Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Faith Church


Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Sunday, December 24, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

Traditional Christmas Carols with Light Instrumentation

Faith E. C. Church
400 N. Temple Boulevard

Temple, PA  19560
(610) 929-1895

Pastor Brett Kindig, Lead Pastor
Pastor Tim Valentino, Pastor for Connectional Ministry
Sonya Valentino, Ministry Director

Series: Songs for the Savior
Sermon: “A Beautiful Mess!” (“O Holy Night”)

David Phelps & the Gaither Vocal Band:


O Holy Night

Words by Placide Cappeau
Translated by John Sullivan Dwight
Music by Adolphe Charles Adam

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born!
O night divine,
O night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;

He knows our need,
To our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King,
Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King,
Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace;
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;

Christ is the Lord,
O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory
Ever more proclaim!
His pow’r and glory
Ever more proclaim!



Christmas Eve ‘Eve’ Candlelight Service at Faith Church


Christmas Eve ‘Eve’ Candlelight Service
Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

Traditional Christmas Hymns with Full Worship Team

Faith E. C. Church
400 N. Temple Boulevard

Temple, PA  19560
(610) 929-1895

Pastor Brett Kindig, Lead Pastor
Pastor Tim Valentino, Pastor for Connectional Ministry
Sonya Valentino, Ministry Director

Series: Songs for the Savior
Sermon: “What a Night!” (“Silent Night”)

The Winchester Cathedral Choir:

Silent Night

Words by Joseph Mohr
Translated by John Freeman Young
Music by Franz Xaver Gruber

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
’Round yon virgin mother and Child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav’nly hosts sing “Alleluia”:
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night! Holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing:
“Alleluia” to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming   grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.


Connections | Friday, December 22, 2017


From the Word

Journey to Bethlehem

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Notable Quotables

“He became what we are so that he might make us what he is.” (Athanasius)

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” (C. S. Lewis)

“The babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.” (J. I. Packer)

“Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Materialists believe in the virgin birth of the cosmos. Choose your miracle.” (G. Scrivener)

“The message of Christmas: God runs toward sinners; He doesn’t run away from them.” (Tullian Tchividjian)

“Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.” (George Whitefield)

Around the Net

Into the Darkness He Came (Jon Bloom)
“Into the world, on a nondescript night, in a small town grown weary with oppression and centuries of unfulfilled prophetic expectation, in an obscure shelter no one would have thought to look for him, in the care of poor, nonresident parents, came God the Son. It was his incarnation, but not his origin. He had preexisted his conception. He preexisted the entire world (John 17:5). Everything in existence, visible and invisible, had been made through him and for him (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16), including his own human DNA.”

Still Human (Darryl Dash)
“I was a young seminary student. My theology professor threw me and the others in my class a curveball. He asked a simple question: Is Jesus still human? I’d never considered that exact question before, and it seemed like the kind of answer one doesn’t want to get wrong. I thought for a moment before offering the answer: Yes. To my relief, I was right. I hadn’t spoken heresy. The one mediator between God and men is the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). He lives in his resurrected human body, fully God and fully man.”

A Christmas Lament (David Roark)
“Advent reminds us that the Christian life doesn’t come with a big bow on it—not yet, at least—but that there is space to be honest about the brokenness of our hearts and our world. Yet, even though we are distraught and disoriented by such fallenness, we are not without hope. We know that our King has come and He will come again. We know that He will, finally and forever, bring perfect peace and endless light. He will wipe away all our tears, and death will be no more.”

Those We’ve Lost in 2017 (The Gospel Coalition)
“Over the past year the church has lost several faithful theologians and authors who have helped shape evangelicals both in America and throughout the world. Here are six men who died this year who were particularly influential on those of us here at TGC.” One is grateful for the biblical truth behind that great line in Charles Wesley’s famous Christmas carol, “Born to raise the sons of earth; born to give them second birth.” Even so, Lord, come quickly.

