All Around the Web – December 7, 2019

AATWDoug Wilson – Impeaches & Cream

John Stonestreet – The Pursuit of Family

TGC – The Non-Negotiable Virtue in Leadership

Chuck Lawless – 11 Reasons the Christmas Season Can be Burdensome for Pastors

Eric Raymond – Top Ten Books I Enjoyed This Year

TGC – 6 Ways to Foster Healthy Social Media Habits

Thom Rainer – Six Reasons Some Pastors Don’t Desire to Go to a Church Needing Revitalization

Facts & Trends – 6 Ways Pastors Can Encourage Other Local Pastors

TGC – Apatheism: Stronger Challenge to Evangelism Than Atheism Is

Facts & Trends – 5 Common Discipleship Mistakes Every Christian Must Avoid

Disrn – Notorious MLB great Manny Ramirez apologizes for career missteps, reveals he’s in seminary

Disrn – Dems decry all-white 2020 lineup, media “double standard” after Harris exits race

NBC News – Pete Buttigieg criticized for volunteering with Salvation Army

Babylon Bee – Disney+ Introduces $10/Month Add-On That Blocks ‘Frozen’ From Streaming Service

Babylon Bee – Peace, Harmony Break Out As More People Go Outside, Talk To Their Neighbors To Avoid Torturous Impeachment Hearings

Babylon Bee – House Hears Testimony From Renowned, Unbiased Legal Scholar Hillga Clintonheimer

Babylon Bee – Bombshell Testimony Reveals Some People Do Not Like President Trump

All Around the Web – December 6, 2019

AATWJoe Carter – The 7 Most Important Religious Liberty Cases of the Decade

Trevin Wax – My 10 Favorite Reads of 2019

John Stonestreet – Eight Women You Should Know

TGC – Richard Dawkins’s Latest Case for Outgrowing God

TGC – What Are We to Make of Cultural Marxism?

Thom Rainer – What to Expect if You’re a Church’s First Millennial Pastor

Facts & Trends – 5 Aspects of the First Christmas No One Preaches

Facts & Trends – Why We Can’t Quit the Church

TGC – Your Neighbor Is Probably a Unitarian Universalist

Facts & Trends – Connecting with Older Members at Christmas

Chuck Lawless – 7 Ways to Help a Young Preacher with Finances

Tim Challies – The 2020 Christian Reading Challenge

Net Credit – The Most Common Last Name in Every Country

National Geographic – National Geographic’s Best Photos of the Year

Babylon Bee –

Babylon Bee – Kamala Harris Fulfills Campaign Promise To Improve America By Dropping Out Of Race

Babylon Bee – ‘Capitalism Has Failed Us!’ Mark Ruffalo Shouts From Atop Massive Mountain Of Cash

Babylon Bee – ‘My Mom Said You Guys Have To Let Me Play,’ Defiant Colin Kaepernick Tells Kids Playing Flag Football At Park

Why the “X” in Xmas is Not an Anti-Christmas Conspiracy

Every year I am inevitably asked the same question: why do we abbreviate Christmas as “Xmas?” There are usually two types of people who ask this question. On the one hand is the conspirator who assumes that “Xmas” is a secular coo against Christ. On the other hand is the confused person who simply wonders why anyone would abbreviate “Christ” with a simple “X.”

Good news American Christians, the abbreviation is not that big of a deal.

The Greek word for “Christ” is christos. The first letter of christos is the Greek letter chi which is transliterated into the English letters “ch.” The chi itself looks like an English “X.” Christians would often abbreviate christos with the Greek letter chi. A good example of this would be the Chi-Rho monogram which was a type of cross with the first two letters of christos – the chi and the rho. A picture of the Chi-Rho Monogram is available below.

Another example would be the ichthus. The word “ichthus” is Greek meaning “fish.” Christians turned it into an acronym with each Greek letter representing something about Christ. The iota (“i”) meaning “Jesus,” the chi (ch) meaning “Christ,” the theta (“th”) meaning God, the upsilon (“u”) meaning “son,” and the sigma (“s”) meaning Savior.

