Monday, December 30, 2013

Giving from Nothing

Have you ever given what was never yours? 

Let me explain.  I am friends with two brothers.  I knew these boys when they were small – 6 months old and 3 years old.  Their father abandoned them and their mother right after the youngest was born, so for thirty-plus years their father-figure influences have come in spurts and bursts from uncles, grandfathers, a strong loving mother and perhaps books read and life experiences.  There has never been a steady full-time father figure in either boy’s life to guide him, nurture him.

Today, both brothers have children of their own.  One might surmise that their child rearing skills would be lacking.  Not so. As I watch these men from a distance, I see stellar qualities.  I see love, delight and joy over their own flesh-and-blood child.  Somewhere along the line both boys realized the beginnings of their own lives did not have to be passed forward and made great decisions along the way to change the outcome for their own kids. 

Instead of abandonment, I see cherished times.
Instead of rejection, I see love and delight over their kids.

They have found a way to give great love, great nurturing, and great acceptance out of an empty well in their own story.  They are giving from a place that never existed. 

How can one do that? 

To answer that, I need to relate another short story.

There once was a father who had twin sons.  The father was an alcoholic and showed no responsibility for his family duties and ended up abandoning his sons and family.  His life ended in death from a drunken stupor.

As the sons grew, their lives took divergent paths.  One son followed in his father’s footsteps and he too became addicted to alcohol and a life of irresponsibility.

The other son became an upstanding man of his community and an abstainer of alcohol in all forms.

When in their sixties, both boys, now men, were interviewed and they were asked why they turned out the way they have, given the kind of role model they had in their birth father.

Both men gave the exact same answer. 

“With a father like mine, what did you expect?”

One saw his derelict father and felt the only course open to him was to follow in those footsteps.

The other son saw his derelict father and said, “There has to be a better way.”  He sought and found that better way.

What are we talking about here?  We’re talking about the power of CHOICE!”

We each control the button of choice.  My two friends in the earlier story chose to respond in love, integrity, responsibility and nurture.  Their bold actions stopped the cycle of abandonment.  They are giving two small children a life full of hope and love.

What choices can you and I make that have good and lasting effect for now and for generations to come?

That is my constant question, and I’ll never stop asking, seeking and answering that one.

Have a marvelous New Year!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Used It All

There is an expression in the sales world that goes like this:  “Don’t leave anything on the table.” 

Meaning?  If you sell men’s suits, be sure and show shirts, ties and shoes with that new suit.  Don’t leave anything on the table.

We consider life in that way.  We start out by adding to our skill set.  We learn, read, observe, study, and try new ways.  Soon we evolve into our own operating mode and that becomes our mindset and our bag from which we dip into frequently.

And when it is all said and done and we come to our end, we want to have emptied our bag.  We want to be able to say this:

“I used everything you gave me.”

I’m borrowing this quote from Erma Bombeck.  The full quote is:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”
~Erma Bombeck

What a worthy goal – to use everything we have to use and to give everything we have to give.

Now that is a life well-lived.

Go boldly into 2014.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, December 23, 2013

His Love ... Reaching

Right from the beginning God’s love has reached, and from the beginning man has refused to understand.  But love went on reaching, offering itself. 

Love offered the eternal … we wanted the immediate.

Love offered deep joy … we wanted thrills.

Love offered freedom ... we wanted license.

Love offered communion with God himself … we wanted to worship at the shrine of our own minds.

Love offered peace … we wanted approval for our wars. 
Even yet, love went on reaching. 

And still today, after 2000 years, patiently, lovingly, Christ is reaching out to us today.  Right through the chaos of our world, through the confusion of our minds, His is reaching … longing to share with us the very being of God.

His love still is longing
His love still is reaching
Right past the shackles of my mind
And the word of the Father became Mary’s little son.
And his love reached all the way to where I was.
~Gloria Gaither

Merry Christmas!

God  Bless Us Everyone!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Words of
Hope Encouragement Inspiration

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just Another Sleepy NIght

Somewhere out on the hillside, a group of shepherds are sitting around their nightly fire, while the sheep nearby are quietly settling in. 

The old man of the group began speaking. 

“Let me tell you about what happened to me and Ben last year about this time of night.  You've heard rumors, but I was there.  I saw it with my own eyes.  Ben too.”

Ben nodded, and the old man continued.  “You’re not gonna believe this. Or maybe you will.  Whatever.  It’s true.”  He then spat into the fire.

“Oh yeah,” chimed in Zek.  “This is a good one.  I've heard it before.  Go ahead Sam.  Tell us.”

