New Technology and Old Comforts

I love new technology as much as the next guy. In fact, I’m wearing my Apple watch which automatically unlocks the MacBook Pro on which I’m currently typing these words.

Technology is fantastic. When it works.

I also have an elderly feline napping in my lap as I type these words. She’s always ready to curl up on or near me and do what she does best– sleep.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d take the old comfort just about every time. Eventually the technology becomes obsolete and gets replaced, but old comforts are always in style.

My elderly feline turns 17 this year. I hope she decides to stick around for a while, as I do love our little therapy sessions.

I hope you have some source of comfort in your life that you can go to when your life gets overwhelming or stressful.

Of course, the ultimate comfort and peace comes from the Prince of Peace. Even in the midst of the most trying situations, I’ve known a deep-down peace that truly transcends my comprehension and goes far deeper than emotions.

I pray that for you above all.

Plus, a cat in your lap never hurts, either.

Free Stuff

“Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
    a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift.
And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great.
    The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders.
His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
    He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, The Voice).

I confess. I love free stuff.

I periodically go by the Brentwood Public Library where they have two bookshelves off the front lobby to the right where they put all the books and other media that they can’t for whatever reason take.

I always look for hidden treasures there. Mostly, it’s old VHS tapes and 80’s-era computer manuals and other equally useful items.

Every now and then, I do find something worthwhile. A few months back, I found a 1945 Book of Common Prayer in more or less decent shape. Win.

I also like to look through the bins in front of McKay’s Used Books, Movies, Music, and So Much More Store (which isn’t really the name, but what it should be named).

Again, there’s a reason a lot of these got discarded and left behind. Still, every now and then, I can find some really cool stuff. Like the last time I was there, I found three Christmas CDs that I’ve added to my already astounding and amazing collection.

The best gift of Christmas was also free. It came in the unlikeliest of places– in a stone manger inside of a barn on the outskirts of the little town of Bethlehem. It came wrapped not in a fancy package with ribbons and bows aplenty, but in a worn-out cloth.

That gift was Emmanuel. God downsized into human flesh, infant flesh, born ultimately to be the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me.

The gift wasn’t free to God. It cost Him everything. But the gift is free to you and me. The only problem with a gift– any gift– is that it doesn’t become yours until you take it. So will you?

This Christmas, don’t get so distracted by the gifts under the tree that you miss the best gift in the manger.

The end.

For the Third Sunday of Advent

I’ve invited a special guest for tonight’s blog. Actually, I read something I really liked that he wrote and I wanted to share it with you. It’s from Henri Nouwen and I love it. I hope you will, too.

“Keep your eyes on the prince of peace, the one who doesn’t cling to his divine power; the one who refuses to turn stones into bread, jump from great heights and rule with great power; the one who says, ‘Blessed are the poor, the gentle, those who mourn, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness’ (see Matt. 5:3-11); the one who touches the lame, the crippled, and the blind; the one who speaks words of forgiveness and encouragement; the one who dies alone, rejected and despised. Keep your eyes on him who becomes poor with the poor, weak with the weak, and who is rejected with the rejected. He is the source of all peace.

Where is this peace to be found? The answer is clear. In weakness. First of all, in our own weakness, in those places of our hearts where we feel most broken, most insecure, most in agony, most afraid. Why there? Because there, our familiar ways of controlling our world are being stripped away; there we are called to let go from doing much, thinking much, and relying on our self-sufficiency. Right there where we are weakest the peace which is not of this world is hidden.

In Adam’s name I say to you, ‘Claim that peace that remains unknown to so many and make it your own. Because with that peace in your heart you will have new eyes to see and new ears to hear and gradually recognize that same peace in places you would have least expected.’

I have nothing to add to that. Except maybe to claim my own weakness and in so doing, that peace which defies human logic and anything the world and hell could ever throw at me.

For When You’re Feeling Anxious

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It’s February. And unless you’re living in Hawaii with all those palm trees and beaches, it’s cold.

My feelings on cold weather go something like this: if it’s gonna be this cold, it might as well snow, or what’s the point?

Maybe you’re feeling more than just cold. Maybe you’re feeling anxious or stressed.

Perhaps you’re out of a job and wondering how that big stack of bills is going to get paid. Or where they money is going to come from to put gas in the car. Or food on the table.

Maybe you’re still single and wondering when (or even if) that special someone will ever come along.

Maybe you’re children don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore and you don’t know how to get through to them anymore.

Maybe it’s just a combination of a million little things all rolled up into one big case of anxiety.

Don’t you know that Jesus didn’t come to bring your peace?

He came to be your peace. He is after all the Prince of Peace.

That’s what all of us who are overwhelmed with worry and stress need to remember. Jesus may not take away all those things that cause anxiety, but He promises to walk with us through every trial, every tribulation, and every dark valley.

Jesus has already overcome whatever you’re afraid of. Nothing can touch you apart from God’s permission. And absolutely nothing can come between you and the love of your Abba Father.

Sometimes, you need medicine to make those anxieties go away. That doesn’t make you less spiritual. It just means your brain needs a little help to function normally.

I love the line from that movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Everything will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end.

Jesus Is Your Peace

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This is just a reminder for those weary and worn ragamuffins who occasionally stray from the road and get lost in the dark from time to time. There’s always a Voice calling your name to lead you back. And the name of that Voice is the Prince of Peace.

When you’re tired and you can’t sleep, Jesus is your peace.

When the one you really like prefers someone else over you, Jesus is your peace.

When your spouse wakes up one morning and decides he or she doesn’t love you anymore and doesn’t want to be married to you anymore, Jesus is your peace.

When a friend whom you trusted hurts you and the wound goes deeper than pain, Jesus is your peace.

When your good intentions get maligned and people ascribe you malicious motives, Jesus is your peace.

When you have a week of Mondays at work and nothing seems to go right, Jesus is your peace.

When you’ve been out of work for months and begin to wonder if you even have anything worth offering to anybody, Jesus is your peace.

When you’re bending over a sick loved one and your only prayers are tears, Jesus is your peace.

When your child hovers between life and death and you are powerless to help, Jesus is your peace

Through whatever storms or calm, joy or sorrow, victory or defeat, gain or loss, Jesus has been, is, and will always be your peace.

Amen.