Christmas Past, Christmas Future

By all accounts, Rahab should have died when Jericho fell. Plus she was a prostitute.

But, she didn’t take a fatalistic attitude to coming disaster. She didn’t resign herself to the “inevitable.”

And from her lineage, the Savior was born.

My past doesn’t define me. The way I used to live doesn’t have to determine my future or the future of my children.

Rahab seems as unlikely an ancestor in the lineage of Jesus. Based on your life until now, you may feel the same. This Christmas, let the line of Christ encourage you to step forward into all God has for you.

Father, thank you for your grace that allows me to take a different path forward. Give me courage to walk in your grace and on your path.


The Art Of The Pause

71 times throughout the Psalms, the author writes “Selah”. While no one knows for certain its definition, it seems to indicate a pause, perhaps an instrumental interlude so the listener can take a moment to reflect on what the psalmist just declared.

It’s good to pause, to consider truth and who God is. We rush through our lives or life rushes past us. We get overwhelmed by all that is happening because we’ve lost the art of the “pause.”

Even on the rare occasions we bother to read, to sit, to listen to the proclamation of truth, to declare truth ourselves, it’s more like a warm shower than a hot bath. It’s good for the moment, but we don’t take time to soak in all the minerals the water has to offer.

Not so with David and the psalmists, who deliberately placed an interlude, often after a few lines, so they could fully consider the truth they declared.

Take time to slow down, to practice the art of the pause, to consider who God is and all he has done. To let him fill you fully and deeply today.

Rash Decisions

How many rash decisions have I made because I let my reactions lead me?

It surely must have shocked Joseph to find out Mary was pregnant. And while his immediate reaction was far better than most (to put her away quietly as opposed to exposing her), even in this way he refused to react, but rather considered.

Mary “pondered all these things in her heart” and Joseph “considered”. Traits not easily found in today’s busy and hectic world.

Who will God find to carry His Son into the world today? When things go awry, will you make time to bring God into the process, to consider what God may in fact be doing?

The Amazing Wonder Of God’s Forgiveness

Sometimes it feels like we’ve blown it so bad there’s no coming home, no possible hope for return to God and any semblance of a relationship with Him, let alone intimacy.

But consider David…

He commits adultery, then murder. At the time, he doesn’t even think twice about it. He wants what he wants and that was the end of it. Bad enough to do this as a private person, but to do it as king, where your actions affect an entire nation?

How then, could he possibly say what we find in Psalm 51:14, “Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves.” What David asks is audacious for sure. How could he even think God could forgive him?

The life of David is not one of sinless perfection, but rather, intimate knowledge and trust in God. It was something he cultivated from the time he was young. It’s what brought him back from the brink of despair.

We may not have the same background as David to ground us in this intimacy with God the Father, but we can use David’s experience as a basis for approaching God when it feels like we have no business and no hope in doing so.

God loves you. He sent his Son to make forgiveness possible. No matter what you (or others) may feel, restored, intimate relationship with God is not only possible, He desires it. Come back to Him today.

Treasures Of The Heart

I love the season of Advent. I love the preparation and anticipation of the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Over the next few weeks it might be good to capture some reflections on the Christmas story as we look forward to Christmas.

God works in amazing ways, and, when He speaks, there is life. We easily get caught up in the excitement of the moment until, we let it fade away, choked out by the cares and concerns of life.

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

What has God spoken to me, words that have ministered to me? What has God done, that changed the course of my life? How can I purpose to keep them in my heart and think about them often?

Father, help me to realize the moments of awe you bring into my life. Remind me to quiet my heart so I can think of them often.

When Hope Is Gone

What do you do when circumstances are so bad, and continue to be so, that at last, all hope is gone?

Such was the case for the shipmates of Paul. While headed for the place God said he would send him, a sudden storm arose and would not relent. What’s worse? Paul already warned them not to make the trip at that time. You could say this was all their own fault.

However it came about was now irrelevant. They weren’t at the end of their rope, they had let go completely. All that was left were dread and fear. Ever been there?

