Songs of Advent — Joy to the World

grunge fir forest falling snow

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of is righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Joy came to the world full of sorrow, in the birth of King Jesus. At the sound of Mary’s voice John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mothers womb (Luke 1:44). The angels burst into song, singing “Glory to God in the highest” after announcing the Good new of Great joy to the shepherds on the hillside the night of his birth (Luke 2:12). Christ Jesus, Emanuel, the Promised One, Messiah, was born and to the sorrow filling the hearts he formed, he was bringing joy.

How deeply he knew this sorrow we can never really know. For since the rebellion in the garden his creation had continued to reject him and fumble day after day to to find within themselves or in the creation around them what could only be found in the a relationship with him that was destroyed in the garden. So they lived in great sorrow and he knew it well.

This baby born in Bethlehem, proclaimed by the prophets, promised to David, pointed to by Moses and Abraham, and ___ in the garden to Adam and Eve would be the final word on the rebellion and sorrow that covered God’s creation. He was stepping into this endless sorrow to accomplish for us what we can not. And this is the Joy that made John leap in his mothers womb and cause the host of angles to burst into song of God’s Glory. Joy brought to the world like a gift. Joy that would rescue God’s creation. Joy that is everlasting just like the one who brought it is everlasting.

So sing for joy because joy has in fact come and joy’s  name is Jesus Christ. Joy was born to us. Joy walked into our sorrow and chaos. Joy died to pay our penalty. Joy rose and defeated death, sin, and the grave. Joy makes his home in the hearts of his children. Joy lives eternal!

This is the JOY we sing about the JOY TO THE WORLD!

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Songs of Advent — O Come O Come Emmanuel

songs of Advent OCE

This is the second post of three highlighting “Songs of Advent.” By far, “O Come O Come Emmanuel” is and has been my favorite song celebrating the advent of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read these words and really think about them. There is rich truth here that will stir and still our hearts. Because He did come into our darkness the light of the world came, and He is coming again to bring His children home to live with Him forever in His Kingdom of Peace. In the stretch between these advents we abide, and remember His coming purchased pardon and peace for His people and we can rest in His great work while we wait.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

#Johnnyb “you are missed”

Saturday afternoon I, along with a great number of others, lost a good friend. A guy who, on many different levels and occasions, was used by the Lord to challenge and encourage me. Jonathan Wilmore is a special guy and he will be missed and celebrated for a long time in many different circles.

T and JW

I am thankful for the short time I was able to be with him here and am looking forward to standing along side him for eternity where the afflictions he experienced in his 30 years on earth are no longer true of him. I praise the Lord for my brother Jonathan Wilmore, a man of God and a long suffering servant of Christ Jesus his Lord.

 

Come ye Sinners — New Album by Sojourn Music

photoCome ye Sinners is the newest album from Sojourn Music. I got it last week and it is outstanding.

Come Ye Sinners: Sojourn Music Live At Memorial Auditorium features a mix of Sojourn originals and some of our favorite songs to lead in worship, from people like John Mark McMillan, Keith & Kristyn Getty, Indelible Grace and more.” (taken from Sojourn Music website)

Find out more about the album and how your purchase supports Scarlet Hope, an incredible ministry in Louisville here.

Passionate, loud, always good for a laugh, and four years old today! That’s my boy.

Quinn turns four today! I’m not sure what time he was born, and I would be guessing to list length and weight without talking to Rebecca. What I do know is that life was forever changed the moment he arrived. Let me explain a few ways life has been altered by this little man.

The first 6 months of Quinn’s life, he and I did not get along at all. Every time I held him or hung out with him, he cried; it was a rough start, but he sure has made up for it. Quinn is, what most would refer to as, a ball of energy; I refer to him as passionate. His passion comes through in every characteristic of his personality.  He loves, cares for, protects, is concerned for and serves others passionately.  There is no “half way” with Quinn; everything is wholehearted and he puts 110% into all he does.

He really never stops and it seems like everything is an event with him: can’t find the toy he has claimed as his favorite for the day, he loses his mind; approve a cookie for a snack and he cheers as though he just won the lottery.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is his favorite! “Can I have that marker daddy? Its my favorite! Can you get me some fruit snacks daddy? They’re my favorite! Can we watch that show, go to that restaurant, play that game? IT’S MY FAVORITE!”

