Category Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Corley’s

Scan 2

God Is With Us

The Incarnation is the noblest idea of any world religion. God did not watch human despair from the safety of heaven. He clothed Himself in humanity. He ceased watching the human war and became a soldier.

Calvin Miller, in The Christ of Christmas

Give Presence: Living the Incarnation

from the Movie The Nativity Story, 2006.

The story of Christmas is foundational for understanding Christianity in so many ways. God sent his very best, his own Son Jesus Christ, the God-man, on a daring rescue mission. In need of rescue was the human race including you and I. The mission included a display of love that led to the willing death of an innocent Rescuer for the sake of those he loved. In the end, the Rescuer wins the day, defeating all the bad guys, including death, sin and guilt, and Satan (Colossians 2:13-15, Hebrews 2:14-15). Here’s the real kicker: Now God desires that we repeat the process of being sent, loving, sacrificing, and rescuing through announcing/retelling this story to all (John 21:20, Acts 1:8, Philippians 2:3-5). When God wanted to save the world, he sent himself. He GAVE PRESENCE. Today, he continues to GIVE PRESENCE to the world through those he has rescued.

Here’s three lessons we learn about Incarnational Living from God’s giving to us. These have become filters for our church as we seek to live with a missionary posture toward our community.

  1. God gave the gift of PROXIMITY. John 1:14 in the Message Paraphrase says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus laid aside the privileges of deity to draw near to us, walk in our shoes, and die in our place. One of the great promises of Christmas is that we do not serve a God that’s distant, that’s removed from our problems and trials. He experienced them and He overcame them (Hebrews 4:15, John 16:33). Does your current lifestyle allow you to live in proximity to the needs of others? Does your church live out its mission in proximity to the needs of the community? Jesus went so much farther than, “they know where we are if they need us.” He was always touching those he wasn’t supposed to touch and sharing life with those he wasn’t supposed to share life with. In a world filled with lonely hearts, we need to give presence and live out the gift of proximity.
  2. God gave the gift of RESPONSIVENESS. God gave in response to our deepest need. To respond to the needs of others requires you to forget about yourself a bit. That’s exactly what Jesus did – Philippians 2:7 says, “he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” Jesus didn’t have an entitlement mentality, and if anyone was ever justified in feeling entitled to privileges and perks it should have been the Son of God, but he had a SLAVERY mentality. Becoming the lowest of the low in response to my need. Does your current lifestyle and church culture allow you to be responsive to the needs of others? The priest and levite in the story of the Good Samaritan most likely had legitimate excuses for not responding to the needs of the man lying in the road with huge needs. They had busy schedules, there’s no time for this; they were in a bad part of town; they had no training in basic life support. It was the Samaritan that demonstrated to heart of God and responded to the needs, laying aside self and becoming a servant.
  3. God’s generosity was RADICAL. In the Christmas story we learn that God is a RADICAL GIVER. John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And we see in Philippians 2:8, that Jesus willing became a radical giver for you and I – “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God held nothing back for you and I. He gave it all. What aspects of our lives can be considered radical? Is it in the area of generosity? In desire for God? In desire for others to know the truth?

God’s Big Give: Proximity, Responsiveness, Radical Generosity. The story of Christ and Christmas.

The Heart of Worship

The Christmas story says a lot about the nature of true worship. And we can say that God sent Christ into the world so that we could have unfettered opportunity to worship Him. However, worship is misunderstood today as a place & time (“the Worship Service starts at…”) or an experience or element of a gathering (“the worship was great today”). We find a great definition of true worship in Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55.

Worship is humble surrender born out of knowledge of God. 

Mary’s worship demonstrated three things:

1. Humility – “It’s not about me.”

Real Worship starts with the reality that life is about HIS value, and then wonder that I can be accepted, cared for, given to, by such an incredible God. Mary says, “my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” Luke 1:46-47. “It’s not about me. It’s about Him.” And “who me? I get to be part of this?.”

2. Surrender – “My life is Yours Jesus.”

Mary was a true worshipper because her heart was surrendered. In Luke 1:38 she said, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” In Luke 1:48, she again calls herself “His Servant.” The world here is literally bond-slave denoting one that has intentionally surrendered themselves to be in servitude to another. To surrender is to make your whole self available to God for whatever He desires. To say, “Your way is best. I’m listening. I’m ready to respond with yes.” The opposite of surrender is to resist, to fight, to struggle, to run away. And to make our way best and essentially ourselves god, which is idolatry. Mary’s worshipped with a heart that was without resistance.

3. Knowledge of God – “He has done great things for me, and holy is his name” Luke 1:49.

In this song, Mary shows us that she knows God’s word, has a deep understanding of God’s purposes, she knows his work in history, and that she’s internalized his promises to be for her and all of that led her to worship Him.

What has God done for you? How has God worked in your life? You can’t worship what you don’t know. Humility and surrender will open your life to experience God which will lead you to a life of worshipping Him.

