December 25, 2017


Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.  —1 John 3:7–8

Ponder this remarkable situation with me. If the Son of God came to help you stop sinning—to destroy the works of the devil—and if he also came to die so that, when you do sin, there is a propitiation, a removal of God’s wrath, then what does this imply for living your life? Three things. And they are wonderful to have. I give them to you briefly as Christmas presents. 

1. A Clear Purpose for Living It implies that you have a clear purpose for living. Negatively, it is simply this: don’t sin. “I write these things to you so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). “The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). If you ask, “Can you give us that positively, instead of negatively?” the answer is: Yes, it’s all summed up in 1 John 3:23. It’s a great summary of what John’s whole letter requires. Notice the singular “commandment”—“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” These two things are so closely connected for John he calls them one commandment: believe Jesus and love others. That is your purpose. That is the sum of the Christian life. Trusting Jesus, loving people. Trust Jesus, love people. There’s the first gift: a purpose to live.

2. Hope That Our Failures Will Be Forgiven Now consider the second implication of the twofold truth that Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins. It’s this: We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hope that our failures will be forgiven. If you don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when you start fighting sin, you give up. Many of you are pondering some changes in the new year, because you have fallen into sinful patterns and want out. You want some new patterns of eating. New patterns for entertainment. New patterns of giving. New patterns of relating to your spouse. New patterns of family devotions. New patterns of sleep and exercise. New patterns of courage in witness. But you are struggling, wondering whether it’s any use. Well here’s your second Christmas present: Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil—our sinning— he also came to be an advocate for us when we fail in our fight. So I plead with you, let the freedom to fail give you the hope to fight. But beware! If you turn the grace of God into license, and say, “Well, if I can fail, and it doesn’t matter, then why bother fighting?”—if you say that, and mean it, and go on acting on it, you are probably not born again and should tremble. But that is not where most of you are. Most of you want to fight sinful patterns in your life. And what God is saying to you is this: Let the freedom to fail give you hope to fight. I write this to you that you might not sin, but if you sin you have an advocate, Jesus Christ.

3. Christ Will Help Us Finally, the third implication of the double truth that Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins, is this: Christ will really help us in our fight. He really will help you. He is on your side. He didn’t come to destroy sin because sin is fun. He came to destroy sin because it is fatal. It is a deceptive work of the devil and will destroy us if we don’t fight it. He came to help us, not hurt us. So here’s your third Christmas gift: Christ will help overcome sin in you. 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world.” Jesus is alive, Jesus is almighty, Jesus lives in us by faith. And Jesus is for us, not against us. He will help you. Trust him.


Merry Christmas!

As a kid I loved celebrating Christmas. We always put up a tree and I loved the smell of pine needles and how the room would sparkle at night with the lights off. Lists were made of all the things I wanted, and on Christmas morning my sister and I would wake my parents up as early as they would allow and run downstairs to a room overflowing with wrapped presents. It was so much fun!

When I became a mom with two little girls of my own, I learned the joy of being the gift giver. All of that anticipation and excitement shifted, and I found myself having just as much fun watching the girls open their presents. I usually ended up spending more money than I’d intended, but it was all so worth it when I saw their happy surprise and heard those excited thank you’s on Christmas morning. Perfect!

God has done the same for us. As our Father he’s given us a gift he planned for literally centuries, and he paid dearly for it. His intention is for us to be excited and happy with this gift. To be thankful. And to actually USE it.

So this season, take a break from all the buying, wrapping, cooking and hosting to sit still for just a minute or two and think on the blessings in your life and the gift you’ve been given – total freedom from the consequences of sin, and a ticket to heaven and a forever home filled with all the things you love.  

 Be happy. Be thankful. And have a very Merry Christmas!


December 24, 2017


Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.              —1 John 3:7–8

When verse 8 says, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil,” what are the “works of the devil” that he has in mind? The answer is clear from the context. First, verse 5 is a clear parallel: “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins.” The phrase “he appeared to…” occurs in verse 5 and verse 8. So probably the “works of the devil” that Jesus came to destroy are sins. The first part of verse 8 makes this virtually certain: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” The issue in this context is sinning, not sickness or broken cars or messed up schedules. Jesus came into the world to help us stop sinning. Let me put it alongside the truth of 1 John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” In other words, I am promoting the purpose of Christmas (3:8), the purpose of the incarnation. Then he adds (2:2), “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” But now look what this means: It means that Jesus appeared in the world for two reasons. He came that we might not go on sinning; and he came to die so that there would be a propitiation—a substitutionary sacrifice that takes away the wrath of God—for our sins, if we do sin.


Christmas Eve – one of the most anticipated nights of the year.  Children, adults and everyone in between have trouble sleeping on this night.  “What did I get for Christmas this year???” “Did I find and wrap all of the gifts I hid?” “Did I get enough gifts for everyone?”  All important questions keeping us up most of the night.

This feeling of anticipation is also what makes us excited for the gift we received from God.  Is it going to be enough? The answer is yes – it is always enough.  Am I worthy to receive it?  No – we aren’t worthy – but God doesn’t care, He gave us this gift anyway.  He not only gave us one gift, but He turned it into 2! How great is it to get 2 gifts when we don’t even deserve one!  As Piper says, He came that we might not go on sinning, and also as a substitutionary sacrifice to cover us if we do.

He came to help us stop sinning, to work on the root of the problem.  He appeared to destroy the works of the devil, to take away sins.  He knew we would need help in this area – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – so His first gift was to help us stop sinning.  His second gift is what we rely on when we fall short, He is the sacrifice in our place.

So as we lay our heads down and wonder what Christmas day holds, we can know we have already been given 2 of the best gifts ever. 


December 23, 2017


If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God  through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.          —Romans 5:10–11

How do we practically receive reconciliation and exult in God? One answer is: do it through Jesus Christ. Which means, at least in part, make the portrait of Jesus in the Bible—the work and the words of Jesus portrayed in the New Testament—the essential content of your exultation over God. Exultation without the content of Christ does not honor Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:4–6, Paul describes conversion two ways. In verse 4, he says it is seeing “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And in verse 6, he says it is seeing “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” In either case you see the point. We have Christ, the image of God, and we have God in the face of Christ. Practically, to exult in God, you exult in what you see and know of God in the portrait of Jesus Christ. And this comes to its fullest experience when the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, as Romans 5:5 says. So here’s the Christmas point. Not only did God purchase our reconciliation through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 10), and not only did God enable us to receive that reconciliation through the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 11), but even now, verse 11 says, we exult in God himself through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus purchased our reconciliation. Jesus enabled us to receive the reconciliation and open the gift. And Jesus himself shines forth from the wrapping—the indescribable gift—as God in the flesh, and stirs up all our exultation in God. Look to Jesus this Christmas. Receive the reconciliation that he bought. Don’t put it on the shelf unopened. And don’t open it and then make it a means to all your other pleasures. Open it and enjoy the gift. Exult in him. Make him your pleasure. Make him your treasure.


The word that speaks the most to me in this reflection is “poured.” 

We exult in God because his “love has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us.” This pouring out is a theme found all through Scripture because it reveals the character of God. We see this most clearly in the life of Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” 

We exult in God because he chose to empty himself. He left his throne to be born in a manger; he surrendered his rights as King to become a servant; he relinquished his power as Lord to take on the feebleness of man; he renounced his authority to become obedient.

This Christmas I hope we exult in God through Christ, who poured out his life so that it could be poured into us. 


December 22, 2017


Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. —John 20:30–31

I feel so strongly that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep and who yawn through the Apostles Creed—that among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power. You can read every fairy tale that was ever written, every mystery thriller, every ghost story, and you will never find anything so shocking, so strange, so weird and so spellbinding as the story of the incarnation of the Son of God. How dead we are! How callous and unfeeling to his glory and his story! How often have I had to repent and say, “God, I am sorry that the stories men have made up stir my emotions, my awe and wonder and admiration and joy, more than your own true story.” The space thrillers of our day, like Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, can do this great good for us: they can humble us and bring us to repentance, by showing us that we really are capable of some of the wonder and awe and amazement that we so seldom feel when we contemplate the eternal God and the cosmic Christ and a real living contact between them and us in Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus said, “For this I have come into the world,” he said something as crazy and weird and strange and eerie as any statement in science fiction that you have ever read (John 18:37). O, how I pray for a breaking forth of the Spirit of God upon me and upon you. I pray for the Holy Spirit to break into my experience in a frightening way, to wake me up to the unimaginable reality of God. One of these days lightning is going to fill the sky from the rising of the sun to its setting, and there is going to appear in the clouds one like a son of man with his mighty angels in flaming fire. And we will see him clearly. And whether from terror or sheer excitement, we will tremble and we will wonder how, how we ever lived so long with such a domesticated, harmless Christ. These things are written that you might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came into the world. Really believe.


Piper makes a good point. I don’t think I spend much time thinking about the awesomeness of Jesus. I know he has, is and will continue to do truly amazing things. When I think back and remember what it felt like as a young believer learning about the miracles he did it was so amazing. Being the son of God I’m sure has its advantages, but wow. Now years later, I’ve heard the same stories and read the same prayers over and over. Applying this to Christmas, how can we remain in a state of awe while reciting familiar prayers and singing familiar songs? I think we start by realizing that our faith has become stale. We should ask God to make our hearts and minds hear the stories like when they were new to us. Reading scripture about this amazing Jesus. Digging deeper and doing studies on his miracles. Remembering when he spoke about how we need to receive the kingdom of God like children (Mark 10:15). God has a way of doing amazing things with a humble heart, and we need to make our time here count. So as we are reading and hearing familiar stories this season, let’s remember the one who we are really talking about. The one that created the earth, stars, planets, galaxies, more than we even know about…and he was just getting started. 

