Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jesus in HD (Part 8) — What Kind of a Man is This?

Manger“The angel told Mary… You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus… Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).

Matthew put it this way: “This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).

The Virgin Birth. Not one miracle, but two. Two miracles: Each equally amazing. Each equally awe-inspiring. Each absolutely essential to who Jesus was. Each absolutely essential to your salvation and mine.

Two miracles.

When you are through hearing this podcast, you will understand this singularly significant statement: Neither Matthew nor Luke needed to prove the Virgin Birth. The Virgin Birth proved itself.Mary

When you are through hearing this podcast, you will have gained a whole new understanding of the Virgin Birth, and a whole new appreciation for what the Virgin Birth means to your life and mine today, right now, in real time.

You can hear the podcast by clicking on the podcast player to the right, or by clicking HERE. Enjoy!!! 

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One Solitary Life

 

12in x 52in-b“He was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant teen who knew not man. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. 

“He never married or owned a home. He never held a job, yet paid taxes. He never set foot inside a metropolis. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He received no awards, no medals, no prizes from His peers. 

“While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He had no lawyers, no friendly juries, no fair hearing. 

“He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His cloak. After He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave…

“And yet two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is still the central figure…of the human race. 

“All the armies that ever marched and al the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this ‘One Solitary Life.’”

No, I didn’t write this. I quote this. A little gift from me to you. A simple yet timeless piece of poetry that puts this Christmas day into its proper perspective.

Merry Christmas, everyone, from our home to yours.

 

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All But Invisible — The Unsung Heroes of the Christmas Story

one“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified” (Luke 2:8-9).

Do you see what is so singularly significant about that statement?

You will after you hear this podcast. Trust me, you may never hear nor read the Christmas story in quite the same way again.

You can hear the podcast by clicking on the podcast player up on the right, or by clicking HERE.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, from our home to yours!

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A Shadow Cast Across the Cradle

Christmas_NativityHow much thought do you put into the gifts that you give at Christmas?

I have no doubt that the Wise Men put a considerable amount of thought into theirs.

The three gifts that these mysterious visitors from the East presented to Jesus — Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh — tell a remarkably riveting story. Indeed, the single most compelling story that has ever been told 

This story is so beautifully symbolized and so clearly communicated in a curious combination of three unusual-yet-fascinating gifts.

Spoiler Alert: After hearing this message, you may never look upon a manger scene the same way again.

You can hear the podcast by clicking here. Or you can click on the podcast player on the upper right.

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“I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.”

AdamI’ve got to admit — much to my everlasting embarrassment and shame — that it takes an awful lot to move me emotionally. And I will be the first to admit that I am the poorer for that.

But in light of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, two days ago, THIS article has moved me in ways that I cannot even begin to explain.

Perhaps its the pastor in me. I don’t know. But I do know that there are precious people in my little town — more than I realize, I’m sure — who are silently suffering just like the dear mom who wrote this piece. Moms and dads and their troubled children that I wish I could hug and hold and feebly attempt to offer some much-needed comfort and long-lasting help.

When I read or hear a story like this, every fiber of my being pulsates with an all-consuming impulse to wave a magical wand and just “fix it.” But I have no want and I cannot fix it. Despite all of my years of formal training and in-the-trenches experience, I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin to help in these situations.

All I do know is that endless debates about the 2nd Amendment miss the mark completely. (Note: You are hearing that from someone who does not own a gun, and never has. Someone who loves freedom. But someone who, for the life of me, cannot figure out why anyone needs to own or otherwise have access to an assault rifle.)

The cries of the heart of this hurting mommy are worthy of — no, that’s not strong enough — DEMAND a national conversation. A conversation that results in us as a nation being willing to acknowledge that there are many Adam Lanzas out there. Ticking time-bombs, each being raised by a parent or parents just trying to survive one day to the next. Families in peril that desperately need our help.

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In Light of Today’s Shooting in Connecticut…

…I am praying for, and certain that there is, a lot of this going on right now.

