Friday, December 26, 2008

Goal-setting

Happy Day after Christmas. In my perverse, contrarian way, I welcome this day as a return to normalcy. As I am leaving for a short mission trip Sunday morning, I'm removing all vestiges of Christmas today (so I don't have to do it on the 2nd or 3rd of January).

We had a restful Christmas day except I cooked a lot because my mother, who had a heart attack last week (not major) got out of the hospital Wednesday and I didn't want her cooking or on her feet. I'm enforcing healthy food on her, and since we had ham and potato salad (not really the healthiest), I baked her a chicken. Our house is stocked with food for the duration, a nice byproduct of Christmas.

While I think resolutions are silly, I do set goals, and one is for this blog. I plan for it to be more world-conscious. So I'll start with missions and missionaries who are doing great things. In October our church had its mission banquet and I met the Larry and Sally Pepper. Here is their blog. These folks blew me away. He is a medical doctor who left NASA in the early '90s to work in Uganda and began a ministry to AIDS patients. Amazing story. Here's is their blog. http://peppersinugandaandlesotho.blogspot.com/

I am happy to report my novel is the best seller by my publisher on Christian Book Distributors' website. That means maybe ten people bought it!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Whenever I sit down to read a "Christmas reflection" or "Advent devotional" I am always amazed by how rich the Christmas story is, and how deep our imaginations are. We can get, and put in, so much meaning about the nativity, the characters, the humanity of the story. We have a lot of far-fetched ideas. Even when biblical exposition clearly teaches certain truths about the conception, birth, and early childhood of Christ, we hold on to Christmas card pictures of stars over barns with three impressive figures on camels standing by, Mary looking anything but like a woman who just gave birth in a barn and Joseph as an old man. I'm rather an iconoclast about it because all the "magic" and "miracle" of Christmas just gets in the way of the reality, at least I think so. On the other hand, there is immense charm to it, such as Hollywood stories of angels coming to help ministers who need some guidance, legends of animal behavior in the presence of the Christ Child, and tales of redemption for misers.

We can, I suppose, spend as much time debunking the trappings of Christmas (such as carols; see http://www.christianitytodayblogs.com/history/2008/12/top_eight_historically_incorre.html) as was spent starting them in the first place. I'm thinking of the plot for a Christmastime novel, but cliches abound.

Merry Christmas to any who read this blog--very few, from what I can tell.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent Reflections

I tend to not get too serious about Christmas until a week or so beforehand; I'm behind on Christmas cards and it's only two days! But I've had a change of plans, due to my mother's illness, so we'll see what happens. She had a heart attack, not a deep one but still a heart attack, and life will be a little different from now on. She, like me, doesn't like to be fussed over and likes being left alone, but it doesn't work that way after a heart attack.

It's turned quite cold here, 14 degrees this morning, which I realize is not much compared to what those in Minnesota and Michigan face.

I read a wonderful article in the Biblical Illustrator, a magazine put out by LifeWay for Bible teachers in the SBC. It is about the glory of God. The phrase "Give God the glory" always puzzled me. As this article points out, glory is something God has; we can't give Him "glory," which essentially means weight and worthiness, brightness and splendor, presence and magnificence. To quote:

"A number of significant theological observations deserve attention at this point. First, the 'glory of God' is an essential attribute of the divine nature, not a quality conferred upon God by His creation. While we often speak of 'giving' God glory, the biblical writers would have understood that, as a part of God's creation we can, at best only 'acknowledge' his glory. . . . The biblical testimony is clear. The role of creation, including that of humankind, is one of bearing witness to the magnitude of God's glory; but creation itself contributes nothing that adds to or enhances God's glory. . . . Second, anything we know about God's glory is mediated through the grace of divine self-disclosure; we experience the glory of God as God chooses to reveal Himself to us. . . Third, while the concept of God's glory speaks to us of divine grace and self-disclosure, it also speaks of the radical otherness of God. To encounter the glory of God is to be overcome with awe, dread, and fear." (pps. 77-78).