December 21, 2017


Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” —John 18:37

This is a great Christmas text even though it comes from the end of Jesus’s life on earth, not the beginning. The uniqueness of his birth is that he did not originate at his birth. He existed before he was born in a manger. The personhood, the character, the personality of Jesus of Nazareth existed before the man Jesus of Nazareth was born. The theological word to describe this mystery is not creation, but incarnation. The person—not the body, but the essential personhood of Jesus—existed before he was born as man. His birth was not a coming into being of a new person, but a coming into the world of an infinitely old person. Micah 5:2 puts it like this, 700 years before Jesus was born: But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. The mystery of the birth of Jesus is not merely that he was born of a virgin. That miracle was intended by God to witness to an even greater one—namely, that the child born at Christmas was a person who existed “from of old, from ancient days.”


I love this particular Advent devotional because it reminds us that Jesus stepped down from heaven into Mary’s womb. When I really think about this, it is preposterous to think that the Son of heaven would clothe Himself in human flesh. It is ridiculous to think that Jesus Who “is from old, from ancient days,” would encapsulate Himself in a mortal human body. It is mind-bending to think that the powerful King of heaven would introduce Himself to the world as an infant baby. Jesus came down to Earth with a very specific purpose, and suffered in the world as we all do, and that is what is so amazing about the gospel.

One version of the song, ‘This Is Amazing Grace’ is as follows: “What other king leaves a throne? / What other king leaves his throne? / What other king leaves his glory? / What other king leaves his glory to die?” These particular lyrics always hit me whenever I sing them, because it awes me that Jesus is a king who did a very un-kingly thing by leaving his glory to die for his people. 

And this prophecy from the Book of Micah tops it all off by reminding us that all of history points to the Savior Jesus. It so cool to see that Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament because He is the Messiah that the world was waiting for. I encourage all church members reading this to remember today that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a king who left the glory of heaven to die for your salvation, and He is also the fulfillment of prophecies of old. 


December 20, 2017

Christmas Solidarity - John Piper

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. —1 John 3:8

The assembly line of Satan turns out millions of sins every day. He packs them into huge cargo planes and carries them to heaven and spreads them out before God and laughs and laughs and laughs.

Some people work full-time on the assembly line. Others have quit their jobs there and only now and then return. Every minute of work on the assembly line makes God the laughing stock of Satan. Sin is Satan’s business because he hates the light and beauty and purity and glory of God. Nothing pleases him more than when creatures distrust and disobey their Maker.

Therefore, Christmas is good news for man and good news for God. “ The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). That’s good news for us.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). That’s good news for God. Christmas is good news for God because Jesus has come to lead a strike at Satan’s assembly plant. He has walked right into the plant, called for the Solidarity of the faithful, and begun a massive walkout.  Christmas is a call to go on strike at the assembly plant of sin. No negotiations with the management. No bargaining. Just single-minded, unswerving opposition to the product. Christmas Solidarity aims to ground the cargo planes. It will not use force or violence, but with relentless devotion to Truth it will expose the life-destroying conditions of the devil’s industry. Christmas Solidarity will not give up until a complete shutdown has been achieved. When sin has been destroyed, God’s name will be wholly exonerated. No one will be laughing at him anymore. If you want to give a gift to God this Christmas, walk off the assembly line and never go back. Take up your place in the picket line of love. Join Christmas Solidarity until the majestic name of God is cleared and he stands glorious amid the accolades of the righteous. 

Solidarity is unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest. I would like to tell you about a powerful example of solidarity in my life. 

When I was working with our lead team to relaunch our church I was struggling.  There were some people who were opposed to how I was trying to relaunch the church.  I was doing everything I could to not run away screaming in fear of failure and in addition to dealing with my fears I had to deal with the opposition of church members who were consistently voicing their distaste for my leadership.  One Sunday morning (because of my own weakness) I had reached my breaking point.  I shared with our church family that I love you but if you don't want to do this church relaunch then please tell me and we can just end this.  As I was saying these things one of our church members, Ron Mann, stood up and said I'm with you Darryl.  It was such a powerful moment.  It was encouraging to know someone was with me in the fight for our church family.  After Ron stood up many others stood up too.  Soon nearly the whole room was standing in solidarity for the life of our church.  It was such a beautiful moment.  

I want us to continue to stand together for the life of our church.  I want us to stand together against sin in each others lives.  I want to have the kinds of relationships with each other where it is clear to the world that we stand together to see godliness increasing in each others lives.  The way that Ron stood up for me that day is how I want to stand for each of you. In a move of solidarity lets choose to walk off the assembly line of sin.  In a move of solidarity lets all choose to give our lives to each other for the glory of God and for the elevation of His kingdom.   

