What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How to Handle Blue Monday

"Blue Monday" is a name given to a date calculated to be the most depressing day of the year.

This date was calculated by Dr Cliff Arnall, at the time a researcher/tutor at the University of Cardiff's Center for Lifelong learning, and has been quoted in the popular press. However, Guardian columnist Dr Ben Goldacre stated: "the fact is that Cliff Arnall's equations are stupid, and some fail even to make mathematical sense on their own terms.

The Guardian later printed a statement from Cardiff University distancing themselves from Dr Arnall: "Cardiff University has asked us to point out that Dr Cliff Arnall... was a former part-time tutor at the university."

The date was calculated to be January 24th in 2005, January 23rd in 2006, January 22nd in 2007, and January 21st in 2008.

The date was calculated by using many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. This date typically falls on the Monday of the last full week of January.

While I don't know about the "mathematical sense" of Arnall's calculations I do have to admit that we do allow some of these factors to affect our moods sometimes. But I also take joy in the fact that followers of Christ do not have to be subject to outward circumstances for our attitude.

In the 22nd Psalm, which is a Messianic Psalm (because it prophecies of Christ, the Messiah) David writes and sings about his "Blue Monday."

He felt:

*Abandoned and helpless
*Despised and rejected
*Ridiculed for his faith
*Taunted by his enemies
*Drained and on the verge of death
*Surrounded by a murderous mob

But, as was often the case, as David sang out his emotions in his prayer-song to God, his defeat turned to victory, his depression turned into praise!

Psalm 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

If today or any other day is "blue" for you then do what David did - cry out to God. He will hear you and will lift up your spirit as you wait on Him!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nephew Makes it to Hollywood on AI

Deb's youngest brother's oldest son, Jonathan Baines was on American Idol last night. He received a "golden ticket" to audition in Hollywood.

Here's the clip:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My "Bucket List"

Deb and I went to see this movie Friday night. She still had some free movie tickets left over from Christmas gifts and I will soon have my Friday nights taken up with "Celebrate Recovery," so we went out on a date while we had the chance.

I won't talk much about the movie in case you haven't seen it yet. We enjoyed it even though, of course, Hollywood loves profanity and we don't. I just want to talk about the obvious premise of the movie. The "bucket list" is a list of all the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket."

I also just finished reading the January 2008 issue of Smithsonian and its cover article, "28 Places to See Before You Die." So far I've only seen one of these places (the Grand Canyon) and I only got to see it for ten minutes back when I was in college and traveling with a quartet, singing and preaching in different churches each night. We drove 100 miles out of our way and broke the speed limit in Arizona and California in order to get to our next meeting on time. But that's another story.

The movie and the magazine article have caused me to ponder. What do I want to do and see before I die?


I'd like to take Deb on a cruise to Hawaii. She's always wanted to go on a cruise and always wanted to go to Hawaii - so I could kill two fowls with one rock. [I myself would prefer going on a cruise to Alaska or Antartica. I like cold and isolated places. Don't try to psychoanalyze that - you'll spoil the fun.]

Touring Europe with the family is also a goal. Since Brooke, Matthew and Andrew are in Spain, we can branch out from there together when we go to see them on future trips. I already thoroughly enjoyed seeing parts of Spain on our last trip. Segovia was my favorite. I still marvel at the adqueduct built by the Romans 2 millenia ago - a breathtaking feat of architecture.

I can hardly wait for Brandon and Keshia and Bethany and David to have children - and Brooke and Matthew to have more. I really get excited at the prospect of our kids having kids and seeing what they look like and how they act. I'm a family guy for sure. A big part of my bucket list is to continue to enjoy our family.

Like in the movie, I'd like to skydive.

Being on a game show like "Jeopardy" or "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," sometimes sound fun to me. If they just stuck to history and geography questions and such, I might try out for a show like these. But there are too many zany categories for me to seriously consider it.

In addition I'd like to see: Israel; the Parthenon and Coliseum in Rome; The Great Pyramids; The Great Wall of China; The jungles of Africa; the Austrailian Outback; any great mountains; the windmills of the Netherlands; the Nile; the Amazon; the aurora borealis; etc.

Other activities on my bucket list (no particular order): hang glide; learn Spanish; write a book; write worship songs for my church to sing; spend a week in a mountain cabin all alone; spend a couple of weeks with the whole family in a mountain cabin; retire and open a used book store - spending my days buying and selling books, talking to other book lovers and READING...

More than anything of course, and I'm trying to be honest and not super-spiritual, I'd like to know God better and share His love with others more effectively.

That's part of my "bucket list." How about yours?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happiness with a "Y"

I've done no blogging for a while. Too many excuses to list.

But I just finished a book I have to talk about, "The Pursuit of HappYness," by Chris Gardner. The movie came out a while back, starring Will Smith, and Deb and I liked it so much I read the book.

WARNING: Not good reading for Pharisees or other legalists since it is peppered with profanity, several adult situations, some unfinished and unbiblical conclusions about spirituality, etc., but several threads of the most heart-rending and soul-searching truth race like a torrent through this volume. I caught myself with my face in my hands several times tearfully calling out to Jesus to help me care more for the hurting and the homeless.

Gardner spent most of his life without knowing his father and living under the abuse and tyranny of an illiterate step-father. Consequently he promised himself he would never be an absentee in the life of his son. His tenacity to his commitment to fatherhood and his resourcefulness in the face of circumstances beyond his control (as well as some self-inflicted wounds) resonate waves of respect for men like him who don't abandon their children for childish and selfish reasons. Never mind he's now rich and influential. The success I admire is his fortitude to be a good father even if it meant swallowing his pride or juggling his schedule. Millions of men need to get a grip on this ideal.

I like for my reading to include elements outside the boundaries of often-tread Christian works. As a pastor I'm constantly trying to understand what makes people tick. I want to walk in their shoes, know what they're thinking, and identify with their loneliness and suffering because I think Jesus did that. Books like this help keep my heart tender.

I could be blogging about the 944-page work on Abraham Lincoln I read over the holidays entitled, "Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin, that deals with the political genius of our 16th president. That was an enjoyable read and very well-written. But this 302-page autobiographical work by Gardner was one of those books that spoke to my soul. (Not that history doesn't speak to my soul - but in a different way.)

There have been plenty of times the Holy Spirit has imparted the lessons of empathy and impartiality to my heart and mind, including those times when I have been the recipient of judgmentalism because others did not know and understand my personal history. These experiences have moved me to work harder at trying to understand others. But this book was a repeat and reemphasis of God's instruction to me. It was a fresh "wake up call" to compassion.

I ask myself, "Do I know and care about the sad plight of some of the children and men and women of my own city? Do I understand their sense of hopelessness and why they behave in anti-social ways?"

I want to know. I want to care. I want to do something about it.