A Story to Embody - The Last One

Almost a year ago, I started a series called - A Story to Embody (for the reasoning behind it, click the link).  The series was simply a sharing of the weekly Lectionary readings.  As I reflect back on this, I am once again amazed by the journey God has taken me on this year. 

Without going into too much personal detail our family has been sailing the "What is the purpose of church and why should we even go?" ship for the last 3 years.  This past year has been a year of settling for our family, a year of coming to grips with some of these questions, a year of desiring to re-invest in church locally.  One of the tools used in this process has been A Story to Embody.

So with the close of an old year and in anticipation for the new year I am bringing this series to an end.  If you've enjoyed the Lectionary readings - you can continue to read them via the Internet.  If you use Apps on any of your devices you can just go to your app store and type in "Lectionary."  A Lectionary App will give you the same thing you've been getting here on a weekly basis.

So thank you for being a support system for me this past year by participating in these weekly readings.  Whether you knew it or not, you were providing a piece of "church" for me that was lacking.

Happy New Year!


Isaiah 61:10-62:3
The Lord makes me very happy;
all that I am rejoices in my God.
He has covered me with clothes of salvation
and wrapped me with a coat of goodness,
like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding,
like a bride dressed in jewels.

11 The earth causes plants to grow,
and a garden causes the seeds planted in it to grow.
In the same way the Lord God will make goodness and praise
come from all the nations.

62 Because I love Jerusalem, I will continue to speak for her;
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not stop speaking
until her goodness shines like a bright light,
until her salvation burns bright like a flame.
2 Jerusalem, the nations will see your goodness,
and all kings will see your glory.
Then you will have a new name,
which the Lord himself will give you.
3 You will be like a beautiful crown in the Lord’s hand,
like a king’s crown in your God’s hand.

Psalm 147:13-21
He makes your city gates strong
and blesses your children inside.
14 He brings peace to your country
and fills you with the finest grain.

15 He gives a command to the earth,
and it quickly obeys him.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He throws down hail like rocks.
No one can stand the cold he sends.
18 Then he gives a command, and it melts.
He sends the breezes, and the waters flow.

19 He gave his word to Jacob,
his laws and demands to Israel.
20 He didn’t do this for any other nation.
They don’t know his laws.
Praise the Lord!

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
Before this faith came, we were all held prisoners by the law. We had no freedom until God showed us the way of faith that was coming. 24 In other words, the law was our guardian leading us to Christ so that we could be made right with God through faith. 25 Now the way of faith has come, and we no longer live under a guardian.

4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son who was born of a woman and lived under the law. 5 God did this so he could buy freedom for those who were under the law and so we could become his children.

6 Since you are God’s children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, “Father.” 7 So now you are not a slave; you are God’s child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child.

John 1:1-18
In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him. 4 In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.

6 There was a man named John who was sent by God. 7 He came to tell people the truth about the Light so that through him all people could hear about the Light and believe. 8 John was not the Light, but he came to tell people the truth about the Light. 9 The true Light that gives light to all was coming into the world!

10 The Word was in the world, and the world was made by him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to the world that was his own, but his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who did accept him and believe in him he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They did not become his children in any human way—by any human parents or human desire. They were born of God.

14 The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father—and he was full of grace and truth. 15 John tells the truth about him and cries out, saying, “This is the One I told you about: ‘The One who comes after me is greater than I am, because he was living before me.’”

16 Because he was full of grace and truth, from him we all received one gift after another. 17 The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father, and he has shown us what God is like.

In Christ,  

Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography


As I reflected back on my posts for this year, I realized there has been a theme of learning how to live in today:
Not Enough Time
Taking Back Life
Being Changed by Contentment
360 Vision: Lacking Nothing

This week, the Lord has reinforced this concept for me once again.  I have been reading Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson and in one part of the book he looks at the three passages on prayer found in Luke 11:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In the book, Eugene points out the common theme of bread in the three parables (the third parable is egg and fish - but he pointed out how this was also part of their daily meal).  As I reflected on these verses and the commonness of bread I was struck once again by the theme of TODAY.

Think about bread - especially in biblical times.  It was a staple.  It was a necessary part of their diet.  Because there were no preservatives it was new everyday.  It was not flashy or expensive nor was it a luxury.  This "bread" is God's offer to us: to be stable, consitent, available everyday in the everyday regularities of life.  His presence with us does not have to be flashy, nor is it a Sunday morning luxury.  It is necessary for our living and it is new every morning.

