Tag Archives: Jesus

“Fear is the path to the dark side” — Yoda

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear lead to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda

Dear God, I know that George Lucas wasn’t referencing you with all of the “force” talk in Star Wars, but there is some truth in it. I think Jesus tried to teach us something similar about hate and loving our enemies

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor,’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45a)

So why does it feel so good to give in to the hate? Why do I find myself wanting to sink into the news and hate people who are on the other side of the political spectrum than me? It feels so good to see them experience pain or disappointment. It feels so good to try to prove them wrong. Before I know it, I’m reading news articles that will bring me good news of their destruction. 

It’s interesting that Yoda stars with fear in that quote above. Is there something I’m afraid of that drives my fear. Is my disease fear and the symptom is hate? I’d say that line from George Lucas is pretty brilliant and probably right. There are all kinds of verses about fearing not. Jesus goes into it several times, talking about how we worry about things over which we have no control. Consider the lilies of the field, and all of that. 

So what scares me and why does it scare me? Am I scared of someone being president? Am I scared of threats to the economy? Am I scared of other nations? Am I scared I won’t get my way? 

Father, reveal to me where I am scared and not trusting you. Help me to pray for both men currently running for president. And do with our nation what you will. You know the path you have for us. You know what you want to happen in the world. Help me to do my part in making that happen. And please help me to love my enemies and let go of my fear and hate.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on September 6, 2020 in Miscellaneous, Musings and Stories


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What would Jesus say to this?

Dear God, I was having a texting conversation with a friend last night. He is someone I met on a vacation over three years ago, and we have kept in touch through Facebook.

Anyway, we were talking last night and he wanted to know what Jesus would have to say about a lot of the wrongs happening in the world. In this particular case, the thing on his mind was corruption he witnessed firsthand at a food distribution for the the poor. He saw volunteers taking food before the needy were able to go through the line, and it disgusted him. He finally walked away.

So what would Jesus have to say about all of this? My reply to him was to listen to Andy Stanley’s sermon from last Sunday called, “Not it it to win it.” This man isn’t a Christian so I know it was a tall ask. He’s very likely not going to listen to Andy’s sermon, but I’ve listened to it three times this week, and I plan to sit with it and pray through it over the weekend.

The big thing I think Jesus would do right now is rebuke the church. Andy told the story from Luke 9:51-56. Jesus was wanting to stay in Samaria, but the Samaritans didn’t want him and his entourage there. James and John then asked if Jesus wanted them to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. Jesus’s response was to rebuke them and press on towards his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

Why do I think Jesus would rebuke the church right now? Because Andy is right. The church has fallen into the worldly trap of wanting to win. We want to win the battle for influence and power. We want the world the yield to our way of thinking. We want to exercise political power and defend it when it starts to slip away. We want our morality to be legislated throughout the earth, and to do that we need more power. To get that power, we need politicians who will do our bidding, whether we believe they are Christians or not. If they say they will support our morality then that’s all we need to know. In chess terminology, if they will give us their queen, they can have most of our chess pieces. Then the world will be the place we want it to me…Oh, I mean you want it to be (sarcasm implied).

What would be included in Jesus’s rebuke? Frankly, I shudder to think of what he might have to say to his church. What he would have to say to me. But I’m pretty sure he would start with something close to the parables he taught about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is something that starts from the bottom and grows from a grassroots level through love, the receiving of your grace, and then the sharing of your grace with others. There are moral standards in there to be sure. There is a need for asking for forgiveness of you. But these are what we need to do to be free. The kingdom of heaven is also like people who don’t care about their own rights and delight in the progress of others (see the parable of the workers hired at different times of day, but all were paid the same amount). And the kingdom of heaven is like the man who found it and sold everything he had to attain it because it was worth more than all he held on to.

