Monthly Archives: December 2012

The New Year will be Just Like the Old Year, Unless…

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It’s not logical to repeat the same behaviors while expecting different results. For those of us who are motivated about a new beginning in 2013, I applaud you. However, be aware that if your work ethic, personal habits and spiritual focus are the same as they have been in 2012, 2013 will probably be a repeat.

Resolutions can be a great tool in assisting us in improving our life situation. We should use personal goals to motivate us toward behaviors that change our conditions. Most people require accountability both in the setting and keeping of goals. I highly recommend that you set goals and share those with someone you trust. Be realistic, make tough decisions about important issues and have a long-term perspective. Your chances of success will increase dramatically.

The truth is, if you can’t bring yourself to make any changes, get ready for more of the same. There really isn’t any reason to expect improvement. So, New Year, same old results, unless you change your approach!

There are some positive changes I plan to make for next year, so I fully believe that 2013 is going to be a great year – even better than 2012! Join me!


Christmas is Flesh and Blood

images-90We should know by now that the holiday is not about the presents we receive. It really is about people. There are people who actually have to buy their own presents because there is no one in their lives. They are missing the greatest joy.

My heart goes out to a friend who lost both her and sister and her mother this week. I lost my mother this year – Christmas will be a little different this year.  Then I think about the military personnel who are separated from loved ones this week. There are college students, widows, orphans, many people without people in their lives.  People who are incarcerated, even people who have to work through the holidays, will struggle to celebrate to the fullest extent. People make Christmas what I is.

Regardless of what marketers tell us, no amount of spending on presents will fulfill the purpose and meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about people: family, friends, and loved ones.

On the birth of Jesus, Athanasius of Alexandria wrote, “He became what we are that he might make us what he is.” Christmas is God coming in the flesh and shedding His blood – so that we might be saved.

It’s not lights, not trees, not Santa. Christmas is flesh and blood. Be sure to share the love with the people in your life.

Merry Christmas, everybody!


How about a Christmas Truce?

images-89One of my favorite stories from history is the Christmas Truce of 1914. On Christmas Day, the troops from Great Britain and France along the western front stopped fighting and declared a brief and unofficial cease-fire while they exchanged gifts, sang Christmas carols and even enjoyed a friendly game of soccer with the enemy.  It was a remarkable display of peace in the middle of unthinkable carnage.

I think the “war” started for us in earnest last Spring. The looming election brought out the worst in us: we slandered people from the other party. We spewed hate across the Internet. We disrespected and despised each other. Our country was deeply divided. Not surprisingly, November came and went and yet the poison still erupts. We’ve seen it most recently in the most insensitive and uncompassionate way; surrounding the deaths of the innocent shooting victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Unbelievably, people have taken advantage of this tragic event to tout their varied political opinions.

In the interest of world peace, I am suggesting that we declare another Christmas truce. I am hoping for just one day of not saying what we want to say. Here is my idea: On social media sites – no political cartoons, no condescending comments, no judgmental insults, no divisiveness in the press, no partisan debate, nothing on gun control, fiscal cliffs, Huckabee, anti-Obama rhetoric, James Dobson… you get the idea: One day of peace on earth. I think it is an idea that could work.

I’m not asking you to agree with your enemy. I’m not naïve enough to ask for compromise on convictions or a backing down from opinions. I just think the world could use a little peace right now. In the spirit of the Prince of Peace, Jesus! How about it?

This might even be a great time to forgive someone who hurt you, repair a breach in the family or call a long-lost loved one.

Back to 1914. The war resumed with fierce bloodiness just after Christmas. Military leaders from both sides made sure there was no repeat of the truce in 1915. But for one day, peace ruled.

2012 would be a fine time to repeat history.  Our respective “wars” will surely be waiting for us on December 26, if we are still interested in fighting.


Tragedy and Bad Theology

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We are all sickened by the senseless murder of so many people, both children and adults, in Newtown, Connecticut. While we mourn, we also have to hear the dime store God “experts” share their not-so-humble opinions about why this devastation occurred. Facebook and blogs are filled with smug responses surrounding the crisis – ideas like: “What do you expect? We kicked God out of our schools.” and “that’s what we get for making prayer in school illegal”.

Please stop this kind of rhetoric. It is hurtful to the families of the victims, it gives God a bad name and it is unbiblical.

It is bad theology to say that we removed God from our schools. True, we disallowed public prayer, but rest assured, God was right there in the heart of every child who lost their life. God was there. How dare we think that we can control where God goes and doesn’t go. Reminder: He is omnipresent (everywhere at the same time). We cannot confine Him. God is close to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18), no force in nature can stop that. The arrogance that assumes we can answer such mysteries is unfathomable.  As one friend, Eddie Robbins said, “If folks believe that, how do they explain so many shootings in churches?” Humble down, people of God. This is no time to grind an axe.

True, prayer is not allowed in most public arena today, but I guarantee you that there was a ton of prayer going up in Sandy Hook Elementary School today. God was there, He was with every victim and He is with all of the survivors. To believe otherwise is heartless and in conflict with the nature of God.

We need to refute bad theology. People need to stop saying hurtful things to try to prove a point. But now is the time for mourning and praying, not arguing.


Five Indicators that You are Doing What God Wants You to Do

How can you know if you are where God wants you to be, doing what He wants you to do?

You are stretched: If you are really comfortable in your position or responsibility, chances are, you need a change. If you can do you job with your eyes closed, change jobs. God wants you to grow and the only way to do that is to be challenged. If your duties require that you expand your abilities, congrats – you are right in your sweet spot.

You are fulfilled: If you find a sense of satisfaction simply from doing what is expected of you, that is a good sign. Completion, peace of mind and contentment can’t be manufactured. Additionally, these emotions are very rare. If you are enjoying them, kudos to you for finding your groove.

You are succeeding: One of the best ways for God to get the attention of one of His people is to allow them to fail. Failure is a great motivator. God wants you to succeed. I know this is a generalization and it is way over-used in some television preacher circles, but it is true nonetheless. If you are enjoying a season of success, it is probably a “thumbs up” from God.

You are reliant: If your duties are requiring more than you feel you can possibly give, it may be a sign that God has you right where He wants you.  Of course it is possible to just be in over your head. However, God expects great things of you – and you can’t do it without Him! Learn to lean on Him.

You are not looking around: If you spend zero time thinking about your next move; if your plans are focused on your current appointment only; if you wouldn’t accept a change even with a pay increase, you’ve found a home. Enjoy it.

There a few greater joys than knowing you are fulfilling your God-given purpose. Until you find that, keep pushing until you do so. Once you do find it, you’d better stay put – until and unless God changes His mind.


World AIDS Day

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Today is World AIDS Day. A few news agencies are carrying the story in an effort to raise awareness of this crisis and to motivate action so that we can make progress against this horrible disease. Unfortunately, not many Christians are talking about this topic and few churches ever do anything to address solutions.

I wonder what Jesus would do. I doubt seriously that He would, when confronted with the ugly realities, just go on about His business. I think He would do something. I believe He would heal people. I know He would love the victims and minister to them. He would care.

I want to be more like Jesus. I want to help the hurting. True, I cannot heal anyone. But I can love people with the love that Christ puts in my hearts for them. I cannot change the world, but I can make a small difference in the life of one person.

AIDS, human trafficking, abortion, the orphan crisis in the world, famine, contaminated water…there are so many opportunities for Christians to engage in meaningful and life-changing work. I think this is what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us to do what He would do – address these crises with His love.