This New Life: Top Posts of 2017 (Tim & Sonya Valentino)
Listed here are the top posts published at This New Life in 2017. Thanks for reading! Thanks, also, for your interest in Tim’s academic article recently published in the Evangelical Journal: “Artistry and Architecture in the Fourth Commandment.” As the Lord allows, we’re going to try to find a larger audience for the important and encouraging conclusions set forth in that piece. Finally, thanks to Sara Elizabeth for her guest post this year about a dearly departed friend. We look forward to more posts from her in 2018.

Something to Ponder

Linger Near the Manger

“Christianity was born in one big heavenly interruption. Just ask the Bethlehem shepherds! They had no expectations of excitement. These are sheep they’re watching. We count sheep to go to sleep!

“Shepherds, however, treasured the predictable. This was the night shift. Any excitement was bad excitement—wolves, lions, poachers. Just because they wanted a calm night, didn’t mean they would get it. Luke says, “Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord shining around them, and they became very frightened.” We always assume the worst before we look for the best. Good thing the shepherds lingered. Otherwise they might have missed the second verse. “Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:9-11).

“I hope you’ll do what the shepherds did—linger near the manger!”

– Max Lucado

The Glory of Creation

A Cardinal Waiting for Christmas

cardinal-branch-snow-berriesImage Credit: Steven Russell Smith

The Friday Funny

Robbing the Cradle at a Preschool Nativity Play

Into All the World

“Always remember, many babies became kings, but only one king became a baby.” (Anonymous)


This New Life: Top Posts of 2017

We are grateful for all our readers here at This New Life. Below are the top posts from 2017. In addition to our About and Events pages, which continue to invite a fair amount of interest, these are the most frequently read posts of the year:

New Beginnings: Back to the Original Call
This New Life: A Website Devoted to Biblical Hope and Radical Grace
Bookends of Grace (Reflections on David & Shimei)
Our Family: Just a Handful of Nice, Nutty People on the Journey of Life
Why Does God Want Our Praise?
Needing and Needling: The Painful Search for Christian Community
Literary Devices in the Bible, Part 1: Introduction (and Parts 2-11)
‘Better Than I Deserve’: A Tribute to Tammy Leisey (Sara Elizabeth, Guest Author)
Inspired by a Multiplicity of Martyrs
Just for Fun | Monday, December 18, 2017

We will continue trying to populate the Sermons, Studies, and Resources pages, but our growing ministry responsibilities often make that a slow-going process. Blessedly, “the race is not to the swift” (Eccl 9:11). Thanks for your patience.

Thanks, also, for your interest in Tim’s academic article recently published in the Evangelical Journal: “Artistry and Architecture in the Fourth Commandment.” As the Lord allows, we’re going to see if we can get a larger audience for the important and encouraging conclusions set forth in this piece.


Connections | Thursday, December 21, 2017

From the Word

Journey to Bethlehem

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)

Notable Quotables

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” (Mary Ellen Chase)

“Something about an old-fashioned Christmas is hard to forget.” (Hugh Downs)

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” (Erma Bombeck)

“There are not seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” (Walt Streightiff)

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” (Burton Hillis)

Around the Net

6 Surprising Things about Matthew’s Christmas Story (Jeremy Bouma)
“There are two versions of the Christmas story: the one reflected in Christmas carols and pageants; the other version most forget—Matthew’s Christmas story. ‘Matthew’s version of our favorite holiday,’ Rodney Reeves explains in his new Matthew commentary (SGBC series), ‘is hardly recognizable except for the star and the three wise men. Joseph nearly divorcing Mary, Herod’s diabolical ploy, the slaughter of the innocents, the flight to Egypt, waiting for a wicked king to die—none of these things make the cover of Christmas cards.’”

Meditation: The Word Became Flesh (Sam Storms)
“I’ve often said that the single most amazing, mind-boggling verse in the Bible is John 1:14, ‘The Word became flesh!’ As we approach Christmas, I thought it would be good to post again some observations I made in my book, Pleasures Evermore. I pray you are blessed by this meditation on the paradoxes of the Incarnation. Take a deep breath and ponder what this means. Don’t dismiss it as theological speculation. This is a truth on which your eternal destiny hangs suspended.”

