I remember a Christmas when, after all the gifts were received, it still felt empty. Presents cannot be what Christmas is about – anymore that’s just another stressor around Christmas time. Christmas was supposed to be a time of love, joy, and peace. Not running around to find the last gift for every last person.

Advent Conspiracy poses a mostly forgotten idea. Worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. 

Their website explains this idea better than I can, and they point to some other websites with great alternative ideas. Let’s help people this Christmas, instead of giving gifts that are wasted.

Two Masters

October 20, 2008

It’s weird. I reached one of my self-established goals that I set for myself before I would get a girlfriend..and now that just seems further away and so empty, like everything else. Where’s the hope, what’s the point?

I think I’m meant for something majestic. But isn’t everything we do on earth meaningless.. at least in the larger picture? What’s the point in trying for these worldly attainments if we’re soon to leave?

Isn’t our entire goal in life to live for God? How many people can truly live for God while they’re chasing after money, looking around for a woman, and indulging in every possible pursuit and pleasure? You really can’t serve two masters, so how do you “combine” them or somehow serve God while still living in this world?

Running the Race

October 12, 2008

Eric Liddell was a strong Christian known for his unique running style. He was an outstanding Scottish athlete who won many races. We can learn a few things from his race.

Crazy windmill – His style of running was described as a “windmill.” He waved his arms as he ran, not exactly orthodox. Be yourself when you run the race, even if others criticize you. It’s not how you run the race, but the very fact that you run for God.

Raised head to the sky – As Eric ran, he many times closed his eyes and turned them up towards heaven. We need to focus, not on our earthly goal, but ultimately on God.

Speed – Eric was an incredibly fast runner. Life is temporary, it is a race.. run your best.

Caroline’s Story

October 10, 2008

She’s leaving him again. It seemed so right this time, but she was let down… again. Green florescent lights the gray walls, gray like her heart. Every bit of color was washed away by the dirt and dirty water of years painfully remembered. Even though her limbs are moving, her love is dead.

“Where will you go?” I ask as she picks up her bag. “Anywhere. Anywhere away from this dismal dwelling. I need to breathe again.” I offer to help her, but am flatly refused. She’s an independent girl.

I met Caroline five years ago, at a family camp, where we read scripture and sang songs of praise. She’s not singing anymore. Caroline was your average teenage girl, who had your average heartbreaks and average recoveries from that pain. Eventually, the heartbreaks were too often and the recovery became harder and harder. The only place to turn for help was another lover destined for another broken heart.

I remember one time while we were walking down a suburban sidewalk, talking back and forth as a good friends do. We shared our dreams, Caroline and I. We were not lovers, but simply friends who cared for each other. She hoped for true love and had big dreams in store. I was in the midst of despising love and didn’t know what I wished to do with my life. She knew where she wanted to go.

Until the baby came. No one knows how such things happen. Perhaps it is a gradual decline, where even the best of persons can end up living in death. Maybe it’s happenstance that thrusts some people into a situation they would never enter, apart from that single instant. However it happens – it is irreversible. The tides of life push some to sunny shores, while it pulls others out into the swallowing waves of water.

The child impacted us all; her friends, her family, everyone who knew her. We prayed, we cried, and we tried praying some more. You can’t pray to change a deed already done, only to change the people involved, change them into better people. Give them peace and love – we pray.

As the memories of the events fly past my mind’s eye, I wonder if I could have done something different. What words should I have said, how could I have shown her love? Was there any hope for a different outcome, or was her life destined to progress like this? I suppose the only way to help her now is to love her.

I watch her slender form disappear past the flickering lights. As she walks down the hallway, I find peace. I know I will see her again, and while she is gone, I know she will be held in arms much stronger then my own. Caroline – you leave with my prayers for a better life this time. Godspeed.

(Caroline is not simply a girl of my dreams, nor of my nightmares. She is a fragile, broken person who makes her life in this world and whose memory lives on in my head.)

Manly Emotions?

October 8, 2008

Recently, I’ve found myself to be a lot more emotional. It’s funny, the picture we hold of a “man” is a nicely tanned, thin, ripped, masculine man. You know the type – at least from pictures. You know what’s weird? Jesus wasn’t in that picture. 

The Bible says there was nothing to make him attractive to men. (He wasn’t the blue-eyed, caucasian, Americanized Jesus we pretend sometimes. He was probably strong, but not excessively or showy.) I bet when he was on earth he was just like you or me. Weird thought, huh?

I once heard; “To be truly strong, you must learn to be gentle.” (or something like that, I’m paraphrasing.) Basically – it isn’t about big muscles and fake smiles. To be more of a man you need to try to be more like the man. Jesus wasn’t any body builder or anything, he was loving.

What’s a man to you? Someone who is pressing 200 pounds or is holding doors open?

My good friend, Brian Ford, will be speaking on the Live Youth Ministry Conversation this Friday at 2. He will be discussing “Are High School Sports Interfering with Teens Growing Deep?” His post of the same title has already provoked lots of feedback, and it should prove to be an interesting conversation.

 

Tune in Friday at 2!

Rotten Treasure Box

September 18, 2008

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:6-10)

We are like an old treasure box. Rotten wood, rusty hinges, buried in dirt. But within us lies a great treasure – worth more than gold and rubies. We as Christians have a message. We are broken people, tired, and not the best-looking. But we should not let this keep us from sharing this treasure with others.

Forget what others think about your appearance. You are a rotten treasure box.