Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Isn't it wonderful when someone wants to spend time with us?  Not just a token, obligatory, "showing up" to either fulfill an obligation, salve guilt, or ask for something...a real wanting to be with us.

As special as it is in human relationships, think how amazing it is when we realize that the Sovereign God of the universe has wanted to be with us!  Yes, US!  and according to the Bible words used, we see that in Jesus, our Emmanuel, He is with us on every level possible.

In the original language of the New Testament, there are three Greek words that can be translated with

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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

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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Revisiting a Childhood Prayer

Revisiting a Childhood Prayer

The TV police drama Blue Bloods grabs my heart as well as my mind week after week. I suppose it’s for a number of reasons: I’m from New Jersey and the show takes place in New York City. The Reagans (a large close knit Catholic family) reminds me of my own large close knit Catholic family. And many of the religious practices of the Reagans, like “grace before meals,” mirror those of the Renners (my family name). The individual Reagan family members are honest with each other and a bit out-spoken … and that is actually what many extended family members and friends (Renner-wannabes) “admire” about us.

So week after week, I reminisce as I watch Blue Bloods.

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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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Of the Father's Love Begotten ... Emmanuel

Of the Father's Love Begotten ... Emmanuel

For the past several years, I have been following an Advent devotional by a British author Tim Chester. One of the unique things that the author does is quote some “unknown to me” hymns and carols. However, the other day I recognized the final lines of each stanza in the quoted hymn of the day.Sure enough! I had been listening to that very carol each year on an old Christmas CD in our collection.

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A Word on Wednesday: VOICE

A Word on Wednesday: VOICE

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

    The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
    His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
    all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
    with a living, breathing light—

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He's Here ... Emmanuel!

He's Here ... Emmanuel!

He is HERE … right here, right now. The God of the universe in human flesh! Our Redeemer, our Brother, our Friend. The One who was waited for, longed for, foretold … now ours. Celebrate!

Thank you, Patterson Park Choir & Orchestra and especially soloist/pianist Carol Clay, for this magnificent rehearsal of the coming of the God Who is HERE with us!

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Reflections on Emmanuel, God WITH Us

Reflections on Emmanuel, God WITH Us

Emmanuel…a Christmas Reading
by Kathy Compton

Christmas means different things to different people. For some, it is a difficult holiday because of memories that are cherished…but they are just memories now.

There is an emptiness about Christmas. 

For some, it is the delight of family and friends, of decorations and cards, of cookies and carols. There is a fullness about Christmas.

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1st Week of Advent: O Come, O Come, Immanuel

1st 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

Getting Ready for Advent

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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Touching Each Other's Soul

Touching Each Other's Soul

Another anniversary and a sad realization. We haven’t been doing a very good job at “touching each other’s soul” for the past 47 years.

I wasn’t even going to write this year, because I’m tired and kind of blank. But then this came in my email this morning, and I knew my thought for the next year of our marriage. So I am thankful for some more time to be refined in this way.

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Only one prayer? Give thanks!

Only one prayer? Give thanks!

I’ve been feeling rather blank, dull, fatigued from a strenuous, constant, energy-expending fall. I even had to pass when my husband and I were praying together the other evening…I couldn’t think. But then I remembered this thought, first posted in 2014 … one of my very first “blogging Thanksgiving” posts. And so I’m no longer blank but rather voicing my thanks to my God and to others. Join me here even if you have “no other prayer”?

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Social Anxiety ... Anytime but Especially this Time of Year!

Social Anxiety ... Anytime but Especially this Time of Year!

Around this time of year, I revisit a conversation I heard on Christian radio many years ago. It reminds me to lay aside myself and focus on others in any and every social situation. But not just this time of year … actually every and any day I’m with other people. I ask the Holy Spirit to remind me when I’m in the thick of it and not feeling like reaching out. It has made all the difference in the world.

May you be helped also in your situation, whether introvert or extrovert … because we are all, in our flesh, basically self-absorbed, aren’t we? Not at all like our Indwelling Lord Who will live through us as us if we let Him.

So here is help in the “letting”…

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.

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My Burning Bush

My Burning Bush

…Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” …God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. … the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. Exodus 3:2-5 NLT

There is a “burning bush” in my daughter’s yard in Illinois. And it is ablaze with glory right now! So when three year old William and I came outside yesterday morning, we couldn’t help but notice the changes that seemed to happen overnight.

“It’s RED!”

“Yes, William, and it’s called a Burning Bush. You know what? God spoke to a man named Moses from a Burning Bush. It’s in the Bible.”

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Speaking the Truth in Love ... Worth the Risk

Speaking the Truth in Love ... Worth the Risk

speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ… Ephesians 4: 15-16 NLT

It is risky to speak the truth. In personal relationships it is particularly risky. Most people don‘t want to hear it if it means that they may be disagreed with or opposed or worse yet, wrong. It’s easier to pretend everything is ok or to put up walls that keep people out and maybe even confuse the real issues. …

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Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

Jesus is the Way...the Means...and the End

For years in my Christian walk, I asked God again and again for peace, love, forgiveness, power, ability, etc. I read all the Christian "how-to books" and listened to the Christian "how-to sermons" and messages...on Christian radio, in church, conferences and seminars...anywhere and everywhere. I began jumping on (and off) the latest "Christian bandwagon."

Then I came to the end of my trying. My health was breaking and I declared, "I give up!"  It was then that the Holy Spirit illumined my mind and heart to realize that all those things I sought were a PERSON who loved me...my Lord Jesus Christ!

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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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