Before we get too far removed from all those vacation voices, the beachy bliss, the freedom of fun in the summer months, I'd like to tell you about the visual the Lord gave me to show my heart and soul what true surrender does for me and yes, even for Him!Read More
Years ago I had a mentor-friend named Donna. She was the one the Lord used to usher me into experiencing Christ in me as the One who does the doing in the Christian life! Her key phrase was (as I remember it) "God does it."
Then by the Spirit of God came the realization that my indwelling Lord Jesus Christ is my All in All! He is the Father's Ultimate Gift to me...no-thing else, no-thing more!
Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Oh, life has been full of losses lately...deaths, illnesses, failures. And these during and after times of refreshment with loved ones and beaches and the simplicity of Amish peaceful countryside.
As a result, I am reflecting, revisiting, and responding in new ways to previous thoughts...some of which have already been shared. Forgive me. But if you would like to listen in, here is my meditation:
Life is a mix, a conglomeration.
There is confusion and clarity, flailing and focus, excruciating pain and exquisite peace.
There is bitterness and sweetness, strength and fragility, "rugged seas" and "smooth sailing."
While my husband and I made our way to the East Coast to spend time with our daughter and family, grandsons, my own siblings and their families, word came to us of the sudden death of our friend Craig. Shock beyond words! Grief and heart-break for our friend Cindy, his dear wife as well as for ourselves and all those who have known him and loved him. No time for prayer, beseeching, begging!
Then a few days later, word came of my friend Linda, who had just suffered a stoke at 73 years of age...
So that's always the dilemma.
WHY? Why one and not the other?Read More
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name...
My dear friend,
I heard a song and I thought of you!
I remembered a poem and I thought of you!
And I thought of grief and joy and love and life...and I thought of you, my precious sister-friend!
And I remembered your delightful, creative, godly love of your life Craig, who is now "exploring the mysteries of Christ."Read More
Four little "scholars" begin a new school year in our family. Since these scholars are our grandchildren, this new beginning makes this Babci pause.
What will this year hold for these precious little lives?
Joys and sorrows, friendships and rejections, encouragement and despondency, successes and failures...
Lord, I want the formers and not the latters. But I know how it goes...the firsts often come through the seconds.Read More
During these closing weeks of the summer, many of us are focusing especially on the children in our lives. School is starting (or has already started), and we are longing for a rich year of learning, love, and acceptance...good friends, caring teachers and adults in their young, vulnerable lives. And our wish list for them and prayer list on their behalf go on and on.
So whether a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, teacher or caring friend, this is for you. I know it can be easy to discount or forget the glorious potential in those little lives that we love and care about.Read More
You cannot impart what you do not possess!
This was a favorite saying of Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary.
John & I had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Hendricks' teaching in the 1980's at DTS. No matter the class, whether it was "Bible Study Methods" or the "Christian Home," this profound little truth would punctuate the "Prof's" lectures.
In my last post, we talked about Teaching from a Reservoir. If Dr. Hendricks' statement is true, then teaching (or whatever we are doing) from a reservoir presupposes LIVING FROM THE RESERVOIR -- the reservoir of truth in relationship with Him who is the TRUTH.Read More
…Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38
In the early fall of 2000, John & I were blessed by a visit from Dr Marvin Mayer and his wife Shirley. Dr. Mayer had just retired from many years of teaching Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. John & I were students at MBI in the 1970′s. Dr. Mayer fast became one of my favorite professors and “spiritual father,” with a continuing relationship over the years.
On this particular visit, I got up early so I could walk with Dr M in the morning before he and Shirley left to return home to Illinois. As we walked and talked, he spoke of his years of teaching and made a statement that grabbed my attention: “I teach from a reservoir.”Read More
Like most people, when I first began active experimentation with prayer, I was full of questions, such as: Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted, while others are not? I still have questions. Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge—luring, beckoning on to further experimentation.
