Daily Archives: December 25, 2018


And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

—Revelation 5:9

Did you ever stop to think about the rapture? It’s going to be something that’s never happened before. You might be walking around on the street and hear the sound of the trumpet—and suddenly you’re transformed! You won’t know what to do or how to act. And the people lying in their graves, what’ll they do? I know what they’ll do—they’ll sing! There’s going to be singing at the consummation, on that great day!

“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us” (Revelation 5:9)—that’s the theme of the new song. The theme of the new song isn’t “I am”; it’s “Thou art.” Notice the difference! When you look at the old hymnody of Wesley, Montgomery and Watts, it was “Thou art, O God, Thou art.” But when you look at the modern hymns, it is “I am, I am, I am.” It makes me sick to my stomach. Occasionally a good hymn with testimonies is all right, but we’ve overdone it. The song of the ransomed is going to be “Thou are worthy, O God.” AOG014

I long for that day, Lord, when I can join in the singing. I await Your return, Lord Jesus. Amen. [1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Living in a post-Christian culture — Wretched

– Episode 2225 –

Living in a post-Christian culture

Segment 1 (00:00) – Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman

Segment 2 (11:10) – Rachel Denhollander gives the Gospel

Segment 3 (21:54) – Cori Salchert, loving the least of these

Wretched Surprise! (27:33) – Just for Fun, Nothing stands between me and food

Living in a post-Christian culture — Wretched

President Trump and First Lady Melania Deliver a White House Christmas Message… — The Last Refuge

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump deliver their Christmas holiday message from the White House.


President Trump and First Lady Melania Deliver a White House Christmas Message… — The Last Refuge

December 25 Why Was Jesus Born?

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45


Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear.

Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it—for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 386). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

13 classic games you can download for your iPhone or Android for free (AAPL, GOOG, GOOGL)


  • Lots of classic games from years past are available as free apps for iPhones and Android.
  • We’ve collected our favorites.

You’ve got a new phone and you want something to play on it.

But instead of focusing on games that might cost money or are trendy now — looking at you, “Fortnite” — why not take a moment to go through the classics?

Lots of games you may have loved in the past are available on the iPhone and Android — and they’re free.

Here are some of our favorites: 



The classic “Solitaire” that comes installed on Windows is available for both Android and iOS. Get the version that Microsoft makes.



Business Insider

“Minesweeper” is free for iOS, although you can pay $2 for a premium version on iPhones. It’s also free for Android, but there are ads.




A fully licensed “Tetris” game is free for both iPhones and Android phones.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Source: 13 classic games you can download for your iPhone or Android for free (AAPL, GOOG, GOOGL)

The first 33 apps you should download for your new iPhone (AAPL)

  • You may have received a new iPhone this holiday season.
  • Here are 33 great apps to download for it.

Deciding which apps to download from Apple’s App Store can be daunting, especially when you have a new phone. After all, there are millions of apps choose from.

We’ve rounded up 33 of the best apps you should download first on your iPhone. There are some obvious choices on this list, but we’ve also chosen a few hidden gems that the Tech Insider staff uses and loves.

Let’s check them out:

Citizen lets you see if there are emergencies or crimes nearby.


Citizen is a free app.


Moment helps you track screen time. Apple has built-in tools, but a lot of people in the tech world use this app.


Moment is a free app with in-app purchases.


Mindbody lets you book and search workout classes on the go.


Mindbody is a free app. The classes cost money.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Source: The first 33 apps you should download for your new iPhone (AAPL)

December 25, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Teaching Skill

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (1:9)

All of the qualifications Paul has mentioned so far (vv. 6–8) have to do with spiritual character and attitudes, with the kind of person a faithful elder is called to be. In verse 9 he deals with the primary ministry of a faithful elder, namely, that of teacher, what a faithful elder is called to do. Throughout the pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus), the apostle repeatedly emphasizes the critical importance of elders, or overseers, carefully and consistently preaching, teaching, and guarding God’s truth.

Preaching and teaching are much alike in content and are distinguished primarily by the nature of presentation. Preaching is the public proclamation of the truth, intended primarily to move the will of the hearers to respond. Teaching is directed more at causing the mind to understand. Preaching involves admonition and exhortation, whereas teaching involves illumination and explanation. Often the two functions overlap and are indistinguishable, as they are in many passages of Paul’s letters, as well as in other parts of the New Testament. All good preaching has elements of explanation, and all good teaching includes some exhortation. Some elders clearly have only one of the gifts, where as others just as clearly have both. Though different in some ways, however, both gifts are crucial to the church and have the common purpose of disseminating God’s Word.

Because preaching and teaching of Scripture are spiritual gifts, bestowed sovereignly on servants of God through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28), and because pastors must be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24), it clearly follows that every elder is so gifted in some way and so commissioned by the Holy Spirit. The sine qua non of ministry is preaching and teaching. Giftedness in this area varies, of course, just as the other spiritual gifts vary in degree from believer to believer. But Scripture is unambiguous that every true elder is divinely equipped to preach and teach God’s Word.

As already noted, “elders who rule well [should] be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Paul’s qualifying phrase “especially those” indicates that, although every elder ought to “work hard at preaching and teaching,” some of them do not. From the context, it seems obvious that some elders in the early church fell short in this regard. “Work hard” translates kopiaō, which carries the idea of diligent effort, of toiling with maximum self-sacrifice in order to fully accomplish a task, to the point of exhaustion if necessary. It has as much to do with the quality of the work as with the quantity. It is important to understand, however, that this quality has nothing to do with the size or influence of a pastor’s congregation. Nor is it determined by natural ability or spiritual giftedness. A pastor with limited capabilities who works devotedly without reserve is just as worthy of double honor as an equally hardworking pastor with much greater endowments.

the necessary foundation

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, (1:9a)

The foundation for effective teaching of the Word is the pastor’s own understanding of and obedience to that revelation. He must be unwaveringly loyal to Scripture.

Antechō (holding fast) means “to strongly cling or adhere to something or someone.” Speaking of spiritual allegiance, Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to [antechō] one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13; cf. Matt. 6:24). God’s preachers and teachers are to cling to the faithful word with fervent devotion and unflagging diligence.

Word translates logos, which refers to the expression of a concept, thought, or truth. It is frequently used of the revealed truth and will of God. Speaking of the enemies of God, Jesus said, “They have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’ ” (John 15:25). Paul spoke of God’s “word of promise” to Abraham: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son” (Rom. 9:9) and of His judgment: “The Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly” (v. 28).

Logos is often used as a synonym for Scripture, the written Word of God. Jesus accused the Pharisees of “invalidating the word of God by [their] tradition which [they had] handed down” (Mark 7:13). To unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, our Lord clearly identified the Word of God with Scripture, saying, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34–36, emphasis added).

In the prologue to the book of Revelation, John spoke of himself as one “who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:2; cf. v. 9; cf. 1 Thess. 1:8; 2 Thess. 3:1). In the prologue to his gospel, the same apostle speaks of Jesus as the living Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1–4, 14; cf. 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13).

Paul spoke of Scripture as “the treasure which [had] been entrusted to” Timothy (2 Tim. 1:14) and as “the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God,” he continues, “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15–17). Paul commended the Ephesian elders to “the word of [God’s] grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Peter called Scripture “the pure milk of the word,” by which believers “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).

Pastors, therefore, are to love the faithful word of God, respect it, study it, believe it, and obey it. It is their spiritual nourishment. They are to be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6). That involves more than mere commitment to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, essential as that is. It is commitment to the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word as the only source of moral and spiritual truth.

