Wednesday, December 29, 2004

This is a piece of heart...

My friend, Tom, has a very rare heart condition which causes him to have serious palpitations, and go through very dizzy spells and fainting. As a result of this, the good folks at Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN are taking a close look at hime. They are a bit confused as to what the actual cause is, but they are going to do surgery anyway to try to correct it. (I guess that makes sense...not to me, but I don't even play a doctor on TV, so who am I?) Tom's attitude in all of this is fantastic!! He is such a lover and truster in Jesus, it blows me away!

Below is his GREAT email about what is going on. For those of you who are not into analogies, here's your chance:

WARNING: What follows is one long, but really cool analogy!

There, you have been warned... Enjoy!

To All,

Short Take: The heart surgery has been moved up to a week from this Thursday, December 11th.

Long Take ...into Eternity:

Mayo did more tests last week. God did also.

Mayo is confident the problem is one of a flawed heart. God is even more confident of this.

Mayo says it is a condition I was born with. God concurs - says it has been passed on from generation to generation - since man's original heart problem.

Mayo says the problem is one of a "short-circuit", where the heart is getting input from a source it should not be getting input from, causing it to function in a way it was not designed to function. God concurs - says, since the heart was designed for one purpose - to "love the Lord your God with ALL your heart", any other love source short-circuits Him and creates all kinds of problems.

While Mayo is sure the problem is a short-circuit, they are not sure where this errant circuit is actually located. Thus, before they do any zapping of circuits, they will first seek to find and identify the errant circuit. It may be on the surface and very obvious or it may be hidden in the deepest recesses of the heart. God knows where it is. He wrote a book which, among other things, contains practical ways to help us find and identify our errant heart circuits. It's a must read. It's a must follow.

When Mayo identifies the errant circuit, they will then zap it. They zap it in such a way as to render it inoperable. It dies. And the heart is free. The key is to make sure it is rendered completely inoperable. A partially operating short-circuit of the heart can be as much of a risk as a fully operating one. Such it is with one's spiritual heart. It longs to be free of any and all short-circuiting loves. It was created to love its Creator and to love it only. To love God brings to the heart its greatest joy. It is its greatest purpose, its greatest fulfillment. It is where the heart is most satisfied. It is where God is most glorified.

The heart is a wondrously created thing. It was created by a wondrous God and He gave one to each.

Such is, and such I desire in, my heart.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Did the account of the Nativity really happen?

Merry Christmas to all of you out in blog-o-sphere!!!

This morning was a great time for all of us at the Treichler home, with special party in the honor of our Savior's birth!!

As I was reading the Question of Faith section in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this afternoon, I was very blessed by Rev. Peter Boehlke, Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, St. Paul answer to the question, "Did the account of the Nativity really happen?" Listen to his great answer!
Oh, yes, absolutely. What else is there to believe? Low-carb diets? My government's reasons for going to war? Barry Bond's pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record? The poet W.H. Auden writes of Christmas: "Follow him through the land of unlikeness; you will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures." Here's my tradition's unique adventure: At the fulcrum of history, in a land at the crossroads of the armies, during a time when the Empire was enrolling everyone for homeland security, the Love that fires the universe sneaks into the world in the womb of a young Jewish girl, and the divine and human become one. This good news is announced to the lowest and poorest. Whatever you believe, don't sit around for years on end reading the newspaper, scratching your head trying to befriend the facts. Get yourself to the grandest cathedral or a pathetic little church; a homeless shelter or prison will do. Sing the songs of the season, watch children in bathrobes as wise men, feed the hungry, proclaim release to the captives, light a candle and hold it up in the darkness, confessing a Word that is as beautiful as it is true.

Enjoy Jesus today, and sing along with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests!"


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Perhaps it means a little more...

So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.
But when the time had fully come,
God sent his Son,
born of a woman,
born under law,
to redeem those under law,
that we might receive the full rights of sons.
~ the apostle Paul in Galatians 4:3-5

Last week I quoted from one of my favorite philosophers, Linus Van Pelt, about the meaning of Christmas. This week, as a Christmas present, I would like to quote from someone who had much more of an impact on my philosophical upbringing, and even at a much earlier age than Linus’ impact. Theodor Geisel was an Oxford Ph. D. candidate when he realized his calling was more in the shaping of young minds through writing and rhyme. Fortunately, the world would eventually see his value, and recognize the true gift he had. Better known as Dr. Seuss (his middle name), he was the author of my very favorite Christmas cartoon or movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” The best part is the very ending:

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!"

"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch,
"That I simply must hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow...

