A Choice of Two Paths


I often reflect on the dynamic contrasts presented in scripture. We can sometimes miss this when we read scripture in small chunks. As we read larger sections, we see the drastic contrast between the path of Jesus and the path of sin.

Scripture presents many forks in the road. One path leads to life and the other leads to death. Some see a third alternative made up of a balance of the two, but in many cases this is impossible. A person cannot allow part of himself to follow the path to death and another part to life. We were not created fragmented like this.

This is why writers like Paul list practices that send someone down the path to death next to a list of actions on the path of life (Ephesians 4:17-5:21). Life and death do not share a path. They cannot. As we come to know the way of Jesus, the path comes into greater focus. We learn to stay on it as the distinctions are clarified. There are not individual paths for each contrasting characteristic or choice. It is one path we walk on that leads to life or death.

In my scripture reading recently the postures of pride and humility have become as distinct as east from west. The way of humility is on the path to life while pride leads to death. It becomes so clear as we see the path chosen by Lucifer contrasted against the path of Jesus. Is there a clearer life and death analogy than the chosen path of God and Satan?

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5‭-‬8

In Philippians 2 the story of Jesus coming to Earth is told through the lens of God giving up his place of divinity to be born without status and to go on to die a shameful death. The humility shown is astounding. God clung not to position, power or wealth, but gave it up although he deserves all honour and praise. In the end Jesus is elevated and will be praised on the lips of all created beings.

In Ezekiel 28 the fall of Lucifer tells the opposite story:

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.
Ezekiel 28:17

Lucifer reached for the status of God. His own beauty and wisdom led him to elevate himself. That led to his exile from heaven, cast out of the presence of God to endure eternal death or existence apart from God and his goodness. There is not a lot told to us of the battle in heaven and eventual exile of Satan and his followers. What we do know is equality with God was not his place and he reached for it.

In both of these contrasted narratives there is an exodus from heaven. One is chosen and the other forced. For Lucifer it is exile from heaven, he is thrown to the earth. For Jesus it is voluntary with a planned elevation back to eternity in Heaven.

Although our starting place was not heaven we are faced with the same choice and the same ending. The way of Jesus presents us with service to all in humility. We are never to look to our own elevation here in the eyes of the world (or even other believers) but for the sake of others, just as Jesus gained nothing for himself in descending to earth. He being God was already the highest authority but gave it up.

Pride is to think of oneself much. Humility is to think of oneself little. The result then of humility is to think of the interests of others. Our own way and legacy ceases to be priority. Pride is not just when we reach for equality with God, but when we look to our own elevation. It is when we act entitled, our thoughts thinking of what we deserve and where we should be. This does not mean positions of power or leadership are evil. A role of power still has the path of humility available. Does Jesus not model this perfectly?

While on earth, Jesus welcomed those who had nothing to give him instead of embracing people in power. He invited the children, the sick, the poor and despots to him and gave them life. Though power he had, he used it not for himself even though being God he is deserving of all honour, power, and glory. Humility is the path of service fueled by love of others.

The heart is where the divide really happens. A person could have actions of service while they are only doing it to be seen by others. They might post to social media of all of the good they are doing. This reveals the prideful heart. Rather than doing it in quiet for the sake of others, they need to be seen. They are thinking of themselves. A humble heart will perform the same actions in secret looking to the interest of the one they serve.

Humility doesn’t desire recognition or reward. It is important to search out our hearts posture. As we see through scripture, one path leads to death and the other to life. Stay far away from pride. Humble yourself before God and repent if you see the orientation of your heart towards your own elevation. It is not too late to get onto the path of life. His grace sustains us on the path in our ignorance, but when conviction comes, the choice must be made.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.
1 Peter 5:5‭-‬6

This topic which seems so clear is at times so difficult to see our error. So with this I close; be vigilant in humbling yourself before God, prudent in guarding your heart, for the path is narrow and many voices will attempt to lead you astray.

Is God For You?


I have heard the statement “God is for you” so many times recently. These words bring much hope to the listener especially in times of difficulty, but I can’t help but wonder if these words are true.

This saying is derived from Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Yes, this is the verse you often see tattooed on arms, or written in profiles on Instagram. This verse has become the mantra for many. But is this verse understood correctly and can it be attributed to everyone?

