Category Archives: Prayer

Advent Perspectives & Preparations

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To honor my own sense of seeking a deeper connection with the Christ in Christmas, I have invited 4 talented writers to share how they experience the Advent.

Each Advent weekend a guest blogger will share from their hearts, and I hope you will welcome them by reflecting on their words. They represent different corners of the world, and a unique walks of life.  I think you will enjoy them…

Advent used to mean little me except for being part of a liturgical calendar in my Episcopalian upbringing.  As I grew in my own faith, the importance of stopping to ponder and prepare our hearts in celebration of Christ’s birth took on a new meaning. Not a denominational view, a personal longing.

Want to learn more? Our celebrations have been geared toward less focus on ourselves, and spending time teaching our kids to focus on what Christ is about. Not just 4 Sundays of preparation, or archaic church activities. Genuine time to slow down and turn off the outside noise.

May I suggest a few resources? Read the rest of this entry

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Bible Study Tips- Jennifer Hatmaker’s “A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study”

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In the quest to better understand the Bible, Jennifer Hatmaker’s book A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study  is a valuable tool. I wanted to share a few of her recommendations. The book  is surprisingly funny, something you would not expect in a book about studying the Bible. Usually considered a “serious” topic. She rocks as a writer. She is reverent about God, and teases a bit about “us”.  I would confidently say that anything she writes you’d enjoy. I do.  I have learned more from this book about studying the Bible, than through any other in the 15 years I have been doing this.

Excerpted from Jen’s book:

Ask the Holy Spirit (whose name is Teacher and Guide) to help us understand scripture. Every time. Always. Even if the verses are familiar to you. God’s word is new and living each day.

Identify the general topic and write it down. The “so what?”

Ask at least one per day-

  • Play this idea out to its conclusion. If you do what this passage says, what will your life look like? If you don’t do what it says, what could happen?
  • Write about the main idea of the passage rather than breaking it down verse by verse. What is the big picture here? What is God trying to say?
  • What does God want you to walk away with more than anything else today?
  • What is the ironclad truth of this passage? Does the world see this as truth?
  • How does this verse fit into the context of the passage? Or chapter?

“From this place the main idea can be often expanded through journaling. This is where the Holy Spirit can enlarge our comprehension and multiply His Word. Extending the main point stems from questions such as these:”

  • How is this truth manifested in today’s churches? Families? Believers? World?
  • What does this passage tell you about God? Who is He here?
  • What part of His character is exhibited? What is His best name here (teacher, comforter, healer etc.)
  • Process through the main word of phrase that leaped off the page. Write as your mind works
  • Can you boil down a passage to cause/effect? (When we _______, then God will ______; or vice versa)
  • Write about any detail the Spirit helps you notice

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know”

Knowing About Jesus vs. Knowing Jesus

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I have been learning to know Jesus for about 15 years now. It seems to be a common misconception that knowing about Him = knowing Him. This is opposite of what Jesus tells us in His word. Studying the Bible, it becomes clear that He desires a relationship with us. A friendship is what He offers. How do we build relationships with friends? By spending time with them, asking questions, sharing your hearts. That is available to us. All of us.

It doesn’t matter what we have done or who we think we are. Our backgrounds is irrelevant. They do not impress Jesus. He just wants whatever we have to offer, even if it is broken, ugly, or miniscule. As the relationship grows, our faith strengthens. It is an amazing experience. Defining. He is waiting for you. Wooing you. Yesterday He wooed me to Him on a sleepy, painful morning. Color is a gift to me, and He knows it.

“So glad you are up Christa…come sit with me.”

Psalms 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift my soul.

I read Joanna Weaver’s words today in Having a Mary Heart In A Martha World. She shares, “Jesus goes out of his way to prepare my heart to listen and learn. He waits for the moment I’m most ready to obey. And while I can still refuse him at any time, his rebuke is gentle. It woos me at the same time it disarms me, making me willing and open and ready to change.”

He is calling us to stop learning about him and start relating to Him. Today. It is the best investment of time we can make. The world will demand we do its tasks, but the quiet moments are where we build up our spiritual muscles. We relax, with our friend Jesus, and learn that our worship meets his wooing. In that connection, dynamic living is sparked.

Devotion- Mosaic Light

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Mosaic Light

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 ESV

When we feel broken, our thoughts lean toward “How can light shine from a shattered pile of glass?”

I propose that it is even better. The mosaic of life is rich. Notice that our light is to shine before others.  The shards come together to form new shapes, ones that light the path brilliantly for the broken behind us.  The arrangement gives off patterns, unique to the circumstances that formed them.

In the darkness, Christ’s radiance shines as the singular beacon drawing our eyes to Him.

