Christmas Playlist (Spotify)

Linked below is a playlist of Christmas music I created on Spotify. It’s your guide to some of the — in my opinion — best Christmas music, free of the not-so-great sentimental hymns, as well as the incarnationally void “holiday songs” like Jingle Bells and Let It Snow (…not that there’s anything wrong with that #Seinfeld).

Let’s cut to the chase though: there’s a lot of really good Christmas songs out there (which frankly I’d sing year round); but there’s also a lot of not-so-great Christmas stuff. And then, of course, there’s all the whatev- non-religious festive-type songs, which are at best occasionally sentimental and nice, but at worse annualized overkill and cumulatively annoying.

This playlist avoids the host of non-religous holiday songs, to give a pure Advent-themed playlist, but also cuts out all those — in my opinion — mediocre Christmas hymns. (If I didn’t include your favorite song, I’ll take suggestions; but if denied, #SorryNotSorry). What can I say? I’m kind of a Christmas song snob…

Most of the songs here are hymns, or the more “traditional” Christmas songs, although occasionally I’ll include something written more recently. Most of the stuff though is performed in a more contemporary fashion, with even some occasional modified renditions.

So… without further ado, here is your Kirk Miller approved Spotify Christmas playlist.

The Best One-Volume Bible Commentary — The New Bible Commentary

As a pastor and teacher in the church, folks often ask me for suggestions on useful resources to help them understand the Bible.

The amount of books being written today on how to read and understand the Bible, however, can be rather dizzying. It’s a great blessing to have such an extent of literature and resources available to us. But what if someone is not as acquainted with these things? How does one even know where to start? How does one know what’s good and what isn’t? Or even if I am able to determine what’s valuable, maybe I’m not the sort of person who intends on building a massive library. What if I just want to acquire a handful of really helpful books that cover a large stretch of Biblical material?

If that describes you (or maybe even if it doesn’t*), I want to recommend to you The New Bible Commentary (NBC), 21st Century Edition.

The New Bible Commentary

Voted one of Christianity Today’s 1995 Books of the Year, The New Bible Commentary is a one-volume commentary on the entire Bible. It’s one volume, in other words, that contains 66 individual commentaries for each book of the Bible.

The NBC is thoroughly evangelical in outlook. It’s edited by D.A. Carson, R. T. France, J. Alec Motyer, and Gordon J. Wenham, and has contributors from top-notch evangelical scholars like T.D. Alexander, Bruce Waltke, Derek Kidner, Moises Silva, Christopher Wright, Doug Moo, Leon Morris, Howard Marshall, and many others.

And that’s actually one of the unique advantages of a work like The New Bible Commentary. Many comparable resources and study Bibles, which also seek to cover the whole of scripture, are often times written by just one author, maybe a popular pastor. Without dismissing the value of those other works, the advantage of the NBC, however, is that rather than getting the opinion of author who undoubtedly does not possess specialization on every book of the Bible, with the NBC you get a full roster of specialists. The NBC contains a collection of scholars who each write on their particular area of expertise. In other words, you’re always reading from someone who actually specializes in the subject at hand.

The NBC is incredibly accessible. Any believer, no matter what their skill level, should be able to pick up this book and gain from it. The NBC provides commentary on each section of scripture, and supples helpful explanation of all major interpretive issues in a passage. At the same time, it strives to remain concise and succinct, not getting bogged down in overly-technical and lengthy discussion.

Each commentary begins with introductory material about the book’s author, date, setting, outline, major themes, and much more. In addition, the NBC includes articles on Biblical history, how to read and understanding the Bible, as well as briefs on the nature of specific Biblical genres like poetry, the epistles, and apocalyptic literature.

Logos Bible Software

Logos Bible Software is the primary tool I use for collecting my books and doing in-depth Bible study. As such, my particular version of the NBC is owned in my Logos Bible Software.

I recommend Logos Bible Software for anyone looking to do serious study of the Bible. There are many advantages to owning a book in Logos over buying just a regular physical copy. As the Logos website explains, a book in Logos becomes more than just a book; it becomes “a robust resource that works dynamically with every other book in your library. Each resource is packed with tags and hyperlinks, serving as a gateway to an entire world of textual and visual resources. This network effect dramatically boosts the value of each book.” In other words, it becomes more than just a book; it becomes a piece of a whole, high-powered Bible study system. –This in addition to the advantages that come with any ebook: easily portable, searchable, editable notations and note taking (copy and paste function), etc.

Of course their are downsides to electronic books — no doubt. But there are also a ton of positives, and, as noted, even more so in the case of Logos.

Anyone can get Logos for free here (this free package includes 20+ free books, with resources valued at over $1,500)… yeah, all free. And then you can buy the NBC to have added to your Logos library here.

As an official partner with Logos, I’m also able to offer highest rate discounts on all base packages if you actually want to purchase something with even more resources — like the current Fundamentals Base Package, which includes the NBC.

Use my special partner code KIRK8 at checkout for all purchases.

Further Info

For many years I recommended the old New Bible Commentary as the best of its kind on the market. I expect to find myself saying the same of this new work that replaces it.

—J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God

  • 21st Century Edition.
  • InterVarsity Press, 1994.
  • 1,455 pages.

Notes:

  • Even if you are someone like me who buys a lot of commentaries and more in-depth resources, I still recommend considering the NBC. I frequently use the NBC in my Bible study and sermon preparation, alongside more lengthy, technical resources for its succinct overview of a passage and its major interpretive issues.

Full disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for this review. However, that compensation did not impact the content of this review.

Jon Hanes on a Christian Approach to Environmental Concerns Such as Climate Change

I lead a small group at my church, CrossWay Community Church (Milwaukee), called “Christ & Culture,” where we examine various social and cultural issues of our day and try to consider how we might engage these things Christianly and Biblically.

Last night we had the privilege of hosting my dear friend, Jon Hanes, who delivered a talk on a Christian approach to environmental concerns with particular attention on the example of climate change.

Jon Hanes is an adjunct geography professor at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) and a deacon at Lake Drive Baptist Church on the northside of Milwaukee, where I was a member with him for approximately eight years.

Many folks who were not able to attend asked me to record his talk, which I’ve provided below. We had some additional discussion and helpful conversation after the close of this recording. But the audio below reflects the “lecture” portion of his talk.


Dr. Jon Hanes
January 16th 2019


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Jon in this audio are his own and are not representative of his employer or church.


Books Jon mentioned in his talk:

NFL Thanksgiving as a Cultural Liturgy of “God & Country,” Nationalist Militarism (James K.A. Smith)

As always, James K.A. Smith is equally perceptive of cultural habits as he is insightful in his analysis of them.

In today’s The NFL’s Thanksgiving games are a spectacular display of America’s ‘God and country’ obsession, published over at the The Washington Post, Smith plays on a common thesis in his writings:

Whereas many see our culture’s habits, traditions, and institutions as mundane, non-religious affairs, James sees much more at stake. They are competing rituals, or “religious” liturgies competing for our worship and shaping our loves.

Christian worship is formative — forming us into a people who love Christ and his kingdom. Our competing cultural “liturgies” (e.g., here: a traditional NFL Thanksgiving; or in other places in Smith’s writing: e.g., the mall as a house of worship for consumerism — quite relevant for tomorrow’s Black Friday) have a deformative power, pulling on our affections and, in the process, misplacing them (idolatry).


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