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In Body, Heart, Mind, Soul by Caleb

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Shepherds Were First

In Heart, Soul by Caleb

When miracles are born in mangers, the forgotten people get front row seats, and the fancy people find their way later.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8)

Shepherds were the lowest rung on the social ladder. They were the least educated and most awkward. They were overlooked, but you could smell them coming.

And yet, it was shepherds who greeted the Savior of the world and witnessed the divine entrance of the Creator onto the scene of his own creation.

Of course, months later, the Magi (“wise men,” or royalty) made it, too. Months. Later. I wonder if our palaces of comfort protect us from the bad, and the best. I wonder if having more makes us less accessible to things that matter most.

Either way, the more important point to note is that God made sure that we could see that the whole spectrum of humanity was in on the miracle. The lowest to the highest. The have-nots to have-everythings. The Savior of the world, it turns out, doesn’t discriminate.

Everyone is invited and included. And when you see the twinkle in the God-man’s eyes, it changes everything.

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Use What You Have

In Heart, Mind by Caleb

Start where you are and use what you have. The Hope of the World will survive.

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:7b)

Mary wrapped Jesus in less-than-sanitary cloths and put him in a dirty manger. Hay is not clean to begin with. And it might have been difficult to find hay that wasn’t soaked in animal pee.

But Mary and Joseph used the resources that they had, and trusted that if this was God’s plan, God would see them through.

The circumstances will never be perfect. The timing won’t make sense on the front end. And the resources will seem less than ideal. And yet, we use what we have—right now—and do the very best we can…trusting that if this is a God-thing, God will see us through.

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Living the Dream

In Heart, Mind by Caleb

You’re living the dream.

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. (Luke 2:7)

This was not Mary’s dream for her first child’s birth. In fact, it may have been her nightmare.

Mary’s water broke on a donkey. Joseph had not booked an Airbnb ahead of time, and when they rolled into town, every house and room was booked. They ended up in a cave—with animals. Not fluffy puppies. Dirty, noisy, smelly animals. Animals who ate and pooped in the same small cave—right next to the hay-filled trough where the Creator-Savior of the world was resting after his dicy womb escape, delivered by a first-time teenaged dad.
Not living the dream. Unless, Mary and Joseph winked at each other and decided that this was, in fact, the new dream.

Living the dream means fully embracing the life God gives you. Sure, you can co-create with God; design, redesign, and improve your life. But if you’re not living the dream today, you’ll never live the dream. In other words, if you’re not grateful for this crazy, unexpected, imperfect journey of life—right now—you’ll never be satisfied. Even in the satin sheets of a fancy hotel.

The manger is a dream if the manger is where your Hope is resting His head.

Live the dream—today—by embracing your manger-cave, and then building from here.

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Timing

In Heart, Mind by Caleb

Divine timing is probably perfect, but it’s also a pain.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born… (Luke 2:6)

“The time came…” And to Mary and Joseph, it was bad timing.

After all, they were 90 miles from home. They had no money and no place to stay. Jesus was born in what was probably a cave—with dirty, stinky animals. Not cool.

Now, they would have to travel the 90 miles back to Nazareth (and later to Egypt), on foot, with a newborn. No Uppa Baby stroller. No Ergo wrap. No bottles, binkies, or diapers. The timing seemed rough.

And yet, there was a bigger story at play. The prophecy was that a Savior would be born in Bethlehem, which means, “house of bread.” Jesus would later break bread and say, “This is my body,” as if teaching that we need connection to God even more than we need food. Plus, King David was from Bethlehem, and this Jesus would be the King of Kings.

God was telling a bigger story. Not to mention, a little bit of adversity makes the miracle more memorable.

The time will come, and it might—at first—seem like the timing sucks. But, in hindsight, it comes together and it makes sense.

Trust God’s timing. The story is bigger than what you can see right now.

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Expect…Something

In Heart, Mind by Caleb

Expect the unexpected.

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (Luke 2:5)

An angel said she was pregnant with a child—direct from the Great Spirit Stork. Then, an angel told Joseph not to sweat it. The promise was that this was a God-thing and the child would be special…different…significant.
No doubt their expectations were high! But then…he’s born. And cries. And poops. And needs milk…like all the time.

The Savior of the world had to grow up—from infant to toddler to kid to adolescent… Expectations and waiting and wondering are part of the human experience. Even when God shows up with angels and stars and the divine IVF miracle.

Mary was “expecting” and even after Jesus was born, there were years and years of more expecting, wondering, and waiting.

Be patient. Jesus is still changing everything…and you have a part to play. Whatever “good news” mission God has given you, walk it out. Wait it out. Wonder, hope, have faith…and let the promise grow up in front of you.

