Joy in January: Greater!

Joy in January: Greater!

Brothers & sisters, are you amazed, as am I?

Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (Colossians 1:27 NLT)

The Lord Jesus Christ in you! The Lord Jesus Christ in me! What glory right here...right now!

The Sovereign Creator of the Universe lives in each of His children! His life courses through our spiritual veins!  What glory for this life as well as the life to come!

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Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

Jesus Christ the Son of God became one with us, so that we could be one with Him! 

This glorious truth is at the heart of the Incarnation.  God became one of us!  One with us!  Why?  So that we could experience union with God.

And that takes us back to our 3 Greek prepositions for with:  (see previous post:  The WITH-ness of our God (prepositions):

  • para, meaning beside, nearby, in the immediate vicinity or proximity, alongside
  • meta, meaning with, in close association with, in companionship with
  • sun, meaning together in intimate union, inseparable from
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Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

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

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

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

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

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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 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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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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Remembering my Dad

Remembering my Dad

I'm so thankful for the man that GOD chose to be my earthly father. I wish I had had more time to get to know him as a person. He died young ... just 60! Eleven years on earth less than I have had to this point.

Here are my reflections of my dad from a post 2 years ago. I hit a grief that caught me by surprise:
An Unexpected Grief, first posted November 2016…

There I was, sitting at the stop light. All of a sudden, an overwhelming grief ... not primarily for my mom who died an exact year before, almost to the day. No, for my dad ... who had died in 1983 right before Thanksgiving.

But why am I grieving now ... why this year, when I hadn't thought of him at this time other years?

I tried to track my train of thought and realized that my thoughts had gone from grieving over my mistakes in my parenting to the difficulties in my own childhood home.

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Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

Since the month of June is Fathers Day month,  I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.  My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

So this month, I would like to share a few of them with you. But first, let's think together about "spiritual fathering."

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TBT: Choose your FACE...Change your DAY

Dear readers, this can change your life, not just your day.  And I find myself reminding myself of the truth of it all because this is just as true today as it was in the past. I find myself saying often the "mantra" I learned years ago from a favorite Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll.

So for this "Throw Back Thursday" first posted in 2011:

Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart. Proverbs 27:19

I love 4 year olds...they understand so much!  A few years ago, I told my then 4 year old grandson Evan that we choose our attitude.  And he got it!

I didn’t always think that was true, but the older I get the more I believe our choosing has a lot to do with it. And if we are children of God, the living, indwelling Christ empowers us to have an appropriate attitude for the situation.

I experienced this simple truth with another 4 year old when I was teaching preschool many years ago.

It was getting toward the end of the school year...maybe April or early May.  I was reflecting on the precious group of "free spirits" entrusted to my care that year.  The Lord had done some amazing spiritual work in the lives of those five four-year-old's and in my own life as their teacher.

But I was somewhat distressed, feeling that I hadn't quite "reached" one little boy.  I felt that way because he usually looked stressed.  And he often had a negative expression on his face...what might be called a "NO" face.  Somewhat resigned to the fact that "you can't win them all," I just kept on doing what we were doing.

One day, the children were washing their hands two by two.  Little Johnny (not his real name) was not acting properly toward the child at the sink with him.  So of course, I reprimanded him.  He glared at me with his "NO " face, obviously not happy!

I said, "Johnny, don't give me that face!  Give me a gentle face!"  Immediately, Johnny changed his face...and peace came over him!  I was amazed!

Then just about an hour later, we were lining up by the door to go home.  At the end of each class day, I would stand at the door and face the children, waiting until they formed a line in front of me.  Then we would proceed down the hall and out to the waiting moms.  I looked at Johnny who, at that point, had the usual, somewhat negative, expression on his face.  When he made eye contact with me, he must have remembered our little interchange at the sink.  He immediately relaxed his expression and smiled.

