A Post-Christmas Present for you-A Winner Has Been Chosen!

And the winner is… Bryon Harvey.

Many thanks to all who entered!


As a post-Christmas present, I’m giving away one copy of John Piper’s wonderful book, Don’t Waste Your Life—and you could win it.

About the book:

John Piper writes, “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest: A couple ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells. . ..’ Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy.

“God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.”

Most people slip by in life without a passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, and perhaps trying to avoid sin. This book will warn you not to get caught up in a life that counts for nothing. It will challenge you to live and die boasting in the cross of Christ and making the glory of God your singular passion. If you believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain, read this book, learn to live for Christ, and don’t waste your life!

How To Enter:

There are a few ways to enter, and you can enter multiple times. So, if you subscribe to the RSS feed, follow me on Twitter and leave a comment on this post, you’ll be entered three times.

  1. Leave a comment below telling me why you want to win a copy of Don’t Waste Your Life
  2. Subscribe to the blog either via email or an RSS feed.  Leave a comment to let me know
  3. Link to this post and/or add Blogging Theologically to your blog roll. Send me an email (aaron.armstrong9_at_gmail_dot_com) or a comment with a link to your post
  4. Follow me on Twitter and retweet the following–RT: @AaronStrongarm is giving away a copy of Don’t Waste Your Life by @JohnPiper.  Find out how to win! http://bit.ly/8xYgSy

This contest will end on Thursday, December 31st, at 12:00 noon. The Randomly selected winner will be notified via email and announced here once they’ve confirmed their mailing address.

This contest is open to residents of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Many thanks to all who participate.

What's the Real Story of Christmas

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more about “What’s the Real Story of Christmas“, posted with vodpod

A thought-provoking short film from St. Helen’s Bishopgate in London on whether or not the Christmas story happened and what it means:

We all know about the real Christmas. Don’t we? Mary and Joseph. Away in a manger. Donkey. 3 wise men and the shepherds. Of course you do. You probably even played a shepherd or a wise man when you were 5.
Now you’re older and it’s all Noel Edmunds, booze, bills and unwanted visits to relatives.

This film brings Christmas back to it’s roots. The real Christmas. Where the manger mings, the baby cries and where a star really shone. The Christmas that is for everyone, everywhere.

HT: Justin Taylor

The First Christmas Carol by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, part three

 

Read part one and part two of “The First Christmas Carol” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon 


 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

—Luke 2:14— 

III. I must now bring before you the third point. There are some PROPHETIC UTTERANCES contained in these words. 

The angels sang “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.” But I look around, and what see I in the wide, wide world? I do not see God honored. I see the heathen bowing down before their idols; I mark the Romanist casting himself before the rotten rags of his relics, and the ugly figures of his images. I look about me, and I see tyranny lording it over the bodies and souls of men; I see God forgotten; I see a worldly race pursuing mammon; I see a bloody race pursuing Moloch; I see ambition riding like Nimrod over the land, God forgotten, his name dishonored. 

And was this all the angels sang about? Is this all that made them sing “Glory to God in the highest?” 

Ah! no. There are brighter days approaching. 

They sang, “Peace on earth.” But I hear still the clarion of war; and the cannon’s horrid roar: not yet have they turned the sword into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook! War still reigns. Is this all that the angels sang about? And whilst I see wars to the ends of the earth, am I to believe that this was all the angels expected? Ah! no, brethren; the angels’ song is big with prophecy; it travails in birth with glories. A few more years, and he that lives them out shall see why angels sang; a few more years, and he that will come shall come, and will not tarry. 

Christ the Lord will come again, and when he cometh he shall cast the idols from their thrones; he shall dash down every fashion of heresy and every shape of idolatry; he shall reign from pole to pole with illimitable sway; he shall reign, when like a scroll, yon blue heavens have passed away. No strife shall vex Messiah’s reign, no blood shall then be shed; they’ll hang the useless helmet high, and study war no more. The hour is approaching when the temple of Janus shall be shut for ever, and when cruel Mars shall be hooted from the earth. [Read more...]

The First Christmas Carol by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, part two

Read part one of “The First Christmas Carol” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

—Luke 2:14—

2. When they had sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. “Glory to God in the highest,” was an old, old song; they had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But, now, they sang as it were a new song before the throne of God: for they added this stanza—“on earth, peace.” They did not sing that in the garden. There was peace there, but it seemed a thing of course, and scarce worth singing of.

There was more than peace there; for there was glory to God there.

But, now, man had fallen, and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man, there had been no peace on earth, save in the breast of some believers, who had obtained peace from the living fountain of this incarnation of Christ. Wars had raged from the ends of the world; men had slaughtered one another, heaps on heaps. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man; Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin.

There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But, now, when the newborn King made his appearance, the swaddling band with which he was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man’s conscience and himself, man’s conscience and his God. It was then, that day, the trumpet blew—”Sheathe the sword, oh man, sheathe the sword, oh conscience, for God is now at peace with man, and man at peace with God.” [Read more...]

The First Christmas Carol by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, part one

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is one of the greatest preachers the world as ever known. Born in 1834, Spurgeon began preaching at the age of 16 and was called to the pastorate of London’s New Park Street Chapel, Southwark (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) at the age of 19. Known for his direct and plain preaching style, Spurgeon drew the attention of many admirers and critics alike as he proclaimed the gospel to crowds of up to 10,000 people on a given Sunday. By the time of his death in 1892, Spurgeon had preached roughly 3,600 sermons and published forty-nine volumes of commentaries, sayings, anecdotes, illustrations, and devotions.

In celebration of Christmas, I’ll be representing Spurgeon’s sermon, The First Christmas Carol. This sermon will be presented in three parts, of which this is the first.

Originally delivered on Sunday, December 20, 1857, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Garden, The First Christmas Carol is a wonderful celebration of the angel’s song in Luke 2:14, announcing the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I trust it will be a blessing to you.


Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

—Luke 2:14—

It is superstitious to worship angels; it is but proper to love them. Although it would be a high sin, and an act of misdemeanor against the Sovereign Court of Heaven to pay the slightest adoration to the mightiest angel, yet it would be unkind and unseemly, if we did not give to holy angels a place in our heart’s warmest love. In fact, he that contemplates the character of angels, and marks their many deeds of sympathy with men, and kindness towards them, cannot resist the impulse of his nature—the impulse of love towards them.

The one incident in angelic history, to which our text refers, is enough to weld our hearts to them for ever. How free from envy the angels were! Christ did not come from heaven to save their compeers when they fell. When Satan, the mighty angel, dragged with him a third part of the stars of heaven, Christ did not stoop from his throne to die for them; but he left them to be reserved in chains and darkness until the last great day.

Yet angels did not envy men. Though they remembered that he took not up angels, yet they did not murmur when he took up the seed of Abraham; and though the blessed Master had never condescended to take the angel’s form, they did not think it beneath them to express their joy when they found him arrayed in the body of an infant. How free, too, they were from pride! They were not ashamed to come and tell the news to humble shepherds. Methinks they had as much joy in pouring out their songs that night before the shepherds, who were watching with their flocks, as they would have had if they had been commanded by their Master to sing their hymn in the halls of Caesar.

Mere men—men possessed with pride, think it a fine thing to preach before kings and princes; and think it great condescension now and then to have to minister to the humble crowd. Not so the angels. They stretched their willing wings, and gladly sped from their bright seats above, to tell the shepherds on the plain by night, the marvelous story of an Incarnate God. And mark how well they told the story, and surely you will love them! Not with the stammering tongue of him that tells a tale in which he hath no interest; nor even with the feigned interest of a man that would move the passions of others, when he feels no emotion himself; but with joy and gladness, such as angels only can know. They sang the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, “Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” [Read more...]

Christmas Daddies: Building a Memory

Yesterday, was the big day: My Christmas Daddy-Daughter date with my lovely daughter, Abigail.

This was a really important one for me; I really want to make sure she has some great memories (as much as I can help, anyway), so I did my best to pull out all the stops. First up, her favorite breakfast: French toast (it was delicious).

After a lovely breakfast, we were off to the main event: Sesame Street Live!

We took a few photos:

The Sesame Street players take the stage and all the kids go wild. Well... except for the ones who cried.

[Read more...]

This is War (A Christmas Carol)

Last Christmas, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice released a Christmas album, This Good Night is Still Everywhere. A particularly thought provoking song on the record is called This is War. Kensrue describes it as a different take on the Christmas story—God declaring war on sin, death and Satan. In a way, it’s seeing Jesus’ incarnation for what it really was.

