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It’s Beginning To Look A Bit Like Christmas

With life getting more crowded we have to get started on some Christmas observances as little early.
And it isn’t Christmas without some Hans.

And some antipasto and snacks.


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The Legalist’s Spirit (via Sam Storms)

Legalism among Christian disciples is the product of misplaced or misundertood trust that diminishes grace.
From Sam Storms:

Legalists feel good when they can identify another person’s errors. It reinforces their feelings of superiority. They actually think themselves more spiritual, more godly, and more favored and loved by God.
There’s a flip side to the legalistic spirit. In addition to being quick and dogmatic in identifying the small and rare failures of others, the legalist never acknowledges his own faults and failures. To admit and confess to sin or misjudgment is to run the risk of losing power, losing face, or losing prestige.
What drives this spirit? It is the belief that one’s own efforts and achievements merit acceptance with God and approval from men. Instead of resting in Christ’s achievements, confident of what he has done for us, legalists redouble their own works and take pride in what they do in view of what others don’t.
Look again at Mark 2:24: “And the Pharisees were saying to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’” Or again, Mark 3:2: “they watched him closely” (niv). That’s the legalists’ spirit: always on the lookout for someone else’s sin; always scanning the horizon for someone’s failure to measure up to their rules, rules that aren’t in the Bible; always spying on the behavior and beliefs of the other person to root out the slightest deviation from their traditions. They nitpick and judge, nitpick and judge, nitpick and judge!

Read the whole post at the Crossway Blog.


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Converting Presbyterian Ministers To Advent

I keep track of Advent without specifically following it.
I think it’s helpful to acknowledge what the majority of Christians have been doing throughout the centuries and do throughout the world today, while affirming our non-conformist ways.
One of my colleagues was throwing a bit of shade about the situation the other night, and wanted to know what Advent was.
I told him it was when we could use one of these.

Imagine it, “Where’s the pastor?” “Just having his daily Advent observance?” “It’s only 9.30 in the morning.”
…I feel like an Advent, I feel like an Advent, I feel like an Advent or two.
…You can get it preparing a sermon, you can get it organising a roster, after a hard day’s pastoring a hard-earned thirst deserves an Advent observance. Advent, matter of fact I’ve got it now.


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Practically Perfect In Every Way

My daughter Christine holding her Mary Poppins POP figurine birthday present. Someone who’s practically perfect in every way, holding a POP figure.


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Healthy Pastors Are Peacemakers At Heart, Not Pugilists (via David Mathis at Desiring God)

There’s a difference between a peacemaker and a conflict avoider.
David Mathis writes about How Do Pastors Pick Their Fights? and makes some points about the character of pastors, which is meant to be a model for the character of Christians.

Healthy pastors are peacemakers at heart, not pugilists. They don’t fight for sport; they fight to protect and promote peace. They know first and foremost — as a divine representative to their people — that our God is “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33); our message, “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15); our Lord Jesus himself made peace (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 1:20) and “is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), preaching “peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17).
And making peace is not unique to Christian leaders. Rather, we insist on it in our leaders so that they model and encourage peacemaking for the whole church. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said our Lord, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). “Let us pursue what makes for peace” (Romans 14:19). “Strive for peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14). “If possible, so far as it depends on you” — all of you who are members of the body of Christ — “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
This kind of peacemaking not only means leading our flocks in preserving and enjoying peace, but also in making peace that requires confrontation. Some controversies cannot be avoided — and we engage not because we simply want to fight (or win), but because we want to win those being deceived. God means for leaders in his church to have the kind of spiritual magnanimity to rise above the allure of petty disputes, and to press valiantly for peace and Christ-exalting harmony in the places angels might fear to tread.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.