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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Schooltime (or anytime) Prayer for the Children in your Life

Schooltime (or anytime) Prayer for the Children in your Life

Four little "scholars" begin a new school year in our family. Since these scholars are our grandchildren, this new beginning makes this Babci pause.

What will this year hold for these precious little lives?

Joys and sorrows, friendships and rejections, encouragement and despondency, successes and failures...

Lord, I want the formers and not the latters. But I know how it goes...the firsts often come through the seconds.

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Respecting the Holy Spirit in Other Believers...including (or maybe especially) Children

Respecting the Holy Spirit in Other Believers...including (or maybe especially) Children

During these closing weeks of the summer, many of us are focusing especially on the children in our lives. School is starting (or has already started), and we are longing for a rich year of learning, love, and acceptance...good friends, caring teachers and adults in their young, vulnerable lives. And our wish list for them and prayer list on their behalf go on and on. 

So whether a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, teacher or caring friend, this is for you. I know it can be easy to discount or forget the glorious potential in those little lives that we love and care about.

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Living from a Reservoir

Living from a Reservoir

You cannot impart what you do not possess!

This was a favorite saying of Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary.

John & I had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Hendricks' teaching in the 1980's at DTS. No matter the class, whether it was "Bible Study Methods" or the "Christian Home," this profound little truth would punctuate the "Prof's" lectures.

In my last post, we talked about Teaching from a Reservoir.  If Dr. Hendricks' statement is true, then teaching (or whatever we are doing) from a reservoir presupposes LIVING FROM THE RESERVOIR -- the reservoir of truth in relationship with Him who is the TRUTH.

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Teaching from a Reservoir

Teaching from a Reservoir

…Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

In the early fall of 2000, John & I were blessed by a visit from Dr Marvin Mayer and his wife Shirley. Dr. Mayer had just retired from many years of teaching Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  John & I were students at MBI in the 1970′s.  Dr. Mayer fast became one of my favorite professors and “spiritual father,” with a continuing relationship over the years.

On this particular visit, I got up early so I could walk with Dr M in the morning before he and Shirley left to return home to Illinois.  As we walked and talked, he spoke of his years of teaching and made a statement that grabbed my attention:  “I teach from a reservoir.”

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The Prayer of Relinquishment...the hardest prayer to pray

The Prayer of Relinquishment...the hardest prayer to pray

Like most people, when I first began active experimentation with prayer, I was full of questions, such as: Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted, while others are not? I still have questions. Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge—luring, beckoning on to further experimentation.

But one thing I do know; I learned it through hard experience. It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released. This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.

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Returning to Joy...again and again!

Returning to Joy...again and again!

Today I would like to share with you what has become my "spiritual survival image."

Why?

Because life can be overwhelming, frustrating (people and circumstances don't always cooperate with our "plans"...amazing!), and stressful to the point of sending us "over the edge."

So here is where the Lord always seems to take me, even in the dark, even in the not-knowing...perhaps especially in the not-knowing.

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Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Of Haircuts, Bananas, and Traffic Patterns: Is anything too Small for the Lord?

Is there anything too small for the Lord?

OK, that's not how the verse goes: 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; 32:27; Luke 18:27)

But maybe the first is a question we should also ask. Let me share why...

The other day I was taking my daily walk down our hill, through the nature path, alongside the horse farm, through a park area with the baseball fields and grove of trees...then back again. Many times this walk is when I commune with the Lord....listening to praise music, talking with  my Savior and Friend.

And other times, I commune with friends or family via my cell phone. Also lovely and meaningful.

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Fragile Souls...all of us, but especially...

Fragile Souls...all of us, but especially...

As I was getting ready to write a short blog about how easy it is to run ahead of the Lord, word came through of another pastor of a large multi campus ministry, a dear brother in the Lord, who has fallen into the mire of "moral failure."

Tragic, devastating news!

We all grieve for our brother...for his lovely wife...for his precious children.

And for ourselves who have heard God's Word and Spirit speaking to our hearts through this gifted brother.

But we also grieve with him...yes, with!

Because none of us is far from the same pit...though in different circumstances. This could easily be you or me.

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The Dance of FAITH: Moving with His Life-giving Flow

The Dance of FAITH: Moving with His Life-giving Flow

A few years ago, my husband and I were at some friends’ house.  This couple liked to gather miscellaneous people who knew them but not each other. True to form, they asked a great icebreaker question.  The particular question that evening was, 

If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would that be? Your secret ambition?

