The unseen lessons of Christmas past
By Fred Comella
I know I must’ve written about this before but it bears repeating. Christmas was always a very special time for me when I was a boy. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would finally reconcile the real reasons for those very powerful emotions. I suppose the sights and sounds of the holiday season are the things most associated with Christmas through the eyes of a child. For me however, there was always something more, a realization deep in my heart that this very special time of year brought out the best in people, and that the words “peace on earth, good will toward men” actually meant something, and were sung with genuinely good intentions. I could really feel it deep inside, and the realization of Baby Jesus remained with me in some fashion my whole life. Time would pass though, and with it came careers, family and responsibilities. I found myself working harder and harder every year to unpack those feelings, if you will. However becoming a Christian, and placing my full faith and trust in the King of kings, has brought new clarity and depth to the truth of Christ from his birth to his sacrifice. Moreover, my journey, and all those whose lives and experiences have touched me by way of it, have only augmented my Christmas joy beyond anything I could ever have imagined.
But for the purposes of really seeing and understanding the big picture Bible implications for a changing world, let’s take that even further. I use the Christmas story in my own life to emphasize the necessity for clarity when it comes to the words and meanings of the Bible, and how as we grow older, we have a natural yearning to understand (and clarify) that which is seemingly just emotion when we’re younger. As a “Newer” Christian, I have begun to acknowledge and read Scripture as a means to that end, and the Bible in total as an integral part of my faith. Admittedly, I’m more keenly aware than ever of how lacking I’d been over the years in doing so, and more importantly, how translation in the appropriate context is critical so that we may understand and live as He desires for us.
For this I turned to my pastor, and he’s done a magnificent job for me. He has truly helped apply that proper context by explaining what is meant in what I read. So when my editor assigned me a story which revolves around just that principle of “Christ centered” preaching, or “Expository Preaching,” which essentially ensures the proper thought process when considering Biblical text, avoiding gaps that could be filled with inaccurate or secular interpretations, I was naturally (and spiritually) curious. Turns out the Reverend Dr. Oommen George Kutty has written an intense and passionate book on this very topic, and I was fortunate to speak with him last weekend about his effort, “The Essential Principles of Expository Preaching”.
Dr. Oommen George Kutty is internationally known for his dynamic and soul-stirring preaching. In 1970, he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and from that time to the present day, his ministry has continued with substantial missionary work for the Lord. He has traveled to over 30 countries around the globe on five continents, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the Founder and President of Asia for Christ Ministry (USA) and the Hope for Asia Bible College and Seminary in India. His vision for India is to plant 10,000 churches through the Hope for Asia Bible College and Seminary, and also to establish Bible training centers in expository preaching throughout Asia, and to prepare a new generation of “soul-hot, God-gripped, Spirit-filled expository preachers in the Lord’s work”.
Dr. Kutty has served the Lord in India with Operation Mobilization teams and graduated with the Intensive Discipleship Training Program on board the gospel ship M/V Logos. He also served the Lord on board the Ebenezer Gospel Ship in the Far East. As a pioneer in the Lord’s work, he was commissioned by Christ to serve among the Indo-Chinese refugees in Thailand for two years in the seventies. Dr. Kutty graduated from Far Eastern Bible College (Singapore), Zion Bible College (USA), International Seminary (USA), Trinity Theological Seminary (USA), and is the author of “Driven with Destiny,” “Hallelujah,” and “The Theology of Praise and the Key to Spiritual Breakthroughs”.
Dr. Kutty and I spoke by phone about his latest book and how “Expository Preaching” and a complete examination of the text and grammar of Biblical passages can make the difference for the believer who desires a fuller and more complete understanding of God’s word. I must tell you that in the short time we had on the phone, Dr. Kutty left a huge impression on my soul. I could hear the passion in his voice and new almost immediately that I was dealing with a true man of God whose purpose was clear and Christ oriented. As I had surmised, Dr. Kutty was enthusiastic in explaining that his book centered on focusing on smaller portions of scripture and clearly defining them so they can be better understood. He was quick to point out that in the modern digital age, where young people’s attention spans are, shall we say something less than what they have been in generations past, helping pastors keep the attention of their respective church goers is critical. In doing so, Dr. Kutty explained that God’s word comes through much more clearly, and the true meaning and intent of the “Author” can find its way to the heart of the recipient in ways that will hold their attention. As someone who has spent a great deal of time writing about things like “original intent,” (politically of course), this was music to my ears. Context, and the truth that comes with it, is in very short supply these days. And I for one can attest to the awakening which occurs when you begin to understand the true intent of scripture and what it means for your life and those of your family.
As our interview continued, I was moved beyond my initial impressions and observations of Dr. Kutty’s passion, as he explained that he’d recently suffered a grievous accident which took his dominant eye. My heart sank as he told me of his struggle to see and complete the editing for his new book as he only had the blurred use of one eye during a process bound by sensitive timelines and deadlines. True to what I suspected, he reminded me that very much like in my own life, Jesus Christ was at work in his life, and that he now had an even greater bond with those in need of the word to reconcile trials in their own lives. He spoke of how “Expository Preaching” and how the focus of God’s intent inside the written Biblical word, speaks to the needs of the individual and to his own, and how focusing on central themes to larger passages, allows for a better understanding of the whole. As someone who has struggled with severe injury in my own life, and frankly who didn’t handle it as well as I might have had I been living a personal relationship with Jesus, I was almost tearful and retrospective as I listened to a man who was living out the very meaning of commitment, to his Savior, and to his mission, and in the face of great trial. Ah, but to emulate that walk in this world.
Dr. Kutty and I spoke more of his book, and how he hoped, that like his many seminars and workshops around the world on the benefits of focused and targeted “Expository Preaching,” his book would serve as yet another tool to empower pastors and evangelical teachers to more clearly define what is meant by the written Word. He spoke of “The ruin and recovery of man,” and how if sin is the ruin, then God’s Word is the obvious recovery. So it is paramount that we are able to recognize and understand the Word as it was intended, and that basically, we must “let His words speak”.
Ours was a fascinating conversation that afternoon, and as usual it seemed as though it was meant for me to speak with Dr. Kutty. I hope that our interaction, and all that it meant to me will somehow transcend to all of you.
As we wrapped up and spoke a bit about his beloved wife of 34 years Kamala, his three children Daniel, Joshua and Joyce, and his granddaughter Naomi, the conversation returned briefly to his injury, and he quietly asked if I might extend a message from him via this article. He told me again of how the loss of his eye allowed him to move not only to an even more profound understanding of what he was promoting in his book, but also that he was absolutely awestruck at how friends, colleagues and churches rallied to his side during his difficult time, and how those with whom he’d worked over decades, from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as ambassadors and diplomats from around the globe with whom he’d interacted during his more than six months abroad every year on mission, had sent their best wishes to him and his family. Dr. Kutty wanted desperately for “The Good News Today” to be a vehicle for him to send his heartfelt thanks and God’s love to all those very special folks. Well, consider it done Reverend, and from me to you, thank you for not faltering, for not giving up, for finishing your book, and for finding even greater strength in Jesus to continue your work for Him. You see more clearly than you realize my friend…
Please pick up a copy of Dr. Kutty’s “The Essential Principles of Expository Preaching ” for Christmas from amazon.com.
Have a blessed Christmas my friends, and may God bless you with health and happiness this holiday season…