- Darryl

December 19, 2017


Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. —Hebrews 2:14–15

Jesus became man because what was needed was the death of a man who was more than man. The incarnation was God’s locking himself into death row. Christ did not risk death. He embraced it. That is precisely why he came: not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). No wonder Satan tried to turn Jesus from the cross! The cross was Satan’s destruction. How did Jesus destroy him? The “power of death” is the ability to make death fearful. The “power of death” is the power that holds men in bondage through fear of death. It is the power to keep men in sin, so that death comes as a horrid thing. But Jesus stripped Satan of this power. He disarmed him. He molded a breastplate of righteousness for us that makes us immune to the devil’s condemnation. By his death, Jesus wiped away all our sins. And a person without sin puts Satan out of business. His treason is aborted. His cosmic treachery is foiled. “His rage we can endure, for, lo, his doom is sure.” The cross has run him through. And he will gasp his last before long. Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death. Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem, that we might be fearless in our city. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones? How can you say, “Well, I’m not afraid to die but I’m afraid to lose my job”? No. No. Think! If death (I said, death—no pulse, cold, gone!)—if death is no longer a fear, we’re free, really free. Free to take any risk under the sun for Christ and for love. No more bondage to anxiety. If the Son has set you free, you shall be free, indeed!


Today’s Advent thought, Christmas is for Freedom, reminded me about what this series is all about. We celebrate Christmas and the birth of Christ but we often forget that it is just the beginning of the story. We forget about it until Easter when we remember that Jesus died and was resurrected so that we could have a spotless appearance before God. 

It just seems that we can only think about one part of the gospel at a time; Christmas is about baby Jesus and presents and eggnog while Easter is about the resurrection, eggs, and a big Sunday dinner. Well, at least that what it often gets to be about.

Today we are reminded to remember that the birth of Christ should also make us think of where it led to – the cross and our salvation. The birth led us to the freedom from the power of death. It is at the cross that Satan was defeated, the power of death eliminated, and our sins erased.


December 18, 2017


“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” —John 17:18

Christmas is a model for missions. Missions is a mirror of Christmas. As I, so you. For example, danger. Christ came to his own and his own received him not. So you. They plotted against him. So you. He had no permanent home. So you. They trumped up false charges against him. So you. They whipped and mocked him. So you. He died after three years of ministry. So you. But there is a worse danger than any of these which Jesus escaped. So you! In the mid-16th century Francis Xavier (1506–1552), a Catholic missionary, wrote to Father Perez of Malacca today part of Indonesia) about the perils of his mission to China. He said, The danger of all dangers would be to lose trust and confidence in the mercy of God… To distrust him would be a far more terrible thing than any physical evil which all the enemies of God put together could inflict on us, for without God’s permission neither the devils nor their human ministers could hinder us in the slightest degree. The greatest danger a missionary faces is to distrust the mercy of God. If that danger is avoided, then all other dangers lose their sting. God makes every dagger a scepter in our hand. As J.W. Alexander says, “Each instant of present labor is to be graciously repaid with a million ages of glory.” Christ escaped the danger of distrust. Therefore God has highly exalted him! Remember this Advent that Christmas is a model for missions. As I, so you. And that mission means danger. And that the greatest danger is distrusting God’s mercy. Succumb to this, and all is lost. Conquer here, and nothing can harm you for a million ages.


My mom used to tell me that if you’d had a tough week, the kind of week that made you want to quit, you had experienced a “character building” week. The idea was that when facing adversity, your strength of character would help you through.

I’ve had a character building week.

I work for a handyman company and we sell our repair and remodel services to folks in my area. I generally love what I do, meeting new people every day and helping them to get things fixed and finished. During my work week my “mission” is to find out what people need and then help them to take care of those needs. I’m passionate about making our clients happy!

But every once in a while I’ll have a string of customers who I just can’t seem to help. Either they don’t like our prices, or they want a job done that we can’t do, or they just aren’t satisfied with the finished product. When that happens I find myself quick to forget the many happy clients I’ve taken care of in the past and I begin to wonder if I’m doing a good job and if I should be selling this service.  

The interesting thing is, as human beings it really doesn’t take much for us to feel disheartened and discouraged. Somehow it’s always easier to focus on the negative and forget all the good and positive things. Satan loves this! Discouragement is one of his favorite weapons.  As believers it’s so very important that we understand the inevitability of those discouraging moments, and that we’re ready to do battle with Satan when he threatens our mission to be good children of deep faith. Lift your spiritual light high and hold it tight! Know with all your heart that you’re a son or daughter of the Kingdom, and that no matter how difficult your days, your Father is proud of you and He’s planning an amazing homecoming in heaven just for you.