Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Manger King Release Day: When Christmas Comes in the Summer

There is a Christmas book in my office, a collection of holiday reflections from several bestselling Christian authors. I keep it on my shelf because it was the inspiration for my book, Manger King: Meditations on Christmas and the Gospel of Hope, which releases today.

Well, maybe inspiration isn't the right word. A couple of years ago, I read through the chapters, and with (almost) each one, I became more and more disheartened. It wasn't that the men who wrote the chapters weren't offering inspirational messages, and it wasn't that they were trying to distort the gospel. What troubled me was that these authors got the Christmas story wrong. One relied entirely on the book of Luke without letting Matthew speak when appropriate; another had the wise men arriving at a stable, though the Bible makes no mention of a stable and suggests that the magi arrived some two years after Jesus' birth.

"What's the difference?" you might ask. Of all the narratives in Scripture, the nativity accounts may be the most famous—at least in societies heavily influenced by Christianity. So what does it say about our trust in Scripture—and its reliability—if we can't get the story straight?

So I started writing—25 reflections on the Christmas story, putting all the pieces together as best I could. I let the Bible be my guide and set aside those traditions that, while much loved, just don't reflect the narratives we find in God's Word. In the process, I found that the real Christmas story is better than we could have imagined. God the Father is good, His Son is our only hope, and the Holy Spirit is still at work within and among His people.

As I mentioned, today is the official release date for Manger King. It seems a bit silly to be writing about my Christmas book when the temperature outside is in the mid-90s and most kids haven't even gone back to school yet. But that leads me to one of the wonderful things I discovered about the Christmas story: It's bigger than the Advent season, the month of December, or special church services. The story of Jesus' birth is the hinge-chapter in the grand story of redemption that God has been writing since the beginning of time. It points back to the Old Testament and forward to the New Creation. As such, Christmas is best when it's celebrated all year long.

I hope you'll check out the book. And if you enjoy it, would you do me a favor and tell others about it? And perhaps leave a kind review on Amazon.com or Christianbook.com? I'd sure appreciate it.

Merry Christmas (and try to stay cool)!

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