There Is a Pharisee in All of Us

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

How many of your sins has the Lord washed away over the years?

By Dan Delzell | 
One group of folks in the New Testament who had an extremely high opinion of themselves were the Pharisees. These religious leaders were good at seeing the sin in others, but somehow oblivious to their own sins. And so one day when a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to have dinner at his house, it provided a teachable moment of such significance that it ended up being recorded in the Bible.

You see, this event in the earthly ministry of Jesus actually helps to diagnose “the Pharisee in all of us.”

“When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” (Luke 7:37,38)

It is obvious from the text that Jesus welcomed this woman’s adoration and love. In fact, the Lord went on to commend her for both her manner and her motives. Simon, on the other hand, took issue with the interaction between this woman and Jesus.

“When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39)

What a stunning display of arrogance and audacity! And yet the unpleasant truth of the matter is that there is at least “a little Pharisee” in all of us.

“Prove it,” you say. OK. If you are open to a little self-examination, then feel free to administer this test by asking yourself these 5 questions:

1) Is there any category of people who are “bigger sinners” than me?

2) Does the story of Simon the Pharisee have relevance for others, but not so much for myself?

3) When Scripture identifies examples of sin, do I tend to think about the sins of others rather than my own sin?

4) Is there anyone I am mad at right now who needs to change more than I do?

5) Would I be shocked to see Jesus accept certain sinners if they came to Him in repentance and faith?

If you answered “Yes” to one of these questions, then you have identified “a little Pharisee” in you. And if you answered “Yes” to more than one question, then the Pharisee in you is probably a lot more active than you realize.

So is there hope for us, even in the midst of pharisaical tendencies? Of course. Just look at the woman who came to Jesus that day. The Lord declared that “her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

What about you? How many of your sins has the Lord washed away over the years? Do you love Jesus much, or little? Perhaps you have never experienced love for Jesus after first having your sins forgiven through faith in the Messiah. Spiritual conversion involves turning away from sin and turning toward Christ in sincerity and truth.

The apostle Paul described repentance and “godly sorrow” this way: “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” (2 Cor. 7:11)

Godly sorrow is what the woman was experiencing as she wept at the feet of Jesus. Meanwhile, Simon had no such sorrow for his pompous attitude and his judgmental spirit. Rather than weeping over his own sins, he smugly looked down on this woman and even questioned the legitimacy of the Savior’s ministry. It’s a perfect example of what pride does to the human heart. It makes Pharisees out of all of us.

Whenever you or I, like Simon the Pharisee, are self-righteous, we tend to see the sin in others but not in ourself. On the other hand, when we are like the woman in the story, we bring our sin to Jesus in a spirit of repentance, humility, and gratitude. And if that describes your heart today, you are probably spending little if any time focusing on the sins of others. After all, you have more than enough on your plate confronting and confessing your own sins.

Jesus said to the woman that day, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48) And then the Lord told her: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

If we will learn from this woman’s humble heart, we too can know that our sins are forgiven and that the Lord has saved us through faith. But once forgiven, we must continue to be on guard against our pharisaical tendencies. These self-righteous attitudes can come out at a moment’s notice and when we least expect it.

Good thing for us that Jesus is a friend of sinners.

Where Is the Power for the Church Today?

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

The Gospel doesn’t need us.

By Darin Smith | 
After a month of tumultuous political discussion on my social media feed, I had to ask the question:

Where is the power for the church today?

Clearly, if this month proves anything, it proves that it does not find its power in politics. We must discard the budding belief that power politics are what it is all about. I’ve been reminded lately that politics and political parties aren’t where Christ-followers look for hope. Instead, I am thankful that we have an all-sovereign, all-powerful King to find hope in times such as these.

Romans 1:16says that “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”

Practically, in today’s modern church landscape, what does this mean for us if politics aren’t the answer? Here are nine brief reminders for us:

1. We need to stop trying to make the Gospel relevant—it’s always relevant.

To center on and proclaim the Gospel is to be as relevant and powerful as the apostolic early church (Rom. 1:4).

The Gospel doesn’t need you. The Gospel doesn’t need bright lights or a fog machine. The Gospel doesn’t need the government or politics.

