Monthly Archives: December 2012

Christmas Eve – Anticipating Gifts (You Are One of My Favorites!)

I recently received an amazing email from a good friend and colleague (shared with permission):

“I have spent much of the last three days and nights alongside my dad in ER and now in a rehab center.  He is handling his decline in mental and physical abilities with grace and love.  He has Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and now pneumonia.  I was feeding him his breakfast early this a.m. and he looked straight in my eyes (he never really looked at me in this way when I was a child) and said “I love you.”  This was a man that did not demonstrate affection or nurture for the first 40 years of my life and now, as I am 50, that is all he can do.  It shows me how powerful God as love and consistent presence can be… I am filled with gratitude.”

“Wow” was my one word response.   If you would, please read through it once or twice more and try to imagine the healing and joy God provides for that family this holiday season.  I see sacrifice, comfort, renewed relationship, recovered opportunity, and radical love.  What do you see?

Each year about this time God gives me His Christmas gift in the form of a quiet moment to reflect on the people and relationships He blesses me with throughout the year.  Rather than filling this page with my words and thoughts, I’ll stop here and invite you to ask God what blessings He has for you.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

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My Favorite, Favorite Part of My Birthday

Every birthday morning my mom calls to tell me about the day I was born. “I have nothing but beautiful memories,” she tells me. “I remember lying in my hospital bed with you in my arms. And later they came in and told me that your father was down in the city square reading the Christmas story to everyone. He choked up when he got to the part where it says ‘and she brought forth her first born son.’”

You see, I’m the youngest of three. Thirteen years after they starting making children, my father finally had a son. I’m told that I’m the only one they planned…

My mother also recalls the perfect whiteness of the day. Northern Idaho provided a brilliant snow storm for her to hold in her heart along with my birth.

She doesn’t talk about the physical pain of giving me life, or the anxiety, or her great fear that I might be born after the New Year costing her a significant tax savings. Time washed all that away leaving her with only the snow, my father, and my sweet baby self. What a blessing!

To her great joy and my utter amazement she remembers my growing up the same way…

I remember the fights she used have with dad over just what the hell to do with me. I was an ass in general. Seriously a major ass. Take my own stress inducing son and multiply by at least ten. In addition to that I never loved, liked, respected, or listened to my mom – ever, for decades.

Mom remembers me making a few mistakes but thinks of me as a good boy all in all…

I love and respect her now. I do everything I can to make up for the mind blowing selfishness of my past. Mom just wishes we had more time together because I make her so happy when I’m around.

I pray, please Jesus! that my favorite part of my birthday doesn’t change for years, and years, and years.

Peace and joy to you.

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Growing: What Does the not so Unchanging Nature of God Mean for Us?

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

Growing

Warning: the following is somewhat controversial.  Starting shortly after His death, theologians began a very earnest debate about just what it means for Jesus to be fully human as well as fully God.  It continues today, and we won’t even try to settle it here.  However, no matter how you dice it up theologically, there is no doubt that Jesus did take on human form.   “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God.” (Hebrews 2:17)  “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. “(Hebrews 4:15)

Since Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and we are asked to emulate him (“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6), we must ask, “How did Jesus grow?”  I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know for sure.  However, I think it’s fairly safe to say that He did it the way people still do it today.  He engaged in prayer, reading, fellowship, ministering to others, and making room for the Holy Spirit to work in His life.  Jesus did not sin, but I’ll bet He made mistakes.  I can’t imagine Him fully taking part in the human experience without occasionally whacking His thumb with a hammer or having to cut twice because He only measured once.

Consider your mistakes and setbacks opportunities to learn and grow as Jesus did.  Lean into scripture and your friends.  Pray.  Allow room for the Holy Spirit to transform you and craft you in the likeness of God…just as Jesus did.

Peace and joy!

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I Sinned This Weekend

So, I sinned this weekend.  I know, I know.  We don’t generally talk about that kind of stuff.  And yes, just like you, I sin every day, but this was different.

I spend a ton of time skirting around my sins.  As abhorrent as they must be to God, I’m not bothered much by them.  Yes, I’m selfish and I lack sufficient faith to avoid worry.  Sometime I take care of myself instead of others, and I often fail to provide the Christian examples God makes me capable of projecting.  But you know…

I’ve missed the mark, made things worse for myself, and let others down (including God), but hey, I’m not perfect.  Thank God, God won’t stop the work he started in me until it is completely finished…

There’s plenty of room for improvement, but I’m a pretty decent guy…

Right?

This sin was different.  It was a specific act of commission.  I knew it was sin up front, and I chose to do it anyway.  What a blessing!  Not the sin but the crystal clear sense of conviction, the easily heartfelt plea for forgiveness, the deep and pure humility, the rock solid understanding of my dependency on God – and of course, God’s response.

We both felt great relief and joy at the moment of shared clarity.  God provided immediate and irrefutable forgiveness, and I came away cleaner and better than months of my best efforts to live righteously ever made me

Oh the joys of conviction, confession, and forgiveness.  What an amazing blessing!

IMAG0908.

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Giving Thanks

John Piper describes the great joy in fulfilling our obligation to worship wonderfully in his book “Desiring God”… 

Screeeeeech!  “Wait, obligation to worship?  What’s that all about?  Do we serve some sort of profoundly egotistical God who wants and needs praise from His puny human creations?”  You might ask.

Ha, great question, and of course the answer is “not hardly.”  God stands unchanging and utterly self-sufficient always.  However, two fantastic things happen when we worship.  First, we experience the complete fulfillment of the joy available when encountering and contemplating God’s infinite awesomeness and perfection.  If you’re a sports fan and your team makes a huge score in a pressure packed situation against your most hated rival, the passion and excitement you’re feeling finds its peak in its physical and verbal expression: “YESSSSSSSSSS!” <arms raised in the universal recognized sign of victory>.  Now imagine witnessing the same thing responding by sitting quietly with your arms folded in your lap.  It’s just not the same.

Second, others witness your worship as an invitation to join the dance.  When you see a fantastic movie or discover an unbelievable new restaurant, what do you do?  Well, if it’s me in the restaurant scenario I throw my hands in the air and shout as described above, but most people tell their friends.  When we experience joy we want the people we care about most to share that wonderful feeling.

I guess that leaves one final question: Is He worthy of our worship?  Do we have reason to feel thankful, express our joy, and invite others to join the eternal dance of life? 

You tell me.  What’s your favorite verse or life experience that inspires joy?  Email me back (wardd11@georgefox.edu).  I want to know!  Here’s one of mine: 

Thankful that God show me love through my wife.

Thankful that God shows me love through my wife.

 Nehemiah 8:10

Peace and joy! –DW (Oh, and if you’d like to dig a little deeper, check out “Desiring God.”  It’s a great book – a real game changer.)

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