Friday, December 30, 2011

I Resolve!

I'm batting .250 on 2011's New Year's Resolutions. I really only accomplished one out of four, although all of them were certainly within my grasp. However, I am proud of the one resolution I fulfilled, which was to read four classic books I had never read before. I think I devoured seven. My new Nook allows me to download a lot of classics for free.

However, I am resolving to start 2012 anew, with a brand new vigor, fresh vision and determination to change for the better. I've been more excited about January 1st than December 25th, to be honest. So, here we go again, with a list of resolutions for the new year.

1. More Bible, Less Facebook.

The Bible can change my life for the better. Social Networking leaves me frustrated and aggravated with people and their constant drama, bickering, lack of morality and filthy language. How much better to allow God to speak into my life next year? I've already taken the first step by creating a private "get-away" prayer room at the church where I can be alone a couple hours a day for study and communion with God.

2. Get Healthy

I've learned that I need to concentrate on my overall health, not just my weight. I enter the new year with arthritis in my hip, a certain sense of confusion in my heart, and a pot belly. All three have got to go in 2012. Prayer and fasting will be part of my regular routine.

3. Financial Stability

My days of labor have passed the halfway point. Should God delay His coming and I live long enough, I don't want to be working 50 hours a week at the age of 70. We WILL dig out of our financial troubles this year and put away for retirement.

4. Ordination

I finished the requirements for Ordination with the Assemblies of God this summer, but in order for me to feel that I can go ahead and apply for the 3rd and highest level of Ministerial Licensing, I have to get resolutions #1, #2, and #3 in order first. It's one thing to earn it through study, it's quite another to deserve it through living.

5. Cook Like Robert Irvine

Of course I'm being a bit silly with this one, but I do want to be a better cook. I would like to prepare more homemade, low-fat healthy dishes other than my amazing pancakes. And they are amazing, I might add. I watch Robert on Food Network, and he makes cooking fun, tasty, and above all... simple. More food from scratch, less food out of a can. Sounds like a good idea to me.

And there you have it. In short, I want to end the year as a new person who doesn't recognize the one who began it.

Here we go.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sing... Sing a Song...

I was a concert junkie for a while. If an act came into town that I could tolerate, I would go. It didn't matter if I was a fan or not. I just enjoy concerts. It got me thinking this week about some of the best, some of the worst, and some of the more "interesting" moments I've had.

Best concert ever: Point of Grace Christmas Wonderland Tour with Scott Krippayne. These ladies are near perfection, and Scott was on target. The stage, the costumes, the humor, and especially the music were top-notch. They made my Christmas that year.

Running a close second: Andy Williams Christmas concert. He was nearing his 80th birthday at the time, but the man could still flat out sing. I felt like a giddy kid when he broke into, "Moon River." We paid an arm and a leg for circle seating, but it was worth every penny. Sorry to hear he's dealing with cancer right now.

Worst concert ever: Merle Haggard. What in the world was I thinking? Well, it was over 20 years ago. He was supposed to shoot a new video that night, but they announced before he came on that "circumstances" wouldn't allow for it. Yeah... he was drunk as a skunk. I still want my money back.

Best date at a concert: It's a tie. I once dated a girl named Sandy, and we actually saw Blair from the "Facts of Life" in concert. Lisa Whelchel is a strong Christian with a great testimony. She has a wonderful voice. Sandy had cerebral palsy, so we got a great parking spot. ;) The other half of the tie: Anne Murray. Again, a Christmas concert. I'm not a huge fan, but it made my wife happy. That's what's important.

Most disappointing: Another tie. Again, it was probably 25 years ago, but I saw Brenda Lee in concert. Why? I still don't know. My friend took my seat (which I paid for by the way) and got his picture taken with her during the show. Grrrr..... anyway. Kenny Loggins was also a disappointment. Musically, it was top notch. But he has recorded kid's albums, so a lot of children were there. He joked that he recorded a song called, "Shut up and get the f--- over it." Not cool, Kenny.

