Open This Up. . .

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“Kingdom Now”

Dear Readers: Open this Truth to apply to all that hinders us from experiencing more of “Kingdom now.” So where we read anger apply your learned flesh response: despair, resentment, denial, depression, addiction, fear, jealousy, overwhelmed, obsessed, indemnify (new word for me/look it up), vanity, pride, offended. . . “unlearn it.” Let’s unlearn together today. My pivot point in thinking would be despair to hope.

I’m listening to Laura Story: I Can Just Be Me, while I’m thinking of you. God, lift these words off the page to make life-giving changes to each of us. Amen

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

A New Way of Thinking
by Rick Warren
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

The way you express your anger is a learned response. You didn’t just automatically choose it; somebody modeled it for you. Anger response is a learned response.

The good news is you can unlearn it. You don’t have to stay that way. You can learn new patterns and habits. You don’t have to keep perpetuating what your parents and their parents and their parents did. Every time you get angry in an inappropriate way, you’re modeling it for your kids. You’re teaching them how to do it the wrong way, and they’re going to teach their kids how to do it the wrong way. Somebody has to stop the cycle!

The Bible says in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (NLT). What’s the behavior of this world? Repress, express, and suppress.

Television and movies are filled with violent responses to people who are frustrated, hurt, or feel out of control. Kids learn from the models they observe. You don’t want to teach your kids wrong ways to be angry.

The key to learning a new way to handle anger is in Romans 12:2: “changing the way you think.”

If you want to change the way you act, you don’t focus on the behavior. You don’t even go back to the way you feel. You start by changing the way you think. When you change your mental process, it’s going to change the way you feel, and it’s going to change your behavior. You will be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

That’s what God does for you. He’s the one who can change the destructive thought patterns in your mind and transform you into a new person.

Talk It Over

What patterns do you see in your family that have affected the way you respond to difficult situations?
How can you better model for your kids or others how to respond to people in loving ways?
In what other ways do you want God to transform you into a “new person”?
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This devotional is based on the current Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org.

Rick Warren has helped people live with hope and purpose for more than 40 years. He’s the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of several books, including “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life,” read by more than 100 million people in 137 languages. He created the PEACE Plan (plant churches of reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, educate the next generation), which is used by churches in 196 countries. His radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America.

This devotional ©2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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“In the Holy Nativity of our Lord” by Richard Crashaw

Dear Readers:
Please do not take your voice for granted. I certainly did. The words you speak are your song or poem to the world. Use the privilege of your verbal expression wisely. Seek to bless. With these precious words by Richard Crashaw. . .read them to someone you love today. Lift the words up from the screen and bring them to life with your unique love. Share the meaning of Christmas through words that ring true of our Savior. In the spirit of Christmas, twe

Tolle Lege

“Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.”

–Richard Crashaw, “In the Holy Nativity of our Lord,” in The English Poems of Richard Crashaw (London: Methuen & Co., 1652/1901), 54.

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Look A Little Deeper into The Christmas Story

Dedicated to Herman

Read this: Written by my new friend, a dry, witty sense of humor:  Enjoy and learn from Dr. McKeever

10 Things About the Christmas Story You May Have Missed

Joe McKeever


They were not “kings” from the east and there weren’t three of them. And when they arrived in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary and Baby Jesus were not still in the stable, but in a house, contrary to half the Christmas cards that will be arriving at your house.

And there’s no indication there were cattle in that stable or anywhere nearby. In fact, the only thing that leads us to believe Jesus was born in a stable is that Luke 2:7 tells us Mary laid the Baby in a manger, a feeding trough.

But you knew all this.

And you knew that all of this was predicted through the centuries by God’s prophets. We particularly treasure the promises of Isaiah 7:14 (“Behold a virgin shall conceive….”) and 9:6-7 (“For unto us a child is born….”), as well as Micah 5:2 (“Bethlehem…out of you shall come forth One to be Ruler over Israel…”).

And you knew that, contrary to the Christmas hymn “The First Noel,” the shepherds in Bethlehem’s fields did not “looked up and saw a star shining in the East beyond them far” (modern hymnals have revised that line to read “For all to see there was a star….”).

But, allow me to point out some aspects of this wonderful story it’s possible you might have missed. There is no particular order intended.

1. Joseph has no speaking lines.

This man who was to become the earthly father of our Lord Jesus was a man of action. He heard and he obeyed.

I recall hearing of a mother calling the school to inform the teacher that her son had a bad cold and would be unable to play Joseph in the Nativity play later that morning. It was too late to replace him, so they did the play without Joseph.