But one thing I do know; I learned it through hard experience. It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released. This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.Read More
Today I would like to share with you what has become my "spiritual survival image."
Because life can be overwhelming, frustrating (people and circumstances don't always cooperate with our "plans"...amazing!), and stressful to the point of sending us "over the edge."
So here is where the Lord always seems to take me, even in the dark, even in the not-knowing...perhaps especially in the not-knowing.Read More
Is there anything too small for the Lord?
OK, that's not how the verse goes:
Is there anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; 32:27; Luke 18:27)
But maybe the first is a question we should also ask. Let me share why...
The other day I was taking my daily walk down our hill, through the nature path, alongside the horse farm, through a park area with the baseball fields and grove of trees...then back again. Many times this walk is when I commune with the Lord....listening to praise music, talking with my Savior and Friend.
And other times, I commune with friends or family via my cell phone. Also lovely and meaningful.Read More
As I was getting ready to write a short blog about how easy it is to run ahead of the Lord, word came through of another pastor of a large multi campus ministry, a dear brother in the Lord, who has fallen into the mire of "moral failure."
Tragic, devastating news!
We all grieve for our brother...for his lovely wife...for his precious children.
And for ourselves who have heard God's Word and Spirit speaking to our hearts through this gifted brother.
But we also grieve with him...yes, with!
Because none of us is far from the same pit...though in different circumstances. This could easily be you or me.Read More
A few years ago, my husband and I were at some friends’ house. This couple liked to gather miscellaneous people who knew them but not each other. True to form, they asked a great icebreaker question. The particular question that evening was,
If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would that be? Your secret ambition?
If God Himself is the Strong One who does the doing, what is my part…yes faith, but what about my doing?
To answer that, let’s look again at our second “yet not I” verse:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God with [sun, united with] me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NET)Read More
What is a living faith?
To understand a faith that is alive, vibrant, real and restful, we need to explore two verses and two questions. Both of our verses contain the same interesting phrase, “yet not I.” And both are from Paul’s writings: Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 15:10.
1. What is “the faith” by which we live while on this earth?
I am crucified [united with] Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
2. If God lives the life that only He can live in and through me, what about me? Do I do anything?
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God with [united with] me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
About twelve years ago, our son-in-law was stationed in Tucson, Arizona [home of our Alma Mater, the U of A, "Go Wildcats!" But I digress...]. When the school year for my ESOL class had ended in June, I flew to Tucson for an extended visit.
Beth and Nate were both working during the daytime, so I had some lovely, restful, sun-filled (and "Son-filled") time alone by the pool. At that time, I was reading some of Brennan Manning's books.
One day I was reading The Signature of Jesus: The Call to a Life Marked by Holy Passion & Relentless Faith as I soaked up the Arizona sun by the pool. I was somewhat annoyed to see that a man lying on a lounge nearby was straining to see what I was reading.Read More
Here at A Branch in the Vine, we are proclaiming our Declaration of Dependence again for another year.
We are celebrating that every day is Dependence Day for those of us who "live from the life of Another." True liberation, freedom inexpressible and full of glory, begins when we embrace the words of Jesus,
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESVRead More
Kids who have been raised in Christian homes, and even educated in Christian schools, seem to be "leaving the faith" in surprising numbers.
And maybe there are just as many young people and adults that "stay" but are bored, just going through the motions.
What is going on? Why is this happening?Read More
Look carefully! Can you see it? A perfectly formed circular spider web hanging across a path, suspended by a thread! Th is is the amazing sight that my friend Penny and I happened upon early one morning as we were walking down some little-traveled paths in a wooded area in my neighborhood. Here was one spider who was serious! She was ready to get a good catch that day!
There was a period of insecurity in my life when I was a good catch in a craftily constructed web—not made by earthly designs but that of the Father of Lies (John 8:44). It started out with a series of real, and perhaps imagined, rejections which then developed into a lie. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had recognized it for what it was, but I didn’t. And so I embraced it as truth and struggled for many years.Read More