Christmas
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By In Interviews, Podcast, Theology

Episode 20: A Conversation about Advent

In this Episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and Mr. Sean Johnson discuss the next season of the Church Calendar: Advent. The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians.

Pastor Uri explains how this section of the church calendar helps give us a picture of the Gospel in a Biblical promise and fulfillment paradigm. “Advent and Christmas work together… and when we skip Advent we’re missing that first portion of the Gospel. “He also recommends the book: The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by Joan Chittister.

Mr. Sean Johnson continues to emphasize the importance of observing Advent with, “Anything that you want to enjoy seems to deserve the service of expectation… Anything that you can await is going to be enjoyed more.” Both believe that Advent adds to the importance and significance of our greater Christmas feast. Brito reminds us that: “If we have a major event like Christmas on December 25 and we simply arrive at Christmas without haven’t spent the season prior to that in preparation for Christmas, I think over the years—it trivializes the event. It becomes something you do, not something you expect.”

Advent 2017 will begin on Sunday, December 3 and ends on Sunday, December 24. The liturgical color for Advent is purple, Kuyperian Contributor Steve Macias also wrote on its significance here.

 

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By In Theology

Two Births of Jesus

One night in Nazareth, God became man in the virgin womb of Mary, a young lady betrothed to Joseph. Three trimesters later, Jesus was born on Christmas day. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes (Lk. 2:7). Gentile worshipers brought him gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mt. 2:11). The infant’s life was threatened by an evil king, but he escaped death (Mt. 2:13-15).

Thirty-three years later, Jesus had his life threatened again by evil rulers (Mt. 26:65-68). Instead of escaping, he volunteered to die (Jn. 10:18). At his death in Jerusalem, Israelite worshipers prepared spices and oils for him (Lk. 23:55-56; Jn. 19:39-40). He was wrapped in fine linens and buried in a virgin tomb, a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea (Mt. 27:57-60; Lk. 23:53). Three days later, he was reborn on Easter Sunday.

As we celebrate the nativity of our Lord, let us recall the glorious providence of God. Let us remember that not only does Christ’s first coming look forward to his second coming, but that his birth out of the womb foreshadows his birth out of the tomb. King Jesus conquered death and now sits on heaven’s throne. We join his mother in singing these words from the Magnificat: (more…)

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By In Theology

Mary – God’s Glory and the Female Body

Annunciazione, Matthias Stom

Annunciazione, Matthias Stom

God could have given Jesus a body in any way that He chose. It is important to consider this, and to believe that the way He chose for Jesus to come into the world as a human man has great significance for us as women. Mary has been referred to as the ark of the new covenant; her womb becomes the holy place where God chooses to dwell and to come near to His people. God honors the female body by creating in it a place for glory to dwell. When he first created woman, He had this plan in mind.

As I was considering Mary’s role in the incarnation of Jesus as is seen in Luke 1, I kept thinking of Jesus saying, “I go to prepare a place for you…” in assuring and comforting His followers that there was a special place, a beautiful home especially prepared for them. It is beautiful to consider that when God prepared a place for Jesus – a special place, a beautiful home, a secret, glorious, mysterious dwelling place – He lovingly chose the female body to be that place. In our culture, for years and years, there has been shame upon shame heaped on the female body, but this is not from God.

God, from the very beginning, honored our bodies by creating them female, able to conceive and carry and bring forth life. Each one of us walks around with a hidden picture of the ark of the covenant – by God’s design. We are walking pictures of the hidden glory of God. Treasure your body, treasure your femininity, your sexuality that God has given with great purpose to bring pleasure to Himself and to reveal Himself to the world. Whether or not we have ever had a child, ever been married, our physical bodies are glorious pictures of the holiness of God.

Regarding Mary specifically, it is wonderful to look at her response to the role that God announces to her in bringing about the incarnation of Jesus. I have always loved Mary’s words, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” I have always thought that this statement should be interpreted as a humble, sweet resignation to the hard, scary, and yet wonderful, honorable thing that God was telling her she had been chosen to do. And, I imagine, that is true. However, having been reflecting on these words more and more, I’m starting to wonder if Mary was saying, “Amen! Yes, I receive it. May it be unto me to be the ‘favored one,’ may it be true that the ‘Lord is with [me]’; let it be true that I ‘have found favor with God.’”