No one missed him.

2. Mary is a deep thinker.

Twice we read that she “pondered” these things. Once when Gabriel made the original announcement to her (Luke 1:29) and then when the shepherds entered the birth chamber (whatever it was, stable, etc.) to tell of the visitation of the angels (Luke 2:19).

The contrast between Mary and Joseph is fairly strong. He seems never to question a word from the Lord, but goes immediately to obey. Mary thinks it through, and even deigns to ask the angel of God how such a thing could be.

3. After the angels made their announcement to the shepherds, they did not command them to do anything.

Since the shepherds dropped everything and ran into Bethlehem to “see this thing which has come to pass,” we might have expected the angels to have instructed them to go. Instead, the angel of God did something far superior: He informed them how to recognize the Christ-child once they found Him. “This shall be a sign to you: you will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths.”

God knew those He had chosen as the welcoming committee for His Son. He knew, that even though they were lowly shepherds–a category we would call unskilled labor–they were wise enough to come to Him as soon as they knew how.

4. There is great intrigue in this story.

A great cosmic drama is taking place here. On the one hand, we see Heaven opened and angels heralding the arrival of God’s Son on earth. And on the other, hell’s forces marshal to oppose Him and if possible, to kill Him and put an early end to this redemptive mission from Heaven.

Angels in the outdoors and Herod’s soldiers entering homes to crush the skulls of infants.

The battle was joined and has raged ever since.

Readers wishing to explore this further should google “How God Fooled Satan at Christmas,” my article on this subject.

5. Head knowledge is not sufficient.

In Matthew 2:3, all Jerusalem was abuzz with talk about the foreign visitors who had arrived in town, naively inquiring at every service station and convenience store, “Well? Where is He? Where is the One born King of the Jews?”

They figured that this wonderful news would be the talk of the city. Instead, no one else seemed to know anything about it.

Then, when Herod called the religious leaders to ask where the Messiah was to be born (Matthew 2:4), these doctors of theology informed him that the Old Testament prophet Micah had said Bethlehem was the place.

What we wonder is why they didn’t go to Bethlehem. It’s not like it was in the next hemisphere. Bethlehem lies some 5 miles south of Jerusalem, an easy walk for a healthy person.

The clear conclusion is that these religious leaders had the Bible knowledge but no real interest in God or the promise of Scripture.

6. The prosperity gospel stumbles at this story.

Mary and Joseph are poor. There is not a word in the text to indicate otherwise.

When they presented their Baby in the temple for the prescribed dedication of the first-born, unable to afford a lamb for an offering, the young parents gave a couple of birds (Luke 2:24; based on Leviticus 12:2).

7. The gold from the Magi had a very practical purpose.

Immediately after Matthew tells of the visit of the visitors from the East and their wonderful gifts, he tells how the Lord’s angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, informing him that Herod was on a killing jag and he should take the family to Egypt.

Doubtless, the gold was provided by the Lord to finance this unexpected trip.

8. Notice the crossing of human lines and barriers in this story.

We have the young and the old (Mary, Joseph, the Baby, and Simeon and Anna in the temple. Luke 2).

We have the rich and the poor (the Magi and the young family. Matthew 2).

We have the Jews and the Gentiles (the Magi were the non-Jews).

We have the highest (angels) and the lowest (shepherds).

This wonderful story is clearly for “whosoever” and “all the world,” as John 3:16 informs us.

9. Telling the story is a privilege.

It would appear that Mary and Joseph’s account of the angels’ appearances were so personal–and so unbelievable–that they either told no one at first or very few people.

The shepherds heard the message from the angels, left those miserable sheep to fend for themselves and raced into Bethlehem to see the Christ-child, then went out and told everyone what they had heard and seen.

Poor Zacharias. After questioning the angel inside the Temple (Luke 1), he was not allowed to tell what he had heard and seen until his son John was born.

Telling others of Jesus is a privilege many of us take for granted.

I think of the leper in Mark 1 whom Jesus healed. Then, the Lord instructed him to show himself to the priest and do what Moses commanded, but to otherwise keep the news to himself. However, he was just not able to do that. He went out and began to “blaze abroad” the matter.

Jesus tells you and me to tell everyone and we go home and sit down. Something is way wrong here.

10. Jesus did no miracles in His boyhood.

By all reports from Luke 2, Jesus had a normal childhood in Nazareth. In fact, John 2:1informs us that the turning of water to wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee was His first miracle.

Lest we are tempted to temper that by saying, “It was the first miracle of His ministry, but not the first one He had done,” I submit the following.

