It’s Not about the Manger

December 25, 2007

From Chuck Colson and Breakpoint.

“What image does the mention of Christmas typically conjure up? For most of us, it is a babe lying in a manger while Mary and Joseph, angels, and assorted animals look on.

Heartwarming picture, but Christmas is about far more than a Child’s birth—even the Savior’s birth. It is about the Incarnation: God Himself, Creator of heaven and earth, invading planet earth, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

It is a staggering thought. Think of it: The Word—that is, Logos in the Greek, which meant all the knowledge that could be known—the plan of creation—that is, ultimate reality—becomes mere man? And that He was not born of an earthly king and queen, but of a virgin of a backwater village named Nazareth? Certainly God delights in confounding worldly wisdom—and human expectations.

Thirty years after His humble birth, Jesus increased the Jews’ befuddlement when He read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor . . . to proclaim release to the captives . . . to set free those who are downtrodden . . . ” Jesus then turned the scroll back and announced: “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In effect, the carpenter’s Son had just announced that He was the King.

So, yes, the birth of Jesus is a glorious moment, and the manger scene brings comfort and joy and Christmas cheer. But it should also inspire a holy terror in us: that this baby is God incarnate, the King who came to set the captives free—through His violent, bloody death on the cross as atonement for us, His unworthy subjects.

It is through the Incarnation God sets His grand plan in motion. He invades planet earth, establishing His reign through Christ’s earthly ministry. And then Christ leaves behind an occupying force, His Church, which is to carry on the work of redemption until His return and the kingdom’s final triumph.

Do we get this? I am afraid most of us are so preoccupied, distracted by last-minute Christmas shopping and consumerism, that we fail to see God’s cosmic plan of redemption in which we, as fallen creatures, are directly involved.

The average Christian may not “get” this announcement, but those locked behind bars do. Whenever I preach in the prisons, and I read Christ’s inaugural sermon, Luke 4:18, and when I quote His promise of freedom for prisoners, they often raise their arms and cheer. The message of Jesus means freedom and victory for those who once had no hope. They are not distracted by the encumbrance of wealth and comfort.

People in the developing world get it, too. Whenever I have shared this message with the poor and oppressed people overseas, I see eyes brightening. Stripped of all material blessings, exploited by earthly powers, they long for the bold new kingdom of Christ.

Today is Christmas: Go ahead and enjoy singing about, and celebrating, the birth of the Savior. Set up a manger scene in your home. But do not forget this earth-shaking truth: The birth of the Baby in the manger was the thrilling signal that God had invaded the planet. And that gives us the real reason to celebrate Christmas.

For all of the staff of BreakPoint, this is Chuck Colson, in Washington, wishing you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas.”

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Winner of presidential Christmas ad is Ron

December 24, 2007

From Chuck Norris and worldnetdaily.com.

“Are you about worn out by all the television commercials you’ve been seeing, mostly about politics? Well, I don’t blame you,” said GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in the opening of his Christmas television greeting to Iowans.

“At this time of year, sometimes it’s nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends.”

A few decades ago, those descriptive Christmas words would be as benign as Santa making a list and checking it twice. Today, however, they are regarded as Christmas cultural and political sparring jargon.

Immediately upon release, political pundits began trying to punch holes in Mike’s goodwill cheer, while the other presidential candidates purchased festive clothes and scurried to produce competing Christmas commercials.

Like a World Combat League fight, the Christmas ad war had begun.

When the Christmas culture war hits the presidential race

Of course, in today’s political climate, no Christmas broadcast is a simple yuletide greeting. Even it is dissected for a malevolent motif and ornamental fluff.

Critics from the right and left started swinging at Mike, accusing him of sending subliminal messages in cross-shaped window panes and rallying the religious right by his call to focus on “what really matters.” Complaints from religious intolerance to Christian jihad flew out from both camps.

Some regarded the publicized Christmas wish as an appeal to evangelicals and an indirect attack on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism.