The Gospel doesn’t need us. It saves us, captures us, equips us, compels us, and trains us. It wants us.

It doesn’t need my help or yours—we need not worry. The Gospel will be just fine. The Gospel ultimately wins.

2. When we lose the magnificence of the Gospel, we substitute icon, formality, and allegory.

The power of the Gospel is complete. Nothing “poses a threat” to the Gospel. The Gospel is God’s power loose in the world. It will not be prevailed against. Ever. R.C. Sproul said, “You can’t improve upon the Gospel because God put His power there.”

3. An excess of P.R. & church-growth schemes won’t save Christianity from being irrelevant.

Can you show me in the Bible that we need more ingenuity and creativity? Only the Gospel has such power. We can have the best music, the best performers, the best communicators, the best programs, but without the Gospel properly shared and lived, there’s no power of God.

Christ said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Thus, we must trust the Gospel means he’s ordained to build his church.

4. Don’t let techniques, transitions, and technology replace the Gospel.

When it comes to excellence in the worship service, there’s a difference between adorning the Gospel and trying to help it. A church’s increasing attempts to excite me in the worship service become increasingly boring.

Pastor, if you’re dreading corporate worship Sunday, it may be due to the entertainment standard you’ve set for yourself. It’s called “corporate worship” and not “individualistic entertainment” for a reason.

Idol makers rioted against the church because business tanked (Acts 19). This wasn’t accomplished by protesting, but by the spread of the local church and Christians with the Gospel.

According to 1 Cor. 2:2, our vision is the Gospel. Our strategy is the Gospel. Our method is the Gospel.

5. Our Christian subculture’s obsession with spiritual fads and religious hoaxes distract from the only power stewarded to us: the Gospel (1 Tim. 4:7).

To infer from Jesus’ get-together with big crowds that churches must focus on consumer-driven tactics is to have selective-hearing in the Gospels. The pillars of Paul’s mission strategy were verbal witness and evangelism, personal and corporate discipleship, and church planting (Acts 14:21-23). What is your strategy?

1 Thessalonians 1:5 reminds us: “Our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” What was God’s strategy for making the church bold? According to Paul, it was to imprison her leaders (Phil. 1:14).

The Gospel changed me, rescuing me from shame, sin, hell, depression and hopelessness. No advertising stunt can do that. I’ve found that in all my pastoral care for aching people in the local church, nothing cheers, emboldens, & transforms like the Gospel.

Christian, programs will never make a church evangelistic. Only the biblical Gospel will mutate an ice-cold church into an evangelistic church.

What great news! The power of God isn’t in us but in his Gospel. Our job is to preach, proclaim, and propagate it. The Holy Spirit will take it from there.

7. Let’s stop supposing the Gospel’s power ceases at one’s conversion.

The Gospel is God’s divine power for justification through glorification. It’s the power of God for a conversion experience and for total life transformation. The Gospel clarifies the eternal worth that we need to know. The Gospel doesn’t change, but neither does our need for it.

8. Fetching “the Gospel” out twice a year for special occasions reveals something about a church.

Even the most caring, loving, and kind church will lose people who love their sin if it preaches the Gospel and true repentance.

When the Gospel is truly preached, people are brought to the church without entertainment, events, or promises beyond those given by the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t a platform, trick, stage, or merchandise to me. It is sustenance, liquid, sunlight, and protection for every church conversation, gathering, prayer, program—and everything in between.

9. Pastor, preach as if you yourself are the greatest sinner in the congregation in the greatest need of the Gospel. It’s probably true anyhow.

Our daily evangelistic endeavor is to proclaim the Gospel to our spouse, our children, our friends, our church, our neighbors, our world, and ourselves. And we repeat this process.

Luther’s counsel to pastors in modern terms was simple: “First we need to get the Gospel into their heads and then just keep pounding it down into their hearts.” If those who believe the gospel you preach aren’t being altered by that same Gospel, you might need to reconsider what you’re preaching.

Christian, let’s not lose hope, lose heart, or lose our nerve. Let’s boldly pray that through the simple-yet-fathomlessly-eternal message of the Gospel, God will continue to use our churches to reach those without Jesus as Savior (2 Tim. 2:24-26)—and that without the power of politics.

