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Advent Devotion- December 3

Here’s today’s installment:

December 3, 2014Adventskranz 1. Advent

Genesis 3:8-15

 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done? ”The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

 

Even in this dark, painful moment, one that ushered in the horror of sin and the gravity of judgment, we still find hope. God simply refuses to allow our rebellion, our hiding and blaming to be the last word. Instead, He gazes down through history to deliver a promise. The enemy, Satan himself, would strike at our Savior’s heel, bringing anguish and agony. But triumph belongs to Jesus. On the Cross He crushed Satan’s head, forever rendering him a defeated adversary. Yes, the enemy still tempts, pursues and harasses, but our King has already decisively judged him. To proclaim that Jesus wins is not a spoiler alert, but rather a statement of truth—of truest and deepest reality. Whatever trials and temptations you face today, remember this: Jesus has already won! Your future is secure; your hope – every bit of it — is well placed in Jesus!

What effects of the Fall (brokenness in ourselves, in creation, our world) are you feeling most deeply today? Spend a few moments letting Jesus, the true and rightful King, remind you that He has defeated the enemy and that one day all things will be fully “put to rights”.

 

For Families: Think about this: even when we make mistakes and disobey God, He still loves us and wants to be close to us. How does that make you feel?

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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Advent Devotion- December 2

I’m a little late getting started posting these, but here’s a piece of an Advent Devotional that I’ve written.  I hope you find it helpful.

Adventskranz 1. Advent

 

December 2, 2014

Isaiah 40:9-11

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”

10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

One of the difficult parts about being “between Advents” (between Jesus’ 1st and 2nd comings) is waiting… and wondering. Like God’s people through history, we ask “How long, Lord?” How long until You right the wrongs in this world? How long until you bring real justice, complete healing, a restored creation, harmonious relationships? How long, Lord? How quickly we forget that we, Jesus’ current Body on earth, are meant to display (even imperfectly) of the kind of kingdom King Jesus will one day bring in fullness. We forget that we’re called to be a foretaste of the coming Kingdom. One way to be reminded is to keep our focus on our Shepherd and Leader, King Jesus. Notice how tender, how personal is His care. See how He loves the broken and hurting, how He pursues lost and wandering sheep. And let Him, today, be your Good Shepherd, leading you to green pastures and quiet waters. Let Him restore your soul.

Into which broken places in our world is Jesus calling you to bring a taste of God’s Kingdom? What step can you take?

How is Jesus leading you today as your Shepherd? What is He saying to your soul?

For Families:

Think about a shepherd and his sheep. What’s something you like about the fact that Jesus is your shepherd?

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

25 years- and counting- with this amazing woman

25 years.Us

That’s a lot of years to be married. I’ve now spent more years of my life married than not. Even harder to get my head around is that I don’t feel that much older than 25… ish—depending on the day. Certainly not old enough to have been married for a quarter of a century!

So what can I say about the woman who has shared these years and intertwined her life with mine? That she’s more beautiful today than the afternoon she walked down an aisle to marry me? That she’s an amazing mother to our 3 kids—filling our house with laughter, love, and joy? That she’s persevered with me through 20 something years of ministry—through joys and deep valleys, countless trips, retreats, and groups—opening up our home and our lives again and again? Yes, that and more.

People remind me that I “married up”, but the nudge isn’t necessary. I know. God gave me a remarkable gift in my wife. Not simply that she’s gorgeous, talented, smart, and fun. Not just that we fit so well together—2 compulsive over-analyzers who love to learn, to talk (a lot), to invest in people, and to keep seeking new adventures together. Not only because we’re one another’s best friend and confidant, and that we still make each other laugh- a lot. (OK, she’s funny, but I’m funnier)

The thing about my wife- and the thing that makes our marriage strong and continue to deepen—is that she keeps seeking Jesus. Not because she’s “supposed to” as a pastor’s wife or because she’s trying to be a “good Christian”- whatever that means. She simply continues to pursue greater intimacy with Jesus. She lets Him uncover her “junk” and refuses to hide from the hard stuff. While she ultimately relies on Jesus’ transforming work in her heart, she’s the hardest worker- emotionally and spiritually—that I’ve ever known. Her hunger for God continues to grow, and because of that, she loves me more fully and authentically. I’m regularly challenged and inspired by my wife to know Jesus more deeply and follow Him more courageously.

