Mark 1:9-13

The text for this upcoming Sunday’s message from Mark 1.

The Baptism and Testing of Jesus

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

The God Vaccine

The “God Vaccine”

A Walk of Faith Christmas Devotional by Dave Bunnell, written over 20 years ago, but perhaps more timely for today.

These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.
They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
–Matthew 15:8-9

In the last several weeks, you may have gone to get a flu shot, to vaccinate yourself against getting the flu this season. It’s interesting how they make a flu vaccine, and how it works. You see, the flu vaccine is essentially an altered strand of the previous year’s flu virus.
When this harmless strand is injected into your body, it triggers your immune system, in effect training it to know what to look for, so that when you are exposed to the flu virus this year, your body will recognize and reject it before it infects you. In simplest terms, the flu shot gives you a little bit of something that looks to your body like the flu, in order to keep you from getting the real thing.
But did you know that in this season of the year, there’s another thing people are unwittingly “vaccinated” against? Unfortunately, they’re being vaccinated against an “infection” they need to have in order to live.
Here’s how it happens: They go to church and celebrate Christmas. They take communion and sing carols about the birth of Christ. They watch Christmas plays and listen to messages about the Christ child. They give and receive presents and cards. They pray with great sincerity about “peace on Earth.” They shake hands with people, smiling and wishing them a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” They don’t realize they’re injecting themselves with that little bit of something that looks like a relationship with God that keeps them from getting the real thing.
Jesus warned against that kind of worship that people are so prone to at Christmas and Easter. He warned us that God isn’t impressed by lips that sing His praises if they come from a heart He hasn’t been allowed to utterly change.
My friends, you don’t want to get a “God vaccine” this Christmas. Don’t let mere religion immunize you against a relationship with Jesus Christ. Get the real thing, if you haven’t already. Get a relationship with God, that guarantees you eternal life with Him in heaven.
It’s not about going through the motions of religion, at Christmastime or anytime. Following traditions and teachings of mere men is worshiping God in vain, Jesus said. In vain. Worthless. Of no value. Such worship will gain you absolutely nothing for eternity.
The Good News of Christmas, though, is that it doesn’t have to be that way; because “the real thing” is God’s Christmas gift to you. And this gift is not like the “free gifts” the world offers, where you get something for “free, when you buy . . . .” I’m talking about a real gift that is truly free: The gift of salvation from your sins and everlasting joy in heaven. It costs you nothing, because Jesus has already paid for it so that He could give it to you. The blood He shed on the cross is your gift certificate, purchasing your eternal peace with a holy God.
The first “Christmas tree” ever was cut down, and its boards were made into a cross. On it, Jesus, the perfect Son of God, hung and bled and died for only one reason. It wasn’t to set an example for you. It wasn’t to inspire you. It wasn’t to found a religion for you to follow. It was to completely pay the debt you owe God for breaking His perfect laws.

Jesus absorbed all of the punishment you deserve for your sins, and rose again from the dead to give you eternal life. All you must do is believe that, and you will be saved.
Redeem your “gift certificate” from Christ today, right where you are. Tell Jesus you know you have sinned against Him. Tell Him you believe that He died in your place, being punished for your sins. Ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. Tell Him you’re trusting Him to give you now the gift of eternal life in heaven.
If you do that, then you can truly celebrate Christmas, with a new heart, given to you by Christ Himself. You will no longer be vaccinated from the truth that sets you free. You’ll have the real thing. And you’ll wonder how you made it through so many Christmases without it.

The world’s most significant village

Why Bethlehem?

