Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas

The best article I have ever read on the spiritual meaning of this popular Christmas carol is the one here by Dr. Jack Wheeler. Enjoy it—and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Pray for Egypt

Matthew 2:14: So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. (HCSB)

The Holy Family’s escape to Egypt was a drastic measure directed by God to save the Child Jesus from Herod’s murderous wrath. But such escapes to Egypt were not uncommon among the Jews of that time, according to William Barclay. Many Jews, for a variety of reasons, were forced to flee Judea, with Egypt being the most logical refuge. So when the Holy Family arrived, a sizable Jewish community was there for them to join. Most important, this fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, “… out of Egypt I called my son.” (v. 15 and Hosea 11:1, ESV)

With such an important part Egypt played in protecting the Messiah (and with that land’s important role in church history), these verses should spur us to pray for the nation of Egypt, that revival would come to that land, and for God’s protection over our brothers and sisters in the persecuted Coptic Church (and other Christians in the nation). Just the disturbing pictures coming out this week of the government’s brutality against protesters, and the blind eye the soon-to-be-Sharia dictatorship is turning to the oppression of Coptic Christians by radical Islamists, should be more than enough cause for us to intercede for the land that watched over our Lord Jesus in his early years as a child.

Christopher Hitchens in heaven?

The headline above make shock a lot of readers familiar with Christopher Hitchen’s atheism, his polemic book God is Not Great and his unabashed hatred for, among others, Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Dr. Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has an excellent article here about God’s amazing grace that reaches even to death’s door. To be sure, deathbed conversions are rare (in my own ministry, it happened only once that I know of, when I led a man in a nursing home to Jesus several days before he died).

Nonetheless, Moore draws on the most famous deathbed conversion, the thief on the cross, speculating how many believers in that man’s family may have concluded he was in hell—not hearing his cry of repentance, or Jesus’ assurance that he would be with our Lord in paradise that day!

A Methodist minister friend once told me that we’ll be surprised by those who make it to heaven, and those who don’t. That seemed to echo the sentiment of Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, the “Voice of the Martyrs,” who said in an article about Russian Communism founder Vladimir Lenin reportedly being saved on his deathbed, “Heaven holds many surprises.” Christopher Hitchens could well be one of those surprises.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interesting links: Tebow, church-going atheists

FOX Sportswriter Jason Whitlock gives his take here on Tim Tebow's sucess at Denver (his 6-1 record as a starter has put them in first in the AFC West as of this writing), attributing it to his two-parent upbringing (as opposed to several other superstar QBs who have fizzled).

Atheists actually taking their children to church? This article here from The Blaze, to me, is very encouraging--and offers churches a real opportunity to reach these families.