This brings us back to “Xmas.” What appears to be the English letter “X” is actually a Greek ch iwhich has a sacred history of being an abbreviation for “Christ” Thus, “Xmas” is short for “Christmas.” Christ, therefore, has not been taken out of Christmas nor is this a secular, anti-Christian attack on Christmas. Abbreviating Christmas does not make one less a Christian or anti-Christmas anymore than abbreviating any other word. The chi is a reminder that Christmas is about the incarnation of God who condescended himself as a man in order to save mankind. The confusion over “Xmas” is not part of the so-called War on Christmas (or Xmas if you so desire).

There is a bigger issue here. All around us are people lost without the gospel. Many bible-believing, Jesus-worshipping, church-going Christians will fight against the secularism of Christmas, yet at the same time do not know the spiritual state or needs of their neighbors. Jesus is more offended by our lack of missional obedience than he is how we write “Christmas” on our cards. He cares more about the truth of the incarnation and the power of the cross than he does about trivial matters. He cares more about the heart of the Target cashier than whether or not she uttered the words “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays.”

All Around the Web – December 5, 2019

AATWDA Carson – But . . . That’s Just Your Interpretation!

John Stonestreet – Why Are We Still Funding This?

Chuck Lawless – 7 Words of Encouragement to Keep Praying for Non-believing Loved Ones

Evangelical History – Protestant Relics and the Graves of Whitefield and Edwards

Crossway – 5 Things Your Children Need from You

Facts & Trends – How Is the Economy Impacting Churches?

Thom Rainer – What Church Leaders Must Know for 2020 – An Interview with Dave Travis of Generis

Russell Moore – My Favorite Books of 2019

TGC – Themelios 44.3

USA Today – Husband and wife die a day apart after being married 68 years

Babylon Bee – Kamala Harris Forced To Rely On Prison Labor For Struggling Campaign

Babylon Bee – Kamala Harris Demoted To Meter Maid After Failed Campaign

Babylon Bee – Lisa Page To Teach College Course On How To Make Yourself Out To Be A Victim

Babylon Bee – Wise Men Actually Just Sent Gifts Using Free Prime Shipping, Scholars Now Believe

From Lewis’s Pen: No Other Stream

From The Silver Chair:

Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion – no one who had seen his stern face could do that – and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. (22-23)

All Around the Web – December 4, 2019

AATWFederalists – Most Americans Think Cohabitation Is Fine, But That’s Not What Social Science Says

John Stonestreet – The Church Really Can Strengthen Marriage

Chuck Lawless – A 30-Day End of the Year Bible Reading Plan

Facts & Trends – 4 Traits of an Emotionally Unhealthy Leader

Tim Challies – Is There Still a Place for Blogs in 2020?

Thom Rainer – Six Reasons the Multi-Venue Church Model Will Experience Rapid Growth

GetReligion – Press doesn’t get why Catholic priest would withhold Communion from outspoken gay judge

TGC – Early High Christology and the Legacy of Larry Hurtado (1943–2019)

Christian Index – A calling fulfilled, Hunt preaches final sermon as First Woodstock pastor

National Geographic – The Site That May Be Jesus’ Tomb

Disrn – Kamala Harris drops out of presidential race

Babylon Bee – Joel Osteen Releases Pop-Up Theology Book

Babylon Bee – New Greta On The Shelf Doll Will Track Your Climate Sins

Babylon Bee – Narwhal Tusk Surrender Bins Installed Throughout The UK

Babylon Bee – Biden’s Popularity Skyrockets Among Coveted 1920s Working Class Demographic

5 Nonfictional Books Worth Reading and Rereading

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“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”

-CS Lewis, The Letters of CS Lewis to Arthur Greeves

To the reading of books, there is no end, the preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us. Thus it is wise to know that not all books are created equal. Some are not worth the paper they are printed on while others are worth reading and rereading. Below are five non-fiction volumes worth reading over and over again from my library in no particular order.

 

A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther

My favorite book on prayer is without a doubt this brief gem from the Great Reformer. There is no excuse for never breaking its spine. It is brief and available at a low price (under $4!). Luther wrote this volume in response to a question from his barber on a simple way to pray. He directs us back to Scripture to pray through God’s Word itself. Luther was a man of prayer. He was a warrior in prayer. We can learn a lot from him.

