we not reason to talk of God’s goodness and to tell of His power? When friends are kind to us we esteem it a privilege to thank them for their kindness. How much more should we count it a joy to return thanks to the Friend who has given us every good and perfect gift. Then let us, in every church, cultivate thanksgiving to God. Let us educate our lips to praise God in the family circle. . . . Let our gifts and offerings declare our gratitude for the favors we daily receive. In everything we should show forth the joy of the Lord. . . .  {AG 325.3} 
     David declares, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1, 2). God’s goodness in hearing and answering prayer places us under heavy obligation to express our thanksgiving for the favors bestowed upon us. We should praise God much more than we do. The blessings received in answer to prayer should be promptly acknowledged. . . .  {AG 325.4}
     We grieve the Spirit of Christ by our complaints and murmurings and repinings. We should not dishonor God by the mournful relation of trials that appear grievous. All trials that are received as educators will produce joy. The whole religious life will be uplifting, elevating, ennobling, fragrant with good words and works.  {AG 325.5} 
     Let the peace of God reign in your soul. Then you will have strength to bear all suffering, and you will rejoice that you have grace to endure. Praise the Lord; talk of His goodness; tell of His power. Sweeten the atmosphere that surrounds your soul. . . . Praise with heart and soul and voice, Him who is the health of your countenance, your Saviour, and your God.

The Gospel Vs. Legalism

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The Gospel Versus Legalism 

 

 

Legalism: We make sacrifices to obtain God’s love.

 

The Gospel:  God provided a sacrifice to obtain OUR love.    Romans 5:10-12:  “ For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” In pagan religions the sacrifice enables the god to love the humans, while in Christianity the cross enables the humans to love their God.

 

Legalism: We keep the commandments in order to be saved.

 

The Gospel: We keep the commandments because we love Jesus.  John  14:15:  “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

 

Legalism: We want to get sin out of our lives because of the investigative judgment.

 

The Gospel: We want to get sin out of our lives because sin crucifies Jesus.  Isaiah  53:4-6:  “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

 

Legalism: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He is coming soon.

 

The Gospel: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He loves us. 1 John 4:19:  “We love him, because he first loved us.”

 

Legalism: Good behavior is motivated by a hope of reward or fear of punishment.

 

The Gospel: Good behavior is motivated by our love for Jesus regardless of consequences.  2 Corinthians 5:14:  “For the love of Christ constraineth us.”

 

 

Legalism: God’s grace is a response to our faith.

 

The Gospel: Our faith is a response to God’s grace. Ephesians 2 :8-9:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

 

Legalism:   Me plus Christ.

 

The Gospel:  NOT I, BUT CHRIST.   Galatians 2:20:  “ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet NOT I, BUT CHRIST  liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

Legalism: Self- centered. Obedience according to my own standards, in my own power, for my own glory.

 

The Gospel: God- centered. Obedience according to God’s standards, in His power for His glory. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11

 

 

Legalism: All about pride and rewards.

 

The Gospel: All about love and humility.

 

 

 

Galatians 5:4-6  (The Message)  “I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

Read how the gospel message in the three angels message destroys the legalism of Babylon.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

So, Um, Is The Second Coming Still On?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As Seventh-day Adventists celebrate the 150th anniversary of our name, one important question comes to mind concerning our name. The Advent part pertaining to the second coming. Is the second coming still on? Are we still planning on it? Is it still a part of who we are?

 

Growing up a Seventh-day Adventist I remember hearing people talking about how Jesus was surely coming in the next five years. We thought for sure the oil crisis in the 70’s was the end of the world. I still remember looking at the form the Tulsa Roughnecks Soccer team sent me when I was a teen, asking me to renew my season tickets for the 1980 season. You are going to laugh at me, but I stared at that form in disbelief that I actually saw the year 1980 in print. There is no way the world will last that long I thought. Well that was 30 years ago and we are in a totally new century. So what happened to the second coming? Is it still on?

 

In the mid ‘80s I joined a new Adventist church in the suburbs of Tulsa. I had just started dating a girl who went to that church so I  switched from the central Adventist church in Tulsa to her church. We just started dating when she dumped me. Oh well, I still stayed at this new church for the simple reason that I did not want people to think I changed churches just for her. Besides, this church seemed to really be on fire. The weekly prayer meetings were very spiritual, and everyone was praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to prepare them for the second coming. We had about as many people attending prayer meeting that attended our Sabbath Worship services. We were sure Jesus was coming soon and we were getting ready. Then something sad happened. People stopped coming to prayer meeting. Some decided “Growing Pains” was just too funny of a show to miss for prayer meeting. People stopped coming to church all together. This was not suppose to happen! Discouraged, I asked God why He did not come back when our church was at its spiritual peak, when we had it all together. He waited too long and now look what happened. I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me why Jesus did not return when the church was on top of its game. Our church was on a spiritual roller coaster. Jesus is not coming back for a church on a spiritual roller coaster. He is not coming back for a people who walk with him off and on. A groom does not want to marry a bride who’s love and devotion goes in cycles. Neither does Jesus. Enoch walked with God many years before being translated. God will come back for a church who will consistently walk with Him year after year after year, and not on some roller coaster. The church is a woman. For centuries God’s church has loved to flirt with Him, but it also loves to flirt with the world. God’s church likes to date Jesus, but it also likes to date other things too. Jesus is not returning for a date, He is returning for a wedding. When God’s church decides to stop dating and flirting with Jesus and decides to get married He will return.

