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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Holy Land Experience

Mention the name Orlando, Florida and the first thought that comes to most people's minds is Walt Disney World. Now there is another park, of a different kind, known as  The Holy Land Experience. Last Friday, I joined a busload of people on a tour organized by Trinity Broadcasting Network, owners of the park. It was an experience - a very good one. From immaculate landscaping, elaborate artistry and stellar dramatic presentations, the Holy Land Experience embodies the words, Give God the glory. 

Unfortunately, our tour only lasted one day and therefore we could not do and see as much as we would have liked. However, the little we did get was more than worth the cost of getting into the park. We began our day with a visit to an outdoor presentation of The Sermon on the Mount where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes and His disciples distributed to the crowd.

Next, came a stop at the Church of the Nations where a dramatization of Where Heaven & Earth Meet was in progress. If you have ever asked yourself why does God not answer our prayers to save our loved ones from death, or what happens to them after they die, this presentation answers those questions in a poignant but Biblical way.

To appreciate The Four Women Who Loved Jesus, one has to look past the great acting and beautifully embroidered costumes to the manifestation of Jesus' grace portrayed in this little drama: the woman with the issue of blood; the Samaritan woman; the woman caught in adultery and Mary of Bethany. Each of these women showed real reasons why they loved Jesus. Do you know why you love Him?

After a hurried snack, we made a quick stop at the Jerusalem Model, a miniature of the city of Jerusalem, where a guide gave a narrative journey of the city, explaining such things as the temple mount, the Eastern Gate and other famous Biblical sites.

But the highlight of the day came at the end when we sat in the packed auditorium and viewed The Passion. I think this dramatization surpassed the Mel Gibson movie with the scope of its content. While the movie focused only on Jesus' life and death, the play went on to show His resurrection, ascension into heaven and his victory over Satan.

I came away from The Holy Land Experience with a renewed sense of hope in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And a promise to myself to return to this enchanted place where His Name is glorified in the best way possible. If you are ever in Orlando, this is one park you must visit.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This Is Christmas

"This is Christmas
not the tinsel, 
not the giving and receiving,
not even the carols, 
but the humble heart
that receives anew
the wondrous gift, the Christ."

- Frank McKibben

This Christmas let us open our hearts to receive God's unspeakable gift, and once we have received it, let us share it with others so that they too "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3 : 18 - 19). 

Merry Christmas



Monday, December 03, 2012

The Lady Behind Christmas

Whenever we as Christians think of Christmas, we focus on Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season, and this is why we call it Christmas. But have you ever stopped to think what Christmas would be like, or whether we would have Christmas at all, if it was not for a certain lady. I'm talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

We all came into this world as a result of our mothers carrying us in their womb for nine months and then giving us birth. God chose this selfsame method to bring His Son into the world. But it would not have happened if Mary had said "no" to the angel. I imagine the conversation going something like this:

Angel: Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.
Mary: Huh?
Angel: I am the angel Gabriel and I'm sent to tell you you're going to have a Son and you will call His name Jesus for He shall save the people from their sins.
Mary: Are you sure you're an angel? Because if you're an angel, you would know that I'm still a virgin. I'm engaged to a good man named Joseph and we have not had sexual relations.
Angel:  With God nothing is impossible.
Mary (turning away) : I don't know about that. This is impossible. I'm not having a child out of wedlock. They will kill me.

What would have happened then? But instead, Mary said to the angel, " Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her," (Luke 1 : 38).

And we know the happy ending of the story. Mary gave birth  to a beautiful baby boy and laid him in a manger, so that we can have eternal life through Him and celebrate His birth this Christmas season. Are you doubting God, saying 'no' to something He asks of you? Mary had every reason to say no. First, what the angel told her sounded impossible, not just from a biological standpoint, but from a social standpoint as well. Virgins don't become pregnant and if by some miracle Mary did become pregnant, she would face dire social as well as physical consequences. Her fiance would break off their engagement and she would be put to death. 

So, this Christmas season, examine your heart and say 'yes' to Him. It might be as simple as accepting Jesus as your Savior, or as complicated as leaving your home for the mission field. Whatever it is, say yes and leave the rest to God, as Mary did.

You can learn more about Mary and other women who trusted God by clicking on any of the links below: