Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Chaos

Tonight is the Christmas party at the Bible college where I am taking classes. I have volunteered to get the ham for the dinner. Yes, me - the only person I know who can have a toaster oven catch fire without even trying to cook something; she whose insurance company requires a fire hydrant in the front yard before underwriting a homeowner's policy - is cooking. I have the day off, and am happy to do so. I've planned my strategy, have the timing set in my mind, even canceled a lunch date with my mom to cook this hunk of pig. No problem.

Until last night. The kitchen sink wouldn't drain. Mr. from-the-Prairie tries Drain-O. Doesn't do anything (duh). OK, I'll get up early to take care of it - as if I know what I'm doing. So, this morning I end up taking the drain apart. The sink drains - all over the floor. Well, at least there's no standing water in the basin ... it's now all over the floor ... "Daddeeeee ... can you come over and fix my sink?"

In the mean time, when taking out the garbage, an empty wine bottle falls ***SHATTER*** all over the patio. The sad thing about it is I didn't even drink any of the wine from that bottle. As I'm trying to shoo my two dogs from the glass while I clean up the mess, I can't help but wonder ...

Can today get any more interesting?

In the midst of all of what's going on in the chaotic kitchen I think back to that night long ago in Bethlehem. Things were chaotic there as well. People from all over the known world, converging on this quiet little town. People were sleeping in the streets because there was simply not enough lodging for such a population boom. Everyone was tired and cranky. Children were whiny -
Benjamin: "Stop touching me! Mom, Simon won't stop touching me!"
Mom: "Simon, don't touch Benjamin."
Simon: (Slowly moving his hand toward Benjamin) "I'm not touching you..."
Benjamin: "MOM!!!"
Wives were berating their husbands:
"I told you that we should have left at sun-up. But NOOOoo ... You wanted to buy some extra barley. If we had left at sun-up we'd be sleeping in a real room, and not on the street listening to that Simon kid 'not' touching Benjamin!"
"Yes, dear...."
And on and on it went, all throughout this city. Even in the filth of a stable, where no one would go out of their way to choose to sleep, a woman wails in the pain of childbirth. Soon the chaos turns to joy, when two parents hear the very first cry of their newborn son. Joy so uncontainable that the angels breach the veil of heaven itself to gaze in adoration at this baby. Their announcement says it all:
 "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
News of great joy! But the ones who received the news were not the townies. The ones who received it were not the visitors. The ones who did witness this announcement were shepherds, tending sheep, in the quiet of a field, away from the chaos. The angels invited them to see this child for themselves, giving an ancient sort of Mapquest, if you will - "in the town of David ... you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

When God sends a message, He wants his people to hear. In the midst of the chaos of preparing for the holidays, God wants us to be still, and know that He is still God (and we are not!). Jesus is in the midst of your chaos. Look for Him ... you'll find Him.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When I received my copy of PRIMAL: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson, I felt like a child on Christmas morning! I had read his previous book Wild Goose Chase and remember hanging on every word he wrote. Primal did not disappoint. 

In his newest book, Batterson takes a fresh look at the Greatest Commandment that Jesus gives us --  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength -- and dares you and me to start a 21st century reformation by becoming great at living out the Greatest Commandment.

What did I like about this book? Batterson breaks down the four parts of the Greatest Commandment - heart, soul, mind, and strength - and challenges us to take action when our hearts break for the same things that God's heart breaks for, to rediscover the wonder of the intricacies of creation and the world around us, to be life-long learners, and to break a sweat for our God-given visions. Because this book was provided for review by WaterbrookMultnomah, I had a "due date" to finish reading and posting my review. There are several sections of the book where I felt I could ponder for hours on the points he was bringing out. I will definitely be re-reading this book.

Would I recommend this book to others? Absolutely. I would tell others to make Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity the first book you read in 2010, and allow time to take in the treasures within the front and back covers. This is not a book that should be rushed through.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

How are you?

Every Sunday morning at our church we have a custom of spending a couple of minutes at a particular point in the service to get out of our pews and greet each other, to shake hands or hug (depending on your level of familiarity). For the most part, everyone you encounter has a smile on their face, is glad to see you this morning, and may even take a moment to give a word of blessing or encouragement.  This morning the custom went not much differently than most weeks. Except ...

I lied to almost everyone there.  I only pretended to be "fine."  Probably only one or two people could tell something was amiss.  The rest of the people I encountered probably didn't have a clue. And I'm sure I wasn't the only liar in God's house this morning either.

Church isn't the only place where we blindly ask the "How are you?" question. We use that greeting literally everywhere we go. But when people answer, it seems no one really likes to admit to others that they are not alright. There can be many reasons for that:  They don't want to be the drama queen; They don't want to make a scene or draw attention to themselves; They don't want to talk; People who ask are doing so only to be polite - they really don't want to know, because they're hiding their own troubles.

Isn't it OK to be honest? Especially in church, with the people of God, people who can share your burdens, cry with you, pray with you? I'm not saying we should unload all of what is on our mind with everybody we encounter. There is a time and place for it, not necessarily during the greeting time. But why all the phoniness? God wants us to come as we are - He knows what we are going through even better than we do.

Maybe we are asking the wrong question when we greet each other. Maybe we should change it to something that doesn't have such a conditioned response. Since we are called to pray for one another, maybe a greeting such as "What's your prayer today?" or "How can I pray for you?" would elicit a more honest answer when God's people greet one another.  After all, isn't it better to be real than to pretend you have it all together?

What do you think?

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