Advent #4–In His Presence

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the Savior’s birth with us! We had such a great time on the This Christmas Tour.

As we head into these final few days before Christmas, I have one more invitation for you.

If you are in need of some peace and joy, respond the way we see throughout scripture:

The way Adam and Eve responded.

The way the prodigal son responded.

They all responded the same way.

(Technical difficulties? Here’s the YouTube link)

Whether you need refreshment of joy, hope, encouragement, or healing, I invite you to respond in the same way.

Allow yourself to spend some time in God’s presence.

Sing. Worship. Pray.

Find the hope, joy, and love wrapped in a little baby.

You won’t regret it.

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas!

Peder

“Up Close” With The Famous–2nd Sunday of Advent

A few months ago my son Ethan and I went to California. While we were there, we had a day to ourselves when I wasn’t singing.

So we visited a lot of places including the beach which was awesome since beaches in Minnesota are closed now … but the ice fishing is not far behind. :)

The smiles say a lot!

The smiles say a lot!

We went down to Hollywood and took in the Chinese Theater, looked at the stars on the sidewalk, saw the Dolby Theater, and so on.

Ethan thought it would be cool to take a tour where they show you where the “stars” live. So why not?

On a whim, we bought two tickets, got into a 15-passenger van without a roof, and found our seats among other star-seekers.

The brochure said we’d see the houses of Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, and others. The brochure also said, “No one gets you closer to the house of the stars” than this company.

Ethan was interested and I was curious so we put ear buds in so we could hear our driver/tour guide tell us where to look and whose house we were looking at.

He had a bit of a game show host to him with a voice of a stereotypical surfer dude and car salesman. It seemed to fit the Hollywood tourism vibe.

As we went along he would point out certain buildings where scenes from famous movies were shot and iconic streets. He told us that every famous person drives a black Range Rover.

He also would point this is the place where a certain star had a meltdown, that so and so’s ex wife or husband now owns this place, or the last time he saw the actual star (“about seven months ago”).

IMG_3902

I think that’s Ironman’s house on the top of the hill :)

He is doing his gig. I get that. But at times I felt like I had just turned on TMZ. I wasn’t ready for that.

The part that stuck out to me the most is when he would tell us a big star’s house was coming up. People would get their cameras ready and then it happened more often than not: the house was completely covered and surrounded by trees, or a wall, or it was a mile away so it looked no bigger than a pack of gum to us.

The key line of the trip was our tour guide saying, “Hey folks, that’s Tom Cruise’s chimney! Pretty cool yes?”

I’m not making that up.

I can’t imagine what these movie stars feel like as day after day vans full of people coming to take pictures—just to be near where someone famous lives. That is another world.

Yet, people do this tour by the hundreds every day.

When the angels came to the shepherds in the fields the night Jesus was born, they told them they would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go and see this thing that has happened!”

When they got there, they did not have stand outside of a grove of trees or look at a huge wall and wonder if the Messiah was on the other side.

The shepherds got to get as close as they wanted. Right up to the manger!

I fact it’s what God wanted in the first place: that anyone can come to Him and know real love, hope, joy, and peace!

Way better than just a chimney!!!

This is the focus of the new original song we wrote for the Christmas card project.

The lyrics say:

May the star invite you
May the angel song remind you
May His mercy find you
And give you perfect peace

May you seek your treasure
Only at the manger
May you find no strangers
Only family
This Christmas

May you find joy, joy, joy
May you find love, love, love
May you find hope in the One
Who has come, come to give you
Joy, joy, joy
Love, love, love
May you find peace
In the One who has come

This Christmas

THIS CHRISTMAS
Peder Eide/Paul Marino/Jeremy Johnson
(c) 2014 Van Ness Press, Inc. (ASCAP)

I’m excited about our new Christmas project, This Christmas, for a lot of reasons.

One of the many reasons is that how people can use this Christmas Card of music to give away to friends and family and share the amazing truth of God’s love that comes in Jesus!

My friends, don’t miss this next invitation:

YOU CAN GO TO THE MANGER AND GET AS CLOSE AS YOU WANT.

You don’t need a ticket and your tour guide is the Holy Spirit.

There will be no sarcasm. :) Only joy, love, hope, and peace that comes from the One who has come This Christmas.

God is good all the time!

Peder

This Christmas and the Weather-1st Sunday of Advent

There is a joke in Minnesota (and I’m sure other places too) about the weather: If you want to know what the weather is like, look out the window every ten minutes because it could change that fast.

