Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What We Believe Is Important

I. Introduction

In the nativity narrative we encounter a number of the mysteries of God. We see the mysteries of the virgin birth and the nature of Jesus, truly God and truly man. We see divine intervention, angels appearing, and heavenly choirs in the sky. We generally take these supernatural happenings for granted, since we grew up with these stories and don’t think much about them. Yet how we view these and other mysteries can influence how we understand and relate to God and Jesus.

How we perceive and understand God is important. Why? That’s because it can have a major influence on our opinion of the Deity, plus our view of ourselves, the world, and salvation. For example, belief in God as Creator influences our worldview and self-image: Consider how we might view ourselves and other humans if we’re coming from the perspective that we are nothing but more highly evolved animals. Compare that with how we might view ourselves and others if we believe we were created by God in the image of God.

Or consider the understanding of God that Muslims have compared with Christians. To Muslims, Allah is not a Redeemer or Savior – they have to earn their way to heaven, with no guarantees except if you die in a jihad. Compare that with the Christian understanding that God is also our Savior and Redeemer, and came to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Christianity, God is a loving Deity who sent his only Son, who…

Gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death — death on a cross. (Philippians 2:7-8, NCV)

Christians believe that we are saved by grace through our faith in Christ, which is a gift that guarantees us a place in heaven, and help during this life. Christians don’t have to die a martyr to get to heaven or strive to get there on their own merits – Jesus did it all.

So you can see what we believe is important so that we can have the right understanding of, and relationship with, God. Knowing this, the Church has tried to clarify various doctrines over the centuries, based on its historical interpretation of Scripture. The creeds of the church came out of these efforts to make clear what we Christians should believe and thereby understand about God and ourselves.

Belief in some of these doctrines may not affect our salvation, but they can determine the quality of our relationship with God. So what we believe is important for living our life and being in the proper relationship with God based on what the Bible tells us.

II. Nature of Jesus

Since Jesus is God in the flesh and our Savior and Redeemer, it is important that we have the proper view of him. Of course we can’t totally understand the nature of Christ because this is a mystery, but we can believe it. There are four beliefs concerning Jesus that I feel are important for Christians to have:

1. Real Person with a purpose

The first belief is that Jesus was real historical person, not a myth. He came to us on that first Christmas for the purpose of providing a way for the human race to get back into right relationship with God. If we don’t believe that, then Christmas is meaningless, as is Good Friday and Easter.

2. Divine and Human

The second belief is that Jesus was both truly God and truly human. While we can’t explain it, we believe that Jesus was truly a human being in every way, but was without sin. We see his humanity in the Gospels: he got tired, angry, overworked, frustrated, was tempted, had a sense of humor, and he cried at funerals. We see his divinity in the Gospels in that he healed the sick, raised the dead, calmed the storm, miraculously fed the 5,000, and did many other miracles. We see both his humanity and his divinity in that he was born as any other person is born, but was conceived by the Holy Spirit. If we don’t believe these things, then Jesus becomes pretty much just an ordinary guy and not the Son of God.

3. Really died and rose again

The third important belief is that Jesus really died, and rose from the dead on the third day. This is important because it shows God’s approval of what Jesus did on the cross, and also proves that Jesus is the Son of God. If Jesus had been just an ordinary person who died a terrible death, and not the Son of God, his death would not result in our salvation.

4. Ascended and will come again

The fourth important belief is that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven and will come bodily again to judge the living and the dead. This is important to believe because we are told that Jesus is our intercessor in heaven, working on our behalf with the Father. Judgment is important to believe because it tells us we are all accountable. If we weren’t accountable for our wrongdoings, then we wouldn’t need Jesus to redeem us, would we?

III. Attributes of God

What we’ve been discussing so far is doctrine, and how proper belief makes our relationship with God as it’s supposed to be. Understanding his attributes also enhances our relationship with God, because we can better grasp who God is. We get a glimpse of the nature of God from the Bible and from the person of Jesus. Let me briefly cover some of the attributes of God as we understand them from the Bible and Jesus. Hopefully knowing these attributes will help you and me better appreciate who God is.

