JOIN US FOR LENT 2016!

It is midwinter. The peninsula I live on in Wisconsin always has a candlelit ski the first weekend of midwinter, and I skied it last night. He lights our way through the dark days of “winter,” but if we know Him, joy will come in the morning, as surely as spring is on the way, as surely as the darkness of Good Friday led to Resurrection Sunday! And as we press into Him during this holy season of Lent, He will come to us as surely as the spring rains, the spring rains that renew the earth. Beginning this Wednesday, not counting Sundays, there are 40 Days until Easter Sunday. 40 is a significant number to God. The Israelites wandered for 40 years. Jesus fasted before his ministry for 40 days. And many Christians take these 40 days to draw […]

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IS HE SWEETER THAN HONEY TO YOU?

LAST WEEK I WAS WITH CHRIST’S BEAUTIFUL BRIDE BEHIND PRISON WALLS. THE CORDS OF DEATH ENCOMPASSED EACH ONE,  BUT GOD CAME RUNNING! HE RESCUED THEM FROM THEIR STRONG ENEMY AND THEY ARE SO GRATEFUL. EVEN IF THEY NEVER GET OUT OF PRISON THEY HAVE JOY. SUCH A CONTRAST TO MANY OUTSIDE THE PRISON WHO MAY THINK THEY KNOW HIM, BUT THEY HAVE RELIGION RATHER THAN RELATIONSHIP AND ONE DAY JESUS WILL SAY, I NEVER KNEW YOU. THE SONG OF SONGS IS A WARNING: GOD WANTS RELATIONSHIP, NOT RELIGION. ONLY CHRISTIANITY HAS A RELATIONAL GOD. OTHER RELIGIONS HAVE A MONOLITHIC GOD OR WARRING GODS. CHRISTIANITY HAS WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS CALLED THE PERICHORESES. THE FATHER, SON, AND SPIRIT IN A JOYFUL DANCE. AND AMAZINGLY, HE HAS INVITED US INTO THE DANCE.Thank you so much for praying for me as I […]

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MORE THAN A MARRIAGE MANUAL

Last week we looked at how just as God ordained purity and passion for marriage, He also longs for a pure and passionate bride. This week we will consider how God ordained male and female for marriage and also covenant for marriage — and how these both also apply to our relationship with Him. (This first point is challenging, and I’d love comments to help me make it better, clearer, and stronger.) WHAT CAUSED ADAM TO BREAK OUT INTO SONG UPON SEEING EVE? FINALLY, HERE WAS SOMEONE LIKE HIM. BONE OF HIS BONE FLESH OF HIS FLESH, AND YET, SO OTHER. IN THE SAME WAY, WE ARE LIKE HIM. AND YET, SO NOT LIKE HIM THE SONG PUTS THIS POETICALLY. HE IS LIKE AN APPLE TREE IN THE GARDEN THAT PROVIDES SUSTENANCE AND SHELTER. INDEED, HE IS THE TREE OF […]

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IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SEX

The ancients forbade the reading of the Song of Songs before the age of thirty. But was that because it was just about sex? Or might they have feared the young would see only sex, tittering like school boys, trampling upon the pearl of great price? That seems to be where the world is today, and we as believers cannot help but be impacted by this pollution. Images of sexual promiscuity have so flooded our land that many believers can no longer imagine how God could use this metaphor to communicate a deep truth to us. We miss what God longs to impart to us. (This next part is tricky — and I welcome input for the upcoming book. How do I show the problem without becoming part of it? Have I said enough to be clear? Too much?) Exacerbating […]

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LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE

SHE SAYS, “YOUR LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE.” THEN THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM ECHO THIS, TURNING TO THE SHEPHERD/KING AND SAYING “YOUR (masculine singular) LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE.” THE HEBREW WORD TRANSLATED “LOVE” IN EACH CASE IS “DOWD.” IT IS DERIVED FROM A WORD FOR”BOILING POT” IT IS PASSION. IT IS USED IN SEXUAL WAYS, BUT THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR INTENSE LOVE. EVEN CHRIST’S SUFFERING IS CALLED HIS PASSION. LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE. IT TOOK “DOWD,” LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE, TO SAVE US. WE ARE SO BAD IT TOOK HIS DEATH ON A CROSS TO PAY OUR DEBT. BUT WE ARE SO LOVED THAT HE SET HIS FACE LIKE FLINT TO ACCOMPLISH IT. LOVE LIKE A HURRICANE. THE HURRICANE OF GOSPEL LOVE. Sally Lloyd-Jones opens The Jesus Storybook Bible explaining the Bible isn’t a book of rules or […]