A Walk of Faith Christmas Devotional by Dave Bunnell

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
–Micah 5:2

That little town of Bethlehem, though insignificant in the world’s eyes, had been very significant to Biblical history, even for centuries before our precious Savior was born there.
The lineage of Christ could trace its family ties to Bethlehem as far back as the book of Genesis, for it was where Israel’s patriarch Jacob buried his wife Rachel.
When Ruth the Moabitess was brought to Israel to make Naomi’s God her own, it was in Bethlehem that she lived with her new husband Boaz, and it was there that they bore the child who would be an ancestor of Christ.
The family line was still in Bethlehem when Jesus’ ancestor David, a shepherd who would be king, watched over the flocks of his father.
David would later lead his armies against the pagan Philistines, who were establishing a stronghold over Bethlehem. Then he longed for a refreshing drink from Bethlehem’s well, and one of his “mighty men,” who was from Bethlehem, joined some others in a quest that brought him that water.
Then came the dark years. The kingdom of Israel was divided. In that moment of time, when it seemed least likely that God could bring forth His promised Redeemer from Israel, God’s prophet Micah declared that Bethlehem would be on the map again, in a way so special that generations to follow would almost forget the tiny village’s significance in Old Testament times. The previous events of Bethlehem would pale in comparison.
Because this little town of Bethlehem would be the location of the birth of the Christ child, who had existed from eternity past. Yes, the events that would change our world forever would all begin in Bethlehem. And when you look at the history of this little town, you’ll see that God couldn’t have chosen a better place.
This little village that was populated by shepherds who raised flocks for the temple sacrifices would be the birth place of the Lamb who would bring those sacrifices to their final fruition, sacrificing Himself to take away the sins of the world.
Like David, this Child of Bethlehem would be a trustworthy Shepherd for the flocks of His Father and a King whose throne in Jerusalem would be established forever.
Like Boaz, this Child of Bethlehem would be the Redeemer who purchased for Himself people of faith in Him from all nations.
It was important for the Christ child to be born in Bethlehem. So when the proper time arrived, God would take the reins of world history, working through a powerful Roman emperor who thought he was thinking for himself, just to arrange for Mary to be brought back to that little town.
There, in a poor humble stable, she would bring forth her firstborn Son, and lay Him in a manger. The eternal God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the All-Powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe, would become a baby and sleep that first night on a bed of hay in Bethlehem.
“Come to Bethlehem and see Him…. Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King!”

Dreaming of a whiter Christmas

Whiter Christmas

A Walk of Faith Christmas Devotional by Dave Bunnell

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
–Psalm 51:7

Experiencing a whiter-than-snow Christmas isn’t just something you have to dream about.
Snow is the purest, brightest, whitest substance that exists. Anything else you would call “white” could be held up next to clean snow, and you’d have to call it “off white.” But God’s word tells us that when a dirty, dark sinner comes under the blood of Christ, God washes him even whiter than snow.
That’s how complete God’s cleansing is. It makes us whiter than the whitest. Purer than the purest. Cleaner than the cleanest things we can imagine. And that’s what we who truly celebrate Christmas from the heart have experienced.
What’s more, this is not just a surface cleaning, not just a whitewashing of the outside that leaves the inside dirty. God’s cleansing of the repentant heart is a “purging with hyssop.” Purging is complete cleansing of our souls from the inside out. When we trust in Christ, God digs deep, cleansing us to the core.
The hyssop branch was used in Old Testament times to sprinkle the altar with blood, thus purifying it. And on the cross, Jesus drank from a sponge lifted to Him on a hyssop branch. The Purest of the pure consumed our sinfulness, so that He could give us pure living water to drink and be cleansed. He who knew no sin became sin for us and our sin was crucified with Him.
Now, we who knew no righteousness have become righteousness by drinking of the cup from which flows His precious blood, that washes away all of our sin. We who were so sinful that God in His holiness was unable to look upon us have now become purer than freshly-fallen snow, glistening in the unsurpassed light of Christ’s eyes that shine upon us. As we reflect His light, we are made so spiritually bright that the sinful eyes of the unregenerated world can hardly bear to look upon us without squinting.
When we first trusted in Christ alone to save us, our hearts were baptized clean by the living water of the Word of God and the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit. The sepulchers of our carnal bodies became temples of the Holy Spirit, and now we are forever inhabited by God Himself. We are no longer ashamed, for “all who look to Him are radiant.”
Brothers and sisters, rejoice in this greatest of all miracles this Christmas, and share it with others. (When someone you know celebrates that you are having a white Christmas this year where you live, or bemoaning the fact that you aren’t, use it as an opportunity to tell them why your heart is full this Christmas regardless of the weather.)
And as the new year begins, dwell and walk each day in this greatest of all joys: The joy of being so deeply purged and cleansed that even a God of unmatched holiness finds you flawless, and wants to use your life to bring others to Him also.

