Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Magic of Christmas

Christmas truly is a magical time. Not in the since that it is 'of' magic, but that it is one of mystery and excitement and all sorts of wonderful things, known and unknown. I think of the mystery of Christmastime when I was a child. Truly something seemed to be in the air, something seemed to be happening as I found myself wrapped up in the wonder of something special. Not sure what that specialness was, but there was something special happening. Sure, as a kid, I loved the thought that I was in line to get some wonderful gifts, but still there was something more, something that I never could put my finger on. What was it? What was that lingering mystery that haunted my thoughts and my anticipation. It was something more than just receiving presents and eating wonderful Christmas food. It was more than getting together and spending time with family and friends. That feeling of mystery simply would not leave, nor did I want it to leave. What was it? What was the joy and excitement that haunted dreams and my waking hours?

Even after the loss of Christmas innocence, which was a blow, that 'something' was still in the air at Christmastime. That mystery ... still there haunting me. That haunting was still as exciting as I remembered as a child and now even more intriguing. Now as an adult with children of my own, I find that Christmastime is even more intriguing, even more exciting, and now even more mysterious! I find myself wanting to get lost in old Christmas movies or a dozen Christmas songs. I have my internet radio tuned to Holiday Classics even as I write this. The magic, the mystery, the excitement floods through my very core even now! What is it? What is this mystery? What is this wonderfully unique and extremely thrilling obscurity that is as real as the sun and the moon?

In the Bible in 1 Corinthians 2:7 Paul writes about the 'wisdom of God being a mystery'. This has to have something to do with this magical mystery so many sense during Christmastime. It has to be! We celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ and in doing so, we acknowledge God! We acknowledge the invisible God and 'behold' Him from within. I truly feel that the mystery that is sensed, the wonder that is felt at Christmastime is the very love and grace of God. God in His amazing love and grace simply radiates to us Himself and whether it's a child who is so willing to believe in the unseen or it's an adult who has lost his innocence and is very skeptical of that which is unseen feel that magic. The mystery that is sensed and felt is the very presence of a God Who is pouring out His heart and love to us at such a special time of year, a time of receptivity, a time of peace and love. God is reaching out showering child and adult alike with His wonderful love! The mystery is simply invisible God wooing us closer to Himself, seeking to bring us into His heart of love and mercy and give to us life and an abundance of life. It's God inviting us inside the greatest and most majestic of all places; His life.

Whether it's a child who is searching for Santa and his sleigh loaded down with presents or if it's an adult who is trying to recapture that innocence one more time, the magical mystery is the eternal rays of glory reaching out and caressing us, wooing us, calling us into His secret place all because He loves us and longs to be with us and longs for us to long to be with Him. The mystery in the air is the powerful love of God falling like fresh snow onto a world that He loves so much!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Slow Down and Sing

It's Christmastime! Woo-hoo!!! Since I was a child, I have loved this time of the year. All the colors, all the smells, all the reindeer, all the Christmas specials on TV and all the Christmas cheer out there just makes it an awesome time of the year. As an adult I love to play back the memories in my mind and in my heart of those wonderful Christmases when I was a child. I do remember that Christmas was hard sometimes and that the gifts were few, but as I remember, I remember the wonderful spirit of Christmas. The excitement of just being with family as we would gather to eat Christmas dinner. All the siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and plenty of friends. We could hardly wait for Christmas eve to come for we knew that we would be together for Christmas eve to celebrate Christmas as a family. There was no fighting that night, no tempers flaring, nobody sad. Even siblings were at peace. All were joyous and happy and full of life! Even grandparents were giddy with Christmas spirit. It was a totally wonderful time for all. It was as if everyone was sprinkled with youthfulness again. Smiles, laughter, and fun characterized these times. Christmas songs filled the air! Whether by way of radio, records, or someone singing a capella Christmas music was being sung! Whether it was Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, or Silent Night, a song was being sung!

What a wonderful thing now many years later. Those same songs being played or sung today can bring back a memory, a warm feeling, a smile, and at times, even a tear or two. It is amazing that at 44 years of age, I catch myself singing "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" out loud ... when I am all alone or in a crowd. I can be walking down the grocery isle and break out singing, 'I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know'. Bystanders turn and look at me and smile or raise a curious eyebrow while some have joined in the singing. I love it!

Even so, I see so many running here, flying there, trying to get this or do that with the worst look on their face. Hurrying here and hurrying there. Rush, Rush, Rush! I can't stand it. It's not the Christmas that I knew or want to know. I want to tell them to slow down or Christmas will be here and gone before they know it. Slow down and enjoy this wonderful time of year. Make some memories and remember some as well. Turn on some Christmas music and sing along and relax in the moment. Christmases come and go and if we are not careful we might miss this wonderful time of year. Time doesn't slow down for anyone and keeps marching on! So what to do? What should we do at Christmastime? Slow down and sing with childlike passion a Christmas song and then another and then another and then ... !

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Surrounded By Idiots!

It amazes me that God tolerates me and puts up with me in my spiritually lazy times, my angry times, and my insane times. I am so grateful that He doesn't just get rid of me. We all have our times and it's just a part of life I know. Many times we fall into temptation, fall in to sin, totally blow it at other times, and sometimes we simply act silly. Well, I know I do.
Then there are those who just don't get it. They seem to be oblivious to truth, whether it's God's truth or it's just truth about life or themselves or whatever. They are just idiots. An idiot is defined as someone who is stupid. As sad as it is, we are surrounded by them! Idiots who think they are geniuses all the while exemplifying their stupidity. Right is right and wrong is wrong, right? Right! Idiots can't see this truth. They justify wrong attitudes, wrong motives, and wrong agendas. They justify sin, hate, and ungodliness all the while claiming to be right, even right with God. Let me give an example. How many people will justify hating someone, or at the least disregarding someone who thinks differently or has an opposing view about something. Look at the different denominations there are all in the name of Jesus Christ. Someone has to be wrong and it's always the others who are. Truth has been replaced with falsehood (lies!) and right has been overruled by justified wrong! Hate has been given precedence over love. Who would do this? Stupids! Idiots! Yep, those who are all around us. Culture and society accept this, but God sure doesn't! I think we need to call a spade a spade and a stupid a stupid. Or we can call them idiots! Same thing, right? Right! There are those who are just 'stuck on stupid' and they will always be there, no matter how much we try to convince them otherwise. We shall always have those who are 'idiots'. Lord help us!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Thanks

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is with so much gratitude that I must thank God for all He has done, given, and answered.
For saying no when I wanted to do something that was not in your will.
For saying yes when I had to endure trials and tribulations in order to get closer to You.
For allowing me to hear my children fuss and fight instead of not hearing them at all.
For being able to sit down at the dinner table with my wife and kids all together.
For seeing someone who had less than me to realize that I have more than enough.
For seeing someone who has more than I have but doesn't appreciate it.
For getting a late night phone call from friend who needs me.
For crying so hard while reading The Shack! For the ability to remember the truth presented in it even now.
For showing me that You have never been nor will you ever be placed in a box, an institution, or a religion. Even my heart can't contain you but thank You for moving in and through it.
For allowing me to listen to and enjoy music.
For allowing me the ability to make music with a guitar and relationships.
For being able to reflect upon my life, my loves, and my blessings.
For giving me 4 children whom I love more than life.
For a wife who puts up with me, respects me, and is committed to me.
For being able to speak and proclaim You and Your love to a world who so desperately needs it!
For not crushing me when I miss it all.
For giving me another chance, again and again and again.
For letting me see the hurt in people through Your eyes.
For giving me a heart to feel, a mind to understand, and enough sense to trust you with both!
For place to lay my head and a heaven to place my heart.
Lord, Thank You for loving me! May I always show my gratitude!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Seasons change, times change, and we change. It's amazing though that the seasons deal with it as does time, but when it comes to us, we find ourselves fighting change and fighting against that which beckons change. Whether it's people, career, or the natural aging process, we fight against it. I have wondered why many times. It seems that we long for change when we are children, we long to become an adult and take hold of all those wonderful advantages of being an adult - like being independent, owning a home or apartment, having a car, and being free. Then as adults we try to hold on to our youth and being and feeling young. We long for that and fight the fact that we are growing older and with that change happens. We fight it by exercising and dieting and wearing 'cool' clothes and trying our best to stay trendy. Nothing wrong with any of these, but even so, we fight against change.
What amazes me is that when it comes to following Christ. We say we love Jesus, we say we love the ministry He has called us to, we say we are all about all of that stuff, yet we fight against change and all the while it is change that is needed to follow Christ. To follow Christ we must change our hearts, our mindsets, our attitudes, our actions, yet so many times we refuse to. Then that just moves into every area of our lives and we find that we become stagnate in our faith and actually quench the Spirit of God in our lives and around us. When we do this, we simply miss God! Changes are not permanent, but change is and if we are going to grow in our faith we must be constantly changing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Blues Faith

