January with John

December 31
I'm still cherishing Joseph's encounter with the angel when he was in his dilemma over Mary being pregnant and considering his options.

Consider this is an excellent intro when presenting the gospel.  Jesus does a great job presenting the Pharisees with some thoughts to consider about the Messiah in Matthew 22:41-46

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?"  "The son of David," they replied.  He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him, "Lord? For he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.'
If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"
No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The book of John is filled with Jesus dishing out consider this statements to the Jewish leaders.  I'm spending January in John. It's a great way to start the new year.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me!  John 5:39

Once again I hit a place where I wanted to bail on writing a daily devotional thought.  Emailing one of my encouragers, I asked her to pray if this was God saying 15 years is enough; or me saying I don't want to do this anymore.  After hitting send, I opened an email from another reader. She was requesting prayer for surgery and a long recovery period. She was thankful during that time she would at least be able to read Boojoyful each day.  It took maybe 30 seconds for God to give me the answer. I emailed the first reader back and we laughed at How God speaks when we seek him.  So dear friends, including  Jesus, unless I get called home tonight, I shall see you tomorrow.
Happy New Year!
Love, Boo

My laptop has crashed, from overload.  I may be a little later each day getting these out as I have to venture into another part of the house to use another computer and I love doing my study time under my big fluffy comforter in my bed in the winter!  :-)  Some of you say you are missing the pictures.  This laptop has not allowed me to download any pics, but that should be able to happen on the other computer.

It's a Privilege to be in the Last Days

December 30

There are times I am studying God's Word and I get soooo excited.  Back on Dec. 13th in the John Piper Advent studies was one of those times.  Check out this privilege.

"The beginning of the end was already present in the first century.  The long awaited Messiah had come. So the writer of Hebrews (1:1-2) says, 'At many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.' When God sent his Son into the world, the last days began.
It is a great privilege to live in the last days because, Joel prophesied, in the last days…God will pour out his Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28).  All the prophets looked forward to the day when the Messiah, the Son of David, the King of Israel, would come, for that would be a day of great blessing inaugurated, and we live in an age of fulfillment.
What we anticipate in the future at Christ's second coming is not something completely new, but rather the consummation of the blessings we already enjoy, because the promises have begun to be fulfilled in our lives…This is where we live.  The already of fulfillment is massive-incarnation, crucifixion, atonement, propitiation, resurrection, ascension, heavenly reign, intercession, outpouring of the Holy Spirit, global missions, ingathering of the nations, church, New Testament Scriptures, prayers in Jesus' name, joy unspeakable and purchased certainty.
But the not yet is real an wonderful and waiting for its time: the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, new and glorious bodies, the end of sinning, glorification, judgment on all unbelief, rewards, entrance into the Master's joy, new heavens and new earth, Jesus present among his people face- to-face, no more misery, pleasures forevermore."

If that doesn't have you up and out of your chair shouting "Hallelujah, bring it on Jesus!"  I don't know what will!  So today, as we look towards 2015, we look with the excitement of being one day closer to the privilege of the last days and our entrance to heaven! woot!

Gather Your Thoughts

December 29
As a year ends, it is customary to think back over that year of your life and reflect on what it held.  At times, there are years we are glad to see be gone and we hold on to hope that the new year will produce more hope, less hurt and good health.
Paul suggests this...

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Romans 13:14

Finally, brothers and sisters, 
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable-
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-
think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

As we gather our reflective thoughts for 2014, why not consider making a list of the presence of the Lord in our lives during those days?  If He didn't show up often, think about inviting him into more activities in 2015.

C, C, C

December 27-28
We have some "C" nicknames for some of our grandchildren. They are "Chins," "Cheeks," and the "Chuckleheads."  As we remember Christ, we remember three "c" words which bring images of his birth, crucifixion and his eternal reign to come!

Christ in the cradle.
Christ on the cross.
Christ, our king, adorned in his crown for an eternal reign!

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 

(Photos to come)

Receive, Respect, Rejoice, Relax

December 26
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Receive the gift.
Respect His authority.
Rejoice in what He offers us: counseling, leadership and protection.
Relax in His love and the peace that knowing him brings. 

Merry Christmas

Painting, a gift done by our daughter.
December 25
The other day I thought,  I'll take the 25th off from writing a devotional.  Stores close, but my adoration for Jesus does not so that's a silly idea.
Instead I want to take my life verse (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and apply it to this day of rejoicing!

Be joyful always, because we are loved at a depth we cannot comprehend, by a love that is constant and never waivers.

Pray without ceasing, because it is our communication process with our heavenly Father.

Give thanks in all circumstances, because our lives are directed and redirected by the God of the universe who is capable of working all things together for our good when we are lovingly surrendered to him.  Our life is a gift, which is transformed by the greatest gift ever to come upon the earth, Jesus.

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."  Luke 2:11-14


Christmas Time Again

December 24
How amazing would it be if Jesus returned on Christmas Eve!  I remember as a child being encouraged to watch the skies for Santa's sleigh, to place out milk and cookies as a snack for this busy man. Yet, never believing he came down the chimney, but in through either the front door or the porch door into our living room.

Wouldn't it be equally as exciting to teach our children/grandchildren to watch the skies for Christ return?

What would it look like to train them up that Christmas is the time to make a list of things they can do for others instead of what they want to receive for themselves?

How exciting to place before our families the challenge of sharing the gospel with 12 different people the 12 days before Christmas.
As we sit around feasting and opening gifts tomorrow, will a reflection of Jesus' life and accomplishments be among the conversation?

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples,
which are not written in this book;
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:30-31

He came to change the world. Maybe we need to change some things about how we celebrate Christmas.  It is the most wonderful time of the year, because of Christ.


The Joy of the Moment

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him,
the world did not recognize him.  
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
John 1:10-11

December 23
What in life has robbed you of the joy of a special moment?  You know, like in Father of the Bride when George Banks has to go outside during his daughter's wedding and handle a parking mess and misses special wedding moments and almost misses telling her good-bye.
This week is one that can bring about rushing.  I think back to the years I've spent in the kitchen and missed conversations, antics, and laughter on our dock or downstairs in our family room.  Every year I say I will simplify and get others to help.  This year we actually are eating out a couple times!

Ann Marie Stewart writes in her devotional Advent: "Most Bethlehem villagers missed receiving the joy of the moment.  Bethlehem was crowded and chaotic.  Many never noticed Jesus. Some townsfolk saw only two ragged travelers enter a crowded village.  Some may have seen a poor family in a cave.  Others saw only a baby in a manger…Jesus was in their midst; yet did they miss the truth and beauty because they were focused on something less wonderful?  Were they distracted by the temporary, while the eternal God was in their presence?"

May we not miss the joy of the moments this season. May our time with family and friends include talk about Jesus and the difference he has made in our lives. He is the reason we celebrate.

Come to Worship

These wise men grace the entry of a dear friend's home.
I believe they belonged to his mother.
The hats are velvet!

Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.
Matthew 2:2
December 22
I really want some wise men.  Don't we all?
No, seriously, I've seen some gorgeous antique wise men decorations in people's homes, which are magnificent pieces of art. I think they would be a great year round reminder of how we are to live.
#1 Seeking Jesus.
#2 Worshipping Jesus
#3 Bringing gifts to the Lord

These three belong to another friend and were handed down in her family.

Yesterday, our pastor mentioned the wise men in his sermon yesterday and noted that the presence of these wise guys and their enormous entourage of over 300 sparked panic in Herod. Instead of seeking the Messiah to worship him, with these men;  Herod sent his soldiers to destroy Jesus and any threat of another king rising up to rule.

Who do you know that feels threatened by Jesus instead of being awed by His presence in their life and drawn to worship him?

Just A Girl

Boo and Brandon Heath
December 20-21
Most of you know that our oldest child is a harpist in Nashville, TN, where she has resided since she was a music major at Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music.  Over the past 17 years, we have met some wonderful musician friends of hers.  Years ago, we attended a concert of Brandon's and became instant fans.  This past Thursday he was in Roanoke for a concert with Third Day and Steven Curtis Chapman and I had the privilege of spending the day with him.  We even drove out to the school where my husband is the Head of School and Brandon pulled out his guitar and surprised the faculty at their Christmas lunch.  He blessed so many people that day with his God given talents and his humble spirit.
I thank God for Brandon Heath!

One of the songs he wrote last year for this album is called Just a Girl.
Brandon explains that we don't know exactly why the inn keeper wasn't more helpful to Mary and Joseph, but this song takes a peek at the possibility he saw her as just a girl.

It's snowing here at Shiloh this morning!  Wish I could just sit in front of the window and look out on the lake all morning and consider all the wonders of Jesus!

Take time right now to enjoy this song.  Play it for your Christmas guests as a great conversation starter as you reflect on the Christmas story and then pose the question…Is there anywhere in our lives we are shutting Jesus out?

Love to each of you.


December 19
Sorry, I am tardy this morning.  I put pomegranate seeds and setting the table before Jesus this morning.
It all started when I went in the kitchen for a glass of water and got side tracked for 2 hours.  Me oh my, that is easy to do this time of year.  Forgive me Lord.
Picking out pomegranate seeds gives great opportunity for pondering.  As I was trying a soaking technique a friend just told me about to make this pomegranate process easier, I realized I will never see a pomegranate again that I don't pray for her.  
Looking around my kitchen I realized there are triggers that set my mind a praying for specific people.
The clay hand was made by our children's art teacher years ago, she still gets lots of prayers.  The Grandma ornament flies over my kitchen sink and is a gift from a cherished friend, who is like a mother to me.  The golf ball sits on the sink. It came flying across the road one day where I was walking.  I pray a lot for that lady's golf game! The clay bowl the ball sits in was made for me by the daughter of one of my closest friends, so I pray for them daily.
Years, ago I made an attempt to see that in every room in our house there was something that triggered my thoughts (and hopefully others') about Jesus.
At this holiday season, which brings with it memories and longings, may our greatest longing be to be with Jesus and our most cherished memory be of the sacrifice he made for us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 

Consider This

December 18
Why does it take us so many years to gain wisdom?  Oh, to have grasped years ago, what I now do about the Lord.  Granted in the story I'm about to share, the appearance of an angel was probably more than a gentle persuasion, it is still possible for us today to consider some things of the Lord!

So Joseph gets the news his fiancĂ© is pregnant and he has not been with her in a way to make this possible by him.  In other words, he knows he is not the daddy and he is thinking the best scenario is to be divorced from this commitment. So where does the story go….

But after he had consider this, an angel of the Lord  appeared to him in a dream and said, 
"Joseph so of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, 
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 1:20 

Consider this...nothing comes our way that God does not allow.
Consider this... God can work all things together for his good.
Consider this... God will never leave us or forsake us.
Consider this... God loves us with a love that we cannot even comprehend.

So when we are up against the wall, when the disappointment is greater than we think we can bare and we wish an angel would appear as he did for Joseph, instead of panicking or giving up, let's consider what God may be trying to tell us and listen!

Successful Setback

December 17

Oh, how I pray you and Jesus are having a wonderful Advent together.  Over and over again I find myself getting so excited as I dig into the story of Christ's coming.

John Piper writes, "Christmas was God's most successful setback. He has always delighted to show his power through apparent defeat. He makes tactical retreats in order to win strategic victories."

He goes on to use the story of Joseph as an example.  Whew, sold into slavery, tricked by a temptress,  and plunged into prison…all the steps of Joseph's life were part of God's plan to raise him up to a position of authority in Egypt.  Jesus' story plays out to a similar tune. The choruses chant….
Victory in Jesus!
Up from the grave He arose!

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Hebrews 4:14 

An Alien?

December 16
We have a friend who, while not a church goer, says he loves the Lord.  He is a quiet fellow, but when he speaks, it is worth perking up your ears.  His wife shared that recently they were attending a birthday dinner where the topic of the Bible came up with some couples who are not in the NFL (Nuts for the Lord).  Sitting back listening to their conversation, at some point he interjected, "Do you ever wonder if God is an alien?"  The wife said at first she bristled at the comment, but when one gentleman replied, "You might have something there, " she realized the statement wasn't too far off.

There is no one like God!

A good vocabulary word for Christmas is incarnation.  In Latin it means "in the flesh."

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 

Yup, God took on human form.  (For he is not a human.)  God became Emmanuel. God with us! 

Be like the Father!  Appear as an alien on this earth!

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ wrote a letter to Christians who were living in what is now Turkey.
He explains to them that this earth is not their true home, they are like foreigners where and will someday return to their true home, heaven. In the meantime, they have a behavior to exhibit while they are here.

…for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.    1 Peter 2:10-11

When you glance at the babe in your nativity scene, think…ah the Christmas incarnation.
Praise God, an alien,  who came to earth and dwelt among us!
Now may we, as aliens on this earth, look forward to our return home!

Checking Your List

December 15
The season that was going to be slowed down this year, hasn't happened.  Each morning, before my eyes open, I've found myself asking…"Is there anything big on the list today?"

There are three lists in the Bible that will gird us up to face the holiday hoop la!
Santa may check his list twice…I need to check my life in relationship to these lists everyday!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.                     Galatians 5:22-23

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 hoped, always perseveres.
                                                                                                         1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.                                                                                               Philippians 4:8

Holly and the Ivy

December 13-14
Sitting in a car in Florida with a pastor’s wife from my past, who had invited me to their beach condo, I looked up at the moss hanging from the trees of northern Florida.  I said, “Doesn’t that remind you of how Jesus has us covered?”
She looked at me and said, “You just see Jesus everywhere don’t you?”

I do, when I take the time to look.

Kirk Cameron has a movie out called Saving Christmas.  While it has a good message, more geared to adults, you might want to have a hit of caffeine before you go.  We went after a big buffet lunch and my husband was snoring shortly into the movie.  The emphasis of this film is on remaining joyful at Christmas and seeing Jesus in everything from Santa, to gift giving, to feasting. More importantly, the message stresses the importance of our attitudes as ambassadors for Christ.

This weekend let's look at the symbolism of two evergreen plants,  holly and ivy, as expressed in this song.

This is a little lengthy. It is done by a children's choir, but gives you a taste of the tune.

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown
Of the rising of the sun, and the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir.

The holly bears a blossom, as white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, to be our sweet Saviour
The holly bears a berry, as red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor signers good.
The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn
The holly bears a bark, as bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, for to redeem us all.
The holly and the ivy, now both are full well grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown

Of Great Value

December 12
Climbing down from the loft carrying two little chairs, I knew if my husband was home he would say, "What are you doing?'  I wanted to set up a special children's table in the kitchen for our grandchildren and some other young visitors who have been stopping by.  If asked, "Why?" I knew my reply would be, "Because the kids are of great value to me."

Earlier in the day, a friend emailed us a link to a video of highlights from the Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State game last Saturday.  This gentleman knows that #10, the new quarterback (just relinquished his red shirt year because the coach needed him for the last two games) is like a grandson to us. Mason Rudolph has been in our lives his whole life and he and I share a "Jesus"connection.  Watching the video, I wept because of my love for this young man and the fact his life is of great value  to me.  I'm writing a note to the man who took the time to tape the game for us and also research and find this video, as I realized his friendship is of great value.

Check out #10. Many of you know him from his childhood visits to Roanoke and Shiloh.

Of great value kept playing over and over in my head.  I knew God had a message for me, so I checked the oven to be sure I wasn't in the middle of baking something and headed to God's Word.  One of the greatest blessings of living at Shiloh is the solitude.  God is easier for me to hear in such a setting.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When  a man found it, he hits it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found on of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  Matthew 13:44-46

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharoah's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.   Hebrews 11:24-26

People who know us well can give testimony to what is of great value in our lives.
Would Jesus' sacrifice and God's Word make the top five list, in the eyes of others, of things of great value in our lives?

Doom da Doom Doom

December 11
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8 

If someone asked you today why you celebrate Christmas, how would you reply?
Have you ever heard the above verse read at a Christmas dinner?

Lord, make us bold enough to go beyond the "It's how God demonstrates his love for us."
That's fine as long as we add…"being that we are sinners and we need a savior to be reconciled to God, so Christ came to die for our sins."  Personally, I think 1 John 3:8 will be my new response!
What a thought provoking statement!

Here's a December 10th tidbit from John Piper's book The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

"Thus says the Lord: the meaning of Christmas is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The fears that the few good things that make you happy are slipping through your fingers, and the frustrations that the bad things you hate about yourself or your situation can’t be changed—these fears and these frustrations are what Christmas came to destroy."

Where Are You?

I know where you are girlfriend!

December 10
Oh how I wish we could all sit around the tree together each evening and share a cup of hot chocolate with lots of fresh whipped cream and share what God is teaching us during this Advent season.  I'm so ready to see Jesus!

"Where is He who has been King of the Jews?
For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."
Matthew 2:2

The phrase "Where is He?"  called out the following challenges to me…
Are we seeking Him everyday with the same expectancy of the magi?
Are we equally excited to see others find Him?

Having a blue moment last week, I was sitting in the grocery store parking lot listening to a voice message from a neighbor.  That week I had allowed my feelings to be hurt by someone and I wasn't totally giving the feelings to Jesus.  God knew my hurt though.  Somehow, I hit an old voicemail message and the voice of my soul sister, who died two years ago, came on the phone.  For a moment I thought she was in the car with me, as the phone was tuned into the car's sound system.  The voice enthusiastically said, "Where are you?!!!" (My first reaction was that I was heading to heaven and she was the welcoming committee.)
A few years earlier, she had left this enthusiastic message, because she had good news to share. Her daughter was finally pregnant after fertility struggles.  In my friend's voice was such a longing to be in contact with me.

That voicemail was a precious gift and blessing from God which lifted my spirits, but it also caused contemplation.
Am I that exited to share the Good News of Christ with others?
Do I regularly call out to my best friend, Jesus, and ask, "Where are you, I've got to tell you something!"  He is always right there.  No need for voice messages with Jesus.

If you can get your hands on an Advent Book by John Piper called Good News of Great Joy, take time to read the December 8th's entry, Bethlehem's Supernatural Star.

Too Comfortable to Look

December 9
A flutter of wings passed the window. They looked white. Could it be my bird has returned for winter?
I was too warm and cozy under my down comforter to get out of bed and go look.  The parallel hit! Finding Jesus takes a bit of effort and repentance.  Living for Him means sacrifice and listening for the Lord takes discipline. We wonder why so many people flit through life without Him.  Could it be they are too comfortable where they presently are in life?  Oh, my.  The comfort factor could change in a heart beat or change drastic when the heart stops beating.

Back to my Advent studies.  Here's a little tidbit for today.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, 
and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  
John 1:51

Piper writes that the title Son of Man  is used over 80 times in the Gospels and always by Jesus, describing himself.  He states the title comes from Daniel 7:13-14.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and people of every language worshiped him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

"Only those who had ears to hear broke through to the exalted meaning of the term Son of Man when Jesus used it….so when you see him this Advent season as Son of God and as King of Israel and as  Son of Man see him dying to give you eternal life and, therefore, see him as glorious." John Piper

Did that phrase "dying to" hit you?  We are dying to have a new car, dying to go on a trip, etc.
Can we say we are dying to see Jesus?
For He was dying to give us eternal life with him!

Demonstrating the Truthfulness of God

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from 
the Father, full of grace and truth."
John 1:14

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
John 14:6

December 8
Often you all ask, how do I keep doing this day after day.  The process blesses me as it is such a faith builder and accountability tool.  I've become totally expectant of God to provide and teach me. 
Enjoying lunch out with my husband, after church, something trigger a discussion on the necessity of a measurement (a constant John Piper says) on which we base our decisions. For us, he explained, it is the belief that God's Word is truth.  From that acceptance, we base life's choices.

Here's where the faith builder comes in.  This morning, opening the December 8th entry in The Dawn of Indestructible Joy, I find John Piper speaking out on the importance of recognizing God is truthful.  God's presence, as a loving instructional Father, doesn't stop there.  My writing process continues with me saying, "Now, I need a good verse on truth."  One click and the provision boldly appears as the daily verse on Biblegateway today is…John 14:6.  Can you imagine the smile on my face?

Stay close to Him dear friends. Don't miss what he is waiting to give you today!

Be blessed by the teaching of these words and take the challenge John Piper issues in the last paragraph.

"Christmas is the reassertion of the foundation of all truth and goodness and beauty, because Christmas means: God is truthful.
God's truthfulness is the constant in a universe of flux. God's truthfulness is the unwavering absolute. If we forsake God's truthfulness, the anchor is up, the rudder is loose, the keep is broken, and the ship of life (political life, social lie, educational life, scientific life, family life) is simply at the mercy of the wind of human wishes.
So I say it with all my heart: demonstrating the truthfulness of God is a great blessing. Give that blessing to your children. Say to the next generation again and again: God is truthful; God keeps his word; God does no lie; God can be trusted! That's one blessing of Advent. Receive it as a wonderful Christmas gift, and give it to as many people as you can."

It gets better!  Just received an email with this verse posted:
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
John 16:12-13 

Obedience and Expectation

December 6-7
This has been my favorite Advent season of my whole life, because I'm actually escaping to be with Jesus each day and pondering these things in my heart!  It has also been the most dart filled Advent ever.  Yesterday, alone here at Shiloh, the devil was really agitating me and I finally screamed out in the name of Jesus for him to "Be gone!"  Satan must hate this month, where so many of us have our eyes upon the birthday celebration of our King.

The song I posted yesterday, called Mary Did You Know, is one of my very favorite Christmas songs.
A dear friend, who lives in our neighborhood, is a talented pianist and organist and is currently preparing to play The Magnificat (found in Luke 1:46-55), at her church.  It is also known as the Song of Mary and was sung out by Mary upon Jesus leaping in her womb, when she saw her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.  I've typed up her song below.

While vacuuming yesterday, I had Mary's life on my mind.  Talk about your life taking a turn in an instance. Whew, her's certainly did.  Yet, she was so obedient.  We may not have an actual angel staring us in the face delivering news from God (or we might, that's still possible), but we certainly can hear instructions from the Lord.

Do we live with the expectancy of Simeon or the 84 year old prophetess Anna, whom we read about in Luke chapter 2?
Do we consider daily the Lord's return and the ramifications of that event?
Do we position ourselves to be led by the Spirit as Simeon was the day he went to the temple?
Simeon was led by the Spirit.  He listened to God and he expected to meet the Messiah before he died.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.   Moved by the Spirit, he went tnto the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel." Luke 2:25-32

Back to my dark filled morning yesterday…my 8AM trip to the grocery store occurred well past 3PM.
Prompted by the Spirit, I ceased from my busy-ness and took my "time by the tree," where I'm doing my Advent studies right now.  Then, when I did head to the store I said to the Lord, "I'm believing you have purpose in this delay. Open my eyes that I might see why I am there so late."

God had a blessing for me!  I ran into a friend from out of town, whom I'd been trying to see for two weeks, as well as four of my other favorite people, who make me smile!  Also, there is a man who works at the grocery store, whom I believe with all my heart is an angel in disguise, and I got to chat with him!
My soul was lifted up!  Had my day not had it's twist and turns, I would have missed these cheerful encounters!  Our God is into details!  He makes so much happen.

This weekend, I encourage you to hang out in Luke chapters 1 and 2.  Let's live expecting God to direct our paths and let's be quick to obey, pray and praise, as Mary did along the way.
Love y'all so much!  Wish you were here at Shiloh!

And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.   From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is his name.  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, just as he promised our ancestors.  Luke 1:46-55

What is the Son saying to You

December 5
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, 
whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.  
Hebrews 1:1-2

When we take time to dwell in the Christmas story it's good to take a hike back to the Old Testament where God spoke through the prophets.

In that day the branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, 
and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.
Isaiah 4:2

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

It's magical to remember how God spoke to Mary. This stirring song gives us lots to ponder.

Be Blesssed!

Now that the prophecies have been fulfilled, we are privileged to listen to Christ himself!
What is Jesus saying to you today?

Today is a Gift….

December 4
Monday's list was long, but I'd heard a forecast for balmy weather, so I stuck my head out the door around 10AM to sunshine, white puffy clouds and temps in the mid 60's!  Bag that treadmill, I thought and I headed for the woods with my clippers to enjoy gathering pine, magnolia and holly for decorating. Finishing up the outdoor planters by noon, I thought, Today is a gift!  And I am going to receive it. Gathering a stack of Bible study books and my laptop, I headed off to the screen porch with the Lord! So glad I hadn't packed up those outdoor cushions.

Jesus is a gift!  He is a gift of love, of mercy and of grace.  He is a gift of unspeakable joy!
A gift poured out, filled with selfless service to the point of death on a cross for our sins.
That's a lot to think about!
Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin…
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:5, 8

Here are a couple musical gifts for you!

This first link takes us into the Nashville home of violinist, Daniel Fisher.  The music is beautiful and the reality of his two children running around makes life real!


I've come to really enjoy this next A Cappella group, Pentatonix.

The Father Never Fails

December 3
I've been missing my earthly father alot lately.  Maybe it's the season, maybe it's his picture on my dressing room table.  Maybe it's missing the constant security of a Father's unfailing love. Maybe it's God's way of drawing me to where I need to be…before Him.
Stepping on the scales, the numbers showed that Thanksgiving week had not been kind to my belly. My earthly father would have gently told me to "lose a few pounds."
God's loving whisper encouraged me.  "We've got this.  You gave up the sweet tea and you were doing so well with eliminating all that bread, let's get back on track.  We can do this."
The phrase: "The Father Never Falls" thrilled my heart.

Opening the 3rd John Piper Advent entry, I found it coincided well with where God was leading my heart.  The title: "Draw Near to the Savior."  That is what this season is supposed to be about…getting close to Jesus and appreciating his amazing gift!

Piper selected this passage for today:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory foreer and ever. Amen  Hebrews 13:20-21

"One of the things pleasing in God's sight is that his people keep on drawing near to him forever and ever. And so he is working in us this very thing…Is it not a wonderful thing this Advent season to know that God bids us come?…This is his invitation in these Advent readings: Draw near to me through your High Priest. Draw near to me in confession and prayer and meditation and trust and praise.  Come.  I will not cast you out."  John Piper

Father, as we celebrate the coming of Christ, we also celebrate You as our Shepherd!  Your creativity and plan for restoration through Christ as our sacrificial lamb shows us your unfailing love. Today, we draw near to You and receive that love.  As children loved by a King, we want to learn from you how to love others in your way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

I'm in Charge

December 2
It was Day 1 of my Advent adventure, not even 10 o'clock, and my mind was off and wandering. The invitations and opportunities of Christmas began to roll in and I'd opened my calendar to start the scheduling. The voice was very, very familiar…authoritative, but full of love…the message..
"Remember, I am in charge."
How quickly our minds shift into "take charge" mode and we make plans without praying. I journaled:
Show me what is of eternal value, Father.  
Show me where you have made the path straight and the hearts tender.
Don't let me miss a moment of what You have planned for this advent season.

Then today I moved on to John Piper's Day 2 and I am blown away by the first words my eyes absorbed .
"God owns and controls all things."  
Don't even try telling me there is no God, or that he isn't omnipresent and aware of our every thought.  He is the REAL DEAL!

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and 
do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44
Check out December 2 in The Dawning of Indestructible Joy (link below) and be challenged by John Piper's 4 steps to prepare your heart to receive Christ for who he really is.


Lord, holy, holy, holy are you!  You hold all things together and you have purpose in your plans.  Help us to remember Your ways are best and to relinquish control to you.  May we be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19), trusting in You to make our paths straight and guide us to correct decisions.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Take the Advent Challenge

December 1
Wake up! It's December 1st.  Jesus is coming!  Let's celebrate all month long.
"It won't slow down," my husband mumbled.  "What?" I asked.  "The Christmas pace. Whatever you attempt to do, the pace will not slow down," he replied.
"Well, I can still make an attempt to make it more about Jesus!"
Our daughter, who is living in Paris, email this link to John Piper's approach at getting us focused on Christ during Advent. It's excellent.  So, this is where I will dwell the next 25 days. Each day, I'll take the verse Piper assigns and ask God to put in into Advent Action in a tangible form.

Piper writes:

Jesus said, “I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). His joy was the very joy of God. He promises to put that in us. That is what the Holy Spirit does. He pours out the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), and with it the joy of God in God. 

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truthFor from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  John 1:14-16 

"Paul prays that we would experience Christ’s fullness—not just know about it, but be filled with it. Here is the way I hear him praying for me: he prays that I may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:18-19)
The “fullness of God” is experienced, he says, as we are given the “strength to comprehend” the love of Christ in its height and depth and length and breadth."

So off we go, a caroling and a searching for what God has in store for us during this fabulous season.

December 1 From The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, by John Piper
 The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10 
"It's a season for cherishing and worshiping the characteristic of God-that he is a searching and saving God, that he is a God on a mission, that he is not aloof or passive or indecisive. He is never in the maintenance mode, coasting or drifting. He is sending, pursuing, searching, saving.
That's the meaning of Advent." 

Lord, send us out today with a passion to pursue Your purpose.  May we be guided by the Holy Spirit and look at others with the eyes of Christ. Motivate us to immediate obedience. May we search Your Word and paste it deeply in our hearts, realizing within those Words you posses the power to save the lost.  Bring to recall the Words that ignited our souls and made Your salvation make sense to us.  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Question: What are we seeking today?