Friday, December 11, 2015


Have you ever read the book of Hosea?  I have, and I confess that I didn't like it; however, last night, I may have changed my mind.

Our Bible study is using a curriculum by Rick Slaughter, called "A Different Kind of Christmas." The chapter we discussed last night is called Scandalous Love, and it was centered around parts of Hosea 2.

If you haven't read it, or if you don't remember it, Hosea was a prophet, and God told him to marry Gomer, who was a prostitute.  In effect, he married someone who he knew would be unfaithful, who more than likely didn't love him, and whose children might be his - or might be someone else's. Imagine that.

And yet, that is what God does for us.  He loves us, even when he knows we might not love him.  He knows we will be unfaithful, and yet he is a faithful God.  God enters the covenant with us knowing we will fail to hold up our end of the covenant.... that we will be unfaithful.  That we will worship other gods.  Imagine that.

Slaughter called it the "de-sanitized version of the Christmas story."  It might be the most profound Christmas story I'll hear all December.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


Consider the last chapter of John.  Jesus has risen, and he has shown himself to the disciples. At the beginning of chapter 21, Simon Peter, Thomas the Twin, Nathaniel and the sons of Zebedee were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias.  Jesus appears on the beach.  He says to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?...Cast the net to the right side of the boat and you will find some."  They do what he tells them to do, and then they were not able to haul the net into the boat because there were so many fish.

In this passage, Jesus reminds them that what they are doing is not being productive.  And then - do something different.  What you are doing is not working; try something else.

How often in the life of church do we continue to do the same thing, without alteration, and without results?  

Had the disciples noticed that they weren't catching any fish?  Probably, but even so, Jesus has to point it out to them, and receive their agreement that, no, what they were doing wasn't being productive.  Were they self-deceptive?  Were they ignoring the lack of results?  Were they standing in the boat sharing stories of how many fish they used to catch doing the same thing? Are we ignoring our lack of results in ministry?  Do we stand around, remembering the "glory days?"  Do we need someone to draw our attention to what isn't a fruitful ministry?

And then, he tells them something "radical" - do something different.  Change what you are doing.  It is a reasonable piece of logic - don't keep doing what you have been doing if it isn't yielding results - do something different.  I wonder if they said, "But this is the side of the boat we always fish from!"  

So, they changed.  They moved the nets to the other side of the boat.  It wasn't an illogical thing to do. It made sense.  It wasn't just change for the sake of change. They listened to Jesus, and they followed his leading. Do we sometimes just make change for the sake of change, desperately trying something new without investment in discernment or without the hard work of determining the best course of action?

Where is God calling us to do? How do we need to change?

Labels: ,

Monday, December 07, 2015

Is it kindness?

Yesterday, as I drove home from work, I saw a piece of paper sticking under my windshield wiper.  I was stopped at a light, so I quickly got out of the car to grab the paper. It was a "God Bless You" bookmark.  I know it was placed there by someone who wanted to supply news of a God's love - who truly wanted me to know I was blessed.

And yet, having had to stop the car, get out, worry about getting hit by a car, and get back in the car, it didn't feel like a blessing.  It felt like an intrusion. It could be that I was just grumpy, but it doesn't seem like it was a blessing to me.

Do we do that? Do we fail to place ourselves in others' shoes when we seek to "be a blessing?"  Do we consider others less than we consider what makes us feel good?  As if we have done our good dead for the day?

I suppose I should just accept the action of the other as an act of kindness, but it doesn't feel like kindness.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Extravagant Love

Have you seen this YouTube video from Pizza Hut?

 It's called Big Pizza Delivery - and it shows a pizza delivery done with mega-caroling. It's caroling beyond anything anyone has ever done, I think. Extravagant. Beyond the limits of expectation. It's caroling that is beyond the realm of what anyone might expect.

 At our bible study last week, we talked about hope vs expectation. When we have expectations, we have in mind what might happen. We can imagine what might happen. When we have hopes, what can happen can be beyond our expectations. It is unimaginable. It can be beyond the realm of words or thought. That's what advent is. It is the breaking in of God in ways we never could have imagined or thought.

 Have you loved anyone like that this week? Have you done something that was extravagant - and I don't mean extravagant spending, I mean extravagant in what is expected of you?

 Our son called early this week because he needed a some supplies for an assignment he is working on. He is incredibly busy at school, with more that 20 hours. He had something like four papers and two projects due after Thanksgiving, three juries this week and then seven or finals next week. And a concert on Tuesday. He called about an hour and a half before the concert to ask for the supplies, so that we could bring them to him.

He didn't realize that buying the supplies meant traveling way our of our way before going to the concert, rushing around to get it all done, and possibly missing our only opportunity for dinner. And he even told us he could wait until tomorrow for them - he was asking us now because he thought it would be easy for us to bring them to him when we attended his concert.

Steve and I made an intentional decision to drive out to Office Depot, go beyond expectations into hope. By bringing him what he needed, we knew that he could work on the project that night, wouldn't worry about shopping for the supplies - and that it was something we could do to help him during this busy time.

When Josh saw the Office Depot bag, he knew what it meant, He knew what we had done, and he felt (I hope), extravagantly loved. Not because of any amount of money, but because of our investment of time and effort in his needs.

Have you loved anyone extravagantly this week? Have you caroled extravagantly? Made someone feel loved beyond expectation, the way you are loved?

Labels: ,