From the Manger to the Cross: God’s Audacious Salvation Plan

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I know, Faithful Readers, that many of you share in the belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. I rejoice with you! Though differences may exist in how we dot our I’s or cross our t’s, we firmly agree in the fact that salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

I am also aware that some of you do not hold what I believe to be true. I am none the less grateful that you read what I offer here. My belief teaches me to be respectful of all so that I can gladly call you friend even if we hold diametrically opposed opinions.

That having been said, I am unashamedly bold in my proclamation about our loving God. I totally agree with what the Apostle Paul said: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16a). I attempt, though often poorly, to live out my life in ways that honor my Lord Jesus. To share the hope He has given me is the focal point of each of my days.

It is in this season we call Christmas that I quite often get to share what I know to be true about the birth of the Christ. I do so today under the title I have given this entry: From the Manger to the Cross, God’s Audacious Salvation Plan.

Audacious. It is the best word my limited vocabulary can come up with to describe what God set in motion when Jesus came to the world: as an infant! The same God who caused our world to be created. This same God that is simultaneously and always everywhere. The Creator of absolutely everything, and yet He desires that we enter into a loving and thriving relationship with Him.

With those and countless other accolades to describe this indescribable Deity, the ways in which to implement His salvation plan had to be equally diverse. Yet, with unlimited power and resources, He chose to come to our eternal rescue as a helpless human infant.

I recall from theology classes the necessity that He be both fully God and fully human in order to serve as the only acceptable sacrifice for sinful mankind. But still, with all the power of His own universe at His disposal, why not at least come as an adult, thereby avoiding all the things that can plague us humans as we grow. He could have still been all God/all man, but without acne, if you will.

But no. As a human baby He came. And as I consider these things again, how fitting. With unlimited power and possibilities, I must think there were more flashy ways to get this plan underway.

But as a human baby it was. As always with God, so perfect. The humility of an infant born with the royal bloodline of the Creator. How like our God to present His plan to save people swaddled in cloths and lying in an animal food trough.

From the earliest hours to the final ones as He hung on the cross, Jesus lived as the perfect example of love to all. To any who would doubt the depth of that love, please consider the horror of that crucifixion He suffered so that this audacious plan would come full circle.

Yes, it might have been splashier to do a huge intro, but the depth of His reveal has resonated through the world for over 2000 years now. I for one trust that His salvation plan is proceeding just as it should and am forever grateful that His love is so vast that it included an invitation to lowly ones such as myself.

A blessed celebration of the Savior’s birth to you all. I appreciate the time you spend with me and trust that our relationship will only grow deeper and better as we continue on together.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

It was (and still is) personal!

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I am not sure if this applies to everyone when it comes to reading the Bible, but it sure does to me! There are certain events that seem to jump off the page to me. Now, realizing I am reading a living document from God Himself, this probably should not come as a huge surprise. Yet, it continues to happen to me. Each year as I read the gospel accounts of the birth of the Savior, I am drawn to those shepherds out in the hills that night.

Much has been written about these guys, so I will not take your time with a long dissertation about them except to say, “You go God! Bringing the news of the birth of your Son first to the lowliest folks on the social scale is so much in keeping with the ministry He would live out.”

Having already written about angelic visitations this season (to Mary and Zechariah and Daniel), noticing again the first human response to an angels sudden appearance comes as no surprise. Luke records it this way: An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9 NIV) I have no idea what it meant to have the glory of the Lord shine around them, but whatever it was, coupled with the angels appearing, had those poor shepherds shaking in their footwear!

As the biblical accounts all show, the angel first has to allay their fears before delivering the message it was sent to deliver. In this case, it is the awesomely spectacular announcement that: Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you (emphasis added): he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NIV).

Those two little words are what jumped at me today. To you. God has put into physical motion His salvation plan for the world and He chooses to reveal its kickoff to some nameless shepherds keeping watch over sheep in the middle of the night. Not only was this  a below-the-radar choice of initial recipients, but it was given to them personally (as well as to the rest of the world)!

