Advent Thought for the Day

Immanuel. God with us. God WITH us. Contemplate for a moment what would change to comprehend the presence of the divine standing among us at any given time. Have we forgotten this most basic yet crucial reality of our living faith?

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel


Veni, veni Emanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude, gaude, Emanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni, veni o oriens!
Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.


Veni, veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai
Legem dedisti vertice,
In Maiestate gloriae.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave


O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Coventry Carol

For your Advent listening…

Am I Really Posting About Leadership?

Yes. Yes I am. Most writing on leadership, especially what I’ve read about church leadership, tends to look like the same business management and leadership fluff that gets recycled from book to book. Too often, church leadership teaching has the feel of teaching people with an unhealthy ego how to promote themselves while maintaining a spiritual veneer. Occasionally, you’ll get someone like Leighton Ford, who gets it right that a church leader must first be a servant, but those examples are rare.

David Rudd blogs his “leftover” sermon thoughts his tumblr site. When I saw the following two posts drift across my twitter feed, I admit my defenses went up. Seeing titles like “9 Characteristics of a Great Leader (From Isaiah 11)” and “18 Incontrovertable Laws Which Cannot Be Denied About Leadership” have the sound of articles that follow the well-word path of deriving principles from Old Testament texts in ways that cannot be hermeneutically supported. But this could not be further from the truth here. David outlines attitudes that are sorely missing from the realm of leadership in general, and leadership among God’s people in particular.

A few gems from the posts:

  • Leadership does not replace the Holy Spirit
  • Leadership is not a dynamic personality
  • Leadership requires humility
  • A great leader will find his significance by obeying God’s laws, not man’s opinions
  • A great leader will prioritize justice, specifically for those who have fewer privileges
  • A great leader will not allow people to benefit by exploiting others

There are more, of course. Please check them out. If you are in a tradition that has paid/formal leadership, it will be well worth your time to prayerfully consider what David has written. And if you are in a position to exercise leadership, whether in or out of a church setting, there are two other resources I can recommend to you. One is Leighton Ford’s Transforming Leadership: Jesus’ Way of Creating Vision, Shaping Values & Empowering Change. It’s a bit on the Evangelical fluff side, but he does keep humility and servant-hood at the core, so there is value there. The other is Leonard Sweet’s Summoned to Lead. This turns traditional ideas of leadership on their head, revealing the more Biblical model of answering the call of God in a particular situation, as opposed to setting oneself up as a permanent leader who acts like a monarch.


If you’re looking for some good Advent devotional material, do yourself a favor and visit the annual BHT Advent Blog.

Worth a visit

It is time well spent to visit Steve Brown’s Pooped Pastors site. But don’t let the title mislead you. Good info is to be had for anyone who serves their church.

Caedmon’s Call

I got into CCM in a big way in the 90s. Since then, it may be my own change in tastes or the result of reading too much theology, but I can’t stand most of what passes for Christian music today. There are rare exceptions, and Caedmon’s call is one of them. Their latest release, Raising Up the Dead, just came out, and is currently available for download at Amazon for $4.99 (11-16-2010 This won’t last).

I hesitate to give any kind of review, as I need to listen to a new release several times and let it soak in, so consider what I write here only a first impression. The sound is very polished without coming off as overproduced like most Nashville music, thanks to Derek Webb. All the songs are good, but I was in more of a rock mood when I listened, so I’ll reserve my negative comments for another day. I will say that She, Family, Miss You, Come With Me, and David Waits stood out for various reasons.

She has a nice pop feel, but it’s so much more. Family is reminiscent of the best of PFR. Miss You features killer vocal work by Danielle Young. Come with me put me in something of a contemplative mood. David Waits is just awesome. All the members had a hand at writing on this release, giving it a sense of variety that is lacking in other bands.

Like I said, these are only first impressions. It’s enough that I can recommend the purchase without reservation, even if the price goes up by the time you read this. Go get it and have a listen.

Games and Discipleship?

Game theorist extraordinaire and TED Speaker Jane McGonigal on productivity:

Jane McGonigal – On Productivity from The School of Life on Vimeo.

So what if developing spiritual disciplines and growing in discipleship, at least where development is concerned, could actually be … fun?

What do you think?

Tithe or Manipulation?

Please watch the following video, and try not to throw up. (If you find no problem with it, then please read this post!)

Ed Young Goes After Access to Bank Accounts of Church Members from FBCJax Watchdog on Vimeo.

My dear fellow Christ followers, you can do better than this. It pains me that people fall for this kind of manipulative BS. For too long, our tribe has bought into some horribly false teaching about tithing. For those who don’t know, the tithe was, for lack of a better description, the tax system for Old Testament Israel. The first ten percent of anything you produced was to be given to the Temple as an offering to God, and it also served to fund the Temple, provide for the priesthood, etc.

If we want to take the teaching of the New Testament seriously, then we need to let go of this idea of the tithe. When Jesus calls us to become one of his people, the demand blows the tithe away. Everything we have and everything we are belongs to Christ, and we are called to live generously toward humanity, especially those in need. You read that right: everything. All of it. One hundred percent. This idea that we should be setting aside ten percent to give to "the church" amounts to little more than crass manipulation to prop up power structures that get in the way of true generous life as followers of the way of Jesus.

Please understand, I am not opposed to a local expression of the church choosing to buy a building, or pay for one or more people to dedicate their lives full time to serving and teaching. That’s fine, and if the congregation agrees, they should do so with joy. But if the goal of giving becomes simply paying the pastor to serve you, to meet your "needs," or fund programs that are at best dubiously connected to discipleship, please understand that your dollars could be better spent elsewhere.

Before you spend another dollar toward a church, please ask yourself an important question. Is the church’s primary mission about making disciples, representing Jesus as His ambassadors, and caring for the "least of these?" Think about it, then please discuss here.

A thought at the end of the week.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, ESV)

Why does this seem to be so hard for us in the West? Why is it easier for us to be “jerks for Jesus,” puking law and judgment on everyone and everything?

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