Dave Holland - Lover of Jesus, Friend of God, Author

Know Jesus Everday

God is preparing you for something more and He is patiently formulating  his plans with great forethought. You will find fulfillment only when you discover God’s purpose for your life.

Dave Holland lives to help people become more like Jesus. His life mission is to love God and love people. He has been serving God for 50 years and found that Jesus is the sole foundation of Christian living.

Dave studied the Gospel of Luke for over ten years while writing the first book in the Daily Jesus Series. Christmas Jesus is the first installment, followed by Every Day Jesus, covering the first four chapters of Luke. Thanks for joining us on this journey to know Jesus every day. His third book, Extraordinary Jesus, continues the devotional series in Luke 5-9. The series follows the format of a paragraph from Luke, followed by explanation and illustration, and concludes with a prayer.

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Who is this Man Called Dad?
BY Dave Holland

It happened one summer day when I was visiting my Dad. He lived deep in the desert, and we were roofing the addition to the house he shared with his new wife. The sun blistered us with 105 degrees of pure hell as I slapped down the black shingles and Dad nailed them to their resting place.

Dad stopped for a moment to wipe the sweat from his face and said, “I’m sure a fourteen-year-old boy would rather be out having fun, but I love doing this.” He picked up his hammer and continued pounding nails. He was right–this wasn’t how I pictured visiting Dad.

“Who is this strange man? Who could love sweating like a pig roasting over a barbeque pit? WHO is this man I call Dad?

All my life I longed for his approval. The absent demonstration of manhood left a crater-like hole in my soul. Psychologists say that children who grow up in one-parent homes fill that empty space with anger. I am living proof of that adage.

Dad moved out when I was five. Afterward, I saw him once or twice a year. As a teenager, I often imagined how I was going to tell him off when he came to visit at Christmastime. But the moment he walked in the door, all that anger evaporated and I ran to him. An hour after he left, my old friend Depression crept back in with his evil twin Resentment.

Thirty-five years and thousands of miles of distance did little to soothe our strained relationship until my nephew asked me to perform his wedding. The family all traveled to Colorado for the festivities. My sister Linda randomly won the Coca-Cola Challenge and three tickets to a Colorado Rockies baseball game two nights before the wedding.

Dad, Linda, and I went to the game with the requirement that one of us run in the Coca-Cola Challenge. I was the only one healthy enough to compete.

A Rockies official escorted me to the team’s bullpen during the seventh inning stretch and prepared me for the Challenge. “By the way, this game is being televised nationally,” she said. She explained the contest involved running from the left-field wall, tagging second base, and continuing to the first baseline in less than twenty-five seconds to win. Nervous energy shot through my veins like a boy on his first date.

Boom! Blasted the starting gun. My forty-eight-year-old legs struggled mightily. The crowd of thirty-five thousand people roared their encouragement as the TV cameras rolled. I won with my lungs sucking air like a lung cancer survivor as the crowd cheered.

As the beautiful Rockies’ representative escorted me back to my seat, the jumbotron scoreboard replayed my victory run. It all felt surreal as we approached my seating section. I could see Dad watching the jumbotron and waving his ball cap wildly from his wheelchair. My mind raced back to my little league days as a ballplayer. Hundreds of times I had looked toward the stands, longing to see Dad, only to be disappointed at his absence. Now, here he is.

Dad casually mentioned on the ride home from the stadium that this was the first time he attended a baseball game. I realized then how much he had missed. Under the cruel shadow of divorce, son missed father and the father missed son.

The rare air of tranquility enveloped us as we each accepted the journey of our lives. We loved each other despite it all and in the end, that’s what matters. Reconciliation has to do with accepting your losses and kicking anger to the curb. Resentment and regret only steal your joy. Forging a new future based on peace allows love to emerge.

Similarly, humanity lost itself in all the crap of life. Alienated from God the Father, we had no path to return to Him. Until Jesus came and dealt with our sin at the cross. Christ created a new beginning based on peace, “we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation,” Romans 5:11 (NIV).

First John 4 further explains, “This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him,” and concludes, “Everyone who loves is Fathered by God.”

It happened one summer day thirty-five years later that I came to appreciate Dad. I’ve also learned Father God is my eternal Dad who never leaves. My heart is whole and filled with the love of God and love for my Dad.

