Christmas

The Gospel According to Carols

 

This Christmas season I’ve been running a meme series on my social media pages called The Gospel According to Carols. Many of our favorite Christmas carols include the gospel, so this is a series of memes with gospel quotes from Christmas carols to help us keep our focus on the gospel during the hustle and bustle of the season.

Below, you’ll find all of the memes I’ve posted so far. The title of the carol precedes each meme(s) and is linked to a YouTube video of that carol. I’ll continue to add new memes through the 24th, so bookmark this article and keep checking back. In addition to sharing these around on social media to remind ourselves, our friends, and our family of the true reason for Christ’s incarnation, I thought of a few other ways you might like to use these.

Decorative Place Cards

In my article (and podcast) 10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays, I mentioned printing out these Bible verse memes on thankfulness and placing one at each place setting on your Thanksgiving dinner table as a way of initiating gospel conversations. The Gospel According to Carols memes could be used in the same way at your Christmas party or dinner.

Christmas Cards and Gift Tags

Not crazy about the rapidly dwindling selection of Christmas cards at your local retailer? Choose one or more of these designs, print them out on card stock and use them for Christmas cards. Or, minimize them to gift tag size, add a “to” and a “from,” print them out on card stock, and use them for labeling all your Christmas gifts.

Party Game

Instead of “Name that Tune,” make it “Name that Carol” by reading the quote aloud and having your guests guess which Christmas carol it came from.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

 

Silent Night

 

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

 

Child in the Manger

 

O Little Town of Bethlehem

 

The First Noel

 

Good Christian Men Rejoice

 

We Three Kings

 

Joy to the World

 

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

 

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

 

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

 

Glorious Impossible

Christmas, Evangelism, Movies

Movie Tuesday: Christmas Gone Viral

Originally published November 28, 2017

One third of the world celebrates Christmas. That makes this the perfect time of year to carry out the Great Commission. What could be a more natural transition from chit chat to the gospel than talking about Christmas – the birth of Christ? Watch as Ray Comfort and ordinary folks from all over the world share the good news of Jesus with those they encounter.

If you’re looking for other easy ways to share the gospel in the coming weeks, check out my article, 10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays. You can also order some awesome Christmas-themed tracts to tuck inside your Christmas cards or share as you’re shopping at Living Waters or Bezeugen.

Christmas, Evangelism, Holidays (Other), Thanks/Thanksgiving

10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays

Originally published November 24, 2015share-gospel-during-holidays

With all the hustle and bustle during November and December, it’s easy for the gospel to get lost in the shuffle. But the Great Commission never takes a vacation, and the holiday season provides some unique opportunities for sharing the gospel that we don’t have during the rest of the year.

1.

If your family does the “let’s go around the table and say what we’re thankful for” thing at Thanksgiving, briefly express your thanks to Christ for His death, burial, and resurrection, and for saving you.

2.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, place a slip of paper with a Bible verse on it about giving thanks at each place setting . Go around the table and let each person read his verse before the meal. Here are a few to get you started, or if you like it artsy, try these. If you’d like some gospel-centered place cards for a Christmas dinner or party, check these out.

3.

Give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering of the International Mission Board. (This is an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, but anyone can donate.) The LMCO is designated to fund and equip missionaries who serve outside of North America. You can give online here or drop by your local Southern Baptist church.

4.

Invite an unchurched friend to church with you. Lots of people are more open to dropping in on a worship service or attending a special church event (like a Christmas cantata or nativity play) during the holidays than they are the rest of the year.

5.

Get a group from church together and go Christmas caroling. Choose songs whose lyrics showcase the gospel (Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, and O Holy Night are good ones!) Take some tracts, Bibles, or small gift baskets (containing tracts or Bibles) with you to leave at each home (and don’t forget to invite them to church!).

6.

Donating to a toy drive? Tuck a tract inside your gift or consider donating a gospel-centered children’s book or Bible. These Bibles and The Biggest Story are great, doctrinally sound choices. Or how about The Mission Ball?

7.

Contact your local college campus ministry and find out how to invite an international student to spend the holidays with your family. International students can be curious about the way Americans celebrate the holidays. Additionally, dorms often close during school breaks leaving students far from home with no place to stay. Take advantage of the time with your student to take him to church with you and share the gospel with him.

8.

If Christmas parades are a thing in your area, put a float together for your church and use some awesome gospel-themed throws like Don’t Stub Your Toe, Pocket Testaments, or some eye catching tracts.

9.

