December 11, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

     Set your watch: the countdown has clearly begun. We're now just 336 hours from Christmas morning. As soon as the sun comes up, the stores shut down. If you're countin' on the internet to save you... they're now impotent. You can order whatever you want on the 25th... but they're still dependent on UPS/FedEx/USPS/DHL - all those initials of people who fly airplanes and drive trucks - to get it there. Willing to pay a premium for prompt delivery? Do it this week; you're about 168 hours from out-of-lucksville, unless you're willing to pay more for shipping than for the present.
      I'm done shopping (minimal), so I've already begun to enjoy the moment... leading up to The Moments. For the next two weeks, I'm going to immerse myself in the Pleasures of the Paradox. Ever enjoy the experience of your opponents telling you that you were right, all along? This is the month to say, "See, I told you so!" in every public setting. Why? Simple: just stop and listen to the music...
      From Thanksgiving to Christmas, from Nordstrom to Starbucks, elevators to music-on-hold: it's all Christmas music, 24/7. Political Correctness has finally surrendered to the markets; we're immersed in the carols and hymns and ditties of Christmas.
      I've done my own research: it's the same 40 songs, sung over-and-over again by 100 artists. Half the songs are winter and bells and trees and Santa... and the other half are full-on, right-out-of-the-hymnbook Christmas songs. In the space of the last two weeks, I've been evangelized by the most unexpected sources...
      Evangelized? The term isn't misused: it means "to declare the good news." And the good news of Christmas is all about Jesus, and salvation, and a major inflection point in the history of everything that was punctuated in a stable in Bethlehem. Let me quote some of the modern spokespersons:
      This from James Taylor, overheard at Target: "... Down in a lowly manger, the humble Christ was born. And God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born." Wow, I've never bought his politics, but I'd sure buy into that proclamation!
      I had a moment with Bing Crosby at my dentist's office. Bing, though dead, yet speaks: "Christ by highest heav'n adored; Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come; offspring of a Virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with man to dwell; Jesus, our Emmanuel! Hark! The herald angels sing: 'Glory to the newborn King!'" He drilled it... while Dr. Miller did the same...
      In the space of a day, I heard amazing messages from two long-term cultural voices who share roots in their Jewishness. Hear this from Barbra Streisand: "For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above. While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love. Oh morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth. And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!" She must believe that message; I'm sure she wouldn't have recorded those words in song if she didn't agree with its premise...
      And, then, my ol' fav Neil Diamond capped it with this bold announcement: "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior's birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth! A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices! For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices ! O, night divine! O night, when Christ was born..." Now, that's better theology than will be heard from some compromised "Christian" pulpits this Christmas...
      I've been evangelized already this Christmas - just like most of our culture! The seedbed for salvation has already been prepared. We're in the month when talking about the Truth is easier than it is all year long! Why don't you finish the job that James Taylor and Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond and all of their Grammy-winning friends have started... and tell your lost friends how to meet that Savior, personally?

Bob Shank

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