Absolutely free: The best deal this season

I am not a shopper by nature. I love to buy things. I love to go out, find that thing, purchase it and bring it home. But for some, the joy of finding it and finding it a good price almost surpasses the giving. Those are the shoppers. I am related to people like this and I love them.

But this is something that is such a great deal that both the shopper and the purchaser can be completely happy with it. Imagine getting something that will make you completely happy and satisfied for the rest of your life. For nothing. And, if you tried to buy it, you couldn’t afford it because it costs too much.

Yet this is precisely what God offers to us through Jesus Christ. It’s salvation. What did it cost God? Only the most precious thing to him, his son Jesus, who he loves more than anything. What did it cost Jesus? Everything. His life, his close relationship with his father. What does it cost you and me? Nothing. But it is ours for accepting it and believing Jesus is who he say he is.

In the Bible, in Romans 5:8, it says that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. There are no deserving people who receive this gift, only needy people who realize their need. I’m a needy person. And, because I know I got this gift even though I didn’t deserve it, I don’t want to act like I did deserve it. I want you to have this gift, too. I will guarantee you that there is nothing you get this Christmas that will make you as happy or satisfy you as much. Not even close.

Things break, wear out, get old, lose their appeal, become too small, get lost, don’t fit like they used to, get eaten, are spent and need to replaced. The joy is temporary. Salvation in Jesus will save your life (for eternity) and give you a joy that cannot be lost, no matter what happens in this life. I know too many things in this life that make what is supposed to be a happy time an unhappy time for too many people.

This is different. Jesus talked about what he offered and its worth when he said: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) It’s an offer we all have before us. No one is excluded.

What do you say? Do you want to get something really worth having this year?

A Twilight book review: Obsessive love

Tim Challies has written a helpful review of Twilight.
Tim Challies has written a helpful review of "Twilight."

Like many parents, I imagine, I was left clueless about the whole “Twilight” phenomenon. I was not aware of the books until only recently, and now there is a very popular movie in theaters. Thankfully, one of my most trusted book reviewers, Tim Challies, took some time to read “Twilight” and share his thoughts. For the most part, Challies thought the book (his wife read the rest of the series and will share her thoughts later) was well-written. What I found helpful as a parent were his thoughts about the relationship between the boy and girl:

While the love between the two of them is meant to be real, it also has a strange, unearthly quality to it. It also has an obsessive, idolatrous quality. Perhaps this is true of any love story, but I wonder whether girls are well-served by reading of a young woman who is so utterly consumed with her boyfriend that she seeks and desires and thinks of nothing else. She lies, she disobeys her parents, she does whatever is necessary to be with him. She is convinced that in this boy she will find her all-in-all. All she desires—to the point of wanting him to drink her blood so she, too, can be a vampire—is to be with him forever. She would rather be undead eternally than live without him.

At this point, with the movie out and the books having been around for awhile, it may be too late to consider if you’ve already jumped in. (An admission: My preteen son read the book and devoured it. When pressed, he said he was disappointed because he thought it would be something else.) Still, I would proceed cautiously if I had a young daughter who wanted to read it. Go here to read the full review by Challies. It’s very helpful for the very least in that it gives good discussion points you can have with children about what life values were displayed.

What are they teaching kids these days? Humane killing?

Wesley J. Smith posted this at Secondhand Smoke, to his credit. Smith got a little hot at the end, but his righteous anger is definitely justified when you consider the outrageous philosophy the administration at Princeton gives support to by their elevation of Peter Singer to an endowed bioethics chair.

Singer is an Australian philosopher who holds views that are, to say the least, appalling. From a 1999 article in the New York Times, Singer said: ”I do not think it is always wrong to kill an innocent human being. Simply killing an infant is never equivalent to killing a person.”

This was nearly 10 years ago, so why the fuss now? Well, because we are constantly facing issues in our society about the weak and defenseless in our society. What was outrageous in 1999 is now a fuzzy memory to some. Worse, people like Singer are now revered professors at treasured institutions, teaching young minds things that were criminal in years past. Those people are leaving those institutions and voting on critical issues. It matters.

Spiritual Gifts in the Body of Christ

The Holy Spirit is like a bodybuilder for the Body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is like a bodybuilder for the Body of Christ.

The Rev. Mark D. Roberts has been blogging a series about spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ. For those of you unfamiliar with who he is, Roberts is a pastor, author, retreat leader, speaker, and blogger. Since October 2007 he has been the Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, a multifacted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas.

About the series, Roberts writes: Little is more important for the health and growth of the body of Christ than the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in what we call spiritual gifts. Through such bits of grace, the Spirit builds the body of Christ. In fact, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say that the Holy Spirit is a bodybuilder. … Like a committed bodybuilder, the Spirit invests years–indeed, millennia–of effort to help the church grow to perfection. Of course ultimate perfection won’t come this side of the eschaton. But, in the meanwhile, the Spirit molds the church, using members of the church–people like you and me–in the process.

HT: Andrew Jackson

New Christmas music: Ten Out Of Tenn

The collection of talented artists who make up Ten Out of Tenn have made a beautiful, fun holiday album. Click on the image to go to the iTunes Store link.
The collection of talented artists who make up Ten Out of Tenn have made a beautiful, fun holiday album.

I love Christmas albums. Just when you think you’ve heard them all something new and fresh comes along to bring a smile to your face. That’s what I like about Ten Out of Tenn and their new album “Christmas.” It’s like getting a box of assorted chocolates. It’s a new treat with each song, and there’s not a chocolate covered cherry in the bunch. (Sorry if those are your favorites! You can have mine.)

Ten Out of Tenn are a talented group of Nashville artists who have teamed up to record and tour together. There are a lot of good things going on in Nashville and it’s been a great idea to have these artists get more exposure for their work through this group.

What do we have here? Everything from the wistful “Cinnamon and Chocolate” by Butterfly Boucher to new takes on old classics (“O Holy Night” by Griffin House, “Little Drummer Boy” by Erin McCarley, “Silent Night” by Katie Herzig and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Matthew Perryman Jones). Those and the clear-eyed looks at the good and not-so-good parts of the holidays (“Raise The Tree” by Trent Dabbs, “Why Are Mommy and Daddy Fighting on Christmas” by K.S. Rhoads and “Christmas Time” by Andy Davis and “Sentimental Christmas” by Tyler James) make this an album that’s easily listenable time and again. It’s not bouncy but reflective, which gives the listener some credit for thinking.

And, of course, for a little spike in the holiday punch, there’s “Santa’s Lost His Mojo,” the most fun holiday song since “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Jeremy Lister gives it a bounce that will get any party swinging. It will be one song (although not the only one on this top-notch album) that will stick in your mind and merit repeat listens. If this were the kind of music playing in department stores I wouldn’t mind braving the crowds.

All said, this is the kind of compilation that makes you eager to hear the rest of the efforts by these fine artists. You can find this holiday treat at the iTunes Store.

Killing to spare the child?

Wesley J. Smith, who blogs at Secondhand Smoke, has recently resumed creating podcasts. You should be sure to check them out. He is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and has lent much wisdom to the debate about the value of human life.

This podcast, which he produced in 2007, talks about eugenic embryo screening, the idea that babies are screened before birth to identify — and sadly — eliminate those who have undesirable traits. How far will it go? You be surprised.

Click on the image to hear the podcast.
Click on the image to hear the podcast.