“Followers want comfort, stability, and solutions from their leaders, but that’s babysitting. Real leaders ask hard questions and knock people out of their comfort zones. Then they manage the resulting distress.”
-Ronald Heifetz, Harvard Professor of Government
I’ve caught a little Beatles fever on the 50th anniversary of the British invasion. I enjoyed the CBS Grammy tribute last night. So, I’m trying to do the ridiculous, the impossible, the utterly absurd: choosing my top Beatles songs. Here are some of my favorites — typically happy, acoustic driven numbers. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably have a different list.
In no particular order (that’d be even more impossible):
HERE COMES THE SUN
WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS
ALL MY LOVING
AND I LOVE HER
IN MY LIFE
YOU’VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY
This is a repost from a couple years ago. -JB
The Christmas story is all too familiar for most Christians today. We’ve seen two dozen pageants, have basically memorized Matthew and Luke’s accounts of wise men, shepherds, overbooked inns and barnyard manger scenes. The problem with familiarity, as Dallas Willard puts it, is that “Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity — unsuspected unfamiliarity, and then contempt” (The Divine Conspiracy, 11).
Thus, pastors often struggle preparing their annual Christmas message. But as my recent post argued (See “And There Were Shepherds”), the Christmas story is filled with shock and mind-boggling surprises. One has to work very hard to make this story ordinary and boring. The story of Christmas is the most extraordinary story ever told.
This Christmas I shared a brief Christmas message at our high school Christmas dance — yes, my Baptist friends, our youth group had a dance to celebrate the birth of our savior. This year my message centered around the image of “The Dance of the Trinity” and Christ’s relentless pursuit of more and more dancing partners to come back into a life of living in the harmonious rhythms of the Kingdom Dance.
My message outline went something like this: Read the rest of this entry »
What do we make of the story of the wise men following a magical star from the East to the newborn king in Bethlehem? Sound a bit far-fetched and fairytale-ish? I used to think so as well.
Many deny the possibility of a supernatural explanation to begin with. This is unnecessary. If God can bring the universe into being with divine decree and raise the dead at will, then I see no reason why he could not have also sent a bright star that first Christmas.
However, must we rule out all naturalistic explanations? A little historical and cultural background of this story also reveals some very plausible scientific theories as to what this astronomical/astrological phenomenon might have been. Perhaps under God’s wise sovereignty and foresight, that “star” that led the magi to Bethlehem was a combination of natural astral activity in concert with God’s supernatural sending of his son “when the fullness of time had come” (Gal 4:4). Let’s take a look.
First, these were not “three kings” as the song goes. They were “magi” from the East — most likely superstitious astrologists perhaps from the royal court of the Babylonian empire. It does not specify how many. The ancients assigned great significance to the art of reading and interpreting the movements of the skies. They kept careful records of the notable celestial activity, and with computer technology today we can calculate exactly where each star and planets were in the sky accurately all the way back 2,000 years and beyond.
Second, the scientific records indicate some pretty interesting astral activity occurring around the time of Jesus’ birth. Read the rest of this entry »
Have you listened carefully to and reflected on the meaning of the words of the Christmas carols we’ve been singing this past week? Do they accurately capture the true meaning of Advent?
Well, some are better than others. A recent article by Peter Leithart at Credenda Agenda probes this topic interacting with the scholarship of Bishop N.T. Wright that exposes the many ways our favorite Christmas hymns get the Christmas story wrong. The article is humorously entitled, “How N. T. Wright Stole Christmas.”
Here’s a taste of the article:
[Wright] made me see the fairly radical difference in tone and content between Advent and Christmas hymns. Advent hymns, as you’d expect, are full of longing, and the language of the prophets. Advent hymns are about Israel’s desperations and hope, and specifically hope that the Christ would come in order to keep Yahweh’s promise to restore His people, and through them to restore the nations. . . .
. . . Advent hymns are about Israel. They are deeply and thoroughly political. Advent hymns look forward not to heaven but the redemption of Israel and of the nations, the coming of God’s kingdom on earth.
When we turn to Christmas hymns, these themes almost completely drop out. How many Christmas hymns mention Israel? Many refer to Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus, but Jerusalem? . . . Read the rest of this entry »