THE TRUE LIGHT WHICH ENLIGHTENS EVERYONE (ADVENT WEEK 3)

A PROMISE WAS GIVEN BY THE PROPHETS:  ONE DAY THE PEOPLE WALKING IN DARKNESS WOULD SEE A GREAT LIGHT HERE THIS PASSAGE IS PUT TO MUSIC IN HANDEL’S MESSIAH: WHEN JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS BORN, HIS FATHER, WHO HAD BEEN STRUCK DUMB BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF, WROTE ON A SLATE THAT HIS NAME WAS JOHN. THEN ZECHARIAH’S TONGUE WAS UNLEASHED TO PROPHESY, TO TELL ALL THE PROMISE WAS FULFILLED, FOR HIS SON WOULD POINT TO THE TRUE LIGHT, “THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH.”  “Because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Zechariah’s Song in Luke 1:78-79) These prophecies from Isaiah and Zechariah inspired the carol, “O Come O Come Immanuel,” […]

read more

SENT TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE LIGHT (WEEK 2 OF ADVENT 2014)

THE TIME HAD COME FOR GOD’S UNFOLDING PLAN TO SAVE THE WORLD. FIRST, A BARREN WOMAN BECAME PREGNANT,  THEN, A VIRGIN CONCEIVED. N. T. WRIGHT WROTE: IT BEGAN WITH TWO WOMEN ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF SOCIETY ELIZABETH, THE MOTHER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND MARY, THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD WERE THE BEGINNING OF VERY GOOD NEWS. We are memorizing John’s famous prologue this Advent, and this week we will add John 1:6-8. (In green) If you say, “DEE – I’M OVERWHELMED!” Then do the amount you can do and stay with us in the study. Just keep memorizing at the pace that you can. (1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through him, and without […]

read more

THE BEST POSSIBLE ADVENT! (Week 1, 2014)

EVEN BEFORE I KNEW THE LORD, I LOVED CHRISTMAS. BUT WHAT I LOVED WAS THE GIFTS, RATHER THAN THE GIVER. GOOD GIFTS! Family. Beauty. Food, glorious food. And indeed, these are all given to us by a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. But as good as these gifts are, they are, as C. S. Lewis said: “Only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited.” Christmas, as beautiful as it can be, fills our hearts with a longing for something more. So this Advent, I want to do something that will help you sense His presence, for as good as His gifts can be, we must not, as Lewis said, turn them into “dumb idols that will […]

read more

BLESSED BE YOUR NAME (THANKSGIVING 2014)

 I AM BLESSED TO LIVE IN THIS IDYLLIC VILLAGE OF EPHRAIM. IT WAS FOUNDED BY BELIEVERS IN 1853, WHO IN MANY WAYS REMIND ME OF THE PILGRIMS WHO LANDED AT PLYMOUTH, TWO CENTURIES BEFORE. LIKE THEM THEY LOST SO MANY THEIR OWN IN THEIR EARLY YEARS. IN THE CEMETERY WHERE MY HUSBAND IS BURIED, I AM MOVED BY THESE THREE LITTLE MARKERS, OF THREE CHILDREN OF ANDREAS IVERSON, THE FIRST PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN DOOR COUNTY. WHAT MUST IT BE LIKE TO BURY ONE CHILD AFTER ANOTHER? THAT’S HOW IT WAS, INDEED, FOR THE PILGRIMS. HERE IS A CHART OF THOSE WHO CAME OVER ON THE MAYFLOWER. THE ONES WHO SURVIVED THE FIRST WINTER ARE IN BLACK. YET THE REST, DESPITE BURYING SO MANY LOVED ONES, GATHERED TO GIVE THANKS TO GOD THAT FIRST THANKSGIVING. MAY WE DO […]

read more

FOR THE LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNS (Psalm 47)

I glimpsed the mysterious pieces of God’s Kingdom coming together last weekend at a women’s retreat near La Crosse, Wisconsin. Eight years before, to the day, Jen, the retreat coordinator, and I had experienced God’s power across the ocean in a way neither of us will ever forget. Each of us, as His children, are a part of the mysterious Kingdom to which Jesus often referred, to the Kingdom over which He reigns, to the Kingdom that will be forever and ever.  Every once in a while, we are privileged to catch a glimpse of the big picture and a thrill washes over us as we realize that we are not alone, and that we join hands with millions who have gone before, and with those from every tribe and nation, for there is a great grand scheme. Let me tell you […]

read more

BUT THOUGH THIS WORLD WITH DEVILS FILLED (Psalm 46)

