Do You See What I See?

I wanted to hear your insights into the Christmas story. Which character in the story do you relate to the most? And why? What makes their experience that first Christmas similar to your life or to your Christmas experience?

My answer is still Joseph. I can’t imagine the pressure he must have felt. Suddenly being in charge of a family. Responsible for raising a child. And having to travel, and not being able to provide for his family the way he would like.

I’d love to hear your thoughts this Christmas season.


Christmas Traditions

Let’s hear about your Christmas traditions, big, small, normal, original. Here’s some of what makes Christmas for me…

The Nutcracker – Admittedly it’s my only ballet attendance all year, but we really enjoy going to see the Nutcracker. I have seen it since I was a kid and now my kids are coming. They really love it. They look forward to it for weeks leading up to the show. We went to the matinee on Saturday. The boys (myself included) have a hard time staying awake in the first half, but the second half is great. We’re rested and ready to go. I love that Ballet Austin uses local celebrities to play the part of Mother Ginger. Last year it was a local weatherman, and this year it was the fire chief. Great time.

Behold The Lamb of God – Now I talk a lot of Andrew Peterson’s Christmas record around the holidays. Usually I just get to listen to it. I’ve always wanted to see it live, but I was always doing a Christmas tour myself. This year when we made the decision not to do the Christmas tour, one of the first things I did was to look up when BTLOG was coming to Texas. We caught up with them last night in Corsicana on the last night of their tour. It was as incredible as I’d always hoped. The first half of the show is in the round with each artist playing a couple of their own songs. This year it was Andrew Peterson, Andrew Osenga, Ben Shive, Jason Gray, Andy Gullahorn, and Jill Phillips. They were all amazing. Andy Osenga is a new friend who co-wrote on the new record with me. Andy Gullahorn might be the best songwriter around. Jill is an incredible talent both singing and writing. Jason is a little better known due to a huge song this year, More Like Falling In Love. He has been a great writer for a long time. I’m glad people are finally hearing more of him. Ben Shive has creativity and talent overflowing out of him. And you’ve heard me rave about Andrew Peterson before. So the first half was great. Then in the second half, they come out and play straight through the BTLOG record. Incredible. I really don’t have words for it. Amazing night. I wish I did tours like that. Awesome stuff. Go see the tour next year, but you can buy the album now to help you celebrate this Christmas. Astounding record… walks the story of Christmas through the whole Bible: Moses, David, the prophets, all the way to Mary and Joseph. Great record.

3 presents – We only do three presents per person in my family. You get a Want, a Need, and a Surprise. I thought when we introduced this that the kids would revolt. But they really bought into it. They have learned to weigh which presents mean more to them, rather than aiming for quantity. I think we could all use a lesson in that. And it’s led to some really awesome conversations about what’s important to them, but also about what other people’s lives are like.

So what is one of your Christmas traditions? Maybe it will be so awesome we’ll have to include it next year.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year…

I love Christmas music. I always have. This year I’d love to hear what you’re listening to. What are your favorite Christmas records? Later this week we’ll do favorite Christmas songs and probably favorite versions by artists. But for today let’s do whole albums. What are you listening to this Christmas season. Mine start with…

Behold The Lamb of God – Andrew Peterson
Incredible. Can’t say enough about this record.

Christmas – Ten Out of Tenn
More people need to hear this record. A lot of fantastic artists recording old and new songs.

William the Angel – Rob Mathes
Wonderful. The song William the Angel is probably top two Christmas songs for me with O Holy Night. Love it.

Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes
A truly great new Christmas record out this year. I have really enjoyed it.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby
What is a list of Christmas albums without this? Iconic versions of White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Silver Bells, It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Plus Silent Night and other classics.

Looking forward to hearing what you listen to. Hopefully I’ll find some new Christmas records to buy.


Merry Early Christmas

Hey everyone.  I just found out that Amazon has my Christmas record “Do You See What I See” on sale for $4.99 (mp3 download).  I really love that record.  I hope this enables even more people to enjoy it this Christmas season.  If you don’t know about the record, it’s basically written as a musical. There is an opening song and a closing song.  But all the other songs are written from the perspective of the people actually in the Christmas story. What would it have been like to really be a part of this?  So, there’s a song from Mary, one from Joseph, even from the angels, and Simeon.  I had some wonderful people sing on this record: Christy Nockels, Anthony Evans, Mike Weaver (Big Daddy Weave), Michael O’Brien, Joy Whitlock, and many others.  I really hope you enjoy it.  Here’s the link…


Thoughts On The Birth

I have been thinking about Mary. How the birth of Christ was the fulfillment of the promise of redemption for all mankind and yet it was also another fulfillment of the disciplining of Eve: “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16a ESV). The birth of Christ was like every other birth in the history of the world. It was dirty, bloody, and full of pain. But in that moment was birthed hope for all. Mary’s pain enabled the rescue of mankind.

These thoughts have brought to mind my friend Matt Chandler, his family, and our friends at the Village Church. If you don’t know yet, Matt has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, has had surgery to remove most of it, and is approaching his first round of chemo/radiation. Matt is one of the most powerful preachers I know. His family is a loving example of Christ in their world. And the church is one of the strongest churches around. And yet, they are going through great pain. Every person there is suffering through this time, especially Matt and his family. Even those of us connected from afar are aching alongside them.

Looking at the story of Mary, I begin to wonder what glory God has planned to be birthed through their suffering. How does He plan to glorify Himself through their story? Because He does. And as much as my heart aches for them, I can’t help but get excited about what God might be birthing through this. What will begin this Christmas because of their pain? May I be willing to walk the path that births the most glory for Christ in this world.


DYSWIS Tour Update #2

Well, here we are on the bus driving across Missouri. We’ve done 1 show just the Agnew band, 2 shows with Meredith Andrews, and now two shows with Meredith and Rush of Fools. Maybe we should add an artist every two shows. In a few months we could have everyone in Christian music on the tour. Of course, then the ticket prices would be so high that no one could come to the show and then we would all starve, so maybe that’s not so good of an idea.

But this weekend has been great in Missouri. We started in Joplin and then played El Dorado Springs last night. I know you may not have heard of that town but they were wonderful and it was a really great church. It’s good to have the Rush boys back out and see how they have grown up. And Meredith may be new, but you need to check her out. She has a powerful ministry and a wonderful voice. I wish her husband Jacob could have come as well, but he is needed back at their home church. Which I understand and appreciate.

Now we are on the way to Kentucky and then on to Mississippi, I believe. This should be a great Christmas tour. We have really enjoyed it so far. Other than the bus getting stuck at midnight last night when it was 10 degrees outside. But I guess you have to have adventures. Hope to see you soon.