Give us this day - today.  So often our prayers focus on tomorrow, next week, next year.  We hope and pray that tomorrow will be better, that we will understand and love God better at some future date.  It is like we are chasing a dangling carrot.  Yet, this allusiveness doesn't come from God because God's invitation to us isn't for tomorrow it is for TODAY!

Jesus, is our Bread of Life.  He is available to us EVERYDAY - not just on Sunday or when we are "extra spiritual."  Jesus teaches us to pray for this bread TODAY.  In the second parable, it says "he will give us as much bread as we need."  In the third parable, it says "Ask, seek,knock" which the church has gotten down.  We "ask, seek, knock" but our expectation is that we will be answered tomorrow.  But Jesus immediately follows these requests with the answer "It will be given to you," and the underlying reason is because we have a GOOD FATHER who will give us what we need!  And what is it that we need? The Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-18, 25 -27
If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Ah!  As I read this I'm not only overwhelmed by the invitation for help in this day, but also with the intimacy of His love.
He is our Father.
He will not leave us as orphans.  
The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us, to teach us, to remind us and to give us peace in this wild world. 

These statements are not platitudes.  They are not unattainable things, available only in a "perfect world," or when you get your act together. Jesus used bread to teach us.  Bread a daily, regular part of life.  It was needed for sustenance.  It was expected.  It was life-giving.

Today, today, today.  May you know that the Holy Spirit is as real in your life as bread is in your mouth.  He is available today to be a reality and an assurance of who you are in Christ, a beloved Child of our Heavenly Father.

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: December 23, 2012

Micah 5:2-4
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are too small to be among the army groups from Judah,
from you will come one who will rule Israel for me.
He comes from very old times,
from days long ago.”

3 The Lord will give up his people
until the one who is having a baby gives birth;
then the rest of his relatives will return
to the people of Israel.
4 At that time the ruler of Israel will stand
and take care of his people
with the Lord’s strength
and with the power of the name of the Lord his God.
The Israelites will live in safety,
because his greatness will reach all over the earth.
5 He will bring peace.

Psalm 80:1-7
Shepherd of Israel, listen to us.
You lead the people of Joseph like a flock.
You sit on your throne between the gold creatures with wings.
Show your greatness 2 to the people of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Use your strength,
and come to save us.

3 God, take us back.
Show us your kindness so we can be saved.

4 Lord God All-Powerful,
how long will you be angry
at the prayers of your people?
5 You have fed your people with tears;
you have made them drink many tears.
6 You made those around us fight over us,
and our enemies make fun of us.

7 God All-Powerful, take us back.
Show us your kindness so we can be saved.

Hebrews 10:5-10
So when Christ came into the world, he said:
"You do not want sacrifices and offerings,
but you have prepared a body for me.
6 You do not ask for burnt offerings
and offerings to take away sins.
7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come.
It is written about me in the book.
God, I have come to do what you want.’” Psalm 40:6–8

8 In this Scripture he first said, “You do not want sacrifices and offerings. You do not ask for burnt offerings and offerings to take away sins.” (These are all sacrifices that the law commands.) 9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do what you want.” God ends the first system of sacrifices so he can set up the new system. 10 And because of this, we are made holy through the sacrifice Christ made in his body once and for all time.

Luke 1:39-45
39 Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. 40 She came to Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. 43 Why has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”
46 Then Mary said,

“My soul praises the Lord;
47 my heart rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed,
49 because the Powerful One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50 God will show his mercy forever and ever
to those who worship and serve him.
51 He has done mighty deeds by his power.
He has scattered the people who are proud
and think great things about themselves.

52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
and raised up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with nothing.
54 He has helped his servant, the people of Israel,
remembering to show them mercy
55 as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his children forever.”

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: The Third Sunday of Advent

Due to recent events in our nation, I know we all are carrying heavy hearts. As my husband and I discussed these events we reminded each other that we are the hands and feet of Christ here on earth. We carry the balm of Gilead and The Lord is near to the broken hearted. Praying that our time before His Word will continue to shape and refine our ability to bring His hope and Truth to our world.
Zephaniah 3:14-20 NIV
"Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord , the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you.    At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord.

