Not sure what to get those men in your life—dads, husbands, teenage sons, grandfathers, brothers, friends—for Christmas? We want to help! So we asked CJ for some book recommendations for men, and he provided us with the following suggestions. These books cover a broad range of interests so you’re sure to find something for that special guy on your list. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals by Stephen E. Ambrose Firehouse by David Halberstam Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas by Tom Callahan The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges The Terrible Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History by Peter Maas The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever by John Feinstein Meet the Puritans: With A Guide to Modern Reprints by Joel R. Pederson and Randall J. Beeke April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam by James M. McPherson The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf by Mark Frost Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy Cinderella Man: James Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History by Jeremy Schaap Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept by Mark Dever Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg by James M. McPherson The Meaning Of Sports: Why Americans Watch baseball, Football, and Basketball and What They See When They Do. by Michael Mandelbaum Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture by David Powlison
When my girls were little, one of my favorite activities was to read aloud to them before bed each night. At Christmastime, I collected stories from books or magazines related to the season. It became a special tradition to pull these well-loved stories out one time a year and read them together.
Unfortunately, I misplaced my folder full of Christmas stories somewhere along the way—otherwise I would share them with you now. But the memories we made reading together can never be lost.
Yesterday Nicole suggested some Christmas gifts for children. If you’re also on the lookout for Christmas traditions for little ones, I can think of few better than reading stories to them that reinforce the gospel message of the season.
I recently found a Christmas story in a magazine that has been put online. The graphics are simple and there is no audio track. However, this story points clearly to our need for a Savior. So let me encourage you to read “Not What I Deserve” with your children tonight. Oh, and it’s even more fun if you light a fire and enjoy some hot chocolate with marshmallows.
P.S. Two other Christmas stories you may want to check out are The Something Wonderful by Karen Hill and the story of Jesus’ birth in The Big Picture Story Bible that Nicole referenced yesterday.
I have a hard time deciding what to buy people for Christmas. I want to find the perfect gift, for the better than perfect price for every person on my list. But I’m not very creative (no homemade gifts from me!) and I couldn’t spot a bargain if it appeared in human form and stopped me in the store.
Given my severely limited Christmas shopping abilities, I rely heavily upon other sources for ideas—my mom and sisters, girlfriends, magazines, and the pre-packaged gifts baskets strategically placed at the end of store aisles. I’m especially excited when I run across a list of gift suggestions.
So, for all those of you out there like me, I want to offer a few gift suggestions of my own (mostly stolen from my sister Kristin). If you have a kid in your life—a child of your own, a niece or nephew, brother or sister, or someone your reaching out to, here’s a list of gift ideas that are worth far more than you’ll pay for them!
Hide ‘Em In Your Heart Vol 1 and Vol 2—these videos and audio cds are full of Scripture songs set creatively to music. Jack loves the one we own so we bought him the other one for Christmas this year.
Awesome God – In line at Target today, Jack was singing (loudly) the following words from this cd: “Jesus came to earth, He lived a perfect life, He died upon the cross, Then He rose from the dead.” I’m so grateful these gospel-words are running through his mind.
The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre – Kristin and Brian bought these dramatized stories for Andrew (age 6) last year for Christmas and he’s still loving them.
The New Amplified Pilgrim’s Progress - Andrew also enjoys this updated classic tale on cd.
The Big Picture Story Bible – I’ve been reading this to Jack recently and have found myself freshly grateful for God’s gracious plan of redemption.
When I go to the movies (which is rare these days due to the lack of anything appropriate to see) I have a hard time deciding which I like better—the popcorn or the movie. I’m happy to report that my most recent movie-going experience found the movie finishing far ahead of the popcorn.
Mike, Chad and I set off this past Friday night to see the new movie, The Nativity Story. My expectations were set low and I prepared myself for a complete misrepresentation of this amazing story. We waited outside until the previews were over (something my dad taught me long ago—thanks, Dad!) consuming half of our popcorn and candy before the movie even started. As soon as it was “safe” we snuck in and found our seats.
I won’t give anything away (like Nicole always does), but I will say that this was one instance where I found myself quite happy to be wrong. To borrow the words of Dr. Al Mohler from his review: “The movie faithfully presents the main thrust of the Christmas story. That is no small achievement. The movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, takes some liberties with the biblical accounts found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Nevertheless, the invented scenes and dialogue do not distract from the biblical storyline.”
The Nativity Story also proved to be very moving. It only took about thirty seconds before I was wiping my eyes. I found myself affected once again by the events surrounding my Savior’s birth. He entered this world with a glaring absence of celebration and fanfare: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) It’s a rare occasion when a movie provides such a sweet reminder.
So, consider viewing The Nativity Story if you have time this holiday season. I think you will enjoy what you see.
P.S. Parents, as always, please review this movie yourself before taking your kiddos.
