Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Hope

The other day, when the ads came out for the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy that takes place every year, Jennifer had our boys look them over and circle items they felt they might want for Christmas. They circled things like toys, video games, DVDs and books. Jack circled an advertisement for bags of Cheetos and Doritos (When Jennifer laughingly asked him what kind of Doritos he wanted, the kind in the blue bag or the kind in the red bag, he responded enthusiastically, "Both!"). We carefully explained to our boys that they shouldn't expect to receive everything they circled. "Family members will choose from your lists and give as they are able, but it's unlikely that you'll get everything you're asking for."

You could tell, though, they were hopeful.

Hope, according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, is "the emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life." It's expecting the best, sometimes in spite of reality, in spite of the obvious.

Biblical hope is kind of like that. It's hope against all odds, against all possibilities, against anything that make sense in our world today. There's no question that, because of sin, our world is broken. It's twisted beyond repair. But biblical hope argues that, no matter how broken and twisted this world gets, it will one day be recreated. No matter how empty and lifeless a body is, it can one day be raised. And no matter how hardened and calloused a soul is, it can one day be redeemed.

That's biblical hope.

The difference, though, between biblical hope and the kind of hope my guys had when it came to their Christmas lists, is that biblical hope carries with it a guarantee. Biblical hope is more than wishful thinking; it's more than an arbitrary emotional state. Biblical hope is assurance. It's something to look forward to. It's anticipation.

And it's all of these things because of Christmas.

Because Christmas was that down payment. John 1:14 tells us, "The Word (God) became flesh and dwelt among us…." God entered this broken and twisted world and went about fixing it. He preached love, He healed sickness and disease, He raised the dead, He gave Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of this world, and then He conquered death through His own Resurrection. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16)."

And because God did these things, we now have hope. Not arbitrary hope. Not wishful thinking, but real, tangible, life-giving hope. Because God did these things, we now have something to look forward to. We now know that this life is not all there is. There is something, Someone, to live for.

My prayer is that, this Christmas, you are walking in that hope. I pray that your life is not empty and pointless. I pray that you have a reason for waking up in the morning, and I pray that that reason is not in something that can easily be lost. Hope cannot be lost, because real hope is not founded on anything that can be lost. It's founded on the Almighty God who provides it and who will not let you down or abandon you. It's founded on Jesus, who gives us reason to wish one another this time of year, as I wish you today... 

Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Five on Friday

1.  November 22nd marked 15 years since Fred and I went on our first date.  It was a fraternity formal.  It was a good time.  It is not a big secret that Fred does not have mad dancing skills.  That night he told me (although he denies it now), "What I lack on the dance floor I make up with my personality."  It made me laugh then and it still makes me laugh now.  The only difference now is that I'll laugh out loud about it!!
2.  Next Saturday I will run a half marathon (13.1 miles) in Memphis for St. Jude.  My running partner and I have been together for over 3 years and we have remained injury free.  Well, last week her knee started hurting. We may end up walking most of it, but it doesn't matter since it's for a great cause.
3.  Sunday mornings are a traditional run day for me.  My running partner (b/c of reasons mentioned above) was not with me.  Clayton decided to join me.  We ran three miles together in the rain.  I could hear his two steps for every one of mine, but he kept going.  We had the best time together!
4.  Thursday morning I asked the big boys to look through the ads with me to see if I could get any ideas for Christmas.  Jack was looking through and circled Doritos and cheese balls.  When I asked him if he wanted the blue or red bag of Doritos he quickly replied, "Both!"
5.  We took pictures today as a family.  The big boys were not thrilled.  Andrew was an angel...not! Ha!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Five on Friday

1.  This has been a pretty big week around the Shackelford house.  Fred was elected president of our state convention Tuesday.   Pretty big news in our world.  The picture above is the president of our alma mater (Union University) presenting him with a framed certificate.  You can view the story by clicking here.
2.  I got to go with Fred this week to Hendersonville to Tennessee Baptist Convention meetings.  I had a blast!  I got to meet people that I've heard about for years.  I also got to catch up with a friend while she waited for her breakfast. What a treat!  It all seems surreal.   
3.  Clayton thought Fred was elected president of the United States this week.  He was a little disappointed when Janice told him Fred was going to be the president of Tennessee Baptist Convention, not the United States.  Apparently our children have very high standards and expectations for us. 
4.  Janice was here this week while we were gone.  (WooHoo!  What would we do without her!?!)  I had a talk with the big boys about being her helper while we were away.  She was washing the dishes.  Jack walked up to her and asked her if she needed any help because according to Jack, "My mom told me to help you, even if you are washing the dishes."
5.  As mentioned above, Janice was here with the boys while we were gone.  She watched the live streaming of Fred's election on the computer.  Andrew was in her lap.  When he saw Fred on the computer he reached out and tried to touch him.  Sweet.