Advent Day 20 – Holy

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Wasn’t sure if I could keep up the pace of blogging each day in Advent, especially with all of the busy-ness of life around this time of year. But, it’s been fun to explore different thoughts on Advent and on seeking God, and sharing what others have to say on the topic. So far, so good.

The topic today is “Holy.”

A book reviewer misspelled my name in a blog post, typing “Holy” instead of “Holly.” She apologized. I said: “I’m trying to be Holy, but one extra letter in my name keeps me from it.

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Photo taken in Lourdes, France by Holly Michael (trying to be Holy). Doesn’t that look like an angel above the steeple?

Well…maybe it’s more than one letter.

It’s tough being Holy and keeping the “Holiness” of the season in the forefront, especially this time of year when we should.

And it just seems like the “unholy”is having a heyday. Last night, the news reported yet another murder in Kansas City and the reporter spoke about the rash of crime during this season…that it was typical.

Last week we dealt with an onslaught of the unholy at the church (theft, unholy actions from addicts, and other crazy stuff). The struggles we and loved ones are having makes you wonder (and not in a good “Christmas wonder” kind of way).

But ultimately, THIS IS A HOLY TIME! And we should never let anything steal our hope and joy…after all, this is the time we celebrate the greatest gift given to mankind-Jesus Christ, our Savior.

My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night. May favorite line from that song is…

Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth

THE SOUL FELT IT’S WORTH! WOW!

If only we could truly and always feel the worth of our soul, as God does. All we really have to do is look to the cross…then we would know. But the unholy always tries to steal away our self-worth. Time. And. Again.

May we all turn away from the unholy that assaults us and feel the worth of our souls this Christmas season and always.

God, our Loving Father, knows our worth…and HE is ALL HOLY. He sent us Jesus to redeem us. He gave us the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom. Nothing can take away from the Holiness of The Trinity and God’s great love for us. NOTHING!

Today, on Facebook, a friend posted a rendition of O Holy Night by Josh Groban, set to scenes from The Nativity Story. It’s amazing and helps us keep the holiness of the season in perspective.

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices.
O night divine O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine

****

Advent Day 19: LIGHT

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Love this…sharing from another blogger! The Hills

Finding Hermione

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Seventeen days in, and the tide has officially turned.  After 400 years of nothing but the memory of ancient promises and a never-ending wait for deliverance, an old man met an angel and a young girl became pregnant.  On their own, these two events may have seemed small and rather insignificant, but then – to paraphrase a common saying – all Heaven broke loose.

Imagine it for a moment:

The night is dark and perhaps a bit cool with the slight dampness of the midnight hour.  The world is quiet.  A gentle wind rustles the branches of nearby trees and sighs through the grasses before brushing softly against your cheek.  Now and then a soft bleat can be heard from one of the sheep on the hillside, but no other sounds break the stillness of the night.

You know that the village lies just beyond the next hill, but it…

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Advent Day Day 18: Novena

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NINE DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!

Novena is from a Latin word, Novem, meaning “Nine.”

Novenas are special prayers or worship services for nine days for a specific intentions. In our Anglican tradition, we begin a novena Christmas service today for our spiritual preparation for Christmas.

The service includes messianic prophecies about the birth of the Savior, Psalms of praise and thanksgiving, and intercessory prayers. Below, our Father Don Holley officiates the first day of the novena.

 

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Advent Day 17: Read

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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

Love this verse. During this season of Advent, preparing our hearts for the coming of the Lord, we should read and think about excellent things.

Bible reading is excellent of course, and as an author, I also recommend lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy Christian literature.

Today is a perfect day to invite you to meet and chat with some wonderful Christian authors during a really fun Facebook party. Win prizes, learn about new books, and more!

12246851_929639063756252_8134900347406777748_nJust click on this link: CELEBRATE LIT CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION  . It’s on now and continues Dec 15 at 12 PM to Dec 17 at 9 PM (EST).

Stay for the entire time, or pop in when you can. Just keep refreshing the Facebook page.

