image_pdfimage_print

He Came for the Rest of Us

christmas-bookprintipho

A new Christmas book of 20 readings for devotionals and poems which can be used as worship readings, personal devotionals, and even sermons.

The story of Jesus rings true as a divine romp, full of messiness, wedding wine, feasting, sweat, blood, betrayal, passion, resurrection and reckless, inexplicable grace. God doesn’t sanitize the details because grace nestles into every phrase of the Gospel. Luke 2 and, well, every verse of the New Testament speaks of love personified through the immaculate descent of a loving Savior. This is the story of an only Son who reached out to the rest of us. All the misfits, vagabonds, fugitives, and beggars who wander in circles, cowering in fear at the sight of the angels of Eden, receive a second chance to love.

A Number of Delivery Options


kindleKindle .99

iBooks-iconibooks .99

 

nook-iconNook .99

 

HomeworkDistribly 5.00
(.doc) great for pastors and Bible Study leaders.  Cut & Paste. Reproduction rights for bulletins, performances in Christmas programs.  Great for adaptation.

 

27385-1Paperback: (With reproduction rights) 5.99

 

Just West of Bethlehem

Shepherds from the West!
This works well as a dramatic vignette or a simple reader’s theater piece.  Fun to perform with the country accent of your region. 
Cast: Josiah, Henry, Jake, Angel Gabriel

Josiah: And before I knew it, that wolf done snuck up behind me and started carryin’ the sheep off by the scruff of the neck, one by one.

Henry: That ain’t right, and you know it! You were out like a light! How would you know? You were snorin’ so loud that I couldn’t sleep, and it was your watch that night.

Josiah: I wasn’t snorin’—I was clearin’ my sinuses.

Henry: For 15 minutes!?

Jake: You got some sinus problem, boy!

Josiah: Well, you sure didn’t seem like you were in too much of a hurry to help.

Henry: I woke you up, didn’t I?

Josiah: How many times do I have to tell you? I wasn’t sleepin’!

Henry: Well, tell Jake about what you did after that.

Jake: Hold it.

(Pause. Light angelic music is heard, and its volume slowly increases.)

Henry: What was that?

Josiah: Sounds like . . .

Jake: Music! And . . .

Josiah: What’s that light?

Henry: Angels! Great heavens!

Josiah: “Great heavens” is right!

Henry: Boy! Are we in trouble now!

Jake: Head for cover!

Josiah: Come back here, Jake! This ain’t no thunderstorm!

Henry: (trembling with fear) Jehovah, forgive me for breakin’ the Sabbath two weeks ago. Forgive me for eating that bacon when I went to Samaria! And for yelling at my wife last Thursday, and for—

Jake: Will you cut it out? That angel is trying to say something to us.

Gabriel: Don’t be afraid!

Josiah: You ain’t gonna kill us?

Gabriel: I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem.

Henry: The Messiah? Our Savior? Well, uh, that’s great!

Jake: How’re we gonna know who He is?

Gabriel: 
You will find the baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.

(Heavenly music.)

Josiah: Wow! Listen to all those angels!

Henry: Praise God! The Messiah is here!

Josiah: What’s “Messiah” mean?

Henry: I’ll tell you later. Would you look at all those angels!

(Sudden silence.)

Jake: Hey! Where’d they go?

Josiah: They plum vanished into thin air!

Henry: Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go see this baby!

Josiah: You never did tell me about who the Messiah is!

Jake: We’ll tell you on the way.

Josiah: What about the sheep?

Henry: Forget the sheep! We just saw angels flyin’ round in the sky, and you’re worried about sheep!

