A Message of Joy!

All was quiet under the stars. The fragrant smell of field grass lingered in the calm cool air. Each pinpoint of light from the distant stars above joined together and pooled into a subtle glow across the sky. Deep darkness fading into the belt of stars was accented by one particular star hanging low and heavy just above the horizon - as if it was hanging from a string. The muted sounds of sheep whispered down the hillside to where the shepherds congregated. Two of the shepherds lounged lazily on the grassy slope. They picked at the blades of grass and pebbles while the others stood above them sharing amusing stories. Each shepherd carried long wooden staffs, crooked and gnarled in their natural shape but worn smooth from years of use. The recent appearance of the star was odd as it seemed so close that it consumed the horizon.

Suddenly the tranquil night sky and grassy hillside exploded with devastating white light as if the sun exploded. The shepherds stumble back and shielded their eyes. Then out of the light, an angel of the Lord stepped forward only a few feet from them. The shepherds fell flat on their faces and trembled in fear.

The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The shepherds, although shocked and afraid, rose to their feet together and listened to this supernatural being from Heaven speak to them. They were raised with stories of prophets and miracles, but none could have ever imagined the glory and power from the Lord in this one angel before them.

The angel continued, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

The shepherds listened intently and leaned closer. Again, as suddenly as the angel had appeared moments ago, a multitude of the heavenly hosts were with the angel. The sky opened up and more of Heaven’s glory blasted the poor shepherds. The Heavenly Hosts praised God by saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he is pleased!” Their collective voices stormed down and destroyed the peaceful calm. The hillside was aglow like nothing they had ever seen before.

Then, nothing. The multitude was gone, the angel was gone, the voices were gone, and the shining glory was gone. All was quiet and dark again as if nothing had happened. Sheep scattered about spooked and uneasy and the shepherds knew life would never be the same.

Immediately the shepherds looked and one another and said, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

This is the story found in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2 verses 8 through 15. It is a story of simple men who were given an amazing message – a message we are given every year at Christmas: “I bring you good news of great joy!”

Good news of great joy? What good news could this be that brings great joy?

It is the message from a loving God who came to earth to redeem us. He came as a baby so that he could live a perfect sinless life while growing to be a man who would obediently be persecuted, beaten, bloodied, nailed to a cross, become sin (the sins of the whole world) and absorb the righteous wrathful judgment of the creator of the universe. His death paid the price for our sins and because of him, those who are in him have become the righteousness of God and will inherit the kingdom of God as heirs and brothers with he who died for us.

Philippians 2:5-11

” Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Romans 3:21-26

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Now, this is a message of great joy. Will we be like the shepherds who ran to Jesus after they received the message?

Keller Hackbusch


What Child is This?

What are we really celebrating this week? Why do we stop everything and celebrate the birth of a baby 2000 years ago. What baby is this? This classic Christmas carol from 1865 written by William Chattertan Dix tells the story so well.

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

He is the glorious living God. He came - born as a baby - in order to die. He died for us; for our sin. We have inheritance into the kingdom of God through Him, which brings us great everlasting joy and hope.

What child is this? This child is our hope, our Lord, our joy, our peace, and our salvation. Are we remembering what child this is this Christmas?

Keller Hackbusch


Matt Chandler...be encouraged

The Village Church (Dallas, TX) lead pastor Matt Chandler was diagnosed with a frontal lobe brain tumor. Chandler is a healthy young man (35yrs) with great zeal for the word of God and preaching his savior. This sudden diagnosis is shocking and sad for those who have been following Matt for a while. I pray for recovery and strength for his wife and kids. Matt is very encouraging and this video is true to his spirit and faith. Matt will not waste his tumor, but will instead glorify God with this surgery and tumor and recovery.

Watch this video and be encouraged by Matt's courage and faith.

Matt Chandler Video


Keller Hackbusch


Take Your Eyes Off the Mirror

Are you happy being who you are?

Do you have good self-esteem?

Good self-confidence?

Does it really matter?

