Advent Devotions: Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

Advent Devotions:  Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

We would give up everything we've ever written to have penned this one verse, a stanza that comes as close as is humanly possible to capturing the splendor of who Jesus is. 
Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, p. 173-174

What is that one verse? that one stanza?  Authors Sweet & Viola are referring to the last stanza of the well-known carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.

In my opinion, however, it isn't just the last stanza that is all glorious with the splendor of Christ...it's the entire song. In fact, even the stanzas that were removed* from the older version are splendid indeed.  But I'm getting ahead of the story.

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2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

2nd Week of Advent:  the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

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My Mother-in-law's Sifter: Remembering Betty Jean

My Mother-in-law's Sifter: Remembering Betty Jean

It was sixteen years ago now ... that day when we unboxed the items my mother-in-law was discarding because of her need to downsize. Betty Jean Loyd was moving to a senior community, states away from where she had lived most of her adult life and where she had married a man and raised an only son.

At 80 years of age, Betty Jean, an only child herself, knew that she needed to be near us, her only family. So we helped her dispose of her discarded things.

And there it was -- her sifter!

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Advent Devotions: The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Advent Devotions:  The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Joy is the flag that flies over the soul when the King is in residence!Chuck Swindoll

Several years ago, I was leading a small group of ladies through Paul's letter to the Galatians.  In chapter 5, we came to a familiar passage:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self control. Galatians 5:22-23

Julie was in that small group that year, and Julie was from Great Britain.  I asked her about Chuck's metaphor.  She assured me that it was true.  When royalty is in residence at the palace, the flag flies. It's the signal to the "subjects" that their monarch is present.

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Social Anxiety? This is the time of Year!

Social Anxiety? This is the time of Year!

So here we are...at a time when it seems that all social occasions(all right, slight exaggeration) are squeezed into, at best, a four week space...your spouse's office Christmas party, the kids' school programs and parties, neighborhood open houses, family in-law, and what may be worse, "out-law" gatherings, and what did I miss? But you get the picture.

And all of this on top of our own preparations of cleaning, decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping...

And did I mention the heart preparation of Advent, peace on earth, joy in the Lord, scripture, song, prayer?

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First Week of Advent: O Come, O Come, Immanuel

First Week of Advent: O Come, O Come, Immanuel

When I was a child, I always loved Advent.  There was a melancholia, a longing...but mixed at the same time with anticipation and hope. How did I get all that as a child?  I'm sure I didn't, except to say that maybe all the sights and sounds and smells...all the scriptures and songs and prayers and stories of the "liturgical celebration" weren't entirely lost on me, nor on many of you.  The reality of our God-Man Jesus has grown in me over the years as I've walked and talked with my Savior.

But whether you have had that sort of background as a child or not, why not journey with us these next weeks.  Take it all in as if for the first time...all the sights, sounds, and smells...all the scriptures and songs and prayers and stories.

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Getting Ready for Advent ... I Need it!

Getting Ready for Advent ... I Need it!

Hi friends, 

Are you going into this holiday craziness season already shot? worn out? blank?

Really? Me too!

Some of you have walked through "the valley of the shadow..." of something. Big stuff or small. But even the small, piles up to make a big burden.

Would you like to pause with me these next weeks and reflect? Reflect on the God who became one of us ... not just to save, sanctify, and bring us into His glory (as crucial as that is), but also to experience humanness with His beloved creatures.

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Overflowing with Gratitude

Overflowing with Gratitude

When I used to teach language and writing to GED students, we would do an exercise together as a class to practice writing a five paragraph essay.

As the end of November approached, I usually chose the topic of Thanksgiving.  I thought that in this age of entitlement it might be a double "win" for the students to count their blessings and practice their writing.

So to prepare for my lesson, I sent out an email to friends and colleagues for quotes about being thankful.  I received some great ones!

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There's Something to say for Caring and Commitment -- 45 Years Together

There's Something to say for Caring and Commitment -- 45 Years Together

Marriage is a curious thing ... each year can be very different than the one before. This has been no less true for us and this, our 45th year of marriage.

An interesting year, this 45th. It began with my 91 y.o. mom's home going (so hard!); then the publication and launch of my book The With-ness of our God (so exciting!); and in February, retirement ... for both of us (the jury is still out!)

Smooth sailing at first, then upheaval over a home renovation project going south, house in total disarray because of the work being done ... feeling like never ending. On top of it all, the "new normal" impossible to find.

