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12/31/12

LIFE PLAN FOR 2013

We stand on the cusp of a brand new year.  Most of us will make some New Year's Resolutions.  Most studies say that the majority of us won't even last through January.  So, what's the answer?  Forget the resolutions?  Make them and blow them?

Let me make another suggestion.  Rather than just make some resolutions, consider a Life Plan for 2013.  Let's walk through that a bit.

STEP ONE:  Let's set some goals for ourselves.  Here's a few suggestions for your goals:
     1.  Think minimalist.  If you set too many, you'll burn yourself out in a hurry and it's all over but the
          crying.  Or maybe just the sense of disappointment and failure.  Think about 3 to 5 goals.

     2.  Keep them simple.  Something you can convey in a few words.  Simple and precise.  Know
          what the WIN is.

     3.  Keep them varied.  Your goals shouldn't be all in one area of your life (EX:  Lose 20 lbs., lose
          20 inches, have 6-pack abs, etc.)  Think through all these areas of your life to see what's of
          greatest importance to you.  Here's some areas to consider:
          *Spiritual
          *Personal
          *Marriage or relationships
          *Physical
          *Emotional
          *Financial
          *Professional

     4.  Include a "Stretch Goal".  There shouldn't be 3 or 4 of these.  But, make sure there's at least one.
          This should be something that takes you outside your comfort zone and really challenges you.

Tomorrow, we'll look at your Life Plan for 2013 a little more closely.  Today, set those goals and determine to make a Plan for 2013.
           

12/24/12

TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

OK, so it's the day before Christmas and none of these songs are working.  No Chestnuts roasting.  Definitely, no open fire...unless you want to turn the AC waaaay down.  And Jack Frost, he may be nipping, but certainly not at anyone's nose around here.  I'm reminded that I live in Texas.  For those of you who are not blessed to live in the great state of Texas, let me try to give you a little insight into what you're missing.

It might be CHRISTMAS IN TEXAS IF....

*Your Air Conditioner is working overtime
*Someone gave you chocolate-covered bacon as a Christmas gift
*There's a cowboy hat on the top of your tree
*The most popular Santa is the one at Bass Pro Shop
*"Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" is playing at the mall
*Half the items at Christmas Dinner are deep-fried
*You're wearing shorts and flip-flops with your ugly Christmas sweater
*There's a sign in your yard the says Merry Christmas, Y'all 
*If the shepherds in your manger scene are wearing Cowboy boots
*If none of these things seem in any way strange to you

...Yep, you might be in Texas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!

12/22/12

7 REASONS I LOVE MY CHURCH


  1. It's Messy.  It's not filled with people whose lives are all-together and are trophies on display.  It's filled with messy people with messy lives that God takes and does miraculous things with, in spite of themselves.
  2. It's Not All About Me.  Even though I'm the Lead Pastor, my church is equipped by God's Holy Spirit to run with me or without me.  It's God-powered, not Tom-powered.
  3. It Needs Me.  This is not a contradiction.  It can operate without anyone, but always operates better with everyone.  Everyone is important there.
  4. It has a Great Vision.  It truly wants to Introduce Real People to a Real God.  Really!
  5. It has a Crazy Faith.  It's willing to go anywhere and do anything to please God.
  6. It's Generous.  This Church is willing to give up things it loves for someone it loves more.
  7. It's Fun.  My Church knows how to laugh...at me, at itself, at the world.  We value having Fun.  We don't take ourselves seriously, but we take God very seriously.
                    I LOVE CROSSPOINT CHURCH!!!!!!

12/20/12

ON LOCATION

I'm reporting bedside, this morning.  Sitting in the pre-op room of Physicians Surgical Center, waiting for my wife to be wheeled into the Operating Room.  Interesting way to spend the holidays.  But, that's life.  Full of surprises.  When she's done we'll head home...but not to our home.  Our home's all torn up from the remodeling project that has taken on a life of its own.  So, we'll be heading to a "borrowed" home.

I guess you could say there was "no room in our inn", so we had to find another spot to land.   I haven't ever been to these folks house, but I'm assuming it beats a barn and we won't be sleeping in a feed through.  Ahh, the ridiculous analogies pastors draw.  I guess it has something to do with our point of reference.  A wee bit limited.

This is a hopping place.  I guess everyone wants to get that last-minute surgical procedure done before those new deductibles kick in.  That. or they want to look really good for that last-minute Christmas party.

OK, I'm having trouble keeping a clear thought, so I'll just sign off and hope to see you, and your guests, at the Christmas Eve Eve Service.  It's gonna be awesome!!!

12/19/12

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

OK, I admit it.  When I know some store has made "Christmas" off-limits, it makes me more Christmasy than ever.  I go into a Starbucks and automatically wish everyone behind the counter a "MERRY CHRISTMAS" a minimum of 12 times per visit, just because I know they're not supposed to say it.  I purposely rub their noses in Christmas.  I find it quite exhilarating.  Call it, Tom's Ultimate Christmas Challenge.

Face it, we Christians take our Christmas seriously.  No Happy Holidays for us.  In fact, daily, I receive an email from one Christian organization telling me where I should and shouldn't shop this year, based on what their ads read.  If they use the big "C" word, they're on the Nice List...go spend yourself into oblivion.  If they use the dreaded "H" word, then they are to be avoided like the plague.  Naughty, Naughty, Naughty List.

I find that at Christmas, it becomes a lot more work to be a Christ-Follower.  You can't just go buy all the stuff for your kids that they don't need.  All your possible shopping destination have to be vetted based on what they call this particular time of the year, whether they allow bell-ringers outside their doors, how politically incorrect they may be willing to be....oh, and I just heard another one.  Almost forgot.  Whether they use Christmas carols or, God forbid, scripture, in an improper way to sell their junk.  Like the beer company that's add read, "For those not-so-silent nights".  Have they no sense of decency?!?!

OK, here's the deal...I have 3 simple rules:

1.   Christmas is too stressful and tiring already.  As far as I'm concerned, the over-commercialism of Christmas lands everyone on the Naughty List.  I don't have the time, nor the energy to determine what list every vendor lands on.

2.  I don't expect LOST PEOPLE to act like FOUND PEOPLE.  That never ends well.

3.  Christians already get a bad rep for always being "against" something.  The world views us as a bunch of folks with a a list of Thou Shall Nots that would put Santa's list to shame.  It's not a rep we want to accentuate.  In fact, it's one we should be trying to lose.

NEWS FLASH:  The World doesn't get it.  I'm pretty sure.....No, I'm totally sure, we can't boycott them into loving Jesus the way we say we do.  Didn't Jesus tell us this?  Maybe this Christmas we should read less Christmas ads, and more scripture.  Just a suggestion.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  And have a blessed Whatever Doesn't Offend You Day!

12/18/12

WHY NEWTOWN?

In the wake of yet another atrocity, we find ourselves with more questions than answers.  WHY?  More specifically, WHY, GOD?  How do we make sense of this?  How can it be explained.  WHY?

I wanted to write to you regarding this, but found some great, insightful words from John Eldredge, who stated it much better than I would have...



It all depends on what you think is causing this.
I hope you will forgive my honesty, but I do not understand the shock. The grief I understand. The speechlessness, the staggering, the profound sorrow, the overwhelming sense of violation – these I understand. We are reeling from yet another assault of darkness. But our shock reveals something else altogether, something even more dangerous than armed violence.
I am describing a naiveté about the world that Christians, at least, should not be toying with.
In his brilliant essay The Wind in the Trees, GK Chesterton explains our misunderstanding by means of a great storm he experienced:
“I am sitting under tall trees, with a great wind boiling like surf about the tops of them, so that their living load of leaves rocks and roars...The wind tugs at the trees as if it might pluck them root and all out of the earth like tufts of grass. Or, to try yet another desperate figure of speech for this unspeakable energy, the trees are straining and tearing and lashing as if they were a tribe of dragons each tied by the tail.
As I look at these top-heavy giants tortured by an invisible and violent witchcraft, a phrase comes back into my mind. I remember a little boy of my acquaintance who was once walking in Battersea Park under just such torn skies and tossing trees...he said at last to his mother, ‘Well, why don’t you take away the trees, and then it wouldn’t wind.’ Nothing could be more intelligent or natural that this mistake. Any one looking for the first time at the trees might fancy that they were indeed vast and titanic fans, which by their mere waving agitated the air around them for miles. Nothing, I say, could be more human and excusable than the belief that it is the trees which make the wind. Indeed, it is a belief so human and excusable that it is, as a matter of fact, the belief of about ninety-nine out of a hundred of the philosophers, reformers, sociologists, and politicians of the great age in which we live. My small friend was, in fact, very like the principal modern thinkers; only much nicer.”
Chesterton was describing the naiveté that has since paralyzed the world, a naiveté revealed by our shock. What do you really believe about the cause of the "storm?"
You would think that after a century which included the Holocaust, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and the rise of terrorism to name but a few, we would have been cured from our childish ideas about evil. You would think that after any one of the hundreds of atrocities of the past few years, we would have been cured. Rwanda, 9/11, human trafficking – what is it going to take?

It is this naiveté regarding evil that is the crisis of our age. And it is most dangerous.
For the Christian knows certain things about the world, things we must never ever lose hold of. We know from whence evil comes; we know what to do about it. We know – or we are supposed to know – that we live in a world at war; we are living in the midst of a very real and extremely brutal battle with the kingdom of darkness. While most Christians are still playing at happy little life (and angry at God for “allowing” terrible things to happen), the Scriptures continually warn us of a great evil power, who rules the world, whom we must contend with. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, with the demonic.
But, apparently T.S. Eliot was right: “Humankind cannot bear too much reality.”
We seem utterly devoted to avoiding the question of evil, to misdiagnosing it, completely committed to a childish view of the world. And our foolishness is proving very costly. For as Chesterton went on to say, “The great human heresy is that the trees move the wind.” By this he means the heresy that it is economics, race, poverty, a political party or doctrine that are the real causes of evil in the world; in this case, that it is the lack of gun control that causes evil in the world. Is the evil therefore located in the gun? Far more people are killed by automobile accidents each year in the U.S. – is the evil located in those vehicles?
How long will we continue to ignore the actual wind that tortures this world “by an invisible and violent witchcraft?”
Chesterton concluded his essay with a warning: “When people begin to say that the material circumstances have alone created the moral circumstances, then they have prevented all possibility of serious change...And nothing will ever be reformed in this age or country unless we realize that the moral fact comes first.” Good and evil come first.
We prevent all possibility of serious change when we hold childish views regarding evil, regarding the Great War in which we find ourselves. I suppose for the world the naiveté is understandable. For the Christian, it is inexcusable. We cannot toy with sociological, psychological or political explanations for the evil now ravaging the planet. Because we have answers.
There are answers both to the evil in the world, and the evil in the human heart. God moved long ago to deal with both, and triumphantly. What greater hope could possibly be spoken? This is what the world longs to know - "Why doesn't God do something?" God has acted; he has intervened, at the cost of his own life. There are answers, there are solutions, there is a way out. But we will not seek them while we take a four-year-old view of the world; while we blame the the "trees" for the raging storm.
How differently would the church pray if we really believed we are at war with the kingdom of darkness? How differently would we live and act in this world?
That “difference,” my brothers and sisters, would make an enormous difference.

12/17/12

UNDERESTIMATING ORDER

For the past couple of weeks, our home has been in the process of being remodeled.  We're turning a Dining Room into a Study, a Game Room back into a Game Room, knocking out a wall, blowing up our Bathroom...you get the picture.  Great stuff.  But, along with that comes great mess.  Everything's in a different place...including us.

But, here's the big deal...TOTAL DISORDER.  The project is going well and everyone is happy, but the order to our home that we take for granted is gone.  I don't mean disrupted or effected...it's GONE.  I guess I never knew it was there.  I just took it for granted.

Now, don't get me wrong, this is not a household that operates with military precision.  Far from it.  But, there is order.  We know where things are (mostly).  We know where to put things.  We can walk though rooms without having to create a trail (now you get the picture?).

Order is a good thing.  I'm not talking about ruts...I'm talking about order.  Order around us, allows for order inside us.  Order in our homes and workplaces helps to undergird order in our private and personal lives.

I believe one of the greatest challenges to a rich and growing spiritual life can simply be a lack of order in one's private life.  Lack of quality time with God on a daily basis may not be caused by a lack of love for God so much as a lack of discipline and order in getting to bed at a regular time, getting adequate rest, getting up at a planned hour and having a plan in place for spending time with God daily.

It's true that if "We fail to plan, then we plan to fail", but even with the best of plans, order and discipline must accompany them in order for the plan to become reality.

Possibly, one of the most spiritual things you can do is go to bed or get up at the alarm or arrange your junk drawer...whatever is necessary to order your private world.

In the mean time, has anybody seen my toothbrush?

12/13/12

THINKING BABIES

I'm writing this blog with one hand (as opposed to 2 fingers), and the other hand is holding the most precious little angel.  Three days old, and just perfect.  It's great to hold a beautiful baby anytime.  But, it's especially important at this time of year.  It helps to look into that little innocent face and remember some of what Mary must have felt as she looked into the face of Jesus for the first time.

Can you imagine what Mary must have felt each time she looked into the face of Jesus?  Unbelievable joy...this is her precious son.  Unbelievable confusion...why her, why him, why God, why this?  Unbelievable pride...he would be the Messiah who would set his people free once and for all.  Unbelievable pain...he would be the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world.

All those emotions rolled into one.  If we knew all she did about our children, we might feel much of the same.  But she knew....not everything...but she knew.  And all she could do was love him.

12/12/12

MUSINGS FROM OKC

*My Daughter-in-law is a stud.  Had a baby on Monday and went out to dinner and to look at Christmas lights on Tuesday.  STUD!

*Presley Mae Allen is a little cutie.  I'm extremely objective here.  I'm just sayin'.  This kid is cuter than your kid.  Deal with it.

*My grandson, Cash, has no "OFF" switch.  Trust me, I've looked everywhere.  It's not there.

*At night, I'm very helpful.  I was always the first to wake up when Cash or Presley cried out.  It was my job to be the "First Responder".  I rolled over and told Susan which one was crying so she knew which room to go to.  I was VERY helpful.

*It's cold in OKC.  I think Green Bay is near here.

*Being a grandfather is pretty cool.  You kind of have to be old to do it, but the payoff is worth it.

*Presley is 2 days old and has more clothes than me.  Something is wrong with this picture.

*It really doesn't matter how many clothes Cash has because he only wants to wear what he's wearing...to play in...to dinner ...to bed...to school the next day.  This could be a problem.

* Life has many stages.  They're all good if you make them good.  Don't look back...don't look forward...enjoy the moment.

12/11/12

ON ASSIGNMENT

Today, I come to you on assignment from the northern reaches of our United States...OKLAHOMA.  OK, maybe I overstated it a little, but I drove...and its COLD.  Feels like the northern reaches.  Anyway, I finally got to see my granddaughter (hard to even write that) last night about 10:30.  Once Susan stopped hogging her, I even got to hold her.  AND...she likes me!  It was pretty obvious.  At least it was to me.  Oh, and she's beautiful.  Don't want to leave that out.  She looks like a mini-version of her brother, but that could all change in a day.  But, either way, she's beautiful.  REALLY BEAUTIFUL.

OK, no witty insights and life-changing quotes today.  They just called.  They've been sprung from the hospital (FREE AT LAST!), but need one thing from home before they are cleared for take-off.  IT'S BIG PAPI TO THE RESCUE!!!  (I'm already her Super-hero, and she doesn't even know it...but she will).

12/10/12

IT WAS A GREAT PLAN

There's so much going on in the Allen house right now....I won't go into all the details.  Many of you know, the rest of you can guess...or ask someone who knows.  Think of everything you can and add one or two things.  That's us.  So, planning is crucial.

Today: Short staff meeting, make assignments to cover my absence, prepare this afternoon for Sunday's message, watch Texans stomp Patriots, arise really early and head to OKC before the sun rises, and prepare for the birth of Presley Mae Allen on Wednesday.

Then came the phone call at 4:42am.  Presley has other ideas.  Little twit.  No one told her what a tight schedule we were on?  "Presley, Yaya's car is in the shop.  It's ready to get picked up, but we're driving this little white time capsule they call a rental vehicle.  We don't even have transportation right now.  This is being very inconsiderate of others.  We have a plan.  We have a schedule.  We're stressed.  Why are you adding to our stress?  Can you tell Papi why?"

You can decline delivery with the Post office...why not with kids?  You know, write, RETURN TO SENDER on her forehead and put her back in the oven for a couple of days.  What could it hurt?

LIFE LESSON: One of the greatest qualities a man or woman who wants to follow after God can develop is FLEXIBILITY.  But, you say, the Bible never mentions flexibility one time.  Well, I would agree that Jesus never used the word, but he certainly taught the concept.

Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan?  All three characters had plans and schedules and reasons to be somewhere, but the GOOD one was the one who set aside his plans, his schedule, for the greater good.  He was the one who dared to be FLEXIBLE. 

Remember Mary and Martha with Jesus?  They both had plans and schedules, but Mary set hers aside to spend time with Jesus, while Martha, with the best of intentions, held fast to hers, only to get a few choice words from Jesus.  Mary was FLEXIBLE.  Martha was rigid.

Remember what James wrote about having plans to go to a city and do business there and make a living?  He said, you should say..."If God wills..".  That's FLEXIBILITY.

Maybe you never thought of FLEXIBILITY as spiritual in nature, but God does.  So, limber up troops.  It's great to have plans.  But, God may have better ones.

By the way, she's pushing now, so if you're reading this, I'm a grandpa again, but this time to a granddaughter.  Further proof: Girls are trouble.

12/6/12

LITTLE BIG THINGS

Recently, I missed someone.  Well, not just someone...a family.  It's difficult for me to tell you everyone  who is in attendance on any given Sunday, much less who is missing. (Sorry, if you miss a Sunday and I don't notice, please don't take it personally)  But, I had missed these folks, so I emailed them and they politely answered and told me they felt the Lord had lead them to another church.  I've learned to just accept those things.  I can't change them.  Don't have to like them...but, I'm not called to talk people into coming to my church.  In fact, I really don't want anyone there that doesn't want to be there...except lost people.

Yesterday, I got an email saying, "I think we found what we're looking for.  We'll see you Sunday".  I have to admit, that made me smile.  That made my heart happy.  That gave me joy.  Why?  Because the church is a family, and when any part of the family is missing, it should hurt a little.  And when any of the family gets back in the family, it should be a time to rejoice.

Now, I've got a couple of thousand people to be concerned about.  What difference does a couple more make?  If I don't care, it really doesn't make much difference at all.  If I do care, it makes a big difference.

I see some flaws in the American Church:

*We talk about it like it's a family, because the scripture says it is, but as soon as they don't sing the songs we like or take communion too often or too seldom or not the right way, we're outta there and on to the next family we adopt ourselves into

*We say the church is family, but when someone leaves, often no one goes looking for them.  If one of my kids disappeared, I assure you I'd be looking.  Their face would be on a milk carton.  I'd get every friend I have to help me look.

*The church is a family, according to scripture.  However, that's not the only analogy.  It's also a body. Every functional body has a digestive system.  BOTTOM LINE: Stuff comes in...stuff goes out.  Nature calls that HEALTH.  Must be true in the church as well.  Some will come and some will go and sometimes that's a good thing...a necessary thing.

But, for today, a part of the family is back in the family...and my heart is happy.

12/5/12

MY LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRISTMAS

OK, call me the GRINCH if you like.  Label me EBENEZER SCROOGE if it makes you feel better.  I've heard it all.  You won't be the first.  You, certainly, won't be the last.  There are some things about Christmas I just don't like.  OK, I REALLY don't like.

MATERIALISM:  We all struggle with materialism.  But, it really bothers me that the celebration of the birth of our Savior has become an excuse to place our materialism on steroids.

BONDAGE:  These two go hand-in-hand.  Because of our materialism, most of us will buy way more than we can afford and sink ourselves further into the bondage of debt.

GUILT:  So many feel they need to go everywhere, do everything, please everyone out of a sense of guilt, that may have been there already, but gets a few yule logs thrown on it to stoke the fire into a full blaze.

EXCESS:  Whether you're an alcoholic, a spend-aholic, a worry-aholic, a sex-aholic, or one who struggles deeply with self-image or self-worth, etc., etc,. etc.,...Christmas seems to ramp those things up, or even provide an opportunity to feed your disease under the guise of, "But, it's Christmas!".

Here's the deal, people...I love the celebration of the birth of our Savior.  But, I'm smart enough to know that every bad thing is a good thing perverted.  Satan doesn't create.  God creates.  Satan perverts.  Why would we be surprised to think that Satan would work overtime to try to pervert a time when ALL our attention is on the birth of Jesus, and Satan gets no attention?  Think about it.  He's gotta be working overtime.

"And so, I'm offering this simple prayer, from kids from one to 92..."  
     1.  Keep it SIMPLE
     2.  Keep it about JESUS
     3.  Keep it SMART (be aware of the dangers and avoid them like the plague)
     4.  Keep it FUN

"And have yourself a merry little Christmas now!"

12/4/12

T MINUS 30 AND COUNTING

We're just 30 days away from a brand new year.  Seems like just when you get used to writing 2012, they go and change it to 2013.  Very inconvenient.  Very problematic.  Often confusing.

Why is that important enough to mention?  Because everyone (I use that term generously) will be making resolutions about how they're going to do better in the new year than in this one.  Funny part of that is, we know it.  We know it's coming.  It's as though we've got this reprieve, this temporary pardon from the governor, this get-out-of-jail-free card that allows us to do whatever we want now, because we know that day is coming when everything is going to change.  So for now, we just eat, drink and be merry, because in 30 days all the fun is going to come to a magical and mysterious end.

I guess my question is, If we know these things are important to our lives, why don't we just do them now?  Yeah, I know that's not the way it works...but why?  I know I'm not supposed to ask why, but why am I not supposed to ask why?  If I know I need to lose 30 pounds, then why am I deciding to make that a resolution in January and trying like a big dog to put on 30 more during December?  If I want to start reading my Bible daily in January, wouldn't it be a great idea to start reading it in December?  Really, it couldn't hurt...could it?

I know this isn't how it works, whatever it is.  I know I'm talking crazy, totally out of my mind, completely bucking the system...but, hey, it's what I do.

Why does doing the right thing need to be postponed?  That's my question.  I met with each of my staff members yesterday for end-of-year evaluations.  They were responsible to bring me their goals for 2013.  I just started wondering, "Wouldn't it be cool to start getting after it right now?  Cheat the system.  Get a head start.  Have 13 months to complete a 12 month project."  Sounds like cake.  I'm thinking maybe the best day to start anything is today, whatever day today happens to be.

12/3/12

LET THE INSANITY BEGIN!

OK, this doesn't rank right up there with the "best-laid plans of mice and men", but today the insanity starts at the Allen house.  Today, the contractors show up to begin the remodeling project.  The project that's run us out of our own room and upstairs to the guest room as of last night.  One of the major pieces of the project was supposed to be here by now...it's arrived at the Port of Houston...but it's being held up by Customs Agents (seems a little mysterious, doesn't it).  Anyway, without a completion date in sight, it starts today.  PRESSURE POINT #1.

Then, there's the trip scheduled to Oklahoma City for a few days sandwiched within the confines of a week...while the project goes on...for the birth of our first grandchild...who was scheduled to come on the 12th, when we planned to be there...but, is making it known, she wants to arrive early.  PRESSURE POINT #2.

Oh, did I mention Susan's surgery?  Already been postponed once, due to an ear infection.  Foot surgery.  In a boot for 2 months.  While we live upstairs.  PRESSURE POINT #3.

Wait, there's got to be something I'm forgetting.  Oh yeah, it's Christmas, that blessed time of year when everyone worships at the mall of their choice.  Peace on earth, good will toward men.  PRESSURE POINT #4.

I've been searching for a month-long mission trip that I could convince God to convict me to go on, but so far He's been zero help.  Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.  (this scripture was not given in reference to the bed upstairs).

I know you're asking, "Why are you doing all this at once?  I thought you were smarter than that?".  The answer is simple: Sometimes you can plan all you want, but things happen when they happen.  You can't really plan for a major piece of a remodel to be scheduled to go into New York harbor when a hurricane is hitting it, or for custom agents to hold it up at the Port of Houston.  You can't plan for babies that decide their due dates may just not fit their style.  You can't plan for surgeries that are needed, preferably, before the year's end.  Christmas, yeah, it's always on December 25th, but it always stressful anyway.

But, here's what you can do..."Let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts".  That word "rule" means to umpire.  To keep your emotions in line.  To throw a flag for any "Unsportsmanlike conduct" or for any "false starts' or "jumping offsides".  You INVITE Him to umpire, and He keeps things from getting out of hand.

You can throw your Challenge Flag, but I wouldn't suggest it.  Ask the coach of the Lions.