Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 25 - Christmas

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
~ Luke 2:11-14

Merry Christmas, friends!

Today signals the end of Advent season - the end of the season of anticipation of the Messiah's appearance on earth. However, as Christians, we know there is more to the story. Christ will be returning to this earth again. So even as we celebrate this day of His birth, I look ahead - forward to the day of His next arrival.

Luke 12:35-37
“Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!"


Let's stoke those lamp fires today as we anticipate that reward. Blessings ~ Rachel

Advent Day 24

Today is Christmas Eve, the last day of the Advent season which culminates with the birth of Christ.

All month I've been saying when I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door like found on a cathedral, a monastery, or maybe an ancient inn. And I imagine Jesus on the other side of it, knocking. In Revelation 3:20 the Lord says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." That never fails to catch my breath.

In Revelation 3:8 He says, “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me."

So ... knowing all the things I do (and fail to do), God opens that door, crosses the threshold, and sits to eat with me as friends each day. Simply because I welcomed Him.

Does it catch your breath too?

My prayer for today is that I will obey God's Word and not deny Him access to any part of my heart. And I will write in my gratitude journal: Thank you, Lord, for opening the door I am too weak to pull fully open on my own - and for reassuring me that it will never be closed again.

Here's the last of the Advent readings. However, I will post tomorrow morning as well so stop by if you have a minute to spend online before or between Christmas activities. Merry Christmas!

Mark 1:9-11 (NLT)
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

Luke 1:31-33 (NLT)
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Advent Day 23

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

Revelation 3:20
- “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

As I imagine further, my heart beats faster. I picture a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement? That's what Advent is all about!

Christmas is almost here! And that typically means tempers and expectations are running high. Let's be sure and treat one another with kindness this week. James 5:9 says, "Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!"

Today's advent readings:

Luke 2:40 (NLT)
"There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him."

Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
"Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent Day 22

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

Revelation 3:20 - “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

As I imagine further, my heart beats faster. I picture a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement? That's what Advent is all about! Here are today's readings.

Luke 2:38 (NLT)
She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

Micah 5:2 (NLT)
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.

Advent Day 21

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

Revelation 3:20 - “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

As I imagine further, my heart beats faster. I picture a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement ... can you anticipate the beauty? That's what advent is all about!

Psalm 27:4 - One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Here are today's advent readings ...

Luke 2:28-32 (NLT)
Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have romised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NLT)
“For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.

Advent Day 20

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.
Revelation 3:20 - “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."
As I imagine further, my heart beats faster. I picture a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.
Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? Can you imagine the beauty you are about to see? That's what Advent is all about!

Matthew 2:10-11 (NLT)
"When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

Isaiah 53:12 (NLT)
"I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent Day 19 - beauty of it all

Welcome if you're coming over from my published devotion today.

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

Revelation 3:20 - “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

As I imagine further, my heart beats faster. I picture a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what advent is all about! Can you imagine the beauty you are about to see?

Psalm 96:6
- Honor and majesty surround him; strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

Psalm 27:4 - One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

"Advent" is the Latin word for "arrival" ... referencing the arrival of Christ in the world at Christmas, and later at the second coming. I'm posting advent readings here through Christmas Day, so I invite you to join me for the last week of readings. Does your family do anything special to "observe" or celebrate advent?

Matthew 2:9 (NLT)
"After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was."

Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)
"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins."

Advent Day 18

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

Revelation 3:20
- Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

As I imagine further, my heart beats faster. I picture a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? Can you imagine the beauty you are about to see? That's what Advent is all about!

Psalm 24:7 - Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter.

"Advent" is the Latin word for "arrival" ... referencing the arrival of Christ in the world at Christmas, and later at the second coming. I'm posting advent readings here through Christmas Day, so I invite you to join me for the last week of readings.

Matthew 2:7-8 (NLT)
"Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, 'Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!'”

Isaiah 53:10 (NLT)
"But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent Day 17

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what Advent is all about. "Advent is the latin word for "coming" or "arrival." Here are today's advent readings:

Matthew 2:5-6 (NLT)
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Isaiah 53:9 (NLT)
"He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent Day 16

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what Advent is all about. Here are today's advent readings:

Matthew 2:3-4 (NLT)
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

Isaiah 53:7-8 (NLT)
"He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent Day 15

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what Advent is all about. Here are today's advent readings:


Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)
"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all."

Advent Day 14

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what Advent is all about! Here is today's advent readings:


Luke 2:21 (NLT)
"Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived."

Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)
"But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent Day 13

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what Advent is all about! Here is today's advent readings:

Luke 2:20
The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Isaiah 53:3-4
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The power of animation


My daughter is a tween-ager who actually likes many vegetables ... carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green bell pepper, corn and more. (My strategy was to take my kids to the pool all morning when they were little, let them swim until they were starving, bring them home and place a tray of fresh cut veggies and ranch dip in front of them. They would scarf it up!) However, she has maintained after trying them several times that she does not like tomatoes, zucchini or colored bell peppers.

