Here's a sneak peak of our family Christmas. Cale got sick and had to throw up. I'm afraid I'm not far behind. Donna, my sister, is in from Philly to hang with us. Even my friend, Chad Freeman, came by for some gumbo and an accidental shot to the jewels (courtesy of Donna). Hope you enjoy the video. Merry Christmas!!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I accidentally recorded what has become my favorite show of the year, and it's started me on an obsession that won't easily be assuaged. The show, Everest: Beyond the Limit, is the best thing to hit TV in a long time. It chronicles the story of a team of strangers who are seeking to climb Mount Everest. Their ascent of the mountain, and the accompanying story lines, is some of the most riveting stuff ever put on film. Incredible!!
Since discovering this gem, I can't get the idea of climbing and hiking out of my mind. I have no plans to climb Everest, but those who have attempted this feat are fascinating to me. I would, however, like to try something closer to sea level, and a little more attainable. Perhaps something like the Appalachian Trail.
In light of this, I've purchase two books that I highly recommend. The first is "Into Thin Air", by Jon Krakauer. It's the story of an Everest expedition gone wrong... very wrong. This book is intense and gripping, and it's also very sad. Even so, it's an enthralling read. The second book is called "A Walk in the Woods", by Bill Bryson, and this book is so funny and fresh that I just about can't put it down. It's Bryson's account of his hike through the Appalachian Trail (more than 2,100 miles). This guy can flat out write, and it's as enjoyable a book as I've ever read. A true joy!
If you have some time this holiday season to rip through a book, these two are guaranteed to satisfy. Enjoy!!
Each Christmas it seems I see different aspects of the Jesus event. In the past I've been struck by the simple beauty of the somewhat anonymous birth of the Savior of the world. I've been amazed by the bright glory of the Christmas Star, and its leading of the shepherds and wise men. I've been blown away by the pageantry of the heavenly host, and their dramatic announcement of the Messiah. But this year I've been struck by something completely different and unexpected.
This Christmas has been, for lack of a better word, ugly. The nice, clean picture of the Nativity, depicted serenely on Christmas cards and manicured lawns, is what most of us picture when we think of Jesus' birth. We think fondly of the winsome Christmas hymn "Away in a Manger", where we are told that "The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes." What a bunch of hooey!
The fact of the matter is that Jesus was born under the worst of circumstances. His mother, fresh off a seventy mile donkey ride, settled into childbirth within the lovely confines of a livestock kennel. The smell alone had to be nauseating. Then there's the blood, sweat and tears that accompany such an event (after witnessing the birth of 4 kids, I can testify that childbirth is no picnic). Finally, think about the fact that Jesus' first guests were shepherds. No heads of state thought this birth worthy of a visit, but a bunch of penniless (and, no doubt, smelly) shepherds descended on the stable like flies on, well, you know. This was definitely not a pretty sight.
I like this picture, ugly though it may be. It gives me comfort to know, in an age where important births are so gaudy and on parade (see baby TomKat, baby Brangelina, etc.), the birth of Jesus wasn't even worthy of an attempted Madonna adoption. Jesus came to us like he left us: ugly, bloody, and humble. In so doing, he proved that he is such a different kind of King. He defends the weak, empowers the lowly and embraces the humble. Thanks, Jesus, for showing up without bells and whistles. Your meager entrance is pure and real. It's a story I can believe in!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
People come to me with stuff because I'm a pastor. Most of the time they come to me with stuff they can't go to anyone else with. I'm sworn to confidentiality, so I can't go into specifics, but let's just say I hear some pretty ugly stuff. I don't know what's in the water lately, but I've had a record month for ugly stuff.
I can honestly say that I'm seeing more and more people lured into terrible choices by life's temptations than ever before. My proof is not scientific, but all I can do is base this on what I'm observing, and what I'm observing is not good.
Look, we all have our stuff, but what I'm writing about is a bit more than the occasional slip up, or the periodic moral dilemma. What I'm addressing is full blown, large scale, no-way-out, what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-now screw up's of the highest order.