Are you comfortable in a room full of strangers or do you compare yourself to everyone; focusing on your flaws?

I think many of us struggle everyday with who we are. I’m not talking about how we wish we could lose 20 lbs or how I wish my hair hadn’t started falling out in my mid-twenties. Those are minor cosmetic issues. I’m talking about the big stuff that becomes chains shackling us to the walls in the dungeon of depression.

Our society is going through many trials in these difficult times. Many are losing homes and jobs, going bankrupt and feeling like failures.

Do you feel like a failure?

Do you feel not good enough?

Are you jealous of those who seem successful and have it all?

Do others have better jobs?

Are others more attractive?

Is their house, wedding ring, or motor home that much bigger and better than yours that you feel like a loser around them?

Do you ask why them and not me?

These thoughts of discontentment will eat away at our self-confidence and self-worth. But what is self-confidence and self-worth? Where does self-confidence and self-worth come from?

We need to start by taking our eyes away from the mirror for a change and look up. We need to look up toward our creator and savior Jesus Christ. We spend so much time looking at ourselves and comparing ourselves to other people that we don’t have time to look at God. Let’s get into the encouragement that can only be found in the Word. Here is what God says…

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

Each one of us is uniquely and specially made in the image of God, which means we each carry unique attributes of God. We are all different, but no less made in God’s image.

Psalm 139:13-14

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

God crafted our bodies, minds, and spirit in our mother’s womb in a unique and special way. We are wonderfully made in an awe-inspiring and fearful way. We are no accident. We are different, but each one of us is formed by the hands of the living God, who is infinitely holy, perfect, and good.

Isaiah 43:1-2 & 7

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

God is very serious about these facts: He made us in His own image. He uniquely formed us from the inside out in our mother’s womb. He made us for His glory – for His purposes. Based on these scriptures (many others tell the same story), we should be able to deduce that we are not a freak occurrence of nature or and accident. We were not the results of strange biological evolutions or random chemical combinations. Each and every one of us was uniquely planned, creatively designed, precision engineered, and delivered with a purpose. God made us the way we are for a reason…for His glory. God made us just as we are for His purpose and His glory alone. There is nothing more valuable or perfect in the universe than God’s delight, purpose, and glory.

I hope you find comfort and confidence in this. We can not compare ourselves to others when we know we are unique for God’s purpose. We should instead search out where God has gifted us and apply our lives fully to those gifts and let God do the rest.

But why has he made us this way or that way?

But, if God makes us in His image, why is everyone else more interesting, more desirable, more rich, more important, more everything?

Is it not enough that you are the image of God?

My current favorite passages of scripture finish the story. These verses add power to our created nature and they describe the scope and depth of the power of the God who created us.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Ephesians 1:11

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…

These two phenomenal verses show that God’s will and purpose rules our existence. All things work for good – good in God’s eyes, not our own – and He works all things according to his predestined purpose. We and our lives are chosen and planned before time began in order to fulfill God’s ultimate design, purpose, and pleasure. This is good news. There are no mistakes and no failures…ever. Everyone has a purpose.

Not only do all things work for good, but all things are being maintained and held together by Jesus Christ. Right now, Christ is holding the stars in place in the sky, choosing the exact amount, size and speed of the rain drops falling in another part of the world while He is orchestrating the events of your life. I’d even argue that He is beating your heart to keep you alive.

Hebrews 1:3

…and he [Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power…

Colossians 1:17

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The best part is that it is all good. It was all planned to be this way. You were planned to be this way. Have hope and have courage to serve your purpose to God’s glory. Find your purpose and work it out.

If, however, you are not encouraged and you still want to complain to the all knowing living God, I would caution you. We must be careful in complaining to the creator. Gratefulness and thankfulness should rule our hearts. We in today’s society have lost the healthy respect for God. We need to know our rightful place in the universe. This verse helps keep perspective:

Romans 9:20

20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

Do we have higher standards than God? Or should we find peaceful contentment in how we were molded? Should we change our self-consumed focus from what we don’t have to God, His purpose, His glory, and His genius? I’d say so.