Tag Archives: Christmas

james brown turning funky into fine

Christmas: Turning Funky Into Fine

james brown turning funky into fine

🎶 It’s Christmas time, It’s no time to be afraid 🎶

Unless you haven’t done your Christmas shopping. You’ve got three weeks. Are you done yet? Shopping for Christmas presents really brings out the crazy, right? All these funky people trying to find a way to be…to feel fine. 

Check out this clip from “Jingle All The Way”

When my siblings were little, I had to do this every year (That’s right, Jamie, Santa didn’t beat a man with his own arm to give you that Nintendo Power Glove. I did!). It kind of…scared the Christmas out of me. Where did all this gift giving come from? If Christmas is about the birth of God on earth, do we have to run up such a high Visa bill???

Turns out, the problem started with the Bible.

In the Scriptures, these Magi bring Jesus some presents. Of course they didn’t fall off of Santa’s sleigh and they weren’t fought over on Christmas eve. They were baby shower gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gifts have always been a part of Christmas, but you didn’t always have to ‘Jingle All The Way’ to get them. 

Gold was a gift for a king. It is priceless, representing economic wealth and spiritual purity. Throughout the Scriptures, God uses gold to talk about the process of becoming more and more holy, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the priests and refine them like gold and silver. [Mal 3:3]”

Frankincense was a spice used in worship. It was an everyday offering. When you added it to hot coals, it made the funky smell fine. This gift foreshadowed Christ’s life on earth: he made the funky…smell fine.

Myrrh had many uses. As a resin it was a beauty treatment. As a liquid it was a pain reliever. As a solid, it was a perfume, as in a burial spice. 

The King of Heaven began his life with Gold, and ended it by turning you into it. He began his life in the funk and made the funk fine before God. At his birth, they brought myrrh. At his death, they brought the same. 

The birth of Jesus means that you are important to God.

It’s gold when you think about it. 
His life means that God is with us. 
With you. 
With you however you come to him, 
wrapped in whatever funk you got yourself into. 

The myrrh of his death is the thing that reminds us we are forgiven, you are forgiven;

You are more loved and accepted than you can handle.

You are fine. 
More than fine. 
You are his. 

You may have the perfect gift for your BFF, but what are you bringing to Jesus? What gift are you laying before the manger?

Bring whatever you have. 
Whoever you are.
All that you have to give. 

If you are afraid what you bring to Christ is too funky, don’t worry. Jesus will turn your funky into fine!

🎶 It’s Christmas time, It’s no time to be afraid 🎶

In the comments, share a present you had to fight to get.

What's The Point Christmas

What’s The Point Of Christmas?

[This is the beginning of an #Advent series (a fancy Christmas season word which means, “Look out G, Jesus is coming!”) of indeterminable length. I have a count of 16 titles up to this point, so check back for inspiration during December or join the mailing list to receive the latest post in your inbox fresh like chestnuts roasted on an open fire.]

What's The Point Christmas

What’s the point of Christmas? To find out, last night, my family watched the Peanuts Christmas Special. If it’s been a while, go ahead watch it. It’s still as good as it used to be back in the day. That Charles Schultz was a prophet, man, using Charlie Brown like God used Jeremiah.

Full of existential angst, Chuck cycles through his group of friends, picking apart their approach to Christmas. One’s too philosophical. One’s too anemic. One’s too materialistic. And this was 1965. They had philosophy back then?

What lies at the chewy center of “Brown’s Dilemma” (can I ™ that?), is that no one can tell him what the point of Christmas is. There’s the postmodern: what is it to you? The post-decorative doghouse: it’s whatever you can hang on the dog house. The post-consumer: whatever you can desire, buy, wrap and figure out a way not to have to give it to someone else. 

As I watch the blood thirsty hoards wrestle their way into America’s retail coliseums, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.

So, what is the point of Christmas? 

Is it:

A time for family to get together?
A time for roast beast?
A time to watch our favorite Christmas movies?
Listen to our favorite Christmas stations on Spotify?
A time for good people to give other good people good things?
A time to direct Christmas dramas?
A time to preach through Christmas sermons?

If you lick the Tootsie Pop (a metaphor for the meaning of Christmas) three times and get down to it’s chewy core, we find that there’s one right answer to Charlie Brown’s question and young Linus nails it. 

That’s it. 

That’s Christmas. 

It makes materialism the most widely accepted addiction on the planet.

Christmas begins with ‘Christ’ and ends with ‘s’.

It’s when we remember to remember that God collided with the world so that we could be free; free from darkness, free from pointlessness, free from our ism du jour.

Everything else is Christmas wrapping (BTW, my favorite non-Christmas Christmas song)

Have you ever felt “Brown’s Dilemma” like good Charlie Brown? Let us know in the comments. 

deck the halls pic

Crazy Stupid Men: Deck The Halls Edition

Merry Christmas!

