The Advent Jesse Tree

Before this Christmas Season, I had never heard of the Advent Jesse Tree tradition. It is taken from Isaiah 11:1 which points to the future Messiah when it says, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."

Eric Wakeling mentioned to me in November that his family has been doing a Jesse Tree the last few years and how it was such a great tradition to point his kids towards Jesus at Christmas time. Then a few days later, my Sister-in-law Elle, sent us a surprise package for Christmas and lo and behold it was a Jesse Tree with all the ingredients! We have loved incorporating this tradition over the last few weeks and it has become an instant classic in our home.

Here are some photos:

Elle sent us this great Advent Jesse Tree devotional book to go along written by Dean Meador Lambert (Abingdon Press). The devotional is a 25 day devotional that starts in Genesis and goes to the Birth of Jesus in the Gospels showing along the way how the Old Testament Scriptures point to the coming Messiah Jesus Christ. Click Here to see more details about the Advent Jesse Tree book Elle gave us...

Go Here to see a full description of what the Advent Jesse Tree is all about as well as other ideas from my Church, Calvary Church on ways make Christmas more about Jesus

Go Here to see a sample of another Jesse Tree Devotional

Go Here to see an example of another family's Jesse Tree from our Church

The Unfolding Stories of Calvary Church Santa Ana

I love my Church.
It is not perfect.
Far from perfect.
But I still love our Church.
We are a community that cherishes God's words as found in the Bible.
We are a community that embraces God's grace.
We are a community that loves kids and teens.
We are a community that burns for world mission and evangelism.
We are a community that is striving to honor Jesus in belief and action.
We are a community that loves to worship thru music.
Here are some of our personal stories...

Our Stories from Calvary Arts & Media on Vimeo.

When pastors update and tweet (Do’s and Don’ts)

I found this on Steve Cornell's blog and I think he is right on...

Seven Do’s
1.Announce events and teaching themes
2.Link to helpful resources
3.Encourage others
4.Let people know a little about yourself
5.Share Scriptures or great quotes
6.Ask for prayer
7.Limit your time on networks

Seven Don’ts
1.Post anything that you would fear being read at Church
2.Engage ongoing conversations with the opposite sex
3.Fish for affirmations or support
4.Post ambiguous or manipulative statements
5.Vent toward Church matters or members
6.Become combative or defensive (take the bait and escalate)
7.Embarrass your family with comments or photos

Deep Thought

"When I die, I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy; my greatest grief, that I have done so little for Jesus, and my greatest joy, that Jesus has done so much for me." —William Grimshaw
(quote found on

Life Perspective

Matt Chandler is practically the same age as me, but for the last 3 years he has been a mentor from afar (Texas) as I have listened weekly to his sermons on-line. I have learned from Matt how to preach the scriptures with passion and boldness. A year ago, Matt found out he had a brain tumor. A tumor that Doctors believe give him 2-3 years to live. Recently, he wrote out some thoughts on the anniversary of his diganosis and surgery. What Matt writes is incredibly moving and powerful. Read for yourself the following excerpts from his blog post on his Church blog, "Dwell Deeply."

"This Saturday, Dec. 4 marks the one-year anniversary of the 7-8 hour craniotomy that removed a malignant cancerous tumor from my brain and started a year of radiation, chemo and recovery. To say that we’ve been doing some reflecting as a family would be an understatement. So on the one-year anniversary here are a few random thoughts I’ve had:

He really is enough.
For years I have taught that simple sentence to people, and I believed with everything in me that it was true. Seeing it personally has been another story, like the difference between seeing a picture of the Grand Canyon and actually seeing it. I found out on Nov. 26 that I had a mass on my frontal lobe, on Tuesday Dec. 1 that I was going to need surgery soon and that the scans “didn’t look good,” and on Dec. 4 had a good portion of my right frontal lobe removed. I’ll be honest, that season was terrifying, and we wept. I wept with Lauren, my friends, family members, partners in ministry and by myself. Leading up to the surgery if I saw one of my children, particularly my oldest daughter Audrey, it was a fight to hold myself together. Under all of that fear and all those tears there was this quiet confidence, this firm foundation, this unshakable promise, and we never lost it. The world would sink in the days and months to come but we continually found our footing in the truth that He is in control of all things and loves me deeply (Romans 8:28-39).

