Listening to Luke – Luke 1:5-38

The miracle of Christmas continues to stir heart, mind and imagination as the story is re-told generation to generation.  Recently a very good friend of mine brought to me a chapter from a well-known theologian who quoted John of Damascus concerning the birth of Christ as follows:  “…it is essentially right when John of Damascus describes Mary’s ear as the bodily organ of the miraculous conception of Christ.  The operation of the Holy Spirit at the conception of Jesus is one mediated through Mary’s faith.  Mary believes…and by believing in the Word of God spoken by the angel she is thereby enabled to take the eternal Word into herself…”

It seems to me that Luke conveys that piece of truth beautifully in the opening of his gospel.  Side by side are Zechariah, the priest and Mary, the humble and ordinary young woman—both individuals from the chosen race of Israel.  Each received a miraculous and life-changing visitation of God through the angel Gabriel.

Consider their place in Jewish life at that time.  Zechariah was to administer the duties of the office of priest, both teaching the people and bringing them before God.  He was responsible to uphold Torah, offer continued hope that the promises of God insured and bring his people before Holy God.  Mary was a worshipper of God and lived among the Jewish nation with no particular status or pedigree to commend her for the future that was to be hers.

Gabriel announces the good news to Zechariah that the son he and Elizabeth had longed for was to be born, describing the nature of the child and even giving him the name he is to be called.  The one who taught Torah, who knew the stories of his ancestors (specifically Abraham and Sarah), and who was to instill and exhibit faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob responded to the angel by the question “how can I be sure of this?”

Mary, on the other hand, receiving the news from Gabriel about bearing the Son of God, asked “how will this be?”

Two very different questions with two very different points of reference.  The religious leader questioned the validity of what the angel said.  Mary questioned the manner in which it would take place.

From the very beginning God has been looking for people who would walk by faith:  who would hear, believe, and act upon that belief thereby creating with God, reproducing with God, and inviting others to the life of faith.

Paul was clear:  “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”  (Ro 10:17).

If the organ of conception is the ear, I wonder what God would be asking you to believe this Christmas season that will enable the Divine Creator to use you in the ongoing workings of His eternal Kingdom.

May our answer be that of Mary’s:  “be it unto me according to Thy Word!”

The Winning Attitude – Your Key To Personal Success

the-winning-attitudeby, John C. Maxwell

Author of Developing the Leader Within You

Book Review – Submitted by P. Bosworth              

The Winning Attitude- Your Key to Personal Success, was written by John C. Maxwell in 1993.  This book is one of Maxwell’s earlier books.  Since that time he has authored more than 70 books, selling more than nineteen million copies.

Today, John Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author.  He is the founder of INJOY, Maximum Impact, ISS and *EQUIP, an “international leadership development organization working to help leaders”(wiki).

John Maxwell has spent more than 30 years in church ministry with a majority of the time as senior pastor. In The Winning Attitude, Maxwell borrows from his own real life experiences to show how a person can “recognize and attain the winning attitude to overcome life’s difficulties, win people over, and turn problems into opportunities” (cover).

This book is broken into four sections.  In the first section, “The Consideration of Your Attitude”, Maxwell use the Biblical character David to reveal how to maintain the proper attitude even when surrounded by problems.  Moving into the second section, “The Construction of Your Attitude”, personal attitudes are explored and compared with foundational truths. The third section of the book, “The Crashing of Your Attitude”, is full of reinforcing thoughts about dealing with the inevitable storms of life encountered by everyone. These include the fear of failure, discouragements, criticism and the conflict of change.  In the fourth section of the book, ”The Changing of Your Attitude”,  Maxwell states, “Most people are very close to becoming the person who God wants them to be” (p. 139).  He then goes on to provide practical steps that can be taken to become the master of our attitude rather than its victim.

There are a total of fourteen chapters in the book.  A study guide at the end of the book is a practical tool allowing the reader to revisit and apply the key principles found in each of these chapters.

Recommendation:  For leaders who read in-depth about leadership topics, this book may seem a bit elementary.  The real strength of the book, however, is that the principles Maxwell shares are eternal in value.  They are never out of style and remain applicable past, present and future.


Maxwell, John C. The Winning Attitude – Your Key to Personal Success.  1993; Thomas Nelson.


*(Note:  The School for Leadership Development is pleased to partner with EQUIP in offering the Leader Development Series.  These lessons are revised for Salvation Army leaders and are free downloads.  Click here for the latest copy