Kenosis – Understanding The Miracle of Christmas

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching for Pastor John Larkam of Impact Family Church in Austin, Texas. He asked me to do a session that was part of his series on “The True Spirit of Christmas” and asked me to choose a particular theme for my session. I chose humility.… read more

What Most People Miss in the “Christmas Card” Verse

One of the oft-cited Bible verses on Christmas cards is Micah 5:2, which predicts Bethlehem as the place of the Messiah’s birth. When King Herod went into panic mode because he heard that a new king had been born, the chief priests and scribes cited Bethlehem as the prophesied location. … read more

Reverencing Christ in His Deity

With the Christmas season approaching, this would be a great time to do some teaching about the nature of who Jesus really is. Below are several points about the Deity of Christ that may be of help as you develop messages.… read more

How Important is the Virgin Birth?

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are central to God redeeming us back to himself, but those epic events were preceded by the virgin birth and the Incarnation.… read more

No Kenosis, No Christmas

As Christmas approaches, I have been enjoying Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, God in the Manger. Bonhoeffer was a leader in Germany’s Confessing Church, believers who stood in opposition to Hitler and his policies. He was eventually imprisoned and was executed mere weeks before the Allied troops overtook and defeated the Nazis to end WWII in Europe. … read more

When Christmas Put a War on Hold

A pastor friend just contacted me and let me know he was going to be sharing some thoughts on a few of the Christmas Carols in their Sunday service and asked if I had any thoughts. My heart was immediately gladdened because many of the songs about Christ’s birth carry such rich and profound meaning. … read more

Resurrection: Past, Present, Future by Tony Cooke

Resurrection: Past, Present, Future
Tony Cooke

Past, Present, FutureNo, I’m not confused about what month it is. I know that Easter is not until next month. I believe, though, it’s important that we not only think about resurrection when Easter comes around. I wonder how many believers appreciate all the ramifications of resurrection, and recognize its multi-dimensional influence in our lives.

Our word resurrection is from the Greek word anastasis, which means a rising again, a resurrection from death, raised to life again, to stand up again, raising up. While it’s important to know the meaning of the word, it’s just as important to understand the diversity of how resurrection applies in our lives. When people celebrate Easter, their primary focus (and rightfully so) is on the past, when Jesus was resurrected. However, we will miss much if we neglect the present and future aspects and applications of resurrection.

Resurrection is:

  • An historical fact to be celebrated
  • A current reality to be experienced
  • A future event to be anticipated

Let’s look at each of these.

1. Resurrection is an historical fact to be celebrated.

The culmination and crescendo of each of the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Paul, the resurrection is of first importance. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”

The doctrine of the resurrection is absolutely central to the Christian faith. If the resurrection of Jesus is not totally true, then everything in the Bible and in the life of Jesus that precedes it (Genesis through the end of the Gospel Accounts) and everything that follows it (The Book of Acts through the Book of Revelation) is absolutely meaningless.

Of what are considered the great faiths or religions of the world, Christianity alone stakes its entire claim and bases its entire existence on the Resurrection of its Founder; nothing more, nothing less. Christianity is not based on a set of ideas, creeds, morals, beliefs, lifestyle, discipline, or practices. Christianity may produce some of those things, but genuine, biblical Christianity is based entirely and squarely on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was, “…declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” His resurrection is the basis for all of our hope! Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

2. Resurrection is a current reality to be experienced.

Most believers recognize and celebrate the past resurrection of Christ, and most are also aware of the future resurrection spoken of in Scripture, but I’m not sure how many Christians realize that there is an aspect of resurrection power that is available to us all at this very moment. What we can experience now is not the full-blown resurrection of receiving new, glorified bodies, but rather, what we might call (using the words of the old song), “a foretaste of glory divine.” Consider the on-going, day-to-day, moment-by-moment resurrection power that Paul said we could all experience:

10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from his resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
– Philippians 3:10-11 (Amplified)

There is what we could call a “resurrection power” that is available to us right now. Paul said that “…we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Romans 8:23, NLT). We’ll get brand new, resurrected bodies in the future, but right now we have, as Paul said, “a foretaste of future glory.”

Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we get to walk in the newness of life right now! We are new creatures in Christ because of His power that has worked and does work in us. We don’t have to wait until heaven to walk in the newness of life!

Though we don’t receive the full dose of resurrection power now, we do have the “foretaste” of His glorious power that has made alive our spirits, comforts and strengthens our souls, and can even quicken our mortal bodies. A great illustration of this is shared by Kenneth Hagin. Having been bedfast for 16 months, he received his healing, and then, after only a couple of months he got a job pulling two-year old peach trees.

He wrote (in “Exceedingly Growing Faith”), “Each morning before sunup we would meet, and every day some of the boys would say, ‘Well, I didn’t think you’d make it today. You know, two or three quit yesterday.’ Even as a young man, Brother Hagin responded, ‘If it weren’t for the Lord I wouldn’t be here, I would answer, for you see, His strength is my strength. The Bible says, The Lord is the strength of my life.’” He also related, “Now, if I had gone by my feelings I would never have gotten out of bed! I was never so weak in my life. I felt as if I couldn’t do it. But I stayed with it. I acted upon the Word because I knew what faith was.”

Brother Hagin ended his testimony about his early work experience saying, “When we began to work each morning I wouldn’t have any strength, but when we started on the first tree (or sometimes the second) I would feel something hit me in the top of my head. It would go through my body, out the ends of my fingers, and out the ends of my toes. Then I would work all day long like a Trojan.” Finally, he said, “In the natural I was the weakest and the skinniest, but I was the only man left of the original crew. I had proved God’s Word.” Resurrection power can make us stand right now! Resurrection power can lift our spirits, encourage our souls, and bring life and strength to our mortal bodies!

3. Resurrection is a future event to be anticipated.

We could never praise God enough for the resurrection of Christ and the eternal life His resurrection has made available to us. But we must remember that what Jesus did in His past speaks volumes about what will occur in our future!

Even in the Old Testament, a future resurrection was perceived and prophesied.

  • Daniel 12:2 (NLT) says, “Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.”
  • Even Job recognized and proclaimed resurrection. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).
  • Isaiah 26:19 (NLT) says, “But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!”

And of course, the New Testament is loaded with powerful promises about our future resurrection. For example, “…the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

“And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead” (1 Corinthians 6:14, NLT). Paul went on to say, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… (1 Corinthians 15:20) and shortly after wrote, “…each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23). In other words, our future resurrection is based on His past resurrection. He is the firstfruits or the prototype for our future.

“…our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (Philippians 3:20-21).

The future resurrection we will experience not only gives us hope for the future, but conveys to us the great value that God places upon our bodies. Unlike the Greeks, Jesus and Paul did not perceive the body as an evil prison from which our primary aspiration is to escape. We belong to God—every part of us! Paul said, “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Because our bodies belong to God, and because God’s claim on our bodies extends into eternity, what we do with our bodies now is significant. This is why Paul told believers to, “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1).