Let’s press pause on that question to explore whether we can take promises given to a specific person in scripture and receive them for ourselves. Often when I see a promise in scripture I put it through a simple test. I ask, “Could this verse as I understand it apply to Stephen (martyr), Paul (often beaten, shipwrecked and imprisoned because of obedience to God) or Job? If it can’t, then the promise isn’t plug and play in the way I understand it.

It is really hard to know what promises are true for us if we don’t know the full story of God. We end up with an a la carte God. It is not the “I AM” but our own fabrication. We can’t know how he deals with us, or what he has planned for us if we don’t know Him.

Let’s take for example the promise God gives to Abraham. “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:4). Can we take this promise and claim it for everyone? I think not. Think of the population growth.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

The book of Jeremiah itself begins in chapter 1 with God speaking to the unique call to Jeremiah. In fact the whole book contains moments of God speaking directly to Jeremiah dealing solely with the life of Jeremiah and his call. In other parts God delivers messages directly to the nation of Israel. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those. Spoken to a specific people, plan and timeline.

Jeremiah 29 begins with this explanation: “These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” The entire chapter, including verse 11, is addressed to these recipients.

So back to that question, is God for you? Absolutely he is for you. The Gospel screams he is for you. He took the punishment you deserve upon himself while you were still a sinner so that you may know life. If that doesn’t mean he is for you, I don’t know what else he can do.

But is he for everything you do?

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10

God is not for our plans. He is not completely for our thoughts and desires. Many of our desires are harmful for us and he is not ok with plans that lead to death. Often when we hear “He is for you” we receive it as he will bless me absolutely, or in whatever I want to do.

Paul in writing to the church in Ephesus makes a point of reminding the believers God has prepared tasks for us to walk into. He tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) That means it is Christ who commands my steps, who prepares a way for me. We can know these plans are good, but they often differ from our own plans, and at times are not our interpretation of what is good.

Our understanding of God being for us and prospering us is usually applied to how we want to prosper and not viewed through the lens of what God knows is best for us. We hear he is for us and the path of “drinking from the cup of suffering” (Mark 10:38) or “picking up our cross” (Matthew 16:24-26)doesn’t fit that narrative. We may think we will prosper despite acting in rebellion to God. God does not enable us in our sin, but allows us to feel the refining fire that we may repent and turn back to him.

The place to start understanding a God who is for us begins with surrendering our assumptions of what that means. It begins with studying the stories of how he walked with the faithful before us. We need to read the entirety of scripture, not just select stories we like.

Walking in the Lord’s favor means walking in right standing with God. It means walking in repentance and laying down our own lives in obedience to Jesus our Lord. Remember it is not about us. We are living for Jesus. Jesus is not a butler waiting to act at our will and prosper our lives. We are in fact the servants tasked with advancing the kingdom of God through the works he has prepared for us.

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
John 15:20

The same God who told Israel of his plans not to harm them, promised us we would be persecuted. Jesus over and over promises his followers will be persecuted as he was. This does not contradict any other promise he gives us. Our view of God being for us must be defined through this lens. It must be consistent with what Jesus calls us to. It must be understood through how he has walked with his people and not as we desire it to read.

Joshua (in Joshua 5) confronts the commander of the Lord’s army asking whose side he is on. The commander replies he is on the Lord’s side. Life is not about us. It is not our glory we are to seek but God’s. It is not our plans he blesses but his plans we follow. Like Joshua we must decide who we are living for, ourselves or God.

The question we should ultimately be asking is not Is God for me? but am I for Him?

Peace I Leave With You


Do you know what you were made for? The answer to this question is one which many men and women search their whole lives to find. This question comes from a place of unrest. The conflict within a person causes them to seek meaning, often from many different sources.

Finding your purpose through relationships, activities, work and even helping others will not lead you to the peace you seek. For a while one may be satisfied feeling the high in the newness of something, but they will find themselves again searching for meaning. Most people have numerous crisis points as they discover themselves or assess their lives, often in their teens, midlife or even retirement.

