A big day!

My friend Jen is getting married today!

If you don’t know Jen, spend some time on her blog. She is a delightful person. Jen was, if I remember correctly, the first person in the blogosphere to notice The Thinklings back when we were in our nonage. She’s been a great friend of the site since then.

Those who follow Jen’s blog have seen the wonderful blossoming of the romance between her and “Beau”, which culminates in their wedding this evening.

Congratulations, Beau and Jen!

Being a man

Phil over at Brandywine Books wrote the following about a gift he gave his wife:

When my wife thought we wouldn’t get a digital camera because she and I wanted conflicting things in one, I bought her the simple camera she wanted secretly. She cried after she opened it. I love making her cry like that.

I hope to post from time to time on quotes, actions, etc. I find that demonstrate an aspect of true manhood.

Phil – this is one of them. Well done!

Seven Sevens Remixed

BlestWithSons has pegged me with another “Sevens” meme. My results are below (and I hope I’m not depressed in a year when I re-read this):

7 things I want to do in 2006

1. Find a new place of service in my church

2. Get into a regular writing routine on my novel

3. Lose weight (*sigh*)

4. Record a family CD on ProTools

5. Release Bloo into the public domain (if I haven’t done this by February I’ll be pretty bummed, actually)

6. Love God more

7. Have my blogging become more of a ministry

8. Work harder at work (ok, this is 8 but it needs to be said)

9. Pray more (ok, 9 . . . 7 just isn’t enough)

7 things to do less of in 2006

1. Eating

2. Surfing the web, and particularly the blogosphere

3. Wasting time

4. Being afraid – of anything

5. Not enjoying the now

6. Being content with “OK”

7. Not knowing enough about what’s going on in the world

7 ways I‘m going to be a better husband/father/friend in 2006

1. Pray harder for my kids

2. Pray harder for my wife

3. Spend more time with the kids individually

4. Be more outgoing

5. Be more fun

6. Take better care of myself to make the first five more possible

7. Grow spiritually

7 Scripture Passages I want to memorize in 2006

Hmmm. This one’s hard . . . But if I had to choose:

1. Romans 8

2. Romans 12

3. Romans 14

4. Isaiah 40

5. Lamentations 3

6. John 1

7. Psalm 73

7 Books I’ve Never Read that I‘m Going to Read in 2006

Note: many of these have been given to me and I feel terrible for not having read them yet. It’s mainly because I haven’t been convinced that I’m mentally up to it.

1. The Divine Conspiracy – Dallas Willard

2. The Gagging of God – D.A. Carson

3. The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoffer

4. The Story of Christianity, Vols 1 and 2 – Justo L. Gonzalez (Ok, I’m cheating here, because I am currently reading these, and will finish in 2006 :-)

5. Not a Tame Lion – Bruce L. Edwards

6. Of the Imitation of Christ – Thomas Kempis

8. Lennon Revealed – Larry Kane

7 Movies I’ve Never Seen that I’m Going to Watch in 2006

1. Citizen Kane

2. King Kong

3. hmmmm. To be honest, I’m just not that into movies . . . As BWS did, I’m asking for recommendations.

7 people I want to join in too

I’m going to cheat and reuse some of my last list, except I’ll spare BWS another tag

1. Shrode from the Thinklings

2. Bethany or Bethany :-)

3. Molly

4. Susan

5. Bob

6. Jen (although she’s going to be out of pocket for awhile :-)

7. Sherry

Chances of me actually doing all the stuff above? No comment. :-)

Preparing for the new year

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

– 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (ESV)

“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Aren’t you glad God brings newness into our lives? Even to rebellious outlaws like we were, reconciled to God through Christ, who for our sake was made to be sin so that we might become the righteousness of God!

I’m praying that I can become more of an ambassador for my King in 2006. I’m not even sure I know what that means, but this scripture tells me that’s what I am – I have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation.

I hope I live that out better next year than I did this year.

