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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Chef Ramsey and the Love of God

My son recently got me to watch an episode of "Kitchen Disasters" with Chef Ramsey.  I have since watched at least ten of them (thanks to Netflix!).  Once I adjusted to the non-stop swearing, I found that I loved the show for a variety of reasons.  I wondered how my ministry and my leadership would hold up to an honest inspection by someone like Gordon Ramsey.  It woke me up to the fact that I had adopted many of the attitudes and practices that were undermining the success of these restaurants.  Unexpectedly, I also found in Chef Ramsey a type of Christ.  He showed up at highly dysfunctional restaurants and redeemed them, just as Christ enters our often highly dysfunctional lives and transforms them for our good.  Here are a few of the spiritual lessons I gleaned from the show.

1. God is for me.  Even though Chef Ramsey was clearly there to help, most people were too proud to listen to him.  They didn't want him to change their lives, they just wanted him to make their restaurant profitable.  I thought to myself.  How often am I just like that with Jesus?  He is for me, not against me.  He is there to help, yet I find myself fighting against what he wants to do with my life.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that doing things his way will ruin everything! I have my own dreams and my own inept way of doing things that I have gotten used to.  Sure, I want him to help me make my life work better, but I don't want him to change much - just tell me what a great "cook" I am and fix a few problems with the management of my life.  Chef Ramsey was blunt, decisive, and refused to back down, but it was because he was "for" these people.  He wanted more than just for their restaurants to work.  He wanted their lives to work.  Is Jesus any less concerned for us?

2. God calls us to repentance because he loves us.  Chef Ramsey was stubborn enough to deal with stubborn people.  A weaker person would have been over run by the huge anger and entrenched pride of some of these owners.  In a similar way, Jesus is the most stubborn person I know.  He has a stubborn love and he refuses to compromise with the stupidity in my life that is leading me to destruction.  He will let me do things my way but he is unbending with the consequences - unless I am willing to repent.  I saw this in every episode.  At some point, people would come to their senses, realize the chef was there to help and repent.  They would change their attitudes, humble themselves, and start moving in a new direction.  The one's who did, all made a success of their businesses.  The one's who didn't crashed and burned anyway.  I think it is like that with Jesus.  When he calls us to repent, he does it out of love.  He is for us.  He wants to see us build a life that works - an "abundant" life.

3. God calls us to forgive because he wants us to have joy in our relationships.  One of the unexpected themes of this show was the commitment to helping people forgive and move on.  Chef Ramsey proved to be an excellent listener and did a great job of validating emotions.  He was also relentless in making people deal with the issues that divided them not only as staff, but as families. In most episodes, the relational transformation brought about by honestly clearing the air and choosing to forgive was the turning point that made everything else work.  Without this, he didn't feel comfortable making the significant investment necessary to help them relaunch their restaurants.  I think God looks at it the same way.  He wants us to forgive because he wants to restore our relationships and help us find joy together as we pursue his kingdom.  

All of this also reminded me of what Jesus said in Revelation 3:19.  This verse is often neglected simply because the one that follows it is so famous ("Behold, I stand at the door and knock . . .").  It is also a verse that does not translate easily into English.  Let's take a look.

"Those Jesus loves (phileo)" - this is not the word agape which refers to the love that flows out of our character.  This is the word phileo from which we get "brotherly love."  It is a term of affection.  You might render this phrase, "Because Jesus feels such strong affection for you."  It is a good way of saying, "Jesus is for you, not against you."  I wonder how many of us believe that.

"He corrects and trains" - some versions render this, "He rebukes and disciplines" which has a much harsher feel to it.  One of the characteristics of the "Kitchen Disasters" show was the very blunt "correction" Chef Ramsey gave to the owners.  He told them when the food they thought was so great was below standard and unacceptable.  He also told them plainly which practices and attitudes were ruining their chances of success.  In the same way Jesus can seem harsh as he stubbornly confronts areas of our lives that are below standard and unacceptable.  But he is not doing this to punish us, shame us, or ruin our lives.  Nor is he doing this because he is on an ego trip.  He truly wants to help us change and this can't happen until we say about our issues what he says.  This is the meaning of confession - "to speak in agreement with."

