Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! Sanborn Family Musings...

If you are looking for a truly thoughtful, spiritual, and eclectic post on the true meaning of Christmas you should go to Dan Philip's blog called Biblical Christianity here:
Biblical Christianity

I could not possibly do a better job than he does.

Instead, I am going to reminisce about Christmases past. I wish I had more photos to post, but my mom has all the old ones from my childhood.

I grew up in a family that was lower middle class, and we were downright poor when I was very young. Yet, my parents always sacrificed at Christmas time. There were always plenty of nice presents under the tree. Thanks Mom and Dad.

I believed in Santa as a kid. I was also an annoyingly observant kid. One year, I pointed out to my mom that she and Santa use the same kind of wrapping paper. After that year, she was always careful to use two different types of paper... some from Santa, and some form Mom and Dad... she disguised her handwriting, too.

When I was 6, we (my little brother and I) had a good haul. We loved He-man and the Masters of the Universe action figures and we scored plenty. Christmas afternoon the new toys were laying on the floor and I stomped on a couple on my way out of the room. My mom chided me gently, to which I replied (again at 6 years old), "Ah, what do you care, you didn't buy them. Besides, they prolly only cost a buck-fifty." That got her ire up and she promptly sat me down and told me that she DID buy them and they cost five dollars, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. No Santa? I was crushed... but deserved it. I went in my room and laid on the bed for about an hour (my mom says). I came out and looked at my mom serious as a heart attack and said, "I understand about Santa, mom, but what about the Easter Bunny, is he just a big fake, too?" "Yes," was her reply and then she swore me to secrecy (I have a younger brother). Apparently it takes an hour to connect the dots when you're six. (And the tooth fairy had not entered the equation yet, being a lower class mythical figure).

On year (about 1985) we moved into a new, much bigger house, that my dad had built mostly himself, in a fairly secluded wooded area. That Christmas we really got a lot of G.I. Joe toys. I am serious. A LOT! and my aunt who lives in Texas sent us camoflage clothes (BDUs) and Army MREs (field food). We thought we were soldiers in our camo out in the woods eating army food for lunch. It wouldn't have been the same without my brother. And today, he is a soldier.

My brother, Tait, and I used to be up really early on Christmas Morning. I am talking like 12:30 a.m. It was always my fault. I would try to go to sleep (and I would), but I would wake up at midnight, go out and see all of the presents under the tree and be too excited to go back to sleep. Then I would wake up Tait. He was never very happy about that. But once he was up, we had a good time. My parents always said we could open the stockings whenever we woke up (but touch nothing else, of course). We would find cans of Pringles chips, Slim Jim beef jerky, mixed nuts, and assorted chocolates. We would feast, play games (usually cards), and talk. One year, when Tait was about 6-7, I spilled my guts on the Santa issue. His reply was in typical (analytical) Tait fashion, "I thought so". Apparently, by first grade guys at school start to talk about what they know. Another year, when we were a good bit older, I shared what I knew about the "birds and the bees." Awkward! Sorry Tait.

One tradition we had was that Mom would always read us the "Night Before Christmas," and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (yes, it was a book before Jim Carey got a hold of it) while lying under the Christmas tree. That was always a special time, and I think we kept doing it long after the books became too young to us.

One thing that makes all of this more meaningful is something my Dad did one summer. He had the courage to leave the Catholic Church he (and we) grew up in, and took us to a little Bible church where the true Biblical Gospel was preached. If you aren't Catholic, or if you don't know Catholics, then you won't realize why I say this took true courage. Being in a Catholic family is almost like being in a Mafia family. You don't leave the Catholic Church, and if you do you risk being shunned by the family. Okay, it's not that bad, but not good either. Anyway, we all heard that good news that Jesus is God who became man, and that our sin is offensive to Him. NO works can satisfy God (whew! that is good news to a Catholic), but rather repentance and faith are needed and Jesus accomplished all of the work on the Cross. That was truly a great Christmas present Dad brought us to church to receive one Summer.

My family adopted a little girl (Amanda, age 3) when I was 13. She had a rough life up to that point and watching her excitement in her new life was a joy for all of us. She still is a joy. We love you Amanda (Now 23 and the favorite Aunt in this pic)!

