No.  If we put together all the sleuth work of Biblical scholars, Jesus was probably born in the spring, closer to the time of Easter.  I have to admit, the possibility that Immanuel was born around Easter, which is also Passover, adds some beautiful symmetry to Scripture!  December 25th is simply a time to celebrate this miraculous event.



There’s no question that churches (and cultures) certainly hold their Christmas traditions dear.  We certainly won’t find Christmas trees, gift-giving, cards, plays, or cantatas in the Bible.  It is human nature to connect tangible icons to our celebrations.  It is really, only wrong when it detracts from the true reason, which is the only real and true fact of Christmas; God came among us to save us.  Just as promised.



Christmas is the observation and celebration of a very old promise.  The concept of an anointed One coming to redeem humanity goes back as far as King David. (Psalms 2 and 110)  So that would make the promise 1000 years old by the time of Jesus the Christ.  Christmas revolves around the singular idea that God would be born as one of us.  What makes it really unique is that, rather than the usual religious focus of our sacrifice to a god; God sacrificed Himself for us.



In the economy of God’s justice, there must be perfect sacrifice for the imperfect nature of sin.  -Or righteousness to cover unrighteousness.  Since God alone is perfect, God had to be the once-and-for-all sacrifice.  Since humanity is guilty of sin, the sacrifice also had to be human.  The sacrifice would be fully man and fully God.  Some 4 centuries before Christ, we find prophecies pointing to this:

Isaiah 7:14
the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel means “God with us”, or “God among us.”



Yes and no.  The time of Christmas revolves around the winter solstice.  (One of two points at which the sun is highest or lowest on the horizon, depending which hemisphere you’re in.)  This celestial event has been an important observation in many ancient religions.  In short, the ancient Roman Catholic Church latched on to it as a great time to remember the birth of Christ and push aside some heathen thinking in the process.  But like every other day, it is what you make it.  God gives us that freedom of will.  One thing this day affords, is an opportunity to speak Christ into our culture in a way Christians rarely get the chance.


By the way did you know “Christian” means “little Christ”?  Christmas will happen regardless of the haters.  And we certainly have enough Grinches (religious & nonreligious) so why not make it meaningful and be a “little Christ” this year?  Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought.


This article was inspired by a great little piece by Jesse Johnson, teaching pastor at Immanuel bible Church, VA.  You can read his responses at:

THE QUESTIONS PROJECT: God, are you out there??



For all the questions we could explore, none of them mean a thing until we come to an honest answer to this one.  Does God exist- true or untrue?

The ironic thing about this question is, it is often approached as a preference and not truth.  People would prefer there was no God, or, they’d prefer God was “not like this” or He was “like that.”  The thing is; perception can be mere preference, but truth cannot.  Truth is what is real, like it or not.

A foundational qualification for God to be God is that He is the designer and sustainer of creation.  That being said, here are some realities to consider:

  • The complexity and uniformity of the cosmos.

We have developed theories of what holds the universe together, and how and why it is expanding.  But what’s behind our theories?  The ageless predictability of basic physics.  Science claims that our solar system is 4.6 billion years old.  And since its formation, our planet has been following the same orbit around the sun.  As far as consistent laws, that’s a pretty solid track record.

The universe is said to be 13.7 billion solar years, and it too, has followed the same laws of physics.  Even as we look into theoretical physics, and alternate laws, we can only consider the alternate because the consistent has remained so consistent.  If we ever discover an alternate reality where 1+1 doesn’t equal 2, it’s only because we have known that in our physical experience, 1+1 has always equaled 2.

Speaking of the universe, with the growing convictions on dark matter and dark energy, we are beginning to understand how the universe as a whole, is connected.  The fact that our planet is at just the right, miniscule distance from the sun, isn’t just a consequence of our solar system.  It is an effect of the entire galaxy, which in turn is the consequence of all the galaxies neighboring our galaxy.  How humbling to think that a thousand, thousand stars are just where they need to be so we can be here!

  • The phenomenon of life.

And life itself consists of thousands of lines of genetic code that work by producing their own energy source as they produce bio-code and pump out the right sequencing over and over.  Not only that, they have a built-in time clock dictating when it is time for life to stop.  The chance of that happening randomly, is about the same as the computer code of your device just falling into place to produce the software you are now using.  As we so painfully know; get a few lines of code wrong and nothing works!    …The cosmos operates in systems.  Systems point to a design.  Design points to a designer.

  • God Himself, we ourselves!

