"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pirate Monks

Every Thursday morning I begrudgingly pull myself from the warmth of my covers, and roll over fumbling to turn off my alarm clock. Rubbing my eyes, I stare at the red digital numbers, casting their evil early morning glow. "Why do I do this? I hate this! I need this. I want to sleep. No, I really want to go (but I don't). I need to go." The argument rages in my sleepy head.

It's time for men's group.

I drive in my cold car, hearing the engine's belt screaming, "Why do you do this to me!", ducking my head below the frost on my windshield, watching the road pass beneath the tires. I often wonder why I do this to myself. Even as I drive into the Church parking lot, I hear a voice saying, "Maybe no one saw you pull in. You could still turn around and catch a few more winks before work."

There are times when,I admit, the voice wins out well before I pull off the covers, much less into a parking spot, but I know it will throw any lies it can at me to keep me from meeting with these godly men; my lifeline.

Why is it so hard? The cold? The hour of the day? Or is it becoming emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable before a group of men. Confessing. It's admitting to men I respect that I messed up that week. It's letting them see me for who I am, rather then who I want to be. It's the accountability of knowing they can keep tabs on me. They'll know if I am making changes in my life or standing stagnant.

Vulnerability is horribly uncomfortable. Ironically, it's also what keeps me coming back.

Men's group is not a tea time (although I do like tea times). We don't eat crumpets (although I certainly wouldn't mind a crumpet every now and then), and cry about how the world has failed us. We don't check our masculinity at the door. Instead, we strive to become better men--fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers. To take responsibility; to live disciplined, God honoring lives. We are Pirate Monks, as a favorite book of mine would call us--sinners in the process of sainthood. Active journeyers in our Christian walk, recognizing Christ's sanctifying work in our lives.

I have seen godly men fail. I can no longer say, "I could never do that." I know my heart is deceitfully wicked. I am capable of all kinds of evil. I know all human hearts are. Without the grace of God, the cleansing sanctification of Christ, and the uplifting support of the church, we are all doomed to fail. We can't afford to pretend any longer that we got it all together. We don't, and no one does.

There is such a beauty and freedom that falls upon that circle of men in our vulnerability with one another; uncomfortable yet truly liberating freedom. I realize that every guy in that room is just as screwed up as me, and that God loves us each immensely.

Human beings are capable of deep bonding. Trials, interests, values, experiences; all of these things can weave a bond as thick as family between people. But the link between brother's and sisters in Christ is different. It runs deeper then the blood of family ties; because it is eternal. It is family in the truest sense of the word.

I love these men(a manly, beef jerky-football-grunting kind of love of course...). We are the Church, living as the Church. I can't imagine what life would be like without the support of the body of Christ. So empty, and constricting. I will choose to live in the freedom I have been given. Even if I have to set my alarm clock a bit earlier.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rudolf arrested for flying under the influence

"You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixon. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzon. But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?"

Many of us grew up singing these words; a holiday favorite of millions. Children will undoubtedly be disappointed to find out that Rudolf may go down in history for a very different reason then that stated in the song.

Rudolf was pulled over for reckless flight under the influence on Dec. 6, 2:00 a.m. after a party at a friend's establishment, North Pole.

Deputy Conner Gillespie stated, "Rudolf's breathalyzer revealed that his blood alcohol level was .21; well above the legal level for a reindeer. The test was unnecessary, there was such a strong scent of hard egg nog on his breath."

The song, Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer, was introduced to the public shortly after the rookie reindeer joined the current line up back in the 1930's. Very few have ever doubted the validity of this song. Now it seems that all of Rudolf's credibility is crumbling like a Christmas cookie.

"Well for one thing, Rudolf was not the most famous reindeer. That was pure propaganda shoved on the public by an agency Santa hired to recruit reindeer hopefuls back in 1939. We had made it through many "foggy Christmas Eve's" before Rudolf--heck every Christmas Eve is foggy somewhere in the world," said Vixon.

Vixon and the other seven of Santa's team have been flying together every Christmas Eve since the early 1800's. Though the song makes claim that "all the reindeer loved him" after Santa asked Rudolf to lead his sleigh "one foggy Christmas Eve", some say these words are far from the truth.