In 2001, on December 23, Sarah Joyce Steinorth accepted my proposal for marriage. We ate at Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World. This was/is the only true Five-Star meal I have ever eaten. I was so nervous that night I can't remember much about it. It was, and is still, one of the best nights of my life. Aside from Jesus's birth, life, death, and resurrection for my sins, Sarah is the best Christmas gift I've ever received.

In 2004, another summer gift, Jackson Curtis, came boldly in to our lives. On Christmas Eve he was exactly six months old and we were starting to get the hang of parenting. I was so excited to be a daddy, and to have a boy, that I went out and bought my six month old son a giant red fire truck. He still has it.

Christmas 2005, Sarah was 2 weeks away from delivering Hannah Joyce into the world. Typical of my precocious little daughter, she was late for Christmas, but came at her own sweet time.

Tomorrow, I will watch my own two children open gifts. I wonder if they will bond in the night-time while their mom and I sleep, unaware. I am thrilled that Jackson has put trust in the Savior, and reminds himself (and us) regularly that Christmas is not about presents, but Jesus' birthday. I continue to pray that Hannah will come to Jesus soon, too. I'll sit back and wonder at how quickly it seems to have all come full circle. I'll blink, and I'll be watching grandbabies open gifts.

Jesus truly is the greatest gift of all for those who repent of sin and trust in Him alone for the forgiveness of sin. If that was all we had, we would be truly blessed. God has been so gracious in lavishing so much more on all of us. May we remember to worship Him as we enjoy what He has given. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Irreconcilable Differences (Part 2)

In part one, I laid out what I believe are the four main reasons that divorces occur. They are: failure to take the covenant/permanent nature of marriage seriously, sexual sin, unkindness/meanness, and an improper focus on money.

I wrapped up by stating that one or both of the marriage partners are guilty of at least one of these things when divorce occurs. Also, I stated that the only hope for avoiding these pitfalls is a genuine, committed, and growing, relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now I have reached the point I have been aiming at from the beginning of these two posts.

You; the child of the parent(s) who failed at marriage. Mine are together, so I must be honest and tell you that I am not speaking from experience. I am close to many people who have experienced this in their lives. It is tragic. You feel devastated. You never wanted this to happen, but no one really asked your opinion. I've met kids who are emotionally distraught all of the time; some who cut themselves, others who are just angry and never seem to enjoy anything. Still others who hide behind jokes to mask the pain. You wonder why no one seems to understand that your world collapsed, while everyone goes on with business as usual.

Imagine seeing a naked, alone, starving (nearly to death) child at the mall. You see him too weak to even cry out for help. You feel compelled to help. This is urgent. He's all alone. He's so sad looking. He needs food, and clothes, and love. This is important. This is a huge tragedy. Now supposed you saw a child like him everywhere you went, everyday, all the time.

I pray to God that I would never become calloused to those kids.

However, divorce is a huge tragedy. Kids are often the collateral damage. But our society commits these tragedies so often that we see it as normal. (Just another starving child--what time's lunch?)

Divorce is NOT normal. What you are feeling about your parents' divorce is a natural response. God designed marriage to be permanent, and the home was to be the safe-haven for children to be nurtured and to grow up gradually in the security of the family. But, now the family is fractured, the security is gone, and you had to grow up fast to the reality of the sinfulness of the world. I am sorry for you. This was never supposed to happen.

The pain runs deep, and sadly, it's more complex than being hungry. We can feed a hungry child, and clothe him. I cannot so easily alleviate the pain of divorce. In fact, I can't do it at all. But please, read a little further.

There is hope in Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come primarily to meet our emotional needs. So please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that if you turn to Christ that all of your pain will go away. Or, that your dream of having a whole family again will come true. I really couldn't promise you that.

You have learned a very hard lesson at a very expensive price. Here it is: Everything you trust in (EVERYTHING), will eventually let you down... because of sin. Money, success, sports, beauty, friends, boy/girlfriend, even parents. All of them will fail you if your hope is in them. Jesus said that all whom the Father brings to Him He will never cast out. He said He is with us always, even to the end of the age. He said He will never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus is trustworthy, dependable, pure, sinless.

