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The wonder of the Christ child

BethlehemStable

Article copyright 2016 by Bob Rogers

Barbara Robinson writes in her book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, about a Sunday School Christmas pageant. One child heard from Isaiah 9:6 that the Christ child’s name would be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Wide-eyed, she responded, “He’d never get out of the first grade if he had to write all that.”
Perhaps we need to return to this familiar prophetic title with the same wonder of a child. We will see:

As Wonderful Counselor, Christ takes away our gloom.
As Mighty God, Christ takes away our doom.
As Everlasting Father, Christ adopts us all.
As Prince of Peace, Christ takes down the wall.

In the verses before Isaiah 9:6, we see how meaningful this really is…

I. Wonderful Counselor takes away our gloom

Isaiah 9:1 says “the gloom of the distressed will not be like that of the former times.” In this world, we often live in gloom and sorrow, but Christ takes it away. Our Wonderful Counselor listens with compassion, helps us see matters in a new light, confronts us with the truth, and guides us in the right way.

II. Mighty God takes away our doom

Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Because of our sin, we are living in the land of death, headed to a sinner’s hell. But the Christ child is more than a sweet baby; He is God in flesh, and able to save us from our sins by His sacrifice on the cross. He came to earth, so that we may go to heaven.

III. Everlasting Father adopts us all

Isaiah 9:4 speaks of the oppression and burdens of the people, who have no one to protect them. But God is a good Father, and His Son Jesus has come to adopt us all. When I say, “adopts us all,” I don’t mean to imply universal salvation; I’m speaking poetically of all who trust the blood of Christ, and then are adopted into God’s family, as if we were blood brothers and sisters. “I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus promised in John 14:18.

IV. Prince of Peace takes down the wall

Isaiah 9:5 speaks of the blood of war, from which Christ came to bring peace. He takes down the wall of sin (Isaiah 59:2), so that nothing separates us from God (Romans 8:38-39). He takes down the wall that separates us from our brothers and sisters in Christ: “For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

When missionary Don Richardson was trying to explain the gospel to a remote tribe, they could not understand the incarnation of God in flesh or the atonement of Christ upon the cross. But then he learned that when tribes wanted to make peace, they would exchange children to grow up in the other tribe. That was it! He explained that Jesus is our “Peace Child,” the Son of God, born as a Son of Man to make peace through His flesh.
Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah’s birth long ago. As you celebrate His birth, you can also be born again by faith (John 3:3). Have you?

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Four great children’s Christmas books

Parents and grandparents often look for great books to share with their children at Christmas. Here is what I consider to be four of the best children’s Christmas books. One is sentimental, some are humorous, and one will help a child deal with suffering.
AlabastersSong
One of my favorites is Alabaster’s Song: Christmas through the Eyes of an Angel by Max Lucado. It tells the story of a boy who believes he hears the angel on the Christmas tree singing. Then miraculously, the gap-toothed angel appears by the boy’s bedside, a boy like him, and tells him what it was like to sing to baby Jesus. Children of all ages will enjoy this book, but parents, watch out, because you may get a lump in your own throat at the way the story ends.

HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas

In my list of favorite children’s Christmas books, I have to include the classic book that I loved when I was a child, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. This beloved book has been made into a popular cartoon TV show, that includes the song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” In recent years, a live-action movie was also made, but I still prefer the cartoon that follows the book word-for-word. It is hard to improve on the whimsical rhyme of Dr. Seuss.

Most readers already know the story, of how the Grinch couldn’t stand the noise that all the “Who’s down in Whoville” made on Christmas morning. So he decided to steal all of their toys on Christmas Eve. What he never anticipated was that they would still sing on Christmas morning without any presents at all. I love the climactic lines:

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!/ It came without packages, boxes or bags!”/ And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. / Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!/ “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store./ Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

The changed heart of the Grinch has put the word “Grinch” next to “Scrooge” in the Christmas vocabulary of the English language. Every child deserves a chance to hear a parent or grandparent read it to him or her directly from the book, and follow it with a heartfelt discussion about the real meaning of Christmas.

CajunNightBeforeChristmas

My third selection is Cajun Night Before Christmas, by “Trosclair,” edited by Howard Jacobs. This is a regional favorite in Louisiana, but I have read it to children in Georgia who loved it.

