Friday, December 22, 2006

Bethlehem & Mary

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Micah 5:2

Our church musical this year got me thinking, of all the cities in the ancient world that God could have chosen as the birthplace of His Son, why would He choose Bethlehem? Bethlehem was more of a drive-by than a destination. Our church and college tour groups to Israel have visited Bethlehem and to this day it remains a second rate city.

God could have chosen Jerusalem, Mount Zion just five miles to the north. A city of kings and palaces, a city of priests and the Temple. God could have even chosen a city such as Rome, the most powerful city in the world. And yet, God chooses an out of the way, often forgotten hamlet, Bethlehem.

God chose Bethlehem often. In the lives of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the life of David, Israel’s greatest king. And as the birthplace of the Messiah, God’s only begotten Son.

What does this tell us about God? God, in His sovereign and perfect will, often times uses the least expected people, places, and things. Look at Mary. Mary was a young insignificant girl in the eyes of the world. There was nothing outwardly special about Mary. But when God called, she was willing. Our God isn’t looking for the best and brightest this world has to offer, He is searching for the willing, obedient, and available. Will He find these qualities in you this Christmas?

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Have you ever been accused of being a dreamer? I have. I remember once in seminary an older minister told me that I was too idealistic and that I would be disillusioned and out of the ministry before I was thirty. Well thirty came and went awhile ago and here I am, still dreaming about what the church could be. And if you think about it, Christ said He would build His church, so with Christ as our builder we should dream big.

There is a dreamer in the Old Testament by the name of Joseph. In Genesis 37, young Joseph had a dream that God would make him great. As he shares his dreams with his family, they not only criticize and mock him, they can’t stand having him around anymore, so they sell Joseph into slavery. His life takes several more tragic turns and you would think the dream is dead. But despite the lies, the hardship, and prison time Joseph endures God still makes the dream a reality. When God gives a dream, no matter the present circumstances, the dream will come to pass.

There was another dreamer named Joseph this time in the New Testament. Joseph, the man God called to be Jesus’ step dad. In what seemed to be a bad and awkward situation God gave Joseph a dream. God let Joseph know that He up to something big. Mary’s pregnancy was a part of God’s plan to bring His Son, Jesus, into the world so that He could “save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Joseph was bold enough to believe in the dream. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but Joseph knew that when God gives a dream, He will take care of the details.
Do you have a dream from God? If so, hold on to the dream. He will bring it to pass. If not, talk with God and ask Him to plant a dream in your heart. A dream so big that it’s something only He could do.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Lights

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
John 8:12

I have noticed an increasing number of Christmas lights during my evening walks. It appears as though each night a few more homes turn on their Christmas lights. There also seems to me to be more decorations and lights up this year than in the past. Possibly it’s the mild weather we’ve had the past couple of weeks or perhaps there is a more positive festive feeling in the air this year.

Whatever the reason for the number of Christmas lights, one thing is for sure; the neighborhood is a lot brighter. What was a walk in the dark during the past several weeks is now a bright and joyful stroll. And even though the weather has turned brisk the bright Christmas lights bring a warmth to the neighborhood.

As the boys and I were stringing our Christmas lights over the bushes I thought of the verse above. The Creator who said, “Let there be light” came into our world and said, “I am the light.” Our world can be a very dark place. But Jesus came so that we don’t have to walk in darkness anymore. What was a very dark walk through life is now filled with the light of Christ.

Jesus not only said He was the light of the world, He challenges us in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” What a task! We represent the light of Christ to our dark world. To people who may never open a Bible or walk into a church this Christmas we may be the only reflection of Jesus they may ever see. When looking at the beautiful Christmas lights this year, remember, we are called to bring the light of Christ to our neighborhood and world.