Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trust Exrecise

So I'm taking a break from my bible posts for a bit to jot down some thoughts about what God's trying so desperately to get through my brain (those of you who know me know that depending on what kind of mood in just how difficult that can be.)

2010 so far (so far HA! We only have a 4 months left in the year) has been a complete transformation for me. I've learned a ton! I've learned what it really means to be not just a man, but a Godly man. The kind of man that loves God first, others second and himself third. I've learned that to be a Christian you can't just go on what others tell you, no matter how legit it may be. To be a Christian you have to seek out Jesus for yourself, because its not all academic. You can know, that you know, that you know, everything the bible says, all the stories and verses and people, but with out a true relationship, you aren't reaping the full benefits of being a follower of Christ. I've learned that, and a ton of other things that I can't think of at the moment and its taken all of that to realize that God is no where near done with me yet.

This summer I feel that God's been teaching me a lot about trust. I've always trusted him, but in a tentative way. Something about giving somebody with so much power over me that kind of trust just scares the crap out of me. What person who loves driving so much sits in the passenger seat quietly? I don't necessarily shout things as a passenger, but I think it all! I'm a backseat thinker. So giving God the keys and sitting down and shutting up isn't the easiest thing for me.

God started early this summer. I enjoyed my first year of college a little too much...I neglect the school factor and landed myself into a bad spot. My GPA was low enough that Nyack would have been perfectly justified in saying "thanks but no thanks, try RCC". I was freaking out. Here I was finally in a place where I could grow.  I had friends that had become more than friends, family in fact. I had found a girl that I loved and that loved me in ways that I had never knew existed, and it was all about to be ripped away because I stupidly decided to ignore all things academic. Normally in these situations I would talk to Mariah or Art, because the two of them know me better than anyone and I can talk to them and bounce thoughts and ideas off of them and they can tell me what they're thinking and its awesome. But they were gone for the summer, so I was kind of on my own in a sense. It was really eating at me. I started thinking. Now its a great thing...the human mind, but for some reason mine always goes on overdrive so I tend to think the worst case scenario first...I often say that its a bad thing when I start to think...I'm an act then think kind of guy. I went down to the river to try and process it all, and for the first time I brought my iPod. I started playing worship music just to get some form of piece and on the shuffle came Delirious?'s My Glorious. The chorus is "God is bigger than the air I breathe, the world we'll leave. God will save the day and all will say 'My glorious'" I immediately got this overwhelming sense of peace. It was as if God was saying "Dude I've got your back in everything. If you end up at Nyack its because I want you there, and if you end up at RCC its because I want you there. I'm not going to put you in a situation or give you something you can't handle. Just trust me dude, I got this." I felt like I didn't need to worry about anything because I wasn't the one who controlled anything. The end of the story is that I ended up on Academic Probation. God had my back.

Trust is a tough things for humans. In my mind at least. We come into the world as babies and trust everybody because we don't really have another choice. We're born trusting, and somewhere between toddlerism and adulthood we see what the world really is, and our trust gene gets warped and twisted and demented and we rarely trust anything. We lose trust in our families, our friends, our church, our government, our finances, ourselves. Now often this is brought on by what we see and hear. We'll hear a story from a friend about a promise that was made by their parent, and they didn't follow through for the hundredth time. We'll see friendships fail because of betrayal. We see humans treating each other like crap. All these things are burned in our minds, in our souls, and they teach us to keep our guards up. To protect ourselves because nothing can be trusted. After all of that who would trust God? I mean we can't even physically see him, and that just sets up red flags all over. We pray to him and ask him for things we want and He doesn't come through! How's that make Him any different from the world we live in? I want you to stop and reread the last two sentences. We ask him for the things WE want. Thats another thing this world has taught us. Look out for YOURSELF. Worry about YOURSELF. Protect YOURSELF. Look out for your "star playa" as the comedian Katt Williams puts it. We spend all of this time only trusting ourselves because nobody knows us better than we do, it becomes a habit one that is forged over a life time, and trusting God just makes no sense what so ever. But we forget, that its not about what we want. Its what He wants. When God's in the driver seat, asking him over and over and over again for things we want makes us backseat drivers...nobody likes a backseat driver. I personally lash out irrationally occasionally at backseat drivers.  God doesn't need some one to tell him where to go. We have to just sit back and go along for the ride, and thats not easy to do.

