Immediately Mom at Christmas

IMG_1155You wake up, and immediately do your devotions before the children stir. They stir. They want breakfast immediately. Immediately after they eat, you get them ready and out the door to school before cleaning up the cereal that the toddler spilled. The dog needs to be let out immediately.

Life can feel that way, can’t it? For moms, sometimes days are just a series of “immediately’s.” This is especially true during the holidays: immediately after the shopping is done, there’s the music program, then gifts to wrap, then immediately to bed because people are coming tomorrow and there’s a lot of food to finish before they arrive. As soon as we finish one thing, two more are waiting for us. Immediately. Continue reading

Apocalyptic Carols

First_Nowell_stainer What do Christmas carols make you think of? Luke 2? Manger scenes? Candle-lit Christmas Eve services? Turkey dinners with family? That’s what they do for most people. Few of us think, “Oh, Christmas carols = the sky being peeled back and saints being caught up in the clouds.”

It is true that the nativity is the main theme of carols. Several carols also point to Calvary: “Then let us all with one accord/ Sing praises to our heavenly Lord/ That hath made heaven and earth of nought,/ And with his blood mankind hath bought” (“The First Nowell”).

But some of the best-known carols make reference to the second coming. Continue reading

Why the Incarnation?

morning star“He himself likewise shared in the same [flesh and blood]…” (Hebrews 2:14)

But why? Why would he, the eternal Son of God, the heir of all things, the Creator of all, the brightness of God’s glory, do this? Why would he take on our nature for all eternity? Why was he “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”? Jesus did not do this simply for the sake of a shared experience; he was not a divine cultural tourist. His incarnation was and is an active, willing, pursuit of a multifaceted goal. Hebrews 2 gives at least nine reasons why the Son of God has identified with His people by His incarnation: Continue reading

Pastors, Privacy, and the Incarnation

IMG_0741 We often have conversations with folks in the ministry about “the fishbowl”: the feeling (or reality!) that the pastor’s family lives a public life, often on view to the congregation. It’s part of the deal; something that ministers, their wives, and sometimes their children struggle with, as they often feel vulnerable, as though their privacy is constantly violated. When you’re on call 24/7, standing in front of the congregation weekly, frequently opening your home to new and needy people, and your salary has an annual, public review, it’s easy to feel that way. The fishbowl becomes an enemy, fought because we don’t enjoy the privacy that other families seem to. Continue reading

Only Fourteen Days ‘Till Christmas

IMG_1262 For many, Christmas will be a sweet and blessed time of gathering with family and friends. For others of us it means facing the realities of broken families, apostate children or parents, and the hard effects of sin and misery. For others it is a season of the poignancy of grief or loneliness. Likely for most of us it is a mingling of all of these. And then there is the shopping rush, church programs, traveling time in cars or planes, sleeping in hotels or relatives’ homes, worship in other churches, and homes bustling with the noise of children and grandchildren.

Some of the most important things of life slide to a very low ebb at Christmas. Devotional life fades. Personal communion with God is squeezed out. The heartbeat of our life in Christ is often the first to suffer as we are dislocated from our ordinary routines and surroundings. Continue reading

Conversations at Christmas

220px-Lakhovsky_ConversationAt the 2008 Desiring God National Conference, Sinclair Ferguson preached the opening sermon: “The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing” from James 3:1-12. In it he gives a list of resolutions, after the style of Jonathan Edwards, relating to how the Christian should speak. They are typed out below.

This Christmas, as you speak often with friends and family, think on these biblical principles and pray that they will help you live in a way that glorifies God. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly so that you cannot speak with any other accent. Continue reading

Home for the Holidays

porch lightsIf you are a university student, this is probably your first week of holiday bliss: your own room, real food, and your laundry magically cleans itself. One of my professors told the class in early December that we looked dreadfully grey; we were to go home, sleep a lot and eat our greens for two weeks solid. Good advice for any hard working student.

But while you’re eating your veggies before an early bedtime (or your whole wheat toast after waking up late), it might be good to remember a few things. Continue reading

Two Kinds of Grief at Christmas

laneRecently, I listened to a talk on Mary Winslow. She suffered much in her life, burying several children and losing her husband after she had sailed from England to America with her ten children. Those kinds of loses are deep, dark valleys. They come because we live in a Genesis 3 world – cursed because of original sin.

But as I thought about Mary Winslow and other past saints who suffered similar griefs from death and illness, I wondered if in our lives, our griefs often come in the form of consequences directly related to specific sins. Continue reading