Happy Boxing Day! For all of you American readers, today is the day in Canada when, having spent the previous day enjoying the company of family, everyone loses their mind and goes shopping. (It’s basically our Black Friday.) Okay, not everyone… just a lot of ones. Today, my fam-jam and I are heading up to visit our extended family. If you’re off to spend the day with family, I hope it’s a terrific time!
If you happened to get an Amazon gift card for Christmas, here are a few new Kindle deals to consider:
- A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis by Devin Brown—$1.99
- The Glory of Heaven by John MacArthur—$2.99
- Heaven by Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson—$2.99
- A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul David Tripp—$2.99
- What Happens After I Die? by Michael Allen Rogers—$2.99
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper—$2.99
Steve McCoy shares his top albums of the year. Putting together a playlist with some of these soon.
As much as I love the ‘less is more’ principle taking root in my home, it the non-material space in my life that now holds my attention. As the clutter in my living room ebbs away, it seems that an unintended effect has been that I finally noticed the clutter that has unassumingly accumulated in other areas of my life.
Shakespeare’s Juliet asks, “What is in a name?” She loved Romeo, regardless of his surname. Despite her wishes to the contrary or her desire to minimize the significance, Romeo was always going to be a Montague. In Scripture, names mean something. They matter. The names, or titles, God used to reveal himself communicated particular truths to his people. This is acutely evident in the Old Testament, but also present in the New. Joseph received specific instructions from the angel of the Lord to name the child born of the virgin, Jesus, for he shall save his people from there sins (Matthew 1:21). This announcement was made in order that it might be fulfilled what was previously prophesied by Isaiah, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). Name Him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. Call him Emmanuel because he is God with us.
A great teacher of literature and mythology, a spectacular success as a lecturer, he inspired love in some of his students and animosity in some others. He was a quirky gent. At Oxford, he was the tutor of at least two famous Englishmen — John Betjeman, poet laureate in the 1970s, and Kenneth Tynan, the most brilliant drama critic of his time. Their memories of Lewis were surprising. Betjeman, while conservative and religious like Lewis, despised him. Tynan, a radical left-winger and intensely anti-establishment, admired him and remained grateful for his encouragement.
There’s an irony in religious Christmas celebrations. Holiday-only worshippers really do not love Christ. Rather, they prefer the opposite—avoiding Christ as much of the year as they possibly can. Thankfully, these celebrations and worship gatherings might introduce Christ to some who are seeking Him. But, for most who just want to be a little bit religious, this long-anticipated Christmas season brings out all kinds of hypocrisy.
Nick Macdonald offers an interesting reason why we should preach without notes.
In fact, the reason why most white men need their notes in the pulpit is that our sermons are too dense for the ear. Let me say that in another way: if you can’t remember your sermon, it’s too dense. It’s too complicated. It’s too geared toward written communication. Memory goes hand-in-hand with simplicity and focus – two essential qualities for oral communication.