An elder’s spiritual leadership in the church is not built on his natural abilities, his education, his common sense, or his human wisdom. It is built on his knowledge and understanding of Scripture, his holding fast the faithful word, and on his submission to the Holy Spirit’s applying the truths of that word in his heart and life. A man who is not himself holding fast to God’s faithful word and committed to live it is not prepared to preach it or teach it. The truth of the Word must be woven into the very fabric of his thinking and living. Like the apostles in the early church, spiritually effective pastors must devote themselves “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

It is through the Word that an elder grows in knowledge and understanding of the character of God, the will and purpose of God, the power and glory of God, the love and mercy of God, the principles and the promises of God. It is through the Word that he comes to understand justification, sanctification, and glorification. It is through the Word that he comes to understand the enemy and his powers of darkness, and his own helplessness, even as a pastor, to resist and overcome sin apart from God. It is through the Word that he comes to understand the nature and the purpose of the church and his own role of ministry in the church. All this he teaches his people.

It is failure in the area of holding fast the faithful word that is largely responsible for the superficial, self-elevating preaching and teaching in many evangelical churches. Here is the real culprit in the weak, shallow, insipid “sermonettes for Christianettes” that are such common church fare today. Here is the real villain that has led so many to be converted to what they consider relevancy and therefore to preach a pampering psychology or become stand-up comics, storytellers, clever speechmakers or entertainers who turn churches into what John Piper in his most excellent book The Supremacy of God in Preaching has called “the slapstick of evangelical worship” ([Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990], p. 21).

Timothy had been “constantly nourished on the words of the faith” and had followed “the sound doctrine” that he learned in Scripture (1 Tim. 4:6). Based on that preparation, he was to prescribe and teach these things” (v. 11), “show [himself] an example of those who believe” (v. 12), “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (v. 13), “not neglect the spiritual gift within [him], which was bestowed upon [him] through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery” (v. 14), “take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all” (v. 15), “pay close attention to [himself] and to [his] teaching,” and “persevere in these things” (v. 16). The nine emphasized verbs in verses 11–16 all translate Greek imperatives. (As indicated by italics in the nasb, the predicate adjective “absorbed,” v. 15, is not in the Greek text but is implied.) Paul was not giving Timothy suggestions or simply personal advice, but divinely revealed apostolic orders.

Later in that letter Paul said, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Preaching and teaching are the primary responsibilities of elders. Timothy was to “teach and preach these principles” that Paul laid out (1 Tim. 6:2), to “instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God,” and to “instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (vv. 17–18).

The apostle spoke of himself as “a preacher and an apostle and a teacher,” (2 Tim. 1:11; cf. v. 8); and he charged Timothy: “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.… And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses [that is, his apostolic teaching of divinely revealed truths], these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (vv. 13–14; 2:2). Timothy was to carefully safeguard and uphold the things he had been taught and then was to teach them to other elders, who, in turn, would teach them to still other elders, and so on. That is the Lord’s plan for teaching and preaching in His church.

Paul went on to remind Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,” as well as “for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). It is God’s Word, under the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit, that makes “the man of God”—the spiritual leader, in particular the pastor-teacher—“adequate, equipped for every good work” (v. 17. He is divinely commissioned to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (4:2). He is to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

This duty to Scripture is in accord with the teaching (didaskalia), which refers to the content of that which is taught, to doctrine, divinely revealed truth.

Believers in the early church “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). After God’s revelation was completed through their teaching, it was recorded in what we now know as the New Testament. That truth is absolutely trustworthy and sufficient. It is not to be redacted, edited, updated, or modified.

the necessary duty

that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (1:9b)

Because he personally knows deeply and is exclusively loyal to God’s Word, the pastor becomes qualified, under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, to exercise his gift of preaching and teaching that Word in the church.

Positively, the pastor is to exhort believers in sound doctrine. He is to strengthen God’s people in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word. Parakaleō (to exhort) means “to urge, beseech, and encourage.” Literally, it means “to call alongside of” for the purpose of giving strength and help. The term was used of defense counsel in a court of law, the advocate who pleaded the cause of the accused.

In the Upper Room discourse, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Helper [paraklētos],” or Advocate, who would stand beside the Twelve after Jesus ascended to His Father. This “Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things,” the Lord promised, “and [will] bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:16, 26; cf. 15:26; 16:7; cf. 1 John 2:1). That promise was fulfilled in a unique way in regard to the apostles, who authoritatively taught and established God’s New Testament Word. But every pastor who is genuinely called by the Lord is to become able … to exhort in sound doctrine.

Sound translates hugiainō, from which we derive the English hygienic. It has the basic meaning of being healthy and wholesome, referring to that which protects and preserves life. In his preaching and teaching, it should be the pastor’s sole objective to enlighten his congregation in doctrine that protects and preserves their spiritual health. It is an awesome and demanding task, and for that reason James warns, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Speaking to those under the pastor’s care, the writer of Hebrews says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account” (Heb. 13:17). No reasonable, sensible Christian man would presume to take the role of pastor-teacher on himself without the Lord’s calling. Nor would he attempt, when divinely called, to fulfill that calling by preaching and teaching whatever ideas might come to his own mind. He will preach and teach nothing but sound doctrine.

It is for that reason that preaching and teaching must be expositional, setting forth as clearly, systematically, and completely as possible the truths of God’s Word and only those truths. Like Ezra, the faithful pastor will “set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10). Like Apollos, he will be “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). The pastor who recognizes that Scripture alone is inerrant and is our sole, complete, and sufficient authority knows exactly what he is called to preach and teach. He will “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). He will “fully carry out the preaching of the word of God” (Col. 1:25). That is the commission of every preacher and teacher.

Contrary to what is offered in much popular preaching today, the Bible is not a resource for truth but is the divinely revealed source of truth. It is not a supplementary text but the only text. Its truths are not optional but mandatory. The pastor’s purpose is not to make Scripture relevant to his people but to enable them to understand doctrine, which becomes the foundation of their spiritual living. The Bible is “user friendly” to those who humbly submit to its profound truth.

Sinners will be intolerant of the uncomfortable truths. That is to be expected. On the other hand, they will want to hear comfortable lies. They may seek what is sensational, entertaining, ego-building, non-threatening, and popular. But what we preach is dictated by God, not by the crowds we face. Psychiatrist and Christian writer John White has penned some compelling words that need to be heard:

Until about fifteen years ago psychology was seen by most Christians as hostile to the gospel.

[But today] let someone who professes the name of Jesus baptize secular psychology and present it as something compatible with Scripture truth, and most Christians are happy to swallow theological hemlock in the form of psychological insights.

Over the past fifteen years there has been a tendency for churches to place increasing reliance on trained pastoral counselors.… To me it seems to suggest weakness or indifference to expository preaching within evangelical churches.… Why do we have to turn to the human sciences at all? Why? Because for years we have failed to expound the whole Scripture. Because from our weakened exposition and our superficial topical talks we have produced a generation of Christian sheep having no shepherd. And now we are damning ourselves more deeply than ever by our recourse to the wisdom of the world.

What I do as a psychiatrist and what my psychologist colleagues do in their research or their counseling is of infinitely less value to distressed Christians than what God says in his Word. But pastoral shepherds, like the sheep they guide, are following (if I may change my metaphor for a moment) a new Pied Piper of Hamelin who is leading them into the dark caves of humanistic hedonism.

A few of us who are deeply involved in the human sciences feel like voices crying in a godless wilderness of humanism, while the churches turn to humanistic psychology as a substitute for the gospel of God’s grace. (Flirting with the Word [Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw, 1982), pp. 114–17)

About that same problem, John Stott writes,

Expository preaching is a most exacting discipline. Perhaps that is why it is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the apostles and say, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables.… We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:2, 4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind. “It is blessed,” wrote C. H. Spurgeon, “to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.” (The Preacher’s Portrait [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961], pp. 30–31)

The second duty of the pastor who teaches faithfully is negative. Not only is he to exhort believers in sound doctrine but he is also to refute those—especially those within the church—who contradict healthy, life-protecting, life-preserving doctrine.