Had the boy Jesus been doing miracles in Nazareth like an early “Superboy of Smallville,” the world would have taken note of Him and beaten a path to His door. Satan would have noticed also and come running, ready to abort God’s plans for His Son.

That did not happen because Jesus was not doing miracles, was not teaching, and was not distinguishing Himself in any way during his youth. That’s why, when He did start to preach and heal and work wonders, His neighbors were astonished. Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?Are not his sisters here with us? (Matthew 13:54).

Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at joemckeever.com/mt. Used with permission.

The Beauty and The Bane of Grief: Part I

The Deer’s Cry by Lisa

Image Found: inpiration.org

Image Found:
inpiration.org

Do we really need to talk about this at Christmas? Well yes, it’s the “white elephant” gift in the room. Holidays bring our longings, our losses and our love to the surface as we navigate that mystery of what we know could be without the fall of sin and the shadow it casts upon the earth.

The Truth is Christmas lends itself to tears. Tears of joy at our Baby Jesus’ birth, tears of loss, tears of hope, tears of need, tears of beauty, tears of missings, tears of healings, tears of reunions, tears of break-ups, tears of profoundly precious, tears of frustration, tears of priceless memories, tears of dreams, tears of devastation, tears of promise, tears of anger, tears of hallelujah, tears of grief. . . 

My husband, my girls, my sister, brother and a few friends have all held my grief. What a precious privilege it is to be held while the loosely stitched woundings of our hearts split open again and again and again. The binding pressure of love on a wound is painful. I was told once in a group of women I met with, all much further in their faith than I:   Jesus places His Hand into our profuse bleeds of life. . .The intense pain of His pressure is sharp at first. . .But the pressure of His love. . . slowly stops the bleeding. . .And the life of His compassion binds up our woundings to provide for healing and restoration.

Psalm 116:5

Today I share an email I got from a friend Kay. Thank you Kay. XO I found it so clear and practical in it’s scape that I am convicted to share it here:

15 Things I wish I knew about grief

http://identityrenewed.com/author/identityrenewed/

1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly.

2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day.  When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day.

3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling.

4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to laugh, too. Don’t feel guilty for feeling positive emotions even when dealing with loss.

5. Take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Eat healthily. Work out. Do the things you love. Remember that you are still living.

6. Don’t shut people out. Don’t cut yourself off from relationships. You will hurt yourself and others.

7. No one will respond perfectly to your grief. People–even people you love–will let you down. Friends you thought would be there won’t be there, and people you hardly know will reach out. Be prepared to give others grace. Be prepared to work through hurt and forgiveness at others’ reactions.

8. God will be there for you perfectly. He will never, ever let you down. He will let you scream, cry, and question. Throw all your emotions at Him. He is near to the brokenhearted.

9. Take time to truly remember the person you lost. Write about him or her, go back to all your memories with them, truly soak in all the good times you had with that person. It will help.

10. Facing the grief is better than running. Don’t hide from the pain. If you do, it will fester and grow and consume you.

11. You will ask “Why?” more times than you thought possible, but you may never get an answer. What helps is asking, “How? How can I live life more fully to honor my loved one? How can I love better, how can I embrace others, how can I change and grow because of this?”

 12. You will try to escape grief by getting busy, busy, busy. You will think that if you don’t think about it, it’ll just go away. This isn’t really true. Take time to process and heal.

13. Liquor, sex, drugs, hobbies, work, relationships, etc., will not take the pain away. If you are using anything to try and numb the pain, it will make things worse in the long run. Seek help if you’re dealing with the sorrow in unhealthy ways.

14. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need people. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.

15. Grief can be beautiful and deep and profound. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk alongside it. You may be surprised at what grief can teach you.

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Blessings to you in the beautiful bane of love this Christmas.

Monday’s Manna Moment: It’s More Than A Pie Crust Promise. . .

This is a very special day.

Our Manna sampler is going to take place in my back yard in my scared imagination. I’ve added the lovely patio I’ve always wanted 🙂 It’s landscaped to perfection with Fall mums of every rich color and hue. I’ve set out bales of hay to sit on and happy orange pumpkins are peeking out every which way. .There is a fountain of trickling water and birds chattering happily at the full feeders. Plump outdoor cushions invite you to sit and rest in quiet conversations. It’s just chilly enough for a small fire in the center fireplace and lap blankets to warm you!!!