How can it be?

How can it be?

A Christmas Walk of Faith Devotional by Dave Bunnell

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you;”
–Luke 1:34-35a

Has God ever surprised you with His plan for your life? If you’ve walked with Him long, your answer is probably yes. For we serve a God so powerful that He is not in any way limited by our human shortcomings. He can accomplish difficult things — even IMPOSSIBLE things — through anyone He pleases. In fact, I think He delights in doing so.
Still, when He begins to place in our hearts His gentle voice’s call to take part in His plan for the world around us, it’s only natural for us to look at the enormity of His plan and say, “How can this be, God? I don’t have the qualifications. I don’t have the experience. I don’t have the ability. How could You possibly have a role for ME in your plan for the world? How could you possibly use a person like me? It would take a miracle.”
Mary knew what it was like to feel that way. She had just been taken completely by surprise. She had probably never even dreamed of what the Lord was planning to do through her life to bring about His perfect plan for the world. So it wasn’t just that an angel showed up to talk to her that made this moment surprising. It was the angel’s message itself.
When she heard that she was God’s choice among women to give birth to the Messiah, all she could respond with was, “How can this be?” It was no stupid question, either. Because God was telling her that something “completely impossible” was about to be done in her life. She had not yet been in a relationship that could lead to child-bearing, so it was logical for her to wonder how on earth that could happen.
The angel gave her the answer from God, and it was sufficient for her. How can this be? Well, Mary, it will happen because the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
When we begin to question God on how He will accomplish His will in our lives, we’re likely to hear that same answer from Him. “This ‘impossible’ task will be accomplished through you, because My Spirit is upon You, and all you are and all you do will be overshadowed by Me.”
So don’t be afraid to step out in faith, joining God in accomplishing His plan for the world. Just trust Him fully, leaving the details in His hands and knowing that His Spirit resting upon you will be all the help you need to see His purposes fulfilled.

The Savior has come, for you

For You He Came

A Walk of Faith Christmas Devotional by Dave Bunnell

Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you today in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
–Luke 2:10-11

What a proclamation! God had become a man, and it wasn’t just so He could have fellowship with the special, or the rich, or the smart, or the good-looking, or the influential, or the powerful, or the “good.” Upon His arrival, no angel went to the Pharisees to proclaim Him. King Herod had to hear about it from gentile Magi who traveled from a distant land. The Roman emperor was so caught up in counting the people under his oppression that he took no notice.
But to a group of tired, cold, overworked shepherds who stood watch over flocks in the field through the night, God sent His messengers with the word, “The Savior is here. And He has come for you.”
More than two thousand anniversaries of this most blessed birth have come and gone, and still the message remains the same. It doesn’t matter if you have no prestige, no power, no popularity, and no position. The all-powerful God who created the world and everything in it has come, and He came for you. He loved you, and came to die so that you might have life eternal.
Unto you was this child born. Unto you was this Son given. Unto you the Savior calls. Come and worship.

“The weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Good news: Jesus is God, with us

Immanuel is Good News For All, Especially the Hurting at Christmas

A Walk of Faith Devotional by Dave Bunnell

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call His name Immanuel.”

–Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel, as you may know, means “God with us.” When we understand the meaning of that Christmas promise, made by prophecy from God centuries before Christ came, then we begin to understand why Christmas is something to celebrate.

Without understanding the name’s meaning, some have thought that the special thing about the virgin birth was the virgin herself. They have the impression that she might even be worthy of worship or someone close enough to the throne of God to intercede for them there when they pray. But this first announcement God made of the virgin birth long before it happened shows us that it wouldn’t be the virgin that should be noticed. The sign of the virgin birth was that the child would be “Immanuel” – “God with us.” That’s what is so special about this event. The Child would have no human father, because while He would be a person like us, He wouldn’t be just a person. He would be God. God, Who had come to be with us. To be one of us. To be for us.

