Remembering 2011

2011 was an interesting year for me.

The most important item on my year in review is that of Leah (my daughter) and her discovery and battle with breast cancer.  The following three links are my online stories about my amazing girl and her determined fight.  She has made all of us proud.

In a similar vein (no pun intended), my wife and I both spent time in a hospital bed this year.  Reflecting on my medical emergency, I am thrilled to have made it to the end of the year.  I had a series of 4 heart attacks over a period of about 4 days.  The final one finally got me to the hospital.

Is Your Spouse Your Friend?

The past few months have not been ideal for our family when it comes to attending Sunday morning worship services together.  My wife, Suzie works in the retail field.  She has asked for scheduling considerations for Sunday mornings.  Her department manager has consistently scheduled her on Sunday mornings.  This did not change after her request.

The result has been that I have been attending our services by myself.  The best part of our Christmas celebration was being able to attend the worship service of First Baptist Church of Boynton Beach together.  We joined the others in praying, singing and hearing from the Word of God.  It was great.

After the service a lady behind us spoke to us, “I’ve seen you (looking at me) here on Sundays.  Who is your friend (looking at Suzie)?”

How would you answer that question?

Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas | guardian.co.uk

What if Christmas was cancelled where you live?  Read about Christians in Gaza who saw Hamas do away with the holiday in 2007.

Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Takeaways:

1.  1.5 million people live in the Gaza Strip.  Only 1,400 are Christian.  Imagine a crowd of 1,000 people.  On average only 1 person in the crowd would be a Christian.

2.  55 families in Gaza identify as Catholics.

3.  In 2007 a 30 year old manager of Gaza Bible Society bookstore was shot to death.

Pray for the protection  and joy for believers in this area.  Pray that the gospel will go forth in power to the people in Gaza.

Top Ten Christian Populations in the World and What That Means

The above chart was released today reporting the top 10 Christian populated countries.  Keep in mind that the only criteria for this report is that a person says they are a Christian.  It does not distinguish between those who practice and those who do not.  It does not attempt to define the term Christian.  With that in mind, it is still an insightful chart.

Here are my observations:

The Cost of Claiming Christianity

Almost 80% of Americans claim to be Christians while only 5% of the people of China claim the same.  It is worth noting that in the United States, most people have a heritage of Christianity.  Americans also have many societal expectations to claim Christianity.  In China this is not so.  Communistic atheism has been the norm for some time.  Most Christians have to break from family and societal expectations to be Christian.  They may even face persecution from the state and culture.

A Tip on Speaking to be Heard

Turn down the volume, please.

Does it seem like we are living in a world in which yelling is becoming the normal tone of conversation?  I do not have any hardcore data to back up my claims, but my experiences have convinced me that this is so.  If your experiences are similar, then perhaps we should begin by lowering the volume when we have access to the controls.

The other day at the grocery store, a mother screamed at her child so loudly that everybody else in the produce department stopped to look.  The child was not in danger nor misbehaving.  The mother was simply conversing with the child.  I suppose she was so accustomed to yelling that she did not realize she was.  I think the staring eyes of onlookers may have reminded her to tone it down.  Besides the child was not really listening.  He seemed immune to her voice.

Question #2: How Slow is Slow?

From time to time I receive questions that deserve a post for an answer.  Other times I read or hear questions from other sources and think an answer would be helpful.  This article is the second question to get it’s own post.  The first was a question offered by the football player Ndamukong Suh.  If you have not read that article, jump on over and give it a read (An Answer to Ndamukong Suh’s Question).  His question was basically, “Why would I do something stupid?”

This second question comes from a Facebook post by a former student of mine.  She first quoted this verse:

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

–James 1:19

She then stated her question, “Definition of slow is what exactly?”  Good question.  In our answer we will also be answering what the definition of quick is.  How would you answer this question.  One other person responded on Facebook with an answer, “A good solid 3 count, then be angry.  That’s what I do.”  This tongue-in-cheek answer actually moves in the right direction.

A Prayer for Your Children

The most important thing a parent can do for his/her children is to pray for them.  Prayer is not the only thing we do for them, but it is the most important.  Think of some other things we should do for our kids:

1.  Provide for them
2.  Protect them
3.  Teach them
4.  Discipline them
5.  Spend time with them

All of these are important.  But do not attempt them while neglecting to pray for them.  You can provide abundantly for them and still deprive them if you are prayerless.  You can shield them from pain yet keep them what is most important.  You can teach them (even about God) and they can be lacking in the power of God.  You can harness their inappropriate behavior while the miss out on the one who can strengthen them for holiness.  You can play with them they still do not experience the greatest joy.

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

In a generation in which we have become accustomed to communicating with 140 characters or less, the art of writing personal letters has become almost extinct.  This is a sad and unnecessary consequence of modern technology.

I was reminded of this today while watching an ESPN feature on Austin Box.  Box was a linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners from Enid, OK.  He unexpectedly died this year.  His family, teammates and fans have sorely missed him.  In the ESPN story, mention of made of a tradition between Box and his father.  Before each football game during his school days in Enid and in Norman, the elder Box would pen a letter to his son.  He would write about football and more importantly about life.  These letters obviously mattered to Austin since he kept all of them.  During this football season, Mr. Box has chosen to read again the letters in lieu of being able to write new ones.  His own letters have provided strength to this father.

Jaunt #3

It’s been awhile since the first two jaunts.  This format allows me to do some quick hits with my thoughts.  Here we go.

*  Of the many ways a man can act when publicly accused of adultery, I find the actions of Herman Cain a bit puzzling.  On Saturday Cain suspended his presidential bid after meeting with his wife.  Cain said that things are fine between the two of them.  But does it seem strange to anybody else that it took Cain almost a week to talk face to face with his wife after the adultery allegations went public?

*  It is that time of year again.  The season when some sensitive Christians begin to be offended when somebody says, “Happy Holidays.”  You might want to check out my article from last Christmas to read why I am not really worried when somebody says holiday instead of Christmas.

*  P2P is now an affiliate of Ligonier Ministries.  If you are thinking about buying any books or materials from this ministry, please consider going through one of the links on this blog.  R.C. Sproul is the primary author and speaker on most of the materials.  I have recommended their stuff long before becoming an affiliate.

Don’t Let the Word of the Year Define Your Faith

Dictionary.com has released its selection of the word of the year for 2011 – tergiversate.  You are probably like me and have never used the word in any conversation.  Just be sure that this verb does not define your faith if you are a Christian.  Here is the definition:

1.  to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.