Friday, December 22, 2006

THE Gift

Short and sweet today. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know it's Christmas. Unless you live outside the United States, you may have noticed the hype of consumerism surrounding Christmas, you may even be caught up in it. The quest for the perfect gift, the "keeping up with the Jones'" that leads to over-buying, and the pressure you may feel to give at all. The western view of Christmas tends to lean towards spending and buying.

My plea this year is for you to just stop and consider the real meaning - the birth of Christ. A Savior for all of us, and trust me - we need saving! And while many will tout the virtues of giving instead of receiving (which is true), in the perspective of eternal life and our inability to obtain it on our own; it's imparitive that we receive the gift of life that Jesus brings to us. Take time this holiday season to do that, would you?

And for my unbelieving friends out there I have a challenge - prove me wrong. Study the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus with all seriousness and show me how off track I am. I will listen I promise. Perhaps next year we can celebrate together the greatest gift of all.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Unexpected

I sit here this morning chugging coffee and popping aspirin, I was up late and my head hurts. I don't think I'd trade it today though. Let me tell you how I got here.

Yesterday was a long day. It started out early at the office with a crisis of someone who needed me (part of my job which I actually enjoy), which pinched the time I normally have to make preparations for evening rehearsals and made for a very busy afternoon. Rehearsal was moved back 2 hours to accommodate a performance of our Creative Arts teams (which was fantastic!), and rehearsal got a bit grueling at times while we hammered out some new tunes. I finally left the office @ 10pm. My daughter had gotten in from college for Christmas break earlier that evening, and like me, hadn't eaten any dinner, so my dear wife and I picked up a bag of fast food (I won't confess which "nearly food" establishment got my money) on the way to the house. We enjoyed a late night meal while our daughter shared the story of her drive home along with letting us peak at Christmas gifts she has for her sister, as well as showing off some of the projects she has worked on this last semester (she's an art major).

It is now 11:30pm and our daughter proclaims her desire to go catch up with friends..."goodnight daughter, be careful, lock up when you get home." And then my wife proclaims her desire to jump in the hot tub and watch the meteor shower. If you didn't know, the Leonid meteor shower is visible in our parts right now, boasting up to 100 visible "shooting stars" per hour. Honestly, we had talked about that earlier in the day, but I had no idea it was going to be this late when we finally got around to it. And that's where it happened, the unexpected.

You see, my wife knows me and my habit of rising early and facing the day. She knew that at this hour, our plans of star gazing probably weren't going to happen. I would want to get a little sleep and after all, if you've seen me you know that my beauty rest is necessary! But I did the unexpected and said "grab the towels!". I'll spare you the details, but a couple hours later I drifted off to sleep having had a marvelous evening. I am paying the price this morning for my lack of sleep, but I don't care, my wife is a natural night owl and connecting with her last night was priceless. Especially this time of year when things are busy and most of our conversations are in passing or revolve around a particular issue instead of just talking and listening to one another's heart.

"Great, good for you, blah, blah, blah.....", you may say, but I do have a point. It is this: more than 2000 years ago, something unexpected happened that is very good news for you and me. An unmarried virgin girl became pregnant, her future husband decided to stay with her and be a father to a baby that was born in a stable. This baby grew into a man who upset the religious leaders of the day by proclaiming Himself the Messiah - a Savior for all of mankind. They had expected a more regal and royal personality to arrive on the scene and Lord his authority over all. He was a commoner, born in a place where "nothing good comes from" and he hung out with fisherman and prostitutes, lepers and tax collectors and the like. And He did unexpected things like heal the lame, cause the blind to see, feed thousands with nothing and raise people from the dead. And He said that when He died, He would rise from the dead and offer the same everlasting life to all who believed in Him. And He did. This is all historic fact about Jesus. And because of the unexpected, you and I can wake up each and every day knowing we will live again with Him no matter how we feel or how bad we think we've screwed up.

If you're faced with doing the same old thing, the same old way or trying something new and different - I encourage you to do the unexpected. From personal experience I know that it has it's rewards. In fact, you might say that life itself is found in the unexpected. Choose life.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Time Flies

Wow, again almost another month has past since my last post. Time is flying these days! I suppose the obvious question is "Am I having fun?" You the saying - Time flies when you're having fun. I suppose that's true, but it hasn't necessarily been the case here. Let me share...

Thanksgiving travel - don't get me wrong, I love the holidays, especially Thanksgiving which I think gets overlooked too often for Christmas. And I love my wife's family who we traveled to see and had a very enjoyable time with, but catching up from the time away is difficult. And then there's the 2nd job. Yes it's true, I have taken a part-time job in the evenings to help with the impending Christmas expenditures (family ski trip - YEAH!!), and to alleviate some debt, and it's been eating my lunch. I have come to appreciate down time, of which there isn't much these days. And last but not least, last week a water pipe burst in our home, in the concrete slab. If you don't know about these things, it's bad, it's expensive and the time and hassle I've spent dealing with plumbers, flooring people and my insurance company is not something I'd wish upon my enemies. Happy holidays right?!

But before you begin to think I'm complaining, I need to tell you how I feel aside from the flying time thing. I feel good. Tired, but good. I'm very grateful for my family's health, everyone is doing good right now. I'm very, very thankful for the 2nd job that is providing some relief to my budget, and I get to develop new associations and friendships there that I probably wouldn't otherwise. And for the first time in many years, I'm excited about Christmas. I have a deep seated joy and peace that I haven't had in years this Christmas. I can't really put a finger on it, other than I know it's Jesus just doing what He promised He would.

You see, that's why God came to us in human form, suffered and died for us, and overcame death - to give us joy and peace among life's troubles. He didn't say my plumbing wouldn't crap out (pardon the pun), or I'd have more money than I knew what to do with, or that I'd have too much time on my hands. No, in fact He said that all of that and more would probably happen, but He has overcome it, and if I place my life and trust in Him - I can overcome it too. And I am, even in all the stuff of this life I can find joy and peace in Him. It's real, it's mine and I'm enjoying it.

What about you? Is time flying? Are the holidays stressing you out? Would you like something different? His name is Jesus and He'd love to hear from you. Merry Christmas.