Wednesday, November 18, 2015

More than a Sound

In John's Gospel we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  He identifies this Word as Jesus.

Before words were written, all words were spoken.  Words can also be thought, but, I would argue, genuine words must be spoken.  Words represent ideas, which, of course, are thoughts.  Words then are the oral representation of ideas.

Words are distinct from mere sounds.  Words are organized sounds, sounds with ideas attached to them.  Words are complex and somewhat mysterious.  Even the simplest words call forth deep meaning.

So in the beginning, there was more than mere sound.  In the beginning was the Word, something (or someone) deep and meaningful.  There is purpose to this creation, because God spoke it into existence.  This universe is mysterious, purposeful, safe, and dangerous.

There is depth to this existence, and God gives us life with which to explore it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Football, Heroes, and Priorities

Today, as I watched the Panthers game, I saw something that struck me as sadly ironic.  The camera showed a Panther in uniform entering the stadium, high-fiving a line of fans.  These fans were also in uniform--military uniform.

Here was a sports celebrity being cheered by his fans.  The celebrity was preparing for a game, a contest of no real significance.  He was being cheered by a dozen men who are trained for real battle.

Think about this.  A celebrity-athlete makes millions playing a game which merely entertains us.  He is cheered by a line of men who may only earn enough to feed their families.

Without the service of our military personnel, the celebrity-athlete would have no opportunity to play an entertaining game.  We the public would not need to be entertained, because all our energy would be spent on survival.

Something seems out of balance.  I participate in the society that values sports-entertainment enough to make millionaires of athletes.  These soldiers cheer on the football players as though the players are heroes.  The real heroes fight the battles that really matter.  

I can barely remember who won the 2015 Super Bowl.

History will remember the battles that really matter, and none of them occur in stadiums.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happiness Science

Today's newspaper features an article in the Life section, "Understanding the science of WHAT MAKES US HAPPY."  The article refers to a study which indicates that today's 30+ generation fears that they will not find as much happiness with age as previous generations found.

Allow me to make some observations.
  • Neither the study nor the article tells us much about the "science" of happiness.  It merely reports statistics about people's reported happiness and expected happiness.
  • To a large degree, the article correlates happiness with material wealth.
  • Efforts to study happiness scientifically seem to reduce happiness to a formula, typically including material wealth, physical health, convenience, education, and relationships. 
Some elements of happiness, however, cannot be measured.  It is mysterious.  Certainly health and convenience can contribute to happiness, but it hinges on attitude more than anything else.  The way we choose to perceive life allows us to be happy.

Ironically, if we pursue happiness, we may not find it.  Being self-centered rarely makes one happy.  So, as we put others first, and choose a good attitude, we experience happiness as a byproduct.  I don't think you can put that into a formula.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Self Deception

It happened again.

Yesterday I had a great idea for a blog.  It was a simple, straightforward idea, something that matters, something that people would care about, something that I could say from my heart. 

This time I would not forget.  How could I?  It was so clear, so obvious, so heartfelt.  It did not need to write it down.  Sure I had forgotten such ideas many times before.  But not this time.

Why do I lie to myself?  Sigh.

My good intentions and stellar memory were not enough.  At least in this instance I recognize the lie.  May God grant me insight to see the other lies I tell myself.

As I see those lies revealed, it astounds me.  How could I be so deceived?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy November!

Now that November has arrived, our culture turns to thoughts of thanks. 

Yes, there is "No Shave November."  I just looked that up, and learned that not shaving has a cause.  By not shaving, men (and women?) seek to start conversations about cancer.  As I think about those who have engaged in this cause, they have probably told me about cancer experiences.  The money saved by not shaving should be donated to No Shave November, which shares proceeds with The American Cancer Society, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, Prevent Cancer Foundation and Fight Colorectal Cancer.  Learn more at

There is also Nanowrimo,, encouraging fiction writers to buckle down and crank out 50k words this month.  Sometimes writers need that extra encouragement to push through writer's block.  Many writers face the tension of having something to say, but not grinding it out on paper.  That's a lot of work.  But the best writers fight past the blinking cursor and dull syntax to breathe life into their ideas.  After all, God uses words to create.

But overall, our society thinks about thankfulness in November.  At Crossroads yesterday, we hung a large Thankfulness Sheet--an actual bed sheet--on the wall, encouraging people to write down what they are thankful for.  It will hang there all month, inviting written or drawn expressions of thanks.  I can't wait to see it full of gratitude!

So, whether you write or shave or not this month, please be thankful.  More than that, express your thanks to God and people. 

Gratitude builds relationships and that's what life is all about, Charlie Brown.