Others like rival Republican candidate Ron Paul labeled it with these extreme comments to Fox News, “It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says, ‘when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.’ Now I don’t know whether that’s a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross, like he is the only Christian or implying that subtly. So, I don’t think I would ever use anything like that.” (I think very few Americans would agree with Paul’s summary as a “fair assessment” of Mike’s heartfelt Christmas salutation.)

Huckabee’s response to his critics was simply to explain that he referred to Jesus Christ in his unscripted Christmas commercial because, “considering the meaning of the holiday, ‘I don’t know what else to say about Christmas.'” Should he have spoken about Santa or reindeer?

Imitation still the best form of flattery

The other presidential candidates followed suite by reducing their political negativity of opponents, putting on some Christmas garb, and sounding a little like ol’ saint Nick – I mean Mike.

Rudy Guilian tried on the Santa-comedy coat with his fruitcake commercial.

Ron Paul chose a safe, neutral holiday greeting.

Mitt Romney sent out a family Christmas card.

John Edwards appealed to the poor in spirit and pocketbook.

Barack Obama called Americans to “all have a stake in each other.”

And Hillary Clinton advanced universalism to an all-new yuletide and socialist level.

And the winner is Ron…

So the question is: who won the Christmas culture ad war? My answer will probably surprise you: Ronald Reagan.

One of my pastors recently shared with me a video of Reagan, who reminded us on Dec. 23, 1981, of the real reason for the Christmas season – during a time when political correctness wasn’t as much a part of the packaging. In a nationally televised Christmas proclamation from the White House, Reagan declared:

At this special time of year, we all renew our sense of wonder in recalling the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem nearly 2,000 years ago.Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great and good philosopher and teacher. Others of us believe in the divinity of the Child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace. Yes, we questioned why he who could perform miracles chose to come among us as a helpless babe, but maybe that was his first miracle, his first great lesson that we should learn to care for one another.

Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love Jesus taught us. Like the shepherds and wise men at that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times, our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God’s help, we’ve never lost our way. …

So let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication. Christmas means so much because of One Special Child. …

Imagine if some president or candidate were to say those words today? He would probably be impeached if president or publicly flogged by political commentators if running for such a position.

Reagan sounded more like a preacher than a politician. He conveyed more about Christ in Christmas in this couple-minute December address than all the current candidates combined in their entire campaigns.

And we complain today about one reference to Christ in a presidential Christmas ad?

There’s a reason Ed Rollins, who led Reagan to victory in 1984 and is now campaign manager for Huckabee, draws significant similarities between Mike and the president many call “the greatest in the 20th century,” saying “I was with the old Reagan, and I can promise you this man comes as close as anyone to filling those shoes.”

What really matters

Friends, it is Christmas, and we’ve hit an all-time low when prospective presidents cannot jump off the negative verbal slurry sleigh and post a bit of Christmas cheer on televisions across any state or even this nation. Equally tragic is a contemporary culture that accuses a presidential candidate, who wishes others a Christ-filled Christmas in the heart of December, of playing the religious card.

Mike Huckabee’s words still stand, “and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends.”

From my household to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christ-filled Christmas. And we bow our heads in prayer in particular for all who serve the cause of freedom and are away from their family and friends at this time of year. Thank you for giving us the greatest gift of all – another superb example of the type of sacrifice Christ showed – “no greater love than one who lays down his life for a friend.”


Boca group crusades to ‘keep Christ in Christmas’

December 21, 2007

From Lois K. Solomon and sun-sentinel.com


Sophomore, Kristen Leja, of Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton , is offered a car magnet for sale during lunch. Students are selling the magnets as part of national campaign to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Christians are putting up billboards and selling magnets and trying to increase people’s awareness about the religious, vs. the commercial, nature of the Christmas season. (Sun-Sentinel/Carline Jean / December 6, 2007)

“Billboards and car magnets are urging Palm Beach County drivers to “Keep Christ in Christmas,” a renewed campaign spurred by an influx of what organizers call anti-Christian expressions in American society.

More than 30,000 “Keep Christ in Christmas” car magnets have been sold by the Pilot Program To Keep Christ In Christmas, a Boca Raton-based group formed in October that has recruited several denominations to join the campaign.

