Lies Christians Tell


Honesty may be the best policy, but deception and dishonesty are part of being human. That sentence is a direct quote from a recent article I read in a National Geographic article (June 2017) titled Why We Lie. The article even stated that Learning to Lie is a natural stage in child development. I’m not one who is overly prepared to discuss human development, but I do know that it’s not hard to see that dishonesty is prevalent in our society today. It is also rampant in our churches as well, especially in corporate worship.

Let me explain.

Charles Spurgeon once said, A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. He makes a good point, and Christians should be the first ones to understand the importance of truth, especially since we worship the One who is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. (John 14:6) However, instead of heralding truthfulness, we often champion deceit, inaccuracy, and falsehood, especially when we’re with other Christians in corporate worship.

To quote A.W. Tozer, Christians don’t tell lies, they just go to church and sing them.

I know we look like pillars of integrity when we stand to sing, sometimes with our hands raised high, but the question remains, do we honestly, wholeheartedly, sincerely, mean the words that are coming out of our mouths?

When I was a child, one of my favorite hymns was My Jesus, I Love Thee written by William R. Featherstone. The first stanza contains the lyrics, “For Thee, all the follies of sin I resign…” Even when I have the opportunity to sing that song now, I belt it out with all my heart, but when I reflect on the words, I must ask myself, “Have I really resigned from all follies of sin?” Sadly, the answer is most often, “No, I haven’t.”

One of my favorite worship songs now is When You Walk Into The Room by Bryan and Katie Torwalt. However, there are lyrics within the song that cause me to doubt my level of honesty with the Lord. For example, one line says “We can’t live without You, Jesus…” I’m lying if I say I always keep Jesus at the center of my life. Being a selfish person, I constantly try to live my life without Jesus’ influence. So, often, when I sing those words, I feel more conviction than rejoicing.

So, is the answer to stop singing and participating in corporate worship? Absolutely not. These internal struggles are part of the process of worship. In worship, we come to terms with the holiness of God and therefore, reflect on our own sinfulness. In Isaiah 6, which I learned in college is a textbook example of an ultimate worship service, Isaiah sees the Lord. He’s awed by the power that is before him. He hears the seraphim singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). As Isaiah is taking all of this in, he is completely overwhelmed by the Lord’s holiness, and then he comes to grips with his own sinfulness. He cries out, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips.” (Isaiah 6:5a)

Isaiah knew that if he were to join the seraphim in singing “the whole earth is filled with His glory” that his own life would need to reflect the glory of God. The same is true for us with the songs we sing in worship. If we’re going to sing, “The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning, it’s time to sing Your song again…” (10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman), then we should be willing to rise in the morning, remembering who He is, and being willing to lift up His name in song, and willing to submit our day to His will.

So, let’s determine to sing songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to the Lord with hearts that are pure and ready to confess. As we enter into worship, let’s encounter his holiness and repent of our own sinfulness. Let us be filled with integrity in our worship, lifting Him up in Spirit and in TRUTH.

The End Result of Worship


Everyone, everywhere seems to have an remarkably meticulous opinion of what or how worship is supposed to be or happen.  Interestingly enough, most of these opinions do not refer to true worship in a biblical sense, but are more about musical preference, sermon methodology, tradition (or the absence thereof), and permissible clergy clothing.

However, when Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6, he experienced the greatness of God, realized the extent of his own sinfulness, and witnessed his sin being atoned for.  The end result of his worship experience was when Isaiah said “Here am I, send me.”

God shaped us after Himself so that we could experience His presence and accomplish His purposes.  When we realize who He is and all that He has done for us, our only reasonable response to Him is worship and absolute surrender.


Pornography Showing At Church

At a church not too far away, in the Sunday morning worship service, the pastor was introducing a well known guest speaker. To aid in his delivery, he called for a video to be played. The technicians followed his instructions…

And pornography appeared on the screens.


Most people understood that it was a mistake. A few left and never returned.

I was shocked when I first heard this story, but honestly, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often, not just in worship services, but in youth classes and children’s gatherings.

Here are some steps churches can take to make sure this never happens.

  1. Preview every video that is supposed to play in your service from start to finish. This just makes sense. You can’t always control what people are going to say, but you have complete control over whether or not you show a video.
  2. Never show videos straight from the internet. It’s just too unpredictable. A similar version of the most godly video could contain pornography. An unseemly ad may play when you least expect it. Someone could accidentally hit the wrong tab and play the wrong video. It’s just not worth it. Download the video and play the file.
  3. Protect your presentation computers. You can install filters if you think that is best, but the best protection is keeping it away from public use.

In the case above, too many people had access to the church worship center computer and unfortunately, someone had used it to view pornography (which is tragic in itself). When the speaker called for the video, which he was having the technicians play from an online source, a wrong button was pushed and the rest is history, or at least the church was, especially for many of their former members.

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Good Friday Outline/Script using Hillsong’s “O Praise The Name”


Here’s a basic outline/script for Celebration Church’s 2016 Good Friday service. It’s my hope that other churches can find it helpful and meaningful in the future.

Three basics props are needed for this service:

  1. Biblical Whip
  2. Crown of Thorns
  3. Three large 8-10 inch nails

We chose to use a high table for the props.

O Praise The Name Good Friday Outline/Script

3 Opening Songs – Based around the cross and the goodness of the Lord

Brief Offering Introduction and Prayer

Transition Video – (also available in Spanish)


Speaker: (quoting video) Life with God is not about a religion. It’s about a relationship. Here at Celebration Church, we encourage everyone to know God personally.

When you first meet someone, you most often learn each other’s name. When meeting the Lord, most people realize that He already knows their name, but how are we to address God?

I mean, really, what do you call the Supreme, Ever-Present, All-Knowing Power in the Universe? Let’s explore that.

For thousands of years, there have been many names for God

  • He is Elohim, our Mighty Creator, who spoke and the worlds came into existence. (Show slide displaying the name “Elohim”)
  • God is called El Shaddai meaning God Almighty(Show slide displaying the name “El Shaddai”)
  • He is YAHWEH, which is sometimes known as the only proper name of God. This name was revealed when Moses asked the Lord for His name. God answered by saying, “I Am Who I Am.”(Show slide displaying the name “YAHWEH)
  • God is also called Adonai which simply means Lord(Show slide displaying the name “Adonai)

There are many other names of God in the Bible reflecting on the attributes of God, but the name Jesus most often used when praying and teaching others to pray was Father.

(Show slide displaying the name “Father)

The name Father was more descriptive than most other names because the word Father describes more than a characteristic of God. It describes a relationship.

Think of all a Good Father is and that describes who God the Father is to us. He is our Provider, our Shelter, our Forbearer, our Wise Ancestor. He’s given us Life, Protection, and Nourishment. He’s our Source, our Sire, our Parent. No matter if you call Him Padre, Papa, or Daddy, He is our Father. Our Good, Good Father.

Let’s take a moment and think about His goodness.

Sing: Good, Good Father – (Spanish version also available)

(Soft music from one instrument continues to play as speaker continues)


Speaker – God, our good, good Father, patterned mankind after Himself because He desired a personal relationship with each person. However, man’s sin created a problem. You see, God is so good and so Holy that sin cannot exist in His presence.

In fact, we learn from the first part of Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death…”

(Show Romans 6:23a slide as it is being read)

Basically, it’s saying that the punishment for our sin is death. With that being said, it sounds as if we are doomed. However, Romans 6:23 also continues to say, “But the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord.”

(Show Romans 6:23b slide as it is being read)

So God provided a way for us to be forgiven. But how can this be? Why would He do such a thing? Because our Good, Good Father loves us.

The Bible actually says in Romans 5:8 – “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  

(Show Romans 5:8 slide as it is being read)

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He took our place and endured the punishment that we should have received.

Taking this punishment is the reason Jesus was born in the first place. It’s how He got His name. An angel appeared to Joseph and said, “You are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:21)

(Show Matthew 1:21 slide as it is being read. Music switches to minor key)


However, the punishment He took for us was serious, painful, punishment. John chapter 19 describes much of this torture Jesus endured in detail.

(Stagehands uncover table. Music continues)

Speaker: “Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip.” (John 19:1)

(Show John 19:1 slide as it is spoken)

(Speaker goes to table and examine lead-tipped whip. Holds up the whip for all the see)

Speaker: Jesus was beaten at least 39 times at the whipping post. The whip lashed His shoulders, back, and legs, cut through His skin and tissue, and caused blood to ooze from His capillaries and veins. The lead tips produced deep bruises which were broken open by subsequent blows. Many who were sentenced to crucifixion never made it to the cross because they died during the flogging.

