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

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

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

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

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The Secret Place of Communion

The Secret Place of Communion

Where do you go to commune with your God? 

Do you go to a chapel or a church?  to a favorite place near a stream, at a mountain retreat, or on a beach? Do you go to a "prayer closet," a special place in your own home?

But maybe you are frustrated because there never seems to be a "place" where you can go. Maybe you're a mom with young children or a special needs child. Perhaps you are a working mom or a worker who needs to moonlight at a second job to make ends meet. Maybe you or a loved one has a handicap or serious illness that takes you to services and medical places that seem to consume your life. Where is the place for you?

I have good news for all of us ... 

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Touch Jesus . . . Touch Life

Touch Jesus . . . Touch Life

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

 

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Holes in my Soul ... Again!

Holes in my Soul ... Again!

I’m hitting a hole-y soul again … a whole year later. Only this time I’m needing this post as a reminder to myself, because things are constant and survival seems to be the name of the game. We are helping with the same four littles during some health issues. So if you care to read some encouragement for your own hole-y soul, just know that I am “needy” and “hole-y” with you this time too.

First posted July 2017:

Do you ever feel like there are holes in your soul? I do. In fact, right now I feel a bit like a piece of Swiss cheese. And I don't mean "baby swiss." No, the real holes kind.

The interesting thing is that nothing bad is going on right now in my life. It's all good stuff! But the constancy of the schedule with a newborn (darling first granddaughter!), a two year old (energetic boy, I might add!), two older boys (awesome, each one!), plus sleep deprived young parents (getting ready for a military move next month, I might add), and two aged, also sleep-deprived, grandparents (John & me!) has been hard and delightful at the same time. But to be honest, we adults are all living "on the edge" of something (I just drew a blank as to what).

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Be Ye Glad...Oh Yes!

Be Ye Glad...Oh Yes!

As we were beginning worship one morning at church, I was arrested by the beauty and the message of a song I hadn't heard or sung for many years.

Those of us who were young adults during the late 60s into the 70s and 80s may remember "Be Ye Glad" as a peaceful balm to our souls. So when those opening words and melody penetrated my consciousness, I had to stop and reflect on every word.

In light of all the upheaval in the world, along with the upheavals in your own world, why not take a few moments and listen, reflect on the message, and even sing along….

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The Call to Morning Prayer

The Call to Morning Prayer

The indwelling Holy Spirit calls to my soul in the early morn — to turn my thoughts toward Him and away from the anxieties, fears, stresses, and “to do lists” of my weak, broken and “know it all” flesh.

With every morn my life afresh must break
The crust of self, gathered about me fresh;
That thy wind-spirit may rush in and shake
The darkness out of me, and rend the mesh
The spider-devils spin out of the flesh …

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God's Voice (Author Unknown)

God's Voice (Author Unknown)

Many voices come at our minds, day after day. Some of those voices come from the world around us, through our 5 senses. But then there are those inner voices. Where do they come from — our own thoughts? the voices of others within?

Discerning all those voices, within and without can be tricky. But believe it or not there was a post on Facebook recently that certainly helps.

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In the Eye of the Storm

In the Eye of the Storm

For all of our loved ones along the East Coast, preparing and waiting for what may come in the path of the pending hurricane …

For all of us who may be enduring hurricanes of other kinds: deaths, chronic illness, rejection, loneliness, financial struggles, emotional abandonment, wayward loved ones, temptations and testings of any kind …

This is for us all, my friends, so we can find our “Way of Escape” into the cocooning Presence of God.

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The Key to the Christian Life ... Always!

The Key to the Christian Life ... Always!

As we are beginning a new fall season of new beginnings ... school, cooler weather, wardrobe changes, closed toed shoes (instead of sandals), and yes, ladies' Bible Studies*, Awana, and other church programs of many kinds, I thought of this blog post. The heart of everything ... especially our so-called "spiritual activities" is JESUS!

So just in case you need a reminder along with the rest of us, here is the Key to the Christian Life ... actually the Key to it all!

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The Gate Left Open

The Gate Left Open

I'm so excited to introduce you to my favorite "Guest Branch," my darling husband John. John is a good writer and more important, he is a kind, loving, godly person. The first time he wrote for A Branch in the Vine, it was in response to an anniversary blog post that I had written. And I have been wanting him to write again (OK, nagging a bit too) for this blog. 