But perhaps the greatest evidence of God, is ourselves.  From the dawn of humanity we haven’t been able to abandon the idea of God.  The atheist turned God-seeker, Marilyn Adamson puts her personal experience like this:

“I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, ‘Ok, you win…’ It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.”

It makes sense that if an entity so far beyond us remains a constant question, it’s not because we have reached up and formed the question; it’s that He has reached down and placed the question in us.  Of course, that’s no new revelation.  Some 5,000 years ago, a very wise king wrote, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  Eccl. 3:11.

~Anyway, it is certainly food for thought to a very important question.


VelvetRabbitAt a get-together of pastors, one of my colleagues offered a great devotional.  He reminded us of a classic children’s story with a profound message.  With his permission, I am offering a version that was shortened to fit our local community paper.  Enjoy!


An important verse that guided my heart in ministry is what Paul says 1 Thess. 2:8.  “We love you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

The phrase, “share… our lives” can be translated… soul to soul. …I have no desire to live a hidden, isolated, unaccountable [unreal] life.  I think this explains why I love the story of the Velveteen Rabbit so much because it describes how toys become “real.”

Rabbit and the Skin Horse are talking.  “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.  “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.

“When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.  “You become. It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit.  And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.  But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said.  “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again.  It lasts for always.

“The Rabbit sighed.  He thought it would be a long time before this magic called ‘Real’ happened to him.  He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad.  He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

…As the Skin Horse says, “It doesn’t happen all at once.”  Our main task is to keep on becoming more and more REAL, and the moment we think we are somehow finished with the process, is the moment we start to regress in our spiritual growth.

Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought.

By Pastor Barry Tucker, Bainbridge Christian, used by permission. 

QUESTIONS PROJECT: Would a loving God cast people into Hell? (part 2)


In our previous article, we explored the nature of God.  The underlying quality of God is that He is perfect.  He isn’t simply loving, but perfect in His love.  He isn’t simply wise, but perfect in His understanding.  He isn’t simply fair, but perfect in His justice.  How does such a being restore a fallen humanity while remaining in harmony with His perfect nature?

Let’s start with this disturbing Bible passage on hell:

Revelation 20:14-15
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Let’s quickly give a Biblical context to a few words: Death is the absence of life.  Hades is basically, the grave, and the lake of fire is “hell.”  But have you ever asked yourself, why a lake of fire?

That involves a little history.  In one of the darkest periods of Old Testament Israel, the Hebrews erected a statue of the bull-god, Moloch.  The statue was actually a furnace set up in the Kidron Valley to the southwest of Jerusalem.  The fires below heated the metal statue and children were placed as a sacrifice on its red hot arms.  The screams of the children would be drowned out by the singing of the crowd.

After the reform of Israel, the valley was seen as a cursed place.  For centuries, it was only used as a trash dump.  The smell and the smoke of the smoldering refuse rose day and night.  The name of the place was “Gehenna” which is also the ancient name for hell.  The New Testament imagery of hell is based on this; the vilest period of Jewish history.

To be cast into Gehenna is to be removed from the presence of God.  Since God is life, it is to exist in a type of “non-life.” (The second death Rev. 2:18)   So the bottom line is this; hell is hell because God is completely absent.

As for the torture of hell; Scripture says that ultimately “every knee shall bow” (Phil. 2:10-11, Ro. 14:11).  That’s to say, believer and atheist alike, will see God fully.  They shall see Him as He really is.

There is a lot of discussion about this, but it seems reasonable to say that the torture of hell will not be fueled by our guilt or by literal flames.  The real flames of hell will be the burning remorse of experiencing the direct glory of God only to see it gone forever.  Worst of all, it will be a tragedy of our own making.  Hell is hell because God is not there.

On the other hand, the throne of God is the central theme of “heaven.”  There is not even any need for a sun, since God Himself is light. (Rev. 21:23)  Heaven is heaven because God is there; His presence being fully manifested.

The gates of hell are where perfect love and perfect justice merge.  We are all fallen, and twisted.  So how is it that just God, loving as He is, can allow any of us into His perfect Kingdom?

There’s a simple verse we teach our children, “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.”  We are given the opportunity to substitute God’s own perfect innocence for our guilt.  …But there is another side to it, “John 3:19- This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light.” We are saved or lost by what we choose.

Could a loving God cast people into hell?  If it is true that God’s Kingdom is a state of perfect innocence and that God wishes to restore creation to Himself- how could He possibly do anything else?  Keep in mind: He is only casting people into the ultimate end they’ve already chosen for themselves; God’s absence.  It is certainly food for thought.