(Speaker returns the whip to its place)

Speaker: “The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head,” (John 19:2)

(Show John 19:2 slide as it is spoken)

(Speaker holds up the crown of thorns and examines it while speaking)

Speaker: The main purpose of the crown of thorns was for the pleasure of the mocking guards, who thought it was hysterical that Jesus should call Himself a king. The guards formed the crown from thorns of a nearby plant. They shoved it down on Jesus’ head so that it would not fall off during the crucifixion. The humiliation of the crown continued throughout His crucifixion. Every step Jesus made towards his own death, His followers saw the crown of thorns. His enemies pointed and laughed and continued the mocking.

(Speaker Return the thorns to the table)

Speaker: “So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called the Place of the Skull. There they nailed him to the cross.”  (John 19:17-18a. Show slide as scripture is being read)

(Show John 19:17-18a as it is spoken)

(Speaker picks up the nails and holds them at arm’s length toward the people)

Speaker: Imagine the soldiers stretching one of Jesus’ arms out and nailing His hand to the cross.

(Speaker hits two of the nails together three times)

Speaker: Think about the soldiers stretching Jesus’ other arm out and nailing His other hand to the cross.

(Speaker hits two of the nails together three times)

Speaker: Picture the soldiers placing Jesus’ feet one on top of the other, and driving a nail through them.

(Speaker hits two of the nails together three times)

Speaker: The soldiers raised the cross and Jesus hung there for everyone to see. It was there that Jesus, the Son of our Good Father, who received His name because He would save His people from their sins, died.

(music stops abruptly)

Speaker: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  (Show John 3:16 slide as it is read)

(Music for next song begins and Speaker exits)

O Praise the Name – available in Spanish)

Gospel Presentation/Decision Ministry – 

Communion Intro – We’ve shared tonight about the love of our Good Father and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. Now, together, let’s take time to commemorate what Jesus did for us on the cross by observing communion together…

Communion –

“You Are Good” (Kari Jobe/Gateway) – Suggested Song for Communion –

Closing Remarks

Closing Song

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3 Steps For Improving Spoken Transitions


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It was the early 90’s. I had big hair, a mustache, and huge shoulder pads in my sports jacket. In our musical worship set, I was verbally transitioning to the old praise song Behold the Lamb. I had planned to share about how John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

However, in the moment, the transition was going well, so I took it further than I had planned. Big mistake.

Here’s what I said:

“Jesus is the Lamb of God. He’s the only person who has ever lived who has lived a totally sinful life.”

And then, without realizing my mistake, I said it once again.

Spoken transitions, no matter where they fall, are extremely important for the flow of a worship service. If one goes badly, the worship leader or preaching pastor may never fully re-engage the people.

Here are 3 steps I believe can help us all improve our spoken transitions:

Think. Take time to think about what you are really trying to accomplish. Think about the words you are going to say. Think about the people who will be hearing your words. Think about what is coming after the transition.

Script. Take time to write out what you are going to say. Then, tighten it up by shortening it as much as possible. Remove unnecessary or repeated words and phrases.

Practice. Take time to rehearse what you’ve scripted out. Start by reading your what you’ve written aloud. Chances are, you’ll make a small adjustment or two. Then, stand in front of a mirror and practice until what you are saying feels more natural to you.

These 3 steps all have two words in common.

Take Time.

If something is worth being said, it’s worth taking the necessary time to make it as good as possible. Hopefully, by doing so, you can avoid telling your congregation that Jesus lived a sinful life.

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One Word We Need To Stop Using During Communion

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Recently, one of our pastors spoke with a guest who had attended one of our worship services. The man said he enjoyed the music and the preaching, but he was confused about something he heard from the stage.

“What was confusing to you?” asked the pastor.

The man replied, “Well, this man said we were going to remember what Jesus did for us and then he asked everyone to come forward and receive the elements. I wasn’t about to do that because I’ve only heard that word used when someone was speaking about drugs.”

It may sound silly, but since then, I’ve tried to not use the word elements when speaking of the bread and juice that we serve when we celebrate communion (another term I want to find another name for). I thought about calling it the body and the blood but I figured that might really freak people out. I haven’t successfully found appropriate terminology for the term yet, so for now, I will refer to the elements as the bread and the juice.

If you can think of better terminology, please reply.


