A Christmas Carol From Paul

A Christmas Carol From Paul

By David R. Stokes

Christmas is more than a day in December — it is a season.  Reminders of this are all around us — the weather, the gatherings, the music on the radio.  It is not unusual for savvy media outlets to saturate their formats with all things Yuletide for a few weeks at the end of the year.  It puts us “in the mood” — not to mention puts money in their accounts.
What’s your favorite Christmas song?  Some like to hear about chestnuts roasting on an open fire — others love to think about bells jingling.  Yet others tear up (with good reason) thinking about a Holy Night so long ago.  They may even want to fall on their knees.
A case can be made that the greatest Christmas song ever written is one with no familiar music.  The tune is no longer available to us.  But the lyrics — ah, those lyrics — well, they’re actually inspired.  As the Apostle Paul was writing to young Pastor Timothy about everything from order in the church to the dangers of greed, he gave us an easily overlooked but enduring Christmas nugget.
It may be not be a toe-tapper like I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus — but it completely captures the essence of Christmas.  That essence is incarnation.  This means that God became one of us so that He could reach those of us willing to surrender to Him.
As the Apostle winds up a series of thoughts about the church and those who serve and lead, he pauses to reflect on a larger issue.  Strategies and structure are not ends in themselves.  They are secondary to powerful ideas.  While he may have felt the need to give Timothy some practical advice about how to do his important job, he never lost sight of the why in all of it — nor should we.  There can be many controversies in life — macro and micro.  All of them require attention.  Some of them require systems and structure.  No doubt, this was something with which Timothy wrestled.  Therefore, his wise mentor, Paul, offered his advice. 
Things that tend to polarize people often have little to with objective truth.  Instead, subjective experience is allowed to play too large a role in our lives and passions.  When this happens, Paul’s writings suggest that we need to stop and sing.  And we should sing something very specific — the most beautiful of all Christmas carols — though it is highly unlikely that we’ll hear the words blended with any seasonal music. 
We are not told the style of music, nor are we told the instrument or instruments used to express it (if any).  We are given just the words.  They are inspired — and they have endured.  They are ancient words, yet ever new. 
The first Christmas Carol is introduced in scripture this way: “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great…” (I Timothy 3:16 NIV).
Communities of faith throughout history have wrestled with many things.  But Paul reminds us all these centuries later that there are some no-brainers for the faithful.  First and foremost is that most powerful of all ideas is that God has come to the earth — the Word has been made flesh. 
So, this season, let us reach back for one of the forgotten “oldies” — a first-century worship favorite.  They likely sang it in places like Ephesus, Thyatira, and Philippi.  There were no ornate cathedrals or padded pews, no multimedia presentations to tantalize the eyes — just words, powerful and profound.  Go ahead and make up your own music — but don’t mess with the words.  They are from God.  They are a Christmas gift from the one who gave us the reason for the season. 
And, one…two…three…
“He appeared in a body,
Was vindicated by the Spirit,
Was seen by angels,
Was preached among the nations,
Was believed on in the world,
Was taken up in glory.” 
 – I Timothy 3:16 (New International Version)
Merry Christmas!
David R. Stokes is a minister, author, columnist, and broadcaster.  His new book, The Shooting Salvationist (foreword by Bob Schieffer), will be released by Random House in July of 2011.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/a_christmas_carol_from_paul.html at December 25, 2010 – 10:48:19 AM CST

A turn for the worse Israel’s outlook took a turn for the worse in January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as this country’s 44th president — a situation made sharply ironic given the fact that some 74% of America’s Jewish voters helped elect the man.

A turn for the worse

Richard N. Weltz

Israel’s outlook took a turn for the worse in January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as this country’s 44th president — a situation made sharply ironic given the fact that some 74% of America’s Jewish voters helped elect the man.

America, long both a closely friendly ally and a protector of the Jewish State, has drastically changed that role. The president has actively sought to make Israel the goat of his touchy-feely approach to the Middle East, Islam, and Iran — none of which has worked. He has reneged on agreements made with prior administrations, including rescinding the planned and agreed-to sale of bunker-buster bombs to Israel.

More recently, Obama has bullied, humiliated, and deliberately mistreated Israel’s head of government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although it was looking as though things couldn’t get much worse, they just did make another turn in that direction.

Obama made some remarks at a press conference Tuesday which, as reported by the New York Times, imply that Israel is somehow to blame for deaths of American troops and that its intransigence in capitulating to Palestinian demands poses a security threat to America.

Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” – drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“This shift,” said the Times, “increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own proposed parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.”

The Obama strategy becomes clear: turn world opinion against Israel as the cause of ME strife, and then use that as an excuse to force an Obama-designed “solution” on the Jewish State.

The situation is so dire that Ronald Lauder, an outstanding Israel supporter and president of the World Jewish Congress has taken a full-page ad in today’s editions of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in the form of an open letter to Obama pleading with him to desist from his disastrous course.

This time, reasonable Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel can’t say they didn’t see the handwriting on the wall — to which they were blind at the 2008 election.

The Unwritten Constitution

 The Unwritten ConstitutionThe United States was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic that historically was the substance of Western civilization. Ours was a specifically English conception of individual morality and individual responsibility that, only in England and its North American colonies, had produced a government of laws, not men, a government in which even the king is subject to the statutes of the land and to a higher moral law.

This conception of government necessitates a citizenry self-regulated by moral precepts that are preserved and taught by religion. The government must similarly be restrained by the limits of natural law, which say that no legitimate government may infringe any individual’s rights to life, liberty, and private property.

No society can survive without a consensus about right and wrong, about what constitutes moral conduct. That consensus is the unwritten constitution of society, the content that gives meaning to a written constitution, the meat on the bones of the structure of government.

Opposing our original conception of government is the liberal jihad, driven by the ideology of socialism, sometimes called The Religion of Humanity. This religion was formalized in the 1789 French Revolution, the same year that our Constitution was ratified and became the law of the land.

Socialism is a secular religion. Like Islamic suicide bombers, liberals are so firmly persuaded that their cause is right, good, and just that they are prepared to go to any lengths necessary to destroy the Judeo-Christian ethic of individual morality and replace it with a rigidly regulated National-State collectivism, of which Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were extreme examples.

The religion of socialism is being taught unconstitutionally, at your expense, in public schools and colleges receiving Federal aid. Teaching the religious doctrine of socialism as scientific fact amounts to making liberal-socialism the officially established religion of the United States.

The only constitutional way to stop the liberal jihad is to force schools to present both sides of the story, traditionalist, as well as liberal. Publicly funded schools now teach only the amoral, secular materialism of the socialist religion. Schools no longer present true versions of American history and of our original ideas of civic virtue and personal morality that are historically the substance of Western civilization. Penetrating the shield of socialist teachers’ unions and the politicians whom they help elect is a very long-term project, but a vital one.

The largest volume of immigration in the nation’s history, both legal and illegal, coupled with liberals’ relentless efforts to destroy America’s original traditions of individual morality, leaves us with no core values and a diminishing will to defend ourselves against foreign enemies.