December 21, 2010

Hurting at Christmas

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? 
And none of them doth light on the ground, without your father... 
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
— Matthew 10.29, 31 Tyndale/Coverdale Bible (Modern Spelling)

This should prove to be one of the more unusual approaches to a "Christmas article" that you have read, I'll wager. It will have some pretty raw honesty, and I earnestly hope you'll stay with me.

There have been several teachings I have come across lately that remind us not to forget that the reason for the humble birth in the manger of Bethlehem was the cross at Calvary. I would like to go further and remind us of the glorious end of it all.

The attached video by Petra as excellent lyrics (reproduced below the video). Written while the fear of global nuclear war was still strong, it is emphasizing a point that is as relevant now as it was then: God is in control. He has plans (Revelation 21.1-8), and humans are not going to thwart them. He is the Creator of the universe, you know.

And the Creator of the universe bothered to redeem fallen mankind. Why should he even notice? Psalm 8.4, 103.14. I have heard people say that some things are too small to warrant God's attention, don't even ask. Well, in that vein, even our "big stuff" is nothing to him. But he chooses to care about us!

That's right, our Creator cares about us. He is a holy and righteous God who will punish sin (Revelation 21.8), yet has mercy on fallen, sinful humanity (John 1.12-13, 3.16). God became a man (John 1.14), died on the cross for our sins, rose the third day (1 Cor. 15.3-4, Galatians 2.6) and has big plans for the future of humanity.

Jesus defeated death (1 Cor 15.55-56), and that victory began in the manger in Bethlehem (Micah 5.2). We tend to forget, but we're indirectly acknowledging it every Christmas.

Listen, I have had plenty of sorrows the past couple of years. They have been my own as well as sorrows shared with people I care about. For those of us who have had tragedies, we need to remember that we are celebrating the birth of God in the flesh who defeated death. As I said, he has big plans for the world, but he has plans for you...and me. He loves us (Galatians 2.20), and is with his people every step of the way (Heb. 13.5-6).

Listen to the song. No, it's not "Gospel Music". It's Christian music, and this band has ministered to me many times over the years. They even played a part in my return to Christ.

"He's still got you and me in his hands..."



Words and music by Bob Hartman, from Petra's album "Back to the Street", 1986
Based on Hebrews 1:3, Matthew 20:29, 6:34

Hearts are failing left and right, children fear this planet's plight
Fatalistic fears abound and take their toll without a sound
But through the vague uncertainty - comes a bold assurity
This world is under sovereignty - divinely ordered destiny
He holds this world together with the Word of His power
Safe within His hands - 'till its own appointed hour

(Chorus)
He's still got the whole world in His hands - tonight
And only He knows where the sparrow lands - tonight
And nothing in this world can stop His plans - tonight
'Cause He's still got the whole world in His hands
In His hands tonight

Humanistic lies lament the holocaust is imminent
Doomsday prophets in the news predicting who will light the fuse
The fate of His creation isn't subject to a man
The final consummation is according to His plan

He's still got you - He's still got me in His hands tonight

December 20, 2010

A Few More Persecutions

Buon girono. As much as I dislike interrupting your Christmas festivities, I want to lay out some timely information (cause in part by listening to Crosstalk America). My Christian readers should be made aware of what is happening in the world; we should be informed, lean to deal with situations as well as pray about them. Unbelieving readers... well, I take a bit of  pleasure in showing you that, despite your desire to dismiss and disbelive these things, they are still happening nonetheless.

First, Dr. Gaskell is suing the University of Kentucky because he claims that his faith cost him a job. (You'll be surprised that my reference is the New York Times, even they seem to think that the story has merit.)

Do you want to scream, "Separation of church and state"? OK. Here is the state making it a point to suppress religious expression. The Federal Reserve ordered a bank in Oklahoma to take down crosses, Bible verses and Christmas buttons.

From the "Don't Mess with Muslims" Department:
On the lighter side, and not related to the persecution of Christians, a man in Austria was yodeling while mowing his lawn. His Muslim neighbor took offense, and the man was fined. Note that yodeling is from Austria and neighboring regions. Islam is not.

On a much darker note, yet another "honor killing". Somali girl Nurta Mohamed Farah became a Christian at age 17. Her parents tortured her, she fled and was subsequently shot to death. I hate this "honor killing" business. If someone leaves the Christian faith, sure, other Christians are ashamed or embarrassed, as well as saddened. But we do not kill people to restore our "honor". Listen, Achmed, if you need to kill to restore your honor, you do not have honor worth restoring, capice? 

And the "religion of peace" marches on.

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