A Poem by C. Rossetti: In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter

by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
 Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign. 
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day, 
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

A Poem by Prudentius: Of the Father's Love Begotten

 Of the Father's Love Begotten

Corde natus ex Parentis by Prudentius (AD 405)
Translation by J. M. Neale and H. W. Baker
A layman, government official of the Roman Empire, and great Christian poet.

1 Of the Father's love begotten ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see evermore and evermore.

2 Oh, that birth forever blessed when the virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving, bore the Savior of our race,
and the babe, the world's Redeemer, first revealed his sacred face evermore and evermore.

3 This is he whom seers and sages sang of old with one accord, whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word. Now he shines, the long-expected; let creation praise its Lord evermore and evermore.

4 Let the heights of heav'n adore him, angel hosts his praises sing, pow'rs, dominions bow before him and extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent, ev'ry voice in concert ring evermore and evermore.

5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to thee
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unending praises be, honor, glory, and dominion
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore.

A Poem by C. S. Lewis: The Nativity

The Nativity

by C.S. Lewis

Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So may my beast like folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baaing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!

A Poem by W. McCarter: Irony (Christmas)

 Irony. . .

Behold, the virgin shall be with child

Peculiar. . .
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump

Unexpected. . .
Little Bethlehem, out of you shall come a Ruler

Miracle. . .
She was found with child of the Holy Spirit

Surprise. . .
For with God nothing is impossible

Paradox. . .
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Baffling. . .
He was laid in a manger because there was no room for them

Marvelous. . .
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts

Wondrous. . .
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end

Shocking. . .
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Gospel. . .
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Irony. . .

Godliness is Profitable

 1 Timothy 4:8    Godliness is Profitable


“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”


In the American culture, we have been infatuated for decades with finding the perfect diet and with exercising enough. There has been one fad after another. We want to dress the best we can, and dress our kids in the latest styles. We are materialistically hungry and desire the most comforts. We’re incensed ensconced with physical health. The medical field dictates so much of our lives. We have one doctor’s appointment after another and take handfuls of vitamins, supplements, and pharmaceuticals. Pursuing physical health has become the American religion, the doctors are the priests, while exercise, dietary programs, medicines, and the like are the rituals and practices. The god so many worship is a picturesque view of a human, it is comfort, and it is long life. Americans want the sanitized, pain-free life.


Meanwhile, we neglect the human soul. Even those who claim the name of Christ, neglect their own souls. What it means to be human is to be both body and soul. You cannot be fully human, fully who the true and living God created you to be, in his image, while focusing on the body and neglecting your soul.


The Lord Jesus said what is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? What about the souls of those around us, those we love? And what about the souls of the next generation?


There is spiritual decay all around. Cancer of the soul. Danger. Threats. Vulnerabilities. Atrophy. In our world, in our country, in our community, in our families, and what about ourselves? What about your soul? Is it healthy? Are you healthy?


Christ’s death was physical, yes. But it was also spiritual. His atoning death was the agony of his soul to pay the penalty for our sins. He died in our place, bearing our guilt in his own sinless soul, in order to save our souls.


The Lord’s Supper ministers to the soul. The meal preaches to the soul. It gives knowledge and hope and faith and peace and joy and comfort to your soul. Remember: Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. As we eat and drink, we proclaim that Jesus died for our sins, that he was raised from the dead, and that he is returning again as Judge of the world and as Lord of lords. Our hope is to pass through the judgment and be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

What is Christian Forgiveness?

Believers are commanded in the Scriptures: "Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do" (Colossians 3:13). We know what it took to secure our atonement. Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was raised from the dead three days later. He became sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He has paid for our sins and cleansed us from them. So then, what does it mean that he has forgiven us? A couple other New Testament passages are informative: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the [one] to whom the Lord shall not impute sin" (Romans 4:7). “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). The Lord does not count sin against those who believe, and he no longer remembers those sins. God, in his infinite mercy, decides to no longer hold us accountable for our sins. There are no eternal ramifications for our sins.

Thus, as one writer says, “Forgiveness is often misunderstood. Yet forgiveness is one of the most basic of Christian qualities. Forgiveness can transform our relationship with God, with others, and even with ourselves” (Richards).

Here is a summary: To forgive is to forego the desire and to repudiate any obsessive demands for another’s punishment. It is to close one’s mind and heart to any claim on another’s sin-debt to us—be it real or merely supposed. To forgive is also to refuse the passions and potential hatreds aroused by another’s transgressions against us—and that to the point where it has no hold whatsoever on our memories. Forgiveness is the dispassionate remembrance of past offenses.

Again, hear and obey the call of Scripture on this matter and reap the benefits of a transformed life: "Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do."

What does the Bible teach about shacking up?

What does the Bible teach about shacking up?

By Wesley McCarter | February 2022


The phrase “shacking up” has a long history in Christianity and in American society to convey the idea of cohabitation before marriage. This is often what Christians think of when using the term “fornication,” and sometimes the idea is simply referred to as “living together.” The phrase “shacking up” is used in a disapproving way because most Christians view this behavior as sinful. However, the question to ask is: Does the Bible teach against shacking up?


