BEHIND THE MUSIC: Silent Night, Holy Night

Silent Night, Holy Night Lyrics by Joseph Mohr (1816) Music by Franz Gruber (1818)
In the cold, snowy December of 1818, a young Austrian priest was frantically making preparations for his village’s Christmas Eve mass. This being one of the most important worship services of the year, Joseph Mohr, only 26 years old at the time, did not want to disappoint his parishioners. He wanted to make sure the night was full of wonderful and inspiring music. There was only one problem. The church organ was out of operation and would not be fixed until well after Christmas.
As Christmas Eve approached and Mohr still had no solution to the problem, he took a long walk home one night to clear his mind. Looking over the serene, snow-covered village of Oberndorf below, he suddenly remembered a poem he had composed two years earlier. He was not much of a musician himself, but he knew just who to ask.
The day of Christmas Eve, mere hours before their midnight mass, Mohr knocked on the door of his friend Franz…


O Holy Night Lyrics by Placide Cappeau (1847) and John S. Dwight (1855) Music by Adolphe Adam (1847)
Largely regarded as one an essential Christmas hymn with a breathtakingly beautiful melody and inspiring lyrics, O Holy Night is the song that almost wasn’t. This beloved carol faced so many hardships and improbabilities along the way that it’s almost a miracle that we are singing it in 2019.
It all began with a gun left out and found by two little eight year old boys. That’s how Placide Cappeau tragically lost his right hand and avoided following in his father’s footsteps as a barrel maker. Instead, because of the accident he was able to pursue his schooling where he developed a love for art, literature, and law. Later in life Cappeau became mayor of his hometown, a wine merchant, and a part-time local poet.
In 1847 Cappeau was asked by his church priest to compose a poem to be read as part of their Christmas Eve service. Along the bumpy road to Paris, the one-handed poet put pen to paper.…

BEHIND THE MUSIC: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear Lyrics by Edmund Sears (1849) Music by Richard Willis (1850)
“Peace on Earth” spelled out in colored strands of lights displayed on the rooftops of homes and businesses. We’ve all seen it. We have all longed for peace. We want the wars to end. We want the violence to stop. But is it all just a false hope? The world seems to be anything but peaceful. Let’s be honest. Sometimes the world seems just as dark and cold as a night in late December. It can seem downright impossible for peace to win out. This was exactly the kind of melancholy that lead to the composition of the Christmas hymn It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.
The lyrics were written in 1849 by Edmund Sears, a Unitarian pastor near Boston, Massachusetts, at the request of one of his friends and fellow church leaders. The Mexican-American War had just ended the year before. Bloody social revolutions were happening across Europe. The American slave trade was operating in full force with no feasible end …

NF & the Enneagram

Unless you've been living under the proverbial rock, you've probably heard of the rapper Nate Feuerstein, more commonly known as NF. He's been on the scene since 2014, but has recently made it big with his 2017 hits Let You Down and Green Lights. NF is a Christian who is a rapper, but not necessarily a "Christian rapper." His lyrics are not explicit, but they hit just as hard as others like Eminem or Kendrick. His whole business is about "real music." He writes deeply and passionately about his own struggles with mental health, abuse, and loss.

Since his songs are so personal and packed with emotion, I thought it would be interesting to pair some of his songs with the different Enneagram types. If you've never heard NF before, give these a listen. They also happen to be some of my favorite tracks.

Type 1: Let You Down
Type 2: I'll Keep On
Type 3: Motivated
Type 4: Outcast
Type 5: The Search
Type 6: Intro III
Type 7: Turn the Music Up
Type 8: W…

What If Hallmark Christmas Movies Were Actually Good?

The Christmas movie craze is in full swing. You probably have your go-to favorites. My family loves Elf, Home Alone, the 2018 Grinch, and most recently Netflix's animated Klaus. But there is always a contingent of die hard Hallmark fans who would rather spend their holiday season rehearsing the same storyline multiple times over.

Are there good Hallmark Christmas movies? Sure. But they aren't my favorite. I mean, every Christmas movie is predictable to a point, but there's just something about Hallmark movies that take predictability to a whole new level.

Here's an example. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

A man and his wife are estranged. They aren't divorced yet, but it's obviously heading that way. The wife moved across the country to a big city to pursue her career. She has worked her way up the corporate ladder, and she and her husband find themselves taking different paths. The husband is not willing to give up, however. It's Christmas, a…

Male and Female: Full Series Download

Over the course of the last month I have written about 20,000 words on the topic and men and women in the church, specifically focusing on what role women have played and can play in the Kingdom. I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback. I realize that there are a lot of individual posts to go back and read through. So if you would like you are welcome to view and download the entire series by clicking this link:

I also have several additional resources listed at the end of the document. Here are links to most of them:
BOOKS: Scot McKnight, A Fellowship of Differents
Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet
N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture
James Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era
PODCASTS: Kindy DeLong, "Men and Women in Church Leadership, part 1" Kindy DeLong, "Men and Women in Church Leadership, part 2" Kindy DeLong, "Men and Women in Church Leadership, part 3"

An Open Letter to the Churches of Christ

The discussion so far: 1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 6) Creation 2.0 7) Rockstar Women of the Early Church 8) Was Paul Sexist? 9) 99 Problems, the church in Corinth 10) Eve vs. Artemis 11) Whose Church Is It, Anyway? .......
I’m bringing my part of this study to a close, but that by no means implies that the work is done. There is far more to this conversation than I have been able to cover in a simple blog series. But as this is the twelfth post on the matter, I believe this is a fitting point to end.

I’ve never written an open letter before. I don’t expect that this will get much wide circulation. This issue, though, is simply too important to let fizzle and die. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think needs to hear it. So…here it goes.


Grace and peace to you from one of your own. I, too, am a lifelong member of the C…

Male and Female: Whose Church Is It, Anyway?

The discussion so far: 1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 6) Creation 2.0 7) Rockstar Women of the Early Church 8) Was Paul Sexist? 9) 99 Problems, the church in Corinth 10) Eve vs. Artemis .......
Full disclosure - I am Church of Christ born and bred. I went through the entire program. I was born to faithful, active parents. We were at church every time the doors were open. I went to private Church of Christ schools from 1st grade through college (Jackson Christian School, Columbia Academy, and Harding University). I have worked as a full time youth minster and worship leader in two different Churches of Christ over the past 8 1/2 years.

I can totally relate to Paul in Philippians 3 when he is listing off his resume. Oh you want to talk religious cred? How bout them apples? Paul says he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” Well, I guess that would make me… CoC of CoC. Paul’s point in saying all that was…

Male and Female: Eve vs. Artemis

The discussion so far: 1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 6) Creation 2.0 7) Rockstar Women of the Early Church 8) Was Paul Sexist? 9) 99 Problems, the church in Corinth .......
I think after nine parts to this series a little recap is in order. I’ll try to make it quick. If you’re one of those “SKIP RECAP” people on Netflix, feel free to scroll down a bit. But if you haven't read parts 1, 2, and 3 yet - do that now before continuing. Those posts will be referenced quite a bit.
In the beginning God created male and female in his image as equals. They were partners in bearing his image to the rest of creation. The relationship between man and woman was to reflect the divine, loving community within God’s own being. In Genesis 2, it was not good for the man to be alone, so woman was created as the man’s “helper,” a word which was nearly exclusively used for God himself. In other words, man w…