Saturday, January 28, 2012

JANET EVANOVICH'S "ONE FOR THE MONEY"

Karen and I just saw "One For The Money." Karen is a big Stephanie Plum fan. I am not a fan of Rambo Babe movies, and I'm happy to report this is not one. One For The Money is a fun, date night, popcorn movie. Karen thought it stayed fairly faithful to the book.

The Stephanie Plum Series is in the Babes & Bullets Detective Genre. I am aware of the category but this is my first. I quite liked it. It had elements of Romantic Comedy. I am a sucker for romantic comedies. But actually, the genre is more like the third and forth Lethal Weapon movies. For feel and action it was much like the Gregory Hines/Billy Crystal Buddy movie; "Running Scared." I'm not saying it was derivative, I'm saying it was fast and fun.

As a writer and reader of the action adventure genre, I highly recommend this movie.

WEEKENDS ARE FOR FUN

Ralph's awful prophecy finally came true...

Friday, January 27, 2012

ANTELOPE VALLEY CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE


This is a growing conference with a vision to become the Southern California location for Christian Writers. 

This year's faculty is a nice mix:

Kathi "Easy Writer" Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 books and ghostwritten several others for such notables as Rosey Grier and the late Chaplain of the US Senate Dr. Richard Halverson. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats. She and her husband, Al, live in Homeland, CA, where the two of them spend their free time buzzing around in their new ride: Al's 2005 sunburst orange Corvette.

Kim Bangs has 21 years of publishing experience. She is the Manager for Author Relations/Contracts for the Regal Books, as well as a member of the acquisitions team. She has had the privilege to work with Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Jim Burns, Gloria Gaither, Craig Johnson, Josh McDowell, Gary Smalley, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Karen O’Conner, and the First Place 4 Health team and many others. Kim enjoys working with authors to provide resources that touch hearts and change lives and open conversation with others.
Kim’s workshop will be “Show and Tell.” In our early school years, most of us participated in this game; we brought Guinea pigs, lost teeth, creative art work. Now that we're grown up, how do we use show and tell effectively in our writing? Jesus used this method throughout His ministry and we can too!

Bill Jensen has worked in book publishing for over 35 years, first as an editor for Harvest House Publishers, and now as an agent. He has acquired and worked with authors such as Stormie Omartian, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Kay Arthur, Greg Laurie, Tony Evans, Lisa Whelchel, Dr. James Dobson, Joni Eareckson Tada, and a host of others. When not working, he’s likely fly-fishing or listening to classical music or opera. Bill makes his home in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife, Sheila, and three daughters.

Sharon Norris Elliott is an award-winning author, speaker, Bible teacher, and Editor-in-chief of a new magazine, Gospel Road. Her website offers a wide array of links whereby site visitors can get connected with all she has to offer. Sharon loves teaching at conferences and coaching writers. She and her husband, James, are enjoying their empty nest in Southern California.


  

B.J. Taylor is an award-winning author with publication credits in John Gray’s Mars and Venus in Love, 25 stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, feature articles in Writer’s Digest, Romantic Homes, and Victorian Homes, and Guideposts. B.J. writes dog-lit (beach reads for dog lovers) and will be releasing her newest work, Charlie Bear: The True Story of a Headstrong Rescue Dog. B.J. lives in Southern California with her husband and the scrappy Charlie Bear. Visit her dog blog at www.bjtaylorblog.wordpress.com.

Daniel Darling is the author of several books, including Real, Owning Your Christian Faith (April 2012). His work has been featured by Relevant Magazine, Focus on the Family, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. Publisher’s Weekly called his writing style “substantive and punchy.” He blogs for patheos.com and Crosswalk.com. Dan has been interviewed on TV and radio outlets across the country, including 100 Huntley Street, Moody Broadcasting, Harvest TV, American Family Radio, and a host of local and national Christian media.

Dan's workshop will be "Writing for the Youth Culture." How do you communicate with the ever-reaching/ever-changing world of young people? Do you chase trends and pop culture? What are teens looking for? Authenticity, creativity? And what should we as writers deliver to them?

Linda Olson is an international speaker, leadership coach, and published author of articles, books, devotionals, and curriculum.  As an entrepreneur, Linda’s mission is to equip and empower you to be more successful than you’ve ever been. She serves on the board of Lead Her and the task force of Christian Women in Media.    

Linda’s workshop will be “Making Money with your Book.” Are you selling a book, or is your audience buying into your message? Like the grass after a fresh rain, you will be energized and motivated by discovering new and simple skills. You will learn to emotionally grab your audience of one, 100 or 1,000 so they will want more of you.