But the sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
[quoted from “How the Grinch stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss”]

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas that means a WHOLE LOT more than what comes from the store,


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Christmas...according to Charlie Brown

It’s Christmas time once again. And one very important tradition with me is watching the 2nd greatest Christmas cartoon ever made, A Charlie Brown Christmas (of course, #1 is the Grinch - hands down!). I have to be a meeting tonight, but IT WILL BE RECORDED - and no, last years recording WILL NOTE DO!! It must be fresh!

Christmas really is a time to enjoy and party with what God has given to us. Jesus Christ came for you and for me. Christmas is the time when we wrap our hands, heads and hearts around the amazing gift of Christ to us.
In the midst of all the trappings that accompany this time of year, it is very easy to miss the real reason of all the celebration. Let me quote one of my favorite philosophers, Linus Van Pelt. In this Christmas special, Charlie Brown finds himself depressed at Christmas time, searching for the true meaning of the holiday amidst the glitz and commercialism of the modern age. He finds his answer in Linus’ famous soliloquy (quoting Luke 2 - KJV):

"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."
"And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

That IS what Christmas is all about. Hold on tight to Him these days! Don't let anything rob you of your joy.

"Santa denies the laws of physics, Captain!"

SANTA CLAUS: An Engineer's Perspective (taken from somewhere out in cyberspace - "SO IT MUST BE TRUE!)

     I. There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per house hold, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

     II. Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.

     This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second --- 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

     III. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them --- Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

     IV. 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second crates enormous air resistance --- this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

     V. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

God loves you and has a difficult plan for your life...

I've just got done reading a fabulous article in the latest Christianity Today magazine about how God uses and even ordains suffering in order to make us into the image of Jesus.

In it, the author, Mark Galli, writes:
Good news seems to be written all over this beginning. According to Mark's account, the first remarkable event in Jesus' life is awash with affirmation. "You are my Son, the Beloved," says the heavenly voice. "With you I am well pleased" (1:11).

This voice literally "ripped open" the heavens to say this, as if he could hardly wait to visit a blessing on his Son. And then something heavenly settled on that tender frame. It looked like a dove—maybe like the dove that let Noah know that the drowned planet was getting a fresh start. Whatever it looked like, it was like the Spirit who hovered over the original creation, like something new, fresh, and vibrant was about to begin.

On top of that, Mark says that the words spoken to Jesus were very personal, very intimate. The Father speaks directly, perhaps affectionately to his Son: "You are my beloved."


"With you I am well pleased."

Well pleased.

Again we hear echoes of the voice that looked over the splendor of the new creation and, on the bright dawn of the seventh day, pronounced, "It is very good."

Mark seems to be saying that Jesus is the beloved, upon whom heaven is showering blessing upon blessing, before whom the future spreads out in unimaginable possibility...

Most Bible versions put a visual break—an extra space or new heading—after Jesus' baptism. As a result, we don't usually connect the baptism with what comes next. But there is no break in the ancient manuscripts. Immediately after the glorious baptism comes this:

"And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness."

This is the same Spirit who just a moment earlier is the visible image of the Father's love, sent by the Father to show Jesus he is beloved, pleasing, a splendor to behold, symbolizing the pristine beginning of something wonderfully new.

Now this Spirit drives the beloved Son into the desert. Literally, in the Greek, Jesus was "cast out" from the warmth of home and friends, from comforts of town and village. He was denied even moral and spiritual support—the Torah, the synagogue, the wisdom of the town elders, even, it seems, the comfort of the heavenly Father's presence. He is driven into wilderness, deserted by love, to face a hostile adversary alone.

And not just any adversary, but the most powerful and sinister of enemies. Mark's version of Jesus' temptation doesn't tell us much about the strategy of this Evil One, at least as directly as do those of Matthew and Luke. For Mark it is enough to describe his fearsome incarnation: If the Spirit comes to Jesus in the form of a dove, Satanic temptation comes to him in the form of wild beasts.
And yet, Jesus was well loved. And so are we! God NEVER wastes pain. God absolutely knows what he is doing as my father-in-law breathed his last, as my dog faced death, as the tormented 18 year old boy in Middlebrook Hall jumped to his death the day before Thanksgiving...HE HAS TO KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING! My only hope in times like these is that our God is in complete control and is taking us through these things to make us more like Jesus in the power of His resurrection.

Our only recourse in times like this is to fully trust him like a little child. I do not understand. I do not feel good about it. My flesh cries out, "WHY!" But my heart KNOWS that God is all powerful, God is all-good, and that HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. He is worthy of our trust in the midst of serious trial.

Challenged to know Christ, and the the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10),