Awhile back I wrote my thoughts that I had about this Psalm. Feel free to click on the link to read them: A meditation on Psalm 85.

Psalm 85:7-13
Lord, show us your love,
and save us.

8 I will listen to God the Lord.
He has ordered peace for those who worship him.
Don’t let them go back to foolishness.
9 God will soon save those who respect him,
and his glory will be seen in our land.
10 Love and truth belong to God’s people;
goodness and peace will be theirs.
11 On earth people will be loyal to God,
and God’s goodness will shine down from heaven.
12 The Lord will give his goodness,
and the land will give its crops.
13 Goodness will go before God
and prepare the way for him.

Philippians 4:4-7
Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.

5 Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. 6 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. 7 And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18 NIV
"John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.    Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them."

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: The Second Sunday of Advent

Malachi 3:1-4

The Lord All-Powerful says, “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way for me. Suddenly, the Lord you are looking for will come to his Temple; the messenger of the agreement, whom you want, will come.” 2 No one can live through that time; no one can survive when he comes. He will be like a purifying fire and like laundry soap. 3 Like someone who heats and purifies silver, he will purify the Levites and make them pure like gold and silver. Then they will bring offerings to the Lord in the right way. 4 And the Lord will accept the offerings from Judah and Jerusalem, as it was in the past.

 Psalm 126
When the Lord brought the prisoners back to Jerusalem,
it seemed as if we were dreaming.
2 Then we were filled with laughter,
and we sang happy songs.
Then the other nations said,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are very glad.

4 Lord, return our prisoners again,
as you bring streams to the desert.
5 Those who cry as they plant crops
will sing at harvest time.
6 Those who cry
as they carry out the seeds
will return singing
and carrying bundles of grain.

Philippians 1:1-11
From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.

To all of God’s holy people in Christ Jesus who live in Philippi, including your overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 always praying with joy for all of you. 5 I thank God for the help you gave me while I preached the Good News—help you gave from the first day you believed until now. 6 God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.

7 And I know that I am right to think like this about all of you, because I have you in my heart. All of you share in God’s grace with me while I am in prison and while I am defending and proving the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows that I want to see you very much, because I love all of you with the love of Christ Jesus.

9 This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; 10 that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; 11 that you will be filled with the good things produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God.

Luke 3:7-18
7 To the crowds of people who came to be baptized by John, he said, “You are all snakes! Who warned you to run away from God’s coming punishment? 8 Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives. Don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you that God could make children for Abraham from these rocks. 9 The ax is now ready to cut down the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 The people asked John, “Then what should we do?”

11 John answered, “If you have two shirts, share with the person who does not have one. If you have food, share that also.”

12 Even tax collectors came to John to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”

13 John said to them, “Don’t take more taxes from people than you have been ordered to take.”

14 The soldiers asked John, “What about us? What should we do?”

John said to them, “Don’t force people to give you money, and don’t lie about them. Be satisfied with the pay you get.”

15 Since the people were hoping for the Christ to come, they wondered if John might be the one.

16 John answered everyone, “I baptize you with water, but there is one coming who is greater than I am. I am not good enough to untie his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 He will come ready to clean the grain, separating the good grain from the chaff. He will put the good part of the grain into his barn, but he will burn the chaff with a fire that cannot be put out.” 18 And John continued to preach the Good News, saying many other things to encourage the people.

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: The first Sunday of Advent

This was my first Sunday of Advent at a liturgical church.  I was surprised by the readings - assuming they would be about baby Jesus in the manger.  Rather, the readings were looking forward to Jesus' Second Coming and reminding us that in this season we are preparing our hearts for His Second Coming.  Our pastor highlighted the crisis (i.e. a moment of decision) that Jesus' first coming brought to individuals and how we often overlook that by packaging Jesus into a nice, neat, containable story.  However, the God we serve cannot be packaged nor contained and as you read these verses I think that you will see that is true.  I'm also praying that your hearts may be encouraged with the reality and hope - a hope for a future that we have with Him because as Luke 21:28 says,
"hold your heads high, because the time when God will free you is near!”

Zechariah 14:4-9
On that day he will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will split in two, forming a deep valley that runs east and west. Half the mountain will move toward the north, and half will move toward the south. 5 You will run through this mountain valley to the other side, just as you ran from the earthquake when Uzziah was king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there will be no light, cold, or frost. 7 There will be no other day like it, and the Lord knows when it will come. There will be no day or night; even at evening it will still be light.

8 At that time fresh water will flow from Jerusalem. Half of it will flow east to the Dead Sea, and half will flow west to the Mediterranean Sea. It will flow summer and winter.

9 Then the Lord will be king over the whole world. At that time there will be only one Lord, and his name will be the only name.

Psalm 50:1-6
The God of gods, the Lord, speaks.
He calls the earth from the rising to the setting sun.
2 God shines from Jerusalem,
whose beauty is perfect.
3 Our God comes, and he will not be silent.
A fire burns in front of him,
and a powerful storm surrounds him.
4 He calls to the sky above and to the earth
that he might judge his people.
5 He says, “Gather around, you who worship me,
who have made an agreement with me, using a sacrifice.”
6 God is the judge,
and even the skies say he is right.

I Thessalonians 3:9-13
We have so much joy before our God because of you. We cannot thank him enough for all the joy we feel. 10 Night and day we continue praying with all our heart that we can see you again and give you all the things you need to make your faith strong.

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus prepare the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love grow more and multiply for each other and for all people so that you will love others as we love you. 13 May your hearts be made strong so that you will be holy and without fault before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Luke 21:25-31
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On earth, nations will be afraid and confused because of the roar and fury of the sea. 26 People will be so afraid they will faint, wondering what is happening to the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to happen, look up and hold your heads high, because the time when God will free you is near!”

29 Then Jesus told this story: “Look at the fig tree and all the other trees. 30 When their leaves appear, you know that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that God’s kingdom is near.

In Christ,

Framing the day

2:00 am my son was throwing up in his bed hence, you can know that this post is not written from some lofty seat of imagination, pretending or wishful thinking...

Yesterday, these verses were a part of my Daily Prayer time and they framed my day.  As I read them though, they stuck in my spirit with a greater intensity. I desired to see these verses as a framework around my everyday - as a mother, a wife and a daughter of God.  The image that came to my mind was a house being built and these verses provided the interior framing for it:

Psalm 125:1-2
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

The  Lord surrounds his people - both now and forevermore.  To know exactly where you are placed is so reassuring.  He is before, behind and on both sides!  This position is not dependent upon who we are or what we do, but is dependent on the character of the Lord.  Reflecting on this alone, settles and secures my heart to move forward in the day with confidence and assurance.

Psalm 126
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

This Psalm became an anthem for me two years ago.  When I initially read it, it rang so true in my life.  I had just come out of a season of many tears  and I was just beginning to see a reaping of many joyful things.  But at the same time, there were now new situations in my life that were causing tears.  With these verses in mind, I decided to approach these situations differently.  I still approached them with tears, but this time there was a new hope of confidence.  I knew that following these tears there would be a season of rejoicing.  I could cry knowing that the Lord was hearing and responding and that I could be patient with His timing.  Before, I had cried in hopes that my tears would make Him move, now I cried knowing that He carries my tears and because of His character the current situation was not the end.  The very next day, I was played a song that sang this Psalm almost word for word in Kristene Mueller's song: Those who Dream.

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.

These verses mean so much to me.  Yes, you can look at it from the negative perspective - that I'm building in vain.  Or you can look at it from the truth of receiving His promises, because of His leading and guidance we are not building in vain.  The investments that we make on a daily basis are planting fruit and fruit that will last.  I love my children dearly.  They bring me so much joy and surprise me everyday.  I cannot wait to see how their lives impact this world for better.  Knowing my life, my daily steps are being walked out in trust of Him gives me confidence and assurance.

As I said in the beginning, these are verses that I want hang onto as a framework for my life in the season that I find myself.  I don't want them to be merely morning drive-by verses that warm my heart.  Rather, I am reflecting on them and letting them frame my thoughts and attitudes so that they provide the stability for the decisions and actions of my everyday.  As I trust in the Lord, His ways provides a security that I can rest in, no matter what is happening in my life at any given moment.

Resting in Him this day,

PS I've included two songs in this post.  Sometimes those who subscribe via e-mail cannot see the videos.  Click through to my blog if you want to hear the songs: Framing the Day

A Story to Embody: November 24, 2012

This weeks readings also contain that 360 Vision that I talked about the other day.  These verses capture the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ (past, present and future).  As you read, I hope that you are awed by the strength and majesty of our King of Kings.  By the end, you will be reminded that this strength also contained a humbleness that He submitted to in order to bring His kingdom here on earth.  It is quite amazing...

