Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Here's wishing everyone a very happy New Year! One of the really nice things about modern day life is that you can celebrate the New Year in several time zones via the wonders of live television. I happen to really enjoy the Eastern time zone on New Year's Eve, so I have already hollered "Happy New Year" and kissed my lovely wife, my son and daughter and son-in-law and daughter-in-law and all five grandbabies and now I can go to bed knowing I have celebrated the arrival of 2008.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll share some New Year resolutions... basically for two reasons. 1. I'm way past ready for bed and 2. I haven't spent too much time thinking about it. With four extra adults and 5 little people under the age of 5 in the house (3 of them under the age of 2!) there haven't been very many quiet moments in the last two days that would lend themselves to being contemplative.

I would like to share with you some verses from my favorite Psalm. I think they are perfect for putting myself in the right focus for the new year.

Psalm 145 (NASB)
Psalm 145 written in the circles (in Hebrew) Hallelujah is written five times around the outside circle.
1 I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. 6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. 7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. (Read the rest of this great Psalm here Psalm 145 )

Easter Preview

For those of you who don't have e-mail (or whose server blocks my e-inchoirers), here is a copy of something I just sent the choir. Of course, I suppose if you don't have e-mail then you probably don't check blogs either. Hello! It's 2008! You need e-mail!

“The Tree” was fantastic! I think I already mentioned that… but now my attention – our attention – needs to turn to Easter. As you’ve already heard from me, Easter is early this year! It can only be one day earlier and that can only happen when there is a full moon on March 21 when it is on a Saturday and then Easter will be on March 22. But the odds for that are rather astronomical. Well, I’ve distracted myself. The reason for this e-mail is to let you know that for everyone who can be here THIS Wednesday, we’ll have a sneak preview of Bow the Knee. This will be this year’s Passion Play.

For those of you who like to put things on your calendars here are some dates you need to know. (don’t worry, there will be more!)
March 13 – dress rehearsal
March 14-15 – evening performances
March 16 – afternoon performance

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday's Anthem -

From the Cradle to the Cross

This is our last week - hooray! - to have to sing on the steps. I really appreciate you all singing this way. I know it's not the most comfortable way to stand. We'll put the trio in the middle of the stage. We're also singing - with the congregation - "Days of Elijah" and "Sing to the King" this Sunday.

I hope you'll all come sing - especially at 10:30 - because my son and his family will be here from Oklahoma. I want him to hear how great you all sound and I don't picture him and his wife and their three children getting up in time for the 9:00 service. (And after you meet him it will be easier for you to pray that he gets transfered back to Tennessee!)

The Oklahoma grandbabies.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Wednesday without Choir...

... is like Aunt Jemima Pancakes without her syrup.
I hope you all enjoy having tonight off. You all worked hard. You deserve some time off.
My lovely wife Cheryl thought the same thing and surprised me with a trip to Chattanooga. There are some great vacation spots here. You can read about some of our adventures on my Papa Lyndel blog

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Joy to the world, the Lord has come.

Let earth receive her King!

Why December 25th? The Romans had a winter festival in honor of the unconquerable sun. The early Christians either had to get rid of the festival or redeem it. Here's what I think is really cool. The festival was on Dec. 25th - three days after the Winter Solstice which is the shortest day of the year. They at one time had thought the sun was dying but by three days after the Winter Solstice it was obvious that the sun was alive! I suppose it is way too obvious for me to point out the symbolism there. It's kind of like when the Apostle Paul went to Athens and he told the men there how he had seen an inscription "to the unknown god" and he said he was there to tell them about Him Ac 17:23 . I think that's pretty cool.

[the following paragrpah was added later] OK, Cheryl just read this post and she said I didn't put enough words in and she didn't get it. So I'll try again. The Romans were already celebrating the resurrection of the sun - how three days after they thought it was dead they celebrated the fact that the sun was not dead. So, just as Paul explained to the Athenians that the unknown god they worshipped was Jesus, the Romans were celebrating the resurrection of the Son before they knew about THE resurrection. I hope that is a clearer explanation.

Here's an article with more interesting Christmas facts

I pray you have a very merry and blessed Christmas! I'll be looking for you all Sunday in worship.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Luke 2

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, it happened that the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a manger--because there was no room for them at the inn.
8 In the same region, shepherds were living out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for you see, I announce to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 because today in the city of David was born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! 15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger.
17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

Sunday, December 23, 2007



I want to thank the choir for my Christmas present. In case you missed it, the choir gave me a blown glass Nativity set for Christmas.

Blown Glass Nativity

Word had gotten out that I collect Nativity sets. In this post you'll not only read some interesting dictionary information about "Nativity", but you'll see some pictures of some of my Nativities. (I haven't come across the box that has my Nativity set from Nicaragua.)

A Nativity in honor of Hannah and Benjamin

I found it interesting when I looked up Nativity (at my favorite dictionary place Merriam Webster Online ) that when it isn't capitalized it means "the process or circumstances of being born" and when capitalized it refers to the birth of Jesus. So I could say that my nativity was in Oklahoma City. My nativity, however, did not attract shepherds and was not announced by angels.

Heartwood Creek Nativity

Nativity by Lenox (in our bedroom)

There's another word for a Nativity set - "creche" which is originally a French word meaning a manger but now means "a representation of a Nativity scene."

Carved Wood Nativity

I found it rather funny that it can also mean "4 : a group of young animals (as penguins or bats) gathered in one place for care and protection usually by one or more adults."

A creche of penguins?

