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Author Topic: CHRISTMAS 2019 ✝🕊 THE LAST CHRISTMAS WITH FREEDOM  (Read 2062 times)

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patrick jane

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1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2021/january/vital-information-for-churches-and-christian-leaders.html







Will Churches be Back to Normal by Easter, Summer, or Fall? Vital Information for Churches and Christian Leaders





A brief overview of Ed Stetzer's interview with Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health


Ed Stetzer: [Church leaders] are asking questions about when we might be back together. Help us understand the timeline a bit more, knowing thing might not go the way that we expect.

Dr. Francis Collins: I’ve been working from home for almost a year and I expect I’m going to be in my home office for a few more months. Here we are at the beginning of 2021, and this pandemic across our country is the worst it’s been, with 3,000 people or more losing their lives every day.

The bright spot, of course, is the development of vaccines. We do now have two such vaccines that are carefully reviewed, shown to be safe and effective by rigorous means, and authorized by the FDA for emergency use. We’re doing everything we can to get those dosages into people’s arms because that is how we are going to get past this.

I know people may have mixed feelings about the vaccine. For me, as a scientist, it feels to me that God gave us the skills to be able to understand how these things work, to identify this pathogen, and to (in record time) be able to come up with the vaccine, which has 95% efficacy. They’re actually a lot better than most of us dreamed we would have at the present time. So this is a gift from God, and a gift we all need to embrace to get past this.

To be able to immunize 300 million people is not something that can be done in less than a few months. I do think, by June or thereabouts, we might be getting close to that point where 80-85% of the country is immune. At that point, the virus has to start fading away, because there aren’t enough new people to infect.

I don’t think that we’ll be able to bring churches together for an Easter celebration this year, though I would love if that were the case. It is going to take all of us to get there.

I am concerned that people of faith, in some instances, seem reluctant to embrace this as a gift. If only half of Americans take this vaccine, we will not be past this any time soon. We have to get to the point where most of the population is immune, or we haven’t really ended things.

Stetzer: What would you say to those who think this vaccine was rushed?

Collins: We did move this more quickly than has ever happened. Partly this is because of new technologies that were developed in the last 25 years. Let me assure you, as a physician and scientist who has been in the middle of these vaccine developments for the past year, the only corners that have been cut were the bureaucratic ones.

The science is as rigorous as anything we have ever done, in terms of vaccine development. The ultimate conclusion about safety and efficacy, which is in the public domain, is incredibly compelling. 30,000 people enrolled in these trials, and 95% efficacy showed up with no real evidence of any safety concerns. The data is there! So, ignore the conspiracy theories and look at the evidence. That is what we are all called to do.

[Dr. Collins also addressed question about stem cell lines, the process, and conspiracy theories. Listen to the full interview here]

Stetzer: You’ve said elsewhere that taking the vaccine is not something you do for your just yourself, but as a way to love other people. Can you tell us more about that?

Collins: There are two primary ways.

First, this virus is so hard to manage because you can carry it and spread it without even knowing. Vaccination is a way to reduce that risk.

Second, on a larger scale, if we are all part of a community, we really need all of us engaged in the effort to generate herd immunity.

We need everyone to succeed. This isn’t so different from putting on a seatbelt or not drinking and driving. We don’t want to make the vaccine a law, but it is a moral responsibility.

Stetzer: What do you think the level of mitigation will be at by summer?

Collins: I wish I could be more precise. Some of this depends on whether other vaccines get approved. There are six more being studied. The more that get approved, the quicker we can vaccinate.

We also have to study whether or not the vaccine is safe and effective for children. There is still a lot of uncertainty.

Don’t have your heart set on June, but by the fall we ought to be in a pretty good place. I don’t think it would be totally unrealistic to think that by June or July that we might be in a place to have a lot more public gatherings, including churches, but I can’t promise that.

If 30% or 40% of Americans don’t take it, we don’t get out of this.

Stetzer: When you say it’s going to be different in the fall, what will it look like?

Collins: There is a big unanswered question.

We are intensely investigating whether or not those who have received the vaccine can still spread the virus even if they don’t get sick. If the vaccine means they don’t get sick and they can’t convey the virus, mask wearing won’t be expected. If you can still spread the virus even after the vaccination, you’ll still have to wear a mask.

I don’t think so, but we have to keep the option open.

Stetzer: To close, give us a short vision on why Christians should be engaged with the vaccine, and should advocate for it.

Collins: This is not the first plague that we’ve had to deal with. Christians have always had the courage to figure out how to help. We should do that now.

We won’t help the situation if we don’t get the vaccine and continue to spread the virus or ignore protective measures.

One of the ways we evangelize is through our actions. Are we creating a positive public witness? Are we a group people want to be a part of? Are we helping our neighbors? Are we reaching out to the lonely? Are we being a listening ear, virtually?

Let’s focus on being a part of worldview that others want to be a part of. We can get through this, but we have to get through this together.








Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group. The Exchange Team contributed to this article and has updated the article.