Father, I’m about to go and do a prayer walk around one of our school district’s campuses that includes the high school, the primary school, and the district’s administrative building. Put my head into the right place as I do this. And better prepare me to answer the question, “What would Jesus have to say to this?” I want to always be about pointing others to you. Oh, and forgive me. Forgive us as the church. Help us to turn loose of our quest for power and influence so that our morality might be forced upon people. Help us to turn loose of that idol. Help us to turn loose of the idol of the Supreme Court, the President, the Congress, and any other person we think will do our work for us. Help us to do the work you put in front of us for your glory’s sake and not our own.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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North Point Church Interview with Stuart and Kellee Hall

Quotes from “Surviving COVID: An Interview with Stuart and Kellee Hall” from North Point Community Church

Stuart Hall: I read this week, and I think this parallels with what you’re saying–the writer posed this question: “Have you placed your trust in your theology or the God of your theology?” And that’s really easy for us to get confused. And the way that Kellee and our children have inspired me is exactly what you’re saying. The writer of Hebrews says that we can approach the throne of God with confidence and he’ll give us grace and mercy. But those are not the outcomes we really desire. What we want to do is go, “Well, no, we want him to live and we want him to be completely healthy.” And the writer of Hebrews goes, “You can have confidence that he’s going to give you grace to go through whatever it is that you are going to go through, and he’s going to be merciful to you in that process.” And it does, it pushes against this–if we get really honest I think all of us, we tend to live…our faith ends up being a churched up version of the American dream with just enough Jesus to make it seem legitimate. And what’s happened to us is that that’s been knocked out from under us, and now you go, “Okay, are we going to…are we going to trust Jesus? Are we going to lean the full weight of our life on him? Or are we going to trust what we think about him or what we believe about him? And those are two different things.

Andy Stanley: So, Stuart, I want to wrap up with maybe the hardest question or the biggest question. One of the mysteries of our faith is the providence of God. Who’s in charge? The sovereignty of God. You know, what role do we have? And you touched on this earlier. Did God cause this to happen? Do you just respond to what happened? Just life, random. How has this event changed your view of the sovereignty of God or God’s activity in the world? I mean, how…the whole issue of certainty. Talk a little bit about that.

Stuart Hall: Well, Kellee and I had already been wrestling with that a little bit. We did have a window of time as empty nesters where she would travel with me when I would go and speak different places. The more we’ve been around the country, the more we’ve talked to people, the more I started feeling really antsy about this reality: That–and this sounds really harsh, Andy–but I feel like we’ve made an idol out of certainty. Like we…And an idol isn’t an idol because it has a particular property to it. And idol is an idol because of the value you place on it. And so much of our existence revolves around security and certainty. And I think what has happened in our life as a result of this is this unveiling of the fact that you’ve got your value on the wrong things. The only thing you can trust–you know, the write of Hebrews says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t say your circumstances are. He doesn’t say your marriage will be. He doesn’t say your health will be. He doesn’t say your children will be. He doesn’t say your country will be. He doesn’t say the economy will be. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So the question becomes then, why would I lean my life on anything but him? Do I think that God made this happen? It’s such an interesting tension because to believe in an all-knowing God is to believe that God knows everything. I don’t know if God made it happen. I do know he wants to make it matter. And because he wants to make it matter, I think that she and I feel this, almost like this burden, that we’ve got a join him in whatever it is he’s trying to do because of the story. Because of what it is that he has done in our life. And what we don’t want to do…it’s interesting when uncertainty happens I think we all have this propensity wherever there’s a contradiction we’ll set up an opposition to it. If something contradicts our certainty–like with COVID, for example–it’s a contradiction in our certainty so when go, “Well, it’s a conspiracy theory.” Or, “It’s a political agenda.”

Andy Stanley: If you were sitting over a coffee table with our audience–either single men and women, married men and women, seniors, high school students, college students, and you had your, you know, your elevator pitch…the final moment–what do you say?

Stuart Hall: I would probably say that I think we have the wrong job description for love. As humans we are always trying to avoid pain. As parents we are always trying to protect our children from pain. As friends we are always trying to fix each other’s pain. And no wonder we always feel like failures because life is, it’s the human drama. It’s pleasure and pain. And the question I would have you wrestle with is just simply this: What are you going to trust in when that pain happens? When your certainty is made uncertain? Are you going to lean your life on your own understanding? Your own ability to reason? Your own ability to wrap this up and put a bow on it? Or will you trust your life to the only one that doesn’t change, that doesn’t move, and can actually heal you of your pain, can heal you in your hurt? The last thing I would say is that your love for Jesus doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be true. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be true. So I implore you–if you’re not a Jesus person, you don’t follow him–would you consider what you’re leaning your life up against? And if you are a Jesus person, you are…you do follow in the way of Jesus, how much are you trusting him? Are you trusting what you know about him, or are you really trusting him? That’s my prayer for people, that they will lean their life, the full weight of their existence on him.

Dear God, I should probably spend the next few days and separate out these three different sets of quotes from Stuart Hall.