Chat with your neighbors, even if you don’t know them well. Shoveling snow together? Exchanging baked goodies? Slow down and take the time to talk (and really listen) with your neighbors. It is amazing how people often open up if someone just takes the time to listen to them. Ask how you can pray for them, and, if the situation is conducive, do it right then. You might even find it turning into a witnessing encounter.

10.

Send out an annual Christmas newsletter? This year, instead of making it about your family’s accomplishments, how about focusing on what God accomplished through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ? That’s the most important news your family could share.

What’s your favorite way to
share the gospel during the holidays?


This ARticle Was Originally published at satisfaction through Christ.
Basic Training, Salvation

Throwback Thursday ~ Basic Training: The Gospel

Originally published February 3, 2017

For more in the Basic Training series, click here.bt-the-gospel

Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read, you begin with ABC
When you sing, you begin with Do, Re, Mi…¹

And when you talk Christianity, you begin with…

The gospel. It’s the foundation of the Christian faith. The thing all genuinely regenerated believers have in common. And it’s the ABC’s of our Basic Training series.

Without a right understanding of the gospel, none of the subsequent articles in this series will make much sense to you. In fact, you’ll find yourself standing in opposition to biblical teaching because the Bible says that only those who are born again and empowered by the Holy Spirit can embrace the things of God in their hearts:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

But far more important than your reaction to this series of articles,

If you don’t have a clear understanding of,
and response to,
the gospel, you aren’t saved,
and you’ll spend eternity in Hell.

I know that sounds blunt, but that’s just the meat and potatoes of it, ladies. In the same way you can’t get a molecule of water unless you add exactly one atom of oxygen to exactly two atoms of hydrogen, believing whatever you feel like believing doesn’t produce a Christian. You have to “follow the recipe,” so to speak, to the letter. And that recipe is in the Bible. Let’s take a look at it.

♦ You are a sinner (you have transgressed God by breaking His law).

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

♦ The penalty for your sin is an eternity in Hell.

For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23a

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. Romans 2:8

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15

♦ You can’t escape Hell by being a good person, having a good heart, or any other effort on your part.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. Isaiah 64:6a

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

♦ Salvation (being in good standing with God) is a result of God’s mercy and grace, not something you can earn. It is a gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

♦ The gift God offers you is that, on the cross, Christ took the punishment you deserve for your sin. He will take away your sin and give you His perfect standing before God in exchange.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, 1 Peter 3:18a

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25a

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

♦ The way you receive that gift and have Christ’s righteousness “credited to your account” is to repent from (have the heart desire to turn away from and ask God’s forgiveness for) your sin and trust that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin.

[Jesus said] “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, Acts 3:19

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

That’s it. That’s the gospel. Turn from your sin and trying to earn favor with God by your so-called good behavior and throw yourself on the mercy of God, trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross to forgive your sin and make you righteous in God’s eyes.

That’s what salvation – or becoming a Christian – is. Adding anything to the gospel or taking anything away from it is not salvation or biblical Christianity. It is a false gospel. Believing a false gospel will not forgive your sin, make you right with God, or take you to Heaven when you die. Unfortunately, many people believe a false gospel and there are many people who claim to be Christians, pastors, and Bible teachers who teach a false gospel.

What are some of those false gospels?

If you’re basically a good person, or your good deeds outweigh the bad, you’re OK with God, and you’ll go to Heaven when you die.

If you’ve been baptized at any point in your life and for any reason, you’re saved.

If you go to church regularly, you’re a Christian.

If you participate in communion or the Lord’s Supper, you’re a Christian.

The reason we come to Jesus is to have a better, more comfortable, or more successful life.

The reason we come to Jesus is to get healed from a medical condition, because He will make us wealthy, or because He will do cool supernatural signs and wonders in our lives.

Simply saying you’re a Christian, or believing that you are a Christian, makes you one.

If you were born in America and you’re not Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or some other religion, you’re a Christian.

If you believe in God, you’re a Christian.

If you give mental assent to the facts about Jesus (without repenting and trusting Him), you’re saved.

If, at some point in your life you repeated the words of a “sinner’s prayer,” “accepted Jesus,” or “asked Jesus into your heart,” (even if you didn’t know what you were doing, and without true repentance and faith) you’ve been born again.

You can become a Christian without repenting from your sin.

You can believe in a “Jesus” of your own making, rather the one described in Scripture, and still be a Christian.

Are you a Christian? Have you ever felt the weight of your guilt before God and asked Him to cleanse you and make you right with Him? Do you believe and embrace that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection satisfied God’s wrath against you for your sin?

