Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

One of the fads of 1970s America was the motorcycle jump. This trend reached its high (and low) point on September 8, 1974. Thousands of spectators gathered around the Snake River Canyon in Idaho to see if Evel Knievel could jump across the chasm in a specially designed “sky cycle.” In the end, however, it was unsuccessful. Knievel made it only part of the way across the gulf before his parachute deployed and he dropped to the canyon floor below. Some spectators asked, “How far across the canyon did he get?” But that wasn’t the point. He didn’t make it all the way across, so he fell short of his goal.

This scene is a good illustration of sin. The Bible talks about sin in Romans 3:23, where Paul declared, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is capable of bridging the gap between God and ourselves by our own efforts, but the Savior came to do just that on our behalf. Christ perfectly fulfilled God’s standards, then gave His life on the cross to pay for our failure and wrongdoing. Where we could only fall short, Christ’s work, offered in love, accomplished all that was needed.

Our response is to trust Him and receive this matchless gift of salvation.

There is no other name on earth By whom salvation’s given Save Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, God’s precious gift from heaven. —Stairs
The cross of Christ bridges the gap we could never cross on our own.

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take muc h interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings. There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Damon Vix didn’t have to go to court to push Christmas out of the city of Santa Monica. He just joined the festivities.

The atheist’s anti-God message alongside a life-sized nativity display in a park overlooking the beach ignited a debate that burned brighter than any Christmas candle.

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

“It’s a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested,” said Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee that is suing.

Missing from the courtroom drama will be Vix and his fellow atheists, who are not parties to the case. Their role outside court highlights a tactical shift as atheists evolve into a vocal minority eager to get their non-beliefs into the public square as never before.

National atheist groups earlier this year took out full-page newspaper ads and hundreds of TV spots in response to the Catholic bishops’ activism around women’s health care issues and are gearing up to battle for their own space alongside public Christmas displays in small towns across America this season.

“In recent years, the tactic of many in the atheist community has been, if you can’t beat them, join them,” said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and director of the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Education Project in Washington. “If these church groups insist that these public spaces are going to be dominated by a Christian message, we’ll just get in the game — and that changes everything.”

In the past, atheists primarily fought to uphold the separation of church and state through the courts. The change underscores the conviction held by many nonbelievers that their views are gaining a foothold, especially among young adults.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last month that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years. Atheists took heart from the report, although Pew researchers stressed that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious.”

“We’re at the bottom of the totem pole socially, but we have muscle and we’re flexing it,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. “Ignore our numbers at your peril.”

The trouble in Santa Monica began three years ago, when Vix applied for and was granted a booth in Palisades Park alongside the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, from Mary’s visit from the Angel Gabriel to the traditional crèche.

Vix hung a simple sign that quoted Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies.” The other side read “Happy Solstice.” He repeated the display the following year but then upped the stakes significantly.

In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as a homage to the “Pastafarian religion,” which would include an artistic representation of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The secular coalition won 18 of 21 spaces. The two others went to the traditional Christmas displays and one to a Hanukkah display.

The atheists used half their spaces, displaying signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and said: “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?”

Most of the signs were vandalized and in the ensuing uproar, the city effectively ended a tradition that began in 1953 and earned Santa Monica one of its nicknames, the City of the Christmas Story.

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee argues in its lawsuit that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn’t trump the Christians’ right to free speech.

“If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they’re free to do that — but they can’t interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum,” said William Becker, attorney for the committee. “Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive.”

The city doesn’t prohibit churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or even staging a play about the birth of Jesus and churches can always set up a nativity on private land, Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in an email.

The decision to ban the displays also saves the city, which had administered the cumbersome lottery process used to award booths, both time and money while preserving the park’s aesthetics, she said.

For his part, Vix is surprised — and slightly amused — at the legal battle spawned by his solitary act but doesn’t plan anything further.

“That was such a unique and blatant example of the violation of the First Amendment that I felt I had to act,” said the 44-year-old set builder. “If I had another goal, it would be to remove the `under God’ phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance — but that’s a little too big for me to take on for right now.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion, but also states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That has been interpreted by courts as providing for separation of church and state, barring government bodies from promoting, endorsing or funding religion or religious institutions.

You’ve no doubt heard of “Black Friday,” the day after  Thanksgiving that features, along with countless sales, the more-than-occasional  trampling of shoppers by their frenzied peers.

In many ways, “Black Friday” has become a bigger deal than Thanksgiving. So  much so that many major retailers have announced that they are opening their  doors on Thursday.

The hope is that the possibility of buying something you don’t really need  for a little less than you would pay a few weeks later will help people work off  the turkey and pumpkin pie and get down to some serious Christmas shopping.

The problem is that it isn’t Christmas yet-at least not for Christians.

