Seeking to be a Light in the Darkness

Every day it seems what Paul wrote so many years ago is still so true, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32, ESV) It is amazing to me some of the things I read and see that just catch me off guard as I seem more out of touch with many views that I see from those who, how can I best say this, believe differently. Never before had I felt this in my life. I have tried to understand views with which I don’t agree, but with it seems that many changes are coming more quickly than I can keep up. Now many of the changing views that I see are not as prevalent where I live and serve, but it highlights the depth of the divide that seems to be only growing deeper within our world. The thing about much of this, however, is that it reminds me of a greater need to pray.

As Christians, we are called to be unified in Christ first and foremost. How that looks is often difficult. One of the things that I have been most convicted of in this exploration is coming to terms with areas in which my witness has been less than desirable. I know that I am a person that carries strong views and have never been afraid to share them. Honestly, I love discussing things with people that hold different views than I hold. That has continually become more difficult, which saddens me. I, also, have been more open to sharing my views in posts on Social Media in the past. Not that I haven’t engaged recently, but my engagement has become less and less as I just don’t desire to have it devolve into something less of engagement and more of a fight. The chasm is deepening not only between Christian and non-Christian but even among the various Christian groups, it is becoming deeper.

There are a great many terms that are out there to describe each group, but the terms I feel may be helpful are traditional versus progressive. Now, this is an oversimplification because even within each of these groups there are differing views. Ultimately, for Christians, it begins with what level of authority one gives Scripture and that authority centers mostly on how one read the Word of God. Again, this is an oversimplification. Why do I say that? Because of a varying view of how one defines “authority.” As I unravel this thread, I find that I am made all the more keenly aware of the complicated nature of how to discuss this. If I say that we are to read the Word of God, plainly, many will interpret that as meaning “literally.” This is not the same thing. Traditionally, a plain reading of Scripture would “as it is written.” This does not make it any easier as there are those that will parse it further in order to make a case in which one could say that each view holds the authority of Scripture equally though different.

So, here it becomes difficult.

How does one minister in these new waters?

How can we find reconciliation?

As I write this my heart is aching because I can’t give any definitive answers, but prayer. In prayer, I seek to find answers that will drive action. But like the apostles were told by Jesus, I wait. I am sure that the disciples, right after the resurrection, were itching to get out and do something. That is why Jesus said, “Wait.” Waiting is not necessarily inaction, but a time to see it all laid out and giving time for a full revelation. This is my journey now, as I wait. I do believe that God is at work and there is a reason for this heaviness on my heart.  So, for those of you that read this, I have one request. Before you respond, pray. Pray with me, pray for me, and wait.

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Myths of Man

Little girl reading a bookOne of my favorite genres of reading is SciFi/Fantasy. Being transported to a mythical world where everything is possible. My imagination gets racing, and I used to idealize these when I was a teen and young adult. Now, I find it hard to believe personally, but I have entered that point that is often called “middle-aged.”  Even so, my love of SciFi/Fantasy has not gone away. Stories are great for teaching lessons and making a point more subtly.

Early in my faith journey, this love of stories really made the sharing of the faith easier. It is nice to be able to look at the Word and find connections to life. Sometimes, it does hit a little closer to home for some because with any good story it will be relatable to most people. This may cause a little poke to someone that is not ready to admit the issues that they are struggling with, people like to wear masks, and until they are ready to take them off, it can be dangerous to remove them. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, when exposed they most probably will bite.

Unfortunately, the risk of storytelling in our post-modern age is even it what is being told is true and historical it may not be believed as anything more than a story. That is what has happened to many when it comes to the Holy Scriptures. The history of the Bible has been, for many, reduced to an ancient myth like the Epic tales of other ancient cultures. We find warnings of this throughout Scripture.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

(2 Timothy 4:1–4, ESV)

As I have shared previously about my journey from Evolutionism to Creationism, this journey has been a process. Now, I didn’t buy the whole idea that we evolved from ape-like creatures or that all life evolved from a single-celled organism. The millions of years was not an issue and the idea that the biblical account of Creation was just one myth about creation was what I had believed. It was what I was told. Even in Seminary, I was taught that it was just one of the many Creation Myths that can be found in ancient writings. At the time it made sense, and that is what the professors taught so it must be true. However, it didn’t sit right. One pivotal moment in Seminary was when the professor began a class by stating that, as he believed, all the Gospels were not historical accounts of the life of Jesus but political documents written for the early Christian followers.

How does one who is educated and is entrusted to teach to faith come to such a point? It begins in whose authority you trust. If the Bible is just a book of spiritual stories that are a way to being a better person in touch with the creative being that brought all things into life, it can become easier to move away and explain away much of the Bible as a book of myths. In High School, I was introduced to Joseph Campbell and one of his most influential writings, The Power of Myth. This was probably one of the best and worst influences in my spiritual life. I say that because in what he wrote I was given insight into the mind of many academics that confront the faith today. Worst because it enticed me to not follow Christ early in my life and helped to lead me into a different path for a time in my life. That is the danger of the type of thinking that we have today that causes us to not necessarily trust in Scripture. With groups like the Jesus Seminar and the like that only spiritualizes the Bible and does not see it as historical in any sense we see beginning with Creation to the Flood to Abraham to the Exodus and all the events that occur between as being nothing more than mythic tales it is easy to begin to look at the New Testament in the same light. Each portion written not as it was written but as one great Epic to help teach us how to understand ourselves and God, which may go by other names to other cultures and is within their stories also. Some may find this to be a jump in logic, but it does not take long to find where this is occurring.

It is the common words we hear in Genesis 3, “Did God really say…?” When the seed of doubt is planted and the validity of the Bible account is questioned, where does our faith begin to lie? In the ideas of men? Or in God? So, it begins. Now I know the arguments of the scientific method, is it is testable, repeatable and observable. With that in mind, it is true that the account of the Bible does not meet that standard established in the 17th Century. The other reality is that neither does the Big Bang Theory or Evolution. The idea of Evolution has never been observed, is not testable, and is not repeatable. The same is true with the Big Bang. So, it seems to be a matter of faith, at least from my perspective.

So, here my journey leads. As a follower in Jesus Christ, I have chosen to stand on the Word of God as opposed to the ideas of man. As I stand on that Word, I find confidence. I trust in what was inspired by God for man to write down. I choose to trust in the historical narrative recorded in Genesis. It’s not a setting aside of rational thought or a lack of trust in science. I love to learn about science and how things are created. I love technology. The last I looked none of the the things of science have come from nothing, I have not had my laptop evolve into a faster better computer, nor have I seen an explosion generate something other than rubble. This view is one that places my faith not in ideas that try to explain away God, but in the wondrous gift that God has given us in His Creation. God has given us brilliant minds that have been gifted for the benefit of all creation. That has never changed. Some of the greatest minds were faithful believers and trusted in the Word of God. Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those in history that haven’t misused ideas drawn from biblical understanding not unlike the rise of eugenics that came from the ideas presented by Charles Darwin. Truth be told, we are sinful. That does not mean the Word of God is wrong. No matter which way we look we will have to submit to a set of assumptions. One could assume that the Bible is the true, inspired Word of God and that the historic narrative of Genesis is as it presents itself, the account of Creation and God’s work within His creation or one could base his/her understanding of Creation based upon the ideas of human beings.

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Why Creationism? Part 2

Tamara Bauer - Little Girl Reading

© Tamara Bauer | – Little girl reading

Now there is some great pleasure that is derived from reading Scripture as it is written and how it comes to life. Some would argue that to believe Creationism, however, is contrary to science and to believe it means that one must set aside any logical thinking. This I disagree with in many ways, particularly when the “great” Evolutionary Science minds like Hawkins, Degrassi, Nye, and the like will criticize those who believe in God but then teach and talk about us coming from stardust or being seed planted by an advanced alien culture. The reality is that when it comes to origins, we can either believe in God and trust in the Bible or in the thinking of man. The Bible warns us of this often. In fact, this began in Genesis. We read in Genesis 4 with the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, then we hear about Cain’s descendant Lamech (the first bigamist and the second murderer), and as we read in the 6th chapter that tells us how the thoughts of man were evil all the time. Evil is anything that is contrary to God. I know that that is hard for many of us to hear since even the best of us do things contrary to God’s will. This was the reason that God entered Creation as the Son, Jesus Christ.

Now we can look at the way that Genesis 1 is written, and the majority of Hebraists will state that the word for day in Hebrew, yom, when written ordinentially, with a number, it is speaking of what we understand as a literal day which it also states, “evening and morning, the  X day.” It’s true that light was created on day 1 and the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets in the Heavens were not created until day 4.  Some struggle with this reality, but let’s look at Genesis 1:14-15, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.” God created lights in the heavens in preparation for us. Plants and animals don’t keep track of time, we do. Personally, I found it to be a greater struggle to reconcile the old earth mindset, particularly the whole idea that we evolved from ape-like creatures.  The question to ask for those of us who believe in God, is it out of possibility that God created light without a Sun? Being omnipotent, all-powerful, I believe that this is a simple act for God. Thinking of the preparation and order, in reading Genesis 1, I find that God had us in mind from Day 1 and all was done in preparation for His creation of us, the only beings created in His image.

Now the second issue that was raised in comments with friends on Facebook is one that I would like to spend a little more time on. That is the idea that there is a contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2, that they are two different Creation accounts. The problem that was brought up in the discussion was how in Genesis 1:27 it reads that man and woman were created at the same moment. Genesis 2, however, first creates man, and then creates woman. Oddly enough this is not the normal argument that is used for the contradiction argument. In a plain reading, this is easy to understand because Genesis 2 is a fuller explanation of Day 6, particularly on the creation of man. Now, more commonly this argument looks at the statements in verses 5-7 and the plants.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:5–7, ESV)

So, here is the supposed contradiction, but let’s also look at the verses just preceding this.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1–3, ESV)

Reading this as a historical narrative, a.k.a. plainly, meaning as it is written. We can look at Chapter 1 as the telling of how God created and then as we move into the close of this in Chapter 2 in which we see how God rested, not out of necessity, but example. The seventh day of rest was not for God’s benefit, but to set aside a day in which we should rest, like God. In this, we also find how God created seven days, for our benefit. Then we move into the next verses, and a transition is clear within the narrative. However, there are those that will argue as we read about the plants in verses 5 it speaks of the “bushes of the field” (siah hassadeh)  and “plants of the field” (eseb hessadeh). The key term is “of the field (hassadeh). These would be the plants that would be cultivated and harvested. The Hebrew was written in this way and in a plain reading this can be clear. If one desires to read this as myth for the purpose of justifying the millions of years, it will definitely be an area of justification. The garden is a specific place set apart by God for man and woman.  It makes sense since we are God’s special creation as we, as man and woman, are created in the image of God.

Personally, I love this part because we find how God had planned for us and the special gift of man and woman for one another. The original plan of marriage was laid out for us in this area also. A perfect partnership and God’s use of the rib to create the woman out of the man shows the uniqueness of the complementary relationship between man and woman. Originally, it was meant as a partnership, but because of sin, it has been less then what God desired. There is so much more that I could speak to in this, but at this time I will leave some for another posting.

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Why Creationism?

As I have grown in faith, I have been on a journey. Growing up in a family that one may deem semi-religious with a father that was not a church person and a mother that was somewhat I did not have what one would call a strong biblical upbringing, though, I did have some great influences in my life in and out of my family. There have been a great many ways that God has prepared me in the faith which has led me to where I am today.

One of the greatest changes that God has brought in my life that has transformed and continues to transform me is the centrality of the Bible into my life. This process is ongoing and continues to work within me chipping away layers that I am often not aware of in my own living. I am not a legalist being one who believes that I must live according to Levitical law or feel bound by the legalism that many can be caught up within any religious movement. In my study and growth in faith, I have been convicted as Martin Luther urged Christians at the time of the Reformation in which he called us to read the Scriptures, the Word of God, plainly, meaning as it is written. At the time of Luther and the Reformation, there was great difficulty for him and for Christianity. The academics of the time which were also leaders within the Church were enamored with ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Plato and liked to allegorize much of the Word of God. Now allegory can be useful in application and understanding. However, allegory can be dangerous because it may cause one to see the whole of Scripture as being meant to be read as allegory, a story meant to point to something greater.

Most often this begins with Genesis 1. Growing up, I was taught Evolution in school. This wasn’t problematic overall, though, I never bought into the evolving from ape-like creatures bit but the Big Bang, Billions of years, and the evolution of animals all seemed to make sense since that was what the scientists said. As God worked upon my spirit, this changed from evolution to Intelligent Design, and now I am a Creationist. My desire is not to tell people to set aside rational thinking but to realize that the starting point of Origins is based upon belief. This belief is in Scripture as the Word of God or a belief in Naturalism which tries to define Creation as a natural event. Ultimately, it is a question of where one’s faith truly lies. The question isn’t a question of salvation for those who trust in Jesus Christ, but it makes it easier to develop a faith that may not necessarily be trusted in the biblical Jesus or may make everything into myth. The foundations of our faith are based on our trust in the Word of God. If we begin to tear that foundation down beginning with Creation as written in Genesis beginning with chapter 1 verse 1, it becomes easier to discredit and discount other aspects of Scripture as being myth and/or untrustworthy. First, the Genesis account of Creation is a story, the next to often fall is the Flood account and so on until we question the Virgin birth of Jesus, to the miracles of Jesus, to the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection, so the whole of Scripture becomes a spiritualized book of stories to help us in living and it loses power over our understanding of life and how we should live our lives.


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From dust you came….

Ashes on Head

Do you realize that you are created in the image of God? You are wonderfully made, unlike any other creature that has life upon the earth. Our Lord not only formed you from dust at Creation, but He breathed the breath of life into you. Yes, you are in the image of God. That’s what we find in Genesis 1:26. In this season we are reminded that we were formed by God out of dust. That is meant to humble us, but we mustn’t forget that we are more than just dust, but we are special being formed in the image of God with the breath of God breathed into us.

The tragedy is that we are so deceived in our world. That deception began in the Garden shortly after we were formed. It began with the words of the Serpent that deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden beginning with the words, “Did God actually say…?” (Genesis 3:1)Genesis 3 The difficulty of this questions has troubled us ever since the Fall. So much so that the norm of the world is to make this a myth, a tale which has great spiritual implications but is not to be read as being a historical account. In fact, for those of us that believe and trust in the Creation account as being a trustworthy account that is meant to be believed and read as history. This account has been replaced by the ideas that Darwin presented that have boiled all of creation into animals evolved over millions of years in which death and suffering predated the creation of man and the creation of man was not in God but a chance evolution from a lower being. Our status as image bearers of God is removed and replaced with the status of being just another animal.

In this worldly model life is boiled down to the simple elements of usefulness. A baby forming in the womb is just a blob of cells that is only valued to the desire of the mother and to be removed if it is an inconvenience. Daily thousands of babies are killed for the sake of convenience with the words, “This is MY body!” being shouted out for those of us that would speak to the salvation of the baby. We are even seen as being simple-minded if we call the baby in the womb a baby, but are corrected that the baby is a fetus and not yet a baby. Abortion on demand is deemed a right because it is only good for those that desire to have a baby and sex is no longer an act of intimacy to be enjoyed in the bonds of marriage, but a recreational activity that is to be enjoyed between two consenting adults. The sexual revolution has made sex a tool and people as objects of pleasure. As long as both parties consent, do as you please, follow your bliss, and be true to yourself.

Why do we wonder why people treat others like objects? Why does it surprise us when somebody kills another that bothers them? That is what animals do, isn’t it? A common argument that those that deny God and think of themselves as good is this, “If you need God to make you good, you’re not good anyway.” But outside of God, now understand this, God reveals Himself in creation in a natural revelation. He is not fully known by all, in fact, when we look to nature and the violence and volatility we seen within it we find a god that we must appease. In some cultures this was through animal sacrifices, but we also see it in how we treat and care for creation. The survival of the fittest is the norm of the land. How do we define good? Well, outside of the faith that we find in the Bible and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, good is an subjective term based upon what one feels is good for them or a group determines is good for the society. In this mentality it is good to kill those that cannot care for themselves or may place a burden on the group as a whole. Ultimately, good becomes whatever feels good and may be limited by the harm it may bring to larger society. If two people come together and one enjoys pain and the other enjoys giving pain, what business is it of ours unless they cross a line and one dies. If one feels that they no longer want to live, let them take their life. That is the difficulty we live in.

In light of the recent tragedy in Parkland, FL we see the fulness of this as we see a loner feel justified in the taking of life, probably wishing for infamy. Now, I am saddened by the fights that arise as sides become entrenched on the tool of death but what is of greater sadness is how many miss the point completely. In a society that believes in death on demand whether it be abortion or euthanasia (sometimes called death with dignity) why should we expect less? Families are being torn apart for the sake of comfort. Worship of God has been replaced with the worship of self in sport, comfort, and being able to do as you please, self-gratification. Marriage has been recreated as just a contractual relationship that is between two adults as long as they are “in love” with one another that can easily be dissolved by court order. The image bearer title is diminished further and further.

In this season of Lent, we are given a great opportunity to reflect and pray on these things. To reflect on the struggles we face and how we fail and fall short in our care for others, our trusting in God, and our love of our Lord’s Creation. It is a season of penitence, but also renewal. The desire is not to creat guilt or shame, but renewal and rebirth. As we are humbled, we are also reminded of the love of our God and how we bear His image. Hopefully, this will help in renewing faith and help us go out into the world with a renewed purpose to share the love of God with others. That is my prayer. I pray this not only for others, but for myself. As in this season, God lifts much from my shoulders and I seek to reflect Him more in my living. May His light reflect more greatly from you also. Amen.

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The Great Divide

We humans are easily tempted. We are tempted by everything that surrounds us. This picture is a great representation for that. If I were selling wine, this would be an excellent picture. It has many aesthetically pleasing elements that one could find within this simple photograph. In looking at an image all our senses can be stimulated and depending on where your temptations lie a different aspect of this picture will have a different appeal. Ultimately, our nature is tempted to things that are contrary to the will of God. Paul struggled with this in his ministry and he speaks of it often in his writing most notably we can look at Romans 7:15,“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (ESV) He further goes on to speak of how sin binds our flesh, however we are freed through Christ. Now he does not excuse sin with this understanding, but it highlights the need for Christ. On our own the battle is hopeless, but in Christ…there is hope.

I have had many a discussion with Christians about the bondage of our will, being a Lutheran and in agreement with Luther’s Christian understanding, particularly when it comes to the Will, I enjoy the discussion. When I hear the term “free will,” I laugh inside because I have found that left to my own choices I would be without hope and finding myself the fool. I have felt the transforming work of God in my life and continue to be amazed as his hand continues to shape and transform me. Personally, I know that there is a lot more work to be done on me by God. This is not meant to be spoken as self-abasement or false-humility, just a reality that I will not be right until the good Lord takes me from this mortal coil. My hope is that my witness points to Christ and that others come to know Him through my positive witness and in spite of my shortcomings (I do hope that the latter is greater!).

The reality is that in our lives there is a great chasm. A divide in us that we are unable to traverse by our own power.  This divide is what we are and what God reveals that He desires for us to be. No matter how much we strive to cross this divide we will fail on our own. Christ, however, guides us in our lives so that we do not fall in and eventually we will be carried over at the end.

This divide is dangerous because the reality of our fallenness is kept to the forefront of our hearts. The hopelessness of relying upon the concept of “free will” and choosing God is part of the churning waters that much of the world struggles against. When the struggles of life overcome it leads to despair and hopelessness and often masks the love that our Lord has for all of His creation. I see the struggles of this world overwhelm many as the temptations of this world have become too much. Some have taken a permanent solution to a temporary reality in the taking of their own lives, while others have closed the door of faith in Christ and turned to faith in self.  Christ desires for you to know Him, but, ultimately, to understand that you are known by Him. In this realization, there is no loneliness or hopelessness but the eternal promises stand firm in Him. May Christ’s peace fill your heart and your mind in faith to eternal life. Amen.

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

wood manger.jpgThat is one of my favorite hymns. The ancient hymn has such a tone that is surreal and set apart. The words, solemn yet hopeful, build up with “rejoice, rejoice!” The words just resonate so deep within me. The thirteenth-century words with a tune from and a cathedral psalter of similar age show reveal a timeless knowledge and yearning. Christ has come, Christ will return, Come Lord Jesus. Christ’s return is long awaited. There are those that wish to rush it, but our Lord will not be influenced by our desires in this. God will return in his time.

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:36–44, ESV)

Though, many times we are impatient, there is a great grace in this. That grace gives us time to share with our loved ones, friends, and others in our communities who do not yet know Jesus Christ or believe in him as Lord and Savior.  This is difficult, though. The struggles that we face day to day inside and outside of the Church make my heart yearn for Christ’s return. Though, I think of the imagery of the Flood that Jesus points to in his parable. Then I think of the horror it must have been for Noah and his family being the sole survivors that God chose as I am sure that there were cries and screams heard by those outside as they were being overwhelmed by the quickly rising waters. Many of those were people that they had known and loved, but had probably scoffed at invitations and warnings presented by Noah and his family over the years of preparation. That may be one of the things that haunted him as Noah overindulged in the fruits of the harvest and became drunk with wine.

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.” (Genesis 9:20–23, ESV)

The punishment given to Ham’s descendants through Canaan may seem harsh, but may also point to something further. Ham also lost much in the flood, it can be certain that friends and family that he loved were also gone and there may have been some disdain that he held against his father for all that had happened. This, of course, is not clear but the response of Noah and, ultimately, God show that there were some great issues in the relationship with Ham that was much more than just he had seen his fathers nakedness. It is about the desire of Ham to reveal his father’s shame.

The flood did not remove sin from creation because sin is something deep within us on this side of paradise. God had foretold of this,

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, ESV)

Sin would only be covered through his own work by entering into his own creation. Each year we celebrate this miracle on Christmas and in Advent we sing our praises as we await his return. It was in that rough wood of a manger that we find our Lord, which points us to the rough wood of the Cross that would be the fulfillment that is realized in the Resurrection.

During this season of Advent, may your heart be filled with a renewed vigor to share the Good News of our Lord and his first coming as we await his second. “O Come, O Come,  Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.”

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