He Will Be Called: Mighty God

My life feels out of control, especially as Christmas rolls toward us. The things I want to accomplish remain unfinished. I’m interrupted despite my best intentions. Things happen—like my computer losing my blog post last week. Sometimes I wish I could stomp my foot and make it all stop. Sometimes I wish I could conquer my own life.

As the people of Judah packed a few things to carry on their long walk to Babylon, I wonder if they felt the same way. (Except mine are first-world problems and their problems were far more like those of modern-day refugees.) I wonder if they began to question God’s potency. What happened to the Davidic line? And what of Jerusalem, about which God had said, “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:14)? It laid in ruins.

God’s promises remained.

Still, God’s promises remained. Continue reading

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He Will Be Called: Wonderful Counselor

Have you made plans for Christmas yet? I haven’t. I like to plan, but often my plans don’t come to fruition. Not so with God. When God plans something, it doesn’t change. God’s plans are so certain that the Old Testament authors speak of them in the past tense, what scholars call “the prophetic perfect.”

When God spoke to His people about His plans, however, He used future tense. We call them promises, and the Old Testament prophets gave us many of them. What a comfort it must have been for the Israelites to carry these promises into captivity in a foreign land! Continue reading

Of Pharisees and Pointing Fingers

A Pharisee and a tax collector walk into the temple…

It feels like the beginning of a groan-worthy joke, but it’s not! It’s a scathing parable Jesus shared with His followers.

Jesus told about forty parables. Some are vague or cryptic. Some are difficult to sort out, while some are easily understood by what was around his listeners. And then some parables are so straightforward, so pointed, that I almost laugh. This one—about the Pharisee and tax collector—falls into that last category. Continue reading

A Time to Be Silent, Maybe

I’m still ruminating on this verse from last week’s post: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14). And then there’s this: There is a time for everything…a time to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 7b).

Consider this situation…

Luke 22:47-23:12.

The temple guards seized Jesus on the Mount of Olives and took him to the high priest’s house. After the guards mocked and beat him through the night, the religious leadership in Jerusalem interrogated Him briefly then took Him to stand before Pilate, the Roman governor of the region. Continue reading

What I write when I have nothing to write

I’m spiritually dry. I feel like there’s a vacuum cleaner above my head, and every time I begin to sense the Lord’s presence, that vacuum whirs into action and immediately sucks the feeling out of my reach.

This often happens to me around Christmas. Maybe it’s the extra obligations and travel. Maybe it’s the overblown expectation of some sweet spiritual experience. Maybe it’s the disruption of my regular schedule with kids home and husband off work and late nights which lead to late-rising mornings. Maybe it’s a new plan for my daily quiet time, and I haven’t adjusted yet. Maybe it’s the cold weather that makes it hard to go for a run and compels me to cook warm things instead.

What I’m trying to say is that I have nothing fresh and unique to offer you today. Even as I look back through my journals and find these great spiritual insights, I feel no conviction to write about them.

Faith is a choice founded
in conviction and ratified
in experience. (click to tweet)

But my faith is not a feeling. Faith is a choice founded in conviction and ratified in experience. It is an ever-present rock which cannot be shifted (Psalm 62:2).

God told Isaiah that people are like grass, and their faithfulness is like wildflowers in a field. The grass (which is the people) dries up and turns brown. The flowers (which is the people’s faithfulness) fall off their stems, but neither He nor His Word are like that; on the contrary, “the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8).

So I will do what I do what I do when there’s no doing left in my muscles.

I will sing what I sing when there’s no song left in my heart.

I will think what I think when there’s no thought left in my mind.

It’s the same thing so many before me have done.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Savior. -Habakkuk 3:17-18

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. -Psalm 71:14-16

I can always praise Him.

I can always declare His faithfulness back to Him even when my own faithfulness falters.

I can always remind myself of His sovereignty, His presence, His goodness.

What about you? What do you do when the well of spiritual nourishment goes dry? Let’s refresh each other with your comments below!

What to do when it’s not just your skin that’s dry in winter. (click to tweet)

Rethinking Peter’s Denial

All we have in Scripture are the facts: Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times (John 13:38). Peter did it. Jesus looked at Peter.

Usually, when we read this or hear it preached, Peter is portrayed as the bad guy, and we come away a little disappointed in him, maybe even a little offended.

  • How could he possibly deny Jesus like that after spending all that time with Him?!?
  • If I was Peter, I would have been proud to stand with Jesus.
  • Peter was WRONG!! How could he have made such a BAD choice?

As I read John’s account this week, however, I began to think about Peter a bit differently . . . and I confess I began to identify with him. Continue reading