Tag Archives: Christmas story

Max Lucado – More Than a Christmas Story

 

The virgin birth is more, much more, than a Christmas story. It’s a story of how close Christ will come to you! The first stop on His itinerary was a womb. Where will God go to touch the world? Look deep inside Mary for an answer. Better still—look deep within yourself.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory!” the scripture says (Col. 1:27). Christ grew in Mary until He had to come out. Christ will grow in you until the same occurs. He will come out in your speech, in your actions, in your decisions. Every place you live will be a Bethlehem. And every day you live will be a Christmas. Deliver Christ into the world…your world.

From In the Manger

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Reasonable Christmas

Ravi Z

“Miracles,” said my friend. “Oh, come. Science has knocked the bottom out of all that. We know now that Nature is governed by fixed laws.”

“Didn’t people always know that?” I said.

“Good Lord, no,” he said. “For instance, take a story like the Virgin Birth. We know now that such a thing couldn’t happen.”

“But look here,” I said. “St Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary; if you’ll read the story in the Bible you’ll find that when he saw his fiancée was going to have a baby he decided to cry off the marriage. Why did he do that?”

“Wouldn’t most men?”

“Any man would,” I said, “provided he knew the laws of Nature—provided he knew that a girl doesn’t ordinarily have a baby unless she’s been sleeping with a man. St Joseph knew that law just as well as you do.”(1)

It’s not difficult to find any number of people who have trouble with the nativity scene at the heart of the Christmas story. According to the Barna Research group even Christians are struggling with the virgin birth at the center of their own faith tradition. More than fifteen percent of Christians in the United States admit not believing in the virgin birth, a statistic readily increasing.

Across continents, atheist campaigns ask the world each year to admit over its primitive nativity scenes that we know it is only a myth or to celebrate reason instead this season. The battle they propose (and the compliant perpetuate) between science and faith describes something like two opposing swordsmen sworn to fight to the death. Though it is an image supported at times by both sides of the fight, it is at best a blind spot in the minds of many and at worse a wishful delusion.

In his 1945 essay “Religion and Science,” which begins with the conversation above, C.S. Lewis exposed one of the most common false assumptions at the heart of the science/faith divide, particularly as it pertains to the nativity of Jesus. The assumption is that this “primitive” nativity was likewise filled with primitive thinkers devoid of any sort of knowledge of biology or natural reasoning. Here and elsewhere, Lewis saw that we hold our scientific advancements as something like demerits for prior generations, perpetuating the mentality that the only accurate thought is current thought, the only mind worth trusting is an enlightened one—of which we, of course, are conveniently members.

Yet, Joseph knew enough about the laws of nature to at first conclude the infidelity of his fiancée. He knew that babies and pregnancies did not appear on their own and thus intended to divorce Mary quietly, until something changed his mind. The disciples, too, knew enough about the laws of physics to be completely terrified by the man walking on the water toward their boat. The crowd of mourners knew enough about death to laugh at Jesus when he insisted that the dead girl was only sleeping, and to walk away astonished when she came back to life. There were also the magi, astrologers who followed their scientific calculations to the child, Philip and Andrew who knew that the mathematics of two fish and a starving crowd were not going to divide well, Mary and Martha who knew that their brother’s death was the last word, and Thomas who knew the same after he watched Jesus crucified.

In each of these objections, I thankfully hear my own. So much so, that it would appear faith is not a turning of one’s back on the fixed laws of nature or physics or mathematics, but rather, a recognition in the very face of these laws which we know and trust that something from outside the law must have reached into the picture. I find each of these scenes both remarkable and reasonable precisely because of the reactions of men and women with a grasp of natural law and the same objections that any of us would have offered had we been present. It would be blind faith indeed if we were receiving a story that wanted us at the onset to fully reject the laws of natural reasoning in replacement of something else. What we receive instead is a story filled with undeniable indications which suggest that something—or Someone—has startlingly stepped into the picture.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) C.S. Lewis, “Religion and Science,” Undeceptions (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1971), 48.

Our Daily Bread — A New Force

Our Daily Bread

Luke 2:25-35

My eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples. —Luke 2:30-31

When Matteo Ricci went to China in the 16th century, he took samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it. They readily accepted portraits of Mary holding the baby Jesus, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had come to be executed, his audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They couldn’t worship a crucified God.

As I thumb through my Christmas cards, I realize that we do much the same thing. In our celebrations and observances, we may not think about how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.

In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, only one person—the old man Simeon—seems to grasp the mysterious nature of what God has set in motion. “This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against,” he told Mary, and then he made the prediction that a sword would pierce her own soul (2:34-35).

Simeon knew that though on the surface little had changed—Herod still ruled, Roman troops still occupied Israel—underneath, everything had changed. God’s promised redemption had arrived. —Philip Yancey

From ‘The Jesus I Never Knew’, by Philip D. Yancey. © 1995 Zondervan. Published by permission

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,

One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;

Suffering anguish, despised and rejected,

Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!

—J. Wilbur Chapman © Renewal 1938. The Rodeheaver Company

The cradle without the cross misses the true meaning of Christ’s birth.

Bible in a year: Joel 1-3; Revelation 5

 

 

Greg Laurie – Not Presents, but His Presence

greglaurie

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” —Isaiah 29:13

I heard the story of a mother who was out Christmas shopping, frantically trying to get everything done. She had her small child with her, but for a moment, she lost sight of him. In sheer panic, she started retracing her steps and found him with his nose pressed against the glass of a store display, looking at a manger scene.

The boy said, “Mommy, Mommy! Look! It is Jesus in the hay!”

“Let’s go,” she said, as she took him by the hand and led him away. “We don’t have time for that.”

Exactly. That is the whole problem with this time of year that we call Christmas. We can be so busy celebrating Christmas that we forget all about Christ. In a sense, we can actually lose God in the midst of it all. We can very easily lose God in the so-called celebration of Jesus.

For many, the Christmas story is the one about Scrooge being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, or maybe Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman or Santa Claus.

But technically, can we lose God? No, we really can’t. You can’t lose someone if you know where they are. If you know where they are, then they are not lost. But you can lose sight of someone. And some have lost sight of the Lord in their lives, especially at this time of the year.

Maybe you’ve had the experience of talking with someone who was checking their texts or updating their social media as you’re trying to tell them something important.

God never does that. God is never disinterested. God is never distracted. And even if we forget about Him, He never forgets about us. Christmas is not about buying presents; it is about His presence in our lives.