Showing posts from December, 2011

The Christmas Gospel

Christmas 101 = Gospel 101

Luke 2:10-11. The angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." 

These words announced by an angel that first historic Christmas night (and reiterated by Charlie Brown and millions of others since) provide for us the heart of the gospel. As a matter of fact, the word gospel means good news. The actual Greek rendering of this phrase employed by the angel is: "I evangelize or pronounce to you great joy." The heartbeat of the Christmas story is the announcement of a message of great joy.

And notice the gospel is a message of great joy intended for all people: shepherds, Magi, unwed mothers, insecure fathers, politicians, beggars, moral people, immoral people, blue collar workers, alcoholics, prostitutes, soldiers, auditors, children, victims, liars, poor people, religious leaders, angry people,…

Repent (and continue to do so)

At its most root level, the word repentance means a change of mind.  In the original language, the NT word is related to turning - specifically turning from sin and turning to God.  Repentance includes a change of heart that results in a change of action (that may or may not always be appreciated instantaneously). 

Other concepts related to the idea of repentance include: sorrow over our sin, forsaking our sin, pursuing what is right, and right decision-making. Other natural feelings often related to an attitude of repentance include: guilt, remorse, regret, sorrow, hurt, and a multitude of other human emotions.

Defining repentance on paper is easy. And it is also simple for us to prescribe what repentance looks like for other people: stop doing __________ and start doing __________.  When it comes to other people's sins, repentance is fairly black-and-white for us.  I am a "bottom-line" type person so it is easy for me to assume what repentance looks like for others. I…

God isn't Done with Us

One of the fascinating aspects of the Jonah story is the fact that even after Jonah's face-to-fish encounter, he still does not seem to get it.  Jonah is regurgitated on the seashore and instructed by God to fulfill his original calling - go preach to the Assyrians.  So after receiving a monumental second chance (and quite the fish tale in the process) and after what appears to be a heartfelt time of repentance, Jonah heads to Ninevah and proclaims God's message. But from all indications, he does so not because he has a heartfelt desire for the Assyrians to turn to God. He does so because life in the intestines of a giant fish is the opposite of pleasant.

Even after God's incredible work of salvific grace in Jonah's life, he is still a disgruntled prophet who obeys more out of fear of what could happen than out of an intense love for God or a passion to see people far from God turn to God.  In essence, Jonah is still a work in progress. As a matter of fact when the boo…