A Justin Beiber Christmas

It’s not that I’m coming out of the closet as a Justin Bieber fan, but I thought his rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” perfectly captures the American vision for Christmas. Santa Claus, by the way, didn’t really make his appearance until early in the twentieth century and only then as a marketing ploy by several American companies, especially Coca-Cola. The whole notion of a fat guy in a red suit giving stuff to good boys and girls continues to evolve in peculiarly American ways, with our friend Justin taking it to an entirely new level. Here is how he interprets Christmas: So as I continue to search […]

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Spiritual teaching from the Army/Navy Game

My wife and I attended our first Army/Navy football game last Saturday. The game was played at FedEx stadium in Washington, DC on a perfect winter’s day, with the sun shining and a cold wind blowing. Eighty thousand rabid fans filled the stadium. They were “rabid” because no one goes to this annual event unless they’re sold out Army (that would be my wife and I) or sold out Navy (the other guys). The game is what the media and everyone who’s ever attended say it is: an athletic contest embedded in stirring military pomp and patriotic fervor. President Obama flipped the coin that began the game and Lee Greenwood […]

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How to Reach Men

Reaching men is one of the most important pieces of an effective local church ministry. When men get serious about their relationship with Jesus, they bring their families with them. If men aren’t serious about their faith, though, their wives and children may still attend church but the quality of their faith suffers. Whether they accept it or not, men really do lead their families. The issue is whether they lead them in the right direction or the wrong one. Effective church leadership in modern America has to come to terms with men’s spiritual needs: how to reach men and facilitate their growth as spiritual leaders. One of the main […]

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Atheist Chaplains?

                                                                         National Public Radio last week reported on something I never would have thought of. Atheist chaplains. NPR, of course, used it as an opportunity to do what they do, which is to breathlessly report all the news that’s opposed to what most people believe and live by. If a story is odd and anti-anything, NPR will be right there. Anyway, here’s the link to the atheist chaplain story:  National Public Radio atheist chaplain interview […]

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Christmas programs past and future

So last night we had a Christmas program at our church. There are probably a half dozen or so we have each year, between our children, adults and senior adults, and the week-day child care. Christmas programs are as old as the church, and every age group brings a particular viewpoint on this season. I love them all, and get a kick out of everything from watching the kids sing their songs to the earnest dialogue of the senior adults in their program. I remember hearing years ago of one of those Christmas pageants churches used to have, when children put on bathrobes and held cardboard shepherd’s crooks. In one […]

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Al Mohler's bobblehead doll

                                                                            Al Mohler is today’s most influential Southern Baptist leader. From his key position as president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary he provides vision and direction for the series of changes sweeping through the denomination.                                                                                                                                                 The list of Mohler’s accomplishments is pretty impressive. He began his career by revamping  Southern Seminary, long a bastion of classic, main-stream Baptist doctrine (in the interest of full disclosure, I have two degrees from this […]

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Suffering, Disability and the Will of God

We had Thanksgiving with my wife’s family, in the upper part of the state. A great time as usual, filled with relatives we don’t get to see often and lots of catching up. Also loads of food. I’m still recovering. My wife’s father suffered an accident two years ago—at the age of 74—that left him almost completely disabled. Up until the moment of the accident he was vibrant and energetic, a minister looking forward to well-deserved retirement in two short months. In a matter of seconds, though, everything changed. His neck was broken in one of those inexplicable events that leave us at a loss in trying to understand why […]

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Thanksgiving

In his blog “Glory to God for All Things,” Father Stephen raises the bar of thanksgiving from a simple holiday to the higher place it holds in our relationship with God: The act of giving thanks is among the most fundamental acts of love. It lies at the very heart of worship – in which, in the words of Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, there is an exchange. In giving thanks we make an offering which itself is always inferior to what  we have received – but which is itself an enlargement of the human heart. To live rightly  in the presence and communion of God is to live in a state […]

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Men and their tribes

My son plays rugby at West Point and put me onto this video. It’s from the 2011 World Cup Rugby winners, the New Zealand All Blacks, possibly the baddest group of sportsmen in the world. The dance they do prior to each match is called the “haka” and is a traditional demonstration of courage of Maori men before battle. The movements, gestures and facial expressions are all intended to frighten the enemy. I can understand how they would. It’s pretty scary to me just watching it on Youtube in the safety of my own study. The thing of it is, while these guys are a sports team, the dance itself […]

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Institutionalism may kill the Church

I’m not one of those people who are bitter with the church. I know a lot of those folks, ministers as well as lay people. The ministers like that retire angry and broken; the lay people like that drift from congregation to congregation, hoping the next church will be the one they’ve been looking for all along. I don’t feel that way at all. I love the church. I love its people, its worship, its ministries. I’m excited about the future. I agree with Bill Hybels when he says the local church really is the hope of the world. I love the church. But the institution surrounding the local church is […]

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