Sunday, December 24, 2006

God Bless Us All, Everyone

Merry Christmas, my friends. I have had many thoughts about the season of Christ's birth, unfortunately my time has been severely limited here at the ol' blog. But I'll get a little break after the holiday and get a few of them launched into cyberspace. I promise. Really.

I'm also considering some exciting things for this place in the new year. Stay tuned.

I pray that the celebration of Christ's birth will remind you of the love that God has continually shown to us.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Real Miracle

I stopped over at Gayla's blog Saturday when I had a few moments. I've missed reading some of the wonderful blogs during my time of extreme multi-employment. But anyway, Gayla was musing over a lot of tough questions and the like. The post is sure worth a read, but if you want the short version, she eventually got to the question of faith, miracles and healing. I had to share in her comments what God had impressed upon me. Then I figured I'd better do it here on the home court blog as well.

In the comment thread, Carol mentioned one of my favorite Old Testament lessons, about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Those three had the correct understanding of faith -- that God will see us through on HIS terms. It's His will that matters, not our own. So they could stand before the king and say, "God can deliver, and even if He doesn't deliver like you think, He'll still deliver" Whether it's in the fire, from the fire or through the fire, God delivers.

I was reminded of something odd that God had shown me. While reading through the Bible, I've always been struck by the fact that when Jesus healed and when the apostles healed, the healings were never temporary or partial. Yet at the same time, God provides all kinds of temporary relief while delivering us through the fire.

At our church, a young woman was told she had a tumor on her kidney. We gathered around her and prayed, and we prayed individually for God to heal her. The next week she found out that it wasn't a tumor, but simply an odd-shaped kidney. Her family was talking about this being a miracle. Of course the skeptics would simply call it a misdiagnosis.

But I saw something else. I saw how this woman was uplifted and carried along knowing that the congregation was praying for her and knowing that God was seeing her through. And maybe, just maybe, that was the real miracle in all of this... learning to lean on Him.

Why is it so hard to lean? Why must we fool ourselves into thinking we can stand strong on our own? It is indeed a miracle -- overcoming our own self-importance -- to lean upon Him. It's just a shame that we need to be severely depleted before we understand our own weakness.

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak
And so are we
But He is strong.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I know what you're thinking.

"It's been awfully quiet around Attention Span lately... what's going on?"

Let me explain.

For the last three weeks, I've been busy. I know, I know, we're all busy, but these few weeks have been especially so for me, and by extension, for my wife and kids. You see, I've been training for another job. It's just a job as a substitute, but I have to go through all the red tape and jump the hoops like I was going to do this every day. So for a little more than two weeks, I have spent the first half of my day in training, full-time. After that, I would leave the training site (which was at least 45 minutes away) and go to my other full-time job, where I was part of a team working on a special project, not to mention the normal work I do. And, oh yeah, did I mention that neither one of these two jobs is my pastoral job?

Yeah, I've been a three job guy for about three weeks. It has slowed up considerably now. The special project is done. The major portion of my training is done. All in time for December and the hustle and bustle of a church during the Christmas season.

Thanksgiving week was especially trying because that week my training site was about 90 minutes away. Three extra hours on the road were just three hours a night I could have slept. But the neatest thing happened.


I was annoyed at first that my five days of training would be extended because of missing the Thursday of Thanksgiving. I told myself that it would really be a pain to get out of the groove of making the drive, training, driving back, working my other job, getting home late and waving at my kids on the way to bed. But by Wednesday, I was dragging. Scratch that. I was all-but-unconscious. When I fell onto the mattress Wednesday night, it was all I could do to lift my head to get it onto the pillow.

Then I remembered. Tomorrow I didn't have to rise early. It was Thanksgiving. And among all the other things I was thankful for, a day of relaxing with family was high on the list indeed. I'm not sure how I would have made it otherwise.

Anyway, for two weeks I worked two jobs (not counting being a pastor), and somewhere along the line I figured out that since I was working two full-time jobs, that I would be getting paid for two full-time jobs! Lack of sleep probably delayed this realization, but it wasn't too far into the process that reality hit me. I found out that on December 1 I would get my check for all the training hours I put in. Coincidentally, December 1 is also the day checks arrive for my other weekday job.

I started thinking about getting two paychecks on one day. The waiting was hard, but I kept going. I knew there were Christmas presents to buy and a couple of unexpected bills that needed to be paid. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the checks earlier -- I had to wait.

Today is December 1. Payday. Two checks, baby! Was it all worth it? I'm not sure. Money isn't a big motivator for me, but knowing I had use for the cash made the waiting that much harder.

During my so-called spare time this week, I've been contemplating Advent. To me, Advent has always been about the waiting. Sure, there are plenty of other aspects to the season, but waiting is a central theme. Waiting for Messiah. Waiting for Christmas. Even waiting to watch the Advent candles burn down to a nub. There is so much waiting going on, it makes a check-out line at the department store seem so apropos.

The waiting is harder when I realize how much I need what I'm waiting for. I need that little baby in swaddling clothes. He is the only hope for me. I know what being away from God is like. I know what neglecting Him is like. I truly need Emmanuel. Yet today, I don't need to wait. You see, today is payday. Not just two payroll checks, but access to what I need.