So here he is in all his writing and "walking with God" glory. Thank you, John, for helping all of us, including your wife, to understand more deeply that God's grace truly is amazing and ... 

Oops, it's your story, John! Thanks for sharing it with us, my love!

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A Surprise in the Sunset

A Surprise in the Sunset

Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days... 

Or so the song goes ... and so go our days. The days at the coast with my beloved extended family have flown by.

Each morning, I experienced sunrise after sunrise over the ocean, each unique and special and "speaking." (See my previous two posts). Then on our last evening there, I unexpectedly witnessed a sunset over the bay. The horizon wasn't quite as straight and "uncluttered" as that of the ocean, but oh my! It was pretty close. And the way it impacted me was surprising. 

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Fresh Mercies Shared

Fresh Mercies Shared

Before I return to my life in Ohio, I would like to share another aha from my mornings at sunrise at the Jersey Shore.

In my previous post, I wrote of the new realization that came to me as I viewed sunrises this trip ... that although our God is unchanging, God's mercies change day by day, just as the unique sunrise changes moment by moment. So too for us, each of our todays is unique with different circumstances, different joys, different sorrows, and different stresses. God who is our All meets us in each with exactly what we need as we trust Him day by day. 

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!” 

Lamentations 3:24 NLT

Well, here is my final thought. God intends that His mercies spread to shape the atmosphere around us. In other words, His mercies are meant to be shared. You may ask where I got that from the sunrises. Well, let me tell you what I noticed.


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Fresh Mercies

Fresh Mercies

I'm at my "Happy Place," the Jersey Shore. It took the whole summer to get here this year, but it was so worth the wait.

I am never disappointed at the beach.  I see and hear and feel and smell and even taste God here in a unique way. The vastness of the ocean and the littleness of me on the shore help to correct my perspective about God and my life. And the sunrise over the ocean speaks with new messages every day.

These mornings here at sunrise in Belmar, I have been arrested by an awesome observation.

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WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

♥We are fa-mi-ly...my mother, brothers, sisters, and me!

OK, I did change the lyrics a bit...but that's who we Renners are, since our daddy went home to God more than 25 years ago.

And I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of it all...the oldest of 7 and the "Boss of the Mob" according to my mom :)

Most families are a mess today!  We're a mess too (aren't we all?!), but with one big difference.  A rarity, in fact!  We love and support one another...and we actually want to be together!  What an undeserved gift...and I certainly know it!

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My Senses Come Alive to Glory at the Beach!

My Senses Come Alive to Glory at the Beach!

After a summer riddled with surgeries, sickness, scans, and being stuck at home for "recoveries," we are "getting outa Dodge" and heading east ... to my beloved beach. So I am revisiting my blog posts written over the past 7 years that speak of sand and surf and sunrises at my favorite place. The beach early in the morning is a special place where I meet God in the Glory of His Creation and in the Peace of His Presence. 

May you be vicariously refreshed as you "visit" with me there... 

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I AM a Sanctuary ... Revising a favorite worship song

I AM a Sanctuary ... Revising a favorite worship song

In worship on Sunday, we sang a song I haven't thought of in years. I've always really liked the song. But this time, I heard the lyrics as if for the first time. And my heart cried out, "NO!"

In the song, we are basically asking the Lord to do what He has already done through our faith in Christ. I thought, "We need to be thanking Him instead of asking."

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Living from a Reservoir

Living from a Reservoir

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.

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Teaching from a Reservoir

Teaching from a Reservoir

…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.”

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Because the Bully Never Gives Up! (Part 2)

Because the Bully Never Gives Up! (Part 2)

Bullies don't often give up. They just look for another opportunity in a different place of vulnerability, changing tactics and catching the victim off-guard.

And so true to form, the Bully didn't take long to regroup and sneak up on me in another situation. (See the previous post) It sent me into a tailspin of emotion...trying to choke back tears and keep on doing life. But thankfully, my Hero, the Holy Spirit of Christ broke through the emotional cloud I was churning in.

"Ok Jan. Resist! Stand! Say NO! Remember that? Now look at the entire passage and park yourself there."

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