I am not minimizing your hurt. But, you cannot change your parents' decisions. If any good is to come of this situation, let it be that God used this circumstance in your life to help you realize that you need Jesus Christ....To save you from divorce? No, from your own sinfulness. From the wrath of God toward your sin. Turn from your sin. Repent. Turn to Jesus to save you. In Him you will find faithful love. In Him you will find peace for your soul. In Him, you will find life everlasting. By His Spirit, you will find strength to endure.

Perhaps you're saying, I am a follower of Jesus. Praise God! Christian, ask God's help to forgive your mom and/or dad for what their sin did to you. Ask Him to help you relinquish your anger. Ask for help to honor an obey your parents(assuming you still live with them), so that Jesus will be glorified in you in the midst of this difficult situation. I am praying for you, too. If not by name, then by category.

May the peace of God guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Love and grace to all who know too well what I am talking about.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wing "Sings!"

This one is just for fun... if you can call it that.

This is one special lady who "sings." She covers some of your favorite classic and contemporary songs.

ALERT! Do NOT have a beverage in your mouth when you click this... your screen will be covered when you either spew it out from laughing so hard, or when your jaw drops open from the shock and horror.

NOT for the faint of heart.

Click here:
Wing "Sings"

Want more? Click here:
Wing "Sings" Even More...Can you handle it?

You are welcome!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Irreconcilable Differences (Part 1)

Divorce. A word that should strike fear into any heart, but has become so commonplace that it has almost no impact in society. It has become a mere statistic.

In my daily goings-on I have been confronted by the effects of divorce no less than five times this week alone. I must admit that I am guilty of a certain hardness toward the term, but upon reflection found my heart aching for those involved.

In my last post I talked about the lie that sin always tells. The lie that something other than God is needed. However, it is precisely God that is needed in all things, and especially in the realm of marriage and divorce. Here it is necessary to lay a couple of foundational principles, though in no wise do I intend for this to be an exhaustive study.

First, Genesis chapters 1-2 tell us that God created the man and woman and instituted marriage. He blessed them, told them they were one flesh, and instructed them to cleave to one another. Later we see in the Levitical Law a prohibition against divorce. Jesus, in answering the Pharisees challenge upholds God's righteous standard for marriage (with the provision for divorce being made only for the jilted spouse who has been cheated on). Later, Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit advises that if an unbelieving (non-Christian) spouse leaves (the marriage), let them go. So clearly, God created marriage, expected it to be life-long, but in His mercy allowed for divorce in two extreme cases.

So why does divorce happen? Specifics are limitless, I imagine, but I want to explore a few overarching principles.

1)Failure to recognize and take seriously the permanence of the marriage relationship as outlined above. God made marriage and expects you keep your promise to Him and to your spouse, "'Til death do us part." (Side-note: modern day revisions of wedding vows do not exempt from God's reckoning of marriage as permanent).

2)Unfaithfulness. God forbids adultery in the 7th commandment and even coveting what belongs to your neighbor (note wife on the list). So don't touch her (7th), and don't even think about touching her (10th) (Exodus 20). In addition, Jesus says in Matthew 5 that if a man looks lustfully at a woman, he has committed adultery in his heart. In Proverbs we have a disdainful look at the adulterous woman (she is loud and defiant and her feet never stay at home). And, that chapter states that the one who goes to her is simple (dull, stupid) and lacks understanding. Elsewhere, we are instructed to be satisfied with the physical love of the wife of our youth. And throughout the prophets God calls Israel's spiritual adultery "dealing treacherously with God." Before I move on from here, let me say this... Men: if you are looking at pornography, you are heading toward destruction. Ladies: If you are reading trashy romance novels, watching soap operas, and pining for some false sense of romance you are headed for destruction. And to all: if you are entertaining any kind of intimate emotional relationship with anyone not your spouse, destruction is at your doorstep. The only hope is to repent, break off all unfaithful activities, confess your sins one to another, seek biblical counseling from a trained Pastor, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This assumes, of course, that I am speaking to a true follower of Jesus Christ. If not, the remedy is the same, but must begin with repentance from your rebellion against God and submission to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of your sins. (I will post more about that at another time-- or you can email me for further clarification).

