How Does God See Me?

Philip Yancey wrote this insightful paragraph in his book “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”. “Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?” Indeed. One of my biggest struggles has been trusting that what God says is true about me is actually true. That is not a very flattering admission on my part. I have read this verse from Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth dozens of times: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Because of Christ I have a new identity. I am righteous because of Him and not because of trying
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Don’t Store Your 2018 Hope in the Attic

Last week I finished one of my least favorite tasks of the year. Taking down the Christmas decorations always makes me melancholy. I love Christmas and the message of hope it brings. That God entered human form and gave us hope in a Savior who understands our struggle. We packed up a treasured Nativity creche that has been a part of our family tradition for decades. That miracle in Bethlehem is where I place my joy as I head into a very unstable New Year. I find my joy in the Messiah, the Lord – who was born in the city of David. It is so easy to remember the reason for hope during Christmas. But now that we are past this wonderful season it is very easy to pack my hope away and unpack lots of worry. The twenty-four news cycle feeds on negativity. Hearing the message of gloom and doom over and over has it’s effect on even the most steadfast
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There are NO Misfits 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 returns with the 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 a “Charlie in the
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My Christmas Wish List, old style

If I could have one wish for those of you who read these humble ramblings it would be very simple. 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
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The Cattle Are What????

One of my contributions with these modest little musings is to continually ask the tough questions. While listening to  “Away in a Manger” my inquiring mind kicked in. You likely know verse three of the song. The cattle are lowing The poor Baby wakes But little Lord Jesus No crying He makes As I listened an important series of difficult and probing inquiries popped into my head. What noise, exactly, were the cattle making when they started lowing? Was this normal cow talk? Did lowing just sound better than mooing in the lyric or is lowing a more spiritual and reverent cow sound? And then the most important question came to mind. What is wrong with me? I can’t answer the last question but I can help with the others. Lowing is defined at dictionary.com as “the characteristic sound uttered by cattle; a moo”. So little baby Jesus was awakened by the characteristic sound uttered by a cow. That would not have flowed well
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That’s What Christmas is All About

One of the songs that popped up on a Christmas station came from the original soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Jazz musician Vince Guaraldi’s score is simple and brilliant. Listening to the vocal version of “Christmas Time Is Here” brought back some wonderful Christmas memories. Christmas time is here Happiness and cheer Fun for all that children call Their favorite time of the year A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my annual delights. (Watch it online at ABC.com) In many ways Christmas has become an economic and not a religious holiday. One of the most powerful reminders of the message of Christmas came from the genius of the late Charles Schultz. One simple and elegant scene captures it all. Charlie Brown has failed miserably in his attempt to find the true meaning of Christmas. But then Linus recites the following passage from the King James version of the Bible. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding
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The Bad Theology of Santa Clause Comin’ to Town

The conversation from the backseat was illuminating. I quizzed the grand-kids about what they asked Santa to bring this year. After telling me their wish they followed up with this statement. “Unless we have been bad. Then maybe we won’t get it until next year.” I smiled and assured them that they were not bad. Parents have dangled that Santa “nice list” carrot to get good behavior for generations. Santa Clause is comin’ to town and you had better watch out because he is making a list. So no pouting, No crying. Better be on your best behavior or else. And that performance trap learned as a child waiting for Santa can also profoundly and dangerously impact Christians.  I am borrowing some content from my dear friend John Lynch, one of the authors of the The Cure. He addresses how we are programmed from childhood to default to performance theology. He calls it the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town
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