Resurrection is what happens when the life of God touches and influences everything else. Resurrection is an historical fact to be celebrated, a current reality to be experienced, and a future event to be anticipated. Make sure that you are celebrating, experiencing, and anticipating God’s life to the fullest.

25 Tips for Managing Stress, The Blues, and Grief During the Holidays.

25 Tips for Managing Stress, The Blues, and Grief During the Holidays. 

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25 Holiday Tips

The Lesson of His Lineage

The Lesson of His Lineage
Rev. Tony Cooke

Tony CookeWe all know about Joseph and Mary, the Inn of Bethlehem, the shepherds, the star, and the wise men. They’re all part of the wonderful story we remember and tell this time of year. There’s more to the story, though. Obscure and often overlooked, buried in Matthew’s genealogy and leading up to the birth of Christ are four women.

Matthew 1:1-6
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Most Christians don’t get excited about the genealogies; they are the sections of Scripture that we typically skim over. But there’s something very unique about the inclusion of these four women. It was not customary in those days for women to be a part of such listings. As a matter of fact, women then had little or no legal rights, and were merely the possession of their fathers or husbands.

Consider these four women—all ancestors of Jesus—that Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, included in his Gospel:

Tamar (Genesis 38)

This woman was married to one of the sons of Judah. Her husband died, leaving her childless. She married his brother (according to a custom of that day), but he died, also leaving her childless. Judah told her to wait for his youngest son, but really had no intention of having them marry (he probably considered her to be “bad luck,” the cause of his first two sons’ deaths).

Tamar then posed as a prostitute and had a sexual encounter with Judah, her father-in-law. Another of Jesus’ ancestors (Perez) was born of this illicit act.


A Cannanite woman and a prostitute in Jericho. However, she came to recognize Jehovah as the true God, saved the Hebrew spies, and through faith, found the favor of God and became a part of God’s covenant people. She said, “…the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11).

The “scarlet cord” she tied in her window to bring safety and deliverance to her family is considered to be a type of the blood of Christ (Joshua 2:15-21).

Rahab is listed in the great “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11:31) and is also mentioned by James as an example of faith (James 2:25). Rahab later married an Israelite and became an ancestress not only to Jesus, but (according to rabbinic tradition), an ancestress to eight of Israel’s prophets, including Jeremiah.


A woman of Moab, a despised and outcast people. The Moabites and the Ammonites had their origin through incest when Lot’s two daughters got their father drunk and became pregnant by him (Genesis 19:30-37).

Deuteronomy 23:3 says, "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever…”

Though not part of the commonwealth of Israel, Ruth displayed courageous love and unshakeable loyalty (Ruth 1:16-17), became the great-grandmother of King David, and took her place in the lineage of Christ.


The woman David had an adulterous affair with before he put her husband, Uriah, to death. After marrying David, she became the mother of Solomon, and like the other women mentioned, is an ancestress of Jesus.

What is amazing is that Matthew made no attempt to cover any of this up! The Bible doesn’t “candy coat” the facts. Instead, he highlighted these four women in an age when women were typically ignored. Further, he neglected to mention any of the other women in Jesus’ lineage, even “respectable women” such as Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah.

William Barclay said of these four women, “If Matthew had ransacked the pages of the Old Testament for improbable candidates he could not have discovered four more incredible ancestors for Jesus Christ. But, surely, there is something very lovely in this. Here at the very beginning of the gospel we are given a hint of the all-embracing width of the love of God. God can find his servants amongst those from whom the respectable orthodox would shudder away in horror.”

Perhaps the very reason that these were included was to demonstrate the great mercy and grace of our God. The Heavenly Father may have been communicating to all of humanity: “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what matters is where you’re going. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what matters is what you’re doing.”

I enjoy the trees and the lights and all the festivities of the season, but the true beauty of Christmas is not found in any of these. It’s found in the eternal fact that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

All through history, God has sought us. Even when our attitudes and actions were against Him, He was for us. When we were at our very worst, God gave us His very best!

The Good News Is that Once…

Ephesians 2:12-14, 17-18
12 “you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus has broken down the wall of separation!

  • The outsiders have become insiders.
  • Rejected ones have been accepted.
  • People who were put down have been lifted up.
  • Those that were cast out have been brought in.
  • The forsaken have been embraced.

Galatians 3:28 (The Message)
28 In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.

All of this really is about barriers coming down. William Barclay articulated these three points:

  1. The barrier between Jew and Gentile is down. Rahab, the woman of Jericho, and Ruth, the woman of Moab, find their place within the pedigree of Jesus Christ. Already the great truth is there that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. Here, at the very beginning, there is the universalism of the gospel and of the love of God.
  2. The barriers between male and female are down. In no ordinary pedigree would the name of any woman be found; but such names are found in Jesus’ pedigree. The old contempt is gone; and men and women stand equally dear to God, and equally important to his purposes.
  3. The barrier between saint and sinner is down. Somehow God can use for his purposes, and fit into his scheme of things, those who have sinned greatly.I came, said Jesus, Not to call the righteous, but sinners; Matthew 9:13.

We can have hope, realizing that if God can embrace and use people such as Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, then God can embrace and use us. Moses had murdered a man. Peter denied Christ. Even Paul had committed great sin.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 (NLT)
12 How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him, 13 even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down his people, harming them in every way I could. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus. 15 This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — and I was the worst of them all. 16 But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

Satan desires to use shame in our lives to keep us from God. Some Christians have been legally forgiven of their sin, but they haven’t been experientially delivered from shame.

  • Shame over things we’ve done.
  • Shame over things others have done to them. People who are abused or abandoned often “internalize” it and feel inferior and condemned – what happened affects their sense of self-worth and becomes a part of their identity.

“Shame is a spin-off from guilt. We may feel guilty for what we did, but we feel ashamed of who we are.”
– Dr. Les Parrott

We know that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary – born of a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. But naturally speaking, Jesus had a lineage, a genealogy, and Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave us that genealogy. He highlighted four women in particular, something that was very uncommon.

I believe the Holy Spirit wanted us to know that Jesus did not come from a perfect line of people. He did not come into a perfect world to save perfect people.

Jesus came from a lineage of imperfect people, fallen people. He came into a world of sinners to save sinners. He came to break down the wall of separation and make us one in Him.

  • One in forgiveness.
  • One in righteousness.
  • One in acceptance.

Because of Jesus, we can celebrate and experience the reality of Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…

The Gifts of the Wise Men by Tony Cooke

The Gifts of the Wise Men
By Tony Cooke

Matthew 2:1-11 (NKJV)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
2 saying,”Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The wise men were seeking the one who was “born King of the Jews.”

It was customary in that day that no one approach the king without offering him a gift.

When the wise men were summoned by King Herod, even though he was in his royal palace, in his royal garments, there is no indication that they were impressed or offered him gifts.

The wise men were preoccupied with finding the One they sought.

Jesus had been born in Bethlehem (literally, The House of Bread).

