Has misguided spirituality stolen the gift of Christmas from you and your family?
My family and I live in Christmas ground zero—Branson, Missouri. The glory and wonder of the Christmas season in this tourist destination starts mid-October, successfully washing out the darkness of Halloween, and ignites the entire region in red and green. As I gaze through the window at Branson’s downtown Starbucks, where I’m writing this article, I can see a massive Christmas tree at Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo and a huge crowd of people, many in their pajamas, at the Branson Scenic Railway depot waiting to board The Polar Express. The joy of Christmas has arrived!
We absolutely love viewing the 6.5 million lights at Silver Dollar City, one of the nation’s premier Christmas destinations. Holiday stage shows are numerous along Highway 76. Christmas lake cruises, drive through trails of lights, carriage rides and much more help make experiencing Branson one of the nation’s very best Christmas family traditions.
I can’t imagine not fully immersed in the wonder of Christmas—yet many Christians have decided to eliminate Christmas from their lives. Humbug!
I applaud Christians who want to live pure, holy lives, but eliminating Christmas is not the way to do that. Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year as we exalt Jesus and enjoy family in ways that cannot happen at any other time, in any other way! I’m absolutely convinced Jesus loves it when we have fun, laugh, enjoy each other and rejoice!
It's the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you, "Be of good cheer," It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's the most wonderful time of the year. There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing, when loved ones are near. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
FIVE REASONS why we’ve decided to celebrate Christmas with abandon:
Amy, one of my boys, Parker, and I just returned from Orlando, including a day each at The Magic Kingdom and Sea World. Both places, most probably for the only time all year, exalted Jesus through music and productions. I was excited to hear songs like “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” joyfully playing as I waited for my (way too big) ice cream sundae in the Main Street ice cream parlor at the Magic Kingdom. I was even more excited to see a living nativity called “O Wondrous Night” being produced at Sea World! Of course, Silver Dollar City here in Branson is unashamedly Christian based. Their mission statement declares that all they do is done “in a Manner Consistent with Christian Values and Ethics.” The majesty of Jesus and his birth are proclaimed throughout the park. In fact, in their epic Christmas production, Dicken’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge has a powerful, tear inducing salvation moment that was the actual cause of his reborn heart.
You simply cannot escape the truth that Christmas exalts the King! Do many (most) people ignore this and focus on less spiritual Christmas experiences? Yes. However, even as they do, the name of the Savior of the world is proclaimed every time they mutter the word CHRISTmas. They can’t escape the Christmas music that proclaims the love of Jesus or the spirit of giving that Jesus best exemplifies.
Most Christians who argue against celebrating Christmas do so because of supposed pagan roots or because they have determined that it’s “not really about Jesus,” and should therefore be avoided.
First, Christmas is overwhelming about Jesus! However, that being said, if Jesus had to be the subject of everything we celebrate, we’d have to eliminate birthday parties, watching fireworks on July 4th, Veteran's Day, New Year’s Day and most other holidays and special events. Wedding parties would cease. So would graduation parties and other celebrations.
Second, unlike Halloween which is still very much a pagan, demonic celebration that should be avoided by every Believer, Christmas is currently a glorious celebration of Jesus, life and family.
We pay attention to current status, not origins. Anything can be redeemed. The current status of Halloween is a world-wide celebration of Satan. The current status of Christmas is a world-wide celebration of Jesus!
Additionally, if we eliminated everything from our lives that had pagan origins, we’d have a hard time functioning.
Did you know that the following have pagan origins?
- Wedding rings
- Wedding ceremonies
- New Year’s/New Year’s Eve
- Statues of people and animals
- Money has pagan designs on it
- The days of the week
- The months of the year
- Eye makeup
- Wind chimes
- Saying “Amen”
- Baby showers
- Making your bed
In the first-century Church, gentile Christians were told to avoid meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols (Acts 15:29). However, Paul told the Corinthians that they could eat meat sold in the public market even though that meat may have been sacrificed to an idol (1 Cor. 10:25). He told them not to eat in the pagan temple. In other words, he told them to avoid blatant paganism, but they did not have to superstitiously avoid everything that paganism might have touched at some time in the past. ~gci.org
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born; O night, O holy night, O night divine! O night, O holy night, O night divine!
2. FAMILY & MEMORIES
I’m 49 years old, and I still have a hard time falling asleep on Christmas Eve! I remember the Christmas mornings that my parents made so exciting and special in the 1970’s and 80’s. We’d go to sleep with nothing under the tree…and then magic happened. When we woke up several hours earlier than normal, a bright light from an archaic movie camera blinded our eyes as we walked down the hallway from our bedrooms toward the living room. As our pupils adjusted to the light, we would witness what happened over night. Presents wrapped in black and white newspaper (to save money for gifts) filled the room!
I’ll never forget the disk drive I got for my Commodore 64. My parents were Christmas geniuses. The hour or so of unwrapping gifts, one at a time, led to one final, climactic moment when my brother and I excitedly and nervously wondered if we would get what we had hoped for. The adrenaline was pumping. The mystery was almost too much to bear! As I unwrapped that final newspaper covered present, my eyes popped open wide as I saw it. I got my disk drive!
