Squeeze Every Possible Ounce Of Joy (Out Of Each Day)

jump-for-joy2

You need people in your life that will make your unborn baby jump. And I just had a conversation with someone who did just that for me. For those who don’t understand the reference, here it is:

Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:39-41 New Living Translation

In other words, when the Virgin Mary learned she was pregnant, she went to see her cousin, Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. When Mary arrived, the sound of her voice caused unborn baby John to jump for joy in his mother’s womb.

Our victories are not won in a vacuum or in isolation. Our expected babies are not born without the knowledge of our family and friends. They are won and they are born in community and in society. We don’t win alone. We always have help.  Always. And today my carpooler gave me a boost and a bump and a lift and a push and a prod upward and forward. It was just what the doctor ordered.

You see, one of my goals is to teach college, and to do that I need to obtain my doctorate. I have an MDiv, or a Master of Divinity degree, but I also need at least a DMin, or a Doctorate of Ministry degree. Teaching includes mentoring and shepherding and counseling and guiding the next generation. And this is my passion. Well …

My carpool driver today is a very special lady. And I’m not just saying that.  I ride with different carpoolers every day. I live in Northern Virginia and “Slug” up I-95 to work (and for those who have no idea what slugging is or means, I’ll write more on that later). Anyway, I carpool or “slug” to work and so I meet a lot of people. I’ve slugged with this one carpool driver only once before. It was about a month ago and we had a wonderful ride home in awful traffic. How ironic, right?

Well, today I was fortunate enough to meet up with her again. And I had another wonderful ride and we had another delightful discussion all the way down I-95 from the Pentagon. It was such a treat. And since I “know” people, I know that you don’t meet and greet a great treasure of a person like my driver today every day.

You see, through the conversation, I learned that my driver has a PhD in Physics. I said physics. And she doesn’t sound like an old ogre either. I bombed physics in high school AND college, so I don’t have many  – or any –  fond memories of my time in the classroom being beset and besieged by my hard-nosed, old fogey physics instructors. But surely I digress.

A PhD in physics is not a degree given to the faint of heart. So when I got in my carpoolers car and realized that she was my carpool comrade from about a month ago, my heart smiled. And then as the conversation commenced and consumed, and I learned of her competence and her excellence, my immediate goal was to squeeze every ounce of joy out of that carpool ride and that blessed exchange. 

My carpool comrade gave me the thought for this blog. She said “you need to squeeze every ounce of joy out of each day.”  What an amazing thought! So that’s it; we should do this every day. We should squeeze every ounce of joy out of every day.

So what’s the lesson? It’s simply this: when a Dr. is in the house (or in the car), make sure you squeeze every ounce of joy out of the moment. Remember, as much as we all need a doctor, at times, as unfit as we may think we are, we just may be someone else’s doctor.  Dr. or patient, be sure to prescribe or procure the right medicine for what ails you.

jumpforjoy

And the prescription is always joy.

Expect The Unexpected

Eagles v. Bears

Eagles 54 – Bears 11?

There are some games that turn out contrary to what most expected going in. Some contests have a final score wildly different from what the prognosticators predicted. And some match-ups don’t look like much on paper, yet they have outcomes outlandishly opposite our best hopes or worst fears.  Some nights, everything turns out right (or wrong) depending on which sideline you stand on.

As a believer in the God of the Bible, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. This is true in my spiritual life as well as my natural life, and my “sports life” as well.  Last night, with the entire NFL world watching, my Eagles did the unexpected. Not only did they defeat the favored Chicago Bears, they walloped them. The final score was 54 to 11, and, as they say in the sports biz, “it wasn’t that close.” The Eagles did just about everything right, and the Bears did just about everything wrong.

God is the God of the unexpected. He unexpectedly allowed Elizabeth to give birth to John the Baptist at a very old age. God unexpectedly chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of our Lord. And He unexpectedly chose shepherds to be the first recipients of the message of the birth of Christ. God is full of surprises.

God is the God of the unexpected. The devil did not believe the Scripture which prophesied of a Virgin conceiving and giving birth to Immanuel, God with us.  Our enemy did not factor in God using an unknown, unlikely and unsuspecting humble girl to be the mother of Jesus Christ. That old serpent could not prevent the coming of the Christ child, even though he used Herod to slaughter the innocents.

