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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Handel’s Messiah and Elf

My Christmas entertainment has been all over the map in the last two days, and maybe that’s a good thing.

A week or so ago, Diane and I trolled the internet to find some Christmas music offerings that we could take the family to, and on Thursday night we went with friends to see a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Maranatha Bible Baptist college in Watertown. Wow. I thought it was terrific. We were in the front, and at the end, Diane and I decided to give them a standing ovation. We assumed we would lead the way, but we were…wrong. Awkward. Oh, well, we thought it was worth it. I always love to take in some form of a Christmas concert in December, and we have particularly delighted in traveling to Chi-town for Moody’s Candlelight Carols concert, though the price including transportation keeps us from making the trip every year.

Then last night we watched a movie that has become a Holiday tradition for us – Elf. I checked it out on Rotten Tomatoes and it got 84% approval rating. Such a figure makes me want to have a conversation with the 16% who didn’t like it. I love it because it’s got a lot of “moments” in it that tug my heart or make me laugh out loud, including the World’s greatest cup of coffee scene, the delight Buddy has in discovering another Elf, who in reality is just a very offended short person, and the “Baby it’s Cold outside” shower scene.

Anyway, these evenings are moving me, slowly but surely, into that Christmas spirit state of the heart. Tonight’s Children’s Christmas play at the church (5:30 p.m.) will hopefully do the same.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

How to keep praying

Charles Spurgeon: “The God who decrees to give us blessings has also decreed that we shall ask for them.”

Oh, how I believe Spurgeon is right.  To paraphrase Isaiah 30:18 – God longs for us…to long for Him.

Two truths go hand in hand:

  1. God desires to bless us.
  2. He waits for us to ask for these blessings.

My problem is that I can easily forget either of these truths, and when I do, my prayer life dies, and the blessings are impeded.

First, I forget that God is inclined lovingly toward me. To reverse the story of Luke 18, I imagine that my life is not important to Him, that “this poor widow(er) has no business knocking on the door of this great judge.”  Forgetting God’s kind inclination toward me causes me to forsake prayer.

Or second, I may remember that He loves me and yet forget that God has decreed that I ask for the daily demonstrations of His love.  “You do not have because you do not ask” is the undeniable, basic truth of prayer.

So how do I solve this problem?

Personally, I have found only one solution: I must decisively commit to a time of regular, daily prayer come what may, no matter what.  When I am in my right mind, I know that God loves me and that He waits for me to ask for blessings.  But I am too often not in my right mind.  On these days, it is only my commitment to seek His face that moves me to my knees.

Prayer is like marriage. The thing that keeps a couple together in the long run is not the flame of infatuation that burns in them on the wedding day.  Rather it is the vow, the commitment they make, “till death do us part.”  Similarly, going to a conference and hearing a few speakers on prayer may move you to your knees for a few days, but only a commitment will keep you there.

So if Spurgeon’s quote moves you, decide today that you will never again miss a day of seeking this loving God for His hand of blessing.

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.

Isaiah 30:18 (NASB)

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Ten happiest jobs

Hey, hey, guess what profession is on the top of the list for ten happiest jobs?  Apparently, I’m sitting in the catbird seat, so to speak.

The interesting thing about this list is that there seems to be a correlation between professions that sacrifice and serve others…and happiness. Even a financial planner fits into this scheme, sort of.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as Jesus said something about this. (It is more blessed to give than receive.)  And that’s worth thinking about during “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Personally, I have noticed in the past that I am most mentally healthy when I am living for others.  But the times in my life where I have not been serving and sacrificing, these are the times that I fall into depression and well, let’s just say, unpleasant thinking.

So apparently, beyond volunteering, if you can choose a profession that leads you to live for others on a daily basis, you get more smiles for the miles.

I’m going to get my kids to read this.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Steve Jobs’ biography – a book review

My life, and yours, no doubt, has been significantly impacted by a company named after the most famous fruit, and it was probably this reason that caused me to pick up the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson of Time magazine.

(I purchased the book from Audible.com, and listened on my iPod, appropriately.)

Jobs was an enigma to me, shrouded in mystery, and I, like many others, wondered what was going on with him in the last few years as he looked gaunt and emaciated from the havoc created by pancreatic cancer.  Isaacson conducted over 40 interviews with Jobs in the last years of his life, as well as numerous interviews with those who loved him and hated him.  The result is a compelling picture of a man who, by wedding arts and technology, changed our lives and along the way, created the world’s most profitable company.

He was a contradiction in so many different ways – Jobs’ adoptive parents took him to a Lutheran church growing up, and one day he was impacted by pictures of emaciated children in a third world country and he brought these to his pastor, who apparently gave him a totally inadequate answer to the greatest philosophical question of all – “Why is there evil in the world?”  Jobs said that he could never worship a God who allowed this kind of sadness to go on.  It’s too bad that this pastor could not have given him a better understanding of the Fall, but the thing I found so fascinating is that Jobs did not become a humanitarian shaped by this experience.  Instead, the picture emerges of a man who was often incredibly cruel and mean, and who didn’t seem to care about the underprivileged that he accused God of turning a blind eye to.

Even when he made his first billion with the IPO of Pixar, Jobs never became a philanthropist like his nemesis/friend Bill Gates.  He pretty much kept his money to himself, although his wife, the love of his life, Laurene Powell, did establish an after school program for underprivileged kids, though Jobs himself never took an interest or visited the program.

He was a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan, and listened to bootleg concert recordings as a boy, and so it was fun to see how Jobs ended up dating Joan Baez, a former love of Dylan. Indeed, the cameos of famous people in the book made it a fun read, from the Beatles to Bono to Gates to Obama (whom the liberal Jobs pleaded with to become friendlier to US businesses).

In light of this bootleg history with Dylan, I enjoyed hearing about the development of ITunes and the iPod, the two Apple products which have most touched my life.  I found it fascinating that if any company should have come to rescue the music industry from illegal downloads, Sony should have been the company, with its hand in both the music industry and technology, yet Apple leapfrogged over Sony and literally saved Music with its 99 cents songs.

Jobs’ need for control in everything is arguably what made Apple and Pixar great, but it could also be argued that it resulted in his eventual death.  Most forms of pancreatic cancer are incurable, but he was diagnosed with a rare and curable kind; and yet the Vegan Jobs refused to go under the knife to have the cancer removed, instead looking to a wholistic foods diet to solve the problem.  His wife and others pleaded with him to have surgery, and a full 9 months after diagnosis, he finally gave in.  But it was too late, and the cancer would eventually take his life.

So there was sadness to the book, compounded in one of the last interviews when Isaacson wondered why he had asked for the biography to be written, and Jobs responded that his kids hadn’t really known him, and he wanted to tell his story to them.  Indeed, I was almost moved to tears thinking about this creative genius who changed the world in so many ways, from the personal computer to the music industry to the animated film, but who, in the end, never came to know his own Creator.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Entrusted…

What do I write about first? Well, sitting here at my computer, I look up at the wall directly in front of me, and I see the picture that Diane gave me upon graduating from TEDS seminary.

It’s a picture of the steeple at the seminary chapel, I suppose at dusk, and underneath it is the wording from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, “…entrusted with the Gospel…”

In my mind, there is nothing better to write about than the gospel, the good news that my friend Ron once summed up in three words: Him for me.

I hope to write about the gospel a lot in days to come…among other things.

After all, He entrusted me.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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