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t see the possibility of a good outcome, let alone a God one, simply because your situation has not changed for such a long time. Things are seemingly as they always have been with no hope for change.

We wait for things to get better, but it only gets worse.

The truth is, the ship may very well wreck, and even when we survive, a poisonous viper may come out and latch onto our hand. But through it all, God is with us. He will fulfill His word. He will bring opportunities to minister His grace, truth, and life. Keep trusting, keep pressing in to Him, keep your eyes open for the doors He opens. 

He is present, even when we don’t see Him.

“Be still, and know that I am God! (In the midst of the mess, the midst of the turmoil) I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10, NLT, parenthesis mine)

When It’s Hard To Give Thanks

A lot can happen in a year. This is a post from last Thanksgiving when we were going through a bit of a “rough patch.” Since then, we’ve moved, changed jobs, and seen some growth. God has been good, even through the trials…but a year ago I posted this in faith.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel thankful, even on Thanksgiving. It may feel like we’re going backwards. It may seem our life is in complete disarray. It looks like nothing of any significance is going on.

But, though it may not look like much now, God is doing a work that is greater than the past.

Be strong. Get to work. For the Lord is with you. Do not be afraid. (Haggai 2:4-5)

Never Alone

In all of Paul’s travels and ministry across the Roman world, you see many amazing things, but one thing you will never see is Paul traveling and ministering alone. From the time Barnabas brought him to Antioch (Acts 11) to minister and share the gospel until the time we find him awaiting his execution with Luke, Pudens, Linus, Eubulus, and Claudia (2 Tim 4) Paul always has someone with him.

Whether it was Luke, his chronicler or Silas and Barnabas his partners. Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila, Mark, Onesimus, or one of the many others mentioned in his letters, Paul brought along men and women from all walks of life and varying ages and invited them to join him and accompany him on his journey of following Jesus and carrying out His commission.

We were never meant to follow Jesus alone, to carry out God’s call to us on our own. We need one another, partners, mentors, and those whom we can teach and disciple as well.

It’s not always easy, especially in this fast paced culture where everyone is so busy. But it’s necessary…and worth it.

Who are those that reached out to you? Who are those you can bring alongside you?

Looking Up

I’ve been spending more time consciously looking up lately. It’s so easy, with these handheld devices (that I now even use to write these blogs with), to stay focused on a spot right in front of me, a foot from my face, and to miss everything else around me.

Sure there is some good. I carry around an entire library in the palm of my hand and read. I listen to some great podcasts while walking around. I can catch up on the news or discover something new. I even communicate with others sometimes. Those are not bad things.

But since the onslaught of the phone, I find my neck hurts, and I look up a lot less. I miss the smiles and the expressions of those around me. I miss the connection that is there when I’m lost in the light of the glowing screen.

Mostly though, I miss the beauty all around me. On the horizon, in the heavens above, in the world around me. And my soul is lesser for it. So I’m purposing to look up and look around more, to take in with all of my senses, all that is around me.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. (Psalm 19:1, NLT)

To Keep On Praying (When You Feel Like It Doesn’t Matter)

Ever feel abandoned by God? You pray and you seek and you cry out. You do your best to stay in the center of God’s will. You pray His will and trust his Word. You abandon yourself completely to Him and trust Him absolutely to come through. And then He doesn’t.

At this point, some abandon faith, get bitter and angry at God. Rage and/or depression. Why bother, why trust – God, if he exists, is going to do what he’s going to do.

Others, like me, continue to trust God’s goodness, believe he will work his sovereign will for his purposes, even our good. Still, why pray. Why cry out to him. It won’t matter anyway.

David surely went through similar circumstances. He cries out, “My God , my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” (Psalm 22:1).

But though David is disappointed, he trusts God. Amazingly, he doesn’t just trust God’s purpose, nor does he just trust God to work out that purpose. Though he feels abandoned by God, though it feels like God doesn’t hear or answer him, he still asks God to help, to answer his prayer and cry (Psalm 22:19-21). May we all continue to do the same.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Mat 7:7, NLT).