No, we’re not talking about finances (although the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to give to those in need). The investing we’re talking about is in the lives of unbelievers. Yesterday our church provided some creative ideas for reaching out to others this Christmas. Hope you find these thoughts helpful:
INVEST THIS CHRISTMAS
Take advantage of the Christmas season to invest in the people God has placed in your life.
Here are some ways you can purpose to build relationships in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Make your friends a part of your Christmas activities. Invite them to:
- Join you in shopping for a Christmas tree or Christmas gifts
- Come over to wrap gifts or bake cookies
- Go to any other Christmas activities you may already be attending (concerts, plays, etc.)
- Take a ride with you to see neighborhood Christmas lights
- Come over for coffee or dessert befor or on Christmas Day for lunch or dinner
Here are some questions you can ask to show care and initiate spiritual conversations:
- What are your holiday traditions?
- What is your best memory from a past Christmas?
- What does Christmas mean to you?
- What are your hopes for the New Year?
- What do you believe about the birth of Jesus? Who was he?
- (If appropriate) How can I pray for you in the New Year?
First, another book club update: a kind husband who ordered several copies of Elizabeth Prentiss for his wife and her friends wrote to inform us that the book can be purchased for a somewhat cheaper price at Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service. Click here to order.
This week’s Friday Funny is appropriate for December 1 and the beginning of the Christmas season. It’s from our good friend Pat who sent CJ the following email about his young boys:
Charlotte and I just asked Joe & Will to make a Christmas list of gifts they would like. Joe’s list is a page long single spaced. Will’s list is the following:
GiFT CarD To: CHris Be crEam
The man knows what he wants.
We’ll be back on Monday with more Christmas fun.
for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
This past week a friend emailed and asked me for the details of Chad’s school schedule. Then I remembered—oops, I never delivered on my promise to post his school-year schedule on the blog. Many of you requested it after I posted his summer schedule during our RoutineTalk series. I’m sorry it has taken this long! You can download it here. But first, it might help to read this brief explanation of the schedule I sent to my friend:
I have attached Chad’s schedule that I work from. I actually print him a new schedule each day because I often need to change a time slot for one of his school subjects. (For example he may need more time that day to study for a Physical Science test so I will omit or cut back on one of the other subjects.) Also, he usually has practice or a game in the afternoon so I will include the specifics of that on his printed schedule for that day. He arrives home from practice or game in time for dinner. I usually have him start homework about 7:30 in the evening. He goes to bed between 9:30 and 10:30 (except Friday nites—he often stays up till midnight).
Chad’s weekends vary significantly due to church events, family activities, or sports. I have tried to incorporate a work project on Saturdays but that has not been happening very often. This Saturday I have plans for him to pull up the fall flowers in the garden and rake leaves, but it’s been awhile since he’s had a project like that. I trust this is all not too confusing!
Now I realize that my thirteen-year-old son’s schedule may only be interesting to a handful of you. However, Friday Funnies are coming up soon and we hope you all will enjoy this week’s laugh!
As some of you have brought to our attention, Amazon isn’t able to ship our upcoming book club selection—Elizabeth Prentiss: “More Love to Thee”—for several weeks. Don’t despair! We’ll wait until everyone has had a chance to receive their book. In fact, you can actually order it directly from the publisher, Banner of Truth right here. Hope you’ll join us as we learn from this godly woman’s life.
Today was “one of those days.” I woke up late and could barely keep my eyes open as I began my morning routine. I was behind schedule. All of my well thought out plans for my morning seemed lost. On days like this, the temptation to live by my emotions looms large. Complaining and grumbling were on my tongue. And then I read this, “We are TODAY accepted in the Beloved, TODAY absolved from sin, TODAY acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! Soul-transporting thought.” Mr. Spurgeon strikes again. My grumbling heart stood rebuked. Today is one of those days—one of those amazing days, which find me standing before the bar of God acquitted from all of my sin because of the death of Jesus Christ on my behalf. Yes, Mr. Spurgeon, this is a “soul transporting” thought.
Regardless of what this day holds for you, may the truth of your acceptance in the Beloved reign first in your heart.
Yesterday, I had lunch at Red Robin with my dear friend, Marie. We hadn’t been together since she and her family moved about 45 minutes north to Frederick, Maryland where her husband assumed the role of Senior Pastor for the newly planted Sovereign Grace Church of Frederick. She and I had lots of catching up to do!
However, it was only moments after our initial exchange of “How are you? How’s the family? What did you do for Thanksgiving?” when Marie announced with pencil and paper in hand: “I have one question before we begin. How can I be praying for you?”
After brief reflection, I conveyed three areas for which I would appreciate her prayers. She wrote each one down, thanked me for sharing and then assured me she would pray.
I know she will. And I am deeply grateful.
I’m also provoked by her example. Hebrews 10:24 challenges us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Marie did that for me yesterday. Though I’m sure she didn’t realize it, her love expressed in her good deed to pray for me spurs me on to love others more fervently and to be more diligent to do good deeds for them. Thank you, Marie!