3) Mean/Harshness-- Men, we are instructed to live with our wives in an understanding way. We are commanded to love them the way Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. We have a beautiful description of what love is in I Corinthians 13. We are commanded to let our speech be seasoned with grace according to the need of the moment for the building up of the hearer. Further, in Galatians, we have the fruits of Spirit outlined for us. These are characteristics we should be demonstrating if we are indeed followers of Christ. Often, people begin to take each other for granted. They get self-focused, rejecting the command to let each esteem others better than themselves. Instead of patience and graceful speech, we demand our way and verbally accost our spouses for anything we deem a breech of our plans/expectations/needs. Christians, we need to repent of harshness, sarcasm, complacency, anger, mean-spiritedness, and the like. Men, as the leader in the home you need to be setting the example and the overall tone in the home. One final word, these types of behaviors, while painful to be sure, are not grounds for the "victim" to violate principles one and two above.

4)Money- The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. Those who desire to get rich pierce themselves with many a pang. Love of money can come in many forms. It could be the desire to get rich... the workaholic who is constantly putting his/her family at the bottom of the priorities list so he/she can "get ahead" at work. It could be enjoying spending money too much. An unhealthy focus on things that leads to overspending and heavy debt loads. Eventually, the things break, wear-out, get boring, and never actually satisfy. Eventually, the banks who will say yes to more credit cards run out and all that is left is stuff you don't need or even want anymore; along with a whole lot of debt, resentment, and stress under the debt load. Proverbs warns us not to wear ourselves out to get rich, but to have the wisdom to show restraint. (Note: Proverbs is also replete with prohibitions against laziness. Paul affirms in the New Testament: If a man will not work, let him not eat). Further, Jesus taught us to pray that God would give us this day our daily bread...just enough for now. Further, the Bible is full of examples of how we are expected to share with others to meet their physical needs if we do find ourselves having more than enough. Paul says that he has learned the secret to having much or having little. Finally, he tells us that godliness with contentment is great gain. So, men and women: stop making money your love. Give your love to God (the greatest commandment) and let that love spill over into your love for your spouse.

I conclude with this. Divorce is the result of at least one of the marriage partners violating at least one of the above mentioned of God's principles. The key to strong marriages is a strong relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a strong commitment to His commands. If this is lacking in your marriage, there is hope. Turn to Christ. Pray that He will forgive you for your sins and grant you strength to obey Him. You cannot force your spouse to comply with God's Word, but you can pray for him or her. And who knows, "By your godly conduct you may win your spouse" to the Lord (faith in Jesus).

I have more to say in the next post.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

True Lies...

Really, the truth about lies.

Romans 1:25
"For they (mankind) exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

And there it is. The indictment of all mankind. This is the reason we have false religion, cults, humanism, atheism, and sin of every conceivable variety.

Mankind is not on a quest for truth as some would suggest; he is ignoring the truth that is evident. Verse 18 of the same chapter says: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness..."

The temptation at this point would be to wag an angry finger at those sinners and press on. However, these verses really get at the heart of all sin, especially my own. I have never bowed the knee to a statue of some winged, dog-faced, animistic god; however, when I sin against my Creator I place myself (the creation) on a throne.

We (Christians) of all people have had the image of God restored in us, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We too once suppressed the truth, but now have the righteousness of God revealed in us, by faith. The lie has been exchanged for the truth. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (sinners, now Christians). We are washed. We are justified. We are regenerated.

Titus 3:4-6
"But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior."

THAT is THE truth. The King of all truths; The Gospel.

However, we can (and do at times) believe the lie that in creation we will find fulfillment. Phrases like these are sure indicators: "If I could just make more's been a long week, I need to be entertained...if only I had that body, spouse, job, house, education...My life would really be great if..." (The possibilities really are endless). We suppress the truth. Worse, we exchange the truth for a lie. Really THE lie. It's the fundamental lie that has been told in various forms throughout history starting with Eve and continuing to this very moment. Here it is: "Something other than God is needed..."

But when we boil it down, they are things. God alone is eternal, and everything else is a created thing. That is ALL the lie can offer you. Always a thing. It can never last. It can never satisfy. It can never replace God. Even Satan at his most diabolical moment, the temptation of Christ, had nothing to offer except a thing. In Matthew 4, he took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world. Satan has this one shot to try to corrupt the Savior. He offers the best fare he can muster... and it is still just a thing. The supposed benefits of sin are just temporary things, and can never satisfy.

Jesus saw through the lie... by His grace I pray we will, too.