Song Introduction to “Away in a Manger”

Here is an easy, informal reading to be performed before “Away in the Manger”

Reader 1:  away

Reader 2:  but so near to the outcast

Reader 1:  near to the blood of the innocents

Reader 2:  near to life, a dangerous mystery

Reader 1:  no crib for a bed

Reader 2:  1st century squalor of animals

Both:  away

Reader 1:  alone

Reader 2:  no turning back

Reader 1:  the little Lord Jesus

Reader 2:  God meshed in skin

Reader 1:  helpless Master Infant

Reader 2:  laid down His sweet head

Reader 1:  the brow of thorns

Reader 2:  smitten by bandits, spit upon, mocked

Reader 1:  yet eyes still fixed on His love

Reader 2:  the stars in the sky

Reader 1:  each fixed in place

Reader 2:  bold, mighty, universe

Reader 1:  the Author: this Infant

Reader 2:  full of wonder

Reader 1:  as angels, and Abba

Reader 2:  proudly, sadly

Reader 1:  looked down where He lay

Both:  away

Reader 2:  relentlessly committed

Both:  away

Reader 1:  vacating the thrones and crowns of glory

Both:  away

Reader 1:  the glory of His love

Both:  away

Reader 2:  humble

Reader 1:  Master

Reader 2:  Creator

Both:  away

Reader 1:  matchless mysterious Ruler

Both:  Away

The Cradle and the Cross

Worship leaders start early with some creative tools to enhance your Christmas worship.  Here is a simple reading that contrasts the Christ’s Birth and Crucifixion. Works great as an introduction to a song.

Reader #1: Mankind had wrapped Him in swaddling clothes,

Reader #2: And now they stripped him.

Reader #3: Wise men had sought Him, to worship Him at His birth.

Reader #2: 
Now men of earthly wisdom sought only to kill Him.

Reader #1: And the shepherds who left their sheep in the fields that night to see Him as a baby . . .

Reader #2: Now? Now they saw Him as a man who was like a lamb led to the slaughter.

Reader #3: They had bowed to worship Him in that humble manger,

Reader #1: And now they spit upon Him and mocked Him as King of the Jews.

Reader #2: Mankind had seen the glorious presence of angels, heard our music and joy,

Reader #3: And now they turned their backs on Him.

Reader #1: This same Jesus, once lavished with gold, frankincense, and myrrh was now shamed by a crown of thorns and a wooden reed.

Reader #2: The Bethlehem star seemed to be only a distant memory as Jesus hung on that cross.

Reader #3: The angels wept to see the King of kings and the Lord of lords mocked and betrayed and unjustly slain for the sins of man. And as He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” He was looking through the hall of eternity where time is of no significance and He saw you. He came down for you.

He Knows It All

There is a comfort of grace, in discovering that He knows it all and remains.

He sees through our well-scripted liturgies, our intricate facades and discovers the child hiding inside us. When we realize that He sees all the details– the real us and loves us still, life, perhaps for the first time, becomes real. Only God could see it all and remain faithful to us. I’ve spent most of my life trying to hide the ugliness of shame and promote the achievements, acknowledgments, and the awards of my life. Really, it is madness and idolatry. He is most glorified in our weakness. When we cast light on our weakness, God says, “This is the work I did. My body and blood redeemed this also.” It would be easy for God to redeem that which is already good. BUT He is glorified greatly when He transforms the wretched. Today, may we share our struggles with each other and discover Christ’s stubborn, unfailing love for vagabonds and misfits.

My Journey

I don’t know your journey. But as for me, I needed radical salvation. I needed a Warrior that could battle through the jungles of flesh. I needed a Savior who would run through the firestorms of catastrophic thoughts. One who would withstand the galloping wildebeests of my vain ambition. One who would swim the channels of my stormy seas and into the cavernous passages of ancient strongholds and shame. I needed one to climb over the perilous heights of my doubts. I needed that kind of hero. In you, he may have found a much gentler passage. But mine was and is a profound redemption. And right now He is fighting for a million others as He fought for me—Our hearts… His prize…

Christ in you, the Hope of Glory

“to whom God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you the hope of glory!

Collossians 1:27

 

As I run to him I am running toward a hope that is far greater than the fanciful, temporal acclamations of this world’s squalor. When I approach Him I cross the line of divine foolishness. For indeed I am a fool for Him. I place my battered soul and broken crown, (everything that I have embraced for hope), I place it all at the feet of Christ

I am done with solutions
I am done with dispassionate living
I am done with self-sufficiency
I am done with filthy closets and shiny steeples
I am done with running through the muck of my human righteousness
The quicksand on the outskirts of Eden

I have a hope when all hope seems lost. I have freedom when I recognize the chains. When I reach the Potter’s house, glory spins and in the dizziness there is relief.

