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What is Christmas

A New Look at An Old Truth
By Dr. Gene Scott
C Stands for Christ
Christmas is Christ. You don’t have to start there, but you should: With Christ the person. You can read the Bible for creeds, for rules of behavior, you can read it as history, and you can read it to find directions for ritual. And you can still miss the essence of what it is, which is a communication from a person, about a person.

Every giant in God’s book differs from the other in qualities of human behavior, but you’ll find one common denominator that appears through all the other matters of their religious experience: A LIVING RELATIONSHIP with a LIVING PERSON!

The word “Christian” means “follower of Christ,” and that is a relationship with a person. It’s not what one does and does not do that makes him a Christian. A Christian follows Christ.

Before Christ the relationship was largely an unseen relationship with a reality not seen until that first Christmas day when the unseen became seen. That’s when the substance of God moved onto the stage of history and that’s what was laid in a manger! God revealed Himself in a Person. Christmas was BORN.

H Stands for Helper
What kind of person is Jesus? When the angel appeared to Joseph, the father of Christ, to announce to him that Mary was to bear a son conceived by the Holy Spirit, He said, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:21). You know where that name comes from? Jesus is the Greek designation for the Old Testament name, “Joshua,” meaning literally “God our helper.”

At Christmas in that manger, in that little baby child, we confront God the person coming out of the unseen to the seen, and His name shall be called GOD, OUR HELPER. That’s what God gave us on the first Christmas day: A person to help us.

R Stands for Redeemer
We read in the Gospels that Jesus came to give His life as a ransom, and to the Jewish people the word “ransom” was the price you always paid to restore lost freedom from bondage, to provide life where death was to be the portion, to pay a penalty in order to set free or redeem the one who was in bondage or going to die. That was a ransom. Jesus came to give His life as a ransom, and among the joys of Christmas, remember He came to REDEEM us all through that ransom.

The book of Ruth is the only book in the Bible that portrays the role of a kinsman-redeemer out of
Hebrew theology in the person of Boaz. At Christmas time I like to think about the kinsman-redeemer. Under Jewish law he had to have four qualities: (1) He must have the means to pay for the redemption; (1) He had
to do it voluntarily without coercion; (3) He must actually pay it; and (4) He had to be one near of kin.

That last item is why Christmas has the meaning it has. Not from heaven’s throne could the help man needed in redemption be given. It had to be a REDEEMER NEAR OF KIN. So he had to be conceived and born of woman, that we might have one who is “kinned,” who is touched with an awareness of our infirmities. That’s what Christmas is: He had to be born of flesh to become like us in order to be a REDEEMER-KINSMAN.

I Stands for Immanuel
If you want to know what God is like, those disciples could say, “He’s with us.” “In the beginning was the Word,” John said, “. . . and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1, 14). From the rough language of wartime Grecian armies of the day, the Word “dwelt” meant to strike a tent and move in.” Literally, the Word was God, and that Word was made flesh and “tented.” God with us - Immanuel! (The New Testament spells it with “E” but the Old Prophet word was with an “I.”) God struck a tent of human flesh in a miserable little land, in those dirty, dusty roads to be “with “ us! An eternal Christmas presence was given there.

S Stands for Sermon
The Latin Bible reads in John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the “sermo,” and the “sermo” was made flesh and dwelt among us. The English word “sermon” is a cognate of the Latin word “sermo.” A sermon was therefore BORN on that first Christmas. That sermon was Christ, and that’s the only true sermon. God came to preach a sermon, and the sermon was Himself.

If there is any one thing that stands out about Jesus Christ in contrast to other founders of religions, it is that only Jesus preached Himself. That babe lying in that manger came to walk dusty streets, to be seen, heard and watched by mankind. And if you want to know what God is like - He is like Jesus. Do you know what Stood out in New Testament preachers? Other learned men said of them that they were ignorant and unlearned men, but they saw something else. They had been with Jesus. They communicated the true SERMON, which must ever be the Christmas message: Know Christ! (John 17:3)

T Stands for Truth
The bible says, “God is love.” That He is! But the bible also say of Jesus, “He came full of grace and truth.” The joy I have at Christmas is the revelation of God’s integrity, as well as His love. God is against sin. He says, “for sin came death.” But He loves me, and one who did not sin had to die to pay the price that took care of my sins. God kept His word.

When I see that babe in the manger who ultimately paid the price of your and my redemption with His life, every challenge to redemption must fall at the feet of God, who kept His word. Calvary expressed love,
but it was made necessary by truth. God would keep His word and cause full payment for sin, even though paying the full price Himself. That “scar” on Christmas must always remind us of the price for the gift.