Jesus later called Himself:

* The Bread of Life
* The Living Bread
* The Bread Which Came Down From Heaven

They not only offered Him gifts, but they worshipped Him as well.

The gifts they brought to Jesus are very interesting, and I want us to look at what these gifts might represent.

I want to be careful not to over-spiritualize matters and try to make everything symbolic.

On the other hand, though, it would seem that these three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – speak of three major aspects of what this child would accomplish.

Gifts should reflect something about the receiver.

1. MYRRH was a gift for one who would die.

Among other things, myrrh was a perfume used in embalming and in preparing bodies for the grave.

John 19:38-40 (NKJV)
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

How ironic that at this time, there would be a reminder that Jesus was born so that He could die.

His substitutionary death was pre-determined. Jesus is called “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)

A song entitled “He Gave His All” has these words:

He was born the baby Jesus, in a cradle made of hay.
God made good His promise, He had jointed those made of clay.
A baby bound for glory, over shadowed by the cross,
The Father knew He must give all, so that all would not be lost.

Scripture after scripture tells us of the death of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament prophesies it.

The Gospels record it.

The Epistles explain it.

He died so that man could be forgiven, justified, cleansed, and redeemed.

He died to destroy him that had the power of death – that is, the devil.

He died to bring us to God and to make us new creatures.

He was born that He might die.

He died that we might be born-again.

Actually, if it weren’t for His death and resurrection, we’d have no reason to celebrate His birth.

2. FRANKINCENSE was a gift suited for a priest.

Under the Old Covenant, the priests would offer up frankincense…

1. Along with the sacrifices.
2. At the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He began to function as our great High Priest.

So much of our thinking and preaching had focused on what Jesus did for us, but it’s very important that we understand what Jesus is doing for us now at the right hand of God.

The book of Hebrews describes in detail how Jesus became our High Priest, and what He’s doing now.

Hebrews 9:11-12 (New Living Translation)
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that great, perfect sanctuary in heaven, not made by human hands and not part of this created world.
12 Once for all time he took blood into that Most Holy Place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took his own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever.

Back in Hebrews 7, Paul contrasts Jesus’ priesthood with the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.

Hebrews 7:15-28 (New Living Translation)
15 The change in God’s law is even more evident from the fact that a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has now come.
16 He became a priest, not by meeting the old requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he said of Christ, “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.”
18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.
19 For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God.
20 God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest, but he never did this for any other priest.
21 Only to Jesus did he say, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”
22 Because of God’s oath, it is Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant.
23 Another difference is that there were many priests under the old system. When one priest died, another had to take his place.
24 But Jesus remains a priest forever; his priesthood will never end.
25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.
26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.
27 He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross.
28 Those who were high priests under the law of Moses were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made perfect forever.

Hebrews 8:1-6 (New Living Translation)
1 Here is the main point: Our High Priest sat down in the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand.
2 There he ministers in the sacred tent, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
6 But our High Priest has been given a ministry that is far superior to the ministry of those who serve under the old laws, for he is the one who guarantees for us a better covenant with God, based on better promises.

In the Latin language, the word priest means: bridge builder.

Jesus received the gift of frankincense because He would become our priest… He is our bridge builder… the One who made it possible for us to come into relationship with the Heavenly Father!

3. GOLD is a gift for a king: a precious metal suitable for royalty.

The wise men were seeking the one who was “Born King of the Jews.”

Yet Jesus made it clear that His kingdom, “Is not of this world.”

John 18:36 (NKJV)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

When Jesus had multiplied the bread and the fishes, the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him King…

John 6:15 (NKJV)
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

While Jesus valued being able to meet the natural needs of people, His Kingdom was not going to be established that way. His Kingdom would be built through changed hearts – lives that were changed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus now rules in the hearts and lives of those yielded to Him.

The Day is Coming…

Revelation 11:15-17 (NKJV)
15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying,”The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,
17 saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,The one who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.”

Today, He is our King and our Lord, but He will return to this earth (Revelation 19:16) as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!


Myrrh – spoke of His death – We honor Him today as the One who died for us!

Frankincense – spoke of His priesthood – We honor Him today as the One who is our Bridge… the One who brings us to the Father!

Gold – spoke of His royalty, His kingdom – We honor Him today as the One who rules in our hearts and lives, and as the One who will return to this earth as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

Have Yourself a Merry Substantive Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Substantive Christmas Rev. Tony Cooke

OK, maybe it doesn’t have the flow of the song title, but I think it’s an important thought.  Every year, countless voices decry the superficiality and materialism associated with Christmas.  But what can we do to reclaim the richness and depth of this season?  Being raised in a denominational church, I grew up hearing and singing many of the great hymns of the church, but I failed to recognize how rich many of them are in spiritual truth.  At this time of year, I’m also reminded of how very powerful some of the great Christmas Carols are that have been written through the ages. 

Oh Holy Night

Before we can really esteem the value of the Good News, we need to understand just how bad the bad news really was.  Before the significance and joy of Jesus’ birth can be fully appreciated, there must first be a realization of the world’s absolute hopelessness and despair if it had not been for the Savior who would come.  “Oh Holy Night” (written in France in 1847) captures that sense of despair prior to Jesus’ arrival. 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.  Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

I checked “pine” and “pining” in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, and it says these words imply, “languishing, wasting away, to bemoan in silence.”  A more modern definition says that pining means, “to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable.”  Humanity was lost, and we had no way of saving ourselves.  Jesus did not come into a world that was having just a bit of trouble, or that merely needed some encouragement, motivation, or a better self-image. 

Jesus came into a world that was “condemned already” (John 3:18), a world that was “sitting in darkness, in the shadow of death, and bound in affliction and irons” (Psalm 107:10; Matthew 4:16).  Just how dark was it before Jesus came?  Paul said in Ephesians 2:12 that we were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

The Advent—the coming of Jesus—truly resulted in “the soul feeling its worth.”  In spite of the sin and error that caused us to languish, God was saying to every human soul: “You are the object of my affection.  I value you and have come to make you My Own.”

“Oh Holy Night” continues with, “His law is love and His gospel is peace.  Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother.  And in his name all oppression shall cease.”  Thank God for a substantive Christmas!

Oh come, Oh Come, Emmanuel

A Latin hymn from the 12th century also speaks to the bondage and oppression of the world—even of God’s covenant people—prior to Jesus’ coming: “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.”

Mourning in lonely exile?  A captive people that needed ransoming?  Is it possible that God’s people had really been kidnapped?  Sin separates, and man needed far more than a good example or a teacher of morality; man needed a Redeemer.  The hymn goes on to say:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave 

Someone wisely said:

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

In 1739, Charles Wesley wrote “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”  I marvel at how succinctly and powerfully Wesley was able to weave so many weighty theological themes into this hymn (the virgin birth, the incarnation, the new birth, etc.).  Some of the lyrics include:

Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

Earlier in the hymn, in the first verse, is one line that sums up the Gospel: God and sinners reconciled.

