Friday, December 24, 2010

Prince of Peace

On this Christmas Eve, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. Remember that "God in flesh" is our hope.

For those of us whose prospects for Christmas are not so "merry", I share what I am anchoring in during this season. Immanuel is also the Prince of Peace. And so I am praying that the reality of His peace will overwhelm, overpower and consume our anxieties and fears. "May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I will be off next week. However, I may decide to blog about something. Who knows? But if not, I pray that the new year will bring rich spiritual blessings to us all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Different Now

Beverly and I began P90X last night. We chose the "Lean" workout schedule. Our 1st workout is entitled "Core Synergistics." I am convinced that this is taken from Cold War Russian KGB code, meaning "Intense Torture." Oh well, the good news is that it's only another 89 days.

10 months ago today Beverly and I entered a journey we would never have chosen. In yesterday's Star-Telegram there was a Dear Abby (actually now written by Jeanne Phillips, her daughter) that spoke for both of us. It is fairly long, but a blog is an online diary, and I wanted to have access to this for years to come. So bear with me.

Dear Abby: My beautiful 20-year old daughter was killed in a car accident. I am writing this not only for myself, but for all parents who have lost a child, and to all of the wonderful people who asked, "What can I do for you?"

At the time there wasn't much anyone could do to help, but after two years I have an answer: Accept me for who I am NOW.

When Rachel came into my life, it changed me profoundly. Losing her did the same. Her father and I work hard to honor her memory, but we will never "get over it" to the degree of being who we were before. I am different now. In some ways -- I think -- better. I am kinder, more patient, more appreciative of small things, but I am not as outgoing or as quick to laugh.

I know people mean well when they encourage me to get on with my life, but this IS my life. My priorities have changed. My expectations of what my future will hold have changed. Please extend to me again the offer of "anything I can do" and, please, accept me as I am now.
--Different Now in Riverview, Fla.

"Abby's" reply: Please accept my profound sympathy for the tragic loss of your daughter. I hope that your letter will help anyone who doesn't understand that the death of a child is the most devastating loss parent can suffer. They may get beyond it, but the never get "over" it. To expect that they would is unrealistic, because it's a wound that may become less visible but never goes away.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I love this thought from my daily devotional this morning: "Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly."

So the "Dream Team" of the Miami Heat might go 82-0 this year? That's what one of them said before the season began. While they are playing pretty good now, one thing is certain: When they come to the end of the season, their record against the Mavericks will be 0-2. Way to go, Mavs!

And what about the ending to the Giants-Eagles game Sunday? Say what you will about Michael Vick, but he is without a doubt the most exciting football player in the league.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Made for Another World

In his book Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey quotes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

Yancey then adds, "Even that fails to get it right. Rather, we are incomplete beings awaiting a complete experience, fragmented beings awaiting unity."

I have been thinking about that ever since I read it. It makes me long for the fulfillment of Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 13: "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Taking Back Christmas?

Wow! Did Cliff Lee pull a fast one or what? Going back to Philly. Oh well, at least he didn't sell out to the Yankees.

Mavs fans will probably hope I don't watch any more Mavs' games. I do a lot of double-tasking when I am watching TV. I watch parts of the Mavs' games at times, but I don't JUST watch. However, last night I was not feeling well, so I watched the whole game. They went up by 20 points, and then decided to take the night off. So much for their win streak. Sorry, Mavs' fans. I'll start watching the Lakers or the Heat.

I tend to want to get caught up in the politicizing of Christmas along with many others. All of the "this is America, and the season is about Christ." But you know what? We sound like a bunch of spoiled whiners. For Christians, it IS about Christ. But we live in a very secular society.

Besides, I can't picture Jesus, if He were still in the flesh, whining because the world did not recognize His birthday. He would simply continue to live and serve and make a difference. He would not lower Himself to the level of His culture. In fact, He would even turn the other cheek. "Taking back Christmas" sounds threatening, doesn't it? Trying to strong-arm our way seems to be out of character from the One we are wanting to honor.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I Just Want to Be Where You Are

This morning in my daily devotional, I came to a verse in the Gospel of John. Now if there is any book in the Bible that I know, it's the Gospel of John. But as I read the verse, I asked myself, "How have I missed this?" I have read it like I ASSUMED it was being said rather than the way Jesus said it.

Here is the verse, found in John 12: 26: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be." Don't miss that! Because here is the way my mind has filtered it for years: "Where my servant is, there I will be."

Now, I believe the way I have "heard" it is true. But that's not what Jesus said here. He said, "Where I am, my servant also will be." I want to be a faithful servant of Jesus. And so, I need to be in tune with my Master enough to know where He is. And wherever He is, that's where I need to be.

So, where is Jesus?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Atheist's Bus Campaign

"Millions of Americans are Good Without God." This is the sign that an atheist group has put on Fort Worth buses during this Christmas season. Now a number of Christian leaders in the area are wanting to mount a counter attack.

What is your reaction to this campaign? I have to admit that my 1st instinct (usually a fleshly instinct) is to join in a battle of words -- if not condemnation. I want to quote Scripture to them: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I feel like I need to defend God. The Christian leaders I cited above are complaining that the ad campaign is "in your face", especially since it falls during the Christmas season. But is it anymore "in your face" than Christian ad campaigns have been? Why is it fair for us and not for them -- especially when we SHOULD be different?

But what is accomplished when we respond to people with the same tactic that they use? What really makes us different from them? And is what they said really so threatening? I'm sure there are many good atheists -- just as there are some really sorry Christians. Are we going to win them over by trying to outreason them?

I would like to simply dialog with them. I would like to ask them what they base their standard of "goodness" on, and how they came by it. But to call them "fools" or to tell them they are going to burn in hell is only going to build higher wall of resistance. After all, we are basing what we say on Scripture -- something they have already rejected.

Here's a novel idea. How about let's shower them with grace? Let's step out of our defensiveness (which is driven by our own insecurities), and let's just love them in the same way that Jesus would.

Let's also remember that we are ALL walking by faith. The atheist is putting his/her faith in human reasoning, and we are putting our faith in the One called Jesus. In the end, if they are right it doesn't matter. I have still lived a life that I would choose over anything the atheist has to offer. But if we are right, the whole equation is changed. And I am putting all of my hope and trust in that.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mr. Rogers

I just finished reading a book about Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) entitled, "I am So Proud of You." Written by Tim Madigan of the Star-Telegram, it is basically a recounting of their friendship and exchanging of letters through the years.

I came away from the book with an admiration of Mr. Rogers. The target of jokes from media types and the general public for years, this man took it all with an incredibly gracious spirit. He never lost sight of his goal: Letting children know that they are loved.

He was a deeply-spiritual man. His outlook on life inspires me. He was a good friend of Henri Nouwen's (another deeply-spiritual man from whom I have been inspired to dive deeper). His unconditional loving spirit seems almost other-worldly.

My attention has been grabbed in recent times by how much those whom I consider to be deeply spiritual talk a lot about the "thin line (or veil) between this life and the next." I don't know for sure what to make of it, but I am spending more time thinking about it.