Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve draws to a close and I can hear reindeer in the distance, so I’m signing off for the night.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2, NRSV

Merry CHRISTmas. Enjoy the rest of your break–Paula and I look forward to seeing you all when Winter Quarter kicks back off! Don’t forget to pray for us at Winter Conference.

The Greek New Testament Online

I just ran across a most remarkable online Bible study tool: the Greek New Testament browser. If you ever want to do some serious study this site will be pretty helpful. I can’t say enough good things about this site’s elegant interface and solid content.

Hat tip to the two excellent blogs who brought it to my attention: the New Testament Gateway and the Bible Software Review.

Building On Negatives

In Food Porn, Susan Wise Bauer writes about the tendency of modern authors to critique culture without offering a viable alternative: The cover-model ideal is warped and twisted, but they can’t manage to unwarp it. I’m reminded of J. R. R. Tolkien’s orcs, who (according to the Silmarillion) were modeled on elves by the dark powers; they were fashioned “by slow arts of cruelty in envy and mockery,” because dark powers can only warp and twist, not create afresh. If you’ve never seen an elf, and you try to work backwards from an orc to its model, you’re darn well not going to end up with Orlando Bloom.

You can’t build on negation alone.

How often is our plan for being good to stop being bad? In the Biblical perspective, holiness is an addition equation, not a subtraction equation. We don’t merely seek to eradicate vices such as gossip and lying; on the contrary, we actively cultivate virtues such as love, joy, patience, and self-control.

Just some quick thoughts inspired by an absolutely brilliant Tolkien reference in an otherwise unrelated article.

I’m the Video Blogger

Check it out–I’m the guest video blogger on ChiAlpha.com in a clip entitled “I Doubt It”! We filmed this while I was in Atlanta for the campus ministers’ conference this weekend.

Curt (the video blog king) did some major editing to make me sound more intelligent than I was in that section–I was babbling like a fool but through the miracle of iMovie I came out looking not totally stupid.

Also, they have added a video archive so that you can check out all the past video blogs.

Chi Alpha Video Blogs

In case you haven’t been checking it out, the national Chi Alpha website has been rockin’ lately. If you want to get a feeling for what they’re doing, check out their video blogs (the most recent one is a video blog of love, but I think the one on postmodern cookie evangelism is a better intro).

Unfortunately, there’s no index to them all. You can sort of see one at http://chialpha.com/video_blogs, but it’s really just a directory listing. *sigh*

Update: there is an index to the Chi Alpha video blogs!