Advent Week 4: God loves his body

On this final week of advent I am interested in the body of Jesus. “8pound, 6-ounce, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet…”(Talledega Nights) Yeah, that Jesus. Baby Jesus grew up to be a man in a body. Why did God choose to come in the form of a human in the skin of a body? I came across something this morning that I had never noticed before.

33 “No one takes a lamp and puts it in a cupboard or under a bucket, but on a lamp-stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 34The lamp of your body is your eye. When your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light, but when your eye is evil, your whole body is full of darkness. 35So be very careful that your light never becomes darkness. 36For if your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in shadow, it will all be radiant—it will be like having a bright lamp to give you light.” (Luke 11:33-36)

In order to get a better grasp on the gravity of Jesus’ words about the physical body, it may be helpful to look at his teaching in this order:

vs. 34 – Your whole body is full of light

vs. 35 – so be very careful that your light never becomes darkness

vs. 33 – don’t put it (your body) in a cupboard or under a bucket, but (put your body)on a lampstand SO THAT others who come in (spouse, children, extended family, friends, everyone you encounter) can see the light! (Others get to experience the Gospel by us putting our bodies on a lampstand)

Now this is where is gets really good, at least for me:

vs 34(a) – the lamp of your body is your eye (what you see when you look at your body in the mirror)

vs 34 (b) – when your eye is sound (ἁπλοῦς) – this greek word can be translated as “not complicated or confused”, so when your eye is not complicated or confused about what it is seeing in the mirror then “your whole body is full of light”

vs 34 (c) – when your eye is evil (believes the lies the evil one tells you about your own body) your whole body is full of darkness


IF your whole body is full of light (you believe the truth that your body is created by God, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that your body is worth caring about)


IF you are willing to put “no part of it in the shadow” (v36)


IT WILL ALL (your whole body) BE RADIANT! This is how God the Father viewed Jesus as he came into the world, and how the Father viewed him the whole time Jesus walked around in his body. This is how God the Father views you and me too.

Jesus understood this reality about his body well. So did David…

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well. (Ps 139:13-14)



Advent Week 2: Names Carry Identity

Names carry an identity of who we are. During the first week of Advent I mentioned that our pastor and friend Jack Brace and Moses Ndahiro (Rwandan friend) taught on Luke 1 to kick off the Advent season. One of the things they reminded us of is the honor, as a parent, of getting to name a child. Names are especially important in the African culture. Ndahiro kept repeating three things over and over about the impact of names, especially names with Biblical meaning:

(Each time the name is said) 1The parents would remember the truth about their child. 2That the child would always remember who they are. 3That others who proclaim their name would be proclaiming the Gospel

In Luke 1:39 the Angel Gabriel tells Mary what she is going to name her child. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” Not only did Mary not know she was going to be pregnant, she didn’t even get to name the kid! Apparently that was ok with her, especially since her sons name meant, “God saves.” I guess it’s hard to argue with that one.

I’ve mentioned before that our first daughter’s names came from the Lord. In the spirit of being a gentleman Anna chose if we were going to find out what we were having with our first child. Once she got pregnant the second time it was my turn to choose! I like to be surprised so we opted not to find out what we were having. This made it a little difficult to come up with a name for our second child. Since the Lord had been so clear about our first daughters’ name, I was confident that He would do the same with our second child. I was kayaking with my buddy Ryan when my wife was 7 months pregnant with our second. I didn’t set out from shore that day with the intent that I would get the name, but God spoke clearly to me just as we finishing a long day of paddling. What I heard was, “You are having a son and his name will be Elijah.” I know, this could sound a little creepy, but I am telling the truth. Once we got all of the gear out of our kayak and set up camp I headed off to a clearing with my Bible to remind myself of the biblical meaning of Elijah’s name.

After reorienting myself with the story of Elijah from 1 Kings on the paddling trip I was excited to name our second child Elijah, which means The Lord He is God! Elijah’s belief is in the Biblical story is remarkable! Over and over again he is asked to believe that the Lord is God and is in control. Elijah’s belief in action is such a wonderful model of how we can live and walk through life. Mary was asked to do the same in her conversation with Gabriel and she too believed.

After my kayak trip, with excitement about Elijah’s name, there was now only one hurdle to climb, which was similar with our daughter. I had to go home and tell Anna what happened. I agree it was a stretch, after all, we still hadn’t found out the gender and there was no plan to find out until the child breathed a first breath. Over the next two months Anna and I got more comfortable with the belief that we were having a son. We didn’t have any girl names in mind when we made our way for her to deliver the child. I was proud and my faith increased even more as I heard those words, “It’s a boy.”


Advent Week 2: Beautiful Inside and Out


 Yesterday evening our family gathered around the Christmas tree to celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent. As I watched Moriah, our oldest daughter, sing carols, then read Luke 1:26-38 I thought, Mary, the mother of Jesus wasn’t much older than our daughter when the Angel Gabriel visited her. We often read The Message bible with our kids to help them understand what is going on in the story. Check out the words that came out of Moriah’s mouth last night as she read to our family:

“Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her (Mary):

Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.”(v.28-29)

Wow! I have read and listened to this story in Luke many, many times, but never have I noticed the incredible first greeting of Gabriel to Mary. Before Gabriel tells Mary anything about what is coming, which is really incredible news, the Angel tells her who she is. The Angel tells her that she is beautiful, beautiful inside and out! That is amazing!

What is even more amazing about the incredible greeting from Gabriel is that Mary believed it! After a little back and forth in the conversation we get this:

“And Mary said,

Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.”(v.38)

So good! Mary believes the truth about who she is, beautiful with God beauty, beautiful inside and out, and she believes that God has a plan for her life. Do you? Man or woman reading this…beautiful can be a hard thing to interpret, specifically as a man. If you need to replace the word beautiful with loved, that works too. Either way, do you believe like Mary?


Advent…Not the Perfect Start

Ok, full truth…Advent snuck up on us this year. I am usually pretty calculated. I think I became accustomed to the late Advent start the past few years, but as it were. Here we go.

Despite not realizing it was Advent until we got to church yesterday, we still managed to participate in our family Advent rituals at home, namely the kids playing with the nativity scene, a few Christmas songs and the lighting of the first Advent candle. By the way, how many names can be given to the first candle of Advent, or any of the candles for that matter?

Names for the 4 candles depending on which faith tradition is naming them:

Promise, Light, Love, Hope

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love

Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherd, Angel

Hope, Preparation, Joy, Love

Prophecy, Way, Joy, Peace

Expectation, John the Baptist, Mary, Magi

Waiting for the Shepherd, Waiting for Forgiveness, Waiting for Joy, Waiting for the Son

There is a lot of use of the word “waiting” in the last naming. I guess that is a good thing since Advent is the season of waiting.

This scene describes the kick off of Advent pretty well for our family…


The Nativity “team” is a little out of sorts. Animals on their side or upside down, stoic camel, Jesus out of the turned over manger and nowhere to be seen, a wise man in the distance staying away from the chaos…at least Gabriel the Angel is overseeing the confusion.

With Anna finishing her first quarter of grad school studying for finals, kids coming off of 9 days with no school and dad fighting off his tendency to control the outcome of this important kickoff to the Advent season, we appreciated that the Nativity “team” didn’t have it all together either. So, despite our less than ideal beginning, we are doing Advent anyway. I am planning my usual few post a week during the season, and look forward to learning along the way.

Our plan this year for Advent readings:

First Sunday of Advent Luke 1: 5-25 (did this one on the fly and it worked out)

Second Sunday of Advent Luke 1:26-38

Third Sunday of Advent Luke 1:39-56

Fourth Sunday of Advent Luke 1:67-80

Fifth Sunday of Advent (Christmas Day! Luke 2:1-24)

Perfect starts to anything are way overrated.