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Archive for December, 2010

I received an e-mail today from Shepherd’s Field, a Christian orphanage in China. It is a truly special place that cares for special needs orphans. We know a couple here in Memphis who have adopted a child from this orphanage. The e-mail had this picture of their children

They also had a this artwork from one of the children, with the question: What if the next Picasso lives in an orphanage?

We have experienced this question firsthand, as we have watched our daughter Mae (5, adopted from China) grow up. We have have often wondered what we and the world would have missed out on if she had grown up without a family. I don’t think they meant to make any sort of theological statement with the question, and I am 100% sure that they not only agree with I’m about to say, but they have literally given there lives for it. The question is a dangerous one, because these children do not have value only because they might grow up to be a great artist, or cure cancer, or whatever other wonderful thing they may do.  They have value because they are made in the image of God. Shepherds Field is built on this truth: Psalm 139:14- “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

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Unprecedented

It’s a white Boxing Day in Memphis after flurries (that didn’t stick) on Christmas Day.  Both very unusual, but not unprecedented.

This morning I began to read Luke.  What strikes many readers in chapter 1 is that Zach and Mary seems to have similar responses to the angelic promises, yet Zach gets struck mute in judgment.  Mary’s concerns seem to be valid:  “How on earth will this happen, since I’m a virgin?”

But Zach’s concern seems justified to modern readers as well.  We all know about being too old to reproduce, and we all know about being barren.

One big difference here is that Zach, being “righteous in God’s sight” (1:6), should have known his salvation history well enough not to doubt that God could give life to a dead womb.  It wasn’t frequent, but it certainly happened, and if an angel of YHWH showed up to tell you that grace was falling on you, there was really no option but trusting the God of Abram and Sarai and buying a skin of wine to split with Elizabeth.

But Mary’s pregnancy had no precursor.  Her question for clarification shows that something new was happening in salvation history, something that was even greater than what happened for Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah.

The Messiah came in an unprecedented fashion, precisely because he himself was unprecedented.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

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And another Christmas gem from the greatest singer-songwriter in Memphis (my opinion, which is nearly infallible).

 

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A Few Christmas Gems

(1)  The story of the 1914 ceasefires in the trenches of WWI may say more about humanity’s love for soccer (“football”) than about humanity’s love for each other.  But it says something and it is worth a read.

(2)  My friend Gerald has written a beautiful Christmas poem.

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Big Gospel, Big Music

(1) Big Gospel:  I really appreciated this post by Tullian on the size and centrality of the gospel.  (Short version:  it’s huge.)  As Darrell Bock says when talking about his new book, “I think the church gets what it pays for when it treats the gospel as a momentary transaction.”  I’m going to be reviewing this book for TGC and may say more on the topic later.

Tullian picks up some nice comments from Keller, who elsewhere offers creation, cross, and crown as “three biblical perspectives” on the gospel.  These two pastors are offering potent, mainstream Reformed thinking here.  I’ve ceased to be surprise when I meet young pastors who aren’t well-trained who admit how little they emphasize (say) the resurrection, in favor of talking about the cross and justification repeatedly.

(2)  My friend Caleb Sigler has a nice song you can listen to for free, out in advance of his new album.  Very nice singer-songwriter pop, way above K-Love grade.  Caleb is the Worship Arts Resident at Christ City Church in Midtown.

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Silent Night

This is an article written by Eamonn Brennan of ESPN about a great Christmas tradition at Taylor University-

Taylor University is an NAIA liberal arts Christian college in Upland, Ind.,and has perhaps the best hoops-slash-Christmas tradition in the whole wide world. That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not that far off.

What is this fabled tradition? It’s called “Silent Night.” Every year around Christmastime, Taylor students and fans pack the school’s gym as they would any other game. Only on “Silent Night,” the crowd dresses in pajamas and stays absolutely silent until Taylor scores its 10th point of the game. What happens then? Bedlam.

In fact, it’s probably best you just watch the video for yourself:

Yep. Bedlam.

 
The Christmas-y fun doesn’t stop there. In the closing moments of the game, Taylor fans unite for a singing of “Silent Night,” and then reconvene for a school-wide Christmas party called Christmas Fandango where the school president reads the Christmas story, students compete in gingerbread house-making contests and children tell Santa what they want for Christmas.

In other words, if you don’t like Christmas — and yes, plenty of people do not like Christmas, including my roommate — do not go to Upland, Ind., on “Silent Night.” You probably wouldn’t like it.

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