The Bible says we should examine ourselves to discover whether or not we are truly in the faith. Take some quiet, undistracted time alone with God today and search your heart. What do you really believe? Is it the true gospel of Scripture, or something else? (If you need some help, this might be a useful tool.) Don’t put it off, it’s too important.

If you find that you’re not in Christ, talk to Him. Confess your sin and your need for Him to save you. Ask His forgiveness and declare your trust in Him.

Don’t wonder and guess any more about where you stand with God. Know.

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2


¹Do-Re-Mi. Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music, 1959.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: What’s In a Name?

 

How should my child and I refer to a child who is transitioning (girl to boy)? This is not a child with whom we are close. She is the granddaughter of a neighbor and visits them once or twice a year. Because she and my daughter are near the same age (tweens), they spend time together while she is visiting. 

She recently arrived for a visit and informed my daughter that she is transitioning and wants to be called Brandon* instead of Shannon from now on. She now dresses like a boy and has a male-looking haircut.

I have already talked to my daughter about the biblical issues at play and have explained that we need to be loving and kind to her friend, but also not cooperate with her delusion of becoming a boy.

I don’t want to use the pronoun “he” to refer to this child because it is not biologically possible and it is sinful to try to change the gender God gave you. But what about her transition name (Brandon)? People change their names and I don’t think that’s sinful. But to change it for the purpose of denying your God-given gender would be.

Would you call her by her given name or her new name?
*Names changed

This is such a heartbreaking situation, and it’s happening way too often. So called “gender reassignment” is physically, psychologically, and spiritually abusive. Children in sexual identity sin need loving, kind, supportive, biblical help, not for someone, especially their parents who are supposed to protect them and do what’s best for them, to enable them in their dysfunction.

You didn’t ask about this, and you might already be doing it, but could I suggest two things before we get into the names and pronouns? Pray fervently for this child. Pray by yourself, with your daughter, with your whole family. Pray for her parents and grandparents. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with all of them. This child is in for a very painful life, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In addition to loving her and sharing the gospel with her, try to do little things that will subtly continue to keep Jesus in front of her eyes whenever she’s with your family: say the blessing before meals, invite her to go with you to the church picnic or youth activities at church, do a mother-daughter Bible study every morning and ask her if she’d like to join you and your daughter. Don’t beat her over the head with these things or stop doing things with her that she would consider “normal” (going for a swim or out to get hamburgers), but try little avenues like this for introducing her to Christ.

Now as far as calling this little girl “Brandon” and using male pronouns for her, I would probably land very close to where you are on the issue. The way we use and understand language as human beings is very impactful, which is precisely why we’re starting to see people getting fired from their jobs for refusing to use male pronouns for women who think they’re men, and vice versa. Changing the language changes the tide of the movement. Once the people pushing this agenda get the language changed, changing laws, hearts, and attitudes is much easier for them. They even think it can change reality – that a woman can actually become a man and a man can actually become a woman.

As Christians, we should recognize better than anyone how integral someone’s name can be to her identity. God’s name is I AM. It’s not just an arbitrary label chosen for its mellifluous lilt. That is the essence of who He is. Matthew gives us two names for God’s Son – Jesus, “Yahweh saves,” and Immanuel, “God with us” – these names tell us His true identity and purpose. And all over the Bible, we see the importance of a person’s name to his or her identity. People’s names often had ontological meaning. And sometimes God changed a Bible character’s name at a milestone moment to indicate that that he was moving into a new phase of life. Abram to Abraham. Sarai to Sarah. Jacob to Israel.

Interestingly, there’s even an incident in the Bible that parallels the name-changing issue today. When Nebuchadnezzar took the people of Judah captive and changed the names of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he did so as a method of forcibly assimilating them into their new identity as Babylonian slaves in Babylonian culture. He was attempting to change their entire identity – the way they thought about themselves – from sons of God to conquered slaves of Babylon and make that new identity a reality. And that’s what’s going on with Shannon as well as the sexual identity agenda “pronoun police.” The change of name and pronouns is an attempt to change the new identity of the person into a reality. But every time someone uses the biologically correct name and pronouns for someone in sexual identity sin, that person is jolted out of her delusion of being the opposite sex and right back into the inescapable reality of the sex God created her to be. (It’s the sexual identity sin version of the positive confession aspect of Word of Faith theology: If you just believe hard enough and say all the right things and never the wrong things, you can speak your desires into existence. Scary, huh?)

So when someone in sexual identity sin asks you to call her by an opposite sex name and pronouns, it’s not some “no big deal” kind of thing. Whether that person realizes it or not, she is asking you to help perpetuate her delusion and protect her from being confronted by the reality of the way God created her, so that she can continue believing that what she wants to be true actually is true.

I have said on previous occasions that Christians shouldn’t use opposite sex names or pronouns (or made up/incorrect pronouns like “ze,” “fae,” or “them/their”- referring to an individual) for all of the aforementioned reasons and more. I do understand that for various reasons of employment, family peace, and so on, there are godly people out there who may decide in their own circumstances to use opposite sex names and pronouns for people in sexual identity sin, and I want to make clear that, while I probably would not agree with those decisions, I don’t necessarily think those godly people are, across the board, sinning by doing so. This is a tough issue to navigate because the Bible doesn’t explicitly tell us what to do in this situation. We need to prayerfully examine the issue and the Scriptures and follow our biblically informed consciences in our particular situations. (Todd Friel helpfully discussed this issue on Wretched {~51:36}, recently.) So please hear me clearly: this reader asked what I would do in her particular situation (which doesn’t involve the possibility of losing a job, being arrested, etc.) so that’s how I’m going to answer.

I could not, without violating my biblically informed conscience, call Shannon Brandon and start using male pronouns for her. However, I would also realize that she is going to feel hurt by not being called Brandon, which could cause her to distance herself from my family and the gospel influence we could have upon her.

The way you worded your e-mail, it sounds like Shannon came in and sort of announced or told your daughter that her name is Brandon now or that’s what she’d like to be called. Shannon announcing this is not the same thing as you and your daughter agreeing to comply with it.

Personally, what I would do, is just skip using formal names and not worry about the pronouns. The pronouns will be easier to dispense with because he/him/his and she/her/hers are third person pronouns. In other words, you use them when talking about someone (to another person), not when you’re talking to someone. When you’re talking to someone, you use second person pronouns (you/your/yours) which are already gender neutral.

Avoiding using Shannon’s formal name may also be easier than you realize, especially since you don’t see her very frequently. Think about how often you actually use your husband’s, children’s, or friends’ names when speaking directly to them in conversation. Usually, we don’t start a conversation with someone we’re sitting across from by saying, “Bob, let me tell you about my day,” we just start talking. We also use pet names (sweetie, kiddo, my friend) and nicknames (Green Eyes, Tiger, Boss). Some people are in the habit of calling others by their last names, military style. If Shannon’s “boy name” and “girl name” started with the same letter (ex: going from Shannon Johnson to Steve Johnson) you could call her by her initials.

One of the main reasons people in my house call each other by name is if we’re trying to get that person’s attention or call them from another room. Instead of your daughter calling to Shannon from another room or through a closed door, “Shannon, would you like a drink?”, teach your daughter to walk up to Shannon, tap her on the shoulder, or wait until she comes into the room, and ask her the question once the two have made eye contact. (She’s probably already good at this since most kids that age have earbuds in all the time!) Among kids, “Hey!” “Yoo hoo!” or a yoo hoo-type whistle to get her attention can also work. Keep all of these kinds of things lighthearted and casual, and Shannon might not even notice. Meanwhile, you can keep on loving her and sharing the gospel with her.

Anyway, that’s the kind of thing I would do unless Shannon point blank says something like, “I want to be called Brandon. Will you please call me that?” or “Why aren’t you calling me Brandon?”. At that point, you or your daughter will need to lovingly and briefly explain that in the same way Shannon feels uncomfortable being called a girl name, your daughter feels uncomfortable calling her a boy name. Ask Shannon if there’s some kind of compromise she and your daughter could make (initials, nickname, “secret code names” they can have fun making up, etc.) that would make both of them feel comfortable.

If she wants to know why you/your daughter feel uncomfortable, lovingly tell her the truth. “We love God. God made you a girl. If we call you by a boy’s name, we feel like we would be saying He did something wrong or made a mistake, or that we would be lying about how He made you. But we do still love you and still want to be friends.” If you feel like it would be appropriate or helpful, you might want the grandparents to be present while you have this conversation. You and your daughter might also want to role play this scenario ahead of time so that she will feel prepared when it’s time to have this conversation.

When you have this conversation with Shannon, you need to understand that it most likely won’t be well-received and that it could very well be the last conversation you have with her. Her grandparents may be angry with you. Her parents may be angry with you. As Christians who stand firmly and lovingly on Scripture, we should expect the world to hate us. But we should also remember Christ’s promises to us:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. John 15:18

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.