Friday, December 17, 2010

P4E.194 Happy Anniversary to Gwen and Me

33 years ago today, I married my wonderful wife, Gwen.

She was and is the most beautiful person in the world to me.

Gwen has been an incredible help to me in getting well.

I owe her an unpayable debt of gratitude for helping get and stay on track.

God Bless her for being such a wonderful wife and mother to our sons.

Happy Anniversary, Gwen!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

P4E.193 Ignorance and Want

In Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present introduces Ebenezer Scrooge to "two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable," and explains to Scrooge, "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom..."

I've always been fascinated with these creatures. Dickens has portrayed them as pitiful, yet powerful offspring of Men. In their visible form they represent the result of Ignorance and Want, and are to be pitied. But, Dickens warns us to beware them both for the Doom that they represent.

A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843, yet Dickens's warning about Ignorance and Want remains fresh. Every year, we Men beget new children named Ignorance and Want and in this case we want to exercise some population control.

To begin, let us ask, "Ignorance of what?" For, we do not know what we do not know. If we say that Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, then how do we begin to attain the knowledge that we need to dispel the wretchedness of Ignorance? We Believers have a place to turn to for answers to such questions. Proverbs 1:7 says "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction." Later Proverbs 15:33 says, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility."

I know that the current trend in writing is toward open-endedness and away from blatancy. Teachers are now "facilitators" and the tendency is away from receiving instruction from authorities. However, Scripture is the Supreme Authority and I will not despise its instruction.

If I am to dispel Ignorance and gain knowledge and wisdom, I must respect God by regarding others, in all humility, as more important than I. This is, in fact, the message to Scrooge from the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Secondly, let us ask, "Who's Want?" and "What do they Want?" This reminds me of the question that the lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" and also the question the Cain asks God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" I think the answer may sound cynical, but the truthful answer to "Who's Want?" is "Anybody but me." This would be in keeping with the humility demanded by dispelling Ignorance. And the answer to "What do they Want?" may come down to "Anything that I have." This answer would echo Jesus' "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also."

It may be helpful if we expand the answer to "What do they Want?" to these three simple things: Health, Security, and Dignity. By these I mean that, for their health's sake, no one should be denied food, clean water and shelter. No one should live in fear of another man or men. We should do everything in our power to shield the innocent from the harm of malicious men. As children made in the image of God, all of mankind has, for the asking, the dignity that the blood of Christ imbues. We Believers should be instrumental, as God's ambassadors, in providing these.

These are hard sayings. But, they do define the Believer's Way.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

P4E.192 Note to Self: IT'S THE HOLIDAYS!


A note to self: Please remember IT'S THE HOLIDAYS! You have spiritually wrecked so many of them that I think it's wise and necessary to give you some reminders:
  1. The word "holiday" is derived from the Old English word hāligdæg meaning "holy day." Please try to remember this original meaning in your attitude during the holidays. Your attitude is everything. You can make the holidays bright and cheerful or (as you've done so many times before) make them dark and unpleasant for everyone around you.
  2. Please remember to value "People Over Things." It's so easy to get caught up in the capitalism of the times (remember the signs people were holding at the Seattle Christmas tree lighting ceremony that said "BUY MORE STUFF!"?) that you need to remember what's important. The spirits of your wife and children first.
  3. Watch what you do with your eyes. The ladies are all dressed up to attract attention even more during the holidays. The mall is a particularly obvious place where both advertising and the lady shoppers themselves scream for attention. Please remember that you are a married man and also Jesus' words "that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." That is not what you want for the holidays (or any other time for that matter).
  4. You have a tendency to be angry, frustrated and impatient. Period. The stress of the holidays increases this tendency. Being in crowds of people increases this tendency. Being tired increases this tendency. Your perceived lack of money increases this tendency. Driving during the holidays increases this tendency. Being in a hurry increases this tendency. When things don't go as planned or go completely wrong increases this tendency. Remember "He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly." Stay calm. Be flexible. Go with the flow. Go back to reminder #2.
  5. Slow down. Be fully present wherever you are. Don't try to multi-task (like talking on the phone, texting, or reading) when you're supposed to be having a good time with your family and friends. Give them your full attention so that they know how much you care about them. Don't be thinking about what comes next. They go by quickly, so enjoy the moment at hand.
  6. Speed up. You tend to lollygag. There's a lot to do and get done before and during the holidays. Don't dawdle! Don't procrastinate. If you want the holidays to be meaningful, then there's a lot of planning that you should have already done by now. So, get to it.
  7. Guard your heart and spirit. Guard the hearts and spirits of your family. Kim, you can be lazy and when you're lazy you stop being diligent. You get dull and callous. You need to step up your protection mode of your own spirit and that of your wife and children. As much as possible, you need to step in front of things, places, people, and circumstances that have the potential to harm the enjoyment of the holidays and shield those you hold dear from them.
  8. Be Happy! Remember the line in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." "'re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem...Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest." Well, that's you! So, focus on the positive and be happy!
  9. Stay connected with your wife. You need to keep her informed of your plans. You can get distracted by visitors and forget that you're supposed to be helping her. If you're out together stay together. Don't get pulled away by other people or things. You need to stay in contact so she knows where you are and who you're with and what you're doing. Remember, you and she are ONE.
  10. Keep the Christ in Christmas. As Dickens said, Honor Christmas in your heart throughout the holidays and beyond. Live in the Past, the Present and the Future and let the Spirits of all three strive within you. Don't shut out the lessons that they teach.
(If you get anything out of my Note to Self, so much the better. God Bless.)