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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Kiss Me...I Might Be Irish

Kiss Me...I Might Be Irish

That was the saying on a balloon I saw at Kroger.  And it was also the sentiment in the elementary school we kids went to in New Jersey.  St Matthew’s was an Irish parish (maybe because the founding pastor was Irish, Fr Duffey), so our sports teams were the “Fighting Irish.”  Anyway, the sentiment was that everyone was Irish on St Patrick’s Day. I remember us Renner girls (mom’s maiden name = Galuszka; so you do the “ethnic” math ) spraying our hair green, putting on our already green uniforms, and heading next door to school.  (Yes, we lived next to the church and school!).  We FELT Irish…even if we were really German & Polish!

Everyone was indeed “Irish” at St Matthews on St Patrick’s Day, except for the few rebellious students and even teachers who wore orange instead of green.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people ... This makes me think of the criminals executed with Our Lord Christ. They certainly were the lost sheep, ...the lost coins, ...the lost sons...and Jesus came to seek them.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

They obviously had been running away from God...who knows what kind of crimes they had committed!  The Bible just calls them "criminals" [thieves, malefactors KJV].  Maybe God didn't come into their thinking...but that's the point.  They had gone their own way.

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The Key to the Christian Life

The Key to the Christian Life

Christianity is a PERSON, not a procedure; the LORD, not a list! Not church attendance, not Christ-like qualities, not good works, not the Christian "to-do list" (which may vary depending on the group and "camp" you are in)...

Not evangelism, not mission trips, not a quality "quiet time," not Scripture memorization or Bible study...

Not spiritual disciplines, not prayer, not fasting, not obedience, not miracle-working faith...

Not ______________________ (you fill in the blank with your favorite supposed "godliness-producing external" activity).

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

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Lenten Meditation: Last Words and Conversations

Lenten Meditation:  Last Words and Conversations

The last words of a dying person are important.  They can communicate good or ill to those left behind.  Why?  Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person.  But I have been with a few people just days before their death.

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Dust to Dust but Glory to Glory!

Dust to Dust but Glory to Glory!

From dust you have come, and to dust you shall return. 

Ash Wednesday has taken on a new meaning for me this year as it did last, since my 91 year old mom passed away early in November 2015. There was something that arrested me right in my tracks the day of my mom's funeral. I was undone by deep sobs of realization. And the depth of it had been helped along by the incense and the reverence afforded the treatment of my dear mama's frail little body being put to rest (or so they say).

But it wasn't the finality of it all. It had already been final when she had breathed her last, days before.

No! It was the Sacredness that came crashing through!

 
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