 

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The Acceptance of FAITH: Embracing that I Am who I Am... by Grace

The Acceptance of FAITH: Embracing that I Am who I Am... by Grace
If God Himself is the Strong One who does the doing, what is my part…yes faith, but what about my doing? 

To answer that, let’s look again at our second “yet not I” verse:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God with [sun, united with] me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NET)
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A Living FAITH: What is it?

A Living FAITH: What is it?

What is a living faith? 

To understand a faith that is alive, vibrant, real and restful, we need to explore two verses and two questions.  Both of our verses contain the same interesting phrase, “yet not I.” And both are from Paul’s writings: Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 15:10.

1. What is “the faith” by which we live while on this earth? 

I am crucified [united with] Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

2. If God lives the life that only He can live in and through me, what about me? Do I do anything? 

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God with [united with] me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

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The Rest of FAITH: Living the “Yet Not I, but CHRIST” Life

The Rest of FAITH:  Living the “Yet Not I, but CHRIST” Life

About twelve years ago, our son-in-law was stationed in Tucson, Arizona [home of our Alma Mater, the U of A, "Go Wildcats!"  But I digress...].  When the school year for my ESOL class had ended in June, I flew to Tucson for an extended visit.

Beth and Nate were both working during the daytime, so I had some lovely, restful, sun-filled (and "Son-filled") time alone by the pool.  At that time, I was reading some of Brennan Manning's books.

One day I was reading The Signature of Jesus: The Call to a Life Marked by Holy Passion & Relentless Faith as I soaked up the Arizona sun by the pool.  I was somewhat annoyed to see that a man lying on a lounge nearby was straining to see what I was reading.  

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Happy Dependence Day 2016

Happy Dependence Day 2016

Here at A Branch in the Vine, we are proclaiming our Declaration of Dependence again for another year.

We are celebrating that every day is Dependence Day for those of us who "live from the life of Another." True liberation, freedom inexpressible and full of glory, begins when we embrace the words of Jesus,

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV

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Revelation 201: "Why do kids raised in Christian homes walk away from the faith?" and other such questions

Revelation 201: "Why do kids raised in Christian homes walk away from the faith?" and other such questions

Kids who have been raised in Christian homes, and even educated in Christian schools, seem to be "leaving the faith" in surprising numbers.

And maybe there are just as many young people and adults that "stay" but are bored, just going through the motions. 

What is going on? Why is this happening?

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Caught in the Web: Getting Free*

Caught in the Web: Getting Free*

Look carefully! Can you see it? A perfectly formed circular spider web hanging across a path, suspended by a thread! Th is is the amazing sight that my friend Penny and I happened upon early one morning as we were walking down some little-traveled paths in a wooded area in my neighborhood. Here was one spider who was serious! She was ready to get a good catch that day!

There was a period of insecurity in my life when I was a good catch in a craftily constructed web—not made by earthly designs but that of the Father of Lies (John 8:44). It started out with a series of real, and perhaps imagined, rejections which then developed into a lie. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had recognized it for what it was, but I didn’t. And so I embraced it as truth and struggled for many years.

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Revelation -101: How NOT to See & Hear God

Revelation -101: How NOT to See & Hear God

You read that right "Revelation MINUS 101." 

I wish I didn't have to write this post, but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't.

And can I be honest? I've been cranky . . . crabby . . . "out of sorts" . . . ok, nasty! Ask my husband. I had gotten tired of being a "punching bag" in little ways in a certain relationship. My house is torn apart with a pending reconstruction project. I feel in limbo emotionally (aftermath of my husband's and my retirement?) . . . all potential reasons but very poor excuses!

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Children Incognito!

Children Incognito!

In April 2005, my husband John came home from work and said, “I’m going to Shanghai next week for work!”  Now you have to know that neither John nor I had been world travelers and haven’t even really had that on our “bucket list”.  The idea of his going (by himself, mind you) to Shanghai was very terrifying…to both of us!  As he was preparing to go, he was prayed over and encouraged by our kinship/small group to trust the Lord in this test to his faith. I took him to the Dayton airport very early the morning of his departure. After John checked his bags, I cried, kissed him good-by, and prayed.

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Keeping God's Word Fresh: a Guest Branch

Keeping God's Word Fresh: a Guest Branch

If I want to keep my relationship with Jesus strong I need to keep the lines of communication open. We speak to God through prayer and He speaks to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes it can seem like a chore, however, so I’m always looking for ways to keep the Bible “living and active”. 

I discovered a fun Bible last year. It’s called The ESV Journaling Bible. It has room on the sides to write notes or to draw or paint. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting as a hobby so what better way to elevate God’s Word! 

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