December 26, 2006

I'm Back From Christmas

Well, my family & I have wrapped up all the Christmas festivities for 2006 as many of you have as well. Is it me or is Christmas absolutely exhausting? We were able to spread all of our Christmas stuff out over the course of an entire week rather than in just a couple of days, but at the end of it I felt more drained than I imagined I would. Of course there was about 1000 miles of driving involved in our Christmas festivities this year, but even during that week when we were travelling to all our families' homes, I was just dragging. Yesterday, which was actually the most low-key of all of our week (mainly because we were 400 miles away from family!), I stopped to remember that the word "holiday" originally comes from the words "holy day". Biblically, a holy day should be a day of not only celebration but of rest & reflection as well. I mentioned this both here & in some recent teaching that I did, but I didn't truly learn that lesson until I went through an utterly chaotic Christmas season. It was nice to have yesterday to just sit with my wife & baby girl & just be together without worrying about having to be somewhere at a certain time & seeing as many people as possible. I hope all of us learned how to rest on our holy day of Christmas, & hopefully you didn't have to learn to rest & remember the gift of Christmas in the same way as I did!

December 13, 2006

What If There Were No Christmas?-Part 2

Tonight I'm wrapping up my two part lesson series that focuses on that question. Last week our group talked about Jesus being the light of the world. I brought up to them that the Christmas lights that so many of us love to look at & to decorate our houses with would be gone without Christmas because Jesus was the light. At that first Christmas, light came into the world. It exposed the darkness that humanity was living in. Our spiritual eyes had adjusted to the darkness around us to the point that we thought it was normal. Jesus' life revealed to us just how far we had missed the mark.

Tonight we'll look focus on probably the most identifiable part of Christmas: Christmas gifts. We all look forward to making those lists & then hoping to get what we asked for. Admit it, we all get a little childish about presents at Christmas. However, without that first Christmas we would have no occasion to exchange gifts. The Magi who came offering their gifts to the Christ child set the precedent for us. They came to honor Him. We give gifts to honor & show our love to our friends & family. I guess the question we need to answer is "how are we honoring Christ in our lives?" These men traveled a great distance to get to Jesus. The brought costly gifts & even risked their lives in dealing with the ruthless King Herod. They did all of that to come & pay homage to a baby. How are we honoring Christ in our lives? Are we willing to honor Him no matter the risk or cost?

Remember to truly celebrate Christmas this year. Christmas isn't just about a big meal or gathering with your family or even presents. The word "holiday" actually means "holy day" which means that day should be set apart for something special, a celebration of God's love for us that was shown in the birth of Jesus Christ all those years ago in Bethlehem. Let's all pause in the busyness of this season & truly remember to celebrate this holy day.

December 6, 2006

What If There Were No Christmas?

Tonight I'm starting a two part lesson series with my students that asks this question. We take Christmas for granted. Even in our secular culture, Christmas is printed up on calendars & everybody gets a day off work. Even if you don't observe Christmas, you get that day off, & nobody, no matter how anti-Christian they are, is going to argue with a day or two away from their job! In the C.S. Lewis classic, "The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe", it is said that in Narnia that it is "always winter, but never Christmas". How depressing is that. Many times Christmas is the bright light wedged in the middle of a cold, dreary time of year. It's a time of hope & of celebration. Without the true gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ, December 25th would be just another day for us. We'd go to work & go through our normal mundane routines. However, that gift gives us cause to gather with our friends & families & celebrate the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world just as Christmas is the bright spot in an otherwise cold, dark winter. Truly think about what it would be like if there were no Christmas.

December 5, 2006

Why Epic Calling?

You might wonder what the name of my blog is all about so here is an explanation. A lot of people live small lives. They're content with the simple routine of going to work everyday & just being another person on this planet. Those same people often wish there was something bigger for them; I believe one writer called that existence a life of "quiet desperation". They want something more, but they dare not dream that it could actually be.

I believe that there is something more for us than just simply existing. I believe that in Jesus Christ, we are called to live big lives, epic lives. We are part of a huge story that is continually unfolding. The story of God & humanity has been being written since the beginning of time, & here is the great thing: that story involves us, you & me. It is about our attempts to find that deep meaning in life, but in the end many of us sell out & accept a cheap substitute. The victory comes when we discover that the big life comes when we're in fellowship with God. Unfortunately our lives are marred with something called sin. Simply put, it's disobedience to God. That's the bad; the good news is that Jesus Christ has bridged the gap that sin creates. He made Himself to be a sacrifice that would take on the penalty for our disobedience so that we could be reconciled. It's like somebody choosing to pay a massive fine for all your unpaid parking tickets, but on a deeper, spiritual level.

If you've been searching for meaning in your life, if you've thought there was more to life than simply sucking up oxygen, you're right. It's out there; it can be yours. Simply surrender your will to God & allow Him to open your eyes to the epic calling He has placed on your life.

Go Gators!!!!

My beloved Florida Gators will be playing Ohio State on January 8th for the National Title. Needless to say I'm pretty excited about this. I know a lot of people out there probably think that Michigan got the shaft in this whole process, but if you think about it Florida would have had the same complaint. No, the Gators did not blow people out very much this year, but the bottom line was, they won games. They played the toughest schedule in the country & made it through with only one loss. Many Michigan fans conveniently forget their own narrow escapes against teams like Ball State & Penn State. They point merely to a blow out of an overly hyped Notre Dame team & the so called close loss to Ohio State. I watched the game against Ohio State & it wasn't nearly as close as a lot of people want to believe it was. Ohio State was in the driver's seat the entire time. When the Wolverines got close, Troy Smith made big plays. Then Mike Hart has the nerve to criticize the Buckeye defense saying, "there's nothing special about them". Excuse me, but if there's nothing special about them, what's that say about the heralded Michigan defense? They gave up big points & big time yardage & couldn't keep up with Smith at all.

I agree Michigan is a great football team, but so is Florida. Florida had a tough loss against Auburn on the road mid-way through the season. In that game however, the Florida defense didn't surrender a single point. Urban Meyer, the Gators' coach, said it best: Florida's style points come on defense. They shut down a lot of offenses that other teams couldn't even slow down. The game against Arkansas is proof of that.

The issue isn't who is more deserving. Both teams are great. I believe that Michigan could beat Ohio State, but they didn't when they had the chance, & it hurt them in the end. The problem is really with the system. The BCS formula is great in that it makes every game matter. It keeps us talking all season long, but in the end somebody loses without getting a chance to win on the field. Using the BCS formula to set up a playoff or a "plus one" format is obviously the way to go, but the people in charge are obviously too boneheaded to see it. Every fan in America knows it, but these people who are on the inside are either blind or are willfully ignoring the obvious.

The thing that could blow up the BCS is this: Florida beats Ohio State, Michigan blasts USC, & Boise State pounds Oklahoma. Then we're left with the Gators hoisting the crystal ball, Michigan possibly winning the AP National Championship, & Boise State left as the only undefeated team. That might be a big enough mess to make the "experts" do something to prevent this same stuff in the future. So let's enjoy the games & hope for a big time mess that the BCS officials will have to clean up.

Welcome to my little spot on the web

Hey everybody, welcome to my blog. Hopefully this will be a place where some of us can have some great dialogue. As you'll see, I'll post all kinds of different things from college football to thoughts on topics like politics, life, & God. Feel free to disagree, but above all let's show each other some mutual respect. We don't have to agree about everything, but we do all have to live together in this world.