Pastor’s 13th Anniversary 3/18/18

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under ANNOUNCEMENTS

The 13th Pastoral Anniversary for Rev. TC Edwards will be held on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm. Rev. David R. Williams and the Union Baptist Church of Aiken will be the guest speaker and church.

Celebrate Black History Month

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

FBC Black History Month Program 2/25/18 3PM

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under ANNOUNCEMENTS

In Celebration Of Black History Month, FBC will present Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Remembering our Past, Influencing our Future. The program highlight the history and contributions of HBCU’s from across America.

 

‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ Should Not Be Taken Out of Hymnals, Says Popular Pastor Blogger

January 22, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Michael Gryboski , | 

 

 


 

A Michigan pastor whose columns on the intersection of faith and everyday life has argued that hymns like “Onward, Christian Soldiers” should not be removed from hymnals.

Shayne Looper, pastor of the nondenominational Lockwood Community Church of Coldwater, wrote in a syndicated column published Saturday that “there is still a place in our hymnody for hymns and gospel songs that make use of military metaphors, like ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ or ‘Soldiers of Christ, Arise.’”

Looper argued in part that hymns with military metaphors were acceptable because the New Testament itself is full of such metaphors.

“Take, for example, the Apostle Paul. He repeatedly chose military metaphors to make important points regarding Christian living,” wrote Looper.

“He referred to his co-workers as fellow-soldiers, and in so doing evoked an image of the kind of all-for-one, one-for-all camaraderie that is characteristic on the battlefield, and ought to be in the churches.”

Looper also argued that military metaphors are also important because “Christians need to be reminded that they are part of something bigger, the advanced guard of a kingdom that is coming but has not yet been established.”

“They are on duty. The Christian life is not a walk in the park with the savior but a mission for the king. It calls for alertness, determination, cooperation, endurance, and strength,” he continued.

“The Christians who have made a difference in the world — who have cured diseases, cared for the poor, freed slaves, and ended wars — were not people who valued comfort above kingdom. Nor are they today.”

Multiple hymnal editions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have excluded the song; in 1989, The United Methodist Church almost removed it, but changed direction only after a strong outcry.

“This hymn, with its ‘hut-two-three-four’ tune and its warring call for Christians to raise the battle flag, has long outlived its usefulness,” reads a 2012 column published by the Christian Century.

“In a world grown weary of religious strife, a world where the word crusade arouses more anger and embarrassment than resolve, few are nostalgic for a hymn that celebrates Christian soldiers marching to war.”

Grammy-Award Winning Gospel Music Pioneer Edwin Hawkins Dies at 74

January 22, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Michael Gryboski , | 

 

Edwin Hawkins, the multi-time Grammy Award-winning Gospel music mind behind such famous songs as “Oh, Happy Day,” has died. He was 74 years old.

Bill Carpenter, Hawkins’ publicist, reported to media that Hawkins died at his home on Monday in Pleasanton, California, the cause being pancreatic cancer.

A native of Oakland, Hawkins was raised with a musical background, having performed with family and church groups throughout his life.

Expand | Collapse
(PHOTO: THE RECORDING ACADEMY / ILYA DREYVITSER / WIREIMAGE.COM)Neil Portnow, The Winans, Sandi Patti, Edwin Hawkins, and Walter Hawkins pose at the Grammy Salute to Gospel Music event at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC., on Wednesday, June 18, 2008.

The website AllMusic called Hawkins a “trailblazing force behind the evolution of the contemporary gospel sound.”

Along with Betty Watson, Hawkins founded the Northern California State Youth Choir, which in 1968 recorded the influential album “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord,” which included the hit song “Oh Happy Day.”

“Among the highlights of Let Us Go into the House of the Lord was the track “Oh Happy Day,” which unexpectedly found a home on underground FM play lists across San Francisco; the single soon began earning airplay on mainstream R&B and pop outlets across the country,” noted AllMusic.

“… in the spring of 1969 it reached the U.S. Top Five on the on its way to selling an astounding seven million copies and taking home a Grammy award.”