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A Man Sent From God

twoHis eyes blazed with the fire of conviction. His voice thundered as he peered out from behind his uncut hair and unkempt beard. He wore a camel’s-hair garment bound with a leather belt. He ate a strangely strict diet of honey and grasshoppers, of all things.

Yet when he spoke, the people trembled. Why?

What did he want?

Where did he come from? Who was this strange specter that haunted the barren sands of the Judean desert? 

What was it about him that caused Jesus to pay him the highest of all possible compliments?

For over 400 long, deafeningly silent years, God had not spoken, God had not acted, no prophets had arisen, no angels had been seen. A 400 year drought of any voice from God.

Suddenly, shockingly, unexpectedly, amazingly that silence was shattered. Shattered by an angel heralding the miraculous birth of a remarkable child.

In this podcast, oneyou are about to meet one of the most remarkable people ever to walk across the biblical stage in this epic drama we call “Jesus in HD.”

You can meet him by clicking the podcast player in the upper right, or by clicking here.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the compelling, history-altering story of “A Man Sent From God.”

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The Unintended Consequences of a Prank Gone Bad

By now you have perhaps heard about the prank that went bad; very, very bad. If not, you can read about it here.

_home_panew_uk_news 1-1The gist of the story is this: Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William, was admitted to a London Hospital earlier this week, suffering from acute morning sickness due to her recently announced pregnancy. Two Australian disc jockeys decided to prank her by calling the hospital and pretending to be the Queen of England and Prince Charles.

The call came through at 5:30 AM London time. A nurse answered the call since at that early hour there was no one assigned to the switchboard. The nurse made a split-second decision to put the call through to the Duchess’ private nurse. Fast forward to this morning when the body of the married 46 year old nurse and mother of two was discovered, the apparent victim of suicide.

As you might imagine, the Twitter echo chamber sprang into action with people hysterically venting their feelings about this tragedy. Something I totally get since I am doing my own venting here.

Having followed the ongoing developments of this story with great interest, I have read hundreds of such vents — some worthwhile, others downright asinine, and still more that were, IMHO, outright outrageous. But amidst this cacophony of worldwide reactions, there was one statement, short and to-the-point, that rose above all others in its importance, one that caught my attention, one that has stayed with me throughout the day. These words are so powerful that I offer them here to you — to read, to consider, to apply, and hopefully, never to forget. Because to me, this gets right to the heart of the matter.

In a reference to the now-deceased nurse, one person wrote:

“Humans are fragile. We don’t know, at any given time, what people may be going through.”

To which I want to shout, HOW TRUE!!!

Yes, people are fragile. Fact is, all people are fragile. All of us. I am fragile. You are fragile. And we never know what might push someone, anyone, over the edge.

Apparently — and I do say “apparently” because it’s way too early to know all of the facts of this nurse’s backstory — Apparently, the notion that her sincerely-trying-to-do-the-right-thing action of putting through the call caused a whirlwind of worldwide press coverage, resulting in undue embarrassment to her beloved queen and family, was just enough to push her over the edge.

What would it take to push me (or you) over the edge? I hope that I (and you) never, ever have to find out.

Point is, none of us is immune to such a push. Which means what? Which means this: There is a reason — a very good reason — why the Apostle Paul made this heartfelt plea to the committed Christ-followers in his beloved little city of Philippi:

“Always be gentle with others” (Philippians 4:5).

Such a simple statement. Such a vitally important — never to be forgotten — statement.

“Always be gentle with others.”

Gentleness, the rarest of commodities in today’s crude and coarsening culture.

I have a feeling that this tragic story will stay with me for quite some time. A constant reminder to me of just how fragile everyone around me truly is. A pinprick of my conscience, a wee small voice whispering in my ears, reminding me always to be gentle.

Perhaps a reminder to you as well.

If so, then this precious nurse did not die in vain.

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A Man of Whom the World is Not Worthy

You’ve likely never heard the name Umar Mulinde before. It’s equally likely that now you will never forget him.

Especially as we countdown to Christmas Eve, 2012.

For it was exactly one year ago, Christmas Eve, 2011, that Pastor Mulinde’s life — as well as the lives of his dear wife, Evelyn, and their six precious children — was changed forever.