So, is life all about you? is there resistance in your heart when it comes to the will of God? can you point to God’s work in your life? If not, during this Christmas season, humble yourself, surrender your heart and will, and get to know His story. Worship Him.

Merry Christmas!

With Love,

Lane, Heather, Jackson, Hudson, AND baby due May 2012

A Labor of Love

the Andrew Peterson song with scenes from The Nativity Story. A favorite Christmas song of ours:

When God wanted to save the world, He gave PRESENCE

3 Lessons on Incarnational Living from God’s giving to us:

The story of Christmas is foundational for understanding Christianity in so many ways. God sent his very best, his own Son Jesus Christ, the God-man, on a daring rescue mission. In need of rescue was the human race including you and I. The mission included a display of love that led to the willing death of an innocent Rescuer for the sake of those he loved. In the end, the Rescuer wins the day, defeating all the bad guys, including death, sin and guilt, and Satan (Colossians 2:13-15, Hebrews 2:14-15). Here’s the real kicker: Now God desires that we repeat the process of being sent, loving, sacrificing, and rescuing through announcing/retelling this story to all (John 21:20, Acts 1:8, Philippians 2:3-5). When God wanted to save the world, he sent himself. He GAVE PRESENCE. Today, he continues to GIVE PRESENCE to the world through those he has rescued.

Here’s three lessons we learn about Incarnational Living from God’s giving to us. These have become filters for our church as we seek to live with a missionary posture toward our community.

  1. God gave the gift of PROXIMITY. John 1:14 in the Message Paraphrase says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus laid aside the privileges of deity to draw near to us, walk in our shoes, and die in our place. One of the great promises of Christmas is that we do not serve a God that’s distant, that’s removed from our problems and trials. He experienced them and He overcame them (Hebrews 4:15, John 16:33). Does your current lifestyle allow you to live in proximity to the needs of others? Does your church live out its mission in proximity to the needs of the community? Jesus went so much farther than, “they know where we are if they need us.” He was always touching those he wasn’t supposed to touch and sharing life with those he wasn’t supposed to share life with. In a world filled with lonely hearts, we need to give presence and live out the gift of proximity.
  2. God gave the gift of RESPONSIVENESS. God gave in response to our deepest need. To respond to the needs of others requires you to forget about yourself a bit. That’s exactly what Jesus did – Philippians 2:7 says, “he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” Jesus didn’t have an entitlement mentality, and if anyone was ever justified in feeling entitled to privileges and perks it should have been the Son of God, but he had a SLAVERY mentality. Becoming the lowest of the low in response to my need. Does your current lifestyle and church culture allow you to be responsive to the needs of others? The priest and levite in the story of the Good Samaritan most likely had legitimate excuses for not responding to the needs of the man lying in the road with huge needs. They had busy schedules, there’s no time for this; they were in a bad part of town; they had no training in basic life support. It was the Samaritan that demonstrated to heart of God and responded to the needs, laying aside self and becoming a servant.
  3. God’s generosity was RADICAL. In the Christmas story we learn that God is a RADICAL GIVER. John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And we see in Philippians 2:8, that Jesus willing became a radical giver for you and I – “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God held nothing back for you and I. He gave it all. What aspects of our lives can be considered radical? Is it in the area of generosity? In desire for God? In desire for others to know the truth?

 

God’s Big Give: Proximity, Responsiveness, Radical Generosity. The story of Christ and Christmas.

 

Was Jesus born on Dec 25th?

Ever been told that Christmas is a pagan holiday? Here’s some good info from Christian History magazine about why Dec 25th. Tim Challies posted this summary from the article:

December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness” whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.

Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion.

I like this quote:

“We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.”

~ a theologian in 320AD.

“No Entrance” and “No Exit”

“Despite our efforts to keep him out – God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: “a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb”. Jesus entered our world through a door marked,”No Entrance” and left through a door marked “No Exit.”

– Peter Larson

How Do You See Christmas?

So much about life and truth and Christmas is determined by your perspective.

In the world’s eyes…

  • a peasant girl, probably raped by Roman soldiers
  • a poor carpenter, dumb enough to believe her story about an angel
  • a slave registering his family with the state for purposes of taxation
  • an insignificant village with little to offer the empire
  • a family that couldn’t even afford a room
  • a baby that didn’t have a proper delivery
  • a baby that would grow up poor and enslaved
  • a group of shepherds, not even worth asking their name
  • a meaningless event in a meaningless town

In God’s eyes…

  • a young girl endowed with grace and conceived by the Spirit
  • a righteous man willing to obey God at great risk to his own reputation
  • a census that would fulfill prophecy
  • a baby, God taking on human likeness (God with meat)
  • a baby that becoming a man would change the world and the eternal destiny of millions

Pic from the movie The Nativity Story.

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