If you want to know how much God loves us, look in the manger. If you want to see how much God hates sin, look at the cross.
Joy Williams is a celebrated Christian singer/songwriter. She released Here with Us in 2005. Some how, some way, I had never heard it until last year. The video above combines her song with images from The Nativity and the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. Christ coming into the world is cause for celebration, but don’t loose sight of the fact that… he came to die. Continue reading →
Happy Monday was long enough already and I didn’t want to just stick this in at the bottom. Here is an imaginative take on what the incarnation might have looked like on the pages of social media (i.e. Facebook). Props to the brilliant folks at Igniter Media.
I thought about letting Happy Monday take a week off. But I have some friends working retail, which I have done on Christmas Eve before myself. Some of you may have miles to go before you sleep, and perhaps, just maybe, some of you are braving the malls today for that last minute gift. I also have a pic or two left that won’t keep until January. So, Happy Monday. Merry Christmas. Take a moment sometime and keep first things first.
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” -Galatians 4:4-5
Happy Monday turns 20! No, not years. This is the 20th post titled Happy Monday. It’s been five months of helping get your butt out the door with a smile on your face. Okay, on with the show.
Ever see the painting Dogs Play Poker? I call this Dogs Play Christmas. I can’t believe they have wise men but no sheepdogs; or at least a German shepherd. What were they thinking?!? Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago, our Sunday School lesson focused on how the first Christmas was for a Jewish audience. Joseph and Mary, the inhabitants of Bethlehem, and the shepherds who visited on the night of Jesus’ birth were all Jews. Jesus came first to his own people, knowing he would be rejected, all to fulfill God’s plan.
This week we looked at Christ’s birth for Gentiles. Consider these words of Simeon, who met Jesus at his dedication at the Jerusalem temple:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 ESV)
It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ in his lifetime. Notice that when Jesus was only weeks old, Simeon recognized he was both light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Sometimes we get this funny idea, even if we don’t put it into words, that throughout the Bible God sort of rolls with the punches. Sometimes we make it up as we go along, but that doesn’t mean God does the same. He didn’t come up with the plan of salvation after Israel failed to keep the Law. And offering salvation to the Gentiles was not some sort of plan B when the Jews rejected Jesus.
God knew all along, and the birth, life and death of Jesus were all part of his great plan. The birth of the Christ is good news for all mankind.
Have you ever seen a live nativity? Instead of plastic figures of shepherds and wise men, a live nativity scene has actors in costume, and for an hour or two each evening you can drive by and see them. The shepherds bow and worship, the magi present their gifts, perhaps Mary rocks her baby in her arms, or else Mary and Joseph simply admire him. It’s unlikely, even at a live nativity, that they have an actual newborn present. The “baby Jesus” might be a toddler, or even an infant, but you wouldn’t want to keep a real baby out in the cold for very long. Even a live nativity scene will often use a doll, or even just pretend there is a babe wrapped up in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger.
Contrast that scene with the night Jesus was born.
The Second Sunday of Advent is about Faith, and we light the Bethlehem candle. Matthew 1 describes the encounter Joseph had with the angel Gabrielle, who told him that Mary’s child was of God. In faith Joseph took Mary as his wife. Luke 1 tells how the same angel spoke to Mary, explaining that the Holy Spirit would come up on her and that the child she would carry would be the Son of God. In faith Joseph and Mary make the journey to Bethlehem, believing God and waiting for the Promise. Continue reading →
UPDATE: Mary Did You Know was written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene. I stand corrected; read the comments below.
Mary Did You Know was originally written by Mark Lowry in 1984. Lowry is best know for being a comedian, and practically made a career out of making fun of Bill Gather. Michael English was the first artist to release it on his debut album in 1992.
Here is Mary Did You Know performed by Mark Lowry, with scenes from the Jesus film.
*The video description spells his name incorrectly; Lowry not Lowery is correct.
Yeah, it’s Monday. But look on the bright side, it’s the first Monday in December. Also the first week of Advent. And if you’re SBC, this is the week of prayer for International Missions. Most of us will get some kind of break in another couple of weeks, and this is truly the most wonderful time of year. Continue reading →
Ever bite off more than you can chew? In Christians and Santa Claus I tried include a brief version of the entire history of Christmas; not the story of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, but of where our modern celebration known as Christmas came from. That, plus what Christians do with Santa, ended up being a lot. Here’s the thing: That post is full of facts, dates, events, and reads like an encyclopedia entry. It contains a lot of information, but doesn’t convey any particular feeling. Think about watching a tv commercial for a new car. The images are poetry in motion. You see a lot of smooth lines, highway flying past, the accelerator pressing to the floor, all designed to stir your emotions. After buying the car you read the owner’s manual. The manual is full of relevant information, but probably doesn’t stir your soul the way the commercials did.