And when that Child was born, truly it was “good news of great joy, which shall be to all people,” as the angel promised the shepherds. Because if God is with us, out of that truth flow solutions to every problem. God is with us. That is good news!

It’s especially good news for the person whose loneliness is magnified at Christmas. God Himself is with us who know Christ.

It’s good news to the sinner, who fears the judgment and condemnation his life has earned. God is with us. And for us. And He loves us enough to come to us, live with us, die for us, and rise again to life to save us.

It’s good news to the agnostic, who wonders if God is really there, and if He really desires involvement in our lives.

It’s good news to the hurting and the oppressed, to know that God will take up their cause as a strong Defender.

It’s good news to those who mourn the loss of loved ones, knowing that the God of eternity is with us, and will reunite us with those to whom we had to say goodbye.

It’s good news to those who have an aching emptiness because they haven’t found a fulfilling purpose in life—to know that they were created with a purpose and that the Creator is with them to find it.

Even better news–If you have received Christ, then God is not just with you, but in you. He was with Herod, the Pharisees, and other religious leaders, but they rejected Him, so He was not in them.

By faith, you can have God with you, and living in you, giving you new life and life eternal. Don’t miss that great Christmas miracle. Because this God, the Savior, Who is with us, is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. In each of those things, He is a truly wonderful Gift. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes on Him would not be destroyed, but have everlasting life.”

Christmas mythology

Christmas Myths

A Walk of Faith Christmas article by Dave Bunnell

It’s almost Christmas. How well do you know the biblical story of what you’ll be celebrating? If you’re like many of us, probably not as well as you think. For example, if you had to tell the story right now, without looking anything up, would your telling of it include angels singing God’s praises before the shepherds in the field? Would any or all of these singing angels be female? Would they be flying in the sky? Would Mary have ridden a donkey to get there? How about 3 kings joining the shepherds at the manger scene? Would there be a star in the sky shining a light down on the manger to guide these kings all the way to Bethlehem? Would there be a boy with a drum?

Because these things aren’t what happened. Nor are a lot more of what you’ve seen each year in your church’s Christmas program or sung about when you went a-caroling. It’s just the way we’ve told and retold the story of the Nativity, because it has become traditional to include considerable embellishment, and sometimes to even get the facts dead wrong. Don’t think so? In a moment, we’ll open our Bibles, and see.

The first time I realized how much we’ve fable-ized the story of the birth of Christ was when I was a teenager. There had been a drama at our church in which a child had met Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, told them there wasn’t room at the inn, and helped them find the stable. Two women in the church were talking afterward, and they were upset at the perceived inaccuracy. You see, having seen many other Christmas dramas, the two ladies were certain and adamant that it was the innkeeper who had turned Mary and Joseph away–after they unsuccessfully pleaded with him for a room–telling them to go to a stable out back instead.

But if you know the Biblical account well, you already know that both the program with the kid and the renditions with an innkeeper are just dramatic license. The only thing the Bible says about it is that the baby was born and laid in a manger, because there wasn’t room at the inn. No more details. Maybe there were dozens of people without a place to stay wandering the streets when Mary and Joseph arrived. Maybe there was just a “no vancancy” sign on the front door and Joseph just improvised the best he could by taking his wife to a stable somewhere. And maybe there weren’t any animals in the stable when Mary gave birth to her Son. (If I’d been Joseph, I would have put them outside–wouldn’t you?) Who knows? But my point here is how easy it is for people to take the way they had heard the story and assume it is true, instead of reading the Bible and seeing what it really says.

Let’s look, then, just for fun, at the Christmas story, and see where we’re traditionally right, and where we’re traditionally wrong.

The biggie is probably the singing angels. I mean, everyone knows the angels sang, right? All of our songs at Christmas refer to it. And if we went to a Christmas program where the angels (all male) were only talking when the words, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to men” came out of their mouths, we would feel cheated out of some good music. But read Luke 2. You’ll find that’s exactly what happened. The angels weren’t singing, but speaking. By the way, there is, in fact, no passage in the New Testament that ever refers to an angelic choir or to an angel singing. (That’s also true in Revelation 4, for example, with the angels saying together, not singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Hosts, Who was, and is, and is to come.”)

