Wednesday, December 24, 2008
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Is.9:6-7)
God's goodness to us expressed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ is truly marvelous! In Him we find the fulfillment of the deepest needs of our hearts.
I pray that this Christmas will be a time for each of us where we are reminded of the goodness of God and our hearts will be drawn to want to know Him and walk with Him in a deeper way!
Celebrate Him. Love the people you find yourself with! Embrace the day with joy!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Posted: December 22, 2008
1:00 am Eastern
'Tis the season to be Jesus stealing? Away in a manger, no Christ for the bed? It has become a new Christmas fetish – neutering nativities by jacking the Jesus. Just over the past week, dozens of mini-messiahs have been nabbed from nativities across the country.
For example, a church in Andover, N.Y., had its baby Jesus stolen from the nativity.
Another Jesus figurine was robbed from a downtown nativity in Paw Paw, Mich.
A marble baby Jesus was ripped off from the nativity scene of a private resident in Omaha, Neb.
The entire holy family was missing from a nativity in New Albany, Ind.
In Palm Beach, Fla., for two consecutive years, robbers have made off with the baby Jesus.
In Athens, Tenn., a nativity was fleeced of its savior for the second time too.
And such criminal acts are not restricted to America, as a baby Jesus was smashed then stolen at the 12th century St. John's Church in Cardiff, England, and a beer was blasphemously left in its place.
To prevent further sacred thefts, thousands of churches and private residents are turning to technology to help them "save Jesus." But when GPS devices have to be planted in the skulls of the savior, and security cameras have to guard the path of the three wise men, can't we see that society is a bit off-center?
Back here in the state of Texas, when the Jesus statuette was heisted from the nativity of the Herrera family of North Richland Hills, Gloria Herrera, 48, a Catholic, passionately conveyed what we are all wondering, "They took the family Jesus. How can anybody do that?" What type of world do we live in when hoodlums (young and old) commit sacrilege for entertainment?
These religious heists beg the question: Is stealing baby Jesus figurines harmless juvenile fun or intentional hate crimes? Whatever the answer to each, there's absolutely nothing funny about vandalism. Skeptics might mock these defacements as negligible crimes, but stealing the soul of nativities is one more dismal sign of a culture gone awry. Religious Grinches who steal these symbolic Christs are pathetic piles of yuletide trash.
So here's the hope. Not that these distressing religious crimes will decrease over the years. But no matter how often Christmas thugs try to pilfer nativities, they can never take away the real Jesus of history.
Sure, cases have been made. Some can hope he never existed, as 70 percent of Britons who recently doubted the biblical story of the birth of Jesus. But, rebutting such uncertainty as naïve, Simon Gathercole, a scholar at Cambridge University, explained that people today are cynical because they don't realize the origins of Christianity are entrenched in real history. Gathercole admonished, "Jesus was born while Augustus was emperor of Rome just before Herod died. … [W]e're talking about events that are anchored in real history not in ancient
Another British scholar, N.T. Wright, wrote that most opposing views of Jesus (often posted even on the Internet by skeptics) are simply pseudo-historical evaluations: "My argument from this point onward … will be that they have offered us a Jesus of their own imagination, which the church, and anyone else who may be interested ought to resist in the name of serious history."
Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, professor of history at the
That is why F.F. Bruce, late professor at the University of Manchester, concluded: "Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic [a universal statement of fact] for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories."
The question is not whether Jesus lived, but who he was, and is. It's a question we all will answer, consciously or not, especially this Christmas week. It's a question even Jesus asked the people of his day, "Who do people say that I am?"
As for me and my house, He is the Son of God and Savior of the world. That's what we celebrate most on Christmas Day. At very least, any unbiased previewer of history cannot deny that time and civilizations have pivoted on his unique and "One Solitary Life":
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn't go to college.
He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He did none of these things one usually associates with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
When he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind's progress.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever say, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.
