Friday, December 23, 2005

Santa's real priority

Have a wonderful, Christ-filled Christmas, all!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas gift: Healed relationships

My wife and I were recently discussing a relationship I have, barely, with somebody I would like to be closer with. Since I felt he hadn't pursued spending time with me (I feel I'm usually the one who initiates communication and plans to get together), I decided to let it remain at the status quo. After all, I thought, why bother? Does he feel that things are fine the way they are? Maybe he's not aware of how I feel. But my wife is challenging me to not leave it at that. She suggested I wish him a Merry Christmas, and then see if he initiates something in the near future. It needs to be a two-way street.

Part of the reason I've balked at moving forward is because it's scary. Will he accuse me of putting him down, saying "So you think I don't care? How could you?" Will he say, "I don't know what you mean. Things are fine between us." Will the initial moments of communication be so awkward that I'll wonder if it's so much easier to give up and say, "Well, I tried, but that's just the way it is"?

I'm sure I could have done better in our relationship. We need to talk about it and find out where we are, why we are there, where we want to go, and how best to get there. If it's not meant to be, then that's how it will have to be. But I shouldn't leave so many questions hanging.

Initially, I was frustrated that my wife brought it up. I wanted her to commiserate with my pouting. But she has always been one who, though she loves me as I am, cares enough to want me to make the best out of life. She wants me to have the best relationships possible. I am a much better person because of her prayers, support, and encouragement. And tough love. Sometimes even us adults need tough love.

Please pray for me during this time, that I will have the words to say, the proper timing, and the love and courage with which to say them. And if you are in a similar situation, let me know and I'll pray for you too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Real Santa Claus

Gene Edward Veith at World Magazine shows us the real Santa Claus, a devout Christian named Nicholas of Myra, who participated as a delegate to the Council of Nicea in AD 325. He personally knew the One who provided him, and fellow believers, a better gift than he could ever deliver: eternal life. And he would likely be appalled at who he has (supposedly) morphed into.

HT to Doulos at Random Responses, where this article is linked from.

A (recycled) Christmas poem

Here's a poem I wrote a couple of years back. Yes, unlike my stepson, I'm too lazy to actually work on something new! ;)

Christmas in Old Clothes
Christmas glitter gilds the town
Far as the eye can see:
Garland strung on every house,
Lights bright'ning every tree.

Shoppers shop until they drop;
The merchants clap with glee.
Wide-eyed children gape at gifts
They long for desperately.

A young boy and his sister
Hear Mom and Dad decree:
"Christmas cannot come to us
This year, unless it's free."

"Christmas free? How can that be?!"
Most shopping ads agree.
"Oh how indeed!" they wonder,
Those siblings, weepingly.

Just then they spot a veteran-
His smile wide as the sea-
Come to house of boy and girl
Where Christmas shall not be.

Their parents stare in wonder:
"He's far worse off than we.
His clothing looks so ragged,
And yet he's so carefree."

"I have a gift," he tells them.
The children shout, "Whoopee!"
While Mom and Dad both whisper,
"What kind of fool is he?"

He speaks to them of comfort
And precious majesty
That he has learned to notice
Since Christmas came for free.

"I've spent my share and then some,
And much has come to me
In packages and parcels
Which lie beneath the tree.

"Behold my few possessions;
Yet foolish would I be
To trade them for those presents
I loved so jealously.

"For in my heart is Jesus;
Look in my eyes and see
A joy, which He has given,
And which He offers thee."

For Jesus says, 'Where's Christmas
Amid this revelry?
Why do you have the season
And yet think not of Me?'"

"Kind sir, would you please tell us
How you expect that we
Could dare to ask for Jesus,
Yet offer poverty?

"Our rent's past due three months now;
Our bills we cannot meet.
The landlord has just warned us
We'll soon be on the street."

"Please listen, my dear people,
And take a look at me;
For what I have to give Him
Is only what you see.

"I too was shamed to face Him-
'What wretchedness you be,'
I've heard the folks of this town
Spew hatefully at me."

