Football Results (Week Seventeen) — FINAL

12/30/2007, 8:33 pm -- by | 3 Comments

This year, the Bweinh!tributors competed each week by proxy on the mighty gridiron!

The seventeenth week’s results
Philadelphia def. Buffalo; Baltimore def. Pittsburgh;
Atlanta def. Seattle; Chicago def. New Orleans

Seventeen weeks of picks and it all came down to overtime, in a game long forgotten by the rest of the world. Going into the final period of the final regular-season game of the year, Steve (59-25) and Mike (54-20) were all tied up, and all that could separate them was their selection in the most meaningless of games: New York vs. Kansas City.

Steve had bravely gone with his favorite team, the New York Jets, while Mike had selected the Kansas City Chiefs. Combined, the teams were 6-22.

Overtime began and the Jets took the opening kickoff. Behind the inspired runs of Thomas Jones, the Jets moved the chains again and again, setting up Mike “Ted” Nugent for what would be the game-winning field goal, from 33 yards. Perhaps alone among the throngs of Jets fans hoping for a higher draft pick, Steve silently willed the ball to travel through the uprights . . .

And through the uprights it went!! Victory for Steve!!!

But then — a flag. Holding. On the Jets. Apparently one of the Jets’ linemen wanted a higher draft pick as well, and so Nugent lined up again, this time from 43.

Another timeout, and then the kick ——–

GOOD!

NY Jets def. Kansas City

And Steve captured first place!

Bweinh!tributor This Week Overall GB
Steve 3-2 60-25
Mike 2-3 54-21 1
Djere 2-3 59-26 1
Tom 1-4 57-28 3
Josh 0-0 41-15 4.5
MC-B 1-4 54-31 6
David 3-2 50-35 10
Connie 1-4 50-35 10
Erin 0-5 30-25 15

 

By category
Avid fans: 171-70 (.710)
Slight fans: 109-61 (.641)
Uninterested: 226-164 (.579)

My Year in Review (Part Four)

12/29/2007, 4:30 pm -- by | 8 Comments

Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three!

October arrives, but the weather stays hot in Alabama. The Yankees have played their way into the postseason with a superb September and now face the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. They get blown out in the first game but Andy Pettite pitches a gem in game 2 to keep them in contention. Yankee phenom Joba Chamberlain is brought in to wrap up the game and even up the series, but he suffers a meltdown when he is swarmed on the mound by specially trained flying ants called Canadian Soldiers, kept for just such circumstances by the Indians staff. The Yankees lose the game and go back to New York down 2 games.

Wanting to inspire his team for game 3, George Steinbrenner takes a page out of Oral Roberts’ motivational playbook, drafting a press release saying that if the Yankees don’t win the next game, “God will take me home!” George Steinbrenner After leaking this to the clubhouse as a trial balloon, the front office urges George to reconsider, as it seems to have the opposite effect. Instead, he tells the media that if the Yankees lose the next game, Joe Torre will not be brought back as manager next year. They win that game, but not the next, and end up losing the series. Goodbye Joe — sorry it had to be you.

In the NHL, the Flyers pick up the pieces of a disastrous season by adding many character players and gritty veterans, and start the year 6-1, living up to their new motto — “BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!” A taste of what’s to come is seen in the preseason when 2 players are suspended for 20 and 25 games after hard hits. The Syracuse football squad continues its miserable string of gridiron failures, excepting a miracle in Louisville, and the basketball team prepares for its next season by adding the 2nd-ranked recruiting class in the nation, as rated by Athlon Sports. True freshmen Donte Green, Johnny Flynn and “Scoop” Jardine hold the promise of bringing the Orange back to the NCAA Tournament.

On a personal note, I spend the month exchanging emails and photos of my Sir Walter Scott books with a trio of rare book stores in Atlanta, only to find that although they are indeed a rare collectible, their physical condition does not meet the prevailing standards for collectors, and my best bet would be to sell them on eBay for “a few hundred bucks.” I’m actually relieved because I purchased them because I liked them, not for profit, and now I am free to keep them.

November arrives and brings with it the sternest test yet for the fledgling Bweinh! On November 5th, the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) agree to strike, and both Hollywood and all of America are plunged into turmoil. Every Bweinh!tributor is faced with the same gut-wrenching decision — stand by their comrades in solidarity, or cross the picket line and risk ruining their careers down the road.

