Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kids Have A Way Of Reminding Us To Enjoy Life

The onset of the recent summer-like weather and receiving Ellie’s most recent school photos has got me in a nostalgic kind of mood. I was reminded of the events of a vacation a few years ago and I found this article that I had written about that occasion. Here it is just as it ran about four years ago. Enjoy.

Last week I had a chance to spend a week with the family that saw so little of me the past month and a half. We went to that wonderful vacation spot that nets so many of us Tennessee mountain folk each year, Myrtle Beach. I don’t know why so many East Tennesseans developed that migratory pattern, but ever since I was a kid, when someone said they were going to the beach 99% of the time they meant Myrtle.

This was the first time in many years that Paige and I have been at Myrtle during the peak summer season. We usually go in September or October when the beaches are a little more secluded and the line at the seafood buffet is nonexistent. When we rolled out on the beach last Wednesday, it looked like ants on a sugar cube. There were people everywhere. They were throwing Frisbee, “boogieing” on boards, men were holding down beach chairs and women were reading the latest Harlequin romance novel. We could barely find a plot of ground to throw down our beach towel.

It took about 30 seconds for me to make up my mind that I was not going to have a very good time. You see, I don’t like the beach as much as I used to. It may have something to do with the fact that when I put on my bathing suit, I look like six pounds of sausage stuffed in a four-pound skin. I used to love to body surf. Now I dread having to pick sand out of places sand ought not be. It takes me half an hour to lather my 27-acre body in enough sunscreen that I don’t end up looking like a fire engine. “For the sake of the family unit,” I would tell myself, “I must put on the good face and brave the mass of humanity.” Then a strange thing happened. Ellie discovered the ocean.

There is something I can’t quite describe that happens as you watch your child experience something for the first time. It is almost like you experience things again for the first time. I forgot what it was like to dig your toes in the sand and to dance away from the surf before it “gets” you. There really is intrigue in digging a hole and watching it fill with water. Remember putting the shell to your ear the first time? Ellie showed me how to appreciate the beach again. We forgot anybody else was on the beach as we watched her laugh and play. For me, the ocean was big again! It was great.

Children have a way of making us slow down to experience what life has to offer. As children of God, we should be reminding each other of the important things in life. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” If you try to make a go of it any other way, you are settling for something much less than God’s best in life. Take Jesus by the hand today and take a jog through life’s wondrous surf. God will seem big again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


The spiritual depth of this posting would not wet your ankles, but this one is just fun. I have had the high honor and privilege of introducing numbers of people to Jesus. As a guy who spends some time behind a microphone, I can only imagine what it might be like to have the honor of doing something like what you are about to see comedian Steve Harvey attempt... actually introduce Jesus Christ.

Steve certainly gives it a go and I get a sense that he has some connection to what he is saying. But personally, I think it would be hard to ever top the Holy Spirit descending from Heaven as Jesus exited the baptismal waters to the thunderous voice of the Father, "This is my beloved, Son, in whom I am well pleased."


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thoughts As We Approach East...er uh... Resurrection Day

The information age is both blessing and bane. Through social networks and the blogosphere many thoughts, ideas, and resources can be unearthed, processed and assimilated to help us do what we do at higher levels of efficiency and proficiency. On the other hand, some of the junk we run across can just make us down right angry forcing upon us thoughts for which confession and repentance become necessary. Such is the result of my most recent frolic through cyberspace.

In the circles and strata in which I operate, Easter is kind of a big deal. Most of the blogs, status lines and "Twitter tweets" deal with the upcoming Christian celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ-- known far and wide as Easter. However, once again, many of the voices are opining the fact that we Christians should not be "celebrating Easter" because Easter is actually a pagan festival/homage to some fertility god you have never heard of and it has been co-opted by Christians, though with too many mixed metaphors, in order to celebrate Jesus. This is where I am supposed to rail against all the filthy rich corporations who make money by peddling their evil chocolate bunnies and their wee little marshmallow chickens. I get it. I understand.

After reading what many had to say on this topic, I decided to do my own investigation. I decided to go with the "man-on-the-street" approach- except it wound up being my 6-year-old daughter and it was on the couch. "Ellie, what do we celebrate on Easter," asked Daddy without so much as an iota of leading.
"We celebrate Jesus raising up from the dead and coming out of the tomb after they hung him up on the cross on Friday, " she responded.
"So what do you think is up with all the chocolate and candy and stuff on Easter," asked Daddy, now trying to mask his exhilaration after the first answer.
"I don't know... I guess they taste good."

Ellie has no frame of reference for the celebration of Easter other than the one that has developed out of our family ethos which has Jesus Christ firmly at its center. At the core of the argument against acknowledging many of the "pagan" practices of Easter (as apparently were celebrated long ago) is the mixing of the sacred and the secular. If we hold to that line of reasoning, it should cause us to question many other things. How many hymns must we purge from our hymnals? John and Charles Wesley along with many other hymn writers occasionally "redeemed" a few songs by writing wonderful, doctrinally-sound lyrics and setting those lyrics to catchy, SECULAR tunes of that day. If I had not told you that would you have known? Now that you have that knowledge are you now in fear of not properly praising the Lord when you are singing your next hymn? Of course not. Those hymns have a far deeper meaning for you because of the truth you hold in your heart.

I once was lost in sin, as well, but as the song goes, Jesus took me in. I was worldly. I was secular. Jesus redeemed me. He gave my life meaning and value. He made me capable of accomplishing the sacred. Ironically, that is why we remember and celebrate His resurrection and we happen to call it Easter. I really don't think that I will tell Ellie that the chocolate bunny she is eating represents worship to a fertility god- bunnies being used because of their proclivity toward procreation. No, she will have another opportunity to experience the reality of the resurrection and love Jesus even more-- as she bites the ears off her bunny and she stuffs her cheeks with marshmallow Peeps.

It has come to my attention that there are some churches who are basically offering "doorbuster specials" to get people to attend their Easter festivities this weekend. Some are giving away game consoles. Others are offering "extraordinary activities for children." I don't mean to offend, but isn't Jesus Christ resurrected enough? Do we need more than that?

As you remember the blood shed and the body broken for you this Easter, may your family be blessed and may you grow evermore in your faith and your Christ-likeness.

It is finished! Praise the Lord!