Many argue that shacking up is standard fare in the culture today. “Plenty of folks have done it with success,” they say. “Everyone should test the waters, take a test drive, try it out first,” are all common analogies to support the behavior. These are all pragmatic responses to what is a critical question. Christians are not pragmatists, however, on matters to which God has spoken directly. Christians are people of the Book, and the Lord is to be obeyed in all matters. He has given order and taught godliness to mankind.


The Scriptures are clear about the importance and holiness of marriage. Marriage is God-ordained for his own glory and for human flourishing. In a day when marriage is not viewed as a covenant but simply as an arrangement, Christians need to return to the Scriptures to see what God has revealed about the institution. Contemporary culture demeans marriage, at times, and often perceives it as trivial at best. Divorce is rampant. Shacking up is commonplace. Many have redefined marriage in such a way that it now has no meaning. The government has even contributed to the demise of marriage in American society. Nevertheless, Christians have God’s word for knowledge and wisdom on the subject. 


What does the Bible teach about shacking up? Starting from the beginning will help to orient God’s people to his will. The Scriptures record in the first book what God says about marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). The Lord Jesus Christ echoed this creation mandate with the words: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt 19:4-6). In light of what God had done, a man and a woman would become one from that point forward. Moving in and living together is a sign of marriage (“leaving and cleaving”). From the beginning of creation, two have become one. This is what God intended. After ruling out in his paragraph all other distorted forms of man-woman relationships, one commentator writes, “[T]hat God intended monogamous heterosexual life was shown by God’s creation of one man and one woman” (Bruner). Marriage was not an arrangement but was, and still is for the Christian, a covenant between a man and a woman. Included in the covenant language are the ideas of pledging oneself to the other, responsibility, loyalty, and unity.


The most robust argument that the Christian teacher or mentor might make from the Scriptures on this subject is the holiness of marriage. Men and women should not pretend to be husband and wife without actually becoming husband and wife. Shacking up is essentially “playing house.” This flies in the face of God’s design for men and women and makes a mockery of God’s law. Cohabitation over against marriage is a perversion of righteousness. God’s will for men and women in relationship is revealed in both natural and special revelation. Thus, the inspired author announces: “Marriage is to be honored by all, and the marriage bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4). This is the Christian, biblical view of the matter. Hence, Cockerill repeats, “The pastor would have them to do nothing that violates the marriage bond or belittles marriage,” and comments, “‘by all’ means none are exempt from this command—married or unmarried, young or old.” The commentator continues, “By beginning with the covenant of marriage rather than with individual chastity, the pastor confirms the fact that sexual misconduct is not merely a matter of private concern but has implications for the common life of the people of God” (Cockerill).


Marriage is to be honored by all for numerous reasons but primarily because of two. Already mentioned above is the God-glorifying, human-flourishing, creation order of marriage. If that was not enough, ideas from Ephesians might also be added. The apostle writes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22), and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). Why should wives submit to husbands and husbands love their wives in this thoroughly Christian way? The apostle testifies: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:32). Not only is marriage to be honored because of the creation mandates, but it is also to be honored because of the witness it has to Christ and his church. A mystery is something that was previously obscure but has now been revealed. This happens through a new revelation. A God-designed marriage between a man and a woman points to the greater reality of the relationship between Christ and the church. In turn, the relationship between Christ and the church becomes the pattern for flourishing marriages.


To reiterate, shacking up flies in the face of God’s design and law. Marriage is to be honored among all. So, any relationship between a man and a woman outside of marriage that resembles, replaces, mocks, or rejects it is dishonorable and will not bring the blessing of the Lord God. Shacking up is a cheap knockoff of the beauty, wonder, holiness, and blessing of marriage.


Additionally, a Christian ought to consider his or her witness before others with this aberrant behavior (Rom 14:13). He or she should consider the many warnings of Scripture to flee from the very appearance of evil (Prov 3:7; 1 Thess 5:22; 1 Tim 2:22). Not only that, but cohabitation almost always leads to premarital sexual relations which are expressly forbidden in Scripture (Rom 12:2; 13:14; 1 Thess 4:3; 5:22; 1 Cor 6:18; Col 3:5). Consider the seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exod 20:14). Inherit in this foundational command is the honor of marriage and the condemnation of any and all forms of sexual relationships outside of the God-ordained covenant of marriage. Shacking up, premarital sex, and any form of fornication is damaging to relationships, people, families, and churches in emotional, mental, and spiritual ways that one may not even realize (and sometimes physical ways as well). Disciples of Jesus, then, should guard each one’s dignity, calm his or her own emotions, temper one’s own appetites, protect oneself from temptation and sin, practice patience, and pursue righteousness. Christian men and women should pursue marriage, as defined by Scripture. Getting married is the best course of action to prevent against God’s displeasure, hurting others, damaging one’s witness, or falling into immorality (1 Cor 7:2, 9).


For those who have done things their way rather than God’s way, there is hope for renewal. You can be restored to holiness. The Gospel declares the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus. Sincere repentance before God will be met with forgiveness and cleansing. Repentance, for some, may look like moving out until the wedding takes place, or for others it may look like getting married this week, or for yet others it may mean breaking off the relationship. The one (or two, if both are believers) shacking up who repents must determine what the fruits of that repentance will be. God will forgive.


May marriage be honored by all and the marriage bed undefiled.