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December 22, 2014

No one expected that the Messiah would come how he came. Yes, the people knew that at some point God would send a Savior, but they could hardly have expected that he would be born to unknown parents and that he would enter this world in a barn. They would hardly have expected that their Messiah would be born in the lowest possible circumstances.

Why was it important to God’s purpose that Jesus be born so low? There are many things that God meant to teach us through the life of Jesus, and one of them is that exaltation comes through humiliation. The way to be great in God’s eyes is to be nothing in the eyes of others. 

The greatest people are those who stoop the lowest—and no one could possibly stoop lower than Jesus. And that is why Jesus was willing to be born in the way he was born. He came to serve, and there is no service that was too low for him to do. His birth would provide a glimpse of his entire life, and a fitting introduction to the kind of life he would lead. Consider these words from just a little later in the Bible:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Do you see it? Jesus could have been born to the greatest people in the greatest of circumstances. He deserved nothing less. But he meant to demonstrate that the way to be great in God’s eyes is to go low. When he was older, Jesus would say, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus had every right to every privilege and every comfort. But he rejected them all so that he could serve us. He served us by being born into this world. He served us by living a humble life in this world. He served us by being crucified out of this world. Through his birth, his life, and his death, he shows that the way to be great in God’s eyes is to go low, to love others, to serve others, to give up comfort, to give up privilege, and to do it all for God’s glory.

December 22, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Bloodlines by John Piper ($0.99); What’s Your Worldview? by James Anderson ($0.99); The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem & Barry Asmus ($2.99); To the Ends of the Earth by Michael Haykin ($0.99); Reaching the Lost by Bobby Jamieson ($0.99); Gifted Hands by Ben Carson ($2.99); Joni and Ken by Joni & Ken Tada ($2.99); HarperCollins Atlas of the Bible ($3.99); New from GLH Publishing is God’s Light on Dark Clouds by Thomas Cuyler ($0.99).

The Unbreakable Laura Hillenbrand - The New York Times has a brilliant profile of author Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken.

7 Myths About a Pastor’s Workweek - Thom Rainer dispels a few myths.

Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped - I agree. And what bothers me most of all is that it will be a long time (I think) before we will have someone do The Hobbit properly. He has totally wasted a beautiful opportunity.

Top Ten Theology Stories of 2014 - Collin Hansen rounds up his top ten theology stories of 2014.

Are You Sitting Too Much? - Probably. What can you do about it? Not much.

A Dangerous Passion for Growth - It’s an interesting perspective: “The most dangerous people in our Christian community are the leaders and evangelists who not only long to see growth but who also have the closest sympathy with the needs and concerns of the sinners we are seeking to reach.”

It is better to preach five words of God’s Word than five million words of man’s wisdom. —C.H. Spurgeon

December 21, 2014

I am looking forward to Christmas this year. Though I have no great affection for the Christmas season and all its commercialization, I do love the day, and I love to celebrate it with my family. I have also been able to preach for the past couple of Sundays which has helped me focus on the unfathomable wonder of God made man. Yet of all I read and all I pondered, the sweetest might be this simple prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson. In light of all the ugliness in the world today, it seems especially timely in its call to peace, love, and deliverance from evil.

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, Amen!

December 20, 2014

There are some good Kindle deals today, including: Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In by Louis Zamperini ($3.99); Desperate by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson ($2.99); Boring by Michael Kelley ($0.99); Connected by Erin Davis ($2.99); The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel ($2.99); The Lion and the Lamb by Andreas Kostenberger ($2.99).

Also, Amazon has their cheapest Kindle down to $59 and that includes free two-day shipping to get it there before Christmas. The Kindle Paperwhite has the same offer.

The 9Marks blog has some good Advice for a New Elder.

Thanks to Logos for sponsoring the blog this week with their article 3 Easy Ways to Get Logos 6 (and Special Gifts!). Sponsors help cover the costs associated with hosting and maintaining this site.

This probably won’t be a shock, but family-friendly TV isn’t so family-friendly.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church just released some sweet congregational singing they recorded while honoring Mark and Connie Dever for 20 years of service there.

Looking at the mess that is Sony right now, this editorial says it well: The Media Fiddles While Sony Burns.

For the next two weeks there will be no quote graphics. They will return in January. So enjoy this last one until 2015!