Imagine the famous poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” told in the dialect of south Louisiana, with St. Nicholas gliding across the bayou, with “eight alligator a pullin’ a skiff.” Of course, the alligators have French names:

“Ha, Gaston! Ha, Tiboy! Ha, Pierre an’ Alcee’! Gee, Ninette! Gee, Suzette! Celeste an Renee’!”

I have read this story aloud to my family and to children in public schools over the years, and it always produces loud laughter, even among those who aren’t familiar with the Cajun culture. There have been many imitations of this book, such as the Cowboy Night Before Christmas and the Redneck Night Before Christmas. But none have surpassed the originality and pure fun of Cajun Night Before Christmas.

AllIsWell

My final selection is All Is Well: A Story for Christmas, by Frank Peretti. Peretti is the best-selling author of the Christian thriller This Present Darkness, but he is also the author of one of the most touching Christmas books for children that I have ever read.

All Is Well is different from other children’s Christmas books for several reasons. It is on the reading level of an older child, perhaps about fifth grade. It is on the emotional level of a single mom who is struggling to make ends meet at Christmas. The story takes place in July, not during the Christmas season. Yet is most certainly a Christmas story, especially for those who going through tough times during the holidays.

If you are looking for a cute Christmas book for your child, this is not your book. But if you need encouragement to make it through Christmas, this may be the best book you could read, especially to a child who doesn’t understand why God is allows suffering and hard times.

What makes a happy Father’s Day

Copyright 2016 by Bob Rogers

FatherChildBike

A man came home late from work, exhausted, and went to his son’s room to tell him goodnight. His son sat up in bed and asked, “Daddy, how much money do you make?” Irritated by such a question, he said, “Enough!” But the boy wasn’t satisfied and asked, “I mean how much do you make an hour?” He grumbled, “They pay me $25 an hour.” The boy then asked, “Can I borrow $10?” The father gruffly replied, “No! Now go to sleep!”
The following morning, the overworked dad apologized to his son and handed him a $10 bill. The little guy excitedly ran to his room, and soon returned with his piggy bank. He spilled all of his pennies, dimes and nickels on the breakfast table in front of his father. He said, “I’ve got $15 in my piggy bank.” Then he added the $10 bill to the pile and said, “Here’s $25, Daddy. Can I buy an hour of your time?”
This Father’s Day, let’s remember that our families want a relationship with us more than they want our money. And the greatest example is the relationship that Jesus, Son of God, has with God the Father. This is beautifully expressed by Jesus’ words in John 5:19-23. There we read that Jesus and the Father worked in perfect harmony, as Jesus said, “For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way” (John 5:19). Too often, families are like a choir whose members are all are singing a different tune in a different key and rhythm. The result is a discordant chaos. The Father-Son relationship puts harmony to sheet music for the rest of us. Their relationship also proved its love by showing honor. Jesus said, “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing…So that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father…” (John 5:20, 23). Too often for us, the very mention of “family” causes a person to get a knot in his or her stomach, because of painful memories, hurtful words, and feelings of rejection. However, the Father-Son relationship is a picture of what love feels like. When Jesus was baptized, the Father proudly proclaimed, “This is My Beloved Son!” (Matthew 3:17). If God had a refrigerator, Jesus’ photos would be all over it.
Jesus said, “whatever the Father does, the Son does these things in the same way.” His way is a relationship path all of us should follow. That’s what makes for a happy Father’s Day!

The power of a mother’s prayer

Bob Rogers

PrayerMotherDaughter

Copyright 2015 by Bob Rogers
Many people have had mothers who prayed for them. The great theologian, Augustine, attributed his Christian conversion to the prayers of his mother, Monnica. Evangelist Billy Graham said, “What a comfort it was for me to know that no matter where I was in the world, my mother was praying for me.”
A Jewish mother named Hannah was a model of motherly prayer. The Bible says in the Book of First Samuel, chapter one, that Hannah was distraught because she could not have a child, and went to the tabernacle of the Lord to pray. There she met the priest Eli, who told her, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him” (1 Samuel 1:17). Later, she gave birth to her son, Samuel, the prophet who anointed the first two rulers of Israel, King Saul and King…

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The power of a mother’s prayer