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An Unexpected Grief

An Unexpected Grief

There I was, sitting at the stop light. All of a sudden, an overwhelming grief ... not primarily for my mom who died an exact year before, almost to the day. No, for my dad ... who had died in 1983 right before Thanksgiving.

But why am I grieving now ... why this year, when I hadn't thought of him at this time other years?

I tried to track my train of thought and realized that my thoughts had gone from grieving over my mistakes in my parenting to the difficulties in my own childhood home.

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Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder

Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder

... God has made everything beautiful for its own time. 
Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

During a recent visit with our lovely daughter and family, I was walking on "my path" on the Dover Air Force Base.

I love my path! There are walkers and their dogs, playing children and military "manifestations" (like signs written in military rather than civilian time), and best of all, safety and well-cared for walking areas. But for as many times as I have walked my path, I wasn't prepared for the delightful, though shocking, surprise on the day in question.

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"All of God in all of me"

"All of God in all of me"

In recounting her journey to Christ as a young college student, Jill Briscoe tells of a little nurse who led her to the Lord during a hospital stay. The night Jill was saved and every night thereafter,  that wise little nurse encouraged her to go to sleep saying:

All of God in all of me.

Jill says, as a result of that truth etching itself in her mind and heart, she never doubted that when she received Christ, she had gotten all there is of God. 

... If the spirit is a person, then you can't receive a "bit" of the Spirit, just as you can't receive only a part of a person. So I had been given all of God I was going to get ...*
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Hitting Rock Bottom

Hitting Rock Bottom

Take a look around you. We are hitting rock bottom in this country. Our politics is a mess. There is moral bankruptcy all around. And then there is suffering in this world rivaling the Holocaust! Actually, we have been hitting rock bottom for a long time, haven't we? 

And maybe you have been hitting rock bottom personally also.

There's that serious diagnosis, that turmoil in a relationship, that financial reversal, that heart-shattering rejection. Or maybe it's having heard once too often those inner, harassing voices telling you "you are nothing, no one loves you, no one will ever love you." You are at the end of your trying, the end of your own resources.

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Craig's Song: I Am Waiting for the Dawning . . .

Craig's Song: I Am Waiting for the Dawning . . .

The beauty of aging is that long-term memory starts to kick in (don't ask me what I had for breakfast!).

And that's what happened in the midst of a hard time, a sweet yet bitter time, when many gathered to share our corporate sadness, yet rejoicing, at the graduation to glory of our dear brother and friend Craig Steffen.

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Touch Jesus . . . Touch Life

Touch Jesus . . . Touch Life

Years ago I had a mentor-friend named Donna.  She was the one the Lord used to usher me into experiencing Christ in me as the One who does the doing in the Christian life!  Her key phrase was (as I remember it) "God does it."

Then by the Spirit of God came the realization that my indwelling Lord Jesus Christ is my All in All!  He is the Father's Ultimate Gift to me...no-thing else, no-thing more!

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

 

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The Stabilizing Focus of a Morning Prayer

The Stabilizing Focus of a Morning Prayer

Oh, life has been full of losses lately...deaths, illnesses, failures. And these during and after times of refreshment with loved ones and beaches and the simplicity of Amish peaceful countryside. 

As a result, I am reflecting, revisiting, and responding in new ways to previous thoughts...some of which have already been shared. Forgive me. But if you would like to listen in, here is my meditation:

Life is a mix, a conglomeration.
There is confusion and clarity, flailing and focus, excruciating pain and exquisite peace.
There is bitterness and sweetness, strength and fragility, "rugged seas" and "smooth sailing."

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Why? Why one but not the other?

Why? Why one but not the other?

While my husband and I made our way to the East Coast to spend time with our daughter and family, grandsons, my own siblings and their families, word came to us of the sudden death of our friend Craig. Shock beyond words! Grief and heart-break for our friend Cindy, his dear wife as well as for ourselves and all those who have known him and loved him. No time for prayer, beseeching, begging!

Then a few days later, word came of my friend Linda, who had just suffered a stoke at 73 years of age...

So that's always the dilemma.

WHY? Why one and not the other?

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Grief and Joy and Love and Life: for a Friend in the Loss of Her Beloved

Grief and Joy and Love and Life: for a Friend in the Loss of Her Beloved

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name... 
Isaiah 54:5

My dear friend,

I heard a song and I thought of you!

I remembered a poem and I thought of you!

And I thought of grief and joy and love and life...and I thought of you, my precious sister-friend!

And I remembered your delightful, creative, godly love of your life Craig, who is now "exploring the mysteries of Christ."

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