I think the ability to receive the blessing of the Lord takes at least as much humility as receiving hardship or suffering from His hand. May we, like Mary, have the humility to know we are not worthy of His blessing but to acknowledge that we want it and that He has the right to bestow it on us even in our unworthiness because that is what HE wants, what HE chooses. Saying, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” means having the humility to allow God to do great things in our lives that we DO NOT DESERVE as well as having the humility to allow God to do hard things in our lives.

Two questions
Are there areas in your life that you feel God has promised to bless you that you have been unwilling to receive because you feel you are not worthy (“How will this be?” Or “How can this be?”) Remember, as the angel said to Mary, “…nothing will be impossible with God.”

Would considering your femaleness as a picture of the dwelling place of God bring healing to you in any way?

A suggested application
Please consider spending time praying the words of Mary in The Magnificat during this Christmas season, asking God to allow your soul to magnify Him and to bring to mind specific ways in which He has done the following for you:
• Looked on the humble estate of his servant
• Allowing generations to call you blessed
• How he who is mighty has done great things for you
• Shown you how his name is holy
• Shown you and your generations mercy
• Shown strength with his arm
• Scattered the proud thoughts of your heart
• Brought down the mighty from their thrones
• Exalted those of humble estate
• Filled the hungry with good things
• Helped you in remembrance of his mercy
• Any other phrases of the Magnificat that jump out at you as words to speak back to God, rejoicing in God your Savior!<>mobi onlineинструменты интернет продвижения

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By In Culture

Kirk Cameron is saving Christmas with Douglas Wilson

Kirk Cameron Presents “Saving Christmas”

While Kirk Cameron’s “Left Behind” legacy hit the box office just over a month ago, now featuring Nicholas Cage, Cameron has been busy promoting a different kind of Christian movie. Saving Christmas is Cameron’s big screen attempt to restore our faith in the Christmas season. Cameron’s film hopes to provide,”a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season.” Loaded with the tagline, “Put Christ back in Christmas,” I look forward to seeing what this movie has to offer.

Watch the Theatrical Trailer for Saving Christmas on Youtube. 

The Advent of Doug Wilson

Saving Christmas, which is set to debut on Nov. 14, was recently promoted on a video segment of Doug Wilson’s “ask Doug?” where Kirk revealed that it was Wilson’s writing that motivated the project. “One of the books that had a big influence on what’s in the movie was Doug’s God Rest Ye: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything,” said Cameron.

Watch God Rest Ye Merry | Kirk Cameron and Doug Wilson on Vimeo

Buy “God Rest Ye Merry” Today

Pastor Doug Wilson’s book is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the profound symbolism found in the Christmas Holiday or who simply want to read about how Santa Claus once punched a man in the face at a church council. As Advent approaches, Wilson’s short book also features a read-aloud meditation and prayer for each day of our Advent season. (Advent season begins on Sunday, November 30, 2014.)

Click here to buy God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything

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By In Culture, Politics, Theology

Two Births of Jesus

One night in Nazareth, God became man in the virgin womb of Mary, a young lady betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth. Three trimesters later, Jesus was born on Christmas day. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes (Lk. 2:7). Gentile worshipers brought him gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mt. 2:11). The infant’s life was threatened by an evil king, but he escaped death (Mt. 2:13-15).

Thirty-three years later, Jesus had his life threatened again by evil rulers (Mt. 26:65-68). Instead of escaping, he volunteered to die (Jn. 10:18). At his death in Jerusalem, Israelite worshipers prepared spices and oils for him (Lk. 23:55-56; Jn. 19:39-40). He was wrapped in fine linens and buried in a virgin tomb, a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea (Mt. 27:57-60; Lk. 23:53). Three days later, he was reborn on Easter Sunday.

As we celebrate the nativity of our Lord today, let us recall the glorious providence of God. Let us remember that not only does Christ’s first coming look forward to his second coming, but that his birth out of the womb foreshadows his birth out of the tomb. King Jesus conquered death and now sits on heaven’s throne. We join his mother in singing these words from the Magnificat: (more…)

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By In Culture, Theology

Christmas in the Tropics

DR beachby Marc Hays

As I write, I sit under an umbrella on the patio behind a house that I cannot afford. Somehow, my brother-in-law, Steve Griffin, a missionary with Daystar Baptist Missions, has connections that put us here for around the cost of a decent hotel. The villa where we’re staying could just as likely be found on the Mediterranean as the Caribbean, but I don’t know that it could be any more exotic. The sky is clear and blue; the sun is shining and warm; and palm trees are the norm. There’s always a chance of rain and never a chance of snow.