Local chapters of the Knights of Columbus and students at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton also are selling magnets. Two bright red billboards, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, have been posted in Wellington and West Palm Beach.

Organizers say they are disgusted with society’s increasing nonsectarian nature, especially at a time of year they believe should focus on Jesus and his amazing birth story.

“The atheists are going to conquer,” said Kay Mansolill, a leader of the Boca Raton committee. “We are in constant battle with the secular world.”

Young Christians say they also are frustrated.

“I’m tired of seeing ‘X-mas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ at stores,” said Jessica Aquino, 15, a Pope John Paul II sophomore.

Several trends are galvanizing Christians who believe the faith is under assault.

A new film starring Nicole Kidman, The Golden Compass, a children’s fantasy about a girl who rescues kidnapped children from horrific experiments in a land far away, opened last week. Christ Fellowship, a mega-church with campuses in Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, e-mailed its congregation to urge a boycott of the movie, calling it “anti-church.”

At the same time, an abundance of books on atheism have hit the best-seller lists, climaxing recently with Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Salvation Army bell ringers were prohibited at some stores. Santa Claus and creches were banned from some malls.

The village of Wellington attracted national attention in 2005 when its council debated whether to include the Holy Family in its holiday display. Mike Romeo, a Wellington resident and former Knights of Columbus grand knight, said the incident inspired him to raise money for the billboards this year.

“The secular progressive left is taking Christmas traditions away from us,” said Romeo, who said too many schools have replaced Christmas trees with snowflakes and snowmen.

“We are building a movement,” Romeo said.

The Knights of Columbus, the national Catholic fraternal group based in New Haven, Conn., has been sponsoring Keep Christ in Christmas programs since the 1980s, spokesman Peter Sonski said. He said the organization always has encouraged chapters to develop their own initiatives.

Romeo said the response to the billboard campaign has been so positive — he raised $8,000 — that he wants to expand it next year to increase the participation of other faiths.

Mansolill said she also wants to expand next year.

The pilot program sells magnets, writes letters to the editor and works to get nativity scenes placed in malls.

“I didn’t expect the extremely positive reaction we are getting,” Mansolill said. “I’m hoping a few years from now our committee won’t be needed anymore because we were so successful.”


Why The Christmas Wars Matter

December 21, 2007

From Gary Bauer and humanevents.com.

“The secular grinches were out in full force again this pre-Christmas season.  But it is not just crèches and twinkling lights that the secularists want to ban — their ultimate goal is the elimination off all faith-based thought from public life.   

Barbara Walters, co-host of ABC’s The View, spent much of a recent show grumbling about receiving a Christmas card from President and Mrs. Bush that included a Bible verse.  Walters said, “This is what interested me, that it is a religious card.  Usually, in the past when I have received a Christmas card, it’s been ‘happy holidays’ and so on… ”  The scripture verse Walters was so irritated about says:  “You alone are the Lord.  You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.  You gave life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” 

Walters seemed astonished that on a religious holiday someone would want to send a religious greeting card.  Following her rant, and even as her co-hosts attempted to steer the conversation towards a new topic, Walters repeatedly returned to her bafflement over the Christmas card.  “Don’t you think it’s a little interesting that the president of all the people is sending out a religious Christmas card?” Walters asked, as if a proper Christmas card could be anything other than religious. 

Walters then showed her co-hosts a card sent to her by Elton John that displayed angels on the cover and wished people “Happy Holidays.”  Of course, a greeting card that wished recipients “Merry Christmas” would have been a curious choice for the man who has stated that he thinks all organized religions should be banned.  And one cannot help but think that Walters’ real aim was to find yet another way of bashing President Bush and his faith.  But Walters’ ostensible point was that Christmas should have nothing to do with anything as “divisive” as the birth of the Prince of Peace.  Rather, to liberal elites like Walters, Christmas should be an all-inclusive celebration, a time for people of all cultures and religions to unite.