Pastors have an obligation to God to give their people an understanding of the truth that will create the discernment necessary to protect them from the ubiquitous error that incessantly assaults them. Antilegō (to refute) means literally “to speak against.” The Lord’s preachers and teachers are to be polemicists against unsound doctrine that goes under the guise of biblical truth. Not long after Paul himself ministered in Crete, “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,” were causing trouble and confusion in the churches there (Titus 1:10). They were not to be ignored, much less tolerated, but were to “be silenced because they [were] upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain” (v. 11). They were particularly dangerous because they arose from within the congregations. “They profess to know God,” Paul said, “but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (v. 16).

Even the spiritually mature church at Ephesus was not immune to false teaching. “I know that after my departure,” Paul warned elders from that church, “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30).

Although false teachers in the church exist under many guises, they all, in one way or another, contradict biblical truth. They are the enemies of sound doctrine and therefore of God and His people. Simply to accept Scripture as the inerrant Word of God does not protect against its being misunderstood or even perverted. To give certain personal insights and decisions of church councils equal authority beside Scripture is to contradict God’s Word—just as surely as is denying the deity of Christ or the historicity of His resurrection. The final warning of Scripture is: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18–19, emphasis added).

The dual role of the godly preacher and teacher is to proclaim and to defend God’s Word. In the eyes of the world and, tragically, in the eyes of many genuine but untaught believers, to denounce false doctrine, especially if that doctrine is given under the guise of evangelicalism, is to be unloving, judgmental, and divisive. But compromising Scripture in order to make it more palatable and acceptable—whether to believers or to unbelievers—is not “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). It is speaking falsehood and is the farthest thing from godly love. It is a subtle, deceptive, and dangerous way to contradict God’s own Word. The faithful pastor must have no part in it. He himself tolerates, and he teaches his people to tolerate, only sound doctrine.[1]

9. Holding fast the faithful word. This is the chief gift in a bishop, who is elected principally for the sake of teaching; for the Church cannot be governed in any other way than by the word. “The faithful word” is the appellation which he gives to that doctrine which is pure, and which has proceeded from the mouth of God. He wishes that a bishop should hold it fast, so as not only to be well instructed in it, but to be constant in maintaining it. There are some fickle persons who easily suffer themselves to be carried away to various kinds of doctrine; while others are cast down by fear, or moved by any occurrence to forsake the defence of the truth. Paul therefore enjoins that those persons shall be chosen who, having cordially embraced the truth of God, and holding it firmly, never allow it to be wrested from them, or can be torn from it. And, indeed, nothing is more dangerous than that fickleness of which I have spoken, when a pastor does not stedfastly adhere to that doctrine of which he ought to be the unshaken defender. In short, in a pastor there is demanded not only learning, but such zeal for pure doctrine as never to depart from it.

But what is meant by according to instruction or doctrine? The meaning is, that it is useful for the edification of the Church; for Paul is not wont to give the name of “doctrine” to anything that is learned and known without promoting any advancement of godliness; but, on the contrary, he condemns as vain and unprofitable all the speculations which yield no advantage, however ingenious they may be in other respects. Thus, “He that teacheth, let him do it in doctrine;” that is, let him labour to do good to the hearers. (Rom. 12:7.) In short, the first thing required in a pastor is, that he be well instructed in the knowledge of sound doctrine; the second is, that, with unwavering firmness of courage, he hold by the confession of it to the last; and the third is, that he make his manner of teaching tend to edification, and do not, through motives of ambition, fly about through the subtleties of frivolous curiosity, but seek only the solid advantage of the Church.

That he may be able. The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both; for he who is deeply skilled in it will be able both to govern those who are teachable, and to refute the enemies of the truth. This twofold use of Scripture Paul describes when he says, That he may be able to exhort and to convince adversaries. And hence let us learn, first, what is the true knowledge of a bishop, and, next, to what purpose it ought to be applied. That bishop is truly wise, who holds the right faith; and he makes a proper use of his knowledge, when he applies it to the edification of the people.

This is remarkable applause bestowed on the word of God, when it is pronounced to be sufficient, not only for governing the teachable, but for subduing the obstinacy of enemies. And, indeed, the power of truth revealed by the Lord is such that it easily vanquishes all falsehoods. Let the Popish bishops now go and boast of being the successors of the apostles, seeing that the greater part of them are so ignorant of all doctrine, as to reckon ignorance to be no small part of their dignity.[2]

9 Paul concludes the list with an overall doctrinal qualification (cf. 1 Ti 3:2, 9). The overseer must “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught.” This will enable him to “encourage [parakaleō, GK 4151; see, e.g., 1 Ti 6:2; 2 Ti 4:2; Tit 2:15] others by sound doctrine [see 1 Ti 1:10; 2 Ti 4:3; cf. 1 Ti 6:3; 2 Ti 1:13] and refute [elenchō, GK 1794; cf. 1:13; 2:15; 1 Ti 5:20; 2 Ti 4:2] those who oppose [antilegō, GK 515; cf. 2:9; Ro 10:21] it.” Since the NT was still in the process of being written, “trustworthy message” (pistou logou, GK 4412, 3364) probably refers to apostolic teaching conveyed by way of oral proclamation (cf. 1 Ti 5:17).[3]

1:9 / Finally, and significantly, the list of qualifications concludes in the form of a duty. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, which repeats his need to be absolutely devoted to the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:9 about the deacons). He must be so, however, not just for himself but so that he will be able to fulfill his twofold task of exhorting/encouraging the faithful and confuting the opponents of the gospel.

It should be noted that these are exactly the tasks enjoined on Timothy in 1 Timothy (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). Here, even though Titus is to lead the way (see disc. on 1:13), these tasks are to be entrusted to the elders/overseers. The church leader, for that is surely what elders are, must be able to encourage (better, “exhort”; cf. 1 Tim. 4:13; 5:1; 6:2) others by sound doctrine (see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:10). He must also be able to refute (or “convict”; cf. 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2) those who oppose it. This final qualification will lead directly to the next section of the letter.[4]

Elders must be blameless in their doctrinal orthodoxy (1:9)

With verse 9 the apostle moves on, in regard to qualifications for the pastorate, from their home and family, and their character and conduct, to their necessary grasp of the truth. Presbyters must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught … (9a). This message (logos, being a word from God) is characterized in two ways. First, it is reliable (pistos). It is trustworthy because it is true, and it is true because it is the word of the God who never lies (2). Secondly, it is (literally) ‘according to the didachē’, that is, consonant with ‘the teaching’, namely that of the apostles. This was already an identifiable body of instruction, which in Romans Paul called both ‘the form of teaching to which you were entrusted’20 and ‘the teaching you have learned’, and which in the Pastorals is termed interchangeably the teaching (cf. 9, 2:1), ‘the faith’ (13), ‘the truth’ (14), and ‘the deposit’.25 It has now been bequeathed to us in the New Testament.

This reliable, apostolic teaching candidates for the pastorate are to hold firmly and never let go. Why so? Because they will need it in their teaching ministry. And what form will their teaching take? It will have two complementary aspects, namely to encourage others by (rsv ‘give instruction in’) sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (9b). To ‘refute’ people is not just to contradict them, but actually to overthrow them in argument. But neither of these ministries (instructing and refuting) will be possible unless the pastors concerned maintain their firm hold on the sure word of the apostles.

It is clear from this that presbyter-bishops are called essentially to a teaching ministry, which necessitates both a gift for teaching (didaktikos) and loyalty to ‘the teaching’, that is, of the apostles (the didachē, 9). Only if they are didaktikos in communicating the didachē will they be able both to instruct and exhort people in the truth and to expose, contradict and confound error. The negative aspect of this teaching ministry is particularly unfashionable today. But if our Lord Jesus and his apostles did it, warning of false teachers and denouncing them, we must not draw back from it ourselves. Widespread failure to do it may well be a major cause of the doctrinal confusion which prevails in so many churches today.

Calvin clearly understood the double nature of our teaching ministry. Here is part of his comment on verse 9:

A pastor needs two voices, one for gathering the sheep and the other for driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means for doing both, and he who has been rightly instructed in it will be able both to rule those who are teachable and to refute the enemies of the truth. Paul notes this double use of the Scripture when he says that he should be able both to exhort and to convict the gainsayers.

Having given an ideal picture of true elders in their threefold blamelessness (5–9), Paul now by contrast describes the false teachers (10–16).[5]

1:9. Having described the personal qualities of a person fit for church leadership, Paul finished with one more necessity. The leader must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught. Those who presume to lead must embrace the traditional teachings which came through Christ and the apostles. Leaders must not come from among those who flirt with new doctrines. Not only must their behavior be open to observable goodness; they must also remain unwavering in their commitment to the faithful message of truth.

Paul offered two reasons for this requirement in leaders. First, dedication to the true gospel message would qualify them to encourage others by sound doctrine. Only truth brings change, encouragement, and actual spiritual development. False teachings can offer only temporary gratification or intrigue. They can never satisfy. Secondly, knowledge and adherence to sound doctrine will equip a person to refute those who oppose it. False teachings, human inventions and philosophies create confusion and bring destruction upon the thinking and faith of many.

Ideas are not idle games of philosophers. They are the fundamental structures of our behavior and responses. Paul knew that anything not springing from the truth must be shown for its fallacy. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 43–52). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 295–297). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 608). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 175). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (pp. 178–179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 344–345). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

RenewAmerica Newsletter for December 25, 2018

December 24, 2018
ALAN KEYES — According to the report I saw, a yoga group at American University spontaneously disintegrated after an “American University student…complained to AU’s President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion…after seeing a non-Indian group perform an Indian epic in the school’s yoga club.” The episode well illustrates the insanely anti-humanitarian malice at the heart of the ill-conceived ideology that pretends to demand respect for the diverse ways in which people living in various times and places expressed their special understanding of themselves and the world in which their life unfolds…. (more)

December 24, 2018
The Birth of JESUS
TOGETHER WE TEACH — Luke 1 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God…. (more)

December 24, 2018
WESLEY PRUDEN — REPRINTED FROM AN EARLIER CHRISTMAS The malls and the Main Streets fall silent. The ringing cash registers and the happy cries of children become but ghostly echoes across the silent cities. But the Christ child born in a manger 2,000 years ago lives, liberating the hearts of sinners and transforming the lives of the wicked…. (more)

December 24, 2018
ROBERT KNIGHT — For the past few years, my wife and I have had a friendly dispute over how to top our Christmas tree. She wants an angel, and I prefer a simple star. Traditionally, an evergreen is not a Christmas tree unless crowned by one or the other. The ultimate compromise would be a topper she saw years ago consisting of an angel carrying a star. She’s looked high and low but not found one she likes enough to buy…. (more)

December 24, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — When World War I erupted in 1914 launching the first great European war of the 20th century, soldiers on both sides were assured they would be home by Christmas to celebrate victory. That prediction proved to be false. The men on the fronts did not get home for Christmas, as the war dragged on for four years. During that time 8,500,000 men were killed, with hundreds of thousands more dying from injuries. The “war to end all wars” took a horrific human toll and transformed Europe…. (more)

December 24, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Melania Trump’s cranberry topiary trees may have left some of her critics seeing red, but they turned out to be a Christmas hit – one of several new ideas the Trumps introduced this holiday season. In a four-week stretch of 21 holiday parties, the president also did fewer official photo ops and largely froze out the media. But in time-honored tradition, though, politicos still used the celebrations to squeeze in last-minute deal-making…. (more)

December 24, 2018
DAILY CALLER — Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Friday banning dilation and evacuation abortions, common second-trimester abortion methods. Senate Bill 145 prohibits doctors from performing dilation and evacuation abortions, an abortion method used when women are between 13 and 24 weeks pregnant. Dilation abortion involves tearing the fetus apart limb by limb so that the body parts can be extracted from the womb…. (more)

December 24, 2018
‘He does not have some of the executive power, he has all of it!’
WORLDNETDAILY — Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh says there might be “hell to pay,” but he says the time has come for President Trump to “break” the Democrats and build the border wall using the executive power he already has…. (more)

December 24, 2018
THE HILL — President Trump said Sunday that he is “praying for recovery and healing” after a tsunami struck Indonesia late Saturday, killing at least 222 people. “Unthinkable devastation from the tsunami disaster in Indonesia,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “More than two hundred dead and nearly a thousand injured or unaccounted for. We are praying for recovery and healing…. (more)

December 24, 2018
DAILY CALLER — As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to review the year’s worst cases of media misquotes, misleading narratives, major corrections and straight-up fake news. While last year’s fake reporting largely occurred during the media’s relentless pursuit to prove Russian collusion, this year’s list is much more varied. However, some themes emerged: stories about then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the U.S. border were routinely flagged for misinformation. Without further ado, here is the list of 2018’s worst examples of fake news:… (more)

December 23, 2018
Residential facility claims federal rules require prohibition on words, carols, decorations
WORLDNETDAILY — A residence for seniors in Washington state has decided to ban the words “Merry Christmas,” Christmas decorations, Christmas carols that mention Jesus and more – – because it claims the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires those actions. But it doesn’t, say lawyers with the Alliance Defending Freedom who have written to Providence Place in Chehalis, explaining that those expressions popular during the Christmas season are, in fact, perfectly legal…. (more)

December 23, 2018
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — It is exactly what we need and should want in an attorney general of the United States: the ability to reason through complex legal questions in a rigorously academic way. Not to bloviate from the cheap seats, but to think these issues through the way a properly functioning Justice Department does: considering them against jurisprudence, statutes, rules, regulations, and Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, with a healthy respect for facts that we do not know or about which we could be wrong – – facts that could alter the analysis…. (more)

December 23, 2018
RICH LOWRY — Never before has a former FBI director boasted about taking advantage of an administration’s disorganization for his own ends. But never before has a former FBI director been as self-satisfied as James Brien Comey Jr. In an interview at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Comey delighted his Upper East Side audience with his tale of how he exploited the Trump White House’s disarray in its initial days to send two FBI agents to talk to then-national security adviser Michael Flynn without honoring the usual processes (e.g., working through the White House counsel’s office)…. (more)

December 21, 2018
NEWSMAX — Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told Newsmax TV that President Donald Trump needs to remain strong on building the wall on the southern border. “If you go into these sort of fights, you better be ready to fight it until the end – – especially if you’re president of the United States,” he said during an appearance on Friday’s “America Talks Live.”… (more)

December 21, 2018
NEWSMAX — The Supreme Court won’t let the Trump administration begin enforcing a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Chief Justice John Roberts joined his four more liberal colleagues Friday in ruling against the administration in the very case in which President Donald Trump had derided the “Obama judge” who first blocked the asylum policy…. (more)

December 21, 2018
AL.COM — A rural Alabama police department that used social media to scold community members for rejecting God is coming under fire from a group that opposes mixing government and religious faith. A statement posted on Facebook by the Opp Police Department on Tuesday blames a spike in area homicides on the idea that young people have turned away from God and “embraced Satan.” The post followed two gunshot killings in as many days in Covington County, located on the Alabama-Florida line…. (more)

December 21, 2018
CBS 6 NEWS ALBANY — New York State leads the country in an undesirable category. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau says New York tops the nation in population loss. The report says nine states saw a drop in population between July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018. New York led the way at a loss of 48,510 people. Illinois (45,116), West Virginia (11,216), Louisiana (10,840), Hawaii (3,712), Mississippi (3,133), Alaska (2,348), Connecticut (1,215) and Wyoming (1,197) also lost people…. (more)

December 21, 2018
FACEBOOK — How does Mary Poppins Returns pay homage to first #MaryPoppins film? One way: by using hand-drawn animations in the sequel…. (more)

