Friday, December 19, 2008

Lessons From Whoville

We can learn a lot from all the Whos in Whoville
Yes, we are much older, but there's more to learn still
When Christmas Eve came on that night the story goes
All the Whos were tucked in from their heads to their toes
And while they all slept, something tragic went on
The Grinch came to town, not planning to stay long
Just long enough, to steal Christmas was his plan
To ruin that special day, for the Whos would be grand
Christmas Eve came and went, then Christmas morning did come
And the Grinch prepared himself for what he thought would be fun
But, the Whos surprised him, yes they blew him away
They foiled his great plan, and ruined his day
For somehow and someway, though no presents they found
The Whos started singing, it was such a beautiful sound
The Grinch realized then, something he didn't know before
Christmas isn't in boxes, and can't be bought in a store
Herein is our lesson, but closely we must look
To find this powerful truth in this little children's book
Christmas isn't about all the decorations and trees
Nor is it about all the presents, we give or receive
It's not about how much money you can spend
And it's not about how many Christmas cards you send
These things are great and we all love them a lot
But Christmas still comes, with these things or not
Yes, Christmas is more, as the Grinch figured out
More than all this, he now knew without a doubt
It's about family and friends, and loving the life that we're livin'
It's about peace on earth, and all the goodness God's given
When you figure that out, Christmas somehow comes alive
And you can enjoy it, even if you get a bunch of ugly ties
Or, an ugly sweater you would never dare wear
Or, a fruit cake made sometime last year
Whatever you get, or if you get nothing indeed,
Christmas is still great, when you know what it means

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Fat Man In A Red Suit, Flying Around The World In A Sleigh. Hmmmm?

A fat man, in a red suit, flying around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. What a story? Isn't it amazing how creative we can be? Throw in a story of a reindeer whose nose glows, tiny elves who work feverishly to get all the toys done in time, and a list of all the good and bad kiddos in the world and we've got an epic story. Its been told for years and gets tweaked a bit with every generation or so, but never seems to lose much steam.

Every year, this fat man in his red suit, shows up everywhere. He's at the mall, he's on the TV, he's on Christmas cards, he's even on Coca-Cola cans. Everywhere you look, there he is. Just think, wouldn't it have been nice to come up with the idea of this guy and sell the world on it? I'm thinking somehow, someway you could have made some pretty serious bank if you had.

Several years ago, I heard a Christian radio station trying hard to sell the whole idea of Santa as a God thing. Now, I don't have any problem with Santa, but a God idea? I think that's just a bit of a stretch. Sure, he's a nice guy and all and he goes around giving stuff away, still I struggle with the idea of Santa being God inspired.

Let's face it, God needs no help from our imagination to come up with a great story. Let me rephrase that, a miraculous story. While we're conjuring up stories of a fat man in a red suit, he pulls off something that reaffirms the fact that His thoughts are light-years beyond ours. One night in a little town called Bethlehem, God wraps Himself in human flesh in order to rescue mankind. If you know the story, think about it. God, the Creator of the universe, humbles himself, and becomes one of us. He steps out of eternity and steps into time, submits himself to a brutal death at the hands of men He could thump off the planet in a heartbeat. He does all that in order to restore mankind's relationship with Him.

A baby was born that night who would take away the sins of the world. A King was born who would never see an end to his kingdom. A Deliverer was born who would set men free. A Healer was born who would heal the sick. A Savior was born who would save mankind. A Prince was born who would set this world at peace.

Of course, many never truly recognized Him. As a matter of fact, when He showed up that night in Bethlehem, they couldn't even make room for Him. They couldn't make room for God! They were so busy going about doing all the things people do, that when God, Himself showed up, they didn't recognize him, notice him, or even offer him a room to stay in. That night in Bethlehem was all about Him, and yet He went largely unnoticed. As a matter of fact, other than a few shepherds and angels and some wise men studying the stars, nobody even new what happened that night.

