Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Perspective

Today is filled with gratitude that Jesus didn't come with all the normal pomp and ceremony a royal birth brings.

This year with the birth of Prince George the contrast is all the more clear. Yet, Jesus, who deserved a birth far beyond that of any earthly royal, was born amid livestock and placed in a manger. No comfortable hospital with the finest care one could imagine, but a birth and lodging barely protected from the elements. Even in His first moments on this earth he displayed truth of scripture:
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. - Hebrews 2:17
Praise the Lord that the story does not end there.

While His birth may not have been marked by massive crowds celebrating in the streets or the attendance of political and religious dignitaries, it exceeded any fame they could bring. Angels, first one then an entire host of them, radiating the glory of God, proclaimed for the very first time the good news from heaven - that a Savior had been born. Good news and great joy not only to Israel, but to all people.

The means of His birth - meek and lowly, continually reminds us that Jesus' greatness came from  identity as the Son of God, not outward appearances or human expectation.

The royal entrance, not a traditional grand display, demonstrated that His ways are indeed higher than our ways, and that humanity's understanding of God was being stretched as Jesus revealed more of the nature of our magnificent God. God in the person of Jesus, was no longer physically distant, but with us in absolutely every respect.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. - 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
The long expected King that came for each of us affirmed by those chosen to join in the celebration.

A rag-tag bunch of shepherds - not those highly esteemed by society's standards, but those with willing hearts to receive and spread the news that the Messiah, the anticipated One, had arrived! In joy and excitement they could not contain what they had seen. Then in following days, the wise men came. Men who held onto the hope and promise in the glimmer of a star - following it until they found the true Light of the world.

So much blessed symbolism of the life Jesus had come to live - the people he would interact with and the message he would spread of faith, love and hope without regard to social class, previous sins, wealth, intelligence, or physical traits. He had come that all of humanity could seek Him and find Him.

May we not forget this Christmas the majesty and humility of Jesus showing up and dwelling among people not so different than us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Miraculous, Amazing Grace

A few days ago I was completely humbled by two little girls I have never met and more than likely never will meet.

My best friend, Shelby, has been working in special needs classrooms as a substitute teacher.

At lunch that day I had this text waiting for me:
I was in another teacher's classroom helping her with a few students and she was reading them a story about Wilma Rudolph. She said that Wilma went from being crippled by polio to competing in the Olympics. One girl goes, "Wow, a miracle!" and another girl raised her hands and said, "Amazing grace!"
The Holy Spirit convicted me about noticing God's movement in all things, along with a gentle reminder of the verses from Mark 10 came to mind,
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a  child shall not enter it." and he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. - Mark 10:13-16
In my own faith walk, I'm frequently tempted to overlook so many of God's rich blessings. I have heard the story of Wilma Rudolph plenty of times, but had never recognized or acknowledged the miracle and amazing grace bestowed up her life.

It took two little girls that I know only a single glimpse into their story, to remind me of the awe and wonder as part of a child's faith. Their sweet innocence allowing them the beautiful gift of seeing God's movement even in the most simple moments.

Sometimes words fall into Christian lingo and tragically lose the depth of meaning. I am completely guilty of using the phrase "childlike faith" without really grasping the significance of what that really would look like to live in such a way on a daily basis. Yet God is faithful in reminding me that even the things I believe to be stale or worn out hold profound truth. Children see the world starkly different than adults - their perspective is not jaded and cynical by times of misfortune.

My prayer today is that you would experience the awe and wonder of God and see His movement and work even in the most simple moments. May You encounter God in ways that lead you to say, "Its a miracle" and, "Amazing grace!"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Prayer for College Students

My friends still in college go back to school today, and it feels a little strange not to be preparing for syllabus day myself. After all, this is the first time in 17 years that August hasn't ushered in a new school year for me.

Inspired by Emily Freeman's sending prayer for college freshmen, my prayer is for all those going back to college right now.

Dear Lord,

May campus be enveloped by your love. May evidence of You be in dorm rooms, in classrooms, and student centers. May the evidence lead to worship that Your glory may be revealed even in the darkest of places.

May there be constant power in faith. Strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ. May their anxieties of fitting in, of difficult classes and professors, of learning about themselves be eclipsed by the recognition that You alone can supply their every need.

May they find in You a fountain of joy. May their friendships be renewed and strengthened this year, may they learn the value of growing in community and grasp the significance of how You have given an abundance time to do this in college.

May You provide servant hearts. May students learn to look for the least of these and care for them just as Jesus did - with compassion and grace. May they see needs and have the passion to serve in however You call them.

May You bring revival. May conversation to turn You, and may students no longer be conformed to the patterns of this world. May they be transformed by the renewal of their minds, that by testing they may discern what Your infinite, perfect will.

May they lean in to the Holy Spirit when things get difficult. At 3AM when they aren't sure a paper will be finished in time, in heartaches, and fears of the future - I pray that they would be led by a peace that surpasses understanding.

May they learn to praise Your name: in those moments that they cannot imagine being any better, knowing that every good and perfect gift is from above. In the moments that there seems to be no room for praise, I ask that You would remind them of Your love and grace.

In the Holy and Worthy name of Jesus I ask all these things, Amen.