man sleeping in the office after a christmas party

Avoiding the Post Christmas Letdown

Greeting cards have all been sent The Christmas rush is through But I still have one wish to make A special one for you     Lyrics from ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ – The Carpenters During my caffeinated quiet time today I reflected on the odd way we celebrate Christmas. We rush pell mell to Christmas Day with intensity that would make a football coach proud. The build up to Christmas goes on for weeks and then, almost before you can file a Nativity lawsuit, it is over. I felt a little melancholy. Somehow I managed to let another Christmas sneak up on me and pass me by while I was busy getting “ready” for the day. I have a calendar. I know from the Beach Boys helpful lyrics that Christmas comes this time each year. How does this happen? Maybe the idea of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a good one if we can pare down the odd and sometimes messy gift
Continue reading...

My Christmas Wish List, old style

My Grown-up Christmas List

Amy Grant recorded “My Grown-up Christmas List” for her “Home For Christmas” album. The lyrics imagine an adult going back to Santa with a different perspective on what matters most in life. Instead of material things the writer now asks for good things for others. I love the sentiment of the song. No more lives torn apart That wars would never start And time would heal all hearts Everyone would have a friend And right would always win And love would never end This is my grown-up Christmas list I thought about my “grown-up” Christmas list this week. I would love for all of the things in the lyric above to come true. But I have lived enough to know they will not. Everyday lives are torn apart. Wars start too frequently. Time does not heal every heart. Some who are reading this are lonely. Right seems to lose way too often and love ends for many. So what could
Continue reading...

silentnight-wide

The Horror of War Paused by a Silent Night

One of my favorite Christmas stories happened during the horrors of war. The Christmas carol “Silent Night” was responsible for a wartime Christmas miracle. The year was 1914 and soldiers were having to spend Christmas Eve night on the battlefields of France during World War I, the Great War, as it was called. After only four months of fighting, more than a million men had already perished in the bloody conflict. The bodies of dead soldiers were scattered between the trenches. Enemy troops were dug-in so close that they could easily exchange shouts. On December 24, 1914, in the middle of a freezing battlefield in France, a miracle happened. The British troops watched in amazement as candle-lit Christmas trees began to appear above the German trenches. The glowing trees soon appeared along the length of the German front.  Henry Williamson, a young soldier with the London Regiment wrote in his diary: “From the German parapet, a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remembered my German nurse singing to me…. The
Continue reading...

Hump Day Hope: Keep Digging and You Will Find Something to be Grateful For

Even though the Christmas decorations have been out for a month in many stores I refuse to acknowledge their existence until Santa arrives at the Macy Thanksgiving Day parade. I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to holidays. I love this season. One of my favorite Christmas movie moments is White Christmas with Bing Crosby. There is a song that applies for all of us as we approach a Thanksgiving that may hold pain and trials mixed in with joy and blessings. When the character played by Rosemary Clooney frets and has trouble sleeping she is serenaded by Bing Crosby with this song. When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep And I fall asleep counting my blessings When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all And I fall asleep counting my blessings That is really excellent advice and pretty good theology. Even in adversity I have
Continue reading...

51kEnqLSyQL

Weekend Wildcard…Big Announcement!

I guess you run a risk when you title something a big announcement. I hope you are not disappointed when you hear the news. Those who have followed my humble ramblings over the years know that I love dogs, grace, my family, baseball and Jesus. Probably not the best ordering of those but you get my point. The big announcement is a new book that combines all of those loves. The title might explain why I slipped “dogs” in first on my list above. Next February Tyndale House Publishing will release Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. When my best canine friend Hannah was diagnosed with cancer I decided to start writing about the lessons I had learned and was learning from her. When I shared those journals with friends they insisted I put them into a book. To be honest, I resisted. When we rescued a second Labrador I continued to write about lessons
Continue reading...

Hump Day Hope – Religion vs Relationship

The Hump Day Hope comes from two of my favorite grace rabble-rousers. My friend Ed Underwood wrote an excellent piece about our innate mistrust of grace. The title alone was enough to generate deep thought. Before You Decide that Grace is Too Radical: Who Thought of Grace? Religion is about control and performance. Jesus changed the dynamic completely and made it about relationship. Ed’s writes that the idea of grace does not come from the heart or mind of man. If you leave human beings to themselves and ask them, “If there’s a God, what do you think He’d demand from people if they wanted to have a relationship with Him?” the answer is always the same, “Be good enough for Him to accept you!” Grace says you can’t be good enough to earn it. Grace says you can’t be too bad to receive it. Grace gives up the need to control. Grace gives up the requirement to perform for
Continue reading...