Yesterday, knowing she wouldn't be home for dinner, I made my first ever batch of ratatouille. If you don't know, that's a veggie stew of onion, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and red bell pepper. When she arrived home from play practice and found out we had that, she begged for some. I put a bowl in front of her, expecting her to look at it and change her mind. She ate the whole bowl and asked for another.

That, my friends, is the power of Disney's animated movie Ratatouille, which she loves. If you haven't seen it - even if you're an adult with no kids in the house - I can recommend it. But I can't promise it will get your kids or your husband to eat veggies!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent Day 12

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement ... sense the anticipation? That's what Advent is all about!

TAC - awesome story!! Thanks so much for posting that. Gratitude and generosity are truly where its at! I've been writing about this in a chapter for my book these past few weeks... and doing a little paying it forward myself. :) I'll have to check out the revolution site.


Pamela - the advent calender pictured below is from Starbucks. They have them in my local cafe. I bet you can order it from their website too.

Now on to today's readings.

Luke 2:17-19 (NLT)
After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

Isaiah 53:1-2 (NLT)
Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Day 11

Welcome if you're visiting me from my friend Karen's blog where she is doing 12 Days of Christmas and today I'm featured. I'm giving away a Starbucks gift card so pop over there to enter!

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him.

Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!



Even my beloved Starbucks has put out an advent calendar this year. I don't have one but I understand its filled with chocolate.


Luke 2:15-16
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

Isaiah 52:13-15
See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Advent Day 10

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

"Advent" is the Latin word for "arrival." This month I'm posting some short daily advent readings that refer to Jesus' coming. I love today's two verses!


Luke 2:13-14 (NLT)
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Isaiah 42:1-3 (NLT)
“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged."

Advent Day 9


When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

Karen, thanks for sharing those scriptures on angels with us in your comment. Many years ago I studied up on angels, including reading Billy Graham's book on the topic. It was then I decided to avoid buying things with the cute little cherub type angels - I like the warriors.

Luke 2:10-12 (NLT)
...but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Isaiah 40:10-11 (NLT)
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Day 8


When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

Luke 2:8-10 (NLT)
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

Isaiah 40:3-5 (NLT)
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”

Colorado Dreaming

I had a terrific trip to Colorado. Thank you so much for praying.

The women came with open hearts to the event. We talked about "what smart women can learn from wise men." (Ginny, where did you get your wise men advent calendar? I'd love to have one of those!) From the stage I saw that many were touched ... many have been hurting or struggling... and I hope that many were changed.

It did me so much good to spend the weekend amidst the snow-covered mountains with some really great like-minded women. This time I stayed with a member of the church who lives atop Beaver Creek Mountain. The altitude got to me just a little bit - but not nearly as much as the views! Can you believe this warm-weather, beach-town girl is ready to move to Beaver Creek, CO?! I think I'd better make my way down to the water today and get reoriented.

I so appreciated 5SKIS praying that I wouldn't lose my debit card this time... I didn't lost it. :) However, I did lose my MP3 player on one of the flights home. And I think that's worse because I can't call my bank and have them send me another one with all my favorite songs loaded on it. Wondering how I'm going to make it through my work-out today without some music. Next time I'm going to have to list everything I'm packing and ask you gals to pray over it all!

I think the reason I lost the music player was because I was distracted. I believe I had a divine appointment on that flight. I wound up sitting next to a pilot, who knows Jesus (but not really) and is in the middle of a divorce with a wife who has been unfaithful. They have 5 kids. She is into Buddhism. He is fighting for custody of those kids. Please pray for this pilot. God is drawing him, pray that he will respond and follow. He gave me his address and agreed to let me send him a Bible. That's worth losing an MP3 player, don't cha' think?

I'll get back to posting the advent readings today. Meanwhile, here are a couple more pictures from Colorado. The first is a view down the mountain.

The second is the chateau with the restaurant we ate at on Saturday evening. One of the gals I'd met at the church is an interior designer and had recently remodeled the restaurant - she did a great job.


The last pic is a skier - not me, I'm much more the water skiing type. But the ski lift literally ran right behind the home I stayed at. I could see it from the window in my beautiful guest suite. You can bet I have lots to journal about in my gratitude journal - is anyone else keeping one of those?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent Day 5

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

Hi Friends. I'm in the Charlotte airport waiting for my connection to Denver. I don't know if I'll have Internet again before Sunday - if I do, I'll post day 6&7, otherwise I'll post it Sunday evening. Hope you have a great weekend!


Luke 2:4-5 (NLT)
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.

Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Day 4

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

I love what Karen wrote in her comment yesterday about Joseph: "Imagine the awe he must have felt in being the earthly father of a son directly from his Heavenly Father! ... We don't hear much about Joseph in the Bible, but we see the imprint of him in the New Testament all the same. ... Jesus was recognized as "the carpenter's son" in his early ministry. Joseph is the silent witness in the life of Jesus. So many of us are more comfortable in that role as Christians. We don't take the stage, we don't want the limelight, we won't be nominated for awards for our charismatic impact on the world, but we quietly serve, support, and love in the name of Jesus and to the glory of God our Father."

Beautiful point, Karen. It's never about the "limelight" ... it's always about the state of our hearts.


On that note ... Can I ask you to pray for me as I head Friday morning to the mountains of Colorado to take the stage at an outreach event this weekend? I'd appreciate prayers for my travel, for my family in my absence, for my message, and most of all for the hearts of the women who will attend. While it might be me standing up there speaking, I know I can't communicate anything worthwhile apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer support of those who serve from unseen places. Thanks, friends!


Luke 2:1,3 (NLT)
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.

Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Advent Day 3

When I think of Advent, I think of a big wooden door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

My heart beats faster. I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

Debrah commented yesterday: "'Luke 1:15, For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.' Last month Elizabeth and Mary were the topic of our Women of The Bible Discussion..when I read Luke I was impressed by how involved the Holy Ghost was in the lives of Mary, Zacharias, Elizabeth, John and Jesus. I'd only thought of the Holy Ghost in terms of relationship as being after Pentecost."

Terrific point to bring out, Debrah. It illustrates the fact that one cannot fulfill God's purposes without the help of His Spirit. That's true of even the "great ones" of the faith. Through out the Old Testament when someone was used to advance God's will -- be it Moses, or Samson, or Samuel, or Saul, or David, or Elisha, etc. -- the Bible says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. (Check out Judges 14:5-6, Judges 14:19, I Sam. 10:1-10, I Sam. 16:13, II Kings 2:9-15 for examples.)


Matthew 1:20-23 (NLT)
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

2 Samuel 7:13 (NLT)
"He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent Day 2

When I think of Advent, I think of a big door -- like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking.

My heart responds, begs even, "please, come." I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn, and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement of it? Can you sense the anticipation? That's what Advent season is all about!

"Advent" refers to the coming of Christ. I'll be posting some short advent readings here through out the season, which runs from the start of December thru Christmas Eve. So if you too want to get intentional about reflecting on the amazing truth that an invisible God became visible to deliver our souls from sin and live among us as our King - join me.

You can also purchase or make an Advent calendar that counts down the days until Christmas. Some allow you to insert little pieces of candy or little scraps of paper with scriptures printed on them. Others have something printed behind the numbered flaps. Grade school kids often enjoy these.

Genesis 22:18 (NLT)
"And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

Luke 1:41-42 (NLT)
"At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome to Advent


Today, December 1st, marks the beginning of the Advent season. Advent is a Latin word meaning "coming" or "arrival." It's the season to reflect on the coming of our Savior which took place centuries ago with His birth. And it's a season to reflect on the second coming of our King which is yet to fully take place.

When I think of Advent, I think of a big door, like maybe one found on a cathedral, or a monastery, or maybe just an old ancient inn. I imagine Jesus on the other side of it ... knocking. My heart responds, begs even, "please, come." I imagine a key turning the lock ... I hear the lock release ... then I see the knob beginning to turn ... and I know that it is the hand of my Lord turning it from the other side. And I realize I'm about to come face to face with Him. Can you feel the excitement? Can you sense the anticipation?

That's what the advent season is all about! This my Savior, and my King about to greet me.

I'll be posting some short advent readings here through out the season. So if you too want to get intentional about reflecting on the amazing truth that an invisible God became visible to deliver our souls from sin and live among us as our King - join me.


Luke 1:30-33 (New Living Translation)

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.”
Psalm 118:19 (NIV)

Gratitude is such a powerful force! It lifts our perspective, mood and spirit. In fact, I believe it can usher us into the presence of God.

So I invite you to look for reasons big and small to give thanks today. The reasons begin as soon as we open our eyes and raise from our bed. We can thank God for another rising sun to light and warm our day, to ripen our food, and to cause winter flowers to bloom. Now you tell me, what you are thankful for today?

If you want to know more about the power of gratitude, and you missed my "Thank You Power" devotion earlier this week, pop over here to read it. I think you'll be inspired.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A friend's devotion

It was so touching to read your comments on yesterday's post ... to hear you pour out gratitude and see your spirit lifted in the process. Many of you have experienced great losses recently and you showed us how to give thanks in every thing, as is the will of God for everyone.

A girlfriend, Sharon Sloan, wrote this devotion below for Thanksgiving week and I think it points out an important truth: thankfulness ushers us into the presence of God. Blessings ~ Rachel


“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4

A heart of genuine thanksgiving and praise ushers us across His threshold so we can dwell in the Lord’s presence throughout the day. As we seek to abide in Him, our thankful hearts prepare the way for us. With a grateful and respectful posture before the Lord, we can expect to hear His still, small voice and sense His presence. “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18

Genuine thankfulness flows from a humble and reverent heart before the Lord. As we go to Him with gratitude, acknowledging Him in all things, our hearts are postured to receive direction from Him. Then, as we commune with Him from the depths of our hearts throughout the day, we can bring Him our petitions, our fears and our struggles. With the humility of thankfulness as a backdrop, our hearts are poised reverently before Him. He will guide us and lead us. “I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.” Ecc. 8:12

When my children approach me with a humble and thankful heart, it is much easier for me to talk with them, rejoice with them, pray with them and guide them. Their hearts are ready. But when they are being selfish, stubborn, prideful and entitled, they don’t hear and are not ready for my instruction and help. The condition of their heart is key to our communication.

It is the same with us and our Heavenly Father, who loves His children perfectly. When our hearts are right before Him, He can minister His Truth to us and reason with us. He can encourage and equip us. He can commune with us. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23

Let’s make it routine not just to count our blessings, but to continually give thanks to God for them. To acknowledge Him in all our ways. To bow before Him with sincerity, thankfulness and reverence. We will dwell in His presence, commune with Him and receive His encouragement and love. Then we'll have "sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” Col. 3:22


Thanks, Sharon, for the Word today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gratitude journaling


Welcome if you've found your way here from my devotion. Feel free to introduce yourself and maybe tell me what are you thankful for at this moment on this day.

If answering that question is surprisingly harder that you expected, maybe you should join me in staring a gratitude journal. I've keep one in the past and I can tell you it is certain to stoke the fires of gratefulness in your heart, and bring the many benefits of "thank you power" I wrote about in the devotion linked here. You just have to commit to doing it several nights a week - it only takes a couple minutes.

"God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say 'thank you?'" ~ William A. Ward

So how do you start? Simple. First choose a book to be your gratitude journal. It can be a journal book, a small sketch book, or a small spiral bound notebook - whatever works for you. Just make sure you find it visually appealing. You can decorate the cover of a subject notebook if you wish- try ribbons, stamping, photographs, or maybe decoupage. If you do create yours, I hope you'll post a picture of it on your blog and then leave the link here in the comments so we can come see it. Until I see yours and get inspired to decorate one myself, I'm using the one pictured here. It's by Dayspring.

Place your journal beside your bed along with a pencil or pen. All you do is at the end of the day, sit with your journal and write down 5 things your are thankful for. Once you've completed your list, whisper thanks to God (from whom all blessings flow).

At first it might seem hard to list 5 things every day. Also, your lists might look the same a lot at the start, and that's OK. Just remember you can list "big" things (grace, health, family, job, friends) and also "little" things (bird you spotted this morning, the friendly waitress who made you laugh, the house down the street that looks so festive at Christmas time, minty-fresh toothpaste). Anything positive will do, so long as you can be honestly thankful for it.

What if you come up with more than 5 things one evening? Great, feel free to jot more down. What if you come up with less than 5? Look back over past entries and see if that helps get your mind going. You can always list precious promises like salvation or God's promise to never leave us!

My deal with myself is that if I can't fill a list of 5, I'll copy into my journal a verse from the Bible (like Psalms) that speaks about being grateful, or that gives me a reason to be thankful to God. I also enjoy including motivating quotes in my gratitude journal such as:

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~ G.K. Chesterton

The gratitude journal shouldn't take long to fill out each evening. And as the days and weeks go on and you make this a part of your routine, you'll find yourself making mental notes through out the day - I'm going to remember this and write it in my journal. That's when gratefulness becomes the lens through which you look at your day, and the benefits of "thank you power"start kicking in.

So give it a try and let me know how it goes if you choose to start a journal. If you don't plan to start one right now, just post a comment here and tell us what you're thankful for today.

  1. I'm thankful so far today for a warm house on this wintery morning.
  2. For the kisses my little boy just gave me.
  3. For my morning green tea, and the health benefits it has.
  4. And for the holiday coming on Thursday ... because while my husband likes the "routine" days of life, I like the "punctuation" marks like holidays.
  5. I'm also thankful you visited!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Will you pray for this event? updated

UPDATE: Thanks so much for praying for this event. I was at the Lone Star Cowboy Church in Montgomery, Texas on Saturday night for a holiday event. I loved the cowboy church, by the way. They were great to work with and their sanctuary was beautiful, in a rugged cowboy kind of way.




