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Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. … This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ. —Malcom Muggeridge

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:67-68, NIV)

We can stand affliction better than we can stand prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God. —Dwight L Moody

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Psalm 119:71-72, NIV)

Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls. — C.H. Spurgeon

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV)

Dec. 19

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The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12, NLT)

The birth of this little boy [Jesus] is the beginning of a confrontation between the kingdom of God—in all its apparent weakness, insignificance and vulnerability—and the kingdom of the world. Augustus never heard of Jesus of Nazareth. But within a century or so his successors in Rome had not only heard of him; they were taking steps to obliterate his followers. Within just over three centuries the Emperor himself became a Christian. When you see the manger on a card, or in a church, don’t stop at the crib. See what it’s pointing to, it is pointing to the explosive truth that the baby lying there is already being spoken of as the true king of the world.                                                                         — N. T. Wright

Dec. 18

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Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
by Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Dec. 17


Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly?
Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness.                                                 — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dec. 16


After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” … Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. (Matthew 2: 13, 16, NLT)

Yes, Christmas is the glow of candlelight, and a baby sleeping in a manger. It is starlight, shepherds in a field. But Christmas is also an invasion. The Kingdom of God striking at the heart of the kingdom of darkness with violent repercussions. And victory. — John Eldredge

Dec. 14


On the Adoration of the Shepherds
by David Brendan Hopes

God is born tonight in the next town.
Be serious. Who wouldn’t go?
Lock the back door. Turn the furnace down.
Throw a handful of food at the dog. Blow
off the dinner with the couple you really like.
Riffle through the bills for those
which absolutely will not wait. Take a hike.
The way? The consequence? The point? Who knows?
Select a path, an avenue, goat trail, a turnpike,
on through the twilight and the early snows.
Angel voices are, of course, a plus,
but go in dark and silence if you must.
Remember to seek the narrowest wretched door.
Prepare to diminish, resign, dispense, adore.


*from Adam, Eve & the Riders of the Apocalypse, Ed. D.S. Martin, p. 84

Dec. 7


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6, KJV)

How gentle the coming! Who would have had sufficient daring of imagination to conceive that God Almighty would have appeared among men as a little child? We should have conceived something sensational, phenomenal, catastrophic, appalling! The most awful of the natural elements would have formed His retinue, and men would be chilled and frozen with fear. But He came as a little child. The great God “emptied Himself.” He let in the light as our eyes were able to bear it. — John Henry Jowett