A reworking of a 1755 hymn of the same name, the 1968 recording of “Oh Happy Day” was added to the National Registry in 2005.

“What made ‘Oh Happy Day’ resonate is anyone’s guess. The original version by British educator Phillip Doddridge was published in 1755 — four years after the composer’s death — and was sung in a yearning plea similar to some Appalachian songs,” explained Bill Carpenter in an essay published by the Library of Congress.

“Hawkins unintentionally transformed the song from a church hymn into more of a mainstream pop record with a catchier arrangement of the chorus that featured subtle jazz drumming, some Latin percussion and an echoey upright piano groove that buttressed the slick but passionate choir harmonizing against soloist Dorothy Morrison’s earthy, straight-from-the-church vocal technique.”

Beginning in 1979, Hawkins also oversaw an annual conference known as the Edwin Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar, whose purpose was to help advance knowledge of sacred African-American music.

Alongside his brother Bishop Walter L. Hawkins, who passed away in 2010, Hawkins organized nondenominational conferences along the themes of worship and music.

“In my travels, I meet many talented young folks whose only outlet is in the church. There needed to be ways to help them further develop their skills and abilities, to the glory of God,” explained Hawkins in an entry on the conference’s website.

“I decided to help them find themselves in the arts. I felt it incumbent upon me to marshal the finest artists and musicians, who are able to teach this diverse perspective of music and arts. Happily, it has resulted in a nation and international interest in music and arts.”

 

FBC Foreign Mission Outreach

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under ANNOUNCEMENTS

The outreach will focus on supplying food to the people of Angola in Africa. They are experiencing a severe drought. Ten dollars ($10) will feed one child for three months. The Senior  Missionary Ministry appreciates whatever you can give. When you feed others, you are feeding God. Matthew 25:34-40.

Christmas Around the World: A Look at 6 Different Countries’ Traditions — From Festivities to Secrecy

December 26, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Stoyan Zaimov 

Christmas is celebrated by Christians in different ways around the world — some honor the birth of Jesus Christ on different dates; some observe the holiday by featuring giant Christmas trees, markets, and Nativity plays; while others are forced to celebrate in the deep secrecy under the most oppressive regimes.

It remains one of the holiest of days for believers, marking the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, and is a day for faith and family, bringing hope to believers in many corners of the globe where they might not have much cause to celebrate otherwise.

 Some traditions, such as the elaborately ornamented Nativity scenes in Italy, go back 800 years, while in other places, like in Russia, Christians have only been able to resume their Christmas celebrations in recent decades after nearly a century of being suppressed.

Here are six countries where Christians mark Christmas in different ways, including the  town of Jesus’ birth:

 

1. Egypt

 

(PHOTO: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY)Egyptian Muslims and Christians celebrate Coptic Christmas eve mass, at Tahrir Square in Cairo, January 6, 2013.

 

Coptic Christians in Egypt make up only a minority, around 10 percent of the population, but have longstanding Christmas traditions, such as the Feast of the Nativity.

The Copts observe the month of “Kiahk,” starting from Nov. 25 through Jan. 6, where they fast and eat a vegan diet, not eating anything made from animals.

As Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, explains, 40 of the 43 days of the Advent fast signify the period of time that Moses waited to receive the Word of God in the form of the Ten Commandments.

The other three days commemorate the number of days Egyptian Christians fasted for the miraculous moving of Muqattam mountain over 1,000 years ago.

Throughout the month of Kiahk, all liturgical and worship hymns lead up to the birth of Christ.

Like other Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Christmas Day for Copts falls on Jan. 7, with believers going to church for a special liturgy on Coptic Christmas Eve, which is midnight on Jan. 6.

“Family and friends congregate around the Eucharist, the most tangible manifestation of our Lord’s sacrifice to, and love for, mankind to fully appreciate and receive the Word Himself,” Angaelos explains.

“The liturgical service is then followed by a fellowship meal where the faithful break their fast and continue to rejoice in the Nativity in a spirit of joy and love.”

 

2. Italy

(PHOTO: REUTERS)A traditional Italian nativity scene in this undated photo.

Italy begins its Christmas season with the religious Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, which is also a national holiday where Catholics celebrate the conception of Mary.