As a believer in the God of the Bible, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  God is the God the unexpected and Christmas is the ultimate expression of this expected unexpectancy.  We should trust that our God will do the impossible, the improbable and the unexplainable in order to deliver His people from depression and dejection, and to save His people from oppression and suppression; He will go to any length and leave no stone unturned to save His people from the penalty, power and presence of sin.

TZ-Star-of-Bethlehem_grid-6x2

The Star of Bethlehem was an unexpected sign to the wise men of the expected coming of our Lord, and this song by the 2nd Chapter of Acts neatly sums it up:

 Heaven came to earth in a small package

For a child was born, a gift to man

Yes the living light came to the darkness

Wore the harness of mankind

 

Laid His body down to be sin for us

Gave His earthly crown so we could be kings

Yes He came to break the yoke of darkness

That would harness all mankind

 

This morning star of love still shines (and shines)

We buried Him within our sin but He rose again

 

Gave His heart away so we could find Him

Changed our night to day so we’d live in light

Tore the veil between the light and darkness

Broke the harness for mankind

 

This morning star of love still shines (and shines)

We buried Him within our sin but He rose again

 

Let our hearts rejoice in Christ our Savior

Let us come before His throne with praise

Let us pray for peace so we’ll break the darkness

Melt the hardness of mankind

   Artist: 2nd Chapter of Acts ,  Heaven Came to Earth

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, God pulls a fast one.  Just when you think you’re at the end of your rope and all hope is lost, God has a way of doing the unexpected. When the odds are against you and it seems that no one is with you or “for” you, God has a way of doing only what only He can do; He will step up and step in and set the record straight. God will do what is impossible for man but is totally possible for Him, because He is God.

This Christmas, expect the unexpected.

Don’t Be A Turkey

Chalie Brown & Lucy

Charlie Brown was a turkey. He fell for Lucy’s ploy time and again.   Charlie Brown, truth be told, was the “Thanksgiving Turkey.”  Yes he tried, but what he needed to do was to deal with his inner inhibitions and to tell Lucy he was tired of playing her dumb game and playing by her stupid rules.  Sometimes you have to CHANGE the rules. So stop playing by the world’s standards. Stop letting those that don’t mean you well dictate the circumstances. Change the rules. Make them work in your favor. 

Turkey is sort of an outdated slang term for coward. Now it means chump, sap or sucker. In this case it’s sort of a pun: turkey refers to Thanksgiving as well.  Charlie Brown was a coward because he was afraid to change.  He was afraid to confront. He was afraid to contend.  He didn’t change.  So don’t be a turkey.  Change the rules.  Change the meaning of the word.

In bowling turkey doesn’t mean coward.  It means just the opposite. It is a sign of sustained victory.  All bowlers know that a “turkey” is three consecutive strikes thrown by a bowler playing ten-pin bowling. There is no recorded derivation of this term but Chuck Pezzana, the historian of the Professional Bowlers Association offers a likely origin. During the Great Depression of the 1930s many bowling alleys began to hold sweepstakes events during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas offering food as gifts to the winners. The common award for bowling three strikes in a row was a live turkey. If a person accomplished this feat his or her teammates would all shout, “turkey!” letting the proprietor know that the prize had been won.

So don’t be a turkey.  Be bold enough to dare to change the rules. John the Baptist changed the rules. When he was born, the family wanted to call him Zechariah Jr., after his father.  But Elisabeth said no, and she looked to her husband, Zechariah, for support and confirmation. Zechariah, a mute at the time because of his unbelief, when asked what the child’s name should be, wrote on a tablet “He shall be called John.” As soon as he wrote the prophetic name of this, his son of promise, “his tongue was loosed, and he spoke, blessing God” (Luke 1:64). 

Courage comes when you believe God when others don’t and won’t.  You don’t get courage to believe, you get courage when you believe.  Don’t be a turkey.  Don’t be afraid to stand firmly for your faith. Be confident in your theology; be competent in philosophy; and don’t be arrogant in your spirituality. We know that our God is the only wise God, but we don’t have to put others down when the goal is to build them up. So change the rules. Seek ways to share your faith without denigrating or disparaging others.  

Don’t play by Lucy’s rules.  Don’t be a turkey.