Even if this has been a really tough year for you… perhaps a year of great challenges, we pray that you have a Merry Substantive Christmas.  We have been redeemed unto God, and we belong to Him.  Satan’s tyranny no longer reigns over us, we no longer sit in the shadow of death, and because of Christmas, our soul does feel its worth.

Jesus and the Bird Cage by Paul Harvey

Boston preacher Dr. S.D. Gordon, placed a beat up, bent, rusted old bird cage beside his pulpit when he told this story. An unkempt, unwashed, little lad about 10 years old was coming up the alley swinging this old caved in bird cage with several tiny birds shivering on the floor of it. The compassionate Dr. Gordon asked the boy where he got the birds. He said he trapped them. Dr. Gordon asked what he was going to do with them. … read more


Tips for Managing Stress, the Blues, and Grief During the Holidays

Download this article in PDF format

1. Plan ahead – this involves not only time, but also money (a budget)

2. Prioritize and decide how much you can actually do, how much you can (and should) actually spend, etc. You don’t want to start the new year with bills that you can’t pay. Do your best to create an atmosphere that focuses on "doing" rather than "having."

3. Don’t be afraid to say, "no." There may be some things you can do to reduce some of the demands on your life and time.

4. Pace yourself. People tend to overextend themselves and to commit to doing more than they possibly can in the limited time they have. Be careful during holidays not to over-commit. Don’t take on more than you can comfortably handle, and stop trying to be Superman or Superwoman by doing it all yourself.

5. Be realistic! Unrealistic and hyper-idealistic expectations set you up for disappointment.

6. Examine traditions – which ones do you want to keep? Is it time to establish some new ones?

7. Realize that people are unique. What is enjoyable and fulfilling for one person is stressful and unpleasant for another.

8. Some solitude is OK, but avoid excessive isolation. Reach out to people and make it a point to be with others. Especially seek out people who are supportive and care about you.

9. Reach out to an old friend you’ve lost contact with.

10. If you have some specific needs during the holidays, tell others. Don’t expect others to be mind-readers. Realize that others may not respond to or meet all of your needs.

11. Find a way to serve and help others. "I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve." – Albert Schweitzer

12. Take care of yourself. If your tendency is to take care of everyone else and neglect yourself, do some special things just for you, and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it.

13. Be proactive. Don’t wait for something to happen. Make something happen. Ask yourself about the kind of holiday experience you’d like to have, then ask, "What can I do to make that happen?" Don’t accept a victim’s mentality – you may be experiencing some circumstances you wouldn’t have chosen, but there are things you can do to make the holidays better for yourself and others.

14. Give yourself permission to grieve if necessary. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays as well. Journaling can be a healthy and helpful way of identifying and expressing feelings.

15. Remember the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer – "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

16. Don’t focus on the past.

17. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have.

18. Moderation! Avoid the temptation to dive into extremes.

19. Take care of your health – Eat right, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly. Common stress reactions during the holidays include headaches, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping.

20. Put some humor in your holidays. Laugh a lot! Rent a funny movie! A merry heart does good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).

21. Make a list of all the FREE things that can be enjoyed at Christmas… light displays, church services, community plays, etc. Partake of some of these.

22. Be honest about your own emotional health and your own personality tendencies. Do you need to address anger? Perfectionism? A tendency to blame others?

23. Focus on the spiritual aspects of the holidays.

24. Maintain or even increase your spiritual disciplines.

Philippians 4:6-7 (The Living Bible) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

25. Live a "Christmas life," not just Christmas day.

Is it possible that part of our problems around the holidays is that we are trying to cram a year’s worth of love, celebrating, remembering, etc., into a mere month?

Christmas in July By Maria Foslien

Christmas in July
By Maria Foslien

Lisa Cooke writes: Now is the time to begin thinking and planning for your Christmas musical or drama, according to Maria Foslien, worship leader and Pastor’s wife for Living Word Family Church in Naples Florida.

For the past five Christmas seasons, Maria and her music team have put together a high-quality, high-energy holiday program that they not only use for their own church services, but also for community events, fund raising dinners for local groups, and even Disney World! Their excellence in preparation and performance has opened many doors of outreach, and I asked Maria to put together an outline of her strategy as they plan for each Christmas season.

I encourage you to check out their web-site at, and I trust that Maria’s insights will inspire and encourage you as you begin the early stages of preparation for your musical outreach for Christmas 2006.

Also, please take time to see their Christmas concert at

By Maria Foslien

There are many aspects to putting on a great performance. Doing the “extras” can take even the simplest concert to a professional level. No matter what your church size or budget, your concert can be a hit!

The following categories are available for you to look at:

1. Song Selection
2. Stage Presentation
3. Behind the scenes preparation (How early should we start working on it?)
4. Budget
5. Lighting Effects – Audio/Visual
6. View our Christmas Concert


1. Make it fun
1. Don’t be afraid to put variety in your concert.
1. Some fun, festive and lively songs
2. Some Christmas classics
3. Some drama
4. Some Worshipful songs

2. Utilize the resources available.
We have signed up with Brentwood-Benson and Integrity Music companies to receive their quarterly music samples for our review. Christmas samples usually arrive at the beginning of summer. They have sound tracks, chord sheets, music scores, etc… available to buy. It is very helpful!

You may find just a few songs to add to your concert or be able to use an entire Christmas Concert layout from the samples sent. It will depend on your personal music taste. If we can’t find a sound track to a song we really want to use, we have them made by a guy who has his own recording studio. If you know someone like that, this is a great option.

Cost for having a sound track made –
We usually pay $500 per track. (Keep in mind, these are professional tracks made with professional equipment.) If it is a very complex sound track, the price has gone up to $750-1,000 per track. You can have lesser quality tracks made for less money, of course.

Church Band – We don’t use our church band for our Christmas Concert. We have found it easier to use professional sound tracks. (This may not be the case for you – you may want to use your band.)

Stage Presentation

Coordinate your outfits for the performance.

We always have the women wear long, floor-length black skirts with black, long-sleeved sparkle tops. Simple, yet very elegant. (Once you own them, you can reuse them time and time again.). The men wear black suits or tuxes with white shirts. We buy matching ties so they all look the same.

We keep away from the “Santa” or themed Christmas ties. It seems to be a more polished look to have them a solid color instead of a busy print.

A change of outfit for the second half of your show is always a nice touch. Try having the ladies come out on stage with red sparkle jackets for the second half.

If you view our Christmas Concert you’ll see we add little things to our basic costumes for different songs to enhance the theme of each song.

Do something different/special with your stage for the concert.

We like to paint the wall behind the stage a different color for the concert. It is something that has to be repainted of course after the holidays. We like to keep it that way until the New Year.

