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If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I love to read. I’ll read anything and everything. One of my favorite ways to spend Christmas break is curled up on the couch with a good book. So here are a few of the books that I think you should curl up with, too!

1. Desiring God – John Piper
This book is big. But don’t let that intimidate you! It’s one of the few books that I’m willing to admit changed my life. In summary, John Piper lays out the theology on which his whole Christian life rests; the idea that God is most glorified when we find all of our joy in Him. The Christian life shouldn’t be dull, restrictive, or duty-filled. It should be the opposite!

This book really did flip my idea of what it meant to live a God-glorifying Christian life upside-down. (Also, I really did read this one over Christmas break. Tip: If you’re feeling that it’s getting repetitive, move on! Skip some pages – that’s advice from the author himself.)

2. The Pressure’s off – Dr. Larry Crabb
I read this book over the summer, and it is fantastic. If you struggle with perfectionism and the need to perform, or feel that you’re constantly dissatisfied in your relationship with God, you need to read this book. If you feel constantly lonely, disappointed, sad, angry, empty, and alone – this book speaks to that. To quote one of my favorite parts of the book, when you come to know what Jesus really did to take the pressure off, “You’ll be full of joy….you’ll be solid, no longer a vaporous ghost pretending you’re real.”

3. Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper
If “Desiring God” is just too intimidating for you, this book would be a great substitute. It covers the general idea of what “Desiring God” covers, but is much shorter. In addition, this book is especially great if you’re a young college student still contemplating what to do with your life. It will kick in in the butt, but it will also give you hope and drive to live for something greater. Definitely recommend this one for an easier, lighter Christmas read!

4. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands – Paul David Tripp
Don’t ignore this book if you’re not in full-time ministry or counseling. If you know and love even one person, this book will help you. Even if you don’t know and love one person, this book might help you heal so that you’re able to do that! In “Instruments,” Tripp explains how broken, imperfect people can be used by God to help other broken, imperfect people. Using practical, easy-to-remember principles, and peppered with interesting real-world examples, Tripp makes this an accessible guide for helping others achieve real, lasting life-change. Don’t mistake this for a self-help book – it’s anything but. But if you’re tired of watching others around you continually hurt themselves (or are sick of hurting yourself) this book will be immensely helpful. I still refer to mine from time-to-time!

5. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery – Eric Metaxes
This biography is not only excellently researched, it is well-written as well (something of a feat in my opinion.) It’s detailed, but not boring. If you don’t know who William Wilberforce is, he was an English member of parliament who ended the slave trade in Britain, after a life-long fight. It’s a seriously inspiring read, especially as the movement to end modern human-trafficking is starting to pick up momentum. Highly recommended for anyone, but especially a history-lover. (I’d even say you’d be pretty safe buying this for that family member that loves to read as a Christmas present. Anyone should love this book!)

That’s it! Happy reading!

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Merry Christmas everyone!

So, with the knowledge that Christmas was coming up, I spent a lot of time thinking about the blog that would post today. I tossed around a ton of ideas – a short story, a poem, a reflection, pictures. I wanted something profound, something deep, something meaningful.

But I got nothin’.

And honestly, I think that’s appropriate. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

We, as human, have a desperate need to know and love God. And we try SO hard. We want something profound, something deep, something meaningful.

But we got nothin’.

All we can do is sin, and sin, and then sin again. We are totally helpless.

And so, God, in his unfathomable infinite mercy, chose to be born in the form of a helpless baby. Sending the helpless to rescue the helpless. How appropriate.

Oh, Jesus, that you were born to die so that I might live!

These are the words I could barely choke out as I wept beside the manger.

Oh Jesus, born to rescue the people that turned their backs on Him.

We got nothin, so he sent everything.

That’s why, today, there’s no blog. Just Jesus.

Ok. So I know I promised my next post would b about how knowing Jesus has caused me to experience pain. I don’t want to say I lied but..I was mistaken. There is a much more important topic I want to address:

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays.

If I didn’t know any better, you’d think this was an all out war, in which the loser’s culture will be completely and totally destroyed and lost forever. (As if Christ can ever be lost). And you know what? It annoys me to no end!

When did this start to become a war? And who started it? While I proudly proclaim to be part of the problem – we did. Christians did. Why? Perhaps about of a righteous sense of defensiveness about the increasingly secular nature of our culture. Perhaps pride got the best of us. Who knows. In any cause, it seems to me that it only fuels an “Us vs. Them” mentality, and drives a wedge in the ever-widening gap between Christians and non-Christians.

Don’t misunderstand – I am a person who will always say “Merry Christmas”. But if someone says “Happy Holidays” (or, heck, even “Feliz Navidad”) I’m not going to get my undies in a bunch.  And I think it would serve the Christian community well if we all settled down just a little bit and quit throwing up more walls.

Perhaps, next year, instead of once again launching the “MERRY CHRISTMAS CRUSADES”, we should devote our time and energy to more worthy causes.  Maybe, we should show people what it means to live out “Merry Christmas”:

Let’s pack up some shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Offer to babysit for the single mom so she can get some Christmas shopping done.  Bring some Christmas cookies and a listening ear to the lonely widow down the street.  Invite the neighbors over for some carols and hot cocoa.  Feed the hungry.  Shelter the homeless.  Rescue the oppressed and comfort the afflicted.

Perhaps when people start to enjoy the real benefits of Christmas – the spirit and hope of Jesus Christ – they will be more inclined to say it.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Feliz Navidad. Happy Winter Solstice or whatever you celebrate.  All I hope is that this season, the love of Christ will reach out and touch your heart like it’s touched mine.

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