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A couple of months ago, I “beta tested” a new feature here at the blog, which I alliteratively titled Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources. People seemed to like it … or … at least the majority of readers didn’t seem to hate it too much. So I decided to bring it back every once in a while when I’m feelin’ it.

I’m feelin’ it today. So here’s the Christmas/New Year’s edition of Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources.

Christmas Cards

If you don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest you might have been missing the Christmas-themed memes I’ve been posting since Thanksgiving. Here are a few:

Need Gift Ideas?

I was going to do a whole article on this, but I felt like with this article and this one, readers might be getting tired of articles on Christmas shopping. So, let me just recommend three items I’ve personally gotten my hands on recently that would make great gifts for your pastor or the theology nerd in your family.

Herman Who?– This is an awesome little DVD series from Wretched that will teach you all the ins and outs of biblical hermeneutics (the science of interpreting Scripture) in a four- or twelve-week course. Teacher and student guides are included, and right now, they’re also throwing in a copy of It’s Not Greek to Me (an introduction to biblical Greek) for free.

 

Clouds Without Water II– If you’ve never had the privilege of attending a Justin Peters lecture on the New Apostolic Reformation, this DVD set (revised and updated from the original) is the next best thing. You’ll get the history of the NAR, key figures in the movement, an explanation of NAR “theology” and much more. Helpful for any Christian, but, I’m telling you, your pastor needs this in his personal library. And while you’re over there at his online store, pick him up a copy of Do Not Hinder Them, too, especially if you’re Southern Baptist. (Be sure to scroll all the way down the page. Justin has some special deals on combo packages.)

 

ESV Archaeology Study Bible– I got this the other day as an early Christmas present, and I already love it. Tons of articles, study notes, photos, maps, and diagrams pairing the biblical text with what’s been dug up that relates to that text. It’s just fascinating. You can order directly from Crossway, but they’re offering a special deal through ChristianBook.com right now where you can get the hardcover edition for only $24.99! (Word to the wise- go ahead and get a Bible cover for it now if this is going to be someone’s “walking around” Bible.)

Mary Was the First One to Carry the Gospel

(Ugh, that song skeeves me out.)

But Joseph was a close second. Matthew 1:18-20,24-25 tells us:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

In Joseph and Mary’s day, a pregnancy outside of wedlock was much scarier than it is today. Old Testament law called for the death penalty for adultery. If Mary had really committed adultery, Joseph would have been well within his rights to haul her out into the public square and cast the first stone.

But notice that verse 19 says Joseph was both “just” and “unwilling to put her to shame.” He had an obligation to the law, but he loved Mary and wanted to show her mercy so that she might live. Joseph’s dilemma shows us, albeit through a glass darkly, where God stands in relation to sinful mankind.

Though Mary only appeared to have sinned, we really have sinned. And the penalty for our sin is death. But God loves us and wants to show us mercy. And just as an innocent Joseph stepped between Mary and the wrath of the Law that might have been carried out against her, taking her as his wife and bearing her shame and scorn upon his own strong shoulders, God sent the sinless Christ to bear our punishment and our shame, taking us as His bride, so that we might live. But it wasn’t a dilemma for God. He had it all planned out from eternity past.

Mary might have been the first one to carry the gospel, but maybe Joseph was the first one to carry it out.

(I can’t take all the credit for this one. My pastor mentioned the idea of Joseph portraying the gospel in his treatment of Mary in his sermon last week and he said he got it from Herschel Hobbs. I can’t find where Dr. Hobbs shared this idea {if you know, fill me in} to cite it or quote him, so I’ve taken his original thought and used it as a springboard for my own observations.)

Reindeer Games

Need a fun game to play at your Christmas party? Give this one from ornamentshop.com a try!

Here are the answers. No cheating or it’s lumps of coal in your stocking this year!

A 2019 Canon Cleanse

My philosophy of Bible study is pretty simple: Christian women need to study the Bible. Not a steady diet of secondhand accounts of what somebody else has studied (or, heaven forbid, what somebody “heard” God say to her) in “canned” studies, but the Bible itself.

The other day, LifeWay Women tweeted out suggestions of canned studies (you guessed it – most of them authored by false teachers) to kick off the New Year with.

I’d like to challenge you to do something different.

Take this next year to set aside all the pre-fab books, workbooks, DVDs, etc. – even those you consider doctrinally sound – and cleanse your heart, mind, and spirit with the washing of the water of the Word. Just you, your Bible, and, if you’re so inclined, some paper to take notes on.

If you’re not sure how to get started, mark your calendar to check in here on January 1. It’s become my New Year’s Day tradition to post an annual round up of scads of Bible reading plans. Some of them are as short as a few days in length, others, as long as a few years. Some will take you through a biblical topic, some, through a certain part or book of the Bible, some through the whole Bible.

Tune out the noise of other people’s thoughts, ideas, and observations, and hear God speak directly to you through His written Word. Don’t watch someone else mine for gold. Grab your pick and your shovel and discover the joy that only comes from finding that gold for yourself!

Who’s up for the challenge?

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