This year saw numerous other examples of bah-humbuggery from those who consider the public recognition of Christmas an existential threat to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  A special task force in a Colorado city recommended banning red and green lights because the colors are too religious for city sponsorship; local officials in a small Michigan town refused to display a nativity scene in front of its fire hall; and Oregon state public schools omitted the Christian holiday from its official calendar, while including events like Kwanzaa and the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. 

Often lost in the absurdity is the fact that the vast majority of Americans prefer that Christmas be recognized publicly.  A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that 67 percent of respondents preferred to be wished “Merry Christmas,” while just 26 percent preferred “Happy Holidays.”  The poll also showed that Americans of almost every subset — including men (69 percent), women (65 percent), married people (69 percent), unmarried people (64 percent), Republicans (88 percent), Democrats (57 percent) and third party supporters (57 percent), all age groups and all but the lowest income group — preferred the traditional Christmas greeting by large margins.  

And recent years have seen a public backlash against attempts to “de-Christianize” Christmas, and retailers have noticed, with many revoking policies that required employees to greet customers with the Barbara Walters-approved “Happy Holidays” rather than the traditional “Merry Christmas.”  Last year, parent companies representing twelve of the nation’s top 20 retailers responded to requests for clarification on their official policies regarding seasonal greetings that employees are allowed or encouraged to use.  Most said “Merry Christmas” was allowed and even encouraged in some instances. 

Even our politicians seem to have gotten the message, and a resolution “recognizing the importance of Christmas,” was recently supported by all but nine (Democratic) members of the House of Representatives.

Attempts to eliminate Christmas from public life are simply a manifestation of the belief that faithful Christians are disqualified from participating in public life.  Liberal elites who insist that pro-lifers and those who believe marriage should remain the union of one man and one woman have no right “to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us.” Senate liberals took that trite and hackneyed line to a whole other level when they bitterly opposed some of the president’s judicial nominees simply because of the nominees’ “deeply held religious beliefs.”

Some months ago, a leftwing group filed a lawsuit seeking access to White House records and Secret Service visitor logs, specifically seeking to find out how many times James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and I had met with President Bush and his top advisors. The implication was clear: that our democracy is seriously undermined when Christians speak with the president! On Monday, a federal judge ruled in the group’s favor, evidently accepting the argument that it is in the best interests of the nation to know whether Christians — gasp! — are being let into the White House. I cannot help but wonder whether they would care if the president met with Reverend Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson?

Imagine the chilling effect this case could create.  Will politicians and future presidents be willing to meet with evangelical, Catholic or Jewish leaders at the risk of lawsuits from leftwing outfits seeking their records? This is just one more attempt, and part of a larger effort by the Left, to intimidate and marginalize men and women of faith — as if we had nothing to contribute to the public policy debates in America or shouldn’t even be allowed to participate in the great debates of our time.

In the end, all the secularists’ antics won’t interfere with most Christians’ celebration of Christmas.  Polls indicate that over ninety percent of Americans will celebrate Christmas, and a majority plans to attend a Christmas church service this year.  And as long as Christians “keep Christ in Christmas,” the PC brigade will have a difficult time extinguishing faith from public life.  Merry Christmas!”


True Meaning of Christmas?

December 21, 2007

From gotquestions.org.

“Question: “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”

Answer: LOVE – that’s the true meaning of Christmas. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Philippians chapter 2, verses 6-11, as paraphrased in The Message, records, “Jesus had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that He had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted Him high and honored Him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth – even those long ago dead and buried – will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that He is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”

The true meaning of Christmas is God’s becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. Why did God do such a thing? Because He loves us! Why was Christmas necessary? Because we needed a Savior! Why does God love us so much? Because He is love (1 John 4:8)! Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth by giving each other gifts, worshipping Him, and being especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.

The true meaning of Christmas is LOVE. God loved us so much that He wanted to provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him. He gave His only Son to take our punishment for our sins, He paid the price in full! We are free from condemnation when we accept that free gift of LOVE. “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).”


Can Al Gore Save

December 21, 2007

From Bill O’Reilly and the billoreilly.com.