December 21, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Under pressure from conservatives, President Trump said Thursday he would veto a stopgap spending bill unless Congress added money for his border wall – – dooming a bipartisan compromise worked on in the Senate, and putting the government careening toward a partial shutdown…. (more)

December 20, 2018
CNBC — President Donald Trump will not sign a Senate-passed spending bill, increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown. The Senate unanimously approved the legislation Wednesday night to keep the government funded through Feb. 8. With Trump’s support, it appeared set to breeze through the House before the midnight Friday deadline to fund seven agencies that make up about a quarter of the government…. (more)

December 20, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Republicans backed down in their border security fight Wednesday and settled instead for a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government running through early February, avoiding a government shutdown and leaving the big fights for the new Congress…. (more)

December 20, 2018
NEWSMAX — An Iraq War veteran who lost three of his limbs is trying to raise money for President Donald Trump’s border wall – – and the effort has taken in nearly $5 million. The GoFundMe page went live this week and, as of midday Thursday, had raised $4.8 million toward its goal of $1 billion…. (more)

December 20, 2018
BYRON YORK — The sentencing of former Trump White House national security adviser Michael Flynn on a single charge of lying to the FBI turned into a dramatic scene in a Washington, D.C., courthouse Tuesday. Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan excoriated Flynn for what is called uncharged conduct – – that is, for crimes that Flynn has not been formally accused of committing…. (more)

December 20, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Students at Pierce College will be able to pass out copies of the U.S. Constitution without conditions after two years of legal wrangling. The California school’s “free speech” zone the size of a few parking spaces, which hindered student Kevin Shaw in 2016, will no longer be an issue. The Los Angeles Community College District settled the lawsuit and will abolish the policy that prevented him from passing out Spanish-language copies of the document…. (more)

December 20, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The abortion debate in America could learn a lot from Italy, a country whose abortion rate has been steadily declining because doctors are simply refusing to do them. PRI reports that even though abortion was legalized in Italy 40 years ago, access to abortion has been declining, as has the number of abortions, because so many doctors are simply objecting to the procedure…. (more)


Six ways the cradle points to the cross

One of my older children recently posed an excellent question during our family worship time: “Is there a place in the Bible that gives a good, short summary of the real meaning of Christmas?” There are many, of course, but as a pastor tasked with preaching many Advent seasons through the years, I’ve discovered one that may be overlooked: the hymn that Simeon sings after seeing baby Jesus in Luke 2:29-32 and his subsequent words to Joseph and Mary in vv. 34-35. It brings the whole Bible together in a powerful summary.

Who is Simeon? The only time he is mentioned is when the baby Jesus’s parents present him at the temple for purification in accord with the law of Moses. We are only told that he was “righteous and devout” and came to the temple by the Spirit’s drawing. He was a Jewish man waiting for the “consolation” (literally “comfort”) of Israel. He took Jesus up in his arms and praised God for him, then spoke (or perhaps sung) what many scholars believe was a short hymn:

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your Word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

Naturally, Jesus’s earthly parents marveled at Simeon’s words. What he said next to Mary brought the ages together:

Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

 A remnant remained 

When Jesus was born, the faith of Abraham was crumbling under the legalism of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Yet, even while the people of God suffered under the lash of Roman rule, God still had a remnant.

Simeon’s song is a good summary of the meaning of Christmas. In the span of these few words, promise and fulfillment collide to tell the story of Christ’s Advent. It tells us at least six things about the glorious hope of Christmas:

  1. This child fulfilled the promises of old

He was the promised consolation of Israel. God had fulfilled his Word and now Simeon could die in peace. Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and is the key to understanding the Bible. He is second Adam who emerged, unlike the first Adam, without sin. He is the true Moses, who has gone into the promised land to prepare a place for his people. He is the true priest who is both our great high priest and the sacrifice itself. He is the final King, the promised relative of David and the ultimate heir to his throne. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the old covenant promises.

  1. This child brought salvation to all peoples

God has sent his son as a Savior for all peoples, both Jews and Gentiles. He was a light for the Gentiles, who had formerly walked in darkness. As the apostle Paul put in Ephesians 2:12-13, the Gentiles previously were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, those who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

God’s ethnic people already had God’s revelation and are the people through whom the Savior came. There is now one people of God. Christ has broken down the wall of separation that once divided Jew and Gentile and has made for himself one people out of two. J. C. Ryle’s words are poignant here:

The spiritual darkness which had covered the earth for four thousand years was about to be rolled away. The way to pardon and peace with God was about to be thrown open to all mankind. The head of Satan was crushed. Liberty was about to be proclaimed to the captives, and recovering of the sight to the blind. The mighty truth was about to be proclaimed that God could be just, and yet, for Christ’s sake, justify the ungodly … The first stone of God’s kingdom was about to be set up. If this was not ‘good tidings,’ there never were tidings that deserved the name.

  1. This child was appointed for the rise and fall of many

Christ’s arrival is good news. He is appointed for the rise — or literally, the resurrection — of many in Israel. Christ is the savor of life for those who believe in him (2 Cor. 2:14-16). Many who were once alienated from God by sin will now flee to him and find reconciliation with God. This is the good news of Christmas. Just as Christ raised Lazarus after he had been dead for many days, so will many sinners be raised to newness of life by the Son of God who is fully God and fully man. This good news links the Christmas story with Easter and shows how one is incomplete without the other.

While the good news rescues many, it is a word of judgment for the disbelieving world. God appointed Jesus for the fall (lit. “ruin”) of many. He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense for all who reject him as Lord and Savior.

  1. This child would be a sign that is opposed

He would be a mark for all the fiery darts of the evil one. He would be despised and rejected by men. This child and his people would be a city set upon a hill, attacked and hated on every side by all kinds of men throughout the centuries. He would wind up reviled, rejected, and blasphemed, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. In their depravity, sinful men oppose this promised one. Thus, since Scripture here predicts that many will oppose Christ, we should not be surprised when the majority of those around us do not follow him. Love and compassion should compel us to keep praying and proclaiming.

  1. This child was born to die

Here is the good news of the gospel in miniature. How? Simeon foretells the sorrow that will come upon the Virgin Mary, picturing it as a deep-cutting and heart-piercing sword. This was fulfilled when she stood by the cross and saw her son hanging there, bearing the sin of his people. But her sorrow would turn to joy, for Mary was a sinner in need of grace every bit as much as we are. The sword that pierced her through in the death of her son turned out to be the salvation of her soul. The light has indeed shone in the darkness.

  1. This child would reveal sinfulness of human hearts

The gospel reveals the true heart of all people. Preaching the cross provokes anger and enmity in some, but agony over sin and repentance unto life in others. To some, it only increases the opposition and culpability, it further hardens their hearts; to others, it brings light to a dark place. To these, Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 4:6 are precious: “For God, who said, Let Light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

For some, Christ is the light of the world; to others, he is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. Many who are righteous in their own eyes will have the truth about their hearts revealed in the light of Christ.

Go tell it

Simeon’s gospel is the good news of Bethlehem and Golgotha. The story of Christmas is never complete without Good Friday and Easter. This Advent season, as we gather to celebrate the Incarnation of our Lord, sing the song of Simeon far and wide — especially to those who still walk in the darkness.

Source: Six ways the cradle points to the cross

December 25 The Purpose of Christ’s Exaltation

“God highly exalted Him … to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9, 11


When the Son is glorified, so is the Father.

The purpose of Christ’s exaltation is to glorify God. Philippians 2:11 says Jesus will be acknowledged as Lord “to the glory of God the Father.” In Isaiah 45:5 God says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.” None can be compared to God. He does not ask anyone for advice. He knows all and does exactly what He wants to do. All His purposes come to pass.

In light of who God says He is, one might assume that it would be blasphemous for everyone to bow to Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord. To so honor Christ would seem to put Him in competition with the Father.

