Casting or Carrying? My Choice...and Yours too!

Casting or Carrying? My Choice...and Yours too!

If you have been following my last few blogs, you know that I have become more aware of the enemy around us as we walk out our life in Christ. He and his minions are not so thrilled when we are walking in peace and rest. And so, there are those dark forces around us that seize any and every opportunity to distract us, discourage us, disturb us and cause us to distrust the Lover of our Souls.

This week, our beloved son Jeremy told us that he was scheduled for a biopsy in the area where he had thyroid cancer almost 20 years ago. 

 

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The Bully Doesn't Give Up! (Part 2)

The Bully Doesn't Give Up! (Part 2)

Bullies don't often give up. They just look for another opportunity in a different place of vulnerability, changing tactics and catching the victim off-guard.

And so true to form, the Bully didn't take long to regroup and sneak up on me in another situation. (See the previous post) It sent me into a tailspin of emotion...trying to choke back tears and keep on doing life. But thankfully, my Hero, the Holy Spirit of Christ broke through the emotional cloud I was churning in.

"Ok Jan. Resist! Stand! Say NO! Remember that? Now look at the entire passage and park yourself there."

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The Bully of Bullies...Resist! (Part 1)

The Bully of Bullies...Resist! (Part 1)

The devil and his demons are bullies. But in the presence of Christ, they become wimps.
Pete Briscoe

I love the old Westerns. Whenever I am home in the afternoon and have some time to relax, I turn on Me-TV and enjoy Gunsmoke or The Rifleman or Rawhide. What is it about these shows?
Yes, they take me back to my childhood.
Yes, they speak of a simpler time when right was right and wrong was wrong.
But also, and maybe above all, the good guys always win. 

Often there's a scenario where the poor dirt farmer in the story gets bullied and threatened by some heartless, powerful, rich rancher or tycoon of some kind ... maybe to sell or give up his land at some ridiculous price. Why? For the water rights or the railroad access or ... You get the idea. But eventually, and often not till the end of the story, the ultimate "good guy" rescues the underdog by standing up to the bully and overcoming him. The bully then wimps out or is destroyed. I love that!

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Abba's Little Girls: Mama-sisters

Abba's Little Girls:  Mama-sisters

Motherhood is a Sisterhood...unrivaled by any other (except perhaps, Grandmother-hood). So if you are a mom, you are my beloved sister...

And sometimes we mama-sisters just need to be daughters...Abba's (Hebrew for Daddy) little girls.

So this Mothers' Day, let us hear these restful words of promise from our Abba:

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The Emptying of Motherhood

The Emptying of Motherhood

Motherhood is filled with emptyings -- from the emptying of the womb in childbirth to the emptying of self in child-raising to the emptying of the nest, the ultimate goal. The stripping is hard, every step along the way.

And eventually, it may mean being alone on the day when moms have always been lauded and honored. This happened to me early on in the empty-nesting process. It could have shattered me were it not for my Abba Father's loving gifts to this hurting mama. 

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The Secret Place of Communion

The Secret Place of Communion

Where do you go to commune with your God? 

Do you go to a chapel or a church?  to a favorite place near a stream, at a mountain retreat, or on a beach? Do you go to a "prayer closet," a special place in your own home?

But maybe you are frustrated because there never seems to be a "place" where you can go. Maybe you're a mom with young children or a special needs child. Perhaps you are a working mom or a worker who needs to moonlight at a second job to make ends meet. Maybe you or a loved one has a handicap or serious illness that takes you to services and medical places that seem to consume your life. Where is the place for you?

I have good news for all of us ... 

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Arrested by the Risen Christ: Brenda's Story

Arrested by the Risen Christ:  Brenda's Story

Every Easter I think of family and friends who have died in Christ.  Somewhere and sometime on their earthly journey they each met the Risen Christ in a unique way...some quite dramatically, some softly and quietly.

During this Easter week, I'd like to tell you about a friend who was arrested by the Risen Christ.  She's virtually unknown, except by those whose lives she touched.  Her name is Brenda.

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Resurrection ZOE -- the Dance of LIFE!

Resurrection ZOE -- the Dance of LIFE!

Easter isn't Easter unless it's Easter to YOU!

So declared a radio preacher early in Holy Week a few years ago. At first I said, "Yes!"  Then I thought about it awhile and said, "Not really! Easter is Easter whether I get it or not."

What is Easter anyway? Easter is the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. He had conquered sin and death on the cross and then was raised, so that we could walk in newness of life. (cf. Romans 6:4)

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Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file (See enlarged image below).  I think my husband John, who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by, cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Now I lay me down to sleepI pray the Lord my soul to keep If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take

So goes a traditional nighttime prayer taught by American moms to their children for generations.

It may seem odd to us today that there would be the mention of death in a child's prayer.  But scientists say that sleep is the closest we come to death while still alive.  The Greeks even had a proverb,

Sleep and death are brothers.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!

What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Now in fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus expresses His own physical need:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. John 19:28-29 ESV

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Going It Alone

Going It Alone

Jesus said “...what is that to you? You follow ME!”
John 21:20-21 ESV

Sometimes we just need to go it alone.

I know...that's not a popular thing to say in the "church." And I get it because God has placed us into families and communities. He wants us to care for one another.

But stay with me here...there are times when we truly are alone .... and other times when we need to choose to be alone.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon.

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Longing and Learning to Hear God

Longing and Learning to Hear God

As far back as I can remember, I longed to know God.  At my mother's knee, I would sit and listen to stories she would tell me from our big gilded Bible.  You know the one...with the records of births and deaths, marriages and first communions. But it wasn't until later, in my young adulthood, that I became aware that I could hear God's voice speak to me...not audibly, but in the still, small voice of His sweet Spirit dwelling within.

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Hearing God...when getting mixed messages

Hearing God...when getting mixed messages

I have a precious friend named Kitty. She sees and hears God EVERYWHERE! Her favorite "mantra," so to speak, is"He is is SO personal!"  And that's what I love about Kitty!

However, for Kitty and for all of us, hearing God can be a little tricky.  Jesus said we DO hear Him if we belong to Him. But how? Where does the hearing take place?

Kitty and I had such a conversation the other day.  Here is my paraphrase:

KittyI'm struggling.  One minute I hear this message in sermons and songs and blogs,

"Wait upon the Lord.  Keep silent and wait." 

And that's what I'm trying to do. But then the next minute, it is

"God is waiting for you to step out in faith, and then He will move." 

Which is it?

JanThis is the key, Kitty...

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"Your heart has knees..."

"Your heart has knees..."

I would like to tell you about Lou, a friend and brother in the Lord.  Lou was a "flower child" of the '60's.  He, of course, would never have missed Woodstock -- along with all his long-haired hippie freak friends.  And Lou loved to share.  What he always shared was the latest "turn on" he had discovered and enjoyed, no matter what it might be. But there was Something missing in Lou's life.  He didn't realize that it was a God-shaped Someone, and He had a Name.  His Name is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son…behold your mother.  John 19:26

Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we’ve already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary’s face

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