Then just in case the shepherds were still unsure of what was going on (I would have been!), the angel gives them another personal touch: “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Emphasis added, Luke 2:12 NIV)

Those two little words again: to you! Now the shocked shepherds have not only been told what has happened, they have been given a personal invitation to see it for themselves! The proof awaits them in a dark and dank cave, the very Son of God!

As amazing as the personal invitation that was given to those shepherds was, they were not to be the sole recipients of it. God’s grace is available to all. It may not have been pronounced to you in the presence of the heavenly host, but that does not make it any less true.

To make this a little clearer, and certainly more personal, try reading vv. 10-12 this way:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you, (insert your name here), good news of great joy that will be for all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you (put jour name here again): he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you, (your name). You (you again, one last time) will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

I love reading that with my name in those places. For me, it makes God’s loving care even more tangible. Also, we are blessed to be living in a time when we know how God plays out His salvation: The death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. As wondrous as the birth we celebrate this time each year is, the awesomeness of what God did (and continues to do) is mind boggling, to say the least. And all of this, the prophecy coming to be in His birth, the sinless life and substitution for sinners on the cross and His glorious resurrection, are all done with this same personal invitation to believe and partake.

It is my hope, Faithful and Appreciated Reader, that these thoughts in some small way help you to find the joy in your personal invitation. Won’t you join with me and praise Him for His unending love and care. And like our shepherd friends we started with today, once you accept the invitation and find for yourself the reality of what God has done for you, do as they did: The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were jus t as they were told. (Luke 2:20).

Blessings to you and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

Dream On!

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When last we met here on the blog-o-sphere, we considered Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel as he told her the incredible news that she was to conceive and bear the Son of God, all while remaining a virgin! I remarked how steadfast was her faith as after considering this possibility, she simply said to the angel, “May it be to me as you said.” (Luke 1:38b NIV).

Today I would like to give equal time to Joseph, her husband to be at the time Mary’s encounter happened. As we do, we will find that his response to what he was told is just as faith packed as his fiancé’s was. I am basing what I write today on Matthew 1:18-25. (though I am honored that you are reading what I have to say, it is always good advice to read the scriptures for yourself. After all, God will give you much more insight that I will!!)

Before considering what the nameless angel said to him, let us take a minute to consider the social ramifications of what Joseph was about to be told to do. Getting engaged in those days was quite different to what we know as marriage engagement today. To become someone’s intended then was much like a legal contract. It would in most cases be drawn up by the father of the bride and the groom. It usually contained a financial piece, such as the father giving the young man money or property in exchange for marrying his daughter. Most marriages were arranged in that time, and it is quite likely that Joseph and Mary hardly knew each other.

The understanding was that the father was giving his daughter away, and that she would be a virgin. This was highly significant to the people of Jesus’ time. The honor of the entire family of the bride hinged on her being found a virgin when the actual marriage took place.

Knowing this cultural background shines a brighter light on the decision that Joseph has to make. Not long after Mary’s encounter with the Holy Spirit, her body began to give the telltale signs of pregnancy. Joseph knew that he had not be intimate with her, so his logical mind told him that she had been unfaithful.

Joseph had the option of simply calling things off. He was, by the laws of that time, entitled to keep whatever dowry Mary’s dad had given him. He was within his rights to divorce Mary and to get on his life. This would cause Mary and her family great shame.

Blessedly for them, the bible tells us that Joseph was a good guy, and that he did not want to cause any more harm to Mary than was necessary, so he settled in his mind to get a quiet divorce, thus keeping much of this out of the public eye.

As far as I can tell, Joseph has his dream the very night he makes this decision to divorce Mary. As he slept, God’s messenger tells him the same incredible thing Mary had been told: Yes your bride in pregnant yet she is still a virgin! The Holy Spirit has descended upon her and she now carries the very Son of God in her womb.

