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[Cfamily]Iceland Needs a Brighter Christmas Story
« Reply #1496 on: December 24, 2019, 12:00:10 AM »

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Iceland Needs a Brighter Christmas Story

The bizarre myths of “Jól” fail to offer the hope and joy of the true Christmas story.

At this time of year, Christians turn to the prophecy from Isaiah: “For unto us a child is born …” (9:6), as we celebrate the Incarnation as a fulfillment of Scripture’s promises of hope and redemption.

Around Christmas in Reykjavík, Iceland, the sun rises at about noon and sets at about 3:30 p.m. As I take a midday walk in the dark, with Christmas lights on balconies and windows in my neighborhood illuminating the way, I think of the line from earlier in the chapter: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (9:2, ESV). The metaphor is particularly striking for those of us who spend the winter in darkness.

Here, the Christmas holiday is called Jól, or Yule as some foreigners may recognize. There’s no fight over putting Christ back into Christmas, as even the word Jól has no connotation to Christianity at all. It can be traced back to at least pagan times, when it described the winter solstice festival; later, when Christianity came to the Nordic countries, it was used to refer to Christmas.

Few of our holiday songs recount the birth of Jesus. Instead, we sing about getting presents, holiday romance in the air, and characters in our own distinct traditions, which—as in a lot of Nordic countries—range from comical to bizarre. Besides a Santa Claus (with his familiar white beard and red suit), Iceland has the 13 Yule lads, brothers that live in the mountains and start heading into the city 13 days before Christmas, one by one.

These are mischievous pranksters, with names that coincide with their favorite ways of harassing the population: breaking into homes to steal ...

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[Cfamily]Turning Innovation into a “Kingdom Something”
« Reply #1497 on: December 25, 2019, 12:00:11 AM »
Turning Innovation into a “Kingdom Something”

When the kingdom innovates, we see creative reframing, practical obedience, Spirit-led decision-making, fruitful action, humble leadership, and faithful planning.

(Note: This article is a summary of a 6-month discussion about Kingdom Innovation between Jon Hirst and Dr. J.D. Payne that has been documented in a series of six videos available at

What really happens when you add the word “kingdom” to a common practice? Does crowning it a kingdom activity somehow make it more holy or righteous simply through its classification? If a kingdom activity is to be truly different, it can’t simply be a matter of what it is called.

But what makes something a “kingdom something”? Are there certain characteristics or practices that set it apart?

We believe there are. And by understanding these characteristics, we can approach our work in that area in a way that aligns us with God and his great mission.

Three things come to mind.

First, kingdom work has a clear understanding of the mission at hand. Chris Wright describes mission as “Our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.”

Second, kingdom work is defined by holy living. It is not enough to do the right thing; kingdom work requires that we do the right thing for the right reasons.

Third, kingdom work is propelled by the Spirit. We cannot do kingdom work without the Holy Spirit’s power and provision.

This is why grace is so critical. We cannot perform to the standards of kingdom activities. Instead, we must submit our desire to be on mission and our commitment to holy living in submission to the Holy Spirit’s power.

Over the past six months we have been on a journey to explore the concept of “Kingdom Innovation.” ...

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[Cfamily]9 Common Myths Christians Believe at Christmas
« Reply #1498 on: December 26, 2019, 12:00:16 AM »
9 Common Myths Christians Believe at Christmas

Many myths have been added to the greatest story ever told.

Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, because it calls our attention to one of the most beautiful teachings of Scripture—the Incarnation of Christ.

When you realize the incredible truths behind the reality that God came and dwelt among us, it can’t help but impact the way you live. Plus, it’s an awesome reminder that God kept his promises from the Old Testament to send a Messiah to rescue his people from their sins.

However, since that time, many myths have been added to the greatest story ever told.

Here are nine common myths Christians believe at Christmas:

First, the Bible says that Jesus was born On December 25.

It’s the age-old question, “Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday?” The answer is that we really don’t know when his actual birthday was. The Bible doesn’t tell us an exact date.