What About When Christmas Hurts? (Janel Barr)
“The holiday season can be painful for many—a time when joy is hard to hold on to and peace seems unattainable. . . . The fulfillment of our Christmas celebrations won’t happen on Christmas morning. Actually, Christmas morning can leave us with even more disappointment. Unlike most holidays Christmas reminds us that there is more, and that we wait for something far more glorious than something that we can purchase on our own.”

Newly Discovered ‘Christmas Sermon for Pagans’ by C. S. Lewis (Gene Veith)
“The scholar Stephanie R. Derrick tells about discovering two previously unknown essays by C. S. Lewis, including ‘A Christmas Sermon for Pagans.’ Dr. Derrick says of the Christmas essay that the editor of The Strand gave Lewis the topic of preaching about Christmas to modern “pagans.”  But Lewis, as he does elsewhere, pointed out the difference between modern day secularists and actual pagans.”

4 Reasons to Show Mercy to Others (Rick Warren)
“God wants you to be an agent of mercy in the world. Everyone needs mercy because everyone has messed up. We’ve all hurt other people and made mistakes. We’ve all sinned and we all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups as a result of the mistakes we’ve made. Mercy changes the lives of people who have made mistakes, and we who have received mercy freely can change the world around us by showing mercy to others. Here are four reasons to keep showing mercy to others.”

Something to Ponder

His Love Covers All Things

“Would you do what Jesus did? He exchanged the worship of angels for the company of killers. If you were God, would you? I wouldn’t, but Christ did! Jesus humbled Himself. He went from commanding angels to sleeping in the straw. Why? Because that is what love does. It puts the loved before itself. Your place in heaven was more important to Him than His place in heaven, so He gave up His so you could have yours.

“It’s time to let His love cover all things in your life. Every promise broken, every cross word, and harsh word. His love covers all things. Let it! Do it for His sake. For the peace of your heart. And do it for their sake. For the people in your life. Let His love fall on you so yours can fall on them.”

– Max Lucado

The Glory of Creation

A Blue Titmouse Waiting for Christmas

blue-titmouse-branch-snowImage Credit:

Into All the World

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” (Andy Rooney)


Connections | Wednesday, December 20, 2017

From the Word

Journey to Bethlehem

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” (Luke 2:1-5)

Notable Quotables

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” (Dr. Seuss)

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” (Roy L. Smith)

“We were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?” (G. K. Chesterton)

“From home to home, and heart to heart . . . the warmth and joy of Christmas brings us closer to each other.” (Emily Matthews)

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” (Coolidge)

Around the Net

Christmas Is for Freedom (John Piper)
“The incarnation was God’s locking himself into death row. Christ did not risk death. He chose death. He embraced it. That is precisely why he came. By his death, Jesus wiped away all our sins. And a person without sin cannot be condemned by Satan. Forgiven, we are finally indestructible. Satan’s plan was to destroy God’s rule by condemning God’s followers in God’s own courtroom. But now, in Christ, there is no condemnation. Satan’s treason is aborted. His cosmic treachery is foiled.  The cross has run him through. And he will gasp his last before long. Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death.”

Christmas: Not the Beginning of Jesus’ Existence (Eric Davis)
“Jesus Christ is God. The birth of Jesus Christ was not his origin, but his incarnation. He has no origin. Jesus is the only person in history whose birth, or conception, did not mark his beginning of existence. I suppose this made Jesus’ human birthdays awkward. ‘Happy 16th birthday, Jesus!’ ‘Thanks, mom. But actually, it’s my ∞ and 16th birthday, but who’s counting.’ As J. Oswald Sanders, ‘Jesus was the meeting place of eternity and time, the blending of deity and humanity, the junction of heaven and earth.’”

God Meets You Where You Are (Tullian Tchividjian)
“Have you ever felt like you couldn’t share the details of a difficult situation without someone immediately offering a solution or a spiritual platitude? Have you ever responded that way yourself? The required cheerfulness that characterizes many of our churches has produced a suffocating environment of pat, religious answers to the painful, complex questions that riddle the lives of hurting people.”