It never seems predicable, and it’s never like last year. :)

There are a number of things in life like that. Relationships are not always the same, sporting events are not predictable all the time, the economy changes, and so on.

For some this can be hard because we like to know the future or at least be able to plan ahead.

Maybe it’s control. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it helps us feel like we can trust something more when we know how it’s going to turn out.

Over the next four Sundays of Advent, I want to put before us the goal of focusing on this Christmas.

This Christmas is about saying to the Lord,

“What do You want me to know about You this Christmas? How can I be different by the end of the Advent season?”

I believe if we go into the Christmas season expecting it to be like last year or what not, we will either be disappointed or distracted and not see what God has for us.

Don’t misunderstand me, God’s promises DO NOT CHANGE. :) Those are very predicable, trustworthy, and God is in control.

The true experience of Advent is when we come to the manger and say “O Come Emmanuel and do what You want with me.”

How do we put handles on that? It’s like this picture on the side of the Blessing Cup we bring to our Taste Worship events.

The Blessing Cup

When you look at the two lower case letter i’s, can you see the cross?

Yes? Now it’s really what you’re going to see. When you look for it you will find it.

This Christmas, you will find the joy, hope, love, and peace that comes from the One who has come this Christmas.

You just gotta look for it!

Be willing to let it look different than last year.

So here is an Advent question for you and your family to ask each other at a meal together:

“What would you like God to do in your heart and life this Advent season?”

Everyone answers and everyone listens. :)

I’d love to hear some of the answers in the comments section below.

Blessings, my friends,

Peder

Devo for the 3rd Sunday of Advent: Joy

While on Christmas tour, my son Ethan, 11, called me with some fun news to share. He had spent all day Saturday, from 8am to 5pm, taking a class required by the state of Minnesota to drive a snowmobile! It was a long day of rules, information, and training. Then on Sunday at 1pm, the day he called me, he took his driving test to attain his snowmobile license. The news was good news indeed.

He passed and was now legal to trek across the globe on a snowmobile (kinda).

What caught my heart was as I was talking to him, he seemed like he was trying holding something inside. It was actually when I said to him, “Dude, you should be proud of yourself.” He said back to me, “I am, Dad. It’s just hard to talk because I can’t stop smiling.”

Ethan's face of Joy

Ethan’s face of joy

That’s fun!!!

Webster’s dictionary says the word “joy” is a noun defined as: The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect possessing what one desires.

Ethan was experiencing some real joy!

So how does that happen during Advent? We sing “Joy to the World” and “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” yet for many joy is way down the to-do list. All the stuff going on drains the tank. For some of us it is a really hard season for any number of reasons like a loss in the past, to fears of loneliness, hardships in the present time, and so on. I get that…

Ok, so if you’re not feeling the well-being, success, or good fortune, how do you find the joy that’s makes it hard to not smile?

First, look into the manger and see the very face of the One who is the giver of real joy and peace and realize you bring Him joy. Remember a verse like Zephaniah 3:17:

“The LORD your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with his love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”

That perfect God with no reason to fulfill a duty or obligation and has no needs, looks at you and me and takes delight in us. It’s like that we are His favorites…because we are.

Now, take that truth of how your Heavenly Father looks at you and live in it. When you know that the most powerful God of all is proud of you and adores you, no matter what you’ve done or how messy it is, what does that do inside of your heart?

Doesn’t it make it hard not to smile? Isn’t that the prospect of possessing what one desires? That desire being love.

Ok, so here is your assignment: As soon as you are done reading this, pick a Christmas song that brings you joy. Whatever song it is, TURN IT UP! And then…are you ready?

DANCE! Dance a weird dance; dance with someone in your house. Dance with your eyes closed like no one can see you. Just dance, friend.

You are allowed to dance and enjoy it. It will be really hard not to smile.

It’s a good taste of joy.

God is good all the time.

Peder

It’s Love. The Second Sunday of Advent

I am currently sitting on a plane after a concert on my Love Has Come Christmas Tour.  A bit tired, squished in my seat, and cold because apparently we need to make the airplane feel like a Minnesota winter to keep the holiday mood real. Oh, a blanket would be nice right now…

So with Delta-frostbite I’m trying to type out this devo for Second Sunday of Advent. The second candle on our traditional wreath represents love, a word we recognize as the heartbeat of God the Father. It’s actually who He is. There is so much we can write. The power of love, the abuse of the meaning of the word, and so much in between. So for our devo, I want you focus on what it feels like to be in the presence of the genuine, godly and what I would call advent love.

photo credit: oddharmonic via photopin cc

Let me introduce you to Lonna Grabenstien. Lonna is a woman who ministers at American Lutheran in Gothenburg, Nebraska. She is a wife of many years, a mom of three awesome children, and now a grandma to three grandchildren. I’ve known Lonna for most of the years of my music ministry. We just performed our Christmas concert at her church and loved is what comes to my mind.