The weeks leading up to Christmas day are properly called Advent in Western  Christianity, from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.”[i]

Adventus was the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia, which the New  Testament most often used to refer to Jesus’ second coming. In antiquity,  parousia was usually associated with the arrival of royalty: the leaders of a  city went outside the city gates to meet the Emperor and escort him back into  the city.

Thus, for the Christian, Advent is about preparing to greet our King. And it  is a time for both looking back to Jesus’ first coming and looking forward to  His second coming in glory.

Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season, a time for reflection and  repentance. If we’re honest with ourselves, what Titus 2 calls “our blessed  hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus  Christ,”-should provoke both joy and a bit of dread. It’s a time for asking  ourselves whether we truly are “a people that are [Christ’s] very own, eager to  do what is good.”

If this doesn’t put you in the mood for shopping, well, congratulations! You  are starting to “get” Advent.

The other emotion associated with Advent is yearning. Specifically, yearning  for God to fulfill His promises to His people and to set right what has gone  terribly wrong.

This yearning permeates perhaps the greatest of all Advent hymns, “O Come, O  Come Emmanuel.” It’s a paraphrase of parts of the liturgy dating back to at  least the Middle Ages. Each verse invokes biblical titles for Christ-Emmanuel,  Root of Jesse, Day Spring, etc.-and then rehearses why His people yearn for His  presence among them.

Another Advent hymn, “Creator of the Stars of Night,” which dates from the  seventh century, captures the season’s emphasis on both Christ’s first and  second comings. After expressing the yearning at the heart of the season, it  proclaims “Thou, grieving that the ancient curse, should doom to death a  universe, hast found the medicine, full of grace, to save and heal a ruined  race.”

It then goes on to say, “At whose dread Name, majestic now, all knees must  bend, all hearts must bow; and things celestial Thee shall own, and things  terrestrial Lord alone.”

There’s a lot going on in these hymns, which is why my colleague John  Stonestreet has produced a marvelous DVD and CD teaching series on the hymns of  Advent. It’s called “He Has Come,” and contains John’s “Two-Minute Warning”  videos, study guide by T. M. Moore, “BreakPoint” commentaries by Chuck Colson on  Advent, and a bonus CD with some of the great Advent hymns. We have it for you  at I hope you get a copy for you and your family.

This year, Advent begins on Sunday, December 2nd. Embrace the season! But  whatever you do, do not let the culture define this most Christian of times for you.  That would be a truly black Friday.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” Hebrews 13:8-9

After Rosie O’Donnell announced that she was “coming out of the closet,” I watched with interest as Bill O’Reilly interviewed her on his TV program, The O’Reilly Factor, during a feature that he affectionately dubs “The No Spin Zone.” He asked if she felt threatened by religious leaders who spoke out against the gay movement. “No,” she replied, because she knew that Jesus taught love, kindness, compassion and understanding. When O’Reilly asked Rosie if she thought God would judge her for her lifestyle, she calmly said no, because after all she had endured while growing up, Jesus would smile on the fact that she could love at all.

As I listened I thought, Wow, Jesus is being spun big time right here in the “no spin zone”!

But spinning Jesus is big sport these days. Not only do people twist Him to fit their agendas, but movie producers and authors reduce Him to a mere mortal, spinning Him in affairs with a prostitute and a marriage to Mary Magdalene. Muslims, while denying His deity, claim Him as one of their prophets. Politicians evoke His name when it might get them a few votes. And religious liberals defrock Him of His divine credentials, His miracle-working power, and His role as righteous Judge. Which relegates Him to the role of history’s leading Mr. Nice Guy. And He is nice, but if that’s all you have, then you don’t have Jesus. At least not the One who walked our planet 2,000 years ago.

When spin doctors go to work on Jesus, left on the editing room floor are facts like His judgment of the living and the dead, and that He will say things like, “Depart from me, you who are cursed” (Matthew 25:41).

Rosie is a classic example. She’s on the money when it comes to Jesus preaching love and compassion. Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies.” If you have one of those cool Bibles with the red ink that shows the words of Christ, you could skim through the New Testament and find over a dozen places where Jesus instructed us to love both friends and enemies.

But Jesus is also the ultimate spiritual referee, as noted in John 5:27, where the text tells us that God has given Christ the authority to judge. For Jesus to fit into Rosie’s mold, He would have to deny   1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which says, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral . . . nor homosexual offenders . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.” And it’s not just sexual sin, but it’s all the ways that we fall short of God’s holy standards that leave us in jeopardy before Jesus as Judge and King.

So, beware of any attempts to dish out Jesus as something less then He really is. Hebrews 13:8-9 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” A spin doctor’s clever quip about Jesus can’t change who He has always been and always will be. It would be a bad day to have lived as though there were no accountability for sin, only to find out too late that Jesus is the Judge!

But here’s the really good news. It’s also true that the Judge came to our planet to pay our penalty for sin and to become our Savior and friend (John 3:16-21). That’s something I’d like to tell Rosie—or anyone else for that matter!