The Castel Sant’Angelo museum in Rome fires off a cannon to mark the start of festivities, which includes parades, bonfires and fireworks.

Nativity Scenes, which are used in many Western countries and worldwide as representations of Jesus’ birth, are especially popular in cities like Naples. The tradition of the crib scene is believed to have originated in the 13th century when St. Francis of Assisi asked a local villager to create a manger to help re-enact the Nativity. It has played a huge role in Italian Christmas art and decorations ever since.

The Vatican hosts a full Advent and Christmas calendar, lighting its Christmas tree early on in December, with a midnight Mass at in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve serving as one of the highlights.

After delivering the homily on the meaning of Christmas on Christmas Eve, the pope then delivers his annual Christmas message on Christmas Day at noon, sending out his traditional blessing to Rome and the world.

3. Mexico

(SCREENCAP: YOUTUBE/CASALASMARGARITAS)One of the Mexican Christmas celebrations are “Las Posadas” and “Patorelas” seen here performed by children in a video posted December 15, 2011.

Mexican Christmas celebrations are often centered around Las Posadas, with nine days of observance counted down from Dec. 16 through Christmas Eve.

The tradition, which is also popular elsewhere in Latin America, is based on Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay before the birth of Jesus, with “posada” meaning “inn” or “shelter” in Spanish.

The Posadas celebrations include Christmas carols, with people acting out the roles of Mary and Joseph in different homes each night during the nine days.

The get-togethers include Bible reading and prayer, with guests breaking pinatas and children given candy.

In Mexico the holiday continues through Jan. 6, marking El Dia de los Reyes, the day of the kings or the wise men, which is when children receive their gifts.

4. Russia

 

(PHOTO: REUTERS/ALEKSEY DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN)Russian President Vladimir Putin (5th L) and believers attend the Orthodox Christmas service at a local church in the settlement of Turginovo in Tver region, Russia, January 7, 2016. Most Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar on January 7, two weeks after most western Christian churches that abide by the Gregorian calendar.

 

In accordance with the Julian calendar, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7. While the religious holiday is not as popular as New Year’s Eve celebrations, it is growing in a country where it was banned for most of the 20th century due to Communism.

Two important meals are observed by practicing Orthodox Christians, one on Christmas Eve, which consists of 12 meatless dishes, representing the 12 apostles.

“Kutya is a concoction of grains and poppy seeds sweetened with honey, which serves as one of the main dishes of the Christmas feast. Vegetarian-style borsch or solyanka, a salty stew, may also be served along with salads, sauerkraut, dried fruit, potatoes, and beans,” Tripsavvy.com explains.

Midnight mass at Christmas Eve is attended by prominent figures, including President Vladimir Putin in recent years.

Meat is allowed to be consumed during the big Christmas Day celebrations, including side dishes such as aspic, stuffed pies, and various deserts.

5. North Korea

(PHOTO: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ)A North Korean soldier guards the gate on banks of the Yalu River, north of Sinuiju, North Korea, April 1, 2017.

Although in total secrecy, Christians find a way to mark the birth of Christ even in North Korea, the country that has been ranked as the most oppressive place for believers in the world for 15 straight years by major watchdog groups, such as Open Doors USA.

As South Korea’s National Intelligence Service reported in December, leader Kim Jong Un has prohibited any gatherings involving singing or alcohol in a measure to ban anything that could be suggestive of celebration.

Open Doors explained that despite the heavy oppression and careful monitoring by authorities, in a country where simply owning a Bible could get one sent to a prison camp, Christians do manage to gather and celebrate Christmas in remote areas.

“Christmas is mainly celebrated in the heart of the Christian,” said  Brother Simon, who coordinates the work of Open Doors in North Korea, in 2007.

“Only if the whole family has turned to Christ is it possible to have something like a real gathering. For fear of retribution it is necessary to keep your faith hidden from the neighbors.”

On rare occasions, as many as 60 or 70 North Koreans may gather together at secret locations in the mountains for service, the watchdog group added.

6. Bethlehem, Israel

(PHOTO: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)A general view shows Manger Square, near the Church of Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus, during Christmas celebrations in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 24, 2013.