One of the Most Important Weekly Investments For Pastors, Worship Leaders, Speakers, and Prayer Counselors

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Churches spend thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on quality sound systems and hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on worship facilities. Worship leaders and speakers also often invest thousands of dollars in training, instruments, and resources, not to mention countless hours in sermon preparation, worship rehearsals, worship planning, and prayer. All of this time and money is dedicated to honoring the Lord, reaching the lost, and empowering the church.

However, one small weekly personal investment can help pastors and worship leaders when it comes time to make real connections with people.


No matter how great our upfront preparation is and will be, if we speak personally with people and they are offended by our breath, we will lose vital opportunities to share the gospel, encourage the timid, or recruit vital leaders and volunteers.

Prayer Service Outline Built Around the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)


Last night, our church had a special time of prayer and worship in conjunction with our January Prayer and Fasting Emphasis. It was a powerful time of worship, reflection, confession, and intercession. As is usual with these types of services, we tend to go off script from time to time, so we use these outlines as a guide and ask the Lord to guide us and lead us accordingly.

I hope this outline blesses you and your churches. If you have similar (or different) outlines, please share them with me so our church can benefit from your experience.

Prayer Service Outline


  • 2-3 Song Worship Set
  • Welcome and Offering Prayer
  • Offering as service continues


  • Read Matthew 6:9 – “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
  • Comment personally upon the scripture.
  • Direct the people to spend a moment in personal prayer, instructing them to acknowledge the Greatness of the Lord.
  • Pray for the people before the worship music continues.

Song about the Holiness/Greatness of God

  • Suggested song: Glorious by Bryan and Katie Torwalt


  • Read Matthew 6:10 – “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
  • Comment upon the scripture as you feel led.
  • Ask the people to pray for God’s will to be done. Ask them to think about how often they really pray for God’s will to be done.
  • Direct the people to get into small groups where they pray for God’s will to be done in the lives of others in the group.
  • Pray for God’s will to be done in our church, in your campus, and in the lives of those present.

Song About God’s Will or His Wisdom

  • Suggested song: God I Look to You – Bethel Music


  • Read Matthew 6:11“Give us this day our daily bread…”
  • Comment upon the scripture as you feel led.
  • Instruct the people to think of one area of their lives where they need God’s provision. Direct them to pray and ask God for His provision in this area.
  • Ask another pastor, elder, deacon, or life group leader to pray for the needs of the people.

Song About God’s Provision, Blessings, or Care

  • Suggested song: Good Good Father – Housefires


    • Read Matthew 6:12“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
  • Comment upon the scripture as you feel led.
  • Direct the people to pull out a blank sheet of paper (which we’ll need to provide). Have them draw a line down the middle of the paper creating two sections. At the top of the first section, have them write “My Sins.” At the top of the second section, have them write “Sins against me.” Give them 60-90 seconds to create a short list of their own sins in the first section. Then, give them 60 – 90 seconds to create a list of those who have sinned against them.
  • Lead Then, lead the people in a prayer where they ask forgiveness for their own sins and grant forgiveness to those who have sinned against them.

Song About the Forgiveness of God

  • Suggested song: How Can It Be- Lauren Daigle 


    • Read Matthew 6:13“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
  • Comment upon the scripture as you feel led.
  • Recite the model prayer with your people and comment on what it means.
  • Upbeat Closing Prayer by Campus Pastor praising God for who He is, all He has done, and all He will do.
  • Upbeat Closing Praise Suggested Song –

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My Gift To You: Christmas Eve Sermon Outline

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Have a Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s my gift to the world this Christmas. Here are the general notes from last night’s Christmas Eve Sermon. May God bless us, everyone.

The band (or individual instrument) plays Silent Night instrumentally as the campus pastor steps up to speak

Pastor Josef Mohr had a problem. It was December 23rd and the church organist, Franz Gruber, had told him earlier in the day that the church organ had broken pipes, making the instrument inoperable until extensive repairs could be made. In Obendorf, Austria in 1818, it was unheard of to have a Christmas Eve service without organ music.

Not knowing what to do, Pastor Mohr took a walk through the snow, enjoying the majestic silence of the evening. As he walked, he remembered a poem he had written two years earlier about the night when Jesus was born. The next day Mohr took the poem to Franz Gruber, who set the poem to music.

