My Christmas- Diverse Cultures- 1 Jesus

Singing Christmas songs like Joy to the World and listening to bible verses being read such as Luke 2:10, “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” have a meaning for me that is a concrete reality. This past Christmas was an example of that.

It started on Friday after my English class at the Ukrainian church. I planned to come home after class, but my friends told me the youth were singing in church that night, so I joined them. It was a blessing to watch the children and the youth sing Christmas songs in English and in Ukrainian.

Christmas Eve started off with having lunch with my friend Luis from El Salvador. Then we went to my church for Christmas Eve service and were joined by Alexey and Ruslana from Ukraine. As we sang songs such as Joy to the world and listened to Luke chapter 2 being read, I thought about the blessing I had of sharing Jesus with diverse cultures and Christmas Eve was one such moment. Christmas Day I went to the Christmas service at the Ukrainian church and then had lunch at Alexey and Ruslana’s home.

In the past Jesus has blessed me with sharing Christmas with friends from many countries such as Brazil, Bosnia. Belgium, China, Congo, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and more. So when we sing songs like Joy to the World and listen to the angel’s message of good news for all people, the all people part gets my attention.

It all underscores for me that there are many cultures in our world, but there is one Jesus who loves all people and died for all people, so they can have forgiveness and eternal life by believing in Jesus.

As I sat in Christmas Eve service with Luis, Alexey and Ruslana, that was my thought as we sang Joy to the World. I was there with friends from two other cultures celebrating Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Merry Christmas- Jesus Is Immanuel-God With Us

I would like to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and my prayer is that you come to know and experience Jesus as Immanuel-God with us. May you experience his love, grace, guidance, and friendship.

Immanuel God with us- Jesus is with us even in our darkest times. He will never leave us. He looks at those of us who believe in hum and says- MINE. He will never let go of us.

I love Teriian’s song Immanuel. I would like to share it with you this Christmas Day.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Christmas Eve- Remembering Jesus’s Sacrifice for Us

Last night I went to a special children/youth service at the Ukrainian church. I had taught my class there and was planning on going home until a few of my friends told me their children were singing in church that evening. I am glad I stayed.

We sang one song in English which happens to be one of my favorite Christmas songs-O Holy Night. I love the song because it focuses so beautifully on why Jesus came. He came to be our Savior. He came to free us from sin and the oppression of sin. He came to make it possible for us to be restored in relationship with God and his children.

This morning I started my day by thanking Jesus for coming, for leaving heaven to be born in such humble circumstances. The depths of his love for us is immeasurable. We cannot comprehend the magnitude of his glory in heaven. We accept it by faith. One day we will see him in all of his glory and then realize how much he sacrificed to come to earth as a human baby in such humble circumstances.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time-My Countryside Experience

This past Sunday I had an adventure out in the countryside. My Sunday morning group was invited to have lunch in the home of friends who live outside the city. As I share about my adventure, I am sure it will amuse my fellow bloggers Gary of and Alicia of Gary is such an outdoorsman that he could have his own show about outdoor adventures and I am sure he would have made a good mountain man if he had lived in the 1800s. Alicia lives outside a small town and plays with coyotes.

.Going to my friends’ home. I drove five miles outside the city on a paved road and then a mile on a gravel road. However, returning to the city I needed to take a different route because I was going to the Ukrainian church for their Youth Group Christmas Program. So I drove on a different road. It was a gravel road. I drove on it from 190th street to 140th street where it changed to be a paved road the rest of the way. That means I drove fifty blocks on a gravel road.

As I was driving, I kept looking for deer that might jump out. I also wondered if I might see coyotes or even a mountain lion. It was a real outdoor adventure for me. You will be glad to know I made it safely back to civilization. When I reached the paved part of the road, that was my thought, “back in civilization”.

I know you might be wondering how it is that a man who has been on eleven ministry trips to other counties could feel a bit overwhelmed by the drive on a gravel road. In my defense, those trips were all to other cities in other countries. They were in civilization too just in a different country with a different language. In such a setting I am in my element.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on

My gravel road adventure gave me a new appreciation for the journey Joseph and Mary would have taken from Nazareth to Bethlehem that first Christmas. They would not have even had a gravel road to journey on. The setting of the birth of Jesus was primitive by today’s standards, even countryside standards. Our Savior, the King of the Universe, chose to leave his throne and glory in heaven to be born in very primitive and humble surroundings.

By the way, I need to wash my car but it has been so cold this week that I can’t because the doors could freeze shut. That will have to wait to next week when it warms up.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Light of the World by We The Kingdom

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 8:12

When life gets confusing, troubled, and we are not sure which way to go, Jesus is our light in dark times, dark places. Jesus created the sun and the stars which make physical light, but he himself is our spiritual light.

When life is filled with uncertainty, we can look to Jesus for guidance.

When life is perplexing, we can look to Jesus.

When we want to know God better, we can come to Jesus.