So, it begs the question, “How did Christmas land on December 25th?” Some historians believe that it was a Christian reaction to a Roman pagan holiday, while others believe the date is a response to the traditional date of Jesus’ crucifixion in March. Honestly, we don’t really know when Jesus was born, however, two things are certain—Jesus was born of a virgin, and the Bible doesn’t give us an exact date.

Second, the Bible says Mary rode into Bethlehem on a donkey.

An extremely pregnant Mary riding into town on a donkey is definitely a common myth most Christians believe is in the Bible. Now, she very well could have made the 65-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a donkey.

Nevertheless, the account of this story in Luke 2:1–6 does not specifically teach this. Nevertheless, we all should consider how tough Mary was to make this trip ...

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[Cfamily]The Flag in the Whirlwind: An Update from CT’s President
« Reply #1499 on: December 27, 2019, 12:00:15 AM »
The Flag in the Whirlwind: An Update from CT’s President

Why our editor in chief spoke out against Trump, and why the conversation must continue.

Reader responses to Mark Galli’s recent editorial have spanned the spectrum. We have received countless notes of encouragement from readers who were profoundly moved. They no longer feel alone. They have hope again. Many have told us of reading the editorial with tears in their eyes, sharing it with children who have wandered from the faith, rejoicing that at last someone was articulating what they felt in their hearts. They felt this was a watershed moment in the history of the American church—or they hoped it would prove to be. Stay strong, they told us, knowing we were about to reap the whirlwind.

On the other hand, we have heard from many readers who felt incensed and insulted. These readers felt the editorial engaged in character assassination, or maligned a broad swath of our fellow evangelicals, or revealed that we prefer the Democrats to a President who has done a lot of good for causes we all care about.

Of course, we appreciate the support and listen humbly to the criticisms. But at the end of the day, we write for a readership of One. God is our Tower. Let the whirlwind come.

President Donald Trump would have you believe we are “far left.” Others have said we are not Bible-believing Christians. Neither is true. Christianity Today is theologically conservative. We are pro-life and pro-family. We are firm supporters of religious liberties and economic opportunity for men and women to exercise their gifts and create value in the world. We believe in the authority of Scripture.

We are also a global ministry. We travel the world and see the breadth and depth of what God is doing through his people all around the planet. It is beautiful, and breathtaking, and immense. The global Body of Christ—and ...

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Source: The Flag in the Whirlwind: An Update from CT’s President

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[Cfamily]Imigrantes de Natal: Um Conto por Max Lucado
« Reply #1500 on: December 28, 2019, 12:00:20 AM »
Imigrantes de Natal: Um Conto por Max Lucado

Em pleno Natal, uma família refugiada foge do perigo.


Apenas a luz da lua os iluminava. O único som que se ouvia era das respirações ofegantes. José andava na frente. A trilha era estreita. Ele não queria que sua esposa tropeçasse. Ela carregava o bebê. Ele se ofereceria para ajudá-la, mas ela recusaria.

“Ele está dormindo”, ela explicou.

“Deixe-o dormir”, concordou.

Então, eles se apressaram; José os guiando, todos os seus bens amontoados na mochila que ele havia comprado de um vendedor ambulante em Caracas. Isso foi há semanas atrás. Quantos ônibus e caronas desde então? Quantos quilômetros? Quantas noites frias?

Ele olhou por cima do ombro. Os olhos dela encontraram os dele. Será que ele viu um sorriso em seu rosto? Essa mulher é realmente diferente, ele disse para si mesmo. Sua atenção está novamente na trilha. Arbustos de ambos os lados arranhavam seus jeans.

Atrás deles havia um vilarejo. Dentro do vilarejo havia um celeiro. No chão daquele celeiro, a palha amontoada e a cocheira abandonada que servira de berço para o bebê.

A criança choramingou. José parou.

“Ele está bem”, Maria assegurou José, antes que ele pudesse perguntar.

Eles continuaram.

A trilha terminava em um rio que há muito havia secado; seu curso havia sido desviado para um pequeno açude, em um rancho. O leito seco e amplo do rio lhes permitia caminhar lado a lado. Sem maiores dificuldades, eles se moviam ainda mais rápido. Ele desata a mochila. Ela segura a criança. Estavam perto de uma estrada asfaltada, segundo ...