  • Why do people want to put their own spin on Jesus? Have you ever done this, even if it has only been in your own mind?
  • This week, look for opportunities to keep Christ out of the “spin zone” by getting the truth out there. Post it on your blog; take out an ad in the newspaper; rent a billboard if you have to!
  • Memorize Colossians 1:15-20. When you are uncertain about what the world says about Christ, measure it against God’s Word.
  • Find a Bible that shows Jesus’ words in red letters. Take some time to read Jesus’ recorded words. In your journal, write down what His words reveal about the true Christ.

A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the church. It was given by one of our members in honor of his wife.

Next Sunday, a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and get a piece of paper.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

On the main page of the Internet web site for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada: “In a show of near anonymity, the convention approved full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Father is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

Announcement: “The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.”

The agenda was adopted.  The minutes were approved.  The financial secretary gave a grief report.

Stewardship Offertory: “Jesus Paid It All.”

A Christian can be crushed gazing at the picture of Mary standing at the foot of the cross, watching her beloved son suffocate and die. But in that vision, she stands there for hours, patiently enduring her suffering. For two millennia, she has been a role model for Christians, a woman who practiced obedience in the most difficult of human circumstances, with fervent hope for what this sacrifice will offer all mankind as it struggles with sin.


This is why it seems so hard to reflect that vision of patience when black-hearted “artists” practice character assassination on the Blessed Virgin Mary to strip her of every virtue: her patience, her obedience, her courageous love and her prayerful faith in God. On Nov. 13, Simon and Schuster launched a vicious little 96-page novella titled “The Testament of Mary.”

The author, an Irish ex-Catholic named Colm Toibin, presents us instead with a Bible-burning “reimagination” of an alienated Mary who fled the scene of her son’s death in fear for her own life. Two decades after the Resurrection — or was there one? — this anti-Mary is filled with bitterness and rage. She describes herself as “unhinged” and bubbling with contempt for her son’s demented followers, to the extreme that she threatens the Gospel writers with a knife. She lives as a bandit, stealing to survive.

Her son’s followers must be stopped from making Jesus a god, “or else everything that happened will become a sweet story that will grow poisonous as bright berries that hang low on trees.” Toibin describes the scene of the crucifixion in mercenary terms: “It was like a marketplace, but more intense somehow, the act that was about to take place was going to make a profit for both seller and buyer.”

Christ‘s disciples are “fools, twitchers, malcontents, stammerers,” while her son’s preaching sounded to her “false, and his tone all stilted, and I could not bear to hear him, it was like something grinding and it set my teeth on edge.”

There is no God in her father or her son. She proclaims of the death of Jesus only: “when you say that he redeemed the world, I will say that it was not worth it. It was not worth it.”

Toibin’s last book of literary criticism was titled “New Ways to Kill Your Mother.” In this book, he murders the mother of God.

In a positive critique in The New York Times, reviewer Mary Gordon explained “The making of the Gospels is portrayed not as an act of sacred remembrance but as an invasion and a theft. The Evangelists — which are they? Luke, perhaps, or John? — are portrayed as menacing intruders, with the lurking shadowy presence of Stalin’s secret police.”

In our nation’s most prestigious newspaper, an author and his feminist reviewer can conjure up the apostles of Christ as Stalinist torturers. But when a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad as a freedom-of-speech test in 2005, the Times would not show them as “a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols.”

This is what Toibin’s book is: a gratuitous assault on Christianity and its central drama of salvation. The Times reviewer recognized that and enjoyed it.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has given Christianity a good name. None of the negatives that have made Christianity a byword for tyranny, cruelty and licensed hatred have attached to her,” Gordon began. “The problem with all this is that it has led to centuries of sentimentality — blue and white Madonnas with folded hands and upturned eyes, a stick with which to beat independent women.”

Washington Post book reviewer Ron Charles was less laudatory: “If you’d enjoy a tale predicated on the idea that Christian faith is a toxic collection of ‘foolish anecdotes’ based on a ‘fierce catastrophe,’ Merry Christmas!”

Charles found it refreshing this garbage bag of words “hasn’t sparked outrage or boycotts — a reassuring testament to the West’s tolerance for such artistic license and Toibin’s prominence. Some of us are a lot calmer nowadays about creative re-imaginings of sacred figures.”

He somehow left Catholics out of the picture as he expressed relief that “Evangelicals in this country may finally have caught on to the fact that fiery condemnation plays right into the marketing plans of books that would otherwise ascend into oblivion.” He notes Toibin’s tome has been “widely praised in England, but Toibin is a larger presence there, and churchgoing isn’t.”

Somehow, he’s not making the obvious connection: Toibin and other God-hating authors are consciously conspiring to empty out the churches, and Christian believers cannot always refuse to condemn them. Speaking up for Christ and his mother (and ours) is a solemn duty, not an option.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.