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,

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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