Merry Christmas Adam

Everyone knows that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. But does everyone also know that today is Christmas Adam, which precedes Christmas Eve. Celebrate in style with a McRib at McDonald’s!

Actually, all those dreams I’ve had of a white Christmas this year are being replaced by the reality of thunderstorms and tornado watches. In this case, the line “Hail, the Son of Righteousness” is quite literally coming true in some places with actual hail.

I’m hoping and praying that all my Nashville friends out there are safe and sound in the midst of tornado warnings.

I’m also praying that in the midst of the shopping frenzy, people will remember that what counts most aren’t the gifts under the tree as much as the Gift lying in a manger.

I confess that for me it’s a time to watch all the classic movies like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and White Christmas and to listen to my vast collection of Christmas music.

Still, it’s also a time for me to reflect and remember the birth that changed history as we know it. There would be no Golgotha and no Resurrection without a Bethlehem. There could be no Risen Savior with Scarred Hands and Feet with out a Child Wrapped in Swaddling Cloths and Lying in a Manger.

Maybe I’m like a broken record when it comes to Christmas, but I don’t care. I do love Christmas. Yes, for the nostalgia and warm fuzzies, but also for the way in which the impossible became glorious reality in the form of Emmanuel, God with us.

So be sure to have all your presents bought and wrapped. Have plenty of eggnog and cheer. But don’t forget to leave room on your schedule and in your heart for the babe born to be a sacrifice for you and me.

And God bless us, everyone!


Awakenings and The Gift of Being Alive


Leonard Lowe: We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer: How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe: Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!” (Awakenings, 1990).

First of all, when did this movie get to be 25 years old? Where was I? Why wasn’t I consulted about this occurrence?

I do so love this movie. It reminds me of what a gift being alive is. It reminds me of the blessings of all those things that I daily take for granted that so many people don’t get to experience– waking up, breathing in fresh air, having the freedom to go and do as I please, being able to worship God freely.

The saying goes that every day may not be a good day, but there is good in every day. No matter how hard-pressed or stressed you are, you can still find the good if you look for it. Even in the midst of incredible loss and grief, there are blessings waiting to be found.

You have to train your eye. If you expect bad to happen, that’s all you’ll see. If you expect good, you’ll find it. You project onto others what you see in yourself (I learned that in one of my Psychology classes way back in my Union University days).

The best way is to look for God in every situation. You’ll find Him and you’ll also see whatever you’re going through in the best possible light.

As a friend of mine always says at the end of his blogs, just you think about that.


What’s In Your Hands, Kairos-Style

Mike Glenn spoke about a boy with some bread and fish. Actually, he spoke about the parable of the feeding of the 5,000 from Mark 6, but that story wouldn’t have been possible without that boy who had the five loaves of bread and two fishes. Ok, Jesus probably could have conjured up a feast out of nothing, but he chose to use the obedience of this one little boy to bless a hungry multitude.

In the end, the too few with the too little had fed the too many with too much left at the end (as Dr. Glenn put it). What started out as as the dollar menu special from Captain D’s ended up with twelve baskets of leftovers, one for each disciple.

That said, I have to ask myself one question. Maybe this question is for you: what do you have in your hands?

Maybe to us it doesn’t seem like much. Maybe it seems like practically nothing. When you’re dealing with anywhere from 17,000-20,000 people (including the 5,000 men that Mark mentions in the story), two fish and five loaves of bread aren’t going to go very far.

Maybe what you have in terms of talents, gifts, passions, and desires seems very inadequate for God to use. But then, God’s not interested in your abilities and talents and much as your availabilities and willingness to serve.

Jesus took those twelve uneducated disciples and poured His life into them. In the end, they were twelve who went out and turned the world upside down (or more accurately, turned an already upside down world right-side up again).

Who knows what God can do with that paltry offering you hold in your two hands? Who knows the far-reaching impact of your small sacrifices, far beyond anything you can imagine or will probably ever know, to reach people you never dreamed of reaching and touch far more lives than you ever thought possible.

So when God comes calling, and He will, open up your hands and give Him what you have. Then be prepared to be amazed at what He does with it.


Lessons from The Bishop’s Wife


I wonder how many of us are already overwhelmed by the prospect of buying all those Christmas gifts. Maybe you’re stressing about what to give that certain person who is so hard to buy for. Or maybe you don’t know how you’ll manage to find the time to buy and wrap all those presents and still manage to get everything else done.

I think I have an idea.

Maybe the gift you really need to be concerned about is the main gift you’ll ever give. As the main character in the movie The Bishop’s Wife says, “We’ve remembered everybody except one — that child born in a manger so long ago.” What will we give Him?

Talk about hard to buy for! This child, Jesus, already owns it all. The cattle on a thousand hills? Already got it. All the gold in Fort Knox? Already His.

So what can you give Jesus this year?

Maybe the best present you can give is to be present to Jesus. Maybe the best gift you can give is you. Not your time or your money or your best intentions, but you.

In other words, what Jesus wants more than anything from you this Christmas is your surrendered heart. What He desires is every part of you– the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it.

The good news is that no matter how badly you’ve screwed your life up, Jesus still wants it. No matter how much of a mess you’ve made of you, Jesus still wants you, just as you are right now. Not as you could be, but as you are in this very moment.

The better news (or maybe even the best news of all) is that Jesus takes you as you are but refuses to leave you that way. He promised to help you become every bit of who He made you to be. And it’s never too late in this lifetime to be all that God made you to be.

So that’s one less present you have to worry about, right?

I Absolutely Refuse to Refer to Wednesday as Hump Day Anymore


There. I got your attention, didn’t I?

I don’t have any moral or religious objections to the phrase “hump day” or even that  talking camel. I just think the whole joke’s been overdone a tad. And by a tad, I mean a gazillion times too many.

My Wednesday was just fine. How was yours?

It rained where I was. Not a downpour, but a pleasant soft-falling rain that always soothes and calms me. Except when I have to drive in it. Or more accurately, when I have to drive amongst all those others who absolutely cannot drive in the rain.

Wednesday means that the work week is halfway over. Wednesday means that only two more days remain until that blessed event called Friday and the start of the weekend.

I’m thankful for Wednesdays and not just because of being halfway to Friday. I’m thankful that I woke up this morning and that I have a job and that I still have a God who loves me in spite of my plethora of quirks and failings and broken promises.

I’m thankful for the rain that will bring growth and new life. And hopefully less humidity.

I’m thankful because I know that I already have exceeded the amount of blessings that I truly deserve. I far exceeded that a long time ago.

How many blessings do I truly deserve? None. But how many do I get in spite of that? Too many to count. Too many that I take for granted and don’t even see.

If God told me my bag of blessings was empty and I had used them all up, I’d be okay with that. If God never did one more thing for me, He’d still have been way, way better to me than I ever could have hoped or deserved. In a million lifetimes.

I call that a good Wednesday.


The Face of God

I get emails from the Henri Nouwen Society with daily meditations on them. I thought today’s was especially good and reminded me of a blog I’d written a few years back. This one’s better.

I love the imagery and the idea that every believer carries the image of God, but only collectively can the true imago dei of God be seen and truly appreciated.

“A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.

“That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world.  Nobody can say: ‘I make God visible.’  But others who see us together can say: ‘They make God visible.’ Community is where humility and glory touch.”

I think that says it all. People do see God in us individually, but people see God best when we are living in community. That’s where our unique gifts, talents, passions, and abilities come together to form something that collectively is more than the sum of its parts. That’s the Church.

So think about that the next time you’re gathered together with believers. You’re not just a group of people, but a work of art– a mosaic– displaying the great worth and glory of God.

More Beautiful Words


“Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged. Instead of repairing them we say: “Well, I don’t have time to fix it, I might as well throw it in the garbage can and buy a new one.” Often we also treat people this way. We say: “Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, she is quite depressed; well, they have mismanaged their business…we’d better not take the risk of working with them.” When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak” (Henri Nouwen).

I’ve done that before– dismissing people because of their apparent woundedness. I’ve also had it done to me a few times.

I can say with all sincerity that these words are true. You and I may have every right to dismiss these people, but we do lose something– those untapped gifts lying hidden in those very wounds.

Maybe next time I can see those people and their wounds with a different set of eyes next time– eyes of grace. Maybe next time I can remember Who saw my wounds and sought me out anyway. I can remember that He gained His own scars for the healing of mine.

Just a thought.



In ye olden castle days, stewards were the ones who took care of the finances and property management of the castle and surrounding village. The stewards didn’t own any of it, but they took care of it as though it were their own.

Most people, when they hear a preacher bring up the word “steward” or “stewardship,” automatically think, “Uh-oh. Here comes another sermon on tithing.”

Stewardship is about money. But it is so much more than that.

The truth is that nothing you have really belongs to you. The earth and everything in it, including you, belong to the Lord.

Your money? It really belongs to God.

Your career? Also God’s.

Your spouse? Ditto.

Your children? Not yours.

When you make Jesus Lord of your life, He takes over ownership of all that you call yours. But when you think about it, everything you have is really a gift from God anyway.

Your money and your ability to earn it come from God. He created you with unique talents and gifts to be able to start a career and earn a living.

Your spouse and your children? They belong to God, not you. God has entrusted them to your care and expects that you will present them back better than when He gave them to you.

It’s humbling when you realize you’re not the king of your castle. Even more so when you realize you don’t even own your own castle.

May we all remember that we are stewards of what really belongs to God. May we take good care of what– and who– He has entrusted into our care so that when He comes, He can say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I Wonder as I Wander


I came home from a Christmas Eve service a little bummed. Not for any specific reason. Just that I was tired and thinking once again about all I didn’t have instead of what I do.

Then I saw it. I saw the setting sun reflected off the still waters of a shallow pond. It was almost as if God gave me that moment to remind me that what I DO have matters so much more than what I DON’T.

I started wondering a few things:

I wonder if Mary mourned the loss of all she gave up when God called her. I know it seems strange, almost sacreligious, to think such a thing.

But Mary was a teenager who must have had her own dreams and her own fantasies of how her life would turn out. None of them involved an unexplainable (in human terms) pregnancy or giving birth to a Son whom she would witness being unfairly tried, tortured, and publicly executed.

God’s dreams often require that we give up not just bad things, but even some good and even very good things if they’re not God’s best for us. Letting go of those things can feel like a death knell to our hearts even if we know something better is coming.

Mary could have had a normal marriage with normal children and been well-respected in her community and taken no flack. But no one would ever have remembered her name.

God has a dream for you in His heart that sometimes won’t make sense. At times, it will feel too much like a letting go and giving up of much that we hold dear. It will be painful at times, like losing a part of your heart.

The payoff is so much more than worth it. Mary got to see the Messiah, hold Him in her arms, see Him grow up, and watch Him prove that not even that horrific death could hold Him down.

She got to see with her own eyes the salvation of the world. Her own salvation.

I call that more than worth it.

Another Beautiful Advent Prayer

“Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!’


PS We who have felt abandonment, rejection, alienation, loneliness, and being forgotten yearn for Immanuel, God with us, to come among us and remind us of our worth in the eyes of our Abba and Heavenly Father.