Twas the Night AFTER Christmas Poem

I’ve decided that during the holiday season we should change the mall’s name to “maul.”

I’ve never seen such mayhem—kids running, parents screaming, angry people in long lines—all to the music of “Joy to the World” in the background. Good grief!

Twas the Night AFTER Christmas

(Photo by Stephane Bidouze, via Vivozoom)

If you decide to head to the “maul” the night after Christmas, you’ll see more of the same chaos—a rush of returns in exchange for . . . even more . . . stuff.

So in honor of these days after Christmas, I’ve decided to try my hand at rewriting Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas classic.

Here she goes. (Ahem.)

How Jesus Determined His Priorities

Scripture has always taught that God’s people should pursue God’s priorities. But over the centuries opinions have differed as to what those priorities are. The problem? No one’s opinion was conclusive.

Until Jesus.

How Jesus Determined His Priorities

(Photo by Sean Vivek Crasto. Public domain.)

Religious leaders in Jesus’ day debated on the separation of the important commandments from the less-important ones. One day when Jesus was teaching in the temple, a scribe tossed this live grenade in front of Jesus to see where He stood in the debate:

“What commandment is the foremost of all?” (Mark 12:28).

Jesus’ answer did more than weigh in on the longstanding disagreement.

It helped us understand how to balance our priorities.

Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. The Tel Dan Nature Preserve draws the locals as well as the travelers. It always has.

The high place and altar at Tel Dan.

(Photo: The high place and altar at Tel Dan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

In natural beauty, Tel Dan has few rivals in Israel. For the ancients, it had everything necessary for abundant living.

While the Hebrews in the south worshipped in Jerusalem, the natural beauty of Tel Dan in northern Israel offered an irresistible alternative. It was picturesque. It was convenient. It was invigorating.

And it was a complete compromise of God’s will.

2 Reasons Why Serving God isn’t Fulfilling

I hold as my single claim to fame the day I danced for the judges at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. But I’ll be honest: I never intended to dance.

There are at least 2 reasons why serving God can be unfulfilling.

(Photo: There are at least 2 reasons why serving God can be unfulfilling.)

I auditioned as a guitar player, yet when the judges called me back the next day, they asked me to dance as well! Oh dear.

End of audition. I immediately lost the job.

Why? They misplaced me. 

Keeping First Things First-Thing [Podcast]

Mark 1:14-39

Feeling distracted these days? Even Christ didn’t do everything but He did do what He was called to do. Jesus’ top priority was preaching. Many distractions—which God also uses for His plans—but you can spend a whole ministry on physical needs.

Through time with the Father focus is realigned and legitimate needs are left undone.

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First Things First [Podcast]

Haggai 1

It happens often. God’s people focus on their own needs to the neglect of the God’s commands. The wake-up call from God took place in Haggai’s day when God withheld His blessings. When the people repented and begin to obey, God immediately encouraged them with His presence and blessed them at the point of their obedience.

Renew your commitment to God’s priorities as your priorities. Put first things first.

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What Will Heaven Be Like? [Podcast]

Revelation 21-22

Jesus promised to prepare a real place for believers in His Father’s house. The new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem are described in Scripture as indescribable! Heaven’s occupants will both worship and serve forever and ever in the presence of the Lord who died for them.

In the meantime, believers should keep an eternal perspective and unbelievers should trust Christ without hesitation.

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Geographic Ironies of Herod and Jesus

The Bible loves irony—especially poetic justice. Think of Joseph’s brothers, hat in hand before the brother they betrayed. Or Haman—hanged on his own gallows. But one of my favorites has to do with the geographic ironies surrounding the death of Herod the Great.

Like an ugly cover on a great book, the places of Herod’s death bookend the life of Jesus.

We remember this time of year the magi who came and told the paranoid king that the “King of the Jews” had been born. Herod tried to slay Jesus by killing the boys of Bethlehem. But instead, God told Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt.

I remember standing in the Shepherds’ Field just outside of Bethlehem. As I glanced to the southeast, I spied the Herodium—the flat-topped, man-made mountain fortress Herod the Great had built for himself (see picture at left, taken from Bethlehem).

In a wonderful twist of poetic irony, the raving King Herod died and was buried in the Herodium—overlooking Bethlehem, the birthplace of the true King of Israel.

At the end of Jesus’ life, just a week before His death, He began His ascent to Jerusalem by leaving Jericho. Jesus would have passed between the palace buildings, which Herod had built for himself as a place to escape Jerusalem’s winters. The huge complex boasted large bathhouses, accessible through a vast reception hall, complete with mosaics, frescos, and gold and marble columns. The opulent palace straddled the ancient road Jesus traveled and connected to itself across a bridge that spanned the road. The buildings must have seemed striking to all who saw them.

When Jesus passed beneath the bridge between the buildings of Herod the Great, He must have considered this paranoid king who tried to kill Him as a boy in Bethlehem. Ironically, King Herod died in this Jericho palace while the true King of Israel lived to pass between its walls on His way to lay down His life.

The opulent palace of Herod the Great, as well as the Herodium fortress, today lie in ruins—testimonies to all earthly glory. (See picture at left of the ruins of Herod’s Jericho palace.)

Their testimonies still speak to us, don’t they? The irony of these places reminds me that the luxury, the comfort, the power and pride we often chase has futility as its results. The ruins remind us that we should pursue the example of the One who gave up His life for others—and in so doing, brought glory to the Father.

Easy to do? Not at all. But in the end—worth it.

Note: Herod has enjoyed a surge of publicity since archaeologists recently discovered his tomb at the Herodium—as recorded by the ancient historian Josephus (War I, 33, 8; Antiquities XVII, 196-199). Read about “New Discoveries at Herod’s Tomb” as well as a plethora of trustworthy archaeological information from my friend, Todd Bolen, on his BiblePlaces.com Blog.

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Post adapted from Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus.
Pictures courtesy of BiblePlaces.com.

God’s Next Big Event – The Rapture [Podcast]

1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Contrary to Hollywood, the next prophetic event isn’t the Antichrist or Armageddon. Believers are not due to experience wrath, but instead, Rapture from wrath! The Rapture of the church is imminent, instantaneous, and immortal.

Having this certain hope, believers should serve diligently while waiting . . . for we know that such service will be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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Who Cares About Tomorrow? [Podcast]

John 14

In a culture that lives for the moment, a series on biblical prophecy may seem like a waste of time. But one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic when it was written, God must have critical lessons to teach us there.

We study prophecy because prophecy gives purpose and priority to life, peace amidst confusion, and a stronger faith once prophecy is fulfilled. Jesus challenged us to live not as if there’s no tomorrow, but obediently, and in light of the certainty of His coming.

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