It’s just the way I love to do things: Inviting, Intentional, and Intimate. It’s how I think God would want to love on you. So, we are pretending to have a conversational Bible Study with Sheila Walsh on Promises. Not pie crust promises, easily made, easily broken, but the standing promises of God. We’ve all been served our hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick stirrer and we are ready to get into God’s Word on Promises.

This is the first session in a series. . . I’m tempting you to pursue the restt on your own or host your own promises Bible Study. I am so glad you’ve accepted the invitation to join our conversation. I’ve listened to it in full and put some of my: comments/thoughts/quotes/questions out here for you. . .Snuggle up and lets warm up to the Truth, God’s goodness and the gift of each other.

And just for fun, we are going to. . . drum roll please have a pie throwing contest. . .at the lies that try to overshadow His Truth!!! Here goes our “virtual party of promises!!!” The best celebrations are sharing laughter and tears: the stuff life is made of: The reality of the heart the that reflects our love.

In The Shelter of God’s Promises with Sheila Walsh

Psalm 91

(I LOVE SCOTTISH ACCENTS!)

Psalm 121: A Song of Ascent

When I heard the word promise. . . I think:  easily made ~ easily broken.

(I LOVE FALL!)

What makes it hard for you to press into His promises for you?

I confess my doubts about His promises, but I proclaim their Truth into my darkness.

That is one of my greatest comforts to think of us journeying  back to the garden.

(I LOVE LAUGHTER AT HIS TABLE, LIKE LAST NIGHT ON OUR BACK PORCH WITH THE WEEDS TRYING TO OVERTAKE MY ROSES!!!)

I do believe and claim His promises as true for me and you. It is just so hard, without His grace I can’t imagine me functioning on any level to love.

( I LOVE RED UMBRELLAS!)

“Crawl into the cleft of The Rock. Jesus is the Promise made flesh.” ~ Sheila Walsh

“The Father is truly the only promise maker that is a promise keeper.” ~ Sheila Walsh

BONUS:

No-Bake Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Recipe inspired by this pie.

15 oz pureed pumpkin (or 1 can)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 tsp cocoa powder
level 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
optional: sweetener (Taste first. I thought it was sweet enough without additional sweetener.)
Melt the chocolate (either on the stove or in the microwave), then throw everything into a food processor and blend until it is super-smooth. Pour into a pie crust and fridge until chilled. This pie gets firmer and firmer, the longer it sits.

Highly recommended: top with Homemade Cool Whip.

Perhaps you could try baking this, too. If anyone does, I’d love to hear how it works. I was too lazy (read: too greedy and hungry) to take the time to bake mine, so I was happy it worked as a no-bake pie!

Please visit: www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com

When My Heart is Full with Thoughts

Please meet my new blog friend Laurin, an English teacher in Thailand. She loves her pet hedgehog more than her Doritos and mangoes 🙂

Her wisdom and literary style is wonderful for a “young one.” She is “fierce with joy” for her Jesus!!! I like her already!

Enjoy!!! twe

Powerfully Quiet

IMG_20130208_200830

Sometimes when my heart is full, I write poetry and read it aloud and aloud. Sometimes it’s like an exhale, as my friend Sarah said.

Sometimes, like during these current days, I learn about “toxic fears” and think about having faith in God instead of in ‘what ifs.’ I find out that my fears are relational. Then I think about my relationships. And then when I pray for others, I find comfort in this: “. . . just trust [their] vulnerable, broken places to birth [them] into the presence of God” (Ann Voskamp). It’s having faith, I s’pose.

Sometimes I read that “acceptance is the ability to communicate value, worth and esteem to another person,” and I realize that that’s why acceptance and approval are two different things. (Thanks, Duane Elmer.)

Sometimes I get really excited about the beauty – wide-open, vast beauty as well as particular beauty…

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“The pivots of history are microscopic” by Charles Spurgeon

“The pivots of history are microscopic” by Charles Spurgeon.

“In watching our own lives, we may plainly see that, on many occasions, the merest grain has turned the scale. Whereas there seemed to be but a hair’s-breadth between one course of action and another, yet that hair’s-breadth has sufficed to direct the current of our life.” Charles Spurgeon

Dear Readers: Love the simplistic depth of this. The pivots of Kingdom History are seen perhaps as microscopic through our pivots, never the less, it’s movement.

Have you ever peered into a microscope and gasped at the movement of life beyond our eyes? Are we getting it yet? Things are not as they appear on many levels. We think we “see” our circumstances but our view is so rudimentary and  without understanding of God’s workings! twe

John 13:7

Jesus answered him, “You don’t realize now what I’m doing, but later on you’ll understand.