I got my next lesson in trust later on this summer. I've been worrying a lot about the future. In the department of where, when and how marriage comes into he picture. Like I said earlier, I'm an act first think later kind of person, and I would like nothing more that to marry the cheese to my macaroni right now. But I started thinking, and at one point every thought imaginable was clouding my brain until I could think of nothing else. God again stepped in my path and said..."Dude, trust me. I'm here for that reason. I'm here because believe it or not, I know whats going on. Remember that...I got this" I realized that I had been thinking all the time and discussing things with the right people but leaving out one important individual...the one who knew what was going on better than anyone.

Thats another thing I think we do. We talk to everyone about everything, Yet we forget to talk to the One who knows better than ANYBODY about whats going to happen. I know it sounds crazy, but I think that often when we do talk to God about our things, we do so as a formality rather than because we trust him. We need to drop the formality. The Cookie Cutter Christian way of doing things is that when we don't know about something we "Dear Jesus", pull out our bibles and read a verse, because its all we know. I'm not saying these are the wrong things to do, but what I am saying is that its pointless to do if your going to just go back and start worrying all over again. When you run to jump off of a mountain into a net, you can't keep stopping before you hit the edge because your not fully won't have enough speed to get far enough out to hit the net. When you talk to God about your junk, let it go and trust that he's got it.

My most recent lesson is going on right now. God is teaching me to trust him in ministry. I think because God gave me such an overactive imagination I tend to get all kinds of ideas, and I think that they make perfect sense and I often can't figure out why people don't see the same thing. I sometimes forget that I'm not the one running the show. I frequently need to be reminded to bring it to Him, and actually LEAVE it there. I want to do so many things, and they all feel right. I feel really good about them. But I have to remember not to dwell on them, because if they aren't from God then they aren't meant to be. I have to be ok with that, because ultimately what he wants is so much better than anything my imagination can cook up. Who knows? Maybe my ideas are really God's ideas. I just have to remember to trust that he's got everything under control.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

[5] Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

We have to trust God with all of us. We can't just know it in our minds and in our hearts not trust him. Trust is something that many of us (myself included) need to retrain ourselves to do. We need to have the ability to trust people again. I'm not saying that we need to trust everyone automatically. But we can't not trust people first thing. Because if everybody did that, well the world would be worse than it is. Trust God first and foremost. He really knows what he's doing. Think about it...what's God's trust exercise for you? What's your trust fall?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jesus vs. Satan: Round 1


That's right boys and girls we are about to get our first look at the beginning of the greatest rivalry in the history of rivalries. Jesus vs. The Original Evil Genius. I'm guessing this is where comic book writers got the idea...Superman was created by two Jewish guys...sooo maybe Jesus wasn't their inspiration...anyway..

When we last left Jesus, He had just gotten baptized by JTB, and God let the world know who Jesus was (God...He speaks from the original P.A. system hahahahahahahahaha! Its ok to laugh that was funny). I can only imagine the description of the situation from some one would be..."It was awesome." And it was. 

We now pick with Jesus when He goes into the wilderness. he wasn't going on a camping trip. Nope he was going to be tempted. Now I honestly don't think that he knew that was the specific reason for his little trip. Couple reasons why I think this. One Jesus was fully human. God is one of the funniest people in the world. He doesn't tell us everything but expects us to trust him completely. This ladies and gents is call FAITH. Let's find it shall we? We spend so much time complaining to God about life and freaking out about how we don't know whats going on, we don't trust the fact that he knows what he's doing. Let me say that there is a sense of peace when total faith and trust is put in Pa's hands. Jesus had that kind of faith. The second reason why I don't think he knew, is because He didn't go into the wilderness on his own accord. I Cross referenced  all four Gospels (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1....John was useless), and they all said he was LED INTO the wilderness by the Spirit. Mark actually says the Spirit drove him there. Do you have any idea what this means? This means you aren't a bad Christian when you don't know whats going on in your life. Jesus didn't know what the heck was going on. He couldn't see what was planned for him. But He walked by FAITH and not by SIGHT(2 Corinthians 5:7, we haven't gotten there yet but we will). 

Jesus didn't let the fact that he didn't know what was going on stop him from walking with the why do we? Why do we, the people of the 21st century, the people who have more ways than ever to connect with God, the people who have the FREEDOM to be in his presence whenever we want, why do we make it so that our faith has to be like everything else in our lives? Let me be more specific; In the world we live in, we have everything not just at our disposal, but lightning fast. Internet, text messaging, (unless my mother is texting you which case that takes slightly longer but she always responds which is the point). We're impatient to the max. We have our bibles on our phones and Ipods because its more convenient. We have everything as soon as we want it, and we do that to God. We expect to have all the things he's thinking for us as soon as its thought, but if that were the case, IT WOULDN'T BE FAITH. Relying on God would be pointless, making Christianity not a lifestyle, but a religion. All the love is taken out of it. When you love someone you trust them (unless the person you love is a future Youth Pastor and prank prone...Mariah I'm really sorry....I'm prank prone). If ya love God trust him like Jesus.

Back to Jesus in the wilderness. He was there for forty days and forty nights. He was chilling with the Spirit for over a month. By himself. That had to just be awesome. Jesus was in the wilderness fully being prepared for the life he was meant to live. The Spirit was moving in him and through him. He probably danced (ahem ahem...he probably danced), he probably shouted, sang all kinds of praises and acted all undignified and what not....Then he got hungry....enter a not so formidable opponent (he thinks he's formidable).

Jesus was hungry and Satan knew he exploited it:

And the Tempter came and said to him "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread" (Matthew 4:3)

Satan knew that Jesus was hungry and threw the first punch. He did the equivalent of calling him a chicken. He looked at Jesus and said ya know, the real Son of God would be able to satisfy his own hunger out here. Satan played mind games with Jesus...some would call this practice idiotic...they would be correct. One of my favorite things about Jesus is that he's a smart aleck (Spelling?). He's got a comeback for everything

But he answered "For it is written;
     " 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God' " (Matthew 4:4)

Shoot with that response Jesus says "Check it, I don't need food. When my Father speaks I'm full. Say something of meaning, Fool." Jesus blocks the punch, with ease. 

Scene shifts to the Holy City a.k.a. Jerusalem. Satan throws another punch....because he's stupid:

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
       " 'He will command his angels concerning you'
       " 'On their hands they will bear you up, 
               lest you strike your foot against a stone' " (Matthew 4:5-6)

Satan, decides to manipulate scripture. The verse he's referring to is Psalm 91:11-12. Now I just read all of Psalm 91, and I literally just about cried. The entire chapter is about God being a refuge. I'M SORRY BUT I'M SO PUMPED THAT I HAVE TO WRITE THIS IN ALL CAPS! SATAN DIDN'T REALIZE THAT HE JUST QUOTED FROM A VERSE ABOUT HOW GOD IS OUR PROTECTOR FROM THE DEVIL! "SATAN IS AN IDIOT" IS A SEVERE UNDERSTATEMENT!!! 
Jesus again has a comeback:

7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test' " (Matthew 4:7)

Jesus comes back at him and says "Silly, silly idiot. You want to manipulate scripture? This is your last warning, don't mess with me." 

Satan decides to try one more time. He takes him to a very, very, very high point. He can see all the kingdoms, and everything that comes with them. He can legit see everything. It had to be a beautiful sight. And Satan had to go and ruin it....

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me"

It's here boys and girls, where Satan steps outside of his mind. He tells Jesus, the Son of God, to bow down and worship him. Jesus is a King....Kings don't worship anyone. Satan would have known that if he was a King....but he's not, and Jesus has had it. And he proceeds to tear Satan a new one. 

10 Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 
       " 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve' "
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him

Jesus finally has enough and gets pissed and let's Satan have it. He tells him "I won't bow down to you, but rest assured you WILL BOW TO ME!" I love it when Jesus gets pissed. Why? Because it shows us that he isn't that safe cuddly Jesus we've all grown up hearing about. Jesus was a straight up G. Thats comforting to know. My God is G and he'll straight up stomp the devil. Jesus: 1 Devil:0

So what can we get from this?

1.) Jesus really was human
            Yes He was. If he wasn't HE WOULDN'T BE TEMPTED! Jesus went through the same temptations that we go through every day....and he over came them. Knowing that, Shouldn't we be able to overcome the stuff in our lives if we give them to him? I'm saying this to myself more than I'm saying it to you, but I'm saying it to you too.

2.) Satan will stop at nothing
          El Diablo threw everything at Jesus. When he was hungry he called him a chicken, he tempted him with power, and called him a fraud. This shows us that Satan's sole purpose in life is to make us stumble with everything. We have to be strong and not let him in. We've got to stand firm behind our gangster Jesus.

