Thursday, December 29, 2022

Here's to the Good Old Days

(Originally posted December 26, 2017)

This may come as a surprise to some, but Wikipedia really does provide some useful information from time to time. Consider what I recently learned about the phrase "auld lang syne":

       "Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Scouting movement, in many countries, uses it to close jamborees and other functions.
       The song's title may be translated into standard English as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by", or "old times". Consequently, "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".

This new understanding of what those words mean is helpful to me as I consider Daniel Fogelberg's bittersweet song, "Same Old Lang Syne". It was a 1981 hit for Fogelberg and is still played from time to time, especially here in late December. Not only is it a true story (except, reportedly, for the woman's eye color and her husband's vocation), but its wistful wishing for "days gone by" rings with truth.

Truth is...I think almost everyone can relate to the feelings evoked in this song. What if I had done this one thing differently? What if I had turned right instead of left? Is my life now the life I was meant to live? Am I satisfied?

I hope it's not a sin to feel that way from time to time, and I am overjoyed to know that Yahweh takes the sum total of our decisions, actions, and attitudes...washes them clean...and "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NASB)

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Keep Him Away in a Manger


(Originally posted December 2018)

Keep him away in a manger, no crib for a bed
I'd rather not think of the thorns 'round his head
It pains me to picture his back beaten raw
Just give me the baby, asleep on the straw

The cattle! The wise men from far, distant lands!

The little Lord Jesus who makes no demands
I love the old carols and things in that vein
Just stay in the cradle and don't make me change

Be Little Lord Christchild, I ask thee to stay

The babe in a manger forever, I pray
To die when you're perfect would be such a loss
It's far too disturbing: the blood and the cross

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...this really is the desire of a lot of folks; enamored with the romanticism and fairytale quality of The Christmas Story, but uncomfortable with the grisly necessity of Good Friday.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

You Know That Thing About Beauty Only Being Skin Deep?


So many of us care so much about whether others consider us physically attractive. "Do they think I'm good-looking?" "Is my skin smooth?"

According to The Body, by Bill Bryson, it's kind of silly to put much energy into our outward appearance.

"The skin consists of an inner layer called the dermis and an outer epidermis. The outermost surface of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum, is made up entirely of dead cells. It is an arresting thought that all that makes you lovely is deceased. Where body meets air, we are all cadavers. These outer skin cells are replaced every month. We shed skin copiously, almost carelessly: some twenty-five thousand flakes a minute, over a million pieces every hour. Run a finger along a dusty shelf, and you are in large part clearing a path through fragments of your former self. Silently and remorselessly we turn to dust."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...This seems to make it even more important that God doesn't concentrate on what we look like on the outside, but on who we really are in our heart of hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7  -  "The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NLT)

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Who Peter Says I Am


Our Wednesday night Bible study recently finished its journey through 1st Peter. Our M.O. is to read through a passage and make note of characteristics of God, words or ideas that are repeated or unique, and any other pattern or concept that makes an impression.

For some reason, I started making a list of what Peter said about his readers. It ended up telling me a lot about myself.

I am:

God's elect, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5)

In possession of a faith that has been proven to be genuine (1 Peter 1:7)

A lover of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:8)

Filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8)

Receiving the end result of my faith, the salvation of my soul (1 Peter 1:9)

Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ from the empty way of life handed down to me from my ancestors (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23)

One who has tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:3)

Being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5)

Part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that I may declare the praises of him who called me out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9)

A receiver of mercy (1 Peter 2:10)

A foreigner and an exile (1 Peter 2:11)

Called to repay evil with blessing so that [I] may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9)

Hopeful (1 Peter 3:15)

A participant in the sufferings of Christ, so that [I] may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)

Called by the God of all grace to his eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5:10)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...while I am all these things, it is not because of anything I've done, but because of continuing to be soaked with Yahweh's overwhelming grace and love.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

If Only = It's Not My Fault


Have you ever felt stalled on the brink of something really good happening but needed just a little bit break your life's inertia and have everything fall into place?

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, by John Koenig, has a word for that:

justing n. the habit of telling yourself that just one tweak could solve all of your problems  -  if only you had the right haircut, if only you found the right group of friends, if only you made just a little more money, if only he noticed you, if only she loved you back, if only you could find the time, if only you were confident  -  which leaves you feeling perpetually on the cusp of a better life, hanging around the top of the slide waiting for one little push.

And the author's explanatory etymology of the word is almost as enlightening as the definition:

From just, only, simply, merely + jousting, a sport won by positioning the tip of your lance at just the right spot, at just the right second.

Truth is...justing is alarmingly like whining, isn't it? Or blaming? It's like placing the responsibility for my lack of personal progress squarely on the shoulders of my circumstances rather than my own inactivity and fear.