Crossings

I’m not afraid of heights—not in the least. As a child, my brother would torture me. He’d try to hit me, give me wet willies, tease me. My only defense was to scream like a girl with my legs in the air kicking him away, or run toward, climb, and then sway on the smallest twig at the top of the tallest tree in the neighborhood. My brother would yell, “You can’t stay up there forever, you little turd.” He’d throw rocks at me in an unfeasible attempt to remove me from the safety of my twig. Like a coon dog who had wearied with his quarry, my brother would retreat to the comfort of our home. I’d wait, swaying in the wind, and then descend from my retreat and sneak in through the back door.

On hikes, I love crossing rivers on fallen logs, traversing canyons upon the smallest ledges, free-climbing, bouldering, and scaling arduous mountains. I’m getting older, and my body doesn’t like this as much, but my mind and fears of the dangers involved with these activities never come into play. In high school, I’d jump from any bridge or trestle my friends dared me to jump. My friends knew that I’d do just about anything if they double-dog-dared me to do it. My proclivities to give in to a dare have long passed, so don’t try anything. Even though I’m not afraid of crossing a shaky bridge or hanging off the side of a cliff, I recognize that I probably should be—at least a little bit. Crossings can and have ended in imminent death. I watched Everest with my kids Tuesday night. When they were traversing the side of a cliff in the middle of a blizzard, I leaned over to Micah and said, “These people are just plain nuts. I will NEVER do that!” Crossings are dangerous, important, and life changing. In fact, crossings are great metaphors to illustrate important events in someone’s life.

Motion pictures often use crossing a bridge or a river to illustrate a moment of enlightenment, a passage into newfound maturity in our journey of life, an aha moment, an event of strength, freedom, and awareness. Crossings illustrate a movement from the way we were to the way God intended us to be. In my friend Brian’s favorite movie, White Water Summer, a young city boy named Alan (played by Sean Astin) is encouraged to face his fears head-on while going on an adventure with his three friends and a super-crazy guide, Vic (played by acting genius Kevin Bacon). Alan is cowardly and unable to face his fears until he crosses a bridge at the beginning of the film. This bridge crossing illustrates Alan’s coming of age. From the point of the crossing on, Alan embraces his true calling as a man and lives out his adventurous spirit. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo embraces his purpose and grasps the understanding that it is his task—and his task alone—to bring the ring to Mordor only after he crosses the Bridge of Khazad Dum. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I promise.

When the people of Israel came to the shores of the Red Sea—and the dust from the chariots of the Egyptian army in pursuit could be seen along the horizon—they didn’t trust Moses or their God. They were afraid of who they were without the overshadowing presence of Egypt and the Pharaohs. They felt trapped…and they were—physically, spiritually, mentally, and psychologically. They were infants and they had no law to guide them, no military skills to protect them, and no government to oversee them. They were lost sheep about to enter a wilderness where the weak, aimless, and confused died almost instantaneously.

After crossing the Red Sea, God spent 40 years training, preparing, conditioning, and refining His people so they would be ready for everything He had prepared for them. They were infants prior to crossing the Red Sea, teenagers in the Wilderness, and now they were ready for adulthood. By crossing the Jordan River, God’s people were entering a new and revitalizing stage of their spiritual journey. Everything God had in mind for them was about to come to fruition. Their fears, hesitations, and doubts were about to blow away with the sands of the dessert and it was time to embrace their destiny…God’s promise of redemption was about to become a reality.

It isn’t a coincidence that after Jesus’ baptism, He crossed the Jordan River, entered the same wilderness where his ancestors wandered for forty years, and spent forty days preparing, conditioning, and refining his mind, heart, and soul for his purpose—to make God’s promise of ultimate redemption a reality.

It also isn’t a coincidence when we face years in the wilderness after our baptism where God prepares, conditions, and refines us. A former girlfriend once told me that I had it easy—that I really didn’t have any problems. Where this isn’t entirely true—and a tad mean—if I honestly contemplate my own life in comparison to others, I have to admit that I don’t have it too bad. Sometimes, however, I think my faith in Christ and my attitude about life would be better if I did. I know when I was unemployed my faith increased and matured; I loved more and showed others more mercy. Tough times are blessings in disguise. It’s easy to view these trials and hardships as negative events in our life. It is also logical to gain a positive perspective in hindsight. Trials and crossings are God’s way to prepare us for His promises. God intends to provide us with redemption, maturity, and purpose on the other side. I can face those difficulties in the wilderness and during that crossing with a little more courage knowing that God has my back and has amazing things waiting for me on the other side of the river.

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.”

—1 Peter 1:3–7, The Message

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Lying for Blood

Are there Jewish refugees hiding in your attic?

Where were you last night between midnight and 2 a.m.?

Does this dress make me look fat?

Do you enjoy watching Harry Potter movies?

Have you ever cross-dressed as Olivia Newton John in order to win a lip sync contest?

We’ve all had someone ask us a question where a lie would result in the more preferred teleological result. We tell ourselves that the end justifies the means. I’ve never encountered a situation where I chose to lie in order to save the lives of those I love, but I would do so in a heartbeat. I have, however, lied in order to protect a relationship, to avoid conflict and keep the peace, or to save myself from embarrassment—by not revealing some of my deepest darkest secrets. My ex-girlfriend told me she was sick and stayed the night at her aunt’s house because I knew very well that nothing good happens after midnight (thanks for that advice, Dad). I’m shallow, so my wife and girlfriends have always been thin no matter what they’re wearing. I LOVE Harry Potter movies. There…I said it. I’ll remain silent about the Olivia Newton-John thing for now. But you know me, I typically don’t keep things from my friends, readers, or even complete strangers. Let’s just say, we won that lip sync contest.

Lying is never substantiated by Scripture, however, there are times where individuals lied out of their conviction and faith in God and God’s redemptive plan—and they are revered. Before Moses was born, Pharaoh instructed the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill any baby boy born to a Hebrew woman to control the population of the slaves. The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. When asked why they did this, the midwives lied to their king. God honored and blessed the midwives because they feared him and ended up contributing to God’s redemptive plan.

Forty years later, Joshua sent two spies into Jericho to scope things out. While they were there, they hid in a house of a harlot named Rahab. When the king of Jericho asked Rahab if these spies were hiding in her house, she lied, and told him they had left at dusk. After the king left her house, Rahab asked the spies if they could protect her—and her entire family—when the Israelites inevitably attack the city. The spies promised her that they would treat her and her family kindly as long as she didn’t tell what they were doing to the authorities, kept her entire family inside her house, and tied a scarlet cord in her window. The spies said to Rahab:

“If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them”

—Joshua 2:19

Super weird, right? Why the scarlet cord? Why all the rules?

We know the history of scarlet in Scripture. We recall the continuous history of scarlet blood atoning for our sins. Every year the Israelites would hold a sacred remembrance of the night when scarlet blood provided a sign upon their doorposts, informing the angel of death to “pass over” them and move on—thereby scarlet upon the house would save the entire household…as long as everyone in that household remained behind closed doors (Exodus 12). The scarlet thread wrapped on Judah’s son and Jesus’ ancestor (Genesis 38) marks the descendant and chosen child of the promise. The veil of finely twisted scarlet linen within the Tabernacle would separate the priest from God’s holiness and the mercy seat of redemption that sat upon the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16). Rahab the harlot tied a scarlet cord to her window to redeem herself and her family from the impending doom of the Israelite army. Scarlet represents blood and blood represents redemption.

