News That Illustrates: December 10, 2012
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Holy and Human—The Real Santa Claus
You'll find some great preachable stories about the real Santa Claus in the new book, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus, by Professor Adam C. English. Before the guy with the white beard and the red suit, there was a real person named Nicholas, a Christian leader in the city of Myra (modern day Turkey), who was born around 260 A.D. English notes, "His life was a life of faith, to be sure, but it was also one of adventure and honor, justice and charity, goodwill and thick resolve." Specifically, Bishop Nicholas used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. He attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Nicholas saved three young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine, and rescued a kidnapped boy. He fought the paganism of his day not with "visible weapons" but by arming "himself with hope and firm confidence." The real story is even more exciting than modern day Santa Claus tales. (Check out one of the exciting stories about the real Santa Claus at PreachingToday.com.)
PREACHING ANGLES: Christmas; Santa Claus
Our Spiritual $16 Trillion Debt Problem
According to this Wall Street Journal article, the U.S.'s $15.96 trillion national debt problem really does "not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities." The authors of this article argue that the actual liabilities of the U.S. government (if you add in unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security, and other very real obligations) already exceed $86.8 trillion. In other words, we're not just bankrupt; we need to borrow $86 trillion in order to "achieve" bankruptcy. The folks at the White Horse Inn blog use this as an apt and timely analogy for our spiritual condition apart from Christ.
PREACHING ANGLES: Debt; Justification by Faith; Salvation, need for
A $264,000 Toy Boat and the Unopened Train Set
Another article in The Wall Street Journal listed some nice gifts for people on your gift list who seem to have everything. It's a great way to set up a sermon on greed or consumerism. These are toys that sell for up to six figures. For instance, a 31-inch toy boat, made by a German toy company around 1900, just sold for $264,000. A miniature toy carousel sold for $170,000. But this part of the story could illustrate our refusal to accept God's gifts (either salvation or spiritual gifts): At a November 17th auction in Pennsylvania, someone bought a 1920s train set, still in the original box, for $40,000. Apparently, it belonged to a girl from a wealthy Buenos Aires family. "It was given to [the] little girl, she didn't like it, the family put it in the attic and it was never played with."
PREACHING ANGLES: Christmas; Consumerism; Gifts; Salvation, gift of
Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).
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