Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Patrick Williams... A.K.A. Ladies Man of the High School Bible Study Christmas Party

Our Singing Father

When I was in college, I worked at an after-school daycare for Elementary school kids. We would gather them up after school, feed them a snack, read books, make crafts, play board games and help them with homework until their folks got off work and could pick them up. One boy that we took care of was named Danny. Danny had Cerebral Palsy, was blind and was confined to a wheelchair. We couldn’t feed him anything because he had a highly specialized diet and he couldn’t speak.

At first it was really hard to hang around Danny because I never knew if I was doing the right things… I didn’t know if he was having a good time or really liked the things we did with him because he couldn’t tell us. Occasionally we knew we weren’t doing the right things because he would just sorta lose it… kicking, screaming and crying. On Danny’s first day, his teacher told me that if he ever had a meltdown to go into her room and get this particular CD from her desk. The CD contained a track called “Good Morning” that she played first thing everyday for the class. She said that Danny loved that song…

After a few weeks of having Danny and after a few meltdowns (his and mine) I finally remembered the CD… I wheeled Danny into his classroom and scoured the desk for the CD and found it. I popped it into the player and advanced the tracks to the “Good Morning” song… and presto… it worked! As soon as that song started playing, he stopped shaking and crying and calmed down. He inclined his little head toward the CD player and just listened, breathing slowly in and out. When the song was over, he started to get upset again, so I played it again. We spent most of that afternoon in Danny’s classroom listening to “Good Morning” over and over again until his folks came to get him… The next day he was fine and didn’t have a problem for a while, but every couple of weeks Danny would have a “Good Morning” day and we would just sit by that CD player listening to that song again and again.

One of my favorite verses in the all of the Scriptures is Zephaniah 3:17 which says, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” I have always loved the thought of God singing… what must His voice sound like? How rich, haunting and beautiful must be the melodies of God? Well, the answer so far is, I don’t really know… I’ve never heard Him singing; but then again, in some ways, I have. That is to say, I’ve had Danny-like “Good Morning” type days where I am falling apart at the seams, kicking and crying and only one thing can calm me down… the songs of God.

I haven’t heard them with my ears yet, but I’ve heard them in my spirit, and on those days I do know somehow that He delights in me, and knowing that, He does quiet me with His love. I know that God rejoices over me with singing. I haven’t heard it with my ears yet, but one day I will and when I do, I’ll know then what I’ve always known about God’s song… it’s a love song.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dad and Karen... A.K.A. Mr. and Mrs. James Younger II

With Us…

Yesterday my dad got married. It was a sweet and Spirit-filled testimony to the faithfulness of God… as my sister prayed the night before, Christmas reminds us that God keeps His promises. What an awesome time to be married! Christy said that she was so glad they got married right before Christmas… For two people who have been alone, sad and hurting long enough, they don’t have to spend even one more sad Christmas without someone to hold onto… someone to be with.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading the Minor prophets… you know, all those obscure, tiny and sometimes strange little books with the dust all over the pages in between Ezekiel and Matthew… yeah, well in reading them, I feel I have been seeing the meaning of Christmas from God’s side of things. If Christmas is the keeping of the promises, then why not go back and check out the promises to see what our Lord thinks about the coming of the Christ?

In Zechariah 2, The Lord says, “I am coming and I will live among you.” In Zephaniah 3 He says, “The Lord, the King of Israel is with you… The Lord your God is with you.” Micah 5 says that He will stand and shepherd His flock and will be their peace. Micah 4 says that the Lord will rule over them in Zion and chapter 2 says that the One who breaks open the way will go up before them…their King will pass through before them, the Lord at their head… The promises tell us a King is coming. Our God is coming. He will gather us, assemble us, lead us out and redeem us Himself. He will be our peace and save us. Zechariah says He will remove our sin in a single day and He will live among us…

I think that for our Lord, Christmas is about ‘with.’ He did more than give us a set of principles and an example to follow… He came here… became one of us. He was and is with us. We don’t have a certain number of noble truths or a bunch of tenants or some eight-fold path to follow… we have Jesus. Our Creator who emptied Himself to come down here and be with us… and for all who believe in Him, He is always with us. Fulfilled prophecies and promises made good… that’s Christmas. “A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel –which means, “God with us.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Queen Anna...
To Rule or Be Ruled…

Last night, as we were about to sit down at the table to eat dinner, I asked Anna to go to bathroom and wash her hands. She was looking at a book and said, “Dad, I’m reading right now.” I told her that it was dinner time and she could read her books after she ate but that she needed to go wash her hands. She looked up at me and said, “But, I don’t want to wash my hands.” I looked back at her and said, “Anna, go to the bathroom and wash your hands.” She climbed down from her seat and started to walk to the bathroom and as she was walking away, I heard a very pouty voice saying, “I’ll go wash my hands, but I don’t want to wash my hands…”

And so is revealed in my sweet little daughter the major malfunction of every human heart… we all want to run our own lives. We want to be the ones calling the shots and having the final say when it comes to ourselves. We want to be the kings or queens of our own little private world, but there is a problem with that… none of us are very good rulers. You see, we weren’t made to be the rulers of ourselves and when we try to be in charge, we just make a mess of everything! We were made to be people ruled by God and there is no greater freedom than that of being a subject in His kingdom. I’m coming to believe that the number one issue in Christian discipleship is the concept of Jesus’ Kingship; His right to be in charge of my life. It’s what Christmas is all about…

When Herod found out that an infant had been born in his backyard who had the right to the throne of Israel, he freaked out! He became paranoid, angry, hostile and eventually insane with homicidal rage. He was so scared of losing control of his little world that he did something crazy… he ordered that every little boy two years-old or younger in Bethlehem be slaughtered… He murdered little kids out of fear of being ruled… out of fear of losing control… out of fear of having a King over him.

We’re all pretty much like Herod in some way… we may not have gone to his extreme, but we are all paranoid over losing our throne. We’re all trying to escape the rule of Jesus as our King in some way in our lives… The thing is; we’re not very good kings. We weren’t meant to have control and for good reason, because when we do try to run the show, we are our worst selves… we get angry, bitter, jealous, insecure and sometimes we even go insane. The worst mistakes and sins in our lives have been expressions of us wanting to seize the authority that only Christ has the right or the ability to wield.

When Isaiah foretold the coming of the Infant King, he said, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” -Isaiah 9:7. The kingship of Christ is something God Almighty is doing… it will happen and it is the only hope for the freedom and happiness of the human heart. So give up, give in and make Jesus your King today… it’s the best way to have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas-time Norah
From Nightmares to Dreams

I don’t put too much stock in dreams… maybe that’s because I can’t ever really remember my dreams or maybe it’s because the ones I do remember are usually pretty stupid… a few nights ago I remembered one in which this guy I know named Chase had my favorite coat on, but he wouldn’t give it back, so I chased him through the city streets for a while. Then I guess I got bored or forgot about him and the coat and wound up playing Frisbee… see what I mean?

I’ve been thinking about Joseph lately and how he had so many crazy dreams on that first Christmas. You know, until he had that first angel-invaded dream, Joseph must have felt like he was trapped in a living nightmare… being so in love and so excited about being married, only to find out that his fiancĂ© cheated on him and was now carrying the child of her infidelity. And he thought Mary was so awesome too… it must have left him brokenhearted and wondering, “Why?”

Sometimes when I think about my life, I wish it were only a dream because it sort of feels like I’m trapped inside a nightmare… I’m not talking about my family, my job or any of my friends or our money or anything… I’m talking about those moments in life when the curtain is pulled back and I really see who I am… when my selfishness, baseness, cruelty, pride and immaturity are exposed… when I see my sin for real. In those moments, when I really see what a mess I am, it feels like I’m stuck in a nightmare and can’t wake up…

Psalm 126 says, “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” It goes onto say that their tears were turned into songs of joy because of what the Lord has done… That’s what happened to Joseph. He laid his tear-stained face down one night to go to sleep and an angel showed up in a dream to turn those tears of sorrow into songs of joy, telling him that Mary wasn’t unfaithful but that the Messiah, the Son of God was growing inside her! His nightmares became like dreams and his heart was full of joy!

When I think of what God has done for me because of that little baby that was born to Mary and Joseph, it fills me with laughter and joy! Jesus has taken my sin, He has paid my price and given me new life, declaring me clean and righteous in Him and now He’s changing me, making me more like Him… He has done great things for us. He is turning our nightmares into dreams and our sorrow into song! Now we are forgiven and free, righteous and new, like people dreaming…

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christy and Anna over Thanksgiving
Your Best God Impression

Well, it’s only December 1 and I already feel like I’m in a December 27 state of mind. Let me explain… You see, Psalty, the Singing Songbook always says that Christmas is a time for love, but as soon as the packages are busted, the feast is digested, and the relatives are on their way home, (on the 26th or 27th that is) the tree may still be up, but most folks usually unwind and become their old Scroogy self again. And when I think back on yesterday, I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit… I was more in the post-Christmas spirit. I was short-tempered and selfish… I can remember at least three toddlerish fits that I threw, and at one point I became so worried that if I could have called a Time-Out on the whole day and just gone to sleep, I would have.

It was awful! I was awful… I wish I could just take a ‘mulligan’ on the way I acted that whole day. When I think back on it, I know exactly what happened… it’s what always happens. It was an all about Lee day, and whenever I make my day all about myself, no one has fun… including me! This morning I woke up regretting yesterday and dreading today until I read some awesome verses in Ephesians 5… Paul says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…”

I’m not supposed to walk around all day focused on myself, stressing about myself, protecting my own interests and clinging so desperately to my own opinions, but rather I should be walking through this day doing my best God impression… giving myself up for everyone around me, looking out for their interests, listening to their hearts and caring about their needs. I’m not supposed to live a life of Lee, but rather a life of love… the way Love Himself lived when He was here.

People always say the spirit of Christmas is giving, and if that means giving up your self for others the way Jesus did, then maybe that is true… He gave up the unwearied adoration and ceaseless praise of angels who continuously do His will without complaint or reservation to be a poor and unknown blue-collar worker in a small town. He gave up glorious bliss and unlimited power to become a human being with aches, pains, limitations and problems. He laid aside His glory because He ever lives a life of self sacrifice, giving up all to give us all. That is what Christmas is all about and that is what it means to live a life of love.

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