Monday, December 28, 2009

Reading in 2010

So many books, so little time!  

I'm compiling my 2010 Reading List. I usually do this at the beginning of the year in some form or another...but I'm usually not quite as intentional about it as I am being this year. I tend to stack books "to be read." The larger the stack of unread books, the better I feel, because I know they are there waiting for me at any given moment.  

When I get the time.  

The trouble is, there is so little time.  

And when you stack my spare time next to my stack of unread books, it appears the stack of unread books has already far surpassed the stack of spare time I will have in my life ever again. Hence, the intentionality. My goal for 2010 is to read one book a week. Because, as my friend Scott Jones tweeted yesterday, "Men can live w/out air a few minutes, w/out water for 2 weeks, w/out food for 2 months - and w/out a new thought for years on end." -K Ruth (LOVED that!)  

However...(and herein lies the catch!) my determination and intentionality to consume at least 52 books in 2010, I am more focused than ever before on consuming the Word. It would be interesting as well as scary and horrifying to know how many well-meaning people with an intense hunger to know God were led off the path into the the side roads of humanism, self-adulation, and dependence on abilities and marketing instead of the Spirit, all because of what they fed their mind on a daily basis.  

Every book must be processed through the filter of the Word.  

Every innovative idea must be processed through the filter of the Word.  

Every emphatic re-discovered "truth" must be processed through the filter of the Word.  

Otherwise, our souls will soon become a product of of our culture, and the eternal will be swallowed up in the slick, and our lives will become worthless, empty, clanging bells. But there is no way to process all the new books and ideas through the filter of the Word if we don't KNOW the Word. If it isn't hidden in our hearts. If we don't read it over and over and over again to allow the layers of revelation it contains to overwhelm us fresh and new every morning.  

I don't agree a lot of Eugene Peterson's doctrinal positions. But there are a few things he is so right on about until it makes me want to hug him. And he can express it so much more succinctly than I. So, I'll just let him sum up my little out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new-year thoughts I am having this crisp, cold morning.  

He says, "The blunt reality is that for all our sophistication, learning, and self-study we don't know enough to run our lives. The sorry state of the lives of the many who have taken their own experience as the text for their lives is a damning refutation of the pretensions of the sovereignty of the self. We require a text that reveals what we cannot know by simply pooling the acquired knowledge of the ages. The book, the Bible, reveals the self-revealing God and along with that the way the world is, the way life is, the way we are. We need to know the lay of the land that we are living in.  

...Without this text, [the Bible], firmly established at the authoritative center of our communal and personal lives, we will founder. We will sink into a swamp of well-meaning but ineffectual men and women who are mired unmercifully in our needs and wants and feelings."  

Exactly right, Rev. Mr. Peterson. I couldn't have said it better myself!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the Season

Christmas cheer.  Parties.  Happiness flying, penetrating every crack.  Laughter.  Food (so much food!).  Tears (because death comes even at Christmas).  Exhaustion.  Presents.  Hurry.  Cookies.  Love.  Thanksgiving.  Joy.  Singing--off-key, on-key, doesn't-matter-what-key.

Vision.  A little bit of anxiety that death will come too quickly and the to-do list will not be finished.  Dreams.  Calendars.  Clocks.  Yes, I will be happy to.  No, I'm sorry, I can't.  I would love to, but.  Focus.  This next year, I will (fill-in-the-blank).

Then, out of it all, a nugget emerges.  One of those moments that catches your soul off-guard and brings tears of clarity raining down your face.

You may just say, "What?  What's the big deal about that?  The Shock lady is a little bit too dramatic for me."

That's okay.

Because, then again, maybe you WON'T say that.  Maybe it will explode in your heart, too.

Read it and watch the whole 5 minutes of the video:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Cheer

Wouldn't you agree that this would give anybody the Christmas Spirit?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mr. Willie

So, it's the perfect Saturday afternoon and I'm standing at the kitchen counter mixing up a batch of Breakfast Cookies that are to die for.  It's freezing cold outside, the fire is blazing in the fireplace, and Nat King Cole is crooning to me about "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire."  The dogs are sleeping on the rug under the kitchen table, Bradyn is on the couch exploring Facebook, Terry is at the office, and Kendra has gone to the grocery store for some essential baking ingredients that are nowhere to be found in the pantry.

I'm happy.  Content.  Thankful.  Full of dreams and plans for 2010, but satisfied for now just to be baking cookies on this wonderful Saturday afternoon.  Until Kendra walked back through the door.

She dumped the groceries on the table and turned to me teary-eyed.  "Mom?  Do you remember Mr. Willie?  The homeless man I connected to a few years ago when we were feeding them in the park every Saturday morning?  Remember Mom?  Brother Tim baptized him.  He and I just had a connection, ya know?"

I did remember.  She would frequently come home from those Saturday mornings talking about Mr. Willie. Talking about how there was just something about him that was different.  She really cared about him.  The youth group has since stopped their Saturday morning homeless ministry and she had lost contact with Mr. Willie.

"Mom, I was coming out of the grocery store and when I turned the corner, Mr. Willie was coming across the parking lot pushing a buggy and tears were POURING down his face.  I saw him and just went straight to him and hugged him and said, 'Mr. Willie, what's wrong?' Mom, when he saw me, he just lifted his hands and said, 'Thank you, Lord! Thank you!' I asked him again what was wrong and he just said, 'It's gonna be all right now.  The Lord has let me see you and has reminded me that He loves me.  I've seen you and I know it's gonna be all right!' Mom, he wouldn't tell me what was wrong, he just kept saying that seeing me had let him know the Lord loved him and it was going to be all right.  I asked him if he needed anything and he said the Lord was going to provide it.  I had $5 in my pocket and made him take it.  I told him he had to come to church Sunday and he said that he would be there because the Lord had sent me to let him know it was all right.  He went into the store crying happy tears instead of sad tears and I went on to my car.  Oh MOM!"

Dear God in heaven.  Thank you for reminding me one more time that "to whom much has been given, much will be required." Thank you for reminding me again that Mr. Willie needs my touch this Christmas.  My presence.  My cookies and tears.  All Mr. Willie needs is to see a caring face that reminded him of You to let him know that You still care.  Oh Lord, please help me to stay sensitive this Christmas season.  And to give freely of my hugs and my cookies and my prayers.

Help me to love the Mr. Willies that cross my path.

And Lord, help me to not be so busy and so focused on my list that I miss them.