These women's hearts were open to the Lord, and many responded at the end as we prayed. Please keep praying for this community. As I was driving there from the Houston airport before the event, the pastor's wife, Darla Weaver, called to let me know their community has suffered tragedy this past month. Seven different teenagers at different times have died in the last few weeks. They had two funerals right before I came last week. So many families are grieving, and the whole community feels shaken at the multiple tragedies in rapid succession. I know you'll pause and pray.



Pastor Randy, wife Darla Weaver


Here are some more pictures ... I'm guessing you all want to know what a cowboy church is like. I was certainly curious before I went.



The main church building on their property, which included other buildings, plus a pen and a riding area. You can't see it but there was a sign that says, "Please do not tie horse to fence."

However, most people drive there in cars.

But not always!



This is the bar in the foyer where they serve coffee and about 75 dozen donuts every Sunday.


I attended the first of their three church services on Sunday before heading back to the airport, and very much enjoyed worshipping with them. These cowboys rock.

I had to stop and refuel my rental car before returning it at the airport. In the process, I managed to lose my debit card. Only I didn't realize this until I was checking in at the airline counter. It was my only means of money other than the $12 cash I had left after paying a couple of road tolls. Not good.

You should have seen me trying to figure out how to eat lunch and dinner at airports (home of the $6.55 plus-tax plain hot dog) for just $12. And the airlines no longer pass out free Cokes and pretzels on the flights either.


Without the debit card, I couldn't pay to check my luggage. Airlines now charge about $20 to check a bag - even for one small bag. Fortunately, this one was small enough to qualify as a carry-on, but the bottles inside the bag were not. So I had to throw away my voluminizing shampoo and conditioner. It was a brand I love that was recently discontinued too.


Plus, or shall I say "worst of all," I had to throw away a big bottle of hairspray that I'd just bought last week. Doesn't Homeland Security know it is dangerous to make a southern woman part with her hairspray? ... We're talking threat level RED dangerous. Especially when it's a hungry southern woman who can't afford to buy a Starbucks to soothe her nerves.


*************************************

Hey Friends. I leave tomorrow for a Christmas outreach event in Texas. I'm very excited to go and to see what God does in the hearts of these women. Would you pray for this event? Thanks so much, and blessings to you.

Psalm 131

Welcome if you're visiting from my devotion today at Proverbs 31. If you haven't read it, you can follow the link and do so. I suggested we could talk about the reflection questions if you want, so ...

Let's talk ...

Can you recall something you have “weaned” off of, and now your appetites are changed?

For me that list would include things like sleeping way too late. I do still sleep in sometimes, just to a much lesser degree. It would include the cigarettes I smoked in college. That was hard to wean from, but I'm so glad those appetitees changed! Perhaps also the need for God to give me some tingly feelings and ground-breaking new insights every time I sit down to read the Bible. Interestingly, I think I get more out of my Bible reading now that I've let go of that expectation. I do expect to get something out it when I read scripture - I pray for that - but I don't need the "beaming light from heaven" experience to keep me coming back.

Is there something you are being weaned from now? Or something you know that God wants to wean you from?

Hum ... I'm not sure ... well, right now I'm working on some of my eating habits. So that might qualify. I eat fairly healthy, but I do have a sweet tooth that can get me into trouble. When I indulge that sweet tooth too much, my energy and ability to focus slips. God has placed many great opportunities on my plate at the moment, and I need to be a good steward of my energy to attend to them. So I guess I'm weaning some from eating whatever I want without regard for how it will affect me.

Or, are you obsessing over ambitions or roles you desire that God hasn't necessarily called you to or created you for?

I've definitely done this in the past. For the moment, however, I'm in a good place with this one. ... probably because my plate is full. I struggle more with this when my plate is not very full. I also understand my particular giftings and strengths, so that helps too. Have you ever taken a personality test or a spiritual gifts questionnaire?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The 80's are back, but they're a bust

This weekend my kids were invited to a birthday party at a skating rink. I was stoked! I used to love to skate. In fact, I even have my roller skates from middle school.


It is no small miracle that I still have these skates. Its a long story but when I was 17 my mother died, our house was sold, and nearly all of our possessions were sold as well (sold or stolen - its kind of a sorted story). While I don't have any of the clothes, furniture, toys or mementos from my childhood, I do have my roller skates.


After the birth of my first child, a couple girlfriends and I decided to go roller skating one evening as a girls night out. I strapped on my old skates - white boots with orange wheels - and even though I was wearing maternity jeans instead of my old Jordache jeans, I felt like I was 13 again. We laughed and skated, and did the Hokey Pokey like we were back in the 80's. That was ten years ago. Then I put the skates away again, until this Saturday.