We aren't all that different are we? We've got this ongoing ridiculous debate on whether we should say "Happy Holidays," or "Merry Christmas." We've casually become a culture that no longer recognizes what this time of year is all about. We strive to be politically correct while all the while missing the point entirely. We go about doing Christmas in such a way as to forget why we do it in the first place. We love the paid holiday time, retailers love the money, and oil companies love the travel. We love Santa, and Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman. We love the decorations, the lights, the trees, and everything else that comes with this time of the year. But, if we are not careful, just like Bethlehem that night, we'll miss Him. The One it's all about.

Don't get me wrong, Santa's a great story and all, but it just doesn't measure up to God's true story. I know it may not be politically correct to say, "Merry Christmas," but to be honest, I really don't care about being politically correct. If someone chooses to be offended by that statement, they just don't understand what happened that night in Bethlehem many years ago. Jesus truly is the reason for the season. No amount of commercialization, political debating, or differing religious ideologies can change that fact.

Bethlehem was the birth place of the greatest King ever to be born and that night hardly anyone even knew it. Isn't it ironic. Christmas is about the birth of the greatest King to ever be born, and it appears that there is an ever growing number of people who don't even know it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Wise Men

In the aftermath of Ike, as you drive around our community it’s not hard to spot broken tree branches dangling high up in numerous trees. They are everywhere. Some are just little branches while others are massive branches that would cause damage to roofs, cars, or people should they fall on them. My father-in-law has at least three on his property. Each of them big enough to do some pretty serious damage.

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I pulled up just in time to catch my father-in-law and 2 of his neighbors plotting how to best take care of one of those limbs that was dangling a good 30-40 feet up in a pine tree hanging over the driveway. As I walked up to the scene, I thought to myself this is going to be good. No, not funny, but good. There is something awesome that takes place when a few gray haired men put their heads together in an effort to fix something, or accomplish something. I was convinced this would be no different. By the time I arrived, they had pretty much figured out how they were going to go about doing it and were just gearing up for the implementation of their well thought out plan. I would just be a spectator. Having already lassoed the dead limb, and having determined that mere mortal muscle couldn't pull it down, one of the neighbors set out to retrieve his golf cart. They then, attached the rope to the back of the golf cart and moments later down the limb came. A limb, big enough to cause major damage to a car or, worse yet, kill one of my boys had it fallen on them. A brilliantly laid out plan, successfully carried out, and now once again it was safe to park in the driveway.

I knew when I drove up that day, that as these three gray-haired men, threw some ideas around it wouldn’t be long before the job would be done. After all, they pooled together somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 combined years of life experience. Trust me when I say, there was a wealth of wisdom standing in the driveway that day. Mix that wisdom with the determination of 3 men and there aren’t many jobs that won’t get done. I’m pretty sure if you replaced our politicians in Washington with a handful of these guys, they’d have a lot of problems solved in no time.

What’s so sad is that many times those of us who are younger, don’t recognize the value in men like these. We fly through life as if we know everything, and are pretty certain that those who are a bit more seasoned than us, are incapable of teaching us much. While the truth is, if we’ll open our eyes and ears, we’ll find a wealth in men and women like this. If we’ll simply be teachable, we can learn in one moment what it has taken them a lifetime to learn.

I remember as a teenager, I wasn’t real good at tuning in to all the times my Dad tried to teach me. Even as a young man in my twenties, there were still times I wasn’t listening. But the older I got, the more wealth I began to see in both his words, and the way he lived life. Now, in my forties, my eyes and ears are opened and I’m more teachable than at any other point in my life. This past year, I got the opportunity to work side by side with my father-in-law on a couple of jobs, and there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t learn something.

I’m pretty sure, had I saw those three men out there when I was 15 or 16, I wouldn’t have taken out my note pad and pencil so to speak. And, naturally I would have missed a great opportunity to learn something. Sure, it was just a tree limb. And, that’s really the point. There is so much in life that you can never learn in a book, in a classroom, or even with your own life’s experience. There is an immeasurable amount of wisdom and knowledge that can only be found lingering around someone whose life experience has purchased them an encyclopedia worth of wisdom. Take my advice, next time you see three gray-haired men outside up to something, pull up a chair, and watch the show. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot from those wise men.