How to Deal with Grief During the Holidays (Amy Morin)
“The swell of grief around the holidays is a common reason clients enter my therapy office this time of year. People often seek help for the immense sorrow that starts surfacing right around Thanksgiving. I experienced that wave of grief in my own life when my husband passed away. Christmas music, holiday parties, and festive decorations that were meant to bring joy, served as painful reminders of my loss. Like most people experiencing loss, the holiday season was the most painful time of all.”

My 4 Rules for Responding to Nasty Emails (Tommy Preson Phillips)
“Today I want to address this seemingly new phenomenon of human beings launching virtual cannonballs from the comfort of their couch and pajamas. I imagine that the rise in this type of behavior is due in part to the easy access that we have to the people we are upset with. It used to be that when you had a grievance, you would either set up a meeting and prepare your thoughts to be delivered face to face. . . . Here are some simple rules that I follow.”

Something to Ponder

Joseph Went Out on a Limb

“After His mother, Mary, was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18 NKJV).

“Joseph was perched firmly on his branch in the tree. Predictable and solid, Joseph had no intention of leaving it. That is, until he was told to go out on a limb. Conceived by the Holy Spirit? Come on! Who will believe me? Pride told him not to do it, but God told him to do it.

“I have a feeling you can relate to Joseph. One foot in your will and one foot in His. His will or yours? Disrupting, isn’t it? You can bet it won’t be easy. Limb-climbing has never been easy. Ask Joseph. Better yet, ask Jesus! He knows better than anyone the cost of hanging on a tree!”

– Max Lucado

The Glory of Creation

An Evening Grosbeak Waiting for Christmas

an-evening-grosbeak-dane-adamsImage Credit: Dane Adams

Into All the World

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” (Charles Dickens)


Literary Devices in the Bible, Part 11: Synecdoche


We continue our look at biblical figures of speech involving substitution. In our previous post, we considered metonymy, a figure of speech in which a certain word or expression is substituted for the related thing it is intended to suggest. Today we consider the figure known as synecdoche.


Pronunciation: \ sə-ˈnek-də-ˌkē \

Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which: (a) the part stands for the whole, or the whole stands for the part; (b) the species stands for the genus, or the genus stands for the species; or (c) the specific stands for the general, or the general stands for the specific. Such relationships mean, for example, that synecdoche may refer to an object by the material it is made from, or it may refer to the contents of a container by the name of that container, etc.

General Examples

•  All hands on deck = all people on deck (hands being one part of the whole person).

•  I bought new wheels = I bought a new car (wheels being one component of the whole car).

•  Cool threads, dude = nice clothing, sir (threads being the material from which clothing is made).

•  The farmer had three head of cattle = had three whole cattle (head referring to part of the whole).

•  We will not put boots on the ground in that country = soldiers (boots being one part of a soldier).

•  “Lend me your ear” = give me your attention (ear being one part of a person’s listening system).

•  I’ll buy it with plastic = I’ll buy it with a credit card (plastic being the material of the credit card).

•  He was hitting the bottle again = he was drinking again (bottle being the container of the alcohol).

•  Philadelphia won tonight = the Phillies won tonight (Phillies being the ball team in Philadelphia).

•  Nobody goes there anymore; the place is too crowded = nobody new goes (whole for the part).

Biblical Examples

•  “Their feet run to evil” (Prov 1:16) = their whole person (body and mind) rushes to do evil.

•  “. . . a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:8b, 17b) = containing all luxurious foods.

•  “I do not trust in my bow; my sword does not bring me victory” (Ps 44:6) = any of my weapons.

•  “Saul said nothing that day” (1 Sam 20:26a) = said nothing specifically about David that day.

•  “Preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15b) = to all human beings.

•  “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11) = all of today’s needed food.

•  “Look how the whole world has gone after him” (John 12:19) = many people in the region.

