Baby Jesus, Did You Know?

Mary and the baby JesusAway in a Manger

I’m not sure I would say it is in my top three, but I really like Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger.” We all know its first verse, right?:

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

It is a simple tune…and the fact that I can recall those words means it’s pretty easy to remember. 🙂

It brings to mind this part of the nativity story:

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).

In the adult Bible study a week back we discussed how the angel Gabriel gave Mary a heads-up about her miraculous pregnancy and the Savior it would produce, but at that point in Scripture’s narrative I imagine she looked at Jesus the same way Michelle did at Mikey and at Augie when they were first born.

With love, awe, and thankfulness.

However, at some point after His birth, Mary had to ponder the incredible words from God’s divine messenger. What exactly did she know about her newborn’s future fate? [Read more…]

Anticipating the Arrival

Magi on camels traveling to nativityJust Can’t Wait!

Have you ever really, really looked forward to something?

Looked forward to it so much you just couldn’t wait…and it seemed to take forever?

What was it? A trip to some exotic place? Your wedding day? Something else?

Christmas?

Kids, when I was your age I just couldn’t wait for Christmas. It truly was a magical season for my brothers and me, and boy we wanted the day to arrive weeks ahead. Then…Christmas Eve…we couldn’t wait for Santa to come. My parents would keep our full Christmas stockings away from us until about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning…since they knew as soon as we had them we were going to be wide awake. 🙂

And then…to torture us all the more…after my parents got an hour or two more of sleep…we’d go downstairs…and although we could see all of the awesome gifts under the tree…many with our personal names on them…we weren’t allowed to open any until we had breakfast.

The horrors! The anticipation could have killed us!

Anybody else feel that way with Christmas? [Read more…]

Why I Am a Heretic

I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.

AKA, "What I Believe"

Guy preaching with a staff and a stone tabletI had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:

Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying

To which I replied:

Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?

My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂

Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.

So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) [Read more…]

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Virgin Mary

Pregnancy Tests

I still fondly remember the night, about five years ago, when I went to brush my teeth for bed and Michelle said to me, "What would you say if I told you I thought I might be pregnant?"

I responded, "I'd say, ‘Why do you think that?'"

Without the forcing you to hear the rest of that story again, the punch line is that the awesome news was that she was, indeed, pregnant, and the following August Augie arrived.

The news of his pending arrival, however, was a surprise to both Michelle and me. Again…without forcing you to hear the story of why…we really had no reason to believe Michelle could get pregnant.

And we are definitely not the first…and won't be the last…parents-to-be to receive unexpected news of a nascent human whose arrival date is in less than nine months.

Perhaps a few men and women sitting before me have had a similar experience? 🙂

Positive pregnancy tests have led to myriad joyful and anxious surprises, haven't they?

Reason for Complete Astonishment

Which leads us to joining the Nativity Story at the point when the cast on stage is a young woman and an angel. Let's turn to Luke 1:26-33:

[Read more…]

Symphony of Christ, 3rd Movement: The Incarnation

We’ve now come to the third movement in the Symphony of Christ, but before the musicians start playing let’s quickly review what we heard in the first two movements…

Movement 1, "The Promise"

Our first movement, "The Promise," exploded at the beginning—as we were treated to the creation of the heavens and the earth…followed by a grand celebration because, just like God, the angels "saw everything that [God] had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31a).

The music quickly turned dark and gloomy, however, because our original parents almost immediately trusted the hollow promise of sin…and were rewarded with something they never experienced before…

Fear.

But our Lord, who is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6b-7a) didn’t give us the destruction we deserved—instead He gave us a promise of a Messiah.

We ended the first movement with a slight taste of the second…when would the assurance contained the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 be fulfilled?

[Read more…]

Symphony of Christ, 2nd Movement: The Anticipation

Remembering the Promise

The first movement of the Symphony of Christ started off magnificently—with the creation of the heavens and the earth ex nihilo—out of nothing—followed by a huge angelic celebration! Then we heard a melody of innocence in the Garden, but with a foreboding background tune played by a serpent and one third of the angels.

Finally we were moved into the depths of despair as our original parents trusted themselves and Satan more than they trusted their maker—trusted the promise of sin more than the reality of divine blessing. We learned what is always true, whether immediately or in the future: that the promise of a misdeed is really a monkey’s claw. Instead of the "being like God" as the serpent guaranteed, or getting the "wisdom" Eve expected…the only gift the edenic couple received was…

[Read more…]