warned in a dream

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote: You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah, because from you will come one who governs, who will shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route. (Matthew 2:1-12, CEB)

This is the day of Epiphany when the Magi arrived at the home where Jesus was living after he was born. From the passage that comes after this, we can ascertain that Jesus was around two years old when the Magi arrived.

The thing that struck me this year as I read this text was that the Magi were warned in a dream. God spoke to those who we say are outsiders, from different religions to warn them that Herod was bad and that they shouldn’t share the location of Jesus with him, and we are told that they believed this vision and went home a different way as to avoid Herod. God works in and through the world and in many different and surprising ways.

How do we follow what God has asked us to do and how do we help bring light to the world?

Do we love out loud and show grace and mercy in our actions?

How can we not share doom and gloom but be beacons of peace and not say that some are outside of God’s inner circle?

We need to focus on God and share God’s love and let God be God.

Loving People. Loving God.

Fix our eyes

What more can I say? I would run out of time if I told you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured and refused to be released so they could gain a better resurrection. But others experienced public shame by being taunted and whipped; they were even put in chains and in prison. They were stoned to death, they were cut in two, and they died by being murdered with swords. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats, needy, oppressed, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve them. They wandered around in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground. All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith. God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us. So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 11:32—12:2, CEB)

Faith in God is what gets us there.

And when we fix our eyes upon Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith, we will live the way God has called us to.

Jesus questioned the plan and yet followed it by saying in the garden, “not my will but your will be done.” Can we do this?

If we can fix our eyes on Jesus and follow the example we have been given, we will change the world and live the life God has called us to.

We will be grace, mercy, and peace for a world that needs the love God has for it.

Love out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.

Would we?

As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it. He said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won’t leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from God.” (Luke 19:41-44, CEB)

There will come a time when your enemies will build fortifications around you and attack you from all sides. They will crush you and completely destroy you because you didn’t recognize the time God visited you graciously.


Jesus tells them quite plainly here that God graciously visited them and they missed it. And because they missed it they are going to be destroyed.

But my wonder is, would we have missed it? Or did we miss it?

Would we know if God graciously visited us?

We need to be aware and always looking for God.

God comes in the stranger and the wanderer.

Love all, and welcome all.

Love Out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.


At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake. How terrible it is for the world because of the things that cause people to trip and fall into sin! Such things have to happen, but how terrible it is for the person who causes those things to happen! If your hand or your foot causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter into life crippled or lame than to be thrown into the eternal fire with two hands or two feet. If your eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter into life with one eye than to be cast into a burning hell with two eyes. “Be careful that you don’t look down on one of these little ones. I say to you that their angels in heaven are always looking into the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones. (Matthew 18:1-14, CEB)

Why is it some people want to take some parts of the Bible literally but other parts are allegory? I mean I have never met someone who has cut off their hand or foot because it caused them to sin, but Jesus clearly says that is what we should do here. Also, I have never seen anyone with one eye because they took one out because it caused them to sin. We seem to think we can pick and choose what we want to be literal and what we want to be allegory. But it doesn’t work that way.

And it is interesting the part before all the mutilation. Whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me, and whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to fall into sin should tie a millstone around their necks and throw themselves into the sea. How many evangelicals cause those who are not like them or fit their mold for who is a follower to be hating on themselves and doubting God loves them? And in my book that is a sin. To cause people to think that God doesn’t love them is like saying Jesus didn’t die for all. God loves everyone and no one is worthy of that love but all of us get it and if anyone says that someone is not loved because they don’t fit the mold, then they are wrong and are causing others to sin.

We all need to accept everyone as they are because God loves us as we are. It isn’t about becoming perfect and then joining in. It is about knowing you are loved as you are and being welcomed.

Everyone is welcome.

And we all need to love like God loves us, unconditionally and prodigiously!

Love Out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.


Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God. Whoever loves someone who is a parent loves the child born to the parent. This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep God’s commandments. This is the love of God: we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not difficult, because everyone who is born from God defeats the world. And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith. Who defeats the world? Isn’t it the one who believes that Jesus is God’s Son? This is the one who came by water and blood: Jesus Christ. Not by water only but by water and blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. The three are testifying— the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and the three are united in agreement. If we receive human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because this is what God testified: he has testified about his Son. The one who believes in God’s Son has the testimony within; the one who doesn’t believe God has made God a liar, because that one has not believed the testimony that God gave about his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have God’s Son does not have life. (1 John 5:1-12, CEB)

The one who doesn’t believe God has made God a liar. When we do not believe the testimony given through the Spirit, water, and blood we do not believe in the Son and we make God a liar. And if we do not believe in God’s Son then we do not have life.

As we continue in the Christmas season we see that without Jesus we would not truly have life. Jesus came to show us how to live and love and how to have life and have it abundantly.

So love out loud and show the world why Christmas is a time to celebrate.

Loving People. Loving God.

faith = life

Understand that in the same way that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, those who believe are the children of Abraham. But when it saw ahead of time that God would make the Gentiles righteous on the basis of faith, scripture preached the gospel in advance to Abraham: All the Gentiles will be blessed in you. Therefore, those who believe are blessed together with Abraham who believed. All those who rely on the works of the Law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone is cursed who does not keep on doing all the things that have been written in the Law scroll. But since no one is made righteous by the Law as far as God is concerned, it is clear that the righteous one will live on the basis of faith. The Law isn’t based on faith; rather, the one doing these things will live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—because it is written, Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. He redeemed us so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, and that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:6-14, CEB)

Abraham believed the promise that God gave him. And it was credited to him as righteousness.