Everyone plays it close to the vest and no one actually refuses to write, but suddenly emails are not returned, deadlines are missed, people have “finals,” “jobs,” and “personal issues,” and the Clash of The Titans and music review features grind to a halt, as Steve Maxon struggles to round up replacement writers like “Hoss” to fill in.

The biggest blow comes when star blogger Job Tate marches into the executive suite and announces his intention to honor the strike. Suddenly the only Job Tate articles on the site are old material labeled as “The Best of Job,” and a ridiculous cover story circulates that Job has run off and joined the military. Writers When that story does not suffice, another story circulates that he is seriously ill and confined to a hospital, recovering from surgery. Readership flags, interest wanes, and a nation turns its lonely eyes to Vermont for an answer…

In my personal life my wife has been smitten by Koopa, my daughter’s husky puppy, and she wants one of her own. We find one in the Thrifty Nickel for $200 and she names her Miranda, a nod to the Firefly sci-fi movie Serenity. Our house is now the romping ground for two old dogs, a harried and anorexic cat, and two husky pups.

December finally arrives and brings with it the much-anticipated Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Although much has been speculated, no one is prepared for the shocking revelations in the document, which reaches far beyond big-name superstars and encompasses even the previously unmentioned news media.

Former ESPN intern Lawrence Wallace reveals that Stuart Scott, Kenny Mayne, John Buccigross, and others have been using the performance-enhancing drugs Ambien, Ritalin and Baclofen for years, to create the false sense of hilarity needed to make their shows appear entertaining and relevant. Their incessant obsession with hip catch phrases has been produced by a drug-induced stupor more associated with crackheads than journalists, explaining their bizarre behavior over the past few years.

Bweinh! holds its first Christmas party in the South conference room, but the mood is less than jolly. Steve and Tom flew to Vermont in the company jet earlier in the day to plead with Job to return, and brought him back, but no one is quite sure what the outcome will be. Connie, Erin and Chloe all stand around distractedly discussing the tepid catered food, while Djere, Mike, Josh and Tom clear one end of the enormous conference table and set up ping-pong to pass the time. Everyone seems to be waiting for an announcement about Job so they can collect their Christmas bonus checks and head home for the holidays.

Eventually MC-B has a little too much to drink and begins entertaining the group with a Japanese version of Here Comes Santa Claus learned while he served overseas in Okinawa during his Navy days. It is performed using origami figures made from the festive Wal*Mart Christmas napkins adorning the table, and it manages to lighten the mood a little. Christmas The ice really breaks though when Djere and Tom perform their rendition of the Wumpus and Sean Connery singing Silver Bells, and soon everyone is mingling, shaking hands and wishing each other a very merry Christmas.

Eventually Steve gives a speech about love, joy, peace on earth, goodwill toward men, and other stuff like that, and hands out the checks, but Job is still silent about his future with Bweinh! As Steve urges everyone to bury the hatchet, I find myself standing next to the Pope, and am overcome with an urge to shake his hand and make up. I find myself unable to do it, though, due to circumstances beyond my control that have still not allowed Hell to freeze over. Instead I hug him while surreptitiously placing a piece of paper on his back that reads “Kick me — I am the abomination that causes desolation.”

Advent Devotional — Tuesday, December 25

12/25/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Christmas Day

This is the revelation of God’s love for us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him.” (I John 4:9, in the Midday Reading in The Divine Hours)

Christmas Days come and go so fast. This year, I will be celebrating my 30th Christmas and I cannot tell you in detail about any single one of them. I only have snippets of memories here and there. I can remember being about 7 or 8 and arriving home from my grandparents’ house after midnight, sitting bleary-eyed before the lighted tree, trying to squeeze another few minutes of joy from the day. I can remember being 12 and starring in our church’s Christmas pageant, The Sixth-Grade Scrooge, and experiencing the rush of making an audience laugh for the first time. I can remember being 23 and visiting Jill’s parents, listening to her sister ring handbells at the local Methodist church.

Because Christmases are so fast and furious, it is vain to try to use them to communicate very much. We say that Christmas is about family. And about love. And about Jesus. And about giving. And about feasting. With all these Christmas ideals swirling about, it’s no wonder we don’t know any of them very deeply! We try to make the holiday do too much.