What a dream! I don’t usually remember my dreams unless they are real doosies. Joseph’s dream would certainly qualify as one of those. But his faith-filled response to all this is found in verse 24: When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Talk about taking a 180! He goes to sleep convinced that he must divorce Mary and wakes up the next day to take her to his home as his wife. I can only conclude that Joseph’s faith had already been strong up to this point in his life. Because the bible says he was righteous, we can know that he was living his faith out in a genuine way. Knowing this, we can see how Joseph was able to receive, process and act on the message he had received from the angel in his dream.

I wonder if or how many times my weak or distracted faith has caused me to miss a message from God. Though I cannot go back to do or undo anything, I can take the lesson from Joseph to heart today and going forward.

I do not believe for a minute that Joseph was just a random dude God selected to be stepdad to His Son. It was because of his evident faith that God gave him this awesome place in history.

You and I are not random elements in God’s plans either. Won’t you join with me by allowing the faith example of Joseph lead us to deeper places of belief? I for one do not want to miss out on anything God is doing. I want to faithfully do whatever He tells me to do. God saw Mary and Joseph through the trials of their time on earth to reveal His salvation plan to all, I am positive that He will provide what you or I might need to carry out our part as well!

Be blessed and a blessing today,

Pastor Chuck

I Would Have Been Scared!

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In the first chapter of the Gospel according to Luke we read about Mary, about to become the mother of the Son of God, and the angel Gabriel, who had been dispatched to tell her this incredible news. If you would like, please stop here in order to refresh the account in your mind. It can be found in Luke 1:26-38.

Welcome back! What struck me as I shared from this passage with our Sunday evening group was how Mary responded to this angelic visit and the news it carried to her. Before delving into Mary’ response to this wondrous sight, let us take a quick look at the responses of some of the great persons of faith from the Bible who also received a visit from angels.

Daniel was a person of strong faith. He served God throughout his life, even when his faith brought him into danger. Yet when the angel visits Daniel (Chapter 10 of Daniel), he describes himself as having “no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. (Daniel 10:8 NIV).

Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. He was a priest in Israel. They were the ones who did the regular ministry in the temple, and occasionally one of them was selected to burn incense at the altar. On one such occasion, this duty fell to Zechariah. As he was tending to the incense, out of sight of everyone else, an angel appeared to him. This visitor told Zechariah that even though he and his wife Elizabeth were well passed child-bearing age, they would have a son. Before he even got this fantastic news Zechariah was struck with fear at the sight of the angel: When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear (John 1:12 NIV).

The Apostle John was one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus. He was an eyewitness to all the miracles the Lord performed. He saw the healings and heard the teachings. He was in daily contact with Jesus for over three years. Despite all this experience, John is also gripped with fear as he has the vision from which he wrote the Book of Revelation: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid.” (Revelation 1:17-18a NIV).

As we read about Mary’s encounter with a heavenly messenger, we see her response is not quite like the ones I just listed. The angel Gabriel appears and says to her, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28 NIV). It is vital to keep in mind the circumstances: Mary, probably around 14 years of age, is engaged to Joseph. Marriages were usually arranged in those days, and it is possible Mary had not even met this older man yet. What was of the utmost importance was her purity: Mary had to be a virgin to be in keeping with religious and societal expectations then.

After the initial greeting, the narrative tells us that Mary is troubled, and wondered what this was all about. Notice she did not have the ‘knees turned to rubber’ response that Daniel, Zechariah and John had. She was no doubt shocked, but by no means paralyzed with fear. The angel Gabriel must have sensed her confusion as he told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30 NIV). He then delivers the incredible news of her pending pregnancy with no less than the Son of God! In her sandals, I would have been more than scared at this point!!

Not Mary, however. The dialogue between her and Gabriel leaves us the with understanding that she listened, as outrageous as it must have sounded to her, and vowed her obedience to God’s plan. After Gabriel explains how she will super-naturally conceive the Savior of the world, she simply states, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38 NIV).

