For many, Christmas is the best time of the year. For others, it's difficult and challenging to get through. Pastor and author Max Lucado joined The Glenn Beck Program on Monday to talk about his new book, Because of Bethlehem: Love Is Born, Hope Is Here, and the hope found in a baby in a manger.
"Some of the people I know who have the most vibrant faith are those who have discovered that God can be the perfect father to them . . . it's kind of a mental switch. They say, Okay, I wasn't, for whatever reason, blessed with a good earthly dad, but I'm not going to let that slow me down. That is what it is. I'm going to press into God, and I'm going to see what scripture says about the kind of father he is, and I'm going to begin relating to him in that fashion," Lucado said.
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.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: Max Lucado is a pastor in San Antonio and an author. 120 million books sold, and people are still reading -- Max Lucado has a new book called because of Bethlehem. And also the Because of Bethlehem coloring book, which I think is fantastic. Pat had never even heard of an adult coloring book and has all the typical questions that I had when I first found out that we were making coloring books for adults. But now I love them.
Max is here with us now. Max, how are you, sir?
MAX: I'm great. I'm great. Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for letting me be on your program.
GLENN: You bet. I want to talk to you a little bit about Christmas from the eyes of people that don't necessarily find this the most wonderful time of the year. I know people who I would generally consider happy people. And I got an email from one of them the other day that said, "Christmas is the worst time of the year for me. It is so hard, and some of it is based on things that happened, and some of them is based on missed opportunities."
What do you say to those people?
MAX: Yeah. And as a pastor, I meet people like that quite often in between church services. Likely, someone will come up and say, "This is really a tough December for me." And when I ask why or explore why, oftentimes, it's something that happened this year, so this is the first Christmas since this -- you know, the funeral. The first Christmas since the divorce or the first Christmas since the job layoff. So what they would expect to be a happy season feels even heavier. And you're absolutely right. For some people, Christmas is a reminder of what they never received. And they assume or feel that everyone else did. Maybe a healthy family or wonderful parents or a great childhood. And so Christmas can be a reminder to them of -- of pain, and consequently, they just kind of slug through December and try to get it over with.
GLENN: And if you don't have a good family or if you -- particularly, people who didn't have a good dad -- you know, how do I look at, you know, God as a father and a loving father when I don't even know what that means? You know.
MAX: Yeah. And it requires some pretty exact discipline on the part of somebody's father whose father was anything but a father. And when they read in the Bible that God is our Heavenly Father -- and that conjures up images of betrayal or abuse or abandonment -- it's difficult.
But I have discovered this, Glenn. That there are those who say, "You know, I'm going to envision the perfect father, and I'm not going to blame God for my father's failure. My earthly father, my biological father's failure, but I'm going to trust God that he can reveal to me the image of the perfect father. And I'm going to let scripture, let the stories that the Bible tell me who my Heavenly Father is."
And some of the people I know who have the most vibrant faith are those who have discovered that -- that God can be the perfect father to them. And they make that -- it's kind of a mental switch. They say, "Okay. I wasn't for whatever reason blessed with a good earthly dad. But I'm not going to let that slow me down. That is what it is. I'm going to press into God, and I'm going to see what scripture says about the kind of father he is. And I'm going to begin relating to him in that fashion.
GLENN: I will tell you that Pat said to me at one point to consider -- he said, "It will change your life. Consider your -- consider God an actual dad. Envision him as an actual dad."
Now when I read scriptures, I know how I'm supposed to be a dad because I can see him as a dad. I can see how he is as a parent. He doesn't put up with crap after a long, long, long fuse. But he never punishes in -- in a bad way. He -- he lets you feel your consequences.
MAX: Absolutely, yeah.
GLENN: And he does it for your own good.
MAX: He does. He does. And I think that we are wired as human beings to need a father. We are wired to need a father. That's just the way we are built -- that's why the family unit is so important. And that's why the breakdown of fatherhood in culture is such a disaster. But it's not fatal. It's not fatal.
We believe in a sovereign, good God who can redeem the most difficult circumstances. And it's worthy of note that when Jesus taught us to pray, he said, "Pray like this: Our father who art in heaven." That's how he taught us to pray. We relate to God, yes, as a king, yes, as a Creator. But we can relate to him as our father.
And it's often pointed out that the way Jesus said that was the word our Abba. A-B-B-A. It was a tender colloquial term like papa or daddy.
I don't think anybody is ever so successful, sophisticated, or important, that they don't need a Heavenly Father with whom they can relate as a daddy, that since being able to crawl up in a father's lap and say, "I'm tired. I need help. I need strength," that we were made, Glenn -- I think we were made to receive that.
GLENN: Tell me about the book Because of Bethlehem. I'm just reading here. And I love this. Most of the players in the Christmas drama inspire us with our faith. This is about halfway through.
Mary who had great courage. Joseph who was obedient. The shepherds who came quickly and worshiped willingly. The wise men who traveled far and gave generously. Most of the characters in Bethlehem drama behaved like heroes. But there was also one who played a role of a villain.
Why is this -- why is this important?
