Monthly Archives: November 2011
Christmas is a time of celebration. We celebrate family, time off, good food, and presents under the tree.
But if that is all Christmas is about, if that’s all that is behind our celebration, than many people around the world have few reasons to “be of good cheer” on Christmas morning.
Thankfully, Christmas is about something far greater.
We celebrate because Christmas is about salvation. God the Son dwelled among us to save his people and set things to rights.
In session two of The Purpose of Christmas, Rick Warren explains what was involved in that salvation. We were saved from something: our sin, ourselves in all our pride and brokenness, and our separation from God. We were saved for something: a purpose bigger than ourselves and our own personal success, a purpose centered on being part of God’s plan and his people. And we were saved by something, a gift: the grace of God that gave us what we needed instead of what we deserved.
As we enter this holiday season, let us all remember the good news of Jesus’ Advent, and the true Purpose of Christmas.
After eight days of set up, tear down, author interviews, and working the booth at ETS, AAR, and SBL, I was ready to go home.
The trip was excellent, and I was feeling very blessed by the opportunity to meet so many brilliant authors, get to know the team at Z better, and see the national conventions firsthand, but after a week straight of work few things sound better than falling asleep in your own bed.
Alas, it was not to be.
Expecting that the airport would be incredibly busy because of the upcoming holiday, I gave myself plenty of extra time to get through security. Having made it through with time to spare I was feeling good about my chances of getting home later that evening. Then, on the screen, I noticed our plane was being delayed by an hour.
A storm in Chicago was delaying our departure, which was problematic because I had a one hour layover in Chicago before the last flight out to Grand Rapids left. I sat fretting for a while, before being assured by the staff that they would make up the time in the air. That sounded good in theory, but then we sat on the tarmac, for forty five minutes.
Now, forty five minutes isn’t that long, but it was just long enough to ensure that sprinting to my connecting flight was going to be a hopeless venture.
I did it anyway.
As I ran up, out of breath and exhausted, I was told they shut the door two minutes ago, wouldn’t be letting me on, and couldn’t give me a hotel room because the delay was due to weather. I watched as the last flight home taxied away from the gate. When I then asked a manager if they could please reconsider comping me a hotel room for the night, I was told “I could, but I’m not going to.”
At least they were honest!
Not wanting to go through the hassle of finding a hotel, and now on principle not wanting to pay for one, meant my only option was to join the dozens of people assigned to sleep on cots.
You know what? Cots are the worst. They are loud, so hard you have to continually move so your body doesn’t go numb, and about two inches shorter than I am. Also, blankets that are one foot wide at best – not helpful.
Combine that with bright lights, intercom announcements every five minutes, and a guy who snores so loud you start to wonder if he’s faking it just to mess with everyone else, and you are in for a great night’s sleep.
To top it off, all of us cot-sleeping temporary refugees were woken up at 4:00AM so the cots could be put away and the airline could clear out the hall they put us in. Classy move.
Eventually I did of course make it home, and if nothing else it gives me a story to tell. But it makes me think, maybe Trains, Planes, and Automobiles was more of an “it’s funny because it’s true” sort of film than I realized.
The questions Jonathan Morrow asked in this video are, I think, critical questions for ministry leaders to be asking. In Think Christianly he’s seeking to help ministry leaders teach their congregations, essentially, how to think critically (and “Christianly”) and to be prepared to answer the world’s questions about God and life.
Or did it?
Most of us heard some version of that story in school, but now most historians believe that narrative is completely contrary to the what we actually know about those years.
In session three of The Birth of Freedom, we learn that although the Middle Ages started out with a difficult period of recovery after the fall of Rome, over time it proved to be an era marked by discovery, invention, and increased human dignity.
A few hundred years after the fall of Rome, a European economy which had once been driven by slave labor was now reliant on merchants, serfs, and nobles – not the freedom we enjoy today but compared to its history Europe had enterd a time of unparalleled freedom.
The reason for this shift away from slavery? Dave Stotts argues that it was the influence of the Church, and its revolutionary message that all people are created in the image of God.
Perhaps the Dark Ages were not so dark after all.
Congrats to Phil who won a copy of Chuck Swindoll’s Insights on Revelation!
“Quite a few years ago, I worked through Revelation from beginning to end. My lingering memory from that self-guided tour was that it read like the ramblings of a hippy on an acid trip. If you have ever been through it, you know just how utterly bizarre the language is. But now, in reading this detailed study with an experienced guide stepping me through verse by verse, I came away with much more understanding of God’s plan for the end times during what is referred to as the Apocalypse.”
The question that titles this post is on the minds of many right now, and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if people keep asking it over the next year. Questions like this are often answered in inflammatory, unhelpful ways. However, if you’re looking for a gracious, kind-hearted, but still thoughtful and unequivocally Christian voice to answer this question I encourage you to listen to this interview with Ross Anderson. He’s a committed Christian that genuinely loves his Mormon neighbors.
The audio is found about halfway down this page under the heading: Are Mormons Christians?
In this week’s giveaway, Insights on Revelation, Chuck Swindoll shares the wisdom of sixty years of studying the Scriptures.
He approaches Revelation with the goal of making the complicated simple and easy to understand, as well as eminently practical. Both readable and informed, this commentary is filled with stories, scholarship, and Swindoll’s classic warmth.
Though Revelation is book that is often obscured by confusion and divisions, the insights Swindoll brings help cast new light on the ancient text.
To enter this week’s giveaway, simply comment below with your answer to this question: What do you make of John’s statement that in the new earth there will be no more sea?
*If you are reading this via Facebook, email, or RSS, please visit the blog to enter. Winner determined by Random Integer Generator. Giveaway ends Friday at noon*
The folks at the Verge Network are giving awaya 50 free copies of Dave Gibbon’s new book Xealots. If you’re interested in a copy visit their site for full details. Here’s a new video interview with Dave too: