Friday, December 30, 2011

Almost there...

Moses fascinates me. Here's this guy who, by a strange set of circumstances, is watching his own people being mistreated as slaves in Egypt. He gets angry, kills a guy, then runs to the hills. Along comes a burning bush and turns his whole world upside down. He resists, as much as he can, the call on his life. He has a little debate with God about why he can't do what God is asking him to do. But, as usual, God wins and Moses becomes something he thought he could never be.

Fast forward a bit, and we find Moses at the end of Aaron's life, and God's telling him he's not going to make it to the Promised Land either. So what does ol' Mo do? He throws a tantrum, runs and hides in a cave and has a good old fashioned shouting match with God.

Wait... that's not right. He goes back to the Israelites and keeps leading them, knowing full well that he was not going to reap the benefits of all that time in the desert. Personally, being almost there, I think I may have opted for the shouting match.

The important thing is that we never stop...


Whatever it is God is calling us to do, we have to do it. And then, we have to keep doing it. Even if we think it's not going to turn out as we had planned.

Especially when we think it's not going to turn out as we had planned.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Only with God: Angels

An angel appeared to Mary.
An angel appeared to Joseph.
An angel appeared to shepherds.
And again to Joseph.
Each time, "don't be afraid" were among the first words spoken. 
"Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God." Luke 2:14

Sometimes you can read a passage a hundred times and miss something all together. I don't know if I've read the Christmas story a hundred times, but I've heard and read it a lot. And guess what? I still don't completely get it. Seems every year something new jumps off the page, keeping the Word of God alive. Have you read it lately? Go ahead. Read it. I'll wait here for you. 

What struck me today as I read of the encounter between the angel, the heavenly host (or as some translations say, an angelic choir, many other angels, the armies of heaven) and the shepherds. Peace on earth for those who please God. I realize not every translation reads that way, but what a great reminder of how we should live. Want peace? Live your life to please him. How do we do that? 

Only with God...

Only With God: Magi

Where does a new star that appears in the sky come from?
How does it seem to move, beckoning those who see it to follow?
Why would men, sometimes referred to as wise, actually choose to follow it?

Only with God...

Only with God: Shepherds

Shepherds doing what shepherds do. Minding their own business, really. When what to their wondering eyes should appear? Angels, of course, bringing good news - the gospel - to those who the world called the least worthy to be in the presence of royalty.  Sent not to a palace, but to a lowly manger in a cave in Bethlehem to meet the King of kings and the Lord of lords. How would anyone believe it was true?

Only with God...

Only With God: Jesus

A Mighty Eternal King?
Born to a virgin in a damp dark cave?
The one prophesied about, who will be called
Wonderful Counselor?
Mighty God?
Everlasting Father?
Prince of Peace?

How can He save us all?

Only with God...

Only With God: Joseph

Joseph was an honorable man. He trusted God and was honored his promise to Mary. Most men wouldn't have done that. Why did he?

Only with God...

Only With God: Mary

Mary asked, "how can this be?"

Only with God...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Reason for the Season

Jesus. He's the reason we celebrate. Or, at least that's what we say, sometimes to make ourselves feel better. I can say that because I've done it. 

I've been observing a lot of people lately. (No, I'm not a stalker, just and observer. Hmm... I'm really not sure what the difference is, other than maybe the intent behind it. My intent is to learn, not to invade, so I think I'm OK.) Some are people I know and others are strangers in the store or in the post office or at the mall. I wonder as I watch them if they really get it. They throw the Jesus is the Reason in the middle of a conversation about stress, anxiety, not enough time, not enough money, stress, resentment, anger, stress. You get the idea. 
So I want to ask them...
    Is Jesus the reason for the season when you are going in to debt buying gifts you can't afford?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season while you stay up all night worrying about Aunt Belinda and whether or not she's going to like the sweater you bought her of if she'll know you bought it on sale?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season when you have to buy the latest gadget for your kids because everyone else has one?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season when you get depressed about spending another Christmas alone?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season when are yelling at the checkout person at Walmart because they don't have the DVD you want?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season when you're screaming at your kids because they have hit that last nerve?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season while you are resenting the fact that no one is helping you decorate the house so it looks just perfect for your guests?
    Is Jesus the reason for the season when you are too busy to slow down and worship Him? 
Don't get me wrong here. There's nothing wrong with buying gifts (and getting a good deal), decorating, celebrating with family and friends. After all, we are called to be givers and we have been given so much. I just think we tend to separate the two too often. We should be allowing Jesus into those parts of our lives that stress us out so much during this season, and let Him guide us to the perfect gift... Himself. Then, everything else will just work out the way it works out and it will be OK.

What is your real reason for the season? And don't answer with words, answer with your actions. But don't tell me, tell Him. Tell Him that He's more important than all that other stuff, run after him instead of the greatest sale. And after you tell Him, show Him. It's not too late to simplify this Christmas.

Love came down. Take a minute to wrap your head around that and then respond. 

If you have a minute, check out this great post from my beautiful and favorite niece, Ali. She gets it and inspires me to love better.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Merry Holidays

I saw this billboard the other day. After doing a little search, it's not a new billboard but I had never seen this particular one.

At first, I was like, hey - cool billboard. But then those thoughts started running around in my head. Questions like...

Does Jesus really care how I greet people this time of year? Yes! Isn't he more concerned about how I treat people? Yes! Do the words "Merry Christmas" appear in the Bible... anywhere? No! 

I understand that it's important to keep Christ at the center of our celebrations this season, but shouldn't Christ be in the midst of everything we do, every day of the year?

I find it interesting the number of people I have heard or seen on Facebook who are complaining and sometimes even swearing because they have to say Happy Holidays at their workplace (though retail stores that have adapted this are often playing Christmas music and selling Christmas items, so I find it a little funny, but that's another post for another time). If we really are concerned about keeping Christ in the midst of the season, shouldn't we be responding in love? I think we can keep Christ in Christmas by reflecting His heart, mirroring His attitude, showing His love, and obeying His commands.

Rather than fighting to keep the words Merry Christmas, maybe we should be spending time in the Word aligning our hearts with His. For a lot of people, this time of year is very busy and quiet time with God can get easily pushed aside. Maybe what that billboard should say is, "I miss hearing you." ~Jesus

He wants to hear from us. He wants us to hear His voice. We can't do that if we're so busy trying to say Merry Christmas louder and louder until it drowns out the rest of the greetings. So slow down a little bit. Spend some time reflecting on His miraculous birth, but don't stop there. Remember why He came. Pray - He wants to hear from you today. And every day.

Happy Holidays.