His passion also gets him in trouble on a regular basis, but he sure does bring a lot of joy to our world. He is also always good for a laugh. Just this afternoon he was making all kinds of ruckus in the living room while I was finishing up some work. He asked Rebecca and I a question that we did not respond on his timeline. He walked over to Rebecca and said, “Mommy, are your batteries dead?” Hilarious! Often, he starts on some monologue that no one can understand, it seems like he might be talking to himself, or he is giving me a good tongue lashing. Either way, it is funny and I love being around the kid.

Quinn Lusk, we love you more than you know!  You bring so much joy and laughter to our lives.  It is never boring when you’re around.  I can’t believe how much we laugh and how confused we can be by your random rants.  You are so much fun!  We hope you have a wonderful fourth birthday!  We are blessed to be your parents!

KNOW.KNOWN.TRANSFORMED.

I have just started meeting with a group of guys on Monday nights. The goals of the hour are clear, open and talk about God’s word and to pray for God to stir our affections towards Him and make us men who look more like Him. This week we talked about Psalm 19, which is a pretty well known Psalm. However, God allowed us to move past our familiarity with it and we were overwhelmed with the picture that is painted of a magnificent  God who is actively pursuing us through His creation that proclaims his greatness and His word that reveals His character. And we just could not get over His grace that forgives, guards and transforms us.

I would encourage you to take some time and read it, read it a couple of times maybe and listen to His tender voice, and abide in the truth that the God who tells us to love Him has loved us far better and far more first.

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

 

Is there a Psalm or a passage that The Lord has used teach you who he is and cause you to love him more? Share it then, don’t be a horder of God’s grace in your life!

 

November Wrap Up

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November has been a pretty eventful month to say the least, and with just a few days left It seems fitting to wrap it up with two words, Family and Faithful.

The past couple of weeks have been so full of reminders of just how precious my family is and how lost I would be without them. God has, in his grace, over and over captured my attention with how wonderful a gift Rebecca is as a supportive wife, sacrificial mother, and strong godly woman. And it’s an incredible gift to be daddy to Cooper, Quinn, and Kate who have each in their own way worked on my nerves, and overwhelmed me with joy. I can’t imagine life without them. However, Rebecca and I always welcome any willing babysitters for an evening out.

Not only has November been a Family month, it has also been marked by God’s faithfulness! It has been a tough month on many different levels. We’ve been in a long transition with plenty of transition left to walk through. There is an ever growing mountain of tasks and challenges that come with planting a church. And there are clouds of unknown still ahead. Yet, through all that, there are markers of God’s power, presence, and provision that continue to proclaim God’s everlasting faithfulness.

Now with the Christmas season upon us, my prayer is that we would not miss all that God is doing and that we would race towards opportunities to celebrate the coming of King Jesus to seek and save the lost.

How would you wrap up your November in a sentence?

What are some ways your family will intentionally celebrate Christ coming this Christmas?

Happy BOO-day Birthday Cooper

Well today is Halloween, and around our house that means a little more than trick-or-treating. Cooper, our oldest son, was born 6 years ago today. I can still remember it like it was yesterday…going to bed on October 30th and Rebecca, only 36 weeks pregnant, saying, “at least we won’t have a baby on Halloween!” Then around 4:30 am I was torn from sleep by my beautiful wife informing me that her water had broken. So we got the pre-packed hospital bags and jumped into the car and raced to the hospital. At 3:25 pm, after a nearly perfect labor, Cooper arrived and weighed in at 6 pounds and 6 ounces and was 21 inches long…one month early.

We had two full weeks in the NICU because of feeding issues before we were able to take the little man home.  By the time we got in the car to head to our house, we thought all the craziness was over. Little did we know this was not the end of our journey with Cooper.

The short story is this, When Cooper was just four months old, a doctor told us he would probably never walk, never talk, and he could very probably die in childhood. This news was obviously devastating. Though details would remain unknown for awhile, and honestly some things are still a mystery, we were to trust The Lord. We have gotten plenty of updates in the past couple of years from some great doctors. In particular, we found out Cooper has a rare syndrome called Sotos Syndrome.

This has been a journey that has certainly been a roller coaster, but we ultimately know that the Lord made Cooper in His perfect will, for a perfect purpose.  There were no “mistakes” made when He knit Cooper in Rebecca’s womb, for he was not hidden from Him.  We are blessed every day by this child, and our lives have been change for nothing but the better because the Lord saw fit to allow us to be his parents.

