I am posting an article today from Jennifer Woodley of Australia. Jennifer and I are members of FaithWriters.com and when I read this article of hers, I immediately contacted her and asked for permission to post it for my readers. She graciously agreed. What follows is her article titled:
by Jennifer Woodley
There are two narratives that are told and retold about this time of the year. They seem to me both as absurd as each other. Sooner or later though, they require a response. Which one, given that they are both unbelievable, will we lay claim to as being the truth?
Firstly, there is the story about a young, Israelite teenage girl, Mary, who is betrothed to marry a boy named Joseph. Yet just before the wedding, Mary declares she is pregnant, and Joseph is not the biological father. Instead, an angel has visited Mary, or so she says, announcing that she has been appointed by God to carry his son, Jesus. Jesus, the angel says, will be the savior of all people, from every nation, for all times. Amazingly, after this divine visitation, Mary conceives. This is the first Divine Conception and probably the last.
The following events are no more believable. Mary, a quiet, obedient girl, is shunned by most of her family and friends as a harlot and a liar. Only Joseph, because of an angelic visitation in a dream, accepts Mary’s story, and he flees with his fiancée to escape further embarrassment and harassment. Jesus, the savior-to-be, is born in a rough cattle trough, in a desolate shepherd’s cave, is visited by worshiping shepherds; announced by a sky full of singing angels; hailed a king by traveling Magi bearing precious gifts and worshiped by those who had been waiting hopefully, longingly for the baby’s birth. This is the Christian Christmas story – the celebration of Christ the Messiah, sent by God to show his love for humankind whose misguided ways have them looking for more.
Then there is the story of the jolly, fat man, named Santa. He is donned in a bright, red suit trimmed neatly with white fur, who resides at the North Pole. He apparently watches out from his home in the far north, for all children who are naughty and for those who are nice, and rewards according to their behavior. Santa has a team of hard-working elves who help him all year, making toys, preparing presents to satisfy the lists of those who are good. (Santa must change his mind at the last moment on which boys and girls do get presents, because it seems to me that even the naughty ones get something).
Then on Christmas Eve Santa, who has to be omnipresent, rides away from the North Pole on his beautiful sleigh directed by reindeers (who have an amazing internal GPS). Santa is on a mission to answer the cries of every boy and girl, worldwide, or at least in the commercial west. Though he is fat, he slips down chimneys to fill stockings and pillow cases and has just enough time to swish back a hot toddy or two. Then, racing back up the chimney, Santa is off to the next home. Wow! What a big night for Santa, bet he is glad it only happens once a year. This is the second Christmas story – the celebration of Santa and the promise of what gifts he will bring to people whose eager eyes have an endless appetite for more.
Which of these two narratives is worth proclaiming, worth investing our time and effort into this Christmas? Which story, as unbelievable as it may seem, offers a lasting hope? Is Christmas about the One who offers the gift in the moment, a gift that is longed for, but will be unwrapped and forgotten before it breaks, expires or is lost? Or is Christmas about the One who offers the gift that lasts into eternity and satisfies a deeper internal longing. Is Christmas about the One who makes a gift available to those who are good and nice or the One who offers a gift for the wretched, the outcast, the lonely, the poor or even the perpetrator?
This Christmas we have two absurd stories to choose from. One is about filling ourselves with more and more, the other is about emptying ourselves for others. I know which story I have chosen. How about you?
If you were blessed by this article as I was, you can find more writings of Ms. Woodley by going to her website: http://www.jenniferwoodley.com
by Jack C. Corcoran
I was walking around my small apartment, looking for something to do, when I noticed the magazine on the shelf among my collection of books.
“Home Life Magazine” dated June 1989; and on pages 18-19 is my first article to ever be published in a national magazine.
I sat at my desk and began to read, not really remembering what I had written nineteen years ago.
The title of the article is “He Never Played With Me” and it’s about the sorry relationship I had with my earthly father.
As I continued to read, I began to cry. But as the tears continued to flow, I suddenly realized that I was no longer crying because of what I had written; they were brought on by my remembering the sorry relationship I had with my heavenly Father. And the question that popped out of my mouth was: “God, how could you have possibly forgiven me for all the crap I’ve done?”
And the answer came even before I had finished the question: Jesus.
Jesus is the answer. The blood He shed; the terrible pain He suffered; it was payment in full for all that crap I had done.
It had sounded like such a tough question but the answer was swift and simple: Jesus. He is the answer to everything.
Thank you, Lord, for paying my sin debt and setting me free. I will forever praise You and spread the word as far and wide as You will allow me. To God be the glory. Amen
by Jack C. Corcoran
Today I want to ask you a serious question: Do you believe in Jesus Christ? I mean, really believe?
If you believe in Jesus, you believe in the virgin birth; you believe that God sent His Son to us on earth by means of the virgin birth as it is written in Luke 1:34-35
If you believe in Jesus, you believe that He was tempted by Satan and resisted those temptations as it is written in Matthew 4:1-11, and thus He was without sin.
If you believe in Jesus, you believe that he performed all the miracles as it is written throughout the four gospels; healing the blind, the lame, and raising people from the dead.
If you believe in Jesus, you believe that He became the sacrificial Lamb as the sacrifice for our sins as it is written in John 1:29.
If you believe in Jesus, you believe that He suffered and died and shed His blood as payment in full for our sins because the wages of sin is death as it is written in Romans 6:23
If you believe in Jesus, you believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead as it is written in the four Gospels i.e. Luke 24:6 when an angel tells His disciples, “He is not here; He has risen.” Whereby He has defeated death and we, those who believe, will have eternal life through Christ Jesus as it is written in 2 Timothy 1:10.
If you believe in Jesus and believe that God raised Him from the dead, then you should confess Him as your Lord as it is written in Romans 10:9. A Lord is a person who has authority, and control over another person. Is Jesus in control of your life? If you confess Him as Lord, do you obey Him as it is written in Matthew. 28:20 or Luke 11:28?
If you believe in Jesus, you believe that He is the only way to inherit eternal life, that through Him is the only way to God the Father as it is written in 1 Timothy 2:5.
If you believe in Jesus then you believe that you have been forgiven all your sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness as it is written in 1 John 1:9.
And if you believe in Jesus, you believe that through Him you have been made righteous as it is written in Romans 5:19 and you will begin to live by faith because it is written that “the righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11.
And finally, if you believe in Jesus, you will believe that Jesus has baptized you with the Holy Spirit as it is written in Matthew 3:11 and in John 14:25-26 where Jesus, himself says that we will receive the Holy Spirit from the Father and that He, the Holy Spirit, will teach us and remind us of the things Christ has told us.
So, if you believe in Jesus, you must believe that you have been cleansed of all sin; that you now live under control of His Holy Spirit; and that you are a light to this sinful world.
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have made you a light.” Acts 13:47
“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
So, if you are a true believer, let your light shine. Don’t hide your faith; learn to use the word of God in your conversations. Remember; in Mark 8:37 Jesus says “If anyone is ashamed of Me and my words…the Son of Man will be ashamed of him…”
Let them know who you are and what you are in Christ and if they ask you why you believe, be ready to tell them. Be a true believer.
And my prayer for you comes from the word as well; “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen