JRF's #41 - Good News of Great Joy by John Piper

Although I tend to be schizophrenic when it comes to traditions (my tradition is not being tied down by tradition...unless I want to be) -  getting married, growing a family, and getting older has shown me the importance and value of traditions, especially within the family.  Every family has traditions, even non-traditional families.  The question is to what purpose do our traditions serve?  Are we are slaves to our traditions, as if they exist for their own sake?  Or are traditions our slaves, our tools, or old testament Ebenezers - reminders to point us to something more important and meaningful than the tradition itself?   As we strive to create a Christ-centered culture in our family, we have looked to some traditions that God's people have observed throughout history and tried to incorporate those that help us keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the Gospel.  Advent is one of those traditions.  And that's where this book comes in.

Released this year as a free ebook, Good News of Great Joy, is a collection of short daily Advent devotionals taken from John Piper's sermons and writings.  We found this to be a great resource for focusing us on the celebration of the Incarnation of God at Christmas.  It's short daily readings made it more realistic that our family would find the time to actually read it and meditate on the truth it highlighted.

A great Scripture driven, Gospel-centered, Christmas resource.  I think a new tradition has begun.

Mark's #52 - Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie

This is an Advent book made up of 22 daily readings to prepare your heart and mind to "experience the peace and the promise of Christmas."  Nancy Guthrie culled together various Christmas related writings and sermons by faithful men and women from the Protestant Reformed tradition both past and present.  There were contributions from the likes of George Whitfield, Martin Luther, John Piper, Tim Keller Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Augustine, Calvin, J.I. Packer, Joni Eareckson Tada, etc... If you know anything about theses people, you know that each reading was rich in meaning and theology (this is not a Chicken Soup for Your Christmas Soul kind of book). This was the first year that I've read a daily advent reader, and I found the experience very enriching for my mind and spirit as Christmas approached.  I plan on reading this short book (140 pages) again next year.

Merry Christmas!

Ron’s #50: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Reading this will be a new Christmas tradition for me. I love the writing, the suspense, and the redemption found in its pages. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it for you. You will see that it is different than you remember.

I love the opening line: “Marley was dead.” This sets the tone for the book. It is much different than versions with Muppets or Mickey Mouse.

If you like audiobooks, this is currently free on Christian for the month of December. I suggest downloading this excellent version and listening to it in the upcoming week.