The word "training" is a very specific word in Greek.  It is paideuo.  It refers to the work of training a child, breaking them of bad habits and building in them the skills to excel at the tasks of life. Again, it is the work of someone who is for us, of someone who wants us to succeed and knows that some firm guidance will be needed to help us get there.  I think of a personal trainer or a coach who pushes you past what you think you can do, but later you thank them for it.

"Be zealous therefore and repent." - The word zeal is related to passion.  One of the things I loved about Chef Ramsey's approach to helping people was his commitment to helping them rekindle their passion for what they were doing.  In the same way, Jesus wants us to live with zeal.  He wants us to love what we are doing so that we "do it with all our hearts."  Christ's call to repent is an impassioned plea to let him help us turn things around before we destroy ourselves.  One of the reasons so many people find Christ when their life falls apart is that it takes something dramatic to make them realize the path they are on isn't taking them where they wanted to go.  As the Proverb says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."

When we put this altogether, we get a verse that reads, "Because Jesus feels such strong affection for you, he tells you plainly what you are doing wrong.  He then re-trains you as if you were a child who had never been equipped and disciplined to succeed in life.  He wants you to find your passion and repent of those things that are killing your heart and keeping you from experiencing and enjoying his love for you.

When I turned on the show "Kitchen Disasters," I wasn't expecting it to change my life.  I certainly wasn't expecting it to change my view of Christ, or teach me about the love of God, but it did.  I got to watch this flawed human with a big heart do for others exactly what Jesus wants to do for each one of us.

It may look like God is against you.  You may be mad at Him.  Many of the restaurant owners were mad at Chef Ramsey before they saw the results of what he was really doing for them.  There is no question that life can be unfair.  But be assured of this, however, God is for you.  When he calls you to repentance and forgiveness, He wants to restore your life, break you out of your misguided routines, and give your life a makeover that will restore your passion and grow your joy. That's just the sort of God He is.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Building a Happy Marriage

I thought about calling this blog, “Five Habits of Highly Successful Marriages.”  In 2013 I am scheduled to lead six marriage retreats and teach at two conferences on marriage and family relationships.  This blog offers a concise summary of the five key lessons I will be teaching on these occasions.  

1     Happiness/Joy.  The essence of joy is being happy to be together.  You can think of joy as a gift you give to someone else.   The gift of joy starts with the mindset that “I’m not going to wait until you are happy to be with me, before I am happy to be with you.”  In biblical terms, “I am going to treat you the way I would want to be treated.”   Here are four practical ways to offer the gift of joy in your marriage.  

2    Appreciation.  The two most powerful forces in any relationship are appreciation and resentment.  Appreciation builds joy and intimacy.  Resentment ruins relationships.   Heart-felt appreciation expresses in words what it is about the other person that gives you a warm feeling when you think of them.  Take time to think of those moments in the past when you have had a warm feeling of appreciation about this person and share that with them.  

3    Resentment.  It is easy to develop a view of other people that is built on resentment.  When this happens, our image of the other person gets distorted and we lose our joy in being with them.  Resolving resentments quickly is a crucial habit to cultivate in any joyful relationship.  We resolve resentment primarily through forgiveness and through taking thoughts captive.  Learning to recognize when resentment is taking root helps us deal with it quickly and can save us a boat load of heartache.  

4    Preparation.  In a real sense, romance is about preparation.  The time you take to prepare relational experiences shows people that you have been thinking about them and how much value they have to you.  One example of this is preparing to meet your spouse after work.  I know one man who made it a habit to stop at the park on the way home from work.  He just took about two minutes to let go of the day’s events and prepare himself to meet his wife with joy.  Little moments of preparation like this can go a long way to infusing marriages with joy.

5    Spirituality.  An important aspect to maintaining joy and happiness in marriage is developing the habits that let you replenish your joy through your relationship with God.  No matter how much you love someone, that one person is not divine.  They cannot supply you with all of the joy that you need to deal with life.  In fact, sometimes you need extra joy, just to deal with them!  Learning to see God as someone who is happy to be with you is crucial to your own spirituality and to your ability to renew the joy you need for the investment required by marriage.  
In my next blog, I will talk more about taking thoughts captive and offer some practical advice on how to do that. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The “It” Factor: Building Leadership Maturity

It is one thing to identify immaturity as the leading cause of leadership failure.  It is quite another to grow maturity.  The purpose of this blog is to tackle that topic, and set forth a course for progress.  Here are six elements of building maturity. You can remember them with the word BETTER: 

  • Build authentic relationships.
  • Engage in emotional healing for wounds of the past. 
  • Tear down strongholds that have taken you captive. 
  • Take thoughts captive. 
  • Establish new routines. 
  • Recharge your relational connection with God 
    Build authentic relationships.  

      At the 2012 Deeper Walk Conference, John Lynch made the point that secrecy is sin’s greatest ally.  He told the story of a night when a fight at home, a tempting invitation, and the weakness of the flesh conspired to lure him into a potentially tragic decision.  As he was in the car driving, he called a friend and told him of the battle that was raging inside of him.  Simply exposing the temptation robbed it of its power, and he was able to get back to being himself.  The story makes you think.  Do you have friends like that?  Do you have friends you can call at a moment’s notice to share when darkness is threatening to do you in? 

Engage in emotional healing for wounds of the past. 

Trauma is the primary cause of emotional immaturity.  That being the case, it stands to reason that without emotional healing for that trauma, we are going to stay stuck.  In his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero relates his story of how unresolved trauma nearly cost him his marriage and his ministry.  One of the keys to healing for this successful pastor was learning to integrate his emotional life with his devotional life.  In a sense, he began to practice listening prayer in relationship to his emotional life and not just his ministry life.  

Listening prayer is a huge part of emotional healing.  At Deeper Walk we promote the Immanuel Prayer method developed by Karl Lehman (  I also have a booklet on the topic called REAL Prayer: A guide to emotional healing.   REAL is an acrostic to help remember four steps in the path of listening prayer related to pain in the past: Remember. (Lord, help me remember whatever You want to heal today.Explore. (Lord, bring to mind what I need to remember about that experience and show me the lies that Satan planted in my heart because of that wound.Ask. (I invite Jesus to make His presence known in that memory and do whatever He needs to do to bring healing to it.)  Listen.  (Look and listen to see what the Lord wants to show you that can bring healing to that memory.)  While these methods can be extremely effective, the important point here is that you engage in a process.  You can’t just ignore the past and hope it goes away. 

Tear down strongholds that have taken you captive. 

Spiritual bondage is a major obstacle to leadership success.  Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?  Yet it is surprising how many Christian leaders are blind to the bondage in their lives, or feel helpless to change.  Deeper Walk International was founded as a ministry that focused primarily on helping people in this area.  Mark Bubeck founded this ministry based on the teachings in his books The Adversary and Overcoming the Adversary.   Today, we offer a variety of resources on the topic of spiritual warfare.  My book What Every Believer Should Know About Spiritual Warfare is a good place to start.  We also recommend using Neil T. Anderson’s Steps to Freedom in Christ as a guide for tearing down strongholds. 

Take thoughts captive.

How important is the mind to leadership success?  If your life is being driven by lies, what kind of impact do you think that will have on the way you live?  I find it helpful now and then to ask God to show me in words or pictures what lies Satan is trying to get me to believe.  I did this recently, and I saw myself standing at the edge of a cliff holding onto a rope with a person dangling over the edge on the other end of the line.  I lacked the strength to pull the person to safety, so I was stuck, just holding the rope, waiting, and getting really tired.   The picture symbolized a counseling relationship I was in where I felt very much over my head.  When I asked the Lord to show me His truth, I sensed that His hand was underneath this person.  Their success/failure was not totally up to me.  I also sensed that He was standing beside me wanting to help, but that I was blind to His presence.  Taking thoughts captive is about exposing Satan’s lies and replacing them with God’s truth.  The wrong thoughts can paralyze us with fear or puff us up with pride or blind us in anger or depression so that we do not operate on a foundation of truth.  The results can be catastrophic. 

Establish new routines.

I have found that if I want to establish a new habit I need a coach.  I don’t think I have ever successfully implemented any lasting life change without two things: a coach and a team (or at least a partner.)  In high school I decided to take up tennis.  First, I went to a two week tennis camp.   It turned out that a friend of mine also went to that camp.  We started playing together every day.  We got good enough that I decided to try out for the school team.  I started playing with other players who were better than me, so did my friend.  We took some more lessons.  After just a two summers of this, we both made the school tennis team.  John Maxwell has said, “Decision making is over-rated.  It is decision management that counts.”  He is right.  I made progress in my tennis game because I got coaching, I had a partner, and I joined a team.  This gave me the structure and guidance I needed to make the changes that needed to occur.  In a similar way, Cloud and Townsend have written that discipline is not something you simply choose to have.  It has to be developed.  You need people who will help you create the structures that will teach you discipline until a habit is established and you have learned discipline. 

Recharge your relational connection with God.

A lack of authentic relationships, unresolved emotional baggage, spiritual bondage, lies in our thinking, and undisciplined living all tend to undermine our walk with God.  Thanks to the grace of God, we are still loved and accepted, no matter how much we seem to be sinking into the abyss of mediocrity.  However, the purpose of grace is not to put a stamp of approval on our foolish decisions and our ignorance.  It is to keep the lifeline of relationship available to us in every situation.  Legalism teaches us that we have to earn God’s acceptance by our performance.  License teaches us that our performance has no consequences.  The key to personal success in life is our ability to stay relationally connected with God.  Jesus said it simply, “I am the vine. You are the branches.  Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  To a great extent, maturity is measured by our ability to remain relational with Christ regardless of our circumstances. 

There is a reason that God designed time to be experienced in cycles.  Every new cycle is a reminder to seek Him.  There is a sunrise and a sunset every day.  They remind us that He is there.  There is a Sabbath every week to be set aside for seeking God.  There is a new moon every month to remind us to set aside time for Him.  There are seasons every year so that we can set our calendar around the worship of our Creator.  If we will build our lives around the patterns God has built into creation, we will build our lives around Him.  Each new cycle is an opportunity for a fresh start with God.  What do you say?  Are you ready to dive in and start the process of growing your maturity?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The “It” Factor: separating good leaders from great ones

Leadership is a hot topic in the evangelical world.  Every pastor I know has read at least a dozen books on the subject.  Personally, I have had a love/hate relationship with leadership.  All of my life people have put me in positions of leadership: captain of the basketball team, class president, president of the Latin club in high school and the Greek club in college, and so forth.  I did a pastoral internship for a full year as part of my seminary training and spent four years on staff at two different churches as an assistant pastor.  But when it came time for me to step into the role of senior pastor, I was lost.  I had no idea how to lead.  

Most of my preparatory leadership roles were more like honorary titles.  I started reading John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard, Bill Hybels, Dale Carnegie . . . I even read Winnie-the-Pooh on Management! I went to leadership conferences and sought out leadership mentors.  In spite of all this I struggled as a leader, and now I think I know why.   I was missing the “it” factor in personal leadership. 

The “it” factor can be summed up in one word: maturity.  Looking back on my ministry experience, I realize that I was serving in “elder” level roles with only child level emotional maturity.  As a result, I spent much of my time overwhelmed by what I was trying to do.  Overwhelmed people tend to be avoidant, angry, and addicted.  That was me, though I hid it the best that I could. 

Maturity is the capacity to act like an adult in every situation you face.  Mature people do not wear masks.  They remain relational under stress.  They return to joy from upset emotions.  They endure trials with grace.  They are a rare breed. 

R.  Return to joy from upset emotions rather than getting stuck in and defined by those negative emotions
A. Act like themselves instead of wearing masks
R. Remain relational under stress instead of blowing up or shutting down
E. Endure trials without turning into someone else (like a little kid)

Most of what I know about maturity as a concept, I learned from Jim Wilder.  If you are familiar with his book The Life Model or any of his other training materials, you will recognize a lot of the terminology I am using. 

I am convinced that the single greatest crisis in evangelical leadership today is a lack of personal maturity.  I had a great résumé.  B.A. (magna cum laude), M.Div. (cum laude), Th.M., D.Min., I had taught Old Testament and Theology at a Christian College, served on staff at three churches and grew up in a leadership family.  I had been involved in successful ministries at almost every stage of my journey.  But a great résumé is not necessarily a predictor of ministry success. 

Personal maturity is built at three levels.  Level 1) Grace.  In the early years of life we are supposed to receive a grace foundation for life.  People love us because of who we are and not because of how we perform.  We are accepted whether we fail or not and develop strong relational bonds with those around us, so we feel the freedom to be ourselves rather than pressure to perform in order to earn acceptance.  This is grace. 

Level 2) Wisdom.  Biblically speaking, wisdom consists of two core elements: discernment and discipline.  Discernment is the ability to distinguish between good and evil (particularly what is good for me and what is bad for me.)  Discipline is the capacity to say no to the evil and yes to the good.  During our childhood years, we are supposed to build wisdom on the foundation of grace we have received.  We learn the skills we are going to need in order to succeed at life.  Relational skills, life skills, and with them a sense of identity that is rooted in grace and fostered by a growing capacity to handle the trials of life. 

Level 3) Responsibility. As an adult we assume responsibility for ourselves.  We should no longer be dependent on our parents to get us through life; we should be able to stand on our own.  We not only need to learn how to take responsibility for ourselves, we need to grow in our capacity to take responsibility for others.  Mature people find win-win scenarios.  Immature people always seek to meet their own needs first.  As a result they tend to use people rather than form healthy bonds with them. 

In my next blog I will discuss what leaders need to do to grow capacity and develop maturity. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Self-Worth vs. Relational Joy

I had a conversation with a friend the other day that got me thinking about the topic of self-worth.  It is common in psychological circles to view self-worth as the most fundamental of human needs.  I would disagree with that assessment.  Self-worth is a by-product, not a foundation.  The core need of the human heart is not self-worth, but relational joy. 
Over the past several years Jim Wilder has had a tremendous amount of influence on my thinking.  His book The Life Model  has given me a new vocabulary for discussing the human condition.  One of the core concepts of his model is the idea of relational joy.  He describes it as knowing that someone is happy to be with you.  One of the hallmarks of maturity is the ability to return to joy from upset emotion and the ability to share joy with others even during trials. 
Within the Trinity we see an eternal experience of relational joy.  Prior to our creation Father, Son, and Spirit were happy to be together.  The concept of the Trinity is superior to the Islamic view of monotheism precisely because it presents a God who is love.  God has always experienced and shared love within Himself.  When God created humans, He created them to be relational beings.  When mankind fell, the punishment was exile.  God sent them from the garden and away from the intimacy they shared with Him.  The Gospel does not promise us self-worth, but reconciliation.  Eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ.  The heart of the Gospel is relationship.  We were put here on this earth to walk with God in meaningful relationship. 
Out of joyful relationship comes self-worth.  The essence of self-worth is knowing that God and others are happy to be with you regardless of your behavior.  I am convinced that one of the great tragedies in the church today is that so many people are fear-bonded to God.  They do not believe that He is happy to be with them.  Or, they believe that He is only happy to be with them when they have earned His favor.   It is impossible to have a good sense of self-worth if you do not think God is happy to see you. 
Our adversary the devil understands this well.  It is no wonder that one of his primary strategies is to get us to believe lies about God that warp our image of Him and rob us of the joy that should be ours when we relate to Him.  The distortion brought on by Satan’s lies kills our connection with God and robs us of the joy that would be ours.  Thus, the “father of lies” “steals, kills, and destroys” the joy in our walk with God and the sense of self-worth that flows from a joyful relationship. 
If you struggle with your sense of self-worth, I encourage you to start by looking at your beliefs about God.  I am not talking about your beliefs as you would write them in a paper or the answers you would give on a theology test, but the beliefs you believe in your heart.  Ask God to reveal the lies that Satan has succeeded in planting in your heart.  Look at them carefully.  Recognize the war that has been waged on your heart.  Then renounce those lies and ask the Lord to show you the truth.  It can set you free and set you on the path to the type of relational joy that produces self-worth. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Psalm I Used to Hate

I used to hate Psalm 91.  It felt like a bald-faced lie - particularly verses seven and ten. 

o     v. 7 “A thousand may fall at your side; ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” 
o     v. 10 “No harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” 

Psalm 91 seemed to promise universal protection from every imaginable danger.  Yet this is clearly not true.  Who doesn’t know someone or has not themselves experienced great tragedy in this life? It often seems that pestilence not only comes near some tents.  It runs over them and burns them to the ground! 

Two observations changed my mind about this text.  First, God’s promise at the end of the Psalm is this: “I will be with you in trouble.”  This Psalm can’t be a promise that you will never face trouble, if God is with you in it.  In fact, a second look at the Psalm shows that this person expects all kinds of trouble!  Arrows are flying, thousand are dying, and pestilence is stalking . . . this is not a walk in the park!  Second, the Psalm is not about protection.  It is about deliverance.  God’s deliverance takes at least three forms.

(1)   He is a refuge during the trouble.  Just as David fled to the caves of En Gedi when Saul was seeking his life, so we may flee to the presence of God, when trouble strikes.  We do this when we choose to trust Him in spite of the trouble that has overtaken us.  In v. 2 the Psalmist writes, “I will say to Yahweh, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’”   

(2)   He lifts us out of our trial in the end.  In v. 14 we read that God will lift us up out of our problems.  The NIV mistranslates the verb “to lift up” as “to protect” us.  This poor translation creates the wrong impression about the Psalm.  When we read that God will protect us, we tend to believe this means He will never let us feel pain, or at least immense pain.  However, it is more accurate to say that God will not leave s in our pain forever.  He will lift us up.  He will deliver. 

(3)   He leads us to a place of blessing.  At the end of our journey we will be able to look back and see how God provided for us, was present with us, and brought us to a place of blessing.  Ultimately, the end of the story cannot be discovered until we reach the age to come and see this life from the perspective of paradise. 

I now find Psalm 91 a source of great comfort because I do not see it is a promise of protection from pain, but a promise of God’s presence at all times, His provision of a refuge during the storms, and ultimately His redemption and restoration of that which the evils of this life have stolen.  He just wants me to trust Him that He is there and He has a plan. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Luke's Christmas Story: The Theme of Poverty

God's compassion for the poor is a central theme of Luke's Christmas story. Consider the elements Luke chose to include in his narrative:
  1. Mary's song stresses that God's heart in sending His Son into the world was to exalt the lowly and care for the hungry (1:30). Mary's Son was coming to bring hope to the poor. 
  2. Mary and Joseph offered birds as their sacrifice after Mary's required time of purification (Luke 2:22-24). This was the sacrifice required of the poor (Leviticus 12:8). God chose to send His Son into the world to a family in poverty.  
  3. Shepherds were God's chosen witnesses for this dramatic event. In first century Israel, shepherds did not rank very high on the social ladder. In those days, at least two groups of people were barred from giving testimony in a court of law. One was shepherds; the other was women. According to a respected source (Strack-Billerbeck)  "Shepherds were despised people. They were suspected of not being very careful to distinguish 'mine' and 'thine'; for this reason, too, they were debarred from giving evidence in court." It is interesting that God chose shepherds to witness the birth of His Son, and women to witness His resurrection. 
  4. Elizabeth was barren, Simeon was elderly, and Anna the prophetess was a widow. Luke consistently portrays God as caring for those the world forgets and often abuses. This may be one reason he omitted the story of the magi. It did not fit his purpose of highlighting God's concern for the poor.  
As a doctor, Luke had a special place in his heart for the sick, the hurting, and the poor. Throughout his Gospel he returns to the theme of Christ's compassion for and elevation of the poor. This in itself was confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah. For it was foretold that the Messiah would "heal the broken-hearted" and "set the captives free." In fact, Luke highlights this passage from Isaiah as the mission statement by which Jesus lived.  

In chapter 4 Luke includes the story of how Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah and read from chapter 61.  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," He read. Luke intentionally connects these opening words to the baptism of Jesus. At His baptism, Jesus was anointed by the Spirit who came upon Him that day (3:22). Jesus was then led by the Spirit into the desert (4:1), returned from the desert in the power of the Spirit (4:14), and then read this text about the Spirit of the Lord being upon Him (4:17). Luke used selection and arrangement to help us see that Jesus was indeed "the Anointed One" which from the Hebrew is "the Messiah" and from the Greek is "the Christ."  

For Luke, the anointing of Jesus is further proof that He is the promised Messiah. But he goes beyond that.  His selection of stories and details point us to the fact that the purpose of the anointing was to heal the broken-hearted and to set the captives free.  

At Christmas time, our hearts should naturally turn toward those who are less fortunate than we are. God places "the poor" in everyone's life so that we can be Jesus to them.