PrayerMotherDaughter

Copyright 2015 by Bob Rogers
Many people have had mothers who prayed for them. The great theologian, Augustine, attributed his Christian conversion to the prayers of his mother, Monnica. Evangelist Billy Graham said, “What a comfort it was for me to know that no matter where I was in the world, my mother was praying for me.”
A Jewish mother named Hannah was a model of motherly prayer. The Bible says in the Book of First Samuel, chapter one, that Hannah was distraught because she could not have a child, and went to the tabernacle of the Lord to pray. There she met the priest Eli, who told her, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him” (1 Samuel 1:17). Later, she gave birth to her son, Samuel, the prophet who anointed the first two rulers of Israel, King Saul and King David.
If we look closely at this scripture, we will see four reasons why this mother’s prayer was so powerful:
1. It was a broken prayer. Verse 10 says, “Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed…” God rejects pride, but he often responds to brokenness and humility, especially in our prayers. He did so for King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1-6), He did for Hannah, and He has done so for many mothers who cry out to God for their families.
2. It was a committed prayer. Verse 11 says that Hannah prayed, “I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.”” She was promising God that Samuel would take a Nazirite vow, a special commitment of service to God symbolized by uncut hair and drinking no wine. Many people call on God but don’t want God to call on them. Hannah readily offered her own son to the call of God on his life. God loves the prayers of mothers like Hannah, who are completely committed to the Lord.
3. It was a consistent prayer. Verse 12 says, “…she continued praying in the LORD’s presence…” She didn’t simply toss up one prayer in the air and give up when she didn’t get an instant answer. Hannah was like Epaphras, whom the apostle Paul praised because “he is always contending for you in his prayers” (Colossians 4:12). There is power in the persistent prayers of mothers who continue to cry out.
4. It was a believing prayer. Verse 18 says that after Eli blessed her, “Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent.” It was some time later before she conceived and gave birth to a son (1 Samuel 1:20), but long before she had her answer, she believed. The Bible promises that God answers when we pray in faith (Matthew 21:22), in the name of Jesus (John 16:23), and the will of God (1 John 5:14). A mother named Hannah prayed like that, and in every generation, men and women have discovered the same power in prayer. We don’t always get the things for which we pray– or, we may receive answers in ways other than what we prefer, but there is no doubt that there is power in prayer.
On Mother’s Day, we honor women like Hannah. But the greatest honor we can give our mothers– whether living or not– is to pray to the same God who desires to pour out His love on us in answer to our prayers.

The purpose of marriage, according to Genesis

AdamEveGarden
Copyright by Bob Rogers

Genesis 2:24 says, “This is why” or “This is the reason” that a man and woman get married, and if you study the first two chapters of Genesis, you will see that marriage has three purposes:

1. A REFLECTION OF GOD’S UNITY. There is a unity within the diversity of the Godhead, as He is one God, yet three persons. Genesis 1:26-27 says that the Triune God said, “Let US make mankind in OUR image… He made them male and female.” The male-female relationship of marriage reflects a unity in the midst of diversity, much as God is one, yet diverse in three persons.

2. A REALIZATION OF HUMAN UNITY. The husband-wife relationship is a joyful discovery of human fulfillment unlike any other on earth. Genesis 2:18 says that God made a “help meet for him” (KJV), or “helper suitable for him” (NIV) or “helper as his complement (HCSB). The last translation is probably the best, because the Hebrew word is a combination of two words that mean “like” and “opposite.” The wife and husband complement one another in roles in the home, and complement one another emotionally and sexually.

3. THE REPRODUCTION OF CHILDREN. While not all couples can reproduce children, God intends to grow families through married couples. Thus in Genesis 1:28, after making them male and female and in His image, God blesses the man and woman and says, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth…”

There is something very important that we should notice here. Today’s society seeks to redefine marriage to include a same-sex union.  Notice that same-sex unions fail to meet all three of these Biblical purposes of marriage. Only a heterosexual union reflects God’s unity in His diversity. Only a heterosexual union can form a relationship where two people complement one another as opposites, yet alike. And, of course, only a heterosexual union can reproduce children. That is why Genesis 2:24 says that a man leaves his parents and is united to “his wife.” This has been God’s purpose for marriage from the beginning of human history.

If you see a video ad below this post, I do not necessarily endorse the product.

The Top Ten Gifts NOT to give on Father’s Day

Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers

FathersDayFacebook

What are the top ten gifts NOT to give on Father’s Day?

Here’s my list:

10. Necktie

9. “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug

8. “World’s Best Dad” t-shirt with a picture of Darth Vader

7. “World’s Best Dad” certificate signed by a Lazy Son or Daughter

6. The book, Fatherhood for Dummies.

5. A text message saying “Happy Father’s Day.”

4. Nose and ear hair trimmer

3. Big Mouth Billy the Bass singing fish

2. Book a cruise and charge it to Dad’s credit card.

1. Nothing.

   Yep. Nothing. The worst gift of all is to forget Father’s Day and fail to call or say anything about it. Even a text message is better than nothing at all.