The grand prize package for our Celebrate Lit Christmas Celebration is amazing. It includes:
Kindle Fire 7″ (8GB),
More Water Into Wine & Reflections – Australian stories from my Father’s Past by Helen Brown,
The Amish Christmas Sleigh by Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard & Kelly Long,
Finger-less gloves (tablet not included), 
The Lost Heiress by Roseanna White,
The Forgotten Recipe and The Amish Christmas Gift by Amy Clipston,
Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle,
The More the Merrier ebook,
The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin,
In Good Company by Jen Turano,
The Reckoning by Mary Lu Tyndall,
The Healer’s Touch by Amber Schamel,
Sabotaged Christmas by Carole Brown,
Sword of Forgiveness book and bookmark by Debbie Lynn Costello,
A Shenandoah Family Christmas and Shenandoah Nights by Lisa Belcastro,
The Truth About Drew and Goodbye, Magnolia by Krista Norman (both ebook format),
Light Bird’s Song by Sydney Betts,
The Feather Case by Shannon Brown,
The Brightest and Best by Olivia Newport.

Look forward to seeing you there! 

And also, more big news…today my book, Crooked Lines, is on sale for .99 Cents! Click here

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Merry Christmas!

 

 

Advent Day 16: O Come (insert your name)

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Advent is about preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus–His birth and the second coming. O Come O Come Emmanuel…

Our weary hearts desire God, our Loving Father. Our troubled souls need our Savior, Jesus. Our restless minds crave knowledge from the Holy Spirit.  All of this is true…

…but in our busy lives (especially during this time of the year,) how often do we come to God? How often do we sit quiet in His presence? How often do we shut out all of our own thoughts, all the negative thoughts NOT from God, and really seek His voice?

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From Morguefile.com

If you are like me, not much. God knows our hearts and our busy lives, but this season is not all about Him coming, but us coming to Him.

We need to COME to Him. Truly bring our hearts before Him. 

It’s what God wants…what He desires. He wants us to be like little children and come to him in full faith, praising Him and seeking Him.

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from Morguefile.com

Here’s a lovely post about coming to God and seeking His Voice, from an author friend of mine, Caryl McAdoo.

So You Want To Hear God by Caryl McAdoo

Something had to change. I refused to live a minute longer in the muck and mire my life had become, so I made a decision. Determined, I buckled up, sniffled away the sobs, then phoned my mother.

            “Mama? I’m going to the chapel to pray and I’m not coming out until I hear from God! If you want to bring me some bread or water in the next few days, that’d be great. I’ll appreciate it.” She could most likely still hear I’d been weeping.

            “Oh, Caryl.” Well aware of the fights with my husband and the pressure of our paving company’s financial woes, she empathized fully with her dearly loved firstborn. I could hear it in her voice. “I’m sorry. Are you sure that’s what the Lord wants you to do?” She was probably thinking of our four children and how they would manage without me, but it was my sanity I needed to be most concerned with, and her question was that old proverbial straw!

            “No, Mother! Of course, I’m not sure!” Without a doubt she had to hold the receiver away from her ear and could still hear at arm’s length. I battled a bad temper since forever, a paternal generational curse. “Aren’t you listening to me? Did you hear a word I said? I can’t hear anything from God. I’ve been praying and praying and praying and I hear NOTHING!”

I slammed down the phone and went for my purse and the car keys. Before I got to the door, the phone rang. I’ve never been one not to answer a ringing phone. It seemed rude.

“Hello?” I tried to sound as sweet as I could.

“Caryl? Honey, I thought I might share with you what the Lord showed me to do through His Word when I really needed to hear from Him. Would you like to hear it?”

“Sure, Mama.” I dropped my purse to the floor where I stood and stared at the ceiling. What she told me that day has impacted my life in a wonderful way. A simple, fool-proof, Bible-based way to get an answer from the Lord.

“Okay. All those voices in your head come from three sources only. The first is yourself, it’s you mind speaking, reasoning with your spirit man. You’re probably most familiar with it. Second is the Voice of God through His Holy Spirit, teaching, guiding, comforting. That’s the voice that always encourages you to do what’s right and show love to everyone. You’re always so good at that, Caryl. Everyone says so. Thirdly, you hear from the devil or his powers and principalities. Some people call them demons and they’re not so wrong.