Kathy Ide is a published author of books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. She is a full-time freelance editor/mentor for new writers, established authors, and book publishers. She is the founder and coordinator of two groups for editorial freelancers—The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.com)

Kathy will lead a workshop based on her book, Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation,
Usage, Grammar, and Spelling.  If you’re writing for publication, you need the polish the “PUGS” in your manuscript. From her years as a professional freelance editor, Kathy addresses the most common mistakes made by authors in the areas of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. In this fun, interactive workshop, you’ll learn PUGS rules based on the publishing industry’s standard references.

Former English teacher Cindy Chatham, known in the literary world as C. J. Chatham, is Executive Editor of Heartbeat Magazine.  A published author herself, she currently writes devotionals, poetry, and children’s stories in addition to editing the books and manuscripts of future authors.  

Cindy's workshop will be "Who Else Wants to Avoid the Editor?" If you don't want to have a stranger recommend a complete rewrite of your book, learn the essential elements required to keep them at bay.

Don Patterson, the fearless leader of the High Desert Christian Writers, has written four novels. He serves as the pastor of a local Southern Baptist congregation, and a chaplain for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. Don's workshops, "Firearms For Fiction Writers" and "Tips for Successful Mayhem," are designed to help fiction writers plot, choreograph and write realistic suspense, action, and adventure scenes.



Our conference director Steven Hutson is a child of the sixties, a native of Los Angeles, and a storyteller almost from birth.  In the course of his career he has worn many hats, from clerk typist to lifeguard to meat cutter. His second book, In Search of Clarity, was recently released by Crossover Publications. In his limited free time he enjoys swimming and hiking, and serves on the Board of Library Trustees for the City of Palmdale.  At our conference, Steve will be on the lookout for new talent on behalf of his literary Agency, WordWise Media Services.

You can register for the conference at: http://www.avwriters.com/  Hope to see you there.

OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS

I've been shooting since I was a boy. My grandfather, a Deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department taught me. It's one of the reasons I wanted to become a Sheriff's Chaplain and why I volunteer to work with the weapons and training unit. Yesterday I was down at Biscaluiz Range rebuilding shotguns for Court Services. While I was there, one of my fellow Chaplains, Rabbi Ben-Tzion (pronounced Bent-zee-own) Kravitz, arrived. We've become friends since we shared the platform for the Sheriff's Memorial Service two years ago.


Ben is both an Orthodox Rabbi AND a reservist. He is also assigned to weapons and training. He was upstairs, test-firing a new handgun for the department and invited me to join him on the range and fire a few rounds. During a lull in shotgun traffic I took him up on his offer. The gun in question is the Smith & Wesson M & P (Military and Police). This was the nine millimeter version. The department is phasing out Beretta's and replacing them with M & P's.

The targets are man-sized, but set twenty-five yards--seventy-five feet--away from the firing line. My first two rounds were my usual low and to the left hits. I've been attributing this to my advancing senility and degrading eyesight.

Ben had another answer. "You're jerking left when you pull the trigger," he said.

"But I'm not "milking the grip," I protested.

"Okay, he said. "Try gripping tighter with your support hand. Thirty-percent grip with the right, seventy-percent grip with the left."

So I did what he said. BLAM. Ten ring. BLAM. nine ring. BLAM, BLAM, BLAM. I threw a few, but found myself hitting consistently in the nine and ten rings. Wow. Rabbi Kravitz is a good instructor. I've always been told to relax my trigger hand, but no one had ever told me to grip harder with my support hand.

I guess an old dog CAN learn a new trick.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN

Here is some more information from my seminary education. It helps illustrate the process of belief and growth in the life of a Christian. (Sorry, tried for an hour to get the columns to line up properly; no joy.)
__________________________________________________________________
GOD’S        COMMUNICATOR’S                     MAN’S
ROLE          ROLE                                            RESPONSE

__________________________________________________________

General        Romans 1:19-20                   -8         Awareness of Supreme       

Revelation    Romans 2:14-15                               Being but no effective
                                                                          knowledge of the Gospel

Conviction    Proclamation                       -7         Initial awareness of the Gospel
of the Spirit   & Ministry                                            
John 15:26                                              -6         Awareness of  Gospel                                                                           fundamentals

                                                               -5       Grasp of  Gospel's                                                                          personal implications

                                                               -4       Positive attitude toward                                                                            the Gospel message

