Sunday, December 25, 2005

Ho Ho Ho

Merry Christmas. It's early Christmas morning. I hope that Santa brings you everything on your wish list. My wish is that today at our church hundreds of people will be brought closer to God by celebrating His love and remembering His arrival over 2000 years ago.

It's been a gift to me to be able to relate to you readers through this blog. Thanks for sharing your valuable time with me.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hard Day's Night

That's how I feel, or maybe "HELP!" would be more appropriate. We've got company coming. Tonight or should I say tomorrow morning at 12:16 we have a daughter and son-in-law arriving for a Christmas visit. That meant that work needed to be done. And let me tell you it is great having an incredibly responsible 21 year old daugther home from college. She helped me make a run to the dump, the grocery store, change sheets, put stuff back in the attic, as well as wrapping gifts, cleaning bathrooms and a ton more. We'll pick up the freezing Southern Californians a little after midnight.

I love company, I just don't like cleaning up for them!

In case you have been in a coma the past 24 hours, Murray and Jamie Sanderson had their baby. Faith arrived at 7:45 PM last evening (December 20). She weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces and is 21 and 3\4 inches long. Wow. I wasn't that talk when I was eight!

Check out Murray's blog. I'm sure there are pictures, pictures, pictures and the happy ramblings of a new dad.

Since our out of town children are arriving, I'm guessing my blogging will be kept to a minimum. So to the two of you reading this blog, I wish you a Merry Christmas. And hey in you're in town, come to our Christmas Eve service and join us Christmas Morning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Unexpected Christmas Gifts

I just got back from the hospital. I was out shopping and got a voice mail that my good friend Roger was in the hospital. Last night he checked himself into the hospital and was helicoptered to another hospital when it was discovered his "chest pain" was extremely serious. When he arrived at his second hospital they whisked him in for a heart catheterized and inserted stints into to arteries.

Roger is going to be fine. In fact, he's going to feel better than he's felt in months.

Thankfully.

Isn't it amazing how we can take our good health for granted? But what may be more amazing is the way we take the good health of people we love for granted even more. Every day we're alive is a gift from God to be enjoyed and celebrated. This Christmas I'm celebrating Roger's new found health!

Before I left his hospital room Roger (who is my age) made the decision and commitment to quit taking our health for granted. I'm going to join him as he changes his diet and we're going to join each other on the golf course when the weather warms up.

I think somewhere in the Bible it says that our bodies are God's temple. I'm thinking I might want to spruce up the place.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Polar Bear Smolar Bear

For some unknown reason, last year I signed up to get National Geographic. The January 06 issue just arrived and I read this quote from an article entitled Artic Hunters On Thin Ice:

"Without knowing the polar bear's ways, I would have died out here many times."

Big hairy deal.

Hey let's see that guy go from the HOV left lane to the right exit lane on 66 in 200 yards, in rush hour traffic at 6:15 PM on a Friday night.

Or have him try to fight his way to the front of the line at Starbucks on a Monday morning and order a "Venti-half-caf-no-fat-wet-cappuccino" while talking on the cell phone with his wife and glancing at the Sports page at the same time.

Or have him leave the office at lunch, drop off dry cleaning, stop by the bank, pick up lunch at Subway and be back at his desk in 58 minutes.

Or how about this, have him find a way to eat dinner together on Wednesday night with his family and make it to church when he had to stay late at the office; his daughter has dance after school; his son has basketball at 5 PM; his wife has to cart them around and stop by UPS to pick up Christmas packages the UPS guy wouldn't leave at the door because everybody was out of the house when he stopped by.

Do any of those things and then we'll talk about the ways of the polar bear!

Friday, December 16, 2005

21

Where were you 21 years ago. Oh, by the way, it was a Sunday. I know where I was at least from 3 PM on 21 years ago, December 16, 1984. I was driving Jeanette to Riverside Community Hospital and standing around while she gave birth to our second and last child. It was a sunny, warm and beautiful day (and that's why we love southern California. There is no place like southern California in the winter months.) We arrived at the hospital about 4:15 and out came daughter number 2 at 6:40 PM.

For those of you who are familiar with the scriptural times for Sunday night worship assemblies, you already know that she was born during Sunday night worship assembly. I didn't preach but that doesn't mean the church didn't have the news. Because of "switchboard" issues, someone from church was actually able to phone directly into the delivery room just as our new baby was about to be born. As I was coaching Jeanette to pant and blow we could hear the nurse giving one of the Elders a "blow-by-blow" account of what was transpiring. Now that I think about it back in 1984 the phone company was nicknamed "Ma Bell." Maybe "Ma" always had delivery room access.

For the past 21 years December 16 has been one of the best days of my life. It always will be.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What Weather!

Wow, I keep looking over my shoulder looking for Arnold Schwarzenegger dressed up as Mr. Freeze. Man is it cold. Oh, course I'm not talking Michigan or Alaska cold, but for December in D.C. it is really cold and awful. Right now it is 31 degrees and raining on top of roads that are partially covered with snow. And it's only December 15th.

And by the way, I never bought George Clooney as Batman. And Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. I don't think so. I really liked Christian Bales in Batman Returns this year. He was believable.

I'm anxious to see King Kong. I think it's going to be great. I've seen some exit interviews and at seems as though the people who sat through all 187 minutes really enjoyed each one of them. And I'm hopeful that the theater will be heated!

More tomorrow and maybe..."the sun will come up tomorrow" and it will warm up!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Just In Time for Christmas

I just opened up this week's issue of Time Magazine. It's The Best Photos of 2005. The first 47 pages of pictures are nothing but photos of catastrophes and the horrific impact they had on human life: Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, the October 8 earthquake in Pakistan that killed 88,000, the war in Iraq (a photo of U.S. soldier rubbing his now missing leg was very penetrating), the bus bombing in London, the ethic warfare of western Sudan, ongoing trouble in Israel and Gaza, riots in Paris and then on the 48th page of photos is a photograph of Michael Jackson going to trial in pajamas.

Added to this optimism is the fact that right now it is 12 degrees below freezing outside and the this is the coldest December I can ever remember D.C. (which I believe now stands for Doggone Cold!)

Boy, after this year and in this cold, we need a little Christmas. It's been a hard year, an easy year to loss hope and faith. I wonder if our world right now that seems under siege isn't a little like the world Jesus came into. It made me think of the closing words of the first verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem

Yet in the dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.

We need a light that shineth that is more than the glow coming from parking lot lights at the mall or the blinding light from those new "blue-white" irritating headlights on luxury cars. We need a light than enlightens our souls. We need the hope of God living with us and in us.

We need Immanuel... God with us.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thai Food and Post Office Lines

I'm just about to leave to meet someone for lunch. We're meeting at Tera Thai in Vienna. This is a new experience for me. I've never really been a Thai food fan. But Jeanette has been trying to get me to try Thai for a long time. So today I make the plunge. I'll let you know what my stomach thinks.

I probably should have written about this yesterday so I could have gotten your recommendations for favorite Thai dishes or at least ones to avoid.

I'm mailing Christmas gifts to out-of-town family today. The biggest gift of love for me isn't buying gifts for family, it's mailing them. Finding the right box is what drives me crazy. I've actually gotten to the point of thinking about mailing ease as I'm purchasing gifts for out-of-town family members. If it won't fit in a box, then they don't get it! Every year getting gifts mailed seems as painful as giving up a body part. No exaggeration!

FYI if you're an FXCC guy and you're looking for a great group of guys to meet with on Wednesday night come join us tomorrow night at 7:30 here at the FXCC building. We had 37 guys show up last week to find support and help in being the man God wants us guys to be. We could use a few more.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Silent Sunday

Hey if you ever want to hear silence, I mean real, complete, total silence, then preach on giving. It is so quiet you can hear a dollar bill drop.

It could be that the audience was also sound asleep. (I thought I would say that since I knew many of you were thinking it already!)

Guess what I preached on yesterday.

There are a couple of sermon subjects that elicit the "silent treatment." And money is one of them. But even though it's a sensitive subject, I was happy with the number of people who spoke to me after worship and confirmed that it was a needed message. FXCC is in a real giving mode right now. It's exciting to see people seeking God first in every arena of life.

We had our office Christmas party today. It's always an annual highlight. We have several people that are a party all by themselves. So when you get them all in a living room together, you better watch out. The Christmas party is a great way of having holiday fun and also saying thanks to the people who volunteer in the FXCC office. We have a great crew of regular volunteers whose work often goes unnoticed by the majority. But trust me these folks make FXCC run much more efficiently.

FXCC hosted a talent show last night. It was a great success. I'm always amazed by the diverse and deeply talented people who attend our church. There was 300 plus people here who enjoyed music, drama, stand-up comedy, and dance. Hey, the refreshments were even really good. If you missed it see if you can find a video. Sorry, but the refreshments are gone.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hey it's the weekend!

Here’s a rare Saturday Blog

I’m still not over being sick.  But at least I have one foot out of the grave.  Today I’m attending the dress rehearsal for FXCC’s Talent Show “This Gift I Bring…”

I’m looking forward to it.  I’m always amazed at the diverse ability and rich talent that so many FXCC people have.  It’s a pleasure to enjoy their talent and to have them share it with all of us.  

Then after the three hour rehearsal, I have the pleasure of baptizing a person seeking to give their life to God.  What a great blessing to be a part of this eternal event.  

Hey go to church tomorrow.  Give God the gift of your presence.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

NGA: No Girls Allowed

That's the name I came up with for a new bible class-support group that I'm teaching-leading It's a class just for guys, no girls allowed. The guys in class are there because they want to figure out what God wants them to be at this point in their lives. The point of the class is to give guys support, information and encourage. We met for the first time last night. I don't know how it went for the other guys but...

It was a great experience for me to be there.

It was amazing to see how many guys were willing to rearrange their schedule, make the massive commute home and then to our building or traveling straight from work to the building. It was also great to see such a diverse group of guys: young, old, new and old Christians, married, single, different vocations, but all wanting the same thing: help in being the man God called them to be.

