One Extraordinary Night

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

It started out just as another ordinary night.

Nothing special.

The usual routine.

Shepherds watching over their flocks.

They humbly and industriously went about the business of their calling. Performing the mundane. The routine.

That's where God meets us most often.

Shepherding had a lowly place and shepherds were considered social outcasts. However, they were no ordinary shepherds. And that was no ordinary night. They had been chosen for a divine appointment scheduled from the beginning of time.

Stationed on the hills outside of Bethlehem, these men were Temple shepherds. Their skillful care ensured that there would be unblemished lambs to sacrifice to God each morning and evening in the Jerusalem Temple not far away.

They lived outside in the fields with their flocks watching for thieves and predatory animals. Working in shifts, some protected the flocks while others rested. All was as it should be that night. Nothing seemed out of place.

Being social outcasts of the day, the rabbis looked down their noses at shepherds. They despised shepherds as next door heathens. Perceived as untrustworthy, shepherds were not allowed to give testimony in court.

But that’s not how God saw them.

God passed over the self-important, the High Priest, Herod the Great, the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the politicians, Rome, and Jerusalem.

God was coming - and not just for important people. He came to the shepherds. He came for you. He came for me.

These shepherds didn’t realize they were about to hear the heavenly announcement that would change the course of all eternity. A night unlike any other in all Creation. One evening destined to change the history of the world.

These shepherds would be eye witnesses and give testimony to a story full of wonder. God, contained in the body of a newborn, descended. So that one day we could ascend.

One remarkable,

     stunning,

          amazing,

               astonishing,

                    life-changing,

                         God-saving,

                              extraordinary night.

How will you celebrate it?
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What Christians Can Learn From Cats

Two adorable tabby cats reside in my home. Notice I didn't say that I "own" two tabby cats. To know cats is to understand the ridiculousness of that notion.

In recent weeks, I have spent an inordinate amount of time sequestered at home in the evenings writing toward a deadline. This gave me plenty of time to observe my cats' daily routines. Surprisingly, a few of their habits provided a new perspective when viewed through the lens of our Christian walk. Perhaps you can relate:

1) Cats operate methodically and purposefully. Cats waste no excess energy. They decide what they need and how to obtain it with uber efficiency. But they have fun along the way batting at each other's tails.

Do we tend to take the long route and procrastinate when it comes to serving God? Does focused time mean we surpress the joy of the journey itself?

2) Cats rest when they're tired. Granted, cats sleep a solid 21 hours a day, but their pattern intrigued me. They would play hard together, then 10 minutes later I'd find them sound asleep. An hour later, the cycle would start again.

Do we far exceed exhaustion at times to accomplish what God has called us to do? Burn out and exhaustion can be deadly in spiritual warfare.

3) Cats know how to get your attention. Regardless of my location in the house, if they desired attention, they found a way to get it. At one point, Sophie (left) plopped on my lap desk and stared me down until I paid attention to her. Later, she helped me with the laundry. Handy, isn't she? Ginger (top) performs tricks to get me to scratch her belly. But whether I was writing, resting, or walking into another room, they made sure I remained in their line of sight. If I didn't, they came looking for me.

When we're juggling 50 things at once, what does God need to do to get our attention? I don't know about you, but sometimes it takes pain for me to change something. Whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically, pain gets our attention. God desires to remain in our line of sight at all times. No matter how far we stray, He always pursues us in love.

My cats live a charmed life. You and I do not always operate under such a charmed existence. But once we wholeheartedly submit our lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior, an amazing life awaits us for all eternity.

So, is it just me, or can we learn something from cats?
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