Different years we’ve done colors such as a deep evergreen, a rich gold or a cranberry red. All were beautiful. To go the extra mile, you could also put a saying such as “Glory to God” or “A Child Is Born” over the painted wall. This can be done by using a transparency and projector and tracing the letters on the wall or having letters cut out of Styrofoam and mounted to the wall. We suggest a using a fancy font for the lettering, but not so decorative that it is difficult to read or overly distracting. Gold lettering on a green or red background is good. If your wall color is gold, black is really nice for the lettering color.

If stage space allows, putting up a few fake Christmas trees with all white lights is a classy look. Remember the saying, “Less is more.” We leave the trees up on stage for the entire month of December.

A word of advice – be committed to changing your Christmas backdrop immediately after the first of the year. You don’t want to be like the neighbors who still have their Christmas lights up when it’s Valentine’s Day. Keep the standard of excellence.


No last minute, throw-together efforts. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!

I will pass along some of the best advice I was ever given. START WORKING ON ANY MAJOR EVENT SIX MONTHS IN ADVANCE. With all the details and work that go into a successful big event, you’ll find even six months is sometimes not enough. If you need to rent equipment – chairs, tables, lights etc.. – be sure to secure them in advance. Get a team of reliable people to help you. No need carrying the whole load yourself. Do everything now that can be done now. There will be plenty of things left to do that can’t be done until later. Make good use of the months before your event. Plan, plan, plan.

Music Practice

Our music team practices for regular church services on Thursday evenings from 7pm-9:30pm. When we start working on Christmas (usually just after Easter) we spend the last half of practice on Christmas music. Working on it over the months allows us to pace ourselves and be totally ready when the Christmas season arrives. It gives us time to perfect our vocals and focus on some “extras” like choreographed movements in the songs.


See Lighting Affects – Audio/Visual section


This is where working on your concert many months in advance can really help. You can buy things each month for your concert rather than needing a lump sum all at once. (If your church has a “Christmas Concert Budget” already, praise God!! If not, start small and work your way up year-by-year – that’s what we did.)


We put the singers expense for their outfits on them. Any time I take a new singer on the team, I let them know they will need to get a Christmas concert outfit.

Sound equipment

If your church has a sound system, you may not need to rent any sound equipment, however, before we had really good speakers we would rent them for our concert. It made a HUGE difference in the performance! If you don’t have a good system and have it in the budget to do it, I highly recommend renting equipment. Sound rental places usually have sound techs for hire to help if you don’t have someone to run it. A word to the wise, get the equipment early enough to work out the sound “kinks” before the night of your performance.

Stage Props

We keep them to a minimum, but it adds a warm feeling to the concert. Buy things you can use year after year. It will save you money if you think long term.

One really neat idea is a fiber-optic backdrop screen. They are expensive to rent, but incredible for that “starry/dreamy” effect.

Concert Tickets

You may want to sell tickets to the concert to help offset the costs. We never look at it as a “money maker”. Actually, ticket sales don’t even begin to cover the cost we incur for our concert, but it does help. We want our concert to be affordable for everyone. Because of the caliber of our concerts, we have never had a problem with ticket sales. We charge $15 per ticket. In earlier years, when we didn’t have all the lighting effects and other extras, our costs were lower. We started at $5 per ticket.



Check out

What we used

We use several can lights as well as intelligent lighting. It took an average of one hour per song to program the lighting, so you need to have your lights up and ready to go at least a week in advance when you have programming to do for intelligent lighting.

You’ll see we started our second half of the set with a clip from an old concert and then transitioned it into the live performance. It was very effective and brought tears to almost everyone’s eyes.

Trial and Error

Unless you have professional lighting techs at your disposal you’ll just have to start somewhere and begin learning. We use more and more lights and effects each year as our A/V team gets more familiar with the lighting equipment. Talk with the techs from the company you rent lights from, they know the equipment and it’s abilities.

You may want to hire their techs to do your concert to start and work with them so you are learning, too.

I hope this gives you some valuable information for your Christmas concerts/productions. We are by no means “professionals”. However, we want to make the things we have learned over the years (sometimes the hard way) available to others.

Christmas Stories & Illustrations

Christmas Stories & Illustrations

Birds Set Free

A.J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?” The boy replied, “I trapped them out in the field.” “What are you going to do with them?” “I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.” When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.” Gordon replied, “I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.” “Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost—paying for them with His own precious blood. “That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!'”

This is Advent. And the message of these times is the song of those wild birds.

It’s the song sung in every carol this season: Redeemed!

It’s the meaning behind every gift given under the tree: Redeemed!

It’s the Word the shepherds heard: Redeemed!

It’s the assurance Mary received: Redeemed!

It’s the star the Wisemen followed: Redeemed!

You and I have been trapped by sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon. We have been redeemed!


Missing the Big News

It was in December of 1903, that after many attempts, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground and into the air at Kitty Hawk. Thrilled over the accomplishment, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news-for the first time in human history, man had flown! (SOURCE: Daily Bread, December 23, 1991.)


Which Virgin?

A ten-year old, who was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible because of her grandmother’s teaching, asked her grandmother: “Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus? The Virgin Mary or the King James Virgin?”


Recognizing Jesus

One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the old shoe cobbler who dreamed one Christmas Eve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true.

So the next morning he got up and went out and cut green boughs and decorated his little cobbler shop and got all ready for Jesus to come and visit. He was so sure that Jesus was going to come that he just sat down and waited for Him.

The hours passed and Jesus didn’t come. But an old man came. He came inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobbler talked with him he noticed the holes in the old man’s shoes, so he reached up on the shelf and got him a new pair of shoes. He made sure they fit and that his socks were dry and sent him on his way.

Still he waited. But Jesus didn’t come. An old woman came. A woman who hadn’t had a decent meal in two days. They sat and visited for a while, and then he prepared some food for her to eat. He gave her a nourishing meal and sent her on her way.

Then he sat down again to wait for Jesus. But Jesus still didn’t come.

Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of his shop. He went out and talked with the boy, and discovered that the boy had been separated from his parents and didn’t know how to get home. So he put on his coat, took the boy by the hand and led him home.

When he came back to his little shoe shop it was almost dark and the streets were emptied of people. And then in a moment of despair he lifted his voice to heaven and said, “Oh Lord Jesus, why didn’t you come?”

And then in a moment of silence he seemed to hear a voice saying, “Oh shoe cobbler, lift up your heart. I kept my word. Three times I knocked at your friendly door. Three times my shadow fell across your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave to eat. I was the boy on the homeless street.”

Jesus had come. The cobbler just didn’t realize it.

– by Melvin Newland


If You Ever Want to See Your Mother Again

A small boy was writing a letter to God about the Christmas presents he badly wanted. “I’ve been good for six months now.” he wrote. But after a moment’s reflection he crossed out “six months” and wrote “three months.” After a pause that was crossed out and he put “two weeks.” There was another pause and that was crossed out too. He got up from the table and went over to the nativity scene that had the figures of Mary and Joseph. He picked up the figure of Mary, wrapped it gently in a cloth, and put it in a drawer in his room. He then went back to his writing and started again: “Dear God, if ever you want to see your mother again!”