1400 years later, Pilate’s soldiers took this harlot’s descendant, Jesus, into the Praetorium, stripped him, and put a scarlet robe on him. They twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. Scarlet blood seeped from his scalp, his back, and his legs. After scourging Jesus, they took him away to crucify him. They nailed him to a cross as his scarlet blood dried upon his arms and his legs, and dripped down upon the ground below him. At 3:00 p.m., Jesus cried out and gave up his spirit. At that moment, the scarlet curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, illustrating to the world that our sin no longer separated us from the glory of God. Because of Jesus’ scarlet blood sacrifice, we (our entire household)—will be safe from harm…from destruction…from death. God will redeem us. Our scarlet sins will be made white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the [scarlet] blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own [scarlet] blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The [scarlet] blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the [scarlet] blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

—Hebrews 9:11-14

Rahab is not honored because of her lies…she’s also not excused—yet she is forgiven. She’s honored because of her faith in God’s ultimate redemption of humankind. We also are not honored because of our lies.

It’s just not good to lie!

We are, thankfully, forgiven. And we are honored—not because we lie, but because of our faith in God and God’s ultimate redemption of humankind found in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Weak and Cowardly

I’ve been extremely discouraged lately. I’m one punch away from throwing in the proverbial towel on my love life and my church life. I’m disappointed in women, in love, in church, in church leaders, in the policies and political platforms of Evangelical Christians. I’m exhausted from trying to argue against the hatred and bigotry rampant within Christian circles. I’m sick of going out on dates, trying to convince a woman that I’m worthy, trying to find the love-needle in a haystack full of manure-saturated straw.

Those who don’t know Jesus, are confused as to who He truly is. I’m wearied from trying to introduce those who have questions to the loving, accepting, compassionate One—the Lord who recognizes the epidemic of loneliness and hurting and welcomes all people into His loving embrace. The simplicity, hypocrisy, and outright idiocy of the right is pushing me so far left, I’m about to fall of the spectrum completely. I’m tired, I’m lonely, I’m weak, and I’m afraid to face the world I call home because it’s a world that values hatred, anger, outward appearances, and disdain. I’m too weak and too afraid to cross the Jordan and engage this world that doesn’t seem very Promising anyway.

Therefore, I’m content to stay in the Wilderness and avoid the other side of the river completely. I’m grateful for the arrival of the football season and eventual snowboarding season to distract me from the loneliness, hatred, greed, materialism, bigotry, systemic selfishness that has become the identity of the world that exists on the other side of the river. So why shouldn’t I be afraid? Why shouldn’t I be weak? What does this Promised Land have to offer us anymore? I just can’t face this abysmal world alone…I can’t!

I honestly believe that this is exactly where Joshua was after his leader and mentor Moses died on Mount Nebo. Joshua had witnessed the futility of the world. He knew these people couldn’t be trusted. He doubted the value of the Promised Land and he was weak and afraid. He knew that the Israelites valued hatred, anger, outward appearances, materialism, bigotry, and selfishness. It doesn’t say that exactly in Scripture, but the fact that God had to tell him seven separate times to “Be Strong and Courageous” seems to suggest that God had some convincing to do (Deut. 31:6, 7, 23; Josh 1:6, 7, 9, 18).

I’m sure Joshua—like me—would rather sit in his chair east of the Jordan and watch the Minnesota Vikings embarrass themselves at Levi’s Stadium or shred the Gnar Pow on Mount Nebo than enter his world and embrace his calling. Joshua needed to know that he wasn’t about to face his abysmal world alone. Joshua needed an encouraging word from the all-powerful God and that is exactly what he received:

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

—Joshua 1:6-9

God’s redundant persistence shouldn’t go unnoticed here. God had to drill the assurance of His presence into the mind and heart of Joshua. Not only that, he had to repetitively encourage Joshua to avoid the temptation to remain weak and cowardly and instead embrace the strength and courage that can only come from God’s Spirit. God had a task and purpose for Joshua. Without God, Joshua was afraid and discouraged. With God’s presence, strength, and courage, Joshua could overcome those fears that plagued him, embrace his purpose, and cross the Jordan into the Promised Land—a land that may appear abysmal, but held promises and hope beyond the reach of Joshua’s expectations and imagination.

I’m still going to suffer through a dismal shellacking of the Minnesota Vikings every Sunday. I’m still going to partake in the thrill of shredding eight inches of powder in the Montezuma Bowl at Arapahoe Basin. I’m not, however, going to let those distractions dominate my existence. I’m still going to reach into that manure-saturated haystack in search for that enigmatic needle of love. I’m still going to trudge into church in search for that community of believers who still worship the Jesus I follow, love, adore, and try to emulate. I’m still going to combat the hypocrisy, hate, and bigotry that’s become annoyingly prevalent amid many Christians today.

But I can’t do it alone.

Thank goodness the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go…so I don’t have to.


My Chicken Valentine

Back in March, I told you about my daughter’s chicken question:

“Dad, how come we can eat some eggs and other eggs have baby chickens in them?”

…and my brilliant answer to that question:

“Married chickens have baby chickens. If the chicken isn’t married, it has eggs we can eat.”

In The Parlement of Foules, Geoffrey Chaucer writes:

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

Isn’t that beautiful?

I guess I wasn’t so far off. Who knew that the romantic pursuits of our feathery friends would have SO much bearing on the interaction of lovers in the 21st century?

Valentine’s Day was first recognized as a day to commemorate martyrs of the third century. They called these martyrs “Valentines.” In the 14th century, Chaucer suggested we observe the mating habits of birds and make them our own. If the birds are doing it…and the bees are doing it…so should we. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Hallmark and ProFlowers suggested we send people cards that involved no thought whatsoever on the part of the lover, waning flowers in pretty vases, and mysterious chocolate candies in satin-covered, heart-shaped boxes in order to profess something to our lovers we should probably profess every day of our lives.

On a side note: Thank you ProFlowers for reminding me every day—if not twice a day—to send flowers to the girl who broke my heart shortly after Valentine’s Day last year…Thank you! OK…so she didn’t break my heart necessarily…but I still don’t need to be reminded every day for a month how I once loved and lost.

What was once a day to honor those who died because they adamantly confessed their faith in Jesus has literally become a mockery where we imitate birds and initiate our spring mating practices by sending a card, a dozen roses, and a heart-shaped box of chocolates to our prospective chickens.

Love was the true motivation of these martyrs who are supposed to be memorialized on this holiday. These martyrs loved sacrificially in the name of Christ, and Valentine’s Day should still commemorate how their sacrifice helped spread the love of Christ throughout the world.

I’m not suggesting giving up Valentine’s Day as a day to love those who mean the most to us. This is just my suggestion…take it as advice from someone who failed miserably in this area and has learned a little from his mistakes:

Tomorrow, instead of following the example of a chicken or a barn swallow, follow the example of these “Valentines” who gave their life so that the world may know true LOVE—the love of Jesus Christ. Give sacrificially to your lover. If she desires quality time and you have difficulty sitting down for more than five seconds…sit down with her for more than five seconds. If he loves it when the house is clean but you’re no June Cleaver…clean the house for him. If she’s into gifts…put a little effort into the gift you’re giving. Sacrifice something for the sake of your love…be a martyr…be a Valentine.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

—John 15:12-13


Failure

I spend my Sundays leading the children’s ministry at my church and occasionally I make it upstairs for the early “traditional” service to worship and hear God’s Word. It’s difficult for me to engage in worship with traditional hymns and liturgical prayers. I realize that true worship has more to do with me than with the music or the style, nevertheless, it’s still challenging to find my groove. As a response to that challenge, I worship at Timberline’s Wednesday night service while my children attend their Rangers and Missionettes programs. Last night at Timberline, Pastor Dick Foth referenced Mark Batterson’s new book The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Your Greatest Fears and he had us write out, or reflect upon, our biggest dream and greatest fear, and then circle them with our prayers.

I was praying within seconds. It didn’t take me long to determine my biggest dream (true contentment) and my greatest fear (failure as a father, husband, and servant of Christ). As a divorced father of two, I often feel as if I’m already dwelling within my greatest fear. I’ve failed as a husband, I feel as if I’ve failed as a father by making the lives of my children more difficult in a divided household. Furthermore, when I read certain texts in Scripture, I feel like I’ve failed as a follower of Jesus. As I continue to circle my fears with prayer, I’m realizing that the two are connected. I can never reach my dream of contentment until I overcome my fear of failure. Once I completely circle my fears, I can move toward circling my dreams. I’ve also come to the realization that God hasn’t been perpetuating my fears. He’s confirmed—time and time again—through the affirmation of others, the emotional stability and resiliency of my children, the health of my relationship with their mother, my strength and compassion as a man and future husband, and the growth and maturity of my relationship with Jesus Christ—which has grown exponentially since my divorce. God has answered my prayers…it’s just sometimes it’s not the answer for which I’m looking; the contentment I desire seems to emanate from my failures. As David Checkett said, “Success builds character, failure reveals it” I’m not entirely pleased that God chose to answer my prayers to overcome my fear of failure by allowing me to fail and grow through it…but I recognize
it as such.

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve been studying the patriarchs over the past month and one thing I’ve noticed is how often these men—who were chosen and blessed by God—failed epically. Abraham doubted God’s promise that Sarah would have a child, so he slept with his maidservant Hagar in order to manipulate the situation. Abraham and Isaac tried to pass their wives off as their sisters. Jacob lied to his father and stole his brother Esau’s birthright and blessing. Jacob had two wives, who were sisters, and two concubines. Levi and Simeon avenged the rape of their sister Dinah and murdered the inhabitants of an entire city. Reuben slept with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. Jacob showed favoritism to his wife Rachel and their sons Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob’s sons with Leah and his two concubines sold their brother Joseph into slavery. Judah slept with his daughter-in-law Tamar.

In Judah’s defense, he did mistakenly think Tamar was a prostitute.

By the time I reached Genesis 50, I didn’t feel so bad about my own failures. If God can provide true contentment for that group of misfits…he surely can provide it for me. I’m still not thrilled when God answers my prayers through my own imperfections and failures. However, I realized that I do tend to grow more through my failures than I do through my successes.  And like Gandhi, I consider them blessings and intend on laying them directly at the feet of God!


Things Ugly People Say

You’re watching 25,000 Pyramid, and the contestant starts bellowing out the following:

“Being single helps me focus on my spiritual life.”

“Being single provides me with more opportunities to serve.”

“Being single helps me better myself as a person and disciple of Christ.”

“Being single saves me money.”

“Being single provides me with more opportunities to spend quality time with my children.”

Her partner just can’t figure it out. After the time runs out, Dick Clark leans over and says, “What if she said, ‘Table for one please!'” Quickly her partner responds:

 “Ummm…things ugly people say!”

That is definitely funny! But it’s just not true. I’m not going to complement myself right now…but I have several single friends who have made similar statements, and they are extremely attractive. OK…I changed my mind…I’m also extremely attractive, and I’m about to make similar statements as well.

Since my divorce, I’ve struggled with singleness. At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the single life. I missed my wife, our friendship, our common bond and partnership. I missed having someone who, as Reese Witherspoon says at the end of the movie, Sweet Home Alabama, “I can kiss anytime I want.” As the years have transpired, however, I’m finding singleness more and more appealing. Recently a friend of mine said the following when I asked her if she was dating anyone (I’m paraphrasing):

“I’m not dating anyone; I’m living for myself right now and loving it. It’s great! You get to spend more time on making yourself fabulous!”

I found what she had to say about singleness intriguing and appealing. The Apostle Paul wrote the following about singleness:

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

—1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Paul and my friend are amazingly insightful as to the benefits of singleness. Since my divorce, I’ve had more time to dedicate to my relationship with Jesus Christ, my relationship with my children, and my relationship with myself. I’ve grown in all these areas because I wasn’t distracted with—as Paul put it—“the affairs of this world.” I have to say—after years of counseling, self-improvement, and one-on-one time with my Lord and my children—I’m definitely more fabulous now than I was three years ago. I definitely wish I knew then, what I know now.

