- Must We Believe the Virgin Birth? Albert Mohler writes “This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ — the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.”
- The Innkeeper. Watch this eleven-minute video of John Piper reading his classic Christmas poem “The Innkeeper”. The text of the poem is also included.
- What Does the X in Xmas Mean?C. Sproul writes “There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.”
- Christ’s Supremacy Before the Manger. John MacArthur writes “Christ’s supremacy over all things is what His incarnation ultimately put on display.”
- Santa Claus: Harmless Fun or Tragic Distraction? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper addresses a question about Christian parents who allow their children to believe Santa Claus is bringing them gifts on Christmas. He states “My counsel is to give all your efforts to making your children as happy as they can possibly be with every kind of surprise that is rooted in the true meaning of Christmas. Let your decorations point to Jesus. Let your food point to Jesus. Let your games point to Jesus. Let your singing point to Jesus. Out-rejoice the world. Out-give the world. Out-decorate the world, and let it all point to Jesus. And if being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for your Christmas, you don’t know him well.”
- Is There a “War” on Christmas? In this episode of the Signposts podcast, Russell Moore asks “Should Christians take offense when the signs say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? If not, how can Christians cope with a rapidly secularizing public square? He talks about what is and what is not evidence of a transforming culture, and the right way Christians ought to respond to both.
- Joseph, Did You Know? Nicholas T. Batzig writes “Why was it necessary for Jesus to have an earthly father if He didn’t need a biological father?” Isn’t it conceivable that Mary could have, with the help of family members, raised Jesus without a husband?”
- 10 Ways to Be a Christian This Christmas. Kevin DeYoung writes “But whether you love every nook and cranny about the holidays—or consider most of it “noise, noise, noise!”—there is no excuse to be grinchy and scroogeish. Here are ten ways we can remember to be Christians this Christmas.”
- The Weakness, Paradox, and Wonder of Jesus’ Birth. Scotty Smith prays “We worship you, O, glorious and grace-full Lord Jesus. Use us—use me today, as a conduit of your tender mercies and eternal encouragement.”
- Sorrow, Depression, & the Holidays. Eric Davis writes “And Christmas time or not, many of us experience the normal, heavy weight of discouragement and depression as a regular thing; dejection, confusion, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, anxiousness, anger, darkness, despair. But God has answers and real hope from his word for the battle.”
- Christmas: The Fairy Tale That Must Be True. Scott Sauls writes “Have you ever stopped, just for a second, and considered the far-fetched claims of Christianity at Christmas time?”
- Jesus Isn’t Threatened by Your Christmas Gifts. Tim Challies writes “I don’t think there has to be any tension at all between Jesus and gifts, between a Christmas celebrating the gift of Jesus and a Christmas celebrating the gift of gifts. Both are good. And if both are good, there is no necessary competition between them. I don’t think we gain anything as Christians when we continually speak of this tension or when we load people with guilt who are excited to find out what’s under the tree.”
- Why Christmas Is Even Better than You Think. Scott James reviews Tim Keller’s new book Hidden Christmas, one of my favorite books of the year. He writes “Hidden Christmas is a book that lifts your eyes to Jesus. I commend it as a resource to shine a fresh light on the true meaning of Christmas.”
- 20 Quotes from Tim Keller’s New Book on Christmas. Matt Smethurst offers these helpful quotes from Tim Keller’s excellent new book Hidden Christmas.
- WINDOWS INTO WAITING: Advent Meditations on Vocation and the Silence of God. Steve Garber writes “May these windows into waiting be gifts to you through the days of December, and beyond.”
- Christmas Songs are Freedom Songs. Stephen Miller writes “Advent offers an incredible opportunity to meditate on the person, work, wonder, and hope of Christ.”
- Putting Christmas Back in Christ. Hannah Ploegstra writes “Christmas wasn’t mandated by God; it’s a relic of our culture. To whatever extent it can be helpful to us in our walk with Christ without dominating us, let’s embrace it. Let’s bring Christmas—like everything else—under the lordship and purpose of Christ and celebrate it—along with all the blessings of this life—because of what he’s doing in our lives as we wait for him to bring in the real new year.”
IN THE NEWS:
- Nine Christians in the Trump Cabinet. David Murray writes “I can understand why some Christians fear a Trump presidency, but these appointments may offer some hope and reassurance in uncertain and unpredictable times.”
- The Sad Case of R.C. Sproul Jr.C. Sproul Jr., who has previously lost his wife and a daughter, and in 2015 was involved in the Ashley Madison scandal, has resigned from Ligonier Ministries after a DUI arrest with a minor in the vehicle. I’ve been blessed by R.C. Jr.’s ministry over the years, having seen him speak at numerous Ligonier conferences. Pray for the entire Sproul family during this time.
