The ______ Blog Posts of 2009

December 31, 2009

With the arrival of the end of the calendar year, it seems fitting (if not obligatory for bloggers) to create some sort of list reflecting the year in review.  I hesitate to call the list that follows, the “best” blog posts of the year, as I am certain that there were some better, somewhere.  But each of these, for a variety of reasons, caused me to stop at the time and make a record of them for a return visit some day.  Each struck me at the time as particularly insightful, or helpful to solidifying my thoughts on a subject, so I saved them.  And here they are.

The links below offer up far more reading than most will care to do, but you might try a few and see how they strike you.

Happy New Year!

Why Are There Never Enough Parking Spaces At The Prostate Clinic?  Carl Trueman, January 2009

A Brief Rejection of Arminianism…  C. Michael Patton, January 30, 2009

What Do You Mean When You Say God Is Sovereign  C. Michael Patton, February 21, 2009 (Best of Parchment and Pen)

Spiritual Gifts   C. Michael Patton series of 8 posts

Traducianism  Theological Word of the Day, April 22,2009

Five Big Myths About Calvinism  John Samson, April 24, 2009

Why I Baptize Babies  Kevin DeYoung, July 28,2009

Not Just Important, Not Even Just VERY Important, “Of FIRST Importance”  Greg Gilbert, August 22, 2009

No Homosexuality is Not Just an “Ethical Issue”  Kevin DeYoung, September 8, 2009.

“All Sins Are Equal in God’s Sight”… and Other Stupid Statements  C. Michael Patton, September 25, 2009

All Things In Fact  Kevin DeYoung, October 28, 2009

Christianity and World Religions by the Numbers  C. Michael Patton, November 5, 2009

Orthodoxy, Theological Maturity, and the Development of Doctrine:  From Theological DNA to Maturity  C. Michael Patton, November 16, 2009

“I Don’t Want to Know About God, I Just Want to Know Him”…And Other Stupid Statements  C. Michael Patton  November 21, 2009

The Gospel Old and New  Kevin DeYoung, November 24, 2009

“They Did Not Honor Him as God, or Give Thanks”  Albert Mohler, November 25,2009

Essential and Non-Essentials: How to Choose Your Battles Carefully  C. Michael Patton, December 8, 2009

Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread  Carl Trueman December, 2009


The Dawn of Redeeming Grace

December 23, 2009

[Note:  This is a reprise of an article originally posted here in 2007.]

Perhaps the world’s most popular Christmas carol is Silent Night!  It will be sung by millions of people tomorrow night during Christmas Eve worship services.

Silent Night, originally Stille Nacht, was a collaboration of an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr, and the music director of his parish, Franz X. Gruber.  In late 1818, Mohr’s parish in Oberndorf, Austria had an organ that was in need of repair due to a flood earlier that year.  In anticipation of the need for music at the Christmas Eve mass, Mohr asked Gruber to create a melody that could be played on a guitar, and be used with lyrics Mohr had already written.  Those lyrics were the words to a six verse poem Mohr had penned a couple of years earlier.  Supposedly Gruber composed the melody in a matter of hours.

Here is a direct translation of Stille Nacht into English.  The result is considerably different from the more familiar English lyrics that we know and use today.

Stille Nacht (Source: Lisa Yunnucci )
Silent night, holy night,
All’s asleep, alone awake
Only that faithful, holy couple.
The nice boy with curly hair,
Sleeps in heavenly peace,
Sleeps in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
O Son of God, lovingly laughs,
From your divine mouth!
Now, the hour of salvation rings for us,
Jesus, in thy birth,
Jesus, in thy birth!

Silent night, holy night,
That brought the world salvation,
From the golden heights of Heaven,
Let us see the abundance of grace,
Jesus in human form,
Jesus in human form.

Silent night, holy night,
When all power today,
Of Fatherly love has overflowed,
And Jesus, as brother, humbly embraced,
The people of the world,
The people of the world.

Silent night, holy night,
Long since intended for us,
When the Lord, freed of wrath,
In the father’s “old grey” time,
Promised all the world protection,
Promised all the world protection

Silent night, holy night,
To the shepherds first announced,
By the angels’ Alleluia,
Is sounding aloud from far and near:
“Jesus the Savior is here.”
“Jesus the Savior is here.”

