Saturday, December 24, 2011

think about what Christmas really is

One of the books that I read this year was a fun one called "Christmas is not Your Birthday" by Michael Slaughter. (I'm writing at home, and the book is at my office, or I'd be able to include some quotes to make you ponder the meaning of life). But the title of the book says it all. Somehow Christmas has lost the magic of the celebration of the birth of a Baby who would grow up to change the world. The secular version is about giving, but more about the getting. Christmas Villages around the country have miniature versions of the North Pole, complete with elves making toys. City decoration judging committees look for the biggest light display, stores put up Christmas decorations starting right after the 4th of July, and it seems like the seasonal music starts long before the season does.
      On the positive side, people are more interested in doing for others at this time of year, so interested that the available slots fill up quickly (but there are still plenty of openings from Feb thru Oct).
   But Christmas is about more than Santa, lights, and Lady Gaga having issues with her Christmas Tree.
     It's about students at local schools raising thousands of dollars for cancer research and to support families in need.
       It's about the NDPA Lions collecting "gifts of warmth": coats, gloves, caps, and building 125 hygiene kits for the Rescue Mission.
       It's about  donations to the Pastor, with instructions to anonymously give to those who might need a little help.
       It's about families who stage live Nativity displays for family, friends, neighbors and strangers to enjoy.
       It's about many of the things that Charlie Trentelman, JaNae Francis and others have been writing about in the Standard Examiner over the past few weeks.

      It's about 90,000 visitors to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and the prayer that this will be the year that Palestine achieves statehood with all that implies: PEACE in the area as Muslims, Jews and Christians learn to live together.
        Christmas is about a lot more than presents under the tree. It's about HOPE for a better future; it's about PEACE - an absence of war, but also an inner peace. It's about JOY, it's about LOVE, and it's about eternal LIFE. It's about the presence of a Savior, who reaches out to each of you and asks you to follow Him.
          So celebrate the Christmas Season, and as you do, remember to keep Christ central in all you do. After all, it's Christmas- not your birthday

Friday, December 16, 2011

As Dagwood says "it's about giving"!

I'm so impressed with the folks at North Davis Prep Academy. Their Lion's Pride generosity is definitely Lion-Sized.

I mentioned some needs in the community and the 6th graders for the 4th year in a row are building hygiene kits as a project in conjunction with their reading of "A Christmas Carol". The 4th grade classes are the focal point for a collection in the elementary building. The Jr. Hi Christmas concert was an opportunity to share a 'gift of warmth'. And that's just during the Christmas season.The Lions have collected food for the hungry, toys and books for children in shelters, and that's just a few of the things I know about.

As we invest in the future of our children, one of the most important things we can teach them is that it's not always all about them. Sharing with others is a great way to make a difference in our community. And like it or not, our communities are now GLOCAL (GLObal/loCAL) communities. The difference we make today in the life of a child  here along the Wasatch Front has the potential to impact the world tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone at NDPA who makes this possible: the administration, faculty and staff, the parents, and especially the Lions - those amazing students who see a problem and go to work figuring out how to solve it -- and in doing so make the world a better place for all of us.
Go Lions!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The monsters within us…a review of "Night of the Living Dead Christian" by Matt Mikalatos

As I started reading Matt Mikalatos’ “Night of the Living Dead Christian”, my first reaction was “Okay that was weird”, and then I read a little bit further and found I couldn’t put the book down. Hmmm, that happened with Mikalatos’ other book *Imaginary Jesus* too.

Although I never had an opportunity to read a book quite like this in a systematic theology class in Seminary, this book does address the issue of soteriology: the study of the doctrine of salvation. You may not recognize it as theology at first, but in this age of the 30 second sound bite, and all sorts of horror movies, (and love stories dealing with werewolves and vampires) this book speaks to all of us Christian or pre-believer, about what salvation looks like.

In asking the question “what does it mean to be truly transformed?” the author invites us to look at the monsters within. And by the way, we spend a lot of time learning and cultivating bad habits, sometimes it takes a while to stop them from managing our lives. Mikalatos comically uses werewolves, vampires, and zombies as metaphor for the sinfulness that we still carry with us, and that rears its ugly head on occasion, no matter how hard we try to keep it buried, or to run or hide from it.

