Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What the Wise Men's Star Can Teach Us About Light and Darkness

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 1:4-5 

We usually associate the star that appeared in the night sky, guiding the wise men to the new born King, as a "before Christmas" event, but in reality, this part of the Christmas story really occurs some time after the birth of Jesus.  Knowing that helps us remember that the message of "God With Us" is for all of our days, not just a few special holy days.  And the fact that wise men from the East were the ones who recognized the sign in the sky and came to worship the new King teaches us that God reaches to all of mankind, even those who we would call unbelievers or pagan...

...all are invited into the light....

The Christmas Star teaches us about contrasts:
 - moments of sparkling joy excavated from under blankets of black suffering
 - smiles in the midst of tears
 - the riches of kings laid at the feet of an infant
 - death and life, life and death
 - journeys and arrivals
 - mysteries and revelations
 - prophecies and promises fulfilled
 - hardships and abundance
 - light penetrating darkness
 - heaven invading earth 
 - the Creator becoming one with creation

A little later, still in the book of John, we read this:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12 

And though we have the light of life, and therefore we are never in total darkness, there are times when:

For now we see through a glass, darkly
but then face to face: 
now I know in part; but then shall I know 
even as also I am known.  
1 Corinthians 13:12 

The Christmas Star teaches us that Light will always overwhelm the darkness,
                                                    that Light will illuminate and lead to the path of life,
                                                    that Light will reveal that which is presently not understood,
                                                    that the Light will always shine, even when a heart may remain closed to it,
                                                                 patiently, gently warming it with Its eternal fire...           
                                                     that Light came to be present with us, in all of life's darkness...

John Piper shared great wisdom in regards to suffering and hope in his poem "The Innkeeper" that helps us remember that the hearts of those who suffer need our tender care...and tending to the suffering is the reason that Jesus came in the first place.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize . . . 
but one who in every respect has been tested as we are.
(Hebrews 4:15)

Just as the Wise Men from the East had to journey a great distance over much time, following the beaconing star, and finally finding the object of their worship, so also those who face pain and brokenness this past holiday season and through the new year will have a long journey over time - and as they follow the Light that shines into their darkness, they will come to their own personal place of worshipping the One whose Light will ultimately engulf all this darkness...

Let us lift up our prayers and keep watch with all those who are hurting...

(This is a revised post from 2012 - click here if you want to read the original)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Finding Holiness in the Holidays

Starting November 13th @ 7 p.m.
Are you seeking to foster rest, relationship, and renewal 
in yourself and in your family's holidays?

To capture the sense of unique, special, set aside moments 
when you all are reflecting on timeless events  
instead of racing through the urgent?

It’s November, and I bet you have started your holiday planning!
Or, you haven’t and you might feel a little panicked on the inside!

But, this season can be your best holiday season yet!  Come on in, sit  a while with me at my kitchen island.
I’ll get the coffee {or tea}, you grab a stool.

How about splash of home made vanilla?

The house is quiet {yes, this is a “MNO” – mom’s night out, child free event!}  Because I really want to know what is in your heart, and sometimes with littles bouncing in and out, it is just hard to allow ourselves the luxury of a little vulnerability.  I take a sip of Lively Colombian, and ask you,

What is your ideal holiday moment?”

Maybe that special evening spent decorating a REAL Christmas tree, with lights and colored paper chains, the fragrance of the forest delicately scenting your home?

Could it be a beautiful home cooked meal, served on china passed through generations, with good coffee brewing and rich desserts lining the kitchen counter, inviting every. last. person. to give up the diet and indulge and languish around the family table?

Is it you, your husband, teens, and littles together with the soft glow of candlelight on their faces, singing “Silent Night” at your church’s Christmas Eve service?

Maybe your dream is more somber, a desperate hope that you can make it through the season because it is the “first” holiday after your life was changed forever?

Perhaps your dream – this year – is that your family will be brave enough to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, and not be pulled into an overwhelming schedule of holiday events?

In unison, we both draw a breath in, then exhale long…
 You and I both know that any one of those “perfect moments” come only as we spend an incredible amount of time and energy planning and preparing plus “perspiration”…

Your family enjoys the fruit of the labor, but we both just got overwhelmed thinking about it!

Well, let’s turn and face this holiday season together!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this year, instead of becoming overwhelmed during the holidays, you finally get the opportunity to develop a new set of rhythms and routines which allow you and your family to be refreshed and reflective?!  Imagine knowing the principles of sacred rest that will carry you into next year!

In “Finding Holiness in the Holidays” you will “tune into” and learn:

♦ about “Rhythms of Rest”,
♦ about God’s illogical methods of multiplying whatever we give Him – YES!  This includes “time”!
♦ about creating an atmosphere of awe and expectation and spaciousness for ourselves and our families.
♦ about intentionally putting “holiness” {set apart time} in the holidays.
♦ planning for your “nos” as well as  our “yeses” to activities and events.