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Source: Imigrantes de Natal: Um Conto por Max Lucado

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[Cfamily]C. S. Lewis Was a Grinch
« Reply #1501 on: December 29, 2019, 12:00:20 AM »
C. S. Lewis Was a Grinch

The writer loved the Incarnation. Not so much the Christmas holiday.

“If there were less good will,” C. S. Lewis often said in December correspondence, “then we might have more peace on earth.” Lewis found no pleasure in the giving of generic winter cards, gift guilting, and the overall hurried pace of the Christmas season.

Lewis went from saying “I hope I am not a Scrooge” in a letter in 1952 to admitting his “real name is Scrooge” in another letter in 1956. In short, C. S. Lewis wasn’t a fan of the most wonderful time of the year. This attitude only intensified as he aged.

When I visited Lewis’s home parish, Holy Trinity Church in England, an elderly woman working the small gift shop inside remarked that she knew Lewis when she was a child. “He was a grumpy old man,” she told me.

Many consider C. S. Lewis a warm symbol of holiday cheer, particularly given his inclusion of Father Christmas in the Narnia stories. Yet the more I read by Lewis on the topic of Christmas, the more I’m reminded of my conversation with the clerk at Holy Trinity Church.

One of the most comical examples of Lewis’s disdain comes from his essay “Delinquents in the Snow,” which begins with his thoughts on Christmas carolers:


At my front they are, once every year, the voices of the local choir … those of boys or children who have not even tried to learn to sing, or to memorize the words of the piece they are murdering. The instruments they play with real conviction are the door-bell and the knocker; and money is what they are after.

Another essay lays bare Lewis’s lack of seasonal zeal by the fitting title, “What Christmas Means to Me.” Lewis condemned the season for giving more pain than pleasure, for forcing ...

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What Mary Knew: Spreading Christmas Cheer by Singing Loudly for All to Hear

Mary’s song of Christmas cheer is one of joy and hope and she reminds the audience that God is in the process of turning an upside-down world back right side up.

Buddy the Elf has a principle for spreading Christmas cheer. If you’ve seen the movie ELF, you may recall it: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear.”

I couldn’t agree more with his assessment of spreading Christmas cheer. I love Christmas songs. In fact, I’m one of those weird ones that start listening to Christmas songs even before Thanksgiving. One of my favorite Christmas songs of all time is, “Mary Did You Know?”

I’m sure that when Mary received the news regarding her miraculous baby she didn’t know the extent to what her baby would eventually do.

However, Mary, after having received the news and visiting Elizabeth and Zechariah, she recites one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. It is in her Magnificat that Mary reverberates a Christmas cheer that has been handed down throughout the millennia and has been heard by millions throughout history.

And it is her song of praise, celebration, and worship (her Christmas cheer) that reveals to us what she did know. So, what did Mary know?

She knew God was great and was greatly to be praised.

The coming of Jesus, the birth order of Jesus, completely rocked Mary and Joseph’s world. In fact, he turned their lives upside down. They would not live a normal life—a life that they had been planning before Jesus’ arrival.

Yet, even after having their normal lives turned upside down, she sings, “My soul praises the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

She even goes on to assume that “all generations will call me blessed.” While this certainly would be true, it would take some time. Yet she believed that God was doing a great thing ...

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[Cfamily]Christianity Today’s Top News Headlines of 2019
« Reply #1503 on: December 31, 2019, 12:00:18 AM »
Christianity Today’s Top News Headlines of 2019

World Vision flips the script on child sponsorship, James MacDonald fired from Harvest Bible Chapel, and comedian John Crist cancels tour over sexual harassment allegations.

Grace glimmered through the darkness of 2019’s news headlines. Christianity Today’s most-read news pieces last year included high-profile tragedies and harrassment allegations, but also reporting on a theologian’s changed stance on divorce and a new model of child sponsorship. Here are CT’s top news headlines of 2019, listed from least to most popular.

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- compiled by CT editors

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Source: Christianity Today’s Top News Headlines of 2019

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