Monday, December 12, 2016

The Paradox of Christmas

If you had created the world and everything in it, would you have chosen to step into its history? Would you have lived among your created beings? Would you have lowered yourself to be one of them?

“By him were all things created,” Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus.

Paul repeats it again at the end of the same verse.

“All things were made by him.”

And yet the Creator of all things lived among us.

But should His life have looked like this?
·         “Jesus was born.” (Matt. 2:1)
·         “He was subject to them.” (Luke 2:51)
·         “They mocked him and beat him. . . they struck him on the face.” (Luke 22:63,64)
·         “They crucified him.” (Luke 23:33)

This was the paradoxical life of the Creator.

Why did the Creator of all things choose this life?

He humbled Himself to give us the greatest gift.
·         “He gave himself.” (Gal. 1:4)
·         “This is my body which is given for you.” (Luke 22:19)
·         “My blood which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20)

When John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, saw Jesus in His rightful place, he “fell at his feet as dead.” (Rev. 1:17)

But the Creator of all things laid His right hand on John and said, “Fear not.”

The Creator, who was born and lived among us; the One who was led away to a cruel death, mocked, crucified, and buried said, “Do not be afraid . . . I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” (Rev. 1:18)

The baby we remember at Christmas was the Creator of the world. He gave Himself for us, and He lives today.

Christmas gives us the opportunity to reflect on this truth.

But let’s not dwell on the manger.

One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (see Phil. 2:10,11)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Of Nations, Corruption, and Remembering One Thing

In the last week, my feet walked the streets of three nations.

Korea, a land full of ancient history, taught me that time doesn’t really change people, and the old is often surrounded by the new. The old instructs us to consider wisely. The new tells us if we’ve chosen well.

Canada reminded me that we aren’t that different from each other, no matter where we meet.

As I returned to America, the news flashed headlines I could understand, telling me that people everywhere are in need of hope--whether they wear a hanbock, a red leaf, or a power tie.

We may observe ancient history, grieve over present corruption, and wonder about the future.

But our wandering mind can find refuge in this one thought alone.

“Know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:39

Wherever we travel, whatever we fear, whoever is making poor choices above us, a God more powerful is righting the wrong, moving in our midst, and pouring out His loving-kindness on the undeserving.

A silent Presence accompanied me to Korea and Canada—the same God who overrules all that is going on in America.

“He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath.”

He is not a God of the dead—someone ancient people relied on or rebelled against.

He is the God of the living.

He is the living God.

And He knows what’s going on today.

“Know this day and consider it in your heart. . .”

The LORD Himself is in charge.

"The LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is among you." (Deut. 7:21)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Today, I Forgot

My first thought as I woke up this morning was, “What day is it?!”

Happiness filled my heart as I realized it was my day off. I could go back to sleep. I had nothing on today’s calendar.

But today, I forgot.

I forgot I might see Him face to face.

Not the “him” I’m praying for, but the “Him” who has loved me longer than anyone else has.

I might see Him who loved me so much He took my punishment, and that’s why I don’t fear dying.

He loved me so much, He sacrificed everything, took rejection from His Father and followers, and endured pain and death.

He wants me where He is, so He’s preparing a place for me—a place with my name on it. A place where I can be with Him.

Today, I might see Him!

And you might too.

“I will come again and receive you to myself,
that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3

Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Turn Tangled Thoughts into Trust

I was planning to read Psalm 18 before falling asleep last night. A busy day, a weighty decision, concern for a loved one, and questions about the future. Sometimes we just need to come up for air.

But as I read, I couldn’t get past verse 2.

It took multiple readings to let its nine-fold truth about God sink in—a concept that left Him looming larger than my tangled thoughts.

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

This verse begged to be read over and over again. God’s might is articulated in beautiful imagery and powerful repetition.

Then I noticed how many “my’s” are included in this array of God-attribute reminders.
                My rock.
                My fortress.
                My deliverer.
                My God.
                My strength.
                My shield.
                The horn of my salvation.
                My high tower.

It’s almost as if he doesn’t want us to miss the fact that this powerful God is OUR God.

Our tangled thoughts in weakness never overwhelm our strong God. He wants us to lean them all against His strength.
One “attribute” in this list is different. Worded differently, as if the tables turn for a brief moment, it sits up from its middle position and makes an announcement.

Our rock, fortress, deliverer, God, strength, shield, horn of salvation, and high tower is also the One “in whom I will trust.”

I finished reading Psalm 18 today. As the Psalm continues, David beautifully describes how God came to His rescue when David depended on Him.

How should every tangled thought respond to such a powerful God?


“He is a shield to all those who trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30b)

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Unnoticed Gift

I wrap my arms around her frail body—her beautiful, 92-year-old frame that’s kept breathing with the help of an oxygen tank and tubes I stop noticing after the first sentence escapes her lips.

That sentence is always, “I love you. You are so precious. I’ve missed you.”

We talk.

And she keeps breathing.

She tells me again about her husband who died when her children were young. She makes sure I never miss the part that assures me her God never left her destitute, abandoned, in need, or wondering how her children would be cared for.

Her husband died in peace, because she was at peace and told him, “God will take care of me.”

She never skips the part that reminds me that doctors gave her only months to live. She had two children. Her husband was gone. Her God was the only One who could keep her alive for them and for the many lives He still meant for her to touch. He was the only One who would decide when her last breath would be.

Since then and for over fifty years, He has given her thousands of daily breaths.

We talk. She keeps breathing. And she doesn’t let me forget that her God is the One who did that. The only One who gave her these many years to live.

When I’m with her, I can’t stop thinking about the God who keeps her breathing. She lives in His presence constantly. You can’t help but notice Him.

That’s what breathing is—a constant, unnoticed gift of life from the One Who is always with us.

The words she leaves in my ears as I say good-bye are always, “Go with God.”

Go with the God who never fails to give you enough breaths to live the life He has given you.

Go with God—the One who will give you all the breaths you have left.

"He gives to all life, breath, and all things." ~Acts 17:25