Had any other condition been better for you than the one you are in, Divine Love would have put you there. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

December 19, 2014

Friday is here, and it brings a brand new edition of Free Stuff Fridays. This week’s sponsor is Shepherd Press and they are giving away some great new products. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of the winners will receive the following items:

  • ShepherdingShepherding a Child’s Heart. You have probably heard of Tedd Tripp’s book before, but there is now a DVD to go along with it. The DVD is a seminar recorded before a live audience. This package includes the The Shepherding a Child’s Heart DVD, along with a copy of the book, the Parent’s Handbook, and the Leader’s Guide. It is recorded in English and subtitled in both English and Spanish. “In this newly-recorded edition, Tedd Tripp presents his Shepherding a Child’s Heart seminar in twelve sessions. Tedd has refined this material over two decades, resulting in a presentation that is practical and accessible. He draws on his wealth of experience as a parent, school administrator, and pastor as he guides viewers through the principles of biblical parenting.” (Learn more)
  • HarveyWhen Sinners Say “I Do.” And that’s not all. You will also receive a package based around Dave Harvey’s excellent book When Sinners Say “I Do.” This package will include the teaching DVD, a copy of the book, and the Study Guide. “In this eight-session video series, Dave engages his audience with humor and honesty as he speaks about sin and the power of the gospel to overcome it. He opens the delightful truth of God’s word and encourages the reader to see more clearly the glorious picture of what God does when sinners say ‘I do.’” (Learn more)

For anyone who is interested, the following products will be discounted 30% using the coupon code CHALLIES (valid through 11:59pm EST, Monday 12/22).

Enter to Win

All you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below. (If you receive this by email, you will need to visit challies.com to enter.)

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

 

December 19, 2014

There are not a lot of new Kindle deals today, though I did find PROOF by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones ($3.51) and Gospel by J.D. Greear ($2.99). And don’t forget some of the better deals from earlier in the week: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget by Crystal Paine; The Power of Suffering and Strange Fire by John MacArthur; Ordinary by Michael Horton.

An Unforgettable Christmas - It is so true: “Kids learn to love what brings their parents delight.” There is direct application for the Christmas season.

Embiggening English - It has been many, many years since I’ve watched an episode of The Simpsons. But I did enjoy reading this article about its impact on the English language.

Bloodlines - There may be no better time than now to read John Piper’s book Bloodlines. Westminster Books has marked it way down.

Ligonier - Ligonier also has some good books on sale today for $5 each, and they include a favorite: R.C. Sproul’s The Truth of the Cross. There are several other deals as well.

The Everything Books - “Amazon won the book war. In a series of rare interviews, the company tells us what’s next.”

The Thank You Project - “Ten years after a tragic car accident, Kellie wants to find the heroes that saved her son’s life and thank them.”

Christian theology stands or falls with a historical Adam and a historical fall. —Michael Horton

Horton

Porn-Free Family
December 18, 2014

This Christmas a lot of children will receive porn from under the tree. It not what they wanted, and not what their parents intended for them to have. But they will get it anyway.

The first iPod, the first tablet, the first laptop—these are today’s coming of age rituals. We give our daughter her first iPod and she responds with joy. While we know there is lots of bad stuff out there on the Internet, we never imagine that she—our little girl—would ever want to see it or ever go anywhere she is likely to find it. We give our teen his first laptop, warn him about the responsibility that is now his, and send him on his way. We make a mental note to follow up in a couple of weeks, but are sure that he will do just fine. “He will talk to me if he has any questions or temptations, right?”

The statistics don’t lie. According to recent research, 52% of pornography is now viewed through mobile devices, and 1 in 5 searches from a mobile device is for porn. The average age of first exposure to pornography is 12. Nine out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls will be exposed to pornography before the age of 18. 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents. 28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to online pornography. (source)

The fact is, giving your children computers, iPods, tablets—any of these devices—gives them access to the major gateway to pornography.

The statistics are intimidating, but not inevitable. There are things you can do to protect your family. If you choose to give your kids digital devices for Christmas, be sure to take measures to protect them.

You will need to have at least 3 goals.

Your first goal will have to be teaching and training. You need to teach and train your children to use their devices responsibly. This kind of training is an indispensable part of responsible parenting in a world like this one. Train your children to use these devices well, and as they prove themselves, allow them freer access and more responsibility.

Your second goal will have to be guarding your children from seeing or experiencing what they do not know exists. The innocent ought to remain innocent without being unintentionally exposed to pornography or dangerous situations before their parents have been able to teach and train them.

Your third goal will have to be preventing your children from seeing or experiencing what they may desire once they learn that it exists. Children and teenagers are insatiably curious and are taught from a young age to use the Internet to find answers to their questions. This is a dangerous combination when it comes to adult matters, and especially matters of sexuality. The concerned parent will want to make it as difficult as possible for his children to access dangerous or pornographic material, even if they want to.

There are different ways to achieve these three goals, but as a starting point, why don’t you consult my Porn-Free Family Plan. It is not a perfect solution (There is no perfect solution!) but it is a good one, and will at least get you on your way.

Read: The Porn-Free Family Plan.