Thursday, November 29, 2007

what's up with Christmas?

so it's that time of year. the time of year when the electricity bill gets big because we crank the heat, plaster lights all over the place, and try to get that "spirit." you know what i'm talking about...the Christmas spirit. i really hate this time of year. i know, that's going to make me about as popular as an irs auditor at enron, but i do. here i am a professional christian (minister, but you have to say it with that deep booming echo voice that the movie trailer guy has) and i hate Christmas.

i don't really hate Christmas. i hate what it has become. i hate that it's more about the tree than the stable. i hate that it's more about getting the kids pictures made with the fat guy in the red suit than about getting kids to know what it's all about. i hate standing in line at wal-mart so i can purchase the last 10 strands of white Christmas lights @ 10 o'clock so my artificial, high-tech umbrella-fold tree will be lit. i hate feeling like this, but i can't help it.

putting up the tree sunday night i blurted out, "i really don't think Jesus was born for this!!!" and i meant every word of it. i think He is a little put out by all of hoop-la about his birthday without thinking about Him. it reminds me of Lane's birthday party this year. it was a great party. we had fun, games, and a great time. the big thing is most people were there for us not him. they came to support and show us that they cared for him, but only a few people did more than simply acknowledge his existence. so that makes me wonder, how do i think Jesus feels on Christmas? i think He's more concerned about us recognizing Him DAILY than just on one day.

i also wonder, do atheists celebrate Christmas? if so, that's hypocritical on their part. why would they exchange presents on Jesus' birthday if they don't believe in God? kind of hypocritical if you ask me. maybe it's more of a cultural thing than anything else, so that just goes to show why i hate what Christmas has become even more!

i love Christmas and what it stands for, what it means, and who it celebrates. i love the tug inside my heart to love someone more than myself on that day. i love my kids faces when they sing Christmas carols, and i love sitting downstairs at 3:00 in the morning on December 25 watching my kids rip open wrapping paper in amazement and realizing that no matter what present they give me, it won't beat the joy i get in knowing that they are mine and i get to call them my sons forever!

Monday, November 26, 2007

big questions...from a book i hate and definitely recommend

i've been reading a book that i hate. let me clarify that, i don't hate the book, i hate the way the book makes me feel. the whole premise of the book is that a seasoned professional Christian (a pastor) and an atheist attend 12 churches together and have honest dialogue about what they see and what they feel. if you read reviews of the book, you'll find out that this is a polarizing topic, and like any other polarizing topic the religious are the ones that get their feelings hurt the quickest. like my pastor says, if you throw a rock into a pack of dogs the one that yelps is the one that got hit.

the book takes a very real look at some monster churches. it looks at what we as Christians see as important and what someone like a confessed atheist reads from being there. the book is full of insight that at best steps on religious toes. quotes like

"What does that mean--just follow? Don't you have to put something on the line? I know that when people followed Jesus in first-century Palestine, they were risking life and limb. When people followed Martin Luther King Jr., they were risking arrest. When they followed Ghandi, they risked bodily harm and even death. But what does just follow mean here and in this contest? Christianity can't be just getting baptized or just following. you have to put something on the line, I think."
can be found throughout the book. this particular quote is from a service @ Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois. The quote is in regards to the screens in the main worship center which featured the words, "Just Follow."

i hate that the book made me really think about what i consider as ultimately important in the life of a Christian and a church. in fact, it lead me to a couple of pretty serious questions that i will leave with you and encourage you to think about:
1. what did Jesus command us to be about here on Earth?
2. what church do you know that is about those things only?

sure i have some ideas and i know some things to definitely be true. i know that we are supposed to be about LOVE and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, and serving others. i just don't see a lot of churches that sell out to that.

is it possible that we (as Christians) really are clouding the water for those who don't yet know Christ?

Monday, November 19, 2007


as i look at the coming week, it is hard not to realize that thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. as i think about the day i have to admit, i'm thinking about what am i really giving for thanksGIVING? what am i doing for my boys to show them that this day is about more than turkey and leftover turkey sandwiches (cold turkey, mayo, and white bread, with cheese!!)? the truth is, i don't know if i'm giving them anything. this year i think we're going to try to do something a little different. we're going to go and visit the grandparents and great-grandmother. we're going to charlotte, nc for some time away. maybe in the car this year, we'll talk more about what we give than turn on the dvd player and tune everyone else out.

i have 3 kids and they can change the world. Lane has a story that others can't believe, d and e both are growing up in a world that isn't satisfied with the status quo...they are going to be a part of things that are bigger than them, things like save darfur, bloodwater mission, and finding a cure for AIDS. giving right now is cool, but what happens when it becomes who i am? what happens when my kids give something away that i think is important? will i force them to conform to what i think they should be or will i be satisfied with knowing that God is leading them to give it all away? will i enable them to be hoarders of stuff or will i give them permission to let go of some things?

open your hands and put them in front of you (this is an illustration a friend of mine shared with me last week--thanks DD). when you hold them out in front of you what is the natural position of your fingers? you tend to curl them toward you don't you? do you think it is more natural to let go of things or hold on to them?

what are you holding on to that you could let go of?

what can i do today that will tune others in rather than tune them out to the joy that i know?