Abraham was made righteous by his trust/belief in God’s promise.

We are made righteous when we believe that the baby we wait for, was/is God and God came into this world to take on our suffering, to teach us to love, and to help us see love incarnate.

When we believe and trust it is credited to us as righteousness. We live by faith.

Faith = Life!

The baby we wait for showed us how to love and how to live.

Love Out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.

loss about you

At the time, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved by things that aren’t gods by nature. But now, after knowing God (or rather, being known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless world system? Do you want to be slaves to it again? You observe religious days and months and seasons and years. I’m afraid for you! Perhaps my hard work for you has been for nothing. I beg you to be like me, brothers and sisters, because I have become like you! You haven’t wronged me. You know that I first preached the gospel to you because of an illness. Though my poor health burdened you, you didn’t look down on me or reject me, but you welcomed me as if I were an angel from God, or as if I were Christ Jesus! Where then is the great attitude that you had? I swear that, if possible, you would have dug out your eyes and given them to me. So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They are so concerned about you, though not with good intentions. Rather, they want to shut you out so that you would run after them. However, it’s always good to have people concerned about you with good intentions, and not just when I’m there with you. My little children, I’m going through labor pains again until Christ is formed in you. But I wish I could be with you now and change how I sound, because I’m at a loss about you. (Galatians 4:8-20, CEB)

Here Paul is telling the Galatians that they seem to have forgotten what he taught them. When Paul was in Galatia, he was sick. He actually didn’t intend to be there but was not physically able to leave and they took care of him and he taught them about the gospel.

And now they are going back to things that aren’t God.

And as I read this passage I was struck with the line, “You observe religious days and months and seasons and years. I’m afraid for you!” I don’t really remember reading this before. Is Paul telling them not to celebrate religious days, months, and seasons? Yes, that is what he is saying and we usually read this as pagan religious days/months/seasons. But is that it?

When I read that sentence and the following this time, I thought about how sometimes in the church we are hung up on our days/months/seasons. Take now for instance. It is Advent. And the world around us has been celebrating Christmas for 25 or more days. (25 because that is how many days it has been since Thanksgiving.) And we say it’s not Christmas. The 12 days of Christmas start December 25 and go until January 5. Is that important, yes. Is it a reason to get huffy and tell people they can’t listen to Christmas music until December 25? Also yes, I mean no. Our seasons are important, but God and Paul would say we need to connect to the world and show them the gospel. We need to connect where we can and not force our religion, but share grace, mercy, and love and invite people to see they are loved by God.

So let us not focus on the seasons we celebrate, but on inviting people into an understanding of the baby we wait to come and the savior we wait to return and the love that is shown in both of those by a God who created and loves them.

Love Out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.


This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled: Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”) When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25, CEB)

I think we overlook the part in this verse where it says, “Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly.” Joseph should have brought her before the high council and had Mary stoned to death. But because he was a righteous man and he didn’t want her humiliated, or killed, he was going to figure a way out of the engagement and let her live. Now we can’t really say what kind of life it would have been, but he didn’t want her death on his hands or conscious. And then he has a dream or a vision. And he finds out the child is from God. So Joseph marries Mary and calls the son, Jesus.

How many times do we push people to their doom because we know some secret that isn’t ours to share?

We are sharing things freely we have no place to share.

We should love and be of a righteous heart like Joseph.

Love Out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.


The one who comes from above is above all things. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all things. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever accepts his testimony confirms that God is true. The one whom God sent speaks God’s words because God gives the Spirit generously. The Father loves the Son and gives everything into his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever doesn’t believe in the Son won’t see life, but the angry judgment of God remains on them.” (John 3:31-36, CEB)

When we believe the promises from the Hebrew Scripture and the promises Jesus gives us, we confirm that God is true.

When we hold fast to the truth that God gives us, we speak the truth in love to the world.

The Father gave everything to the Son and when we believe in Jesus, who is the Son of God, we have eternal life. That is not something we are waiting on, but it is ours now.

So love Out Loud and share the love you have been given and help others believe in the truth.

Loving People. Loving God.


Jesus went home with Peter and saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and served them. That evening people brought to Jesus many who were demon-possessed. He threw the spirits out with just a word. He healed everyone who was sick. This happened so that what Isaiah the prophet said would be fulfilled: He is the one who took our illnesses and carried away our diseases. When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake in the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed came from among the tombs to meet him. They were so violent that nobody could travel on that road. They cried out, “What are you going to do with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time of judgment?” Far off in the distance a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you throw us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” Then he said to the demons, “Go away,” and they came out and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned. Those who tended the pigs ran into the city and told everything that had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole city came out and met Jesus. When they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34, CEB)

Why did the people plead with Jesus to leave?

I mean other than the fact he just killed a herd of pigs. Shouldn’t the men’s freedom from the demons be enough to cover the pigs? Or are the pigs worth more to this community than these two men?

It is different and not what we expect. Jesus comes across the man at the Sheeps Gate (John 5:1-13) and he asks him if he wants to be healed. The man replies he has no one to help him get to the pool. It is almost as if he wants to stay the way he has been for 8 years. Jesus didn’t ask him why he didn’t get in the pool he asked if he wanted to be made well. And that is scary. Things will change.

If those men are no longer possessed then all of the community’s life changes. Sometimes it is easier to stay unwell than to be made well.

Are we ready to be made well?

Are we helping to heal the world by sharing the grace, mercy, and love we have been given?

Love Out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.