devotional, encouragement, holidays, midlife faith

Jesus Is Follow Worthy

When parents first discover they’re expecting a child, they start dreaming about names for their baby. Maybe a boy name and a girl name—just in case. Maybe the baby will be named after a family member—like the long line of Elizabeths and Jims in my own family. Maybe it’s a twist on a new-fangled name that your family won’t even be able to spell or pronounce.

Instead of spending nine months choosing a name for your baby, imagine being told by an angel not only what to name your baby, but that your baby would also be your Savior! 

That’s exactly what happened to Mary in Luke 1: 

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High (vs. 31-32 NIV). 

The name Jesus literally means Jehovah (God) is salvation, Savior. It’s the Greek New Testament equivalent of Yeshua and Joshua (in the Old Testament). Messiah means anointed one, the king from the Davidic line.

So who is this Jesus, the Messiah? Isaiah foretold the Messiah’s birth 700 years before the angel visited Mary to announce that her baby’s name would be Jesus. Isaiah also expounded on other job titles that the Jesus would carry:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV

When Mary and Joseph named their baby Jesus and laid Him in a lowly manger trough, they were also giving Him these other names. Let’s take a look at them to see how these aspects of Jesus’ character makes Him follow-worthy.

First of all, He’s our Wonderful Counselor. He never gives out a sketchy piece of advice; He always has our best interests in mind, and He never misses a turn on the GPS. Who better to follow than the One who is “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29 NIV)?

Second, He is our Mighty God. He’s not just a human infant who grew up to minister to people for a few years and then died. No, He died to forgive our sins—yours and mine—and then rose again on the third day. We follow Jesus because He is the living, almighty God. No one else can hold a candle to our “great and awesome God” (Deuteronomy 7:21 NIV).

Third, He is our Everlasting Father. He has compassion toward us as our loving Father. He is our provider and protector—forever. Jesus told His disciples that He and the Father are one in John 14:9-10, so there should be no question about Jesus’ divinity. Who better to follow than our Father God who has been and will be forever and ever? 

Lastly, He is our Prince of Peace. When we let our minds dwell on God and trust in His ways, He “will keep [us] in perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). He came to bring wholeness and rest to our world-weary souls: “I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security” (Jeremiah 33:6 NIV). 

Why follow Jesus? Because He’s the only One who truly lives up to His name as our Savior! He’s our redeemer, deliverer, and Messiah.

Pray and Reflect on the following Scriptures this week:
Luke 1:30-33
Isaiah 9:1-7
Isaiah 11:1-3
Micah 5:1-5

Think about It:

  1. How can you see Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor this week?
  2. How can you revere Jesus as your Mighty God today?
  3. How can you trace God’s hand as your Everlasting Father through this past year?
  4. Will you invite Jesus to be your Prince of Peace in this chaotic season?

**This article also appears on the Beyond Sunday Blog.**

encouragement, midlife faith

Friends Are the Flowers of Life

Here are a few verses to reinforce the  concepts of true friendship. I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I need to do an attitude check to make sure I’m being a good friend! 

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. ~ Proverbs 17:9

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~ Proverbs 17:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one (wo)man sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. ~ Proverbs 27:9

Obviously these are not the only valuable components or verses needed for friendships, but they’re a good start. What would you add? Drop me a line or a comment and let me know!

change, encouragement, medical issues, midlife faith

Role Reversal—Caring for Our Caretakers

“I know what you need! A sticker chart,” I exclaimed!

My mum had just come home from her first knee surgery and was struggling with her physical therapy exercises. I hadn’t homeschooled for 14 years for nothing. I printed up a little chart, dug up some stickers, and she was as motivated as a toddler using the potty for M&M’s!

Part of the circle of life is that as we reach middle age, our parents reach the age when they need us to care for them. That can be both a privilege and a burden, but I think the right mindset can make all the difference.

Even if we are not in a position to physically care for our parents or grandparents, we are still called to show our elders honor and respect. Yes, even if our parents don’t respect or honor us. But that’s a different article.

Honor your father and mother.

Ephesians 6:2

We are commanded in both the Old and New Testaments to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2). Young children living under the care and protection of their parents are definitely supposed to obey their parents, but what about children in their 20s or even 50s? 

Adult children do not owe parents obedience, but they do owe them honor and respect (and regular phone calls). The Old Testament Law as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:35-40 is to love God and love people; therefore, my honoring my parents is inspired by love, not bound by legalism or fear. As an adult child, my job is to hold in high regard my parents’ wishes and feelings.

So, what does that mean exactly? Respect means to give high or special regard to someone, esteem, or consideration. Honor is a similar concept but also encapsulates the idea of one whose worth brings respect or special recognition. I submit that our parents, by virtue of that office alone, are worthy of our respect and honor and reverence.

Families are the building blocks of the stability of society. Disregard for the feelings and values of our elders is the first step on the slippery slope of disregard for the value of the lives of the elderly and other vulnerable populations in general, as discussed in this recent article in The Atlantic older people and COVID.

We must value people purely on the basis of their humanity—not their contributions to society—or we lose our own humanity.

We all go through seasons of life—first we’re helpless babes, being cared for by our parents. Then we’re fairly independent, but if you’re anything like me, we still rely on our parents for advice and to bail us out now and again. Then we become parents and caretakers ourselves. Eventually, we find ourselves sandwiched in between texting our kids NOT to microwave the whole turkey and at the same time sitting in the waiting room while our parents are receiving needed health care. But what never changes is our responsibility to love and honor those God has placed in our lives (by birth or by choice). 

Our job as women of faith living life in the middle is to be a voice for the voiceless—old or young—and an advocate for the helpless. 

How are you honoring the elders God has placed in your life? Please share, so we can gain inspiration from each other! I’ll just be over here putting stickers on a chart every time my mother completes a set of knee exercises.