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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Why Travel this Christmas?

In Bible, Christ, Christmas, faith, Jesus, love, plots, Scripture on November 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thanks to the underwear bomber who ruined Christmas, the friendly skies have turned dark. Travelers over this past Thanksgiving took to the highways in record numbers in order to avoid scanners and strips searches at airports. But travel they did and, regardless of the obstacles and inconveniences, nothing stops travelers at Christmas.

Little is known about the Wise Men who traveled from the east to find the Christ Child. Their appearance, barely a few sentences on the pages of Scripture, dissolves so quickly, it begs the question as to why they have commanded such prominence in the telling of the Christmas story.

Like a side plot, the Wise Men weave into the narrative, unwittingly stir up trouble, present their gifts then sneak out of the country in fear of their lives. That’s it. But why? They were astrologers! Sure, there was one star that was brighter than the others, but what drove them to lay extravagant gifts at the feet of a two-year-old in a faraway land? Why travel if the star was the prize? They could study the sky and its heavenly bodies from their own rooftop.

Clearly, it wasn’t about the star. If that’s all they were seeking, why bring gifts? No, it was the One the star pointed to that drew them to Judea. They knew from their studies of ancient Hebrew writings that this star heralded the birth of a king—a very special king—and they were driven to worship Him no matter what that journey entailed.

Their quest, hardly a passing curiosity, undoubtedly absorbed years of their attention prior to the arduous journey. It was a quest that has inspired millions, including me—souls who will not rest until they find the Christ Child of Christmas.

Fortunately, we don’t need to travel to a physical location to find Him. Our pursuit is one of faith. Believing that God is Who He says He is, that Jesus is Who He said He was, that the Bible is God’s inspired Word and that the story is not over until He says it’s over.

Yes, finding the Christ Child involves travel, but the land we must traverse to reach Him is that of our own heart: the mountains of lies and false doctrines, the valleys of pain and past hurts; the rivers of tears and misunderstandings and the deserts of loneliness and discouragement.

Why travel through such horrible conditions? Why leave the comfort of our habits and familiar surroundings to pay homage to an ancient character in a story that could possibly just be a fable perpetuated by religious fanatics? There is only one reason, and it throbs ceaselessly in every human heart from birth to deathbed: Love.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

That verse, John 3:16, like the Christmas story itself, is still to this day, the simple, uncomplicated reason why millions still travel to places of worship on a silent night in December.

It is the reason we stand in long lines of impatient shoppers to possess gifts for our loved ones—a reenactment of the extraordinary lengths to which God went when He wrapped His precious Son in human flesh—the perfect gift.

Love and hope, and the promise of an eternity of peace and goodwill, is that not the quest that calls to your heart every day of the year?

Travel to see the King this Christmas, He is worthy of your most extravagant gifts.

A Perfect Government is Born!

In Bible, Children, Christ, Christmas, Jesus, kids, parenting on December 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Enemy forces occupied their country. Without notice, raids infiltrated their towns and their children’s blood ran in the streets. Spies mingled among them as they shopped. Life was not safe when they made their way home.

The road was rocky, dusty and long. Transportation was smelly and stubborn, an over-burdened burrow that smelled and clopped along in obedience to a sojourner whose pregnant wife was perched on its back.

When they arrived, the town was packed. Inns were swollen with like-travelers who also were required to return to their birthplace. The occupying regime had imposed a national census and the ancient city was teeming with more citizens than it had rooms to spare.

Unfortunately, the couple was desperate. Labor pains were dominating their decisions and soon any kind of shelter would suffice. Only one option arose.

The stable was on the outskirts of town, which meant more travel. Hungry, tired and anxious, the soon-to-be parents welcomed the rough surroundings and settled in for the long night.

As the humble pair wrapped the world’s future ruler in swaddling clothes, they were oblivious to the angelic choir that was announcing the event to a band of shepherds in a nearby field, and to the travelers from the east seeking an audience with him.

They had no idea that the gifts these wise men would lay at his feet would soon finance a midnight relocation to avoid a massacre of every male child two years or younger in their town.

Life was rough for the man and wife, from their betrothal, which was threatened by public shame when she became pregnant before the wedding, to their disappearance for several years in a foreign land.

When their son was twelve he came up missing during a family church visit and nearly gave his parents a heart attack looking for him.

His adult life was short. Within a few years he was known throughout the entire country and beyond its borders for having supernatural powers, and his proud widowed mother watched in horror as the government, fearful of that power, illegally condemned him and publicly murdered him.

But, back in the manger, sleeping safely in sight of their loving gaze, they named him Jesus by divine instruction, unaware that that name would be on every tongue in every nation of the world.

Some would use it to blaspheme, some to praise. Some would use it for gain, some to cry for help. Some would fight to eliminate it from public use; others would engrave it on their hearts.

His name would cause wars, settle arguments, divide nations and flow from the voices of carolers. It would comfort the weak, offend the strong, counsel the uninformed and free the prisoner.

Regardless, the name of Jesus was, is and always will be the only name by which we are saved from eternal death.

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9:6-7