A life of crisis was never in our design. It is a result of having no peace, or Shalom. Shalom is wholeness. It is the state of something being aligned, harmonious, unbroken. It is the way we were created and what our souls long for. Without this peace, we will forever have chaos within and create chaos around us.

We translate the word Shalom (Hebrew) and Eirene (Greek) to peace, but there is such depth to the word shalom that can be missed in translation. The word peace in English has a fairly narrow focus. When first created or translated from Anglo-French in the twelfth century, the word peace was used to mean a freedom from civil disorder and spoke to a unified nation. It evolved to include “friendly relations between people” over the next hundred or so years. In all these cases it spoke to a relationship between separate entities.

The Greek or Hebrew word has more depth to it. It speaks to something being as it was made to be, whole, in order, prosperous. As believers, we know sin has impacted every created thing and thus peace is only made possible through Christ. Nothing, not even creation itself was untainted by the fall. So nothing can be at peace without the blood of Christ.

Peace is accomplished from the finished work of the cross. The restorative work of the cross brings us to a place of peace. That is why the peace of Jesus is complete whereas it fails from any other source.

Peace is the result of living as we were created to. We were created to live for Jesus. In all we do, we are to do it with our eyes fixed on Jesus. We do all things with and for Christ. Peace only exists when that focus is unbroken, when each action is “what we see the Father doing”.

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:16-20

One could say the Gospel summed up in one word is peace. The message we bring to the world is that of peace. Our message is that through repentance there awaits restoration in Jesus to the way you were made. You can find peace through calling Jesus Lord. By placing your hope and trust only in Jesus, you can find rightness with God and be made fully whole.

True Shalom is not primarily about circumstances although that is included. It is about an alignment of creation with its natural state. Shalom was created by and for Jesus. Since the fall of man, the concept of peace has always been accompanied by hope, hope in the one that would restore what was corrupted.

Jesus does not just bring peace in circumstances, but rather a holistic peace that remains beyond the experience. He in fact is our peace. We were created by and for him so our wholeness is dependent upon him being our focus. That is true for all. The inner chaos of a life not centered on Jesus will soon bubble over to the outside. Likewise, the peace Jesus gives will in turn bubble over to the world around.

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:26-27

This hope for peace was realized in the person of Jesus who in turn sent the Holy Spirit to bring us a peace within that cannot be touched by the outside world. Jesus was and is the answer for a world without peace. He is the one that can restore us to the way we were made for he is the word that spoke us into being. The word that became flesh to dwell among us is the one that spoke creation into being. (John 1) The Holy Spirit in turn reveals Jesus and makes known his instruction to us producing the fruit of peace in our continued obedience.

If we try and pursue peace apart from aligning under the Lordship of Christ, it is not peace we pursue. Pursuing an end to a conflict, for example, is not the same as pursuing the biblical concept of peace. We must also understand the world’s pursuit of peace without Jesus is a fool’s errand. There can be ceasefires for a time and an end to specific external conflict but the chaos can only be stilled through the blood of Christ.

We have used the word peace in such a narrow capacity that we haven’t allowed the true fruit to ripen. This word with such depth of meaning, which for so long has been used as a blessing in coming and going, has lost its meaning.

We as believers can and should seek an end to world conflicts, but always alongside the message of the peace of Christ. We must acknowledge that our pursuits apart from Christ are pure vanity. We could stop wars and rescue millions of slaves but without Jesus they will eternally be without peace. This doesn’t mean we stop doing the work of the kingdom, but we must know there is no peace apart from the blood of Christ and repentance of sin.

We were made by Jesus and for him. He didn’t stop there, however. Knowing our peace would be lost to sin, he took the form of his creation and through his blood spilled on the cross welcomed us back to peace and a state of living for him. Therefore, let us stop searching for peace apart from Christ and discover it is only through the Lordship of Christ that peace is found.

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Isaiah 52:7

My Covid Response


It has taken me awhile to sit down and write about this Covid-19. Although I have more time on my hands, I always write out of lessons God has walked me through. I write when I feel freedom and clarity to share the lessons I have internalized. I also wait until I get a sense it is the time to share those thoughts with the world. Social Media is my medium for more spontaneous revelation in these days (of which God is sharing in abundance!).

