Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mikey's wedding day

Well, it's finally arrived. In a way, Sara and I have been anticipating this for a year and in a way we have been anticipating this for 25 years. Raising a kid is a journey, and the journey with Mikey has been like all of our life's journeys...filled with ups and downs. It's love that keeps the thing going. In a way that only parents can understand, there is a deep-heart longing for your child that gets past all the disobedient and disappointing moments to see the potential and wish for the best. The apostle nails it when he describes love in I Corinthians 13:7 - love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Sara and I have done a lot of "bearing" all things over the years...but that has not changed all that I believe about him. I believe that he is a child of God and learned long ago to let him be what God wants him to be and not what I want him to be. God loves him more than I do. Because of this, I hope great things for his life...and of course his marriage is one of them. I have prayed for Abby for 25 years. I didn't know it of course, until this day. But when I pronounce them husband and wife today, I will be looking at a 25 year old answered prayer in real life. Now, I will hope for them...for the joy of parenthood, buying their first home, growing in their faith, finding couple friends, etc... Love is also about enduring all things. The mark of real love is that it sticks around for the long-haul. Anyone can "love" for a while or when things are good, but the 25 years with Mikey means we have endured a lot. This is love. He, like all humans, has not always been lovable, but I love him more today than I ever have and I'm extremely proud of the man he is and is becoming. Now, I pray that their love will simply endure. That's the key to a successful marriage you know, just show up every day and never think of giving up. Before you know it, you've been married for 28 years. One more thing, when you're a dad you brag on your kids. I brag because I have a view of who Mikey really is. While others see flaws (or tattoos :-), I know the story behind the flaws and know why he has reacted and lived the way he has. I've seen the insecurity, the successes, the heartaches, and the milestones. I know him better than he knows himself. So I can brag on the truly unique things about him that are awesome. He is an incredible tattoo artist. I mean he has creativity oozing out of him. He sees and then can put into art form things that most can't. I'm amazed at his skills. Some may look at him and see a scary tattooed guy, but I still see a little kid with a mullet running around in shorts and boots creatively examining the world. He hasn't changed much in 25 years and he's changed quite a bit. Only a parent can truly understand that statement and fully appreciate what this day means. This is his wedding day and I am the preacher...but more than anything else, I'm just his dad. A very proud dad.

Monday, December 9, 2013

When to pray at Christmas

It's not about a time or a place necessarily although a "routine" of both can be helpful. It's about going through life with a Lord who is in relationship with you. Most Christ followers pray before meals, before bed, first thing in the morning, and at church...but when are the other times I should pray? Well, Christmastime is a natural time to pray. See list below for when you should pray at Christmas...maybe this is what Paul was talking about when he says to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17): *When I feel like a Scrooge mood - Pray for God to give me joy *When I taste a Christmas treat - Pray a prayer of thanks for good things *When I face a medical test/exam - Pray for God to grant me peace *When I go to Christmas gatherings with people I don't know - Pray for uplifting words to say and ability to hear with my heart. *When I celebrate Christmas with family who have hurt me - Pray for a forgiving heart and attitude *When I'm sitting at a table to eat - Pray thanks for God's provision *When laughing - pray for how light it feels *When giving gifts - pray a prayer of thanks for the ability to share *When receiving gifts - pray a prayer of thanks for the picture of Jesus as the ultimate gift. *When watching the snow - pray a prayer of thanks for how God has washed your sins away *When you see children on Christmas morning - pray a prayer of thanks for the innocence they bring *When you see the elderly sing a Christmas hymn - pray a prayer of thanks for God's faithfulness in the journey. *When listening to Christmas music - let your singing along be your prayer (think of the words) *When you feel the cold of the air on your face - pray for those who are cold spiritually and thank God for the warmth of soul you have in Jesus. *When you see the lights on your tree - pray a prayer to of thanks for the light of the world. Add to this list as you wish, but whatever you do...pray

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jesus as we like Him

Yesterday I mentioned in my sermon how sometimes our culture, our songs, and our nativities can place Jesus in a box during this time of year. In other words, we can worship Jesus as we like Him. He can be the savior we want him to be and not the one He truly is. Here are some thoughts to expound on what I said yesterday (NOTE: these are not thoughts condemning nativities, Christmas carols, or cultural impressions of the baby Jesus this time of year, simply some things to think about): 1. We like Jesus in a box. Subtly, when we place whatever Jesus likeness we have in the various manger scenes it may represent being able to control Jesus. It may be I like baby Jesus best because He is exactly where he belongs - in the hay, among the cattle, shepherds watching on, etc... I'm not as comfortable with him invading my life where he wants or him being something that I can't explain or don't like (eg. the guy throwing tables in the temple or rejecting a Phoenician woman's request for her daughter's healing) 2. We like Jesus "tender and mild". Jesus is pretty harmless in the manger. How much damage can a baby do? As a baby, he doesn't seem confronting or rejecting. It's as if, the baby in the manger is so cute and cuddly that he couldn't possibly have distinct teachings of right and wrong. In the manger he is lovable because this baby can't convict us or call us out for our sins...he simply smiles and coos and has soft skin. He is happy if I simply make faces at him and talk baby talk. We can easily forget that this baby grew up to preach the sermon on the mountain that spoke against our idolatry, our oath taking, our selfishness, our pride, our anger, and our materialism. 3. We like Jesus to be like us. Of course, Immanuel - God with us is the point. He became like us - human so that he could show us his love in a tangible human way. But he did not become human to show us that we were all right. He became like us only in the fact that he shares our flesh, our temptation, our hunger, and our thirst. But he is not like us because he did not sin. Often, I see Jesus as human and think - "oh he understands." Well, he does understand how bad I really am and that's why he came to face the cross. The point of Jesus as a baby is not that He has become like us, but that He died so that we could become like him. He was a baby, and I was a baby..but the comparisons end there. Just a few things to think about as the Christmas season kicks into full gear.