And yet I'm God's dear child;
While they, though rich may be,
Do worship worthless riches;
That's all the heav'n they see.

"You need to, therefore, offer
Yourselves on bended knee,
And hearts that are repentant
Toward Christ who died for thee."

"This gift, it is so precious.
What kind of Savior, He,
Who offers richest pardon
By perishing for me?

"Is that all He requires,
No costly gift or fee,
No presents He can open
From underneath a tree?"

"Please turn from holding onto
That which you now believe:
That gifts He holds most precious
Are underneath a tree.

"For we do quite insult Him
When giving as though we
Can gain from Him a present
Which He has granted free."

"Oh, let us now Him follow;
Let no more fettered be
Our hearts to dying riches.
He's joy, eternally."

Our son is so gifted

My wife and I, along with her friend, watched our son's school production of Christmas Comes to Detroit Louie (see yesterday's post). He performed so well. I look forward to seeing him continue to blossom and show the world the gift God has given him. He doesn't merely recite in monotone. He gets into the character. That's quite special for a young teen. There's another play coming up in the Spring. Not sure what it is yet, but my wife and I are looking forward to it.

If you get a chance, read the script. There's a definite Christian message within. Being a public school, they had to tone it down somewhat, but I think they did mention the Bible and the "baby in the manger," so that's better than a lot of public schools. From what I could tell, there were no outcries of protest against it. Also, our son prayed with the other kids prior to the rehearsal and the play. He said it was OK since it was student initiated.

I pray that the true message of Christmas got through to the people who were watching. That the kids prayed in advance leads me to be encouraged about that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How to fail: Get excited about planning, not doing

I can get so excited about planning my life and my upcoming days. I have a pretty good picture of what I want to be down the road. Each month I take the time to think through and pray about what I can do for each key role (Faith, Fitness, Family, Friends, Favor, Finances, Firm, Fun) to move toward the vision I believe God has for me.

I put a check mark next to the things I've completed, and an X next to those things I neglected to do. So often at the end of the month, there are too many X's. So, I'll read something about motivation or inspiration or mission building, and I'll get all excited about next month. "OK, I'm really ready to rocket ahead this time," I tell myself. And yet as the month goes on, I'll realize I'm not keeping up.

Am I putting too much on my plate? Am I unfocused (I believe that is a problem of mine)? Do I depend too much on how I feel (probably)?

As for the "how I feel," I know that when I react to what I want to do rather than prioritizing what's best to do--despite the initial feelings, I end up feeling worse in the end than if I did what was best--which ultimately leads to good feelings.

How about you? Are you sometimes too big-eyed about your plans for your life? If you are falling behind your plans, do you think it's because you can't or won't keep up? What's holding you back? I'd love to hear some advice and testimonies. God bless. Let's be doers and not just planners.

A star of a son

My 14-year-old stepson has landed the starring role of Detroit Louie in his school's production of Christmas Comes to Detroit Louie. He has shown his acting proficiency in past productions, and I believe he will excel in this play and in future acting endeavors. He stood out in as Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life. My wife and I helped him rehearse for both plays, and he was so into it. I think it's great that a young teen can develop such a passion for something that can be so productive. God willing he'll have plenty more opportunities to show the talents God has given to him.

What are some things your children have done that have made you proud, and that have made you see something of a future talent or gift in them? For those of you with adult children, when did you first get the impression that they would become who they are now?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What inspires you to change?

Earlier this week, I ministered to some teens at a nearby youth detention center. It's always an honor to bring God's word and love to these young men and women who have gone astray but who are now trying to get on the right path. When I finished, the pastor over that ministry thanked me, but added that I might want to include more of my personal experiences when I speak with them.

I can see his point. If they can see some of the struggles I've been through, even what I'm going through now, they'll realize that we all have it tought. We all make mistakes. And we stumble and get up, stumble some more, move forward, and so it goes.

Hopefully my blog has been at least somewhat balanced between talking of my failures and successes, giving examples of failures and successes from the news, and inspiration from Scripture. At least until heaven, only God will know what impact my words (and those who minister with their own blogs) will have. And I'm thankful for the feedback I've received from those who grace my blog with their presence.

