Archives for December 2011

Resting

I hope you had a wonderful celebration yesterday!

I wanted to leave a little note to let you know that I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for the rest of 2011.  After the “Love Is” series it became quite apparent that I needed to take some more time to rest and to listen to my Heavenly Father.

A post by Henri Nouwen in my Advent book ( Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen) specifically challenged me to take time to listen before making lists and goals for the next year.

I hope you enjoy his words and that they bless you today!

The word “listening” in Latin is obedire, and audire means “listening with great attention.”  That is where the word “obedience” comes from.  Jesus is called the obedient one, that means the listener.  The latin word for not listening, being deaf, is “surdus.”  If you are absolutely not listening, that is where the word “absurd” comes from.  So it might be interesting to note that somebody who is not listening is leading an absurd life…

Now, to become a listener; one way to do it is to say, “How can I let the ‘Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want,'” enter in from my mind to my heart?  I can say it is here and that is just a statement, but it becomes prayer when I experience the shepherding presence of God in the center of my being… Listening starts precisely when you move from the mind to the heart and let the truth of your being center you down.”

May THE Truth center us all down as we prepare for the newness of the coming year.  See you in 2012!

Following,
Ginger

He’s Here!

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  Luke 2:16-20, NIV

Let every heart, prepare Him room…

We waited for Him.

Merry Christmas and Joyous Noel!

Suddenly.

Heavenly Hosts.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest, 
   and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  Luke 2:8-15, NIV

Repeating the sounding joy!
-Ginger

Love came down.

1 Corinthians 13

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13

 Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

-Christina Georgina Rossetti

May Love be your all this day, and this season.

Following Love,

Ginger

Love.

[1 Corinthians 13:1-12]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”


 

Love is not proud
Love does not boast
Love after all
Matters the most

Love does not run
Love does not hide
Love does not keep
Locked inside

Love is the river that flows through
Love never fails you

Love will sustain
Love will provide
Love will not cease
At the end of time

Love will protect
Love always hopes
Love still believes
When you don’t

Love is the arms that are holding you
Love never fails you

When my heart won’t make a sound
When I can’t turn back around
When the sky is falling down
Nothing is greater than this
Greater than this

Love is right here
Love is alive
Love is the Way
The Truth the Life

Love is the river than flows through
Love is the arms that are holding you
Love is the place you will fly to

Love never fails you

Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath

Following,
Ginger

Advent Resource: Love Never Fails from the Album What if We by Brandon Heath.  Praying that these words hold new meaning for you this Advent season!  At each mention of love picture the One who has come to give in the ultimate act of love!

Love NEVER FAILS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-8]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” 

Love never fails.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, NIV

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7, NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16, NIV

The one sure thing I can tell you about the coming weeks and year is this: God’s love never fails.  He promised His son, and His son He gave.

His love never, ever fails.

His mission does not fail.

His Word will not fail.

Immanuel means God with us… that God saves… and that our Father’s love never fails.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose… For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28, 38-39, ESV

God’s love will not and does not fail.

He is sustaining the family reeling from a cancer reoccurrence in their vibrant son.

He is guiding the single foster mom as she opens her home to the children sent her way.

He is healing the father who just endured a second surgery for another round of yet a different cancer.

He is giving peace to families sleeping in hospital rooms, watching their children breathe with machines.

He is granting courage to the couple driving miles in order to adopt a third into their family of four.

He is watching out for the single mom who seems to always battle uphill for the care of her son.

He is moving in all of these situations that make it hard for me to breathe.

He is working in every challenge, every joy, every tear, and every moment.  He is with you today and He will be with you tomorrow.  His love will not fail.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV

List out your need for His mercies this morning… every situation that steals your breath.  After each line write out Lamentations 3:22-23.  Soak in the words and let them move from your head to your heart.  Any time you feel ready to worry or despair today, recite the words of this verse and remember that God’s love never fails.

Love never fails.

Following,
Ginger 

Advent ResourceDona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) performed by Yo-Yo Ma.  I could listen to this delicate rendition with cellos all day long.  It calms my heart and focuses my mind on the simple lyrics: Give us peace… over and over and over.

Love ALWAYS PERSEVERES.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.”

Love always perseveres.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  Matthew 1:18-25, NIV

I hate running but I’m spending a lot of time these days hitting the pavement and training for a big race.  Around my 4th or 5th mile my knees start hurting and my brain begins to tell me that I should probably just stop.  But if I stop at mile 5 in training, there is no way that I’m going to make it to mile 13 on the day of the race.

It’s always easier to quit than to keep going.  Perseverance is one of the greatest marks of maturity.  Continuing to press on even when things are difficult isn’t a natural human response.  Persevering in relationships when they are inconvenient or unpleasant… that requires a supernatural kind of love.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:1-5, NIV

David Smith says that “Love continually pours itself out for others — not conveniently, but continually.

Nothing about Joseph’s role as Father was convenient.  He had every legal right to divorce Mary.  Jewish law even went so far as to say that Joseph could have Mary stoned for her illegitimate pregnancy.  When Joseph decided to listen to the words of the angel, he also made an active decision to love Mary as his wife.  He would adopt a son who was not of his flesh and blood.  He would care for a girl who was likely the talk of the town and the subject of constant rumors.  He would love them even if it cost him everything.  Note that he didn’t do this because Mary was “the one” or because he chose “the right person,” he loved his family because that’s what God asked of him.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5, NIV

Read all of 1 Corinthians 13 (again!) today.  Be sure to notice that you will not find any verses that say love is convenient.  It wasn’t convenience that caused the Son of God to enter the world as a child.  Convenience didn’t compel Him to walk this earth.  Convenience didn’t hold Him on the cross.  His love never, ever stopped.

Love always perseveres.

Following,
Ginger

Advent Resource: THE STORY- The Bible as one continuing story of God and His people.  I believe that the impact of the Christmas Story is felt and realized most deeply in the midst of the entire story of God’s Word!  That’s why I’m recommending The Story. “God goes to great lengths to rescue lost and hurting people. That is what The Story is all about—the story of the Bible, God’s great love affair with humanity. Condensed into 31 accessible chapters, The Story sweeps you into the unfolding progression of Bible characters and events from Genesis to Revelation.

Love ALWAYS HOPES.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes…”

Love always hopes.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, NIV

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:30-37, NIV

Forty-two generations of hoping.

Nine months of waiting.

One teenage girl.

One eternal promise.

Mary teaches us all what it means to hope.  She hoped in the words of an angel who said the impossible would happen.  She hoped in a God who had chosen an unassuming Nazarene to bear the Messiah.  She hoped that this baby would bring hope to all.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:22-25, NIV

Perhaps you are hoping for answers or resolutions in the coming year.  Perhaps you too wait in expectation to see what this season will bring.  Might I remind us to turn with Mary and fix our gaze on the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in the manger?

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12, ESV

Are you crushed by circumstances?  He is your hope.
Are you worried about upcoming situations?  He is your hope.
Are you stinging from wounds?  He is your hope.
If only for this one moment today- take time to stop.  Gaze at the Nativity scene in your home or even locate one in a neighbor’s yard.  Look at the Messiah and take a deep breath of hope.  Imagine His first breath of life and find hope in knowing that His life gives YOU life.  Take heart, the King has come.  Take hope, the answer is here.

Love always hopes.

Following,
Ginger

Resource

Advent Resource: The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent by Calvin Miller.  These 31 days of readings and Scriptures will invite you to rest in the presence of God throughout the Christmas Season and the whole year.  “Revisit the Manger… the miracle… the meaning.”

Love ALWAYS TRUSTS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts…”

Love always trusts.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-22, NIV

I had lunch with an old friend this week and she asked me about what I’m learning about love through marriage.  In essence I responded with “love always trusts.”  I realize that the world that we live in makes it really hard to desire this aspect of love.  Many of us enter relationships awaiting the other person to prove they are trustworthy.  Obviously we have been given intelligence to help us garner our emotions and make decisions, but I believe the overwhelming principle behind “love always trusts” is that love is graceful… it’s full of the grace we’ve been given through God.

Rather than assuming the worst, I’ve learned to assume the best about my husband. This was a huge light-bulb moment for all of my friendships and relationships.  Just because someone doesn’t behave or respond the way that I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me.  I have yet to benefit in the long run by getting all huffy and bothered.  Giving a strong dose of grace to a situation can do wonders in keeping a small thing like giving me advice on how to brown onions from exploding into, “YOU DON’T THINK I CAN COOK?”  Love trusts that the other person is for me.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19, NIV

How can we learn to love by trusting others and thinking the best of them?  We continue to follow the example set before us.  Jesus loved us even in the midst of betrayal.  His grace makes loving others possible.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7, NIV

Prayer: Lord I trust you.  I love you.  Would you help me to obey you by loving others?  I find myself fearful of being hurt and worried by the pain others can inflict.  Would you help me to be wise, but also to begin to be faithful in loving others by giving them my trust.  Show me how to do this, Lord!  As I prepare my heart for your Son, let me also fling it wide to love those around me.  In Jesus’ Name… Amen

Love always trusts.

Following,
Ginger

Advent ResourceHow in the World to get ready for Christmas?  A beautiful post by Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience.  “This will take time. This will take waiting. I must make space for these….”

 

Love ALWAYS PROTECTS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects

Love always protects.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“…The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land. 
In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it— one from the house of David— 
one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”  Isaiah 16:4-5, NIV

pro·tect
verb: To defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger.

In making the declaration that love always protects, Paul leaves me without an out.  For now love doesn’t just protect when it’s convenient or when it’s safe to do so.  Love ALWAYS protects.

During youth group on Sunday night we talked about what it means to love our neighbor.  The biggest challenge for most of us was giving up control over our schedules and comfort.  I want to help and protect others on my own terms, but God’s love and example calls me to more.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10, NIV

Thankfully we have a God who makes good on this promise.  God’s love always protects.  Now He has asked for us to do likewise.  We are to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him (Micah 6:8).

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“…Learn to do right! 
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”  Isaiah 1:17, NIV

Choose to actively protect the oppressed this week.  If you are looking for a way to defend the cause of the vulnerable, please read Carey’s post over at Cravings for details on how to protect, love and become a Freesetter.

“Freeset is located in Calcutta, India, helping to free women from human trafficking by providing them employment with dignity through sewing bags. Every woman is provided medical insurance, retirement, daycare for their children, classes to learn how to read and write, and three times the wage they would receive “in line.” Join us every day December 1-12 in Freeset’s Freedom Tour of 12 Days of Freedom with Freeset and become a part of the freedom story. Watch our video, shop our bags, change lives.”

Love always protects.

Following,
Ginger

Bach

Advent ResourceAdvent Cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach.  I find myself aided in times of prayer by the sweeping sounds of Bach’s choral music.