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Showing posts from 2011

Entertaining Angels | Hebrews 13:1-2

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Welcome to Real Life.   A man once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  He basically replied, “Everyone.”  Anyone who shows mercy to someone in need is their neighbor.[1]

My father has lived in Slovakia, France, Brazil and America.  Yet, for a few years this world traveler was afraid to board an airplane.  One of those years, mom arrived alone at the airport for our Christmas visit.  Dad stayed home in Daytona Beach.
On New Year’s Day, she called my dad.   He told her this story: The afternoon of New Year’s Eve, my father had been out running errands and was waiting for a bus home.  Being a friendly guy, he struck up a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop.  The man had fallen on hard times.  He was homeless.   Since dad was on his own, he invited the stranger to have dinner with him.  They rode the bus home together and dad cooked his “whatever’s-in-the-fridge” goulash for supper.  After eating, they spent the evening watching TV.  Eventually, my father fell asleep on the couch.  …

He Will Be Called... Prince of Peace

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Welcome to Real Life.  Two thousand years ago, a child was born in a manger.  Angels heralded his birth proclaiming, “Peace on earth.”   Two thousand years later, I know that peace.


For to us a child is born...
And he will be calledWonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)


As a young woman, I fought God for years without realizing it.  I believed in him.  I went to church.   I thought that was good enough.  I lived life on my terms.  I knew who God was, but I didn’t know God.  He didn’t play a major role in my life.  I didn’t know he wanted to. 
At Christmas time, I sang carols without comprehending their meaning.  I adored the baby in the manger. Yet, I had no clue the incarnation[1] held a deeper meaning for me. Or, that one day the child in the manger would rock my world.  I was an observer at the birth of the Savior, not a participant.[2]


All that changed one Sunday in December many years ago.  I was invited to a church where I heard a messag…

His Name Shall Be Called... Mighty God

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Welcome to Real Life.  God ways are certainly not like our ways.  He chose to enter our world in the simplest and humblest of ways.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given
And the government shall be upon his shoulder
And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
                                                                                 Isaiah 9:6

Seven hundred and fifty years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied that God would put on human flesh.  Almighty God, the One who spoke the world into existence,[1] entered our world in the lowliest way.  He arrived as a vulnerable, helpless infant.
Why did he come as a baby?  Why not an adult?  It was humiliating enough to accept the limitations of a human body, a body that becomes tired and hungry and dirty.  But God limited himself further by coming as a child.  Jesus had to learn and grow and submit to the authority of his parents.  For the omnipotent…

Whatever

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Welcome to Real Life. Language is alive, fluid, and flexible. The meanings of words often change with the culture. Sometimes, they change with the speaker.

Whatever, what-e-ver, whatevs, w.e. It’s the cynical sigh of our generation. It roughly translates: I could care less.

At times we hear the gracious whatever, as in: Whatever you would like, dear.  I gladly relinquish my right to decide.  I’d like you to be satisfied.
My friend Beth’s whatever captures a whole new meaning. It is her favorite prayer. “Whatever.”  She’s not being cynical or even gracious.  She’s being honest. Beth trusts God. She believes he loves her completely and knows what is best for her. When she prays “whatever” she is releasing her life, her desires, and her future to God. Her prayer is not naive. My friend has experienced abandonment, infidelity, abuse, chronic fatigue, anger, divorce and more. When she prays “Whatever, Lord,” she understands that it could mean pain, sadness, or loss.  She prays it anyway. For,…

A No Good, Very Bad Day

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Welcome to Real Life.  Some days are better than others. But, some days are just bad.

I woke up this morning feeling like something is wrong in my world.  I feel weak, small, and foolish. Besides that, I’m sure no one likes me.  Heck, I don’t even like me today.
Yet, I’m a Christian. I’ve been walking with Jesus a long time.  Shouldn’t I wake up every morning oozing love, joy, and peace?
Actually, something is wrong in my world – and it’s me.  I’m human, flawed, and frail.  Sin clings to me.  No matter how hard I try to shake it off, it sticks.[1]  In spite of this, Jesus loves me.  And he loves me just as I am.  In fact, I think he loves me even more on no good, very bad days.  (At least it feels that way comparatively, since I’m sure no one else loves me today.)
I don’t have to pull myself together for Jesus.  I can go to him in my miserable mood and pour my troubles at his feet. He listens. He’s always there. For, not only did he save my soul once and for all, he continues to save my …