MAX: It is important. King Herod. You know, what a story. Here's a king who was -- who was 10 miles from Bethlehem, who had wise men come from a distant country saying that they perceived through the stars that something miraculous was happening. And it could be in the vicinity of where King Herod was.
So he consults with his religious leaders. His religious leaders say, "Well, there is a prophecy in the Bible that says that the king will be born in Bethlehem."
And I think King Herod was so power-hungry, so jealous, that he couldn't bring it -- he couldn't bring himself to make the 10-mile hike to Bethlehem to see who this might be. And as we know, he actually ended up trying to kill the newborn Jesus because he tried to slaughter all the children in Bethlehem.
He's really a picture. In the book, Because of Bethlehem, I look at some of these characters and what they teach us. And I think that Herod is the picture of the man that is consumed by jealousy, by a lust for power, and how it just destroyed him, and how it prevented him from making what could have been a life-changing discovery in his life.
And so in the book -- I look at some of these characters, like Herod, or Joseph, or Mary, asking, "What can they teach us this Christmas? What can they teach us?" And I think he serves as a warning, that we shouldn't let ourselves get so arrogant and prideful that we don't feel the need to take moments to explore what supernatural interventions God might be doing right next door to us.
GLENN: You're not making these guys into movie stars. At one point, towards the end, you write, "Hollywood recast the Christmas story. Joseph's collar is way too blue. Mary is green from inexperience. The couple's star power doesn't match the bill. Too obscure. Too simple. Story warrants some headliners. Square-jawed Joseph, somebody like George Clooney. Mary needs a beauty mark and glistening teeth, Angelina Jolie-ish. What about the shepherds? Do they sing? If so, can we get Bono?
I watched for the very first time, what is it? The Nativity Story, I think. It came out about five years ago.
GLENN: And I was struck by how they cast everybody as simple, very young, very -- I mean, it seemed very, very real to me. And when you cast the story that way, you -- you really appreciate what Mary and I think -- especially Joseph -- did.
MAX: It's just a beautiful story, isn't it, Glenn? And it's so good for our spirit. I think it's good for our country right now, coming out of this difficult election, to let the Christmas story remind us that God loves every person. And he can use the simplest person. I can't imagine a person more simple than Mary. You know, she lived in a remote part of a remote country, on the margin of the Roman Empire. And yet she would be entrusted with what we Christians believe is the greatest miracle of all, and that is to bring God into the world.
And then there's Joseph. He apparently was a good guy. But he was a normal guy. He probably wouldn't have gone to the equivalent of an Ivy League college or been considered for Secretary of State or anything. You're just a regular old Joe. He was Joseph. And yet God takes these normal folk like you and me and says, "Just trust me. I can do a miracle for you. I can do a miracle in you. I can do miracles with you." And I think we need this reminder.
You know, in an increasingly secular society, we miss out on the surprises of God. We live with the mentality that says that all we -- all that exists is what we can hear or touch or see. But stories like Christmas remind us that somebody -- Almighty God is up to something really good. And he's bringing it about in the right way. And he's using regular folk like us to accomplish his purpose. And that's a refreshing reminder.
GLENN: I know we don't know this. But in your, you know, opinion as a man. How -- how much of Mary and Joseph's life was spent, do you think, thinking, I don't know -- maybe that was just a dream?
GLENN: Because they were people. How much of their life was spent questioning whether or not this was true. Because they were still cleaning dirty diapers and everything else. You know what I mean?
MAX: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we remember that -- that right at the core of the Christian gospel is the -- is the immaculate conception, you know, of Mary.
MAX: And I believe it. I do. I know people dismiss it and disregard it. But I believe it. And if it is true, then Mary knew it was a miracle, right? I mean, she would have known.
GLENN: Mary knew. Mary didn't have as much a problem as Joseph did.
MAX: Joseph could have struggled. He could have.
MAX: You know, I feel like the angelic appearances to Joseph and then just the testimony, the loyalty of his precious Mary, maybe the appearance when they took Jesus to have him set apart in the temple at the age of eight days, and he had that, you know, encounter with the people in the temple that said, "Something -- something is going on here. Something special." You know, there's no doubt he would have struggled. There's no doubt. We just don't know. We just don't know.
GLENN: Yeah, because we've all had -- now, we've never had angels appear to us, most of us.
But we've all had moments where somebody has said, "Boy, something is special." And then there's times, years later, that you're like, "I don't know." You get lost. And you're like, "I just don't know anymore." They are remarkable people because they were.
The name of the book is Because of Bethlehem: Love is Born, Hope is Here.
Max Lucado is our guest. He also has a Christmas coloring book out, which I didn't understand when I first saw them about four years ago. I'm like, "Come on. Are we really dumbing down -- adults need to color?
I think it is one of the most relaxing and mind-cleansing things you can do. But, Max, I appreciate it. And Merry Christmas to you and your family.
MAX: Merry Christmas to you, Glenn. All the best.
GLENN: God bless. Thank you very much. Max Lucado again. The name of the book is Because of Bethlehem.
Featured Image: Max Lucado (Photo Credit: MaxLucado.com