Both of my parents are with Jesus now, and that disk drive is long gone. However, the memories that I have will live forever. I could share story after story from my childhood to current times that are so special to me. Spending time with Amy and the kids looking at Christmas lights or visiting Christmas villages and festivals, hustling and bustling at shopping malls and enjoying holiday attractions is precious beyond compare.
In fact, I’ll never forget the time, just a handful of years ago, my mom and dad filled their living room with presents, mostly for our kids. Skylar and Parker had wanted a Nintendo Wii, but Amy and I weren’t in a position to spend that kind of money that year. The last gift the kids opened resulted in jumping and screaming for what seemed like forever. They got their Wii. They played it all day. Grampy, dressed in his mismatched pajama bottoms and green T-shirt, spent some quality time bowling on the Wii with the boys. It was funny. I’ll never forget it.
My dad died shortly after that. That memory still causes a tear or two to this day.
Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays, ‘Cause no matter how far away you roam When you pine for the sunshine Of a friendly face For the holidays, you can’t beat Home, sweet home
3. SANTA CLAUS & GIFTS
I’ll never apologize for loving gifts! I have so much fun buying gifts for Amy and the kids each year. I love receiving gifts too! I make out my list and email it to Amy early every November—and then modify it several times! It doesn’t mean I’m carnal or materialistic. It’s my love language. Some of you need to be delivered from condemnation that others have heaped upon you for enjoying gifts. Did the Wise Men not bring gifts to Jesus?
Celebrate the spirit of Saint Nick who selflessly gave. Amy and I share the truth about Santa with the kids so there’s no confusion there, and then we all celebrate the season with passion!
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)
There’s just something about the process of hunting for the perfect gift for the ones you love, finding the right size and color, sneaking it home, wrapping it behind locked doors and placing it in the perfect spot under the tree.
There’s also the excitement that I talked about in the last point. Gathering around the tree to take turns opening presents is an experience that can’t be duplicated any other day of the year. When I unwrap something from one of my little ones, no matter if it’s homemade or something from the dollar store, I come alive inside! The same is true for every other gift someone gives me, or for every gift I get to watch someone else open.
It’s the perfect opportunity to become childlike, to stop “adulting” for a while and just have fun!
After the gifts have been opened, the rest of Christmas Day is spent playing with new toys, playing new games, eating Christmas dinner and enjoying new things in a room littered with torn wrapping paper, boxes and glorious chaos!
Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, So, to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum, When we come.
4. MUSIC, FOOD AND FUN
Is there anything better than a fire in the fireplace as Christmas music fills the room? Or, watching Rudolph on TV as a family for the hundredth time? Amy’s birthday is in November, and this year I bought her tickets to two stage productions: Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story Musical. We’ll have a wonderful dinner each of those two nights, and then head out to the show for a couple hours of Christmas fun!
Again, I’m growing older, but I am often the first one in our family to start watching the old Christmas shows on TV. I’ll go to sleep with Christmas worship playing in the bedroom. Compared to the rest of the year, it’s nice that so much of the entertainment the world is offering is clean, family friendly and wholesome. Christmas does that.
Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolf play in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas eve Santa came to say: “Rudolf with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Then all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee: “Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!”
5. JOY AND PEACE
As the wickedness of Halloween dissipates in the atmosphere, the Christmas season slows things down and just permeates the atmosphere with peace and joy. It gets dark sooner, it’s crisp outside, the snow starts falling and life just gets a little quieter. As the anticipation of Christmas morning is before us all, we don’t have to wait to experience all that Christmas has to offer. We can bundle up and walk through the snow or drive through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and decorations. We’ll put up the tree, hang the ornaments and relax as a family.
It’s no wonder that joy and peace come with the Christmas season. After thousands of years of hopelessness, a little baby was born in a stable in Bethlehem. He brought peace to the storm and joy to the world. He changed my life. I celebrate him on Christmas. The joy and peace in my heart are his gift to me.
Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With the angelic host proclaim Christ is born in Bethlehem! Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born King!
Amy, the kids and I pray that you and yours have a truly wonderful, love-filled, joyous and peaceful Christmas. Enjoy your family, create memories and become childlike in this beautiful, wondrous season!
Prepare to get ROCKED this Friday at 7pm. Pastor Samuel Tatikonda will be at Revival Church.
FIRST: Tonight (Sunday) at 7pm at Revival Church we will continue in worship & equipping. There has been an unusual glory of God that has been manifesting on Sundays lately…and it arrived last night as well. Something supernatural is happening!
The easiest way for you to understand just what you are getting yourself into this FRIDAY is to watch some powerful videos of Pastor Samuel Tatikonda ministering in India.
I’ll include a video of a service that I would love to be a part of! (In fact, I have an open invitation to minister there…come on God!)
Then, I’ll share a video of Pastor Samuel delivering a young man from a demon.