The skating rink this Saturday was perfect. It was complete with a disco ball, strobe lights, and even a "fog" machine and it felt like the 80's were back. I eagerly strapped on my middle school skates and hit the floor. I took my first lap slow but they felt as good as ever. About the time I was ready to experience the wind in my hair, I felt a funny bump under my right skate. Thud ... thud ... thud ... thud... I could tell something was uneven. I looked down at my skate wheels expecting to find a candy wrapper or something stuck to it, instead I found the entire orange covering on one of my wheels had come off!

For a moment the 80's were back and feeling good ... but then my nostalgic bubble was burst.


I took off my old skates and traded in for a pair of the skating rink's skates. They were brown rather than white and they didn't come up past my ankle like my old skates do. At first they felt strange and I skated a little unsure of myself. But after a few laps on them I was feeling at home, skating, spinning, "shooting the duck," skating backwards, and doing the chicken dance in center rink with the kids.


Our favorite pair of shoes is usually an old pair isn't it? We like the ones that are broken in, conformed to our feet, and worn soft in all the right places. They’re the ones we grab when we want to feel comfortable and not have to think about our feet. They aren't much to look at but they feel oh-so-good.


Our old patterns of behavior can be like that too – especially those sinful behaviors we like to repeatedly indulge in. Patterns like gossipping with friends, over-eating, day-dreaming about a married man, or taking our anger out on others when we're in a bad mood. They may not be all that pretty, or smell all that great, but they can feel oh-so-good at the time. They’re comfortably familiar and we often choose to wear them without thinking about it.


Wearing our new identity in Christ, doing the things He calls us to, can be as hard to get used to as a new pair of shoes. It feels awkward, and may even feel binding in spots. At times we give up and throw back on our old selves. Just like the skinny jeans and leg-warmers of the 80's are comming back in fad, back comes my sinful self if I'm not careful. And each time I let it, because it feels good at the time, I lose my bearings. How much better to walk with God in the new garments He made for us.


Let's take a look at the "skates" God encourages us to trade in, and the ones He wants us to put on. Check it out here: Colossians 3:8-15.

All Skate ... tell us what has the power to take you back to your childhood, like roller skating does for me?

And if you're feeling brave enough ... tell us if there is something that you recognize has the power to take you back to your sinful ways?

Couples' Skate ... Take Jesus' hand today and venture out onto the rink of life, trusting that His ways will keep you upright and moving forward with grace you wouldn't otherwise have.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A new dawn


It's a new dawn. It's a new day. And as the sun rises in the sky this morning, we have a new president-elect.


I stayed up late last night to see that fact announced. I watched as John McCain gave a gracious concession speech. His praiseworthy character was on full display. May we all be moved to imitate his passion for serving others with such humility.

Then I watched the historic moment when an African-American man stood up to speak as the president of the United States. Regardless of my differences of opinion with him on some issues, it was a very stirring moment. As I studied the brown and white faces gathered together hugging and cheering in Chicago, I had hope that this election would bring a measure of healing to race relations in this country.

I listened to Obama's speech next. Like McCain's, Obama's words included humility, hope, and a desire to move forward united. And like McCain, he concluded by invoking God's blessing on our nation. If you missed his speech, I encourage you to watch it online. Personally, I thought it was a positive start to what I pray will be effective leadership.

I expect that Obama's elation this morning at a large goal accomplished - a presidential election won - is bitter-sweetly mixed with a heavy feeling of responsibility. He has a huge task in front of him.

For Obama, much work lies ahead. I pray he is given the strength to do it.


He inherits many problems. I pray he is given the wisdom and creativity to solve them.


He will have many tough decisions to make. I pray he is given discretion and discernment to make them.


He will have political opposition to reach out to and work with in Washington, I pray he is given the grace and gumption to do that.


And I pray all the same things for us - the citizens of the US. For Obama's responsibilities and challenges are our own. I don't want to sit idly by, complaining, lamenting or criticizing when I could be encouraging, praying and serving. I want to be the light the world is straining to see by. I want to supply the hope our world craves. I want to model the values I desire in my neighbors and my leaders. So may God also grant us wisdom, creativity, discretion, discernment, grace and the gumption to face each day and each obstacle ahead with hope from on High.


This morning I am reading Psalm 21. Verse one begins:

"The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases."

May it be so with the heart of our new president, and every leader that serves us. Some of you, my sisters-in-Christ, are fearful today of what Obama's leadership might bring. I understand that. But I hope that you will remember that the king's heart is not out of God's reach. Nor are God's ears deaf to our prayers.

You can click on the link to Psalm 21 above if you want to keep reading the full psalm.

Oh, one last thing, my Starbucks gave away a free coffee yesterday to anyone who voted. Did yours? I love this country!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The election - just do it

I've gotten a lot of emails lately that make me feel as if the sky might fall depending on the outcome of tomorrow's election. So, have you voted yet? I have - only took me 25 minutes. The hours are counting down for election day and I hope that you too will choose to participate.