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AN INVITATION TO THE SONG OF SONGS

Welcome to 2016 and to a book that can change your life! Do you realize how different your life would be if you realized, to your core, how deeply loved you are? That, indeed, Jesus sees you as beautiful?   Up until the 1800’s, The Song of Songs was the most preached on book in the Old Testament. It was a pearl to be treasured. Nothing, pastors thought, was more important for his flock’s walk than seeing the depth of Christ’s love for them. Seeing that love would help them face trial and temptation with victory. But in time, the primary focus of the Song shifted from Christ to marriage, and preachers didn’t feel it was as important. Some, in fact, belittled its value. When the value of the Song was questioned by the interviewer who interviewed C. S. Lewis […]

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ON YOUR MARK, GET SET…2016!

2016! A NEW YEAR A FRESH START TO RUN THE RACE WITH PERSEVERANCE AND TO “FEEL HIS PLEASURE” AS WE RUN My challenge for running the race this year is to ramp up our prayer lives, and I have three concrete suggestions for doing so. (You might want to consider doing one, two, or all three!) 1) PRAY SCRIPTURE No matter what else you are doing in the Word, when you are quickened by a verse — stop right then and turn it into a prayer. Or, when you are done with your daily time, look back and find a way to pray — you can praise Him for what you saw about Him, ask Him for a quality lacking in you…let the Spirit guide you, but pray Scripture. When I look at the regrets in my life, it is […]

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CHRISTMAS WEEK 2015!

Here we are, Christmas week, when we remember the most amazing miracle of all: God came to be with us in the flesh. Together we’ll help each other stay centered in the hustle and bustle of this busy week, to ponder, as Mary did, what it all means. I’ve mined treasures for each day, keeping it brief, and including the special video (thanks to Laura, Rebecca, and David!) from Laura-Dancer to John’s prologue. Today, we’ll contemplate that moment when Gabriel came to Mary. “Quite possibly,” Martin Luther wrote, “Mary was doing the housework when the angel Gabriel came to her. Angels prefer to come to people as they are fulfilling their calling and discharging their office.” Darrell Bock, who has an excellent two volume commentary on Luke (It received book of the year from Christianity Today the year it came […]

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MOVING WITH HIS SPIRIT (3)

My little village of Ephraim comes alive with light at Christmas. Homes, neighborhoods, and cities everywhere are aglow with light. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of the season, do people stop and ponder why all this light? Or is Christmas, in particularly irony, still the living out of this: The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. So, we still pray, “Come to set thy people free!” And then we must be alert to discover those whose hearts might be being drawn! A question or two might help discover if there is interest, if they might be hungering for this message: Unto you is born a Savior   OH, YES, OUR SAVIOR IS THE TRUE LIGHT […]

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SENT TO BEAR WITNESS (2)

There was a man sent from God to bear witness to the Light… And we too are sent from God to bear witness to the Light. And never are hearts more open than at Christmas. Let me tell you a story. I know how easily skeptics and seekers will say “Yes!” to a Christmas Tea, whereas they might run the other way if you invited them to a Good Friday Service. I’m speaking at one in Milwaukee tonight (pray!) and our little Bible study is hosting one Thursday (please pray) and we are only inviting skeptics and seekers. And they are coming — SO MANY we may even have to change venues. WE ARE SO EXCITED IN ANTICIPATING THAT GOD, IMMANUEL, WILL MEET US. At that tea, and we have told them, women will share how Bible study has impacted […]

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THE WORD WAS GOD (1)

