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She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

You didn’t choose to get born and neither did I.  Only Jesus has ever chosen to be born.  But if such powers were at our disposal, would we have decided upon the path that Jesus took? Surely not.  Surely we would have opted for powerful parents, fabulous wealth, plush surroundings, an easy life. And it’s […]

My soul doth magnify the Lord

How do you feel about musicals?  Many people dislike them because ‘in real life, ordinary folk don’t burst into song.’  Well, hopefully Luke chapter 1 will win over the doubters because here we read, not one, but two examples of spontaneous lyricism! At the end of the chapter (Luke 1:68-80), Zechariah – the father of […]

A thorn in my flesh

Difficult people, chronic illness, vocal opposition, disability, bureaucrats in your way – all sorts of long-term problems might be called “a thorn in your flesh.” Ever since the curse was pronounced in Eden, thorns have tormented us: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of […]

Suffer fools gladly

“He didn’t suffer fools gladly” reads the obituary… “Cantankerous old grouch” we imagine…  Or at least I do.  I might be wrong in the particulars, but that’s how I read the phrase in general. No-one ever does suffer fools gladly.  We are only told when someone definitely does not.  And since, generally, no-one seems to […]

O wretched man that I am!

It was Jesus who coined the phrase “the Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”  It was Paul who explored the idea in chapter after chapter. According to the Apostle Paul there are three tenses of salvation.  There is the past tense: “According to God’s mercy He saved us.”  (Titus 3:5) There is the present […]

Hope against hope

It’s the hope you have when there is no hope. Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah 90 when they were promised a miracle child (Isaac).  As Genesis 18:11 put it: “Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.” Nonetheless, the […]

Hail, King of the Jews!

When you think of a martyr’s death, you might picture dignified suffering, noble sacrifice, perhaps a reluctantly admiring crowd, some final, well chosen words of grace and wisdom.  We often imagine a certain glory to martyrdom.  But that only goes to show we don’t know what we’re talking about. Richard Wurmbrand wrote “Tortured for Christ”, […]

My kingdom is not of this world

The myth of violence powerfully shapes our view of the world.  We imagine that force must be met with greater force if anything will be achieved.  And of course we tell ourselves that the greater force is justified if it’s done in the name of some greater good.  Most Hollywood blockbusters follows this storyline. Take, […]

Out of the mouths of babes

We tend to use this phrase interchangeably with something like “Kids say the darnedest things.”  But Jesus was making a deeper point.  He wasn’t only referring to children but was encouraging us all to child-like-ness.  It is not just infants, but more generally it is the simple trusters in Jesus whose surprising wisdom will shock the […]

A millstone around your neck

A heavy burden weighing you down.  Inescapable.  And probably self-inflicted.  That’s how we think of a millstone around our necks.  A job, a relationship, an ongoing commitment – these things can often be called “millstones around our neck.” But when Jesus said it, He wasn’t referring to a wearisome inconvenience.  He was speaking of a […]