This year, I invite you into a deeper idea of what Christmas is. Because, first and foremost, Christmas is not about any of those things I have just mentioned. Most of all, Christmas is about God showing us how much He loves us. When we look into the manger, and we see the Baby lying there, we see God’s love more fully than we see it anywhere else. God gave us many good gifts before Jesus: water and food, summer and winter, the Law, the Prophets. And God has given us many good gifts since Jesus — our families, our homes, our churches, each other. Yet all those gifts point back to that one Greatest Gift, sending His Son to earth for our sake. His presence with us is the best evidence that God indeed loves us and longs to draw us to Him.

May you know that deep love of God this Christmas, and may the Baby of Bethlehem remind you always of how deeply God loves us.

Football Results (Week Sixteen)

12/24/2007, 3:18 pm -- by | No Comments

This year, the Bweinh!tributors shall compete each week by proxy on the mighty gridiron!

The sixteenth week’s results
New England def. Miami; San Francisco def. Tampa Bay; NY Giants def. Buffalo
Jacksonville def Oakland; Philadelphia def. New Orleans

Bweinh!tributor This Week Overall GB
Steve 4-1 57-23
Djere 3-2 57-23
Mike 3-2 52-18
Tom 3-2 56-24 1
Josh 0-0 41-15 4
MC-B 3-2 53-27 4
Connie 3-2 49-31 8
David 2-3 47-33 10
Erin 0-0 30-20 12

 

By category
Avid fans: 166-65 (.719)
Slight fans: 104-56 (.650)
Uninterested: 223-142 (.611)

Bible Discussion — Luke 1:39-2:40

12/24/2007, 2:45 pm -- by | 1 Comment

This week, Bweinh.com looks at the next section of Luke, Luke 1:39-2:40.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: Luke 1:1-38

 
INTRODUCTION:
David:
There is no surprise that Luke’s account of the nativity has become the standard for Christmas celebrations down through the ages. His writing is beautiful, and he himself was a gentile, a startled and awestruck outsider whose heart had not been hardened by religion.

Connie:
Mary leaves on her fact-finding mission, only to find everything is as Gabriel has said. Elizabeth is pregnant and the babies in womb seem to know each other. So cool!

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Steve:
I didn’t think I would find one, and then I read v.80 — John the Baptist was “in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” I knew he hung out in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey, but I didn’t remember it was a long-term lifestyle, preparing him for the ministry to come.

Connie:
Mary was there three months, meaning she could have stayed through to help with the birth — even though it isn’t specifically mentioned. That could have prepared her for giving birth on her own later, as it turned out. I cannot imagine that she’d leave with the birth so imminent; maybe the written order isn’t as legalistic as it sounds.

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
Chloe: Heavenly Host
Steve: In the Deserts
Connie: Quirinius

Continued here!

Christmas Week

12/24/2007, 2:07 pm -- by | No Comments

Merry Christmas from all of us here at bweinh.com!

Today’s Bible discussion and football picks will be our only posts (except tomorrow’s Christmas devotion!) until Friday — enjoy the holiday season and we’ll see you in a few days!

Joke of the Day, 12/24/07

12/24/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” — J. Leno

Advent Devotional — Monday, December 24

12/24/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

Monday, December 24, 2007
Christmas Eve

Come now and look upon the works of the Lord, what awesome things he has done on earth.
‘Be still, then, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
” (Psalm 46:9, 11-12, from the Vespers Psalm in the Christmas Eve reading in The Divine Hours)

Psalm 46 is a hymn to God’s strength. “We will not fear,” reads v. 2, “though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” At times, this language about God’s strength turns violent: “He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire,” reads v. 10.

We don’t often associate Christmas Eve with God’s strength. It is a cozy holiday; in the eyes of the world, it is a time to celebrate the universal beauty of mother and child. In the eyes of the church, it is a time to celebrate God’s humility, not divine strength.

Yet what if we were to recognize that Christmas Eve was in fact the greatest show of God’s strength the world has ever known? It was not earthquake, wind, and fire; it was not the raising up of one nation and the dashing of another; it was not the divine voice atop the mountain, frightening the people of Israel. Instead, it was the conscious laying aside of those things. In the coming of Jesus, God was strong enough not to rely on His “brute force,” His ability to cause the rise and fall of people and empires; instead, God was strong enough to come as a helpless Baby, convinced that what would conquer the world and steal away every human heart would not be thunder, but self-giving. Of all the works of the Lord, none was more awesome than this.

What if we learned to define strength in this way? We Christians sometimes believe the lies of the world, that the truly strong are those who can assert their will upon others. We tend to believe, like everyone else, that the strong are those who can punish with shock and awe, that the strong devastate the world. But what if we started to believe that the strong don’t always look strong? What if we believe that the true strength of God lay not in His ability to overwhelm us, but to give Himself completely away for us?

