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Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Crown Fell Off

The dental hygienist picked at my teeth, buffed them, and flossed. Then she X-rayed. She and a dentist examined the X-rays and informed me I needed a couple of fillings, a root canal, and a new crown. Bad news just before Christmas! I hadn’t suspected any problem with the tooth that needed the root canal and a new crown, but the X-ray provided incontrovertible evidence of decay at the gum level. At dinner that evening further evidence turned up. The old crown fell out of my mouth and landed on my dinner plate.

The next day, I sat in a dentist’s chair for almost three hours while the dentist drilled out decay, performed a root canal, and shaved away some gum tissue to get at decay lurking below the gum line. A staff member installed the fillings and attached a temporary crown where the old crown had fallen off. At first, she thought she could us the old crown as a temporary one, but she quickly abandoned that idea when it fell onto the back of my tongue.

Now I have a better bite, but so does the dentist—right into my savings.

If it hadn’t been for an X-ray, I wouldn’t have realized decay was destroying the affected tooth, but eventually the realization would have struck hard and signaled the end of the tooth. Sin is decay of the soul that affects every human being. Some individuals may not realize they are sinners, and a few may deny the fact altogether. But like an X-ray, the Bible exposes our sin and tells us Jesus came to earth to provide the perfect remedy for sin. When an angel of the Lord informed Joseph that the virgin Mary would bring forth God’s Son, he instructed Joseph to name the baby Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Even Mary was aware that she needed to be saved from sin. She sang, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (italics mine; Luke 1:47).

I could tell you how much my dental bill was, but I won’t. Your empathy might spoil your Christmas. Suffice is to say it cost a lot. However, having the decay of sin removed from my soul cost me nothing. But it cost Jesus everything. He purchased my redemption by shedding His blood at the cross.

If you want a condensed, but powerful, version of the Christmas story, read the apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 4:4 and 5: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

God and Big Government

Big government seems to involve itself in many areas of our lives. It demands that we buckle up when we drive, measure up to building codes, and pay up when taxes are imposed on everything from what we wear to what we eat. Our cars are taxed, our homes are taxed, our income is taxed, and our fuel is taxed. It’s almost ironic that our nation declared its independence from England in 1776 to avoid unfair taxation. We have certainly managed to tax ourselves into a corner! So it’s understandable that most of us would like big government to go on a crash diet.

But big government did something two millennia ago that led to the greatest benefit ever to reach the human race. The big government at the time was the Roman government headed by Caesar Augustus. He decreed a census in which everyone had to go to his own town for registration (Luke 2:1-3). Because Joseph belonged to the house of David, he had to register at Bethlehem.

There you have it— God used big government to draw Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where biblical prophecy said the Savior would be born. Micah 5:2 announced, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel . . ..”

Of course we shouldn’t conclude that what happened 2,000 years ago gives big government a ringing endorsement. Caesar Augustus served God’s purpose unwittingly. Nevertheless, we should conclude that God holds ultimate control over history. He is far bigger than any big government and is committed to positioning and using all things for our good and His glory.

The story of Christmas brings hope—real hope!