December 17, 2005

Mine's Bigger

In a land where bigger is better, social acceptance supposedly rests on the amount of cool stuff you have. Or at least that is what advertisers want you to think. "Buy this colone and chicks will flock to you!" "Don't be caught dead in anything other than our jeans!" "Nothing beats a Lexus!"

Adding to the need for acceptance, they also play to our need to lord ourselves. Driving by the local Wendy's yesterday, I noticed their sign read, "Customize your burger!" Another burger joint consistantly says, "Your way right away!". I remember the day when you went into McDonalds and you were shocked if the burger you ordered wasn't sitting behind the clerk in it's nice styrofoam box, waiting. It wasn't your way right away then. Oh how times have changed.

We have moved to dangerous places in how our culture/society sees stuff. We have changed how we see our personal space. We have become self absorbed people who live to get our ways in everything we do. We use our ipods to listen to our music. We use DVRs to have exactly what we want to watch when we want to watch it. We customize our food. We buy bigger and better because that is what we are supposed to do as Americans.

Unfortunately, that ideal has infiltrated the church. In the last 40 years we have created customized ministry for music, youth, children, singles, senior citizens. We customize our worship to fit people groups and help them feel like they are "getting something" out of the service. We created multiple service times to service as many as we could on their time. I could go on.

We as the body of Christ need to check ourselves and make sure we are kingdom shaped and not world shaped. We need to make sure we are living for others--outwardly or externally focused, rather than for ourselves, inwardly or internally focused. How we live, breath, act, spend money, etc. as individuals and as the church needs to be checked by those marks.

December 7, 2005

What I Love

I love the joy that my daughter has right now in her life. I love how much energy she has and the wonder and excitement that continually flows from her being. I love how she goes to bed without a fuss, how she flails herself back knowing that I'm going to lay her down in her crib. I love how she rolls onto her side and grabs her Cat in the Hat and snuggles in, tucking the blanket under her arm.

I love the cold. The last few mornings it has been sunny. The snow glistens like diamonds. There is a beauty there that I am sure many miss. Tonight it was twinkling in the light from the parking lot. Adding to the visual beauty was the crunch and squeek of it under my feet. That is when you know it is really cold outside.

I love time at home. This past weekend I had the chance to take some time away from the office and just spend time at home. Steph wasn't feeling well, so I became Mr. Mom. I took the time to cook lunch and dinner. It was a great time to spend with the family, even though Steph didn't get to enjoy it as much.

I love home baked cookies. One of the older ladies at our church suprised me with a plate of cookies tonight. It was thanks for camping out and purchasing her and some other people Madrigal tickets in October. Included on the plate were apple/raisin filled cookies. It was heavenly and almost as good as my wife's chocolate chip cookies.

I love to sing with my daughter. While we were out shopping yesterday evening looking for some Christmas presents. When Steph ran into one of the stores, Hannah and I stayed in the car (too many times in and out of the carseat gets tiresome for her and for us). All you need to do is ask if she wants to sing a particular song and she's off. Sometimes she'll say no to a song. If you start singing it, she revolts and says no until you stop singing. It's very cute, even though it's a shade sadistic teasing her like that. Last night the only song we were allowed to sing was Old McDonald. Imagine a little two year old screaming at the top of her lungs as fast as she can, ee ii ee ii oo, with a few added ee's and ii's because she loses count. Add to that silly cow moos and chicken clucks. It is beyond priceless.

As I take in these things, these bright spots of life, I cannot but help think about some words that one of my friends, Stan, shared with me a few years ago. He was remembering back to times when his kids were young. He told me of how he used to fly his youngest into bed every night, and how he wished he had done it more often. I have only had two short years with Hannah and I cannot but wonder that I have already missed so much.

Lord, make sure that I do not lose time for the right things. Make sure I am where I need to be and catching the moments that you are blessing me with, whether it is the stillness of the snow glistening, the laughter of my precious little girl, or time on the couch relaxing to a movie with my wife. May I cherish those around me with everything I have.