I now present to you…

One of my favorite parts of performing a wedding ceremony is to present the new couple.

At the wedding, I go through the vows and rings. Usually, some sort of sermon or homily is given. There are readings sprinkled in as well. Then, by the power invested in me…husband and wife…kiss!

I enjoy weddings because they are always happy and joyful!

The very last line I say, after everything else has been done and said, is this:

“It is my honor and privilege to present to you for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. X!”

Today, however, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Jospeh and Mary!

Last names were different in Israel 2000 years ago. But their last name is not really important for my purpose here.

I am more interested in their mindset.

What’s on your mind? What do you think about all day?

When it comes to the almost newlyweds (almost), they could have had one of three different mindsets.

Because of the pregnancy and impending divorce, they could have had a cultural mindset. Society would say get divorced. Cultural norms would tell Joseph to get rid of Mary.

But Joseph and Mary did not have a cultural mindset.

They could have had a conflict mindset. How would these two get married with her being pregnant? What if Joseph dismissed the dreams as mere wishful thinking? Should they move away? Many conflicts would be swirling through their minds.

Nor did they have a conflict mindset.

They did the right things in this rocky start to a life together. They traveled down the right path. God guided and they followed. They possessed a Christ mindset. Despite all of the pressure to go astray, Joseph and Mary obeyed God in their actions. This was God’s plan.

As we looked at before with Just a Simple Carpenter and Treasure and Ponder, Joseph and Mary acted exemplary in times of trial.

It would have been easy to have a cultural or conflict mindset given the circumstances in which they found themselves.

But they possessed a Christ mindset.

So let that be an example to you and me.

Let me circle around to the beginning of this post.

Friends, it is my honor and privilege to present to you, after some 2000 years, Joseph and Mary!

Just a Simple Carpenter

Mary and Joseph. Joseph and Mary. The parents of the God-child.

But they are just people like you and me.

That amazes me.

My last post focused on Mary. Today, Joesph gets the spotlight.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

This block of verses is from Chapter 1 of Matthew. The underlined portions are my doing. These will match the points that I will make about Joseph.

Alright. Ready, set…Go!

  1. Joseph had Divorce in his mind. And I agree with him. From his perspective, he was doing the right thing, at least culturally speaking. How difficult would it be to believe that God really made Mary pregnant?! It seems that divorce was his only option. According to the text, he was not mean or vindictive about it. He cared, even loved, Mary and did not want to hurt her. But pregnant…any other news might have been an easier pill to swallow. What was God doing here?
  2. Joseph had Dreams in his sleep. Do you dream? Typically, I don’t remember the details of any of my dreams. There have been a few times when I had a dream that was divine. For me, day dreaming is also a thing. I just hope I am not driving at the time! Joseph goes to bed one night, perhaps feeling concerned about his situation. Then, an angel shows up in a dream. The angel speaks and Joseph remembers. I could imagine that he would have been amped-up the next morning! He now had a plan. God had been faithful!
  3. Joseph had Discipline in his actions. No doubt there was still some apprehension about Mary. People were bound to rumor and speculate about these two teenagers. But Joseph had discipline enough to follow the orders given to him. If we were to read the rest of the chapter, this dream-followed-by-action pattern would be repeated a few times. God entrusted Joseph with this situation and Joseph passed in exemplary fashion!

Where Mary treasured and pondered, Joseph had to listen and act.

Two very different approaches.

I really enjoy the creativity of our God when he communicates to us.

There are times to move forward and act upon His word. Other times require solitude and rest.

Whether we relate to Mary or Joseph it does not matter. Just be ready to listen to God.

He just might have something for you.

Treasure and Ponder

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph,” Matthew 1:18

Some versions say espoused or betrothed. We would say engaged.

That means a wedding is on the way!!!

Mary was engaged to Joseph. They were committed. There may have not been a ring like we would typically use today but nonetheless, a wedding was coming soon.

Sometimes the engagement would last up to a year. This was a time to prepare for marriage. The couple would be able to ask God’s blessing on their relationship as husband and wife. Household affairs would have been taken care of at this time. Even the building of a house could be happening. Although not physically together, unfaithfulness at this point would have been considered adultery.

I have performed almost 300 weddings. It is a privilege to sit with couples during their engagement and speak with them. There are some great stories of how he proposed. It really is a special time for young couples. I know life happens but I always encourage each couple to enjoy this time because it goes fast and can be exciting. Hopefully, it is the only time they are ever engaged!

In the case of Mary and Joseph, I think they had similar feelings. Knowing that the time is relatively short before the wedding probably induced (no pun intended here) emotions and feelings of love, honor, respect etc.

And then the bomb dropped.

Pretend you are a fly on the wall when Mary and Joseph are having that conversation. You know, the one where Mary is pleading with him that she has remained pure. The child is from God, not man!

