Saturday, December 30, 2006

Jesus With Skin On

Linda says sometimes we just need "Jesus with skin on." What she means is that there is a time when we need divine comfort and that comes best through those who love us in some measure as Jesus did.

There was a time when Jesus had skin. It's the familiar story of the Gospels, the beginning of which is perhaps most often told in Luke's Gospel.

A recent New Line Cinema Release, The Nativity, tells a fictional account of how it could have been for Mary the mother of Jesus and Joseph her husband. It's a very human story of a young woman scarcely older than a child entrusted to birth the Messiah, but still having to bear the shame of unwed motherhood and still having to navigate the perils of Israel under Roman and Herodian rule.

It's worth seeing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You Have Never Talked With A Mere Mortal

I was listening to a talk recently when this C.S. Lewis quote came up: "You have never talked with a mere mortal."

Here's the sentence more in context from Lewis' book, the Weight of Glory:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

Lewis' point is that the spiritual beings that inhabit the physical constructs that meet our eyes in the form of our neighbors and friends and enemies and the homeless man on the street are all destined for immortality. Those who follow Jesus have God within and will be glorified just as he was. Those who do not will be everlastingly separated from God.

Since that is so, we cannot treat another human as an object. It gives us a glimpse of the grandeur that God created that is available to all who choose Jesus. And it gives us a glimpse of the unfathomable loss when people do not.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gifts that really give

Last year, some church friends gave a goat as a gift. But the Christmas gift recipient didn't get the goat, someone else did.

Most of us wouldn't know exactly what to do with a goat, but the African recipients knew exactly what to do and were greatly blessed by it. The goat not only gives milk, but also kids, and kids can be sold or used to increase the herd. The continent wide AIDS epidemic in Africa has further impoverished millions, and the goat our friends gave will help to succor families hard hit by this epidemic.

Here's how this works: our friends called a Christian organization that is working with African (and other) partners to bring relief and help in many parts of the world. Our friends gave their credit card for a specific gift (the goat) and the organization sent the goat to the Africans and a card describing the gift to the American relative who was the gift "recipient".

Everyone was happy: our friends were pleased because they have given a triple duty gift, their relatives here in America were pleased to be part of this (and probably pleased to NOT have ONE MORE THING laying around the house that they don't use) and the Africans were pleased (probably ecstatic is closer).

So, we have done that this year. I called Global Action, a Colorado Springs-based ministry that works with worldwide partners (one of which is a good friend from Sweden) and we ordered some Bibles for Russian Jews (they have the Star of David on the cover), and a beehive to provide honey that can be sold to provide educational funds for AIDS orphans in Africa.

This is a new idea in our family, so we'll see what kind of reaction we get. But I think I can predict, knowing something about my family. They're going to be dazzled and happy!

There are other organizations doing some of the same. Two that I know about are Samaritan's Purse, run by Billy Graham's son, Franklin; and Oxfam, a UK charity.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

So many public lands from one spot

From this vantage in Chugach State Park above Anchorage,
one can see public lands west of Cook least the tops
of tall mountains.
In the interesting but trivial department comes this claim: it is possible from parts of Minnesota Drive in Anchorage to see from the same spot:
  • Denali National Park
  • Lake Clark National Park
  • Chugach State Park
  • Chugach National Forest
  • Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Is there any other spot in North America where one can see so many important public lands treasures?