Magi, Wise Men, or Kings? It’s Complicated.

Christian tradition finds meaning in each of these mysterious monikers.

Call them Magi. Call them wise men. You can even call them kings if you’d like! When it comes to Matthew’s Christmas narrative, the more the merrier. Each label shines a light on a different facet of the story. Whatever you choose to call them this holiday season, these men are the first in the... Continue Reading

No Gullible Bumpkins Here: Christmas and the Virgin Birth

There are two kinds of women who never, ever give birth: very old ladies and virgins.

On the surface, that might sound reasonable. But if you look closely, you will see that it does not really do justice to Luke’s narrative. Mary and Zechariah and Elizabeth were not gullible bumpkins who didn’t know how babies were made and believed fantastical stories (nor, for that matter, were Luke and his original readers).... Continue Reading

The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas

Extensive research shows that the December 25th date arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

Of course, to Christians, it really doesn’t matter that much whether or not they co-opted December 25thfrom the pagans, or vice versa. The Christian faith doesn’t stand or fall on that detail. But it’s nevertheless valuable for all of us to give closer scrutiny to shibboleths—such as that of the pagan origins of Christmas—which are continually repeated... Continue Reading

When God Changes Your Plans

God is weaving the details of your life into something beautiful, with Jesus at the center

“Isn’t it possible that when God does something unexpected in your life today, it may not mean that he has forgotten you or neglected you? Could it be that he’s working on a better, grander plan that you don’t see yet?”   There is an art to writing a résumé, where you find a way... Continue Reading

The Christmas Present in Lot’s Cave

The cave seemed like the perfect hiding place, but soon it became the setting for one of the most heinous scenes in all of the Bible

“When you trace back the lineage of Jesus you come through Lot’s cave. And the stench of sin in that cave is overwhelming; just as the stench of sin throughout the Old Testament is nauseating. However, the long-awaited Son of David was born to bring salvation to the nations. Here is the bouquet of grace!... Continue Reading

Why the Jewish Messiah is the Most Important Individual in History

It’s difficult for a 21st century audience to appreciate the century-long yearning which the Hebrews had for the Messiah’s arrival.

However, he will differ from all other human beings: he will also be God. We know this for a few reasons. First, as mentioned in Micah 5:2Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), his existence has no beginning. That can only be said of an individual who is self-existent and uncreated; who is prior to all created things. The Hebrew Scriptures (and logic) tell us that such a being must be the God and Creator of all things. Second, Isaiah 7:14Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) mentions that he will be known as, “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” Third, Isaiah’s second prophecy states that he is called, “Mighty God.” It would be blasphemous to call someone, “God,” who was not. Thus, the Jewish Messiah would be both fully human and fully God, making him unequivocally significant in history.

Child Mortality & Divine Grace

In 1800, the year after Washington died, global young child mortality was over 40%. Today it’s about 4%.

Often someone will complain cluelessly that our present times are the worst. But in fact, even in today’s troubled world, we are living in the best times, the most privileged and blessed times. How many are aware and grateful? That millions and millions of young children who once routinely died now unexceptionally survive and thrive around the world should be cause for endless thanks, right?

When Your Depressed Friend Twists God’s Word

What do you do when the words you mean to be life giving end up being soul-crunching?

Ministry success isn’t defined by the number of hands we heal but the hands we hold. Healing belongs to the Lord. Holding on is our sacred duty as fellow sojourners. We need more pastors like John Newton. Pastors that aren’t discouraged because their “projects” fail. But pastors that ache because their friends hurt. Pastors that stay and preach, and plod, and proclaim the excellencies of Christ even when it seems that we are only holding a symphony for the deaf.

The Wrong Advent

The Jesus whose arrival we ‘remember’ at Christmas is coming back.

This will be no ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’—where did he go? Oh, he came before, and offered forgiveness and peace, and hope. He laid down his life, bearing all the judgment rebels deserved. He welcomed rebels to come, giving lots of time and opportunity. But time has run out. Now he has come to Judge the earth. He offered to bear your judgment, but if you rejected his offer, you’ve missed your chance. Now only judgment awaits.

It’s Okay to Feel Sorrow During Christmas

The incarnation isn’t a celebration for happy people; it’s hope for those who wish things were different.

Yet, we often believe that we are the only one who struggles. We conjure up images of picturesque families celebrating their perfect lives. The problem is that such families simply don’t exist. There are no perfect people celebrating their perfect lives this Christmas. Everyone wishes things were different. And, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this is actually the point of Christmas.