Do you have movies that you watch every Christmas? I do. One of them is Deck The Halls. It’s alot of fun, if you don’t require too much of the films you watch. Usually, my wife and I watch it in the wee hours of Christmas Eve while we “wait for” Santa to finish wrapping, putting proton accelerators together and filling stockings.

deck the halls pic

A while ago, I saw the film Crazy Stupid Love. As a dude, I thought about all the stupid stuff the husband does and how much that’s like real life and stuff. I actually started to outline a book called, “Crazy Stupid Men.” I didn’t get any further than chapters, but for Christmas I’ve decided to have fun with the idea and write about Deck The Halls, which is all about the stupid stuff dudes do.

Deck The Halls is a modern parable for the ancient proverb,
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall [Pro 16:18].”
The story is about these two men, Steve (Matthew Broderick) and Buddy (Danny DeVito), who toss the Christmas spirit in favor of a competitive one. The Crazy Stupid Men spend the hour and a half making me laugh, because…well, because I’ve done stupid stuff like that. Maybe you have too.

Men Want Monuments

In the movie, both men are completely bored with their lives. They are bored with their jobs, bored with themselves and don’t seem to see the value of their wife and kids. Steve doesn’t ever seem to land on how to address it, but Buddy does: He wants to do something MONUMENTAL. Notice ‘mental’ is part of that word? Just saying. Buddy decides that he wants to build a light display on his home that can be seen from space. This gives Steve a monumental purpose, to stop him. Men have monumental needs. Needs that provide opportunities for both monumental success and monumental disappointment.

We forget the monumental promise we make in our vows. We forget the monumental thing we did when we made a whole person in our wife’s belly (that’s seriously impressive). We forget the monumental life we have in Christ. Christmas is a time to remember these things, to celebrate them. To admit that anything else is less than a monument.

The Spirit Of Competition

Several year ago, there was this Schwarzennegger movie called ‘Jingle All The Way.’ It was Christmas film about a quest to get the last available “It” toy for his kid. He finds himself in an all out war for this thing with Sinbad. There’s a reason, I’m not talking about that movie, though. I remember doing the same thing for my sister, A Cabbage Patch Kid, and my brother who just had to have a Nintendo Power Glove (I literally did get the last one…had to be escorted out by security). Competition can be a very real part of Christmas. Who has the most gifts. Whose tree is the tallest. Whose house is the brightest. Whose house is the most Chirstmas-y, real traditional Vermont Christmas. Who is invited to the most Christmas parties. Who got who the most expensive present. Who can quote all the lines from “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

There’s nothing wrong with competition, unless it’s a plot for a feature film. Steve and Buddy keep upping the stakes on each other as their Christmases become a war. Men do this kind of thing. And we do it for a very real reason. Competition goes bad when we cave in to the very real fear of someone thinking that we are a loser.

Christmas is a reminder that everyone wins. In that manger, there lies a Savior. We don’t have to compete for him. Everything that can be won has been won by him.

It’s Not All About You

The main thing that Steve and Buddy have to realize in the film is It’s Not All About Them! It’s not all about you. They have to realize that their families are more important than there monuments and competitions (although it makes for funny movie moments). I’m really good at making everything about me. I don’t have a PhD in it, maybe, but I have a Masters. It’s easy to overlook the needs of my family, my friends and co-workers. As Steve and Buddy do this, their world unravels and they lose everything they love.

Christmas is a sobering reminder that there is a focus, but it’s not me. Christmas is a time, more obvious than any other, that it’s all about Jesus. When my life becomes about him, I become closer to all the things that are actually important to me.

If you’re looking for a fun holiday flick and love crazy stupid men humor, give this a watch. I only seen it once in the PM, but I can’t tell you this movie’s awesome at 1AM.

Playing A Broken Christmas Record

It’s difficult for me to admit, but I bought this Christmas album when it came out in 1982. I guess I had what you might call “Pac Man Fever.” Looking back, it deserved to be broken. Pac Man Christmas? But, yeah, at the time…for some reason I kind of liked it.

There was this one night where I walked into my room at night. I was tired and literally running for my bed, which was at the opposite end of the room from the door. As I leapt for the mattress I heard the crunch. Split my Pac Man Christmas album clean in half! The punch line is that I put the two halves on the turntable to see if a crack like that would really make that much difference…it did.

I can’t believe I tried to play a broken Christmas record.

recently, I found out that I was still playing a broken Christmas record…only a different one. No, it was Pac Man…not even Tennessee Ernie Ford.

I had a crazy maker in my Christmas tree. Growing up, there was someone who would have made the ghost of Christmas future nervous. I began to fear Christmas because it was filled with chaos and strangeness. Every year, I counted down the days until Christmas was over. There was a palor of discontent and I knew that during Christmas break it made the atmosphere unbreathable.

And like many, I had two halves of my family that I had to split the big day between. Needless to say, Christmas filled me with something that didn’t make the Yuletide gay.

Flash forward to my own family. I carried that discontent into our Christmas season. Playing that broken record every year. What I didn’t realize was that I was filling the gap where a crazy maker once was. In my defense, I wasn’t as bad as I remember but still…I changed when the carols started playing on the radio. Once I realized this, I’ve been having a new Christmas experience. Like the analog record player, the old is gone. The new has come!

