Thoughts on Christmas: Simeon’s Song


Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” – Luke 2:25-32

Can you imagine holding the Messiah?  Can you wrap your mind around being present when God came in the flesh to save the world?  I asked myself these questions a few years ago when I read this verse.  It is one that gets skipped over sometimes because it is stuck in between the nativity and the ministry of Jesus with the disciples.  It struck me that God had ordained this meeting between His son and His servant to confirm for Joseph and Mary that all they had experienced was real.

It is easy to feel a little jealous of Simeon’s experience, celebrating the arrival of God’s salvation by holding it close to his chest, but I have since decided that we now experience something Simeon did not – the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit.  While Simeon knew who Jesus was and had been waiting for His arrival, he most likely was not living when Christ rose from the tomb.  As believers under the new covenant, we have a fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It really is astounding; that God would dwell in us and make our hearts His home.

In this coming year, in the aftermath of the Christmas season and all the un-Christmas stuff that can come with it, remember that we have received Christ.  We hold Him close to our hearts in faith.  We celebrate His presence in our lives.  We say with Simeon, “my eyes have seen your salvation” and give our praises to God.  This is the meaning and momentum of Christmas; that Christ was sent and received and continues to be sent and received through the Holy Spirit to save the lost and heal the sick and feed the hungry.

Now we become the bearers of the gift, carrying it into the lives of others, presenting them with their “Simeon” moment.  Our words and actions open the doors to present the gift to friends, family, coworkers and strangers, bringing Christ near to those He would save.  Can you imagine holding the Messiah?  Can you wrap your mind around being present when God comes in the flesh to bring salvation to a dying world?  It is our privilege and promise as His children to carry these great gifts every day.  Here is hoping that Christmas does not only mark the end of the year, but gives us the push we need to hit the new year with renewed strength and purpose.

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The Discipline of Presence: Being About Today


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

It is clear from the gospels that Jesus understood humanity.  He was fully aware of our failings and flaws and into this world of imperfection He spoke words both compassionate and confrontational.  If we want to be fully present in the lives God has given us, we need to soak in the truth of this passage.

Worry, fear, anxiety and doubt all arise from a lack of trust or misplacing our trust.  Christ is reorienting our view to the one who is worthy of our trust.  He asks us to give up what if-ing our life to death and take hold of the truth that God will take care of us.

If we want to live life abundantly, we need to be about today.  When we exert our emotions and will to grasp for control what has not happened yet, we enter into a cycle of frustration and disappointment.  We can feel like the universe is out to wreck our plans, or even think that God is punishing us when things don’t go our way.  What if instead of trying to control the future, we worked on being prepared for the day we haven’t passed through yet?  What if rejected the idea of things going our way and partnered with God in seeing things go His way?

This isn’t about getting rid of your calendar, or not setting goals.  This is about having a different attitude in how you get to tomorrow.  When you are confidently giving all you have to today you avoid the regret and feelings of failure that worry, anxiety, doubt and fear leave in their wake.  When you step into each day available to the will of God, you become a tool in the Master’s hand, perfectly fit for His work in you and the world.  When you are rooted in the truth of His love

In the world of addiction recovery there is a saying that seems appropriate for this passage: One day at a time.  The reality is that we are all addicts – recovering sinners, if you will.  We have been set free, but we have a hard time living like we are no longer slaves to sin.  It is easy to fall back into the mentality that we know better what our future holds than the one who created time.

Jesus wants us to take one day at a time on our road to becoming like Him.  He wants us in that place between “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)  He wants us living in today.

I don’t want to be spread out over days, weeks and months.  I don’t want to feel thinned out by the ticking hands of a clock stretching me beyond the moment that God has prepared. I want to be a man about the business of today.

Prayer for this week:

Lord, help me to be about your work each day.  Let me live in the space between what has been and what will be with integrity and purpose.  Help me be fully present in my life with you, my family, friends and those you bring across my path.  Amen.

Thoughts on Christmas: Simeon’s Song


Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” – Luke 2:25-32

Can you imagine holding the Messiah?  Can you wrap your mind around being present when God came in the flesh to save the world?  I asked myself these questions a few years ago when I read this verse.  It is one that gets skipped over sometimes because it is stuck in between the nativity and the ministry of Jesus with the disciples.  It struck me that God had ordained this meeting between His son and His servant to confirm for Joseph and Mary that all they had experienced was real.

It is easy to feel a little jealous of Simeon’s experience, celebrating the arrival of God’s salvation by holding it close to his chest, but I have since decided that we now experience something Simeon did not – the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit.  While Simeon knew who Jesus was and had been waiting for His arrival, he most likely was not living when Christ rose from the tomb.  As believers under the new covenant, we have a fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that really is astounding; that God would dwell in us and make our hearts His home.

