header-image

RodneyOlsen.net

Shopping for Jesus

If you look carefully, among the lights, tinsel and brightly coloured decorations at your local shopping centre, you might also see a modest display depicting a stable.

All the usual suspects are there, Mary, Joseph, the animals, some shepherds and in the feeding trough, a small baby.

I read an interesting article around this time last year titled, “Most Australians like seeing baby Jesus in a manger at the mall”.

McCrindle research has shows that 9 out of 10 Australians feel that nativity scenes are part of Christmas and should be in our public spaces.

Even among Australians who practise a religion other than Christianity, 91 per cent are happy to see nativities, while 86 per cent of those who have no religious beliefs are also supportive, according to McCrindle.

While I’m encouraged to know that most Aussies still see the connection between baby Jesus and Christmas as important, we still seem a long way from allowing a place for the grown-up version of Jesus in public.

We seem to like the Jesus of Christmas.

I wonder if that’s because a baby is cute and inoffensive. Baby Jesus doesn’t throw the money changers out of the temple. Baby Jesus doesn’t call us to leave behind what the rest of the world is chasing to follow him. Baby Jesus doesn’t hang brutally beaten and bleeding from a cross in our place.

Despite protests from his wife and father-in-law, Will Ferrell’s character in the 2006 movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby prefers baby Jesus to adult Jesus. In the scene in the video below, everyone gets to choose their ‘favourite version of Jesus’.

Choose your Jesus

It’s a funny scene but there’s a lot of truth behind it. Many people seem to think they can choose their own Jesus. I hear people saying what they believe Jesus would and wouldn’t think about a range of issues without actually going to the source of information that truly reveals who Jesus was and is … the Bible.

I’ll certainly be celebrating the baby Jesus this Christmas but I refuse to leave him in a manger. The miracle of ‘God with us’ is truly awesome but the fact that God dwelt among us by taking on flesh must lead us to thinking of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Focussing on more than just the baby Jesus at this time of year makes the Christmas story even more wonderful and has consequences for each of us that stretch into eternity. That baby grew into a man who would change history. He changed history because he was not only a man but the God who defined history in the first place.

If you’re one of the majority of people who enjoy seeing the nativity at this time each year, let me encourage you to marvel at the manger but then look beyond to see Jesus for who he became and who he is.



Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Shopping for Jesus? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

RetroRadio – Phil Cooke

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

Back in July 2007, I spoke to Phil Cooke. I’ve just relistened to the interview and so much of what he has to say is still incredibly relevant today.

He’s produced TV and film programming in more than 60 countries around the world, and in the process, been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter, and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time – through his company Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California – he’s helped some of the largest Christian and nonprofit organizations in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.

Phil was Executive Producer of “Let Hope Rise – the Hillsong Movie” released to theaters nationwide, and Producer of “The Insanity of God” a feature documentary that premiered nationally as a Fathom Event. According to former CNN journalist Paula Zahn, Phil is rare – a working producer in Hollywood with a Ph.D. in Theology. He’s appeared on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. – PhilCooke.com

We chatted about his work and the media in general as well as a range of other ways in which Christians are portrayed.

Phil had a lot of great insights into the most effective ways for Christians to harness the power of the media in its various forms. One thing that came out very strongly a number of times in our discussion was the need for people who want to share their faith story to understand the culture they’re trying to reach.

If you want to hear the interview just use the media player below.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading RetroRadio – Phil Cooke? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

Outrageous

It’s outrageous. People are furious. It’s all ruined. Life will never be the same.

Over the past week, I’ve seen a fair bit online about a certain chocolate company making changes to one of their offerings. They’ve changed the wrapping and some of the flavours in one of their assorted collections. Heresy. How can they be so cold to do such a thing just before Christmas?

I’m seeing words like ‘furious’, ‘outrage’, ‘horrible’, ‘atrocity’ and apparently customers have been thrown into a ‘frenzy’.

Really?

I love chocolate, I really, seriously do, but changing recipes and wrapping is not something that’ll raise my blood pressure. I might be a little disappointed when an old favourite is retired, but I won’t be firing off an angry missive to their customer service department.

What an incredibly privileged life we lead when altering a luxury item like chocolate causes us such concern.

Do you know what I find an outrage?

I find it outrageous that we’re discussing chocolate when more than 385 million children around the world have no idea when or if they’ll eat again. They are the ones who, through no fault of their own, are living in extreme poverty. They had no control over being born into poverty, just as most of us had no control over being born into a land of plenty and excess.

An ‘atrocity’ is when we care more for someone messing with our ‘entitlements’ than for those facing an uncertain future, those who daily stare death in the face.

There are many other situations in our world that should cause us concern and anger. Trafficking, slavery, domestic violence, our treatment of those seeking safety within our borders and so many more.

I’ll certainly be eating chocolate this Christmas, probably definitely more than I should, and I won’t be feeling guilty about it. I’m not for one moment suggesting that we don’t celebrate and celebrate well, but sometimes we need a little perspective to help us understand how incredibly blessed we are to be able to enjoy life’s luxuries.

This Christmas maybe we can reflect with gratitude on what an incredible life we have been gifted. But wouldn’t it be fitting that we also let the ‘outrage’ inside us grow and rise as we think about people around the world who face daily struggle to simply stay alive? I think it’s a mark of maturity when we can hold those two things in tension.

Enjoy the chocolate and all the other good things that come with the season, but please save your outrage for the true injustices in this world.

(If you’d like to make a difference for some of those facing an uncertain Christmas, why not buy a gift that will make a global difference through Gifts of Compassion. A small gift can make a big difference.)

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Outrageous? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

RetroRadio – Gladys Staines

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

Over the past week or two, there’s been a lot in our news about American missionary John Allen Chau, who was killed on the 16th of November while trying to reach an isolated tribe on North Sentinel Island in India. He’d first read of the tribe as a teen and was determined to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the residents of the small island.

Long before John lost his life, another missionary in India was killed with his two sons but the story didn’t end there.

January the 22nd, 1999, is a day forever etched in the memory of Gladys Staines.

It is the day that her husband Graham, along with their young sons, Timothy and Philip, were burnt alive by a group of by “suspected” Bajrang Dal activists in Orissa, India, where Graham had been working with the poor, especially those with leprosy.

Gladys has an amazing story to tell of how she and her daughter were able to forgive those who killed those they loved. While their forgiveness was offered right away, the healing took a lot longer.

It is truly remarkable to think that Gladys stayed on in India for many years to continue the work that her husband had begun years earlier. Many people have been inspired by her life and her determination to continue serving God in a land far from her home country of Australia.

In 2004, Christianity Today described this woman as “the best-known Christian in India after Mother Teresa.” In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award from the Government of India. As a result of the contributions earned from receiving that award, Staines transformed the leper house she served at into a full hospital. In November 2015, Staines was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice and after receiving the award, she stated “I thank God for his help in enabling me to carry out the work in caring for people with leprosy, even after my husband was killed.” – Wiki

I was extremely privileged to speak with Gladys back in February 2008.

If you’d like to hear from someone who found healing in forgiveness just click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on RodneyOlsen.net are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading RetroRadio – Gladys Staines? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂

RetroRadio – Paul Potts

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

This week Paul Potts is starting a Christmas tour of Denmark and Norway with several sold out shows. He has certainly come a long way since the days of being a mobile phone salesman.

Paul first sang opera in 1999 in a karaoke competition, dressed as Luciano Pavarotti.

In the following years, he dabbled in amateur opera but it was in June 2007 when his audition for Britain’s Got Talent was broadcast that he began his truly extraordinary journey towards winning the first season of the competition.

He then became known around the world as the mobile phone salesman with the incredible voice. Millions of people around the world have since watched that first audition that blew the audience and the judges away.

I spoke to Paul back in April 2009. While working in radio my job allowed me the opportunity to speak to many well-known people from all around the world.

I’d have to say that my chat with Paul would rank among my favourite interviews because he seemed like such an ordinary and very likeable guy. He certainly has an amazing voice but he remains genuine and down to earth.

Just click the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post to hear our conversation.

I spoke to Paul about suffering at the hands of bullies in his younger years, comparisons between his story and that of Susan Boyle, the unlikely star of the 2009 season of Britain’s Got Talent and about the career path he thought of following when he was just six.

I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the interview and enjoy spending some time with the remarkable Paul Potts.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading RetroRadio – Paul Potts? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks. 🙂