As soon as I saw Jeanette after class last night she asked how it went. I told her it was pretty incredible. She smiled and said, "So you job now is not to screw it up, isn't it?" We both laughed and I said, 'You are so right." Keep me in your prayers.

If you are a guy out there reading this and would like to know more about what's going to be happening in NGA, share a comment and I'll give you more details.

Also if you are reading this and want to know what it's like to live in D.C. here's an example. As I walked down stairs after NGA last night a guy came up to me and said, "NGA?" You know that's the initials of a former spy agency, don't you?"

I love living here.

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Green around the gills

That's what my mom used to call it when someone got sick. "They're a little-green-around-the- gills." Does that mean that's what a wall-eyed pike looks like when they get the flu? I don't known if I was "green-around-the-gills" but I've felt "green-around-the-everything" since Sunday. I've had a green river running down my throat and my considering my temperature it could have been a molten green river.

And I'm not in the least bit exaggerating.

Okay maybe a little bit. But I did have a little cough and I did have to go to the doctor and he made me shallow some big red pills. (Okay maybe the pills weren't that big and they were a shade closer to pink then red!) But doctor didn't give me a lollipop or a sticker!

I've heard that women think that we men are such wimps when it comes to getting sick? I strongly disagree. I hardly even used the bell that Jeanette gave me to use. (Why use a bell when you can call her on her cell phone, right? I mean that way it's easy for her. She can be anywhere in the house and or even outside and still be available to come fluff my pillow and turn the channel for me. Hey when I'm sick it's hard pressing those buttons on the remote!)

Seriously, when I'm sick, I like to be left alone most of the time. It's when I'm starting to get better that I want to talk about it and have other people tell me how brave I was to suffer through the sniffles.

I'm now in my fourth flu symptom day and I want you to know I'm a paler shade of green. And I've now been antibiotic for two days so I shouldn't be contagious. So please feel free to come up and shake my hand. If you should happen to get sick, what better time of the year? Green has always gone with Christmas.

More tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I have a whole new life now that I'm fifty. On my day off yesterday I went to Costco to purchase hearing aid batteries. I got the five-gallon size. Due to my numerous visits there I have developed a casual relationship with the fellow who runs the "ear shop." We've talked about Christianity, the bible and a cappella music. I'd given him my email address but never my business card. So yesterday as he walked up I had a card, so I gave it to him. He thanked me and went back to attend to two 75 year olds in his sound proof booth.

While I was handing him my card, another Costco employee said, "So you are a minister?" And I confirmed I was in spite of my appearance. He then began to tell me how he had found a church this year near where he lived that had proven to be a great blessing in his life. He further explained the reason for the need of spiritual support: his daughter in her forties had committed suicide this past spring. He then shared with me more details about the events surrounding her passing. As he talked his eyes filled with tears and his voice trembled. He ended by saying again how much his new church family had come to mean to him.

Preachers may tell you that they have a tough life. Don't you ever believe them. Yesterday I was never more proud of my profession. It gave me the entry into the life and sorrow of a dad who loved his daughter. And I was once again reminded of no matter how "sophisticated" our society becomes "the church" still makes an eternal difference. And I'm blessed to work for it.

It almost makes standing in line at Costco worth it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On the first day of Christmas

All I want for Christmas...
Well I would ask for world peace, but I think it's too expensive. Jeanette and I have actually set a spending limit on each other this year. And I'm pretty sure that world peace is going to be out of our range.

My paternal granddad when asked what he wanted for Christmas, every year would respond, "New socks." I couldn't believe that's all he asked for. But I got to tell you at 50 putting on a new pair of socks feels pretty good. I once read that Jerry Lewis wears a new pair of socks every day. (I'm guessing the reason for that may have been that the once worn socks refused to go back on his feet!) So new socks may be on my list.

Also I'm a tennis shoe, running shoe, sneaker freak. I love them. And the more colorful the better. My problem is that my feet don't fit comfortably in just any shoes. So it's hard for others to buy them for me. (Okay, I'm also very picky, or what my family would say is "snooty" about sneakers.) So maybe a gift certificate to Foot Locker or DSW may be requested.

And now for my head. I have really gotten into reading. I want books to read.

Well there you have my Christmas list from toe to head. Socks, tennies, and books.

Oh, also for Christmas I want our church to grow, our family to be be closer to God and each other; I want to help more people to Christ; I want every FXCC member to discover their gifts and be empowered to use them for God's glory; I want to be a better man, husband, father, son, uncle, minister and friend; I want to figure out how to more effectively communicate God's message to people living in Northern Virginia and its surroundings; I want to be able to be less selfish and more sacrificial; I want to be the first to serve and take the lead in helping others; I want to be more aware of myself so I can use what I have to and have been given to meet the needs of others; I want to get in shape and show God I honor him by caring for the body he gave me; I want to avoid temptation and understand the horror and damaging effect of sin; I want to be a person that when others think of me, in some small way they think of Jesus; and I want world peace too.

More tomorrow...