The Three Wise Firemen

There was a art contest held in a local school one Christmas season a few years ago in East Texas. One of the prize winners was a picture drawn by a nine year old boy showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger. What made the picture unique is how the three gift presenters arrived—there was fire truck on the side of the picture.

The principal asked the boy about his decision to draw the truck and the boy, in his heavy East-Texas accent, was quick to reply: “Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far.”


If I Could Only Become a Bird

Paul Harvey tells the story about a family on Christmas Eve. This family had a tradition where the Mother and children would go to the Christmas Eve service, and the Father would stay home and read the paper. When the family returns home from church, they would all gather to open up their presents.

The Father was not an evil man, but he just couldn’t believe in the childhood stories anymore of God coming as a baby in a manger. As the family left for church, he opened up the evening paper and began to read by the fireplace.

Suddenly, he heard tapping on the window. It was a bird flying against the glass of his window trying to get out of the snow into the warmth of his home. The man had compassion on the bird, and he went outside, hoping to bring it in.

As he approached the bird, the bird just flew against the window even harder. Pretty soon, the bird flew into the bushes below the window, half frozen, yet too afraid to be caught by this huge man. The more the man tried to reach for the bird, the more the bird flew frantically into the snow and thorns of the bushes.

After a few minutes in the cold and seeing the bird continue to injure itself, the man yelled out in frustration, “Stupid bird, can’t you understand that I’m trying to help?” The man paused and thought, “If only you understood you wouldn’t fly away … if only … if only I could become a bird, and get you to understand.”

Just then, the church bells rang, as they always have on the hour. But when the man heard the bells this time, he fell to his knees and began to cry, saying, “Oh, God, I didn’t understand. Oh, God, I didn’t understand.”

God’s Son came in human form that we might understand from where we have come, for what reason we were separated and how we could be restored to God.


Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; but our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.


Next Time It Will Be Different

The First Time Jesus Came
He came veiled in the form of a child.
A star marked His arrival.
Wise men brought Him gifts.
There was no room for Him.
Only a few attended His arrival.
The Next Time Jesus Comes
He will be recognized by all.
Heaven will be lit by His glory.
He will bring rewards for His own.
The world won’t be able to contain His glory.
Every eye shall see Him.
He will come as Sovereign King and Lord of all.
– John F. MacArthur Jr.


The Best Christmas Ever

A store owner was doing some last minute Christmas shopping with his young son when he saw another store owner with whom he had been friends for some time. The two of them exchanged greetings and spoke with each other about what a financially profitable season it had been for their respective stores. The small boy overheard his father say, “This has been the best Christmas ever.”

As the store owners parted company, the father and son continued their shopping, but the father noticed his son had become very quiet. He inquired as to his son’s silence, and his son replied, “Dad, you just told Mr. Johnson that this was the best Christmas ever.”

His dad replied, “I did, son. The economy is great, and people are really spending.”

“O.K.” the son replied, “It’s just that I always thought the first Christmas was the best one.”


Look What Has Come

In his 1942 devotional Abundant Living, E. Stanley Jones, Methodist doctor and missionary to India, writes:

The early Christians did not say in dismay: “Look what the world has come to,” but in delight, “Look what has come to the world.” They saw not merely the ruin, but the Resource for the reconstruction of that ruin. They saw not merely that sin did abound, but that grace did much more abound. On that assurance the pivot of history swung from blank despair, loss of moral nerve, and fatalism, to faith and confidence that at last sin had met its match.


A Politically Correct Christmas

“To avoid offending anybody, the school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ and—this is a real song—‘Suzy Snowflake,’ all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.”

– Dave Barry in his “Notes on Western Civilization” (Chicago Tribune Magazine, July 28, 1991)


Augustine’s Reflections

In this poem written some fifteen centuries ago, Augustine tried to capture the mystery of the Incarnation:

Maker of the sun,
He is made under the sun.
In the Father he remains,
From his mother he goes forth.
Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born on earth under heaven.
Unspeakably wise,
He is wisely speechless.
Filling the world,
He lies in a manger.
Ruler of the stars,
He nurses at his mother’s bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God,
And small in the form of a servant.


Remembering Atheists at Christmas

From a few years ago…

Complaints about a nativity scene in the Capitol are not bothering South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow. He’s prepared to let every religion put something on display in the Capitol, and even has an “empty corner” set aside for atheists.


‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas

by Tony Cooke and David Beebe

‘Twas the fight before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was peaceful,
Not even my spouse.
The bills were strung out on our table with dread,
In hopes that our checkbook would not be in the red.
The children were fussing and throwing a fit,
When Billy came screaming and cried, “I’ve been bit.”
And Momma with her skillet, and I with the remote,
She said, “You change one more channel and I’ll grab your throat.”
When on the TV there arose such a clatter,
I sat up on the couch to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
The cable was out, it was my worst fear.
“The Cowboys, the Celtics, the Raiders, the Knicks,
Without the sports channel I’d soon need a fix!”
And then in the midst of my grievous sorrow,
I remembered the times I had promised, “tomorrow…”
“Not now, my children, but at some soon time,
Dad will play with you, and things will be fine.”
Now under conviction, I looked at my wife,
Where was my kindness? Why all the strife?
My heart quickly softened; I now saw my task,
Some love and attention was all they had asked.
I gathered my family and called them by name,
And told them with God’s help I’d not be the same.
We’ll keep Christ in Christmas and honor His plan.
No more fights before Christmas—on that we will stand.
My children’s eyes twinkled; they squealed with delight.
My wife gladly nodded; she knew I was right.
It was the fight before Christmas, but God’s love had come through,
And just like He does, He made all things new.


Praise God for Christmas

Praise Him for the Incarnation,
For the word made flesh.
I will not sing of shepherds
Watching flocks on frosty nights,
Or angel choristers.
I will not sing of a stable bare in Bethlehem,
Or lowing oxen,
Wise men trailing star with gold,
Frankincense, and myrrh.
Tonight I will sing praise to the Father
Who stood on heaven’s threshold
And said farewell to His Son
As he stepped across the stars
To Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
And I will sing praise to the infinite, eternal Son,
Who became most finite, a baby
Who would one day be executed for my crime.
Praise Him in the heavens,
Praise Him in the stable,
Praise Him in my heart.
– Joseph Bayly


Some Christmas Reminders

* May the Christmas GIFTS remind us of God’s greatest gift, His only Son.
* May the Christmas CANDLES remind us of Him who is the “Light of the world.”
* May the Christmas TREES remind us of another tree upon which he died.
* May the Christmas CHEER remind us of Him who said, “Be of good cheer.”
* May the Christmas FEAST remind us of Him who is “the Bread of Life.”
* May the Christmas BELLS remind us of the glorious proclamation of His birth.
* May the Christmas CAROLS remind us of the son the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest!”
* May the Christmas SEASON remind us in every way of Jesus Christ our King!


Keeping Christmas

In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are some tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same… with the same old greeting, “Merry Christmas,” and no other.

