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Review: The 40 Days, a Novel

Have you ever picked up a book just because you were so intrigued by its premise or plot? Something that you read on its cover called to you, piquing your curiosity. This is exactly why I offered to review The 40 Days, a Novel. That, and I also wanted a break from all the non-fiction reading I do! I thought a novel would be such a nice diversion!

Are you curious? What 40 days does the novel cover? Whose 40 days are they? Why these 40 days? Continue reading

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>Pondering the Christmas Gift

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Christmas is a time that people think about spiritual things. It’s kind of like Easter–many people go to church even if they don’t the rest of the year. Personally, I feel church is important so I do my best to attend as much as possible. But I’ve been thinking about Christmas and trying to give my heart time to be still (hard to do in this house!) and reflect on the amazing Gift God sent us–His Son Jesus.

What I’ve been thinking about is not from the traditional Christmas passage in Luke 2 or the beginning of Matthew. My mind keeps going to Philippians 2:5-11, a passage that talks about Jesus’ graciousness towards us in humbling Himself. If I really take time to just sit and think about it, I am amazed. I am awed that Jesus, who is God, would even consider lowering Himself to become human. Really, I can’t even imagine! Perfect God in human body living among sinners, being kind enough and patient enough not to zap them all for they way they treated Him and others. I can’t even be patient with my children and husband for a whole day, and here Jesus patiently lived among imperfect men for thirty-three years! I really cannot fathom it.

The passage in Philippians 2 explains the reason for Luke 2, the baby in the manger.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, 
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself
and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I would guess that most of us have heard the Christmas story of Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem. Most people are familiar with the angels and the shepherds and the wise men. We know “Silent Night,” “Away in a Manger,” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing!” I would also guess that many of us stop there. We leave Jesus in the manger, or think of Him as just a sweet baby who grew up to be a good man.
But Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus had a purpose when He came to earth. He “humbled Himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” This thought is humbling, too. Jesus loved us and sacrificed Himself for us. He knew we are sinners and cannot be in God’s perfect presence, so He, perfect, took our place. This reminds me of that very familiar verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God has given us the opportunity to accept Jesus’ sacrifice in our place. Again, this amazes me. It amazes me that God accepts our mortal repentance because of Christ’s sacrifice. Here’s another set of beautiful verses: Romans 10:9-11
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified,
and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”

Wow! God tells me that if I confess my sinful state and believe that Jesus took my place, I will be saved from the consequences of sin and “never be put to shame.” What beautiful and hopeful words!
Returning to Philippians 2, the end of that section says, “to the Glory of God the Father.” This sounds like Luke 2, “Glory to God in the highest.” They are all linked together. Jesus’ humbling Himself and coming to earth, our confession that we are sinful men and need Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf–they all bring glory to God. Again, amazing to think that I can even do something that brings glory to perfect, holy God!
So, when I sit with my boys on the couch and read a picture book about Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus, my mind doesn’t stop there. When my little man points to baby Jesus in the manger and  says, “He’s so cute,” I agree. But I also think of how that baby grew up in perfect manhood to give of Himself for me. I think of God’s amazing love and gracious gift.