But the mystery of the Trinity is that when the Son is glorified, the Father is glorified. Perfect glory given to the Son is perfect glory given to the Father. John 5:23 says the Father has given all judgment to the Son “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” That’s why the Father said of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5). When you believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord, you exalt not only the Son but also the Father. There is no competition within the Trinity. The Father is exalted by what He accomplishes in the Son. They are one.

What a joy to know that our confessing of Jesus as Lord glorifies God. Let’s continue to glorify Him as Lord by bearing spiritual fruit in our lives (see John 15:8).


Suggestions for Prayer: Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Whatever you ask in Christ’s name, do so by acknowledging His sovereignty and desiring that God be glorified.

For Further Study: What do Romans 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:28, and John 13:31–32 show about the glory of the Father and the Son?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Who is Jesus?

Anyone who wants a biblical perspective on who Jesus is will find the following short list of descriptive words concerning his life and testimony, useful in identifying true followers of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is described as:

-Despised and rejected of men.

-A man of sorrows

-Acquainted with grief





-Falsely accused

-Opposing the religious power structure

-Performer of miracles

-Bringing people back from the dead

-Not motivated by money

-Not politically correct

-Believing in individual empowerment of God



-Teaching people to trust God not man

-Preaching repentance from sin

-Publicly executed

-Resurrected from the dead

-Ascending into heaven

This is of course a very short list; however, a novice reader of the Bible will find these descriptions to be very clear and emphasized throughout the first four books of the New Testament (also referred to as the Gospels).  Yet, that same novice reader may not see any of these descriptions in the modern-day American church or in society.  Of course, there are always exceptions to this observation as God has always had a remnant of people who were true to Him and kept His law and Word!  As a matter of fact, it was through these people (the minority in all cases) that we see God working in the most powerful and miraculous ways whether it was dividing the red sea or ascending into Heaven, God has always had true worshippers and followers and I believe that this is still the case today.  So, where are they?

Will the true believers in America please stand up?

Is America church suffering an identity crisis regarding faith in Jesus Christ! After all, Christian means to ‘be like Christ,’ implying that those who call themselves Christians are like Christ.  Are Christians in America really like Christ?  Do the prominent religious leaders in America exhibit the attributes of Jesus Christ as referenced above?  Or is the American church more accurately described as ‘lukewarm?’  What does the Christian in America find his or her identity in 2019?  Spiritual warfare as described in the scripture teaches us that there will always be entities seeking to draw away a believer from their faith in Jesus Christ, in other words competing for the soul of an individual.  In our society today, it is evident that people are finding their identity outside of faith in Jesus Christ such as politics, materialistic ideals, sexual identity, social media, financial gain, career, and even in religion.

What would Jesus do (wwjd) if he were to walk into a (name your denominational church) service if indeed he was allowed to?  Or, would Jesus start over throwing tables and pews, while driving out all the parishioners, pastors and elders, with a scourge of small cords?  The scripture gives us warning about ‘having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof’ this seems to more accurately describe the state of the American church in 2019.  Perhaps the modern church in America has become to ‘organizationally – focused’ as opposed to biblical ministry – focused.

According to the scripture, believers of Jesus Christ are to come out from the ways of the world and be separate, that the love of money is the root of all evil, that the friendship of the world is the enemy of God.  These are the things that are written in our Bibles, but are we hearing these things from the pulpit?  If not, then what are learning in church?  The church in America seems to be a little too cozy with the world, is the world is becoming more ‘churchy’, and the church becoming more ‘worldly’?  Does the church in America know who Jesus is?

Image of Jesus is from the Cathedral of Cefalù,

Source: Who is Jesus?

Was Charles Spurgeon Grinchy?

It’s true. Charles Spurgeon had a love/hate relationship with Christmas. In seventeenth-century England, Christmas was often associated with moral laxity and splurging. The Puritans resisted the Roman Catholic flavor of the festivities, and so did Spurgeon. Like his predecessors, the preacher often played the Scrooge and humbugged the holiday.

“Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because [it is] not of divine authority.”

“Many would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner, if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness.”

“If there be any day in the year of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December.”

But Spurgeon also loved Christmas. He preached at least twelve sermons on Christmas.

“I wish there were twenty Christmas days in the year.”

Victorian Christmas

When Spurgeon’s grandfather was a boy, Christmas had fallen out of fashion among low-church traditions. However, as a child in the 1840s, Charles saw a total revitalization of the holiday in his nation. Spurgeon was nine years old when Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol ­– a story highlighting the struggles of the working class and put a premium on generosity and selflessness. Spurgeon loved this bestselling story and even purchased a copy to include in his personal library.

Spurgeon and Dickens both understood the difficulties of their day and worked hard to help the marginalized. They both also shared an intimate knowledge of London’s poverty-stricken Southwark. In fact, Dickens’s father was imprisoned only a few blocks from where Spurgeon’s New Park Street Chapel stood (not far from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre).

When Spurgeon was fourteen years old, Queen Victoria and her German husband, Albert, brought new life to Christmas. In 1848, The Illustrated London News published a picture of the royal family gathered around a Christmas tree. When he moved to London in 1854, Spurgeon’s puritanical reservations about Christmas were confronted with a new emphasis: the importance of family.

“Though I have no respect to the religious observance of the day, yet I love it as a family institution.”

“God forbid I should be such a Puritan as to proclaim the annihilation of any day of rest which falls to the lot of the labouring man. I wish there were a half-a-dozen holidays in the year.”

Throughout Spurgeon’s adulthood, the celebration of Christmas – like England itself – evolved. Newly laid railroads allowed Victorians to travel home for the holiday. Toys, once handmade, could now be mass-produced. Because of the Penny Post, Christmas cards could be mailed cheaply. The Victorians loved their turkeys. Butchers often hung the birds outside their shops throughout the last few weeks of December. Local markets even allowed customers to deposit money throughout the year into a personal Christmas fund.

Spurgeon participated in holiday festivities and celebrated Christmas Day with the children at his orphanage. He even dressed up like Santa Claus and personally distributed Christmas gifts to his orphans. But most of all, Spurgeon leveraged the holiday for the gospel. He saw Christmas as an opportunity to tell an old story about the “the grandest light in history” – a Light that dawned only decades before the sun first shone on the new fort of Londonium in AD 43.

Here are a few thoughts to remember as you, like Spurgeon, celebrate Christmas:

1. Remember the Miracle of Christmas.

“The Infinite has become the infant.”

“Mary took the Lord in her arms; oh that you may bear him in yours.”

“Ah Christians, ring the bells of your hearts, fire the salute of your most joyous songs, ‘Unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given.’ Dance, O my heart, and ring out peals of gladness! Ye drops of blood within my veins, dance every one of you! Oh! all my nerves become harp strings, and let gratitude touch you with angelic fingers.”

2. Remember the Message of Christmas.

“For this child is not born to you unless you are born to this child.”

“The birth of Christ should be the subject of supreme joy.”

“No forms of etiquette are required in entering a stable. . . . So, if you desire to come to Christ you may come to him just as you are.”

“Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Saviour, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him.”

“Never mind what the past has been; he can forget and forgive.”

3. Remember the Meaning of Christmas.

“When God stoops down to man it must mean that man is to be lifted up to God.”

“Behold, how rich and how abundant are the provisions, which God has made for the high festival which he would have his servants keep, not now and then, but all the days of their lives!”

“O blessed thought! the Star of Bethlehem shall never set. Jesus, the fairest among ten thousand, the most lovely among the beautiful, is a joy forever.”

4. Remember the Mission of Christmas.

“Come, then; I will try and argue with you, to induce you to do so, that I may send you home this Christmas-day, to be missionaries in the localities to which you belong, and to be real preachers, though you are not so by name.”

“When you are at home on Christmas-day, let no one see your face till God has seen it. Be up in the morning, wrestle with God; and if your friends are not converted, wrestle with God for them.”

“You must then keep this Christmas by telling to your fellow-men what God’s own holy Spirit has seen fit to reveal to you.”

