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Because of Bethlehem: Love is Born, Hope is Here
Review: 4.5 STARS
Author: Max Lucado
Genre: Christian Devotional
Pages 136 pages plus a four week Advent study
*Purchase on Amazon*
Max Lucado loves Christmas. Let the sleigh bells ring. Let the carolers sing. The more Santas the merrier. The more trees the better.He loves it because somewhere someone will ask the Christmas questions: What’s the big deal about the baby in the manager? Who was he? What does his birth have to do with me?
And the answers he’s found give us all hope. God knows what it’s like to be a human. When we talk to him about deadlines or long lines or tough times, he understands. He’s been there. He’s been here. Because of Bethlehem, we have a friend in heaven.
And Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. The child in the cradle became the King on the cross. Because of Bethlehem, we have a Savior in heaven. These are the heart shaping promises of Christmas. Long after the guests have left and the carolers have gone home and the lights have come down, these promises endure.
Let’s turn on the lamp, curl up in a comfortable spot, and look into the odd, wonderful story of Bethlehem.
Max has found a lifetime of hope. We will too.
This book is at 136 pages if you don’t count the four week Advent study in the back. It is an easy read and with less than 150 pages, it makes it a read you could do in a day, or for a frequent reader, in an afternoon. It would honestly take you just a few hours to read, but you shouldn’t do that. It is only 12 chapters long and even if it takes you 12 days to read the 12 chapters, it is worth the slowing down to fully digest what Lucado is saying.
I think if you sit and read it in an afternoon, it feels shallow, the depth of a small dish. It then doesn’t hold the weight that I believe Mr. Lucado wanted us to grasp from this book. If you take the time to slowly enjoy the book, to feast on it for days. If you take the time to look up scriptures and cross-reference them. If you find out for yourself what he is trying to say, you are going to get so much more out of this little book than just sitting and devouring it in an afternoon and moving on with the busy Christmas season, content on checking things off your list. I highly suggest you get the study guide so you can go along with the book. Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas is a fun thing to say. It has become a jingle of sorts for bumper stickers and clickable blog posts and Facebook memes. Its weight is diminished if we continue to remove ourselves from the actual meaning. Keeping Christ in Christmas is not just a saying but it is a deliberate move to put Christ as a child in the center of your season. It’s not just the birth, it’s also the child. It’s not just the sin, it’s also the redemption. It’s not just the Mary, it’s also God. The book is so simplified that it seems like it would be easy and light, but if you really think about it, it impacts you. If you truly take to heart what Max Lucado is trying to say, the subject matter is heavy, it’s weighted. If you go through the Advent study in the back of the book, if you do the study guide and look up the scriptures, you have studied the word in such a way that it makes it easy for you to understand and yet it becomes impactful on the way you approach the holiday season.
I really enjoyed this book, but more importantly, I did it wrong. I sat down and read the entire book in an afternoon. My first impression of it was shallow, thin and I didn’t understand what the book was trying to teach me. Yes, Christ is born a child. Yes, the reason we have the cross is that God became flesh. Yes, our God is amazing and awesome and so powerful, and wonderful, and counselor and all the words we use to describe him.
Blah blah blah
It didn’t seem like it gripped me. It wasn’t until I took the time after Christmas to reread it. It just so happens that I took my time with it when I wasn’t so rushed. I started out reading one chapter and because I had read it earlier, I took the time to look up scripture and use my reference guides and truly dive into the word. The book wound up taking me down a path I hadn’t anticipated. It wasn’t thin and shallow and superficial as I first thought. The book has depth and width and breadth. It was everything I was supposed to get from this simple, sort text. I highly suggest you get the study guide and take the time look up the scriptures. If you take the time to sit and read the book day by day and then do the Advent, you will have a rich and powerful understanding of the Christmas story in a way that will change you.
One of my favorite books by Max Lucado is Six Hours One Friday. The reason why I read it every single year for the last eight years, is because every time I read it, I gain something different from it. It has a different meaning for me. It touches me in a different way and I can read that book for eight years straight and it still touches me. I can look up the same scriptures and still gain a different understanding. I want to encourage those who may see this book on Amazon and think it will be a fun afternoon read that will put you in the holiday feeling…. to look deeper. I encourage you to go deeper into the word. We need to really let it sink into our souls because once it does, the Bethlehem message of a child come to save us, will become so powerful.
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