                                                               -3       Recognition of                                                                            personal sin

                                                               -2       Decision to believe                                                                                                     or reject the Gospel

                                                             -1        Repentance and faith                                                                                                     in Christ
__________________________________________________________

REGENERATION                                            NEW CREATURE
__________________________________________________________


GOD’S      COMMUNICATOR’S                     MAN’S
ROLE        ROLE                                            RESPONSE

Sancti-        Follow-up                         +1       Post-Decision evaluation
fication
                  Discipleship                       2       Incorporation into the                                                                         Church Body

                                                           +3       Conceptual &                                                                         behavioral growth

                                                           +4       Daily communion with God

                                                           +5       Stewardship

                                                             *       Reproduction

                                                             *       Internal growth
                                                                     (gifts, knowledge, wisdom)

                                                            *       External growth                                                                                                 (witness, service)

                                                INTO ETERNITY

Monday, January 23, 2012

MY GRANDFATHER'S HOUSE

I wrote this in memory of my grandfather.

When I think of my grandfather I always picture the old house in Tarzana. That's where I spent my first years. It was kind of a crazy house. The bedrooms started out as a garage, and the kitchen was an uphill climb from the entry. Yet, I remember how so many things there reflected my grandfather; "Pampa" I called him.

I remember how he once offered me a medal if I could open the false-drawer front under the kitchen sink. I remember cowboy boots, and the huge paper-littered desk in the entry hall, and the driveway that seemed a mile long to my boyhood eyes. Room additions, horses, and a real-live corral in the backyard are indelibly etched in my mind.

I remember Christmases, summer vacations, and walnuts--green, brown, and black--littering the lawn. And the smells... Cigar smoke, polish, leather, fresh plaster, horses and tack. Hay, oats, straw, coffee and harsh, astringent, liniment.

I remember my grandfather himself; stern and often impatient with eight noisy grandsons, yet often holding me on his knee, tickling until I begged for mercy. A hard man to adequately describe in this age of sensitive males, he would not have been ashamed to be called a "man's man." He was tough and crusty, with little patience for fools. Yet there wasn't much he wouldn't do for you at need.

I guess the picture that typifies my grandfather is him, sitting at the breakfast table before dawn, coffee cup in hand, solving the problems of a weary world.

I remember my grandfather, Edgar G. Resh.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A LISTENING EAR

Going through my notes from Seminary I came across a piece of wisdom. I thought I'd repeat it for your edification.

You are not listening to me when:

You say you understand before you know me well enough.
You have answer to my problem before I've finished telling you what the problem is.
You cut me off before I have finished speaking.
You are critical of my vocabulary, grammar, or accent.
You are anxious to tell me something.
You tell me about your experience, making mine seem unimportant.
You are communicating to someone else in the room.
You refuse my thanks, saying you haven't really done anything.

You are listening to me when:

You come quietly into my private world and let me be me.
You really try to understand me even if I'm not making much sense.
You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you think they might be wrong.
You do not take my problem from me, but allow me to deal with it in my own way.
You hold back your desire to give me good advice.
You do not offer religious solace when you sense I am not ready for it.
You give me enough room to discover for myself what is really going on.
You accept my gift of gratitude when I express appreciation for your time and effort.
You allow me the freedom to feel what I am feeling.
You repeat back to me what I have told you.
You do not try to force me into the right answer through logic or religion.
You allow silence at the necessary times.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SKEPTICS SONG

I bought Daniel Amos' first album when I was in college, lo, these many years past. This song was one of my favorites. It actually picked up on a current song mocking the return of Christ--that's what all the goofy sound effects are. I heard it today and still like it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

8,000 PAGE VIEWS!

Observations From Hadleyville just reached 8,000 page views. I'm quite pleased. I passed 7,000 a month and a half ago. One thousand page views in six weeks is a big deal for me. Again. Thanks to all of you. My younger friends refer to a moment like this as "Snoopy Dance Time." At my age I'll have to settle for "Walter Brennan Dance Time." (Dagnabit, Luke!)

The reasons I operate this site are threefold. 1. I am opinionated. 2. I enjoy exchanging ideas with others. 3. I need the discipline to write, or at least be creative, every day.


I invite you to join the conversation by posting your own comments. I know this can be a tedious process with writing your personal information and typing in difficult to see, nonsensical words.

You can shortcut the process by creating a Google identity; that way you don't have to enter name and email each time.

Unfortunately, the nonsensical words, like EEUP, GINIXLE and BUGLUMP are necessary to cut down on Spammers.