Later I asked the Lord about it.  "Lord, what just happened?"  He led me to an incredible Scripture I had never noticed before:

A man's wisdom illumines his face and causes his stern face to change. Ecclesiastes 8:1b  NASB

Days later, Johnny's mom came up to me and said, "Jan, you changed Johnny's life!"  She had seen a new peace in her child.  And I praised God, knowing it wasn't me who made the change, but the Holy Spirit working in one little boy's life by enabling him to "change his face."

Not long ago, this very thread ran through discussion with a group of friends.  One woman said she wanted to be more gentle, so the Lord led her to start closing doors and cabinets quietly.  Another person wanted to not respond to mistakes in anger and frustration, so he began to speak out a gentle answer and found that it turned away his own wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)

After my husband's heart attack, John and I went to his cardiac rehab class called, "The Emotional Side of Heart Disease."

John at cadiac rehab
John at cadiac rehab

This was an excellent class about managing stress...especially the stresses associated with having just suffered a heart attack.  We both looked at each other when Patty, the rehab nurse, read an excerpt from an article called, "Laughter Really is the Best Medicine."

Move joyfully.  If you wake up in a bad mood, act like you're in a good mood, and your body can actually 'fake out' your own brain.  It's called 'fake it till you make it.'  When the copier breaks down in the office, instead of hitting it, try twirling while you tell people the copier isn't working.  Trust me, when you do this, it's impossible to feel stressed.  By substituting playful gestures for angry ones, your brain often short-circuits your own stress.

I'm not so sure I can see my engineer husband twirling at the copier, but this principle seems to be at the heart of the way the body and mind work together.

But the even better news for us believers is that we have the mind of Christ, and so we can choose to submit our body to Him and His indwelling life. We can "chose our face" and expect that His empowering, indwelling, resurrection Life will live through us, all to the glory of His Name!

So dear brothers and sisters, "chose your face"...and change the way you live your human life in this the glory of day at a time!

...we have the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:16b

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2:5-8

TBT: Low Volume, High Volume, and Everything In-between

TBT:  Low Volume, High Volume, and Everything In-between

Some of us are low volume people. Others of us are high volume folk. And others are everything in-between.

...I think this realization affects how I view myself and others.

We all tend to be so insecure and self-conscious, constantly rejecting who and what God made us to be.  On the other side, we expect people to be more than they are and be able to do more than they can.  Or we think that those who are doing a lot are just showing off!

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Walkin' n Talkin' with my Savior

Walkin' n Talkin' with my Savior

Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road...? Luke 24:32

Carter and I have this thing goin' -- walkin' n talkin'...n talkin' n walkin'...n walkin' n talkin' n....on and on and on.

It's pure delight for both of us, because Carter is 3-1/2**...and I'm Carter's Babci (Polish for Grandma).  I know it won't last forever -- he'll grow up and become interested in many other things.  But for right now, we have each other and walkin' n talkin' n talkin' n walkin'!

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Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file (See enlarged image below).  I think my husband John, who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by, cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon. By this time, Jesus has already forgiven ... 

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)

Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.

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Lenten Meditation: Forgiveness Revisited

Lenten Meditation:  Forgiveness Revisited

Several years ago, I met with a group of moms to explore one of our Lord's first words from the Cross: Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34

As our discussion went on, we talked about the struggle we all have to forgive our offenders.  I shared a short section from a book that years before had an incredible impact on me in the area of forgiveness.

I used to think that the struggle to forgive was itself well as the horrible feelings I had in the whole thing.  But I've come to realize that the struggle and the feelings are all part of the human condition on this earth. 

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

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Lenten Meditation: Last Words and Conversations

Lenten Meditation:  Last Words and Conversations

The last words of a dying person are important.  They can communicate good or ill to those left behind.  Why?  Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person.  But I have been with a few people just days before their death.

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Longing & Learning to Hear God

Longing & Learning to Hear God

As far back as I can remember, I longed to know God.  At my mother's knee, I would sit and listen to stories she would tell me from our big gilded Bible.  You know the one...with the records of births and deaths, marriages and first communions. But it wasn't until later, in my young adulthood, that I became aware that I could hear God's voice speak to me...not audibly, but in the still, small voice of His sweet Spirit dwelling within.

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