“So the first thing you want to do when you really want to hear from God is to pray. Repent of any known or unknown sin. Go boldly into God’s throne room and right up to the steps because you are sinless now, covered by Jesus’ blood. Say something like, ‘Father, I really need an answer to my question today. But according to Your Word, I do not want to lean to my own understanding or ability to reason. I only want to hear Your wisdom, so in Jesus’ name, I lay my flesh down before You and ask that You silence it. I do not trust in anyone but You and I only want to hear Your Voice.”

Well, so far so good. That sounded logical and certainly easy enough. “What then?”

“Keep in mind this is all by faith. You have to believe that God will silence your inner voice.”

“I will, Mama. Then what?”

“Next, we need to address the demonic forces that would lie and lead you astray from God’s will and plan for your life.”

“Yes, yes. How, Mama?”

“God’s word says that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. Believing that Truth, you need to bind Satan and any of his powers, principalities, and minions from speaking to you. Say something like, ‘In Jesus’ name and by His power, it is written that I have the authority to bind and loose, so right now, I bind Satan and any of his emissaries from speaking to me so that my ears will only be open to the Words of my God. You all are bound and cannot speak to me when I ask the Lord my question.’ Then again, by faith, believe it is done according to the Word.”

“I can do that. Then what?”

“That’s all.”

“That’s all?”

“Absolutely. Ask your question and know that the next voice you hear is God’s.”

“But that sounds so easy.”

“Things don’t have to be so complicated and hard as often try to make them. Works every time I’ve done it. The father of lies tells us everything is too hard and won’t work. Resist the devil and he will flee. That’s what the Bible says.”

“Well, okay then. I’ll try it. Still, you might want to check on me. I may need that bread and water if it doesn’t work for me as good as it works for you.”

“Remember, it all depends on your faith. You believe the Word is true, I know that.”

“Yes, I do. If it is in the Word, it’s settled. Okay, Mama. Thank you. I’ll let you know. Bye.”

I went on to the chapel, the old sanctuary used decades ago before the newer and grander one. It was always available for the members to go and have a place to pray, protected by a keyless lock, a pad you pressed the right number code into. It was quiet and peaceful there. I could hear my breathing. I tiptoed to the front and knelt.

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First I repented of not honoring my husband and all the other things I could think of including screaming at Mama when she was only trying to help. I asked Him to forgive me of anything I had forgotten. Most the time I asked Him to let me know if there were any I’d forgotten, but I wasn’t trusting that I’d hear from Him yet, and He had been so silent in the days and weeks previous. That’s exactly what brought me there in the first place.

So I did all that Mama had told me to do. Faith had not been a problem in so long I couldn’t remember because God so proved Himself over and over again in my life, and I knew that I knew He was able and His Word was true. When I got to the end of binding the devil and his cohorts, the strangest sensation I ever encountered came over me.

It was as though someone had turned off the TV in my head. You know, like at night and the TV’s blaring even though everyone else in the house is asleep. And when you turn it off, it’s so extra silent? That’s how it was. My mind was empty, no thoughts, no talking up there. Just dead quiet. Weird! I mean, the weirdest.

I proceeded to ask my question. “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

As clear as a bell’s ding-a-ling, I heard, “Give the company to Ron.” I repeated the answer as a question back to Him, then He told me again. “Yes, give the company to Ron.”

“Well, okay then! That’s easy! Thank you, Lord.”

The mind-speak returned immediately. ‘Wow, that was easy,’ my flesh said to me. “Sure was,” I answered aloud. “Praise the Lord. You are good, God, all the time!”

I phoned Ron first and asked him to meet me for lunch, then called Mama. I told her how awesome the experience had been and what the Lord instructed me to do. Her response was so disappointing.

“Oh, Caryl! Are you sure?”

“Mother!”

“Well, sweetheart, you’re the one with the business sense. You’re the one who startd the company and did over a million dollars your third year! It’s only gone downhill since Ron came into the business. Are you still at the church?”

“Yes.”

“Would you at least, please, see if Henry is there and talk to him?” She was on a first name basis with our pastor.

“I guess so, Mother, but I know I heard from God. I’ll go see if Bother Henry’s here.”

Well, I did go talk to him and he advised me not to give the company to Ron. We both had already been in and counseled with Brother Henry, agreeing ahead of time to abide by his judgment. Ron never thought in a million years that the pastor would have put me in authority over my husband from eight to five! To tell the truth, it surprised me, too, even though I can be pretty persuasive.

I got in the car and drove out of the parking lot in tears. As I rounded the corner to meet Ron at the restaurant, I thought, I’ll try it again. Make sure. So I did, and the same blank, quiet brain thing happened. I asked the same question and heard the exact same words. “But Lord,” I contended through my sobs. “Mama doesn’t think I should and Brother Henry doesn’t think I should!”

“ARE YOU GOING TO GO WITH MAN’S REASONING AND TRUST IN YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR PASTOR, OR ARE YOU GOING TO GO WITH YOUR HEART AND BE OBEDIENT TO MY WORD? WILL YOU TRUST ME?”

The answer to that was very easy. I did trust Him above all else. “Yes, Lord. I’m going to trust You and be obedient.” Once settled in my spirit, that peace that passes understanding came over me. I sang on the way to meet my high school sweetheart.

I told him the story I’ve just told you. He said he thought I had summoned him to lunch to fire him. We laughed and enjoyed lunch. Many months went by and we got through the days with a much sweeter relationship.

That paving company had seen wonderful successes – over a million dollars grossed in our third year – but it was the boom and bust ‘80s. We worked so hard putting out twice as many proposals. God could have called any one of them in. This all happened during the time Ron and I had committed to early morning prayer and went to the church building every morning six days a week from six until seven to pray. Longhorn Paving was covered in prayer. I had told the Lord, if the door had to close, we knew whose hand was on the knob. We did end up shutting her down. I didn’t blame Ron. We believed without a doubt that God was in control.

His perfect will was our prayer and only desire.

It’s funny to think that was twenty years ago. It’s so true how time flies, especially the older you get! But Mama’s wisdom offered that day, her Godly advice to a hurting daughter has helped me so many times since that I can’t even count. I continue to hear God’s Voice and do my best to walk in obedience to it. Mama went home to be with her Lord, our God, in August of 1997. While on this side of eternity, I miss her everyday, but look forward to being reunited never to be parted again.    

Check out Caryl McAdoo’s many books on Amazon. She’s got a few free ones and .99 cent sale ones too.

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Third Sunday in Advent-Gaudete Sunday

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The Third Sunday in Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice Sunday, or sometimes Pink Sunday. Today, at St. James, the Bartlett Family lit the third of the advent candles, the pink one. The clergy also wears pink vestments today.

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Gaudete in Latin means “rejoice.” Advent is a time of penance and preparation. Gaudete Sunday, in our Anglican tradition, is a mid-advent time to break and rejoice.

Our cantor begins the introit (Philippians 4) with: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice ye; let your moderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing, nor troubled; but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving; let your request be made known unto God. (Psalm 85) Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. GLORY BE…

C. Behold .. the Lord shall appear …

R. and will not tarry, and will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will manifest himself to all nations, Alleluia.

Scripture Reading for the Advent wreath ceremony, third Sunday: Isaiah 4O:1-5 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lords’ hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
C. Christ, arise, help us.
R. And deliver us for thy Name’s sake.
C.. Come and save us, O Lord God of hosts.
R. Show the light of thy countenance, and we shall be whole.
C. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
C. Let us pray. Incline thine ear to our prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee; and lighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of thy visitation; Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth ever one God, world without end.  R. Amen.

And after the Advent Wreath Ceremony, the priest celebrates the Mass. Today’s Gospel reading was from Saint Matthew 11, beginning at the second verse:

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

John was in prison and had a moment of doubt. He is supposed to be the voice in the desert, pointing the way to the Lamb of God and he did. But now that he has been inhibited and imprisoned, he doubts and wants to make sure Jesus is the Messiah.