“It is not office, it is earnestness; it is not position, it is grace which will enable us to glorify God.”

“Tell out what God has written within. . . . There is the little cluster round the hearth on Christmas night, there is the little congregation in the workshop, there is a little audience somewhere to whom you might tell out of Jesus’ love to lost ones.”

5. Remember the Ministry of Christmas.

“Express your joy, first, as the angels did, by public ministry.”

“Now, old gentleman, you won’t take your son in: he has offended you. Fetch him at Christmas. . . . Make peace in your family.”

“If you have room for Christ, then from this day forth remember, the world has no room for you.”

“I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. . . . Set an example to others how to behave on that day, and especially since the angels gave glory to God: let us do the same.”

“Find something wherewith to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, and make glad the mourner. Remember, it is good will towards men. Try, if you can, to show them goodwill at this special season; and if you will do that, the poor will say with me, that indeed they wish there were six Christmases in the year.”

“If we are angry all the year round, this next week shall be an exception; that if we have snarled at everybody last year, this Christmas time we will strive to be kindly affectionate to others; and if we have lived all this year at enmity with God, I pray that by his Spirit he may this week give us peace with him. . . . I will say no more, except at the close of this sermon to wish every one of you, when the day shall come, the happiest Christmas you ever had in your lives.”

Jesus is Born to You. Are You Born to him?

Spurgeon’s most popular Christmas sermon is “A Christmas Question.” In it, he makes a bold statement:

“This child is not born to you unless you are born to this child.”

The true meaning of Christmas is not found in Christmas trees, ornaments, wrapped gifts, Santa, or even in the joy of families coming together. The true meaning of Christmas is Jesus Christ without whom there could be no joy. Spurgeon would have each us consider the cost of Christmas. Christ has been born to you; are you born to him?

This post appears courtesy of The Spurgeon Center at Midwestern Seminary.

Source: Was Charles Spurgeon Grinchy?

Dr. William Lane Craig answers questions about Jesus in the New York Times


William Lane Craig lecturing to university students William Lane Craig lecturing to university students at Purdue University

Nicholas Kristof, a secular leftist writer for the New York Times, is interested in Jesus, but he doesn’t want a Jesus who can perform miracles. He decided to ask the best living philosphical theologian, Dr. William Lane Craig, some questions. As you’ll see, Dr. Craig’s answers to his questions are perfect for the secular left audience of the New York Times.

Before we start looking at the questions and answers, I want to mention one important point. When discussing Christianity, it’s very important that Christians not allow the atheist to nitpick about minor details of Christian history or Christian theology. The Christian needs to ALWAYS redirect the discussion to the question of God’s existence. There, we are strongly supported by mainstream science. Only when the skeptic accepts a Creator and Designer can we allow ourselves to be moved on…

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December 25 Daily Help

WE esteem every day alike, but still, as the season suggests thoughts of Jesus, let us joyfully remember our dear Redeemer’s glorious birth. Who but He was ever longed for by such a multitude of hearts? When did angels indulge in midnight songs, or did God hang a new star in the sky? To whose cradle did rich and poor make so willing a pilgrimage, and offer such hearty and unsought oblations? Well may earth rejoice; well may all men cease their labor to celebrate “the great birthday” of Jesus. Let gladness rule the hour; let holy song and sweet heart music accompany our soul in the raptures of joy.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 363). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

The Controversial Birth of Jesus — The Aquila Report

If any law of science is established as immutable and unbreakable, it is that human reproduction is not possible without the conjoining of the male seed and the female egg. We may have developed sophisticated methods of artificial insemination and “test- tube” intrauterine implantations, but in some manner the reproduction process requires the contribution of both genders of the race to succeed.


The records of Jesus’ life and ministry cause controversy from the very start. The extraordinary narrative of the circumstances surrounding His conception and birth provokes howls of protest from the critics of supernaturalism. They must begin their work of demythologizing early, wielding scissors on the first page of the New Testament. Following Matthew’s table of genealogy, the first paragraph of the first Gospel reads as follows: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18).

Though the New Testament is replete with miracles surrounding the person of Jesus, none seems more offensive to modern man than the virgin birth. If any law of science is established as immutable and unbreakable, it is that human reproduction is not possible without the conjoining of the male seed and the female egg. We may have developed sophisticated methods of artificial insemination and “test- tube” intrauterine implantations, but in some manner the reproduction process requires the contribution of both genders of the race to succeed.

Thus, the birth of Jesus violates the inviolable; it mutates the immutable; it breaks the unbreakable. It is alleged to be an act that is pure and simple contra naturam. Before we even read of the activities of Jesus’ life, we are thrust headfirst against this claim. Many skeptics close the door on further investigation after reading the first page of the record. The story sounds too much like magic, too much like the sort of myth and legend that tends to grow up around the portraits of famous people.

The arguments against the virgin birth are many. They range from the charge of borrowing mythical baggage from the Greek-speaking world, with parallels evident in pagan mythology (Ovid’s Metamorphosis is cited as “Exhibit A”), to the scientific disclaimer that the virgin birth represents an empirically unverifiable unique event that denies all probability quotients. Some have offered a desperate exegetical argument trying to show that the New Testament doesn’t teach the idea of virgin birth. This we call the exegesis of despair.

The real problem is that of miracle. It doesn’t stop with the birth of Jesus but follows Him through His life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. The life of Jesus carries the aura of miracle wherever it is described in the primary sources. A “de-miraclized” Jesus is not the biblical Jesus, but the invention of those who cannot abide the biblical proclamation. Such a Jesus is the Jesus of unbelief, the most mythical Jesus of all, conjured up to fit the preconceived molds of unbelief.

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The Controversial Birth of Jesus — The Aquila Report

Iraq makes Christmas Day an official nationwide holiday to mark ‘the birth of Jesus Christ’

The Iraqi cabinet has approved an amendment to the national holidays law which makes December 25 a public holiday for everyone, whereas it had previously been one only for Christians.

Source: Iraq makes Christmas Day an official nationwide holiday to mark ‘the birth of Jesus Christ’

Here Are Europe’s Most Terrifying Christmas Traditions

Authored by Joshua Gill via The Daily Caller,

  • While Santa Claus is a universally known Christmas figure, other more fiendish characters feature in Christmas traditions throughout Europe.
  • These terrifying characters are largely holdovers from pre-Christian paganism, some of them even once being worshiped as deities.
  • The characters are believed to punish children for misbehavior with death or beatings, cutting an odd figure next to Christ’s offer of mercy and grace.

The Christmas spirit usually banishes fear, but in some countries Christmas brings fear in abundance, trading Santa for ravenous ghouls who feast on children.

The story of the Magi’s visit to Jesus Christ and the historical figure of St. Nicholas gave rise to the tradition of gift giving during the commemoration of Christ’s birth. Holdovers from European paganism, however, introduced traditions of terror and retribution alongside what is otherwise a celebration of the hope of divine mercy and grace for all mankind in Christ.

Here are some of those terrifying Christmas traditions of Europe, sure to frighten children into good behavior as though their lives depended on it.


Germany may well have the largest number of creepy Christmas traditions, and Frau Perchta takes the cake as the most macabre. Perchta, also known as Berchta or Percht, is an ancient Alpine Pagan goddess whose followers would don masks of her likeness and wear them in public processions as her entourage, to ward off evil spirits and ghosts, from the last week in December to January 6. When the Germanic regions were Christianized, Frau Perchta and her processions remained as part of Christmas traditions in Bavaria and Austria — traditions that continue to this day.