There is a quiet understanding, a stillness of the inner soul, finding its way into the the deep recesses of my heart.
Life as I know is dead to everything alive. Yes, Christ in me. The hope of Glory

I Saw You

(A Prayer of Benediction for the Lord’s Supper or Easter Celebration) 
Lord, I want to ask for Your forgiveness. Tonight my eyes were opened as we sang the words to those hymns that I’ve sung thousands of times. For the first time in my life I was struck by the vastness of Your grace and love for me, and it pierced my heart. I looked at my hands that have so many times brought You shame as I have clinched them in anger. As I have pointed the finger of blame at the innocent, as I have held forbidden fruit—these hands were never pierced. And yet the loving hands that fed and healed and served, those perfect hands of grace were pierced for me.

As we prayed I touched my forehead, I remembered my moments of rage when I accused and fussed and frowned. But my brow was never pierced. And yet Your brow was pierced by thorns. Your wounded head was bleeding. You shed Your blood for me.

Lord, I know that I’ve heard the story a thousand times. I believed it. And it was true. But tonight . . . it was as if for the first time I looked You in the eyes and I felt the holiness of worshiping a God who died. A God who gave His own life for me.

My feet have never felt the gnawing pain that You endured on the cross that day.

My shoulders have never carried the burden of the world in the shape of a cross.

I have never been stripped of everything to die a sinner’s death.

My back never scourged . . .

My face never spit upon . . .

Oh Lord, the agony, the humiliation, the torment—the love.

How could it be?

How could You love me that much?

Tonight, as we took the bread and drank from the cup, I felt the holy presence of Your love.

Thank You, Lord. I don’t understand Your love. I probably never will. But I want You to know that tonight I saw You, and I will never be the same again.

The Net

Narrator: The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down in the lake and caught all kinds of fish.

Narrator: When it was full, the fisherman pulled it up on the shore. (Actors pantomime pulling a net out of the water with much vocal effort.)

Narrator: Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

(Actors pantomime the separation of fish from waste.)

• I hate seaweed. It always seems to clog the net.

• Remember, the Master said only fish.

• Sure are a bunch of clams!

• Hey! Get that octopus out of here!

• Oh, great! A holy mackerel!

• Look, a large mouth bass!

• In salt water? That’s impossible.

• Use your imagination—this is only a play!

• Oops, I forgot.

• Why are the eels always on my side of the net?

• A crab!

• There’s another one.

• They sure are good to eat, but remember what the captain said . . .

All: Only fish.

• Too bad.

Narrator: This is how it will be at the end of the age.

Narrator: The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.

• I hate sin. It always seems to clog the net!

• Remember, the Master said only the redeemed.

• Sure are a bunch of fornicators.

• Get that blasphemer out of here!

• Oh great, a Christian!

• Look, a short-winded pastor!

• That’s impossible.

• Use your imagination—this is only a play!

• Oops, I forgot.

• Why are the gossipers always on my side of the net?

• A church member!

• Hey! There’s another one.

• They sure do look good, but remember what the captain said . . .

All: Only Christians.

• Too bad.

 

 

He is I AM

He is I AM
I AM your strength
I AM your warrior
I AM your advocate
I AM your provider
I AM your comfort
I AM your bread
I AM your escape
I AM your companion
I AM your compass
I AM your ransom
I AM your future
I AM your purpose
I AM your truth
I AM your ambassador
I AM your covering
I AM your refreshment
I AM your physician
I AM your peace
I AM your strength
I AM your portion
I AM your joy
I AM your hero
I AM your heart mender
I AM your glory
I AM your good
I AM the friend of sinners
I AM the beginning and end
I AM ENOUGH
you are ACCEPTED
you are FORGIVEN
you are PARDONED
you are WELCOMED
you are CHERISHED
you are PURSUED
you are COMPLETE
you are LOVED
you are CHOSEN
you are RESCUED
you are ADOPTED
you are MARKED
you are COVERED
you are made RIGHTEOUS
you are REDEEMED.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31