I was riding my bike the other day and listening to this interview/podcast/sermon from North Point Community Church, and I’m so grateful for it. When I came across these three specific quotes, I looked at the phone and noted the time stamp so I could go back and find them. I loved them.

I guess, from a macro level, it was just so nice to hear from a couple that has been through trials, but their faith was solid throughout because their faith was in the right thing. They had the right perspective on you.

I haven’t always had that kind of faith. Sure, sometimes I have. Probably the high point of my faith was 25 years ago next month when my wife miscarried our first child, Sandra. I was 25 years old and kneeling beside her hospital bed and my prayer to you was that you knew my heat and you knew what I wanted, but I trusted you and I had faith in you. You were my God, and I put it all in your hands. Yeah, I look back on that and am grateful for the perspective that 25-year-old had.

But I haven’t always been that way since then. There were times when I was unemployed that I got really angry with you. There were times when things weren’t going the way I wanted them to with raising my children, and I was really disappointed in you. I could go on and on.

No, my life isn’t only failures. You have taught me through those times of lost faith. You used them to strengthen me. You used them to grow my faith. You made them count.

So now, father, before I spend the next couple of days thinking about these quotes individually, I want to say that I am grateful for the struggles. I am grateful for the humblings (is that a word?) you have given to me. There’s an old Amy Grant song called, “In a Little While.” Part of the chorus says, “We’re just here to learn to love Him.” I wish I didn’t need so much instruction, but I submit myself to the lessons you have for me. My utmost for your highest, oh, Lord!

In Jesus’s name I pray,




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2 Samuel 15-17

Dear God, Fred Smith taught me something I didn’t know this week in his blog post “A Friend’s Revenge.” He taught me that Ahithoophel was likely Bathsheba’s grandfather, and the fact that Ahithophel aligned himself with Absalom in the attempted overthrow of David was possibly motivated by revenge for what David had done to Bathsheba and Uriah. What?!? How have I read that story so many times and not figured that out? I did a little research in Wikipedia (so it must be true) and it indicated that 2 Samuel 23:34 says Ahithophel was Eliam’s father, and 2 Samuel 11:3 tells us that Bathsheba’s father was named Eliam. This could have been a coincidence, but it would be an interesting vagueness for the author to leave us if the connection isn’t there.

That being said, and working from the assumption that this is true, I have a couple of thoughts.

  1. How did Ahithophel think this would end for Bathsheba and his great grandson Solomon? Absalom would certainly have killed Solomon, and Bathsheba would either have been killed or become Absalom’s wife/concubine. Given her age by that point, I doubt she would have been first choice for wife/concubine. So he was putting her in even more danger.
  2. Did he really think a kingdom run by Absalom would be better than a kingdom run by David. At that point, maybe he did. David seems to be  abdicating a lot of responsibility and lying down on the job. In fact, he was in a downward spiral ever since he decided not to go go and join the troops back when he hooked up with Bathsheba. I would imagine that succession planning was so unofficial back then that he might have been just trying to figure out which way the wind was blowing and go with it.
  3. Again, if this is true, then it was obviously an open secret what David had done to both Bathsheba and Uriah. That means that everyone knew including Solomon, which would help to explain why he treated women the way he did as an adult. Isn’t that what kings do?

But let me spend some time on this aspect of revenge as motivation. The most remarkable people in the world are those who do not seek revenge. Dr. Martin Luther King is regarded with more reverence by most people because he was forceful in his demands for justice and equality without being vengeful. The same is true for Nelson Mandela. In fact, in the midst of all of the racial tensions right now in this country, I wonder how much we have to learn from South Africa. I literally don’t know enough to know the answer to that question, but it is certainly remarkable that when Nelson Mandela came to power, as I understand it, he did not seek revenge on those who persecuted him.

I’ve wondered a lot this week about how Jesus would be responding right now if he were here in the flesh. Would he be attending protests? Would he be posting on social media? Would he be giving interviews or making public speeches? Would he just be talking to those in his sphere of influence and loving on them? Would he be seeking out regional and national leaders to give them counsel? Would he be participating on racial equality panels? Would he be vandalizing statues and destroying businesses and burning churches? Would he be taking photos of himself with a Bible? Some of these are obvious “yes’s” and some are obvious “no’s,” but many are vague and I don’t know what he would do. But I do know that revenge would not be part of the motivating factor. After all, even as he died, he asked that you would forgive those that were killing him.

