Thursday, December 24, 2009

"a Baby changes everything"

So, tonight at church they played this song by Faith Hill along with a video of scenes from the movie "The Nativity Story". It really spoke to me . . . just thinking about how much a babay really does change everything.

Merry Christmas! I pray that you are blessed as you celebrate the birth of our Savior. God came near! Immanuel!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I've been thinking a lot lately about why we celebrate at this time of year. Why do we make such a big deal out of Christmas? Why is this time seen as so important? I know for many people Christmas is about gifts or time with family or numerous other things. But, what about for disciples of Christ? Why do we celebrate Christmas?

I mean, I've always known that we celebrate the birth of Christ this year and that it was important and life changing event. And I don't think I've come to any real new conclusions in all of this. But, I know that I have been struck anew with the significance of what did happen - of what we are celebrating.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
-John 1:14, NIV (emphasis mine)
At Christmas is the time when we just simply stop remember that God came near. He didn't just stay up in heaven at a distance. He came to earth as a man and He changed the course of history. God came near to change the way we could come to Him! Jesus' birth was no little matter! It was the most significant birth in all of history!
God came near! And changed the course of history because of it!
That's why we celebrate Christmas. I think I needed to be reminded of the significance and simplicity of what we celebrate each year. What about you?

Monday, December 14, 2009

God doesn't have a blueprint for your life . . .

. . .

. . . but He does have a game plan.

OK, let me explain this one a bit more because I'm sure I've gotten a few of you a little upset in just a few words.

I am not saying that God does not have a plan for your life, but I am saying that sometimes I think we have a bit of a mixed up idea of what this plan looks like. I know I have at many points in my life.

Let's start with some definitions:

1. a process of photographic printing, used chiefly in copying architectural and mechanical drawings, which produces a white line on a blue background.
2. a print made by this process.
3. a detailed outline or plan of action: a blueprint for success.
–verb (used with object)
4. to make a blueprint of or for.

Pay particular attention to the third definition given for this word.

Game Plan
1. a carefully thought-out strategy or course of action, as in politics, business, or one's personal affairs.
2. Sports. the overall strategy of a team for winning a specific game.

The second definition for this word is the important one.

OK, now that we have the definitions out of the way let me see if I can explain what I mean by the statement: God doesn't have a blueprint for your life, but He does have a game plan.

I started thinking about this because of a book I read a couple of weeks ago. The book is called 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe (Larry Osborne). It is all about what Osborne calls spiritual urban legends - those things we believe that sound right but in reality are not correct.

The idea that God doesn't have a blueprint, but rather a game plan, for your life was the focus of one of the chapters of the book. It's easy to get caught up in the thinking that God has a blueprint for our lives - a picture of exactly what things in our lives should look like. I know I hear this come up in many conversations as people talk about how there is one right person out there for them, or how they are waiting for the perfect job so won't take another one in the mean time because God cannot have meant for them to do that in His plan. This thinking that God has a blueprint for our lives is quite common in Christian circles.

But, thinking this way starts to make you wonder if you really dwell on the implications of this thinking:
-What happens then if someone doesn't wait for that one specific person? One person not waiting then has the potential to mess up hundreds or thousands of people for who they marry.
--What happens if the company you would work for to do that job would require you to be unethical in your reporting of some kind? If it goes against God's standards of right and wrong, you can be pretty sure God doesn't want you there.
-What happens if your dream job doesn't actually exist? Will you then spend your life living off of other people because you will only take the exactly perfect job because that must be God's will and you cannot imagine why He would ask you to do something other than that?

Those examples may sound a little crazy, but they are the implications of believing that God has a blueprint for your life. See, the biggest problem I have come to see with this kind of thinking is that with a blueprint you have to follow it exactly - there can be virtually no variance from it, at least not any significant variance. When you receive a blueprint for building a house from an architect you do not have a lot of choice about whether you follow it exactly or not. If you do not follow it exactly, the house you build will not be structurally sound and other unsafe situations could also exist. When we take this reality and apply it to our lives it does not work for those same reasons. With a blueprint for our lives there would not be much that could change and we would not really have the power to make any significant decisions they would all be pre-determined because to stray from the blueprint would have disastrous results.

Rather than thinking of God's plan for our lives as a blueprint, thinking of it as a game plan makes more sense. A game plan is a strategy for playing, and hopefully winning, a sports competition. Any team that wants to win when they play their opponents will have studied the way their opponents play and looked for weaknesses and strengths, and that team will have a game plan for how to defeat their opponent. The biggest difference from a blueprint is that a game plan has flexibility in it. Over the course of the competition, the game plan can be adjusted depending on what has happened. There is freedom to account for changes in how things happen and what needs to be done in response.

Take the scenarios from above and apply this thinking to them:
-If two people marry without determining if this is the one right person that God for them, then that's OK. God may have had a better person for one or both of them to marry, but there are other people for whom God can make a marriage be a wonderful thing.
-If the company you would work for in your dream job would require you to be unethical, then you would just go work somewhere else, and while it would not be your dream job, God would use you in that job.
-Even if your dream job did not exist you would still choose to do a job and look for ways outside of work to fulfill your passions and dreams.

There is a huge difference between seeing God's plan for you life as a blueprint and seeing it as a game plan. The blueprint allows no room for error, while the game plan allows for adjustment when the best choice may not always have been made in the first place. The more I have thought about this all, the more I have realized that looking at God's plan for my life as a game plan makes more sense - in light of the way things have gone in the past and in making decisions for the future.

God doesn't have a blueprint for your life, but He does have a game plan.

Since I cannot come up with a better way to close this blog off, I will close it with the way Osborne ended the chapter on this in his book.

"God, indeed, does have a plan for all of us. But it's a game plan with lots of freedom, not a blueprint with every detail spelled out. Our job is not so much to find something - it's to become someone - a reflection of his image and character no matter where we find ourselves." (10Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, Larry Osborne, pg. 69)

Friday, December 4, 2009

snow, silence, & busy-ness

So, it snowed today. The first snowfall of the year . . . well, sort of, it did snow at the beginning of November one morning, but it was gone pretty much as fast as it came. I'm not a fan of most things to do with snow, but there is one thing about snow I like. We didn't get enough for it to be the case tonight or I'd be sitting on my deck with hot chocolate right now, not writing this.

My favorite thing about the first snowfall of the year is just to walk outside and see the world covered in white and silent. That first (significant) snowfall always seems to just silence the world around you for a while. It doesn't seem like there is anything happening around you. I love just enjoying that silence - the one time where it sounds like everything in our busy world stops - the noise stops, the running from one place to the next stops. At least, it seems like it stops for those first minutes or hours after a snowfall. It doesn't seem to last all that long . . . the silence . . . but it's there.

The first snowfall of the year always reminds me of the need to stop sometimes in our own busy lives - to take that time out to just stop and to silence the noise that makes up so much of our lives. In winter, the world stops creating new growth and takes a break. I think that is a good thing for us to consider in our own lives as well. We need to take time out to stop and to rest and to enjoy the silence. It's not something natural in our world, but it's so necessary. We need time to rejuvenate before the new growth of spring can begin in our lives, just as world needs winter before all the wonderful new growth of spring.

Seeing the snow today was good reminder of the need to make sure there are regular times of rest in my own life - whether those be longer times when I take a few days away from the busy-ness of my world and life or shorter times each day where I silence the noise of my world and cease the busy-ness for a time. Both are necessary. But I can easily get caught up in life and go for months without that happening, unless I'm intentional about making that happen - about scheduling time where I don't actually plan to do anything. It seems odd to say I have to schedule it, but, in reality, I would guess that is true for most of us. If we don't put those chunks of time on our schedule they never happen.