We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings… believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again.

We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten Son, that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have “everlasting life.”

So we will not “spend” Christmas… nor “observe” Christmas.

We will “keep” Christmas—keep it as it is… in all the loveliness of its ancient tradition.

May we keep it in our hearts, that we may be kept in its hope.

– Peter Marshall


The Christmas Problem

Once upon a Christmas Eve, a man sat in reflective silence before the fireplace, pondering the meaning of Christmas. “There is no point to a God who becomes man,” he mused. “Why would an all-powerful God want to share even one of His precious moments with the likes of man? And even if He did, why would He choose to be born in an animal stall? No way! The whole thing is absurd! I’m sure that if God really wanted to come down to earth, He would have chosen some other way.” Suddenly, the man was roused from his reverie by a strange sound outside. He went to the window and saw a small gaggle of blue geese frantically honking and aimlessly flopping about in the snow. They seemed dazed and confused. Apparently they had dropped out in exhaustion from the flight formations of a larger flock on its way from the Arctic Islands to the warmer climes of the Gulf of Mexico. Moved to compassion, the man tried to “shoo” the poor geese into his warm garage, but the more he “shooed” the more they panicked. “If they only realized I’m only trying to do what’s best for them,” he thought to himself. “How can I make them understand my concern for their well-being?” Then, this thought came to him: “If for just a minute, I could become one of them, an ordinary goose, and communicate with them in their own language, they would know what I am trying to do.” And suddenly … suddenly, he remembered Christmas and a smile came over his face. Suddenly, the Christmas story no longer seemed absurd. Suddenly, he pictured that ordinary-looking infant, lying in the manger, in that stable in Bethlehem, and he knew the answer to his Christmas problem: God had become one of us to tell us that He loves us.


C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis wrote: “The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but a baby, and before that a fetus in a woman’s body.”


Heavenly Peas

A little boy and girl were singing their favorite Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded “Silent Night” with the words, “Sleep in heavenly beans.” “No,” his sister corrected, “not beans, peas.”

– Michael P. Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993, p. 57.


Consider Again Christmas

When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.

When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.

It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.

– Brian L. Harbour, James W. Cox, The Minister’s Manual: 1994, San Fransico: Harper Collins, 1993, p. 254.


I’ll Just Take the Skates

There was the little boy who approached Santa in a department store with a long list of requests. He wanted a bicycle and a sled, a chemical set, a cowboy suit, a set of trains, a baseball glove and roller skates. “That’s a pretty long list,” Santa said sternly. “I’ll have to check in my book and see if you were a good boy.” “No, no,” the youngster said quickly. “Never mind checking. I’ll just take the roller skates.”


Some Gifts to Give

Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone, “I love you.” Give something away–anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Visit someone in a nursing home. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work. Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.

– Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong, pp. 400-1.


Martin Luther

“The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”

– Martin Luther, Table Talk.

Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child
Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.

– Martin Luther.


The Christmas Carol Dilemma

A lady who served on many civic committees, asked to select carols suitable for a community Christmas-tree lighting, sought the help of her pastor. When she scanned the list he had selected, she exclaimed in dismay, “But they’re all so theological.”


The Ten Commandments for Christmas

The following item appeared in a church newsletter and contains some good advice that will help us keep selfishness in check this Christmas:

I. Thou shalt not leave “Christ” out of Christmas, making it “Xmas.” To some, “X” is unknown.

II. Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that thy soul is forgotten.

III. Thou shalt not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.

IV. Thou shalt not burden the shop girl, the mailman, and the merchant with complaints and demands.

V. Thou shalt give thyself with thy gift. This will increase its value a hundred fold, and he who receiveth it shall treasure it forever.

VI. Thou shalt not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold.

VII. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Share thy blessings with many who will go hungry and cold unless thou are generous.

VIII. Thou shalt not neglect thy church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.

IX. Thou shalt be as a little child. Not until thou has become in spirit as a little one art thou ready to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

X. Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of thy Christmas list.


Materialism & the Meaning of Christmas

A television interviewer was walking streets of Tokyo at Christmas time. Much as in America, Christmas shopping is a big commercial success in Japan. The interviewer stopped one young woman on the sidewalk, and asked, “What is the meaning of Christmas?”

Laughing, she responded, “I don’t know. Is that the day that Jesus died?”

There was some truth in her answer.

– Donald Deffner, Seasonal Illustrations, San Jose: Resource, 1992, p. 16.


The Real Picture

During the long war years a boy looked frequently at a picture of his daddy on the table. He had left when the boy was a young infant. After several years the boy had forgotten him as a person but he would often look at the picture and say, “If only my father could step out of that picture and be real….”

Christmas means that in a sad day of sin when man had almost forgotten God, He stepped into the world in the form of His Son.
– Pulpit Helps


Is Jesus Still a Baby?

A girl of ten years went with a group of family and friends to see the Christmas light displays at various locations throughout the city. At one church, they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautifully done nativity scene. “Isn’t that beautiful?” said the little girl’s grandmother. “Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.” “Yes, Grandma,” replied the granddaughter. “It is really nice. But there is only one thing that bothers me. Isn’t baby Jesus ever going to grow up… he’s the same size he was last year.”


What Children Hear

I was reading the story of Jesus’ birth to my day-care children one morning. As usual, I stopped to see if they understood. “What do we call the three wise men?” I asked. “The three maggots,” replied a bright 5-year-old. “What gift did the Magi bring baby Jesus?” I corrected. “Gold, Frankensteins and smurfs!” the same 5-year-old replied.

– Sent in to Christian Herald by Brenda Roberts, Stone Mountain, GA.


Purposes of the Incarnation

* To do the Father’s will (Jn 6:38),
* To bear witness to the truth (Jn 18:37),
* To bring light to the darkness (Jn 12:46),
* To bring true judgment (Jn 9:39),
* To bring abundant life (Jn 10:10).

– Source Unknown


Mary Had the Little Lamb

Mary had the little Lamb, who lived before His birth;
Self-existent Son of God, from Heaven He came to Earth.
Micah 5:2

Mary had the little Lamb; see Him in yonder stall—
Virgin-born Son of God, to save man from the Fall.
Isaiah 7:14

Mary had the little Lamb, obedient Son of God;
Everywhere the Father led, His feet were sure to trod.
John 6:38

Mary had the little Lamb, crucified on the tree
The rejected Son of God, He died to set men free.
1 Peter 1:18

Mary had the little Lamb—men placed Him in the grave,
Thinking they were done with Him; to death He was no slave!
Matthew 28:6

Mary had the little Lamb, ascended now is He;
All work on Earth is ended, our Advocate to be.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Mary had the little Lamb—mystery to behold!
From the Lamb of Calvary, a Lion will unfold.
Revelation 5: 5,6

When the Day Star comes again, of this be very sure:
It won’t be Lamb-like silence, but with the Lion’s roar.
Psalm 2:12
Revelation 19:11-16

– Marv & Marbeth Rosenthal


“One Solitary Life”

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book.