The icing on the cake is that the angels took care of him after this whole thing. Just because we get knocked down, and we don't always feel God, doesn't me he isn't there and he'll always pick us up and put us back together....We're a bunch of Humpty Dumpties, but we don't need the kings horses and men....we just need one gigantic hand. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 the beginning

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting amongthe teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents [6] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” [7] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her hear 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature [8] and in favor with God and man.(.Luke 2:41-52)

Right. So the "Christmas Story" happens and we really don't hear from Jesus until he was a bit older, in Jerusalem.  Now Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem every year during Passover. Jesus came as well. It was a family vacation (I wonder what those trips were like....when you have gigantic scrolls for books there can't be a novel that you want to take along that badly). So they get to Jerusalem and have a good time and after Passover they start their journey back to Nazareth. Not long after they left Mary and Joe notice Jesus is missing (great parenting right?...I can see that conversation now:
          Mary: Joeseph...have you seen Jesus?
          Joe: Not in a while...he's probably up with Aunt Flo's boys
          Mary: Your probably right.
 (5 Hours later)
          Mary: Are you sure he's with the other boys?
          Mary: Oh my gosh are you kidding me?
         Joe: hey don't put this whole thing on me!
         Mary: Oh I'm putting this on you! YOU LOST OUR SON
        Joe: IT WASN'T JUST ME! It was a collective effort

and family vacations haven't changed much since then... sorry for that, I have an over active imagination)

Mary and Joseph turn around and go back to Jerusalem to find Jesus. IT TOOK THEM 3 DAYS! This kid was missing for 3 days. I'm sure that Mary and Joe were a lovely combination of pissed and hysterically scared....always an interesting combo. When they find him he's not hanging out with the neighborhood kids. He's not defacing school property. He's not standing on a street corner crying for his mommy and, the find him in the friggin' TEMPLE! And he's not there for Youth Group. Your boy was actually chilling with the leaders. He was asking them questions and was understanding their answers and was figuring things out HIMSELF.  He was actually shocked when his parents were wondering where he was. Jesus fully understood that relationship with God. He really understood that to have that relationship you have to spend time seeking him. Some could say that "he had an unfair advantage...He's Jesus God's son. He already had that relationship." Yes. He was God's son, but we tend to forget something...while he was fully God's son, he was also FULLY MAN.  Jesus also needed to gain that relationship. He needed to find out who this God really was. He just understood easier than some of us.

So from there the next time we see and or hear form Jesus is just before he starts his ministry. So what did he do before then? Chances are he probably worked with Dad, Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter so Jesus probably learned the family trade and did the same. Mark Driscoll puts it this way..."Jesus' daddy swung a hammer for a living...until he started his ministry Jesus probably swung a hammer too. He was a blue collar working man." Thats a pretty awesome thought. It just adds to the human element of Jesus. it breaks down that perfect, fair skinned, long haired, manicured beard of Jesus. The picture perfect Jesus. The human version of Jesus makes him more accessible. Yeah he's God, but he's also there for anyone one who seeks him. An accessible God. (That's right contrary to popular belief my God is accesible to ALL!)

"They came from the rivers and towns all around
  to see the long haired preacher from the desert get down
 waist high in water never short on words 
 he said 'Repent, the kingdom of heaven can be yours'
 But he stopped in the middle of words and dropped
 down to his knees and said 'Behold the Lamb of God
 He's the One, the Slam, don't you people understand?
 Your staring at the Son of God, preachin' out his hand'"
~The Slam by Tobymac

That part of the song is based on Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. Thats right folks Jesus had to get baptized. John was an interesting dude. He was that radicle hippie dude that we all look at and wonder about his sanity. Let me just John wasn't crazy. I mean the guy lived off the land. His clothes were made of camel hair...not camel
As you can see, camels don't have a lot of hair. your boy was dedicated. He ate locusts...a bug species...and HONEY! HE ATE HONEY! Ok so there isn't anything wrong with honey, it actually tastes pretty good, but still, If JTB (John the Baptist) were around today, we would think he was legit crazy.

John was a preacher and let me say, he PREACHED. If he was a guessed speaker in chapel, the clan (shout out to my brothers and sisters) would be fanning and "you betta go 'heading" every millisecond. JTB was truly about the kingdom and what that means. He understood that repentance is needed to enter the kingdom, and then ya gotta live your life accordingly.

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood ofvipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them,“Whoever has two tunics [2] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher,what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them,“Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 Hiswinnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (LUKE 3:7-17)

As you can see John didn't mince words. He called people out who no one else would call out...which was awesome. He called out the Jewish leaders, Soldiers and Tax Collectors. He said "You want the Kingdom? You gotta fix the way you work." 