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Long Journeys

In Heart by Caleb

It seems simple—afterwards.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (Luke 2:4)

“Went up from” this town to that town. Easy enough.

Except it wasn’t.

Just this little detail in the story of Jesus’ birth was a massive to-do. First of all, “went up” doesn’t mean North. It means up. Like up the hills around Jerusalem. And without the assistance of a car or truck. They were on foot (and donkey) for the whole of their 90 mile trip! A trip that we guess took 5-7 days, depending on how aggressive Joseph and Mary were, given that Mary was 9 months pregnant.

We read the words 2,000 years later but we don’t understand the journey. Imagine it. It was grueling, daunting, and desperate. Would they make it before the child was born? Would they run out of money and supplies? Would they be attacked on the road? Would their relationship survive yet another brutal test?

Stress. Questions. Uncertainty. Desperation.

And God knew it, and allowed it, and used it as part of the God-man birth narrative. The humble and obscure birth of the most profound “Influencer” the world has ever seen. Jesus—the God-human who’s strange birth we still celebrate every year at this time.

But it’s not just the birth that gives us hope. It’s also the truth that Jesus’ birth came in the middle of weirdness, struggle, and desperation on a long and uncertain journey.

Can you relate? If you feel like you’re on a long journey, sometimes stumbling around in the dark, unsure of what’s around the next turn…you’re not alone. The struggle is real, but there is hope.

Looking back, it might seem like a simple trip from here to there. But right now, it’s a grueling trip with few guarantees. And yet, God is with you. Walk on!

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Caeser the Footnote

In Soul by Caleb

Maybe the arrogant person abusing their power in your current story will end up as a footnote in the larger story God is inviting you to live.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (Luke 2:1)

Caesar liked to refer to himself as the king of king and lord of lords. Ironic, as he ended up a footnote in the story of Jesus. Jesus, born in a cave with some animals to inexperienced and insecure teenaged parents. Jesus, who ignored the fame and fortune his popularity warranted. Jesus, who quietly submitted to an unjust execution to show us the extent of God’s love.

Caesar “the Great” was the historical footnote that helped to validate the stories and documents about Jesus.

Maybe the abuser is a footnote.

Maybe the abrasive boss is a footnote.

Maybe the arrogant leader is a footnote.

Maybe their power trip that forced you into an inconvenient journey is a footnote, and the journey will become your freedom.

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Hilary Hijack: Airport Rides

In Heart, Soul by Caleb

When I was younger, if I flew into Washington, there was no question who was picking me up – my mom. She would change her schedule around, drop everything to be there when my plane arrived. Even when she was in the throws of treatment for her pancreatic cancer she made the drive and picked me up. I was completely unaware of what a generous gift it was because it had always just been there. I remember the first time I flew into Washington and realized my airport ride was gone… and it has continued to be a little emotional for me.

My family has been crazy generous and stepped in to pick us up most every time we fly into Washington. But this winter, my brother went above and beyond. Without batting an eyelash, he and his girlfriend Austyn drove three hours over the mountains in separate cars so that we could have a ride from the airport to the beach and then over to their home in Leavenworth. But, the generosity didn’t stop there. They slept in the camper outside in the snow (they claim they love it) and let us sleep in their bed and pretty much take over their entire home.

My brother and Austyn lavished our kids with love and presents on their first trip to the snow. There is no doubt that our kids felt so loved by their aunt and uncle. But to me, that airport ride… that airport ride will go down in my heart history as one of the highlights. My brother didn’t know that every time I flew into Washington I missed our mama–and the way she would jump through hoops to pick me up. And there he was, driving over mountains.

Sometimes we don’t know the depth of how our generosity can bless another person. Generosity through an act of kindness can heal a heart or leave a lasting memory.

Who can you bless with extravagant generosity?

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Desires & Expectations

In Mind by Caleb

If you’re regularly disappointed, it might be your expectations that need changing.

One psychotherapist offers that people who “are always focusing on what’s wrong and as a result, feel anxiety, and obsess. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and an endless cycle of high expectations leading to low self-esteem and increased anxiety.” (CLICK HERE for article)

Still, it’s good to communicate our desires.

“This is something that matters to me. Can we do it this way?”

That is a request based on a desire, and communication is an absolute necessity for healthy relationships.

However, an expectations goes a step further and trends in the zone of “entitlement.”

“This is what I want and it’s better and it should be this way.”

If you’re noticing that others aren’t playing by your rules or aren’t living up to your expectations for them or their contributions your life, your expectations have become entitlements. And it’s time to kill your expectations.

Christmas is the best time to practice killing expectations—mostly because we tend to have extra. Instead of letting people, places, and things disappoint us all season long, what if we killed our expectations and treated everything and everyone as an exciting bonus?!

I talk more about this on today’s midweek edition of the Spirit Farm Podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or YouTube.

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