If you have not yet become a follower of Observations From Hadleyville, I invite you to click the Follow Button, on the right side, just below the page count.

Friday, January 13, 2012

DON'S DRIVING DICTIMS (WARNING BLOOD PRESSURE REDUCTION IN PROGRESS)

Over the years I have made a number of discoveries concerning the relationship between human nature and the steering wheel of an automobile. Disney had it right back in the 1940's when mild-mannered Goofy became a demon possessed fool in the driver's seat.
Following are four of the dictims I've pronounced.


1. The car in front of you will always go slower and the car behind you will always go faster than you desire to go.

2. The annoying driver who cuts you off, or delays you because they can't figure out how to park, will annoy you AGAIN within five minutes. (Often they do this after you have reached your destination and are now on foot)

3. The universal driving code is: "Death Before Yeilding!"

4. If you are following a long string of cars, but not bunched up with them, some impatient driver will dangerously jump out in front of you from a side street, even though there is a huge opening behind you for half a mile or better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND

This has been both a popular poem and song for decades. It has been recorded by the likes of Tex Ritter, Walter Brennan and Jimmy Dean. Myra Brooks, though confined to a wheel chair, and afflicted with arthritis, used the eraser ends of pencils to type this poem.

THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND
by Myra Brooks Welch

It was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought
it was hardly worth his while,
to waste much time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.
It sure ain't much, but its all we’ve got left. I guess we ought to sell it too.”
Now what am I bid for this old violin? Just one more and we’ll be through.”

And then he said; “One, give me one dollar. Who’ll make it two?
Only two dollars? Who’ll make it three?
Three dollars twice, that’s a good price. But who’s got a bid for me?
Raise up your hand and don’t wait any longer. The auction is about to end.
Who’s got four? just one dollar more to bid on this old violin.”

Well the air was hot and the people stood around. No one cared to go.
From the back of the crowd, and old man stepped,
came forward and picked up the bow.
He wiped the dust from the old violin and he tightened up the strings.
Then he played out a melody sweet and soft, as sweet as an angel sings.

Then the music stopped. And the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said “What am I bid for this fine violin.” Then he held it up with the bow.
Then he cried “One give me one thousand, who’ll make it two?
Only two thousand? Who’ll make it three?
Three thousand twice, that’s a good price but who’s got a bid for me?

The people cried out “What made the change? We don’t understand.”
Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile;
It was the touch of the master’s hand.”

Now you know, many a man has his life out of tune.
And he’s battered and scarred by sin.
And he’s auctioned cheap to a thankless world, much like the old violin.
Then the Master comes and the foolish crowd can never understand,
the worth of a soul and the changes wrought,
by the touch of the Master’s hand.

JIMMY OLSEN BLUES

My sons once bought me a music tape for my birthday. Since they are practical as well as generous, they made sure that the music was the kind they themselves wouldn't mind listening to. The group is called Spin Doctors;  and to my mature, evangelical shame, I must confess that I like some of their music (Stone him! Yes, stone him!).  One song in particular evokes feelings I have experienced in the ministry. It is called "Jimmy Olsen Blues." It paints a somewhat humorous picture of Jimmy’s frustration as he vies with Superman for Lois Lane’s attention. He sings; "I can't believe my dilemma is real, I've been competing with the man of steel."

I know just what he means. It sounds a lot like my own laments when I foolishly compare myself to other pastors who seem to have all the talent, charisma, grace and breaks. When I really want to draw blood from my psyche, I say things to myself like; “Rats! I’m not Super-Pastor. I don’t leap tall pulpits at a single bound.  I’m not faster than a speeding youth director.” Do I dare to show my face around real pastors; Super Pastors?

In my saner moments I realize this problem is not mine alone. We all experience feelings of inadequacy. Of course, wild horses could never drag that admission out of me at a pastor’s conference. Aside from the a fore-mentioned conferences there is good news. When Paul spoke of each of us as individual members of the Body of Christ, (1 Corinthians 12:12) he was championing the concept of individuality within unity.

We are unified by our allegiance to Christ, not our sameness. In other words, God has chosen to build his Church from diverse types. Literally,  E pluribus unum; "out of many, one." This is a liberating concept. God can, and actually desires, to use you right now.  Just as you are. You may not get Lois, but you don’t have to be Superman, either.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TERRORISTS JUST AREN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE

I spent the afternoon at the Sheriff's training location. Known as Laser Village, they no longer use lasers and M.I.L.E.S. gear. These days they use paint cartridges. They sting. I played the bomb-vested terrorist-on-a-bus. My job was to scare the assault team into shooting me. I did a good job. Got shot in the bomb vest which I didn't feel. Got shot in both arms, which I did.