Why then, I wondered, was Mary’s response so much different than what those three heroes of the faith had? After all, they had seen much in their long lives. God had no doubt been present with them and yet when faced with an angel from heaven, they literally quaked with fear.

Maybe, and this is just my opinion, their own experiences with the things of God had made them a bit too comfortable with how the Almighty does things. To a man, they gave witness to God’s greatness but when faced with a being from heaven, they melted as if they were wax near a flame.

Mary, with all of 14 or so years to her credit, simply listened to the message given her, considered it, and swore her obedience to God. Perhaps her understanding of God was less biased. Life experiences had not in any way caused her outlook to be anything other than innocently open to the Almighty. Hence, not fear when approached by Gabriel, but rather a more child-like wonder.

As the Christmas season comes again this year, I am hoping to re-discover some of that youthful wonder in myself. In a year that has left many of us bruised and battered by what we have seen and experienced, I yearn to be more open to God and what He is doing in these days.

I know how easy it can be to get distracted by and distraught over the condition of our world. Won’t you join with me in seeking to keep all those things in their proper place so that I/we can marvel again at the awesome work of God.

Thanks for reading. Be blessed and be a blessing,

Pastor Chuck

“Are we there yet?”

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“Are we there yet?” Most of us have probably both uttered and heard that lament from the back seat of a car.  As a child, I can remember asking the question in my most whiny voice.  Rather than looking for an exact time of arrival, I think it more likely that I was expressing a mixture of  boredom with the ride with the excitement of wanting to be wherever it was we were going.

Going back a few years, as my wife and I raised our kids in the pre-electronic game world (and with no videos to be shown on board), we also were asked how much longer this trip was going to take.

Traveling back many, many more years, I wonder if the Three Wise Men ever asked that question? After all, they were traveling many miles, either on foot or on the back of a camel, while most likely spending the vast majority of their nights under the stars.  Through heat and cold, rain and wind, they followed the most unlikely of signs, a moving star, determined to worship in person to the One who was born King of the Jews.

Matthew’s gospel records what happens when these Wise Men finally reached their destination:

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11 NIV.

These travelers persevered through every challenge they faced on their great journey.  Not knowing what to expect, they pressed on and found the Son of God.

May we all, as we take our own journey through the Christmas season, face every trial and challenge with the assurance that this baby born way back then was (and is) indeed God with us, Christ the Lord!


Pastor Chuck

Let’s Go!

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I do so enjoy reading, thinking about and telling the account of Jesus’ birth found in the bible.  There is such wonder in it all; from a virgin getting pregnant to angelic visitations to a star in the heavens marking the place where the baby Jesus was to be found.  And all this fulfills the prophecies God had given all those centuries before any of this happened, and just as He said it would.

Of all the marvelous things contained in what we know as the Christmas Story, one thing stands out to me each year, with this year being no exception: the shepherds!  When this season rolls around, I find myself considering these lonely figures, tending their flocks in what was the most menial of jobs.  Yet here we are 2000 years later, still talking about what would otherwise be the most anonymous of people.

This year, I decided to dig a little deeper in the lives of shepherds from the time of Jesus’ birth.  What I’ve discovered makes me marvel all the more at God’s choice: these fellows were the first people, outside of Mary and Joseph, to hear of the monumental birth.

On the surface, it appears to be a bit of a head-scratcher.  The single most important birth ever, and the Almighty deemed poor shepherds to be the initial recipients of the awesome news that mankind’s Savior has been born.  To my 21st century way of thinking, I wonder why this choice? Wouldn’t God want to go to the royalty and powerful people of influence of that time to make this announcement? Going to these people would give the message more credibility and allow it to be shared with the other movers and shakers of the time, would it not? It only seems logical to me that the news of the birth of the King of the kings should be shared with those who have the most influence on the world.

And like always, I am ever so glad that God doesn’t come to me for advice on kingdom business!  Shepherds certainly would not have been my first choice.  In fact, they wouldn’t even have shown up on my list of possible first responders.