1. Merciful and Gracious

God described himself when he passed before Moses as we read in Exodus 34:6-7:

The LORD passed before [Moses], and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” NRSV

We should be thankful that God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”. Because of these attributes, God sent Jesus to save us from the penalty of all the things we’ve done to offend God and hurt one another.

2. Jealous

God also described himself as jealous, which we read in Exodus 20:5-6:

“You shall not bow down to [false gods] or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” NRSV

Jealous in this case means that God does not want divided loyalties from us, but he wants all of us. This is only natural because God created us, loves us, and wants us to be devoted to him and nothing else.

3. Other Attributes

God has many other attributes as well. We know from the Bible that God is:
-Eternal, almighty, unchanging, loving (God is love);
-God is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful;
-By his nature God is sinless, holy, righteous, and just;
-God is One, but is composed of three distinct persons;
-God is supreme, living, personal, and the creator and sustainer of all things;
-His power and knowledge are all-sufficient, and He is not limited in time or place.
-And of course God is good – all the time.

Despite the revelations of himself in the Bible, there are still some things about God we don’t know or completely understand. Nevertheless, we know all that we’re supposed to know at this time.

IV. Conclusion

So to summarize, what we believe and what we understand about God can affect the quality of our faith. In general our knowledge and acceptance of various doctrines may not necessarily affect our salvation. However, rejection or ignorance of some doctrines or attributes of God could cause us to question our salvation or doubt God. Certainly we won’t be given a theology quiz when we get to the pearly gates. However, our life might not be as good and fulfilled as it could have been if we don’t know, or reject, or doubt some doctrines. In this New Year I encourage you to learn more about God through daily devotionals, Bible study, prayer, and worship.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Blue Christmas?

I. Introduction

Although we look forward to the joys of the Christmas season, the holidays can be pretty intense for many of us. During this time of the year it seems like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster.

1. Christmas Can Be Difficult

December can be stressful, with not enough time to get everything done. Adding to the stress can be year-end pressures on the job. For those who have health problems or whose loved ones are in ill health, the season can be something less than cheerful. For those who have lost loved ones recently, the holidays can be depressing, since we especially miss them at this time of the year.

In addition, we have uncertainties about the economy. According to a recent poll, about 70% of adults plan to spend less on Christmas presents this year. Maybe you are one of those who plan to cut back this year. You may be feeling bad about it, even though you know that Christmas is much more than just presents.

2. Christmas Can Be Uplifting

On the positive side the season is known for good will and pleasant times with friends and family. There are beautiful Christmas decorations to lift the spirit, and we hear from old friends through Christmas cards. Most people are generally cheerful despite the pressures of the season. It can be a joyful time, especially when we remember the reason for the holiday. If you are facing challenges and riding an emotional roller coaster, think of the range of emotions and difficulties faced by Mary and Joseph. That first Christmas 2,000 years ago was no walk in the park.

II. Joy and Disgrace

Mary, a teen-aged girl living in the small village of Nazareth in the back-water province of Galilee, was visited by an angel one day.

1. Good News and Joy for Mary

The angel informed her that she was to bear the Messiah, every Jewish girl’s dream, but this child would not be conceived in the usual way. In obedience to God, Mary accepted it, even though she must have known it would raise questions. The angel also said that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting in her old age. In her joy Mary took off for Judea to help Elizabeth with her pregnancy. When she got to Elizabeth’s house, Elizabeth exclaimed (Luke 1:42b-43):

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? NRSV

Mary, filled with joy at this confirmation that she was carrying the long-awaited Messiah, praised God by exclaiming:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46b-49, NRSV, “The Magnificat”)

2. Bad News at Home

This indescribable joy soon disappeared when Mary returned home to Nazareth. While the Bible doesn’t go into detail, we can imagine what happened once she arrived back in Nazareth. We get a hint of the situation in the Gospel of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:18b-19):

She was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. NIV

Since she hadn’t yet married Joseph, her condition became an instant scandal, subjecting her to gossip, ridicule, and disgrace.

