Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012

Two Thousand and Twelve...the calender only has a few more days on it - but enough to go out and pick up copies of the best albums, books or movies. Here's some of my favorites:

Books (read in 2012, not necessarily published in 2012)

Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church, Todd Billings. This one is an accessible treatment of a doctrine that is getting a lot of attention over the past five years or so. Billings does a great job relating this doctrine to real life concerns of the church.

Grace-Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel. Every parent needs grace. This book was a great reminder of the call in parenting without being legalistic and beating up already beaten down parents.

Calvin's Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension, Julie Canlis. This is the most academic book on my list, but I loved it. Canlis does a fantastic job showing how union with Christ is at the core of Calvin's theology.

Preaching to a Post-Everything World:, Zack Eswine. I read more than 3000 pages on preaching this past year (I can hear the jokes now - "when's it gonn pay off Dan?"), but this was very helpful in that it was very unique. Most dealt with interpreting the text, this highlighted the responsiblity to interpret the world.

Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, Christopher Wright. Ok, this is pretty academic also. It is, however, a fantastic help for the believer looking to the Old Testament and wondering how all the laws and ethical injunctions apply today.

Knowing God, JI Packer. This isn't the first time this book has been on my 'best of' list, and it won't be the last. I reread it again (I think that's number four). It's one of the best devotional books I've ever read, and the best this year.

Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures, Dennis Johnson. This was another very good preaching book. Johnson does a great job navigating the extremes of several approaches. Helpful and worshipful.

Favorite Albums (Released in 2012):

Hard Rock:
King Animal, Soundgarden
Amaryllis, Shinedown
Oceania, Smashing Pumpkins
House of Gold and Bones, Stone Sour
Days Go By, The Offspring

Blues, Southern Rock, Folk, Etc.
La Futura, ZZ Top
Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies, Dirty Guv'nahs
Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen
Drive Towards the Daylight, Joe Bonamassa
The Longing (EP), All Sons and Daughters
The Peace of Wild Things, Paper Route
Babel, Mumford and Sons
Once Upon a Time in the West, The White Buffalo
Uncaged, Zac Brown Band

Movies (Released in 2012)*:
Dark Knight Rises
The Avengers
The Amazing Spiderman

*This list is sad. I need to see more movies. Cmon Lynn, we're going on a date!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Very Different 'O Come' Songs

Take a moment and listen to these two wonderful Christmas songs.

David Crowder Band, "O Come O Come Emmanuel"

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by David Crowder Band on Grooveshark

Justin McRoberts, "Come all ye Faithful" (you're lucky, I almost posted the Stryper version of his carol!)

Come All Ye Faithful by Justin McRoberts on Grooveshark

These two songs were a part of the last Connexion of the fall semester when Bob preached the sermon "Merry Christmas from the Old Testament".  We actually sang these two songs back to back, 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' first, then "Come All Ye Faithful".  The band sounded absolutely fantastic - I was overwhelmed, especially during 'O Come O Come Emmanuel'.

But something hit me as we sang these two songs back to back - the tone of these two songs is so different. I don't just mean musically, but lyrically as well. The first, while certainly speaking of rejoicing, set's it in the context of mourning and exile, of gloom and 'death's dark shadow'.  The second speaks of choirs of angels, of exultation and of the 'happy morning'.  What hit me is that both are true now of the church - mourning and exile, joy and exultation.

No one makes more clear our status as exiles in this world than Peter. Three times, at least, in his short epistle he uses the word exile or exiles (1Peter 1:1, 17 and 2:11). Peter highlights that this is a time of suffering and trial, and who among us doesn't fee this.

But, the truths of 'O Come all Ye Faithful' should not be ignored either. Maybe Paul emphasizes joy more than Peter (though Peter does say in 1 Peter 1:8 that believers, even in the midst of their suffering, 'rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory'). Paul though wrote the letter to the Philippians that has become known as 'The Epistle of Joy'.  This epistle, however, was written from jail as Paul was suffering for his faith!

The mourning and gloom of 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' is a reality for the church until the second advent of Christ. The joy and exultation of 'O Come All Ye Faithful' is a reality for the church because of Christ's first advent. We live between the two, between the climax of history and the end of history. We need to hold to both truths or our message will be misshapen and not reflect the full reality of who we are as the body of Christ.