The lyrics to Silent Night most familiar to English-speaking people, are credited to John F. Young, an Episcopal Bishop from Florida.  He wrote them in 1863.  Young is known to be the author of the first three verses shown below, while the author of the fourth is not known.

Silent Night!
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon’ virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from Heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born,
Christ, the Savior, is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent Night is my favorite Christmas carol.  I have great memories of it as a child.  And the memories of Christmas Eves past and the singing of this song are also significant.  But apart from those personal sentiments, this year I have been drawn to a particular line in the song that has served to create a rich restatement and reinforcement of the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is quite literally and appropriately, the celebration of the incarnation of God in Christ, Immanuel, and a celebration of the long anticipated, but mostly misunderstood arrival of Messiah.  But in Young’s lyric “the dawn of redeeming grace“, he captures something else that is incredibly important to understand and appropriate.

The concepts of creation, fall, redemption and consummation are certainly not new.  But they have received some helpful coverage in a couple of books that I read this fall.  Out of that reading, I am, no doubt, reflecting on Young’s lyrics with fresh eyes.  And with those fresh eyes, the significance of “the dawn of redeeming grace” has not been lost on me this Christmas.  Because the essence of Christmas really is the literal arrival of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, that brings redemption to fallen man.  And with the dawn of that first Christmas morning in Bethlehem, it had become a reality.

A little late for Christmas gift giving, but maybe you can spend your Christmas cash here.

December 18, 2009

And the auction catalogue is available at this LINK

Some pretty cool stuff for Coldplay fans, who have lots of money.  

Don’t forget where you got the tip!  (Any one of the acoustic guitars would be a thoughtful gesture of appreciation for turning you on to this opportunity.)

Tiger and Barack…an interesting parallel has been observed.

December 8, 2009

This is a really interesting opinion piece from the American Thinker.  Worth the time to read it.  It will make you think about the suggested parallels between Tiger and Barack, whether you agree entirely with it or not.

HT: Rush

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

December 8, 2009

[Note:  This post was originally published here on December 9, 2007.  It was reprised last year.  And due to the significant traffic it receives all year-long, but especially this time of year, it is being republished again this year, with some updates to reflect the current date.  ABC will broadcast A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight at 7 pm CST.]

Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of the release of the animated classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.  On December 9, 1965, CBS took a big chance on a Christmas program that they had some serious reservations about.  Coca-Cola was the sponsor of the show.  A Charlie Brown Christmas broke with many of the rules of production and programming of the day.  It had no laugh track and for the character voices, rather than using adults pretending to be children, they actually used children.  Perhaps most unusual was the use of  Scripture to explain the meaning of Christmas.  The director of the program approached Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas, to talk him out of quoting the Bible.  Schultz reportedly said “If we don’t do it, who will?”

Here is a clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  For me, this is the most memorable part of the whole program.

Did you watch the clip?  Did you notice something unusual?  Yeah, Scripture was quoted, it was Luke 2: 8-14, from the King James Version.  But there was something else.  Did you catch it?  Probably not, because it is very subtle.

Linus Van Pelt (did you know his last name is Van Pelt?) is known in the Peanuts comic strip for his security blanket.  He always has it, and in spite of the grief he gets from his sister Lucy, he is committed to that blanket.  The need for something like a blanket for security speaks more about a person’s insecurities, than about the security that an object (like a blanket) can provide.  Even the most confident among us have some amount of insecurity in our lives.  And those insecurities keep us off-balance and on-edge.

There is something instructive for us in Linus’ reciting of Luke 2: 8-14.  As Linus comes to Luke 2: 10, he says  “And the angel said unto them.  Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  Here is what you probably did not notice in the clip.  As soon as Linus says “Fear not“, he drops his security blanket.  Or thought of another way he lets go of his insecurities!  We can do the same thing.  In Christ, fear is replaced by love (1 John 4: 18).  Uncertainty is replaced by hope which is firm and secure (Heb 6: 19). 

At the end of Linus’ recitation, he quotes Luke 2: 14 and says “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  In my Greek dictionary, the word that is translated into English as “peace” is described like this:

a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being brought about by God’s mercy granting deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.