WE’RE GOING TO EXPERIENCE THE WONDER OF ADVENT TOGETHER Last Advent I encouraged you to memorize John’s famous prologue. You may be surprised, but I am feeling led to go there again. Let me tell you a story. My friend Greg tells of being taught by Howard Hendricks at Dallas Theological Seminary. The first day of class Hendricks gave the students one passage of two verses and told them to find ten observations. They do. The next day he tells them to find ten more, and with much more effort they do. He repeats the assignment the third day and they are amazed — how can they possibly? Have they not exhausted its depth? No, they find they have not.  They look at every word, they look at cross references, they thoroughly examine the context. When he repeats the assignment […]

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A REAL THANKSGIVING

Norman Rockwell painted the above painting during World War II, when the world was in pain. We are in pain today as well, and how we must continue to help one another remember who God is, to let our requests be made known to Him, and to do it with thanksgiving. We will continue to practice prayer this week in our secret place, but to give thanks here on the blog, and hopefully, at our Thanksgiving tables. I KNOW IN YOUR HEART OF HEARTS, YOU WANT “A REAL THANKSGIVING.” ONE WHERE YOUR LOVED ONES GATHER AND THERE IS A TIME OF MEANINGFUL SHARING. It was 1998, and I was blessed that my parents were coming all the way from California. It is the only time I remember them coming to my home for Thanksgiving, and oh how I prayed. Neither […]

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PRACTICING PRAYER

 I’VE READ SO MANY EXCELLENT BOOKS ABOUT PRAYER: YANCEY, KELLER, MURRAY, BONHOEFFER… SO IT’S TIME FOR ME AND YOU TO: TOGETHER, WE WILL HELP ONE ANOTHER, THIS WEEK AND THEN AGAIN, THANKSGIVING WEEK TO PERSIST IN PRAYER  I’VE PONDERED HOW TO DO THIS ON A BLOG, SINCE JESUS SAYS TO DO THIS IN SECRET. SO HERE’S THE PLAN: GET INTO A PRIVATE PLACE EACH MORNING WITH YOUR NOTEBOOK OR HOWEVER YOU WANT TO RECORD. EACH TWO DAYS I’LL GIVE A REVIEW OF SOMETHING WE’VE LEARNED AND YOU CAN PUT THAT INTO PRACTICE — ALONG WITH ANY OTHER WAY THE LORD HAS LED YOU. IT WON’T BE PERFECT IT WON’T BE POLISHED BUT OH HOW GLAD HE WILL BE TO SEE YOU THERE IN YOUR SECRET PLACE, FOR HE SAYS: WHAT CAN YOU SHARE HERE, PUBLICLY, ON THE BLOG? THANKSGIVING THAT […]

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PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER

THERE IS NO LIFE AS EXCITING AS THIS LIFE WE HAVE IN CHRIST. TO THINK THAT THE GOD WHO MADE THE UNIVERSE IS MINDFUL OF US. I EXPERIENCED IT AGAIN LAST WEEK. EVEN AS IT WAS HAPPENING, I KNEW IT WAS HIM. HE WAS GUIDING AND ILLUMINATING PRAYER FOR ME AND FOR YOU. My daughter-in-law, Dianne, wanted to celebrate her husband’s “Jubilee” birthday on Oct 30th. So she rented a cabin in beautiful Brown County, Indiana and invited me and two of J. R.’s dear friends to come. As we were driving to the cabin, she stopped at this cross that a Christian family had erected where people could stop and pray, nailing their requests to the cross. We prayed for J. R. and nailed our requests there. At the cabin, for the next two days, we shared the excitement […]

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THE PARADOX OF PRAYER

DURING THIS THANKSGIVING MONTH WE WILL CONCENTRATE ON PRAYER, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON GIVING THANKS. THIS WEEK WE WILL CONSIDER “THE PARADOX OF PRAYER.” DAVID CAUGHT ONE PARADOX WHEN HE SAID: WHEN I CONSIDER THE HEAVENS… WHAT IS MAN THAT THOU ART MINDFUL OF HIM? God is AWESOME and yet DESIRES INTIMACY WITH US This is one of the two paradoxes we will ponder and practice this week. Consider this short clip from Tim Keller: His Spirit seems to be leading us on this journey — is that not in itself an illustration of awesomeness and intimacy? I think of how He led us to consider the ten lepers,  how all were thankful, but only one was in awe. Let us continue our journey of thankfulness all month, but also let us allow the thanks to lead us to awe. […]

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