Words are powerful. They can wound or heal, tear down or build up, crush or inspire. We appreciate and value people with words of affirmation. We devalue and depreciate a person with words of criticism or fault-finding. Words impact our souls and the kind of people we become.
Our sentimental approach to Christ’s birth sanitizes the event to the point where we re-cast the story for palatability, nostalgia, and commercial manipulation.
Those who deny the inspiration of Scripture say this word should be translated as "young woman" and the disciple Matthew was reading into the word to suit his agenda (Matthew 1:23). Centuries before Christ, when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek by Jewish rabbis (70 of them according to tradition), the Greek word they chose to render "almah" was "parthenos," which means a literal virgin. Centuries before there was any Christian agenda around to influence the story, the expectation among the Greek-speaking Jews (at a minimum) was that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. This is how Matthew takes Isaiah’s words.
Occasionally, I will hear an old song that resurrects memories in the tender spots of my soul. People and places step out of the shadows and visit with me for a brief moment or two. Does that happen to you, too? If so, you understand what's hard to put into words. Suddenly, without announcement, nostalgia sweeps over me, and I am trapped in its sticky web for an exhilarating experience that's always too brief to satisfy…too vivid to ignore…too deep to describe…too personal to share.
If I’ve described your situation, I have great news. I’m so glad that I memorized it years ago and call it to mind often. Here it is: We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is unmistakable. Heaven is for those who have been saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus. Heaven is not a mythical place for all people regardless of their background. The startling fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven has practical implications for us.
While being king of Bible Trivia does have its advantages at Bible Trivia nights and in debating theological nitpicks, it hasn't been all that useful in helping me follow Jesus. In fact, the more I come to understand the Bible, the more I realize that my Bible trivia is actually quite trivial.
A tour of the Holy Land is not just about what you see, it’s also about experiencing God and His Word in a whole new way. As I reflect on my own experience in Israel I note three things that occurred for me.
The Internet once led me to a cheeky article written by someone called The Like Ninja. In it, he described his philosophy for social media: if there’s a like button, press it. Who knows what one like could mean to someone else?
Our situation resembled a perfect storm capable of wreaking havoc on our marriage. Thankfully we weathered it and are still happily married 29 years later. Not all couples fare as well. Many marriages shipwreck when crisis strikes, but devastation can be avoided. Here are a few insights I've learned through personal experience and by watching other couples.