From the first step out of our vehicle on our arrival to the closing of the door of the truck at our departure I witness from afar the act of loving people like Jesus talks about.

As soon as we arrive and Lonna appears in the picture, there are kids begging for her attention, and everyone gets not just a courtesy but full attention to whatever question they have or even just telling her a story even if it has no relevance to what’s going on.

She listens with more than patience. She listens with joy. It is amazing to see. It’s constant. It has a touch of chaos. Every student is affirmed and even blessed with touch and words that have a feeling of destiny. You would think Lonna would get worn down to a level of just being tolerant but there is no way that’s happening. Every child feels like her favorite. I think they are.

Thanks, Stephanie!

It’s love.

Then there are the older ones. The junior high, senior high, and adults. It’s the same thing. In every introduction of anyone who comes our way, she speaks words of beauty about each person like I’m meeting a dignitary or someone who is about to cure an awful disease. It’s not a sale; it’s not a pitch. It’s real passion and understanding for each person who walks up to us.

It’s love.

When the concert was over, my dear friend Lonna was at it again so pouring thank yous and blessings onto everyone who came for the evening event. And then my heart was touched by how during our loading out of our production gear, she would encourage me with more stories and words of how she could see God moving throughout the whole concert and that there were so many people who needed to hear what was said.

It’s love.

You probably know someone like Lonna in your life. They are out there, and we love to be around them. It’s truly attractive and inviting and fun to be around those who love with more than just niceness but with true passion for who you are.

We just worshiped on the second Sunday of Advent. It’s about love. We remember that God has sent His Son Jesus at Christmas not out of duty, obligation, or need but because of something else.

It’s love.

My question to you is this: Do you realize you could be a Lonna to someone else today? Right now? Like even as you are reading this, there is someone in your life who needs what you have and you can give it to them.

It’s love.

This is a straight-forward challenge, directive, commissioning to you this week–well, the next four days–go give something real, unconditional, powerful, through your words, actions, giving, time, effort to someone very specific in your world and do it because you can.

You have all training, skill, and resource necessary to succeed. You can not fail. Why? Because…

It’s love.

God is good all the time

Peder

The Power of Relationship

I referenced in an earlier post about a special reunion that happened on our trip to India. We flew to Bhubaneswar the night before and in the morning I got to witness one of the neatest experiences I have had since being an artist for Compassion.

Julia Jones is a 17 year old young lady from Oregon who has sponsored Remya, a child from southern India, since she was eight years old. For eleven years, Remya and Julia exchanged letters, photos, cards, and a special friendship. Now they had the once in a lifetime meeting. This is not an exaggeration.

Remya had flown from southern India the night before. So Julia waited at our hotel for Remya to arrive with her mother and a translator. When Remya walked through the door… I think the picture tells the best part of the story:

This was years of letter writing, picture exchanges, and praying for each other. Oh how the day was amazing! They laughed, talked, laughed, cried, and talked some more. Remya would hold Julia’s hand or arm as much as possible. It was like she was making sure that she took in every experiential moment she could. As I stood and watched, I would glance over to see Steve, Julia’s dad, beam with so much pride and love for his daughter’s faithfulness and love for Remya.

This is what the gospel is, not just about, but is! By God’s grace we get to share His Kingdom through our own life with others and even receive His Kingdom from others at the same time! The above picture is one of the best tastes of heaven you can have.

When we live Philippians 2:3 and consider others better than ourselves, we see God’s Kingdom as bright as day. I read scripture to say that our Abba Father God watches and beams with so much love and affirmation for us.

Today, what if you actually said you are going to sponsor a child, not a number, not a picture but a child. A Remya. You have God’s Kingdom in you through Jesus Christ. You can’t lose when you love, when you build that relationship. It looks like this:

Visit Compassion‘s website to learn more about sponsoring a child.  To get a first hand read on Julia and Remya, go to the http://jonesbones5.com/ . It’s awesome blog.

God is good all the time!

Peder