The most difficult thing about all of this is that it makes me realize how thin the line is between walking upright and falling face down. Many of the people who have bombarded me with their stuff are indistinguishable. There's nothing about them that would cause others to have any suspicion about the level of their personal failures. Most of them are people I would describe as noble, yet they've been lured into deadly traps like bugs into the inviting confines of a hungry spider's web.
I'm reminded of this quote by the great John Bunyan: "One leak will sink a ship; and one sin will destroy a sinner."
I've probably shared more than I should have already, but if you think about it, please pray for these folks. Pray that their confidence would be renewed, and that their faith in the goodness and sovereignty of God would be bolstered. Pray for me as well. As Augustine said, "Nothing so clearly discovers a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother." I want to be discovered as one who is gracious with those who have fallen, and humble in the knowledge of my own weakness.
Grace and Peace to you.
OK, I'm getting over myself slowly but surely, and am feeling a bit better about Christmas this year. Here are a few fun things that have helped. Enjoy!!
- In this lovely clip, Bill Clinton tells a little girl of his plans to kill Santa. If you saw his original interview, you know he actually just wants to kill Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace
- This comes from my good friend and coworker, Joanne (Well, I guess she's not "officailly" a co-worker. She's Canadian, so she doesn't actually get paid. I still consider her a co-worker!). Thanks Jo!!
- Be sure and check out Pimp My Nutcracker, America's new favorite holiday game!! It really is kind of fun. Thanks to Bag of Nothing for the link!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
As I said in my previous post, I'm not exactly in the Christmas spirit. Here's a few things that have helped put a smile on my face this Christmas:
- From my friend Keith at Bag of Nothing comes this lovely collection of pictures of kids who are scared to death of Santa. Who wouldn't be scared of this gaggle of drunken holiday nuts? Classic.
- I'll never forget the first time I heard this lovely rendition of "O Holy Night." Man, this just never gets old. As you listen, picture that one drunk Uncle who's always sneaking a swig from his trusty flask at the family Christmas party belting this one out. Enjoy!!
- Check out this hillarious video that shows what a jerk Santa was to Rudolph in the classic claymation holiday favorite. I guess I just never realized how much of a tool Santa was.
I'm tired, unmotivated and a bit grumpy.
Tired because we had to travel to Georgia for Kim's Grandmother's funeral. It was a long trip... with all the kids... in the minivan... for fifteen hours. Tired.
Unmotivated because, well, that's just the way I roll. I do really good and stay really focused for a long time, and then I just hit the wall. Who knows why, but it just happens. I think winter hits, and my motivation flies south for the season. Hopefully no one will mistake it for a duck and shoot it. I really need it back, so if you see my motivation, please scold it and tell it to get home right now!
Grumpy because I'm finding less and less joy in the Christmas phenomenon. Not a fan of Christmas music. Not so much a fan of Christmas decorations. Hate to shop. Frustrated by the commercialism. The only things I like about Christmas are Jesus and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. When Linus quotes the Christmas story from Luke, I almost always shed a happy tear. Awesome.
In a feeble attempt to cheer myself up, I'm going to post a few Christmas funnies that I've found on the web lately. I hope they help you enjoy this time of year. It can be hard sometimes.
LSU is coming off of its first appearance in the Final Four since 1986, and is led by that big ball of chocolate love, Glen "Big Baby" Davis. LSU is confident and fun to watch, and this years Tigers bring back memories of the good ole days under former head coach Dale Brown (BTW - I once witnessed a speech by Dale Brown when I attended Louisiana Boys State as a Junior in high school. He was dynamic, inspiring, and every adjective above that. Man, I miss Dale Brown!).
Anyway, LSU won the game, 64-52, and that gives me back to back bragging rights over all my A&M buddies (Help! I'm stuck in Texas!! Seriously, help). We beat A&M by one point last year in the NCAA tourney. Way to go Tigers!!