I don't like reading blogs that only give instruction, with nary a word about their own person experience, including mistakes along the way. Maybe because they lack the human touch? Nor do I seek out those blogs that merely describe a person's day in the life (though these do seem to be quite popular; to each his own, I say). I guess I see the focus of my blog as a ministry. Some people like to just like to chat, and that's fine. Not every blog has to make a point of changing people.

But for those of you who like reading blogs that inspire you to grow into a better person, what do you look for? A slice of life mixed with instruction? Or more of one or the other? I'd love to hear from you on this. God bless.

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This color doesn't run

The purple finger of an Iraqi voter who braved the perils of election day. God bless them all.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

OK, so it may not be the whole truth, but aren't we tired of news agencies focusing on the bad news so that we grow more and more cynical? Have you viewed the site? What's your opinion?

Cute, but it's been done before

Mayor Roberto Pereira da Silva has proposed banning death as a way to protest a bill banning expansion or construction of cemeteries in their town.

Of course, about 2000 years ago Jesus "banned" spiritual death for those who believe on and trust in Him for new life. I know it won't happen, but imagine if God had to be concerned about heaven overflowing? Well, at the very least may the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the heart of the Christmas season greatly increase the number of future residents of heaven.

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Depraved Iranian President

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims the Holocaust is a myth, and that Israel should be moved or wiped off the map.

Because of his power of office and of influence, Hitler and his propaganda machine convinced millions of Europeans that the Jews were deserving of sub-human status and, ultimately, extinction. President Ahmadinejad status will no doubt lead many Iranians to follow suit. Israel and the Jews have not exactly been honored by Europeans and the Middle East, so this will add fuel to an already smoldering fire. Unless there continues to be widespread denunciation of these comments, and unless the Iranian government itself takes President Ahmadinejad to task, a major conflagration could result.

The Bible says that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The Lord has allowed the Iranian president his power (Romans 13:1), so that president is responsible to consider his thoughts before he puts them into words, especially knowing he may lead millions of Iranians to believe as he does.

I wield a much smaller reign. My influence is limited to my family and, to a lesser extent, the couples group my wife and I lead. I can't be sure how much the people in our group follow my words or example, but the fact I have been granted a leadership position by my church means they expect me, along with my wife, to influence for good and for God. If we are not having an impact, our leadership is little more than figurative. Believe me, I'm far from developing a cult of personality--in fact, I am very humbled by the fact I was even considered for co-leading the group. I realize that as a leader with the potential to influence a small group of people, I am ultimately responsible to God to a greater degree than if I didn't have such authority.

Dear Lord, please help this president see how his outrageous comments can cause grave harm. Open his eyes to the truth, especially the truth of who you are. Thank You for allowing my wife and I to lead our couples group. We are humbled and honored to be chosen, and may we honor and glorify You and bless those under our care. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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The devil's in the details

Click the header for the story.

Are some cases of mental illness spiritually driven? Did this woman's history with Voodoo and Santeria mess up not only her spirit but also her mind? Either way, a 17-month-old girl, Ruby, is now dead because of this woman. May the Lord help her see the tragedy of dabbling in false religions, for they are of the devil. And may the court have wisdom in discerning what her frame of mind was when she killed her daughter.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The real center of Christmas

My good friend and mentor Louise Bergmann DuMont gets to the heart of Christmas and cuts through the peripherals. Let's not forsake those fun and comforting things, but may we leave them secondary to why Jesus ultimately came.

Click the header for her post.

Sweet Christmas story

OldGuy has a touching Christmas story (click the header above). Such are the gifts that really matter.

"Let's go outside," or "Let it slide"?

I forgot my cell phone this morning. How do you respond when you forget things, when you make mistakes? I too often choose (I guess I should realize it is a choice) to beat myself down. "How stupid!" and "I'm such an idiot" come forth too easily. True, there are times when I'll be more decent to myself (and, I suppose, even times where I'll be too easy on myself).

