Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Christ of Christmas

Christ for sickness, Christ for health, 
Christ for poverty, Christ for wealth, 
Christ for joy, Christ for sorrow, 
Christ today and Christ tomorrow; 
Christ my Life, and Christ my Light, 
Christ for morning, noon and night, 
Christ when all around gives way, 
Christ my everlasting Stay; 
Christ my Rest, and Christ my Food, 
Christ above my highest good, 
Christ my Well-beloved Friend, 
Christ my Pleasure without end; 
Christ my Savior, Christ my Lord, 
Christ my Portion, Christ my God, 
Christ my Shepherd, I His sheep, 
Christ Himself my soul to keep; 
Christ my Leader, Christ my Peace, 
Christ hath wrought my soul's release, 
Christ my Righteousness divine, 
Christ for me, for He is mine; 
Christ my Wisdom, Christ my Meat, 
Christ restores my wandering feet, 
Christ my Advocate and Priest, 
Christ who ne'er forgets the least; 
Christ my Teacher, Christ my Guide, 
Christ my Rock, in Christ I hide, 
Christ the Ever-living Bread, 
Christ His precious Blood hath shed; 
Christ hath brought me nigh to God, 
Christ the everlasting Word .
Christ my Master, Christ my Head, 
Christ who for my sins hath bled; 
Christ my Glory, Christ my Crown, 
Christ the Plant of great renown, 
Christ my Comforter on high, 
Christ my Hope, draws ever nigh. 

Source Unknown. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Filled with a Spirit of Generosity

Over the Christmas holidays, Beth and I enjoyed a train excursion to New Orleans. We enjoyed a delightful time together. The train ride from Jackson to New Orleans was a romantic throwback to a slower and easier time. Riding coach, a meal in the dining car, and whistle stops in Southern towns with names like Hazelhurst, Brookhaven, McComb, and Hammond rocked us into a state of relaxation.

The train pulled into the New Orleans Union Station on an afternoon when the New Orleans Saints were in town. Crowds of people were exiting the Superdome. Throngs of people, mourning the loss of the home team, clogged the sidewalks. Revelers were gathering to tailgate their sorrows away after the Saints final loss of the season. The sickening aroma of alcohol hung in the air.

Beth and I loaded our overnight bags onto an electric streetcar on the Loyola-Union Passenger Terminal line. The streets were congested with vehicles. The streetcar inched along, stopping to pick up and disembark passengers on Loyola Street. At one stop, an attractive couple, adorned in home team's black, stepped up the step and into the open doorway of the streetcar. The man fumbled in his pocket for the necessary change for the $1.25 fare. His voice, a bit too loud from the influence of alcohol, called out to the seated passengers for a 50 cent gift for a "Saints fan."

One lady reached into her purse and gave the overjoyed man the fifty cents he needed to finish the correct change for his fare. He proudly proclaimed to his girlfriend, "Watch this! I'm gonna make this lady's day!" He opened his wallet and reached for a twenty dollar bill. He pressed the twenty into his surprised benefactors hand. Throughout the remainder of the streetcar ride, the fan could be heard proclaiming his own generosity to a full streetcar of travelers, who were obviously trying to mind their on business.

The inebriated man's generosity got me to thinking. Paul told the Phillipians to "Be not drunk with wine... But be filled with the Spirit!" If a drunk man could be so generous, what does Paul's command suggest about those of us who are filled with the Holy Spirit's sanctifying fulness? Should we not be marked by a spirit of generosity?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Branch: Wesley Biblical Seminary’s Christmas Family Tree

I fondly remember a boyhood traipse through the woods with my brother, James, and my father on Granny Nichols’ place.  Our goal was to cut a Christmas tree that would grace our family living room.  I remember our selecting a nicely shaped Eastern Red Cedar, common on the hillsides of my Appalachian homeland.  We cut the tree and hauled it from the woods in an old International Scout.  The cedar tree’s pungent fragrance adorned our family Christmas that year.

As Christmas approaches, I have been pondering another tree—our family tree!  One of my favorite Messianic promises describes Jesus in the language of a forester:  “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.   The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:1-2 NKJV).  Isaiah prophesies the Branch, a Son of David, upon whom the Spirit of God rests.  We know this Branch as God made flesh, Jesus, the Son of God. 

As I thought about this promise, I was awestruck afresh at the hope of the ages, our Lord Jesus, the Son of God.  I am ever humbled by His Incarnation, that the God of the universe would lay aside the splendor of heaven and embrace the limitations of human flesh.  The miracle of the virgin birth staggers my imagination.  I am amazed by the intention of the Father for His own Son to become the sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Christmas is about Christ!

The Branch continues to grow, expand, and reach the world with the message of Christmas.  The Branch out of Jesse is the Lord Jesus Christ who graces Wesley Biblical Seminary with His miracles, His approval, and His blessing.  The Branch out of Jesse is the Savior who has placed WBS alumni in key places of ministry.  The Branch is gracing the life and ministry of Rev. Tomoki Yamanaka as He labors for Jesus in his island country of Japan through the Japanese Holiness Church.  The Branch is gracing the teaching ministry of Dr. Jon Morgan at Toccoa College as he inspires undergraduates with his love for Scripture and theology.  The Branch is approving of Rev. Richard and Tara Jelley and their five lovely daughters as they shepherd the flock of God in North Carolina.  The Branch, our Lord Jesus Christ, is growing to cover the world with the glorious Gospel of full and free salvation through WBS alumni.   The Branch is the Author of the Wesley Biblical Seminary family tree.

This Christmas, celebrate the Branch of Jesse, our Lord Jesus Christ!  Celebrate the far-reaching impact of Wesley Biblical Seminary as our students and alumni extend the family tree of Christ to take the Branch to the world. 

Thank you for your friendship and support in advancing the mission of Wesley Biblical Seminary and the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Thank you in advance for your generous Christmas gift to WBS to celebrate the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ!