Pull Up A Chair

“For my grandfather’s entire family deserves death from my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table.” (2 Samuel 19:28)

As the golden, orange leaves drift to the ground our eye is drawn to a mile-long table, groaning under the weight of an abundance of food. People are coming from every corner of the earth. Every age, every color, every race. They each carry their own chair, not one the same. Everyone finds a seat at the table.

 Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s story unfolding primarily through his chosen people, the Jews. As we watch their story unfold, we get a front row seat to an epic tale. Not a fairy tale, or a sci-fi movie. Not a comedy, or a reality tv show. No, we get to see a story of great victories and great loss. Amazing stories of conquering heroes. Betrayal. Murder. Love. Division. Unity. Jealousy. Anger. Promise. Hope. Love.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we learn there is nothing new under the sun. The Bible is an epic story of God’s people. Unlike us, God gives a clear, honest, gut-wrenching story of His people. You and Me. A story of a lot of messed up people. The beauty of the story? God doesn’t want us to remain broken and messed up.

He sent a little baby to restore humanity. Jesus’ birth is what unites a divided people. His birth and ultimately his death on the cross, erased the line that divided Jew from Gentile. We can’t see the birth of Jesus without seeing the shadow cast by the cross.

As Jesus had his last meal on the night he was arrested, he reclined at the table with his followers. Before dinner he washed the feet of his disciples. Even Judas, who would betray him. Still he washed his feet. He invited Judas, his betrayer, to sit at the table with him.

He still invites us to sit at his table. No matter our past. No matter our betrayal. Do you feel disqualified to have a place at the table? Jesus family tree wasn’t much to write home about. King David, an adulterer and murderer. Rahab, a prostitute. There is a long list of people that failed.

Yet Jesus invites us to take off our past. To let go of our shame, or hurt, the shattered pieces of our lives. He wants to wash our feet. He wants to recline at the table with us and listen to our stories. There is always room for one more at the table.

The Little Things

33 His father and mother[b] were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed[c]— 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts[d] of many hearts may be revealed.”

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,[e] 37 and was a widow for eighty-four years.[f] She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment,[g] she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.[h]

39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on him. (Luke 2:33-39CSB)

As I read this passage in Luke, God reminds me that every voice, every gift, every life is important to His plan. Tucked in this passage of Joseph and Mary’s visit to the temple to dedicate Jesus, we get a picture of two people, Simeon (Luke 2:25-32) and Anna. Two people, a man and a woman, bear witness to who this baby is and who He will become. It was a fulfillment of the law which required two witnesses for any legal challenge.

I know I often skim past all these little “distractions” as I read scripture. But I am learning to slow down and see why God includes these details about Anna. Simeon’s story was more about what he had to say about Jesus. Anna’s story is more about who she was than what she said. Who she was is important.

In the first two sentences we have a clear picture of Anna. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Phanuel means, “Face of God,” and Asher means, blessed. She was a widow who had been serving God in the temple by praying and fasting for 84 years. That is a whole story all by itself! She had been faithfully serving God, quietly praying for the people of Israel. Probably praying for those that passed the “old lady” by every day.

She looks at the face of God in this baby. In the busyness of the people rushing in and out of the temple, she and Simeon see the redemption of God’s people. This child who will reveal the hearts of people.

Our light in the darkness. Our redeemer.

Reservations? Sorry, No Room

“And laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)

Hesitantly, I slink into the room. Every face turns to me. Judgement immediately flickering across their faces. Once again, I have been found lacking. My bright, cotton dress doesn’t fit with their subdued silk designer fashion. My hair doesn’t fall into nice shiny, beachy curls. Even after 40 years of practice my make-up will never look like theirs. I don’t fit. I will never measure up to that unspoken code. I feel left out. Alone in the crowd. Have you ever felt like you were peering through a window? Never invited to be part of the group?

In my father’s house there’s a place for me. I am invited. He loves me just as I am. In my hot-pink, cotton dress, straight hair and slap-dash, make-up job. He loves me.

Mary and Joseph were unable to find room anywhere in Bethlehem. Had word spread from Nazareth about their “situation”? Had they been left out? We don’t know. We only know “there was no room for them.” God made room for Jesus in the stable.

While we try to fit into a world that tells us bigger is better, more will fill the empty places. The penthouse suite is what we need. God challenges us to look at the world through the lens of His love. When I am broken, He can mend me. When I am lost, He will find me. When the road ahead is dark; He shines His light. When there is no room; He makes room.

God invites us to look at the stable through the eyes of love.  In that little stable, God opened wide the door for everyone to enter.  He set the stage for our redemption., our restoration.

Making room for more. How like God to show His promise and plan through a lack of room for Mary and Joseph. Everything was full. God, through His mercy made room for more. He made room for all people to enter into His promise.  We don’t have to worry about a reservation, we are already invited. All we have to do is say yes.

Your Best Gift

” Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)

These men, these magicians, magi, wise men upon looking at Jesus fell to their knees and worshipped him. These men who worshipped the stars, charted their lives according to the stars movement, travelled to worship a king because of a star. 

Worship is to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.

When faced with Jesus the wise men made a choice to leave their idol worship and fall to their knees and worship Him. When faced with Jesus we all have a choice.

Worship isn’t about whether I raise my hands during a song at church. It isn’t whether I dance like King David did, “David was dancing will all his might before the Lord.” (2 Samuel 6:14)

True worship is about surrender. It’s about surrendering who I am, who I think I should be. It is about allowing my life to be surrendered to God. It is recognizing those idols that try to pull me away from regarding God with extravagant respect, honor and devotion.

It is recognizing that He alone is worthy of my worship. He is worthy because He has proved Himself to be worthy. When I lay on all the broken pieces of my life. When the darkness tried to slither its way into my mind. When the winds howled and the waters rose to flood my soul, Gods love, His light reached into the darkest recesses of my heart and overcame the darkness. I worship Him because He carried me when I couldn’t walk. He mended me when I was shattered.

“Falling to their knees, they worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” The best gift I can offer Is a heart surrendered in worship to Him. For He is worthy.

Ready. Steady. Go!

When he (King Herod) had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied… (Matthew 2)

I hate to admit this but sometimes, probably more than sometimes, I feel threatened when I think I might lose my place. I liked sitting on the front row at school. It gave an appearance of being the good student. In some churches the front row is a place of honor. A status symbol.

The prophets of God had been silent for 400 years when the cry of a baby broke through the dark-silence. During those 400 years the chief priests had achieved positions of great authority and honor.  They were the ones to interpret the law. They had a vested interest in their position. They kept up the appearance of seeking God. Then these foreigners entered their land and asked where the baby who would be king was to be born. When confronted with the birth of the Messiah they made a choice. They chose to keep their position.

These men had been writing about the coming Messiah. They had studied scripture. They had memorized scripture. It was written and attached to their heads. The Messiah in theory wasn’t the same as living, breathing promise.  Their hearts had become like stone and they were unable to make the six-mile journey to Bethlehem and worship the long-awaited King. They were unable to make the 18-inch journey from their head to their heart.

It is so easy to become complacent. Surrounded by messages we see every day that tell us to be more, buy more, see more, consume more, more is better. Many times, in the midst of more we miss the simplicity of God’s message.  I can become so caught up in the reading. The writing. The studying. I miss the real message. God gives me a choice. Stay in Jerusalem and keep your position. Or, come travel with me to Bethlehem. Follow the Star. Leave your heart of stone. Leave who you think you should be. See who you can be when you allow your heart to be changed.

The Big Visit

“Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10)

Scene 15: “Wise Men Visit the King”

Fade in slowly, as scene opens a small, one-room home in Bethlehem can be seen. Three Magi, otherwise known as We Three Kings of Orient glide into the frame. Dressed in brightly jeweled, lavish robes of silk and ermine they have wandered from Afar, a region in the East. Parking their camels in the nearest lot, they now bear tiny treasures they will give two-year-old Jesus.

Our modern minds like to clean things up a bit. Led astray with the pictures we form from songs, paintings and our own fickle minds, we see a scene with our “Hollywood” eyes. Reality seldom exists in our vision.

Scripture doesn’t tell us how many wise men there were. We only know they brought three gifts. It was more likely to have been a caravan of several magi and servants. Historians record they followed the star for two years.

Magi were often sent as ambassadors of good will. It was customary to honor a king with gifts. Lavish gifts. The gifts they brought would not have fit in a two-year-old’s treasure box or little genie bottles.

God reveals His character in every story and picture we are given throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the very gifts the Magi present we see a God who provides. Mary and Joseph were about to pull up roots and flee to Egypt. Even in those days, moving wasn’t cheap. God provided gold for their move and exile.

The frankincense and myrrh weren’t just to make things smell good. Frankincense was used for sacrifices. Myrrh was frequently used for burials. God shows us how the story will unfold. The birth of Jesus will always point to the death of Jesus.

Through Adam and Eve’s disobedience and sin in the garden, our world became broken. Through the birth of Jesus, God provided a way for restoration. In the same way God provided for Mary and Joseph, Jesus sacrifice, His death and resurrection provide a way for me to be restored. God’s plan from the beginning was to bring restoration to the world. He restores all things broken. Marriages. Friendships. Neighbors. He takes our broken pieces and makes them whole again. He has already provided the way for you.

Are You Listening?

“No wise man, medium, magician, or diviner is able to make known to the King the mystery he asked about. But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Daniel 2:27)

Have you ever wondered if anything you are saying is being heard? I remember my Mother often saying, “I am talking to a wall.”  Usually a brick wall. When I became a wife and a mother I finally understood, I was the wall she was talking to.

In the book of Daniel, we learn that after interpreting a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar, “He (King Nebuchadnezzar) made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men.” Daniel and his friends continued to worship God in a godless culture. They always gave credit to God for their knowledge. They did not rely on magic, astrology, or sorcery to advance in the King’s courts.

I wonder if Daniel ever felt like my mother? Did he wonder if these wise men of the King’s listened to his stories? About this God who walked with them. About a child that would be born. A King that would one day rule in peace?

Daniel threw a pebble in the vast ocean of the Babylonian culture and it continued to ripple through generations of wise men. Until one day. Six hundred years later they looked up. Echoing through the years they remembered.

 “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isaiah 9:2)

It was that shining light they saw and followed. It is estimated that the wise men, the magi, traveled for two years to their journey’s end. I have not always been a great traveler. When we would go to Indiana once a year from West Texas, it took a full day just to get out of the state. And another day to cross the remaining four states. Two days. Long days. Miserable days for my parents. I cannot imagine a two-year journey to worship a King you didn’t even know. Simply because one man told a story to your ancestors.

They chose to journey out of their dark land because they saw a light shining in the sky. They chose to journey over 600 days because of a 600-year-old story. They chose to journey to worship a King that would bring peace. These wise men chose to see beyond the boundaries of their own culture and beliefs. To put their hope in the Star of Bethlehem.

Do you feel the darkness threatening to overwhelm you? Have you lost all hope for brighter days? That light still shines for us today. The Star of Bethlehem, Jesus, still shines His light for each one of us. What may appear just a flicker of light, of hope, will only continue to grow. Light always, always overwhelms the darkness. Just keep moving.


25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

29 Now, Master,
you can dismiss your servant in peace,
as you promised.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:25-32)

This short snippet is all we know of this man named Simeon. As a righteous, devout Jew of that day, he would have gone to the Temple each morning for prayer. He knew he would see the Lord’s Messiah, the anointed one, before he died.

I picture Simeon’s waiting as a child anticipates opening their gifts on Christmas morning. Waiting, waiting with a hope that Santa would deliver exactly what they are waiting for. He isn’t waiting with a doom and gloom hanging over his days. Knowing when the Messiah comes he will die.

Guided by the Spirit, I see a man rushing into the temple every morning wondering if today will be the day. We don’t know anything else about Simeon except what is in this brief story. We know he faithfully prayed every day waiting on Jesus. Waiting for a promise.

Can you picture his joy when Joseph and Mary walked into the Temple. Jesus would have been eight-days old as was the custom under Jewish law to present their child to God. Still a tiny baby, looking like every other child presented at the temple. But Simeon recognized him the moment he saw him.

Simeon’s life of faithful service lived for this one moment in time. Taking up the child in his arms he holds his promise and the hope of each of us.

” I can now die in peace because you have delivered what you promised.”

God allowed Simeon to see His salvation. Prepared in the presence of all people. A light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to your people Israel.

God prepared a way for each of us to see that same promise. His glory and His light revealed to us. God, I pray today I wait for you with the same hope Simeon held onto. While I wait, Lord let me remain faithful, prayerful, and always hopeful.

The Great Announcement

“Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

I have long been fascinated with the Royal Family. I glean crazy information from the media regarding hat-wearing protocol. What the Queen has for breakfast.  Mostly exaggerated or untrue. And totally irrelevant to my life.

 When any Royal is born, the Town Crier stands at the gates of the Palace and announces the birth with great fanfare and noise.

God announced the birth of Jesus:

With angels

“Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

A star

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star at its rising and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

And a question

“So he (Herod) assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ would be born.” (Matthew 2:4)

God sent his angels, his messengers to proclaim the birth of Jesus. Emanuel. Jesus, the Message, come to live with His people. They announced the birth of our Great Shepherd, not at the city gate or the palace, but to shepherds in a field. He sent His star to guide the magi, the kings from the east to bring gifts to Jesus, who would become our Resurrected King.

I know that I will never be a member of the Royal Family. But I am grateful that God extends His hand, and asks me to be a part of His family. No matter where we are born. Rich or poor, black or white or anything in between. Broken. Less than perfect. He invites us into a family of other messed up people. He invites us to become a part of His story. He invites us to choose. Will you travel to Bethlehem and worship the King? Or will you stay in Jerusalem and be swallowed by the world?

Can I just get a little Peace?

“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

How often do I look to the world to give me peace? I search in the stories I read in the news or in my “news feed” on Facebook. I search in the leaders governing our country. I even look to my church leaders.

Zechariah’s prophecy, when his son John (the Baptist) was born, points us to the only path of true peace. It isn’t found in a news story, or in my feed. It will never be found in a government, no matter how much I try to make it happen. Even the most anointed leader can’t deliver.

True peace will only be found when each one of us allows the Morning Light to break into our own heart. When I allow the Light to overcome the darkness that seeks to overshadow me. When I allow the Shining Star of Bethlehem to guide me on the path of peace.

 As each of us allow that Star to overcome our own darkness, true peace will spread around the world. It can only come when we cross the lines that divide us and love one another. Love one another, now, in all our brokenness. Not when everyone thinks like me, believes like me, looks like me.

 Loving people is messy. I know because Jesus loved me when I was a mess. I am grateful he didn’t wait for me to be like him before he loved me. He met me where I was. He loves me. Friend, I don’t know where you find yourself today. I do know Jesus extends his hand of peace and love to you today. Will you let go of your brokenness and hold on to Him?