Make a declaration…

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“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may about more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” –Philippians 1:2-11, ESV

Make a declaration. With your life, with your love. With your peace, bring calm. With your fire, bring a flame.

Make a declaration. Choose a scripture, a verse or a chapter or a testament. Write it on your heart. Proclaim it in your soul, in your home, from the hilltops.

Make a declaration.

“…choose this day whom you will serve…” –Joshua 24:15, ESV

As Joshua declared to the people, declare to your very soul.

Make a declaration.

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God…” –Deuteronomy 30:19-20, ESV

God called the people to choose. He declared two sides: blessing or cursing. And He declared that they should choose life.

Receive Jesus’ very declaration:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” –John 15:16-17, ESV

Make a declaration. Make a choice. Because you have already been chosen.

Lay the Shock Aside…

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Something happened in January that sidelined me. And still recovering from that incident, I am emerging with some realizations about life. A long email sent to a friend in response to: “how’s life” revealed much.

But what I realize in this moment is this: I have wasted a ton of time and energy being shocked by life. Shocked people would be mean. Shocked people would go out of their way to be nice. Shocked that things worked out. Shocked that things didn’t work out. Shocked at what “should” be. Shocked that anything turns out in an ideal world.

I get tired even writing those sentences. In a constant state of shock is a rough way to live.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” –Luke 19:10, ESV

He didn’t come to seek and shock. He came to save us. Save us from our selves, our sin, our wretched being. Drenched in stink, He came to die in our place that we could be clean, that we could come into the presence of the One Holy God. We can’t get there on our own–only the death and resurrection of Jesus, and our accepting Him as His rightful place: Savior–then we can be clean. Then we can know God in a way we couldn’t before.

And He gave us the Bible that we could live in peace. He didn’t come to shock us–He came to bring wisdom, peace, and assurance that this is not our final world.

If you’re living in shock, trust me: there is another life. A life that has peace following the ebb and flow. Not shocked, but not naive either. Just living the life before us that we can eventually live the eternal life with Him.

The Bread Maker’s Secret–The Christian Journal

For bread to grow, leaven must be present. Kneading accomplishes this. The pulling, pushing, folding, and pulling again spreads the leaven throughout the dough. Over and over our lives are stretched and pulled and folded. The Master’s hands push to spread the leaven in our lives…

Read the rest on page 6 at this link: http://en.calameo.com/read/004371270e9e9123e8cf7?trackersource=embed

Why remember…

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A cousin doing some cleaning, sending old family photos. From junior high makeovers circa early 90s to the “line up” shown above, we laughed through different family eras.

And something else happened when the photo hit Facebook. Reminiscing extended beyond the traditional “how were we ever that small?!”

One of the age gaps in our nearly-30-cousins generation showed its presence, as the middle group of cousins remembered a particular game played in the back yard with the uncles. The older group hadn’t heard of the game. Remembering isn’t always about sharing the same memory–many times it is about sharing different experiences from the same time.

We wondered, guessing, on where the cousins were who had to have been in the world, but maybe were infants at the time. Remembering isn’t always about who was there–sometimes it is also about who was to come.

An employee of my older brother commented, enjoying seeing him at such a young age. Remembering publicly draws others in–those who weren’t in the picture 30 years ago get to live vicariously through our family memories.

One subset of cousins remembers putting on plays in the basement while another remembers tap dancing on a wood cutting board so grandma could see the results of dance classes. Another builds on the memory, reminiscing that her father had the new video camera running 24/7–there must be video of the tap dancing somewhere. Another chimes in that he has witnessed said video, and it is in his mom’s basement. Remembering often branches–one memory stirs another. And another family member draws out more evidence.

In all the differences and branches and gaps and the joining of others in the remembering, we all remember the yard, the house, and the grandparents who lived there.

It strikes me how often God instructs us to remember. Throughout the Old Testament, He tells His people to build an altar so that they can remember for generations to come. The New Testament brings communion–and the command that whenever the family partakes, they remember.

Remembering God’s work is about more than remembering His deeds. The family reminiscing above included declarations of a need for a reunion. Remembering brings the family of God together. Remembering both bridges the age gaps while sharing and learning from the different experiences of each group. It is remembering the One Who always was and Who also is to come. It is about drawing others into our memories, into our remembrances of God. And it is about bringing out branches of memories–from one story to evidence of the story.

Remembering God’s hand, His actions, His love does so much  more than remind us of His faithfulness. It just may be that in remembering, He is drawing us closer together as family.

Emmanuel

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Mary’s day, like any other
Her dreams of the future,
Her hand promised to another.
Little did she know,
her future was about to be shattered.

When God drew near

Joseph’s plans for the future.
His betrothed, blameless before God.
Shattered.
He never would have guessed,
and here he sat,
considering how to show her respect
while divorcing her.

But God drew near

Her growing child,
her loneliness
as nobody could ever, would ever
know exactly what she experienced.
A trip to her aunt Elizabeth’s
also carrying a miraculous conception.
A leaping, pre-birth John the Baptist
And a song from her family.

As God drew near

Politics.
A census,
a very pregnant belly,
and a tromping donkey.
The poor couple trudged the path
to Bethlehem.
No room for them

Yet God drew near

Bending low to the manger,
the mewls of a newborn King
receiving gifts from wise men
and honor amid the barn

When God drew near

An apple in the garden,
sin came in.
A need for eternal sacrifice,
a plan in place to bring us home.
And it all came to pass

because God wanted us near