What I’ve discovered in my research about shepherds from 2000 plus years ago would only serve to ratify my ignoring them.  Shepherds from that day were officially labeled ‘sinners’ by the religious leaders.  This classification was reserved for the most despised people on the social ladder then.  According to Randy Alcorn, the founder/director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, shepherds shared the unenviable status of tax collectors and dung sweepers.

Alcorn goes on the say, Into this social context of religious snobbery and class prejudice, God’s Son stepped forth.  How surprising and significant that Father God handpicked lowly, unpretentious shepherds to first hear the joyous news: “It’s a boy, and He’s the Messiah!”

Here’s a couple of things I conclude about these shepherds this year.  First, everyone, that includes you Dear Reader, is equally important in God’s eyes.  Please be greatly encouraged by this.  Don’t allow what others may see or say about you and your place in our world, because the Almighty takes no stock in their opinion of you.  I say with all confidence that each of us is precious to Him, simply because we’re His kids.  Shepherds weren’t lowly in God’s eyes, and neither are you!

If these wonderful thoughts strike something within you, then please consider what the shepherds did after they had heard of the birth of the Savior.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was laying in a manger. (Luke 2:15-16)NIV

The shepherds heard the most incredible news ever, delivered to them by an angel of God.  Once things returned to ‘normal’ after hearing these things, they decided to go check out what the angel had said.  The bible goes on the say that once the shepherds saw things as they had been told they would be, they left rejoicing and telling everyone they met about the miracle arrival of the Son of God.  He had indeed come to save us all.

“Let’s Go” was their excited cry!  May it be yours and mine as well!

May the joy of Christmas be yours,

Pastor Chuck

A Blue Christmas

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This past weekend I had the honor in participating in what was called a Blue Christmas Service at one of the local churches here in Fulton.  No, there weren’t any Elvis impersonators doing their take of the song by the same title.  Rather, the gathering gave an opportunity for the community to come together to acknowledge that the Christmas season isn’t filled with hope, gifts and carols for everyone.  Many folks are preparing to face the holidays with the loss of someone significant in their life.  The many and various problems in life make can this time of the year more stressful than fun filled.

Seven different ministries worked together to make the Blue Christmas service happen.  The host church, whose pastor had the vision to offer this, provided a warm and inviting atmosphere.  They also provided much of the music for the evening, while a member from a different church ministered some special music with a truly beautiful voice.

A pastor from one of our Methodist congregations delivered a heart-felt message of hope and understanding to those assembled.  These weren’t merely words either, as the speaker was trying to cope with this upcoming Christmas without his Mom, who passed away just prior to the new year.

Still other pastors were present to listen to and pray with individuals who desired this type of personal ministry.  From beginning to end, the entire evening provided a great deal of comfort for those assembled, allowing people the chance to be vulnerable in their pain when seemingly the whole world around them revels in the excitement of the upcoming Christmas Day celebrations.

I share this account with you, Faithful Reader, for several reasons.  One is the hope that like me, you will become more sensitive to those around you who may be struggling at this time simply by thinking about this.  Maybe in the not so distant past you have experienced a blue Christmas and perhaps you may be just the person to lend a listening ear to someone who is where you were.

The other reason I write this is for the person(s) who at this moment are grieving instead of making merry.  To you, dear one, I write so that you know you are not alone.  Though I cannot simply make the pain of your loss disappear, I can offer the comfort of one who has been there.  In time, the memories of good times over the holiday season will begin to get at least equal billing in your heart to the pain you are now feeling. For me, those recollections have helped to ease, but not erase, the emptiness that I felt.  As I extend that hope to you, may I also encourage you to find a trusted someone that you can pour your heart out to.  As painful as being in a blue type of Christmas place can be, it is compounded by loneliness and isolation.  There are many who struggle(d) as you are in this season.  Together, we can not only make it through, but we can come to know at least some of the joy this season is to be truly about.