And Jesus gives John and his disciples clear evidence and signs of vitality in God’s Kingdom.”Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blink receive their sights, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the def hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosever shall not be offended in me.”

Like John often we could be imprisoned by our own life situation through our feelings, struggles, thoughts, and belief system that can undermine our faith in a loving and living God. We wonder where God is.

I think the point today is no matter what, rejoice always. When everything is dark and gloomy, rejoice! When everything is good, rejoice! Call out to Him always, no matter what we feel and REJOICE!

Corrie ten Boom once said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

Trust God. He’s the Greatest Engineer. And Rejoice. Always!

Advent Day 13: Paradox of Advent

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Love this! Reblogging from a wonderful blogger….

Mere Whispers

There is a place where the nonsensical becomes the most rational. Where the extraordinary becomes the obvious and expected. Where the simplest of ways births the most extravagant of wonders.

As baffling as it may appear, sometimes the incorrect is just plain right. Even when it all seems so very wrong.

Thus is the Advent season… this paradox of both arrival and completion. The conception of a Savior bent on rescuing a world at odds with its Creator. Announcing His arrival with the words “It is finished” already formed on infant lips.

From the stable, to the cross, to the empty grave…

Each step purposeful, blazing pathways of redemption through souls.

Each touch heavy with the weight of holy and free.

Each breath, from first newborn cry to last earthly gasp, declaring love unconditional for the enemies of the Divine.

Every word spoken with intention.

Every action proclaiming an undying…

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Advent Day 12: Hope

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I love the word “hope.” Just saying the word “hope” aloud makes me hopeful. I’ve been blessed to be able to travel a bit. Often, I put Scripture quotes on my photography and share them on social media. Here’s some of them that reflect hope.

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St. James Anglican Church in Kansas City where we live and where my husband serves as bishop and rector

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Two weeks after the 2004 Tsunami in South India, Tamilarisa. I used another photo of Tamilarisa for the cover of my nonfiction book: Tsunami 2004 – Still Waiting Through Waves of Hope

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By our cottage on Sand Bay Point in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

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Behind my sister’s house in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

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This one is not taken by me but by my friend, Lynn Baxter, while leaving for work in the morning in Canton, Ohio

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On the porch of our friends Bill and Jane Graves in Springdale, Arkansas close to our church Corpus Christi in Rogers, Arkansas

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In Lourdes, France on a retreat with Father Luca and Elisa

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A visit to Estes Park, Colorado while in spending time in ministry in Greeley, Colorado at St Gabriel’s Church

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In Yercaud, Tamil Nadu South India, (used in scenes from my novel, Crooked Lines)

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Somewhere on the road, somewhere heading west 🙂

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Big Horn Mountain, Wyoming close to our church, Church of the Holy Trinity in Sheridan, Wyoming

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White Cliffs of Dover, Dover, England with our friend Father Britto

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on the Isle of Iona, Scotland

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In Bentonville, Arkansas with my sweet son, Nick, walking the trails at Crystal Bridges

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Sand Bay Point, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

And one last verse of hope from the last book of the Bible:

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

Advent Day 11: Promises…

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I decided to reblog this from Unexpected Hope today. Well said!

The way we stand

Matthew 1:1-17

Four hundred years of silence from God and the New Testament opens up proclaiming that the promises made to Abraham and David are fulfilled in Jesus. Abraham had received the promise that his offspring would bless the Earth and through his descendants there is a continuation of that promise. David was promised that he would have an ruler from his line that would forever reign. These promises and all of God’s promises find their fulfillment in Jesus.

This genealogy shows who Christ is, but it also displays who God is and how he works. We see here that God used the most unexpected people to fulfill his promises, he used liars like Abraham and Isaac and foreigners, seemingly outside of God’s promises, like Ruth. God worked through David who murdered, Solomon who forsook God, Rehoboam who broke God’s kingdom, Hezekiah the prideful, Manasseh who fought against God, and Josiah who disobeyed…

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