Archive - 2013

Backwards Christmas Celebration
Birth Announcement
From the Pedestrian God Archives: Is the Elf on Your Shelf a Christian?
Careful Who You Recommend
Pine Cone Turkeys

Backwards Christmas Celebration


As I spent the majority of the last two days with my 8 week old nephew in my lap, I couldn’t help but wonder how Mary felt caring for the Christ child. Radio, magazines, and sermons bombard me with images of Jesus in a manger at this time of year. But no matter how frequently I see a nativity, I cannot rid my mind of the cross. The stillness of our wooden nativity scene is overshadowed by the soon-coming death on the cross.

As much as I love the telling of the Christmas  narrative in Luke, I gravitate toward the passages entailing the arrest and sacrificial death some thirty years later.

I don’t find myself humming, “Happy Birthday, Jesus” on Christmas Day but rather “see from His head, His hands, His feet / sorrow and blood flow mingled down.”

Christ’s coming to earth sparks the celebrations at this time of year. But He’s more than a glowing baby lying next to donkeys. He is the God-Man – the ultimate sacrifice. He is the sacrificial lamb born to die for you and me. At this time of year, I remind myself of this not by reading the Christmas narrative but by reading the Passion week, those chapters in our Bible that tell the last moments of His life, not the first. Why? Because I need a reminder that Christ wasn’t born so that I could have candy canes in my stocking or even get my family together. Christ was born to die so that I could be right in my relationship with God.

So as the hustle and bustle of Christmas Day is behind us, take 3 minutes to listen to “I Celebrate The Day” by Relient K.

And I, I celebrate the day
that you were born to die
so I could one day pray for You to save my life.

Birth Announcement










I stepped into the garage with my brother to borrow a tool to fix my car. When we came inside, his Maltese dog was prancing at my feet wearing a shirt I had never seen before.

“Big Sister.”

Hugs and congratulations filled the room for the next several minutes as they told me I would soon be an aunt.

One of my favorite Pinterest pastimes is finding new posts for baby gender reveals. I am amazed at how clever become become with them. From holding up mustaches or red lips, dying cakes, releasing balloons, to the classic picture of the parents’ shoes next to tiny baby shoes, I marvel at the creativity and hard work that many couples put forth in their gender reveals and birth announcements these days.

What would our Pinterest board look like if we had all of eternity to plan our birth announcements rather than a few short weeks?

God, in His infinite wisdom and plan, knew exactly when and how the Messiah would enter this world. His birth announcement was more extravagant than anything we could ever plan for our own child.


Where do you think the birth announcement began? Perhaps in Luke 2 when the multitude of heavenly hosts with the angel praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!”

Or maybe even the previous chapter when the angels Gabriel told Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His  name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

God sent angels, heavenly hosts, even a special star. But was that really the birth announcement’s origin?

If we flipped to the first few pages of our Bibles, we can reread the magnificent power of God in the creation of the world. But then we hit the life-ending conflict of chapter three: the introduction of sin. Who would have guessed that the introduction of sin would also be the first birth “announcement” of our Messiah, the only one who can rescue us from that sin?

Genesis 3:15 announces, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

God had a plan. He knew from the beginning of time that the Messiah would enter the world. He even sent prophets from Abraham to John the Baptist to announce the good news to you and me.

At this Christmas season, our sin is revealed quickly in ourselves – from the selfish thoughts of not receiving the gift you really wanted or getting irritated at the number of Salvation Army bell ringers or pieces of mail from nonprofits requesting money.

God sent His only Son, Jesus, into this world to free us from the slavery of sin and to free us to live a life for His glory.

Merry Christmas.

From the Pedestrian God Archives: Is the Elf on Your Shelf a Christian?


Originally published on December 14, 2012.

Read Is the Elf on Your Shelf a Christian?

Careful Who You Recommend

If in a talk, I earnestly quote Pastor X or Speaker Y, I inherently give them authority. Be it intentional or not, I have endorsed them.

And even if the quote is Biblical, practical, and insightful – what if their theology is skewed?

One of the best practices we can have is to point our friends to the Bible, not to people. Yes, God inspires people to rightly interpret and explain Scripture. But it’s not a preachers job to convict – that is a role of the Holy Spirit.

Friends who have gone into banking tell me that they have training sessions with real, authentic currency – not the fraudulent bills. Fake money is altered and produced almost daily. The true money rarely changes. They are trained to recognize the truth.

We, too, much be trained to recognize the Truth. Spending time to understand other belief systems has a value, but we must first be firmly rooted in Scripture. Here are four quick thoughts when it comes to quoting from speakers or books:

1. Be careful which preachers, teachers, and Christian authors you recommend –  especially to young believers. Make certain they have a full understanding and teaching of salvation and the “essentials” of the faith.

2. Be Berean (Acts 17:11) and fact check everything that even the most reputable of preachers teach. If you’re not being fed Biblical truth, pray for that teacher and ask God to help you lovingly approach him or her.

3. If you are a Bible teacher, don’t “wing it” without Scriptural basis. We need to be careful whom we recommend and likewise then strive to be a Biblically-based person that others can rely on.

4. Test all teachings against the Bible, not theological or doctrinal books. These study books have a proper place but we are to study Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Truth to us. Similarly, we are the hide God’s Word in our hearts, not the words of a reference book.

Pine Cone Turkeys

I was accused of acting like a kindergarten teacher last week. But you know what? If making pine cone turkeys is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Here’s my herd on display:


I asked my coworkers to write down a word or a phrase of what they are thankful for in the other coworkers. I wasn’t certain if many people would participate, or if they did, that the answer I received would be superficial. But as I transcribed the list onto the turkey “feathers,” I was encouraged at what others wrote.

Though I didn’t participate in thirty days of thankfulness on Facebook this year, I have given consideration to what I’m thankful for. And I realized something – it takes a while to get past the surface-level of gratitude.

It’s easy for me to rattle off a list like this: I’m thankful for …

  • New house
  • Healthy newborn nephew
  • Job
  • Electricity
  • Chip’ins

But is that what I am really, truly thankful for? Is that really the list that I would write on a pine cone turkey? So this week I have been contemplating the deeper, less tangible blessings from God that I am thankful for.

  • A house of safety and welcoming that I look forward to returning to every day after work.
  • Unity in marriage.
  • Laughter. What an usual blessing that God created in allowing us to laugh.
  • Encouragement – both that I give and that I receive. I think I would melt into depression otherwise.
  • Hope. God is at work in people’s lives, including mine.

I may have crafted like a kindergarten teacher this month, but I tried not to think like a kindergarten student. We need to list our physical and material blessings and be thankful for them, but it’s even better to realize that we have a whole host of spiritual and emotional blessings that affect us everyday that we may not acknowledge.

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