It is the weak who must constantly demonstrate to others how strong they are. It is the strong who are so sure of their strength that they don’t have to constantly put it on display. It is the strong who are comfortable giving themselves away, knowing that in God they will always have enough.

The divine strength of God, the strong arm of Israel, lays in a manger tonight and begs to be held and nursed and cuddled. Can we find it in our hearts to give ourselves away like our strong God?

Advent Devotional — Sunday, December 23

12/23/2007, 8:30 am -- by | 1 Comment

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Fourth Sunday in Advent
Purify my conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in me a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” (The Prayer Appointed for the Week in The Divine Hours)

Do you ever wonder about the innkeeper who provided a stable where the baby Jesus could be born? I’m never sure if he’s one of the good guys because he provided some place for the baby Jesus when the inn was completely full, or one of the bad guys because he didn’t rustle up something a little better for this very pregnant little family. I suppose, as with most people, it’s a mixture of both. Perhaps he had kind intentions — he could have done more, but he could have done less too.

Whatever the case, the innkeeper provides a challenge for us today, because so many of us are like the innkeeper. We’re on the fence in our lives. We’re not ready to totally throw God out of our lives into the cold; but neither are we ready to fully embrace God, bringing Him into the inner sanctum, especially if that means disturbing some prestigious guests like pride and arrogance. And so we choose a compromise, a stable if you will: God is welcome, but only on the margins of our lives.

It is always tempting to offer Christ a stable. It means that we can view Him from a distance, from inside the inn, where it is warm and cozy, and not have to deal with the cold and hay and straw and animals of the manger. It means that we can enjoy the “Christmas story” without really having to make the reality of Christ’s birth a permanent, year-round part of our lives.

This prayer perfectly expresses the sentiment of Advent. As Christians, we should not want to find just a stable for Jesus, a place on the periphery of our lives where we can enjoy Jesus from a distance. Instead, we want to provide Christ with the mansion of our hearts. We do not want to keep Jesus on the outside, but fully invite Him in so that He can change us. And so we pray for purity; we pray that God, by His constant presence in our lives, will purify us so that Jesus will have a fitting home to come to. We pray that God will touch every corner of our hearts during this season and make them a place fitting for the King of Heaven to come and live.

Advent Devotional — Saturday, December 22

12/22/2007, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Saturday, December 22, 2007
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog, tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens, old and young together;
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his Name only is exalted, his splendor is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people and praise for all his loyal servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him. Hallelujah!
” (Psalm 148:7-19, from the Midday Psalm in The Divine Hours)

When the Psalmist wrote these words, who knew that they would come to a culmination in a stable, on an ordinary summer night, in the village of Bethlehem?

Creation has always risen to praise its Creator. With the exception of humanity, gifted with the power of choice, creation cannot do otherwise. Birds flying north for the summer and south for the winter, rhythmic waves beating the shore, trees shading from tender pink to lush green to burnt orange to bare brown — all these things give the Creator praise, for they live their lives exactly as they were created. Of course, we can choose to live a life that does not give praise to God, which we do frequently and with disastrous effect. But there is nothing quite like a human being living the life God has created him or her to live; just as with the rest of creation, it gives silent testimony to the goodness of God’s design in our lives. Psalm 148 envisions just this scene: creation rising up to praise God, led by the capstone and culmination of creation, human beings created in His image.

It seemed an idea too cosmic to happen on earth; and yet here it is, happening. The Son of God lays in a manger bed and all around him is creation, bearing Him silent praise. The canticle O Magnum Mysterium says it well: “O great mystery and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the Son of God, lying in their manger!”

In their lowing and braying, and in the gentle breeze, creation continued on, exactly as it was intended. But humans, too, gave Him praise: Joseph and His mother Mary, the shepherds, and soon the wise men came, and of their free will, gave honor to the newborn King. The vision of Psalm 148 finally was realized as all creation came into God’s presence in a new way to give Him praise. Let us join our voices with all creation.

My Year in Review (Part Three)

12/21/2007, 10:00 am -- by | 5 Comments

Read Part One and Part Two!

July finally arrives and while The Bronx is Burning on national television, Alabama is burning too. After a long drought, many counties have banned certain types of fireworks, disappointing because we are traveling four hours to spend the 4th with our grandchildren.

