Thursday, December 30, 2010

This is Josiah.  He is a student here in our middle school ministry.  He decided that instead of having people buy him gifts, that they should use that money to buy hats/glove/scarfs to hand out to the homeless.  So on Christmas morning, after everyone had opened their gifts, Josiah and his family bundled up and drove into the inner city in Indianapolis.

When his dad told me what he was planning to do, my heart broke at my own selfishness and my heart jumped for joy as my mind went to Luke 4 and what Jesus said-

 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

What would happen if we all did this?  I think it's a great question to ask coming into 2011.  What can we do to proclaim 2011 as the year of the Lord's favor?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Last night I came home from a leader's meeting and walked into the living room to see my wife holding my son.  He was almost asleep, but when he saw me he got this big goofy grin and said "Daaada!"  My heart broke as my son reached up for me and decided that I was just what he needed to finally fall asleep.  As I sat there holding him, all was right in the world.  Nothing had really changed.  It was just my son and me, sitting there on the couch.  But because it was my son and me- everything was perfect.  I just sat there and held him until his breathing became slow and deep.  It was quite literally perfect.

I got to thinking- "Is this how God feels when we come to Him?"  I wonder if He just wants us to sit in His lap and be with Him- no grocery list prayers, no worries or cares, just time spent with Him.  I wonder if we've made it too complicated:  We have to sound a certain way or we have to act a certain way...then we carry the guilt and shame of not living up to being like Jesus. 

In John 15 we see Jesus talking about our relationship w/ Him and the heavenly Father.  He uses the metaphor of the vine and branches.  He tells us that we are to "abide" or stay close to Him and that HE will grow the fruits in us.  He tells us that apart from Him, we can do nothing.  It is this connection to The Vine that we draw EVERYTHING we need in this life.  I can not be like Jesus- it's impossible.  My absolute best efforts are like filthy rags in His sight.  Apart from Him- I can do nothing.  What a freeing thought. 

It's not up to me to be better or different.  All I have to do is stay close to Him.  I do this by reading/meditating/memorizing His words.  Allowing them to penetrate my very soul and then and only then will I stay close to Him. That's when real life change occurs and I begin to see the world through my Saviors eyes.

As I sat on my couch, holding this sleeping treasure, I kissed his little mouth and thanked God for what He gave us.  My heart was aching at that moment and I honestly thought that if I could do this with my Father I bet He would feel the same way; that if I just came to Him to be close, without an agenda or list, that He would hold me the same way.  I bet He would just hold me until my breathing became slow and deep and that He would look at me with a love that caused His heart to ache; that He would kiss my mouth and be thankful the I am His.  What a freeing thought.


Thursday, December 2, 2010


Watching T.V. the other day, a commercial came on showing some kids playing with some toy.  The kids looked like they were having the time of their lives.  It was as if they had been born for just this moment- to play with THIS toy!  My 8 year old Jenna, looked at me with all seriousness and said, "They are using persuasion to make me want that toy."  I laughed as she used such an adult word.  But as I stopped to really think about what she had just hit me that she just summed up our modern day holiday season.

The culture we live in has told my daughter that her life is incomplete without this new toy/game/doll/clothing line.  And it doesn't change as we get older- it just gets more expensive.  And no time of the year is worse than Christmas time.  When ALL the newest and best gadgets come out.  Commercials showing loving looks to one another of a brand new car or diamond.  Fathers/mothers getting hugs and laughs from sleepy eyed children ripping into gift boxes.  All exhorting the viewer to go out and buy in the "Spirit of the Holidays"!

Don't misunderstand my thoughts...I don't believe giving gifts is wrong.  I LOVE to give gifts.  I love watching the recipient of that gift as they realize what they've gotten.  I adore watching my kids get something and then play with it for the first time.  It is truly my pleasure to do so for the people I love.  But as a follower of Christ, I have to question what we're doing.

To celebrate the coming of our Savior- who came to preach the good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, to give sight to the blind, release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor- we spend money on stuff that we don't need and give it to people who don't need it.  So much so, we as a country will spend an estimated $140 BILLION on it this year!  It would only take a fraction of that to provide clean water to the entire world!

So this year, let's make a difference.  There are plenty of opportunities to buy gifts that make a difference.  You can go to these websites and make purchases that help do just what Jesus said he came to do:

And these are just a few of the many avenues you could take.  The point is to really proclaim what this season is truly about.  It's not about who gets what, or standing in line early in the morning for good deals, and it certainly is NOT about what phrase a store clerk uses during check out.  It is about the divine coming in flesh and tearing history in two!  It is about Christ giving up heaven and humbling himself to human form.  It is about a God who loved us so much as to sacrifice His son so He might have community with us. And it is about us using this time of year to truly proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.