“Well,” Sam began slowly.  Like I was sayin'.  Ben and me and about ten others were just settlin' down for the night.  It was a right peaceful night – the sheep were behavin' for once and were real quiet.  Three of the fellas had already started snorin', and I had just put another log on the fire when it happened. 

He paused, looked up at the stars for a long minute, and sighed.

“Well, what happened Sam?  Don’t play games with us like that.”

“Oh, alright.  Alright.  Like I was saying,   we were all settled in pretty good and some were beginnin' to doze.  My eyes had just started to droop a bit when I looked up and saw a man.”

“A man?”  You mean he just appeared in front of you and nobody saw him come into camp?”

“Yeah, he just appeared, along with this terrible bright light.  I mean it lit up the whole sky.  It was like a thousand fires at once – that’s how bright it was.”

“What did you do” asked a young shepherd boy of fourteen?

“Nothin'.  I didn't do nothin'.  I was scared sonny boy.  I was so scared I couldn't move.”

“Then what?”

“Well, he said, ‘Fear not’.  We all heard it.” 

“‘Fear not?’  That’s what he said?”

“You got that right.  Well he talked some more.”

“What’d he say then?”

“He said, ‘I've got some really great news to tell you, and it’s for everybody, not just you shepherds, so listen up.”

"Just a while ago a baby was born right over there in Bethlehem.  He is the promised Messiah – the Christ child.’” 

“What did you do?”

“Do?”  We were scared out of our wits.  What did we do?  We just sat there like a sack of rocks.  That’s what we did.”

“Well.  Go on.”

“He said, ‘Look for this sign … Find a barn and inside will be the mother and father lookin' out for their new-born baby.  He’s lying in a feedin' trough and they have wrapped him in some pieces of cloth.’”

What’d you do then?”

“Well, those angels, or whatever they were, just left as quickly as they showed up.  We sat there for a minute, looked at each other and finally gathered our things and went in search of this baby.”

“Did you find him?”

“You bet we did.  Everything was just as that angel feller said it would be.  And after we left, we told people about it as we meandered our way back to the sheep.  People were amazed alright.  I gotta tell you though.  That was some night.  I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure.”

And that is one small part of the coming of the Christ-child.  The shepherds on that hillside became the first ones to carry the good news of Christ’s birth.  They were His first visitors.  What a night.  What a story to bring to the world. 

“We have seen the Christ as a baby in a manger.” 

And they never got over that night, for every year at this time they look up at the night sky and wondered.  They are fearful of another terrifying messenger in the sky, yet they longed for one more glimpse of that baby Messiah born for all mankind. 

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
Merry Christmas

Monday, December 16, 2013

What about Those Shepherds

Most of us accept the biblical accounting of the birth of Christ.  Let us examine one of the elements of that story – the shepherds.

They were perhaps a motley assortment of fellows.  They lived outside most of their lives, and they chased sheep around.  Sometimes they had to be the defender of the sheep – which means they fought off wolves and a few lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

They got cranky occasionally, and they were perhaps great story-tellers.  What else is there to do around all of those fires on all of those nights?

All of a sudden their night’s sleep is interrupted by bright lights, heavenly beings, and commanding pronouncements.  And to top it all off, they are told, with force, to leave their comfortable nights habitat and go find a – get this – find a baby in a feeding trough.

Can you believe that?

Well, being shepherds from the right side of the tracks, they went and they found all things as it had been told them.

Let’s look in on their visit.

“On one side sits a group of shepherds.  They sit silently, in awe, and on the floor.  Are they perplexed?  Are they amazed?  You bet. 

They were the ones who heard the first cries, the first whisperings of God.

And there they sit, witnesses to the most amazing beginnings the world had ever seen.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Angels

To know what the angels knew of the behind-the-scenes story of the birth of Christ – well it would be an amazing story to tell. 

They were there all along. 
They were there when the plan was first hatched. 
They knew of the suffering, the longing of mankind for a deliverer. 
They knew about the promises of the promised one. 

And the day had arrived. 

God might have called a meeting of the angel band, or maybe Gabriel, the arch-angel put up signs on all of the bulletin boards in heaven calling them in for a meeting of gigantic proportions. 

Who knows? 

It happened nevertheless. 

Did they have to rehearse their song?
Did anyone give them staging and blocking instructions on where to stand, when to raise their wings and what to say and when to say it?
Did they have a special costume person add a bit of sparkle and shine to their wardrobe?

Who checked the light switch to make sure it worked properly?  After all, the script called for a really bright light. 

I think God stepped in at that point and said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of the light.” 

There was a lot of hubbub in heaven on this particular day.  The place was buzzing with excitement.  Today was the BIG day. 

