Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

When the Unclean Becomes Clean

(En EspaƱol)

There are unfathomable mysteries concerning the Messiah's entrance into our world, realities that are beyond our powers of comprehension: His divine conception, the manifestation of the angelic hosts, the miraculous star that led the wise men, etc. Yet, one reality strikes me as most profound: of all places where the Son of God might have been born, His birth came in the uncleanness of a stable.

With myriads of angels at the Almighty's command, we might assume the world's Creator would have orchestrated better accommodations, perhaps the home of a rich man or more appropriately, a king. Yet the staging of Christ's birthplace was prophetic of His life and purpose. Indeed, when I contemplate the message broadcast in the birthplace of Christ, I realize that He who was born in the uncleanness of a stable is not offended or repulsed by the uncleanness in me or you.

The Union of the Clean with the Unclean
As a backdrop to the issue of Christ's birthplace, consider: the Old Testament had over 250 references to clean and unclean things. In all cases the principle is the same: when something (or someone) clean is touched by the unclean, that which was clean is contaminated by the unclean. The fact is, cleanliness was directly associated with the holiness of God in scores of verses in the book of Leviticus.

Certain health conditions could render a person unclean, such as skin diseases or a woman's issue of blood. When one was unclean, they were required to stay away from their community until their condition changed and their restored health was verified by a priest. Lepers and others with contagious skin diseases were not only categorically unclean but in public were required to ring a bell while calling in a loud voice, "Unclean! Unclean!" to warn others (Lev. 13:45).

However, when Christ came upon lepers, He did not back away; rather, He touched and healed them! The unclean became clean! Beloved, with the Messiah, the entire principle of clean and unclean is reversed! Jesus, who is clean, does not become unclean by touching us; we become clean by touching Him! Just as the Lord affirmed to Peter, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Acts 10:15).
Many people do not accept Christ simply because they are too aware of their inner uncleanness. Yet once we accept Christ, the indwelling of Christ not only washes us, but His presence makes us holy. Do you see? We are holy because He is holy. We are clean because His blood and His word cleanse us. We can never become clean until Christ comes to dwell in our spirits. He says, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me" (John 13:8).

This season, regardless of the uncleanness you feel inwardly, open your heart to Christ. Let the Redeemer enter. He who emerged in our world in a stable will not be offended at your need. Let His cleanness cleanse and heal that which is unclean within you.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Beatbox Nativity


Mary did not engage in premarital sex. Her circumstances, to say the least, were unique (Luke 1:26-28). Many young girls got married as teenagers.

Mary went to live with her cousin Elizabeth upon hearing about her pregnancy and “stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home” (Luke 1:56). Presumably her parents owned a home and did not throw her out when they learned of her pregnancy.

Mary and Joseph were actually married at the time she learned she was pregnant even though a formal ceremony had not taken place. Joseph is called “her husband” (Matt. 1:19).

Joseph was a self‑employed carpenter (Matt. 13:55).

An edict from the centralized Roman government forced Joseph and Mary to spend valuable resources of money and time to return to their place of birth to register for a tax (Luke 2:1-7). Joseph’s business was shut down while he took his very pregnant wife on a wild goose chase concocted by the Roman Empire to raise additional tax money.

Typical of governments that make laws without considering the consequences, there was not enough housing for the great influx of traveling citizens and subjects who complied with the governmental decree (Luke 2:1).

Mary and Joseph had enough money to pay for lodging. The problem was inadequate housing. The fact that “there was no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7) did not make them homeless. If we follow one kind of logic, any family that takes a trip is by definition homeless and finds “no vacancy” signs is technically homeless.

Joseph and Mary owned or rented a home. It was in their home that the wise men offered their gifts: “And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11).

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus became a family on the run when Herod, a government official, became a threat to them (Matt. 2:13–15).

One could say that the Christmas story is about how taxes hurt the poor and government decrees can turn productive families into the disenfranchised by enacting and enforcing counterproductive laws.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Christmas Day ~ Sunday, December 25, 2011 - Most American Greek Orthodox Churches have Christmas services on this date.

Hanukkah ~ sunset on December 20, 2011 to sunset on December 28, 2011

Winter Solstice ~ December 22, 2011 – pagan/wiccan/earth-based

Kwanzaa ~ begins Monday, December 26, 2011, and ends Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Eve ~ 31 December 2011 – until 11:59 pm

John Barron, For Unto You

In his depiction of the annunciation to the shepherds, contemporary Christian artist John Barron chooses not to focus much attention on the shepherds and angels themselves. Indeed, they are tiny figures at the bottom of the frame, barely noticeable upon first glance. Rather, by incorporating rich symbolism, Barron is highlighting the earth-shattering effects of the Incarnation, as it heralded an irreversible, seismic shift in God's relationship with humans.

Barron places the annunciation in the context of God and man's covenant relationship of the Old Testament, and the new relationship heralded by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. So the burning menorah on the left is a symbol of God's faithfulness to Israel during hardship; the leaping fish on the right is a symbol of God's salvific sustenance to his people through Christ's sacrifice, also shown in Christ's feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14). The menorah and fish are divided in two by Holy Spirit, in the form of a face, descending on the world and bringing the glowing-red light of judgment and illumination.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Baby Boomers heading back to seminary
At 51, Vincent Guest could well be the professor at a table filled with 20- and 30-year-olds. He is leading a lunchtime social justice meeting for seminarians at Theological College at Catholic University in Washington.