Father, help me to be an instrument of your peace. Help me to know how to forcefully join a peaceful call for action that is not laden with revenge. And please raise up leaders who will lead in this spirit. The spirit of revenge that is flowing through our country right now is painful to watch. Let mercy lead.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on June 13, 2020 in 2 Samuel, Matthew


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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Motherof Jesus (Part 16)

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now finished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit. Since it was the preparation day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special day). They requested that Pilate have the men’s legs broken and that their bodies be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other one who had been crucified with him. When they came to Jesus, they did not break his legs since they saw that he was already dead. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows he is telling the truth. For these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken. Also, another Scripture says: They will look at the one they pierced. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews—asked Pilate that he might remove Jesus’s body. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and took his body away. Nicodemus (who had previously come to him at night) also came, bringing a mixture of about seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes. They took Jesus’s body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the fragrant spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews. There was a garden in the place where he was crucified. A new tomb was in the garden; no one had yet been placed in it. They placed Jesus there because of the Jewish day of preparation and since the tomb was nearby.
John 19:25-42

Dear God, there are some things in this story I never noticed before. The first thing is that Mary’s sister was there. Jesus’s aunt. I’ll get back to that in a second.

As I’ve been focused on Mary for the previous 15 prayer journals to you I’ve come to see this whole experience through her eyes as a parent a little more vividly. So the first thing that came to my mind as I read this story yesterday and today is, “Well, this isn’t how this was supposed to work out at all.” What a devastating day! It’s one thing to lose your son, but it’s another to lose him so violently. And even more to have lost the man who was supposed to be the Messiah! She saw this coming. She saw the track he was on from at least the time she and his brothers tried to get him and take him home. This just wasn’t going how she and Joseph foresaw it after they visited with the angels, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and the wise men. I’m sure she and Elizabeth talked a lot about who their boys would be when they grew up, and now they were both dead–killed brutally.

I’ll bet she wished Joseph was there to hold her. I wonder what kinds of conversations she and her sister had had over the previous 34 years. I’m sure the early years were filled with home and wonder. Perhaps big dreams and Israel’s liberation and conquering power. Then, in recent years, concern that this was all unraveling. Perhaps this was too much for her son. Maybe he had lost his mind. Now they stood there together, Mary possibly feeling loved by her sister, but also maybe a little judged. How embarrassing to have this happen to your own son.

And if you’re Jesus, looking down, you see your mom, your aunt, and then John–apparently the only disciple that had the nerve to show up. It doesn’t mention that Jesus’s brothers were there. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus didn’t trust them because he made John responsible for his mother’s care. I’m sure their relationships were pretty strained and frayed by that point. Perhaps they were angry with Mary for supporting Jesus. I don’t know. It’s all conjecture, but the picture is pretty clear. She is standing there with her sister, Mary Magdalene, still another Mary who was married to someone names Clopas, and John. Her son’s life is over. And it sure looks like it was all a waste of time–Bethlehem, the stable, the rumors and innuendo, the flight to Egypt, the children slaughtered in Bethlehem, raising him… Now it was all over and all she had left was to live out the rest of her life.

Of course, we now have the advantage of knowing that that isn’t the end of the story, but let’s just sit with Mary in the seeming failure for another day or two. Sometimes as parents we just don’t know what is going on with our children. I talked with someone today whose son ended up failing out of their first year of college. It just didn’t work. His mother homeschooled him, and so she, at least in part, feels like it’s an indictment against her and how she prepared him for college. He feels like a failure. His father feels it too. But maybe this is a door that you needed to close for him to find the path you have for him. Maybe, like Mary, they simply can’t see what you’re doing. I know I’ve certainly had to embrace that level of faith sometimes with my own children.

Father, help me to be at peace with the fact that sometimes things just don’t go according to my plans because my plans can be vain, shortsighted, and foolish. In fact, help me to let go of my plans and simply look to you in this moment of this day, thank you for what you done that I can see and that I can’t see, and then be at peace in your presence. Let me give my utmost for your highest, regardless of what it costs me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 15)

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching; and look—something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look—something greater than Solomon is here. “When an unclean spirit comes out of a person, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house that I came from.’ Returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that person’s last condition is worse than the first. That’s how it will also be with this evil generation.” While he was still speaking with the crowds, his mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to the one who was speaking to him, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Matthew 12:38-50

Dear God, I wish I had done Part 14 and Part 15 in reverse order. I missed this story in chapter 12 before I did the story of Jesus in the synagogue from chapter 13. In reading this now, the order of the stories is that Mary and Jesus’s brothers were dissed here by Jesus, then he tells a bunch of parables by the sea, and then he goes into the synagogue and is rejected (and indicates his family has rejected him as well).

