The Nativity

December 19, 2014

Nativity Set

by C.S. Lewis

Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Saviour where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed),
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!

The Christmas Distraction

December 18, 2014

Christmas Distraction

Jared Wilson counsels:

There is a great danger this Christmas season of missing the point. And I’m not referring simply to idolatrous consumption and materialism. I’m talking about Christmas religiosity. It is very easy around this time to set up our Nativity scenes, host our Christmas pageants and cantatas, read the Christmas story with our families, attend church every time the door is open, and insist to ourselves and others that Jesus is the reason for the season, and yet not see Jesus. With the eyes of our heart, I mean.

I suppose there is something about indulging in the religious Christmas routine that lulls us into thinking we are dwelling in Christ when we are really just set to seasonal autopilot, going through the festive and sentimental motions. Meanwhile the real person Jesus the Christ goes neglected in favor of his plastic, paper, and video representations. Don’t get distracted from Jesus by “Jesus.” This year, plead with the Spirit to interrupt your nice Christmas with the power of Jesus’ gospel.

This is Christmas

December 18, 2014

Check out this simple, original Christmas song by my old, dear friend, Ginny Owens.  You can also check out Ginny’s Christmas Album, Bring Us Peace, on I-tunes.

Healthy Couples Don’t…

December 18, 2014

Hands Together

An article by Ruthie Dean, appearing in Relevant Magazine, offers helpful marriage advice from the negative side – i.e. 8 Things Healthy Couple DON’T Do:

  1. Healthy Couples Don’t Post Negatively About Each Other on Social Media
  2. Healthy Couples Don’t Make Their Career a Priority Rather Than Their Relationship
  3. Healthy Couples Don’t Have All Their ‘Together-Time’ With Technology
  4. Healthy Couples Don’t Avoid Hard Subjects
  5. Healthy Couples Don’t Punish One Another
  6. Healthy Couples Don’t Withhold Forgiveness
  7. Healthy Couples Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Everything
  8. Healthy Couples Don’t Throw In the Towel

Read more of what Ruthie has to say, including the details that accompany her list, at: 8 Thing Healthy Couples Don’t Do

Exodus: Gods & Kings

December 17, 2014


In a year that has had no lack of religiously related film releases, another has hit the screen for this Christmas season.  Widely acclaimed director Ridley Scott has recently released his new epic, the bible-based Exodus: Gods & Kings. 

Here are some early reviews:

Clock Lit

Tremper Longman summarizes the entire thrust of his book, Reading the Bible With Heart & Mind, in five simple questions:

1. What does this passage of the Bible teach me about God and my relationship with Him?

2. What does this passage tell me about how God has acted in the past?

3. How does this passage change the way I think about the world and how does it impact the way I live my life?

4. How has God chosen to communicate these truths to me through the Scriptures?

5. How does this passage present Christ?

Great questions to help us get the most of our Bible study.

The Santa Question

December 16, 2014

Santa (Rockwell)

Years ago, as a newly minted minister in my first year out of seminary, I made an off-the-cuff comment in one of my Christmas season messages.  I don’t recall exactly what I said, but it was something to the effect of: “I don’t really care what you do with Santa”.  My intent was to demonstrate that Christmas Santa is nothing when compared to the Christmas Child – Jesus.

Honestly, I thought I made my point. If I had it to do over – and I do get to do it over every year – I would still say the same thing. But not everyone shares my perspective on this issue.

The next day, along with our regular mail, in our mailbox was a hand delivered, unstamped letter, from a man in the congregation.  It was thick. Nearly 10 pages – each of which made the same point from various angles: I had been derelict in my responsibility to the congregation by giving any wiggle room for families to include Santa Claus in their Christmas traditions.  At least that was his take. (Frankly, he was a pretty uptight guy about a lot of issues.)  Believe it or not, he even used the lame “Re-arrange the letters of Santa = Satan” rationale.

While my view has not changed, and I would still not hesitate to say something similar in a Christmas message, what has changed is my appreciation that not everyone shares my view on this matter.  And over the years I have been asked a number of times by conscientious parents how Christian families should deal with the Santa Question. I try to be more sensitive to the fact that there are several appropriate perspectives.

I recently read a piece by John Murchison touching on this very subject. He observes: “As parents who want our kids to worship Jesus and have fun at Christmas, it can be hard to know if Santa should be included in our traditions, and if so, to what degree.”  I agree.

Murchison observes, “I know of four different types of families when it comes to Santa”:

  • Families who do not include Santa in any of their Christmas celebrations
  • Families who tell their kids up front that Santa is “a fun game that we all play at Christmas”
  • Families who focus on the “historical” Santa, St. Nick
  • Families who go all-in on Santa

Murchison concludes: “I believe that any of these options can be valid options for a family, as long as two guidelines are followed”:

  1. Jesus must be more prominent in your home than Santa at Christmas.
  2. When “the Santa question” comes, don’t lie to your kids.

I concur. Murchison wisely and concisely gives counsel, without elevating his own view.

In our home, we never really did anything with Santa.  We never encouraged belief in him, nor did we ever instruct our children against him. Never did they receive a gift with Santa’s name on the tag.  While our children were certainly aware of Santa because of the symbols that permeate our culture this time of year, not the least of which are the Christmas season television specials, which we did allow them to watch if they wanted, none of our kids ever really thought much about Santa.  Our focus was always on God’s gift to us in the sending of his Son. (See Galatians 4.4-5)

I appreciate Murchison’s ultimate insight, which is in line with the counsel I would want to offer to anyone wondering about The Santa Question:

As long as you’re praying, reading Scripture, and searching out wise counsel, then I believe that you should follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the convictions that He places on your hearts.

And like Murchison, “I pray that our homes will be filled with talk of Jesus and His birth this season, whatever you decide about Santa.”

To read John Murchison’s article, click: The Santa Question


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