March 13, 2018

The Unexpectedness of the First Christmas

The virgin birth of Christ in Bethlehem had been prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. But it happened in a way that was completely unexpected. Mary was just an ordinary girl. Joseph, just a simple carpenter. The manger in Bethlehem was surrounded by itchy hay and the sounds and smells of working animals. Not to mention the shepherds, who were the outcasts of society, were the last people who would be invited to worship a king. Think back to that time... It had been four long centuries since anyone had heard God's voice. Four hundred long years of pure unbroken silence. No divine messengers. No prophets. No visions or dreams. Just four hundred long years of [...Read More]

Is Your Heart Ready for Christmas?

Christmas is less than two weeks away and I haven’t even started my Christmas cards, I’m only half-done my shopping, and I still have baking to do. I’m not ready for Christmas… at least in that sense. But I am preparing. Are you? I don't mean the party-planning, picture-taking, shopping and wrapping, baking and traveling sort of preparations. I mean you. Your heart. Your mind. Your soul. Are you taking time to focus on the eternal this season?  Have you stopped to meditate on the Savior who gave up everything, to gain the love of a world full of rebellious people? Have you offered heart-felt gratitude to the One who came so we might live more fully and freely? In the midst [...Read More]

Hymns for Advent: Incarnation

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, proclaiming thy royal degree; but of lowly birth didst thou come to earth, and in great humility. Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art! Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart! Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word, that should set thy people free! But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room For Thy holy nativity. Born thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King. When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing, at thy coming to victory, let thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room, there is room at My side for thee.” Born to reign in us forever, Now thy [...Read More]

A Moment of Anticipation: Hymns for Advent

Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free! From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny! From depths of hell thy people save, and give them victory over the grave. There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.  O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here! Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. ...for [he] will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of [...Read More]

Celebrating Christ at Christmas: Observing Advent

It's December already!! You're probably already knee-deep in baking and shopping and decorating and hosting and planning and everything else that has to be done before December 25th... But remember why we're celebrating.  Remember WHO we celebrate and worship, not just in December, but every moment of every day -- our Lord Jesus Christ. I don't know about you, but isn't it tough to stay focused on Him during this time of year? We get so busy, so focused on our to-do lists, that we neglect our quiet time with Him. We rush through our prayers and speed through our Bible reading, just to check it off the lists. And so, over the next few weeks, I want to share some practical ways to keep [...Read More]