- The Mega-Problem Behind the ‘Falls’ of Megachurch Pastors. Eddie Kaufholz writes “We are to blame for this epidemic, and we are the ones who must insist that our churches allow everyone to be fully known, fully human and fully under the headship of Christ.”
- 9 Things You Should Know About Aleppo and the Syrian Crisis. Joe Carter writes “The recent struggle for control of the Syrian city of Aleppo has brought renewed attention to the ongoing war crimes that have devastated this Middle East nation. Here are nine things you should know about Aleppo and the Syrian crisis.”
TO MAKE YOU SMILE:
- Thug Life Baptist Humor. I recently came across these humorous videos. Check out this one with John MacArthur on Joel Osteen.
- Amy Grant Releases 200th Christmas Album. The Babylon Bee reports “Sparrow Records and Christian recording artist Amy Grant announced Thursday the release of her new Christmas album, which becomes the 200th Christmas collection Grant has produced in her career, a record among all recording artists.”
- Local Family Inadvertently Prints Imprecatory Psalm On Christmas Cards. The Babylon Bee-Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire- reports “According to sources, local family the Fullers mistakenly selected a violent imprecatory Psalm as their chosen verse for this year’s Christmas card, which was mailed to all of their friends, family and coworkers.”
CHRISTIAN LIVING and THEOLOGY – KNOWING GOD:
- Trip Lee on Whether a Christian Can Love Jesus But Not the Church. Watch this two-minute video of Trip Lee, rapper, author, and pastor at Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, on whether a Christian can love Jesus but not the church.
- What If I Don’t Want to Pray? Mark Jones writes “So how can we reignite our prayer lives in a way to bring back the consistency that we all desire while we struggle on earth? Three helpful reminders will enable us to cultivate our spirits so that we can find the time to go into our closet and enjoy, not dread, our secret communion with God.
- What Is Your Capacity for Mystery? Watch this twelve minute video from John Piper’s Look at the Book seminar on Romans 9 in which he pulls apart some of the tensions between Calvinism and Arminianism.
- My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2016. Collin Hansen writes “We’ll remember 2016 as the year we’d rather forget. Normally I search for at least a few positive stories and trends in my annual year-end survey of the year’s top theology stories. But this year overwhelmed me with distressing, unresolved developments.”
- Seven Breathtaking Privileges of Being a Child of God. Feeling weary today? Distant from God? Anxious? Uncertain? In this article Tim Keller warms our hearts with seven breathtaking privileges of being a child of God set out by Paul in Romans 8:14-17.
- The Value of Scripture. R.C. Sproul writes “The value of Scripture in the life of the believer lies in its source and its function.”
- Trust Me or I Will Hurt You”. John Piper writes “How is the gospel invitation different from “Trust me or I will hurt you”? If you believe that hell is real, and God actually sends people there, then this question needs a thoughtful answer.”
- The Very Heart of Calvinism. In this short video excerpt from his teaching series Calvinism and the Christian Life, Ian Hamilton explains that the conviction of God’s sovereignty should lead us to prayer.
- Ask Me Anything. Tim Challies introduces a new “mailbag” feature, an opportunity for him to answer questions his readers have asked. The first batch of questions concern Sarah Young and her books, family devotions, family integrated churches, personal devotions, and reading.
MOVIES AND TELEVISION:
- The Chosen One. Brett McCracken writes that Hacksaw Ridge star Andrew Garfield “spent significant time exploring the “deep feeding” of the Christian tradition in recent years as he prepared for not one but two starring roles as men of Christian faith. In Hacksaw Ridge he plays a devout Seventh-Day Adventist and in Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming Silence he plays Jesuit missionary Father Rodrigues, facing persecution in 17th century Japan.”
- Sherlock. I really enjoy the television series Sherlock starring Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), and his long-suffering, faithful friend, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman). The season 4 premiere will show on PBS January
10 Favorite Quotes of the Week from R.C. Sproul
- We have the responsibility to know and do what righteousness requires.
- If ever there were a time there was nothing, there would be nothing now.
- Why evangelize? Because it’s a command, and it’s the highest privilege that God can give to us.
- This is the amazing part of grace; that it is given to us when we are spiritually dead.
- No sinner has anything to say in the presence of the holy God.
- The grounds of your justification are the perfect works of Jesus Christ. We’re saved by works, but they’re not our own.
- If God is not sovereign, then He is not God.
- We want the approval of God—but the applause of men can be deafening.
- Repentance is not just a turning to something, it’s a turning from something.