If you've seen the movie S.W.A.T. it was something like the airplane assault in training. Training like this is something like playing Army as a kid, but much more stressful when you know that even sim-munitions sting like the devil.















Good training. The assault teams had to think on their feet and discriminate between legitimate targets and bystanders. This makes good sense and trains our law enforcement people to think and not develop a "target practice" mentality. I am pleased to have been of use. Full disclosure; I volunteered to be a person-most-likely-to-be-shot. Here are my "Red Badges of Courage."

GOD LOVES LOSERS

There are many reasons why God wouldn't want to use people like you or me. But don't worry, God has a heart for losers. Insulted? Don't be. Moses stuttered. David's armor didn't fit. Paul rejected John Mark. Hosea's wife was a prostitute. Amos' only training was in the school of pain. Solomon was too rich. Abraham was too old. David was too young. Timothy had ulcers. Peter was afraid of death. Lazarus was dead. John was self-righteous. Naomi was a widow. Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. Jonah ran from God. Miriam was a gossip. Gideon and Thomas both doubted. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Elijah was burned out. John the Baptist was a loudmouth. Martha was a worrywart. Mary was lazy. Samson was rebellious. Noah got drunk.

Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter and Paul - well, lots of folks did. God doesn't require a job interview. He doesn't hire and fire like most bosses, because He's more our Dad than our boss. God doesn't look at financial gain or loss. He's not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, nor blind to our need.

As much as we try to make a profit of them, God's gifts are free. We could do wonderful things for wonderful people, and still not be wonderful people ourselves. The Accuser says, "You're not worthy." Jesus says, "So what? I AM." The Accuser looks back and sees our mistakes. God looks back and sees the cross. He doesn't calculate what you did years ago or even days ago! Why, it's not even on His record. Sure, there are many reasons why God shouldn't want us. But just like a parent He is utterly in love with us. If we hunger for Him, if we are simply willing, He'll use us in spite of who we are or where we've been.

Monday, January 9, 2012

VERTICAL ENVELOPMENT

While camping this past week, our peaceful desert refuge was invaded by the U.S. Marines. Vh22 Ospery's, The Marine's new multi-mission, tilt rotor aircraft, did touch-and-goes for two days just over the ridge from us. Flew right over our camp a number of times. Here is a video I shot.

video

Sunday, January 8, 2012

HOW I SPENT MY DESERT RUN VACATION

video
Took a ride in a Sand Rail at Ocotillo Wells. That's my friend, Captain  Mark Schwartzel in the driver's seat.
And here's two more.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

30th ANNUAL DESERT RUN

For the past ten years I have been making the trek each January down to Occotillo Wells on Highway 78. It's a tiny burg in California's southern desert about half way between San Diego and Palm Springs. For things to do, it Rivals Nevada's "Loneliest Road in America" for variety.Why do we go? It's one of the few places left in the state where you can go off-roading almost completely unhindered by Nanny State regulations. Most of the guys on the Run will bring dirt bikes. A few will haul dune buggys. Me? I enjoy hiking the barren hills.





The Desert Run was started by my buddy CAPT. Mark Schwartzel lo, these many years ago. He wanted a way to get out of the city and go camping with his sons. Ocitillo Wells is Hard Camping--Grapes of Wrath Camping. We have to haul in everything we need including water. This is not some flossy, Holiday Inn, Lets-go-across-the-street-to-the-shopping-center-and-spa camping. This is the real He-Man Right Stuff.


Seriously, it's a great time to get away and just be a guy. We throw rocks at cans, explore wind caves, sit around the campfire telling lies... I mean, "stories." We get filthy dirty. We use a latrine. We leave the deodorant at home. We sometimes get accused of doing this to keep women away. But, c'mon, most women turn up their noses at the lack of amenities anyway.

The highlight of the trip is Saturday night. The boys spend two days building a huge bonfire which is lit after dark. The leaping flames provide illumination for the dreaded "Yahoo Ceremony" (no, it has nothing to do with the internet) Since the trip involves rocks, high speed machinery, and males, (Thank GOD there is a prohibition on alcohol) Somebody is bound to mess up. The "Yahoo" is the biggest goof--safety wise--of the Run.

