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Posts tagged with: Luke

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted

Strength to Lead – Part II

On this honorable weekend where we remember MLK, Jr., I would love to also recognize the role of women in the fight for civil rights. History is filled with powerful women who have birthed and labored to get us to where we are today. The civil rights movement especially would not be the same without them. They toiled and watered the soil so the seeds of the movement would bear fruit. These women did not walk by injustice nor did they choose to “pass by on the other side.”

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MLK Jr. and other leaders marching in 1963

Strength to Love – Part I

“I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.”

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a black and white image of an older womans hands studying a text

God Works Through People of All Ages: The Case of Anna

Once again, we see that God is at work in people both young and old. If we reflect on the case of Anna, we understand that she was not in a season of life where she had many responsibilities, like caring for children or doing other work assigned to women in the first century. Anna was free to worship in the temple “night and day, fasting and praying” (Luke 2:37). Her age and life status gave her freedom that people don’t usually have earlier in life.

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a portrait image of an older man

God Works Through People of All Ages: The Case of Simeon

We don’t know much about Simeon, but Luke does let us know that he wasn’t some crazy man who regularly harassed people in the courts of the temple. In fact, he was “righteous,” “devout,” and filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:25). The Spirit had promised Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah (Luke 2:26). This comment has led interpreters to believe that Simeon was quite old and approaching death. This inference is backed up by Simeon’s own prayer, “you may now dismiss your servant in peace” (Luke 2:29). We would not expect a young man to pray this way, but rather someone who knows that his death is near.

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a black and white image of a shepherd tending to sheep

Experiencing God in Your Work

One night, some shepherds outside of Bethlehem found their routine of careful watching interrupted by a most astounding sight. A glorious angel appeared to the shepherds, scaring them half to death. But the angel brought good news: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Then, the angel invited the shepherds to go to the baby “wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). If this were not enough, after that an army of angels appeared, offering glory to God and peace on earth. Talk about experiencing God at work!

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statues of mary, joseph, and baby jesus with a starry background

Joseph’s Work and Your Work

As I think about Joseph’s work in this story, I’m reminded of how much of our work in life gets little attention, little fanfare. Like Joseph, we don’t show up in the story as it’s usually told. I’m not complaining about this, mind you. But I am encouraged to be faithful in the work God has called me to do whether or not anybody notices. The work itself has value. The work itself contributes to God’s work in the world. Moreover, even if nobody appreciates my behind-the-scenes efforts, God sees my work and is honored by my faithfulness. The same is true for you in the “Joseph work” of your life.

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a shadowy image of a pregnant woman reclining

Mary’s Work and Your Work

Sometimes when we speak of work, we think only of paid work. But some of the hardest and most rewarding work in life does not receive monetary compensation. Yet “unpaid” work is genuine work. Remember that God created human beings to work, to “be fruitful and multiply”—which most literally refers to the work of bearing and raising children. Our fruitfulness includes much more, to be sure. But bringing children into the world and nurturing them is one crucial element of human work. It’s the work of mothers, centrally, but also of all who join with mothers to care for, teach, disciple, and love children.

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A gift wrapped with words of Joy.

Joy Rooted in Christ

Joy is not so much meant for the good times as it is for the tumultuous times. This genuine joy does not deny the existence of pain, heartache, and loss, but it also acknowledges the strength of our God to heal, mend, and restore. Joy must be engaged and actively adopted. The season of Advent is about the arrival of the Savior and the joy he brings to the nations in the midst of our darkest hours.

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Small white nativity scene in front of a candle

Do Not Be Afraid

The ambiguity of life is inevitable. We face circumstances and events in our day to day lives that feel like giant mountains, road blocks, and dead ends. Bad things happen to us, our families, and the people we love. Maybe it is a disappointing diagnosis, a rejection, or the end of a job. When bad things happen, we often feel like we have no agency or choice about the matter.

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Angel figurines with various responses on their faces.

Faith to Produce

Faith is uncomfortable, and is almost always associated with the impossible. It’s this unorthodox dance between God and human beings where God speaks surreal things and then we respond with obedience to produce supernatural or highly improbable results.

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A table set for dinner with many places

Ingratitude

The opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude, it is envy and jealousy. This plays out more strongly in close-knit communities due to the danger of comparison which is the silent killer of community. Teams and homes and friendships and playgrounds and board tables that experience success by individuals are at higher risk to toil in the soil of comparison that gives birth to multiple character defects. Even seasoned leaders are not immune to such.

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A path next to a grassy field

Burning Hearts

Jesus meets them in their realities, histories and difficult memories. He self-reveals to us in our daily journeys, even and especially when we don’t see him. Is God walking with me in these places? Is God with me at my workplace? Does Jesus care about the events of this staff meeting? I will never get tired of how Jesus asks genuine questions to which he already knows the answers, but waits for the answers from you.

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top down view of table with silver crucifix between a glass of water and a bread loaf.

He Eats with Sinners and Looks for Sheep

But it’s easy for us to place that in the past, blame the Pharisees, and not think about how we today as Christians decide who and what is clean and unclean—how we expect God to work only in certain places and among certain kinds of people. Do we limit God’s grace to our own churches, our own families, our own countries, our own social classes? The parable Jesus tells about the lost sheep is very clear: wherever there are sinners, Jesus says, he will find them and love them and offer them grace.

And since that’s all of us, it ought to be a very comforting thought.

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A person packed and ready for a journey.

Transformational Leaders are Always Prepared

The time between the initial glimpse of a promise and God’s fulfillment of that promise can be agonizing. We often wonder, “what is God doing?” and, “why does it take God so long to fulfill what he said?” We may not mind waiting days or weeks, but months or years seem unfathomable. Transformational leadership is rarely about today and almost always about tomorrow.

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black cross in purple/pink sunset

Celebrating the Life of Jesus

Happy Resurrection Sunday! In this season we recognize that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he came to earth as the Son of God with the express purpose of bridging the divide between God and humanity.

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