3. Joseph’s Dilemma

Moreover, this pregnancy put Joseph in a difficult position, since he would have been humiliated by this unexpected turn of events. However, God intervened by sending an angel to Joseph in a dream. Just as Mary had been obedient, so was Joseph, and he agreed to marry her and raise the child as his own.

III. The Trip to Bethlehem

Because of the Roman census, Joseph had to travel to his ancestral hometown of Bethlehem to register. However, it is unclear whether Mary was required to go since the husband probably could have registered the family.

1. Escape to Bethlehem

If she wasn’t required to go, it’s quite possible that she made the trip when she was 9 months pregnant to get away from the situation in Nazareth. The 4 day trip to Bethlehem on foot must have been tough for her, and then to make matters worse, there wasn’t much relief when they got there. Can you women imagine walking 70 miles, part of it uphill, when you are in your 9th month?

2. Bethlehem No Refuge

As it turned out, there was no place for them to stay, although the couple was directed to a cave where animals were kept, where she gave birth. Fortunately the cave gave her some privacy, which she wouldn’t have had in an inn. So they had a scandal in Nazareth, difficult trip on foot, no place to stay in Bethlehem, and the birth taking place among the animals.

IV. Off to Egypt

1. Visit of the Magi

Some time after the birth of Jesus, they received some unexpected visitors. The visit of the Magi bringing gifts to honor the newborn Messiah must have been a pleasant break from all that they had been through. Their visit must have been a powerful reassurance to Mary and Joseph that this child truly was the Messiah, despite all the obstacles they had faced.

2. Run for Your Life

Just as they were feeling comfortable, their world was once again turned upside down. An angel told Joseph in a dream (Matthew 2:13b):

“Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” NRSV

So off they went to Egypt, with their lives once again disrupted. Fortunately they had the gifts from the Magi, which I suspect they used to finance their trip to Egypt.

V. Conclusion

So what do we learn from these adventures of Mary and Joseph? Here they were, chosen by God for a very special task and they we obedient to God, and what happens? Everything seems to go wrong for them. I think there are several messages for you and me in these Nativity events:

1. No One Is Immune

The first lesson we learn is that no one is immune from the trials and tribulations of life, even those called by God for his work. Mary, God’s chosen instrument, suffered pain, both early on, and later when she witnessed her Son’s passion and death. We get hints in the Gospels that the stigma of her questionable pregnancy haunted her for the rest of her life. Listen to the response of the people when Jesus began to teach in his hometown of Nazareth (Mark 6:3):

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. NIV

In those days people would have referred to Jesus as “Joseph’s son” (bar Yosef) but instead they referred to him as “Mary’s son” (bar Miriam). Jesus himself suffered as well during his time on earth, and endured the full range of human emotions and experiences. So the first lesson we learn is that you and I will also experience trials and pain, no matter how good a Christian we may be.

2. Even If in God’s Will

The second lesson we learn is that even obedience to God’s will won’t protect us from problems. Mary and Joseph were obedient, but look what happened – they still faced difficulties and hardships. We want to be obedient to God for any number of reasons, but we have to realize that obedience doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free life. As a matter of fact, Jesus informed his disciples they would be persecuted because of him (Luke 21:12):

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.” NRSV

Jesus told his disciples, and us, in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” NIV

3. God Was with Them

That leads me to the third lesson we learn, that God is with us during times of trials. Notice how God was directing events for Mary and Joseph, either through dreams instructing Joseph or by other means. God gave Mary the strength to make the difficult journey to Bethlehem, allowing her to get away from Nazareth. God directed them to the cave where she could give birth with some degree of privacy. God encouraged them and cheered them with Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary, and the visits of the shepherds and the Magi. God got them out of harm’s way when Herod wanted to kill the Christ-child, and even provided the funding for the escape. That’s a reminder to us that God is our provider, which we need to keep in mind during these uncertain economic times. We aren’t immune from the world’s troubles but God is with us every step of the way.