Pastor Chuck

I’m in Pretty Good Shape (for the shape I’m in)

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I had a semi-annual check up with my primary care doctor yesterday.  Having gone through this twice-yearly ritual for some time now, I have refined my response to the well-meaning folks who ask how everything is with me by saying: ‘I’m in pretty good shape (pregnant pause), for the shape I’m in.’  This is met with the usual laughter/groan by those who have become accustomed to some of my of the wall statements.

Driving home from that appointment, however, a new thought occurred to me.  Was I looking for something more than a laugh when I gave this report of my condition? Maybe I use the supposed humor of my response as a defense mechanism? Per chance I’m giving myself the opportunity to believe the first part without giving any serious consideration to the second.

Now there was nothing earth-shattering revealed during my conversation with the doctor.  My lab report looked good, with the exception of the borderline high blood sugar count. (Understand, I have more than one sweet tooth). He advised me again that if I eat less of those tasty things, the number will come down.

Also, the same leaky valve is murmuring away in my ticker.  The most recent echo cardiogram reveals the condition has remained stable and only needs yearly exams.  Depending on whose blood pressure reading you go by, the nurse or the doc, my BP is either very good or borderline high.  The reminder given to my oft unhearing ear is that by losing of few of the extra pounds around my middle, these numbers too will get into better shape, pun intended!

All in all, this 6-month visit has confirmed that I am indeed in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in, physically.

But if you’ve read any of my other rambles in the blog-o-sphere, you know I can’t simply sign off on that note.  You see, no matter how disbelieving that guy in the mirror is, my next birthday brings me to number 60!  I am, with no morbidity intended, much closer to the end of my life than I am to its start.  Physically.  As much as I enjoy my life, and I do, the fact remains that the finish line is approaching.  And if I want to continue to enjoy it, I must begin to take a little more interest in the above-mentioned shape.

This cold reality has caused me to examine the shape that is not so readily seen, my spiritual well-being.  I have little trouble being forthright with my medical doctor.  Shouldn’t I be even more so with the Great Physician? Answer: Yes! There are many places in my heart and mind that I need to reign in.  Scripture tells me:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2a) NIV


Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1b) NIV

I’ll spare you, for now, what these heart and mind  struggles are in order to focus on the wonderful truth that I have an Ultimate Caretaker in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is continually calling me to a life that more resembles Him than me.  Talk about the greatest gift ever! A loving, compassionate and holy God who so desires a thriving relationship with me/us that He set the incredible plan to make it available through the birth of His Son that we celebrate later this month.  Because of His saving grace, my spiritual well-being is eternally set!

I conclude this entry not as a doctor, or even a pastor, but simply as one who knows this God who loves me.  He has not only made me whole spiritually; He continues to do refining work to shape me into what He wants me to be.  So I ask, with loving concern, what kind of shape are you in with regard to your spiritual life? If this is an area you’ve never considered, may I suggest you find someone you trust to talk about it with you.

For you, Dear Reader, who is blessed to know the saving love of God, might you share a line or two on your spiritual fitness? I’d love to hear how you are doing, both the struggles and the victories, with the spiritual shape you are in as an encouragement to all of us.

Blessings to all and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

How was your holiday?


I’ve noticed an interesting change in the most frequently asked question in the days following Christmas.  As a kid growing up, my parents asked the question that I subsequently asked all my buddies: ‘Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?’ From my parents, I suppose the query was meant to justify the stretching of the family budget to make sure that the deep-pocketed guy in the red suit always came through for the ‘good’ kids.

My friends and I couldn’t wait to ask each other the same question.  For me, I wanted to know if they made out as well as I did, or perhaps my motive was a little less pure. Maybe I wanted to have the opportunity to gloat some if they didn’t.  Regardless of my true intention, the question: Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas was asked seeking a quantifiable answer.