I like passages of scripture that refer to the Nativity that aren't in the Gospels. (Here's an earlier post with Colossians 1 )

Nativity - Taking on the form of a servant

Phillipians 2

5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Or to be grasped, or to be held on to
7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man in His external form,
8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
9 For this reason God also highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Sunday's anthem - Christmastime!

If you want to see our presentation of The Living Christmas Tree and you have charter cable, you can tune in Christmas night (Dec. 25) at 7:00 on channel 10 or Thursday night, Dec. 27, at 8:00, also on channel 10.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Hmmm, I'm not sure where to start. I think it is always good to look back at things you have done; see what worked, see what could be done differently next time... those kinds of things. But more importantly I think it is good to reflect on all the great things God was able to do because of our hard work and faithfulness.

Here are some of my thoughts after resting and thinking a day.

*WOW! It was fantastic!

* There are so many people that worked so hard behind the scenes. We should all be very thankful that they have been willing to answer God's call to serve Him here at Hilldale.

*Musically - you all were great, the orchestra was great, the sound was great.

*I am overwhelmed at the number of churches in our area that were represented at the three performances. "The Tree" truly is a city-wide event. That's pretty cool!

*Comments we received were so very kind. I hope you all feel very appreciated.

*It was a lot of work to involve the children and youth in our presentation, but worth it. These are the kinds of memories we need to build into our children so they will 1. realize they are an important part of our church NOW and 2. so they will carry on doing great things for God when we are 130 years old and locked in our rooms.

*I'm thankful for people who stepped in at the last minute to cover areas where others had to back out. They helped make "the Tree" a great success.

*The really awesome thing to see in a presentation like this is how God takes what we do - our hard work, our planning, our rehearsals, etc. - and doesn't just add them all together, He multiplies and makes something grander and more powerful than we could do on our own. Which reminds me of my favorite Bible verse.

Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

What would I do differently?

Hmmm, probably not much.

I guess I might, no, that was good.

Maybe we should... hmm, that was good too.

I thought about... well, now that I think about it, that was great too.

But I definitely need to think twice before going to play racquetball with a star football player twenty years younger than me the day after "the Tree". I'm a bit sore today. But it was worth it.

Here are a few pics I thought you would enjoy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Opening Night!


What else is there to say? Incredible! Super-duper! Excellent! Inspirational! Worshipful! Fun! Exciting! Beautiful! Magnificent! Muy bien!
The singing, the acting, the sound, the orchestra, the lighting, the bells, the flags, the costumes, the decorations, the story tellers from each country, the solos and trios... God used all of your hard work, practice, commitment, willingness... to speak to people's hearts.

Gracias! Obrigado! Danke shane! Merci beaucoup! Thanks ya'll!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pics from our Dress Rehearsal

"Christmastime is here... ring Christmas bells!"

The Mystery of Incarnation

This post is in honor of my pastor, Dr. Larry robertson, who loves words.

Carnations are beautiful flowers. You can find them in many shades of red, pink, white, yellow... But originally - before plant breeders worked with them - they were only found in biege and "flesh" colors. That's why they have the name "carnation" - referring to the flesh color of the flowers. It comes from the same Latin word from which we got the word "carnal" - which means "fleshly" and "carnivorous" - refering to animals and plants that eat flesh.

This is the same etymology (how's that for a really cool big word?) behind the word "incarnation" which means - well here - I'll just paste it in from Merriam-Webster

1 a (1): the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form (2)capitalized : the union of divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ

Here is one of my favorite passages about the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; 16 because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. 19 Because all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him, 20 and to reconcile everything to Himself through Him by making peace through the blood of His cross -- whether things on earth or things in heaven.

We'll be singing these words Sunday morning when we sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Veiled in flesh the God-head see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel.

Hebrews 13:3

Heb 13:3
Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.

As we celebrate Christmas and pray that "every tribe and tongue" will rejoice and that we want to "see the nations worship", please remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who risk all to worship our Lord Jesus Christ.

China: 270 House Church Pastors Detained for Alleged Illegal Religious Gathering
China Aid Association reports that 270 House Church Pastors have been detained for what Chinese officials are calling an "illegal religious gathering." According to ASSIST News Service, China Aid says that on December 7 at 1:30pm, House Church pastors in Hedeng District, Linyi City, were gathered for a Bible Study when their meeting was disrupted by police officials. According to Pastor Li, an eyewitness, 40-50 policemen from 12 different towns were involved in the massive detention. The pastors were then handcuffed two-by-two and taken to the local police station for questioning. As of this week 150 pastors remain in custody. Others have been released on a 300 Yuan ($40 USD) interrogation fee.

For more information about the persecuted church and to seehow you can help check out these links.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Tree Up Close

Here are some "up close" pictures I took earlier today.

The rehearsal before the dress rehearsal and the dress rehearsal are about as up close to the real deal as you can get. And usually they are a little rough - no often they are verrrrry rough. But Wednesday night wasn't too bad and tonight went very, very well. I know it seems a little wild and unorganized when you are looking at it from the Tree, but any time you have 3,264 people involved in one production there are going to be a few people roaming around aimlessly - or so it seems.
I was verrrry pleased with tonight's rehearsal. The choir sang great. The sound was great. (However, we do need to hear all of the trios and solos before 6:00 tomorrow to set some EQs). The acting was wonderful. The non-speaking acting was great. The words on the back screen went well. (and Mark and I fixed the words to African Noel)

What more can I say? Yeah team!

I'll have Star send me some of the pictures she took tonight and I'll get some from Julie and I'll post them in the morning.