How do you explain that one!?!?

Right from the get-go, God is using the low things of our world to usher in Jesus. This continues with the inn with no rooms, the stable, and the animals. Even a feeding trough for the baby.

Really God, shepherds as a herald for the King of kings?

And Mary is in the middle of all this stuff. She, being a teenager, most likely just passed her adolescence years, is having to carry this ordeal. Again, no pun intended.

But Luke tells us that she treasured and pondered these things.

Parents, how do we deal with the stuff of life?

When we are at a low point, do we treasure and/or ponder?

What is our knee-jerk reaction?

Let’s take a cue from Mary.

Whether we are a parent, soon-to-be-parent, or future candidates for parenting, we can certainly learn from this young but mature woman.

Follow God. Treasure things. Ponder the possibilities.

Who knows what God will bring into the world through us. (Pun intended there)

Mom and Dad. Parents. Wow.

I went to a baby shower today. It was a couple’s baby shower. And since my wife and mother-in-law were the planners of this party, there was no escape.

It was actually kind of fun. Not that I want to make this a habit but I did enjoy the little get together, especially the mini key lime cheesecakes!

My brother-in-law is getting married in July. They are expecting their baby in June…I hope the baby isn’t too late!

Being there, eating finger foods and watching the happy couple open gifts of diapers, various bottle apparatus, and a plethora of soft animal things, I got to thinking.

This is her first child, his second. They are about to have their world rocked. Sure, having a 10 year old boy has certainly given my brother-in-law some experience to work off of here. But my soon-to-be sister-in-law is on the edge of the diving ready to plunge into the deep end. I mean really, you go to the hospital, just the two of you. In 2 or 3 days, there are three of you leaving together. They don’t even give you an instruction manual!

Kids. I have 2 of them. 18 and 15 years old. There are days when I am not really sure I am doing the right thing. Other days, my calm and strength come from a solid foundation in the truth of God. Those are two extreme places to be but when parenting, there are no restrictions. I just try to be consistent.

And that brings me to my blog. I want to write about parenting.

There will be some personal experience sprinkled in but mainly I will focus on Joseph and Mary.

God has given us His word. In this word, specifically Matthew 1, we can find out how Joseph and Mary became parents and what that first Christmas looked like for them.

If I may make a disclaimer here. I am not a licensed parenting psychologist or anything professional like that. I do however, have children and I was once a child. I do know something about life and raising kids.

And over the next two weeks or so, I am going to share these things with you.

With that in mind, enjoy your week. And don’t forget, Mother’s day is 7 days away. Do something about that!

Questions. What do you want to ask? part 3

HE HAS RISEN!!! May this truth be more real than ever to you today.

I hope you have enjoyed the questions we looked at in this blog more closely.

Sidenote…I found it quite interesting that my pastor, today, based his sermon in John 18 and 19. In those two chapters, he looked at three questions that Pilate asked in the presence of Jesus.

If you feel like browsing, here is the link to our church’s youtube channel. As of this writing, I don’t think the Easter message is posted yet but it should be within a day or so.

And this link is to the church website. Central Church

And now on to my last question in this series.

The bible is overflowing with questions. This series could go on for months if we addressed all the questions we read. My pastor’s sermon only had three questions in it.

But I do have a favorite question. Of all of them, one sticks out to me. It resonates with me. I would even say I get equal parts challenge and encouragement from this single question. It has the ability to motivate and drive my life.

All human endeavors are summed up in a single sentence. Why we do what we do is contained in these words.

Are you ready? Sorry, not the question to which I am referring!

Here are the first 8 verses from Luke 24:

1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8 NIV

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

I will share a few quick thoughts.

  1. Trust – Jesus said he was going to die and then be raised again. Maybe the ladies didn’t really believe it because he has been in the grave for three days.
  2. Timing – They were planning on anointing the body of Jesus but did not go the day after the crucifixion. It was the Sabbath so they had to wait an extra day. Jesus said three days.
  3. Temporal – This is the part that gets me. The angel said, “among the dead”. How many times do we look for life (happiness, joy, peace, life etc.) among things that are temporal (dead)? Drugs, Alcohol, Sex, Gambling, Job, Relationship, Games, Art, Sleep…or anything else?
  4. Toga – Okay, maybe it wasn’t actually a toga but it started with the correct letter. Jesus was gone and the shroud (toga) left behind symbolizes (at least in my opinion) that Jesus did not need the material things we seek after.
  5. Tomb – Tombs are full of dead things. Our living Savior is not there anymore.

These are the reasons why this question is my favorite. It encompasses all of life. Jesus is life and we can end our search with him.

So there is no reason to go to the tomb.

You can find life in our risen Lord. Jesus is waiting for you to look for him.