I want you to vote not because I'm convinced that one candidate will move us closer to God than the other - no candidate, political party, or form of the human system of government will usher us into the Kingdom of God. Sure, some forms have proven more beneficial than others, and some leaders are better than others. But the Old Testament is one giant case study that reveals god-following leaders (like Moses) bearing godly laws (like the 10 commandments) can't make man or society what God would have us be. We need the cross and the Spirit of God for that. I also recall the disciples mistakenly thinking Jesus came to set up and lead a political government. He corrected them.

Nor do I want you to vote because I'm convinced this is the most crucial time/election in history ever. Many feel that way right now, and they feel panic. This election is "historic" and there are serious crises going on in America. But the people of God have seen worse. Consider the 400 years of slavery in Egypt, or the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., or the holocaust. But nothing that has ever happened in this world, or will happen, throws God off course. Eventually God's Kingdom will be the kingdom of the earth ... but not because we finally elected the right people to office and got all the laws written right, but rather because God vanquishes Satan.

I want you to vote because I want you to engage in your life, in your community, and in your culture. Vote not only for your next president but for your local and state government positions as well. Often times those leaders make a far great difference in our daily lives than who is sitting in the oval office.

I want you to vote because it is a privilege that many do not have, and it does make a difference. Many people suffer under dictatorships. Voting is a privilege that people have died for - both willingly and unwillingly. And we get to freely do it in this country.

I want you to vote because I think it's important that you think and pray through the issues, make your voice heard as best as you feel led, and then trust God to manage the outcome ... just as Daniel did in the last passage we read together. If you continue reading in Daniel, you'll see it revealed that God - not our president or kings - is ultimately in charge here. (See also Romans 13:1 linked here)

Finally, I want to leave you with a stirring thought from John Ortberg:

Imagine that we elected all the right people to all the right offices. President, Congress, governors, right down to the school board, city council members, and dog catcher. Let's imagine that all of these ideal office holders instituted all the right policies. Every piece of legislation—from zoning laws, to tax codes, to immigration policy, to crime bills—is just exactly the way you know it ought to be.

Would that usher in the kingdom of God?

Would the hearts of the parents be turned toward their children?
Would all marriages be models of faithful love?
Would greed and pride be legislated out of existence?
Would assistant pastors find senior pastors to be models of harmony and delight?
Would human beings now at last be able to master our impulses in the areas of sexuality, and anger, and narcissism?

Would you finally become the woman or man you know you ought to be?

In the words of theologian Macaulay Culkin: "I don't think so." Because no human system has the ability to change the human heart. Not even democracy, or capitalism, or post-modern-emergent-ancient-future-missionalism.


So, my friends, I'll go out and vote. But I don't expect the sky to fall, no matter which candidate is elected. (It will only fall if God allows it to, and even then He has a plan for its renewal.) And I don't look to my political leaders or our government to accomplish what only God can do - though I do want the best leaders possible and I care deeply about our country.

I know some will disagree with me here, and that's okay - we have freedom of speech. :) But I hope all will join me in praying for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in America, and on earth, as it is in heaven ... through His power and in His name.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reading Daniel

Yes, I realize Daniel is not a woman of the Bible. But I need to read his story right now in preparation for an upcomming sermon series at my church ... just to be clear, I don't preach the sermons at my church, I just work with a team that helps our pastor brainstorm and researach upcomming series.

So since I can only focus on maybe 24 things at a time and I have 28 on my plate, we're going to look at Daniel togther in lieu of another NT woman. That's OK with you, right? Great - you're so flexible!

The chapters I most need to focus on are the early chapters in the book of Daniel. We'll start with Daniel chapters One and Two, which are linked here. Let's pray:

"Lord, thank you for this day. Forgive us and cleanse our hearts and minds of anything that would prevent us from focusing on Your Word as we read. Holy Spirit of God, fill us with insight and understanding. Make this Word a light for our path - teach us how we should live from Daniel today. In Jesus' Name."

So go read it now and this time I'm going to deviate from tradition and let you go ahead and post your thoughts, reactions and questions. Some of you may have studied Daniel recently through a Beth Moore study ... if so, please summarize for us what you learned through it.

Happy reading - can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm back and I'm a Sanguine/Otter

Hey All. The retreat this past weekend in the NC mountains went great - thank you for praying. Really, truly, thank you so much for praying for me and these events. This was their 10th annual retreat, but my first with them. Our theme for the weekend was: "How to Have a Well-Ordered Heart."

I also led us in a humorous activity where the women learned which of the 4 main personality types they are. Have you ever taken a personality test? Do you know what your dominant type is? If so, tell us. It will be fun to see.

  • The Sanguine/Otter is the "popular person" who wants to have fun in every situation. She's not the most dependable person when it comes to details and schedules, but she is the life of the party. Sanguines love to talk.