My criticism also extends to others who have directly or indirectly wronged me. Too often (again) it's a reaction rather than a carefully thought out response. Which usually leads to an angry counter-reaction from those people, or they are totally oblivious to my anger. Either way, I must question whether my actions have led them to be more responsible, polite, etc. And I all the more must question whether I have glorified and pleased God (so many times I have been ashamed that I have a Christian fish symbol on my car after I have acted in a quite un-Christian manner).

I hate when I act so angrily toward myself and others. Rarely do I look back after the fact and say, "Boy, I'm glad I belittled myself," or "That idiot had it coming." Yes, I still want to get angry in a godly way, in a way that helps the person and the situation. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit, not my own flesh.

But why do I get so angry sometimes? Like I said above, it's so often a reaction--it explodes from me. I have snapped at my wife more than once; she was totally taken aback, since I'm usually so mild-mannered. I didn't sit there and carefully consider how my words would impact her or the situation, I just blurted them out. And then deeply regretted it.

So why do I snap? Why do I call myself and others hurtful names? Is it influenced by the fact that certain people did so to me during my childhood? Do I feel that by putting others down, I can make myself seem better (oh, and how often I have railed against those who climb on others backs to success!)? I wrote recently about how busyness keeps me from knowing myself better. This morning I was listening to an old sermon by Pastor Jack Hayford. The title was called, "Integrity of Heart." He said that it's not merely the sin that's the problem, it's when we don't listen to our heart speaking the truth as to how it's doing, and what it needs. I may try to make myself think that I'm helping the situation by yelling at a driver, but deep down I might just want to hurt that person's spirit. Of course, when I react rather than carefully respond, I don't allow myself time to consider my motives. Or, to dig even deeper, I might be ashamed of my own inadequacy in a certain area, so therefore I need to falsely elevate myself by "proving" to myself how bad the other person is.

Do you find that how you respond to your own mistakes parallels or differs from how you respond to the mistakes of others? What is at the core of your responses? Do you usually have a well thought out and helpful response? Or are you still struggling with reacting in hurtful anger? Or maybe you're still reacting improperly, but you've learned some things. In any event, I'd love to hear from you, and pray with you so that we all may grow toward Christlikeness.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Getting "back" to normal

Here's a very good rendition of what I looked like this past Sunday night. As I hurried to get stuff out of the car, I stepped on a patch of ice and landed flat on my back. My stepson saw it all, and somehow managed to stifle a laugh (well, at least until the next day, when he repeatedly acted out my accident!). While it was quite painful (I still feel twinges at times), I'm so thankful my head didn't meet the pavement first.

It's ironic that I had been commenting about black ice on the roads not long before. Maybe I'll be reminded next time to be extra careful. After all, dangers are hidden all about, unless we are alert to them.

Just like I should have been more alert then, or this morning when I hit a patch of ice while driving to work and nearly skid into the center divider on the highway.

2 lives down, 7 to go?

By the way, if you get a chance, read some of the wisdom in the posts below. As you can see, I'm struggling in the wisdom area lately!

Christmas banners and children's comments

Check out these wonderful banners, and the beautiful words about them by the kids at Zum Kripplein Christi Lutheran Elementary School. Sorry I didn't see them sooner (they're from December 1). By the way, did you know that Zum Kripplein Christi means "at the little manger of Christ"? May we appreciate the Child in the manger who came to us and grew up for the purpose of saving us from our sins, and giving us abundant life as a bonus.

Matt's Fight

Matt's Fight
Matt had suffered a serious accident, and thank God he's now doing quite well. Send him your well wishes and make his Christmas even better



Do you see things through God's eyes, or your own. William eloquently shows us the blessings of doing the former. A post that, quite interestingly, parallels that of Broken Messenger below.

How Does God View Suffering

Broken Messenger gives us John Piper's view of this. Let him (and me, if you wish) know what you think. I, personally, think it works. God is outside of time, so while we can live in hope for a better tomorrow, He already knows that tomorrow is not a will be, but an is. Maybe the more we're focused on God, the better we'll see things through His eyes.

