Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Top 5 (Okay, 6) Things Your Pastor Really Wants for Christmas:



1. For Our Eyes to be Opened

A friend pointed out that Christmas is particularly a time in which we are reminded of the Omnipresence of God. He is and has been everywhere at all times in all of history and the future and we remember at Christmas the “fulness of time” in which he chose to reveal to us that Messiah had come. A gift that many pastors are praying for is that our people (and all people) will stop and consider the humility and wonder of God revealing Himself to men.

2. That We Keep Going

I think, as a pastor, the thing I typically want the most for my people (and the thing that I am consistently reminded I cannot provide for them) is that they never ever give up. We all face challenges and trials and disappointments. My desire for my people and for myself is that we not turn back. Some of the greatest and sweetest truths of God go from hypotheses on a page to convictions of our soul by the God-orchestrated and God-shepherded trials of our lives. I want to know and I want my people to know the deep, saturating truth of God’s love for His children that is higher, wider and deeper than they can even fathom. We only get there if we never give up. I pray that the Spirit of God empower His people to remain in the faith.

3. An iPad!

Just kidding! Wanted to make sure you were still reading… But iPads are cool…

4. For Us to See the Miracle

Christmas particularly gives us the opportunity to reflect on the “mega-truths” that echo from the manger. This baby was a cacophony of the miraculous. From the lineage that was prophesied to the location of his birth and the logistics of how it came to be is a script of unparalleled depth and orchestration. All this from a Sovereign who was bringing about the miraculous in the lives of his children – their rescue and deliverance from sin. Be it today or any day, many pastors pray that those who have not received the miracle of their rescue will behold it – and those who HAVE received the miracle will live thankful lives.

5. Presence and Peace

Another friend has been through a year that has left indelible marks in the foundation of his faith. The result has been a conviction of “Immanuel.” God IS with us. No matter where we are. To the end of the age. In hardship – He is with us. In joy – He is with us. In loneliness – He is with us. In dismay – He is with us. And really, hand-in-hand with this reality is a heart-cry of many in ministry: Peace. Peace that doesn’t simply calm us down in busy times, but SLOWS us down. That we and our people would find and dwell in Jehovah Shalom and enjoy the Sabbath rest that is Jesus. My friend said it well, “I believe that hurry is the greatest enemy to a life lived with Jesus today.” High on the list is a belonging and a rest that flavors every aspect of our lives and the lives of our people.

6. To Fall in Love with God’s Glory

At the heart of most pastors I know is a real desire for the best for their people. If they would receive any gift from their people this year it would be that they fall in unassailable love with the glory of God. The love for His glory would create a people who embody much of the things on this list. In wanting the best for ourselves and for our people, wisdom comes to realize that – though the world clamors after many things – we and they will receive ALL that we need when we truly pursue one thing: The Kingdom of our Omniscient, Empowering, Miraculous, Ever-Present, Peace-Giving God.

While I am sure there are many more items that could be added to a pastor’s secret wish list for Christmas, they pretty much condense to one thing: a desire for our people to love God with their heart, mind, soul and strength and love each other as themselves (call it the Luke 10:27 wish list). We want for ourselves and for our people the joy of walking in full fellowship with our Savior.

Jay Sampson is the Teaching Elder at Heritage Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma where he pastors literally tens of people every week. A father of three and aspiring fantasy baseball champion, Jay has been teaching at Heritage since 2007. Weekly podcasts can be found at

Becoming Like Our Heroes


On our recent trip to Greece, I was reminded of the ancient Greek poem – Odyssey by Homer. The poem illustrates Odysseus’ adventures where he encountered various mythical gods.  Odysseus had to deal with gods like Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, Cyclops, and others. Each of the gods responded very differently to Odysseus. These gods responded to him by listening, showing love, expressing hatred, answering his prayers, as well as mocking him.  At times these gods were nice and kind, and at other times they were spiteful and vengeful. On each of the adventures, Odysseus never quite knew what to expect from these gods and goddesses.

 We learned that the heroes of the Greek and Roman mythology morphed into the likeness of the gods they served. These mythological gods led their followers into both good and bad actions. The followers changed their lives to suit those of the gods the followed.   

 We all talk and act like the heroes we admire.  In the same way, we all copy and imitate the gods we serve. If we admire and follow the world, we become like the world.  If we admire and follow God, we become like our God.  Our God is a holy God. He said, “be holy because I, the Lord your God, as holy” (Leviticus 19:2). We are to be like the God we serve – our holy God!

  •  Do you want to know who you are like? See who you admire, serve, and adore. 
  • With whom do you spend time? Where do you invest your time, resources and talents?  That’s where your character is shaped.
  • Are you allowing God to mold you and shape you into His likeness?
  • How are you “becoming like the God you serve?”
  • What is stopping you form fully becoming like the God you serve?
  • What can you do to serve and spend more time with God?  

7 Reasons Why People Are Ungrateful


Psalm 106:1, “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.”

“A story is told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.”  Our Daily Bread, February 20, 1994.


Some don’t say “Thank you” because they were never taught to be grateful.  Fewer parents teach their children manners anymore.


Some people don’t say “Thank you” because they procrastinate.  They say they will do it later, but they never do. Procrastination is the enemy of time.  Get to it while you still have the time.


Some people don’t say “Thank you” because they are simply ungrateful.  They believe life owes them something. Why say “Thank you” when I already deserve it?


Some people don’t say “Thank you” they never realize the efforts you put.  Few people consider the efforts that go behind the work you put in.  Few people value the contributions of others.


