Three generations of first-born sons! The first picture was taken in January of 1981, shortly after my husband Isaac was born, and he is being held by his father, Geoffrey Botkin. In the second picture, Isaac is holding our first-born son, James Arthur Geoffrey Botkin. Isaac is wearing the same leather jacket that his dad wore, and it’s only a little worse for the wear almost 35 years later. All three of these men hold a very special place in my heart and life, and I’m thankful to be related to them!
Merry Christmas, everyone! We are enjoying a snowy family time in Colorado, and reflecting on the many ways that God has blessed us over the past year. However, Christmas is also the time to give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ, not just in our own time, but also His work over the last 2000 years. This gift is not just to us individually; His sacrifice has blessed the entire world. Of course, the redemptive power of the Gospel does save us as individuals, working directly in our hearts, but it is also a transforming power in all tribes, tongues, and nations.
Heidi and I made this map last year to show spread of the Gospel, as a tool to help us all see the constant increase of Christ’s influence and government on this earth, starting in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. We hope that it is an encouragement to you, and a reminder to worship and glorify Jesus Christ. We praise Him for the work that He has done on earth through His saints, even as we thank Him for the work that He has done in our own hearts through the Spirit.
We often fall into the trap of focusing on a single attribute of Christ at a time, sometimes forgetting that He is fully God and fully man at the same time. This Christmas, let us remember that the Son of God, by whom all things were created, humbled Himself to became a man like us, even to the point of being born a helpless baby in a stable. In no way does His Sovereign Majesty detract from the humility of His approachable human nature, or vice versa. In the same way, the sacrificial purpose of the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world only adds glory to His rule as our King, to whom all authority has been given.
Here’s a quick promotional video that I put together for The Worldview in 5 Minutes, a Christian news service that provides an overview of what is happening in the world, every day. I find it to be a particularly useful service, partly because it’s very flexible; I can either skim the text of the transcript or listen to the professional audio recording depending on what I’m doing. But more importantly, I really appreciate the tone and perspective that this news report provides. For example, today’s WV5 broadcast contrasted information on the San Bernardino Muslim Terror attack with testimony of a Muslim couple coming to Christ, and finished a report from Open Doors on Christian persecution by quoting Romans 8:17.
There are other Christian news sites out there, some of which only report on things that have happened directly to professing Christians, and some of which that have a wider focus, but few reporters really mention the Sovereign God who is behind everything going on in the world. The Worldview in 5 Minutes does a much better job of providing that context to events of the day.
And on a side note, this is the first project that James was able to participate in! In case you were wondering, he appears as “Baby in Background” in the first shot.
‘Tis the season for colored lights, and delicious food! What better time for Christians to be salt and light in the world… but what does that really mean? For too many of us, it means that we should gently complement the world around us. After all, salt is just one of many spices in the rack, and light comes in lots of fun decorative colors. Shouldn’t Christians just provide a pinch of flavor to a larger multicultural stew, and let the light of the Church nicely accent the world’s furniture?
Well, salt is more than a flavor. Salt is a powerful chemical that removes impurities, kills germs, and acts as a preservative. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, salt was the difference between edible meat and poisonous meat. Salt is so valuable that it has historically been used like a currency (hence the term “salary”); not because it tastes good, but because it is a nutrient that humans literally can’t live without. Sodium deficiency causes seizures, memory loss, hyponatremic encephalopathy, and death if not treated by immediate administration of salt. Not cumin, cinnamon, or cilantro.
Likewise, light is more than just a dash of color in our home decor. No matter what we would like to believe about our world being gentle shades of grey, light and darkness are unmistakable opposites. Light is the first creation. It is impossible to overstate the importance of light, scientifically or figuratively, and there is no alternative. Light from the Sun provides this planet with all of its natural energy. Without its light, everything dies immediately. God’s Son is repeatedly referred to as the Light of the world in Scripture, and He provides the world with all hope. Without the power of God and the blood of His Son, everything dies eternally.