4. We Can Bless Others

In addition, God can use us, often as wounded healers, to bless others who are facing difficult situations: health, relational, economic, emotional. Walt Whitman wrote in a poem entitled Song of Myself: “I do not ask the wounded person how he feels; I myself become the wounded person.”

This is what the incarnation is all about: God came into this world, wore our flesh, and thus knows and understands how we feel. No other religion in the world offers what Christianity offers: An all-powerful and all-loving God who willingly took on the limitations and suffering of His creation.

Although we may be hurting because of our own trials or because of challenges faced by those we love, we don’t lose hope. The fact that Jesus came to this earth some 2,000 years ago shows that God did not sit idly by and watch us suffer in isolation. I read a quote recently that says:

“For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is – limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death — [God] had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine… He has kept His own rules and played fair. [God] can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself.”

So what, then, is Christmas all about? It is about you and me embracing the Savior, and allowing the words of the angel to become personal to us: “A Savior has been born to you”. When Jesus becomes your Savior, you are given the strength to endure, the peace to be able to give and receive comfort, the hope of a glorious future in heaven, and the faith to see the blessings even in pain.

So if you are in pain this Christmas, I hope you will receive comfort from the Nativity story as we’ve looked at it anew. So as we go into the New Year, let’s try to keep these lessons in mind. I wish you a blessed and peace-filled Christmas and God’s blessings and abundant grace for you in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things Are What We Make Them

Many things are not inherently good or inherently evil. They are neutral. Some things are beneficial when used properly, but can be abused. Let me give some examples.

The telephone is generally considered beneficial, but becomes an instrument of evil when used to harass people. The Internet is generally considered beneficial, but becomes evil when used for cyber bullying or watching pornography. Money is an efficient medium for conducting business, but becomes evil when coveted or has become someone’s idol. Sex is beneficial for any number of reasons, but becomes evil when misused. Because things like the Internet are used so often for evil, millions of dollars have to be spent on security. That’s a result of the sinful nature of people, not the technology.

So we should both watch our attitude towards things and be careful how we use them. If something becomes overly important to us, it becomes a false god, an idol, and we are committing idolatry. God should be primary in our life, followed by family, work, and self. Elevating anything above God is not a good idea. If we are close to God, we will then be less inclined to do evil. As we approach Christmas let us examine our relationship with God (or lack thereof) and consider drawing closer to him. We will become better people and the world will be one step closer to becoming a better place.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sharing the Faith

Ever wonder why some Christians seem to be very enthusiastic about sharing their faith? It is an especially important question in this day and age when you are expected to keep your religion to yourself, lest you “offend” somebody. In this post I’d like to give non-Christians some insight as to why followers of Christ share their faith with others.

Commanded to Spread the Gospel

The main reason Christians tell others about Jesus is that he commanded them to do so. Those commands are in all four Gospels, and what Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 is very explicit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” NRSV

Jesus said this seconds before he ascended into heaven. Since these were the last words of Jesus spoken while he was on the earth, many Christians take them pretty seriously. Once Jesus had ascended into heaven, the disciples devoted themselves to telling others about him, usually at some risk to their lives. Some of them ministered in Jerusalem and Judea, which was local for them, and some traveled to the ends of the earth. For example, Thomas went as far east as India, and Paul may have gone as far west as Spain.

Love Your Neighbor

In addition to Jesus’ commands, Christians tell others about him because we love our neighbors as ourselves, as Jesus said we should. Christians believe Jesus came down to earth for all of us. He said to love your neighbor as yourself, quoting from Leviticus 19. The best way Christians can show they care about others is to share their faith in Christ.

Want to make the world a better place? For followers of Christ, there’s no better way than bringing people to faith – thus working to transform the world. Coming to faith in Christ won’t make people perfect, just as no Christian is perfect. But it will make them a whole lot better than they otherwise would have been since they are now be “going on to perfection.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is Religion Dangerous?