Most surprising concert: Wayne Newton. I hadn't planned to go, but the tickets were free. What an entertainer! He sang for about three hours. Midway through, he started singing a Barry Manilow song, but stopped about 30 seconds into it and said, "You don't like that song, do you?" He could read an audience! So he changed songs to a great amount of applause. For that, I really respect him.

Most embarrassing: Bon Jovi. This was before anybody really knew who they were. "Runaway" was their only hit. To give you a better idea of how long ago it was: They were opening for Ratt. It was my first rock concert, and I didn't understand at that time: The second-hand smoke I was breathing wasn't tobacco. I was told later that I was having my own little dance at the back of the auditorium, which provided some amusement for the folks in the bleacher section. I thank God I made it home safely that night, especially when the road started melting in front of my eyes.

First concert ever: Captain and Tennille. Hey, I liked bubble gum back then, too.

Worst After-Concert Photo: B.J. Thomas. Loved the show, loved the music, loved the man. But gosh dude, it was a Christmas show. Could you have smiled for the picture?

Concert I would see over and over: The Young Messiah Tour. Anybody who was anybody in Christian music at the time was there. And to hear 20 thousand people singing Christmas carols at the same time... wow. Just, wow.

Tammy Wynette gave a great show in July of '84. I have mixed emotions, because my mother was supposed to be there too. We buried mom the day before. Sara Evans is always great, finally got to meet her backstage. Didn't really care for her closing act, but since I paid for it and I was in the front row, I stuck around for Brad Paisley. I enjoyed Styx, but it wasn't the same without Dennis DeYoung. However, seeing him in concert solo was better than seeing Styx. He is THE voice of the group. I feel the same about the time we saw Davy Jones. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! Dan Hill... remember him? Saw him twice in Sarnia, Ontario. Trust me, the speaking voice does not match the singer. Working at a country station afforded me the opportunity to introduce Larry Gatlin onstage, and meet Chris Cagle, now residing in the "Chris who?" category. Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys - he sat behind the keyboard the whole concert and never played it. Guess he still has his issues. Yes, I saw the Beach Boys, too. But by then, Brian's egotistical cousin was the only original member left.

People I wish I could have seen: Of course, the late great Bobby Darin tops the list. The Carpenters, too. Would have loved to hear Dan Fogelberg or Jim Croce.

I've seen too many Christian acts to even begin to count. The Newsboys always give an amazing show, but I have yet to see Chris Tomlin or Sidewalk Prophets. They're on my bucket list.

There are more... I'll probably edit this post more than once. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tongue in Cheek, Sort Of.


Matt Lauer just said the "C" word ON THE AIR! I kid you not. He was talking about all the people out on the plaza, and suggested that they're finishing up their... their... "Christmas" shopping!

I sure hope NBC doesn't fire him for a politically incorrect comment like that.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Hip to Be Christian

As I've studied the story of the birth of Jesus this past month, I've come to realize that roadblocks are really opportunities when we place them in God's hands. Can you imagine Mary asking Joseph, "Bethlehem? Really? I have to travel all that way on the back of a mule for a stupid census when I'm about to have a baby?" Okay, maybe she didn't word it that way. But it certainly wasn't a convenient time for her to make a long trip that likely took at least three days on foot. However, what seemed like a roadblock was God's plan to fulfill the ancient prophecy written centuries before Christ's birth, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah5:2)

What about the shepherds? They were lonely nomads with no family, no resources, and no real future other than what they knew... shepherding day after day from one bland field to another. It was a terribly lonely existence, but they were resigned to that fact. Then one night, their roadblock became an opportunity. An angel gave them news of great joy, and they became witnesses to the greatest event in history.

Joseph, a descendant of King David, was chosen for the task before he was born. Mary, a virgin, was chosen for destiny. As the Lord promised Jeremiah, he promises us that before we were in the womb, he set us apart. He has a plan to prosper, and not to harm us.

