St. Luke's account says that on that first Christmas shepherds were on a hillside watching their flocks by night, when suddenly, the glory of God shone round about them and an angel appeared. The angel made a stupendous announcement, saying, "Have no fear, for behold I announce to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people; for today there was born for you in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
The shepherds were prompt in their response. They sought out the Christ-child immediately. The Scriptures say that they "came with haste." The Greek meaning for the word translated "haste" is "they jumped the walls on their way." Certainly this should be the response of every person to the gospel message – don't delay - make haste.
There is built into life an element of urgency concerning the things that really matter. Some things should just never be put off. more >>
This missionary family, the Holmertz, was serving God down in Nairobi, Kenya when they realized they were missing something very important to them. Their family!
It was that time of the year when lights, gifts, and family get together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. While on a mission trip, the mother and father decided they would take their kids from place to place to visit different family members. They secretly fly home for Christmas and what happens next puts a HUGE smile on all their families faces. When the grandparents open the gift and sees them, they can't help but shed a few tears. You may not be able to as well.
Have you ever been part of a Christmas surprise that was so memorable you want to share? more >>
Ryan Bell, an ex-pastor who quit his faith in God for a year following his resignation from the Hollywood Adventist Church and a divorce from his wife of 17 years, is set to decide New Year's Day whether he will remain a believer or become an atheist. While he has distanced himself from zealous atheists, Bell expressed a desire to be "good" without submitting to boundaries.
Nearing the end of his yearlong embrace of non-theism, Bell told the LA Times that leaving the faith has allowed him to see "both sides of the coin." The former Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University teacher has consorted with several atheist groups as a public speaker, sharing his experiences of walking away from church life. "Being with atheists, they can have the same sort of obnoxious certainty that some Christians have," he said of his experiences. "I don't want to be part of that. It feels like I'm stuck in the middle. I want to be for something good, but I don't want boundaries, and religion just feels like a very bounded thing."
As he nears a self-imposed January 1 deadline to decide between atheism and faith, Bell told the LA Times, "The question I am asking right now [is] why do I need religion to love?" more >>
These days, I think the song "Jingle Bells" might start like this:
"Dashing through the snow with a high-def touchscreen display, all the fields we go, tweeting and texting all the way. Bells on smartphones ring, making bandwidth bright, what fun it is to stare and cling to a virtual world tonight..."
Silver bells, tinsel and mistletoe are being replaced with smartphones, tablets, computers and social media. Our youth are catching on to the technology-driven era at younger and younger ages. They pay more attention to screens than people. In fact, one toy maker is even rolling out a bouncy seat for infants with a built-in iPad holder. My co-worker told me his 2-year-old daughter toddled up to the TV to try and swipe it like an iPad. Another father in my office said his 18-month daughter knows how to unlock and navigate his smartphone. more >>
There are 250 million Christians in America today, but most seem to be oblivious of the fact that they and their religion are under steady attack from those who apparently hate Christianity, or at least want to expunge Christianity from any public place or mention. That hatred seems to extend to all sorts of evidences of Christianity in our society, such as Christmas, which is a federal holiday.
The Butler Elementary School in Belmont, Massachusetts, for years has had a tradition of allowing kids to take a December field trip to see a performance of the Nutcracker ballet. The anti-Christian zealots in its Parent Teachers Association developed a secret plan to cancel this outing because the ballet features a Christmas tree on the stage, which they called "questionable content."
When news of the secret plan leaked out, parents forced the issue to be confronted at a PTA meeting, but parents were accused of being discriminatory if they supported the trip to see the Nutcracker ballet. The good news is that common sense prevailed and parents won the Nutcracker battle, but many believe it will come up again next year and in other schools, too. more >>
Christmas is the saddest time of the year in which to feel lonely. We can feel alone in a crowded room, when we feel no one really knows or understands us. We can feel alone because we literally have no one around us. There are so many reasons today why people are estranged from their families. Christmas loneliness may be one of the great-unsung stories of our time.
How to overcome this loneliness?
The way "out" is "through." We don't overcome loneliness by denying it or avoiding it. We overcome it, by facing it for what it is: a fact. Not the only fact, not a permanent fact, not the most important fact. But in this moment, I acknowledge it as a fact, that I am lonely. more >>