So Death Might Live & Life Might Die

Only 5 days left till Christmas!

As we continue to prepare to celebrate the birth of God, we can glean great wisdom from those who have celebrated Jesus’ coming for thousands of years before us.

Approximately 1600 years ago, St. Augustine said:

“Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.

“He was made man to suffer these and similar undeserved things for us, that He might free us who were undeserving.” – Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)

The Ruler of the Stars, the Bread of Life, the Fountain of Living Water, the Light of the World, the Way, the Truth, the Teacher, the Foundation, the Strength, the Healer, and the Life – Jesus. 

Jesus, the Life, came to die so we who were already dead might live. Imagine the love required for the Savior, who could have freed Himself at any time, to die so that we could live. That puts Christmas in a new light!

We all deserved death, but Life died so we could live. 

Merry Christmas!!!


The Secret Verse in one of Your Favorite Christmas Carols

Christmas is a time of joy and anticipation. We celebrate God coming to earth and bringing life. In the words of the Christmas song by Andy Williams, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

But where does the joy come from? Does it come from the family time, the rest, or the candlelit services? Does it come from an eagerness to pull the wool over our eyes and pretend the world is perfect?

Do we sometimes oversimplify the disposition of the season? For many people, Christmas is a time when memories of loss and hurt come crashing in around.

True Christmas joy starts with the realization of pain. We have lost loved ones. Terrorists are attacking our world. Our wrong choices made it necessary not just for Jesus to come to earth, but for Him to die to save us.

I have sung the Christmas hymn “We Three Kings of Orient Are” my entire life. It was written by Rev. John Henry Hopkins in 1857. These words are probably familiar to you:

“We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star.

“O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light.”

The first verse and chorus speak of Jesus’ perfect light. But have you ever seen or heard of the fifth verse?

“Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.”

This verse acknowledges the pain. It celebrates Christ’s perfect light by remembering His sacrifice. It remembers that Jesus embraced pain and death so that joy and life could triumph in our hearts.

The reality that God became man and entered into our world so that He could save us from ourselves should make us ecstatic. We should party and be filled with joy.

But before the party can begin, we must take a real look at ourselves. We must see the loss, the brokenness, the sin. We must realize that we can’t change these things, and that is why we have Christmas.

Because Jesus came to take our pain and death and replace them with joy and life. “We Three Kings of Orient Are” is about joy, but the verse that remembers the pain is the reason the joy is so sweet.

We can’t ignore the darkness. We must remember the darkness so that when we celebrate the light, it glows even brighter.

So as you prepare to celebrate Christmas,
“Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies.”

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The Only Translation?

You may be the only translation of the Bible someone ever reads. Christians are the Body of Christ in the world, we are a translation of the Good News, but is our translation beautiful and true, or sloppy and misleading? The testimony of our lives is the first thing the people around us see.

Paul put it this way, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

It is more effective to share the Good News with our lives than with our words. Without first seeing a life that speaks the Gospel, people will not have open ears to hear words of hope and life. We must live the Gospel.

Peter tells us how this works: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-9

Did you notice what Peter did there? He started with the righteousness we have been granted by God. We must always start there. We can never live lives that speak the Gospel on our own. We make a mess of things, but through God’s divine power, He has granted us everything we need for life and godliness. Once we know this, we can live the Gospel through God’s power instead of our own. That is the only way we will succeed.

The blood of Jesus gives us righteousness by faith and Christ lives in us to let others see the Gospel. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

So go out into the world. Be a true translation of the Bible. Overcome and be fruitful in God’s power and Christ’s life.

sunsetPhoto by Dillon Adams

Jesus is the Answer – Now, What is the Question?

Why do we so often forget Jesus in our lives?  We go to church, we are good people, and we call ourselves Christians.  We even realize the idea behind the word “Christian” is to allow Jesus into every facet of our lives, but do we live this?

Morality without Jesus is not Christianity, and it certainly isn’t salvation.  We know this, but do we act on it?

When we mess up, do we respond with the thought that even though we were wrong, the blood of Jesus has already covered our mistake?  When other people mess up, do we respond with the thought that even though they were wrong, the blood of Jesus has already covered their mistake?

When we are faced with the stress of a difficult job, or an impossible budget, do we remember that we deserved death and Jesus gave us life?  Every problem pales in comparison to this, and if the power of Jesus is enough to save us from death, it is enough to get us through the life he has given.

The answer to every situation we will ever encounter is Jesus.  God reveals Himself to us in Jesus – through the Bible and the Holy Spirit – everything we need is in Him.  The Gospel covers all.

God has provided us with the answer to the human problem.  From the most minuscule, to the most horrific, His answer is universal.  Jesus is the answer – now, what is the question?

For more on this, check out Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt on YouTube: