Archive for December, 2009

Merry Christmas

Posted: December 25, 2009 in Family

As a child I found it neigh impossible to fall asleep Christmas Eve.  My parents had to repeatedly remind me that Santa only came after children were asleep in order for me to lay my head down and attempt slumber.  I would then be up before the crack of dawn eagerly waiting to be released from the purgatory of my room to rush into the living room and witness the splendor of Christmas morning.  I was always amazed at my cousins who seemed to fall asleep without issue on Christmas Eve and awaken late allowing their parents to arise without be rousted by eager children.  They were freaks.

It seems whatever gene my cousins possessed that allowed them to sleep like logs the night before Christmas was also in my blood, but latent.  It must have skipped  generation.  My children go to bed without issue and fall asleep without trouble.  They sleep later than they do on the weekends the rest of the year.  They are freaks.

I was up past eleven (doing my Christmas duty of assembling and wrapping etc.) and up at 4:30 this morning.  On the plus side, I was able to get a good shower and my devotional time while all else slept.

Merry Christmas to all.

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Endurance, Character, Hope

Posted: December 24, 2009 in Faith

In the first chapter of Job the man receives bad news after bad news.  While one servant is telling him of one tragedy, another servant comes and tells him of another.  In a matter of minutes Job learned that all his livestock are gone and his children destroyed.  Job’s response is fascinating:

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (vv.20-21 ESV – emphasis mine)

He didn’t simply acknowledge that God is sovereign and has the right to do with the earth (including man) whatever He wishes.  He acknowledged God’s righteousness.  “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  These are not the words of someone who is grudgingly bowing before a lightning bolt hurling deity of destruction.  He acknowledges the goodness of God and the rightness in all the He does (we find out later in the book that he neither understands nor likes what has happened to him, but he still acknowledges God’s sovereignty and goodness).

We have great verses like Roman 8:28 to remind us of why we go through trials:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)

A few weeks ago my youngest daughter was in the hospital for pneumonia.  As I was speaking with a pastor friend of mine, he look hard that right left lapel of my jack and says, “What’s your name tag say?  Job?”  We had a good chuckle.  Despite the running series of tragedies, major and minor, over the past four years and change, I would not compare myself to Job.  For one thing, I still have all my children alive and well.  Nevertheless, these have been trying years.

The other day as I did my daily Bible reading, I read both Job 1 and Romans 5.  Romans 5:3-5 leapt out at me:

“[W]e rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV)

As I read this it suddenly occurred to me how much my wife and I have grown during these last four years.  God has worked all things for our good.  God has caused us to grow and blessed us in ways we never would have imagined, and never would have experienced had we not gone through these trials.

Suffering has produced endurance which has produced character, which has produced an unfailing hope.

Barber

Posted: December 23, 2009 in Life

Went to an honest-to-goodness barber today, not a unisex hair chain or a stylists.  It was great.  The dude used a straight razor to clean up my hairline.

It’s getting harder and harder it seems to find a barbershop.  If you’re a guy, I recommend searching out one in your area.  I almost wished I shaved so I could have him give me the works.

Not to disparage the previous haircut I received.  It was a good cut.  But there is something about sitting in that leather chair, surrounded by other guys, chewing the cud and in general getting that whole barbershop experience.  I can honestly say that I had a good time getting my hair cut.  If I lived here, I’d go back there every time, and take my son with me.

Clarity vs. Trust

Posted: December 22, 2009 in Faith

I heard a very interesting prayer today.

“We pray not that You would give us clarity, but that You would teach us to trust You when things seem unclear.”

Views on Rural Life

Posted: December 20, 2009 in Life

Jenn and I have been speaking with a church in Nebraska about the possibility of serving in ministry with them.  Consequently I’ve been researching and reading up on Nebraska in general and the town in specific.  I loved these comments regarding rural Nebraska on one particular forum:

Your just going to find that a smile and a kind word will get you a lot further … than a snooty attitude and a hundred dollar bill!! … If you want to see a smile … smile at someone.  You’ll get a smile and kind word and probably a handshake (which actually means something here).  And if you want to get knocked on your *** come … and raise a fist to someone’s brother, friend, coworker, etc… That is how our class of hard working “blue collar rednecks” thinks.  And for those that don’t like this way of thinking, you’re better off staying in your office in the city. But anyone else is more than welcome to come on down and visit.  You wont find people here hiding behind bullet proof glass. Walk down a street and you’ll see cars with keys left right in the ignition. I wouldn’t advise trying to drive off in one of those cars though because in rural Nebraska everybody knows who owns that car, most have a weapon, and everybody likes a little high-speed chase down a gravel road every now and then.

Posted: December 20, 2009 in Family, Life

Last Friday was my 10th anniversary.  We arranged for a baby-sitter, made reservations and drove over the mountain to have dinner together.  Just the two of us.  No children present.

Speaking of presents, 10th anniversary is supposed to be “tin”.  That just didn’t set well with me.  I searched high and low for something else that would work.  Jenn made some suggestions.

Here’s what I got my lovely wife for our 10th:

White gold and black diamonds seemed more appropriate than tin.

As for what she got me, not a thing on my wish list.  Something totally frivolous:

I love it!  It holds my entire music collection, pictures and I’ve already loaded a few movies.

I Hate Nativity Scenes

Posted: December 18, 2009 in Faith, Family

Perhaps hate is too strong a word.  I have historically disliked and been annoyed by nativity scenes.  This may sound particularly strange coming from a Christian minister.  And, to be truthful, my very dislike for these scenes as disturbed me.

I love Christmas.  As I posted a while back, the very reason I love Christmas so is not the decorations, songs, visiting with family (though I love these things as well), but the very person of Christ.  Why then, if Christ’s coming is so very important to me, do I dislike nativity scenes.

Today Noel Piper (Pastor John Piper’s wife) had a great post on the Desiring God blog.

…I realized how often Jesus is portrayed fair and blond, which he most likely wasn’t. Now I look for figures with darker skin and hair or made from a material like wood or clay that doesn’t show skin tone.

That’s it!  It’s not the scenes themselves that bug me, it’s how cheesy or culturally and historically inaccurate many of them tend to be.  Now that I think back on it, there have been a few that have moved me. They have all been either neutral in tone (wood, stone, clay etc.) or darker in complexion.

I like how Noel ends her post:

I want my decorations and celebration to reflect the truth that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, of all peoples.

I’ve been thinking about ways to make the celebration of Jesus arrival in this terrestrial sphere more central in our family’s Christmas celebration.  I think I just might start looking for good nativity scenes to take central stage in our Christmas decorations.