There are two thoughts that keep swirling around in my head. They have become the focus of a lot of phone and video conversations. The first is that this time came as no surprise to God. He has been aware of this moment and season for all of us as individuals, as a society (global and local) and as the church. He has a grace for this moment to usher us into what he has planned for this time. The second thought is that I do not want this season to pass us before we experience the good things he has for us.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 40:27-28

This thought that “God is not surprised” brings me such peace. His view is not linear like ours. That is why we can receive prophetic words from him. He shares with us in part as a preparation, but he sees in full. There is no death, job loss, financial crisis, gift, or victory that surprises him. He is sufficient in all of these situations. He is prepared to supply all that I need in any situation. He is sufficient and blessing us in this moment we are in. What he asks is for us to call upon his name and ask for him to provide what we need.

This crisis is doing something extraordinary. It is pulling away those things in this world we cling to for support. Our health, our wealth, our friends and family, our ability to travel and yes, our independence (maybe read back to my last blog). It is revealing the things we think bring freedom and happiness and exposing them as fraudulent. Even movies and TV shows aren’t calming people or giving them life.

There is a beauty in this moment that is stripping away the things that take the place of God in our lives. Those idols we cling to are being shown as worthless and lifeless at this time. Realizing God knew this was coming leads to the beautiful revelation he is ready to take on being God in this moment. As all of those other things aren’t able to provide in this moment, God is. As all of those other things can’t silence the fear, God can bring peace. As all of those idols give no clarity on the future, God brings hope. As all of our healthcare systems are overburdened, God is still our healer, and our future can be secure with the knowledge that eternity is with Jesus!

He is prepared to be the place we turn to.

I have been spending the majority of my scripture time in the story of Moses from the point of the plagues in Egypt to the time that Moses is forced to lead his people in the wilderness. It is interesting God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to letting the Israelites go. There is something God wanted to accomplish in the season before freeing Israel (Exodus 6-12).

“But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.”
Exodus 9:12

We might think the best thing would be for God to soften Pharaoh’s heart so Israel could leave Egypt right away. But there was something the Israelites needed to learn before their exodus. They needed to see who their God really was. They needed to see his power and his care for them. I think of how he instructed them to put blood over their door frames to be protected from the death that awaited the Egyptians. God was teaching them, there is nothing I can’t do, and you can look to me as your protector and provider. This season became a point to look back to for generations to come as a reminder of who God is. What could have been a quick moment of deliverance, became a lasting reminder of who we can turn to, and that he knows the ending before we do.

The people of Israel didn’t fully learn the lesson and we get a picture of Israel turning to an idol of their own creation when Moses is gone too long (Exodus 32). The high priest himself enabled this rebellion against God. Instead of just glancing over this, God told a whole generation that they couldn’t enter the promised land because of their rebellion.

“because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Hebrews 12:6

Is this because God is a jealous God? Yes and no. Yes, he instructs us to turn from all idols, but it is not out of vengeance but grace that Israel must wander the desert. Like any good parent, God disciplines those he loves. He does this so they (and future generations) will learn to trust him and his ways. Discipline is not a pleasant thing but it is always good from God. Discipline looks like long suffering until the point that we get it. His grace will always sustain us in the suffering and we will turn to rejoice in it.

The dangerous thing about this season is if we let it pass without embracing it, we will be left behind. This is not because God isn’t gracious but because we have refused his love. God does not abandon us, but our rebellion (sin) creates a chasm between us which removes us from his presence. The good news is that at any point we repent that chasm is filled by the cross and we are invited back into his presence and provision. But if we miss that moment of grace we could be left behind until that moment of repentance (or indefinitely).

This is the second thought that has been driving my prayer life. “God, I don’t want to miss what you have for us in this season by your grace. I don’t want this to pass and go forward the same as I was before this. I want your church to embrace the good things and discipline you have for us now! Please don’t let this time end until we have heard and entered into your provision for this season.”

Just like the Israelite in Egypt, I don’t want us to miss the provision of God and be unprepared for the wilderness ahead.

Remember how King Saul lost his anointing? Although he had good intentions, he ignored the instruction of God and didn’t wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices. He offered them himself and then became defensive when he was exposed. It seems like he was given such a short time to repent of what he did, and he lived the rest of his life without the anointing of God. It instead passed to David. I don’t want us to live the experience of Saul! Please don’t let this be us at the end of this season.

