A place for random thoughts from the life of a follower of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Books, books and more books!

I thought I would do something a little different.
For those who like to read, and even those who don't here are some of my recommendations for good books. If you have a gift certificate and/or some time over the holidays, you might want to check these out. I highly recommend all of them!

Anne Rice - Christ the Lord ( I haven't read this one yet, but plan to shortly)

The following I have read in the past year or so:
Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point and Blink (excellent for those interested in sociology, studying trends, etc.)
Philip Yancey - anything, but especially What's So Amazing About Grace and The Jesus I Never Knew
Robert Lewis - The Church of Irresistible Influence (encouraging and challenging read about changing how the church interacts with its community)
Brian McLaren - A New Kind of Christian (looking at the postmdern Christian and church)
Erwin McManus - Seizing Your Divine Moment
Chris Wright - Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (excellent way to understand the relationship between the Old and New Testaments)
David Murrow - Why Men Hate Going to Church

Finally, here's one I read years ago, but still recommend:
Charles Swindoll - Living on the Ragged Edge (a devotional/commentary on Ecclesiastes)

That list should keep you occupied for a while. Maybe I'll try to list a 'book of the week' to keep the bookworms happy.
Happy reading!

Christmas shopping

You'd think from reading a previous post that I'm not too keen on Christmas this year, wouldn't you? Well, it's surprising what a few decorations (my wife and son did a great job!) and some nice Christmas music will do to set the mood. Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that my favourite Christmas CD is the Vince Guaraldi trio's music from the TV special "Charlie Brown's Christmas." My wife doesn't share my taste in music. She's tired of Christmas music after two or three songs.
My family is coming to our house for Christmas this year on December 28. I know some would say that can't be - Christmas is only on December 25. Well, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus' birth and God's gift to the world, and about spending time with family and friends, so Christmas can be celebrated any day of the year.
My wife is getting a little anxious, because there's so much to do, and so little time to do it. I guess that's my cue to help out a little more. Well, I did start some Christmas shopping today, popping out to pick up a couple of things for my wife (SHH! Don't tell her!).
The question is how to approach Christmas with our son. He's three and a half, and excited about Christmas. We want to give him good gifts, but we don't want to instill the wrong impression in him that Christmas is about getting lots of gifts. He has more toys than he can play with now. He doesn't really lack anything. So, what do we get him for Christmas? On the other hand, we don't want to make Christmas too dull either.
I think that's the issue with many of us. We get caught up in the commercialism of the season and our society (because this bug is not limited to this season only!) and end up spending too much money on things we don't really need or sometimes even want. I know I catch myself wanting more things. But do I really need them? I might be able to make a good case for needing something, especially if it's a tool of some kind or a book, but in reality I can live without it.
In the midst of all our normal celebrations and trappings of the season, let's not lose Jesus, the real gift of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Now it's the first week of December, and finally we are getting some chillier weather and the smallest hint of snow to come. Sometimes I forget what it's like to see the world through the eyes of a child. Our son was excited to look out the window the other day and see a little bit of snow. My response is often more like 'Snow - oh great! The streets will be clogged, traffic will be slow, and snow and dirt will make a mess everywhere!'
But there's an upside to snow. It's bright, clean, crisp and cold. It brings the possibility of building a snowman, sliding down hills, and pulling our son on the sled.
There's beauty to see in this world in all seasons. Early this morning I got up and saw the full moon shining through our windows. It was a magnificent sight. It was far to the north, which would have prompted my dad to say that indicates cold weather to come. It's funny what you remember about people that are now gone.
My mom passed away ten years ago. In a few days, it will be seven years since my brother died. And early January will mark four years since my dad has been gone. What we have remaining are memories; memories clouded by time and wishful thinking sometimes. But I have to remind myself that while I have some good and not so good memories, I must focus on those who are with me now. The things that I remember of loved ones who have passed away stem from positive (and sometimes not so positive) experiences. I need to be able to live in the moment, to make the most of the time I have now, rather than living in the past or the future.
Well, my thoughts seem to be coming out rather scattered today. Here's a final thought. Clean white snow reminds us of the forgiveness that God offers us. The Bible says that our sins can be made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18 - read it here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah%201:18;&version=51;). God offers us forgiveness if we will but ask.
After all, that's the very reason that Jesus came, and the reason we celebrate Christmas!