What gets me everytime, is that whenever I hear the Gospel presented - I say, "Yes, and AMEN! I want in on this!"  It never grows old to me.  It's an amazing story, it's an amazing truth and we serve an amazing God!

2 Samuel 23:1-7

Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God exalted, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:
The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land. Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. Will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire? But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand; to touch them one uses an iron bar or the shaft of a spear. And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.

Psalm 93
 The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved.
 your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.
More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD!
Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

7:9 As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire.
 A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.
As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

John 18:33-37

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"
Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?"
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."
Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Praying you hear His voice this day.

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: November 18, 2012

Psalm 16:5-11

 No, the Lord is all I need.
    He takes care of me.
6 My share in life has been pleasant;
    my part has been beautiful.
7 I praise the Lord because he advises me.
    Even at night, I feel his leading.
8 I keep the Lord before me always.
    Because he is close by my side,
    I will not be hurt.
9 So I rejoice and am glad.
    Even my body has hope,
10 because you will not leave me in the grave.
    You will not let your holy one rot.
11 You will teach me how to live a holy life.
    Being with you will fill me with joy;
    at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.

The Ephesian verses below are the same verses used in my post, 7 Verbs of Reorinetation, feel free to click on the link for further thoughts on these verses.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4 That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be his holy people—people without blame before him. 5 Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6 and it brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in Christ, the One he loves. 7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, 8 which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding, 9 let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ. 10 His goal was to carry out his plan, when the right time came, that all things in heaven and on earth would be joined together in Christ as the head.

11 In Christ we were chosen to be God’s people, because from the very beginning God had decided this in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who makes everything agree with what he decides and wants. 12 We are the first people who hoped in Christ, and we were chosen so that we would bring praise to God’s glory. 13 So it is with you. When you heard the true teaching—the Good News about your salvation—you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14 That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God promised for his people until God gives full freedom to those who are his—to bring praise to God’s glory.

Matthew 4:17-23

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is near.”

18 As Jesus was walking by Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake because they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said, “Come follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 So Simon and Andrew immediately left their nets and followed him.

21 As Jesus continued walking by Lake Galilee, he saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus told them to come with him. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and they followed Jesus.

Jesus Teaches and Heals People

23 Jesus went everywhere in Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Good News about the kingdom of heaven, and healing all the people’s diseases and sicknesses.

Hebrews 10:31-39

31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Remember those days in the past when you first learned the truth. You had a hard struggle with many sufferings, but you continued strong. 33 Sometimes you were hurt and attacked before crowds of people, and sometimes you shared with those who were being treated that way. 34 You helped the prisoners. You even had joy when all that you owned was taken from you, because you knew you had something better and more lasting.

35 So do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has a great reward. 36 You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what he has promised. 37 For in a very short time,

“The One who is coming will come
    and will not be delayed.
38 Those who are right with me
    will live by faith.
But if they turn back with fear,
    I will not be pleased with them.” Habakkuk 2:3–4
39 But we are not those who turn back and are lost. We are people who have faith and are saved.

In Christ,

360 Vision: Lacking Nothing

As Christians, we have the benefit of 360 vision, to bring us through each and everyday.  We have the past saints to look at for inspiration and understanding of how the Lord moves and weaves in an individual's life.  We have the living and active Word of God today - that moves and interacts with us.  Finally, we have the book of Revelation that gives us a glimpse of the reality of our future.  So today, I would like to interact with this 360 vision to help us to see how God invites us to walk with Him into a life that lacks nothing.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Revelation 9:16
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

These are all familiar Scripture passages, but for this post, I appreciated reflecting on the connections between them.  We all love the imagery of Psalm 23: being led beside quiet waters, having our souls restored.  Yet we don't always find ourselves in those situations.  Sometimes we find ourselves faced with the valley of the shadow of death...Then we are confronted with James - "Consider it PURE JOY, whenever you face trials of many kinds..."

How? Why? 