John also knew he wasn't the one to bring the Kingdom. He knew he was just another piece to God's plan. The best part about that statement for me is that HE NEVER CLAIMED TO BE. He never once claimed the one who was going to bring the Kingdom. The people thought he was but he stopped them and said "look I'm just a guy here. I'm baptizing you in water. But there is this dude coming and he will baptize you with fire. You want the kingdom? He's you guy."

Jesus comes down to the river where John is preaching, and John knows who he is immediately (Coincidentally they're cousins...Godliness runs in the family?). Jesus lines up to be baptized by John and when he gets to him John realizes what he's being asked to do. Imagine your being asked to baptize your own savior.  The one who is the only way to heaven. The one Isaiah prophesied about. He's asking you to baptize him. What's the first thing your going to say to him.  I know what I would say...HECK NO! After the stuff I've done? No you've gotta baptize me! 

That's exactly what John says. He says ain't no way I'm able to baptize you. I'm not that worthy. No you need to be baptizing me.  I love what Jesus says here:
 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.(Matthew 3:15)
Jesus isn't going to John to be baptized because John's the most holy man in the world. Jesus wasn't suppose to get baptized by this ultimate perfect holy man like the Pope ( I'm probably going to get destroyed for saying this, but the Pope is flawed like everyone else, making that perfect holy man comment...not so perfect). No John was created to proclaim the name of Christ. A regular joe was to let the people know the Messiah is coming. Thats who Jesus was suppose to get baptized by. A camel hair clothes wearing, bug and honey eating, river based, regular joe preacher. So John realizes that this needs to go down for everything that's been said about his cousin to be true, and gives in.

TIME OUT! Imagine you John in this situation. You've probably baptized hundreds of people, and your about to do the most important baptism ever. You about to baptize the one who can save you from your sin. The one that was prophesied about. The one. The Son. Imagine seeing Jesus walking into the water toward you. Your heart is racing with anticipation. Your wondering what your going to say. What can you say? He gets to you an gives you a little smirk, a smirk your use to. Its almost comforting to see. You put your hand on his head, and the other on his back, and you dip him into the water.

Now something awesome happens when he comes up from the water....
16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, [2] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, [3] with whom I amwell pleased.”(Matthew 3:16-17)

GOD AUDIBLY SPEAKS!!! Now as some one who's always wanted to audibly hear God and has had to learn
that he speaks in other ways as well, I have to admit THAT HAD TO BE AWESOME! I can just hear some little kid in the crowd now "THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED" (name that movie) and the Holy Spirit makes an appearance as well! Man I would have loved to have been there

So both of these stories have me thinking:

  1. Jesus knew who he was from the start
    1. The fact that Jesus responds to Mary by saying that he was in his father's house tells me this; he knew that he was created by God, but beyond that he knew that God was more than just "God". God is our father and we are his children. I think a lot of times we create this perception that God is this figure that we can't get close to. BUT ITS THE EXACT OPPOSITE! He wants that relationship with us, that closeness. Francis Chan talks about that in his book Crazy Love. He devotes an entire chapter to talking about God as a father. When we realize this, we understand just how accessible our God is. Jesus understood that.
    1. Look he was fully God and fully human. We can't understand that because we're only fully human. Thus making us think that its only possible to be one or the other....If Jesus was one or the other...How could we be saved?
  3. JTB took the Kingdom seriously
    1. JTB was so so serious about the Kingdom. He knew that he needed to live in the wilderness, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, wearing homemade clothes and eating bugs and honey in order for him to be fully in tune with God. When He was in tune with God, he made himself able to hear what God was saying and he was able to relay it to the people. He was so in tune with God that he automatically knew who Jesus was. 
  4. God confirms Jesus as the Messiah
    1. Just the fact that the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven and touches him is confirmation enough, BUT GOD FREAKIN' SPEAKS! He lets the world know "yeah thats my boy". I can't get over how awesome that is. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED???? 
Awesome...just awesome...I can't wait for the next post

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Beginning: Where everything starts

Thinking back to my earliest memories of Sunday School, the earliest I can ever remember hearing about Jesus was always in Matthew, in the New Testament. I never remember hearing about Him in the OT, so my obvious thought was that Jesus just kind of appeared in pretty sweet fashion (Come on, the dude was born from a girl who had never had sex! That's kinda awesome). Turns out Jesus is mentioned beforehand In the Book of Isaiah (also in other books in the OT but I'm specifically using Isaiah). Isaiah first mentions Jesus in chapter 7.