Paul's Ponderings

Paul at Paul's Ponderings reminds us that we should seek more to serve than to gain power over others. I think it's a good message, especially since Jesus came to earth to serve. May we all find people we can bless with our service this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tagged: Seven Sevens

Eph2810 at Sting My Heart tagged me with the following:

Seven things I hope to do before I die:
  1. Know I did the best I could with what I had
  2. Be even more happily married
  3. Watch our children lead godly lives
  4. Have lots of grandkids
  5. Travel to Israel
  6. Travel to Ireland
  7. Get in better shape (or I will die!!!)

Seven things I cannot do:

  1. Dance
  2. Play video games
  3. Most things involving fixing cars or electronic gadgets
  4. Get up easily in the morning
  5. Be around whiners
  6. Balance the checkbook
  7. Remember where I put things

Seven things that attract me to my spouse (significant other, best friend):

  1. The attention she pays me
  2. Heart for the Lord
  3. Love of children
  4. Hugs
  5. Kisses
  6. How she has helped me grow
  7. Her desire to adopt a girl from China

Seven things I say often:

  1. Outstanding!
  2. I love you
  3. I don't remember
  4. Honey, do you know where I put my...?
  5. Come here (to my honey, when I want a hug)
  6. Hi, beautiful (again, to my honey)
  7. I'm going to be late

Seven books or book series I love (apart from the Bible, which should be obvious)

  1. Achieving Authentic Success, by Ron Jenson
  2. What Color is Your Parachute, by Richard Nelson Bolles
  3. Disciplines of a Godly Man, by R. Kent Hughes
  4. Over the Top, by Zig Ziglar
  5. Finishing Well, by Bob Buford
  6. Invitation to the Classics, by Louise Cowan and Os Guinnes
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis

Seven movies I would/do watch over and over again (seems this question has evolved):

  1. Lord of the Rings
  2. Casablanca
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. Braveheart
  5. The Patriot
  6. The Wizard of Oz
  7. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Seven people I want to join in this seven sevens meme:

  1. Indigo
  2. OldGuy
  3. Eric
  4. Joe B.
  5. Guppyman
  6. Jon
  7. John

Upcoming Iraq elections and true bravery

I heard on news radio this morning that true to form, the terrorists, who hate not having complete control over others, are ramping up their murderous attacks on both military and civilian personnel in a pathetic attempt to keep people from going to the polls in the upcoming elections.

However, I'm betting the numbers at the polls will be impressive. Most Iraqis won't be armed with bombs and others weapons. They'll be armed with a commitment to make Iraq a better country. They'll be armed with the knowledge that to not vote is to allow evil to once again overtake that nation. They've been there. They've seen or heard about the brutalities committed by Saddam and his lackeys. And they know that things could be at least as bad under the rule of these terrorists. So forced to choose between risking their lives now for a better tomorrow, or surrendering to the fear and having no hope for a better tomorrow, I believe that by and large they will choose to step up and vote.

May God grant those terrorists the wisdom to see that they are on the path of destruction, and that only people with a distorted sense of morality support their cause. And may God bless those brave men and women in Iraq who simply want a chance to live a life of dignity and peace.

Help brighten their Christmas and holiday season

Here are some names I found at a reliable source. They are soldiers, wounded in battle, who will be spending their Christmas and holiday season in the hospital. Please take the time to write them a card to say "Merry Christmas," "I'm praying for you," "Thank you for all you're doing," etc.

May the Lord be with these men and women, and may they know that we overwhelmingly support them and thank them.