Additional Note

Synecdoche is often confused with metonymy. When trying to determine if a figure of speech is a one or the other, ask: (a) Is the word, phrase, object, or person physically attached to a larger object or person—or vice versa? (b) Is the word, phrase, object, or person part of the makeup of something larger—or vice versa? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then the figure of speech is likely a synecdoche, not a metonymy.

Additional Resources

The definition at for synecdoche.

An audio pronunciation guide for the word synecdoche.


Connections | Tuesday, December 19, 2017

From the Word

Journey to Bethlehem

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Notable Quotables

“The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart.” (Helen Keller)

“All these toys were never intended to possess my heart; my true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ.” (C. S. Lewis)

“Nativity sets should include a set of Herod’s soldiers; that is as much a part of the Christmas story as the shepherds.” (Doug Wilson)

“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (John the Apostle)

“He comes to make his blessings known far as the curse is found.” (Isaac Watts)

Around the Net

An Angry Prophet and a Forgiving God (Chuck Lawless)
The title alone describes the gap between so much of Evangelical Christianity and Christ. Indeed, believers seldom act so harshly as when they think they’re defending God. But, like Jonah, they’ll become whale food someday, too. “Jonah served a God who is much more compassionate than the prophet had ever considered being—and who has always wanted the nations to give glory to His name. Jonah, in fact, never fully got over God’s willingness to forgive, and the book that carries his name ends with the prophet in a state of anger and frustration.”

Behind the Happiness of Down Syndrome (Alicia Joy)
“Systemic prejudice still runs rampant towards this population. People with developmental disabilities are seen as children to be pitied; as worthless and useless; as angelic and divine; as too difficult to love or too different to be treated human. . . . So it takes a people of a different sort of citizenship on this earth to remind one another to reach out towards those who are different. The margins are where my friends are, and, to put it simply, I would like it if everyone chose to go there.”

A Reflection on Christmas, Cancer, and the Hope of Christ (Ed Stetzer)
“As I get older, I see more people around me go through trials that bring them to their knees. Perhaps it’s always been the case and I wasn’t as aware of it. Or perhaps it’s just that as I get older, so do others. Either way, lately, the importance of God’s nearness has taken on new meaning for me. In my own health struggles, and among those I love, there have been too many times when that chasm between head and heart has appeared too large. What my head knows is not aligned with the emotions that move me.”

The FAQs: What You Should Know About Net Neutrality (Joe Carter)
“The net neutrality principle is the idea that a public information network should aspire to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. At its simplest, network neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally and that every website—from to—should all be treated the same when it comes to giving users the bandwidth to reach the internet-connected services they prefer.”

Just for Fun (This New Life)
Sometimes it’s good just to laugh a little. Or groan. Here are some lighthearted objects found while surfing the littered ocean of the internet. (These “Just for Fun” posts have become quite popular here at This New Life. Maybe it’s the cruelty or craziness of this broken world that drives the need for a chuckle now and again. Or maybe it’s the odd sense of humor resident in the compiler of these digital artifacts. Either way, enjoy a giggle or two on us.)

Something to Ponder

It Happened in a Moment

 “It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. God became a man! Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. Jesus came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were un-manicured, calloused, and dirty. For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. . . .

“To think of Jesus in such a light seems almost irreverent. There’s something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant and predictable. But don’t do it! For heaven’s sake, don’t! Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out!”

– Max Lucado

The Glory of Creation

A Blue Jay Waiting for Christmas

blue-jay-snow-branchImage Credit: Creative Commons

Into All the World

“Always give without remembering, and always receive without forgetting.” (Brian Tracy)


Just for Fun | Monday, December 18, 2017

Sometimes it’s good just to laugh a little. Or groan. Here are some lighthearted objects found while surfing the littered ocean of the internet.