I have such hope for the church in this season. My hope is we will embrace a fear of the Lord and a lifestyle of holiness we couldn’t have imagined prior. My hope is we will understand the gospel in a new way and be bringers of hope and peace to everywhere our feet touch. This is the invitation of God. Can you hear it? He has the storehouses of heaven to provide for us. Will that be our provision?



As advent is soon ending and Christmas is almost upon us, I have been thinking of the anticipation the prophets had in the coming Messiah. They had such hope and expectation for God to save their people from the oppression of this world. They longed for an end to the suffering and separation from the living God.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

The first time we see the name Immanuel (or Emmanuel) is from the prophet Isaiah. The name literally translates to God is with us. This is a prophecy telling of God being born into this world. This is the center of what we are celebrating at Christmas, that God descended and dwells among his people. This is the good news of Christmas, he is here with us.

I can’t help but think of the contrast between the wonder of that first celebration and now, how we have lost the wonder of God being with us. That first celebration must have been pretty incredible, with angels showing up to announce the birth and a miracle being witnessed in the virgin birth.

There were no decorations, no smell of baked goods, no presents (that we know of) on that day. There was just a bunch of animals, outcasts (shepherds) and Mary and Joseph in a cave with the animals, filled with wonder and worship. They all knew this child was God in flesh, the king above all kings, and they were amazed and privileged to be invited to the celebration.

The Shepherds were invited by angels to the celebration, and came to find Mary, Joseph and Jesus (who were strangers to them) where they were told to go. They believed in faith and their response was first of praise, and then of telling the whole town of what had occurred. Mary (let’s be honest, is probably pretty worn out) took a different approach and more privately reflected on what just happened.

This whole interaction was about celebrating God being amongst them, worshipping the King who was present.The incredible thing is we can still worship the living God who is present with us. Yes, Jesus left to prepare a place for us, but the Holy Spirit is very present here with us. Emmanuel is still a very true name at this time.

When we think of our Christmas celebration, how central is Emmanuel? Are we still in wonder like the shepherds, praising our saviour and sharing the good news abroad? Or has the birthday boy taken a back seat? Has the celebration and all the trappings become the focus of this day and season?

Don’t get me wrong, I think celebration is best served with a feast and shared with others, and this should be a marvelous celebration each year. But I think we can get distracted by traditions and elements of the festivities. We forget to include God, let alone make him as the focal point for the entire day.

though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:6-7

Christmas should be a day to marvel at the fact that God not only thought of us, but took on the form of a human so he could dwell among us and make a way to forever be in our midst. The gift given in Jesus should take the spotlight throughout the celebrations. That doesn’t mean it is wrong to feast, share gifts, and celebrate our traditions.

Let’s remember that first celebration where the celebration was open to the stranger and the outcast. The focus was on the newborn saviour, God incarnate, God who was and is with us.

Good Traditions of Great Joy

Christmas has become a celebration of a lot of things. Many have written articles or blogs in this season on the meaning of Christmas, but I just want to share some of the traditions that I love from my family. Some of these go back generations, and some of them just a couple decades.

As a pastor’s kid, Christmas really started on December 24. The whole day was spent at church, helping to set up for a service, serving in some way during, or just spending time with everyone else that was involved. It was a whole day celebration with a focus on “good tidings of great joy”. That is what the angels say to the shepherds when they share the message of the birth of their saviour who is Christ the Lord. I always loved how these services gave us an opportunity to be a part of the shepherds’ experience of hearing the news, experiencing Jesus, and then spreading the story to all around!

One of my favorite traditions is the reciting of Luke 2. My mother’s entire family has adopted, and passed on, the practice of reciting the story of Jesus’ birth. From the census decree by Caesar, to Mary’s pondering all in her heart, we tell and relive the incredible story of the birth of our saviour. As children, we took characters from the nativity scene and acted out the story as we recited it. There is such an investment each new member makes in memorizing the story. It is a beautiful way of establishing the importance, and remembering what we are celebrating. When we are with my Papa, he always makes time at this point to share the new revelation he has received as he has reflected on this story. He then invites us to do the same. It is incredible how much there is to learn from this one story, how much God reveals through this one narrative.