 

Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

CS Lewis remains one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century. One of his most important volumes is Screwtape Letters which explores temptation through the lens of fictitious demons themselves. Similar attempts have been made to write similar texts ever since, but none compare to Lewis’s original. I have read this book multiple times and each time is better than the previous. While your at it, read (and reread) Mere Christianity.

 

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney

The spiritual disciplines lead us to greater communion with God and to greater godliness. Whitney has published the gold standard on the spiritual disciplines. It is imperative Christians grow in the disciplines and Whitney is the best resource I’ve come across in guiding us in this great, sanctifying work.

 

The Cross of Christ by John Stott

The cross is at the center of the Christian faith. In this volume, the late John Stott offers the reader an excellent exploration and application of the doctrine of the atonement. Stott is an excellent reader and theologian and this stands as my favorite volume of his with Basic Christianity in a close second.

 

Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell Moore

This forgotten gem from Dr. Moore, the president of ERLC of the SBC, is the only book that I have ever preached through. Moore is one of the brightest thinkers and writers of our day and this work on temptation is a must read and reread.

 

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All Around the Web – December 3, 2019

AATWJoe Carter – 9 Things You Should Know About the Christian Calendar

John Stonestreet – From Black Friday to Advent

Thom Rainer – Understanding Resistance to Change in Churches

TGC – Pastor, Build His Platform, Not Yours

Russell Moore – One Thing You Missed: What We Can Learn from C.S. Lewis and Fred Rogers

GetReligion – Big-think story: What does religion have to do with slumping global birth rates?

Gatestone Institute – China Adopts Malicious “Cybersecurity” Rules

Kentucky Today – Chinese gov’t designates Lottie Moon’s church as historical site

Disrn – Trump makes surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Disrn – Televangelist Joseph Prince’s megachurch buys Singapore shopping mall for nearly $217M

National Post – That Feeling in Your Funny Bone

Babylon Bee – Leftists Protest New Mister Rogers Film For Controversial Message Of Being Nice To Everyone

Reviews in Brief

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” by Less and Leslie Parrot

In preparation for a marriage seminar operated by the Parrott’s, I read their seminal work “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts.” As far as marriage books go, it is well written and pretty straight forward. It is a helpful guide for pre-married couples that is easy to read and practical. Outside of their final chapter on the role of spiritual intimacy, the book is largely open to both secular and Christian crowds. That is not a criticism and may be what makes their discussion of shared faith more relevant. For pastors looking or good resources for soon-to-be married or newly married, this may be one worth considering.

 

Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands From the Lord to His People” by John MacArthur

John MacArthur’s books have been a blessing to many since I was a teenager. In this volume, he explores the 7 churches of Revelation 2-3 and explores their story and how the modern church can be what Christ wants us to be.

The books is straightforward and is a good resources for understanding these two critical chapters of Revelation. Beyond that, there isn’t anything unique or world changing. This is vintage MacArthur; a lot of Bible, good exposition.

 

Crazy Good Sex: Putting to Bed the Myths Men Have About Sex” by Less Parrot

In preparation for a marriage seminar shaped by Less and Leslie Parrot, I began reading a number of their books. I thought this book would have been a little different than what it turned out to be. That is my fault for not investigating more before cracking it’s spine. The book as a whole is good but most of it will by no means be discussed in a public format.

 

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye” by David Lagercrantz

I’ve been reading the Millenium Series first launched by Stieg Larson before his premature death after publishing the first three books. David Lagercrantz is continuing the Swedish series and although they are good, they are not nearly as great as the original author’s story. Lagercrantz has made the main character, Salander, less interesting and in this volume she was less a part of the story. She was often sidelined while other investigators and journalists moved the plot along.

For more on why I’m reading this series, click here.

 

What is a Christian?” by Roger Carswell

In preparation of a sermon on a similar topic, I tolle lege this little book for the second time. I’m sure if you search for it, you can find my brief thoughts on it. After reading it the second time, it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books for new believers. A resources like this is worth investing in for disciplining young, new believers. It is short, well written and explores the gospel and the Christian life. An additional chapter on the role of the church would have be preferable, but regardless, this is a great volume that was first recommended (and sent to me) by Alistair Begg.