This is where the 360 vision comes in handy (you can start from any spot) but for this post we will start at Revelation 9.   See the Lamb, seated on the throne and what does He promise to be for us - our Shepherd.  We are reminded in this very picture, that He, himself, the Lamb, walked through a very dark valley of death to get to His throne.  We see His promise to us is to Shepherd us and one day to wipe every tear from our eyes.  We get to step into life with Him, from this place of trust knowing that He sees, He knows, He understands and He offers to come along with us.

From this vantage point we can pan back to present day: consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds... It develops perseverance/ patience and you will NOT lack anything...

Pan over to Psalm 23 - the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...

Do you see the circle? Do you see the benefits we receive from our current position? 

The Message ends Psalm 23 with this:

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

So my brothers and sisters in Christ - consider it pure joy - no matter what you are going through, because the Lord is your Shepherd.  He is walking beside you, leading you and guiding you with love and beauty.  Sometimes by streams of water and sometimes He is walking with us through a valley, a shadow, a place of trial and uncertainty.  The path may be unclear to you - but the end destination is clear and sure.  There will be a day when He will wipe every tear from your eyes.  

You are not alone and you were never asked to go through this life alone.  Lean on your Good Shepherd today - the Lamb of God who alone is worthy.

In Christ,

Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography

A Story to Embody: November 11, 2012

The beauty that I see weaved between today's passages lies in the fact that we can trust God - in everyday situations and with impossible situations.  If the Lord doesn't, if the Lord doesn't, it is of no use... These words start out our first Scripture reading.  If who we are and what we do doesn't orginate and filter down from His heart it doesn't work.  However, when we look into the face of impossibilites and place our trust in Him there is success.  These stories challenge us to look through the stories of others who have seen the impossible done through God and to likewise put our trust in Him and doing it His way even when it doesn't make sense with our physical eyes.

Psalm 127
If the Lord doesn’t build the house,
the builders are working for nothing.
If the Lord doesn’t guard the city,
the guards are watching for nothing.
2 It is no use for you to get up early
and stay up late,
working for a living.
The Lord gives sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
babies are a reward.
4 Children who are born to a young man
are like arrows in the hand of a warrior.
5 Happy is the man
who has his bag full of arrows.
They will not be defeated
when they fight their enemies at the city gate.

I Kings 17:8-16
8 Then the Lord spoke his word to Elijah, 9 “Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I have commanded a widow there to take care of you.”

10 So Elijah went to Zarephath. When he reached the town gate, he saw a widow gathering wood for a fire. Elijah asked her, “Would you bring me a little water in a cup so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get his water, Elijah said, “Please bring me a piece of bread, too.”

12 The woman answered, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I have no bread. I have only a handful of flour in a jar and only a little olive oil in a jug. I came here to gather some wood so I could go home and cook our last meal. My son and I will eat it and then die from hunger.”

13 “Don’t worry,” Elijah said to her. “Go home and cook your food as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread from the flour you have, and bring it to me. Then cook something for yourself and your son. 14 The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘That jar of flour will never be empty, and the jug will always have oil in it, until the day the Lord sends rain to the land.’”

15 So the woman went home and did what Elijah told her to do. And the woman and her son and Elijah had enough food every day. 16 The jar of flour and the jug of oil were never empty, just as the Lord, through Elijah, had promised.

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
After this, the Lord chose seventy-two others and sent them out in pairs ahead of him into every town and place where he planned to go. He said to them, “There are a great many people to harvest, but there are only a few workers. So pray to God, who owns the harvest, that he will send more workers to help gather his harvest. Go now, but listen! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Don’t carry a purse, a bag, or sandals, and don’t waste time talking with people on the road. Before you go into a house, say, ‘Peace be with this house.’ If peace-loving people live there, your blessing of peace will stay with them, but if not, then your blessing will come back to you. Stay in the same house, eating and drinking what the people there give you. A worker should be given his pay. Don’t move from house to house. If you go into a town and the people welcome you, eat what they give you. Heal the sick who live there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10 But if you go into a town, and the people don’t welcome you, then go into the streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dirt from your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. But remember that the kingdom of God is near.’ 12 I tell you, on the Judgment Day it will be better for the people of Sodom than for the people of that town.

17 When the seventy-two came back, they were very happy and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we used your name!”

18 Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Listen, I have given you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, power that is greater than the enemy has. So nothing will hurt you. 20 But you should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven.”