Although my grandson had a hushed phone conversation with me (“Grandpa! Bring lots of fireworks! A big bag! You know the stuff!”), I check the list and find their county was on the ‘banned list.’ I am a little dispirited, but upon arriving, I find all the fireworks stores open, and only bottle rockets and a few other things on the “banned” list. I have always suspected that some type of work-release agreement exists between Alabama’s mental health facilities and the fireworks industry, since all the fireworks stands bear names like “Crazy Ken’s” or “Wild Bill’s,” and advertise “insane prices.” Five minutes into my visit to this particular store confirms that suspicion beyond all doubt.

While sitting around the living room, waiting for it to get dark enough for fireworks, I tell my daughter about the great books I found in June, and she asks me how much I think the Sir Walter Scott set is worth. “Who knows?,” I said. “Probably at least $600.”

I type in the publishing date (1903), size (48 volumes), and a few other criteria. We are all a bit amazed when the only match is selling for $6500. Not bad for a $60 investment. I am still staring at the screen in disbelief when I hear my daughter Teresa yell, “Dibs! I get those when Dad dies!” We are a practical family and, as the oldest, Teresa has always been good at outmaneuvering the other two.Fireworks

The fireworks go off with just one small hitch (involving the neighbors’ porch and our daughters carport), and we return the next day with our grandkids. We decide to spend one entire evening inflicting as much damage as possible on a Cruella DeVille action figure using the leftover fireworks. We are dog lovers, and after what she tried to do to the puppies in 101 Dalmatians, she will be shown no mercy. After repeatedly assaulting her with Roman candles, sparklers, M-80s, flaming spinning things, exploding smoke bombs, and firecrackers, all we can find in the morning is a charred lump of melted plastic and two small yellow feet.

If only Michael Vick had been here.

The only other thing of note was a visit to Community Fellowship Church. The first hour was pretty good, but the next 90 minutes dragged a bit. It is a nondenominational church struggling to find itself, with the unfortunate combination of Pentecostal length and Baptist dryness (no offense, Mike). At least we eliminate one more possibility.

Ian and Rachel also get a full-blooded Siberian/Malamute husky from the Humane Society, and name him Koopa. King Koopa arrives and takes over the house…

In August, the incessant noise of swarming presidential candidates finally becomes unbearable, and I am forced to take notice. Democrats John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich actually announced last December, and in January, they were joined by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, as well as Republicans Duncan Hunter and Sam Brownback. All this a full two years before we will be swearing in — or swearing at — our next president.

In the months that follow, Rudy “the Red-Nosed” Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Jim Gilmore, Tommy Thompson and Ron Paul throw their hats into the ring for the Republican nomination, while Mike Gravel, Barack Hussein Obama and Bill Richardson join the Democratic fray. Mike Huckabee comes aboard in August, and Fred Thompson, after looking good and ducking all the hard questions for several months, announces that he will be announcing something formally . . . maybe as soon as next month.Bud Selig

In sports news, Barry Bonds breaks the all-time home run record as the San Francisco Giants and all of baseball breathe a sigh of relief. Bud Selig reluctantly attends the ceremony, and Hank Aaron participates via pre-taped remarks played on the scoreboard, explaining he could not attend in person due to unforeseen circumstances that prevented hell from freezing over.

Our son Philip and his wife Katherine are coming to visit, so we purchase a new set of living room furniture to have a pull-out sofa to sleep on in the living room. We are tactfully informed that they are still newlyweds and will not sleep in the living room for a week. Either way, the furniture is here and has to be paid for in 90 days. We decide to borrow a queen-size bed to put in the library, and I begin reluctantly eyeing Sir Walter Scott as a potential source of income.

I also begin paying the devil his due at work. Earlier in the year my son-in-law, a die-hard Alabama fan, asked if I could get him into the Auburn-Alabama game, one of the most storied rivalries in college football. My company supplies copiers for the press box for all Auburn home games, so whoever works the game, clearing jams and such, gets a free press pass and parking tag. These are VIP accommodations, and although technically extra passes are given to our company, since tickets to this game go for $500, these are not made available to me. I make a deal with my boss, though, agreeing to work all eight home games free — in return for two press passes for the Iron Bowl. He usually pays $100 per game, so I save him $800, with which he can easily buy a replacement ticket. The season starts on Labor Day weekend…

September. All year long, a crisis with China has been growing. In May, the deaths and illnesses of thousands of pets were linked to Chinese pet food manufacturers; in July, it was discovered that personal care products from China, like toothpaste, vitamins and painkillers, were also tainted and subject to recall. Finally, in August, Mattel announced a massive recall of Chinese toys, after testing finds they were tainted with toxic levels of lead. This leads to two immediate backlashes in September, with China announcing a ban on all US meat products in retaliation, and the Federal Detention Center in Atlanta announcing a halt on incoming packages for inmates, due to a flood of Chinese products being mailed to Michael Vick.