Capt. James Ollinger
Sgt. Zavian Simspon (that's the way it's spelled, so I assume it's correct)
Specialist Brian Radke
Specialist Jason Braase
Sgt. David Nevins
Sgt. Jose Ramos
Cpl. Todd Bishop
Sgt. Ryan Donnelly
Sgt. Eva Diane Cochran

Send cards and care packages c/o:
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

Here's a military site with lots of links that give you opportunities to show support to our troops in various ways. I'm sure they would love to hear from us, especially this time of year.
America Supports You

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A great response to a horrible attack

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii suffered a surprise attack early in the morning. We can argue about whether the bigwigs had an inkling, or more, of what was coming, but the average person just waking up that morning (though some never woke up) had no clue. Wave after wave of Japanese planes decimated several ships and other structures. The response that day from our men and women proved what we are made of. Though shocked and afraid, though hurt and tottering, they worked through their fear, which is what courage is all about, and stood up as best they could to the overwhelming force against them.

Yes, we have proven throughout our history that "these colors don't run." This is just one of many examples, and God willing we'll keep electing leaders who will never give up when our liberties and honor are endangered. And may we keep instilling in our posterity the notion that failure to stand for what's morally right is the prelude to falling for what is morally wrong (I heard that from Zig Ziglar). God bless our great nation, and our brave troops.

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Pictures of success and failure

What does authentic, godly success look like? How about failure (again, from God's perspective)? I've decided to brainstorm some ideas here. They are mostly generic; I do need to apply the success parts to specific areas of my life, however.

Of course I don't have all the answers, so please let me know what you think authentic, godly success is. Thanks and may the Lord grant you joy and success in reaching the destiny He has for you.


  • Knowing Christ as Savior and Lord. It shouldn't just be about not going to hell, or even only about going to heaven. Yes, these are great things. But our life on earth should reflect our love for and obedience to Him
  • Growing into who God created us to be and do
  • "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." (Westminster Shorter Catechism)
  • Doing the best we can in all key areas of life (for example, faith (spiritual life, character), fitness (mental, emotional, physical), family, friends, finances (including possessions), firm (career, education), favor (giving, ministry), fun
  • Focusing on the roots (what we can control)
  • Loving unconditionally (this doesn't mean everybody is our friend, but what we hate is the sin, not the person)
  • Loving and honoring our spouses and children
  • Having at least a couple close friendships
  • Taking responsibility
  • Being proactive
  • Having a "Judeo-Christian" work ethic
  • Taking the necessary actions to grow
  • Knowing ourselves well (balancing how we see our strengths and weaknesses
  • Feeling deeply
  • Learning to see problems as opportunities to grow. Yes, we should grieve deep losses, but we should not allow them to dominate our thinking and emotions for years.
  • Rejoicing amid (though certainly not for) problems
  • Believing the best about people unless and until they prove otherwise (and then believing that God can redeem even the most lost among us)
  • Making the best use of the time we have
  • Having an attitude of gratitude
  • Loving what's right and hating what's wrong
  • Doing the right thing no matter how unpopular it may be
  • Knowing our purpose in life, and pursuing it passionately
  • Balancing our time alone, with family, with friends, and at work
  • Surrendering to God moment by moment
  • "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never." Winston Churchill

OK, that's a start for success. To picture failure, look at some of these and think about what would happen if we did the opposite (e.g., not being thankful, being reactive, trying to please others more than God). I'd love to see what God has put on your heart regarding what authentic success looks like. God bless.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Success means going all out

The Way I Was Made,
by Chris Tomlin
Caught in the half-light, I'm caught alone
Waking up to the sunrise and the radio
Feels like I'm tied up, what's holding me?
Just praying today will be the day I go free

I want to live like there's no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one's around
I want to sing like nobody's listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I'm not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made