We are so thankful for you Cooper!  We rejoice in what the Lord has done through your life and your story. In just six short years you have touched more lives that you could ever imagine.  We love you so much and are honored to be your parents!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUDDY!

You can read more detailed and cleverly written posts on Cooper’s journey by following the links below.

Knitted by the King 

Our Perfect Little Baby Boy 

Update On Cooper 

Some Encouragement 

“A Thorn to Pen Back the Veil…”

Why I Love Cooper…

Faithful

 

My grandfather turned 83 this past week and Sunday we celebrated what he refers to as the 54th anniversary of his 29th birthday. (Which I think is pretty clever.) I was given a chance to share a little about how he has impacted my 33 years of life. Quin Burdett Rutland has had a profound impact on my life and on many others’ lives as well. Throughout the week I thought about how to sum up all I wanted to say so I would not ramble and miss this chance to truly honor him. In the midst of my scribbling, one word rose to the top as the best way to sum up all the things I was thinking…FAITHFUL. Quin Burdett Rutland is a faithful man, and he has been faithful in many ways, but here are my top five.

Faithful to God’s Word, Faithful to Family, Faithful to Work, Faithful to Grow, Faithful to Pray

Faithful to God’s Word:

His bible is worn, marked, and obviously read. I know very few men who are as devoted to studying the word. If that was all though, it would not be that impressive. His life has been changed by spending time in the word. He is a faithful man who looks like his perfectly and eternally faithful savior, Jesus Christ.

Faithful to Family:

He loves his bride well. The gentle playfulness between the two of them always makes me smile. He was faithful to love and raise his two girls who in turn love and follow Christ as he modeled. He loves his four grandkids, and now his five great-grandkids.

Faithful to Work:

I am positive anyone who knows Q.B. Rutland knows how hard he works. However, it’s not enough just to work. It’s that he is faithful and diligent to work hard day in and day out to see projects through to the end. What is more, he is faithful to work hard as a servant who knows his master and longs to honor Him. He is one of the men I think about when I wonder if I can continue on some days in my work, and it is always an encouragement to remain faithful and continue to work as unto the Lord.

Faithful to Grow:

Men who continue to learn new things, and push to do things better, are men who make an impact on those around them. Q.B. Rutland is this kind of man. Humbly, he approaches God’s word and grows. He takes on new projects and grows. He has fought against the “retire, be lazy, and die” mentality of so many. He has retired, and he will die, but he has continued to learn and grow along the way.

Faithful to Pray:

In all this Q.B. Rutland, my grandfather, is and has been a man who faithfully prays. A man who is Faithful to God’s Word, Family, Work, and to Grow, is a man who understands well his need for the one who is always faithful. He knows the great gift we have in a personal savior who hears us when we call, and responds to his children. I have never left a visit with him in my adult years where he doesn’t let me know he is praying for me and my family. And he is sure to ask me to join him in praying for needs he is aware of. His faithfulness to prayer is challenging and encouraging to me.

I have obviously been impacted greatly by this faithful godly man, and these few words fall far short of saying what should be said, but I pray they would honor him and our heavenly father well because God’s word tells us “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” My grandfather is a good gift and God should be praised.

Vision and Visionaries

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”  Hellen Keller

 

“When your memories exceed your dreams the end is near.”  Andy Stanley

 

Good leaders create a vision, passionately articulate the vision, and relentlessly drive the vision to completion.”  Jack Welch

 

“A picture of what could be, combined with the conviction that it must be.”  Sojourn Advance

 

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision”  Peter Drucker

 

In the adventures of planting Mission Hill Community Church, the subject of vision has come up time and time again. I personally have a fascination with visionaries. People who see more than what the eyes can take in and do what needs to be done so what they see becomes reality. I enjoy listening to visionary business men, pastors, and coaches and reading about visionary leaders in history. This past week I started watching “The Men Who Built America” on the History Channel and it is freaking great. I grabbed a couple of quotes from different people or organizations (I love the Hellen Keller quote) and I’m thinking through a few questions. Maybe you will want to think through them as well.

Why is vision so important? What is your vision for your personal life, family, job, community? Who are the visionary leaders you know? Which of these statements about vision resinate with you the most? What do these statements lack?