What you get:
♦ guidance from a seasoned counselor and fellow learner {me}
♦ weekly conference calls in which I lead you through the assigned chapters and reflection questions from“Rhythms of Rest”{the calls will be approximately 1 hour long}
♦ call recordings (with lifetime access) that you can refer to anytime – day or night!
♦ training and immediate application of how to hear God’s voice
♦support from like minded people throughout the entire holiday season who will pray you through this    process and beyond
♦ a private facebook group to share questions, ideas, struggles, and hope.
   (This group will remain open as long as you need it with unlimited access to its content}
♦ a safe place to try out, practice and perhaps even fail and to be loved anyway
♦ no distance or schedule limits to your ability to access the group – available whenever it is convenient for you
♦ the opportunity to create an intentional holiday season that will bless your family and save your sanity!
♦ permanent habits of revitalizing rest that you will take into 2017 (yes, this is the best part!)
♦ BONUS 7th week conference call after Christmas weekend to check in and recap your journey in finding holiness through the holidays
♦ and much more!

What you need for the group:
♦ a copy of “Rhythms of Rest – Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World” by Shelley Miller {click hereto go toAmazon}
♦ a Bible
♦ a journal
♦ a quiet place
♦ a heart determined to find what it means to “Sabbath”
♦ an eager expectation of meeting with God!

This class is for anyone who:
  1. ♦ is overwhelmed at the thought of the holidays coming
  2. ♦ who thinks they don’t have time for an online group!
  3. ♦ desires to create beautiful memories by being intentional
  4. ♦ struggles with carving out time for herself
  5. ♦ is ready to change how they move through their holiday season
  6. ♦ wants to find a group of people who will embrace the stumbles
    and failures of the process of “change”
  7. ♦ thinks that self-care is selfish
  8. ♦ knows that realistic change happens in the context of relationships
  9. ♦ wants to build a habit of refreshing herself {as well as others}

If you are ready to let go of perfectionism and are open to finding friendships that will last into eternity, it is time to make the leap and enroll in the “Finding Holiness in the Holidays” group!
All this for less than the price of one group therapy session!  
Sign up now and get ready for a transformational holiday season!
1 EZ payment of  $48
Lifetime access

The classroom is now closed...
However, you can still get access to the recorded conference calls and 
bonus downloadable material for the discounted price of $20.

Just click the "Buy Now" Button to be taken to the purchase link...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Lord, Your Will Be Done!" (A call to prayer and war)

You all know, "greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4)...and yet this doesn't say that we WON'T have to go through circumstances that will test - and PROVE - this truth...

Today is one of those days for me...we are doing a homeschool co-op: you know how it is, people are out sick, classes have to be combined, things seem to be changing hour by hour - a teen boy ate (yes I said ATE!) a dead cricket in his class - the teacher reported great distractions as a result...computers are mysteriously restarting for no reason in computer class...someone mentioned there must be a gremlin here...

I think God is using all this to remind us that we need to be alert and aware right in prayer, expose and pray for ambushes against the plans of the enemy. We cannot ignore the war going on in the heavenlies right now...

So people - if your day has been a bit strange too, please join me in praying "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World

I was introduced to "The Sabbath Society" and Shelley Miller several years ago by a simple Google search.  The Lord had been drawing my heart into the contemplative life; and I myself desired to radiate peace instead of the constant harried feeling that was my constant companion.  I knew God had instituted Sabbath as the final crown to His creative passion, and so the word was my search.

From the beginning, Shelley's words brought grace, peace, and a time of satisfied fullness of spirit.

But it wasn't till I became a member of the launch team that I really applied fully the lessons Shelley was teaching us - and I can say I have learned much and God is bigger in my heart and more reflected in my life than before I put Sabbath into practice!

So it is an honor to be part of the launch team for the book that was birthed out of her own journey to discover Sabbath, and that she shared with those following her and now has been released for the rest of you!

If you have thought Sabbath was: 

an Old Testament construct only, 

a legal requirement to the Jewish people,

a nice idea that would never happen for you,

something that only happens on Sunday,

something that only happens on Saturday,

just one more thing laced with rules and restrictions,

another Biblical concept you could fail at,

a reason to avoid learning about rest...

Then get ready to learn what Sabbath really is...

A reminder to pause and let our hearts be focused on what is important...

A release from perfectionism by focusing on the only One who IS perfect...

A reminder that we belong because we are already accepted...

A pause for prayerful listening, even for a few minutes, 
that brings everything that is important back into focus...

An interchange with our Creator—it’s a choice
an elective He hopes you’ll pick first from the list that is keeping you busy...

and so much more!  Consider getting a paperback copy to sit with, mark up, devour and digest.  It promises to be a very close friend to your Bible for your quiet tiimes!

Page by page, chapter by chapter, you will be invited to savor the very best portion of your life with God and His rich desire to relate to you personally.  There is no condemnation, nothing to conform to - just a reissuing of God's invitation to come to Him and find rest for your souls...

Rhythms of Rest is available NOW - you will put it on your book shelf right beside your Bible and "1000 Gifts" - I highly recommend it...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted - Slow Time Sabbath

"Then Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath."  (Mark 2:27 NLT)

A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted
 John O’Donohue

Take refuge in your senses,
open up 
to all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
when it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of colour
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
until its calmness can claim you.

Be excessively gentle with yourself. 

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.

Learn to linger around someone of ease
who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually you will return to yourself,
having learned a new respect for your heart
and the joy that dwells far within slow time.