Good question:


Been there. Many times:


It’s the most wonderful time of the year:


Cosplay starts young:


It’s not bragging if you can do it:


Students of biblical greek will appreciate this:


Coffee is a public service:


Coffee is a also a therapist:


Should have paid attention in geometry class:


Praying for unity in the home:


E.T. as a doughnut:


The myth of equality:


That’s what it’s all about:


Reason #739 why English is hard:


A friend in need:


Kitchen follies:


The kids already knew this:


I’ll have a large pizza with pizza:


I’ve experienced this firsthand more than once:


He knows if you’ve been bad or good:


It’s good to stay active as we get older:


Tale as old as time:


Renovations on a roll:


Right, he is again:



Connections | Monday, December 18, 2017

From the Word

Journey to Bethlehem

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:39-45)

Notable Quotables

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the worst.” (The Apostle Paul)

“Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.” (John Piper)

“The requirements were too great the standard too high for us, so the Perfect Man had to come to do for us what was impossible for us to do.” (Paul David Tripp)

“Because we put ourselves in God’s place, he put himself in our place.” (Tim Keller)

“When our depravity meets his divinity, it is a beautiful collision.” (David Crowder)

Around the Net

Christmas and the Jefferson Bible (Eric Geiger)
“The thinking behind Jefferson’s Bible is popular because it invites us to learn from Jesus and not bow before Him. Learning from Jesus’ example is very different from surrendering to Him as King. Because of our sin and our inability to rescue ourselves, we do not need a moral example nearly as much as we need a Savior. And only when we have been rescued by Him can we truly follow His example.”

Political Fear-Mongering Is Not a Christian Option (Mike Leake)
“Those who peddle fear would have us believe that it is on some particular point that the foundation is still teetering. To not follow the party line on this issue will be to surrender every foundation and if this one falls then to the mountains we must go. And so if we desire to protect the foundations then we must hold our nose and vote for immoral men. We must overlook sexual immorality and accept pride and narcissism as a necessary evil to maintaining our foundations.”

God Wants to Shape Your Wants: An Invitation to the Psalms (John Piper)
“Try to imagine the Bible without the Psalms. What a different book it would be! What a different place the church would be. And what a different person I would be. It’s not as though the rest of the Bible does not teach truth and awaken emotions. I learn things and feel things everywhere I read in the Bible. But it’s not the same. The Psalms do not just awaken the affections of the heart; they put the expression of those affections in the foreground. They feature the emotional experience of the psalmist intentionally against the backdrop of divine truth.”

I’m an Evangelical Ecumenist? What Does That Even Mean? (Ed Stetzer)
“I consider myself an Evangelical ecumenist. Big ‘E’ for Evangelical, little ‘e’ for ecumenist, because I don’t follow the classic approach to ecumenism. . . . Some don’t like my ecumenism. I was actually accused by one leader in my denomination of being ‘the most dangerous person’ in the denomination because I was, well, an Evangelical ecumenist. I like that. I mean, the part about being dangerous. Because that’s the kind of danger that Jesus calls us to—acting like the body of Christ.”

Is Christmas a Co-opted Pagan Holiday? Likely the Reverse (William J. Tighe)
“It is true that the first evidence of Christians celebrating December 25th as the date of the Lord’s nativity comes from Rome some years after Aurelian, in A.D. 336, but there is evidence from both the Greek East and the Latin West that Christians attempted to figure out the date of Christ’s birth long before they began to celebrate it liturgically, even in the second and third centuries. The evidence indicates, in fact, that the attribution of the date of December 25th was a by-product of attempts to determine when to celebrate his death and resurrection.”

Something to Ponder

Jesus, the Bridge Builder

“God’s plan for humanity, crafted in the halls of heaven and carried out on the plains of earth. Only holiness could have imagined it. Only divinity could have enacted it. Only righteousness could have endured it.

“When God chose to reveal himself, he did so through a human body. The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. The feet upon which the women wept were calloused and dusty. And his tears—oh, don’t miss His tears. They came from a heart as broken as yours or mine has ever been. So people came to him! Not one person was reluctant to approach him for fear of being rejected.

“Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures! Or the next time you hear a lifeless liturgy. Remember, it’s man who creates the distance. It’s Jesus who builds the bridge!”

– Max Lucado

The Glory of Creation

A Redpoll Waiting for Christmas

redpoll-bird-pine-branch-snowImage Credit: @terri_mekitten

Into All the World

“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white.” (Bing Crosby)