Some people don’t say “Thank you” because you are too low on their perceived social ladder.  They expect you to serve them.  They would gladly say “Thank you” to people they consider important.


Some people find it hard to say thank you because they are in pain.  The struggles they are facing scream louder than any silver linings they could see in the midst of their suffering.  They cannot pay attention to the possibility of anything being good, when their circumstances are dictating pain and suffering. What’s there to be thankful for when life hurts? They reason.


Some people cannot say “Thank you” because they are displeased and dissatisfied with the results or situation.  They want more, and better.  They cannot say “Thank you” for the small, paltry results.  How could they?  They deserve more and better.


  • This #Thanksgiving, remember to have the attitude of gratitude. Ingratitude attitude = immaturity.
  • This #Thanksgiving, remember to say “Thank you.” Gratitude is a rare commodity these days. Be a #ThankingMachine
  • This #Thanksgiving, be thankful for all your blessings; life would be very different without all your blessings.

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

To Do …

  • Tell God how thankful you are. Tell Him for what you are thankful.
  • Stop the Thanksgiving feast procession this Thursday, to read out your Thanksgiving list to your family.
  • Write a letter, make a call, email, or send a Twitter/Facebook message to someone to whom you are thankful. Tell them the exact things for what you are thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Quotes To Live By


  1. You are at your best when you are yourself. Be the best YOU you can be!
  2. God can surgically remove sin from the depths of our hearts, victoriously breaking the cycle of sin. Hallelujah
  3. Good intentions are simply that – good. Convert your intentions into action. Just do it.
  4. It is more prudent to be holy than to be religious. Go beyond attending church, connect with God.
  5. We don’t do good works to be saved. We do good works because we are saved.
  6. Life is about crossing bridges when faced with flooding rivers. Avoid burning those bridges lest you may have to cross the same rivers tomorrow.
  7. Falling in love with you meant giving you all I had. I lay bare & vulnerable – at your mercy. Be gentle, my fragile heart is in your hands.
  8. While your background & circumstances have determined your current state, your decisions & corresponding actions will determine your destiny
  9. You are the Gospel transmitter. The message you speak through your actions must validate the Gospel you proclaim with your lips!
  10. The arrival of the Light is the destruction of darkness. Choose the Light.
  11. Jesus lit up the universe to be the light in this sinful world; Jesus lit up my heart to be the light in my sinful life.
  12. Worry is cheap, it keeps you busy for nothing. Worry
  13. The struggles you are facing today are not the destination; they are just layovers on your way to your destiny. Tomorrow will be brighter.
  14. To come to Jesus, we have to leave it all, and fully dedicate ourselves to Him. Forsake it all to give your all to Him.
  15. Before Jesus, you were NOBODY. With Jesus you are SOMEBODY. Now take Jesus to EVERYBODY!
  16. It may be that a few devotees will march into Heaven while a bunch of carefree, cool people slide into Hell.
  17. Beauty, success, fame, riches can get you many friends. Failure, suffering, poverty reveal who your real friends are.
  18. Many people hurt. They are on the mat of sin & self-pity. Do you even notice them? Are you tenacious enough to lift them up to Jesus?
  19. Where the devil is, death is. Where Jesus is, LIFE is. Choose LIFE.
  20. When Jesus speaks, raging seas calm down. When Jesus speaks, dangerous storms turn into sunshine! Call on Jesus in the midst of your storms.sunset-690042_1280

Mesmerizing Malta

As we pulled into the city of Valletta, Malta, we were greeted by a thick fog. In fact, the night before, the cruise ship had rocked back and forth in a storm. I had felt so nauseous I thought I was going to lose my dinner. I thought of the storm Paul and his companions had experienced 2,000 years ago in that same area. That storm caused the ship wreck that resulted in them staying on the Island of Malta for about 3 months.  

The cruise ship pulled into the natural harbor that is shaped like a man’s palm. We disembarked right after lunch. The charming guide proudly described the history of this tiny island. Our first stop was a short walk into the town of Valletta. We walked through the small, crowded streets lined with immaculate shops on either side of the streets. Our first stop was at the Church of Saint John’s Co-Cathedral which is a Roman Catholic co-cathedral in Valletta, Malta, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. This is, by far, is the most ornate and beautiful church I have ever seen. Wow! As soon as we walked through the doors, we saw golden art and decor that celebrated the life of the disciple John. The high ceiling, with its icons and painted art were grandiose and exquisite. Every angle, every wall revealed the magnificent art and unimaginable decor. The floors were marble squares with inscriptions that detailed the saints who were buried under it. After experiencing this overwhelming beauty, we left the church. 

We drove through the center of the island to our second destination- the Mosta Church. This church boasts of having the 3rd largest dome in Europe. The dome was visible from miles away. As we walked up the stairs towards the entrance, it began to drizzle. Throughout our trip, we had enjoyed dry, warm, sunny weather. 
We waited outside for a few minutes before we were allowed inside. The guide told us there was going to be a funeral service for a little child. That broke my heart. Under the Beaty of the dome, towards the altar was were pretty flowers. In the middle was a little white coffin. All the funeral guests wore white clothes. As a parent, such a sight is hard to witness. 

We walked into a room that displayed a replica bomb, similar to the one the Germans dropped on this church at end of WWII. Praise be to God, the bomb went through the dome but did not explode! They call it the Miracle of the Bomb. Both churches we visited in Malta were spared during WWII. I fell in love with this little island. I told Rutendo, that in the 1990’s, though I knew very little about Malta, I used to say some day I will retire in Malta because it is situated between Africa and Europe. Good bye Malta. I hope to return some day.