Comfort

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”

– Isaiah 40:1

I don’t have much to say, other than what this verse has just spoken to me:

Comfort to the whole earth. The King has arrived.

Comfort to those who are poor. Your King is among you, is one of you, and he calls you blessed.

Comfort to those who mourn. Your King mourns with you. He weeps over the nation; he weeps because of the unnaturalness of death and corruption. He weeps for our desperate state.

Comfort for the guilty. Your King brings forgiveness of sins. He is not ashamed to be seen with you. He is your friend. And your sins he takes upon himself, and they are no more.

Comfort for those who are lame, blind, deaf. Your King comes with healing in his hands. He is not afraid to touch you, or to breathe the air you breathe. He has come to make you whole.

Comfort for the lonely, for loneliness is a crushing weight for many during this season.

But our King has come, and he has come to be with us, and to give us family and brothers and sisters and friends and, most importantly, his beautiful presence. You are his beloved.

Immanuel is here.

Comfort, comfort my people!

Tag, I’m It!

Laura at Pursuing Holiness has tagged me. And, doggone it, weren’t you in the mood for a new meme? I sure was. So here goes:

7 things to do before I die:

1. Publish a book.

2. Grow old with my wife and best friend, Jill. I want us to be one of those cute old couples that still flirt with eachother when they’re like 85. Although if God wants to take me before then that’s totally cool too.

3. Release the Bloo software into the public domain, and see it be used by people I don’t know.

4. Do something courageous.

5. Walk both my daughters down the aisle at their weddings.

6. See my sons grow up to honorable manhood.

7. Play with my grandchildren.

7 things I can’t do:

1. Dance

2. Sing

3. Do woodwork

4. Park a car (seriously, I’m a terrible parker)

5. Have a sense of direction

6. Stay neat (I’m somewhat of a slob)

7. Understand that complex and crazy entity that is the human being. Especially me.

7 things that attract me to my wife:

1. Her beauty

2. Her smooth skin (smoothest skin ever! The first time I touched her face I was blown away)

3. Her laughter

4. Her laid-back, peaceful attitude to life

5. The way she loves our kids

6. Her steadfastness in the Lord

7. Snuggling!

7 things that attract me to blogging:

1. The community

2. The immediacy

3. The software (I love writing blog software!)

4. When someone says that something I wrote has blessed them

5. Being able to keep up with people I know who have moved away

6. Interesting comment threads

7. Bizarre but strangely compelling comment threads

7 things I say most often:

1. “Whoa!” (If I die in a car accident, my last word will be “Whoa!”)

2. “Cr*p” (I know, I really need to work on that. It’s my all-purpose expletive)

3. “I love you”

4. “Freakin'” (See my note on #2)

5. “I like what you’ve done here” (from Wayne’s World)

6. “I like alcoholics?” (substitute “alcoholics” for any suitable word – this is a quote from She’s Having a Baby)

7. “Ooooo-kaayyyy”

7 books I love:

1. The Bible

2. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

3. The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

4. The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis

5. Watership Down – Richard Adams

6. Till We Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

7. All The Trouble In The World – P.J. O’Rourke

7 movies I watch over and over:

1. The Lord of the Rings

2. It’s a Wonderful Life

3. Parenthood

4. She’s Having a Baby

5. The Incredibles

6. The Emperor’s New Groove

7. West Side Story

7 people I want to join in too:

1. Blo from the Thinklings (hey, hope springs eternal, y’know?)

2. Bethany

3. Molly

4. Susan

5. Bob

6. BlestWithSons (although I’ll bet she’s already been tagged)

7. Sherry

Christmas tree redemption

A confession: this morning, Christmas Eve, dawned, and our family had still not gotten our Christmas tree. We traditionally trek to a local Christmas tree farm every year in early December to pick our tree. But with work on the Christmas musical two weeks ago and the cold, wet and sickly weekend we had last week we hadn’t gotten around to it.

This morning dawned bright and clear. In hope that was perhaps a bit too naive we drove to the Christmas tree farm.

Closed . . .

We drove to another.