Forks clink on plates in the basement conference room as Guest opens the November meeting in prayer. “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” he says as he bows his head and clasps his hands.

Guest is not a visiting professor. He is a seminarian, just like the other younger men at the table.
But he is not alone in his age group. According to a decade-long study of enrollment by the Association of Theological Schools released in 2009, the fastest-growing group of seminarians include those older than 50. In 1995, baby boomers made up 12% of seminarians, while today they are 20%.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Published: November 29, 2011
Bible study not prohibited after all
Facing lawsuit, San Juan Capistrano drops action against couple over weekly meetings at their home

The City of San Juan Capistrano has lifted fines imposed on the owners of a private home used for weekly Bible study and agreed to review its policies after the case ended up in court.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm had been fined $300 and threatened with additional fines of $500 per meeting if they did not stop holding Bible study sessions at their home each Sunday morning without a conditional use permit. When the city initially rejected their appeal, the Pacific Justice Institute stepped in and filed suit on behalf of the couple in Orange County Superior Court.

San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s and is home to California’s oldest building still in use -- a chapel where Father Junipero Serra celebrated Mass.

“The city recently dropped its action against the couple and refunded the fines they had paid,” Pacific Justice Institute said in a Nov. 22 press release. “However, the city has not yet changed its laws that led to the controversy.”

“In a letter to the couple, Karen P. Brust, San Juan Capistrano City Manager, who had been working with the Fromms, also stated, ‘City staff will commence the discussion with the Planning Commission… about the issue of the need to clarify the Land Use Code with respect to places of public assembly and gatherings at single family residences,’” said the PJI press release.

In a Nov. 18 press release, the city of San Juan Capistrano presented the issue a little differently. “Chuck and Stephanie Fromm and San Juan Capistrano City Manager Karen Brust announced Wednesday morning that the case against the City in OC Superior Court, appealing an administrative citation issued to the Fromms, has been dismissed,” said the news release. “The action arose out of a neighbor’s complaint about parking and traffic impacts from Bible studies held at Mr. and Mrs. Fromm’s home, and the City’s subsequent fines and requirement that the couple apply for a Conditional Use Permit. The Fromms stepped back from their appeal as the city has initiated discussions to review their permit policies for home meetings of all types. The original fines have been reversed and repaid to the Fromms.”

The city, said Brust, “does not prohibit does not prohibit Bible studies and believes in the right of all its residents to exercise First Amendment freedoms,” said the news release. "Protecting the rights of the City's residents is paramount," said Brust.

Pacific Justice Institute said in its release that it would keep an eye on the situation. “While that case has now been favorably resolved, PJI will continue to press city officials for a resolution of the underlying problems, which include unfettered discretion on the part of code enforcement officers,” said the release.

“From the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, through the founding of San Juan Capistrano as a mission, the freedom to worship God has been a bedrock American principle,” said PJI president Brad Dacus. “This victory is an important reminder of that principle.”

“We will continue fighting to ensure that SJC and other cities put freedom first -- especially when it comes to informal gatherings in private homes,” said Michael Peffer, who heads PJI’s Southern California office and handled the case.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I worship Ganesa, brother, god of worldly wisdom, patron of shopkeepers. He is in the shape of a little fat man with an elephant's head; he is made of soapstone and has two small rubies for eyes. What shape do you worship?

I worship a Rolls-Royce sports model, brother. All my days I give it offerings of oil and polish. Hours of my time are devoted to its ritual; and it brings me luck in all my undertakings; and it establishes me among my fellows as a success in life. What model is your car, brother?

I worship my house beautiful, sister. Long and loving meditation have I spent on it; the chairs contrast with the rug, the curtains harmonize with woodwork, all of it is perfect and holy. The ash trays are in exactly the right place, and should some blasphemer drop ashes on the floor, I nearly die of shock. I live only for the service of my house, and it rewards me with the envy of my sisters, who must rise up and call me blessed. Lest my children profane the holiness of my house with dirt and noise, I drive them out of doors. What shape is your idol, sister? Is it your house, or your clothes, or perhaps even your worth-while and cultural club?

I worship the pictures I paint, brother.... I worship my job; I'm the best darn publicity expert this side of Hollywood.... I worship my golf game, my bridge game. . . . I worship my comfort; after all, isn't enjoyment the goal of life? ... I worship my church; I want to tell you, the work we've done in missions beats all other denominations in this city, and next year we can afford that new organ, and you won't find a better choir anywhere.... I worship myself....

What shape is your idol?

from Joy Davidman’s book, Smoke on the Mountain 1954

Sunday, November 27, 2011



SoNo Holiday Festival

North Park Community Association
is a proud sponsor of the
Family fun that everyone will enjoy. Chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls, great holiday gifts and crafts from local artisans, live music, a kids' activity zone, a craft beer and wine garden, and more. Proceeds from the event will benefit McKinley art and music programs. All donations are tax deductible. Put this fun event on your calendar!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Psalm 100
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."