Big Things from Small Places

This week we finally wrap up our Advent – and now Christmas – teaching series, The World Turned Upside Down. All this month we have been taking a journey through Luke’s telling of the story of the birth of Jesus. It has been a powerful journey, and there have been several new things to learn from these old and familiar stories. This week is no different. While the stories of Jesus’ birth and other heroes of the faith are flashy and impressive, we live most of our lives in the mundane. The trick is: so did they. Their ability to have the giant impact they had came out of their faithfulness in these mundane moments. Let’s dig in and talk about it together. As one more note, this will be the only post for this week. I’m taking this week off to spend extra time with my family. I look forward to being back together with you again in the New Year.

Big Things from Small Places

Have you noticed lately how few truly new television shows there are? The same thing goes with movies. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of the remakes and relaunches and revivals they have done have been terrific. Nostalgia is a terrible god to worship, but it makes for some really fun media content to enjoy. Season 4 of Cobra Kai comes out this week on Netflix and I am about as excited as I can be for that one. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a modern day continuation of the Karate Kid story from the super popular 1980s film franchise. Now, as a bit of a warning before you go check it out if you haven’t, the language of the series is pretty awful, but the redemption element of the story and the way the writers keep weaving in Gospel concepts has been pretty cool to see. 

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Songs of the Season: Christmas Eve Edition

“The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When Matthew offers up his version of the story of Jesus’ birth, he starts it like this: “The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way.” Now, if you didn’t know the story from there, but you had some rough idea of who Jesus was, you might expect the tale to be one of great action and glory. You might expect it to be a story of power and might. God was breaking into the world. Surely He did it in the most dramatic and impressive way He possibly could have done it so no one would be able to miss it. After all, shouldn’t the creator of the universe enter into His creation with all the pomp and circumstance He was due? 

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Morning Musing: John 3:16

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t know about you, but this has been a powerful Advent journey this year. It has been for me a time to reflect deeply on the coming of Christ into the world and into our lives. It has filled me with a renewed hope in His return one day to complete His work that began in a stable. None of our reflections over the past month have been on passages that were at all unfamiliar. But in spending time with words we’ve read and studied before, we have discovered deeper truths that affirm even more powerfully just how great is our God. This morning as we bring this journey to a close (tomorrow will be a special Christmas Eve edition of our Songs of the Season series), I want us to land on the most important Gospel truth of all. Let us ponder for a moment together just how great is the love of our God.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 2:4-6

“So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born. ‘In Bethlehem of Judea,’ they told him, ‘because this is what was written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: Because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

On the rare occasions when I have to take my youngest to the doctor, if we have to wait very long in the exam room, one of his favorite things to do are the hidden object books they have. The idea is pretty simple. There is a picture on each page with all manner of random objects and you have to try and find certain ones. There are whole apps dedicated to these kinds of seek-and-find games. What makes them fun (at least for a little while) is that there’s no particular catch to them. Everything you are looking for is sitting right there in plain sight. You simply have to see it right. Once you’ve found it you almost can’t not see it because it has become so obvious to you. Before that, though, it might as well not even exist on the page. Sometimes things can be right in front of us, but we don’t see them at all. With a hidden object book, that’s not such a big deal. There are some things, though, in which our inability to see becomes entirely more problematic.

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Digging in Deeper: Luke 1:60-63

“But his mother responded, ‘No. He will be called John.’ Then they said to her, ‘None of your relatives has that name.’ So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all amazed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I saw a chart the other day from the Pew Research Group showing by comparison the percentage of Americans who claim Christianity as their religious identity versus those who claim no religious identity at all. The former has been on a steady decline, and the latter, a steady rise, since the turn of this millennium. In other words, for the first time in our nation’s history, we are finding ourselves living in a culture that is increasingly more likely than not to push back against us for seeking to live out our faith in public and meaningful ways. The question for us is not whether we can turn back this tide, but how we will respond to it. As we continue into the final week of our Advent journey this morning, we are reminded that this is a place God’s people have found themselves before.

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