What old records are you playing?
Are they broken or do they need to be?
How are you filling in the space where an old song used to play?

Christmas is about Christ.
If any are in him they are a new creation!
The old has passed away and the new has come.

Like in that Bethlehem manger…there was no broken record playing there.


click here to watch hear some pac man christmas or download it here.
Merry Christmas!
Wacka Wacka Wacka

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, But I’m A Bit Dismayed

This Christmas, more than ever, I am aware of the incredible disconnect between the child in the manger and the man in the chimney. Perhaps I have this heightened perspective because I’m preaching through Advent for the first time in my life. Perhaps, it’s because it’s really there. Perhaps it’s because I’m watching my own children wrestle with their desire to witness and worship while at the same time, they know that they…better watch out!

The Christmas season is mysterious.
The Christmas season is awe-inspiring.
It’s also manic.
And weird.

Christmas has its own peculiar position in American culture and while there is a whole conversation to be had about that, the holiday has become a pillar of our western worldview. In many ways, the event it celebrates has become irrelevent, if not simply substituted.

AnnieLennox-AChristmasCornucopia-Digipack333 My favorite Christmas Album of 2010 is hands down, “A Christmas Cornucopia” by Annie Lennox. It’s just stellar. Also, worthy of mention, is the first eleven tracks are completely traditional. It’s a welcome and focused inclusion into the Christmas music canon apart from the “Christian artist” hegemony that usually produces entire albums of this nature.

Lennox is one of my all time favorites. Diva is still on my playlist. She’s is a consistent class act and a wicked gifted soulstress AND she doesn’t consider herself to be a Christian. She actually doesn’t consider herself, like so many these days, particularly religious.

From the liner notes:

I’ve sung these Christmas Carols since I was very young. They’ve accompanied my life. Carols tell ancient stories. They are timeless and lasting. Each one has its own special message encoded within the lyrics and melody lines.

While I don’t personally subscribe to any specific religion, I do believe that the heart of all religious faith has to be rooted in love and compassion otherwise it serves no purpose.

For me, the word ‘Christ’ represents the sacred and mysterious divinity of life…which could just as easily be ‘Buddha’ or ‘Allah’.

Interesting.

Christmas isn’t a celebration of compassion anymore than egg nog is made from the milk of human kindness. Christmas is the celebration of a particular life, Jesus Christ’s. It’s the proclamation of incarnation: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Christ doesn’t represent the mysterious divinity of life anymore than I represent the unfortunate likelihood of male pattern baldness. He is…I have no hair; just an ontological reality.

Christmas is a pillar of our culture, but what is it holding up? Is it possible that we’ve moved so far away from ‘religion’ that we can’t describe or articulate it anymore? Perhaps carols are the way we connect to the “mysterious divinity” now. I love this CD. There’s even a French carol I’ve never heard before. But the fact remains, these are Jesus songs…not Buddha songs and not Allah songs.

The message encoded in these lyrics and melodies is simply this:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy



merry-christmas

The Real Meaning of Christmas – Rant

I have never enjoyed a Christmas more than I have this year (Going into this could turn into post after post of the kind of therapy oriented vitriol that would cost normal people thousands of dollars to work through…I just call it seminary ;O)

Also, I have never been more unnerved by the “Christmas Spirit.”

My family has listened to the Cox cable music channel this season. For the most part, the mix of songs is an appropriate blend of pop nostalgia and Christian hymnody. But tonight, tonight I heard this song and it just pushed me over the edge…

It’s these lyrics:

Oh, the real meaning of Christmas
Is the giving of love everyday.
Oh, the real meaning of Christmas
Is to live as the Master may say.

And when you’ re giving your presents
Don’t forget as you give them away
That the real meaning of Christmas
Is the giving of love everyday.

Really, boss? The giving of love everyday? Kind of depends on how your audience defines love doesn’t it. Could you have chosen lyrics with any less power and presence. Yeah, they accurately describe the nature of generosity, but Christmas, the real meaning, isn’t about our generosity. It’s about God’s and God’s alone. Christmas isn’t a good feeling, it isn’t emotion, it isn’t proper motivation for altruism…it’s an event. A moment in History where God crash landed into human history and altered it in an unimaginable direction. This event, what is truly being celebrated, has laid the foundation for eternity. It has toppled empires. It has broken hearts and sown mosaics from the shattered pieces. Though wise men came from far away to partake in the after affects, shepherds and simpletons were first on the scene. Kind of makes Ray Conniff look like he’s singing a silly love song. I plead alongside Charlie Brown:

As you journey towards December 25th, take note of the manger that stands in the way, the one that has worked its way between the past you can’t forget and the future you can’t imagine.

OK, so this may be a “Bah Humbug” moment…but, I’m done now and will get on with my regularly scheduled “enjoy Christmas” self.

Christ the Lord is on the way to take away the sins of the world.
King Jesus, grant us your peace.