The Elders of Community Church of the Hills wish all y'all a very Merry Christmas from Johnson City, Texas! (From left to right: Ryan Morlino, Joe Stewart, Steve Sanchez, Bill Voron.)
Every Christmas message must include the Easter story because Jesus was born to die. "The Manger & the Cross" by artist Beate Heinen illustrates the baby Jesus' pupose. I plan on sending this painting to y'all every Christmastime.
Notice the newborn Christ-child in a feeding trough that looks like a coffin. Outside is a path that starts with budding trees and green grass, but at the end, trees are barren, the ground brown and dead. At the foot of the three crosses, the land is gray and colorless, a place not of life, but of death. It’s Golgotha, and this is the path Jesus trod, this was the purpose of his life.

Look at the parallels between the Christmas and Easter stories:

• The cradle must include the cross, because the cross sheds light upon the cradle.

• It started in Bethlehem and ended in Calvary.

• When the Christ child was born at Christmas, the wisemen asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” Now His royal title, “King of the Jews,” is affixed to the cross for all to see.

• In the manger, Christ was weak, frail and dependent—like any baby. On the cross, he’s weak, frail, yet resigned to do his Father’s will—as our Savior.

• At His birth, something strange happened in the heavens: A star in the night sky. When he was crucified, there was darkness at noon.

• Among the first to come to Him at His birth were the Gentile Magi, drawn by the light of the star. The first to respond to the cross was the Gentile centurion, awakened by the shaking of the earth.

• At his birth, Joseph and Mary were present. At his death, another Joseph and Mary were present.

• After his birth, Jesus was laid in a stone trough. After the crucifixion, Jesus was laid in a stone tomb.

• At Jesus’ birth, Mary wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger. After Jesus’ death, Joseph wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a tomb.

• The final outcome of Jesus’ birth was his death.

• The final outcome of Jesus’ death was our forgiveness.

• The final outcome of our forgiveness would be a relationship with God forever.

Now, look beyond those three crosses in Beate Heinen's painting. Notice the blue sky, the hope of a new day? See the golden hues just behind it?

I imagine that if we walked a little farther down the path that connected the Manger and the Cross, it would be a path of gold leading to “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away….

Merry Christmas!
What if I told you, that from a Scriptural standpoint, everything you know about the Christmas Nativity scene is wrong? And, what if you learned that the truth is way more significant and poignant than any old myth or tradition? Be prepared to be moved. I was when I heard about this fresh perspective. (28 minutes)
Last Memes of the Year!
Christmas Season Prayers
1. LOVE Lord, help us follow the way of love—let the love of Christ compel us.  
(1 Corinthians 14:1; 2 Corinthians 5:14)

2. JOY Restore the joy of Your salvation to us; let us experience the joy of Your presence. (Psalm 51:12, 16:11)

3. PEACE Let Your peace rule and guard our hearts; give us more of You, Jesus—You are our peace. (Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7; Ephesians 2:14)

4. HOPE Enlighten the eyes of our heart so that we may know the hope You called us to. (Ephesians 1:18)

5. LIFE Shine Your light of life on us; help us to walk in it.
(Job 33:30; Psalm. 56:13)

6. SALVATION Help us to fear You so we can unlock the treasure of Your salvation. (Isaiah 33:6)

7.  SELFLESSNESS Keep us from self-seeking attitudes that reject truth.
Romans 2:8

8. GENEROSITY Make us rich in ways that result in generosity on our part so You will be praised. (2 Corinthians 9:11)

9.  SEEKING Encourage us to seek Your face with all our hearts.
(Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalm 27:8)

10. PRAISE We ascribe glory to Your name, Lord; we come before You in worship for You are holy. (1 Chronicles 16:28-29)
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