   “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, HCSB)

What really matters

Arizona Cardinals v Philadelphia Eagles
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers

Millions of people gather around their television sets to watch sports championship games. Some will be very happy after the game, and others will be very disappointed. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter.

Philippians 2:10-11 says that in the end, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow… and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

In the end, it will not matter what team you follow, but it will matter whether or not you followed Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what nation you lived in, but it will matter whether you were you in the kingdom of God. In the end, it will not matter what terrorists you feared, but whether you feared God. In the end, it will not matter which church you attended, but whether you were part of the body of Christ.

In the end, it will not matter what your political affiliation was, but whether your affiliation was with Jesus. In the end, it will not matter where you worked, but whether you served Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what family or culture you were born in, but whether you were born again into the family of God. Because in the end, what will matter is not whether you got your name in the history books, but did you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

Top Ten Things NOT to Give for Mother’s Day

 Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers

Like many men, I am not a very good gift-giver. I wait until the last minute and run out to Wal-Mart. Or I get a gift that I think she wants, instead of what she really wants. When I was a young husband, I got my wife an iron for her birthday. It’s due to God’s grace and my wife’s patience that we’re still married. Some men reading this just asked, “What’s so bad about giving her an iron?” So for you guys who don’t know any better, here is a list of the Top Ten Things NOT to give your mother on Mother’s Day:
10. A plaque from Kroger that says “World’s Greatest Mom.”
9. A “God Loves Mothers” ballpoint pen that they give out at church on Mother’s Day.
8. A membership at the YMCA.
7. A toaster.
6. A mop and a broom.
5. Exercise equipment.
4. A new shotgun.
3. Ammunition for the new shotgun.
2. Taking her to a wrestling match.
1. An Extra Large white T-shirt from Wal-Mart that says “World’s Greatest Mom.”

Okay if these gifts are so bad, what are the Top Ten GOOD gifts for Mother’s Day?

Here are the Top Ten GOOD Gifts for Mother’s Day:

10. Flowers

9. A new Bible

8. A gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure.

7. Take her out to eat.

6. If you can’t see her on Mother’s Day, call her and talk to her a long time and let her know you love her.

5. Take her on a surprise trip to see her mother.

4. A handmade gift from her children.

3. Dress the kids, take them to get their picture, and then frame the photo and give it to Mom.

2. Have Dad and all the children go to church with Mom and sit with her in church.

1. Clean the house, have Dad and the kids cook at home, and let Mom relax with all the family there.

Guest blog: “A Week in the Life of a Georgia Tech Baseball Radio Announcer (and Student)”

 (Below is a guest blog from my son, R. Wade Rogers. He is a student at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. This is the third installment of three guest blogs from my three children.)

I’m a 2nd year student at Georgia Tech and majoring in Business Administration. I am also a Baseball Announcer for WREK- 91.1 FM, the student radio station at Georgia Tech, and a huge sports fan.

Sunday, February 12, 2012:
Weather in Atlanta is in the 20s, so I have a heavy coat with me as I leave for Grace Midtown Church in the morning. Worship this morning is great and the sermon continues a series on Proverbs that has been going on this semester with a study of Proverbs 7. The head pastor is 28 years old and he is out this Sunday after the birth of his first child, so the message is delivered by an associate pastor. (Well over half of the people that attend the church are under 30 and there are a lot of college students, especially from Georgia Tech, which is nearby. Despite the predominately young congregation, people of all ages attend.)
After church, I go to Russ Chandler Stadium, home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Baseball team. I help my radio partner, Nolan Alexander, to add some decorations to the home radio booth. Today’s task is drilling in a bookshelf. We also practice a few innings of play-by-play, while the team scrimmages before the start of the 2012 season on Friday. (All of the Georgia Tech Baseball games can be heard on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta and WREK.org online. I am scheduled to announce at least 25 games this season after calling 11 games my freshman year.)

