A Christmas letter

With Christmas around the corner and the (welcome) interruption to our normal patterns of life for a few days, I am finding it increasingly hard to write new posts to my blog. So, I plan to take the next two weeks off and hope to return to regular posting after the new year.

Following is a letter I recently sent to the family of Grace Baptist, whom I serve. It expresses my desire for everyone who knows and loves the Lord Jesus.

Dear Loved Ones,

This time of year provides lots of opportunities to stop and reflect on the months that have flown by and to think about the ones that, if the Lord wills, we will live to see in 2006. Every review of the past testifies to the truthfulness of the hymn-writer’s words based on a letter from the Puritan pastor, Samuel Rutherford,

With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove,
And, yes, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love.
(“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”)

One cannot live without some regrets. The presence of sin in the world and in our hearts means that we have not yet finished a day in which everything we did was exactly right. But one cannot live as a Christian without thanksgiving that overshadows the sorrows. Don’t you find it to be true that, when you look back over your life, you see many reasons to praise and thank the Lord for His grace and goodness to you? We see how He has been faithful in keeping His promises and gracious in dealing with us kindly.

Past mercies help undergird our present hope for the future. As we consider God’s ways with us over the last twelve months, we are encouraged to trust Him for whatever He brings into our lives in the year ahead. As we consider how the Lord has helped us thus far, we are strengthened in our faith to depend on Him as we move into the future. Past grace guarantees future grace.

The foundation of this hope is found in what I believe is the greatest promise in all the Bible–Romans 8:32. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Paul is saying to us, “Look back at all that God has done in giving us Jesus Christ.” He did not spare Him, which is a calculated way of reminding us that He did send Him to the horrible death on the cross. God “delivered Him up” to that painful and shameful death so that we, His people, could have our sins forgiven and lives transformed.

If God did not spare even His Son in order to provide for us, how can we think for even a moment that He would fail to give us anything we need in the future? The cross of Jesus Christ guarantees that God will graciously provide for us all that we need both in this life and the life to come. That is why Jesus Christ came to earth. That is why He was born.

So as you celebrate Christmas, with whatever traditions and activities that you and yours enjoy, take advantage of the opportunity to praise God afresh for the great, what Paul calls the “unspeakable,” gift of His Son. If you have Christ you can be sure that, from your heavenly Father’s kind hand, you have and will have everything you need.

Have a blessed and merry Christmas!

In Christ,

Pastor Tom

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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