Jesus is our light in the darkness of this life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Christmas- Celebrating God With Us

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”. Isaiah 7:14

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Immanuel means God with us. We find the word three times in the bible with two of them being about the virgin birth of Jesus which are the ones quoted here. The other is in Isaiah 8 about how Immanuel will triumph.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on

Jesus is Immanuel God with us. He took on human form being both fully human and fully God the Son. Jesus lived in this life and endured the hardships of this life, so he is always with us as our companion who understands us. He calls those of us who believe in him-Friend.

Whatever we face in this life, we do not face it alone. Our friend and Savior, Jesus, faces it with us. He has promised to always be with us. It is significant that Matthew, one of the three places we see the word Immanuel in the bible, ends with this promise from Jesus in Matthew 28:

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

It is no empty promise. It is based on what Jesus revealed just before making that promise.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth”. 

Jesus has all authority and power over all of creation. Because of that, his promise to always be with us is rock solid. No one and nothing can separate us from Jesus. In Romans 8:35-39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas and all year that Jesus is God with us and nothing and no one can separate us from Jesus. He is always with us as we go through the difficulties of this life and has secured eternity in heaven with him for those who believe in him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Their First Christmas in America-My Ukrainian Friends

How life has changed for my Ukrainian friends. Two years ago life went on as normal with no clue as to what would happen a few years later. Last year at this time, there were perhaps murmurs of Russia invading. Now here we are ten months after Russia invaded. In fact on Christmas Eve, it will be ten months to the day.

Photo by Mathias Reding on

One year ago, my Ukrainian friends had no idea they would be celebrating Christmas in a new country as refugees. Yesterday afternoon I used bible gateway on the projector to have one person read in Ukrainian from Matthew 2:13-15 about the angel warning Joseph to take Mary and Baby Jesus and flee to Egypt.

Then I used Google Translate to share with them the thought that Jesus was a refugee as a young child, so he understands how they feel. I shared with them that Jesus being a refugee is part of the Christmas story.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on

This is their first Christmas in America. I am sure if they had their choice it would be for Ukraine to have never been invaded and their lives be safe in Ukraine, but sadly that is not their reality. They are fortunate to have a good church full of Ukrainian speakers to help them.

The Ukrainian church I am partnering with to provide English classes for them is having some special Christmas programs in Ukrainian. So they will have that blessing this Christmas.

Please pray for my Ukrainian friends during these weeks of holiday celebrations and for me as I serve them and seek to help them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God’s Timing

It was time this past March to finally let go of it that old winter coat. I had bought it several years before and was using duct tape on the tears in it. It had duct tape on more than one spot. The zipper did not work so well anymore either. So last March, I finally threw it out with the garbage.

Photo by Alexey Makhinko on

Yesterday it was finally time to get a new winter coat, but what is a person to do when it is Christmas shopping time and the stores are busy. I did what any sensible shopping adverse person would do. I went on Amazon and ordered a winter coat. It will arrive on Friday just in time for the cold weather to come. So far I have been just fine with my hooded sweatshirt, but the temps that are supposed to be coming a coat will be needed.

Finally time makes me think of the phrase in the bible-in the fullness of time. in Galatian 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Jesus was born into his earthly life in the fullness of time. He was born at just the right time. God’s timing is not the same as our timing. If I had to choose a time to come, it would have been the modern world with all of its conveniences not 2,000 years ago when life was rough. But in God’s timing, 2,000 years ago was perfect timing for Jesus to be born into this life.

It can be encouraging to remember God has his perfect timing when we pray. Sometimes what we pray for is delayed, but then we need to trust that God sees the whole picture, so he knows what is best.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Immanuel by Michael Card

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel Isaiah 7:14

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) Matthew 1:23

Immanuel means God with us. God walking with us. God in relationship with us. God always by our side with us. The word Immanuel appears twice in the bible with the first being the Isaiah prophecy and the second in Matthew about the birth of Jesus.

Jesus is Immanuel-God with us. He lived this life as a human being. He suffered in this life. Jesus is God the Son who became one of us to become our Savior. After his resurrection Jesus made a promise in Matthew 28:20

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

It catches my attention that in the same book in the bible, Matthew, that the second use of the word Immanuel occurs, the last words of Matthew are of Jesus promising to always be with us.

Whatever situation, problem, or struggle we face, Jesus is with us. There is never a moment that Jesus is not with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Christmas- Celebrating God’s Love

With all of the activity during Christmas time, the parties, the programs, the shopping, a person could lose focus on what we are actually celebrating during Christmas. Jesus spoke of it himself in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus spoke of the ultimate expression of love in 15:13:

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Love is what we are celebrating, the love of God in sending Jesus. The love of Jesus coming to sacrifice himself to become our Savior.

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on

Is it possible to celebrate his love without all of the holiday trappings?

Most definitely, We can put actions behind those words-“For God so loved….” It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture. We can do things like help someone be able to do Christmas shopping for their children. We can take someone who is struggling in life out for coffee and listen. We can help someone to buy food for their Christmas dinner. Imagine the impact behind putting into action the love of Jesus while sharing why we are doing it. For me it is blessing refugee families.

Celebrate God’s love by showing his love for me is the best way to celebrate Christmas.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.