Wise Men Still Seek Him

Wise Men Still Seek Him_1


Ahh, those wise men. I’ve talked about them a bit, haven’t I? I mentioned how they probably weren’t at the birth scene, despite their inclusion in so many nativity scenes. I’ve mentioned that there may or may not have been three of them (and the names ascribed to them– Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar– may or may not actually belong to them).

But I thought about them in a new way today.

When they saw the star the first time, they didn’t just hop in a taxi and yell, “Take us to Bethlehem, pronto!”

Most likely, they spent weeks and months and possibly years following this star. They didn’t know where it would lead. They only knew that at the end of the journey was the hope of all their dreams and the answer to all their questions and the object of all their hopes.

I’m sure they grew weary from endless days and nights wandering through deserts and probably at some point one or more of them entertained thoughts of giving up and going home. But they didn’t.

They persevered because of a promise. They kept going because of a dream in their hearts that refused to die.

I wonder sometimes if I would have been so persistent in pursuing this Christ child. Would I be that tenacious now? Would I really be willing to leave everything and everyone I know and go (alone if necessary) to follow after this Jesus?

I hope so. I pray so.

I love their initial response to finding Jesus. Matthew says “and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him.”

They didn’t unpack their suitcases. They didn’t sit down to a meal or request something to drink after a long journey. They worshipped. They fell to their faces in astonished awe at seeing the result of their long and arduous journey.

May you and I do the same. May you and I remember that the best worship is always that which costs us something to offer.


American Idols


I suspect that we’re all guilty of idolatry at some point. I wish I could remember the definition of idolatry I heard earlier today, but I didn’t take very good notes so I’ve forgotten most of it.

It had something to do with us valuing anything more than God, of seeking our identity and purpose in anything other than God.

In biblical times, idolatry often meant bowing down to little tin or bronze statues. But in our time, it is much more subtle. Sometimes it’s harder to detect because it looks like normal devotion.

I wonder how many parents idolize their children. Or how many children idolize their parents. Or maybe it’s men (and women, too, I suppose) who make idols out of their careers or their spouses.

I think anytime you say that your child is your world, you’ve created an idol out of him or her. The same goes for spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends.

You can even make religion into an idol if you get caught up in following rules and rituals for their own sake rather than because it pleases Jesus.

It can be wealth or the desire for wealth. It can be sex or the desire for sex. It can be a relationship or the overwhelming desire for one. Idols are tricky like that. It’s not about an object as much as the desire in your heart.

You can make idols out of genuinely good things, like your children, your marriage, your job, your bank account . . . just about anything and anyone can be an idol if you place it above God in your heart.

How do I know so much about idolatry? Because I’ve had more than my fair share of idols. I can always tell when a relationship has become idolatrous in my life because my peace of mind gets tied to my perception of how well that relationship is going.

It’s easy to point the finger at the Israelites in the Old Testament for their propensity for idolatry. Heck, they were barely out of Egypt before they were bowing down to golden calfs. But that tendency is just as much in me as it was in them. I suspect it’s in you, too.

I think we have idols because we haven’t fully grasped how good God is, how much He’s really for us, and how much He really does love us. Or maybe we’ve just forgotten like those old Israelites did back in the day.

The best way to combat idolatry is to remember. To go back and recall how it felt when you first grasped the love of God for you. Or as the Bible puts it, “to remember your first love.”

Thoughts from Deuteronomy


I heard this from a pastor once: most people have every intention of reading through the Bible. Every intention.

They start off well, because Genesis has a good bit of action and intrigue and drama. Sort of Downton Abbey meets Ben-Hur. You get to see the story of God’s people unfolding and see where everything got its start.

Exodus is doable because it continues the storyline from Genesis. There’s more than a few rules and regulations thrown in, but there’s also the drama of God’s people making their way through the desert.

Leviticus throws most people for a loop. There are a lot more rules and a lot less action. A lot of what’s here seems far from relatable and applicable. I mean, who will be sacrificing a goat any time soon?