Liquid Fire
BY Dave Holland

I learned that Christmas is not about lights or candles, cakes or carols, but entirely about a Savior who loves us enough to become one of us.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.
Luke 2:30-32

Gently falling snow paved my walk to our village church on Christmas Eve so long ago. We lived a few blocks from the church I pastored in that small New England town and I expected the Light of the World to visit us as we celebrated His birth. I was preparing early for a full house of festive worshippers in my first Christmas Eve Service. Life could not have been better – until it wasn’t.

I approached our small white colonial church building with the tall steeple noting it looked so warm and inviting. The church and the stained-glass windows glowed with subtle glory waiting for the people to arrive.

The first to come was the woman with Jesus’ birthday cake, baked in the shape of a cross. Someone came up with the idea that since it was Jesus’ birthday, HE should have a cake. I expounded on the idea by saying, “Hey, why don’t we conclude the service with everyone lighting their candles as we sing ‘Silent Night’ and gather at the front of the church putting our candles in the cake?” That’s when peace on earth almost became hell in church.

Nearly two hundred souls crowded into church that night to celebrate our dear Savior’s birth. Children fidgeted during scripture readings. People sang Christmas carols with gusto while angels sang harmony. Ushers efficiently distributed the communion elements, and everyone solemnly partook of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. I mused it was the perfect Christmas Eve service. The time had come for the grand finale.

I directed people toward the four-foot long birthday cake baked for sweet baby Jesus and gave the fateful instructions, “Ushers, turn out the lights and ignite the candle of the person on the end of each row, then each one lite your neighbors candles for the glory of God as we all sing, ‘Silent Night’ processing by the cake.” The radiant glow of the room grew with increasing intensity as people came forward to place their candle in the now shining cake. As two hundred wax candles began to accumulate the cake was transformed from beaming to a blazing inferno. The strangest sight began to unfold in slow motion. Liquid fire began to flow over the edges of the cake onto the floor and the young pastor thought, “Oh my Lord, I’m going to burn down the church with all the people in it!”

Miraculously, the fire went out as soon as the flames hit the floor. No one fried that night.“Praise God in the Highest” the angels surely sang. A little boy in the back who didn’t get to place his candle in the cake began crying, “But Daddy, I want to start a fire too.”

The lights quickly came back on and the parishioners went home that night glad to be alive. One look from my wife silently said, “You silly, silly man.”

I’m thankful the grace of God did not allow us to burn up that night. This event reminds me that Jesus came to save sinners of whom I am chief. I learned that Christmas is not about lights or candles, cakes or carols, but entirely about a Savior who loves us enough to become one of us. I went home a humbler man that Christmas Eve as I realized God was preparing me for the birth of His Son in my heart. The first quality we need to welcome Jesus this Christmas is the humility to know that life is really all about Jesus, the King of Kings.

 

Lord Jesus, help us focus on You during our Christmas celebrations.
To often we are obsessed with decorations and liturgies rather than
on the Son of God. We want to see You Jesus, touch You, worship You
in all Your glory. You are the gift that we seek, You are the Light of our lives. Happy Birthday Jesus!

Death and Hades
BY David Holland

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
Revelation 1:18 (NKJV)

Faith in Christ restores loving fellowship with Father God and as quoted above Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades showing His sovereignty over them.

Death is a subject that few of us are comfortable with. I remember as a teenager attending my first open casket funeral, I stared at the dead person watching for their first flinch in which case I planned to run out of the building screaming like a lunatic. Most of us squirm at funerals as we are faced with our own mortality. On a subtler, deeper level we subconsciously evaluate our own status with the Almighty.

Biblically speaking death is the separation of the soul from the body as our body ceases to function and returns to dust. It is the consequence both of inheriting a sin nature from Adam and from participating in sin on a personal level. Adam began dying on the day he disobeyed God, Genesis 2:17,and hence all mankind are born inheriting the same spiritual condition.

Death is the opposite of life but it does not mean nonexistence. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says, “spiritual life is conscious existence in communion with God, so spiritual death is conscious existence in separation from God.” Faith in Christ restores loving fellowship with Father God and as quoted above Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades showing His sovereignty over them. So then what is “Hades”?