BRING THE KIDS
Bring the whole family and anybody who needs a jolt of fire! We will all be together in a wild atmosphere of prayer and ministry!
There’s a cry in the land for deep connections—and tomorrow night we will all have a blast growing close as a revival family!
If you are craving a deep connection with new friends, sons and daughters and mothers and fathers in the faith, this is for YOU!
All you have to do is drive to beautiful Washington Township the first Saturday of every month—starting TOMORROW, Saturday, February 2nd at 6pm!
Bring food to share with everybody else. We’ll eat together, chat, relax, play ping pong (I’m extremely competitive and ready to humble you), pray and discuss how we can help each other in fulfilling our callings.
DON’T BE SHY
Amy often says, “To make friends you have to show yourself friendly.” That means, don’t be shy! Come alone or bring friends…but just come!
It’s hard to connect at times, and we want to make it as EASY as possible for you to do so! We can’t wait to get to know you better!
Oh yeah, BRING THE KIDS! We are masters at organized chaos!
WHEN: Saturday, February 2nd, 6pm
WHERE: 64639 Tara Hill Drive, Washington, MI 48095 (Click HERE for a map)
WHAT: Community, food, fun, prayer, discussion, more!
WHY: We all want more, amazing, fiery friends!!
The God Forum is LIVE and ready for new discussions!
Talk about God.
There is much to say, and I’d like to invite you to start and/or participate in discussions with a new community at www.thegodforum.net.
Available forums include:
- The Church
- Giving & Finances
- Signs, Wonders, Miracles & Healing
- …and more!
Do you have a suggestion for a new forum topic? Just let us know!
Our Current Situation in Detroit
Amy and I and the Burton family would be honored if you would read through this and contact us this week. God is really doing some amazing things around here!
Last May we made a seemingly crazy decision to move against the massive flow of people out of Detroit, and to move here to help prepare the region for revival.
Since then we’ve developed some amazing and important relationships, started Revival Church, ministered in churches and raised up a solid team of revivalists.
The reason for the mass exodus out of the Detroit area is the tragic level of unemployment. I’ve heard it said that there’s ONE JOB for every 90 people looking for a job!
We knew we were taking a huge faith step, and with little guaranteed monthly finances we’d have to live on the miraculous giving of our friends and partners.
Those of you that know me understand very well that I embrace a lifestyle of thankfulness, joy and faith. The following situation is not a complaint or an expression of frustration, but a simple and very real analysis of our current situation.
- Since I had to start working outside the church, my actual time involved in ministry has been reduced to near zero (the goal is to be invested 40-60 hours a week, and I’m currently ministering less than 5)
- Church plant coaches say that a key and initial goal is to raise enough money so the planter doesn’t have to divide his time and energy by working outside of the church. (The time necessary to be involved in prayer, study, pastoring, networking, developing, creating teams, marketing, etc. is quite extreme… it’s way more than a full time job in itself.)
- Due to the high time requirements and demands of church and ministry leadership, Steve Gray of World Revival Church in Kansas City recently said, “…every pastor, if they are working a job outside the church,their goal should be, as fast as possible,to get rid of that job."
- My energy and focus has been divided significantly due to the need to get a job (again, thankful, but wisdom demands an evaluation of this)
- I currently work until around 6pm every day, and then work for my own design business most evenings from 6pm to bedtime and also on Saturdays.
- I’ve been preparing my sermon for Sunday’s Revival Church service the hour before I leave for service every Sunday, which just can’t continue.
- The preparation of revival requires a massive time commitment, and I don’t want my part of the mission to remain on hold for much longer. The work to be done is huge, and I must give myself to it fully.
We are boldly asking for you to financially partner with our ministry. We need to raise at least $3000 a month to replace my job, and another $1000 or so to replace my design business.
You can give via credit card at www.johnburtonministries.com/donate. If you setup recurring monthly donations, that would be a huge blessing. If you’d prefer to make a special donation, that would bless us as well!
THANK YOU SO MUCH. We’d love to hear from you and share more about this huge mission in Detroit!
We love you!
John, Amy, Skylar, Parker, Jet and Ella
God is doing something wonderful in Detroit!
I’m so blessed to be a part of a family of revivalists—people who love each other a lot, and who are moving deeper into the fire of revival together.
At Revival Church, we’re passionately calling zealous, hungry people together who are ready to lock in and have a blast praying, serving and developing a foundation that will withhold the pressures of a massive move of God.
You are invited to join us! We would absolutely love that!
The plan is simple—we gather, we pray, vision is cast and we grow together, at the same pace toward strength and maturity.
We’ll also be attending another fiery church TOMORROW morning at 10am. Salt River Christian Church in Chesterfield. I love the converging of churches and ministry… the city church is a huge part of our vision! See you there, and then at Revival Church Sunday evening at 6pm!
Salt River Christian Church
50955 Seaden Drive
Chesterfield, MI 48047
They are located 1 mile east of I – 94, 1 building south of 23 mile on Seaden Drive.