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Thanks, Christmas Spirit, & New Year’s Resolutions

A guest post by Jessica Thompson

During this time of reflection on the last year, trying to figure out what to be thankful for each day of November, and also trying to be properly respectful of the true meaning of Christmas—my sense of failure, and alternately pride, grows in fertile soil. I fight with thoughts of “I really should be more grateful” and “I failed at my last 20 New Year’s resolutions” and “why doesn’t the incarnation make me fall to my knees?” mixed in with “why can’t people see Christmas is all about Jesus” and “look at those people pushing and shoving to get the Black Friday deals with greed spilling from their heart.” I can get pretty wrapped up in the me of everything.

One of my favorite tweets of 2012 came on New Year’s Day from my pastor. It read, “Feel like a jerk? Take heart, you’re a lot worse than you think. Good thing Jesus paid the whole bill. Happy New Year.”

That has stuck with me throughout the year, and I pray it sticks with me for the finish of it. I tend to think that if I’m grateful enough or if I don’t forget that Jesus is the reason for the season then maybe I’m actually doing okay and I’m somehow more pleasing to God. I forget the truth that the Bible gives me–that I was dead in my sin and a lot worse than I really even want to admit. Yet I also forget that my sins of ungratefulness, my sin of indifference to the incarnation, and all of my failures for this last year have been forgiven. I don’t have to make up for them, they have been cancelled, nailed to the cross. The truth is, I can never be good enough, grateful enough, or awed enough. There was only One who lived that way. He was perfect as his Heavenly Father was perfect, and that is now my clothing. My mind and heart come alive at this thought. The glorious light of undeserved right relationship with God chases the darkness of my self-condemnation and pride and gives me true gratefulness.

As you make your lists, and do your 30 days of thanks, and go through advent calendars, remember this: You were dead, you are now alive. He has forgiven all sins. He has cancelled all the debts. He has clothed you in his righteousness so that you don’t have to work up your own. There is goodness and mercy that are promised to follow you for the rest of this year, all of next year, and every day for the rest of your life. His faithfulness will never fail because he cannot deny himself. You have all the hope and grace you need to finish 2012 and to start the 2013. Jesus paid the whole bill and left the tip. There is nothing now for you to do except believe this good news, smile, and rest.

“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.” – Augustine of Hippo



Jessica Thompson, co-author of Give Them Grace, is a member of an Acts 29 church in California and has been homeschooling for the past two years. She is married and has three children.

December 27, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Christmas,Gratitude,Holidays,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life,The Gospel | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | (2) Comments »

Christmas Blog Post Round-Up

In celebration of Christmas, we wanted to gather some of our favorite Christmas posts from years past for your enjoyment. We’ve included a few of sentences from each post:

  • “Keeping Holiday”, a Q&A with Starr Meade — Crossway recently interviewed Starr Meade, the author of the children’s book Keeping Holiday, about literature, her new book, and more. Here’s what she had to say.
  • Glory to God in the Highest by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. (from Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus) — Isn’t it interesting how in Christmas cards and on public displays we often see the words, “Peace on earth, good will toward men”? But how seldom we see the prior words, “Glory to God in the highest”! But there is no peace, there is no good will, unless there is glory to God in the highest first.
  • The Great Reversal by Tullian Tchividjian — When I’m asked to describe the true meaning of Christmas, I like to say that the birth of Christ is the sure and certain sign that “God is on the move.” The arrival of Jesus two-thousand years ago ensured that God had begun the process of reversing the curse of sin and recreating all things. In Jesus, God was moving in a new way and, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “winter began stirring backwards.”
  • “God Becomes Man”…What? by Eyse Fitzpatrick — Okay, hold on just one moment. I know we’re all busy and that this time of year creates all sorts of added responsibilities and distractions, but what is that title again? “God Becomes Man”?…Um…What? Really?
  • When the Gospel Transforms Your Christmas Expectations by Stephen Altrogge — I have certain expectations when it comes to Christmas. I expect to drink egg nog, even though I don’t really like it. I expect to listen to hours upon hours of Christmas carols. I expect to watch the movie Elf. I expect to drive around with my family and look at Christmas lights. And I expect to get some gifts. Twenty-eight years of Christmas experience has taught me what to expect. But how would I feel if some of my expectations weren’t met?
  • The Incarnation: How Did People Know God Was Coming? by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears (from Doctrine) — Because God is sovereign over the future, he alone is capable of giving prophetic insight into the future. In great mercy he did this for his people in the Old Testament. He detailed for them who was coming to save them, how he would come, where he would come, when he would come, and why he would come, so that they would anticipate the incarnation and salvation of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus of Nazareth vs. Caesar Augustus by Trevin Wax (from Holy Subversion) — Consider Jesus of Nazareth alongside Caesar Augustus. At the time of Christ’s birth, Caesar had issued a call to the Roman world that everyone be counted and properly taxed. As he enjoyed luxurious accommodations in his Roman palace, he hoped to demonstrate his own greatness before a watching world by publicizing the great number of people under his domain. And yet in an unnoticed corner of Caesar’s kingdom, in a simple stable, sleeping in a feeding trough, the Son of God had come to show the glory of his Father.
  • Where Did “Lefse” Come From? A Scandinavian Christmas Story from Larry Woiwode [Video] — Author Larry Woiwode recalls childhood memories of his Norwegian grandmother making lefse on the stove in Minnesota when they went there to celebrate Christmas. He asked his family and others where lefse actually originated, but nobody seemed to have an answer . . . Woiwode brings us his first Christmas story, The Invention of Lefse.
  • Calvin and Claus by Christin Ditchfield — One of my favorite comic strips is Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson, following the adventures of a bright but mischievous six year-old boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger, a.k.a. imaginary friend Hobbes. (Both named for – of all things – famous theologians!) Every Christmas, poor Calvin is a tortured soul, torn between his desire to be “good” so that Santa will bring him lots of presents – and the (at least for a little boy) overwhelming temptation to smack the little girl next door with a perfectly formed snowball. Often the strip shows Calvin weighing the pros and cons – the “pleasure of sin for a short time” against the possibility of future but unknown rewards.