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in Southwest Alabama. Due to a cold and an accompanying cough, I had to cancel a speaking engagement. I was planning to really speak with gusto and with power on Becoming a Passionate Follower of Jesus Christ. Isn't it ironic that instead I am sitting at my computer coughing and feeling 'blah' instead? I feel so far from being passionate about anything right now. I was reminded though of what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7; "walk by faith and not by sight". He tells us that our walk, our following Jesus has nothing to do with how we feel or what the circumstances are. We are to follow Christ 'by faith', by trusting Him and not by how we feel. Hmmm. OK, that is awesome and true and the real deal, but how am I suppose to follow when I feel terrible? Then it hit me, trust Him now in this time of having a cold. Trust Him as I feel miserable, just as He felt even much more miserable on the cross after being beaten almost to death. Even in his dying He was passionate about life, love, and people ... ME!!! You see His hurting and pain and agony never once caused Him to not be passionate about what He was all about. His passion never wavered!
Just what am I passionate about? If I am passionate about God I will be that way even in my personal agony, even if it is just a cold. Passion, real passion when directed to what we were created to be and do and become in Christ may take hits, but that kind of passion never ceases; or it shouldn't cease!
So, with my cold and my cough, I sit at this computer passionate about life, love, and liberty in Christ! I can be sick and still be a passionate follower of Jesus. Wow! Take that cold! Achoo and Praise the Lord Who Is My Redeemer!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Papa is Good!

I recently read The Shack! What a book! Have to say that I have never cried reading a book, but I did this time. No, I sobbed! My heart was so moved by the story of a man who met God. Papa was God the Father and He revealed Himself as an older black lady. Wow! Amazing how the author put this story together and in such a way that spiritual truth was conveyed. I honestly don't understand how anyone would have a problem with such a book. So many have pre-conceived notions and understandings of what they think God is like. So many times those are misunderstandings. No matter, it is these that keep us from truly enjoying God! God is so cool and loving and amazing and if we are not careful, we will miss Him when He is standing right in front of us trying to show us something of Himself. I can see God trying to convey His heart to us in so many ways, but if we have formed a box that He doesn't fit in and doesn't speak to us the way we think He should, we will not hear Him. George Straight's song, "I Saw God Today" is an amazing song that conveys truth in it. Hmm... Go figure. God is speaking to us all the time - in a song, in a book, in a smile, in a child's face, in a stranger's voice, in nature, in stories such as The Shack. God is so much bigger than anything we can imagine and the boxes we make to stuff Him in is really our very own prison that keeps us from God. God has never and never will allow Himself to be stuffed in any box! Whether that box is well intentioned church or institution, a denomination, or any organization. God has given us so much because He loves us and wants to spend time with us. What a wonderful way to portray God as a big, older black lady who loves people and loves being with them! Wow!!! Papa is good! Always has been and always will be! Thank Papa!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Change Must Occur, but Will it?

Third Day's song, "Can't Take The Pain" is basically a song about what Peter experienced after denying Jesus three times. This song is so amazing as it hits to the heart of the remedy for dealing with sin and sinful actions. If we are ever going to deal with sin, forsake sin, and move forward, we must deal with our own sin at the gut level! It must be a deep down visceral experience that we have. Peter's pain was so heavy that he couldn't deal with it. When we truly see the fact that our actions, attitudes, and our hearts go against the Lord it has to move us on a gut level in that we see the seriousness of it. It has to be more than just hearing and recognizing our 'short-comings', it must be that we recognized that we have hurled hurt towards our God. It has to be seen as being what it really is, going against God, leaving our first love, abandoning our Lord. One would never think of adultery as a light thing would we. OK, maybe if it were someone else or even if we have been blinded by our own sin, we may think it light, but what if the doctor says, 'you have cancer'? Wow! Now we would feel that on a gut level. It's the same with sin. We must feel it on a gut level to the point that we find we can't stand the pain for it is so strong, so wrong, so hurting to us. Then it will be that we truly turn back to God in brokenness and with a repentant heart. It's now that we can get this thing right with God - our heart, our souls, our lives and move forward.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Random Thoughts

Greetings all! This is my first blog. Excited but also not sure about the how this all works.
The day started and has stayed beautiful all day. Had the pleasure of working with my son Colby around the house. Finished up in time to watch some SEC football! Yea! Awesome. What would be greater is if LSU were playing and winning. That will be determined next week.
As I was watching the Florida/Arkansas game, I noticed that the fans were focused on the field and the game rooting for their team. Rooting and cheering and yelling! Excitement fills the heart the week before with anticipation and desire for both the fans and the team. There is a unified coming together to win! I love it! What a huge illustration of what should characterize the body of Christ. A coming together in a unified effort to win! To win what you may ask? Relationships, marriages, friendships, battles with sickness and disease, trials and troubles, reaching people with the Gospel, and on it goes. There are daily battles we must face, personal relationships that need healing, need growing, need mending, and so much more. God has created us to be different, but there are those things in life that as followers of Jesus, we must be unified, rooting and cheering for each other as we press on for victory! Victory is ours, we just have to reach out and take it. Go Team! Let's get that 'W'!