God will always take what's seemingly tragic and turn it around for the good, according to His promise in Romans 8:28. So this morning, when I received a seemingly gloomy report at the Doctor's office, I suddenly gained a better sense of focus than I've had in quite some time. I see an opportunity for Christ to be glorified. My right hip has been hurting badly, and x-rays confirmed what I suspected. Arthritis. The cartilage is gone. It's bone-on-bone. One slightly embarrassing steroid shot later I was on my way. Next visit: The orthopedic surgeon.

What an opportunity. First of all, it's a chance to re-focus and re-prioritize. God's promise is for those "who love him and are called according to his purpose." He is not, and never has been happiness for hire for those who wear the label of Christian. He expects us to be in covenant relationship with Him, honoring Him with our lives, our time, and our resources. This is an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Jesus. Secondly, it's an incredible opportunity for Christ to be glorified big time. I'm standing on His promise that I can and will be healed. I will not waver from His promise. And when He heals me, I'll be a LOUD testifying witness for Him. No hiding His light under a bushel.

Six simple words were spoken over me prophetically this summer by a Pastor I trust and admire. He said, "No running. No excuses. Just results." Now, I would add this: No roadblocks either. Just opportunity.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Good for you, Rick Perry. And thank you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I See, See?

"Alabaster Box" by Cece Winans might just be the most perfect song ever recorded.

End of story.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Slamming on the Brakes

I'm putting the brakes on.

Something is dreadfully wrong when I can't get "into" Christmas. I've been a Christmas junky for years. My yard used to look like a airport runway every Christmas season. You couldn't walk around the interior of the house without bumping into Rudolph. I played Santa for ten years. My Christmas CD collection numbers over one hundred.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not getting all "Ebenezer Scrooge" over Christmas. I've poured hours into my sermon series for Christmas, prayed over it like never before, all the time working and sweating over our Live Nativity presentation at church. This much, I've enjoyed. The giving and making Christmas meaningful for my friends, family and community has been a joy. It's everything else that feels like a drag.

I have no ambition for decorating around the house. I've sold or given away most of the outdoor decorations, and gave away the Santa costume. The Christmas music I used to break out in September stayed in the closet all of last year, and I've hardly touched it this year. No interest. I sold off most of the Rudolph collection at a garage sale. It just seemed all so... cluttery.

So, I'm taking a break, because I think what's bothering me is the constant barrage of greed. It's selfish and angry shoppers, debates over Christmas vs. Holidays, lack of respect for others, etc. I could go on, but you get the point. I need a break from the cruelty and foolishness of social networking. I need a break from television commercials, and the same old blather on radio. I'm tired of talking M&M's, bell-ringing chocolate kisses and Peter in that awful red sweater coming home to a cup of Folgers. What I need is to read and re-read Luke Chapter two, and Matthew Chapters one and two. I need the real voice of Christmas speaking to me. I want to be reminded again of what's good, right, and truthful.

I'm not having a Charlie Brown moment. I already know what Christmas is all about. I just need time to filter out the junk.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Glass is Full

Keys I've learned to being content, happy, and optimistic.

1. Be social. Get your work done on time, and do both of them with joy and enthusiasm. Don't make excuses.

2. Instead of complaining about being misunderstood and unappreciated by others, put others ahead of yourself anyway. Life isn't always about me; I was put here to help others succeed. My joy is in serving.

3. There's no point in being sullen and argumentative, especially when you're always right. That's a joke. Unfortunately, some people were born with a chip on their shoulder and no sense of humor. That's their problem. Don't make it yours.

4. Respect authority. Romans 13:1. 'Nuff said.

5. The neighbor across the street has more toys than you? Suck it up, Dude. You've got a roof over your head, food on the table and a God who loves you. Appreciate what you have. Live by the Optimist Creed, and "be just as happy about the success of others as you are about your own."

6. Concentrate on what you have. If you lose someone or something, thank God for the time that you did have, rather than sulking over what you've lost.

7. Hostility is for losers. If you must disagree, do it with a smile. The world may not always understand; in fact they rarely do. But that's their problem, not yours.

This is the way I've chosen to live my life. 98% of the time, I get it right. For the 2% that I fail, my responsibility is to learn from it and move on. I choose to live optimistically.