Full Stomachs and Lean Souls

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Welcome to Real Life. Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving. Forty-six million turkeys were consumed in feasts across our land. We are a nation blessed with abundance. We have come a long way in four hundred years...
In November of 1620 the Mayflower landed in Provincetown Harbor. The Pilgrims faced their first winter with little food and only the ship for shelter. By spring, half (of 150) had died of starvation and disease. However by autumn, they had harvested their first crops. Governor John Carver called for a celebration: The Pilgrims invited Massasoit, who came with 90 of his people and whose hunters contributed five deer to the celebration. The Pilgrims gathered corn, wild turkey, ducks and other fowl, fish, and venison. The first Thanksgiving lasted about a week, with three days straight of feasting with the Wampanoag. The time was filled with prayers, dances, shooting matches, wrestling, and other games.[1]Now that’s a party! They had known hunger. They had seen death. They were…

The Uncommon Tree

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Welcome to Real Life.  Currently, the weather in Northeast Ohio is transitioning from autumn to winter.  The leaves have fallen from the trees, except for one tree…

The Uncommon Tree | Psalm 1:1-3
Just last week, my neighbor’s maple reached her zenith of color in an explosion of crimson leaves. On a sunny day against a deep blue sky, her beauty takes my breath away. She’s a stubborn tree.  She’s always the last one in the neighborhood to shed her leaves.  Even when winter winds blow and snow blankets the ground beneath her branches, this maple clings to life.  She’s an uncommon tree. 

I want to be like that maple, Lord.  At times, life’s harsh winds blow turning my world into a cold, dark winter.  Give me a stubborn faith that clings to beauty and truth.  I want to be an uncommon woman.  I want the Real Life you give.

Oh, the joys of those who do notfollow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners,or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on i…

Battling Giants

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Welcome to Real Life. God is speaking. When life is hard, am I still listening?

God Speaks Series | Battling Giants | Hebrews 3, 4 “Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts.”Warning: Don’t be like the Children of Israel.  As slaves in Egypt, they cry out to God for deliverance. He sends Moses to Pharaoh to say, “Let my people go.”  Ten plagues later, Pharaoh does. God leads the Israelites across the desert to the Promised Land. But at the border, they refuse to enter. They’re afraid. Giants are in the land.
These same Israelites saw God rain plagues on Egypt and drown the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. They experienced God’s miraculous provision and protection in the desert. Yet, on the verge of stepping into their inheritance, they stop trusting God. They harden their hearts. God won’t force Israel to enter. Instead, he allows them to remain in the desert 40 years until that generation dies. Then, he leads their children safely into the Promised Land.
I've been in the des…

Thirsting for God

Welcome to Real Life.  Last week, God was pursuing us as the “Hound of Heaven.” This week, he’s water to thirsty souls.

God Speaks Series | Thirsting for God | Isaiah 55:1-2
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters. Not long ago, a friend said, “I’m so thirsty for God.”  It made me wonder why I wasn’t thirsty for God.  I was walking with him.  But, I wasn’t longing for him. 
Soon afterwards, my life was thrown into a period of turmoil.  My parents’ health was rapidly declining. One thing after another was going wrong. I could barely catch my breath. By the grace of God, we all survived. Now, my world is beginning to calm.
… and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! And I’m flat broke. I’ve spent all my strength. I’m tired and weak. I’m thirsty for God.
Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. So, I come, just as I am–poor and broken. A willing heart is all that's needed. God’s Spirit, his fullness, his satisfaction is not reserved exclusively for the strong, m…

Does God Still Speak Today?

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Welcome to Real Life. Recently, someone asked me, “When people say God speaks to them, is that real?”  It’s an important question. Does God still speak today?
Jesus said, “People do not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”[1]God Speaks Series | Part 2 | Does God Still Speak Today?
I am still learning that God is all about relationship. He loves me. He knows me. He wants me to love and know him as well. Communication is key in relationships. I talk to God in prayer. But, how does my Lord speak to me? How does he reach into my world and get my attention?
God speaks in many ways as he pursues this love relationship with me. Often it feels as though I’m chasing after God. Actually, he’s the one chasing me. Francis Thompson (1859-1907) captures this in his poem, “The Hound of Heaven”:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I …