I remember, when I was a teenager (probably younger as well), the year when it was just my family together for Christmas. We spent time in prayer, praising God and thanking Jesus for coming. This took on more meaning the more I came to know Jesus.

My family has always exchanged Christmas presents. Some years it has been physical gifts, and other years experiences to share together. We always take turns and rejoice in the gifts the others receive. I am only realizing now how important that part was. We could have all opened at once, but how important it is to learn to rejoice for other people and not just in what we receive.

I grew up thousands of kilometers from the closest family. I loved the years we got to be with them, but I also loved the years where we stayed in Halifax. Every year we were in Halifax, we had a table full of people. Some people made our table home for many Christmas feasts, and some were people we just met the day before. We had one of those big, old-school, wooden tables you can fit 12+ people around. (I think we added another table and got over 20 once.) As a child, I loved being at the table with all of these people who were family to us. We were all celebrating Jesus together. I was often the youngest at the table invited fully into all of the conversation and merriment. I loved these meals. I loved the inclusion. It was an invitation to come and celebrate with us the good news that “unto us a child is given… and he is Christ the Lord”.

Recently I have adopted another tradition. I love going to a Catholic midnight mass on Christmas Eve. There is something about joining in with millions around the world, and millions who have passed on, in a liturgical celebration of the birth of Jesus. The antiquity of this tradition gives such richness to the celebration. It makes me feel as though I am joining in with all the saints in worshiping the King of kings.

There is no one way to celebrate Jesus at Christmas. There are many beautiful traditions (and feel free to comment with some of your own), but in all of it, Jesus is the one we are celebrating. As we go through our celebrations, creating new tradition, and maintaining old ones, let us place Jesus at the center of it all. Let’s take time throughout the day to receive and be thankful for the gift he gave us in his birth. I am thankful for the thought my parents, grandparents, and generations before put into traditions established in my Christmases and I am thankful that I am able to put thought into celebrating this holiday also.

May you have a very Merry Christmas! May you rejoice in the presence of God, and celebrate the good news with the angels and the shepherds that Christ our saviour is born!

Fluid yet Firm

I come from a rich heritage of followers of Jesus. My parents and Grandparents on both sides have a love for the Lord that runs deep. There has been knowledge of God instilled in me from a young age for which I am so grateful.

On my mother’s side, there is a beautiful Anabaptist history. My mother comes from a Mennonite background (no not horse and buggies) that has a beautiful pursuit of knowing God in community. Discernment of scripture and the nature of God is pursued as the people of God together. This promotes a sharing of experiences and understanding so that all may be led into a better knowledge of God. It promotes discussion and correction. The motivating premise is that we will not know perfectly the fullness of who God is and how he wants to lead us until we see him face to face.

This creates a fluid theology. Our understanding is not so rigid that we close ourselves to the revelations of others. As our view of God expands, we can rejoice. I love this approach. I learn so much from the people around me in everyday conversations. I can be intimidating at times in discussion. I have a lot of thoughts already formed, but so value others challenging them. Engaging with others is an opportunity for my thoughts to be shifted or solidified.


24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
Acts 18:24-28

Correction contains an opportunity to draw people together. Humility in relationship makes us grateful for the correction of others. I love this story of Apollos. He is teaching out of what he knows, and embraces the correction of those who know the way of Jesus more fully. The result is support, encouragement, and continued relationship. Apollos came in as the teacher but welcomed correction. Priscilla and Aquila didn’t silence him or strike him down. They enlightened him to more of who God is and blessed him as he continued to enlighten others. There is no fighting here (although I am sure there were a lot of questions and working through the theology together).

Although there is much that is fluid, there is also much that is firm. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no life apart from him. God is absolutely who he says he is. He is the I Am, the creator of all things, the beginning and end. The bible is trustworthy. It is firm. It is the authority in our pursuit of understanding. There is a firmness in the Apostles’ Creed.