What a strange time this must have been for Mary. She apparently had a lot of children, both boys and girls. I wonder how much time she spent trying to calm the other children down as they dealt with Jesus as their brother. It had to have been hard for them, and it added an underappreciated layer of complexity to Mary’s life as a mother. Maybe it would have been easier for her to figure out how to be a mother to Jesus as an adult if he had been her only, but she had some other children to worry about as well. She was a mother to all of them. And I’m sure sometimes she did it right by standing up to them and telling them they were wrong about Jesus, and sometimes she did it wrong and gave into their perspective of him.

Being a parent, even of adult children, is so complicated. It’s true that our job to parent them is never quite over. As long as we are alive, there is a role for us to play, even if it is only to show them love. Then there are the decisions we have to make regarding whether to help them or not help them in a given situation. I hate to see them suffer, but I also don’t want to get in the way of how you might be working in their life through an obstacle that is in front of them. If I remove that obstacle, have I gotten in your way?

Father, thank you that our forefathers and foremothers we just people too. Thank you that you have given us examples of flawed people who were as lost about parenting as I feel sometimes. I would learn nothing if they were perfect, but none of them are. Now, please help my wife and me to parent our own children. Counsel us through each other and others. Raise up people in our children’s lives whom they can hear and will speak with your voice. Heal their wounds. Heal our wounds. And, in the end, be glorified in all of our lives.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 14)

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left there. He went to his hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary, and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does he get all these things?” And they were offended by him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:53-58

This must have been such a confusing time for Jesus’s family and everyone who knew him growing up. It certainly seems that he was not only rejected at the synagogue, but also at home because he said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.” I wonder just how much grief he caught from everyone, including his family. And what were Mary’s thoughts regarding all of this? Had she lost sight of what she had heard from the angel 30 years before? Had the years worn her down a bit? Maybe she built up in her mind what her son’s life would be and she felt like it just wasn’t working out like it was supposed to. Maybe his siblings were complaining to her about him and she was giving into the pressure from them. Either way, it is apparent that Jesus was not feeling affirmed and supported.

This makes me think back to times when 1.) I didn’t have my wife around to help temper my reactions to my children’s behavior and 2.) one of the children would lobby me about how I should feel about the other and I would let their perspective unfairly influence my own. Number 1 is especially important because sometimes we definitely need that other parent to help guide us through frustrating times with our children when my emotions get the better of my judgment. I wonder how these stories might have been different if Joseph had still been around. I wonder how Joseph would have handled 30-year-old Jesus.

Father, thank you for giving me a co-parent. Thank you for giving me a wise woman to help me through those times when my emotions overrode my logic. I know there were times when I still failed my children, but the incidences are much fewer because I had a great co-parent. And I am sorry for when I failed to give my children what you needed them to have from me. I’m sorry for impatience and also for, at times, failing to give them what you needed them to have from me. I don’t have tons and tons of regrets, but I certainly have a few. Please guide all of us as we continue to mature in you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 13)

On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.” “What has this concern of yours to do with me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.” “Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants.
John 2:1-5

Dear God, it is really too bad that we don’t get tone of voice in this story. My wife and I were just talking about this vignette from Jesus’s life and she said that she thinks Jesus was wrong here (she said it, not me 🙂 ). She doesn’t like the tone he uses with Mary. For my part, I see a meddling mother who is trying to save the day for some friends and has a son she knows can do something about it.

