Weekend Wildcard: What I Need for Christmas…

Recently I started with a list of things I really, really wanted for Christmas. Everything at the Bose store The coolest new tablet device A 4K television Then I listed everything I really, really needed. Uhhhhh…. Uhhhhh…. Uhhhhh…. Yep. I didn’t need a single thing for Christmas. I give bags of clothing I no longer wear to charities every year. We have more stuff in our house than we can figure out how to store. That cool new tablet would only be another distraction. I have a HD television that gives me a remarkable picture. I still want the stuff from the Bose store but Jesus never said this journey would be easy. So what do I want for Christmas this year? I want followers of Jesus (looking squarely in the mirror as I say this) to take seriously our call to take care of those who have less. Stop here if you want to continue living selfishly. If someone has enough money to
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Hump Day Hope: No Misfit Toys on the Island of Grace

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love the music, the memories, the traditions and the chance to annually think about Burl Ives. His memory will come back again with the 50th annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Ives is the voice of Sam the Snowman who narrates the “enhanced” story of Rudolph. Rudolph and his elf buddy Hermey don’t fit in with the others. Rudolph looks different than the others. Hermey is not interested in making toys. In an odd plot twist, Hermey wants to be a dentist. Not surprisingly, his elf supervisor is upset with the unproductive Hermey. So the two outcasts set off to find their fame and fortune.                                                       The part of the story that resonates with me these days is when Hermey and Rudolph find their way to the Island of Misfit Toys. All of the toys on this island are castoffs because they are flawed or deemed as worthless. There is
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Black Friday

Monday Musing: A Truly Black Friday

I avoid Black Friday store shopping at all costs. There is not a deal good enough to get me to camp out and storm the doors to vanquish my shopping foes. I don’t even like the name Black Friday. It makes me think of a truly black Friday that we most often ponder at Easter. We have re-branded that day as Good Friday but there was nothing good about that day for the early followers of Jesus. Picture the overwhelming despair of those who had dropped everything to follow this amazing teacher and prophet. There could not have been a blacker Friday or sadder Saturday for those disciples of the long hoped for Redeemer. I cannot fathom their emotions. Crushed. Hopeless. Devastated. Leading up to that Black Friday I relate most to the blusterous and impulsive Apostle Peter. He talked a great game as I often do. He was absolutely sure about his steadfast devotion to Jesus. He knew he
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Weekend Wildcard: I am a Pacifist in the War on Christmas

I am officially a pacifist on the “war on Christmas”. I would, however, support a ceasefire if it banned all commercial displays until Thanksgiving. I say “Merry Christmas” whenever I want to and to whomever I desire. And while there is a small percentage that would like all vestiges of the Christmas story purged from any public display I am still free to express my views on Christmas. This war, in my opinion, is not worth it. The collateral damage to the Christian message of love, grace and joy suffers far more than we can imagine from this war we fight each December.  I know that many think I have been drinking way too much grace punch. Probably true. I have to admit that it is really good stuff. But I have come to believe that Christians function best when they are the underdogs. The fact is that in America Christmas has become much more of an economic than a
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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
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Monday Musings: Thanksgiving Thoughts

I love watching the giant balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade floating through New York as wide-eyed children watch. I love the traditional football games. The official start of the Christmas season. The post feast nap. I love Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter captures the intimacy of this wonderful holiday. Grateful for each hand we hold Gathered round this table. From far and near we travel home, Blessed that we are able. I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for another year with my best friend and bride Joni. I am grateful for three wonderful sons, two amazing daughter-in-laws, and three heart stealing grandchildren. I am blessed that our family will be able to be together this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for good friends. I am grateful for the abundant blessings of this country. Grateful for this sheltered place With light in every window, Saying “welcome, welcome, share this feast Come
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Weekend Wildcard: Blessings Are Not Always Obvious

A very dear friend is going through a deep trial. This faithful follower prays for wisdom, guidence, assurance and peace. The result so far is confusing. When they pray to hear the voice of God they hear spiritual crickets. Nothing. The frustration is real. I want to do something to help and all I can offer is prayer and presence. But when we study how God works in our lives should we be surprised with the process? A song by Laura Story resonated with my soul on a recent walk. The song is called “Blessings” and the words are profound. We pray for blessings We pray for peace Comfort for family, protection while we sleep We pray for healing, for prosperity There is nothing inherently wrong with praying for those things. But my attempt to maneuver God to grant my wishes is wrong. Laying out my will and praying for God’s notary seal is not what He desires. Blessings are
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