And guess what. Our common way of telling the angels and shepherds scene isn’t just off base on the part about songs. For example, these particular angels were like men standing on the ground with the shepherds, not apparently winged creatures that flew in the sky above them. And our impression of the angels as cutesy, pretty little things is wrong. When the first angel stood there next to the shepherds, he was fearsome. They were terrified. He had to admonish them not to worry, because he was there to give them good news.

Think about the dramas you’ve seen about the trip to Bethlehem. Ever seen one where Mary wasn’t riding a donkey? I can’t think of one. Bible doesn’t specifically say she did or didn’t have one. But it does say that after Jesus was born she brought for her purification sacrifice two pigeons, which someone was only allowed to bring if they were too poor to own their own livestock to sacrifice. So most likely Mary walked to Bethlehem. Puts her sacrifice in greater perspective to realize that. I was on two mission trips with my wife during her 9th month of pregnancy. There was a whole lot of walking involved in the travel, and it wasn’t easy for her—but it was a sacrifice she willingly made. (Although, come to think of it, I’m not sure how a woman ready to go into labor would find it easier to get on and off a donkey and ride it than to walk.) My own suspicion is that the donkey entered the Christmas story for the same reason many other extrabiblical ideas about Mary came into play. I think it is because when Jesus entered Jerusalem to be presented as the Messiah and king, he rode a donkey. And the world likes to try to elevate Mary to the level of her Son in so many ways.

What about the 3 kings following a star to the stable and meeting the shepherds there to worship the baby Jesus together? Never happened. In fact, it’s wrong in several ways. First, they weren’t kings. They were what the Bible calls “wise men” who were practitioners of eastern religions and astrology. “Wise men” like Daniel had served with during the Old Testament Babylonian and Persian empires. Daniel’s writings about the coming King, in which Daniel even predicted how many years it would be before the Messiah came, had these wise men ready to look for Him when God gave them a star in the sky, to which they always looked for guidance anyway, to bring them there. (The biblical account also has God guiding them with dreams—the same way He had dealt with the leaders of their ancestors in Daniel’s day.)

Anyway, according to the Bible, these “three wise men,” –OOOPS. There weren’t likely 3 of them. If you read the account in Matthew 2, which does not tell us how many were in their company, you’ll actually get the impression the group was larger. The number 3 was probably inserted by the carol-writers because the Bible lists 3 gifts that the group presented to Jesus as an act of worship. And the three names you’ve been told they had are a complete fiction invented by catholicism.

So these wise men didn’t follow a star to the manger in Bethlehem. They didn’t even know the baby was in Bethlehem. (Daniel hadn’t told them that detail.) And the star didn’t “lead them” to Israel to begin with. It just appeared in the sky as a sign for them that the King of the Jews they had read about had been born. (They already knew from Daniel’s prophecies that the time was getting close, because 33 years later that King would enter Jerusalem.)

So the wise men saw the star telling them Christ was born, and they went to Jerusalem to look for Him. In Jerusalem, they told King Herod, We saw His star in the east and came to worship Him. They asked Herod where He was. Herod, since he had not been wise enough to be waiting for the Messiah, knew nothing about how to answer their question. He called upon people who would know. They said the OT prophecies predicted that this baby would be born in Bethlehem. So the wise men set out for Bethlehem to “search” for Christ there. When they got to Bethlehem, they were filled with joy when they saw the star appear again. Then it guided them to where Jesus was. No longer in the stable, though. It wasn’t still the night of Jesus’ birth. The shepherds were long gone, and Mary and Joseph had found a house to live in with their baby boy. And since they had told Herod the star had appeared up to two years before their arrival, Mary might have even given birth to her next child by that time, or have been carrying him or her in the womb.

Well, it can be fun to look at the Biblical account of Christ’s birth, and just to see where we’ve had misconceptions about it. This week, take the Bible passages yourself, and read them fresh and new. Perhaps you’ll find other ways that you had the story wrong in your mind. Read the story like you hadn’t heard it before. Picture it as something new. And worship the Christ child with new vibrancy. You’ll find the story is actually quite interesting and exciting just the way it really happened. It needs no embellishment.