"1Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the  virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name  Immanuel.  15 He shall eat  curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good." (Isaiah 7: 14-15)

From that Isaiah tells us the very base of Jesus. In Luke  Jesus is born from Mary. A virgin. 

Bit of a back story on Ma and Pa. Mary was a young girl, I've heard between the ages of 13-15. She was set to marry Joseph a carpenter by trade who was between 35-40 (The thought of a 40 year old dude with a 13 year old girl just kind of makes me feel probably the same with most of you, but we've got to remember the times. That stuff was the culture. Thank God I can choose to love somebody who loves me back...I believe I have chosen wisely. I love her, she loves me we're in love...back to Mary and Joe) Mary was visited by an angel one day when she was alone and he told her that she would give birth to a son. 

30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for  you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and  you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of  the Most High. And the Lord Godwill give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  (Luke  1:30-33)

Imagine just being in your house, chilling by yourself and this dude with wings shows up and tells you your eggo is preggo. Not only does he tell you that, but also that the kid will come about with out you having sex, but don't worry you'll get preggo from  the Holy Spirit, but  no one will know thats how it happened. Oh and in case that isn't enough to process, the baby will be God's Son and he's going to save the world. 

Now after hearing that I feel that my reaction would be something like this:
"Ok so Wingman. I hear what your saying, but let me point a few things out to you. I'm like 13. Almost 14 but thats a big almost. I'm engaged, so if nobody knows that this is God's do you know what could happen to me? And what if this kid doesn't save the world? What if he ends up like everyone else?"

Mary doesn't react like that. Mary says right on. Lets do this thing. Thats faith. Faith in the fact that God knows what He's doing and that He'll take care of everything. Thats obedience. Obedience is one of the reasons God chose Mary. She took what God's telling her to do and ran with it. Think about us today. When God tells us to do something we say "That sounds good God it really does but I can't do that. I just can't." We turn into Moses the KING of "I can't". 

Now let's look at Joseph in this. Put yourself in his shoes.  He starts to notice that his future wife has put on a bit of weight. He probably doesn't really think to much on it. Then he starts to notice she's put on even more weight and people start talking. He finds out she's pregnant. This has to be extremely disheartening for Joe. His first thought is that Mary cheated on him with another guy. Now in that culture, Joseph could have easily flipped out and would have been in his rights to drag her into the streets and have her stoned (not injected with a hallucinogenic drug, but have rocks thrown at her. Harsh? I think so) but Joseph doesn't do that. He has a very good heart and decides to divorce her in private. This protects her life, and her dignity. Its not long before the same winged fellow appears to Joe in a dream and says "Dude, Mary didn't cheat on you. This kid is the son of God, and was conceived through the Holy Spirit, and your gonna raise him. So go ahead and relax"

The rest as they say is history. Mary and Joe ( I wonder if thats where we got the name 'Mary-Jo'...hmm...odd) journey to Bethlehem, Jesus is born in a manger in a stable, shepherds and wise guys come to visit him and give him gifts, Herod gets pissed and orders the slaughter of babies, but they escape to Egypt where the story really gets good.

Now all of this I've learned over the years, but now I'm really thinking about it. Heres whats going through my mind.

  1. BEFORE HE WAS BORN Jesus was making the faith of those He impacted stronger.
    • Mary and Joseph did not know for sure what was going on. There really was no way of knowing. But they knew their God. They knew that He would protect them. They knew he was in control of it all
  2. Joseph is a compassionate guy
    • Joseph would have been completely with in his rights (in that culture) to stone Mary to death. It isn't about what really happened. Its what it looks like. The appearance of evil. Imagine hearing your future wife (ladies pretend your a guy for a sec....there? ok good) comes to you and says that she got pregnant from God. Laughing in her face would be the appropriate thing to do. there is no way.  It sounds crazy. But Joe didn't do that. He pretty much said look I really down't want anything to do with you now. Your on your own. I don't want anything to do with this. Then God gets ahold of him and...yeah
    • Mary had more courage than anyone. She took the fact that she had a story that was not believable, the fact that she could die, the fact that nobody would believe her at all and rolled with it! She pretty much sacrificed her life for the Lord. Yeah...She's a beast
This story has been dubbed the Christmas Story, But I'd like to think of it as a story of Faith, because with out Faith none of this would be possible. Because of the faith and obedience of this story Jesus was born.