God gave the nod.
Gabriel stepped out onto that hillside in Bethlehem and right on cue, the angels proclaimed, shouted, sang, rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 

And this was no small angel band.  In my church dramas we’ve had only ten or twelve angels, or maybe the whole choir of forty who did the proclaiming. 

The NIV Bible says “a great company of the heavenly hosts”.  That is a whole lot of angels.  A whole lot!

Seventy five?


A hundred and fifty maybe?


Maybe a thousand?


There was a great host, innumerable in number, proclaiming and singing and making noise over the birth of a little baby.  That must have been some celebration.

It was.

Because that was some baby!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why Santa Claus

What exactly does Santa Claus have to do with Christmas? 

Stay tuned … there’s an answer coming.

The legend of Santa Claus comes from many sources.  The earliest legends originated in the fourth century in the form of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a Greek Christian man known for his generosity to the poor.

Many mentions of Santa Claus have appeared in Germanic lore and other northern European religions that thrived before Christianity took hold.
Our American version of Santa Claus seems to have come from a Dutch legend about Sinter Klaas, which settlers brought to America in the seventeenth century.  America embraced the idea of Santa Claus, who was said to deliver gifts to good boys and girls on Christmas Eve.

To many of us, Santa Claus embodies the spirit of giving.  We celebrate the nature of Santa Claus during the Christmas season by not only giving gifts to loved ones but by also donating time and money to charities.  It is the spirit of giving that embodies the legend of Santa Claus.
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Trip to Bethlehem

What actually happened between the time of the decree to go and register and Mary and Joseph finally arriving in Bethlehem is only speculation.  Perhaps it was like this.

Here is my version of this story.  Settle in, grab a hot java or warm eggnog, snuggle up with your favorite person and read this one out loud.

"Galilee was buzzing with the news.  Every one – every person was required by law to go to their place of origin and register for the nationwide census. 

Plans were made.  Belongings were packed.  Food was properly cured, stored, wrapped and preserved for the trip, and perhaps lists were made of all of the caravans that would be coming through Galilee and on which days so that those who wanted could join up.

Joseph made their trip arrangements while Mary took care of their provisions.  He selected Zek’s caravan.  He knew him from the village and had made a few benches and trunks for Zek’s wagons.  At least they would be in the company of friends and trusted travelers for their eighty-mile trek. 

The average man could walk about 20 miles a day, so this journey was a journey of four days.

The day came and the journey began.  There was a lot of joviality and excited conversations as they began.  The countryside slowly eased past as they trudged along. 

Mary had to make a few more stops than the average woman, due to her condition, and after the first night Zek pulled Joseph aside and told him the unfortunate news. 

“Tomorrow, we’re gonna have to go ahead.  You and Mary are holding us up.  I’m sorry.”

Mary tried to bear up bravely, but the journey, the donkey and her pregnancy was no match for the rapid pace the caravan took.

True to his word, on the second morning Zek moved on ahead leaving Mary and Joseph in the dust of their trail.

Now alone, Joseph looked worried.  How will we make it?  What will I do if some bad sorts of men come along?  Maybe we can join another caravan.  I think I see some dust stirring behind us.

Other caravans came and went, and they all left Mary and Joseph eating their dust.

Mary, however, was not perplexed.  She had a promise.  She had hope.  The direct message from the angel was this:  “the power of the most high will overshadow you.” 

Yes, that message was for the miracle of the birth of her baby, and it was for the journey leading them to His birth. It was an all-encompassing promise. 

In other words, as God often has said to others, “Be not afraid nor dismayed, for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

They missed the fun around the campfires of the caravan.  They missed the shared meals; they missed Elisabeth’s special way with the standing rib roast, and the special sauté of onions, leeks, garlic, with roasted potatoes, and they missed the stories and laughter at night.

But they showed up in plenty of time and they were kept safe.

They had a rendezvous with destiny, and God got them there on time.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, December 2, 2013

What's So Special about Dec 25

December 25th is the date that most of the world celebrates Christmas day, the birth date of Christ.

No one knows the exact date of the birth of Christ.  Neither the New Testament nor any other historical record makes a claim as to the exact date on which Christ was born.  Early on, the Church considered many different dates.

January 2
 March 21
  March 25
   April 18
    April 19
     May 20
      May 28
       November 17
        November 20

In the fourth century the Western Church observed December 25 and eventually Eastern Churches followed suit.  And so it is today.

December 25 was selected to line up with several pagan Roman holidays in celebration of the winter solstice and worship of the sun.

However, December 25 has become a landing place for us for centuries, and it is now considered as a hallowed date on which we commemorate the birth of the baby who changed the course of the world. 

Merry Christmas one and all!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time