Inspired by the fine old Navy practice of hazing sailors who cross the equator, International Date Line or the arctic circle, the Yahoo Ceremony involves hilariously unpleasant things. Lets just say it inspires a desire not to be a Yahoo again.

Loading up the car today. I can't wait. Blunoz, if you're ever in California in January, come on down.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

POINT OF VIEW

To most people, this is simply a rare, cool picture of a nuclear submarine in its element. To submariners, its a freaking nightmare. If you can see it, you can sink it.

SIGN OF THE TIMES


Sometimes I think Church giving ought to be listed as a "Leading Economic Indicator."

10-14: COP SPEAK FOR "BACK TO WORK"

Well, its been a pleasant, quite lazy Christmas vacation. Our kids, who live nearby carried the brunt of the holiday hosting. All the decorations are down and packed away. Karen has gone back to teaching Third Grade. I am sitting here procrastinating over my To-Do list by writing this post.

Fun Time is over. Time to get back to work. I've already got a full month ahead of me. I'm going to a men's retreat on Thursday. I won't be home until late Saturday so I need to crank out... er, make that "create" a deep, blessing-filled Sunday message. I need to pack and shop for the trip: as a diabetic I need dry ice to keep my insulin cold for several days.




Next week is a killer. I have to help Karen's students build "Energy Efficient Homes" which I've already pre-built for their science project. That will take Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday I am going to the Sheriff's Laser Village to participate in training academy trainees: I get to role play a belligerent citizen.
On Thursday I have a Chaplains Executive Committee meeting; also in LA. Then I'll go back to Laser Village for Night Exercise Training. We'll round off the week with our stint at cleaning the church on Saturday.

I'm already exhausted, and there's still two more weeks left in the New Month. ...Maybe I'll just go back to bed.

Monday, January 2, 2012

REFLECTIONS ON "BOXING DAY"

Boxing day, a British "holiday," is traditionally the day after Christmas. I put the "holiday" in quotes because I don't consider work a holiday. For the Patterson's, Boxing Day is traditionally New Years Day. We like to watch the Rose Parade as we de-decorate the tree, boxing up the ornaments, ribbon and garland. This year the parade falling on Monday put the joyous celebration off by a day.

So we slept in and got to work this morning. As we sipped coffee, watched the parade, and de-cluttered, I couldn't help grousing about the transitory nature of Christmas. I mean, c'mon; we just put all this stuff up a month ago. All that work--twice in a month--for a holiday. Granted, it's Christmas; theologically, the second biggest holiday after Easter. But Easter doesn't get nearly the festive, garlandy attention we accord to December twenty-fifth.

Thinking about it, I did see a life lesson in all this fussy busyness. Many things in life follow the same pattern. We look forward to some event, or accomplishment. Often, there is much preparation to be done before the event. And, accomplishments? You know those things don't happen without prep work, often scads of it.

Finally, the great day arrives: Sound the trumpets! All that effort pays off. Whether large or small it's a day to rejoice and remember... And then--just like that--it's over. All that work for a single moment in time, gone again.

The First Noel was like that. God put, not years of work into the incarnation, but millennia. The creation, the patriarchs, the nation of Israel, the family of David, the kingdom, the prophets battling idolatry, the Babylonian captivity, the return, the second temple, the Maccabees, the betrothal of Joseph and Mary, the Annunciation, the overshadowing of the Spirit, the Angelic assurance to Joseph, the poorly timed trip to Bethlehem, the Heavenly Host, the birth, the shepherds... And as Mary pondered these things in her heart it was already time to move on. We can't celebrate Birthday everyday. We have to get ready for the cross.

We shouldn't be surprised when our lives follow the same pattern. After all, bio-rhythm is God's idea in the first place.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

When my friend Herb was a rifleman in Vietnam he figured it would be the toughest thing he would ever do in his life. He has discovered he was dead wrong. Some years after he rotated home he became a Christian. Now he knows that living for Christ is the toughest thing in life.

We are engaged in spiritual warfare. We are deployed in hostile territory with a mission to win hearts and minds. We have orders to train up our troops and go behind the lines on Combat Search and Rescue missions.

God has given us spiritual weapons: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5  

and spiritual armor with which to withstand the enemy: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:10-18 

We are not to use the weapons of our enemies—intimidation, guilt, whining, etc. When the battle gets hot and the enemy is pressing hard we have the ability to call in God’s Air Strike through prayer. It is God’s responsibility to provide the power, the means and the protection. It is our responsibility to stand firm using the weapons God has provided.