Monthly Archives: December 2021

Wide Angle: The Kingdom Arrives

In first-century Israel, there was no king – at least, no king descended from David. But people were looking for such a king to come. Apocalyptic books like the ones I mentioned in the last post had stirred people up … Continue reading

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Wide Angle: Politics and Religion in the First Century

Imagine yourself in a discussion about politics.  Your party is not in power; its representatives are in the minority.  But they are a loud minority.  They are forever criticizing the other party and its leaders and, though you are not … Continue reading

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Saving Grace: Christmas on Main Street

This brief message examines what the grace of God looks like – grace that was once wrapped in swaddling and laid in a manger. On this Christmas day, may God grant you: presents under your tree, family around your table, … Continue reading

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Christmas and the God of Surprises

Christmas is proof that God loves surprises. According to the prophet Isaiah, God had promised to bring light to people living in darkness, joy to replace sorrow, and freedom from the burden of oppression. He would do this by sending someone to rule with justice and spread peace everywhere. What is surprising about that? That the someone he was sending would be a baby. Continue reading

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Wide Angle: Christmas, in God’s Time, in God’s Way

It’s time to zoom out and consider the Christmas story from a wide-angle viewpoint. After four hundred years of radio silence, heaven re-established contact and sent messengers (that is the meaning of the Greek word we translate as “angel”) to … Continue reading

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Wide Angle: Operation Bethlehem

If you remove the Christmas story from the larger narrative that surrounds it, from the promises of God to rescue and renew his people, you still have a nice story but you may just miss the point. This little child … Continue reading

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Christmas Through the Wide Angle: The Line Becomes the Point of it All

If you remove the Christmas story from this larger narrative, from the promises of God to rescue and renew his people, you still have a nice story, but you may just miss the point. This little child is the fulfillment of the great promises. He is the king. Bethlehem is not just an inhospitable town; it is an invasion site. Bethlehem ought to be listed with Thermopylae, Troy, Normandy, and Omaha Beach. With the coming of this child the forces of the eternal kingdom have arrived, and the deciding campaign of the Long War has begun. Continue reading

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Wide Angle: Christmas Broke the Silence

I was flying from Dakar, Senegal, West Africa to Paris. I left Dakar about 11:00 at night, and within minutes the ground below us grew very dark.  We were flying over Mauritania, Western Sahara, and Morocco, where towns and villages … Continue reading

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Right on Time: A Message for Christmas

If God let his promise to them fail, might not his promises to us be annulled? If his anger smoldered against them, might it not smolder against us? If they waited too long, might we not wait too long?

But they did not wait too long. They didn’t wait long enough. Some of them didn’t wait at all. Instead of trusting God, they took matters into their own hands. They gave up on God, but God did not give up on himself or his promises. Continue reading

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Faith in the Future: Christmas as a Symbol of Hope

d the Corp of Engineers to dam a river, and that meant evacuating a small town that would be permanently flooded. It took years of hearings and tons of paperwork before the plan finally went into effect. Eventually, the state purchased the property from the town, and gave people ample time to find other places to live.

As soon as the decision was finalized, a fascinating thing began to happen. The once beautiful town fell into disrepair. When things stopped working, machines failed, or windows broke, the people of the town just let them go. One of the residents said, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no work in the present.” Continue reading

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