This blog post isn’t only an isolated encouragement to the singles out there. I’m also not—in any way—advocating divorce or never getting married. Singleness provided me with the opportunity to seek Jesus, the betterment of myself, and assess the things that—and the people who—are most important in my life. One’s spouse IS—and always should be—one of those individuals who are most important in your life. Hindsight is typically 20/20, and as a single guy hind-sighting—please take my clarity of vision to heart.

Someday, I hope to find another spouse, with whom I can commit my life, share my faith, and walk this world together. Whether God still has many years of singleness left for me, or whether that person is right around the corner is yet to be determined. At this point, I really don’t care…whether single or married…I’m thrilled to be living in His world and will continuously strive to fulfill my call as His ambassador to it!


Hungry and Thirsty

The mission of my former employer is the following:

“We equip churches to help children, youth and adults grow in their relationship with Jesus.”

That’s a mission I can really get behind…but that’s not what I miss! I can still carry out that mission…and I do regularly in all five of my current jobs.

My co-workers were incredible people, and I loved working with them. I visited with many of them two nights ago at Group’s Bombastic Bingo and it was great catching up. That’s not what I miss either. I can still meet them for lunch and chat with them on Facebook…and I do that regularly as well.

What I miss most since being laid off is a small group of guys who met every Friday morning for Bible study and discipleship. This handful of co-workers kept me fed; they helped me gain insight, wisdom, and understanding. They helped me grow!

The layoffs sent two of us walking. The others were left behind to pick up the pieces. We tried to continue by hooking our small group up to life support—meeting at a friend’s house every other Friday morning. Nevertheless, with the odd scheduling of our new lives causing various complications, we eventually “pulled the plug.”  I miss that weekly feast. Since then, I’ve been hungry and thirsty, with nothing to satisfy my desperate need to increase knowledge and wisdom—to dig into the Scriptures and let them reveal to me the glorious mysteries yet to be discovered. There are other ways to gain insight, and I’ve sought those out…this blogging site was one of them and remains one of the greatest modes through which I eat and drink. However, nothing compares to seeking wise teachers, to listen to them, to learn from them, to ask them questions, and to answer their questions. This is where the best learning occurs…this is how one increases in wisdom.

When Jesus was twelve years old, He traveled with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. On their way home, Joseph and Mary came to the realization that Jesus wasn’t with them…a sort of Home Alone reenactment. After searching Jerusalem for three days, “they finally discovered him in the Temple sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46-47).

God is omniscient…He knows everything. There is no need for God to increase in wisdom. …and Jesus is God. However, when Jesus came to earth as flesh…as a helpless child…as a servant, He emptied himself of those things that made him equal to God (Philippians 2:6-7). When Jesus was twelve years old, He sought out wise teachers, He sat with them, He listened to them, He learned from them, He asked them questions, and He answered their questions. By doing this, Jesus increased in wisdom. In the final scene from His childhood, Jesus provides us with a model to follow. Jesus is showing us that no matter how educated one is…no matter how wise one is…even if you were—at one time—the Omniscient Almighty God, everyone could stand to sit among wise teachers, to listen to them, and possibly learn from them.

This new year, many of us have made resolutions to eat less fast food, drink less soda and beer, and exercise more. I’m loathing my trip to the gym this afternoon because every well-intentioned resolutionary will be monopolizing the equipment. If we DO stick to these resolutions, we will definitely end up hungry, thirsty, and sore…which is fine…because I know those well-intentioned resolutionaries will be gone by next week because of that very fact.

Perhaps this year, my resolution will be to eat and drink more and to exercise my mind…to find myself some wise teachers, sit with them, learn from them, ask them questions, perhaps answer some of theirs, and increase in wisdom!

2012 is SURE to be better than 2011. I’m sorry 2011, it’s just you majorly sucked! It just isn’t much of a competition!

Happy New Year, Everyone!