M Stands for Messiah
When sin came, God could not join with sin, and man was separated from the source of life itself.
When Jesus was born, “. . . the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11). That’s the mission of His coming.

Messiah means “deliverer.” God’s deliverer for us from that which is the consequences of our sins: That’s the messiah concept in its fullness. The death of Jesus opened the door for God to reach and deliver us out of our separation to deliver us from sin and its death.

The Messiah in a manger was the deliverer. That’s why the angel sang that first Christmas night: “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy . . .” (Luke 2:10).

A Stands for Adam the Second
When Christmas came, one arrived from heaven’s throne to help, to become near of kin with the price of redemption. By the first Adam came death. By the second Adam came life (1 Corinthians 15: 45-55). Peace with God is obtained. Joy to the world! You can relate to God again because a new race is born. The bible says that he is the Firstborn among many brethren. He not only died for my sins and yours, but God raised him up to redeem us all that we might be born into the family of God. That gives us hope for life eternal and that, too, is what Christmas is about.

S Stands for Son
There are two interesting references to the “son” in the Psalms. “The Lord hath said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee” (Psalms 2:7). The Hebrew word for “son” used here is “Ben,” and refers to the firstborn. “Kiss the Son” (Psalms 2:12). Here, the Hebrew word for “son” is “Bar’ and it refers to the one who carries the full inheritance of the race, not just the front runner of the line.

The difference is subtle; but the meaning is different in Hebrew. Christ the firstborn son of God, also carries the full inheritance of God (Philippians 2:9-11).

God places us in Christ and He puts us into this lineage, and He says, “Thou art my son.” Then He says, “Kiss the Son,” and here it is the Son who is the heir of all things; and we become “joint heirs” (Romans 8:17) with Him when we accept His lordship over our lives (symbolized by “kiss the Son” which so beautifully expresses love).

Oh what a Christmas gift.

So, What is Christmas?

Christmas is Christ: Our Helper, Redeemer-Kinsman, Immanuel, Sermon, Truth, Messiah, The Second Adam - The Son. That babe in the manger one day will rule over all this earth. One day He’ll become King of Kings, Lord of Lords. And you can join His kingdom in the symbolic act of giving your life to Him. “Kiss the Son” on Christmas!

Copyright, © 1973 by W. Eugene Scott, Ph.D.
Reprinted by permission of Pastor Scott




From Margaret:
First of all Rodney and I want to thank everyone who remembered our birthday. We received many lovely cards and greetings in letters. We know how hard it is to get cards in prison. Many prisons no longer sell cards, and if they do they are very expensive. So a greeting in a letter is appreciated just the same.
     
      I was listening to Pastor Melissa Scott yesterday evening, and she was telling how she would be going to visit the prisons more this coming year. She knew that this is what God wanted and she spoke at length about how few there are out here who have the desire to know God. It’s almost like He has to put a person in a place - a sickbed or prison, in order to get their attention.
     
      Anyway, as she spoke, I was reminded of Jim, one of our brothers in a Kansas prison. I was told by another inmate that one day he and Jim were looking out at the pine trees surrounding the prison, and Jim said, “Ain’t we lucky to have been sent to a such a place where we could get to know God?” I’ll never forget those words. We all should have such an attitude.. Jim has faithfully written to us for more than twenty years. His faith remains strong and his commitment to God never wavers. God put him in a place where He got Jim’s attention. If you all could see that, then maybe the holidays, and every day, would be less lonely and bleak.
     
      This is your opportunity to secure your place in eternity and to get to know what God did for you, and why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
     
      What is Christmas about? Dr. Scott said it so well. I can’t really add a lot to his words. But this is a time to remember the gift that God gave us. He paid a price so great that it paid for every sin ever committed, past, present, and future. It was a laid on Christ, and He set us free from the penalty and guilt. Ask God to make this a reality to your heart this coming year.
     
     * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




News Notes for December, 2008

November was a rough month around here. It begin with Brian falling off of a ladder and breaking his leg (the Tibia bone below the knee) on November 2nd. He was in the hospital for over three weeks, and in fact he just came home a couple of days before Thanksgiving. He’s in a wheelchair and won’t be able to put any weight on his leg for at least two to three more months. His recovery is going well now, but it will take a while to heal.

So in order to get Brian up the steep flight of steps in front of the house we built a wheelchair ramp. It’s a pretty good drop from Brian and Gail’s front door to the driveway, so the ramp had to be built in three sections - one coming out of the house, one connected to that down to the bottom of the stairs, and one running along the side of the house. It’s still a steep grade, as we didn‘t have much room to work with. Brian’s boss and some of the guys from the shop, along with Terry and Walnut and I, spent last Saturday building the ramp, and then Walnut and I finished it up on Sunday,
a couple of days before Brian came home. It looks like part of a ride at an amusement park, or


something a skateboarder would love to get on, but it works for getting Brian in and out so that he can make his rehab appointments.

