Homeland: A Christmas Series

Homeland Part 1

When I was young in the mountains, I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world, for I was in the mountains. And that was always enough. (Cynthia Rylant, When I Was Young in the Mountains)

I have spoken to several men and women whom desire to live in a different place than where they are. Admittedly, several times in a given week or month, I am one of them. I often love the place I live and other moments I desire a grand adventure far, far away. This phenomena has prompted me to contemplate whether this is a perspective shared by historical accounts of men and women documented in the Bible. So far my search has turned up empty.

I believe the desire for novelty and adventure are good, and God-given, but I also wrestle with the reality that it can be a sign of ingratitude, discontent, and a blinding of my eyes to the mission God has given in the present, to the gifts of here and now. This Christmas God has guided my thoughts on the matter to the account of the shepherds and the wise men.

There are two groups of men that were called to worship and witness the Christ-child: the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds traveled walking distance to witness the new born King of Kings. These men, by vocation, were homebodies often sleeping among the sheep they guarded and never going far from their flock.

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  (Luke 2:17-18, ESV)

Conversely, the wise men traveled up to two years to witness the Messiah. Their journey started when they saw the star rise and set out to worship him.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasure, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11, ESV)

In considering the missions of both these two vastly different groups of men, a few similarities stand out:

  • Their mission was to find the Christ and worship Him.
  • They were given a sign to know that they had found the Messiah.
  • They obeyed their assignment.
  • Their response was worship and joy.

Whether shepherd or wise man, pauper or prince, native or foreigner, those that are in Christ Jesus are each traveling to the same homeland. They are each integral parts to the story of the world, redemption, and the promised restoration of God’s creation. We each work in our areas of influence so that it too can be said of us as the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11:

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:14-16, ESV, emphasis mine)

Shepherds heeded the heralding angels and the wise men followed the star; we are all called to follow the King. Each of us as part of the story should look to our homeland and work toward that same end. Let us find something in our surroundings today to be grateful for and to recognize the hand of God in our adventures near or far.

Have you encountered any men or women in the Bible who desired a grand adventure away from the place they were living? I would love to hear your answers if so. You can leave a comment below or e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com.


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What I Learned at My First Youth Pastor’s Conference


Sitting in the Hard Rock concert hall in Orlando, I contemplated the irony that my first youth pastor’s conference comes about eight months after our six year tenor as youth pastor and wife had officially ended. I further considered the hilarity that the “cool” students in youth groups  initially intimidate me nearly as much as the youth workers with swag!

After settling into my cushioned seat, along with my surroundings,  the people watching began. As workers and volunteers filed into the auditorium it didn’t take long for mommies and daddies carrying babies in infant backpacks to catch my attention.  I was instantly reminded:

The sacrifices and juggling youth pastors and their wives endure to meet the needs of students is one of the most unseen tasks of the ministry.

For moms partnering alongside their pastor husbands, babies bring love and logistical issues. The will, passions, and heart of the mother are oftentimes torn between the desire to be the visual, involved helpmate of her pastor husband. While loving my job and joy as a mother, I often struggled with the desire to experience all of the riches of youth ministry: trips, conferences, discipleship, after church meals and fellowships. However, the choices of: a. bring the kids and chase after them… and the youth, or b. find a sitter to pay while I enjoy ministry, were both less than ideal.

If you are in the midst of ministering to teens or are parents of teens, would you agree that at times this portion of ministry seems like the leach and daughters in Proverbs 30; always crying for more? As a youth pastor’s wife, I often felt this way. (I can say that now, although it is with great fear and trepidation even after running in a different lane of ministry for 8 months!) Youth ministry is demanding and the pace strenuous.

Please understand, I loved pouring our lives into the next generation. Our aim was to minister so that fully devoted disciples would be made to reach the nations and the generations with the gospel for the glory of Jesus Christ. However, there was an ongoing struggle, a wrestle if you will, with my flesh, our families needs, and the demands and desires to minister as God would have both of us do.

At this conference I learned very valuable ministry methods, was reminded of the global needs of God’s created world, and reviewed with speakers the true critical issues of youth ministry. But, perhaps the most valuable challenge for me specifically was the reminder to pray for youth pastor’s and specifically their wives.

Join me today in praying for the youth pastor’s wife in your church. I hope the bullet points below would be a good launch pad for your prayers.

  • Pray for God’s peace for the current pace they are running.
  • Pray for endurance and perserverance under stresses.
  • Pray that they will see the value in all tasks both the seen (ministering to and with teens and adult workers) and the unseen (ministering to their husband within the home).
  • Pray for peer friendships and women to pour into them.
  • Pray for peace when she cannot go with him on trips.
  • Pray for God to guard and guide their marriage relationship.
  • Pray for their children and the faith and Christian worldview to come to full fruition in their lives.



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