I know, anniversaries like this are often filled with extravagant professions of love that- let’s be honest—tend to embellish reality a bit. But as I write these words today, I have no such concern. My wife isn’t perfect, and I’m certainly not either. We are a couple of messy, flawed people who have come far enough to see that there is much more growth and challenge to come. But what fills me with great hope and real joy is that we continue to seek after the One who has carried us so far, and I know His grace will always lead us home.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

One Day This Will All Be Made New

Bear with me- if you don’t love poetry, this may not be your cup of tea- but I lovedall things new it. It was written many years ago by William Cowper, a friend of John Newton (author of Amazing Grace and Cowper’s pastor). Something else to take note of- Cowper battled manic-depression (bi-polar disorder) much of his adult life and often questioned his own salvation. But listen to the hope that comes through in his writing- and let his hope grow yours. This excerpt from his poem, The Task, looks forward to the Day when Jesus restores all things to their original intent and purpose.

 

The groans of Nature in this nether world,

Which Heaven has heard for ages, have an end,

Foretold by prophets, and by poets sung,

Whose fire was kindled at the prophets’ lamp.

The time of rest, the promised Sabbath comes!

 

Rivers of gladness water all the earth,

And clothe all climes with beauty. The reproach

Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field

Laughs with abundance; and the land, once lean

Or fertile only in its own disgrace,

Exults to see its thistly curse repeal’d.

The various seasons woven into one,

And that one season an eternal spring,

The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence,

For there is none to covet, all are full.

The lion, and the leopard, and the bear,

Graze with the fearless flocks.

 

One song employs all nations; and all cry,

“Worthy is the Lamb, for He was slain for us!”

The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks

Shout to each other, and the mountain tops

From distant mountains catch the flying joy;

Till, nation after nation taught the strain,

Earth rolls the rapturous Hosanna round.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Forgetting to remember

So I was reading in 1 Kings and came to Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal and it got me thinking.  And then writing– so this is what I wrote.

 

ElijahThe weary prophet sighed deeply and slowly rose to his feet. It was time. A full day of anticipation- with a healthy dose of well-deserved mockery for the so-called prophets of Baal- is over. Now for the real thing.

 

Elijah had been waiting for this show-down for some time. Months in seclusion, attended to only by birds and the occasional rodent. Waiting. Waiting for the water to dry up and for people to get truly desperate. Sadly, people don’t seem to get around to seeking God until the situation is truly grim. And desperate they’ve become—enough to bring them in large numbers to this mountain top, to witness this confrontation.

 

All those months alone had afforded him plenty of time to visualize this scene. The timing needed to be just right. Yes, let the pagans do their dances and rituals all day long. Yell and scream and cut themselves. Of course it was meaningless, but let them have their little show. But they needed to be finished by late afternoon. And their turn was now over.

 

What mattered to Elijah was not simply the demonstration of dramatic, raw power that was about to flash from the skies. Of course that would be memorable. With all that Elijah had seen and experienced, he had no doubt that Yahweh would come through with fire, followed by rain. But what Elijah wanted, even more than the stories that would be told of this day, was that the people would remember.

 

That’s why the timing needed to be just right. The altar needed to be rebuilt, just so. The stones arranged in the right shape. The animal slain and laid out properly. Perhaps now they would remember the ancient ways. Perhaps this would spark their recollection, awaken their hearts once more. It was time for the evening sacrifice.

 

Once, this practice had been so ingrained in the lives of the people that they arranged their lives around it. Once, they had kept the commands of God to remember, each day, His faithfulness, morning and evening. The fires in the temple had continued to burn, day and night, even as they had burned in the Tabernacle for all of those years. But those days were in danger of being forgotten altogether. While the well-worn and ancient paths to the Temple became overgrown with weeds, the people created their own. They followed whatever fool came along with a nice-sounding theory. The newest ideas were all the rage—Baal, Ashtoreth, or something else—the name was unimportant, as long as it was exotic and seemed fresh. How empty and futile these idols! How impotent to offer life and real hope! But there was always another one to try, it seemed. Anything but the One True God.