John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

I was struck by this piece for a number of reasons (not the least of which is that a Southern Baptist was freely quoting Emil Brunner and John Calvin, which he of course should. SB tend to overlook their roots and the contribution of other denominations, as if Christianity started in the 20th century in Texas). Our constant emphasis on "Give God the glory" is a symptom of our man-centered paradigm. We Christians living in 2008 simply fail to have a God-centered paradigm, or framework, for seeing the world. It's all out of whack, like when one of my contact lenses falls out--I'm seeing fine with one eye and horribly with the other, a disaster when driving (and I have enough trouble driving on the interstate). If we give God the glory, that means He's dependent on us for something. All we can do is get in the right place, theologically speaking, where a little part of God's glory is accessible to us and we can acknowledge it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Milestones--or Millstones

Yesterday I celebrated my 53rd birthday. It was a good day, no revelations, no bad news, no panic attacks, lots of rain (which we need here, so I celebrate rain). My husband and son took me out to dinner and I ate a steak. I am very blessed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Great Movie

I finally saw High Noon for the first time last night. What a phenomenal film. I was blown away, especially by the last scene.

Hollywood doesn't make them like that--they either end with contrived happiness or have so much violence and explosions that make us go "wow, how did they do that?" but we miss the story.

Christian Fiction

Shameless Promotion so this will come up on Google: My novel, Traveling Through, is available on over 30 websites that sell books. Christian Book Distributors (cbd.com) has started selling OakTara books, which is quite a coup for OakTara. Search for Barbara G. Tucker. I really don't know what Christian fiction is. I write what I hope is good, even literary fiction, with Christian characters acting on Christian ideas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

By name

The last post was about being thankful for people, and I listed some "categories." Now is the time to list real people.
David Tucker, Paul Tucker, Tessie Graham, Donald Graham, Edna Graham, Gary Graham, Michael Graham, Jacob Graham, Zachary Graham, Margie Lawrence, Bill Lawrence, Mary Sheetz, Becky Petite, Kelley Mahoney, Christy Price, Bill Grissett, Steve Euler, Regina Siler,
Ronda Cox, Sharon Wilson, Michael Walters, Lou Fuller, Derek Lance, Donna Hendrix, Mary Nielsen, Pat Rose, Pam Robertson, Joke Plunkett-Longman, Karen Carroll, Martha Nelson,
Brenda Slater, Janis Holsomback, June Atchley, Shirley Downs, Becky Clark, George Clark, Buddy Thomas, J. R. Faulkner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ramona Tucker, Jeff Nesbitt, Debbie Tucker, Laree Boyles McKee, Sandy Turner, Josie Rose, Cheryl Larsen.

Let me add Regina Ray, Cathy Hunsicker, Clint Kinkead, Nick Carty, Christy Ayars, Barbara Murray, Lydia Postell, Marsha Matthews, Jerry Drye, Diane Trujillo.

Each for their own reasons, of course.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

KISS

Our new pastor understands a simple concept: the twenty- to twenty-five minute sermon. The last two did not. Following his example, I'm working on KISS, less is more, etc. Overdoing everything is the bain of my existence.

So in my Bible lesson this morning I made the (only one) point of being thankful for people, as the Apostle Paul is in I Thessalonians. And we talked about who (not what, not when) we are thankful for. Truthfully, we should be thankful for everyone, the least likely especially. And then I gave them homework: write someone a letter like Paul does and tell the person you are thankful for him or her.

I plan to (over)do it and write three or four. And I should probably write about 100.

I have read some of my previous posts and laughed/cried/blushed at some of them. I am thankful for those people who tolerate my opinionatedness.

I also am thankful for everyone who has read my novel and even more for those who have bought it, and for the publishers who put it in print with their company's name on it.

I am thankful for students. They keep me in a job. They also make me see the world in different ways.

This is a very good spiritual exercise.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sarah Palin called me the other night . . .

Who invented robocalling anyway? Up until Tuesday, we Georgians were inundated with them (along with big cardstock flyers in our mailboxes) because we were to go to the polls on December 2 for a run-off election. The Republican party could have saved some of its money--it was pretty clear that Chambliss would win. He was in the position of a run-off due to a third-party candidate, Georgia's demand that the winner have a majority, and all those voters for Obama who just voted straight ticket. On November 4 Chambliss had 49.8%; on December 2, 58%.

Most of us who voted for him were voting for a principle rather than a candidate. If Franken somehow pulls off that debacle in Minnesota (I never want to be told I'm stupid for living in the south again by someone from the upper Midwest--what's wrong with those Minnesotans!?), Chambliss was the last line of defense between a filibuster-proof Democratic majority. The principle of checks and balance was in jeopardy, was our defense.

Anyway, the last robocall I got was from Sarah Palin. I've been telling people all week she called me. I was so thrilled. I screamed into the phone--"I love you, Sarah!" But, alas, my cries of devotion fell on deaf ears, so to speak.

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 18 in total

I have decided to post all of my thoughts on Matthew 18 at once.  After this I will take a short break from posting about Matthew, not becau...