My brother-in-law and his family do not live in this town. They live about 15 minutes east in the city of San Pedro de Macoris. San Pedro is a city teeming with people – about 250,000 of them. It is dirty, and it is loud, like many cities. There must be 50 motorcycles for every car, and at least 4 people for every motorcycle. It is common to see a family of four riding down the street on the same motorcycle.Dominican-Republic-Pillion-Crowded

I like to drive, but I am glad I am not driving here. There are lines on some roads, but a painted line has never kept a car in it’s lane. There are lights at some intersections, but a light has never stopped a car, or a motorcycle, yet. I have not witnessed a traffic accident, but I have seen thousands of near-misses. It seems like every car or motorcycle you pass is a near-miss.

The buildings here are all made of concrete. They build a single-story house like we build sky-scrapers in the States. The support structure is made of steel reinforced, concrete columns. The walls are made of concrete blocks and finished with a layer of stucco. The floors are concrete. The ceilings are concrete. The roofs are concrete covered in tiles. Wood rots. Concrete doesn’t. They laugh at us for building houses with “sticks.” The termites and the humidity will not allow for stick-built homes here.

When you build a house in San Pedro, you need more blocks than just the ones for your house. You need blocks for the walls that encircle your house. Virtually every home is surrounded by a concrete wall, and entry to the property is secured by a steel gate. Due to the alarmingly high number of petty thefts, even the doors and windows of the house are covered in iron bars. The Dominicans have done well in adapting though. Many of the homes’ anti-theft protection is made of intricately woven patterns of iron and steel, painted in blacks and golds. The bars and gates are as beautiful as they are necessary.

But, oh, how the gospel could change all that. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Eph 4:28) Oh, how the gospel will change all that. The earth will be full of the knowledge and glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Is. 11:9; Hab. 2:14) A city with no need for walls may sound like some utopian ideal, but it’s not. It’s much simpler than that. It’s heaven on earth.

This Christmas, we remember that when Jesus began to grow inside the womb of Mary, heaven and earth overlapped. It was small at first, but God likes to start small. He starts with a trickle from under the altar. (Ezek 47) Jesus grew and the overlap grew with him. Kings murdered; demons railed; hypocrites pontificated; traitors kissed; witnesses lied; and soldiers nailed; but no one could stop the overlap from growing. The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers took counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed (Ps 2), but the water had already begun to flow out from under the altar. Immanuel, God with us, was here, and he was not returning to the Father unsatisfied. The Kingdom was his for the taking; all he had to do was die, and die he did. The veil was torn in two. The waters that flowed from under the altar had overflowed the threshold of the temple and were becoming a river.

But Jesus did not stay dead; for death had no power over him. He arose, and the river swelled deeper than the knees, the waist, the chest. The overlap between heaven and earth was ever growing. Jesus returned to the Father and the Holy Spirit was sent. The river from the temple made it all the way to the sea, and the salt waters were made fresh. Jews and Gentiles became brothers and sisters. The middle wall of partition was taken down, and the overlap grew.

But how will the Dominicans, or anyone else, know that Jesus came so that they could stop building walls? How will they learn that a poor man with a crust of bread that he bought is happier than a poor man with a stolen plasma screen? How did the people of Bethlehem find out that heaven was overlapping earth in a stable just outside of town? “When they (the shepherds) had seen this (Jesus in the manger), they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Lk 2:17,18) How will they hear unless there’s a preacher? (Rom 10:14)

This Christmas, I’m happy to be in the tropics, meeting some fellow Gentiles that Jesus came to redeem. I’m glad I got to give my children the gift of seeing other Christians, other people, in other places. This Christmas, I’m glad that Jesus sent preachers into my life and is sending preachers into every nation until the overlap is complete – until the earth is as full of the knowledge and glory of God as the waters cover the sea through the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Go to www.drvision.org to find out more about the mission organization that Steve and Julia are working with.

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