The bottom line of the Christmas story is the very incarnation of God’s mercy.  The embodiment of God’s grace for mankind.  Jesus left the glory of heaven to bring to all who believe, deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.  Jesus offers us the opportunity to exchange our sins and our insecurities for His peace.  As we anticipate the celebration of the Lord’s birth, my encouragement to you is to let go of  your insecurities and cling to the peace of Christ.

Sadly, Linus picks up his blanket again at the end of his recitation of Scripture and so his insecurities.  But he is just a cartoon character.  We can choose to deal with our insecurities differently.  Because we are the REAL DEAL, invited to experience REAL PEACE, offered by a REAL GOD.


An alternate meaning for the term “green” for Tiger Woods

December 5, 2009

No one, apart from the parties themselves and their respective attorneys, know the exact details of the supposedly revised prenuptial agreement between Elin Nordegren and Tiger Woods.  And the truth is that no one apart from the parties themselves (excluding now the attorneys) know exactly what the marital relationship was like between these two prior to the lid coming off late last week.  But there are plenty of conversations expressing a degree of certainty about the details of the new contract between Elin and Tiger, that we can probably safely conclude that Elin’s payout in the event the Woodses should split is increasing.  Now being refered to as a “postnup,” there is reportedly not only a reduction in the time leading to the vesting of the deal, but also increases in the dollar amounts that will accrue to her.  There is also reportedly an interim seven-figure payment to her that is being made immediately.  Overarching everything else about this situation is the appearance that the relationship between Elin and Tiger has moved from one of mutual love, honor and respect (hopefully these were present at the outset), to more of a business deal wherein one party pays the other for time and service.

One report suggests that the agreement includes behavioral conditions attached to the payout.  Specifically, that Elin must “be a dutiful wife in showing up with him at social events and in public as if they were still the perfect couple, and sign a nondisclosure form that will prevent her from ever telling her story.”  (emphasis added)

This is absurd and her advisors would do well to suggest that she agree to no such thing.  First of all, they never were, nor will they ever be “the perfect couple” because this and all other couples are made up of two imperfect people.  And in the case of this couple, one of them has now been publically exposed as more imperfect than his wife, his fans and his sponsors would like for him to be.  Secondly, performance against a subjective, qualitative standard such as “showing up as a perfect couple” is impossible to measure and the likelihood of a breach is far too great.  Third, the presentation of an image of being a perfect couple is far too great a burden for a betrayed spouse to have to meet.  This sort of demand has the appearance of disgraced politicians and celebrities having their forlorn spouses stand dutifully by the podium while their husbands “come clean.”  (Spitzer, McGreavy, and Jordan come to mind.)  Elin Nordegren has never apparently been a publicity seeker, and is likely not skilled at the fine art of dealing with a voracious media, drooling at the prospect of asking probing questions about her personal and married life.  Lacking that kind of experience or training, she is bound to fail this test.  

Fourth, on the surface, it would seem that she would forfeit her entitlement to a share of the couples assets if any of the details of her story are exposed.  Unless specifically excluded in the agreement, Elin would effectively be prevented from telling her story to counselors or any one else who might assist her in processing the betrayal she has most certainly experienced.  This sort of limitation will not serve her emotional health in either the short of long-term.

But fifth and perhaps most importantly, there is NOTHING that has been discussed or revealed in the media about conditions being attached to a change in behavior by Tiger Woods himself.  The details that have been released to date about this so-called “postnup” have the  appearance of handcuffing Elin to a marriage for the sake of claiming an equitible distribution of the assets that have been acquired during her marriage to Tiger Woods.  But nothing has been said about penalties that accrue to Woods himself, should he fail to repent from his philandering.  In fact, the structure of the deal that has been made public so far does nothing to prevent him from continuing to have affairs, with the assurance that for at least a few more years, the mother of his children will be at home with the kids awaiting his return.  And, if you want to take a really cynical view, the current “deal” almost provides a financial incentive for him to continue to misbehave, with the “hope” that Elin will have her fill of his infidelity and leave prior to the vesting of her share of their collective assets.  While you might be tempted to counter that point by saying that he stands to jeopardize his endorsement contracts, so far, with four affairs already made public, not one of his sponsors has indicated anything but support for Woods.  And this absurdity is the subject of perhaps another blog post.