Every Tribe, Language, People, and Nation
every tribe language people and nation

Do you remember the song, Jesus Loves the Little Children, written by C. Herbert Woolston? Even if you don’t know all the stanzas, you probably remember the refrain:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

While Jesus does, indeed, love all children regardless of ethnicity, the problem of discrimination and inequality continues to taint our culture. Which brings us to the federal holiday we will celebrate next week.

January 20, 2020 is the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Why is this day a holiday? Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He was both a pastor and a director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Sadly, he was assassinated in 1968 for inspiring our nation to persevere in opposing racial inequality. For exhorting us to love all people: red and yellow, black, and white.

The irony in these continuing discussions of racial reconciliation is that every conversation begins with an inaccuracy. How can we reconcile the races when only one race exists: the human race. We have a variety of ethnic groups, tribal identities, skin colors, and national affiliations, but only one race.

And the Bible tells us that in the eyes of our heavenly Father, everyone within this single human race who comes to Him through faith in Jesus Christ receives the right to become His child (John 1:12).

Someday, all His children will be worshiping around His throne, a diversity representing the creativity of our wonderful God:

And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God   persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

~ Revelation 5:9-12 (NIV)

Physical characteristics that divide us on earth will enhance the mosaic of praise before God’s throne. Until then, let’s remember Jesus does, indeed, love all God’s children. And let’s be intentional about practicing that love today.

In the Beginning – So What?
In the beginning

Talking about beginnings seems especially appropriate during the month of January. A new month. A new year. And in this case, a new decade.

The Bible also starts with “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). “In the beginning, God created….” We’ve heard those words so many times, they may have lost much of their impact.

Take a moment to think about it. God created the universe and everything in it, including the planets and the stars. And the way we think about those stars influences our perspective of the nature of God.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Problem is, many of us are not as impressed by the magnitude of the natural world as we once were. We live at a time in which humanity decides which planets meet the minimum standards to be called planets and which should be downgraded (think Pluto).

We teach children how to cut out paper stars, or maybe we recall doing that way back in kindergarten. And we’ve grown up on nursery rhymes such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Remember the sweet words from this poem by Jane Taylor?

Here’s the first verse:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

“Little star” and “Like a diamond.” No wonder we’re not impressed when we read that God made the stars and hung them in place (Job 9:9). Somewhere in the back of our mind is the image of a jeweler using tweezers to place a little diamond in its setting.

And because we’ve minimized stars in our thinking, the natural, although unintended, consequence is that we’ve minimized their Creator.

The Power of the Sun…and the God Who Created It

Time for a reality check. Consider the following statistics regarding the star at the center of our own solar system, otherwise known as the sun.

According to Wikipedia, “a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that…radiates into outer space.” Our own sun has a diameter of 864,000 miles of hot plasma and accounts for “99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System….converting 4 million tons of matter into energy every second.”

And all those other twinkling little stars in our night sky? Each one is a similar fireball in its own right. There’s nothing little about these stars and there’s nothing little about the God who created them in the beginning.

So what fireball are you facing in your life today? And even if you’re not facing a crisis now, what awaits you and me in this new year? Will you join me in committing to trust the One who hung the fireballs—aka stars—in space? If He can do that, He can certainly handle whatever we’ll be facing!

My One Word for 2020: Attentive
One Word - Attentive

Do you make new year’s resolutions? I used to, but they never lasted more than a few months at the most. A few years ago, I began adopting one word to focus on throughout the year as a substitute for resolutions. One word that would apply to multiple areas of my life. Each year, my “one word” for the new year became abundantly clear during the month of December.

This year my one-word for 2020 did not become clear until the end of December. For most of the month, it seemed as if the Lord was pointing me to two words: listen and focus. But neither stood out as the word. By December 28, I wondered if I was supposed to have a word for 2020. Perhaps I needed to take a year off.

Then it hit me with such clarity that I knew. I knew this was the word. I knew it because it took the two words I thought I was being led to and combined them.


To be attentive is to do more than just hear. It involves listening with focus—my two original words. To listen without mentally preparing a response. It involves processing with both my mind and my heart. To pay attention to not just spoken words but also to body language. And to the effects of the circumstances. Being attentive requires being in sync with the other person. And I need to become much better at doing these things in all the areas of my life.