That evening, the small Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing a duet of their brand new Christmas carol, Silent Night. If they had known how famous the song would become, they would have been grateful for those broken pipes. God took what was broken and made something beautiful.

Let’s sing the first verse of that song:

Silent night, Holy night, All Is Calm, All Is Bright,

Round Yon Virgin, Mother and Child

Holy Infant, So Tender and Mild

Sleep in Heavenly Peace,

Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

(instrumental music continues)

Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Many of us have sung this part of this Christmas carol for years. It is nice to think about the Baby Jesus sleeping peacefully. However, before His birth, it actually wasn’t so peaceful for Mary and Joseph. We don’t know everything that happened on the night that Jesus was born, but we do know what the Bible tells us in Luke chapter two:

(Campus Pastor reads Luke 2:1-14)

“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.  That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Let’s sing together again.

Silent night, Holy night, Son of God, Love’s Pure Light

Radiant Beams From Thy Holy Face,

With the Dawn of Redeeming Grace,

Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth,

Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth.

(music continues)

Jesus was Lord at His birth. We know this because of the words in John chapter one. Speaking of Jesus, John wrote:  “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

Jesus, being God, lowered Himself to become one of us. The angel who appeared to Mary even said He would be called Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.”

Why would Jesus lower Himself to be born as a human? It’s a question that’s been asked for thousands of years.

With the exception of Jesus, everyone who has ever lived has sinned in some way. The Bible says that “We all fall short of short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)

What does this all mean? Is there any hope for us at all?

The first part of Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death…” When someone works at a job, after a predetermined point of time, they receive their wages, or payment, for what they’ve done. Therefore, we know that the wages we receive for our sin is death, or eternal separation from God.

Doesn’t look good for us, does it?

However, in the second part of Romans 6:23, we see that “the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As we sang earlier, Jesus was Lord at His birth. But He didn’t stay a baby. He grew up; lived a totally sinless life; and gave Himself as a perfect sacrifice for us. In other words, He took our punishment for us.

We learn from 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Because of our sin, we’re all broken, but Jesus is the Restorer of everything that is broken. _____ years ago, I realized my own brokenness. I realized my own need for Jesus.

(Share in 3 minutes how you came to Christ)

Tonight, you may realize your own brokenness, but you have the opportunity to make things right with God this evening. God can take your broken life and create something beautiful.

(Lead the people through a salvation prayer and having them indicate their decision on their communication cards)

If you prayed that prayer with me and you meant it, this Jesus, who was Lord at His birth and who died on the cross for you, is now your Lord and Savior. He is able to turn your broken life around. He’s the whole reason we’re here tonight. Christmas is all about celebrating His birthday. Let’s remember this as we sing the third verse of Silent Night.

Silent night, Holy night, Shepherds Quake at the Sight,

Glories Stream From Heaven Above,

Heavenly Hosts Sing Hallelujah!

Christ the Savior is Born!

Christ the Savior is Born!

(At this point, your worship team can either go back into verse 1 or transition to the chorus of the song “He Loves Us”  by Kim Walker)


Merry Christmas



Seven Great Christmas Videos For Worship (including my personal favorite)

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There are a plethora of Christmas videos for worship out there, but I’ve found these seven helpful over the last couple of years. Enjoy.

Christmas In A Nutshell –

Dan Stevers never ceases to impress me with his ingenuity and simple messages. This video is great for a message opener, transition video, or plug for people to invite others.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus –  Creative painting changing often to keep everyone’s attention shows how all of history culminates in Jesus. Set to an interesting version of the Christmas Carol by the same title by Marcy Priest.

A New Promise – – Surprisingly moving, the video from Lifeway Media uses highlights of scripture to point to the promise of Jesus’ birth.

Insta-Christmas – – Great video from Discovery Church. A couple of years old now, but creative in how it tells the story of Jesus’ birth using ancient and modern pictures in an Instagram style. Download it for free at

The Real Night Before Christmas – – With a classic story telling voice partnering with video of children, this Igniter Media video builds anticipation for the birth of the King of Kings.

Seek – – Another great one from Dan Stevers. Seek reminds us through shepherds and wisemen that the Lord draws near those who draw near to Him.

And my personal favorite

The Christmas Story – story of Christmas as told by the children of St Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand. There have been many remakes of this video in the last year, but this one is my favorite, with cute costumes and original ideas.

Feel free to comment with links to your favorites. Merry Christmas.