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Preparing for Christmas with Gerry Breshears

We asked Gerry Breshears to give us an inside scoop on how his family prepares to celebrate Christmas:

Guest Post by Gerry Breshears

Sherry and I are empty nesters and happy grandparents, so we no longer do the big family meal at our house. Our daughter, Cyndee, will come from one side of Oregon and we’ll travel to the other side to David and Samantha’s home to hang with Nicole (10) and Joy (8), two of our grandgirls. We’ll Skype Donn, Susan and Elizabeth (3) and share our distributed Christmas. I’m glad Jesus is Lord of the universe, but I sure wish our family were all living within a couple of blocks of our house.

A highpoint of preparation is when we take Nicole (10) and Joy (8) shopping. They direct us to their favorite stores and we prowl the aisles looking for the most delightful gifts possible (There is a budget . . . but it’s grandfatherly!). The joyful thing is that the presents aren’t for Nicole and Joy, but for two girls from poverty stricken homes who will come to the big neighborhood Christmas party at our church. They donate some of their favorite gently used clothes and write notes of care to go with them. Hearing their giggles as they imagine the impact of their love given to complete strangers makes me laugh out loud. How like the LORD who comes to us in Advent.

The youngest reader always reads the Christmas story from Luke 2 before anyone opens presents. It’s important to be prepared so the wiggles of anticipation don’t turn into frustrations! Since Joy reads super well, the struggle to recognize words has become theological discussion of the meaning of the beloved text.

Guest Post by Gerry Breshears, co-author of Death By Love, Vintage Jesus, Vintage Church, and Doctrine. Gerry blogs at www.breshears.net.

December 23, 2010 | Posted in: Author,Christmas,Family | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 6:00 am | 0 Comments »

Jesus of Nazareth vs. Caesar Augustus

Perspectives on Power

Consider Jesus of Nazareth alongside Caesar Augustus.

At the time of Christ’s birth, Caesar had issued a call to the Roman world that everyone be counted and properly taxed. As he enjoyed luxurious accommodations in his Roman palace, he hoped to demonstrate his own greatness before a watching world by publicizing the great number of people under his domain. And yet in an unnoticed corner of Caesar’s kingdom, in a simple stable, sleeping in a feeding trough, the Son of God had come to show the glory of his Father.

The nature of infancy teaches us something about weakness, and it teaches us something about our God. Every Christmas we celebrate not Caesar’s triumphant census, but our Emmanuel: God with us.

The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus made himself a servant. The infinite God enclosed himself in a woman’s womb for nine months. God the Son was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger for a bed. God made himself vulnerable.

Picture Jesus, the firstborn above all creation, the one through whom God spoke the creation of the universe, sitting on his mother Mary’s lap, learning to read and write! Such mysteries can never be fully explained. But it is the story of God coming to earth – God’s being with us – that lies at the heart of the Christian worldview.

Imagine Caesar in his palace and Jesus in the manger. Which one looks more like a king?

What would you do if you were in Bethlehem at the time and you had to choose to pledge your allegiance to either a baby boy who excited a few rugged shepherds, or the ruler of the known world with an army of thousands at his command?

Who was more powerful? Caesar or Jesus? Things are not always as they appear.

Christians must have a radically different conception of power. After all, when Jesus was crucified, it appeared that he was dying as a weak man at the hands of the strong. Pilate appeared to have the authority and power. “We have no king but Caesar!” the people shouted.

Caesar ruled by conquering lands and subjugating people. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave by suffering and dying – by bearing the full weight of God’s wrath towards the evil of the world and then rising again to new life.

From Holy Subversion by Trevin Wax. Check out Trevin’s blog at trevinwax.com.

December 22, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Author,Christmas,Holidays,Jesus Christ,Life & Doctrine,Life of Christ,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 6:00 am | (2) Comments »

“God Becomes Man”…What?

Guest Post by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Okay, hold on just one moment. I know we’re all busy and that this time of year creates all sorts of added responsibilities and distractions, but what is that title again? “God Becomes Man”?…Um…What? Really?

Christmas is the one time of year when the entire world is forced to recognize that something astounding and significant has happened. Yes, I know that the majority of Christmas fuss isn’t about what we call the incarnation, but the truth is that the incarnation itself is so universe-altering that even the most crass commercialism is forced to surrender its cynicism. Words like “hope”, “peace” and “love” appear on shopping bags. Songs extolling the obscure birth of a seemingly illegitimate baby are hummed by shoppers everywhere. All of a sudden even the most hardened Scrooges among us remember friends and family and long to return to a time when what really matters matters: home and faith and selflessness. Something astonishing has happened: God has become man.

