A New Year, a New Word

A New Year, a New Word

A new year is upon us, along with those pesky thoughts of New Years’ resolutions. Well, resolutions are no temptation to me anymore. I’ve given up trying to change myself by my own self-effort. The indwelling Christ is my “Game-changer” and my “Life-changer.” And a few years ago, He brought a lovely “new thing” to my attention … the idea of a word for my year. So for the past several years, I have had my word. But my word had never stuck until in 2016 I stepped aside and allowed the Lord to “give” it to me, rather than trying to come up with one on my own.

So each year my word just seems to “find me.” Every year it has appropriately come in the midst of my “all too real-life”circumstances.

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Post Christmas Comfort: Fear Not...Emmanuel Finally & Forever (Part 3)

Post Christmas Comfort: Fear Not...Emmanuel Finally & Forever (Part 3)

As the old year is coming to a close and the holiday glitz and cheer have dwindled, what is rushing in?  Anxieties and fears for today and the year yet to come? Then hear these words again from your Creator and Savior:

Fear not, for I am near you!

Fear not, for I am closely associated with you! I've gone through it all too!

And now finally and forever...

Fear not, for I am united with you forever...we are one!

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Post Christmas Comfort: Fear Not! Emmanuel, One of Us (Part 2)

Post Christmas Comfort: Fear Not! Emmanuel, One of Us (Part 2)

As near as God has always been to His people, when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, pierced through and entered our human history, everything changed.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman... Galatians 4:4

God came closer still... He became one of us and so He took on our fears, the greatest of which is our separation from Himself.  Even though God was nearby, there was separation...until Jesus!

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Post Christmas Comfort: Fear not...Emmanuel Still! (Part 1)

Post Christmas Comfort: Fear not...Emmanuel Still! (Part 1)

Now that gifts are unwrapped, the food at least half-eaten, the many emotions grabbing at us during the season fading, the loneliness getting deeper and the grief, abandonment, "being left out" -- all having left their wounds...and the dread of bills looming in the back of our minds. We feel lost! So enters in...fear!  Yes, fear!

God had set me up one year to think of fear...

from the terror of a grandchild seeing glimpses of a horror movie on Halloween to a blog by a young mom about the fears for herself and her family....

from the anxieties of aging to the arresting truth, read in a book, that fearlessness is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit in a life...

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4th Week of Advent: I Wonder as I Wander

4th Week of Advent:  I Wonder as I Wander

My friend Penny is a walker (a very serious, fast walker, by the way).  But Penny doesn't just walk for exercise, she also "walks" closely with the Lord.  So when Penny shares, I listen. And when she shared about a favorite Christmas carol, it made me take notice. Why?  Because while walking, Penny has been doing what this song describes.

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Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven (A Children's Carol)

Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven (A Children's Carol)

There's a song that's been going through my mind and heart these Advent days.  I even find myself bursting into a line of lyric here and there. The thoughts I love most in it are truths that have become more and more precious to me as I reflect Advent after Advent -- that our Emmanuel came to earth from heaven, not just to pay for our sins (as crucial as that is), but also to give us His divine eternal LIFE...deity indwelling our humanity.  We can become children of Almighty God!!!

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A Cappella "Mary, Did You Know?"

A Cappella "Mary, Did You Know?"

While we were traveling to be with our daughter and family for Christmas, a dear friend shared a link to this article from GodTube via Facebook. Even though I had already posted about this wonderful song, I couldn’t resist passing on the backstory as well as this unique rendition of this most moving of contemporary Christmas songs.

Why not meditate afresh as you read and listen. And a blessed Christmas to you and yours?

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Advent Devotions: Us with GOD

Advent Devotions: Us with GOD

A few Advents ago, I met a new-to-me British author, Tim Chester, through his Advent devotional The One True Light. I’ve loved this little volume that has led me year by year through the first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John.

Well, this year I discovered his other two Advent books: The One True Gift (On Philippians, chapter 2) and The One True Story (on the story of Christ through the Old Testament to Jesus’ Coming). So this year, each Advent day finds me meditating through all three, each one in turn.

The books are not coordinated, but one day in reading all three, a thread grabbed and entwined me in an amazing truth: Jesus is not only Emmanuel, God with Us; He is also Emmanuel, Us with God!

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Advent Devotions: Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

Advent Devotions:  Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

We would give up everything we've ever written to have penned this one verse, a stanza that comes as close as is humanly possible to capturing the splendor of who Jesus is. 
Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, p. 173-174

What is that one verse? that one stanza?  Authors Sweet & Viola are referring to the last stanza of the well-known carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.

In my opinion, however, it isn't just the last stanza that is all glorious with the splendor of Christ...it's the entire song. In fact, even the stanzas that were removed* from the older version are splendid indeed.  But I'm getting ahead of the story.

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3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

3rd Week of Advent:  EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life.  We struggle to make sense of all the violence, suffering, and injustice we see all around us.  Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels our current struggle with us too!

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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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Advent Devotions: The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Advent Devotions:  The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Joy is the flag that flies over the soul when the King is in residence!
Chuck Swindoll

Years ago, I was leading a small group of ladies through Paul's letter to the Galatians.  In chapter 5, we came to a familiar passage:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self control. Galatians 5:22-23

Julie was in that small group that year, and Julie was from Great Britain.  I asked her about Chuck's metaphor.  She assured me that it was true.  When royalty is in residence at the palace, the flag flies. It's the signal to the "subjects" that their monarch is present.

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Revisiting a Childhood Prayer

Revisiting a Childhood Prayer

The TV police drama Blue Bloods grabs my heart as well as my mind week after week. I suppose it’s for a number of reasons: I’m from New Jersey and the show takes place in New York City. The Reagans (a large close knit Catholic family) reminds me of my own large close knit Catholic family. And many of the religious practices of the Reagans, like “grace before meals,” mirror those of the Renners (my family name). The individual Reagan family members are honest with each other and a bit out-spoken … and that is actually what many extended family members and friends (Renner-wannabes) “admire” about us.

So week after week, I reminisce as I watch Blue Bloods.

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2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

2nd Week of Advent:  the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

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