December 2011

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


“On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . six geese a-laying . . .”

In (the) beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . .

God took six days to do His creative work and then rested. These six days (the six laying geese) point us to Christ’s creativity in the lives of His followers. On this sixth day of Christmas, think about:

  1. God’s creativity
  2. Christ’s creativity
  3. The creativity with which He has endowed you.

“On the fifth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . .  five gold rings . . . ”

Our five golden rings are the first five books of the Bible–the Pentateuch. These books lay the foundational background for the focus of creation and eternity on the Christ.

  1. Genesis is the story  of the beginnings–the beginning of time; the beginning of life; the beginning of man; the beginning of sin; the beginning of God’s people; the beginning of God’s plan.
  2. Exodus shares how God deals with His people–when they are true and when they are not. We learn many truths about God’s love and about His wrath.
  3. Leviticus – God lays down the law. He spells out for us the ways of righteous living. Not so that we can live up to His  standards, but because He knows that we can’t. Our answer is to trust in His plan so that He can complete our deficiency for the glory of God.
  4. Deuteronomy restates the Law (it is the “Second Statement”). God understands that we don’t always get it the first time, and so we need to hear it again (and again and again) sometimes in another package in order to finally believe.
  5. Numbers – the transition from the beginnings to the “rest of the story”. God reminds us that He cares about His creation and His people – to the very last one.

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . four Calling Birds . . . “

The four who call our attention most pointedly to Christ are the evangelists (gospel writers, if you prefer): Matthew Mark, Luke and John. Of these four, two were among the number of the Twelve, and the other two were closely associated with Paul.

One might ask why it is necessary to have four gospels, wouldn’t one tell the story? In all candor there are other ancient documents claiming to be other gospel stories which for one reason or another were not included in the canon when the church spent months debating over the writings to include in Holy Scripture. So, not only why four? but why these four? It is not my purpose to get into a deep historical debate over which came first (I trust the experts who have concluded that Mark was the earliest to write his account), and I will also admit that if you find something wrong with my statements about each of the gospels, then you are free to comment and state your opinion (if it came down to debate, you’d probably win because you’re probably smarter than me, but I’d still stand behind what I write).

So, why four calling birds?

  1. Matthew wrote his account–from his perspective–with an audience in mind that would be interested in why Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ (Messiah). He went to great lengths to disclose the overwhelming number of prophecies concerning Messiah that Jesus fulfilled.
  2. Mark wrote his account–from his perspective–with a desire to get a record into existence that proved definitively that Jesus was not only the Christ, but also that He was God and Man united in one person.
  3. Luke, the doctor–writing from his perspective–was a stickler for detail. He included a multitude of historical details that set the events of Jesus in a historical perspective for us.
  4. John, the “beloved disciple”–writing from his perspective–gave us the most eloquent of the gospels in which he showed in the miraculous manner of His ministry, Jesus could be none other than the Word made flesh (dwelling among us).

Taken separately, these four gospels give us (some 2000 years later) a good picture of who Jesus was (the Christ) and what He did. Taken together they paint an entire picture from which we as Christ’s followers can tell the World about the Messiah who came to earth to save us from our sinful selves.

“On the third day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . three French hens . . .”

I will approach the third day of Christmas from two viewpoints. First, my on-line source suggests that the traditional view of the three French hens equates to the three Theological Virtues as noted in 1 Corinthians 13:13 — Faith, Hope, Love. In that same verse we are told that these are the three things that abide–three things that last and last–and that the greatest of the three is Love. At Christmas it is important for Love to reign (see our Advent posts on Love). Because, as the Cantata writer pointed out to us years ago, “Love Came Down at Christmas.”

We find this Love through the Faith that is mentioned and it is this Faith and Love that lead us to the Hope that we find in Christ.

Personally, while the three Theological Virtues work well for our counting song, I like to think that the Three French Hens of day Three should remind us of the Trinity (not the River, but the One for whom the River is named):

  1. God the Father, the creator of the world, the planner of salvation, the Lover of the world mentioned in John 3:16.
  2. God the Son, the provider of salvation, who lived a sinless life, died in our place, and then conquered death, sin, and hell, that we might have life in Him.
  3. God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter promised by Jesus who draws all people to Himself, indwells all believers and provides guidance for all that we do.

Perhaps the words to “Old 100th” might offer the best response to this view: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow/Praise Him above, ye heavenly host/Praise Him all creatures here below/Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen!”

Either way you look at it, Day Three is filled with wonderful gifts.

“On the second day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . two Turtledoves . . .”

Our two gifts for the second day in our song are the two Testaments that make up the Holy Scriptures: the Old Testament and the New Testament. What is it about these sections of the Bible that relates to Christ and Christmas? Simply put, the Old Testament points us to the Coming Christ, and the New tells us of the Christ who has come.

As in all of literature, when the Holy Spirit inspired the men who wrote the Bible to write the Bible, there was a central theme. In order to understand the Bible itself, we should find this central focus. Some might argue that there are sixty-six books–a library of books–that make up the Bible. There is also the understanding that a number of men (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) actually penned the words that became those books. Then again, collected together this library is a focused volume, and because they were all inspired by the One Holy Spirit, the writers while using their own personal styles, wrote with one focused attitude. The result was a book filled with a unified message which might be captured in what we Baptists like to call the “Gospel in a Nutshell”:

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, HCSB)

If then, the Old Testament points us to the coming of Christ, and the New Testament teaches us about the coming of Christ, it stands to reason that the best thing for Christ’s followers to do today is live in such a way as to show Christ’s coming to the world as we watch and wait for His coming again!

“On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . A Partridge in a pear tree”

The greatest gift of all Christendom is Christ Himself. In fact, as a Christian I might argue that Christ is the greatest gift of all. The gift, though is not the Baby Jesus in a manger. Yes, we must have the Babe in a barn stall, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger for His bed. Without this humble beginning we would not have opportunity to see and know the Christ who walked Middle Eastern lands in and around Jerusalem, beginning in Nazareth and Capernaum and stirring up trouble among the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other religious leaders.

How was this greatest of all (first of all) gifts delivered? On a tree. You see it is not the Babe in a Manger, but the Lamb on the Cross who is our Savior. He started in the humility of the manger-bed, but lived to die for all my sin.

A partridge (the Christ) in a pear tree (on a cross, paying the price for my sins).

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