  • The Choleric/Lion is the "powerful person" who wants to take control of every situation and make decisions for others. She can be too bossy sometimes and step on people, but she is a natural born leader. Cholerics love to work.

  • The Melancholy/beaver is the "perfection person" who wants everything done in order and properly. and who appreciates art and music. She can't make decisions quickly - without doing tons of research first - but she is the one to go to when you need something done right the first time. Melancholies love to analyze.

  • The Phlegmatic/Golden Retriever is the "peaceful person" who wants to stay out of trouble, keep life on an even keel, and get along with everybody. She can't handle drama or change very well, but she will be a loyal friend for life. Phlegmatics love to rest.

This was another enjoyable bunch of women. On Saturday night after my session and after the bonfire that got postponed from Friday night, a group of about ten of us (jacked up on too many s'mores) stayed up past midnight playing some crazy fun board games. Each time another woman would walk by us and announce she was heading to bed, we'd insist she join us for just one round. Two rounds later she'd be laughing too hard to go to bed. Hey, that's what girlfriend retreats are for!

So are you ready to do some more Bible reading together? The next woman of the Bible we are going to read is ... drum roll please... Daniel. Wait, Daniel isn't a woman's name. No, but you're willing to read it with me anyway aren't you? Good, I'm about to post the reading for us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thankful

Thanks so much for praying for my friend's family in this time of great and unexpected loss. I'm really thankful for this group of women who pray for one another here!



I leave today for a retreat in the NC mountains. This weekend's theme is "Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition." Any prayers for safe travel and a God-soaked event would be much appreciated.

I'm not sure if I will have Internet access over the weekend but, I'll be back soon and we'll read another woman of the Bible together next week.

Sweet Blessings ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Discussing the Crippled Woman

For a long time when I read this woman's story, I zeroed in on the "healing on the Sabbath" issue. I saw this mainly as a story of the Pharisees in their never-ending quest to trap Jesus and discredit Him by proving that He had violated a religious law. And I saw Jesus on His never-ending quest to get people to see that His agenda was so much larger than just ensuring that we follow a list of rules.

The head of the synagogue where Jesus was teaching that Sabbath apparantly was outraged that Jesus healed someone on the day of rest. (But he doesn't think teaching is work? - I beg to differ!) Interestingly enough, he didn't (have the guts to?) confront Jesus over performing the healing. Instead, he tells the congregation, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."

Jesus' response seems to ask, are religious leaders exempt from having mercy or compassion towards people on the Sabbath day? Freeing an ox from its yoke or from its pen is an appropriate way to spend the Sabbath, but freeing a person from their afflictions is not?

Once again, this man laid the burden of always following the rules, as he has interpreted them, on the people. You see, the Mosaic law did not forbid healing on the Sabbath, but the "Tradition of the Elders" did. But God is in their midst now showing them another way to live - a way that trusts in Him to do the right thing, even when it doesn't make sense to us or the Elders ... a way that brings deliverance, not oppression.

So, for a long time I read her story and yet nearly missed the woman. She seemed simply an object lesson to me for Jesus to use to set the religious rulers straight -- but of course a person is never just an object lesson to God.

Now, I notice the woman. I notice that despite her situation, her disability, she is in "church." She is continuing to press into God. She is not staying away in isolation. She is there to hear and obey Jesus' teaching. Jesus sees her in the crowd - no doubt knows every detail of her situation - and calls her over. If she said anything at this point, it goes unrecorded.

She follows Jesus' command to come to Him. And then He gives the command for her body to be healed. It is instantaneous. She stands up straight for the first time in 18 years. She feels the glorious release. At this point, her reaction is recorded - it says "how she praised and thanked God!"

I imagine she felt forever indebted to this Jesus for providing that deliverance. Daily she must've praised God for overcoming for her what she could not.

We too have been healed and delivered by Jesus when He died on the cross. When we call out to Him, or ask for forgiveness in Jesus' name, our souls straighten up. They regain the ability to walk unencumbered with God.

Hum, do I feel any indebtedness to Jesus for that today? How often do I feel grateful for that? That's where her story lead me this time around. How about you? What are your thoughts? Post them and let's talk about it.

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Girls, I'd like to ask you to pray for a friend of mine and his two young children. Dan and his wife Angie were in a tragic car accident this past weekend - Angie did not survive. I can honestly say this man loved his wife, through thick and thin. So too, of course, do her two elementary school-aged children. Please pray for Dan, and Brendon and Alyssa. Pray for God's comfort to envelop them. Pray for God's wisdom to guide them. Pray for their hearts to be guarded from any bitterness. Pray for their souls to be lifted up, and for them to walk through this exceedingly difficult time with Jesus. Post your prayers if you wish, but please do pause and pray.
Thanks, friends.