A friend recently forwarded a meme to me. It was a picture of two ears placed side by side, forming the shape of a heart. The message noted the word “ear” is at the center of the word heart. And it said the way to someone’s heart is to listen to them.

  • Attentive to God
    I want to connect with the heart of God even more intimately in 2020. That means learning to be more attentive to the whispers and prompts of His Holy Spirit. It also means being attentive to His Word, for the Bible is my instruction book for life and for a relationship with Him.
  • Attentive to People
    This is an area I especially need to develop. To be attentive to the needs and desires of others. To weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. And to listen and respond with time and kindness in addition to material resources.
    My need in this area was highlighted a few days ago with a friend. We shared our “one word” with each other over lunch. After we arrived home, she moved to get in her car while I walked to the mailbox, not realizing she had asked a question. Sigh. An epic fail at being attentive before the new year had even begun!
  • Attentive to Myself
    This does not mean I intend to cultivate self-centeredness. It does mean paying attention to setting healthy boundaries. To rest when I need it. And in this season of loss that’s still fresh, to give myself permission to grieve as those moments continue to come and go.

Attentive. It has a somber ring, doesn’t it? I can almost hear my school teachers admonishing me, “Pay attention, Ava!” Yet when I shared this word with some friends, one person commented that I can be attentive…or I can be attentive with anticipation. I love how anticipation adds a note of joy to my one word.

Anticipatory attentiveness. Eagerly watching and listening for the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Reading God’s Word with anticipation for the treasures I’ll find. Waking each morning to view the new day with anticipation for the adventures it will bring.

Being attentive with anticipation for how the Lord is working in my life, even if I can’t always see it. Viewing unexpected events, not as interruptions to my agenda, but as activities woven into His plans for me. And anticipating the deepening of friendships.

This year I will be aware of my need to be attentive. And I purpose to do it with anticipation!

Do you adopt “one word” in place of resolutions? Share it in the comments!

Complaints About Christmas
Complaints about Christmas

You may be reading this on Thanksgiving, but complaints about Christmas already abound. Have you heard them?

Christmas has become too commercial!

  • Actually, this one isn’t really new. Remember the 1947 classic movie, Miracle on 34th Street? More than 70 years ago, people were complaining about Christmas commercialism. One of my favorite quotes from that movie is:

“Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same–don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.” ~ Alfred, the janitor at Macy’s in Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas is being ruined by the politically correct crowd!

  • “Merry Christmas” might offend someone, so how about “Happy Holidays”? If you don’t like that one, feel free to wish people a “Merry Coffee.” Yes, that phrase is now appearing on the cups of a certain national coffee chain.

We’ve lost the true spirit of Christmas!

  • What’s the true spirit of Christmas? Ask five people and you’ll receive six answers, and most of them are usually found in a Hallmark Christmas movie. The spirit of Christmas is Love. Giving. Family. In one Christmas movie, the spirit of Christmas is an actual spirit who hasn’t “crossed over” yet!

Perhaps you’ve shared these same complaints. Maybe you have a few of your own about the Christmas season.

We can dwell on the complaints or we can change our perspective and our behavior:

Instead of complaining about commercialism, just don’t buy into it (pun intended!). Declare your family gift exchange a “homemade zone.” All gifts must be homemade or services offered. No purchase required!

Instead of getting upset over politically correct greetings, extend a little grace. Perhaps the store employee is simply following her manager’s instructions. The next time someone wishes you a “Happy Holiday,” why not respond with a dose of kindness. I try to respond with, “Thank you. And if you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas!”

And the true spirit of Christmas? I love those Hallmark movies as much as anyone, but they miss the boat on this one. The spirit of Christmas isn’t any of the things usually mentioned. The spirit of Christmas is Jesus! All those other things—love, giving, family—they’re all made so much better because of the birth of the One who came to restore us to our heavenly Father.

So as we enter the Christmas season, the next time we feel the urge to complain, let’s just flip it around. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Grumbling about “those people who are tarnishing our Christmas celebration” won’t win them over and will only reinforce negative stereotypes about Christians.

When we reflect Christ to a hostile world, we proclaim the real reason for the season. Let’s start today!

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