wise

We’ve concocted a beautiful little children’s story out of Jesus’ birth.

You have a barn, a mom and dad, and then there are some sheep, donkey, probably some goats and in my mind there has to be a rooster there somewhere. Of course, don’t forget the angel, they are very beautiful in the Christmas pageant every year. There are some raggedy shepherds too, naturally they smell awful.

The fact that Jesus’ birth can be brought into the lives of children in a visual way that makes them excited every year is wonderful. But as we grow older, I think we have a tendency to get too comfortable with that version of Jesus’ birth.

Some of the events surrounding his appearance in our world were life and death. Herod killed every single boy that was two years and younger in all of Bethlehem and its vicinity. It was a massacre. How the parents must have felt as the soldier forced their way through the town, killing as they went house to house.

It’s intriguing how God chose shepherds for the angel to appear in front of on that hillside. They were the lowest of low, the dirtiest of the dirty. People avoided them because they smelled of sheep. And they were terrified when an angel appeared to them, who wouldn’t be, honestly? Yet, they have the highest honor of an angel appearing with news of the Messiah.

Finally, my favorite part of the nativity scene as an adult…the wise men.

Somehow over the last several years, God has morphed that imagine of kings on camels majestically coming into the presence of the baby Jesus into this beautiful image of men so full of hope for God to restore the world and so full of faith to travel thousands of miles to see the Messiah in person. Men who were most likely proclaimed as crazy by those who knew why they were following a star to an unknown destination. They chose extreme risks in their adventure over continued study of the scriptures. They chose to hope with reckless abandon.

If these wise men were high and mighty where they came from, at the feet of baby Jesus they find themselves in complete humility and in awe of the honor of physically being present with the Messiah.

I see them as dusty and road weary. Exhausted, but supernaturally energized at the prospect of seeing the Messiah they had only read about in the scrolls of the prophets. They had traveled a long way to reach that point in the journey. How many different animals had they ridden? How many miles had they walked? How many new experiences had they had? How many challenges did the face? Or attempted robberies on the road?

The wise men put a lot of faith in hope in following their maps and the stars for thousands of miles. I could never imagine every challenge they faced on this crazy adventure as they crossed in and out of new cultures.

The star the wise men followed was hope that they carried with them for a new world, and a hope that carried them through a long journey.

That hope is just as real today as it was thousands of years ago. The wise men must have had so many questions and a million reasons to turn back, but they put their trust in how God spoke through the prophets. They remained focused on the one God who would send a man to redeem creation, and bring all back to the heart and grace of the one who sent him.

May you embrace the supernatural hope, extreme adventure and tunnel vision to Jesus today as you embrace inspiration from three wise (albeit crazy) men.

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injustice

I will never forget how God started pointing me to his scriptures on ‘justice.’ I printed off every scripture that had the word ‘justice’ in it and started going through them one-by-one. Granted it only lasted about 3 months…but God started me on a journey with it and marked me with Isaiah 58.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday. [Isaiah 58:9-10]

Is 58

I am thankful every day for this journey of moving closer to God’s heart. I am even more thankful for the moments he has opened my eyes to the injustice that makes him angry, too.

It is evil.

It is wrong.

It is painful.

It makes me livid.

It makes me angry.

It is uncomfortable.

It is heart-wrenching.

I don’t want to live blind to the injustice in the world, and your comfort shouldn’t convince you that that your eyes should remain shrouded.

Choose to fight with God.

Choose to fight for fairness.

Choose to educate yourself, and be in relationships with those that suffer injustice.

God does not equal earthly security, but he does equal eternal security. Don’t allow your comfort to fool you otherwise.

Injustice makes me scream out like Habakkuk in Habakkuk 1:2-4.

But God answers…’Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.’ [Habbakkuk 1:5]

The more you look at the scriptures the more you see, in the end, God restores, renews and rebuilds.

Now that is something to put your hope in…God taking wrongs and making them right.