Numbers usually is like a punch to the solar plexus and Deuteronomy generally finishes the people off that Numbers didn’t. I mean, it seems so far removed from the mercy and grace of the New Testament.

But think of it as an unfolding love story between God and His people. At first, His people need boundaries and guidelines, as we all do when we’re growing up. We need to know that sin is serious business and that every sin demands a sacrifice and blood.

It’s the same God who shows up later in the form of Jesus. I admit I don’t completely understand how the different parts of the story mesh together, but I know that they do. All the loose ends of the plot get resolved and we do live happily ever after. Just not yet.

I see how Adam and Eve blew it in the garden. I see how the children of Israel messed up with God literally from day one. But instead of looking at the could-have-beens, I see the what-will-be. Where Adam and Eve and the Israelites failed, Jesus got it right and one day soon, everything that went wrong as a result will be put right.

That sounds like a happy ending to me.

Borrowed Thoughts

I think a part of me would very much like to sleep until noon every day. That part of me would love to gorge myself with chocolate as much as possible and only eat foods that while being extremely tasty, are extremely bad for me.

I remember what a pastor said once. He said that no one ever wakes up in them morning and thinks, “Hey, today I’m gonna screw my life up beyond all recognition.” It all starts with choices.

I’ve never woken up thinking, “Today I’d like a heaping helping of humility and trials and crappiness in my day. I want everything to go wrong and to feel like the day is never going to end.

Just like the Israelites probably never thought, “Gee, I’d like to wander around in a desert for 40 years, eating some strange pastry that falls from the sky and drinking water out of rocks. That sounds like my cup of tea.” But that’s what they got.

God doesn’t often give us what we want as much as he gives us what we need. I may want non-stop chocolate, but I need to be healthy and not weigh 800 pounds. I may want to sleep late every day of my life, but I need to spend time with God in the morning to get my bearings put right.

I heard that discipline is getting us to a place we would have never thought to go on our own. On my own, I’d never think to develop a constant prayer life and a complete dependence on God. But when I find myself in places where my way just doesn’t work and I have no more answers, I find myself praying to and depending on God a lot more.

I’m grateful now looking back that I didn’t get a lot of what I asked God for in prayer. I thought I knew what I needed, but it was only what I thought I wanted at the time.

A perfect illustration is looking at a 1-year old. He may think he knows what he needs and what is best for him, but he doesn’t. He has to be told what is and what is not good for him. The father may have to discipline him to get him to see what he wants and what is best for him aren’t always the same thing. I’m a lot like that little boy.

May you and I come to embrace the hard days as well as the good ones, because they remind us of how much we really do need God every day. May Jesus use the trials and troubles we face to develop in us a constant faith and a undying hope and a love that won’t quit.


A Challenge from An Outsider Who Has Never Quite Fit In

I offer you a challenge. I offer it and I take it upon myself as my own challenge. Don’t be like everybody else. Don’t be like 90% of American Christians, who are shallow and unbelievably narrow-minded (including me sometimes). Take off the blinders and step out of your comfortable box of same old people and places and look around.

I truly believe that many of God’s blessings are in the periphery where we would never take the time to look most days. We have to deliberately seek them out. Those angels unaware, who do not run in our social circles or cliques (never was there a more unbiblical concept than cliques), can only be found by stepping out of that familiar comfort zone.

Take the road less traveled. Do something you’ve been afraid to try. Strike up a conversation with someone you would ordinarily ignore. Take God out of that box and let His love and mercy consume you. Don’t ask for blessings, be one!

Also, I would like to throw in (for free) some words of wisdom from Hannah Whitall Smith:

“What I mean is that we are to hold ourselves absolutely independent of circumstances, resting only in the magnificent fact that God as our Savior is sufficient, Our inner life prospers just as well and is just as triumphant without ecstatic personal experiences or great personal doings.

We are to find God, the fact of God, sufficient for all our spiritual needs, whether we feel ourselves to be in a desert or in a fertile valley. We are to say with the prophet, ‘Although the tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation’ (Hab. 3:17-18).”