For most of my life, Leno and Letterman have been night time’s funny men. Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show until I was 11, but that might as well have been before I was born. I only remember these guys.

And for the most part, they have only been clowns to me, often hilarious, sometimes annoying, and sometimes inappropriate. What they have not been to me is human. But as humans, they have hopes, they lose loved ones, they do terrible things that hurt others and cause them shame, and they need the love of Christ.

Here are two videos worth your time:

Leno on Life, Relationships, and 20 Years at Tonight

Letterman on Being a Weasel

Two quick thoughts on Letterman’s admission.

First, a guy like Letterman has been doing camera for the better part of his life. But we can appreciate and hope that these words are genuine. One insight that I found helpful here was his admission of weasel motives even in the moments before he confessed to his Late Show audience. He thought he might get some sympathy out of the event. He didn’t have to say that, and perhaps exposing his motive at that point is part of coming as clean as he knows how. But it is at least an honest assessment and reflection on the trouble in his own heart. I was humbled by the sheer honesty of that moment.

Second, Letterman spoke about needing to discover why he did what he did, and about atoning for his sin. The Christian can only know heartbreak at this point for a man who needs but does not know the forgiveness of God. A man whom the world has loved does not know the love of God, and he can’t know peace until he does.

Why did he do what he did? How can his sin be atoned for? How wonderful are words of another David’s in his confession of adultery in Psalm 51:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

Because of God’s “steadfast love” for us in Jesus Christ, sinners like Letterman, like you, and like me can know the forgiveness of God. We can be clean, and whiter even than snow because Jesus Christ, who never sinned, died a sinner’s death. Through faith in him and him alone, our sins can be removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

Three boys from Minnesota who “don’t like video games that much” are playing with snow instead. They made a Snow Puffer Fish, a Snow Walrus, and a Snow Shark. The Snow Shark was this year’s creation and how I came into their story. Apparently, they think “it’s just fun to be outside” together as brothers. Here’s their work:

Snow Puffer Fish

Snow Walrus

Snow Shark

BibleEater1-300x213It has been hailed as the all time “best Bible reading plan in the history of the whole entire world ever.”

It’s the Bible Eater, a Bible reading plan with a few unique features. For example, it’s flexible, working in a format that assigns texts to quarters of the year and a pace per day, and it helps you know when you’re reading a significant chapter in the Bible’s salvation story.

Here’s how it works:

WHAT TO READ AND WHEN

The following reading rhythm will get you through the Bible in one year.

  • Old Testament: Read 2-3 chapters per day and take 4 days off per month. Read 1-3 designated one-sitting Old Testament books in each quarter, indicated in blue. Reading several books in one sitting like this helps keep the daily chapter readings manageable. These specific books were chosen because they are the right length to keep the reading plan simple, and because some books, such as 1 and 2 Chronicles, can be helpfully read in a single sitting for the big picture.
  • New Testament: Read 1 chapter per day and take 4 days off per month. One gospel is assigned to each quarter and Romans and Hebrews are assigned twice across the year.

FEATURES

  1. Quarterly Format: Some people prefer a reading assigned to each calendar day. This plan assigns several books of the Bible to each quarter and gives you a reading rhythm to follow. If you get behind, don’t feel like you have to catch up now. Just get back on the wagon and catch up on your own time by the end of the quarter.
  2. Reading Both Testaments Together: Since we read the Old Testament from our New Testament perspective, it is good to read both testaments together. Romans and Hebrews are assigned twice, since these two books are especially helpful for seeing how the Bible’s story unfolds and how the Old and New Testaments relate.
  3. Redemptive Historical Highlights: Every chapter in the Bible is important since every word in the book is from God. But some chapters are more crucial for helping us understand the overall narrative of the Bible’s salvation story. Red highlights indicate these kinds of chapters. Old Testament highlights indicate promises of a prophet, a priest, a king, a new exodus, a new creation, etc. to come. Others show the need for the promised savior in the unfolding drama of God’s grace toward sinful humanity. New Testament highlights show the fulfillment of these expectations in Jesus Christ.

Click here to learn more and to download the Bible Eater. There are also versions in several translations, including, Czech, French, German, and Spanish. Then, for a fuller explanation of the plan and its rationale and design, read this article published at The Gospel Coalition Blog.

Of course, there are many ways and paces to read through the Bible, and if you clicked the first link in this post you’d see that the very flattering quote was my own. For a round up of numerous other helpful resources, read Justin Taylor’s Blog, “How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014.”

No surprise, Ross Douhat has a great article in the New York Times on the meaning of Christmas. The article unpacks the meaning of Christmas—the manger scene specifically—for different people depending on what they take or leave from the event.

Here’s how he begins:

Pause for a moment, in the last leg of your holiday shopping, to glance at one of the manger scenes you pass along the way. Cast your eyes across the shepherds and animals, the infant and the kings. Then try to see the scene this way: not just as a pious set-piece, but as a complete world picture — intimate, miniature and comprehensive.

Because that’s what the Christmas story really is — an entire worldview in a compact narrative, a depiction of how human beings relate to the universe and to one another. It’s about the vertical link between God and man — the angels, the star, the creator stooping to enter his creation. But it’s also about the horizontal relationships of society, because it locates transcendence in the ordinary, the commonplace, the low.

It’s easy in our own democratic era to forget how revolutionary the latter idea was. But the biblical narrative, the great critic Erich Auerbach wrote, depicted “something which neither the poets nor the historians of antiquity ever set out to portray: the birth of a spiritual movement in the depths of the common people, from within the everyday occurrences of contemporary life.”

And because that egalitarian idea is so powerful today, one useful — and seasonally appropriate — way to look at our divided culture’s competing worldviews is to see what each one takes from the crèche in Bethlehem.

From here, Douthat looks at three different worldviews: the biblical, what he calls “the spiritual,” and the secular. Click here to read his description and analysis of each, showing what each takes and leaves from the manger scene.

It was 8:25 this morning and I was tearing up in the parking lot at a Starbucks.

Kristi was sick all night, so I took my son to school. Before I left, Madalyn, near tears, said she was sad because mommy was sick. Carson and I had a nice talk in the car and I got to watch him run around the playground for ten minutes, along with other parents enjoying their children. Once he was off I had about twenty minutes until an appointment with our social worker in the Starbucks parking lot. This hard working single mother just dropped her own kids off at school and she had started “making the donuts,” as she put it. She was meeting me to hand off paperwork so Kristi and I can get our fingerprints done, an early step in our next adoption. After this hand off I picked up some saltine crackers for Kristi, since she can’t eat anything else right now. When I got home I found her in bed with a box of those applesauce squeeze packet things and another box of Capri Suns. Shae had been there. So had Madalyn. According to Kristi, after I left, Madalyn sang Kristi songs at the bedroom door to help her feel better. I wonder where she learned to do that?

It’s an unusual hour or so because Kristi was sick, but otherwise pretty run of the mill stuff. Mundane, not meaningful.

So, why was I tearing up in the Starbucks parking lot? I blame it on the truth and beauty of marriage, motherhood, and adoption converging together in this hour and brought home to me through these three works of art:

Andrew Peterson, “Dancing in the Minefields

The Joy, Work, and Beauty of Motherhood: A Day in the Life

The Ivy Family Brings Home Their Son

Justin Taylor said it well in his post on the video above on motherhood: “We need more celebrations of self-sacrificial motherhood. Here is a great example of art serving truth.”