Participants dressed as Perchten roam village streets to chase away evil winter spirits in the annual Perchten gathering in Bavaria on November 29, 2014 near Kirchseeon, Germany. Perchten are the mythical entourage of Perchta, a goddess in ancient southern German alpine pagan tradition, and are usually fearsome creatures with tusks and horns and covered in hair. The tradition dates back at least to the 16th century and is also related to traditions of Krampus, Teifel, Klausen and La Befana, all animal-like creatures in the German, Austrian, Italian and Swiss alpine regions whose duties include instilling fear into naughty children. (Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images)

According to legend, Frau Perchta visits children between Christmas and the feast of Epiphany. She rewards good children with a silver coin, but if they had misbehaved she would disembowel them and stuff them with straw where their organs had been.


Iceland is second in the running for the European country with the most threatening Christmas myths, and Grýla is mother to them all. Grýla is a troll who features in Icelandic mythology.  She, like Frau Perchta, remained after the Christianization of Iceland and became connected with Christmas tradition, in part because of her connection with the pagan celebration of Yule. Now the she-troll is said to be able to detect misbehaving children all year long, and that at Christmas time she leaves her home in the mountains to sate her insatiable appetite for the flesh of children.

She searches towns for misbehaving children, kidnaps them, brings them back to her home and boils them alive to make a stew.

Gryla and her husband (Creative Commons)

Songs and epic poems dating as far back as the 13th century speak to the gruesome horror of Grýla.

“Down comes Grýla from the outer fields / With forty tails / A bag on her back, a sword / knife in her hand, / Coming to carve out the stomachs of the children / Who cry for meat during Lent,” reads one poem, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Brian Pilkington, an illustrator, said that for children in Iceland, the legend isn’t just fun and games.

“Children are truly terrified of Grýla in Iceland,” says Pilkington, according to Smithsonian Magazine. “I’ve visited children’s playschools to demonstrate drawing skills and if I draw Grýla then two or three terrified children have to leave the room because it’s too strong for them. This is living folklore.”

Grýla was no laughing matter for early Icelandic people either.

Terry Gunnell, the head of the University of Iceland’s Folkloristics Department, said that before Grýla was associated with Christmas, she was “associated with a threat that lives in the mountains” and “really a personification of the winter and the darkness and the snow getting closer and taking over the land again.”

To make matters worse, Grýla is the matriarch of a family of creatures that join her in preying on or harassing townspeople. One of those creatures is a giant cat named Jólakötturinn.


Jólakötturinn is Grýla’s giant, predatory cat. The beast roams the streets of towns during Christmas time and is said to maul and devour anyone who isn’t wearing new clothes, giving rise to the tradition of buying socks or long johns around Christmas in Iceland. Some historians believe that tales of the cat may have been invented to make people work harder during the holiday season, as those who work more could afford to buy new clothing, according to EMGN.com.


Belsnickel is believed to be a companion of St. Nicholas. Legends of Belsnickel originated in Southwestern Germany in the Middle Ages. He appears either clad from head to toe in fur, or simply disguised with his face entirely obscured. He brings gifts of candies and sweets for children in one hand and a switch in the other. In some traditions he gives the candy to good children and leaves a switch with bad children, while in other traditions he scatters the candy on the ground, waits for children to scramble forward and pick up the candy, then switches their backs while they gather candy. The switch is believed to bestow some sort of charm.

Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson, dressed as the Belsnickel in the hit television show The Office (YouTube screenshot/ The Office US)


Krampus is another of Germany’s fear-based Christmas traditions, spreading terror where St. Nicholas spreads joy. The Krampus is in fact a sort of anti-St. Nicholas, and while St. Nicholas is an agent of God’s goodness, Krampus is a vicious “half goat, half demon” beast, believed to be the spawn of the Hel, the Norse goddess of death, according to National Geographic.

His whole body is covered in hair, his head is horned like the devil, his mouth is full of fangs, and his long, red, slavering tongue hangs out of his mouth like an extra appendage. This creature leaves the rewarding of good children to St. Nicholas, and prefers instead to hunt down bad children, beat them, stuff them in his sack, and abscond with them back to his lair. The demonic, pagan beast comes for his quarry on Dec. 5, known as Krampusnacht.

Men dressed as “Krampus”, a half-goat, half-demon figure that punishes people who misbehaved during Christmas season, take part in an event in Boerwang, southern Germany, on November 24, 2018. (KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Krampus also makes an appearance in Krampuslauf, also known as the Krampus Run, when men dress as the goat demon and prowl the streets of Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia to scare children witless.

Whatever your beliefs are about these distinctly pagan, retribution-based additions to the celebration of Christ’s birth, one thing is certain — they put Elf on the Shelf to shame.

Source: Here Are Europe’s Most Terrifying Christmas Traditions

Christmas’ Call to Humility — The Cripplegate

It’s hard to grasp just how humble Jesus was. The Creator of the universe, in a womb He created! Born in a poor family, in a insignificant town, in a dirty manger! And only worshipped by some poor shepherds and a few wise men!

The Creator of the universe’s main reason for coming was to save sinners, but He also teaches those repentant sinners how to live. And that is to emulate His humility.

We live in a day and age that worships self-promotion. We are told that in order to be successful we must build a following, we must manage other people, and have nicer things than our neighbor. All in order to exalt ourselves above those around us.

But overt pride does stick out even in our day. Whether it is politicians or athletes who think of themselves as demi-gods, humility sticks out like a sore thumb.

Perhaps, the best reminder I need this Christmas is that Jesus was the opposite. The best gift I can give myself and my family this Christmas is by following Jesus’ example in Philippians 2:6-8. Paul gives us four reasons why Jesus’ humility is so shocking and worth emulating.

The first reason Jesus’ humility was so shocking is because He was DIVINE.

“…who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6).

He was THE God. He didn’t become God. He wasn’t merely human. He wasn’t part god and part human. He was truly man and truly God. He always existed, never had a beginning, and now He was lying in a manger unable to talk, walk, or feed Himself.

I, an insignificant human, have a hard time withstanding any discomfort, while Jesus, the divine God withstood incredible blasphemy and suffering in his coming to earth.

The Bible tells us that Jesus DENIED Himself

“…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,andbeing made in the likeness of men…”

Jesus deserved worship. Instead, we see him mistreated. He continually deprived himself of divine rights. Despite being eternally great allowed himself to suffer harm. Despite enjoying an eternally perfect fellowship and perfect love with the Godhead, emptied himself and came to earth.

Incessantly while earth, he denied himself of his divine rights, the greatest example of which, while on the cross he forsook his privilege of having angels remove him from the cross and strike down the men who hurt him, all for the sake of those who would put their faith in Him, some of which were present that day.

I have a hard time denying myself anything, and am constantly thinking that I deserve things that I don’t truly deserve, while Jesus who deserves everything lowers himself to suffer like a criminal on the cross for me.

The Bible also lets us know that he DEGRADED himself.

…Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [hon a cross.

Here He was in human flesh. Acquainted with sinners, but being completely sinless. He lived for thirty years in obscurity. The one who deserved the worship of angels and every living thing was neglected and ignored for thirty years. He lived with a woman who was probably thought of as adulterous. And then went on to die the most shameful death. Despite deserving glory, He suffered great shame.

We unworthy sinners have a hard time withstanding any humiliation, but Jesus embraced it for the sake of our salvation. It is hard for us to serve anyone without getting something in return, but here Jesus is serving and becoming the slave of sinful humanity!

The final reason why His shocking humility is worth emulating is because He served all the way to DEATH.

This baby, born in a manger, was born to die. And He didn’t die for good people who were worth dying for. He died for people who were unworthy.

Some people might consider dying for good people, but, as the Bible says, no one on earth would die for their enemies. Jesus died for people who were openly at war with him, whose crime was worthy of eternal damnation. (Rom. 5:7)

Christmas is a call to humility. It is a call to die to yourself and to serve those around you, including your enemies.

If you don’t know Jesus, the best thing you can do is to humble yourself and ask Him to save you. If you do know Him, then follow in His footsteps and humble yourself and ask Him to help you serve those around you.

This Christmas, the best gift to receive is the gift of humility.

Merry Christmas from the Cripplegate!

Christmas’ Call to Humility — The Cripplegate