The only thing that matters is I am His.
If you ask people about me, depending on who they are, they will tell you I am a husband, father, preacher, leader, son, brother, friend, etc. When we were prepping for surgery, they went over this long list of things that were “possibilities.” I could lose the ability to speak, walk and lose short-term or long-term memories. The list was much longer, but I think you get the point. I am primarily known as a pastor and preacher, but here’s the truth that slammed into me when I was wrestling with God over this surgery. One day I am not going to preach or pastor; one day I am not going to be Lauren’s husband or my kid’s father. All the things that define me here will be gone, and I will simply be His. I’m still meditating on that. That’s all I really am…His. Now, while He gives me breath there are sermons to preach and people to shepherd, children to impart the glory of God to and an extremely beautiful wife to love. All these things are shadows of a greater reality. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 2:17)

If it’s not by grace alone, I’m in a lot of trouble.
Jonathan Edwards was right to resolve, “to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.” The thought of dying, though repulsive to most of us, brings an uncanny clarity to life. I was told in mid-December that what I had was fatal and that the average lifespan was 2-3 years after diagnosis. So I have at max, 2 years left (I want to quote Twain here on statistics but don’t want to answer the e-mails and complaints in the comment section I would get). When you hear that kind of news, you do some real soul searching and here is something disturbing I found out about me. I don’t trust all my motivations in ministry. Now don’t get me wrong. I deeply, deeply love the God of the Bible. I love to proclaim Him and think about Him and talk about Him to anyone who’ll listen, but I learned in college that when I do that, good things happen and by good things I mean good things for me. People want to hear me teach; they pay me money. I’m actually “famous” in some circles. What a dangerous culture we live in. In some places being used powerfully by God can get you killed and here it makes you “famous.” Hear me confess this. I like it. I like that people download me, watch videos of me, want my take on things and I believe that there is a part of me (that’s hopefully dying) that likes it not just because it makes much of Jesus but makes much of me. That is an embarrassing truth about me, and I have fasted and prayed that God would put it to death. So to quote Lecrae “If Heaven ain’t a gift then I ain’t getting in.”

I suck at praying.
I didn’t think I did before this. I thought it was a strength, but I was wrong. When you realize that all you are is His, you realize or at least I did, that I don’t stay connected to Him as I have been commanded to. I would spend some time praying in the morning, but my life wasn’t saturated in it. I lived like I put my time in and now I can handle this. So again, I confess that I went into hundreds of meetings over my first seven years as pastor of The Village without asking for direction and wisdom, without asking for power and clarity. Although I knew I wasn’t wise enough, experienced enough or seasoned enough, I went and tried to be what they needed. I have grown exponentially in this area this year and I’m hoping that when I’m done with my race, I would be known not just as a faithful preacher of God’s Word but a man who communed with his Father without ceasing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
If God grants me another 100 years, I couldn’t begin to thank all of you who have prayed, encouraged, sent me cards, letters, books, money, prayer blankets (BTW I sat under everyone of those blankets and received your prayers in Jesus’ name), pictures, paintings and poems. Things came in from all over the world, and the entire Chandler family felt the tangible love of God made visible through His saints.
If I kept going this would be too long to be considered a blog so I’ll stop here for now and write some more next week — including one of the biggest, most painful lessons I’ve learned.
Christ’s blessing to you all,

Matt Chandler


Wow! I may not have had a Doctor tell me how long I have left to live, but I want to live my life now ,the way Matt's describing his life now. This is my prayer for 2011! - Matt Doan.
"We are made for God and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in

- Augustine

"They didn't come to see you, they came to hear from Jesus."

-Message written on J Vernon McGee's Pulpit