He Shall Be Called
Gary Brandenburg • December 18, 2016
I love the traditions of the holiday season. I never drink egg nog except at Christmas. I never watch "It's A Wonderful Life" in July. And Jana never cooks a turkey except at Thanksgiving. Our whole family gathers around the Thanksgiving table and we give thanks. One by one we share what we were thankful for. A couple of years ago my announcement went something like this. "I am thankful for my children. I want you to know that I know how hard it is to be a pastor's kid. And I also know it is even harder to be my kid." I meant that. It is hard to be my kid because of my imperfections as a father. I have come to realize that many of my flaws are magnified because of my desperate need for my father's approval. Many of the decisions I have made in life were informed by the desire to make my dad proud. I have even neglected my family at times chasing success so my dad would approve of me. I would like to say I have that all worked out now but I am still marked by my dad's opinion. And here is the crazy thing - my dad is dead! He is in Heaven where we will get all this worked out some day but in the meantime I am constantly reminded of the power and influence of fatherhood. Today we come to the third of four names Isaiah uses to describe the Messiah, Eternal Father.
We are Weak, but He is Strong
Kurt Pressler • December 11, 2016
As a boy growing up, I was convinced that the strongest man in the world was my dad. In fact, even though he’s now 75 years old and outfitted with a couple new knees and a new hip, there’s a part of me that knows he could still take me. And if you asked my three sons who they thought was the strongest man in the world, they’d probably answer that it’s me. At least until a few weeks ago. Now, I’m not so sure. You see, in November, the four of us participated in what is becoming a ritual; going to see the newest superhero movie. As you might expect, the movie consisted of heart-gripping action, good guys and bad guys with all kinds of powers, and incredible special effects.
Whatever Happened to Wonder
Gary Brandenburg • December 4, 2016
It's that time of year again. A time when people ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" If you are like me, it is not an easy question to answer. My first response is, "nothing." When it comes to material things, I have everything I need and then some. But there are some gifts that would be nice to have. I would like to know the future. I wouldn't mind having super powers. Maybe a stocking full of security and a heart full of peace would be nice. I think Jana's response would be something like, "Sorry but you will have to settle for new slippers or a new sweater." But here is the amazing thing - the Christmas gift that God gives us will free us from mental confusion, provide us with power, give us a sense of security, and relieve us of our anxiety about the chaos and violence in this world. "A child has been born, a Son has been given," who is called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There is no greater gift we could ever receive or offer this world than the One mentioned in Is. 9:6