After I arrive back home, I spend the rest of the afternoon and night studying. I have an unusually busy week ahead with four tests and a weekend of baseball to prepare for.
Monday, February 13, 2012:
I wake up at 7:30 planning on heading to campus to help work on some technical aspects for our radio broadcast, but I get a text saying that it is covered. That means I get to spend the next few hours for some more studying. I have two tests today and I sandwich a nap in between them. After my last test, I get dinner at my apartment, watch TV, and just relax for a little while. At 7:00, I make one last trip for the day to campus, this time to the radio station, for our last formal Baseball Broadcasters’ Meeting to go over the equipment setup. After the meeting, I get some more studying in for my next test.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012:
I’m up early today at 6:30 to eat breakfast and get ready for class. I have one class at 8:00 and then a test after that. For the second straight day, I get a nice nap during the afternoon. I have one more class at 3:00, but when I get home after that class, I’m all studied out. Three of my four tests for the week are out of the way, so I am relaxing tonight.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012:
I get to sleep-in until about 11:00 today, but then I have a pair of classes separated by a two and a half hour break. After my last class ends at 5:00, I get some dinner at Chick-fil-A in the Student Center and head up to the radio station. I’m filling in as producer for the Ramblin’ Wreck Report and tonight we have our annual Baseball Preview Show. Our guests are Georgia Tech 1B/LHP Jake Davies and our closer RHP Luke Bard. (They happen to be the only current Jackets with brothers currently playing in the major leagues. Kyle Davies P for the Royals and Daniel Bard P for the Red Sox). After the show, I go home for a little bit, but I go back to campus for a bible study at 9:00. I catch a ride back to my place afterwards and study for a little while before going to bed.
Thursday, February 16, 2012:
I have a pair of classes starting at 8:00 A.M. again. In between class, I head home to study for my last test of the week, but I get a text from a friend letting me know that the Atlanta Braves are handing out applications for summer jobs in the Student Center. I head back to the school earlier than usual to try and see if I can talk to someone from the Braves and see what kind of positions they were offering, but apparently they have already left, so I move my study station over to the library. I take my last test of the week in my last class of the week and head home to pack. Around 6:30, Nolan and I gather our equipment and hit the road for Rock Hill, South Carolina, where Georgia Tech is scheduled to play four games in the Coca-Cola Classic at Winthrop University against both Winthrop and Kent State. On the way, we make an extended stop at Nolan’s house for a delicious home-cooked meal. We get to the hotel around 12:30, where we are greeted by a pair of avid, older Tech Baseball fans, who are hanging around the lobby. They talk to us for a while before we finally get away and get to sleep after 1:00.
Friday, February 17, 2012:
We arrive at Winthrop Ballpark around 11:00, three hours before first pitch, to set up our equipment and prepare for an opening day doubleheader. In the first game, we have some frustrating technical issues, but eventually we get the issue resolved. It is a tough first game for the Jackets as well vs. Kent State. The Golden Flashes All-American P David Starn pitches eight shutout innings only allowing four singles, as Tech loses 5-0.
Second game goes better for us in the booth and on the field. Matthew Grimes pitches seven innings and only allows one hit and Zane Evans pitches two perfect innings to lead Tech to a 5-0 win over Winthrop.
Saturday, February 18, 2012:
At the hotel in the morning, we hear that there have been a few changes to the schedule because of weather expected tonight and tomorrow. Our game scheduled for today is moved up from 1:00 to noon and our game scheduled for tomorrow is moved to 7:00 tonight. The noon game goes by very quickly and the broadcast is even better than the day before. Tech gets revenge against Kent State winning 6-2, as Daniel Palka homers and scores four runs.
In between games Nolan and I get some lunch away from the ballpark and head back to the hotel for a break. Will Long, another Tech baseball announcer, made the trip up for the day to Rock Hill, where he worked last summer broadcasting for the Carolina Stingers of the Southern Collegiate Baseball League. As we arrive back at the ballpark we hear that our second game has been moved up an additional hour to try and beat the rain. We get set up just in time for the first pitch. Will and Nolan do play-by-play and I rotate in to do some color broadcasting for the final game of the weekend. Tech beats Winthrop again, this time 5-3, to start the season 3-1.
Sunday, February 19, 2012:
The team headed back last night, but Nolan and I stayed at the hotel. The weather forecasts were correct as it is a rainy day in Rock Hill that would not have been conducive for baseball. We check out of the hotel and make the drive back to Atlanta after a very successful first weekend of college baseball. I arrive back at my place around 4:00 and relax as I get set for another less busy week of school with more baseball.

As you can see, my schedule as a college student can be very busy at times, but I am challenging myself with school and getting some great opportunities to be involved with things that I love.
[Wade is announcing tonight’s home game against Ohio State.]