He never held an office.

He never had a family or owned a house.

He didn’t go to college.

He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born.

He did none of these things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

When he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.

All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

– Unknown


St. Nicholas

His name was Nicholas and he was born to a wealthy, elderly couple in what is now Turkey in the 3rd century AD. When his parents died, he was left with a large inheritance and gained a reputation for generously giving to the poor. He entered a monastery and eventually was ordained Bishop of the coastal city of Myra. Nicholas was known for miraculous answers to prayer, confronting pagan “Diana” worship and being cruelly imprisoned during Roman Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. When Constantine ended the persecution, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea and helped write the Nicene Creed. A true Saint, Nicholas died on December 6, 343AD. Early American writer Washington Irving, creator of Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, was instrumental in transforming Saint Nicholas into jolly ol’ St. Nick!

– From American Minute with Bill Federer
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The Hindu and the Ant Hill

There was a man from India who was a devout member of a Hindu sect and who had a profound sense of reverence for life. He would not kill an ant, a cow, or even a cobra, because to him, due to his belief in reincarnation, he might be killing some past relative.

During his visit to America, he had been confronted with the claims of Christ, yet he could not grasp the biblical truth that God actually visited this planet in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He could not comprehend how the Great Creator God of the Universe could become a man, or why.

One day as he was walking in the field meditating upon this new truth about Jesus the Christ being God, he was wondering how this could possibly be. He ran across a large ant hill with thousands of little ants scurrying around in their busy like manner. He was standing there observing with wonder the activity of these ants, and what amazing creatures they are, when suddenly, he heard a tremendous and threatening noise. It was the noise of a large tractor plowing the fields.

As he looked up he discovered that the tractor would soon be plowing through that ant hill and thousands of ants would probably be killed and their home destroyed. Gripped with the same concern you and I would feel for hundreds of people trapped in a burning building, he became frantic. He wanted to warn them of their impending destruction.

He thought to himself, “How can I warn them? If I could write in the sand, they wouldn’t be able to read it. If I shouted to them, they wouldn’t understand me. The only possible way I could communicate with them would be by becoming an ant, if I had that ability.”

Then suddenly he had a revelation from the Spirit of God. He saw why God, the Creator of the universe, chose to become one of us by becoming a man, in the Person of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth.

Through his experience with the ant hill, the light suddenly came on in the heart of that Hindu man, and now he understood the words of Paul: “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form” (Philippians 2:6- 7, NLT).

– From Bill Bright, Daily Insights, a service of Global Pastors Network


Christmas Quotes

“He was truly born of a virgin… He is God existing in flesh, true Life in death. He is both of Mary and of God.” 
— Ignatius of Antioch 

“We even affirm that He was born of a virgin.” 
— Justin Martyr 

“Christ Jesus, the Son of God, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, humbled Himself to be born of the virgin. Thereby, He united man through Himself to God.” 
— Irenaeus 

“The Son of God—He who made the universe—assumed flesh and was conceived in the virgin’s womb.” 
— Clement of Alexandria 

“This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descended into a certain virgin. And He was made flesh in her womb. So, in His birth, God and man were united.” 
— Tertullian 

“He in the last times divested Himself and became a man, and was incarnate although still God. While He was made a man, He remained the God that He was. He assumed a body like our own, differing in only one respect: that the body was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. This Jesus Christ was truly born, truly suffered, . . . and truly died.” 
— Origen 

“He enters into a virgin. Through the Holy Spirit, He is clothed with flesh. God is mingled with man.” 
— Cyprian 

“I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.” 
— Martin Luther  

“Some things strange and tragic have been happening in recent years within Christianity. For one, some ministers have advised their congregations not to be greatly concerned if theologians dispute the virgin birth of Jesus. The issue, they say, is not important. For another thing, some professing Christians are saying they do not want to be pinned down as to what they really believe about the uniqueness and reality of the deity of Jesus, the Christ.” 
— A. W. Tozer  

“If we accept that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, does not belief in the virgin birth become logically inevitable? Who could be the Father of the Son of God but God Himself?” 
— Oswald Sanders 

“The virgin birth of Christ is a key doctrine; for if Jesus Christ is not God come in sinless human flesh, then we have no Savior. Jesus had to be born of a virgin, apart from human generation, because He existed before His mother. He was not just born in this world; He came down from heaven into the world. Jesus was sent by the Father and therefore came into the world having a human mother but not a human father. 
— Warren Wiersbe  

“Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), and not by Joseph, in order that His human nature might be sinless. This is why He would be called ‘the Son of God’ at His birth.” 
— Tony Evans 

“The Virgin Birth alone insured both the full deity and full humanity of Jesus. If God had created Jesus a complete human being in heaven and sent Him to earth apart from any human parent, it is difficult to see how He could be truly a man. If God had sent His Son into the world through both a human father and mother, it is difficult to see how He could be truly God.” 
— Sam Storms 

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.
— Charles Dickens 

“On the first Christmas, God didn’t merely send humanity a principle or a doctrine or an ethical system. He sent His only Son. It’s personal.”
– Richard Blackaby

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”
– Corrie Ten Boom

“The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.”
– Stuart Briscoe

“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.”
– John R. Rice

What is Jesus’ birth all about? “The Son of God became fully human to identify with sinful humans, to live a sinless life, to sacrifice Himself in our place to atone for our sin, and to rise again to conquer death and give believing sinners the gift of eternal life. Jesus volunteered for this mission and willingly endured the suffering to bring glory to His Father, to receive a name above every name, and to transform sinners into saints who glorify God.”
– David and Warren Wiersbe

“A virgin birth seems a most appropriate and creative way for God to enter His world.”
– Paul Smith

“Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity, and the exaltation of humanity.”
– Phillips Brooks

“Let not thy peace depend on the tongues of men, for whether they judge well or ill, thou art not on that account other than thyself.”
– Thomas à Kempis

“Christ was born in the first century, yet He belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.”
– George Washington Truett

“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you… yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”
– Mother Teresa

How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.
– Benjamin Franklin

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
– Calvin Coolidge

“Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, If he’s not born in thee thy soul is still forlorn.”
– Angelus Silesius

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
– Roy L. Smith

“Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts: the gift of God to man—his son; and the gift of God to man – when we first give ourselves to God.”
– Vance Havner

“Christmas is not just a day, an event to be observed and speedily forgotten. It is a spirit which should permeate every part of our lives.”
– William Parks

“Christmas is a day that holds time together.”
– Alexander Smith

“The simple shepherds heard the voice of an angel and found their Lamb; the wise men saw the light of a star and found their Wisdom.”
– Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas which is Christ.”
– Wilda English

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.”
– C.S. Lewis

“The coming of Christ by way of a Bethlehem manger seems strange and stunning. But when we take him out of the manger and invite Him into our hearts, then the meaning unfolds and the strangeness vanishes.”
– C. Neil Strait


Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

– Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!