I STILL REMEMBER STEVE’S CRY IN THE DELIVERY ROOM: “GOD GAVE US A GIRL — AND SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE ME!” INDEED, WE SENSED GOD’S KINDNESS TO US. I HAD ASKED GOD (UNLESS HE HAD A BETTER IDEA) FOR A DAUGHTER, WHO WOULD BE LIKE HER DAD. GOD KNEW, EVEN THEN, THAT HE WOULD CALL STEVE HOME EARLY, BUT HE WOULD LEAVE, IN KINDNESS, THE ONE SO LIKE HIM. WHEN THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN NONE OF US HAD ANY IDEA OF THE STORM AHEAD. BUT THEN STEVE WAS DIAGNOSED. FOURTH STAGE CANCER. THERE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN A MORE FRIGHTENING DIAGNOSIS. GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE, THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR THOUGH THE EARTH GIVES WAY, THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS BE MOVED INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA, THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE AT THE […]

read more

A WEDDING SONG FOR THE KING (PSALM 45)

WHAT IS IT ABOUT A WEDDING THAT MAKES US SO EMOTIONAL? LAST MONTH OUR FIRSTBORN SON, J. R., WAS MARRIED,  TAKING OUR BREATH AWAY WITH THE SURPRISE. IT SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE, BECAUSE HE TOLD US, THAT GOD HAD TOLD HIM ONE DAY HE AND DIANNE WOULD BE MARRIED. BUT THEY HAD BEEN LIKE BROTHER AND SISTER FOR SO LONG, AND THEN ENGAGED FOR SO LONG WITH NO WEDDING PLANS. I FINALLY RELEASED IT TO THE LORD. BUT IN TRUTH, WAS NO LONGER LOOKING FOR IT TO HAPPEN. ON THIS OCTOBER 14TH, AS I WAS LEAVING MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT, I SAW THAT J. R. HAD LEFT A MESSAGE ON MY PHONE. CALL ME MOM, IT’S IMPORTANT. STILL, I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS. WHAT’S UP, HONEY? DIANNE AND I ARE GETTING MARRIED TONIGHT. WHAT? J. R. told me the story. […]

read more

WHEN GOD DOESN’T COME TO OUR RESCUE (PSALM 44)

SOMETIMES OUR MERCIFUL LORD IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND GOD HAD CALLED JOHN THE BAPTIST FOR A GRAND PURPOSE.. WHEN HE WAS STILL IN HIS MOTHER’S WOMB HE LEAPED FOR JOY UPON RECOGNIZING JESUS IN MARY’S WOMB. HIS WHOLE LIFE WAS DEDICATED TO THE MESSIAH TO PREPARE THE WAY FOR HIM HE BAPTIZED AND PREACHED REPENTANCE WITHOUT FEAR OF THE POWERFUL PHARISEES .HE GLORIFIED HIS LORD, CRYING: BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD, HE KNEW HIS PLACE, SAYING: HIS SANDALS I AM NOT WORTHY TO UNTIE I MUST DECREASE BUT HE MUST INCREASE. HE SAW WONDROUS THINGS: HEAVEN OPEN AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD DESCEND LIKE A DOVE. THEN HE HEARD GOD SAY OF THIS ONE: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.  JOHN KNEW JESUS WAS THE ONE. […]

read more

WHY ARE YOU DOWNCAST, O MY SOUL? (PSALMS 42-43)