“Here’s a Christmas story that may make you cry, but not for sentimental reasons. The town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, population 7,000, has ordered a curfew on “holiday” lights this season because of Global Warming.

By a vote of 4 to 0, the Barrington selectmen have decreed that all decorative lights must be shut off by 10pm. Selectman Ronald Dlugosz opining: “I hate to be Scrooge here, but we’re really doing a lot in this community to be fuel efficient, to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Swell. Since a cow belching does more damage to the environment than a string of Christmas lights (sorry, holiday lights), it is inconceivable that these loons are trotting a “carbon footprint” argument to help the environment. The real strategy here is to diminish the public display of Christmas in that secular town.

So how do I know that? Well, thanks for asking. As it happens, I sent a Factor producer, Jesse Watters, up to talk to this Dlugosz guy:

Watters: Isn’t this a just ruse to de-emphasize Christmas?
Dlugosz: These are holiday lights … we don’t think we should be putting lights all over the place and impacting our environment. We’re taking a realistic approach to holiday lights.”

Did you notice the term “holiday lights?”

So I am calling for an intervention. The good people of western Massachusetts deserve to have a bright Christmas (holiday) season! I am asking Al Gore to arrive in a horse-drawn sleigh and talk some sense into these incredible Great Barrington pinheads.

I mean, how stupid is this? For a few weeks every year, the United States of America gets festive in honoring the birth of a man whose philosophy helped shape this country. That, of course, would be Jesus, not Barry Holiday.

And every year we now have to hear whining from dolts who are offended not only by a baby laying in a manger, but also by images of decorated trees and a jolly old man in a beard. Call me a theocrat, but I have had enough of this politically correct bilge.

Great Barrington, Massachusetts is controlled by people who somehow believe that Christmas decorations are harming the world. These numbskulls are so crazed by melting polar ice caps and perceived church-state “issues” that they are imposing fascist declarations on folks who just want to enjoy the season.

So Al Gore must get involved. Since he has been driving this global warming stuff, he now has an obligation to calm the citizenry down. Dick Cheney can’t do it; he’s off shooting animals. And President Bush holds no sway among the far-left loons in Great Barrington.

No, it must be Gore. He’s the only one who can save Christmas in the Berkshires. Shine a light on this insanity, Al. Tell them the inconvenient truth. “


He Has Raised Up a Horn of Salvation

December 21, 2007

From the Family Research Council.

“In a world enhanced by technology, communication, and prosperity, it’s easy to believe that mankind is somehow better off now than it was 2,000 years ago. And while innovation has made life more comfortable, even it can offer no cure for the deepest of all human agonies–the bondage of sin. These days, we often forget that the world wasn’t saved by global diplomacy or self-sufficiency. It took a willing spirit. A primitive manger. And broken men who recognize that salvation lies not within themselves but with the baby born that quiet night to a dark and weary world. Yet God’s message of hope and redemption was just as threatening to rulers then as it is today. Like so many across the globe, our Chinese brothers and sisters are still paying a costly price for their government’s ancient jealousy. This year, 70 of their bravest pastors will spend Christmas in prison because they dared to put their trust not in the government but in the Prince of Peace. They were arrested for believing that God is moving and working in their world, just as He was centuries ago, to fulfill the prophecies begun on Christmas day. For their families and friends, the season is a time of holy and sacred reverence, celebrated in secret and observed in underground gatherings. Some will travel through dangerous countryside, risking their own capture, to commemorate their ultimate freedom through Christ. There they exchange the religious tumult of these times for the peace and tranquility of the manger. There they reflect on Bethlehem’s truth that while tyranny may govern their lives, only God can govern men’s hearts. And it is there, in this atmosphere of persecution and despair, that the Messiah’s light shines its brightest–promising deliverance to all who believe. May they exult like Zachariah, who said:

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David… to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:68,74)

At Christmas, when we are so distracted by Christ’s flashy competition, America has much to learn from the persecuted church. I pray that this year we humbly embrace the simplicity of the season and rejoice in the saving Love reborn each day. From everyone at FRC, we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”