 

During this same time period our church in suburban Tulsa was also asking the Holy Spirit to get sin out of our lives so we could be ready for Jesus to come. We did not, or at least at the time I did not realize how legalistic that was. Jesus is not coming back for a legalistic group who get their act together so they can have some great reward like heaven. Jesus is coming back for a people who love Him because He first loved them. Today I ask the Holy Spirit to remove sin from my life, not because Jesus is coming back but because my sin breaks God’s heart. I do not want to break His heart anymore, regardless if He is coming back tomorrow or a hundred years from now.

 

Now that I am older I don’t hear people talking about Jesus coming back in the next five years. So is the whole thing off? One of Satan’s best weapons are over zealous religious fanatics. They tell people Jesus is coming back during a certain time table, and then when their “prophecy” fails, people then doubt that Jesus is coming back at all. However this is all Satan’s plan. To get us to give up right before it happens. Concentration camp survivors say they survived because they never set a date for their rescue. Some wanted to be rescued by Christmas, and then when that came and went, they wanted rescued by Easter, and then when Easter came when went they gave up hope. Others just knew that they would be rescued some day and they survived. As Seventh-day Adventists we must believe Jesus is returning, without setting dates. Some have gone to the other extreme now and don’t even preach the second coming at all. They preach social sermons which they find more practical in everyday living. While we must be practical we must also realize God formed our church 150 years ago for a specific reason. If we are just going to preach social sermons like the ones you can hear in any church or denomination, you must ask yourself why we even bother existing if we have no message to offer other than what the other denominations are preaching. Are we embarrassed by our message? I am sure the disciples were embambarrassed when Jesus was crucified, but there was no reason for them to be. Are we afraid people will not believe our message, so instead we just preach things we know the world will accept? If so, shame on us! We are doing our Savior and neighbor no justice by hiding our special message.

 

 There is no reason to water down our message. Several years ago I was leading out in a youth small group study with another family in my neighborhood. One Sabbath afternoon when it was time for our study, we received an invitation to a youth meeting at our church. There was to be a lot of contemporary music for the kids. I thought, why not? Lets skip our Bible study this week and go to this contemporary concert and show the kids that we have fun too. After the concert I asked one of the kids how they liked the concert, hoping they thought it was a lot of fun and that our church was really with it. This young person, about 13 years old at the time, looked at me with disappointment in their eyes and said, “I wish we would have had the Bible study instead.” People, there are kids out there starving for our gospel message! Why disappoint them by feeding them what the world is feeding them? Furthermore what is the point of a church that is just like the world? I am not saying all contemporary music is wrong and we should never offer that. I am saying let’s offer more than just that. And if the church only feeds people what is in the world then why does the church even bother existing? Have we given up on the second coming and decided to just join the world and be a social club with good morals? How legalistic is that!

 

The Seventh-day Adventist church has a message that will more than prepare people to live nice little lives in this world. We have a gospel that will prepare people for the world to come! We must let everyone know the second coming is still on! There are twice as many prophecies about the second coming than there were about Jesus’ first advent. He came the first time, so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is coming the second time. Jesus warns against setting times for His return when He tells us, “ in the hour you think not, the Son of man cometh.” Satan has been using religious fanatics for years to get us all excited and then disappointed that He has not returned. Satan wants us to give up and think Jesus is not returning at all. There is great danger in what I was always hearing growing up, about Jesus coming in the next five years, because it does two things, it makes you give up hope when He does not return in those five years and it also makes you think you have five years to prepare. One day we won’t have five years to prepare. We won’t have one year to prepare. In the hour we think not, He will come! Don’t get ready, be ready! Be ready not because He is coming back but because we love Him because He first loved us! The Adventist church, the church that believes the Bible prophecies about the second coming has a reason to exist! If we just preach social day by day sermons that you can hear anywhere else then we are not fulfilling our purpose for coming into existence 150 years ago.  A true Adventist more than believes Jesus is coming. We love His appearing! We have a message to give to world and believe it or not the world is hungry for our message so why not give it? Jesus loves them and wants to be with them forever!

 

For more studies on the second coming and our special message click here.

For my friend’s site on our special message click here.