How I love Psalm 42. It has brought me such strength when all His waves and billows are sweeping me over me. We have done this psalm before, and will do again, for it is ever needed and ever new. Recently, on this blog, we completed the first book in the Psalter, and now we will begin, until the time of Thanksgiving and Advent, the second book in the Psalter. It begins with “nine songs of the sons of Korah,” so we should expect some great music inspired by these psalms. My favorite psalm (at least right now!) is Psalm 42, and its heart cry and dialogue with the soul continues on into Psalm 43. This is a famous psalm — many great pieces of music, even a whole classical hour by Mendelssohn, have been inspired by it. Why does […]

read more

‘Tis A Gift To Be Single

When Steve was dying, he said, “You will fly so free.” How I resisted those words. I didn’t want to fly without him. But I am flying solo, and the Lord has led me to stay solo for the rest of my earthly days. I remember talking about this with my then six-year-old grandson, Simeon. After Steve died, I bought my first car by myself: a silver Honda Accord. Simeon ran his hand dreamily over the shiny silver door before he got in. He buckled up next to me, breathed in the new car smell, and looked at me with shining eyes: “Grandma, I think you should name your car The Silver Bullet.” I smiled. “That’s a great idea, Simeon – but I’ve already named it The Grey Goose.” His little shoulders drooped. “But why?” I pondered how to explain […]

read more

THE MARRIAGE BED: A MYSTERIOUS POINTER TO CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE

“…and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32 Why does God care so much about the marriage bed, which is transitory? Why does He want PASSION, PURITY, & PERMANENCE? Because this mysterious union points to Christ and His Bride, in which He also wants: PASSION, PURITY, & PERMANENCE. If you are single and celibate, or in a marriage where you don’t feel cherished, you haven’t missed the best. The best is yet to come! Tim Keller said that when Fidel Castro was asked if he believed in God, he said, “No,” but if he were religious, he would choose Islam, because when they die they get to have sex with many virgins. Keller said, “He has no idea what he is talking about.” […]

read more

SEXUAL INTIMACY AS GOD MEANT IT TO BE (PART I.)

Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky; the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. Do you see the hidden pearl in this proverb? In each case, two different but complimentary creations of God become one, moving in a beauty that would not be possible without the other. The fourth example is so profound Agur cannot comprehend it: the way of a man with a virgin. It is a mystery, but the marriage bed is honorable, and magical when it flows within the boundaries God ordained. The sexual relationship within marriage is like a pure flowing river, restoring, renewing, and reviving. But a river that exceeds its banks brings […]

read more

Divorce (An amputation sometimes necessary for life)

When Aron Ralston fell into a deep crevice on the mountain, a boulder tumbled after him, pinning his arm. After days, Aron realized he had to choose between his arm and his life, and so he severed his arm with his knife. Divorce is an amputation. It cuts into each of you, into the “one” that God has joined together. So why, Jesus was asked, was divorce permitted at all? Jesus said it was because of the hardness of men’s hearts, meaning that when a hard heart breaks the marriage covenant, it may be merciful to allow the victim a divorce. Malachi is often quoted where we read “God hates divorce,” but you must read that phrase in context, for so often this phrase has been used as a bludgeon to hammer the victims of divorce. God’s heart breaks for […]

read more

SUBMIT TO AN UNBELIEVER? YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

PETER TELLS BELIEVERS TO SUBMIT TO UNBELIEVERS: CITIZENS TO GOVERNMENTS, SLAVES TO MASTERS, AND BELIEVING WIVES TO UNBELIEVING HUSBANDS. Before you protest, remember this is all “relative submission.” You don’t have to submit when the authority goes against God. If you are asked to do something that is clearly wrong, you should refuse. That’s what Corrie ten Boom and Deitrich Bonhoeffer did during Hitler’s holocaust, at the risk of their lives, and they glorified God in doing so. But if the authority over us is not asking us to do something immoral, submitting to them is what we are commanded to do. How can we possibly do that, especially to an unbeliever? Our own Elizabeth put it so well, saying it was even hard for her to submit to her godly husband when they disagreed, and she could not imagine what it must […]

read more

EMOTIONAL ABUSE (Recognizing, Repenting, and Responding to Abuse)

Whether you are experiencing emotional abuse personally or not, this is relevant, for we are all capable of subtle forms of abuse, and, abuse is rampant, even by those who claim the name of Christ. The gospel can help us recognize our propensity toward it and repent of it. If it is a pattern in a spouse (as our focus these weeks has been on marriage) or one close to you, Scripture gives us wisdom in dealing with it. One of the first scriptural truths we must recognize is that emotional abuse is just as damaging, if not more, than physical abuse. God tells us that rash words can pierce just as much as physical sword thrusts. In marriage, the thrusts go particularly deep, for this is your covenant partner who promised to love you. This week I will link […]

read more