Closed . . .

So, we drove to Kroger and we saw this: the last Christmas tree left. Bent, shaggy and abandoned it stood crookedly on its base.



The tree



Blake liked it, we were desperate, so we went ahead and got it. Below is a brief visual history of this event:

Blake likes it

It’s a gem!

Whoa! And that included the stand!

When I went to the checkout counter to say that we wanted the tree, I got a nice, long blank stare from the checkout girl. She was also totally impressed when I wanted to take a picture.



Dang, I’m looking good . . .

Loading!

Andrew, Bethany and Molly are thrilled.

“Great tree, dad!”



All kidding aside, it was a fun event, and one we’ll remember.

And it reminded me that God often speaks to me through the most comical or mundane of circumstances. This tree was the last one picked at this very well-trafficked Kroger. In the eyes of the Kroger management it wasn’t really worth anything (remember, the stand it was on was part of the $9.99 price).

But we wanted it. We needed it; our house needed a tree for Christmas. We brought this little tree home, and I carefully re-cut its bottom trunk and trimmed its wayward branches. We brought it inside, mounted it, put on some Christmas music, and began decorating it.

It turned out, actually, to be a pretty good looking tree.

Done!



Lord, you spoke to me through this! Because this tree is me. Last night (well, really, in the deep hours of this morning) as I was driving home from the Thinklings Moot I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for all you have done. You’ve redeemed my life, blessed me beyond blessing, and restored the years the locust ate.

I am this tree. I was discarded and unwanted. But you chose me; not for my beauty, not because I had any grace or nobility on my own.

God chooses us. He brings us home, and he fills us with his light, and decorates us with the ornamental beauty of his holy fruit, his gems, his crowns. He gives us a place of honor in his house: he calls us sons and daughters.

The world doesn’t get this. It looks on with a blank stare of incomprehension. Because God’s grace is incomprehensible.

For consider your calling, brothers:

not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,

not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;

God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

God chose what is low and despised in the world,

even things that are not,

to bring to nothing

things that are . . .

1 Corinthians 1:26-28 (ESV)

Maybe that’s why God came to us in a package that was poor, obscure, and seemingly insignificant. We didn’t recognize him, and had no room in the inn for our precious Savior.

But he has room in his home for us. Jesus, precious Lord, our new born King. Thank you!

Merry Christmas!

I heard the bells on Christmas day

From James S. Robbins’ excellent recount of Christmas in 1864 comes this backstory to Longfellow’s poem I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day:

Far to the north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reflected on the day, and Christmas days past. The season had held no joy for him for the past three years – not because of the war, but the tragic death of his wife Fanny in the summer of 1861. She was the love of his life, and they were splendidly happy, but on July 9, 1861, while sealing a letter with paraffin, Fanny dropped the match on her summer dress, which burst into flames. Henry heard her screams and ran to her, trying to help smother the fire and burning himself severely in the process. Fanny died the next day. In December 1862, Henry noted in his journal, “A Merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more from me.” He spent December 1863 helping nurse his son’s wounds; Lt. Charles Appleton Longfellow, who had run away to fight for the Union, was severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, and Henry had rushed south to bring him home. The following spring, Longfellow’s lifelong friend Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away unexpectedly n his sleep. These had been difficult times for the poet; but sometimes it is only through great adversity that the promise of hope makes itself felt most strongly. Longfellow began to write:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day,

Their old familiar carols play.

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of ‘peace on earth, good will to men.’

I thought how as that day had come

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along th’ unbroken song

Of ‘peace on earth, good will to men.’

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of ‘peace on earth, good will to men.’ ”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.

Till, ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

The poem was put to music by Jean Baptiste Calkin in 1872, and became the familiar carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Amen. God is active and alive in our world, and his plans will not be deterred. He has come, the Prince of Peace, to dwell among us, to be our Immanuel, our Savior.

I’m praying that we will all hear that message this Christmas, and that the joyful bells of our quickened spirits will ring the news. He is born!

Merry Christmas!