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A La Carte (December 21)

Today’s Kindle deals include just a handful of titles, one of which is 93% off the list price.

5 Popular Misconceptions About the Christmas Story

“We experience the story of Jesus’s birth in a variety of ways throughout the Christmas season. The story is presented through nativity scenes, TV shows, story books, paintings, and Christmas pageants. In fact, we encounter the Christmas story so often we’re convinced we know all the details of what happened that night. But many of the things we think we ‘know’ about the Christmas story turn out to be incorrect.”

4 Reasons Every Church Needs Senior Saints

“Sometimes senior saints question their usefulness in the church as they age. That’s unfortunate because they’re an essential part of the body of Christ. Although we trust in our sovereign and wise God to add and take away from his local body as he sees fit, church life is different without them. As pastors, therefore, we need to remind our elderly members that they’re not only loved by their Good Shepherd and Savior—they’re also loved and needed by his people.”

Vatican Issues New Rules Forbidding the Trade of Saints’ Relics

Here’s strange news from the Roman Catholic Church. “The Holy See issued new guidelines for the preservation and display of saints’ relics, which once fueled a thriving trade in the Middle Ages, with bits of skin, hair, teeth and organs exchanged between abbeys and monasteries.”

This is an interesting one if you’re a gamer. “The debate over loot boxes has been one of the most divisive and furious that gaming has seen in years, and certainly one of the most important stories for the industry in 2017. Billions of dollars are on the line here — especially as legislators and regulators in more countries have started to speak up.”

Zero-Based Church Scheduling

There is some sound counsel here. “In too many of our churches, we have become so busy doing activities, our members have little or no time to do real ministry outside the walls of the church. We need effective churches, not busy churches.We need simple churches, not complex churches. As you move into a new year, consider your church calendar. Be willing to consider reducing or eliminating those activities that lead to busyness but not effectiveness.”

Do You Love Your Friends Enough to Hurt Them?

“In our culture, someone who speaks against a person’s behavior is seen as hateful, while the one who keeps his words to himself is praised as a loving person. Unfortunately, this understanding has crept into the church as well. Our individualism has set up walls that even our Christian friends dare not cross. Asking someone how their job is going is acceptable, even praiseworthy. But asking someone about a sin in their life is considered ‘crossing the line,’ and the solution is to ‘mind your own business.’”

How to Love Visiting Church Members in Hospital

“If you’re visiting somebody in the hospital, it will almost certainly be an awkward experience. You’re in a strange location with weird smells and beeping machines and lots of tubes, and the patient is probably wearing one of those less-than-modest hospital gowns. It’s a really weird context. But here’s the point: it doesn’t matter.”

Flashback: 6 Practical Ways to Honor Your Parents

God calls every child of every age to show honor to our parents, to refuse to dishonor our parents. He calls us to honor them as the outflow of honoring him.

The Sin of a creature could never be so filthy, as the blood of the son of God was Holy.

—Stephen Charnock

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