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Monday, December 30, 2013

What Would Jesus Do At Christmas?

In a forum I visited recently, someone said that Jesus never celebrated His birthday, neither did any of His disciples and the Bible bears no account of this. But since I've already dealt with reasons why I celebrate Christmas, I won't go into it again.
 

But let us suppose Jesus decided to celebrate His birthday, what are some things He might do? First of all, Jesus was a very sociable Person, and He was invited to many social gatherings. One that comes to mind is a dinner party at the home of Simon the leper where a woman came and broke an alabaster box of precious ointment and poured it on Jesus' head. Some of the guests felt it was a waste of money, but Jesus upbraided them. Read Mark 14: 1 - 8, Matthew 26: 7 - 13, Luke 7: 37 - 39. Then He took the opportunity to teach them a lesson on forgiveness.

What does this have to do with Christmas, you ask? Since Christmas is a social occasion, I believe Jesus would have got together with friends, He would have eaten and drank, and would have received gifts just as we do. However, I think Jesus would not have lost sight of His purpose even for a few moments. He would not have given in to drunkenness or revelry, but would have continued to speak about His Father and teach His listeners how to draw near to Him.

So if we are to be like Jesus, we should celebrate the way He would have celebrated, keeping our eyes on Him.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Do You Know He Is?

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...
English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A line from a popular Christmas carol goes like this: We didn't know who you were. The person seems to be apologizing on behalf of the world because we didn't know who Jesus was. He came into the world as a helpless baby in a manger, of all places, born to ordinary parents and lived the life of an ordinary carpenter.

When He began to perform miracles, people said, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him" (Mark 6: 3). And because they didn't know who He was, they ignored or scoffed at what He had to say. They never believed He could be the Son of God, even though the prophets foretold his birth centuries earlier. Read Isaiah 7: 14; 9: 6 - 7; Micah 5: 2.

And when they finally crucified Him thirty-three years later, they still didn't know who He was. And so it is today. Many still don't know, or refuse to believe, who Jesus is. Do you know He is? He is the Savior of the world; Emmanuel, God with us; Son of God and the second Person of the Trinity; the great I AM; King of Kings and Lord of Lords; the Ancient of days; the Conquering Lion of Judah; the Bright and Morning Star and much more.

Get to know Him this Christmas. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and He will. Have a blessed Christmas! Enjoy the soothing rendition of steelband Christmas carol and the absolutely gorgeous creches in the video below.




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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tell Your Children The Christmas Story

Cover of "The Story of Jesus (Little Gold...
Cover of The Story of Jesus (Little Golden Book)
As part of your Christmas celebrations this year, why not set aside some time to tell your children the Christmas story, even if you have done it before? We can never talk too much about how God sent His only begotten Son into the world to save us from our sins. It's a beautiful story and one which we need to keep in the forefront of our children's minds.

The simplest way, of course, would be to sit them down and tell them the story, but for younger children you may have to be a bit more creative. If you feel inadequate to doing this, here are a few hints to make this task not only easier, but fun.

1. Buy your child a picture book that depicts the story of Christmas and read it to him/her. A good choice is The Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson. It has beautiful artwork and colors that will appeal to a young child.

2. You and your child can build a nativity set using fabric, felt or even decorating bottles to represent the Holy Family. For the enclosure, use a box, some straw, fabric, markers, snow and whatever else you fancy and let your imagination, and your child's, run wild.

3. Now that your child knows the story and you have made your nativity set, the whole family can dress up in costumes - you don't have to buy these, sheets and scarves will do - and re-enact the Christmas story on Christmas Eve night or whenever you choose. By the time you get through, the story of Jesus' birth will be indelibly impressed on your child's mind. This may become a family tradition.

Jesus said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me:  for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19: 14).

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lessons From The Life Of Nelson Mandela

Português: Brasília - O presidente da África d...
Português: Brasília - O presidente da África do Sul, Nelson Mandela, é recebido na capital federal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During the extensive media coverage of the passing of Nelson Mandela, I listened anxiously for some mention of his faith, but I heard none. However, as more facts about his extraordinary life came to light, many of which I'd read years ago in his book Long Walk To Freedom, the more I thought that his actions embodied many elements of the Christian faith.

To my mind, the most astonishing and outstanding fact about the South African leader is not that he became the country's first black president, but that he was able to forgive those who had imprisoned him and invite them to share the stage with him at his inauguration. That, I think is the essence of  Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,(Mathew 5: 44). 

In Long Walk To Freedom, Mandela wrote: "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

 Responding to conservatives who dismiss Mandela as a communist, Newt Gingrich said, "Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks."

Mandela was a man of reconciliation. He was not interested in simply being released from prison and living a free life, but he knew that unless South Africa's warring factions were united, the country would never experience peace. Together with de Klerk, leader of the National party and former implementer of apartheid, Mandela was able to bring those opposing forces together in a peaceful negotiation.

But he didn't stop there. In another amazing attempt at healing the country from the brutal effects of apartheid, Mandela encouraged black South Africans to support the Springboks, a white rugby team. Rugby had hitherto been a white man's sport. And when Mandela, wearing the Afrikaner captain's number 6 jersey, presented the cup to the victorious captain, Francois Pienaar, cheers of "Nelson! Nelson!" resounded from the largely white crowd.

That was how Nelson Mandela overcame his enemies - with love. The way Jesus taught. So, mourn his passing, we must, celebrate his life, we must, but most of all, let us, as Christians, emulate the man's love and readiness to forgive his fellowmen.


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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Let It Go

Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During this festive season, many of us will gather with friends and families to share delightful meals, laughter and conversation. But for others, memories of the past may arise to haunt you and make you shun these gatherings. You may be thinking of what someone said to you, how they talked to or about you, how they treated you and if you focus on these things, you could have a truly miserable holiday season.

Don't let it happen to you. Christmas is a time of joy as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever someone said or did to you is not important to ruin your happiness over. Let it go! Give it to Jesus! He came to earth so we can have peace, and this is why He is called the Prince of Peace.

The Bible tells of a lady named Mary Magdalene. She is the only lady in the Bible who is always called by her first and last name. This, I believe, is not only to distinguish her from the other Marys in the Bible, but to make sure everyone knows that she is the Mary who was possessed with seven devils.

But after Jesus healed her, Mary Magdalene did not allow her past affliction to keep her from following Jesus. When Jesus was on the cross, she was right there with the other women (Matthew 27: 56). She waited until Jesus' body was placed in the tomb and the next day she and another Mary returned to embalm the body. And this is where Mary Magdalene received her greatest honor. Jesus appeared to her and said, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."  Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God' " (John 20: 15 - 17). 

The apostle Paul said, "...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3 : 13 - 14). If Mary Magdalene had allowed her past to stand in her way, she would not have received the prize of being the first person to see the risen Jesus and to spread the good news. Her name might not have been recorded in Biblical history. So, what stands between you and your prize? Is it something in your past? Are you still hurting about what others said or did to you? This Christmas give yourself the gift of letting go. Lay it at the bottom of the cross and watch Jesus wash it away in His precious blood.


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give Thanks!

Tomorrow most of us in the United States will gather around overladen tables, stuff ourselves and say what we are thankful for. And that's good. But how many of us are thankful for the One who gave us all the things we are thankful for? This year, take time to reflect on God and how He has blessed us through the year.

Maybe you might like to read the following Psalm before you dive into that turkey:

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. 

And while you're enjoying that sumptuous dinner, here's some music for your listening pleasure. 




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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Break The Chains by Dr. Jay D Roberts, MD






Title:  Break the Chains
Genre:  Memoir
Author:  Jay D Roberts, MD
Website:   jdrobertsmd.com
Publisher:   Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC

If you were abused over and over again, would you become an abuser? Or would you learn to forgive? Dr. Jay Roberts had to go to prison to learn the answer.

In 1999 Dr. Roberts was in at-home hospice care preparing for his own death from a neurological disease. At the point where he finally gave up, he experienced a spontaneous, overnight healing. It was not the first time he had “cheated” death. He had survived a fifty-foot fall from a cliff, a plane crash, and attempts on his life by rebel insurgents in remote areas in the Philippines in 1970s. This near-death escape was different though, because it was the culmination of a turbulent lifelong dialogue with God which started when he was a child being bull-whipped by his alcoholic father. Yet even after his complete recovery from disease, it would take a maximum security prison environment to reveal to him the mysterious power of forgiveness.