"I hate that cocky, shiny nosed punk." said Donner in a phone interview this morning. "That hoodlum thought he could just strut into a group that had been working together for over a hundred years, becoming the glowing face of our team. He thinks he's the ginger's snap."

It is true that Rudolf was practically unknown before the song stated his fame, but like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Rudolf's fame grew--along with his pay check.

Frank Turner, current reindeer trainer and stable hand said, "Rudolf makes considerably more then the rest of the reindeer. First, he's got the royalties going for him. The song, films, children's books...this guy will never be in want of carrots or hay!"

One of Santa's elves, who wished to remain nameless spilled to Reindeer Weekly last year that Rudolf makes more per flight then the other's as well.

"Rudolf is making a quarter of a cent per roof top. that might not sound like much, but hey, they are hitting up thousands--millions of houses every Christmas. Do the math. That is one rich deer!"

It appears that the fame may have went to Rudolf's head. Santa's establishment took notice.

When asked if Rudolf's drinking habits were known, all eight reindeer attest that this was common knowledge.

FedEx CEO Carl Berkly was not pleased with the news. "Every year we entrust millions of dollars worth of packages to Santa and his reindeer, for nostalgia's sake--people don't want the FedEx guy to come to their door, they want the fat guy to come down their chimney. We could loose lots of revenue, not to mention the danger of a drunken reindeer weaving round people's homes. Santa needs to drop that sorry cow. Pathetic!"

Rudolf's pilot license has been revoked, and it is currently uncertain when, if ever, Rudolf will be rejoining the team.

"Good riddance", said Blitzen. "I am sick of flying down wind from him anyway. His engine is never short of gas, if you catch my drift. haha...drift."

Many share Blitzen's sentiment, especially on the eve of a new technology that may make Rudolf's nose obsolete.

"We are working on a technology alongside Princeton Tec for a reindeer LED head lamp that should aid navigation in future Christmas Eve journeys." said, Troy DeVries, lead design manager of Santa's workshop. "It should be ready in time for this years flight." This couldn't be more timely, given the circumstances.

"This was a long time coming."stated Corbin Anderson, Technician for Sleigh Control tower. "Rudolf was just to costly, and his behavior was to dangerous. LED technology will cut down our costs, provide more light for the whole team of reindeer, and a LED light doesn't skip work with a hangover."

North Pole locals are pleased, for many reasons. "When it's a stormy night and you see this eerie red glow and here the sound of sleigh bells, you're not thinking, hey, must be Santa and his reindeer come to spread holiday cheer. You're thinking Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that's what you're thinking." said Bob Burr from his North pole igloo pad.

Neither Santa nor Rudolf's lawyer have responded to our request for comment, concerning Rudolf's sentence.

The other reindeer are taking it in stride, even joking about the song they have come to detest so much.

"Whoever labeled Monopoly a reindeer game? We have hooves, we hate that game!" stated Dasher.

Rudolf better polish up that nose of his, he's got one dark road ahead of him.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's snow good

Snow has come to Minnesota.

My family went to cut down the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Its just not quite the same walking on grass in tennis shoes to cut down a tree. But December came and along with it, the snow. And it has really come. I had one of those excited moments where I stood outside smiling, thinking, "At last! It is finally here, a Winter Wonderland!" which quickly transitioned into, "and it will probably be here for five more months....sigh...." Where has my inner child gone?

Today I went outside to play with Mom's daycare kids in the snow (only for a short while, its cold out there!). Addie (she's three) asked me to build a snowman. I said, "Sorry kiddo, it's to cold; the snow won't stick together. We can't build a snowman."

Her response. "That's OK, do it anyway."

I love the logic of a three year old.

Has anybody ever made a snowman and really pretended he is Parson Brown? Apparently Parson is just an old term for a minister (you know, parson--parsonage...makes sense now, eh?), hence the "He'll say are you married, we'll say no man, but you can do the job when you're in town!" Unfortunately, snowmen cannot sign marriage licenses.

I think that some day around Christmas if I ask a girl if she's married, and she responds, "No man, but you can do the job when you're in town," I'll go and elope with her right then.