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. 12 Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: November 4, 2012

The theme of this week's Scriptures is children and parents.  It is an awesome responsibility to be a parent, but as I said last week, God does not leave us alone but rather He guides us.  I think the Scriptures this week captures these thoughts:

God is not an additive.
Religion adds God to life; fits Him in.
Christ, however, is our all in all,
the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8).

The first Scriptures comes from Deuteronomy and I think it clearly spells out that our lives should embody this story God has written! Then, don't miss out on the practical ways we can reflect God's heart to those around us (shown in Psalm 146:7-9).  Finally, in Ephesians 6 that living in these ways will bring promise and life to your children. 

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
1 These are the commands, rules, and laws that the Lord your God told me to teach you to obey in the land you are crossing the Jordan River to take.2 You, your children, and your grandchildren must respect the Lord your God as long as you live. Obey all his rules and commands I give you so that you will live a long time.3 Listen, Israel, and carefully obey these laws. Then all will go well for you, and you will become a great nation in a fertile land, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

4 Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.6 Always remember these commands I give you today.7 Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.8 Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign. Tie them on your forehead to remind you,9 and write them on your doors and gates.

Psalm 146
Praise the Lord!
My whole being, praise the Lord.
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes
or other people, who cannot save you.
4 When people die, they are buried.
Then all of their plans come to an end.
5 Happy are those who are helped by the God of Jacob.
Their hope is in the LORD their God.
6 He made heaven and earth,
the sea and everything in it.
He remains loyal forever.
7 He does what is fair for those who have been wronged.
He gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free.
8 The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD lifts up people who are in trouble.
The LORD loves those who do right.
9 The LORD protects the foreigners.
He defends the orphans and widows,
but he blocks the way of the wicked.
10 The Lord will be King forever.
Jerusalem, your God is everlasting.
Praise the Lord!

Ephesians 6:1-9

Children, obey your parents as the Lord wants, because this is the right thing to do.2 The command says, "Honor your father and mother." This is the first command that has a promise with it—3 "Then everything will be well with you, and you will have a long life on the earth."

4 Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord.

5 Slaves, obey your masters here on earth with fear and respect and from a sincere heart, just as you obey Christ.6 You must do this not only while they are watching you, to please them. With all your heart you must do what God wants as people who are obeying Christ.7 Do your work with enthusiasm. Work as if you were serving the Lord, not as if you were serving only men and women.8 Remember that the Lord will give a reward to everyone, slave or free, for doing good.

9 Masters, in the same way, be good to your slaves. Do not threaten them. Remember that the One who is your Master and their Master is in heaven, and he treats everyone alike.

Mark 10:35-40 Then James and John, sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we want to ask you to do something for us."

36 Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?"

37 They answered, "Let one of us sit at your right side and one of us sit at your left side in your glory in your kingdom."

38 Jesus said, "You don't understand what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I must drink? And can you be baptized with the same kind of baptism that I must go through?"

39 They answered, "Yes, we can."

Jesus said to them, "You will drink the same cup that I will drink, and you will be baptized with the same baptism that I must go through. 40 But I cannot choose who will sit at my right or my left; those places belong to those for whom they have been prepared."

Be Blessed,

A Story to Embody: Sunday, October 28

I have nothing personal to add to this week's readings except to say that, Psalm 103 is one of my favorite Psalms. If you want some of my personal reflections on this particular Psalm you can click here: Psalm 103 Symposium:

Ps. 103:13-22
God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.
19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God!

Acts 28:23-31
They agreed on a time. When the day arrived, they came back to his home with a number of their friends. Paul talked to them all day, from morning to evening, explaining everything involved in the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them all about Jesus by pointing out what Moses and the prophets had written about him.

24-27 Some of them were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe a word of it. When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: “I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet:

Go to this people and tell them this:
“You’re going to listen with your ears,
but you won’t hear a word;
You’re going to stare with your eyes,
but you won’t see a thing.
These people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
so they won’t have to look,
so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
and let me heal them.”

28 “You’ve had your chance. The non-Jewish outsiders are next on the list. And believe me, they’re going to receive it with open arms!”

30-31 Paul lived for two years in his rented house. He welcomed everyone who came to visit. He urgently presented all matters of the kingdom of God. He explained everything about Jesus Christ. His door was always open.

Hebrews 7:23-28
Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.

26-28 So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.

Mark 1:9-20
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

12-13 At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

14-15 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

16-18 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.

19-20 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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