 

But the time had come. The altar had been rebuilt, the stones in place. Elijah secretly loved watching all that water poured out over the stones, even filling the trenches. Scarce water, poured out over and over. Maybe now they’d be reminded of Who the Source of Life was. Maybe they’d turn to the God who reigned on high, who caused the sun to shine and rain to fall. The time for the sacrifice had come. Elijah was ready. The people were quiet. Watching. Expectant. The fire would soon flash from the sky. Elijah knew. The rain would come, soon enough. But what he didn’t know, what he had prayed and prayed and prayed for, was much, much bigger. Would the people recall their birthright? Would their hearts turn back to God again? Was it possible for them to remember? It was time to find out.

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Tribute to Discomfort

The title of this video grabbed my attention immediately.  We live in the “Age of Comfort”- from our comfortable chairs to our comfortable shoes to our often all-too-comfortable faith.  Not that comfort is inherently wrong, just that it can lull us towards choosing the paths of least resistance.  By contrast, Jesus invites us to choose narrow roads, a narrow gate, and to take up our crosses and walk challenging paths.  He also promised that “in this world you will have trouble”, a Bible promise few claim as comfort.  Yet, without exception, it is the hard paths, tough times, the “dangers, toils, and snares” that serve to grow and stretch and mature us in Him.

So watch, be inspired and encouraged, and let’s choose our paths wisely and well.

http://bluechalk.com/portfolio/a-tribute-to-discomfort-cory-richards/Lazy-Boy-Furniture-3

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Story of Your Life

Once upon a time“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away, a great adventure took place.” Those words are the opening for… come on, now… that’s it, Star Wars. The current One Direction song, “The Story of My Life”, is very popular, but for the life of me I can’t decipher what the lyrics mean.  Oh, well.  I’m not the target audience.  But it does raise an interesting question:  What is the story of your life? And why does it matter?

Maybe you hadn’t considered this, but you have a story that is all yours– the story of your one and only life. It’s the one you are living in right now. Perhaps it’s a story with lots of twists and turns and unexpected detours. Some days it might feel like a romance, others like a sit-com. Most people I talk to seem to feel that their story is not very interesting, not deeply significant or stirring. I couldn’t disagree more.

Your story matters. It matters because it’s yours- it belongs to you, the only one who gets to live it, to walk in it, to take your particular journey. It matters because it is unique. And it matters because of the One whose opinion counts most. God says that your story matters. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” says the Author of your story. “I have plans for you- to give you a future and a hope”, says God, the greatest story-writer ever.

And he invited you and I to live our story before Him and with Him and others, and to do it fully, as engaged participants. Far too many people these days seem to be walking through their lives as if they were spectators to someone else’s story. But your story, your life, is not a book to be amused by, or a tale to listen to with bland detachment. This is your one and only life- enter it fully, deeply, passionately! And mostly, pay attention. One of my favorite authors, Frederich Buechner, says it this way:

“Listen to you life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Once upon a time, there was… there is… you.” Live that story, to its fullest.

 

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A prayer about imperfect following

pillar of fireGod, You once guided Your people so clearly.

A pillar of fire and cloud.

Unmistakable.

And I tend to think that I’d have followed You better

if You made it so clear and visible, impossible to miss.

But I probably wouldn’t.

I’d balk and complain and sometimes rebel.

And You’d be patient and merciful.

But sometimes You would say, “Enough.”

And discipline me

for my own good- and growth.

And even now, when it’s not always quite so clear,

I still resist You.  And complain.

And still You’re patient.  And merciful.

And sometimes You say, “Enough.” And discipline me

for my own good– and growth.

So in this moment of clarity

I will stop.

And breathe “Thank You.”

Amen.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Advent Devotional- Week 2

Hello there!  I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought I should get back online.  Advent is one of my favorite times of year- the anticipation, the hope, the longing.  This year I thought I’d write a devotional guide for Advent- and I’m already late in posting it, since we’re now in week 2. But they say, better late than never, so here’s week 2.  If you like it and feel like you’ve got a hole in your heart without the first week, let me know and I’ll send you the first week.  So… here it is- I hope that you might find it useful!

Advent- 2nd weekadvent image

Sunday December 7, 2013

Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.  He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;  4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

Ever find Jesus just a bit perplexing? Confusing at times?  If so, you’re in good company—many have been confounded by Jesus.  On the one hand, He fulfilled part of what we read here so beautifully.  God’s Spirit flows from Him, dispensing stunning streams of power and wisdom, truth and love. Imagine what it was like to hear truth cascade from His lips, to watch grace and healing power set a leper free or unlock deafened ears.  Picture Jesus placing His hand on your friend’s shoulder and with a word, giving her sight for the first time.  Surely this was the One God had promised!

But then we read the rest of the prophesy- about dispensing justice and slaying the wicked.  The parts about creation itself being restored to a kind of peace that the world hasn’t seen since Eden.  Jesus hasn’t fulfilled that promise.  Not yet.  Thus the confusion. The disappointment, even.  Which brings us squarely back to Advent– specifically, our place between 1st and 2nd Advents.  Yes, Jesus is the One who was promised.  He is our Answer.  But, He is not yet finished.  Yes, He fully accomplished our deliverance from the power of sin on the Cross.  And yes, we can be fully confident in Him for what remains.  But in the meantime… we wait.  And hope.  And keep on trusting.

Which aspects of Jesus’ first coming are you most grateful for today?

What parts of His 2nd Advent stir you most from today’s passage?

For Families

Talk about what it would be like for God’s Creation to be restored to it’s original intent- as it’s described in this passage.

Monday, December 8, 2013

Zechariah 6:12-13

Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’

Funny how we tend to divide up life into different quadrants—the sacred and the secular.  Religion and politics.  Keep them separate, we say, because we don’t want government overtaken by potentially dangerous ideologies.  And in our fallen-ness, we are wise to be mistrustful of our own bent toward abusing almost any kind of power.  But Jesus needs no such caution.  He sits on a unique Throne- one on which He receives utmost worship and from which He dispenses true and perfect justice.  Our great High Priest- who provides us unprecedented access to a Holy God.  Our King above all Kings- who will make all wrongs right, all broken places whole again.  One day, as J.R. R. Tolkien wrote, “Everything sad is going to come untrue!”

What worship will you offer Jesus today- in word, in action, through your life?

For Families:

Talk about what it means to worship Jesus- to say (and live) what is true about Jesus.

Tuesday December 9, 2013

Micah 5:2-4

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

We sing about the “Little town of Bethlehem”, an inconsequential village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  Noteworthy only for being King David’s ancient hometown, but that’s about it.  Insignificant.  Like so much around Jesus’ birth.  Born to impoverished peasants who become refugees.  Tucked in a feeding trough for smelly barn animals.  Attended to only by scruffy shepherds from the margins of society and some foreign guests who can’t leave town fast enough.  This is how our King puts His royalty on display in His arrival.

And by so doing, He reminds us what kind of King He really is.  One who draws close to the broken, the poor, and the marginalized.  The sort of King who identifies with those most easily overlooked and under-served.  The kind of King this world needs most.  And One who shows what real greatness really is.

Consider the humility of Jesus’ coming and His Kingship.  What do you think Jesus would  expect of us who seek to be like our King?

For Families:

If you were the King of Everything, what would you think your life would be like?  How does that compare with the way Jesus came and lived?

Wednesday, December 10, 2013

Malachi 3:1-6

 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.  6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

Have you ever seen metal purified?  A great deal of heat is required, melting the ore to liquid ooze.  In this liquid state, the impurities rise to the surface, so that they can be scraped away and removed before the liquid cools and hardens once again.  Such a great picture of the way God frequently works in our lives.  He allows the “heat” to be turned up- through trials and challenges, and our impurities tend to pop right to the surface.  Impatience, anger, self-pity, and rebellion, to name a few.  The best time to address those?  While the temperature is still hot, before things cool down and harden in place.  So while we want the pain to pass as quickly as possible, God has a larger purpose in mind- purity and wholeness.  That’s our King.

What “impurities” is God bringing to the surface of your life these days?  How can you bring those before Jesus for His help and healing?

For Families:

Talk about this picture of metal heating up. What are ways you notice God working in your life when things get “hot”?

