Blog Archives

The Christ of Christmas

My Christmas devotional of choice for years now has been The Christ of Christmas by my former professor Calvin Miller. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes about advent that stick with me year end & year out.

“You shall not bear such pain alone”

We cannot live without bumps & pains, heartache & desolation, mosquito bites & cancer. The incarnation was God saying, “You shall not bear such pain alone”

“the noblest idea of any world religion”

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.

“wrestle with Him or rest in Him”

We basically have two choices to make in dealing with the mysteries of God. We can wrestle with Him or we can rest in Him. We can continue searching the unsearchable or relax in the reality. What exists at the end of all our searching will be a God who knows absolutely everything … and chooses to love us anyway.

Blessing Others at Christmas and Beyond

In the Old Testament, Fathers pronounced blessings over their children & prophets pronounced blessings over people & armies. They weren’t dealing with the way things are currently, but how they WILL BE WITH GOD’S FAVOR. Blessings served to lift people, lift expectations & potential for what could be with God’s power. Jesus gave us a great example of this when he told wishy washy Simon, that from now on he would be called Peter – a Rock. He was saying, now that you’re with me, the trajectory of your life will be transformed. Giving a blessing is not limited to just our words. Acts of kindness & sacrifice can also serve to BLESS & lift others up. Jesus’ death, burial, & resurrection serves as a blessing to all who put their faith in Him, as promised in Genesis 12. Some Ideas for Blessing Others:

-> Bless Your Family – Holidays are great times to BLESS those close to us. I like to spend some time writing how each of our children have grown this year, the good things I see in their character, & how that will effect the trajectory of their lives going forward.

-> Bless Your Community – Churches should have a vision of what WILL BE for people in the community. What prayers, acts of kindness & sacrifice are you engaging in that will have a lifting affect on people in the community? Our church will be giving out Stockings to every home in the largest mobile home park in our community on Christmas Eve this year. Praying that the smiles, offer of prayer, & the gifts which include Gospel resources, will lift & bless families in this community.

-> Bless People that Need Change – Look around & you’ll see people struggling with employment issues, family issues, addiction issues, financial issues. Put yourself in their shoes. When you’ve been discouraged, wouldn’t you have loved for someone, even a stranger to offer a word of encouragement or a smile or an act of kindness? Who needs a blessing, a lift right now among your sphere of influence.

As followers of Jesus, we should live with not just the reality of how things are in the lives of people, communities, situations. We believe God is working & transforming people, communities, situations. Giving a blessing means we’re talking & acting like we believe that.

Now the other side of blessing is cursing. Just like we can lift people, community, situations, we can also curse & bring down people, community, situations. That’s another story for another day…


#Devo – The Messy Reason for #Christmas

nativity-sketchesWith the Beauty of the Christmas season, don’t forget the MESSY reason that it came about.

Here’s some verses we’ll be sharing around our table on Christmas Eve:

  • 1 Timothy 1:15 – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
  • 1 John 3:5 – “Jesus came to take away our sins…”
  • Luke 7:34 – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
  • Luke 19:10 – “the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
  • Matthew 20:28 – “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This Christmas, celebrate the fact that God was willing to enter the world to take on the messiness of our sin that we might know Him & experience His presence.

“Gift of Heaven, Our Savior” #worship

From the top of the Playlist… 


There’s a song in the air, there’s a star in the sky, hear a mother’s deep prayer, and a baby’s loud cry

 See the star rain its fire while the beautiful sing

For the manger of Bethlehem cradles the King


Gift of Heaven, our Savior, the word in flesh has come

 Precious Jesus, Redeemer, You’ve come to save the world


There’s a choir of joy and a marvelous birth, for the virgin’s sweet boy is the Lord of all the Earth


This baby boy will be our only victory, on the cross, on the cross

Sweet Jesus you will be our only victory, on the cross, on the cross

This baby boy will be our only victory, on the cross, on the cross

 Sweet Jesus you will be our only victory, on the cross, on the cross


You’ve come to save the world

 You’ve come to save the world

Emily Ward, Aaron Ivey, Caleb Price, Kyle Lent, Jimmie Ingram, Jimmy McNeal, Chris Collins, Justin Cofield.

© 2012 Austin Stone Worship (ASCAP) / 2012 Bird And Minion Music (BMI) / 2012 JCO Music Intl (BMI) (adm. by Austin Stone Music)

From the album A Day of Glory by Austin Stone.

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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: