GOD WITH US

IMAGINE THE TERROR OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS WHEN GOD CAME NEAR   THE SHEKINAH GLORY   WHENEVER HE CAME THEY WERE FILLED WITH FEAR   MOSES TOOK OFF HIS SHOES AT THE BURNING BUSH     ISAIAH CRIED WOE IS ME   JOB WAS FLATTENED WHEN GOD CAME IN A WHIRLWIND       AND AFTER FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OF SILENCE ON THAT HOLY NIGHT THE PRESENCE OF GOD AGAIN STRUCK FEAR   When I was young, long before most of you were born, I loved watching television Christmas specials: Perry Como, Andy Williams…and though there were plenty of songs about chestnuts and winter wonderlands, they always had sacred songs as well, often closing with the spine-tingling O Holy Night, where you were reminded of the holiness of Christmas. This year I watched a few and thought how different […]

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DEEP CALLS TO DEEP

In the midst of the deadly “D”s (disappointment, death, divorce, disease, depression) there is a beautiful and mysterious D phrase: DEEP CALLS TO DEEP. For those of us who are children of God, there is such hope. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. At the time our heart is sinking down, God may come to us, and His deep voice may speak deep into our souls.Last week Anne, who has journeyed with us for sometime, wrote something profound, something very related to this phrase: Deep calls to deep. She listened to Keller’s message Questions of Suffering on Job and responded: My greatest take away is the idea that suffering is what bonds me to God. Having just finished the study on idolatry I remember my angst over how to replace my idols with Jesus. […]

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THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION

I met Jack between my junior and senior year of high school, when I spent the summer at Northwestern University. N. U. had a “Cherub Program” designed to acquaint potential N. U. students with the excellencies of Northwestern’s speech, debate, and film departments. I became acquainted with the excellencies of Jack Tate. At seventeen, protected by my parents and Midwestern conservative values,  I was completely charmed by Jack. Darkly handsome, Jack was from North Carolina and seemed to know much more about winning girls than did the farm boys from West Bend, Wisconsin. He winked, he wooed, and he warmed my heart with flattering phrases. When he asked me to study with him one night, I wasn’t sure if he just needed a study partner or saw me as something more. But afterwards, as we walked out of the library […]

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WHY WE CAN’T “JUST SAY NO”

I do not do what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15 “I CAIN’T SAY NO” Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma Ado Annie was the saucy gal in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” whose signature song was “I Cain’t Say No.” She flounced her petticoats and flirted shamelessly with every man in pants. She explained to her disapproving friend Laurie that it wasn’t so much a question of knowing what she should do, for she knew she shouldn’t let them kiss and paw her, but it was just that she somehow wanted them to! Ado Annie was not in denial, she had simply surrendered. Like the cry of so many caught in the claws of addiction, she was saying, “This is who I am – I am the girl who cain’t say […]

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THE PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY

We will complete our study of Jeremiah 2 this week, where the images for idolatry are so sexual, that translators are bashful about translating  literally. Idolatry is adultery, is, “getting into bed with other lovers.” So of course we grieve and push away the Spirit of God. All week long let us be alert to our “Shy Lover,” and open ourselves to Him when He comes. He may quicken your Spirit through His Word. When that happens, slow down and worship. He may speak to you through artwork. Contemplate this week’s painting, look at the passage from John 8, and if He quickens you, slow down and let it lead you into contemplative prayer. He may speak to you through gifts, as He did with Anne when she was at the farmer’s market – with a bag full of beautiful […]

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LENT BEGINS: REPLACING IDOLS WITH THE LOVER OF OUR SOUL

Lent begins this Wednesday. The whole practice of “Lent” may be foreign to you if you are not a part of a high liturgical church. Like many Christian traditions, it can be rich, or it can be meaningless.  I believe that together we can make it rich. It  fits perfectly with where God has been leading us in overcoming the idols of our hearts. Idols cannot be removed, they can only be replaced by Jesus, the True Lover of our Souls. That is what we will concentrate on during this holy time, and it is a perfect time for new people to join in. I encourage you to invite your friends — you may find friends from high liturgical churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and others) particularly interested, and they could join this Ash Wednesday or before. Pray and see […]

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Do You Hear The Music?

One June 1 we will begin going through some Psalms and I encourage you to get A Woman of Worship — at least for the musical CD in the back with those psalms set to music. But for now, I want to prepare your hearts with material from some current writing projects. I’m working on a book with the tentative title “Every Love Story Whispers His Name.” For the next five days, I’d like to contemplate the first love story in Scripture, the first love song — to see if you hear the music. The song of creation. My granddaughter, Analise, is with me now in Wisconsin. A few summers ago she asked me to take her picture “rejoicing” in front of the sunset. She hears the music. The Song began at creation. Both Rob Bell and Tim Keller have […]

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THE LIE THAT THREATENS TO UNDO US

The lie that Luther battled during the Reformation was “you have to earn God’s love.” The lie that we battle during suffering, and that “this world with devils filled” whispers to us constantly is: “you have lost God’s love.” That’s an easy lie to believe. When you are suffering, if you have an awareness of sin, you think, “That’s right. I’m an idiot. I don’t deserve God’s love. ” C. S. Lewis wrote “Screwtape Letters” in which the devil (Screwtape) writes from hell to his apprentice, “Wormwood” on earth.  My daughter Sally and I went to the play that has recently been made out of this classic book. Max McLean played Screwtape, and a female gymnast played a little demon who helped him down in hell. She would lithely climb a rope ladder to send and receive letters to earth […]

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WHEN YOU CAN’T SENSE THE PRESENCE OF GOD

It’s Ash Wednesday — a perfect time to begin in earnest to seek God, especially in the desert times. We’re going to look at a psalm that I know can really help those of you in pain, those of you who are not sensing the presence of God, or those of you who long to be a comfort to others. It’s Psalm 42 and there are four vivid water pictures in it that can soothe and heal. The first is really a picture of no water — it’s a picture of the psalmist who identifies with a thirsty deer who has come all the way down the mountain, absolutely panting for water, but the river bed is dry! He longs to sense the presence of God like that dying deer longs for water, but WHERE IS GOD???? Isn’t it comforting […]

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Tim Keller’s Sermons are Changing New York City, The World, and Me

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You will hear me quoting this pastor often. Here he is, in the middle of New York City, which is arguably the most liberal and skeptical community in the United States – filled with people that Gallup says never go to church (young, intellectual, career-driven singles) and gaining their ear, seeing them come to Christ, and changing, yes, changing, New York City and the world. His preaching is changing the way I speak, the way I think, and the intimacy I have with Jesus. In the next few blogs I’m going to tell you why – but you might want to listen for yourself. There are many free downloads to get you started. To listen to a few, click here.

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