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”

— Luke 2:10-14 (ESV)

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Christmas,Holidays,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Video: John Piper Reads “The Innkeeper”

In celebration of Christmas, Crossway has partnered with Desiring God to produce this special video of John Piper reading his illustrated poem The Innkeeper. You can read more about the project on Desiring God’s blog. The video includes an introduction from Dr. Lane Dennis, President of Crossway.

We hope you enjoy this special reading of The Innkeeper. Merry Christmas!

If you’re interested in more of Piper’s poetry, you can check out these volumes published by Crossway:

December 4, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,Christmas,Holidays,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life,Video,Video | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 10:30 am | (3) Comments »

Guest Post: Keeping Christmas with Martin Luther

Martin Luther loved a good paradox. In the fall of 1520, he was a very busy man. He received the Papal Bull entitled “Exsurge, Domine,” which means “Arise, O Lord.” It called on Luther to recant. Instead, Luther had a big bonfire and burned it. He was also writing his Three Treatises, among them being The Freedom of a Christian (sometimes called On Christian Liberty). In this work Luther declares, in a paradox:

A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant to all, subject to all.

Luther also returned again and again to the paradox Christ spoke of in the gospels that whoever holds on to his life will lose it, while the one who loses his life for Christ’s sake will indeed find it (Matt. 16:25). Luther even ends the 95 Theses with a paradox involving false teachers who promise peace versus those teachers who preach the cross. But the paradox that seemed to captivate him the most was that of the first Christmas morn. The infinite God of the universe became an infant. The incarnation was for Luther like it was for Mary, an occasion to ponder all these things in his heart (Luke 2:19).

Everything about the birth of Christ struck Luther as a paradox of sorts. Mary, though poor and rather socially “insignificant,” was chosen. Bethlehem, “The City of David,” belonged to Christ, but there was no room for him to be found anywhere in it. The announcement of Christ’s birth came not to the noble and elite, as we might expect, but to the shepherds. Luther explores all of these paradoxes in his sermon on Christmas Day, 1530. “Is it not strange,” he asks, “that the birth of Christ occurs in cold winter, in a strange land, and in such a poor and despicable manner?” And he adds, “How could God have shown his goodness in a more sublime manner than by humbling himself to partake of flesh and blood?” This is the paradox that rather gloriously confounds us all: God became human.

The announcement from the angels that night was one that was a long time coming. The first peals of it were heard in a garden, the Garden of Eden. A seed, promised, would come to reconcile a fallen and sinful humanity to a holy and righteous God. And then the promise echoes through the Scriptures. Abraham and Sarah heard it. Naomi heard it. David, Naomi’s great-great grandson by marriage, heard it. And the shepherds were the first to hear of the fulfillment: A child has been born in David’s city who is our redeemer.

Salvation comes in and by and through an infant Son. This is more than a paradox, this is a miracle.  And this miracle is the joy of the gospel and the true joy of Christmas. As Luther asks, “How is it possible for man to hear of greater joy?”

Guest post by Stephen J. Nichols, illustration by Ned Bustard.

Looking for a great Christmas idea that will help you teach your kids about church history? Be sure to check out Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heros of the Faith, written by Stephen J. Nichols and illustrated by Ned Bustard.

www.churchhistoryabcs.com

December 3, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,Children,Christmas,Deity of Christ,Holidays,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Crossway Cyber Monday Sale: 40% Off Storewide and Select Great Deals

Today is the last day of our Thanksgiving Weekend sale. We’re discounting all books and Bibles on Crossway.org by 40%, and are also offering a number of other products at larger discounts.

Here are a few in particular you’ll want to check out:

ESV Study Bible, Larger Print
(Genuine Leather, Black)
$109.99 $30
Dangerous Calling
by Paul David Tripp
$22.99  $10
The Hole In Our Holiness
by Kevin DeYoung
$17.99  $10
The Explicit Gospel
by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson
$17.99  $10

These are just a few of the specially priced items. You can browse the full list here.

We hope you’re able to find some great gifts through this sale!

November 26, 2012 | Posted in: Books,Christmas,Editions,ESV,Study Bibles | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 10:02 am | 0 Comments »