Christmas God

How fortunate are we that we serve a God who sits on a throne of grace? If you remember the movie ELF, you might remember Will Farrell’s title character getting very angry at the department store Santa where he worked, telling him he is not the “real” Santa, and that the chair made up for him to visit with eager holiday shopping children is a “throne of lies!” What a sad commentary on our religious system. Something many people are waking up to these days is that the system in which they’ve been employed, raised their families, gone to church and given their blood, sweat and treasure, is built on “lies”. The throne of Santa in many ways epitomizes that system.

What we have made of Christmas is the throne of lies. If Christmas is the best holiday of the year, then we have truly turned it into a cash cow, when everything is Christmas-ified. Even things that have nothing to do with Christmas, like outdoor power equipment, liquor beer and wine sales, palm trees, you name it, everything gets the Christmas treatment. All to make an extra dollar. The character of Santa, and his god-like persona is the kind of god who rewards kindness, just for the asking, but looks askance at evil, just this once, so that you can have a good holiday. He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake, but he doesn’t punish evil, but to grant a stocking full of coal. He is the kind of god people want when grace without cost. That’s what we call “cheap grace” and the feelings of forgiveness and gratitude last just as long at the packaging it comes in. The kindness of “good feelings” of Christmas wear off by December 26th, and all the “good will toward men” seems to fade with the last of the Christmas carols. This isn’t a throne of grace, but a throne of lies. Actually, it reveals the human heart as much as anything, since it demonstrates that we can all get along with each other when we expect something, but when it is unmet, or even satisfied, we go back to the business of looking out for ourselves as usual.

There has got to be a better way. If we can all respect the ideals of Christmas, the joy and the feeling of peace and well-being, then perhaps we need to seek a different throne. Instead of one built on presents and anticipation, perhaps we need to seek one built on Presence and realization. We can no longer rely on cheap forgiveness and “cheap grace”. What we hope for in Christmas is fulfilled in Christ. The “peace on earth and good will toward men” isn’t something found in a box under a tree, but in a man who died on a cross 2000 years ago. Peace of earth doesn’t come from a store, but from the atoning death of the One who came from heaven, lived among us, tempted in all ways that we are, and yet without sin. This One died in our place. He took the punishment and the wrath intended for you, and suffered it in Himself. So instead of wrath, as we deserve, we can receive peace and grace from the Father.

Don’t dare reduce the sacrifice that Jesus made for you. Don’t dare reduce the penalty for sin. God doesn’t wink at sin and say, “maybe just this once”. God hates sin. And He hates the one who sins. Be glad. Because if God was apathetic towards sinners, He wouldn’t care if you lived or died. But because God hates the sinner, he very much cares about what happens to them. This is why He sent His own Son to suffer and die in Your place, not because He had to. God is under no obligation to suffer for you. You are obligated under His justice to suffer and die for your own sins, and you will if you ignore His great salvation. But God in Christ chose the suffer the indignity of human flesh so that each of us could choose life in Him and through Him. This throne of Justice is awesome, and will strike you with intense fear, because even as a Christian, you know you are not holy enough to be in His presence. But for us, it is a throne of grace. Though we are terrified, He loves us. And that is a strange feeling.

Dear Father, as I come before you today, let me pray for my brothers and sisters today who still cling to the lies of this world. For a whom a veil has been pulled over their eyes, and they cannot see the truth for the lies, who have clung to cheap grace without consequence. Father, rather let us open our eyes to the reality of grace. It comes at great cost, at the dearest most treasured price, and shame on us if we do not keep this before our eyes, that we were bought at extreme cost, precious beyond anything this world can offer. This is the grace extended to us because our sins, our vile, filthy, worthless sins, spare us from that grief and everlasting punishment for which our sins deserve. Lord we do not deserve what You offer us, and I know that is the point of grace. Thank You Jesus for bearing that sins upon Your shoulders, so that we could live. In Your holy Name I pray, Amen.