The fact is, wise men still seek him. And if you genuinely follow his star, you'll find a stable, not a fable.
For those who seek, I recommend you check out the scholarly works: N.T. Wright's "Who was Jesus?"; F.F. Bruce's "Are the New Testament documents reliable?"; Lee Strobel's "The case for Christ" or check out his resource-full website or Ravi Zacharias' "Jesus among other gods." And, of course, the Bible, which makes the best of Christmas gifts.
(Note: In December, Chuck is giving away a free chapter from his New York Times best-seller, "Black Belt Patriotism." To get yours, go to ChuckNorrisNewBook.com. "Black Belt Patriotism" makes a great Christmas gift!)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
She was terribly mutilated in an attack by Hindu extremists.
Her response is detailed at the end of the article--
Nonetheless, Nayak urges India's Christians to forgive their Hindu attackers.
"[W]e forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes," she told Asia News. "They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future."
Nayak said her life plan is to share the message of God's love.
"The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace," she said. "I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
"Being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
Christmas is a good time to remember the sacrifice that God made for us. Christ laid down His glory and willingly submitted Himself to His creation. We understand, somewhat, the agony of the cross but we sometimes gloss over the sacrifice for the eternal Word to live like us and among us. He endured the trauma of childbirth. He was thirsty and cold and sweaty. He was even tempted with sin just as we are (Heb. 4:15). He submitted to the point of allowing His very creation to execute Him. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that He endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. That joy was for those who would receive Him.
He laid down so much and we struggle to lay down so little. The declaration that "Jesus is Lord" (Romans 10:9) is so much more than just about fire insurance. It involves a submission of our wills to His. That means we do what He would have us do, regardless of how we feel. One of the real traps of our culture is the whole concept of judging right and wrong according to our feelings. I'll do something (or maybe not) depending on how it makes me feel. In doing so we allow ourselves to be trapped into self-serving narcissism.
We hold onto attitudes that are contrary to the Word of God. We do things that are contrary to the Word. We curse instead of blessing. We criticize instead of helping. We judge instead of loving. We avert our eyes and go our way where we can help. We tell ourselves that it is not our problem.
Colossians 3:17 tells us "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." That's a pretty comprehensive prescription.
We get the so-called big sins but what about the other stuff? What about gossip or envy? What about stirring strife? Maybe I'm holding onto anger and unforgiveness? What about pride or selfishness?
He laid down His glory for you. What, in your life, is it time to let go of? You'll be glad you did.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This week a friend of mine and I had the opportunity to help a lady in her 80's who is in a pretty tough situation. We found out that she had been living without a toilet for sometime so we were able to put in a new tank for her toilet and get it up and running. We also fixed a broken shower head and started repairing some problems with the kitchen sink. We have more to do that we'll be getting to in the coming days.
I'm thankful to the Lord for revealing this situation to us. Like a lot of people, our senior friend would not have asked for help, even though she desperately needed it. We're taught not to ask others for help in our culture and unfortunately, this attitude can be propagated in our churches too. Like many folks this dear lady doesn't want to bother people with her problems.
It didn't bother me to help her. I love doing that kind of thing. It bothered me that she had been living like this and I didn't know.
Don't ignore the warning signs around you. It may not be physical labor that someone needs. It may be a smile or encouraging word. If the Holy Spirit lays someone on your heart there's a reason for that.
Love is all about action. We emphasize that at our church. Love is about relationship and interaction. It's easy to love one another when all we do is shake hands before and after church but Biblically we are called to so much more. Galatians 6:2 tells us to "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." The law of Christ is love. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, "A new commandment I give you that you love one another. Even as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another."
Jesus didn't say the world would know that we are his by our big buildings, programs, wealth or even power but by our LOVE! Biblical love is not about how we feel but about what we do.
Ministry opportunities are all around. Let's open our eyes and maybe even be a little nosy if that's what it takes. Don't miss an opportunity to help. You'll be blessed.