The Newsletter of IBTM
with Douglas Jacoby

Good afternoon from rainy England!

We trust you are well. Here in NW England we were able to spend time with 10 different family members. (Pictured at R, Vicki’s mother & our daughter Lily.)

This is the last bulletin of 2023, containing both light and serious thoughts for the holiday season. Specifically:

  • Misconceptions about Christmas
  • What does “Immanuel” mean?
  • AIM Family Life (North America, online)
  • On Location with Jesus: 6 days and counting down


Hopefully we have all had a great Christmas. Yet it’s a hard time of the year for many, and we understand the bittersweet nature of the season, especially as we advance in years. Today I offer no comfort, just a bit of distraction.

Following are seven misconceptions. Do you know why they’re wrong? Think about each one before scrolling down to the explanations.

  1. Replacing the “Christ” with “X” in Xmas is anti-Christian.
  2. Old St. Nick is only myth and legend.
  3. Christmas is the most popular Christian celebration.
  4. All the world celebrates Christmas in December.
  5. When Mary needed a place to deliver her child, there was no room at the inn.
  6. Three kings brought their three gifts to the infant Jesus.
  7. Jesus became God in the flesh (a human) at Bethlehem.

Why these are false:

  1. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, X (chi) is the first letter of Christ, roughly equivalent to chin English. This is nothing more than a harmless abbreviation. Read more HERE.
  2. He was a real person, and a real Christian, living in the time of Roman persecution! Learn more about this amazing individual.
  3. Historically Easter has been the most popular Christian celebration, even though in the modern world Christmas is by far a bigger commercial event.
  4. Many churches celebrate Christmas in January. Historically this is because of the shift (or non-shift) from Julian to Gregorian calendar.
  5. Katályma, traditionally translated as inn (Luke 2:7), could equally well be rendered “guest room”—as in the latest version of the NIV. Was the gossip about Mary’s pregnancy the reason none of her relations in Bethlehem could take her and Joseph in?
  6. The Bible says there were three gifts, though not necessarily three gift-bringers. Nor were they said to be royal. The popular concept probably stems from reading too much into verses like Psalms 68:29; 72:10. (See also Isaiah 60:6.)
  7. Mary conceived Jesus before the trip to Bethlehem. She seems to have been in Nazareth when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and pregnancy began (Luke 1:26).


Q: Yesterday I heard a preacher say Immanuel means "God with you." My antennae stood straight up because I think the Bible says “with us.” In my opinion, the concept of “personal relationship with Jesus” is a western misnomer. The way I see it, as soon as the woman at the well [John 4], Lydia [Acts 16] and the eunuch [Acts 8] had their “personal encounters,” they were quickly introduced to the community and this is where they experienced the full “God is with us.” Am I on the right track? — B.M.

A: You are definitely on track! The preacher was mistaken. KEEP READING


Coming up: AIM (US) Family Life, 13 Jan-17 Feb 2024. Special holiday price: 50% off. For more, visit the Athens Institute online. CLICK HERE for the promotional video.


Follow the path of Jesus as he comes to earth, grows up, launches his ministry, and touches lives through the region of Israel,. Each day brings us to a new site important in the life of Christ. There are 31 talks in all. The series is accompanied by 45 helpful maps, drawings, and photographs.

Every year since 2008 we've provided a month of daily (audio) devotionals, starting 1 January. So if you're looking for ideas or structure for your daily devotionals, this may be for you. Please join Vicki and me on this biblical itinerary.

"Traveling" with Jesus helps you and me to travel better with our brothers and sisters on the journey.

The first 10 devos are ready. CLICK HERE—but be sure to log in with your subscription—username and password.

After the series, would you like to take the quiz? Length: about 15 minutes.
Many questions pertain to the history & geography of this series. To prepare, focus on the scriptures.
Closed Bible: no Bibles may be consulted in the taking the test.
If you think you scored above 95%, please contact us. You may just be a winner.

  • 3rd place: A book of your choice (50 options)
  • 2nd place: A three-year website subscription
  • 1st place: $200 off any Biblical Study Tour

UNTIL 2024…

Our first bulletin of 2024 will offer an alternative version of the Ten Commandments. I’ve called it “The Devil’s Decalogue.” In addition, I stumbled across an interesting piece, “Help! I Don’t Like Evangelizing,” by David Hames.

Finally, if you’re benefitting from our weekly biblical content, please encourage your friends and family to SIGN UP. The bulletin is free!

Happy (continuing) holidays!
Douglas & Vicki (and Darcy, pictured R)