Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Blessings

Our daughters have arrived, cranberry biscotti is dwindling in the jar, and we sometimes have thoughtful discussions around coffee and our Advent readings from Regent College-- all great blessings in my books.

I'm not always consistent about Advent readings, but this year's have stirred my thoughts and brought many insights. Regardless of what we face this Advent, whether we have loved ones close by or not, I pray we will encounter Immanuel. Today.

"God with us" is precious. Whether we ponder God's coming to us through the vulnerability of a newborn or the need of a homeless person, whether in a loved one's passing or memories that make us long for old relationships, all our situations are opportunities to discover that God, indeed, is with us. Even when life is messy.

The reality of embracing Immanuel transforms our lives.

Immanuel draws us like the Baby filled with the God of love. As sojourners longing for glimpses of Home, we can be happy that God comes to make His home, now. In our arms.

Come, Lord Jesus! We welcome You!

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
("O Come, O Come Emmanuel," Author unknown)


Where would you like to encounter Immnanuel in your life?

Where do you need His love, and to whom will you take His love?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Most of us major on supplication, represented by the last letter of the ACTS prayer acrostic (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication).

While supplication or petition is effective because God is kind, it's the caboose that can’t get very far unless it is coupled with the rest of the train.

Celebrating and describing God’s glory (adoration) ushers us into the Almighty’s presence, the engine room. There we find our high priest Jesus Christ, a savvy engineer, able to forgive the sins we confess. This propels us into new intimacy and thanksgiving comes easily from our freshly cleaned heart. Plus, in hard times, instead of whining or gritting our teeth, focusing on God and giving thanks speeds us away out of a dark night into the sunrise.

When adoration, confession and thanksgiving happen, we bring our requests with confidence. No mere wishful thinking. We’ve been in the presence of our powerful Lord. We've been forgiven. Guilt can no longer keep us away. Any false guilt or false notion – like bothering a “busy” God or evaluating our need as “unworthy” - gets escorted off the train like an apprehended terrorist.

Confidence settles into the seat next to us and introduces us to a new passenger: God’s peace.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5: 14-15).


“Rejoice in the Lord always.… Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Identify any terrorists aboard your prayer train. Confidently ask your Engineer to bind and remove them.

Spend some time rejoicing in God’s promises. Let your anxieties be escorted away, replaced by a new travel mate, God’s peace.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thanksgiving in Advent

The "T" of the ACTS prayer acrostic (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication), giving thanks, is never out of season and packs benefits of its own.

At any season, taking time to look for things to be thankful for miraculously shifts your perspective. Though your income may be choking or your health questionable, thanksgiving is a choice that flips your surroundings right side up. Fault finding stands us on our heads seeing all that could potentially bring discomfort or even terrorize us.
During Advent, and any other season, giving God thanks seems to release that pressure and stand us on our feet again. Thanksgiving refocusses us on the big picture in which our kind and merciful heavenly Father daily provides for our needs.

"Praise the Lord, God our Savior, who helps us every day" (Psalm 68:19, NCV). "Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms" (Psalm 68:19, NLT).

God is our Savior --ready to help us as we call. Immanuel, "God with us," enjoys our gratitude, rewarding us with a happier heart and feet replanted and on the ground.


When pressure has you thinking only about your problems, will you choose to give thanks for the good gifts your Savior gives you?

What will it take for you to flip right side up?