Merry Christmas!

On this special holiday, may you and yours have a Merry Christmas. If you have opportunity to spend time with those you love today, you are truly blessed. May I also add that if you are working today, I grieve with you, but may offer your gifts with joy since you are counted worthy today to serve. May you extend your Christmas joy to others others.

God bless you today!


If you were asking for a “sign” what would be powerful enough to convince you God is real?

2500 years ago, the sign offered was a young woman. This young woman would be of sufficient sexual maturity that she would be able to conceive, but did not have any sexual relationship with any man before she would actually conceive a child.

In a world where lineage matters, that is a sign. It is a sign because everyone knew who their father was. It was essential in the world where property was passed on by inheritance and family ties. For a child to be born with no known father was anathema. It was both impossible and contrary to their way of life.

If you were to offer this as a sign today, I believe folks would be impressed not so much about the parthenogenesis as they would about a young woman still being a virgin. There are scores of young women who “don’t know who the father is.” That isn’t the same as a virgin birth, but has the same consequences socially. Many would have taken Mary as a soiled woman with her claims of “virgin” conception. Even today she is accused of getting with a Roman Soldier named Parthenos to conceive Jesus. Parthenos is the the Greek word for virgin. Odd name for a Roman Soldier, don’t you think?

So why is her virginity so important? It is essential for the character and person of Jesus Christ, the Immanuel (God with us). In order for God to truly love with us, He must be conceived in Mary. Only God can introduce Himself into the world. Therefore God alone was the male contribution to the young woman, Mary. There was no act of sex, no taking away her virginity in some horrid act of sexual violence. The Holy Spirit overshadowed her and created within here by divine act that portion of DNA necessary to complete a particular egg to be deposited within her womb. It was an act of Creation so small that she herself wouldn’t feel it for weeks.

Yet within her swelling belly was a Divine Presence, the Second Person of God in Jesus Christ. God truly dwelt among us, from the very first cell division. Jesus experienced what it was to be human from the very start. But it was this one life that would change the world.

You may be looking for a sign this season. Look no further. This one sign, the creation of something new, the God-Man, will be enough to rock your world. Jesus took on human form, so that we could be like Him, and live forever with Him. God became like one of us so that we could become children of God. Wow.

God bless you today.

But Wait, There’s Myrrh!

Three gifts arrived at the home of Jesus’ family 2000 years ago. Whether they came from three “Kings” is impossible to tell. We don’t how much of each of deposited, or if several brought the same thing. Tradition says “three” Magi were involved, but that is based entirely on the three kinds of gifts. (Note: There is a church which claims to hold the three skulls of these men, but collecting relics was a very popular pastime 17 centuries ago.)

All three items were extremely valuable: gold for obvious reasons but the others for the difficulty in extracting them and their fragrance. Frankincense was often used for anointing royalty while Myrrh was usually employed in funerary practice. All three were royal gifts, fitting the narrative that these Magi believes they were looking for the next “King of the Jews”. Odd that we don’t read anything about them coming for any of the Herods. They show up for this one King and disappear.

There is some speculation that Daniel’s role as leader of the Wise Men of Babylon had something to do with their expectation of this King. If right that would be a remarkable amount of star-watching and expectation. But perhaps they were showing up the priests of Judaism by doing so, since the Jews practically had the address of Jesus’ birthplace in their OT Scrolls. Daniel has predicted to the year when Jesus would appear, and Micah predicted the place He would be born. Anyone with reasonable math skills should have known to set up a lookout post in Bethlehem. Even when the Magi appear looking for the child, the priests take little time reporting Jesus’ prophetic birthplace.

Did they think they had plenty of time before they had to get ready? Jesus’ own people, who had specific prophetic indications when Jesus would appear, failed to be ready, and had to be reminded by Gentiles. Hmm. Sound familiar?