You may know some of the friendly monsters we meet in this book, the zombies that rally around the idea that Jesus wants our brains and not our hearts; the werewolf with the buttons that set him off, the vampires who are selfishly out for blood, and even the monster killer, convinced that monsters can never change or be changed. There’s a pastor who still has issues, and the main character, Matt Mikalatos (where have I heard that name before?) is a Christian who still has some growing to do. Maybe you’ve even gotten caught up in some of the conflict between the dark and light sides in your community, your church, your family or your life.

This book offers glimpses of the church, and allows us to poke some gentle fun at the things we do in the name of Jesus. Sometimes we get it right for the wrong reasons; sometimes we have the right reason, and get it wrong anyway. And sometimes we’re lucky enough to experience so much grace that we have to try to spread the message, whether we realize or not that we don’t have all the answers. And some days all any of us can say is “maybe we should go to church”.

You’ll probably end up crying over this book, sometimes when you see grace, love and transformation, and other times because you’ll be laughing so hard that you can’t stop the tears.

Check out this video clip of the author discussing his book:

Check out Matt here: and check out the publisher here:

By the way, I got a copy of the book for agreeing to write this review, and Matt and the nice folks at Tyndale let me have another copy to give to one of you. Leave a comment by 12/22/2011 to be considered for the random giveaway. (It helps if you leave some contact info so I can contact the winner – and I promise I won’t send monsters to your house if you don’t like my review.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy something forgot the MLB

I'm still wondering why the 'occupy this' folks, in an attempt to create solidarity among the working class - the 99% vs the 1% - occupied the ports the other day, resulting in lots of stevedores, dock workers, truckdrivers, forklift operators etc (all part of the 99%)  getting to take an extra day off, probably without pay.  At the same time this was going on, they seem to have forgotten to occupy Major League Baseball, where two announcements were recently made: one payer gets $70+ million for a five year contract, and another signed a 10 year contract worth 1/4 of a billion dollars. 

I must be traveling in the wrong circles: 99% of the people I know don't make that kind of money (come to think of it, the other 1% of the people I know don't make anywhere near that either).

Someday maybe someone can explain to me how costing the taxpayers millions of dollars in clean-up costs and court costs as unorganized groups claim their constitutional right to be someplace where they have no right to be, helps further the cause that they haven't defined yet.

I'm all for social justice, I just want to know what it is that I'm fighting for - what injustice I'm protesting against.

P.S. I also wanat to know where the $25,000,000.00 a year jobs are around here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

cold is just a state of mind

I keep trying to convince myself that cold is all relative, and it's just a state of mind. at 4:30 this morning, barefoot and in pajamas, I walked to the end of the driveway to get the newspaper. It didn't kill me, got back to the house without turning into an icicle, and thoroughly enjoyed reading the paper and sipping a cup of coffee.

About six hours later, it took about 5 minutes to change the marquis at church. This time I had shoes on, and wore a jacket over warm clothes. My hands still got numb.

It seems like almost everybody I talk to is complaining about the cold: I usually agree with them. And this is from the guy that is planning on voluntarily jumping into frigid water in January.  (click).

And then just when I’ve convinced myself that we should all turn up the heat, add several more layers of clothing and burrow under a pile of heavy blankets, I read a list of the "15 coldest cities" and guess what? Ogden isn't on that list, neither is West Point. In fact based on some of those temperatures, and what my thermometer indicates, it would probably have to be a list of the top 115 coldest cities for us to be included.

So, I’m going to pretend its summer, especially at about 9:00 am on Jan 21, 2012, when you'll be able to find me at Fort Buenaventura where, along with several other beach lovers, I'll be “freezin for a reason”. (By the way the public is invited to financially support my insanity. All donations go to the NDPA scholarship fund, to help give deserving students the opportunity to study in Spain as part of their 9th grade educational experience).

So what are you waiting for? Let’s break out the shorts and tee shirts, just in time for Christmas!

Tyndale Christmas giveaway

I love contests. I hardly ever win, but i keep entering, especially when there's no entry fee associated with entering.

And Tyndale has a contest, so i entered, you can too.
here's the details:
Here are the NLT Facebook page giveaway details:
Starting on November 29th until December 24th at the New Living Translation Facebook page we're giving away lots of great prizes and something free for you just for singing up.
By visiting the giveaway entry page (located on the NLT Facebook page, the link is under the profile picture) and entering your name and e-mail address you'll be entered to win the following prizes:
• One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).
• One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!
Everyone that signs up gets a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!

And Book of Luke is a really good place to read about the Christmas Story.