Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Glory of God

This is my final post for this year. Thanks for all the conversation in 2011, I look forward to more in 2012 (at least until the world ends).

This picture is one of the graffiti prophet Banksy’s newest. It’s called “Shop till you drop” and they have no idea how he did it. But I sure am glad he did.

So earlier today I went to the mall with our two kids, Eden and Samuel, to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Three days before Christmas, and I was there without Leslie and two kids under the age of 4. We were a train wreck. It’s in moments like this that you realize just how much you need your spouse.

I forgot to bring diapers, bibs, water cups, strollers, basically every single thing that human children need, I forgot. It got so bad that at one point, we were at lunch at the mall Pizza place, and I overheard the woman sitting at the table next to us say, “And that’s why I will never have children.”

I’m not kidding.

There are so many levels of irony about the way we celebrate the Christmas story. God gives up everything to be among us, and we have made greed synonymous with celebrating his sacrifice. God comes in subtle unassuming ways, and we have all but turned Christmas into one big Macy’s day parade.

Now I’m all for Christmas parades and lights and celebrations, and I actually think that Christmas can help form the people of God in ways that help us learn how, and what, to celebrate. But it is possible in the middle of all the glitter to lose sight of exactly what Christmas reveals about God. Continue reading The Glory of God

The Tears of Christmas

It’s been one of those weeks. The kind that come along every now and then in life, where creation seems to be screaming more than groaning.

This week, a child with Leukemia who we’ve prayed and fasted for, has taken a turn for the worse. A friend and co-worker at Highland just had his mother pass away, and for reasons that I am not ready to go into today, Leslie and I spent a good part of this week in a hospital room, grieving our own personal stuff. It’s was just us and the sounds of an occasional intercom and much waiting.

As a pastor, I’ve spent a lot of times in Hospitals, and a few of those times it was due to something personal, sometimes those are great joys and sometimes they are not. This time was not.

I’ve referenced over the past couple of weeks that USA Today said that, on some level, a fourth of Americans battle with depression around Christmas time. It’s when our American expectations for a happy life are amped up and we find the discrepancy between the ideal and the real. So we think about lost dreams and hopes, what our lives could have been, and then we look in the mirror and realize what they have become.

Or maybe it’s for more than that. Maybe this is the first (or fifteenth) Christmas without her. And that inside joke that you always shared together, just isn’t possible any longer. And that table that you’ve shared for a lifetime of celebrations now has an empty chair.

On the front cover of a National newspaper a couple of weeks ago, there was a letter to Santa written by a 10 year old boy. But this letter wasn’t for the latest PSP games, or a new bike. It was for his dad to get a job. The article went on to say that this year more than any other there will be present-less families because there are job-less parents.

I was talking with someone a few days ago about some of the personal stuff that I am going through right now, and as I talked I had this profound realization that perhaps this isn’t actually that bad of timing. If the Jesus story is true, than Christmas is actually the best time to suffer. Sure it might be more difficult because all of the lights and smiles seem to ignore your pain. But the one who we are actually celebrating is the one who knows what Christmas means the best.

God enters the mess. Continue reading The Tears of Christmas

Treasuring in the Heart

Last week was a tough one at Highland, we had several reports of people contracting or losing battles with cancer. There were heart disease and car accidents and all at what is supposed to be for many, the most joyful time of the year. Yesterday I heard the news that one of my favorite women at Highland had passed away after a quick battle in the Hospital. After talking to her husband, I had the same thought that I have almost every time I hear that death has claimed someone else that loved and lived well. Death, no matter how natural the causes, is always unnatural.

On the Christmas tree in the Storment living room, we have your standard ornaments of Candy Canes and Glass bulbs, Ceramic ginger-bread and half-tangled Christmas lights. But the ornament that means the most to me each year is the Scottie Pippen collectible Christmas ornament. But in order to understand that one, you have to know something else first.

When I was growing up in Benton Arkansas, Richard lived a few houses down the street from me. He was home schooled, we played everyday together, were on the same teams, participated in the same extra-curricular activities, and basically lived the same lives. Richard was closer than a brother to me. When he went to the hospital for Juvenile Diabetes in his early teens, I went to visit him everyday.

Every year after Christmas presents were opened, I always made the same phone call. It was to Richard, we would compare the loot that we brought in from Jesus’ birthday. And the house we would play at for the rest of the week depended on who wound up getting the better haul. When I would come home from college, or later from Richland Hills for the Christmas Holiday, Richard and I would always hang out. It always felt like we never missed a beat.  Continue reading Treasuring in the Heart