Those who have little or no religious faith and are hostile to God and religion are fond of justifying their condition by pointing out all the evil done in the world in the name of religion or God. Christianity is criticized for the Crusades and The Inquisition. Some will point to Islamic fanatics as another example of the evils of religious belief, never mind that these terrorists are breaking many of the rules of their own Scriptures.

Have bad things been done in the name of God throughout history? Of course. Is God or “religion” to blame? No. Is religion dangerous? Only when misused for evil purposes. Anything, no matter how good, can be misused by evil people for evil purposes. In addition, religion or Scripture have been grossly misinterpreted, abused or wrongly applied by often well-meaning but misguided people. Nevertheless, these don’t make all religion evil or make God to be somehow bad.

In other cases we blame religion when that isn’t the main cause. For example, in Northern Ireland, the conflict there was defined as a Catholic-Protestant controversy. However, it wasn’t a religious issue, but rather a conflict between the natives (the Irish, who were Catholic) and the settlers who wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom (the Orangemen who were Protestant). Some practices against women done in some Muslim countries are more culturally-defined than religiously. While the religion often informs the culture in Islamic countries, the Qur’an doesn’t promote activities practiced in some Muslim countries.

All the evil you can think of that has been done (and in some cases continues to be done) in the name of God or religion is miniscule compared to all the good that has been done. For centuries before governments became more benevolent in Europe, it was the Church that ran hospitals and orphanages, and provided some social services. Even today we have Christian organizations caring for people locally and worldwide, such as The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Samaritan’s Purse, Goodwill Industries, and many others. Some local churches have food pantries and thrift shops to help the needy, and some send teams all over the world on short-term mission trips to help desperate people in poor countries. And then think of all the unseen good done by individuals of faith.

In the West we have generally benevolent governments that value justice, individual freedoms, and life (“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”). Why is that? It’s because our country was established on the foundation of Judeo-Christian principles and the best of Enlightenment thinking. So I think we can give a little credit to God and Christianity for the freedoms and life we have.

If you don’t want to believe in God or be involved in a religion, that’s your business, but don’t use the lame excuse that so much evil has been done in the name of God and religion. That just doesn’t line up with the facts.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A New Opportunity for Identity Thieves

According to a news report I recently saw on the Internet, banks are now issuing credit cards that can be waved over a reader rather than swiped (similar to a key card that unlocks doors to buildings). I guess swiping a card is just too much trouble. The only problem is, if a person with a portable card reader can get close enough to you, your information can be read and recorded on a small computer. Somebody has just stolen your credit card information and can order thousands of dollars worth of stuff and you don’t even know you’ve been robbed! It’s high-tech pick-pocketing, thanks to the banks who issue such cards.

This makes me wonder, what are the banks that issue credit cards thinking? Everybody is concerned with identity theft, yet every month we get blank checks from our credit card carriers in the mail. I don’t want them, I’ve never used them, and I can’t make them stop sending them. Not only do these checks provide a temptation for people to spend money they don’t have and may not be able to pay back, but they also provide an opportunity for identity theft or forgery. Every month I must shred these unwanted checks for my own protection as well as the bank’s.

Now the geniuses at Bank of America, Chase, and other credit and debit card issuing banks have come up with a new way for people to be robbed. Don’t these folks consult their security people about potential risks of new technologies? Given the history of banks over the past few decades (remember the S&L crisis and the bad loans to Latin American countries of the late 20th century?), I just don’t understand how bank executives make decisions. One positive thing, business schools can use these cases as opportunities to teach their students what not to do!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It’s amazing how groups try to manipulate people’s opinions through the subtle use of language. For example, the pro-Palestinian media typically refer to Palestinian terrorists as “militants” rather than what they really are – terrorists. Terrorists terrorize people, and that’s what these Palestinian “militants” have been doing to Israeli citizens within rocket range.

Now a new euphemism has emerged. Rather than calling illegal immigrants what they are – illegal – a group now wants to drop the “I-word” because they feel it is racist and judgmental. It’s unclear what this group wants to use instead of “illegal” – I presume it’s some euphemism such as “undocumented.” If you are breaking United States law, isn’t that illegal? If you are in this country illegally, isn’t that illegal? Why sugar-coat the facts? Call it what it is and then deal with it.