Many who allege to belong to Christ today are not ready for His return. They know He is coming. But are they ready with their life and work? Do we not know that we will be judged not only for accepting or not Jesus Christ, but also by the works we have done for Him? Christian consider this a warning. He is coming back for you. You need to be ready. Your life needs to reflect your passion for the Savior and your gratitude for your salvation. Getting baptized is not something to check off the list and wait for pickup. It is a necessary part of Jesus moving into your life. You need to grow and mature in faith so that at His coming He may say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

The Magi brought gifts to the child Jesus. What spiritual offerings do you bring?

God bless you today.

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer

If you’ve seen “Elf” around this time of year, you probably know the response to the title above. Will Ferrell’s Elf recommends that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear. That works until you realize you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

May I recommend another way? This one involves more than your singing voice. This one is your whole life. Let your light shine before men, so that they may see it and give glory to God. Sounds radical, I know. The light that changed your life is now also expected to illuminate others through you. That is not only Christmas cheer, but Christian cheer.

The spirit of Christmas, feeling of warmth, joy and generosity, where does that go December 26th? Why do most only have any of that feeling for the first 25 days of December if then? For then New Years Day is almost an afterthought, a hope that next year will be better than the last. But if that cheer and joy doesn’t follow us into the new year, what then? Doesn’t next year end up being just as sorry as the year before?

The best way to save that cheer is to remember it throughout the year, not by celebrating Christmas, but Christ Himself. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let us worship Him by sharing His joy with all who will hear. May your January be merry and bright. Your February full of hope and promise. Your March be joyful and so on. There is really no reason not to carry this joy with you throughout the year. If you need to keep your tree up as a reminder, it’s a small price to pay for joy. It reminds us of the tree used as a tool to buy our redemption with His precious blood.

Take and hold on to this Christmas cheer for the One who has brought you joy. Merry Christmas and a very joyful New Year.

Holiday Depression

Like a tropical depression, holiday depression brings you down when you should be up, low when you should be enjoying the climate. Well, maybe it’s not an exact comparison.

But holiday depression is a real thing. I think everyone gets it. It’s when you don’t get that same holiday feeing you used to, especially when you were a child. It’s that feeling you get when someone you love isn’t going to be here this year. The holidays are supposed to be times of cheer and joy, a relief from the everyday stresses. But oftentimes, they are more stressful, dealing with families and parties and social get togethers.

But let’s put that behind us for a moment. What makes the holidays holy days? Why do we celebrate to begin with? Because we are celebrating the birth of Christ into this world. We are celebrating the moment when God took on human flesh to live as one of us. Technically we call this the Incarnation, but most of us think of it as God with skin on. It is a mystery. But that I God for this mystery, do God loved us so much He sent His Son, God in flesh, to live as one of us. Isn’t that profound? The God who created us, who is so far above us and to be beyond our understanding, became as one of us. That is the Reason for this Season.

Why is my soul dejected? Why am I down? Jesus is here. He rose from the grave so that we would not be separated from Him. He exists today. The baby from the manger is the one who rose from death on a cross so that we can always be with Him. Whether in life or death. It’s ok to be down sometimes. David taught us that. But never lose hope. Hope is that Jesus still loves us and will not let us go. Thank God for this holiday season.

May God bless you today with this hope.

Christmas Reason

There are few whose birth we actually celebrate, but all of them we celebrate not because they were born, but because of what they did with their life or are significant to us in some way. For example we celebrate the birth of loved ones, even after they pass, just because we love them. We celebrate the births of presidents and others we deem significant, but to be honest, we really don’t know which births are significant. Whose birth ought to be celebrated by everyone? Don’t you wish there were some kind of sign to say, “This one right here is going to be important. This one we celebrate!”

Strangely only one birth in history had such signage. To look at his birth you would have ignored it. Peasants birthing peasants. Nothing to see here. But in the countryside, an amazing show of force took place, an heavenly “host” or army formed ranks in the sky announced the birth of their commanding officer, that very baby born in Bethlehem and laid in cattle feed for a cradle.

