The gift of God made flesh
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Much of what keeps you busy this month is not really Christmas but Santamas. A lot of that is harmless fun—green and red decorations, office parties, white elephant gifts, and lit reindeer on your front lawn. But when you actually pay attention to the Bible’s account of the real Christmas, you are confronted with a game-changing story: a virgin conceives through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit and then gives birth in a barnyard birthing room. But that’s not... Read More
Shut your mouth
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I have a love-hate relationship with the wise instructions of the book of Proverbs. Do you know what I mean? One minute I’m feeling a little smug as I read the verses. “Well, that verse doesn’t apply to me,” I think. Then, if I’m really feeling full of myself, my thoughts might wander to the kind of people to whom I think the verse does apply. Inevitably, the next verse I read always stings me with a lesson I need... Read More
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At age 17, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, I had an explanation for my many years of joint pain. But I was in denial. I begged my mom not to tell people about my diagnosis. If I thought about my disease or talked about it, I knew it would be real. I just wanted to pretend to be normal instead. Maybe you’ve tried the same tactic. You ignore a sickness or pain thinking it will go away. Sometimes... Read More
Don't insult the Creator
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Do roosters really think that they control the rising of the sun by their crowing? Perhaps. Did the great wealth and power of the Egyptian pharaohs really seduce them into believing their own mythology, that they were deities on earth who formed Egypt and its mighty river? God thought so: “I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams. You say, ‘The Nile is mine; I made it for myself’” (Ezekiel 29:3). We would... Read More
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He’s always there, but seems to be hovering in the background. He humbly looks upon the baby in the manger, giving plenty of space to the shepherds and the misplaced wise men (who, although not actually there on the night of Jesus’ birth, seem to dominate many manger scenes with their rich garb and gifts).  In this scene, Mary often shines with the post-pregnancy glow that’s reserved for movie stars and the mother of Jesus. But Joseph seems to be... Read More
Silent night! Holy night!
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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. This powerful little carol has so worked its way into people’s hearts all over the world that it isn’t really Christmas unless you sing it at least once, preferably on Christmas Eve, preferably with the lights down low, children’s faces lit only by the lights on the Christmas... Read More
Blurry baby Jesus (aka Pull a Mary)
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There are single-digit days left until Christmas. Can you believe it? This past summer, our church staff decided Christmas was not going to sneak up on us in 2018. We were going to plan our music and messages and outreach strategies months in advance. We were going to be ahead of schedule. At least, that was the plan . . . But at a recent staff meeting, the calendar mocked us. Christmas was just around the corner, and we still... Read More
Mother Mary
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When the angel Gabriel came to a woman named Mary with the world’s most unusual birth announcement, it may have sounded a little glamorous. “Son of the Most High God, throne of his father David, reign over the house of Jacob forever . . .” Whew! Mary must have been giddy at first. But her role was going to cost her. Bearing the label of unwed mother was no treat in a small town. Neither was deciding to go with... Read More
Don’t miss Jesus this Christmas
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I never ignored any of my children the day of their birthday parties. The planning and preparations were all done with the child in mind. The day of the party, he or she was the object of everyone’s attention.  Why then is it so easy to spend a month or more getting ready for the celebration only to miss spending time with Jesus at Christmas? Instead of celebrating Jesus’ descent to earth, we easily make the day about the festivities,... Read More
Busy at rest
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One of the most feared statements of Jesus has nothing to do with taking up a cross or the dangers of sin or the sacrifices Christians face. It is this statement: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). As a time-conscious society, it’s difficult for us to find the time to rest. We’re so busy. We value the power of productivity. Yet right now here you are, enjoying Jesus... Read More