What helps us determine what is firm and what is fluid?. First off, there is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. Any knowledge of God is revelation given by God. He wants us to know him. The Holy Spirit is not trying to lead us astray, just as he has not throughout history. There are many things that have remained constant in the theology of the church. Some expression of the theology have changed. Those things that have remained constant take a certain level of hubris to change. God does not change. What he labels as sin does not change. There are certain practices that can change in different seasons and different expressions of church, but others that cannot.

As you study church history, you notice periods of time where the church has gone astray, as did Israel in the Old Testament. God always faithfully welcomes us back to a solid understanding. As we try to understand what can be fluid, we must pay attention to our heritage as the church. What has the Holy Spirit held up as constant and what has had room to change? We should not look to culture or the world to tell us this. We look to God first, using the plumb line of scripture in our discernment, in community (including those who have gone to be with Jesus).

Sometimes years later, I recall with someone a theological discussion we had and think, wow, I knew so very little. I am thankful for those updated conversations. It gives opportunity to testify to who God is, keeps me in awe of God, and brings humility into my life. I never want to hold a false or limited understanding of God. I am aware, however, that the partial understanding I have can still be spurring others on into fresh encounters with God.

Humility is key in this. Humility looks like a death to self. It is no longer I who live but Christ. Humility makes us quick to repent, quick to shed false theology, and quick to embrace the things of God. It doesn’t make us quick to shed what we know, just responsive when what we know is misaligned with the One who lives in us. Humility does not belittle what we know, or make us appear less informed, just ready to encounter God and grow at all times.

We should talk with and about God more. We should be talking about God with followers of Jesus and those who don’t know him. There is so much more of God to encounter, and so much of the world that has not yet encountered him. Let us be continually in awe of God.

The Grace of Discipleship

Something I have come to know more profoundly with time is just how gracious our God is. The longer I live, the more I realize that “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8) Moses first declares this. The psalmists repeat his words. And so will I.

As disciples of Jesus, we have the incredible privilege of being transformed into who God has created us to be – to be like Jesus. Just like the Hebrew people, I do not always behave perfectly. I have ways of speaking and acting that don’t reflect the kingdom of God. In many cases I walk in ignorance to these things until the Holy Spirit reveals it to me.

God is both gracious to expose where we have not discovered a life of freedom and gracious to forgive our many sins as He draws near to us in love. In this grace we may know the freedom of living life with him.

One of my favorite theologians, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, describes this kind of grace as costly.

“It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship)

I have found, the older you get, the more aware of your ignorance you become. It is good we have a God who is so gracious in our ignorance. But as we are brought into new revelation, we must embrace the life and goodness offered to us. We cannot stay in sin once we are aware of it. When our sin is exposed, repentance must be our response. This is only possible because our God is so gracious to forgive us our sins and restore us to righteousness.

Repentance is a word that, for many, carries baggage. For others it is a foreign word. Repentance translated actually means to turn, or return. It is the act of turning away from sin and turning towards what is good. It is choosing to walk away from the sin that marked our lives and turn towards living with the new life God has given us.

Grace is what allows us to repent. It exposes what we need to turn from and gives us the ability to see and walk towards what is good and holy. It is by his grace that he makes us clean, calls us sons and daughters, and invites us to live new lives of freedom with him.

It is interesting that the moment our sin is exposed, we often feel shame. This isn’t the moment God becomes aware of the sin. He knew well before we became aware of it. In this moment, however,God is graciously offering us freedom. To grab hold of this gift, we must let go of what we held onto before. This feels costly but is so good because we can find freedom in the pure, good things God has in store for us. He does not get angry with us because of what he sees. Instead, he waits until a moment of grace where he can show us where we have not yet turned our lives fully over to him.

The way God deals with us is amazing! He extends grace in the areas we don’t think we deserve it. In the areas we try to hide, God wants to take away the sin and the shame. Psalm 103:12 goes on to say, “He has removed our sins from us as far as the East is from the West.” Only God can do this. We can hide from what we have done, but when we turn from our sin, and confess it to God, we are truly free. And free to go sin no more. This is the gracious and compassionate God we serve. Instead of us hiding the spreading disease, he cleans out the infected area, leaving no remnants of disease.

Discipleship hinges on this grace. As disciples we are daily made more and more into the image of the one we follow. The grace of God allows us and pushes us to be more like Jesus as we walk through our daily life in the presence of God.