From the Word

Journey to Bethlehem

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (Isaiah 40:1-5)

Notable Quotables

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” (Unknown)

“There’s nothing that makes you more miserable, or less interesting, than self-absorption.” (Tim Keller)

“There’s nobody who doesn’t have problems with the church, because there’s sin in the church. But there’s no other place to be a Christian.” (Eugene Peterson)

“Good news. God will stop caring about you when he stops caring about Jesus. Until that day, you matter to God.” (Stephen Altrogge)

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Around the Net

Advent: The Birth of Christ Is Too Big for One Day (Ed Stetzer)
“Part of celebrating Advent is slowing down and letting our hearts and minds be reoriented around the coming of Christ. This season is a celebration of many things, but mostly—powerfully—it’s a celebration of a baby boy born 2,000 years ago in the tiny town of Bethlehem. He is Jesus: the long-awaited Messiah. He spent his days on earth healing the sick, speaking life to the hurting, and bringing sight to the blind. . . . The child in the manger wasn’t just a sign of God’s grace on a fallen world, but a guarantee of the redemption still to come.”

Is the Genealogy Really Such a Let Down? (Peter Mead)
So, you arrive in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 1. Here it is! This is the good news! And then you find . . . a genealogy. Disappointing to say the least. Surely God could have launched the New Testament with something more exciting than a list of old names? Actually, the genealogy at the start of the New Testament is a reason to celebrate. More than that, it gives us reason to press on in our ministry. Here are three reasons to be thankful for the genealogy that launches our New Testaments.:

Three Men Who Taught Me to Love Theology (Aaron Armstrong)
Here’s a brief testimony that might launch your own love for theology. “Chesterton, Packer, and Lewis. These men didn’t teach me what to think, necessarily. They didn’t teach me what I was supposed to believe. Instead, these are the men who are to blame for creating in me a hunger for something I never knew I wanted. A wonderful gift that has sustained me throughout some of the most difficult times of my adult life. A deep love of theology. One I am forever grateful for.”

3 Ways Your Faith is Tested When God Says ‘No’ (Colin Smith)
“For all eternity, who you are and what you will be will rest on Jesus Christ and all that he has done for you. That’s grace—and understanding grace takes the sting out of disappointment. When you know what it cost the Savior for your name to be written in heaven, for your sins to be forgiven, and for your eternal future to be secured, you will find great joy in what he has done for you, irrespective of what you may or may not get to do for him.”

5 Reasons the Homogeneous Church Is Declining and Dying (Thom Rainer)
“When you are in your worship services next Sunday, look at the people around you. Do they all look like you? Do they all come from the same economic backgrounds? Are they all about the same age? If so, you are in a homogeneous church. As the old homogeneous unit principle implied, ‘We attract people who are like us.’ That principle was a point of contention and debate for decades. . . . I contend that the homogenous church is declining and dying. Why? Here are five key reasons.”

Something to Ponder

Indifference toward Christmas

“The particular danger which faces us as Christmas approaches is unlikely to be contempt for the sacred season, but nevertheless our familiarity with it may easily produce in us a kind of indifference. The true wonder and mystery may leave us unmoved; familiarity may easily blind us to the shining fact that lies at the heart of Christmastide. We are all aware of the commercialization of Christmas; we can hardly help being involved in the frantic business of buying and sending gifts and cards. We shall without doubt enjoy the carols, the decorations, the feasting and jollification, the presents, the parties, the dancing and the general atmosphere of goodwill that almost magically permeates the days of Christmas. But we may not always see clearly that so much decoration and celebration has been heaped upon the festival that the historic fact upon which all the rejoicing is founded has been almost smothered out of existence.”

– J. B. Phillips

The Glory of Creation

A Path to Winter

snow-field-path-winterImage Credit: @ntomova1

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to This New Life co-author Sonya Valentino. She’s not getting older, she’s getting better!

Into All the World

“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” (Anonymous)

 

 

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