However, when tone of voice comes into play, I think we can infer a more playful tone because of how John relates this story. Mary beseeches Jesus to solve their problem. He labels it as her concern and tells her that he can’t be doing anything this public just yet. Then she turns and tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. What’s missing is Jesus’s acceptance of the task which tells me that his acceptance must have been in the tone of his voice. Our automatic image is of Jesus always stoic, but I have a feeling that he had contributed to the fact that the wine was running out through his own imbibing, and he was maybe even being playful with Mary. It’s certainly interesting that only John gives us this story. Mary apparently didn’t tell it to Luke when he was doing his research.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, what must it have been like to be a human woman and be the mother of the son of God–the Messiah? How did that work for her? Especially with Joseph apparently gone now. She was the only one left who had experienced the angel visits about Jesus. We’ll assume Zechariah and Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s parents) were gone by then because they were old at the time of Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah in the temple. No, she was it. And I’m sure there were confusing days. There was no one to consult with who could relate to her situation. She too was probably waiting for this young man to be the conquering Messiah. He was 30 now. Wasn’t it about time he got going? He could do these miracles, but wasn’t it time for more? Wasn’t it time for public leadership?

Father, it can be hard to get out of your way when it comes to the path you have for our children. It can feel like our prayers for them are going unanswered because, once again, we measure time in days weeks and months and you measure it in years, decades, and centuries. So I come to you today to simply worship you, pray for my wife and my children (and myself), that we would be on the path you have for us, and that you will use our lives for your glory. And I also, once again, commit to you that I will not look to my children to fulfill my own needs for pride or achievement, but I turn them loose to live their lives and pray that they would be dedicated to you for your glory’s sake and not mine.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 12)

After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
Luke 2:46-52

Dear God, just this first sentence makes me think about those times when I was so mad at my child when they were little and, after I’d really built up my anger towards them and how I was going to really get onto them when I saw them, I would find them, hear their explanation, and realize that they hadn’t really done anything wrong at all, but, instead, had done their best to do the right thing. I can only imagine how Mary and Joseph were feeling as they searched Jerusalem for three days. I wonder where they went for those three days. What was the first place they looked? The second place? It took three days (coincidence?) to find him in the temple. I wonder why that wasn’t closer to the top of their list.

So they find him and they are probably ready to let him have it. How do I know? Because we think this account is being told to Luke by Mary and she remembers herself saying, “Son, why have you treated us like this?” Forget the idea of being grateful he was alive. She was just angry at him. She might have been telling herself (and Joseph) that if she found him alive she was going to kill him. How could he do this to her (them)?!?

To be clear, I don’t blame Mary for this and I don’t think Jesus did either. He explained himself fairly innocently, but he also learned–as most teenagers need to learn–that his actions impacted the lives of others as well. Jesus still needed some parenting here too. He was still piecing together who he was and how he should proceed.

Father, my children are grown now and finding their own way, but as long as I’m here I think you’ll have some role for me to play in their lives. It might be diminishing. It might be changing. It might be to simply offer at least one source of unconditional love in their lives–one safe place. If that’s what you have for me, so be it. And also help me to be the son you need me to be for my parents and my wife’s father. Help me to adequately express my love for them and know how to receive from them the things you need me to have.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 11)

Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
Luke 2:41-45

Dear God, the last time I went through this story, focusing on Joseph’s perspective, I stopped here–before they found Jesus–so I thought I would stop here for Mary too. He was a good kid so they made a huge assumption. They just assumed he was with their traveling party. Why wouldn’t he be? He always did what he was supposed to do. But the they figured out he wasn’t there. Oh no! What happened?!?

I would bet that it never occurred to her that Jesus would have not been with them voluntarily. That would have apparently been very out of character for him. No, he must have either been taken or hurt and couldn’t get to them. A woman that fled to Egypt only to learn that all of the boys under two years old back in Bethlehem were killed after they left because someone was trying to kill her son had now lost that boy. Where was he?!?

I wonder if she and Joseph blamed each other as they went back to Jerusalem. Maybe they each blamed themselves. Maybe Mary got all of the blame since she was the mom and moms were in charge of children back then. Either way, I’ll bet there was a lot of fear as they went along…and a lot of silence.

I’ve blamed myself for a lot of things with my children through the years. And I’ll confess that I’ve blamed my wife for things too. And she has, in turn, blamed me for some things. How can you not? We all make mistakes and we all deserve some blame. In this case, I think Mary and Joseph both fell asleep at the wheel because they had grown to trust Jesus so much. But he still needed some guidance and parenting. He was trying to figure things out and he needed their help.

Father, help me to be at peace with the mistakes I have made and the mistakes my wife has made. Help me to forgive myself for anything for which I still feel shame. Help me to forgive my wife for any resentments I still have towards her. As I search my thoughts, I can’t think of any, but I’m sure they are there. And help me to stay alert and vigilant as I continue to be a father my adult children. Help me to not miss what you still need them to have from me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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