Made in Your likeness, made with Your hands
Made to discover who You are and who I am
All I've forgotten help me to find
All that You've promised let it be in my life
  • Last night, my wife and I were looking through catalogs getting ideas for Christmas gifts, and I came across a gift set including this song. She had previously talked about how much she liked it, which is understandable since she goes all out in her fervor for the Lord and for life. When something wonderful happens, she gets ecstatic. When something terrible happens, she sobs deeply. I was thinking about getting her the set, or something related, as a way to show how much I think this song resonates with her life. I think it also resonates with how God wants us to live.
  • I have come to realize that while she's well on her way to living out what the songwriter hopes for in his life, I still have a ways to go. So maybe God brought this song across my path not just for her, but also for me.
  • One of my email addresses reflects my desire to live all out for God and life. Yet I find myself, maybe not consciously, but out of habit(?), putting artificial limits on my emotions and excitement. Is it because I'm a man? I've seen too many passionate men to believe that excuse. Am I afraid of rejection ("I can't be seen around you!")?
  • Henry David Thoreau went to Walden Pond. Why? "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." He needed to get away from the hustle and bustle and seek solitude so he could better know himself. I too readily seek busy-ness, especially when things get rough. If the pressure's on, or I'm feeling rejected, I'll keep my mind occupied so I don't have to feel. Nothing gets resolved, mind you; the suppressed emotions will come out at another time, probably inappropriately.
  • Imagine walking up to Jesus at Gethsemane. He knows He must drink the cup of suffering. Today, we know what really happened. He felt the agony so deeply that he sweat drops of blood, a condition known in medical circles as hematohidrosis. It comes about in times of great stress or agony.
  • But imagine walking up to a different Jesus, one like so many men:
    "What's the matter, Lord?"
    "Huh? What?" He says, quickly turning away.
    "Are You crying?"
    "Crying? Ha! That's for sissies. I, um, just got some dust in my eyes."
    "Would you like to share how You're feeling. I know this is such a difficult time for You."
    "Nah. It's not so bad. Sometimes you just gotta tough it up and take it like a man. And don't tell anybody that I was crying. Not that I was, mind you. But imagine what people would say if they even thought that was the case."
  • Ridiculous, huh? How could you get excited about following that? No, I believe Jesus experienced delightful joys and terrible sorrows. He lived like there was no tomorrow. On earth, that is. He knew an eternity of tomorrows with the Father in heaven awaited Him on the other side of the cross.
  • He came to give us abundant life, now (John 10:10). Dear Lord, help us to live all out so that we better reflect who You are. Help us to feel great joys and deep sorrows, and to pour ourselves out like the apostle Paul did during his short time on earth. Our life on earth is but a vapor; why care so much about pleasing people more than You, especially people we hardly even know? Thank you for drinking so deeply of life, giving us an example and inspiration for ourselves. People have loved you so deeply, because You opened Your heart to them. May we know such heights and depths of emotion and fervor in our lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    My December planner

    Here's what I hope to get accomplished in December that will move me closer to the vision I believe God has given me for my life. Earlier today, the following came to mind. The wording may be new, but the message is eternal: "Say yes to the best, no to the rest." If I can say yes to doing those things that are best for God's glory and my ultimate purpose, and no to other things, I'll be doing well. Please pray that I'll be wise in discerning what those things are.

    So these are the minimums I expect to do this month. This is not necessarily complete, and is subject to some slight adjustment:

    Study notes from church services, pray about how to apply key concepts
    Pray with wife each morning when possible
    Focus on God's presence
    Blog 3 times/week
    Read faith-related blogs 3 times/week

    Exercise twice weekly (1 aerobics, 1 strength)
    Read three times weekly on physical fitness
    Journal my thoughts and key happenings daily
    Process notes from Achieving Authentic Success, the "success overview" part

    Organize office space
    Have a decent understanding of job search process
    Have basic work accomplishments and goals written in preparation for job search

    Buy Christmas presents
    Romance my wife more (notes, surprise gifts, a nice date, etc.)
    Find ways to spend more time with stepson
    Read on China to better understand future adopted daughter's culture
    Weekly game night
    Get a better understanding of work-provided benefits for adoption

    Have a good conversation with each close friend
    Read on improving conversation skills

    Organize files in briefcase (as you can see, I am not the best at organizing!)
    Review finances twice

    Be ready to speak at youth detention center

    If you are also trying to maximize your life for God's glory, how about letting me and others know what you are going to do this month to move in that direction so we can pray for one another and be accountable? God bless!

    BTW, if anybody knows how to make a sticky post for Blogger, please let me know. It would be nice to have this as the first thing to look at each during the month so others can see it and I can truly be held accountable.