Then, consider the importance of getting the story right when we tell it, through words, songs, or dramas. Christmas gives us the opportunity to proclaim the gospel to many people who other times of the year aren’t listening to Christians. Let’s not forfeit that opportunity by turning our telling of the tale into fables and myths. Let’s tell the story the way it really happened—starting and ending with the word of God—so that He can move by His power to create faith in the hearts of those who hear.

Maybe now you’re thinking, “Yeah, there are inaccuracies to what we’re saying to people in our Christmas programs, but what does it really hurt? The little details don’t matter much anyway.” But before you brush these issues aside with those thoughts, consider this: Inaccuracies in our doctrine can lead to real threats to faith.

There is, after all, one other Christmas myth, that you might not believe if you’re from an evangelical church, but it did great and lasting harm to those who accepted it—even though it seems to them to be an inaccuracy just as harmless.

They came up with the idea of presenting Mary as a woman who perpetually remained a virgin. Now, of course, this is an obvious myth, because the Bible clearly states that Joseph didn’t know Mary in a physically intimate way until Jesus was born—not that he never did. (Matt. 1:25) And all four gospels give us the detail that Mary and Joseph had several (at least 6) subsequent children the old-fashioned way.

But telling this to people who believe in the perpetual virginity, I’ve more than once seen them react with anger because they felt I was taking the beauty out of the story for them. To them, Mary staying a virgin for life means that she was something special and wonderful and virtuous—when actually it wouldn’t have been virtuous of her to never sleep with her husband. They look up to her and find Christmas to be more fun when they think of her in this way.

I’ve encountered the same reaction from evangelicals who feel I’m stealing something beautiful from their story if I tell them the angels didn’t sing or that we’re putting the wise men at the wrong time and place. But how much more beautiful, really, is the real story that we’re missing by our mis-telling! When we realize how God was bringing the wise men–gentiles like us–to worship the Christ child when King Herod wanted to kill Him? Or when it dawns on us that angels don’t sing, but that we as human beings created in God’s image can have a beautiful and unique relationship with our Creator that angels long to know—a relationship of redemption that calls us alone among His creation to the glorious privilege of worshiping Him with singing!

You see, we lose something when we mis-tell the Christmas story. And we need to realize that our misconceptions about the biblical account have consequences for the people we are mis-teaching. Just like it did for those who had what they thought was a harmless myth of Mary’s perpetual virginity. It did great harm. No longer was the virgin conceiving a child a sign that the child was great and that His Father was God, not man. This woman’s virginity instead became a false sign to them of her specialness. Eventually this resulted in their reverence and awe for her, not her Son. They came to call her not just the mother of His humanity, but the “mother of God.” They prayed to her and sought to come to God through her, imploring her to “pray for us, sinners, now and in the hour of our deaths.” Millions of people worldwide are missing out on salvation and eternal life because they find that beauty in her, and seek to come to God through her, thus not finding the only way, truth, and life, through whom we can come to the Father.

But my whole point here is that they aren’t the only ones making that mistake. Our telling of the Christmas story might be precious to us, as we watch our little girls with silver wings and halos run across the stage the Sunday night before Christmas, singing about baby who supposedly didn’t cry. But that message is just as false as Santa Claus. And it lacks the power to save. An atheist relative who comes to church with us doesn’t have his heart challenged by the word of God to have faith that comes by hearing it. Instead it reinforces for him the idea that this stuff about Jesus is just a cute, but unbelievable story. Because the story we told him is just that.

Instead, let’s preach the word. And let the unbelievers who come in to celebrate Christmas with us hear the truth. They can be saved, if we’ll just put away the Christmas myths of our childhood, and let the word of God speak to their hearts.

God fulfilled His eternal plan, making Himself into a man like us, so He could live a perfect life in our place, and die on the cross, absorbing the punishment for our sins, and then rise again to be our Savior, giving all of us who believe eternal life and a relationship with Him. Now that’s a story worth telling, in song, drama, and spoken words.