Monday, November 12, 2007

it's over!

well, this past saturday marked the ending of the Franklin Cowboys football season. 'A-White' played brentwood 'A-Blue' for the state championship and brentwood topped franklin 25-0 this time. the blaze had a great team that was well coached. as a defensive coach i was blown away by the way the blaze defense performed. this is the same team that beat us 19-0 two weeks ago to put us out of the playoffs. i say 19-0 because that was the final score, but i hang onto 13-0 in my mind because we gave up another touchdown with two minutes to go and were putting kids in positions they weren't familiar with, but oh well, that's just for my machismo i guess.

oh well, i guess it's time to get ready for D1 finally! e may want to join d this winter and work out, who knows?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

sometimes you have to wonder...

sometimes i like to sit by the window and watch the world go by. in fact, i get caught up in it too often. i have a window in my office at church for the first time ever. seriously, for the first time in 13 years i have a window (and it's not microsoft windows!). i have a window that allows me to see the sunshine, to see the clouds, to see the rain, and to see the darkness roll into Nashville at 4:30 each day. i love having a window.

sometimes when i look out my window i wonder if the world outside cares about what is happening inside the building where i work. i wonder if the building where i work were to one day burn down or collapse, would the community outside even notice. sure they would notice the piles of rubble and see the void where the once great building stood, but would they miss what we supposedly offer to them? i think the majority in Nashville would be unaffected. i really do. i think if most churches were to diappear tomorrow, the people who live out of eyesight of the building would for the most part be unaffected.

look at it this way, when the country club shut down a few years ago, who was most upset? the members were! other than the members, who cares? ii didn't because it wasn't for me and it didn't affect me.

that's why today has been a contemplative day. a day where i can honestly remind myself of the mission statement that i wrote for my LIFE two years ago...

i want to AFFECT people's lives with the message of Jesus Christ with my LIFE...and i don't want my LIFE to be wasted on things that are insignificant!

what are you doing today that is significant to people outside your window?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

a question or two

some things i've been thinking about lately:
--what are the true benefits of church membership?
--why do people go into professions that they hate?
--how could anyone be miserable and have a true relationship with Christ?
--why does the world do such a great job at convincing people that their lives aren't fulfilled?
--if i knew that Jesus was coming back in 3 years exactly, when would i begin to really think about it (procrastinators understand this one)
--why is it so hard for someone who grew up in church to admit when things are going rough?
--when will i feel like a grown up?

again, these are just random thoughts. that's unfortunately the way my brain works. i'm beginning to become more of a morning person, and this morning, i realized that my best work really tends to happen early, so why do i not do it early...because i have too much "stuff" to do. could it be possble that God wants me to slow down and be more like Him than to be the one others think i should be?

Monday, November 5, 2007

trusting in the wrong things?

sometimes it seems like we are willing to believe anything. two polar opposite full of happy thoughts, one seemingly submerged in pessimistic realism. only ONE relates to scripture. think about it...but don't get caught up in anything that leaves out the consequences of's not salvation without needing to be saved from sin, is it?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

my life all over again

i'm asking you please pray for a friend...just call her O. she had a baby on sunday morning and the baby is in the NICU. Baby A was born @ 26 gestational weeks...out of 40. not as premature as Lane, but still really early. she's a whopping 2 pounds, but has some serious issues with her lungs and has some serious lung disease. i look at the pictures of her baby (this is a picture of Lane, not Baby A. i don't have permission to put her baby up here so i won't, but this picture gives you an idea how small that is...that is my wedding ring on Lane's left arm) and have to realize that i know her emotions. i know her thoughts. i know the aches and the pains of not knowing what to ask. i know the misery of thinking that it will all be over soon, one way or another. i know that sometimes it feels like it is too much to carry. i know that sometimes if feels like you are covered in ugliness and people are petrified of you and how they avoid you. i know the guilt that comes with trying to feel ok on a day when things aren't that way. i know the joy in taking off the mask and telling people that my life hurts. i have pains. i am miserable! i also know the forgiveness first hand that comes after horrible thoughts like, would it be better if this child wasn't here? what would the world think if they knew that i thought that? would i still be accepted in my circles? would i still have a job if i wasn't all "put together?" i know that it really DOES all work out for God's Glory, but only because i'm done stealing the glory from Him. i only desire to be covered in His Glory now!

enough soap-box preaching...but this is really living in my world...

"O" is having problems also though. she is continuing to hemorrhage and they are having a difficult time getting the bleeding stopped. a hysterectomy seems like the only viable option at this point but there are some issues. she has some health issues, she has a seriously sick child--that might die--issues, and she is going through a horribly messy divorce issues. she has no other children, and the child she has been blessed with is critically ill.

what if she can't have more children and her only child never comes home from the hospital? what kind of sense does this make? this is NOT the time to remind someone that God loves them and has a plan. HE DOES, but how does that help? how do you see the plan when the pain and suffering is splattered all across the windshield? sometimes the best things to say aren't even words. sometimes you HAVE to let your LIFE speak about something bigger than you are.