Christmas only makes sense if…

… there is a blessed hope – the second Advent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). Anyone who is familiar with human history is painfully aware that the promise of “peace on earth” remains an unrealized hope. The “Prince of peace” suffered a violent death. The resurrection did not establish peace on earth. Within several days, the resurrected Prince of Peace ascended into the heavens. A few days later, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit was given. But, instead of universal peace the church was plunged into conflict and tribulation in which its leaders were imprisoned and martyred. For two thousand years the message of Christ has been proclaimed throughout the world. Violence and death continue to prevail. Even as we gather with family and friends for Christmas festivities, many will gather in sorrow. So much for “peace on earth.”

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The Virgin Mary: The First Lady of Pentecost

“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48).

Every year as we approach the 4th Sunday of Advent the gospel reading provokes us to reflect upon the Virgin Mary. As a protesting Pentecostal, there are certain presumptions that I bring to the task. The greatest presumption is to ignore any honor bestowed upon the Virgin, to make her a footnote in the Christmas story. But if I desire to hear the Spirit in the written word of God, then I must be willing to put my presumptions aside and take a fresh look at Mary, the mother of my Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Christmas Propaganda War

I first noticed the Christmas decorations in department stores before Halloween. Soon after, I began hearing the Christmas mood music. Then some radio stations began doing their “all Christmas” schedule. The TV specials and Hollywood’s annual Christmas releases began to appear. By now we’re in full holiday mode. Parties, food, presents… and the new sign of the Christmas season – the Christmas propaganda war, aka, the war on Christmas.

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