I absolutely believe fair and humane solutions to the illegal immigration (there, I said it) problem must be found, but to play games with words is just a bold attempt to obfuscate the issue and sway public opinion. I think we should all pray for God’s guidance to our leaders in government for this very tricky problem, because we are talking about the well-being of millions of people, the security of the United States, and many other factors.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I recently saw a news item about a school in the metro New York area that is teaching the kids proper etiquette. I think that’s a great idea. Today, people don’t know proper etiquette, mainly because most parents don’t teach it. Rudeness is a real problem with cell phones. You have people texting when in class, when out somewhere with others, or maybe even while in conversation with you. Of course texting while driving goes beyond rude, to dangerous and life-threatening.

One particularly annoying use of the cell phone involves using one while in a darkened theater. I’ve been watching a play and all of a sudden there’s an annoying light coming from a row or two in front of me. In a darkened theater that little telephone light is quite bright. Even if they are only texting and there’s no sound, that light is distracting.

Today kids aren’t taught the common courtesies such as taking off your hat while indoors and in an elevator, how to set a table, which fork to use, etc. Cell phones and lack of etiquette are contributing to a ruder and cruder society, which is too bad. Maybe that school is on to something.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Importance of Christmas

What’s the big deal about Christmas? For Christians, Christmas celebrates one of the most important events in the history of the world, so they shouldn’t take it lightly. We should not let the significance of the holiday become overshadowed by all the commercialism, sentimentality, and secular aspects of the season.

I just made what some may consider a rather radical statement, that Christmas commemorates one of the most important events in history. Let’s think about that for a minute. What makes that first Christmas so momentous?

The God who created the universe, who is all-powerful, and who is majestic beyond our wildest imagination, did something radical and unheard of. The highly paraphrased version of the Bible called The Message puts it this way (Philippians 2:5-8a):

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of him-self that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an in-credibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death. (by Eugene H. Peterson)

We read in the majestic words of the first chapter of the Gospel according to John (John 1:14):

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. NIV

If that wasn’t significant enough, Jesus came to earth to give the entire human race the opportunity to get back into right relationship with God (to become children of God once more). This could not have happened if Jesus hadn’t been born of a woman for the ultimate purpose of paying the penalty for our wrongdoing. Again we read in John’s Gospel (John 1:12-13):

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. NIV

That’s pretty significant, don’t you think? Without that birth 2,000 years ago, there would have been no debt payment on the cross, and of course there wouldn’t have been the glorious Resurrection on that first Easter. While the sentimental, family, and goodwill aspects of the season are nice, we Christians mustn’t lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Recognizing Christmas

I watched the last half hour or so of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting program on NBC on Tuesday, Nov. 30. It was refreshing to hear Christmas carols sung and the word “Christmas” actually used instead of the generic “holiday.” Obviously this celebration was of a secular nature, but they didn’t shy away from the traditional carols that refer to Jesus. I give NBC credit for not watering down the celebration of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Unemployment Benefits

As of this writing, Congress hasn’t extended unemployment benefits. This lack of caring for those who have worked hard all their lives demonstrates once again that our government’s priorities are not right. People have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and can’t find work because our government allowed jobs to be moved overseas. Now that same government refuses to extend unemployment benefits to these families.

Yet our “benevolent” government provides benefits to those who are able-bodied yet abuse the system. For example, a common scam is to work just long enough to be eligible for unemployment, and then get yourself fired so you can live on the government dole for a while. Then there are those who live on welfare and have no intention of becoming productive members of society. While I firmly believe there must be a “safety net” for those who are unable to work for health reasons, we’ve got to do something about fraud and abuse of the system.

Please write your senators and congressmen and let them know you are outraged by this lack of caring for those who have been, and want to be, productive members of society. Let’s get our priorities straight in this country and stop always hurting the middle class.