Literally the word “Hades” means “unseen”, or the place of departed souls. It corresponds to “Sheol” in the Old Testament and refers to the holding place of departed souls in the era prior to Christ’s triumph over death. Jesus tells the story in Luke 16 that describes the rich man and Lazarus. Upon their death they arrived in Hades, the rich man joined the wicked in a section of fiery torment while Lazarus went to a pleasant sector called “the bosom of Abraham” where the Old Testament saints were gathered. Jesus later referred to this section as “Paradise.” There was a great gulf of separation between these two sections of Hades and into the midst of Hades Christ descended on the day of His cruel death.

First Peter 3:18-19 continues by describing this scene, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison…” (NKJV) Peter goes on to say in 4:6 that Christ preached the gospel to those who were dead.

Paul expands the thought in Ephesians 4:8-10, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended” — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (NKJV) Christ descended into Hades itself that he might lead those held captive by death into the eternal light of freedom and love found in the presence of God.

What does all this mean for us? First, that Jesus has totally conquered the ramifications of sin, death and the grave. Secondly, that our destiny is to be “to be present with the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 5:8.(NKJV) Far from the loneliness and isolation in Hades Jesus draws us near in intimate relationship, far above the death-like force that once held us captive. Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ!

Cowboys Funeral
BY David Holland

This is how we have discovered love’s reality: Jesus sacrificed his life for us. Because of his great love, we should be willing to lay down our lives for one another.
I John 3:16, TPT

Christian love is not always verbalized in these parts, but it is surely present in the cowboy way. 

Sometime back I met a middle-aged couple who decided it was time to come back to church. Mike and Ruth were going through very difficult circumstances – Mike had been given a month to live. During surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his abdomen the mass burst spreading death cells throughout his abdominal cavity. It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2009 and the doctor said he would not make it to Christmas.

Mike came to church thin and weak from chemo treatments and his wife was praying for a miracle.They drove to my church in North Platte from their ranch about twenty miles outside of Tryon, Nebraska. It was an immense distance to travel to attend church, but they seemed to be comforted and encouraged whenever they came. Mike lived over a year from the time he was diagnosed.

My relationship with them was primarily in hospitals and in church. I was impressed with their tenacious, indomitable faith. Mike knew his life was in God’s hands. We sometimes sang hymns or read scripture in his hospital room, we always prayed for God’s grace. I surmised that they lived a frugal, hard-working rancher’s life greatly complicated by Mike’s condition. Ruth spoke of chores and cattle, chicken coups and garden—all foreign concepts to me as I was raised in the urban jungle of Los Angeles.

Ultimately the call came that Mike’s fight was over, and he had passed on to his heavenly reward. I was asked to conduct the funeral at Tryon High School. My wife and I made the drive on the appointed day traveling through the Sandhills to where it seemed like civilization ended. This was a place so remote there was not even a telephone pole in sight, it looked like Tonto and the Lone Ranger would come riding over the hilltop at any moment. We finally came to a sign that said, “Tryon population 90”. Naturally, I expected to see just a few people at the funeral, some family and a few friends—that’s when my education began.

The gymnasium was packed with over three hundred people on that frigid windy day. Big, strong men just off the ranch and lovely stout-hearted women came to pay their respects. They spoke of a Mike I had never known, a neighbor who would drive twenty miles in the middle of a winter storm to thaw your frozen pipes. Pictures were shown of a person I had not really seen—the rugged rancher who could break horses and drive trucks with forty-foot trailers.

The funeral procession leaving the high school heading to Miller Cemetery was delayed by two cowboys who were driving a herd of cattle across the road from one pasture to another. They were on horses and one had an Indiana Jones whip that he was snapping in the air. They also had a dog barking intermittently at the cows. You don’t see many of those in Los Angeles. Later, we returned to the community hall for a meal. The ladies had gone into action and prepared a spread that could have fed the Nebraska National Guard. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

What did I learn at the cowboy funeral? I learned that real, rugged neighborly kindness is alive and well. I learned that neighbors are those people who stick together when times are tough, survival often depends on it. I learned that love is defined by kindness and helping people in practical ways. Christian love is not always verbalized in these parts, but it is surely present in the cowboy way.