Monday, December 29, 2008

Taking Advice

Every time I open my web browser at home, the "news" of the day pops up. In the last couple of days, there has been an inordinate amount of advice given about everything from investing to weight loss (that one is huge this time of year) to how to most effectively return gifts you didn't like or want for Christmas. The articles, at first glance, all seem to be well written, somewhat thought out, and reasonable. Then I began to wonder who wrote the darn thing...? From what wise individual am I about to take life changing advice?

The answer was most noted in an article about a woman who was having trouble following everything that Oprah said to do. You read that correctly; she was having trouble following everything that Oprah said she should do. Her basic problem was that she didn't feel like she measured up and that she was somehow guilty of falling short of the ideal; namely Oprah. When I began to dig into the other articles about advice and who was giving it and who should be following it, there was a trend that began to be revealed. People who had gained some sort of "celebrity" status were given the right to advise us about absolutely everything. Look for it... it is right there. Oprah tells us what books to read and we read them. She tells us how to lose weight and we try. She indicates what our beliefs should be and we shift ours to align with hers.

This morning I've been digging into some scripture on advice. Christians are to seek wise counsel. We are to ask questions and become discerning. We are to act. In this day and age of worldly wisdom being splattered all over the screen in front of me, I want to take a big step back and look at what advice I'm being given and from whom. Do I trust a celebrity more than a godly mentor? Do I trust someone that is only a name/face to me more than the people who have invested the most in me over time?

Yeah, I want to get in shape this year (don't I say that every year?) but before I jump into the newest craze (and by the way, that Wii Fit thing is deceivingly hard on the body), I want to seek wisdom. In the days that come, I want to surround myself with people much smarter and wiser than me to help me along the path. Quite, simple I need to more closely follow the advice of the One I say I trust the most; Jesus. Now, that's a resolution... Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shame on me... not a very good blogger... 19 days without a post... busy schedule, graduation, finals, etc..

The presents are wrapped, the stockings are hung, and the family is together for Christmas eve. Pretty soon we will settle into new PJ's and then watch a Christmas episode of Little House on the Prairie. I know having four boys, that may not seem obvious, but they like it.

A few hours ago, I sat in our church's Christmas eve service. I kept thinking about the reality of the incarnation. God broke through into the silence and chaos of humanity to live among us in the flesh - all with the plan of having the darling little baby sacrifice his life for all of us who have sinned. That plan boggles my mind anyway.

In this moment I am blown away at all the questions that come with this night. Think about it... why would God do this to begin with? How does the infinite become finite? Why come to the little hamlet of Bethlehem? And it is totally profound that God came into this world not by any natural process - He came through a virgin birth. If women in the church feel like they are undervalued - think about the honor that God feels for women by choosing this particular aspect of the plan.

In the service I looked at the faces of my sons lit up by the light of the candles they were holding and reminded of the feeling of love in my own heart for them. At the same time I know I felt just a bit of what the Father feels for each of us - especially in the fact that He came to the world for each of us.

Tomorrow morning we will open the packages, ooo and goo over the kindness of others, and begin to master the newest version of Rock Band (sidenote - I am a big fan of this movement in the video game industry - since MY music making a big comeback!), and we will eat a little too much. In the midst of all of that, may I suggest, humbly, that you close your eyes for just a moment and picture that baby and in the glint of those innocent eyes there lies a Savior.

Merry Christmas from Team Leland!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stuff that hacks me off...

I have got to stop reading the newspaper in the morning... there are so many depressing stories about pain and suffering. I have found myself specifically heading to the comics or even those trite announcements about anniversaries, weddings, and engagements. At least pictures appear to show happy people. Granted they not be, but they "look" like it!

Right after the stories today about international bombings, local troops being deployed, and the big 3 automakers getting grilled by Congress, was a story about a 16 or 17 year old boy in California who escaped from his home and with a chain still attached to his leg, and dressed only in boxer shorts, he stumbled into a local gym to seek a place to hide. What was he running from? Well, we don't know the entire story yet, but the details that we seem to know include: (1) being chained to various places in the house; (2) being abused with a wooden baseball bat (hit in the legs and knee caps) and burned with a heated metal bat; and (3) being denied food even while watching other family members eat at a table across the room from him. Those are just a few of the low-lights, I'm sure others will surface. I was compelled to read the entire story, because I just could not imagine doing that to another human being - especially for one of the defendants - to your own son.

Since it is never just a newspaper article, I thought a length at various times today about the nature of evil and how this can happen. What strikes me as odd is that if I were to mention this situation to someone who didn't believe in absolutes, they would probably find it as repugnant as I do but they wouldn't be able to acknowledge that there is a standard by which to judge the event. I ran this by such a friend earlier today and he did indeed respond with disgust and shock at the depravity of the human condition - Ah Ha! If there are no standards with which to judge right and wrong how can you know that you are disgusted. And what depravity? Where did that come from? In one response to me, he said that it was insane. How do we judge something as "insane" if there is not a standard of "sane"? It is the major pitfall of the postmodern condition; namely that we can theorize about standards all day long, but when it is measured against reality... it cannot stand. Treating a kid this way is wrong, plain and simple. We ALL agree and something inside us draws us to that conclusion.

Everyone I talk to about this article responds the same way - they can't believe that someone could be so evil. Yeah, it got me thinking about ideas a bit more deeply, but right now there is a kid who is going to take many years to regain his sanity and normalcy of life. I pray that happens...