In the telling of his fascinating story—of extreme abuse, of the compulsion to become a pain and wound care specialist, of medical school in a third world country against a dangerous political backdrop, and of his return home to deal with the demons he’d left behind—Dr. Roberts tackles the big questions illuminating physical, mental, and spiritual growth. Break the Chains affirms faith in both God and the human spirit. It is as revealing and inspirational as it is truthful and poignant.



 THE STORY BEHIND BREAK THE CHAINS:

As a young child, I didn’t believe God existed. I had prayed and prayed for God to stop my torment, but He didn’t.

As I grew, I kept hearing, “Jesus loves the little children…”

So I figured that if God does love kids, he surely hates me.
And, He must hate me because I am bad, so I should be beaten more. I deserved to be tortured.

And I was.
So I figured I was right after all.

As a child and adult I knew to keep my mouth shut and never speak of what went on inside our home. I would never tell. Never.

Years and years past, then I got sick. After I almost died, I became obsessed with four things—writing my story, ministering in maximum security prisons, helping the wounded, and building an orphanage.

Writing my story has been the most difficult. I had to remove a wall of stones from around my heart that had protected me for years. It became too painful and I stopped writing. I tossed many a nights fighting a passion to write against the fear that it would kill my mother for telling the secret. Two years later, the battle was over. I could no longer squelch my thirst to write.

My mother read the promotional copy for my book. She is still alive.
Any day now she will start reading the book. I pray that she has strength and an open mind as my story unfolds in her hands. A story she already knows, but one never spoken and definitely not in print.

My wife, two sons, and sister have read the book and have praised me.
My brother refuses to talk about the book and to hear anything negative about his father.
A cousin is upset that I would “bad mouth my family… and anyway, no one would ever buy my book.”

Many have hurts and pains, and are bounded by their chains.

I am willing to take the hits from my family, if by telling my story I can help others to forgive, break their chains, and set them free.



Author bio:

Jay D Roberts MD is a board-certified physiatrist, specializing in the treatment of physical disabilities with a focus of adding quality to life. He is currently in private practice in California. He is a member and lecturer at national and international conferences related to his specialty, a contributing author to Current Trends in Physiatry, and author of various scientific papers. In addition to his career, Dr. Roberts volunteers as part of a Christian ministry in maximum security prisons. He and his wife, parents of two grown sons, live in Indian Wells, California. Break the Chains is Dr. Roberts’ first book. Following in the long tradition of doctors who combine their passion for saving lives with their passion for writing, Dr. Roberts is currently at work on a novel, concerning children forced to work in mines.

BUY BREAK THE CHAINS ON AMAZON / B&N / TATE PUBLISHING



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Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Are You Thinking?

Thinking
Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)
Even when we are unaware of them, many thoughts are competing with each other for our attention. For example, while we are driving, preparing a meal or typing a document at work, our thoughts may be on something completely different. Sometimes while we are praying, our thoughts may stray and we have to bring them back. It is believed that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts a day and 80 percent of them are negative.

There are some forms of New Age religion and occult practices that speak about mind control. They try to teach people how to control their minds. These practices are not only deceptive, but dangerous. They can take you places you don't want to go. STAY AWAY FROM THEM.

Because God knows how destructive our thoughts can be, He teaches us in His Word how to avoid unwanted thoughts. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4: 8,
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."

 In 2 Corinthians 10: 5 he writes, "casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

It may be difficult to always keep your mind on things that are pure, lovely and of good report all of the time. What so-and-so said to you or about you, what the doctor told you yesterday, what your bank statement says may be nothing praiseworthy, but if you begin to focus on your thoughts and "bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ" you will soon find that they conform to what Paul wrote above. 

You don't have to attend some seminar or read books on positive thinking. God has given us everything we need to keep our minds on the right track. The answer lies in prayer and daily Bible reading. When you wake up each morning, pray this prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for bringing me to the beginning of another new day. Lord, I know that my thoughts can lead me to do and say things that are not pleasing to you, and as this day begins, I ask you to take control of my thoughts. Help me to focus only on those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and good report so that my words and actions will honor and glorify You, in Jesus' Name. Amen.

 
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