While Brian was in the hospital Eddie came down with pneumonia and had to be admitted to the VA hospital in Fayetteville. It sure gave us a scare, but the doctors put him on antibiotics and after a few days his lungs cleared up . He was able to come home yesterday and made it in time to watch the Razorbacks beat LSU. I know he and Brian both feel a lot better just being home.

Next, it was the IRS, and although it’s not official yet, it looks like we are going to owe quite a bit - about twice as much as we had been hoping for. It’s more than the bank will loan us, so we’re going to have to look at other sources for the money, and as you all know this is a very bad time to be borrowing money. So we are going to be buried further in debt, and from a human perspective it doesn’t look too good. But everyone here (all of us) still believes that God will somehow balance the books to the point where we will make it.

Wait! There is more. Brian’s brother, Terry, along with nearly twenty other guys, were laid off from the shop last week. It looks like the economical crises is hitting “main street” now, or at least it certainly is for us. Terry is out of work for the time being, Brian has lost his income for the next couple of months, and the IRS is wanting their money. That’s not to mention things like the expense for building the ramp, a wheelchair, the hospital and doctors’ bills, or the $700 Shirley just found out it will take to fix her van. It seems like tribulation and despair on the mountain.

But it’s not! We are counting our blessings: Brian could have been hurt a lot worse, or disabled permanently, but he wasn’t. He will heal. And Eddie made it home and beat pneumonia, which at his age is an accomplishment. Terry will be able to stay with us as he can draw unemployment until the shop picks up more work. We will find a way to pay the IRS, and although it’s going to affect what the ministry will be able to do in the future, it will be behind us and we will still be here. Most importantly, we have this mountain God gave to us, and we have each other.

So this month (December) we prepare for the end of one year and the beginning of another. Maybe we’re due for a break now, but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s always going to be something, but like I said, there are blessings in even the worst of circumstances. And we still feel like we are blessed. I hope that everyone has a good Christmas and a great year ahead.
Rodney




Because we know that all of you are lonely, especially during the holiday season, we wanted to share this little piece written by Elisabeth Elliot:

What to do With Loneliness
(From the book, Faith That Does Not Falter)

Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste to your soul. Use the stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.


Remember that you are not alone. Jesus promised His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matthew 28.20). Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2nd Corinthians 4:17-18: For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your grief’s and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.

Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, or somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

The important thing is to receive this moment’s experience with both hands. Don’t waste it. “Wherever you are, be all there,” Jim* once wrote. “Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

By Elisabeth Elliot

* Jim was Ms. Elliot’s husband, who was murdered by the Auca Indians in South America while doing missionary work there during the 1950’s.




Prayer Requests for December, 2008
For Juan Garcia & everyone in the “Unity Program” at Tucker, Arkansas.

For Anthony Grayson at Fallsburg, New York, who is working on a new appeal.

For Ed Ewing, Tulare, California, who is 87 years old. He is having a lot of problems with his feet and legs (due to diabetes), and was just moved to another long-term care facility.

For Ken Hogan, Death Row at McAlester, Oklahoma, who is having problems with high blood sugar.

For Michael Jones at Cushing, Oklahoma for his health to improve. He is having numerous problems.

For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, that he “becomes stronger in the Word.”

For Frank Williams, Jr. who is on death row at Grady, Arkansas, and for his Mother who is very ill and not expected to live much longer.

For Steve Oakley’s parents who both have diabetes and are loosing their eye sight. Steve is one of our neighbors who lives in Prairie Grove.

For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, that he’ll be able to walk with his new forearm crutches, and that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon.

For Mickey Miller at McAlester, Oklahoma, for his depression. His Mother recently passed away.

For Raymond “Peanut” Sanders at Iowa Park, Texas, for his health and safety, and that he will be transferred soon.

For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.

For Pastor Melissa Scott and her ministry in Los Angeles.

For Willie Harper, Joliet, Illinois, who recently had stomach surgery to remove cancerous tumors, that he stays “cancer free.”

For Henry Buckaloo at Holdenville, Oklahoma, who is having problems with high blood pressure.

For our new friends in India, George Matthew and his family, and that Mr. Matthew’s son, Ajith, finds a Christian woman for marriage.

For all of us at Wingspread, especially for Brian, that his leg heals quickly, and for Eddie, for strength and health.















Click picture to ZOOMThis is what the forest looks like in the winter





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