Pastor Mulinde had just concluded a Christmas Eve service in his church in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. As he and his family were getting into his car to head home to celebrate Jesus’ birthday… well, I’ll let Pastor Mulinde tell you in his own words exactly what happened:

“I was attacked by a man who… called out to me shouting ‘pastor, pastor’, and as I turned to see who he was, he poured a bucket of acid on my head which burnt part of my face. I felt fire from my head down to my toes. As I turned away from the attacker, another man poured the liquid on my back and ran away shouting (3 times) ‘Allah Akbar (god is great)’… ” 

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“It was so traumatizing for me and the kids,” Evelyn recalled, remembering how they had cried, knelt down and prayed together.

The reasons for the attack? A constellation of three factors, as near as I can piece his story together:

1. At the age of 20, the now 38-year-old pastor became a committed Christ-follower, no easy road for the former Muslim sheikh (teacher) and grandson of a leading imam. His strict Muslim family completely rejected him after his conversion, labeling him a defector.

2. Pastor Mulinde became an outspoken opponent of Shari’a Law becoming the law of land in Uganda. In response to his efforts, in April of last year a Fatwa was issued against his life, calling for his death.

3. As a Muslim, Umar was taught to “hate Jews and Israel.” As a Christ-follower, Pastor Mulinde become a vigorous advocate for the land of Israel and the Jewish people.

For his commitment, in one horrific moment on Christmas Eve, 2011, Pastor Mulinde lost 30% of his face, including his right eye.

(Ya know… Upon sober reflection, when thinking about our own challenges and personal pain, perhaps we don’t have it so bad. Just a thought.)

When asked about the attack and his feelings toward those who perpetrated it, Pastor Mulinde recently said this:

“The people who did this to me, they thought they are serving God. But I feel sorry for them and I forgive them, because they didn’t know what they were doing.”

Tragically, Pastor Mulinde is not alone. What happened to him is not an isolated incident. Speaking recently from Israel, where he is receiving ongoing treatments for his burns at the Sheba Medical Center, he made this heartfelt plea:

“The persecution because of the name of the Lord is real and it is happening to different people around the world…The enemy is very determined. The believers should also be determined to raise the flag and defend the name of the Lord.”

It is currently estimated that (according to Radio Netherlands Worldwide):

• There are about 35 to 40 acid burn cases registered with the Acid Survivors Foundation Uganda (ASFA) each year. It is believed that some cases go unreported due to the stigma attached;
• 55% of victims are female, and 45% are male;
• Victims tend to be between the ages of 20–39 years;
• Victims often spend five or more months in hospital, lose their employment, and face rejection by their family;
• There is no specific law against acid burns in Uganda.

More than raw statistics, cold numbers on a page, these are our dear brothers and sisters in Christ we’re talking about — people of whom the world is not worthy (Hebrews 11:38).

From the website persecution.org, 

“Please keep Pastor Umar and his family in your prayers. Please pray for recovery for the pastor. The pastor and his wife have six children, the youngest being three-year-old twin boys. The pastor’s wife is currently with him in Israel. Please pray for their children as they are without their parents while their father undergoes treatment.”

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A Must-Read for Everyone.

I know that it’s quite culturally acceptable for someone to re-tweet a tweet. Is it equally acceptable for someone (in this instance, me) to re-blog a blog?

Well, never one to be hampered by the cultural mores of the day, I’m going to take the plunge. Simply because this particular blog, published today by Ed Welch of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, is must reading. (You can read it by clicking here.)

It is must reading for everyone who is in ministry. It is must reading for everyone who attends a local church led by ministers. 

For those in ministry, be encouraged. You (we) are not alone.

For those who are ministered to by ministers, please take every conceivable step to ensure that you are not a part of the problem. But by your consistent and faithful encouragement of your pastors, please purpose in your heart to become a part of the solution.

In the midst of our ongoing spiritual warfare, the cause of Christ is daily losing far too many good people to “friendly fire.” Now is the time for this to stop. We are the ones (the only ones) who can stop it.

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