Some of the biggest Christmas celebrations fittingly take place in the Israeli town of Bethlehem, where the Bible says Jesus was born.

In past years the big influx of tourists to the town has brought in over 100,000 people to mark the birth of Christ.

Multiple services and processions are led by various Christian denominations, including Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian, Armenian and others. The town’s streets are strung with Christmas lights, with Christmas plays, markets and trees adding festivity to the scene.

The main processions pass through the world-famous Basilica of the Nativity, which is believed to be the site of Jesus’ birth.

As Abu Batrous Naameh, a priest from the Syrian Orthodox Church, said last year, “celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem allows one not only to reconnect to the time of the birth of Jesus, but also the place.”

“We consider this day as if it were the same day, 2016 years ago, and remember Jesus, who sacrificed himself,” Naameh said, according to Jerusalem Post, adding that “the new year is an opportunity to make a pledge for peace with all people around the world and in the Holy Land.”

 

Who Is Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us?

December 26, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

Good enough to judge, but good enough to save.

By Cary Schmidt | 
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

Jesus is… God enough to judge, but good enough to save.

Big enough to execute cosmic justice, but small enough to cry from a manger.

Angry enough to vindicate all evil, and righteous enough to absorb judgment.

Holy enough to be comprehensively good, and loving enough to offer me His goodness.

Tough enough to endure the cross; tender enough to walk with me in suffering.

Outside and above me enough to rule the universe; with me enough to guide my steps.

Powerful enough to speak all things into existence; gentle enough to speak comfort into my doubts and fears.

Frightful enough to make the powers of darkness tremble in terror; beautiful enough to win my heart.

High enough to be worthy of all the worship; lowly enough to call me friend.

Authoritative enough to never owe us answers, but gracious enough to give us His word.

Hard enough to withstand the forces of Hell; soft enough to care about my day.

Righteous enough to judge me; gracious enough to save me.

Judge enough to indict me; advocate enough to defend me.

Strong enough to hold all things together; caring enough to hold me together.

Supernatural enough to do the miraculous; normal enough to help me do tomorrow.

Dominant enough to vanquish the universe; close enough to vanquish my self-centeredness.

Big enough to build an eternal kingdom; intimate enough to invite me into it.

Ancient enough to weave the fabric of history; present enough to weave a plan for my salvation.

Colossal enough to hold the universe; caring enough to hold my hopes.

Commanding enough to control galaxies; compassionate enough to command my heart.

Eternal enough to have no beginning and no end; human enough to be wrapped in flesh and die for me.

Everlasting enough to create time, and real enough to enter time and snatch me from its sin-cursed claws.

Timeless enough to defeat death with life; present enough to live His life through mine.

Transcendent enough to come from another world; earthly enough to understand mine.

High enough that no one can touch Him; low enough to be touched with my pain.

Divine enough to reveal an eternal world; human enough to invite us into it.

Loud enough to thunder His love to the world; soft enough to whisper His love to my soul.

Fiery enough to incinerate evil with His white hot holiness; warm enough to wrap His redeeming arms around me.

Regal enough to command angel armies; simple enough to receive the worship of shepherds.

Royal enough to be called the Son of the Highest; accessible enough to be called the Son of Man.

Kingly enough to reign over all kings; lowly enough to become the servant of my salvation.

Forceful enough to break through the barriers of sin; meek enough to teach me to trust Him.

Fast enough to create a cosmos in six days; patient enough to cultivate my growth in His grace.

Terrifying enough to say “Fear not,” but friendly enough to say “Follow me.”

Speaking enough to transform my life; quiet enough to care about my prayer.

Present enough to hear my cry; personal enough to cry.

Sufficient enough to not need me; generous enough to let me need Him.

Abundant enough to do anything for Himself; generous enough to give Himself away.

Separate enough to stand alone forever, but personal enough to want me forever.

From supremacy to peasantry, from transcendence to tragedy, from splendor to suffering, from throne to thorns…

…from the heights of Heaven to the horror of a cross to the hallmark of an empty tomb—this is Jesus.

This is Emmanuel—God with us!

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

 

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