Don’t put this off to read later… It may never happen.

Why? Because if you’re like me, you’re all too familiar with what Rick Warren called the eight phases of procrastination…

Phase 1: “I’ll start early this time” (hopeful)
Phase 2: “I’ve got to start soon” (a little tension)
Phase 3: “I should have started sooner” (creeping guilt)
Phase 4: “There is still time to do it” (false reassurance)
Phase 5: “What’s wrong with me?” (getting desperate)
Phase 6: “I can’t wait any longer!” (intense pain)
Phase 7: “Just get it done!” (get it over with!)
Phase 8: “Next time, I’ll start earlier.” (the cycle repeats)

This makes sense, so why not embrace this and make changes earlier?

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Facebook and Churches

King’s Grant has a Facebook page, but I often wonder how we can best utilize social media. Here are a few tips that will help us maximize Facebook to engage a wider audience than we ever dreamed possible:

  1. Be Consistent. The biggest mistake we make is creating a page and rarely posting to it. Set a schedule and stick to it, posting at least once a day. It would be nice to have several administrators who are updating the page.
  2. Inspire our Audience. Inspiring our congregation doesn’t have to just happen in your church building. It can happen online as well!
  3. Ask Questions. Remember that social media is social and asking questions is the best way to start a conversation.
  4. Tell Stories. There’s nothing more powerful than sharing a story of how God has moved in the life of someone in our congregation or sharing a highlight from a recent event in our church.
  5. Share Information. While this is last on the list, it’s still important to let our congregation know what’s going on. CONFESSION, this is often the only content that gets posted, so sorry about that. The danger is the page becomes irrelevant and ignored.

It’s important to remember that social media is social, and listening is a big part of social interaction. Beyond our posting strategy, the most valuable tip is to make sure we listen to our people. These posts create a conversation and the comments that follow are often far more valuable than the original post can ever be. I’ve seen it in personal Facebook pages, it can happen for the church as well.

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The Origin of Santa Claus

The model for Santa Claus was a fourth-century Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas. Little is known about the real Nicholas, except that he was probably the bishop of Lycia. In the Middle Ages, when it became popular to venerate saints, legends about Nicholas began to flourish. One said he had given three bags of gold to the daughters of a poor man so that the girls would not have to earn their dowries through prostitution. Another claimed he had miraculously restored three little boys to life after they had been cut up for bacon. Thus Nicholas became known as a giver of gifts and the patron saint of children. His day is December 6.


Nicholas was particularly popular in Holland. It is there that the customs linking Nicholas to Christmas seem to have first begun. Dutch children expected the friendly saint to visit them during the night on December 5, and they developed the custom of placing their wooden shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts. Santa Claus is the Americanization of his Dutch name, Sinterklaas.


Of course, by the time Santa Claus became a part of American lore, children had discovered that you can get a lot more gifts in a sock than you can in a wooden shoe, so that adjustment to the custom was made in the mid-nineteenth century.


Clement Moore, an American poet, may be more responsible than any other person for popularizing the myth of Santa Claus. He wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822 which begins with the famous line, “‘Twas the night before Christmas,” and it was published in the Troy New York Sentinel. It was immediately popular and has endured ever since.


** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989. More information may be found here.


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Did the Christmas Angels Sing?

One of the most popular Christmas carols of all time is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Did you know Scripture does not say the angels sang? When they appeared to the shepherds, they were speaking, not singing.

In fact, there are only two times in Scripture where the angels are found singing. One is in Job 38:7. Here the message is a bit cryptic: “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” “Morning stars” refers to the angels; the archangel Lucifer, before he fell and became Satan, was called “star of the morning, son of the dawn” (Isaiah 14:12). Job 38:7 describes the angels’ singing at creation. That took place before Adam sinned—perhaps even before Lucifer fell.