During the introduction to the video, he reminds us that Christmas is a unique opportunity for us, as Christians, to talk about things that are otherwise considered taboo in our society.

Like Jesus.

Even if you don’t believe what Christians would claim about Him, you have to step back and ask why is this man the most famous person who ever lived? This Galilean peasant who was killed in the most dishonoring and awful of ways. Why still is he the person that a large part of the world still thinks is God in Flesh and why is his impact so large?

Enjoy the video. The song is tremendous:

You can also watch the video without the intro here:

If you’re looking for some great Christmas music, buy the album at iTunes and Amazon.

HT: Ransom.tv

Christmas Daddies: A Gift Idea


An interesting challenge is finding gifts that are just right. As fun as things like Dora, Diego, and the Little Einsteins are for my daughter, it’s also important that I’m getting her gifts that are interesting, engaging and edifying. So if you have the same kind of trouble I do, I wanted to try to help out with a gift idea.

Here’s one: The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition


Here’s the product description:

Every Story Whispers His Name…

Written for children ages four and up, The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the one story underneath all the stories of the Bible and points to the birth of a child, the Rescuer, Jesus. Complete with 44 Bible stories, The Jesus Storybook Bible paints a beautiful portrait of Jesus and invites children to see that he is not only at the center of God’s great story of redemption—he is at the center of their story too. Children and adults alike will be captivated by the beautifully written narrative and the original and unique illustrations by accomplished artist Jago. Lloyd-Jones’ powerful gift of storytelling draws the reader into the greatest adventure of all time in an exciting page-turner that kids (and adults) find hard to put down.

Since its release in 2007, The Jesus Storybook Bible has become a must-have for children and adults and has grown into a brand that includes: a Spanish edition, an ebook for large and small group presentations, and the new Deluxe Edition, which includes the complete book on audio CD, read by award-winning British actor David Suchet. The audio from the Deluxe Edition is also available separately.

I bought the regular edition of the book for Abigail last Christmas. It’s still a bit above her comprehension level (it’s intended for children over age 4), but it’s far and away the best children’s Bible I’ve seen so far. The stories have depth but are easily understandable and all remind children (and parents) that Jesus is the Hero of the Story.

It’s really great stuff.

If you’ve got some great gift ideas, pass them along in the comments section.

Around the Interweb (12/13)

Tim Challies: The Next Story (His Next Book)

Tim Challies, the world’s most famous Christian blogger and author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment announced his next book this week.

The working title: The Next Story. The publisher: Zondervan.

True story. Here’s what Tim had to say:

Since I wrote The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment I’ve often been asked the obvious question: what next? That’s a good question, of course. I have deliberately been biding my time. I’ve been in no real hurry to jump into my next project. A few ideas have come and gone, but none have been intriguing or original enough that I’ve wanted to dedicate a year of my life to them. The commitment to a certain topic is really a commitment to spend at least six months reading and writing about it and then a further six months (at minimum) doing interviews about it, speaking about it, preaching about it, and so on. The last thing I wanted to do was find a topic that would bore me and leave me dreading it.

[...] The book’s working title is The Next Story. I’m really pleased with the title, but it does have a downside in that it is remarkably difficult to pronounce (try saying it out loud). It is a book about technology in general and digital technology in particular. Even the least technical among us are being pressed from all sides by technology. Like it or not, we rely upon it in unprecedented ways. Many people feel that they are analog creatures in a digital world. Christians are beginning to awaken to this reality and are trying to think critically and biblically about many new realities brought about by technological developments. Yet, there are few helpful and sympathetic voices for those who wish to do so but have no idea how. I’m hoping to fill this gap, creating a book that will help Christians think well about technology. I do not intend to discuss Facebook and Twitter and whatever will be big and popular next month. I want to discuss technology in the bigger picture so that the book will be applicable today, tomorrow and ten years from now.

If all goes well, the book will be published in hardcover in the spring of 2011. And it will be published by Zondervan. I’m guessing that this will be a surprise to a few people. Frankly, it is a bit of a surprise to me. But in the end it was clear that Zondervan had the best all-around offer, from the financial, to the marketing, to the audience. Zondervan will take the book to a whole new audience, I’m convinced, and will work hard to help me find interesting speaking opportunities. They put together a fantastic proposal and I had no hesitations in signing on with them.

This is very exciting news and I’m thrilled for both Tim and Zondervan (and a very wise move on Zondervan’s part).  I’ve no doubt that he’ll bring the same thoughtfulness to this book as he did his first.

Look for The Next Story in 2011.


In Other News

Molly Piper cordially invites you to break your heart

Kevin DeYoung on The Christian Century and the New Calvinism

Michael Hyatt believes the SI Tablet might be the end of book publishing as we know it (and he’s excited!)

Trevin Wax reminds us that contextualization goes both ways


In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Andy Deane’s very helpful book, Learn to Study the Bible

Building Christmas traditions with my family

Ed Stetzer points us to a study on the effects of pornography

Christmas Daddies: Building Traditions

Christmas is a couple weeks away. That probably fills some of you with glee. And others with dread.

Me, I’m somewhere in between.

I’m learning to enjoy Christmas as a daddy. It’s a lot of fun to see my daughter get excited about everything that’s going on (most of which she doesn’t understand yet). And it’s a privilege to try to help my lovely wife overcome her Christmas anxiety (long story).

But something that’s been a bit difficult for me: Starting family Christmas traditions.

As far as I recall, we didn’t really have any traditions in our family growing up, although by the time I got into my teens, it became common for us to have lasagne instead of turkey for our Christmas meal.

One of the things I really want to do as my children get older is start reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol together, as well as other appropriate Christmas stories. But I suspect that’s still a few years off.

So this year, we’re going to try to start two new traditions: Building a gingerbread house and reading the birth of Christ from Luke 2.

I suspect the gingerbread house will be fun because:

  1. My daughter loves gingerbread
  2. I love gingerbread
  3. My wife loves chocolate candy
  4. There is an icing pack for Abigail to squeeze

Reading Luke 2 as a family will be beneficial because it’s a reminder of who and what we’re celebrating at this time of year.

So, my fellow dads (and moms, too), what traditions are you building into your family?

Let’s share some ideas.

Around the Interweb (12/06)

Elliot Grudem: Learning to Advent Together

Elliot Grudem completed a three-part series on why it’s actually helpful to celebrate Advent. Grudem readily admits that Scripture doesn’t require us to do anything different around Advent and celebrating it doesn’t make us more spiritual, but it does have some benefits:

Celebrating Advent helps us cut through all the distractions of the Christmas season and focus our attention on Jesus Christ’s birth and ministry as well as his promised return. Since we can’t anticipate the day or the hour of Christ’s return, we are filled with both a sense of joyful expectation and humble reverence, with our spiritual focus being on lives of prayer and preparation.

Throughout the season we are constantly reminded that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah and Savior of the World.

The series is available at The Resurgence.


In Other News…

Kevin DeYoung asks the question, “Why did they kill Jesus?” and examines “The Gospel Old and New.”

Russell Moore says, “Jesus has AIDS.”

World Magazine interviews Evangelical scholar J.I. Packer who says he’s considering writing a systematic theology.


In Case You Missed It…

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Millard Erickson’s Making Sense of the Trinity: Three Crucial Questions

The final part of George Whitefield’s The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent

A couple of ideas for something to do instead of boycotting a business for Christmas

Boycott a Business for Christmas…Seriously?

The other day while looking at Z’s blog (which you should be reading too; he’s swell), I came across a post talking about Stand for Christmas. Here’s a bit of info from the StandforChristmas.com:

In response to the secularization of Christmas and the trend of censoring public references to this time-honored holiday, Focus on the Family and Focus on the Family Action began to speak out on the issue in 2007...In recent years, Focus on the Family has evaluated the advertising of major retailers and assigned ratings based on their level of “Christmas-friendliness.” We provided these ratings in an annual shopping guide. The response from consumers – and media outlets – has been remarkable.

This year, we’re excited to present a Christmas campaign with a twist!

We’re placing shoppers in the driver’s seat. Through this site, customers can provide feedback directly to retailers and share their experiences with fellow shoppers! [emphasis mine]

Okay, seriously, who thinks this is actually a good idea?

I don’t want to come across as throwing fellow Christians under the bus, but seriously, this is silly. [Read more...]