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Who Were the Magi



1 hour 15 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irWL-jHE-Tw&list=WL&index=18



The Gospel of Matthew tells us that "magi" from the East brought gifts to the infant Jesus following a mysterious star. Western Christianity commemorates this event with the feast of Epiphany, on January 6. What do we know about these wise men? Where did they come? Were they kings or Zoroastrian priests? Is there any evidence of a new star? We'll look at all these and other questions to reveal the meaning of this story from a mythological and theological view point.

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/december/christmas-jesus-birth-son-god-existence-lifeway-survey.html







Most Americans, and Many Christians, Don’t Believe the Son of God Existed Before the Manger








There’s widespread agreement around Christmas as a historical event, but people are confused around the timeline for the Son’s existence, per a recent survey.


Christmas is a celebration of a real event, according to most Americans. Just don’t expect them to know exactly why Jesus was born and came to earth.

A new study from Lifeway Research finds close to 3 in 4 Americans believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. Even more say Jesus is the son of God the Father, but less than half believe Jesus existed prior to being born on that first Christmas.

“Most Americans consider Jesus’ birth a historical fact,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “It can be easy to only evaluate Jesus like you would any other historical figure—thinking about when He lived and what He did. However, the Bible also describes Jesus in a way that one must evaluate who you believe He was. Most Americans believe His origin was from God the Father, but half as many believe He existed before His birth.”

More than 9 in 10 Americans (91%) celebrate Christmas, according to a previous Lifeway Research study released this year. For most of those celebrating, Christmas is about a historical occurrence. More than 7 in 10 (72%) say the Jesus Christians believe in was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, including 49 percent who strongly agree. Few (9%) disagree, while 18 percent aren’t sure.

Most Americans (80%) agree Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father, while 10 percent disagree and 10 percent aren’t sure.

The average person isn’t quite as sure about the Son of God’s existence prior to Jesus’ birth. Around 2 in 5 (41%) say God’s son existed before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Close to 1 in 3 Americans (32%) disagree, and 28 percent say they’re not sure.

“The 2020 State of Theology Study showed that 72 percent of Americans believe there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,” McConnell said. “Prophecies such as those in Isaiah 9 reflect that the Messiah would be the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. While these titles reflect the Trinity, some Americans do not connect the Jesus born in Bethlehem with the Messiah who already existed as God now coming in the flesh.”

The religiously unaffiliated are least likely to agree with any of the statements surrounding Jesus’ birth and identity, but some still believe despite their stated disconnect from organized religion. Almost half (48%) believe Jesus Christ is the son of God the Father. A third (33%) say Jesus was really born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. Fewer (15%) believe the Son of God existed before Jesus was born.

Among Christians, those who attend church four times a month or more, are most likely to believe each of the statements about Jesus and His birth: 98 percent believe He is the Son of God the Father, 95 percent say He was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, and 63 percent agree the Son of God existed before Jesus was born.

Why Christmas?
Americans aren’t always sure what motivations Jesus ascribed to Himself and His coming to earth. When given seven options—four correct and three incorrect—for reasons the Bible records Jesus as saying why He came, only one choice garnered a small majority.

Americans are more likely to choose a correct answer than the false ones. Half (51%) say the Bible records Jesus as saying He came to give His life for many, which Jesus does say in Mark 10:45 (“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”).

Around 3 in 10 Americans (31%) rightly say Jesus came to give life in abundance (“I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance,” John 10:10 CSB) and testify to truth (“I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth,” John 18:37
CSB).

Far fewer (9%) believe the Bible records Jesus saying He came to bring division rather than peace, despite Him making that claim in Luke 12:51. Altogether, only 3 percent of Americans recognized all four options in the list that match biblical quotes from Jesus.

Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans falsely identified other reasons for Jesus’ coming to earth: 9 percent believe Jesus said He came to be served (contradicted by Mark 10:45), 8 percent think He said He wanted to abolish the Old Testament law and prophets (contradicted by Matthew 5:17), and 8 percent say Jesus came to condemn sinners (contradicted by John 3:17).

“Despite widespread belief that Jesus really came to earth as a baby, there is far less familiarity with why Jesus said He came,” said McConnell. “However, the majority of Americans believe Jesus came to give His life for many, which is reflected in the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, ‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’”

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Prophecies in the Christmas Story



In recounting his version of the story of Jesus’ birth, the author of the gospel of Matthew tells readers “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.” But how well do the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke align with prophecies about the coming Messiah in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament)?   

In this live streamed lecture John Hamer of Toronto Centre Place will outline the prophecies cited by the evangelists and the insight they give into the creative and non-literalistic way the earliest Christians understood scripture. A Q&A will follow the lecture.




1 hour
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87YEtQRGI40

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Jazz Christmas Music Instrumental Guitar "A Silent Night" #relaxation #holiday #guitar #music #poem



Jazz Christmas Music Instrumental Guitar "A Silent Night" is a really cool Holiday Music Video featuring the stunning guitar music by Justin Johnson. The actual song, "Silent Night" was written originally as a poem, so I've recited it alongside the guitar. Enjoy! #relaxation #holiday #guitar #music #recitation #blues




4 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CdFYfk8XPk

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