Philip and Katherine come from New York, the Hodges and Hodglings come down from Huntsville, and we are all together as a family, for the first time since last Christmas at Phil’s wedding. In the midst of the revelry, though, I have to leave to go work the first football game, and it saddens me. I am struck with the irony of doing things for your family out of love, that actually end up keeping you from them at important times. It is an evening game, and I leave reluctantly but happy, knowing they are all together in one house, eating, laughing, playing with Koopa, and watching movies together.

I have to be at the game 2 hours early, I can’t leave until 2 hours after it ends, and I have to battle the remnants of 85,000 people when I do leave. I finally get back home about 1:30 AM, and I don’t think I can describe the joy I feel as I get out of the car to see light and laughter still spilling from the front windows of the house. Everyone has agreed to suspend bedtimes for the grandkids and stay up just for me. Gazing into the living room and seeing them all stretched out on the couch, chairs, hassocks and pillows, eating pizza, playing video games, and laughing, is one of the moments I will cherish until I die.

I grab some pizza and a game controller, and join the crowd playing Monkey Ball into the early morning hours.

Advent Devotional — Friday, December 21

12/21/2007, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Friday, December 21, 2007
Now His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside, sent in a message asking for Him. A crowd was sitting round Him at the time the message was passed to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for You.’ He replied, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers? Anyone who does the will of God, that person is My brother and sister and mother.’” (Mark 3:31-35, from the morning reading in The Divine Hours)

In our culture, Christmas has taken on a variety of meanings. One of the dearest meanings to many people is “family”: Christmas is a time to be with family, to re-connect with relatives that live distantly and to forgive old grudges that may be standing in the way of the family being all it could be. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this sentiment, and Jill and Grace and I are very happy to be spending the time before Christmas through Christmas Day with my family, and some time after Christmas with her family. People’s families are (or at least can be) wonderful gifts from God.

Yet we should not push the point too far. Jesus is teaching a crowd when He was alerted that his (biological) mother and brothers were outside. Jesus uses their visit as a teaching moment. He stresses that what truly creates bonds between people is not blood, but a shared willingness to do the will of God. While blood kinships can be great, true kinship is found between people who share a passion for seeing the Kingdom of God advanced.

Maybe this will shape the way you approach this Christmas. Perhaps circumstances force you to celebrate this Christmas apart from family. This Christmas could be a time for you to discover new relationships, thicker even than blood, in your church or your Bible study. The world looks at those separated from family at Christmas as pitiful; don’t fall victim to their sympathy! Instead, take a chance and deepen these essential, eternal relationships with other Christians.

On the other hand, you may be fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas with your family. In your case, my counsel is to remember your relationships with other Christians. Don’t fall victim to the cult of family. Love them, honor them, respect them, but don’t limit your celebration to time with them; instead, remember to support and honor your relationships with others in your churches and communities during this time of year.

Quote of the Day, 12/21/07

12/21/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulders; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Christmas Carols

12/20/2007, 9:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

Today’s Ask Bweinh! poll is brought to you by Ludwig van Beethoven — the greatest musician in history.

He owned Mozart.

Rank Carol Points
1. O Holy Night 20
2. Carol of the Bells 15
3. Silent Night 13
4-5 (tie) O Come, O Come Emmanuel; Angels We Have Heard on High 10
6-7 (tie) What Child Is This?; O Come All Ye Faithful 9
8. In the Bleak Midwinter 7
9. The First Noel 6
10-13 (tie) Joy to the World; God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Hark, The Herald Angels Sing 5
Other I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day; Mary, Did You Know?; The Angel Gabriel; Ding, Dong, Merrily On High; Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer 2-4

 

Romans Playoffs: Quarterfinals

12/20/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

It’s time once again to add to the Pantheon of Biblical band names! Take a minute to vote in the quarterfinal round of the Romans playoffs!

Past winners? Kindred (Genesis) and Stripe for Stripe (Exodus).

Which band name is the best?
View Results


Which band name is the best?
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Which band name is the best?
View Results


Which band name is the best?
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