A Christmas Reading

Some folks at this morning’s Christmas service requested a copy of my reading.  Here it is and Merry Christmas!

IN THE BEGINNING… when God carefully sculpted the world; it was perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  No sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no tears.  Pure and perfect.  Faultless and mess-free.

Then, He risked the ultimate risk…He gave it…to us…and we wandered and created more messes than a busy unsupervised two-year-old.  Wars, lies, finger-pointing and shame. We made an absolute mess of things in no time.

But God wasn’t surprised…he had a plan.  True, it was an unlikely plan…one that would at first appear to be adding to the mess.

A young girl’s wedding plans would get messed up.

Her fiancé’s reputation would get a little messy as well.

The Pharisees would see the whole idea as too messy.

Herod would do his best to make a mess of it but to no avail…because no one absolutely no one can mess with God’s plans.

Especially this plan….because God so loved the mess makers that he sent his only begotten son into the mess.

We should have recognized it right away…because the Savior wasn’t born in a hospital, house, or hotel…but a barn???  A very messy barn.

How many of you have those manger scenes at home with the perfectly sculpted figures…absolutely clean of dirt, dung and dust.  They look so beautiful and majestic….so pure and pristine.

THAT’S NOT where this King was born.  He was born right in the mess…a barn.  A dark, dingy, smelly, crowded messy barn.

But why???  Did God the Father mess up?

Did Joseph and Mary get lost in the mess?

Was the Inn Keeper trying to mess with them?

No…God is sending a clear, clean message.

You see the barn birth shouts to us— I AM NOT AFRAID OF MESSES!!!

I will come to your mess. I will sit with you in your mess.  And ultimately, I will deliver you of your mess.

That deliverance will be considerably more messy than anyone would have guessed.  There will be chaos, accusations, betrayal, beatings, and death…ONE DEATH.  But it WILL END THE MESS.  It is finished!

Never again are we hopelessly trapped by our mess.  He who was born in the midst of it promises to save us from all our messes…we simply have to open the doors of our messed up hearts…and say, “come Lord Jesus into this mess once again”.

And the King, who fears no mess sets us free indeed.  And that is the greatest of all gifts this Christmas.






Busyness vs. Hurriedness

Some time ago I was invited to talk to a class full of budding pastors.  What they wanted to know from me is how to have a fruitful and enduring ministry.  While visiting the class I listed a few points, but concluded by saying, “all these don’t matter if you don’t pay attention to this one thing.”  Students leaned forward in their chairs, pens ready to record this one great secret.  I told them, “nothing else will matter if you don’t learn to master hurry.” You could see their faces register immediate disappointment.  That’s it???  One student raised their hand declaring, “Jesus was really busy!”  I answered, “he was indeed…but he was never…I repeat never…led by hurry.”.  Another student queried, “well is there a difference between being hurried and being busy?”  “Absolutely”, I replied.  Let me tell you what I offered to them.

Busyness slides into hurriedness when we let outward demands conquer our inner person.  We lose a sense of who we are, why we are doing what we are doing and ultimately for who we are doing it.  John Ortberg says, “Busyness migrates to hurry when we let it squeeze God out of our lives.”

So, for Jesus (who was really busy!) he rose early in the day to gain a clear sense of balance (see Luke 5:16).  The demands he encountered were met with a recharged soul not a frantic scrambling.  In like fashion, we need to have regular practices that help nurture and care for our inner person.  One way to think about this is that our “output” must be ruled and managed by our “input”.  Often times we are given job descriptions that are impossibly busy so we take time management courses, or get administrative tips.  Those will help some, but hurriedness will win the day if we don’t learn to pace from within.

Over the next few posts I will offer you a few things to consider in the battle with hurriedness.  But for now, ask yourself this question, “do I know how to be still from within?”   We all know calm people, but do we know how to carry around some quiet? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are learning!  Hopefully these next posts will help.