Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Monday, December 27, 2010
SO WHY SHEPHERDS?
But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
- v. 8 - shepherds lived in fields, away from the general population. How could they spread the word, and for that matter, who would listen?
- v. 9 - they were wimps! terrified of the angels that brought them news.
- v. 10 - the news was for all people.
- v. 11 - this baby was the promised Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.
- v. 12 - seriously, would anyone but herdsmen be willing to look in a feeding trough for a baby?
- v. 13-14 - and who but shepherds were most familiar with the peace and glory of a starry night, though surely it’s just a glimpse of what’s promised by Heaven’s Hosts?
- v. 15 - curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also helped discover the Savior. The angels never commanded the shepherds to go to Bethlehem. They simply announced Jesus’ birth and let the shepherds holy curiosity do the rest.
- v. 16 - these men “hurried off” to discover if the angel’s words were true.
- v. 17 - and when they discovered the truth, they were diligent to share the news as the angels said.
- Shepherds are the guardians of their flocks, protecting the sheep - Did Mary think the shepherds visit might have foreshadowed the protection they needed from Herod’s murderous plot to kill Jesus, when the wise men asked where the new king had been born? (Mt. 2:13 - “When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’”)
- Shepherds cared for sheep and lambs - Did Mary remember the shepherds visit when John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God? (Jn. 1:29 - “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Monday 10am PST:
From Phil's wife...
Thanks to all your Prayer Warriors for praying for Phil. The prayer support has been overwhelming - from around the world. I've gotten a few emails from Phil since they arrived at the motel on Saturday afternoon; he's now at Sosua, DR. The motel room includes 3 meals a day; and he says the food is great; sounded like he enjoyed a hot shower, too! They're doing some work project in the DR today and then will fly back to Miami on Tues.
You may want to go to "Kerry Gibson" on facebook; it's public. He's been putting some pictures on and stories; very interesting.
From a team member...
Team Haiti will fly back to the US tomorrow. Some will stay overnight and some will go on home. All of us will be thankful to be home. All of us are thankful for all of the prayers from around the world. But most of all we are thankful that God allowed us to experience Him in such a dramatic way. To the best of my knowledge we are all grateful that God considered us worthy to experience this.
Thanks to everyone for your faithful prayers! Our motorcycle missionaries are soon to be safely returned!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Now that I live near a mountain, my life is a series of mole hills. During the first forty-four years of my life, my life seemed to progress from one emotional mountaintop to a bottomless valley to the next mountain, and then valley, etc. Perhaps it's age, perhaps it's faith—perhaps it's sheer exhaustion—but over the past few years, the emotional mountains and valleys of life have seemed to level-off. The internal mountains have become mole hills and the death valleys more like divots on a golf course, just gouges in the grass to be repaired and replaced. But level living can be tricky. Void of ecstasy or despair, one can become numb, calloused, anesthetized to emotion altogether. So how do we spare ourselves the manic, unhealthy highs and lows of unchecked emotion, yet experience the glorious life Jesus promised His followers? I think Joseph got it right…
Gen. 41:41-45 – "So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph‘s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, 'Make way!' Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.' Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt." (emphasis added)
- Empowered by Pharaoh as second-in-command; hailed by the Egyptians; given an important-sounding name and an influential wife. How did Joseph keep all this praise from going to his head? #1 – He had been refined in the fires of adversity BEFORE he was blessed. #2 – He stayed connected with people. He could have wielded his new power from the palace; instead, he traveled among those he served. Humility is key to level living.
- Days of abundance, yeah! But when grain begins to multiply too quickly, and meticulous Joseph can no longer keep accurate records, does he plunge into a valley of administrative despair? No. He stops keeping records and praises the Lord for the abundance. Sometimes a blessing becomes a curse, when control becomes an issue. For those of us who cry when things aren't done a certain way—let's cheer for Joseph's flexibility, when his control slips away.
- Can I just say that if you name your child something about forgetting your dad's household, you haven't really forgotten your dad's household. Just sayin'. Perhaps his point is that he's chosen to let go, or disregard, the trouble of his father's household. And with Ephraim's birth, I'm noticing a pattern. Joseph attaches positive emotions from a joyous occasion to replace his negative feelings from past pain. He feels deeply the joy of his sons' birth, and he allows that sincere joy to root out the deep pain of his past.
- This situation is the perfect formula for overload: overwhelming need + underwhelming boss = overload for Joseph, right? Nope! Why? Because Joseph had already been practicing level living. Pharaoh and the Egyptians saw that the abundance and drought had occurred just as Joseph said, but Joseph knew it happened just as GOD said. A growing faith assigns responsibility and praise to God and creates ever-increasing level living.
Friday, November 19, 2010
From John Ogden, Sr., CEO/Chairman of the Board for CMA:Thank you for all of your prayers for the CMA team in Haiti and also the other teams we have around the world at this time. I visited with Kerry this morning and his team is at the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and no longer in danger. They are being well taken care of and said the lodging and food are great. Everyone's spirits are high. They will soon be back in the Dominican Republic and in the hands of Missionary Ventures where they will continue to be well cared for. This has been a trying time for them as well as our CMA families, but we believe the hand of God was upon them and that things far greater than we could comprehend were being accomplished in CMA, as well as with our ministry partners, for the Kingdom of God.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"We're down here entertaining the UN forces--today it's Chilean and Uruguayan. Tomorrow, who knows? We're well fed, cared for, and have so much to praise God for. Some great stories of adventure, of protection and provision."
Sunday, November 14, 2010
- I hate nightmares, and after one so vivid, I wouldn't have been so quick to go back to sleep. Pharaoh took the risk of falling asleep again, and in so doing aloud God to speak a second time. Sometimes putting ourselves in a position to hear God is risky business.
- The cupbearer took several risks here: 1) to confess his shortcoming to a Pharaoh prone to whims, 2) to remind the same king that he was once angry with the cupbearer, and 3) to recommend Joseph, when he wasn't certain Joseph would give a favorable dream interpretation. Why did Pharaoh's cupbearer risk telling Pharaoh these things? Did he base his faith on God, on Pharaoh, on Joseph? We can only guess, but I believe Pharaoh was so distraught by the magicians' inability to interpret, perhaps the cupbearer felt he had no choice but to offer the Hebrew prisoner's help…and the hope of his God.
- Joseph takes a risk in contradicting Pharaoh, but it would have been a greater risk to steal God's glory.
- Pharaoh has told an unknown number of magicians, and now he must retell his dreams to a Hebrew prisoner. Can you hear the pleading in his last sentence? I'm guessing mighty Pharaoh is not used to expressing his vulnerability, but evidently his fear is genuine and strong enough to risk a little humility.
- As was the case when God gave him the interpretation for the baker and cupbearer, Joseph needed no time in prayer to interpret the dream. Was it a risk to speak without prayerful consideration? Not if your faith keeps you in close and constant contact with the Source of dreams.
- Joseph takes a risk by going beyond interpreting to ADVISING! He uses the experiences God has allowed into his life (difficult circumstances, unfair, unpleasant) and creates an opportunity for God's blessing. Pharaoh could have punished him or applauded him…but Joseph believed God could do more.
- Pharaoh took a risk, when he endowed Joseph – a young, Yahweh-worshipping foreigner – with so much authority. But why not? Joseph had already proven to be humble (in giving God credit) yet confident (offering unrequested advice) and capable (in interpreting the dream). It seems Pharaoh weighed the risks and made a wise faith decision. He would have made a good actuary.
Monday, November 08, 2010
- I think it's safe to say that the author of Genesis wanted us to know who Joseph ministered to in Pharaoh's prison. Hmmm? Repetition has always been an effective teacher. Intellectually, we repeat things in order to memorize. Physically, we use repetition to strengthen and create muscle-memory (an almost reflexive motion). Spiritual, repetition creates a unique mixture of living in continual conscious communion with our power Source and meditating on the Scriptures we rely on for strength and wisdom.
- Notice, Joseph did NOT say that HE could interpret the dreams. He was careful to phrase his answer in a way that gave God all the credit. It seemed Joseph had learned a thing or two since boasting to his brothers about dreams and their messages. Was it age or hardship that taught Joseph humility?
- Joseph did NOT say, "I'll pray about it and get back to you." He was ready for the moment when God used him. He prepared BEFORE the opportunity, and because of that disciplined daily relationship, he knew what to say and how to say it when the opportunity arose.
- What if the baker hadn't mentioned the birds? Would Joseph's interpretation have been different? I suppose that's a silly question because he did mention the birds, and God interpreted truthfully through Joseph. But consider this: God's TRUTH remains the same, no matter how we PHRASE things. Whether the baker mentioned birds or Joseph interpreted them, God's hand presided over Joseph's circumstances and his words – as He will over ours.
- Seriously? A guy predicts your release from prison, and you forget to mention it to anyone? Again, I have to believe that not only is God sovereign over the things we DO say, but He also works through the things we DON'T say.
Monday, November 01, 2010
- Potiphar ignored Joseph with mixed motives. Indeed, he trusted his blessed slave; however, it seems the trust was mixed apathy and busyness on the part of Pharaoh's Captain of the Guard. No matter Potiphar's motives, Joseph was determined to respond honorably.
- Invisible chatter is unadvisable. A quick, "No," would have sufficed and kept Joseph invisible. Granted, Potiphar's wife proves to be a persistent woman; however, as a rule the more we explain and clarify and communicate and, and, and…the further "exposed" we become. When dealing with temptation, oftentimes less is more, and explanations lead to danger.
- The trusted servant Potiphar once "ignored" becomes a foreigner and then an intruder. How could Potiphar be so easily convinced that his trustworthy servant was guilty of such evil? For the same reason many quiet folks with somewhat "invisible" personalities are mistaken for snobbish, unintelligent or some other socially less-than trait. Joseph fell prey to the peril of many introverts—misjudgment by misunderstanding.
- Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? Sold into slavery by his brothers. Boo. Success in Potiphar's house. Hooray. Unjustly accused and wrongly imprisoned. Boo. Success in prison and favored by the warden. Hooray? Let's face it. No one wants to be noticed in prison. Invisible was the best Joseph could hope for, right? But not JUST invisible. Blessed invisible. Joseph felt God's presence and reaped God's blessing no matter what his circumstance. Why? Because no one is invisible to God.