Merry Christmas from the Iversons

We celebrate our Savior’s birth with you and the awesome reality that He is “Emmanuel, God with us”. We can’t thank all of our family and friends enough for the ways we feel supported throughout the year as the Lord leads us into serving the under-resourced, the immigrant and our very large family, all of whom need this Savior we celebrate. As we practice hospitality - whether to our house church members, kids living in extended stay hotels, homeless individuals, Internationals or our kids’ friends, we would not have the strength to continue without the prayers, financial support, and friendship that all of you provide.

Mary did you know? - Frontier Music featuring Katy-Grace Iverson

Katy-Grace Our daughter sang “Mary did you know” for her school chapel with Frontier Music backing her. We are super proud of her… enjoy.

Sacrifice is Viral

It has been a whirlwind of a December and I (Danny) have had this writing in my spirit all month but have not had the time to finish writing it… At our big Christmas outreach a teen who has been a part of our mentorship program the last 7 years, showed me a video he made that has gone viral on youtube. He was so excited he had made a video himself and now YouTube was paying him for his views. I was proud of him too… “Going Viral” is the goal of every creator of content, so I shared in his joy and encouraged him in his endeavors. I was also reminded of this idea that has been sitting in my mind all month and I made a promise that I would write this out before Christmas…. well, it’s Christmas Eve and here I am finally doing it…

The idea is simple and biblical. When we REALLY sacrifice for others to the level we have been REALLY sacrificed for… True Sacrifice IS viral. When someone lays down their own rights, resources or even reputation on your behalf, something shifts in your soul to move you to do the same for others… something happens in our core that demands us to come out of selfishness and self absorption and sacrifice the way we have been sacrificed for… and as we truly sacrifice for others, for their sake instead of our own, we can trust that our sacrifice is not in vain but will go viral through them as well… Sacrifice IS viral in its nature…

Not everyone realizes the sacrifices made for them by others, so sometimes it takes awhile for it to catch. I honestly had no idea the level of sacrifice my parents made for me and my 8 siblings until I had nine kids of my own. A Father’s love in the day to day grind of large family life is drawing a sacrificial spirit out of me toward my kids… yes… I say drawing, because it is still in process, and still frustrating to see the lingering selfishness of my desires I hold to so frantically…

It’s easy to get discouraged when we pridefully focus on “how much I sacrifice for you”, yet see so little fruit in the NOW from those sacrifices. It’s easy to want to give up and just fall back into self mode instead of sacrifice mode. I do that often after my kids let me down in their behavior or attitudes toward me and their mother… I want to rub it in their face and force them to realize how much I’ve done for them and why they need to be more grateful and obey better… I want to leverage my sacrifices to compel guilt driven performance modification in them that will bring immediate results and make me feel like my sacrifices are worth it… Can anyone relate?

The interesting thing is that when someone boasts to me about “all they’ve done for me” and uses that to compel some type of response to get me to behave the way they want me to, it sort of has the opposite affect. Sure, it might awaken fear or guilt in me, and I might act out on that and do the task or say the words they want to hear… but my heart isn’t in it at all… in fact, my relationship to that person starts to feel toxic, and maybe even a bit forced. Why is that?

Because deep in my heart of hearts I know that their sacrifice wasn’t actually a sacrifice for me out of love and my best interest. Their “sacrifice” was a bargaining chip, a currency of co-dependency that was enacted for the sake of getting something they ultimately wanted FROM me… Not just me… Their sacrifice had strings attached… and when I didn’t act like a puppet attached to those strings, and do what they wanted me to do, the true nature of the heart behind the sacrifice is exposed and the anger, or violence or shunning, or gossip that unfolds wrecks relationships and creates new cycles of co-dependency in all those involved…

I hope I’m not losing you with this… Does this make sense? Can you relate?

So what does all this rambling have to do with Christmas anyway?

At the heart of God’s love for His image bearers who have lost their way, is sacrifice. You see it right at the start in Genesis 3 when God sacrifices an animal to cover the nakedness of his ashamed and fallen children. The entire story of redemption unfolding in the scriptures revolves around a God who is heartbroken over his kids selfish co-dependent narcism that has broken their relationship with their creator and continually devastates and destroys their fellow humans and the planet.

But God keeps sacrificing, even when his kids don’t get it and continue to worship other gods and live for their sinful desires instead of him. He never stops giving grace and bears the weight of His people’s sin time and time again.

Christmas is the beginning of the most epic of God’s sacrifices - God the son, the Word made flesh… or God with skin on (as my grandfather says) coming into the story of his creation to ultimately relate to humanity forever and put fully on display for us all his viral sacrificial love. A love with no strings attached… a love flowing from the pure Agape heart of God for his fallen creation… Agape - unconditional love… a love that has no timeline for change and not even a hint of ulterior co-dependent motives. It’s an effectual love. It never fails.

Jesus was born in the hood of Nazareth, lived as a poor man, poured himself out for everyone, and ultimately gave his life once and for all to deal with sin eternally and declare us righteous and justified. His sacrifice was obscure and seemed in the Empires’ eyes like a defeat. But as he rose again and reversed death, and as he sent His Spirit into our hearts, his viral sacrifice started spreading… and now we love (agape) because he first loved us. His sacrifice is the only one that truly has no hint of co-dependency and is the only sacrifice that can begin purifying our sacrifices for each other to actually come from love for God and each other… just because…

That means that I can trust in the covenant love-promises of God for my family and that each sacrifice, big or small, made through the power of the indwelling Christ in me and you, is not in vain, but WILL go viral someday in each of these precious kids, or co-workers, or immigrants, or homeless men we sacrifice for… It’s worth every second of our time, emotions, and dollars spent. Sacrifice IS viral.

1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

Romans 12:1–2 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Merry Christmas Dear Friends.

Here’s to 2023!

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Special thanks to Eric Sun for the family photo shoot. Check him out

Kimberly Iverson testimony

Kimberly Sharing her testimony at our annual Christmas outreach.