Thursday, December 11, 2013

John 1:1-8

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

Lights are one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.  They illuminate displays, decorate shopping centers, brighten homes.  Lights can be colored, shaped, or made to paint a canvas of illuminated beauty.  But light is more than decorative; light is fundamental.  Essential.  No light = no life.  Without the light (and warmth) of the sun we would quickly die.  Without light to guide us in the dark, we are hopelessly and endlessly lost.  Light is… life.

John the Baptist was not the source of light, but rather one who pointed to it, directed attention to the Light.  Jesus is not simply a source of light and direction, He IS Light.  He IS Life.  Personified and real.  As necessary and fundamental as the air we breathe and the sun we see.  So this holiday season, when your attention is drawn to light displays or the warmth of a candle, let your heart turn toward Jesus.  Let His light shine into dark places of your heart for healing and wholeness.  Allow His light to guide you to see clearly.  Draw near to His light and simply sit with wonder and awe at Jesus, the Light of the world.

What aspects of the light of Jesus are you most in need of these days?

For Families:

Turn off the lights and light a candle or flashlight and talk about how important and beautiful light is, and reflect on Jesus as the Light of the world.

Friday, December 12, 2013

John 1:9-18

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

On the night Jesus was born, shepherds were visited by angels proclaiming that God had come near- that a Savior had been born– Go and See!  But part of this passage we tend to skip past is these words: “And the glory of the Lord shone around them…”  What was that glory?  God’s unique presence with the Israelites in the wilderness was displayed in a pillar of fire and cloud.  God’s glory shone through Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration in dazzling light and brightness. Before Jesus, God’s glory had not been seen for hundreds of years because of His people’s sin and rebellion.  But that night, out in the fields to a ragtag group of shepherds, God’s glory explodes in the night.  In Jesus, God’s glory returned to earth.

To see Jesus was to see glory- “God’s glory, full of grace and truth.”  The glory of God in human form, hidden in plain sight.  Most people missed it, apparently looking for fireworks and a big show.  I think we can easily miss it, too, looking for the spectacular.  Advent calls us to simply draw near to a baby in a manger and eavesdrop on the murmurings of shepherds and freshly minted teenage parents.  To peer in at an apparently helpless child and find there, along with others who have eyes to see, we are once again gazing upon the glory of God.

When you think of God’s glory, what comes to your mind?  How can focusing on Jesus bring you closer to the glory of God?

For Families:

Talk with your family about ways to be reminded to think about Jesus regularly during this time of year.

 

Saturday, December 13, 2013

Mark 1:1-3

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:  “I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

 

Prepare the way for Jesus.  What a job description!  I don’t envy John the Baptist’s task, do you?  A lonely figure standing against the prevailing tides of empty religiosity and cultural accommodation.  A strikingly contrasted lifestyle of simplicity and single-minded devotion.  Beckoning, even pleading with people to turn away from lives of futility and self-service and return to the Lord.  Challenging those cloaked in religion to reconsider whether they were truly seeking God or were simply keeping up appearances.  Prophetic work isn’t easy, is it?

But our calling isn’t all that different, is it?  Followers of Jesus are called to be a contrast community- displaying the truth and grace of our King in the midst of a world gone astray.  We, too, are to look in the mirror and ask whether our faith is worn for appearances or is a genuine garment, consistent with our interior life.   And what of simplicity and single-minded devotion- should these not mark our lives as well.   Prophetic work is never easy, it’s true.  But this, too, is part of our calling, and following in John’s footsteps will steer us clearly to point others- and ourselves, too- to Jesus.

What aspects of John’s prophetic calling and message do you need to imitate?

How can you be pointing others to Jesus more clearly this Advent?

For Families:

Talk about what it’s like to do and say what is right, even when it might not be popular.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

On plodding

Today I plod.jogging

No burst of youthful speed

or even an energetic trot.

Today is a “one deliberate foot after another” kind of day.

Weary.  A bit worn.  Frayed at the edges.

Of course it’s not just my aging, forty something out of shape body

that I mean,

but my stretched thin’s soul’s quiet lament.

For today.

Tomorrow may feel different

full of life and energy and joy.

Perhaps.

But not today.

Today I plod.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized