The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

We almost missed the birth of Christ because of a dryer vent. We were slotted to leave for my in-laws at 2pm on Christmas Eve. It was after 5pm before we pulled out of the driveway. Our fingers were sliced from cutting aluminum and our spirits were mostly dried up. And the dryer still wasn’t fixed.

What is at stake was our joy. Nehemiah said the joy of the Lord is our strength. And joy is a source of strength. Experiencing joy is like water on dry ground and clean air for the lungs. The impartation of joy can resurrect a dead heart. The problem is joy feels illusive, like something that can blow away in the wind. Just look at the world. The deep brokenness goes far beyond flesh wounds and broken dryers.

But there is good news. Joy is not only a source of strength that can be received, it is an act of strength that can be chosen. In the face of hassle, chaos, darkness and even death, we can defy evil and opt for joy. We can chase after joy even when it makes no sense. And the choice to fight for joy has the power to push back the darkness.

Consider the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. After spending the night robbing every last present, ornament and stocking from the Whos down in Who-ville, he sat perched above the town waiting. He was waiting for the screams and cries of parents and children lamenting over their loss. But his dark plan failed. Instead of crying he heard a different sound drifting up the mountain. It started with a single voice that was soon backfilled by a beautiful choir. The Whos down in Who-ville had gathered in a circle to make a joyful song. It was an act war against evil. They had something the Grinch could not take from them. And their joy didn’t just stop the Grinch, it transformed him. For as we all know, the Grinch’s heart grew two sizes on that Christmas day.

I am not suggesting we live in denial about the pain we experience in this world. I am simply suggesting we have vast resources available to us in order to walk through that pain.

For more on the power of joy, check out podcast EP 3 “Joy is a Weapon” from last year.

Cut Through the Static

Cut Through the Static

There are a lot of things I’m sure I couldn’t do even if I wanted to. One of those things would be to rob a train. I’ve riden a horse a couple times but never at high speeds. And even if I could run a horse, the transition from horse to a moving train is reaching too far for me.

But I did hear a story about a recent train robbery. The assailant wasn’t attempting to take anything from the train, he was aiming to take the train itself. Apparently the man attacked the engineer and temporarily seized control.

After the authorities apprehended the man, it was determined he was under the influence (which explains his actions). Clearly the man was in a fight with darkness and so my assessment of this story is not meant to make light of his struggles. I was just intrigued by the prospect of highjacking a train considering the options for escape. Every train is bound to a fixed path built from steel. This means the endgame is already determined and the man’s plan was sure to fail.

It is a sober picture. I don’t want to drive my own life down an unbending track. I don’t want to become set in my ways or locked into a closed loop. In fiction we call those static characters. Though they are moving forward, they never change. I’m not talking about being wishey-washey. Holding to solid convictions is vital. I just want to make sure I pursue humility so I can see my blindspots and become the kind of character who is willing to change for the better.



The Man Who Made a Guitar

The Man Who Made a Guitar

I knew a man who lived on a hill. His property was covered with metal, tools and trailers and things other men had made.

He didn’t usually come outside, but stayed in where it was warm. Where the light was weak and where the bottles were stored.

I don’t know what he thought about in the dim light. Maybe about his dad throwing him into the wall.

Then one day his body had soaked up enough and his heart began to thrash around because it didn’t know how to swim.

When the man didn’t die, he realized he could have. So he stopped drinking and started going outside.

He took the tools from his trailer and made a guitar. And to my surprise, he gave it to me.

What Would I Die For

What Would I Die For

It was in men’s bathroom near the trailhead for Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park when I was hit with the profound revelation that we protect what we care about. It came as I studied the long metal arm holding three roles of toilet paper. The arm operated like a lever which was secured in the down position by a large brass pad lock. Never mind the fact that I could simply unroll the paper if I really wanted to steal it. The point is someone valued the toilet paper enough to take measures to protect it.

Not long after this I was watching Birth of the Dragon. It is a film loosely based on Bruce Lee at the beginning of his movie career and more specifically on a legendary fight between Lee and another martial artist by the name of Wong Jack-man. One of the movie’s subplots involves a young student of Lee’s who gains an interest learning from this other master. Wong challenges the student to go and find something he is willing to die for. Only then would he consider training the young man.

Both of these experiences reminded me of a quote from G.K. Chesterton which reads, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

If I value comfort, I will guard it. This means I won’t risk or advance in faith. If I value being right, I will protect it. This means I will cut people off who don’t agree with me and struggle to admit when I’m wrong. If I value gaining the world, I will fight for it. This means I may end up forfeiting my soul.


If I care about the kind of man I am becoming, I will receive correction. If I care about knowing the God who made me, I will set my mind to learning him. And if I care about the people within my reach, I will fight on their behalf and be willing to lay down my life so they may live.

Help, I Need Somebody

Help, I Need Somebody

I was sitting in my car alone, waiting for my son to finish an appointment. As I stared through the windshield glazed with rain I began to cry. Within a minute the water on the glass and the water in my eyes mixed together and I couldn’t see much. I was thankful for that vehicle as it was a gift from my in-laws. And it had far exceeded the average life-span for that make and model. But I also knew the car was ready to give up the ghost and I didn’t have the money or the skills to fix it.

It was around then I started praying for a vehicle. This was a tough prayer for me because I don’t like asking for help, from God or from people. A few months passed and my family received another gift, this time from our friends who were relocating to the southern hemisphere. It was a black Nissan pickup truck. I was sitting in the passenger seat of the truck when my friend made the offer. Completely blind sided by the generosity I started to cry. I cry a lot around vehicles.

But God didn’t stop with the truck. It came with a warranty of sorts. If I cover the cost of parts, sometimes the labor is free. The catch is I have to ask for help. A few months ago the brakes started squealing. My wife encouraged me to call my mechanically-minded brother-in-law. He and one of our good mutual friends took an afternoon to teach my boys and I how to change the rotors and pads. The men above are among some of the best I know.

And then just recently I had the truck back in his garage for a different sound. The day before I was boxed into the middle lane on the interstate and unable to avoid the twin mattress in my path. I mowed over it going 70. After pulling over, my son and I climbed under the truck and spent a few minutes unwrapping pieces of shredded fabric from the rear axel. Though it helped, the buzzing noise didn’t go away. My brother-in-law quickly diagnosed the issue. The collision had knocked a brake hose causing it to hang down and rub as vehicle accelerated. The fix amounted to some tape and a few zip ties. 

I don’t claim to know how this all works but I do know I am a lot more likely to receive help if I am willing to be humble and ask for it. This is true of men and of God. And the line between those two is usually blurry. When we cry to God for help he often sends his people.

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