Only Christ is capable of casting out polished and unmarred beams. Yet, He is called the Redeemer. Does He not call us in our brokenness? Allowing partnership with our very maker in lighting the path?

If our way was unmarked by troubles and pain would we look for him in the first place?

Our “good works” can showcase our refusal to accept what life has given us and distract us from His healing.

Determine to look for God’s hand in crafting us, molding us… beautifully.

There is saying by Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

I would reverse that idea. Without a crack in our exterior, no light would get out.Those fissures become gifts to encourage those stumbling around us. Glowing markers along the rutted road.

Do not be discouraged by your fragments. Our creative God knows how to blend our pieces with His tender hand. The outpouring of light then, could leave no doubt about the source.  In the midst of our light, shines the bright hope of Christ. Only God could receive the glory, for no other craftsman could offer such beauty.

Singer Bebo Norman captures this idea with these words:

Oh great light of the world
Fill up my soul
I’m half a man here
So come make me whole”

My light contains slivers of glass so fragmented was sure could never be whole. What joy to see that I was wrong. We can walk in bold confidence, assured that our light, our very personal and particular light, is shining before another, profiling Jesus in unique pattern.  Each step, triumph.

If you were blessed by these words from my heart, please share them with someone else who is hurting. Just copy the link and pass it on…

Psalm 18

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Based on portions of Psalm 18

I love you, O Lord, My strength

The Lord is my rock, my safe place, and my deliverer.

The only place where I can take refuge.

I call to the Lord, who is worthy of my praise,

And I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death and depression entangled me;

The torrents of self-destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave, fear, coiled around me;

The snares of confusion confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord!

I cried out desperately to my God for His help.

From His temple, a place unseen to me, he heard my voice;

My sorrowful cry came before him, into his ears.

His waiting ears.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

He drew me out of the deep waters of despair.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy. Rescued me from that which sought to destroy me that was too strong for me.

Those fears confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support! He was in my corner. In fact, he was my corner.

He brought me to a safe place,

He rescued me because He delighted in me. Delighted, in me!

The Lord has dealt with me not according to any righteousness of my own, but according to His son, who cleansed my stained hands, yet he still rewarded me.

For I have often kept the ways of the Lord. Many times I have failed.

But I have never turned permanently from my God.

All his laws are before me; and he shows me mercy when I turn away from his decrees. He softly and kindly turns me back to them.

I am now blameless before him, and try to keep myself from sin.

You teach me to be humble, and bring my eyes low when arrogant.

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning;

My God turns my darkness into light!

As for my God, his way is perfect; his words are flawless.

A Simple Doxology

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Do you know what a doxology is? It is popularly sung as an old hymn, you might recognize the lyrics.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow Praise Him all creatures here below Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost

The Bible says a doxology is simply a prayer of praise to God.  There are days when I want to praise but my mental acuity is flatlining. Days where I try again and again to stop, focus, and praise him.

And it just doesn’t work.

Not that anything is wrong, per se. We all have these days, where we just keep starting to sit down for some quiet time. And realize we are staring out the window. We read one line of our devotional, and then “put peas on the grocery list” pops into our head. The invasive nature of our surrounding life appears to trump our ability to be still. To focus on praise.

Isn’t it amazing that we don’t have to come up with clever hymns? That God isn’t impressed just with our intense prayer sessions, but is, according to His very nature, pleased with our meager attempts? Because sometimes meager is the best we can do. If you, like me, are stuck humbly (and let’s admit it, somewhat ashamed?) of offering the leanest of praise times…don’t stop trying.

My doxology today is simply, “God, thank you. Please keep calling me.”

It doesn’t feel like enough. Too good to be true. Maybe that is part of the lesson, that we do not have to be enough. Give enough. Focus enough. We just have to come.

Psalm 27:8 (NLT)

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”     And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Run With Me

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Ever observed how kids run towards things?

Not stopping to worry about what they will do when they arrive. No concern over what they will find ahead. They push forward with delightful expectation. Somewhere along the path into adulthood many lose this drive. We would do well to consider the ways of the child and relearn to run.

I have lived on both sides of this perspective. It used to be easy to run ahead withouth thought to the future. I saw a goal and I ran. Sometimes what I found was not what I expected. I learned fear. I became scarred.

Not running wasn’t the answer, there was no safety found there. Too much thought about what lies ahead stifles the gift of forward motion.  We can not live an abundant, rich life without moving forward.

I have a healthier balance now, and a trust in Jesus, who runs with me. In fact, He has run ahead and beckons us to follow.

I am off and running. The chains break off and fall into the dust behind me. Run with me. Let us seek what is ahead and not turn back.

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.—Philippians 3:13-14