Revelation 5:8-10 describes another incident when angels sing. Four living creatures—these are angels—join with twenty-four elders in singing a new song to Christ: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”

So angels sang before the Fall of man, and after the curse is removed, they will sing again. In the meantime, they apparently minister without singing. It is as if they cannot sing while the earth is under God’s curse.

** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.

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The Turning Point in History

The birth of Jesus Christ, next to His crucifixion, was the most momentous event in the history of the world. It became the focal point of all history. Everything before Christ looked forward to His birth, and everything since then looks back at Him. It was such a crucial event that now all the world numbers years according to it. B.C. means “before Christ,” and A.D. means “anno domini,” “in the year of our Lord.” Today, in order to minimize Christianity, the phrase has changed to CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era)…but who are they kidding?


Jesus made an impact on the world that has never been, and never will be, equaled by any mere man. In all the annals of the human race, no one is like Him. He never wrote a book. He never held political power. He was not wealthy or particularly influential in His lifetime. Yet He altered the world completely; in fact, no other human being has affected history remotely like He has.


He has been opposed, hated, fought, censored, banned, and criticized in every generation since His birth. Yet His influence continues. After two thousand years, the impact of His life goes on so powerfully that it is safe to say not a day passes but that lives are revolutionized by His teaching.


** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.

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When was the First Christmas?

No one really knows when Christ was born. It probably was not December 25, because Scripture says there were shepherds in the fields watching over their flocks, and that would have been highly unlikely in the middle of winter.

Our focus on December 25 came from the Roman holiday called Saturnalia. This was a pagan observance of the birthday of the unconquered sun. Saturnalia began December 19 each year, which, in the, northern hemisphere, is when the days start getting longer, and continued with seven days of festivities.

Many of our Christmas customs have their origins in Saturnalia, which was marked by feasting, parades, special music, gift giving, lighted candles, and green trees. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, the pagan holiday was given Christian connotations. In 336 Emperor Constantine declared Christ’s birthday an official Roman holiday. Some church leaders, such as Chrysostom, rebuked Christians for adopting a pagan holiday, but December 25 has endured as the date we celebrate Christ’s birth.

** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.

More information on the date may be found here and here.

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The Origin of Christmas Trees?

Christmas trees seem to have their origins in the ancient celebrations of Saturnalia. The Romans decorated their temples with greenery and candles. Roman soldiers conquering the British Isles found Druids who worshiped mistletoe and Saxons who used holly and ivy in religious ceremonies. All those things found their way into Christmas customs.


Interestingly, however, the first person to have lighted a Christmas tree may have been Martin Luther, father of the Reformation. He introduced the practice of putting candles on trees to celebrate Christmas, citing Isaiah 60:13 as biblical authority for the practice: “The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the juniper, the box tree, and the cypress together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I shall make the place of My feet glorious.”


** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.


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Christians and Christmas

Christmas as a holiday was not observed until well after the biblical era. The early church celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, not His birth. In fact, Christmas was not given any kind of official recognition by the church until the mid-fifth century.

Partly because so many Christmas customs seem to have their roots in paganism, Christians have often been resistant to some of the rituals of the holiday. The Puritans in early America rejected Christmas celebrations altogether. They deliberately worked on December 25 to show their disdain. A law passed in England in 1644 reflected a similar Puritan influence; the law made Christmas Day an official working day.

Christians today are generally not opposed to celebrating Christmas. The holiday itself is nothing, and observing it is not a question of right or wrong, similar to what Paul wrote in Romans 14:5-6. Every day—including Christmas—is a celebration for us who know and love Him.

How we observe Christmas is the central issue. Do we observe it for the Lord’s sake or for our own sinful self-gratification? Do we even think about why and how we celebrate it? That is the heart of the matter. Christmas is an opportunity for us to exalt Jesus Christ. We ought to take advantage of it.

** Adapted from John MacArthur, in God With Us, the Miracle of Christmas, 1989.

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City of Angels

There are quite a few movies or shows that depict people conversing with angels, if not God Himself: City of Angels, Bruce Almighty, Joan of Arcadia, Touched by an Angel, and for those who can think way back, Highway to Heaven…


In my Bible study class this past Sunday, we began a new series on the life of Mary, taking a fresh look at how her story can be our story… not necessarily the pregnancy thing, but how the whole event was something unexpected. The point is, how does God use unexpected events and circumstances to move us along our journey with Him? And how do we respond to His leading?


So, the topic of angels came up as we looked at Gabriel, God’s messenger to Mary. I happened to mention an order in the universe regarding these spiritual beings… God as the highest being, angels and then mankind. This imprecise theology was questioned with the belief that it should be God, mankind and then angels. I needed to research a bit and wanted to follow up with my findings.


First, a few verses 

  • 1 Corinthians 6:3 – “Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.”
  • Hebrews 2:7 – regarding mankind… “Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”
  • Hebrews 1.4 – “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”  

Ok, be sure that there is a debate over the order. Now for a few observations 

  • On one side, angels are created beings as are humans, with limited knowledge – Matthew 24:36.
  • While limited in knowledge, they seem to possess greater knowledge than humans in some areas – like the angels that visited Lot (Genesis 19:13, they knew the city was going to be destroyed), or any messenger sent to mankind with a word from God. God never appears to use mankind to send a message to angels, suggesting a closer position.
  • Angels have an everlasting quality in their existence, unlike humans who die (at least physically).
  • Angels exist in the presence of God and serve Him, which is much better position than humans.
  • Angels have continuous access to the throne of God (yet we too have access through prayer) suggesting our position will be greater after this life.
  • Angels have power unlike humans, like to guard the entrance back into the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) or to engage in intimidating battle as in 2 Kings 6:16-17 (if angels are actually piloting these horses and chariots of fire).
  • On the other side, unlike humans, they are not created in the image of God, suggesting humans have a superior position – Genesis 1:26-27
  • Angels do not receive or understand salvation – 1 Peter 12, perhaps Ephesians 3:10.
  • Angels have ever been adopted as fellow heirs with Christ – Romans 8:15.  

Back to the primary verses, and a few interpretations to add to the discussion: 

  • 1 Corinthians 6:3 – We will judge angels in the next life rather than this life; so at this point it appears that we are third in the pecking order until that day when we are sinless in the presence of God.
  • Hebrews 2:7 quotes Psalm 8:5 – Psalm 8:5 uses elohim (the plural form of “god”) translating it “a little lower than the gods” or “the spiritual beings” which we call angels (KJV uses angels). Psalm 8:6 includes an image of having dominion over the earth (referring to Genesis 1:26-27). Hebrews 2:7 actually uses the word “angels.” So, perhaps the angels with continual access to God are in a better position, until we enter His presence in our glorified bodies.
  • Hebrews 1:4 – This is in context of the Son being much more superior than the angels, a no brainer, but it appears that angels are servants of God. If angels are sent to care for humans, they might be in a more favorable or powerful position.  

Bottom line, the teaching is vague at best and open to interpretation, which makes this certainly a non-essential for one’s salvation. I will not be dogmatic about it one way or the other. Any thoughts?

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The Real Cause of Global Warming?

Amazing information from the scientific community in the UK… this is from an article in the Chicago Tribune, which informs us that having kids promotes global climate change!

Family planning as a means to reduce climate change has been little talked about in international climate forums, largely because it is so politically sensitive. China’s leaders, however, regularly argue that their country should get emission reduction credits because of their one-child policy, and many environmentalists—and even a growing number of religious and ethics scholars—say the biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply” needs to be balanced against Scripture calling for stewardship of the Earth.

Who knew the only commandment that mankind has never broken would be the cause of so much catastrophe? — Genesis 1:28

In a nation where Texas’ 23 million people account for more greenhouse gas emissions than all 720 million Sub-Saharan Africans, even small rates of U.S. population growth may have a disproportionate impact on global warming, said the UN’s Haug.

So it’s not just having kids, but having American kids!

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