One More

There are moments we encounter that provoke great questions.  In those moments we seek to assess reality in order to identify what is going on in this world and how the circumstances we are experiencing are going to impact us in our own immediate context as well as life’s trajectory in the days to come.

Every week there seems to be a national tragedy that causes us to shake our heads in disbelief.  Terror has crept in and is creating chaos, instilling fear and dividing humanity into polarized factions all over the world.  The political wrangling expends a ton of energy measured in billions of dollars and 24/7 media coverage, but it only seems to achieve greater division and disappointment.

The struggle of raising a family in this environment is real.  Our society seems to be unraveling, our culture is evolving rapidly (almost morphing into something unrecognizable to us) and the hope of this nation to be the United States of America is ever dwindling.  The hostile rhetoric and increasing violence exposes more than a loss of civility, it reveals that we are a fractured people that is spiraling into great brokenness.

It is in these moments.  We ask questions.  It is in these moments we seek to understand what is going on, but ultimately we search in order to define what we believe to be true.  Truth is what sets us free.  This world says strike a pose, play the game, and pretend everything is fine, but posturing will not fix the wrecked or ruined parts of life.   And although this world continues to undermine what is true, we know that in an ever changing world truth is the only thing that is constant.  Is it any wonder then that Christ gave Himself that name.  He is Truth!  We can believe what is true.  If we are to stand in uncertain times and not be swept away by a shifting worldly current, then stand upon what is true.

 

How We Stole Christmas

How_We_Stole_Christmas_std_tDid you know that during the early days of Christianity, different parts of the world celebrated the birth of Christ on different dates?  The Bible does not reveal the exact date of the Lord’s birth and the earliest believers did not have a fixed time for observing it.  However, that did not stop many from trying to figure out the day Jesus was born.  So, as a result of scholarly consideration, multiple dates have been suggested to commemorate the Lord’s birth:  January 6, April 18, April 19 and May 20.  According to Hippolytus, a 3rd century theologian that lived from the year 170 to 236 A.D., Christ was born on Wednesday, December 25, in the 42 year of the reign of Augustus. (which is 2 B.C.)   

Therefore, if you traveled widely in the Roman world, you could conceivably enjoy 5 or even six different celebrations of the Savior’s birth in the span of a single year.  However, it was Pope Julius I in the mid-fourth century who appointed a monk named Dionysius to set up a calendar standardizing a universal date.  December 25 officially became the recognized date and on that day a special mass was celebrated, hence the word Christmas (meaning a Christ mass).  This date was primarily selected because it coincided with the pagan festivals celebrating Saturnalia and the winter solstice.[1]  In other words, we stole Christmas. 

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The Greatness and Superiority of Jesus Christ as High Priest

perfect priest_t_nvIntroduction

            The Christian doctrine of priesthood is expounded in the book of Hebrews in which some scholars have named “the Epistle of Priesthood.” [1]  From the opening verses of the letter, the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus Christ as the One in modern days that is carrying out specific functions in the lives of believers.  In Hebrews chapter one, Jesus is identified as the One that reveals God to man. [2]   This implies that Christ is the direct means by which God speaks to man in present times.  It is in this sense that the Lord functions as a prophet proclaiming the Word of God to mankind.  In the same chapter, the Hebrew author presents Jesus as a king sitting down at the right hand of the Father. [3]  The reader is made away of the Lord’s position of majesty which brings with it great authority.  However, the author identifies Christ in one more significant role.  Emphasizing Psalm 110, the Hebrew writer identifies Jesus as the believer’s High Priest. [4]  Exercising as the High Priest of the believer, the Lord does more than reveal man to God; Jesus represents man to God.  Here, the author reveals that Jesus is the needed advocate to God the Father for the Christian.  Within the book of Hebrews, general qualifications for the priesthood, references to the Melchizedeken Order and specific qualifications for Christ’s priesthood are outlined. [5]  The Hebrew writer’s discussion of the Levitical priesthood, the Melchizedeken Order and the priesthood of Christ speaks to the greatness and superiority of Jesus Christ as High Priest.   Continue reading