In this coming year, in the aftermath of the Christmas season and all the un-Christmas stuff that can come with it, remember that we have received Christ.  We hold Him close to our hearts in faith.  We celebrate His presence in our lives.  We say with Simeon, “my eyes have seen your salvation” and give our praises to God.  This is the meaning and momentum of Christmas; that Christ was sent and received and continues to be sent and received through the Holy Spirit to save the lost and heal the sick and feed the hungry.

Now we become the bearers of the gift, carrying it into the lives of others, presenting them with their “Simeon” moment.  Our words and actions open the doors to present the gift to friends, family, coworkers and strangers, bringing Christ near to those He would save.  Can you imagine holding the Messiah?  Can you wrap your mind around being present when God comes in the flesh to bring salvation to a dying world?  It is our privilege and promise as His children to carry these great gifts every day.  Here is hoping that Christmas does not only mark the end of the year, but gives us the push we need to hit the new year with renewed strength and purpose.

Change is Good: The Gift of Seasons (Skipping Rocks Blog Post 3)


Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)

When my Mom passed away, the opportunity for us to move in with my Dad in his new home was no coincidence.  The blessings from that decision have been beyond measure for all of us.  We all have been challenged to change and adjust, but the result is always a better family than the one we had before.  God has brought us through much together.  

During that first year together, I watched the skipping pond carefully. It has gone from a small series of ponds, to a steady flowing stream, ebbing down to a trickle and finally back to the series of ponds again.  In each season there has been beauty and pain, growth and death, fulfillment and denial.  The constant theme for each season, the one thing that determines each season’s longevity and quality, is water.  Its lack or abundance determined the change and transformation from one season to the next.

Much like God’s movement through our lives together, the water was always there bringing life in a flowing stream or an isolated pond. Those creatures and growing things that rely on the water are at its mercy.  If they desire to flourish and multiply they must stay close to the course of the stream.  They must sink roots, dig their burrows carefully and feed regularly when the season is ripe.

God flows through our life whether we think He does or not.  We are trees by a creek at the mercy of living water.  We must sink roots deep to weather the drought and the flood.  We must keep faith, hope and love deep in the center like sap in the heart of a tree when the drought is upon us.  We must grow limbs strong and thick when the spring brings new life and become the people God desires us to be. 

As a family we have been able to sink deep roots and God has been faithful.  We are looking forward to the seasons ahead knowing He will sustain us with His living water through anything and everything this world can bring us. The water will flow and we will be ready.

How I Learned to Roll With the Ripples: God’s Un-Random Acts of Kindness (Skipping Rocks Part 2)


Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:10-11 NIV

It had been a not so great day. For the past couple of months I had been looking for work without any nibbles. I had reached that tired point where continuing on was an obligation without much dedication. The mail had arrived with another, “While we appreciate all of your skill and experience…” letter and frustration had me in its despairing grip. It was time for skipping rocks.
I walked to the creek, kicking a few weeds with satisfaction and sat on the beach once again. Any goodness or rightness associated with that place was lost on me that day. With robotic movements I began to pick up rocks and attempt to skip them on the small pond. The key word here is “attempt.” Frustration came over me again. The wind had picked up that afternoon and the steady ripples made an uneven surface, unfriendly to skipping stones. But I had met God in this place before, so I waited and listened and watched.
In time the wind would subside for a few moments, allowing the water to become calm enough for skipping. Timing was critical due to the small window of opportunity allowed by the temporary stillness. Listening for the rustle of leaves upwind; watching the reeds upstream for movement; noticing the stilled waters of the upper pond a brief moment before the lower one. These all became indicators of the coming opportunity for a treasured event. I let loose each stone with much more care and concentration, not wanting to waste the anticipated moment.
The rewards were immediate and satisfying as I watched stone after stone make the series of arcs from point of contact to the next across liquid glass. God had met me again and humbled me with each stone’s tap against the water. I had been so obsessed with finding work that I had lost sight of His will. Instead of becoming more and more in tune with His movements and motions, I was intent on skipping rocks in my own time and way. I needed to sit quietly at His feet and wait for His window of opportunity.
It was no more than a week later that I received a call from a church needing an interim preacher. They were looking for someone willing to make the trek into the mountains to speak on Sundays until they could find a full-time pastor. This allowed me to continue seeking work on God’s timetable and still be used by Him in the body. It is such a blessing to be in on what God is doing in my life rather than cluelessly barging ahead, trying desperately to fulfill my responsibilities as a provider.
I hope that I will not have to learn this lesson again. I hope that I will listen for the breath of God rustling through the events of life. I hope that I will watch for the movement of the Holy Spirit in the world around me and participate with His ministry. I hope I will see what is coming with wisdom and knowledge. In His time, in His way, in His will.