This is how God shows us love. On the one hand, the armies of heaven are announcing His birth to shepherds. On the other hand, Jesus is borrowing from animals for a place to sleep. God reduces His Son to the very lowest to exalt every man, woman and child on this earth. God thinks so much of us all, loves us all, that He made His Son lower than all to show that no one is too low for Jesus.

He first loved us, long before we even knew that we needed Him. As you remember Christ’s birth this season, remember you are not too low for Him to raise you up.

God bless you today.

Leading Light

A lot of speculation has been laid out concerning the light which the Magi followed from the East to Bethlehem. You might recall that this light came in two phases. First, it was “His star in the East” which they saw and then followed. This star was probably a peculiar stellar phenomena that piqued their astrological curiosity. The second light came after the consulted with King Herod, for this light “came and stood over where the child was.” This light was likely a shekinah presentation, the glory of God revealed as light, though the text does not say this directly. It could simply have been an angelic being we are not aware of. Still, there is much speculation to both phases of this leading light that brought these men from the East.

Curiously no one has suggested that this was the “Light of the World.” Could this have been the glory of Jesus which He put aside to become flesh, guiding these Gentiles to his fleshly person? At the time of their visit, he was no infant, but more likely over a year old. This too is speculation, but points to Jesus’ mission throughout His life.

Jesus is the light of the world, shining forth in His brightness to lead all men unto Himself. He is the bright light in a dark world. He is the Illuminator against confusion and ignorance. He is sight to the blind. He is vision to despairing. He is hope for the future. No wonder He draws all people to Himself.

But like the Magi, you have to take the time to look. They were looking for this light because they expected to find it. Some speculate that Daniel had passed on this expectation to them from 500 years before. Because they knew where to look, they were ready.

Are you ready to follow Him? He’s been looking for you, and He is ready to lead you through the gloom of fear and doubt if you’re ready. Accept His leadership today, and you will never regret it.

God bless you today.

Sweet Baby Jesus

so I am flipping through channels last night and come across Will Ferrell’s “The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, his humorous foray into NASCAR culture. He affected a southern drawl and perfectly blended into the character. I loved Elf, and hoped this would be a similar experience. Well, it was different.

But the highlight for me was the scene where the family sits down to a lunch of domino’s pizza, Taco Bell and KFC. The wife insists that Ricky say grace. He proceeds to pray, seeking blessing and further racing wins from “sweet baby Jesus”, which when challenged, said that he preferred the baby Jesus. His wife and father-in-law both insisted that Jesus had grown up, even had a beard. Ricky would have none of it. He said that baby Jesus was his favorite version of Jesus.


And that is Christmas in a nutshell, isn’t it? How many songs have been written, sung, even performed about the baby Jesus versus the risen Jesus? Do we decorate, celebrate, and dedicate so much time and effort to the risen Lord as we do the baby Jesus? Who is your favorite Jesus? Though I’ve seen it addressed here and there, here it is in a secular movie that the issue is brought out, the ridiculousness of it. Yes, come, let us adore Him, let us acknowledge that God’s plan included sending His own Son into the world as a helpless child, so that that child would grow up, live a sinless life, and be executed in the most cruel and humiliating fashion ever devised.

Come, let us adore the One who took the punishment for sin, who endured the wrath of a righteous God for the sins of the world. Let us adore One who loved so much that He died to save us. Let us adore One who loved us more than life.

The angels sang over Him. The shepherds and wise men came to adore Him. His mother marveled over Him. The teachers and scribes were astonished at Him. The Sadducees and Pharisees feared Him. His disciples followed Him. His Father was well-pleased with Him. The Greeks sought Him. Tax Collectors and Prostitutes welcomed Him. His apostles worshipped Him, for “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” What will you do?

O come let us adore Him, Jesus Christ the Lord.