Links & Quotes

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“Here’s an Advent illustration for kids—and those of us who used to be kids and remember what it was like. Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and it’s really her? That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest. That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.” —John Piper (check out Hebrews 10:1-10)

“God desires to be remembered by man. He has taken unspeakable pains to keep Himself before His creatures, so as to make forgetfulness on their part the greatest of all impossibilities. In everything that God has set before our eyes or ears, He says, Remember Me. In every star, every flower, every mountain, every stream—in every joy, every comfort, every blessing of daily life—God says, Remember Me.” —Horatius Bonar

“God gives us a new revelation of His kindness in the valley of the shadow.” —Oswald Chambers

“Allow yourself one excess: be excessively obedient.” —Francois Fenelon

“satan’s ultimate weapon against us is our own sin. If the death of Jesus takes it away, the chief weapon of the devil is taken out of his hand. He cannot make a case for our death penalty, because the Judge has acquitted us by the death of His Son!” —John Piper

“Without Jesus, we’re trapped in the expectations of others. We’re trapped in living for the approval of our peers. We’re trapped in addictions. We’ve tried to change over and over again, but we don’t have the power needed to escape. Jesus came to give us that power.” —Rick Warren

“Holidays are about history, and if we fail to remember that history or to remind our contemporaries of it, then we will only be confirming their narrow and narcissistic view of ‘history’ as ‘my-story’ and my supposed right to make of my life whatever I will.” —T.M. Moore

John Stonestreet points out the power of hype in our modern culture—Ronda Rousey, Reality TV and Jesus.

Calvary Assembly of God helping the Cedar Springs community see the true meaning of Advent.

Is it really that big of a deal for a Christian to date a non-Christian?

Detroit Tigers fans and New York Yankees fans will enjoy this comparison of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

The Non-Christmas Christmas Carol

No more tearsImagine that I invited you to my house for a Christmas party. When you arrived, I greeted you at the door with a cheerful hello and warmly welcomed you into my home. But as you hung out with the other guests, you might begin to wonder if we were truly celebrating Christmas. After all, when you looked around my house, you saw no Christmas tree, no ornaments, no wrapped gifts, no mistletoe, no Christmas stockings, no manger scene. You might be tempted to say that you were invited to a non-Christmas Christmas party! (By the way: my house IS fully decorated for the season!)

One of our 300-year-old Christmas carols sounds remarkably like my make-believe party. Joy To The World has no mention of angels, no wisemen, no manger, no nativity scene, no virgin birth, no star in the east. It seems like a non-Christmas Christmas carol! 

That’s because at this time of year, Christians aren’t celebrating Christmas, but we’re celebrating Advent. Actually we’re celebrating both Advents. 

Jesus was born in a Bethlehem manger (His First Advent), but He is also coming again to bring all of earth’s history to a close (His Second Advent). So we celebrate the First Advent, and then look with hopeful anticipation to the Second Advent. That’s exactly what Joy To The World does!

Each of the stanzas of this well-known hymn looks forward with joy to Christ’s ultimate fulfillment of all the prophesies of the Bible. The final joy comes when He reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But we can still live with joy right now!

The third stanza of this hymn says that Christ has come to make His blessings known far as the curse is found. The Apostle Paul says the same thing—sin used to reign, but the grace of God far exceeds the thorns of sin (see Romans 5:19-21; 6:8-12).

Our ultimate joy comes at the Second Advent of Christ when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

So the next time you hear the non-Christmas Christmas carol Joy To The World, be reminded that it’s not Christmas we are celebrating, but Christ’s First Advent. And it’s not some shapeless, indefinable future that awaits us, but we can live in the joy of anticipating Christ’s Second Advent.

Check this out—

We’ll be looking at another Carol of Christmas this Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us!

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