As adults, the question changes to, “How was your Christmas,” or for the more politically correct, “How was your Holiday?” It seems to be the most common of greetings in the week between Christmas and the New Year.  We ask friends, neighbors, bank tellers, just about everyone meet.  In some ways, I suppose we’re still looking for that quantifiable something.  Perhaps we ask as a means to justify and commiserate about the frenzied shopping most have recently completed.  Whatever the reason, asking how things went on or about the 25th of December is a long way from what I believe the celebration is meant to be all about.

“How was your holiday,” in my opinion, takes more than the word Christ out of the question, it implies that He isn’t even in the mix.  The true meaning of Christmas ought to exclude any idea of attempting to justifying our actions by the putting of a hard number on them.  I realize that much has been said, more eloquently than I am able of producing, regarding the commercialization of Christmas.  I won’t attempt to add any more to it except to say that God choosing to break into human history through the miraculous birth of His Son is slightly more important than any great deal you might have found at the mall.

I will take the opportunity to rephrase the question in question from ‘How was your holiday’ to: Who was Jesus to you on December 25th?  I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings to all and thanks for reading,

Pastor Chuck

That’s a Big God in a Small Baby!


The Bible teaches that God created everything.  I don’t want to get into the particulars of how He did it just now, I just know that He did.  As I said, everything!  That’s big beyond any concept of large I can muster.  I am too limited by space, time and lack of brain-power to get my mind around this in any reasonable way.  I accept on faith that there was a time when there was nothing until God put creation on the board.

So He’s a Big God with unlimited power and creativity.  The way He has designed things in nature, the working inter-dependence of all these moving parts is evidence enough for me that an immeasurable mind is behind all we can see.

Reading the Scriptures also reveals that God has an equally large heart.  He knew/knows we are a broken lot, like lost sheep without a shepherd.  Even on our best day, we fail at times to live lives that are worthy of the praise God deserves.  Still, His heart is for absolutely everyone to enter in to a personal, one on one relationship with Him.  We are invited, just as we are, to enter into the most one-sided relationship there ever could be: us with God!

The question then, with the unequaled vastness and power of God established, why come into the world as a tiny baby? My logical mind says He ought to have made a bigger splash upon entry.  Blessedly, my logical mind is not the impetus behind God’s salvation plan!

I believe the answer to this question lies in the very greatness of God I’ve mentioned: He knew He could have blown away people with a display of fireworks that got their attention.  He could have written across the sky “I HAVE ARRIVED.” And should He have entered history more like this, it seems even less likely that an infant child would be the preferred vessel to carry and then bear the message of salvation.

Ah, but there’s that heavenly, boundless wisdom again.  God knows how much we are drawn to the bright and shiny new thing.  Our curiosity and desire to be entertained draws us like a moth to a light.  The problem is, like that moth, it is the brightness that is the attraction, not the Maker of the light.  Furthermore, we tend to be quickly bored, making us look for the next bright thing.

I believe God chose to come to us as a baby to challenge us to grow out of that shallow life of bouncing off one light to look for the next.  Also, Scripture teaches us that God desires us to come to Him, that we may develop into the children He wants us to be.

How can this be? Recall that He is beyond measure in all things, allowing Him to be more than capable of meeting the desire of every heart that chooses to follow Him.  As we do, we can joyfully discover the depths of His love, evidenced first in His humbly coming to us a babe.

When we approach the God of the Universe with our own measure of child-like wonder, He reveals the greater plan at work that He set in motion at the birth of Jesus we rightfully celebrate this season.

The greater plan, of course, is the saving of a lost world.  The plan is set and is at work, but much darkness still persists.  The world chases the next shiny thing or follows the person will the most bombastic rhetoric while the baby in the manger still calls.

Only a God beyond measure would downsize enough to come as a baby to show all mankind He is more than big enough to handle the job of salvation.  In this Christmas season, I invite you to allow the super-natural wonder of the birth of Jesus to amaze you, for the first time or the One-hundredth; and may the joy it is intended to bring be yours beyond measure, just like God is.

Merry Christmas from Pastor Chuck at Lakeside Christian Ministries!