Now, if non-Christians respond to the incarnation like this, one might assume that Christians who understand the reality beneath the holiday shadow would be transformed by the truth of the incarnation every day…but are we? Are we shocked when we see the baby in the manger? Do we shake our heads in wonder? Or, have we left the incarnation, what He’s done, behind and focused in on what we’re supposed to do? If that’s the case with you, here are a few thoughts to help you remember what the incarnation means about you, about Him:

  • The incarnation shows us how weak we are: After all, how much power and influence does an infant have? And yet, He’s the Savior we needed.
  • The name of that incarnate baby, “Jesus” shows us our true need: We need a Savior from our sin, not moral reform. We need a Rescuer, not a self-help guru (Matthew 1:21).
  • The incarnation shows us that in every way He’s just like us. He suffered as an infant. He’s been tempted in every way just as we have, yet without sin. He knows what it is to be cold, to be dependent, to die…yes, even to live again.
  • The incarnation tells us that Christmas isn’t ever over. When we’ve packed up all the decorations and taken back all the mistaken gifts, he’ll still be the God/Man, interceding for us, bearing our flesh. Christmas will never end for Jesus: He’s eternally transformed.
  • The incarnation means that the only person who is qualified by His nature and life to pay for our sins has done so. The incarnation was always meant to lead him, to lead us, to the cross.
  • The incarnation means that we have fulfilled all the Law. Because we are united with him and he with us, we have loved God and our neighbor perfectly, because he has. We’re righteous because the God-Man has already done everything that needed to be done. We’re justified.
  • The incarnation means that when we enter heaven we’ll be greeted by Someone who is just like us, but with nail-scarred hands and feet. He’ll be the only one there with scars.

The Christmas story is ultimately a story about what Jesus has already done for us. It’s His story about His work accomplished because of His love for His bride. Let’s ask God to help us celebrate Christmas, the incarnation, all year, shall we? He’s done it all. We’re loved. What an astounding gift!

Guest Post by Elyse Fitzpatrick, author of Because He Loves Me, Comforts from the Cross, Counsel from the Cross, and the forthcoming Give them Grace. Elyse blogs at elysefitzpatrick.com.

December 20, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Author,Christmas,Holidays,Jesus Christ,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life,The Gospel,Theology | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 6:00 am | (3) Comments »

Win an Advanced Copy of the ESV Study Bible, Personal Size!

With Christmas coming quickly
Crossway thought about
The ESV Study Bible missing Christmas Eve service
Alone on the coffee table, by the couch

We’ve heard some say it’s thick and much too fat
To fit in your purse, man purse, or messenger bag

So we put it on a diet and sent it back to press
With all the same features, notes, and illustrations—but compressed
How can it be? What’s missing? You might ask
We just had to remove some of the articles from the back

But they’ll be available online for you to access for free
And don’t forget the Trutone and leather editions have a life-time guarantee

And just to make this silly rhyme a bit more fun
We’re giving away three advanced copies for you to choose from
Just leave a comment or tweet using #ESV
Telling us why you’d like this in time to fit under your tree.

CONTEST CLOSED 12/20/10
Terms:
Winners will be picked at random on Monday December 20th. We have two genuine leather copies and one Trutone, your choice while supplies last. Giveaway is for the US only. Study articles are free online only with access code included with purchase of a Study Bible. These are advanced copies, the ESV Study Bible Personal size will be available for purchase in January 2011.

December 17, 2010 | Posted in: Christmas,ESV,Giveaways | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 3:29 pm | (231) Comments »

Remembering the of Impact of “Share the Good News of Christmas” 2009

Crossway has been reflecting on the impact of last year’s Share the Good News of Christmas program in anticipation of these final weeks leading up to Christmas 2010! In 2009, over 743,000 Share the Good News of Christmas Bibles and kits were distributed by churches all across the nation.

Last year, Village Bible Church in Sugar Grove, IL distributed 8,000 Bibles as part of the program, serving as an incredible witness to the local community.

“Our congregation really enjoyed getting to meet neighbors whom they did not know and having an opportunity to walk the streets praying for the people who lived in the homes where they dropped off gift bags,” Pastor Keith Duff of Village Bible Church reported last year. “I think we gained just as much as those who received the Bibles. In retrospect, I wish we had picked up 16,000 Bibles rather than 8,000, as once people began handing them out it became contagious and they wanted to do more!”

Check out Village Bible Church’s 2009 Christmas story here.

If you and your church would like to participate in the 2010 program and reach out to your community this Christmas, visit GoodNewsofChristmas.org.

| Posted in: Christmas,Evangelism,Event | Author: Crossway Staff @ 6:25 am | 0 Comments »