Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Thoughts...

Here comes 2016!

And here are some random thoughts.

I love fresh, new calendars.  With my Google calendar, I miss the thrill of turning that page to a new year.  Now it's just a click to another screen.  *Sigh*

I have a cool new calendar called "The Finding Jesus Calendar."  Think "Where's Waldo," but with Jesus.  For real.  I just need to find a place to hang it...

Resolutions sometimes work, sometimes don't.  Even if they don't work, I like dreaming and planning for the new year.

Danger is around the corner.  I don't know what the dangers are, but I don't want to play it safe in 2016.  I want the danger that comes from worthy risks, not the danger that comes from foolishness or laziness.

The Panthers could make it to the Super Bowl.  Yeah, we're gonna rock at our Crossroads Super Bowl Party!

Speaking of sports, the Demon Deacons look like they may have a real basketball team this season.  Whoo Hoo!  Danny Manning is the man.

I want to put some serious energy into writing in 2016.  Better blogs, guest columns, and maybe a book.  And complete sentences.  Where necessary.

I expect this New Year to be full of excitement.  I want to live every moment in the moment.  It should start off with a bang!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Deeper Christmas

Christmas is for children, folks often say.  It's about toys, Santa, and smiles on children's faces.  It is about giving and receiving.  It is about chilling out in a busy world. 

For some adults, Christmas is about reliving childhood. 
Or it may be about trying to experience what they missed in childhood.  We need to suspend our adult cognition if we want to enjoy Christmas.  Believe in Santa, flying reindeer, and Christmas magic.

Jesus does call us to become like children, trusting fully in the Father.  But his call to childlikeness doesn't mean giggly, air-headed belief in snowmen who come alive.

He wants to bring us to faith that is like a child's in its simplicity, but rich with a knowing wisdom.  This wisdom comes through experience, hardship, frustration, failure and success.  It comes through trial and error.  It comes through prayer and fasting.  It comes through experiential knowledge of the scriptures.

A deeper Christmas experience comes only when we embrace the mystery of the arrival of God himself as a helpless child.  In this child, he continues to reveal himself, as Creator, Master, Shepherd, and Judge. 

Through means that baffle human minds, God himself comes to his hurting, broken creation to restore hope, to unveil the mystery of this creation, and to express his tender love for us.

Unto us a Child is born.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"In your Face(book)"

Every now and then I may rant on Facebook.  But I prefer to use it as a way to connect, not a platform for axe-grinding.

Day by day I find "in your face" updates and links posted by FB friends. 

See, this politician is stupid.
See, this study proves that I am right.
See, all you people who approve/disapprove of gun control (or whatever) are ruining lives.

I have opinions, often strong opinions, but I'm not sure that Facebook is an effective means of persuading anybody.  It lends itself to shallow arguments and labeling.

We do need to exchange ideas on the internet and in person.  We should freely state our opinions.  But we need to be careful not to belittle people in any medium.  Even the dumbest ideas are held by reasonable people.  They won't be persuaded otherwise by being told they are dumb, but by careful, compassionate exposure to truth.

We need to debate ideas, not ridicule people

Can we talk?

We have stopped listening.  Almost everyone has chosen a side--on whatever issue--and we have become emotionally invested in those positions.

We are so polarized that we cannot listen or think.  This brings further division and never solves problems.

I wish I knew a way to get beyond this impasse.  Maybe the best step forward would be recognizing our emotional investment in our opinions.  We invest in our views on climate change, political candidates, party platforms, minimum wage, abortion, etc., etc.  When someone challenges our opinions, we hunker down into a defensive mode; we attack those who disagree; we label others; we become angry.

It is no wonder that we can't have a conversation.  We are emotionally invested in being right.  We defend social and political positions as we pull for our sports teams.  We throw out reason and objectivity when we pull for our teams.  That's okay in the sports realm.  It makes no sense at all with issues that really matter.

A better approach would be to search sincerely for the truth.

I would rather advocate for the truth than pull for "my team" when it comes to climate change, foreign policy, or welfare programs.

If we dial back on our emotional investments, maybe we can actually listen.  Maybe we can think clearly.  Maybe we can find solutions. 

Maybe we can listen.  Maybe we can think.  And maybe we can pull together to achieve our common goals.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Parade Time!

This Saturday is the Stokesdale Christmas Parade, the community's signature event for the season.  Thousands of people will gather this Saturday to see friends and neighbors roll or stroll down Main Street.  We have scouts, marching bands, trucks, tractors, horses, tumblers, churches, and dignitaries in the procession every year.

As usual, Crossroads will host a family fun experience in the front yard of the fire station.  We'll be giving away hot dogs, drinks, desserts, pop corn, and cotton candy.  

We will have face painting and crafts for kids, and we will have a huge bounce house.  

All our festivities will begin around noon, providing you with lots of fun and food before the parade begins at 2:00.  

Then, as the parade rolls by, Crossroads announcers Lisa Bailey and Keith Street will give you the inside story on every entry.  They may also tease the crowd with some Christmas trivia.

The weatherman promises lots of sunshine for a beautiful Stokesdale Christmas Parade experience.  You'll be glad you came!