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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Scandolous love

His birth announcement should have captured the mind and imagination of every pauper and king, servant and master, Jew and Gentile. If life were fair, he would have received recognition as the Appointed One from birth. Instead, the blessed event created almost as much scandal as his life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus.

Just the name of Christ invites reaction and has since the moment his first infant’s wail erupted from untried lungs; the heartbeat of heavenly love embodied in flesh. From birth, he was hunted as a prize by a king who resented the competition of a helpless babe born in a hovel to a teenaged mother and her working-class husband. Forced into hiding, Immanuel–the Prince of Peace and hope of all men–finally found home amongst an unbelieving family and a community of skeptics.

Jesus.

From infancy to adulthood, the Savior lived marked by God–innocence incarnate…divinity expressed…love revealed but also a man reviled by family, hated by society, abhorred by the religious elite.

<a href=”https://ctt.ec/ceeNA”>Tweet: From infancy to adulthood, the Savior lived marked by God–innocence https://ctt.ec/ceeNA+ https://ctt.ec/fa5eA+ revealed@tammykennington.com#theway#thetruth#thelife</a>

Jesus.

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same and today–2,000 years later–people continue to disregard, degrade, and debase a child birthed to a virgin in a lonely cave. Has any other infant created such controversy? Any other life such hope? Any other death such awe?

When He returns, Friends, all doubt will be destroyed. All degradation overturned. All foolish talk silenced. He came once as helpless babe, but will reappear as the almighty Alpha and Omega. He lived within the constraints of flesh and blood, but will rule with eternal power and might. He died a sacrificial lamb, but will reign as conquering king.

<a href=”https://ctt.ec/mSULp”>Tweet: He came once as helpless babe, but will reappear as the almighty Alpha and Omega. He lived within the constraints of flesh and blood, but will rule with eternal power and might. He died a sacrificial lamb, but will reign as conquering https://ctt.ec/mSULp+</a>

In a season peppered with politically correct acclamations and a holiday that sometimes loses its meaning somewhere between the gift wrap and tinsel, may our hearts be fortified by the knowledge that thirty-three years after His birth the beautiful child unwrapped His righteousness on the tree and offered life to all willing to confess and believe in the beautiful name of…

Jesus.

 

Today’s Point to Ponder

How can we share the hope and joy of Christ’s birth with others while remaining sensitive to their individual world views? Are we willing to step out of the comfortable to plant seeds of the eternal?

 

Bible Verses for Reflection

(KJV) Luke 2-8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

Blessings,

Tammy

 

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Words won’t flow. They don’t  drip or even trickle from the tired edges of my mind. Wearily, I press on–searching for the right words, a creative phrase. Nothing. I decide to turn to the Word and rediscover Him.

The Word woos me with covenant love. Promises of peace. A heaven-made search and rescue strategy detailed in black and white.

Do you, dear Friend, need the Word today? Can I encourage you to drink deeply from the springs of living water?

I’ve posted a few of my favorite scriptures below to get you started.

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1.  “His mercies are new every morning.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

2.  “The joy of The Lord is my strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10)

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3. The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.          (Proverbs 18:10)

4.  “Come to me…and you will find rest for your souls.”  (Matthew 11:28-29)

5.  “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs.”  (Phil. 4:19)

6.  “And The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” (Zeph. 3:17)

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7. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the             Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:18)

8. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will       have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

9. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Duet. 31:6)

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10.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

 

Blessings to you this day,

Tammy

 

Linking up at Salt and Light and the following blogs–

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The place name dogged me all week–my thoughts returning again and again to the words of John 18:5.THE NEW YOU

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (NIV)

Familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew of the events preceding the crucifixion. The humble Creator stooping over the dirt-encrusted feet of His disciples and cleansing them of Jerusalem’s desert sand—the actions of a servant. Christ—breaking bread in the presence of beloved companions and a friend turned foe.

But until a few days ago, my eyes seemed to pass by any mention of Kidron Valley. What could be its significance? Why hadn’t I noticed before? Jesus walked purposely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to reach the Garden.

The symbolism is too rich to ignore. Kidron Valley, meaning black or sad, was a burial site to Jewish kings, priests, and prophets encased in tombs along the rocky slopes. And today? Thousands of limestone coffins stand end to end—the bodies of Jewish hopefuls awaiting deliverance through the long-awaited Messiah.

I can almost imagine Jesus surveying the valley and its surroundings. There, high on the slope, He could make out the southeastern edge of the Temple. How many hours had He spent within its walls proclaiming the truth? Inhaling deeply as He passed by a stand of olive trees, Christ might have swept His gaze to the far edges of the landscape and noticed the Mount of Olives. Did His stride quicken as He anticipated ascending into Heaven from that hill—the Father’s call beckoning Him home?

Determined, Jesus continued on as the dark valley rose sharply on either side–evening shadows deepening. He knew the history of the place—He’d seen it clearly from Heaven’s throne room. Christ knew of the treachery encased between the walls of this gorge—when the Chosen Ones had displayed worthless idols here. The people turning away from I Am not once…not twice…but three times. (1 Kings 15: 12-13, 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Chronicles 19:16).

Jesus knew—they would again turn from the Way and choose another.

And soon, the blood of hundreds of thousands of lambs would spill into the wadi, filling the valley with the scent of death; innocent blood staining its walls. The disciples might have noticed a look of satisfaction cross Jesus’ face as He considered the near future—that moment when His own, untarnished blood would pour out for all sin and sinners. Once for all—if they would only accept His gift. The perfect Lamb. The ultimate Sacrifice. The exchange of the Sinless for you and me.

Each step Jesus took in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, friends, brought us closer to Him. Because of His death and resurrection, we can claim the beautiful promise of Ps. 23,

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)

 

 Thank you, Jesus, for walking the dark valley of sin that we might be the sinless ones. Praise God for His mercy and overwhelming love. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Giving God me was a moment in time—a five year old with cropped hair and knobby knees raising her hand in Sunday school. It was one of the rare Sundays my family attended church, but I met Jesus there and took him home in my heart.

That sweet encounter put me on the road to my forever home. I was as good as signed, sealed, and delivered to heaven’s doorstep.   But, that day was also the beginning of a relationship—one marked by trial, misunderstanding, faithlessness, and inexplicable, beautiful love.

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I’ve discovered that giving God me was more than the promise of Life. It’s a decision I choose to make—or not–each day and moment-by-moment. Some days I succeed. I loosen my grasp on my expectations…my fears…my hurts…my vulnerable places.

But there are times the struggle is painfully hard and I hold stubbornly to my life—unwilling to give up control of thoughts…circumstances…relationships. It’s a spirit fight—like Joshua and the angel—waged in weakness when needing God’s strength; borne out of mistrust while having experienced God’s goodness.

Three years ago, I engaged in the battle of my life. It rocked my family to the core and sent me to a place of such pain and confusion that life lost all promise and hope. I wasn’t sure I would survive the anger…the loss…the heartache.

And I wrestled with God—unwilling to give all of myself to Him. I didn’t always realize He was there with me in the filth, the dirt—holding onto me while I pushed Him away. I refused to look at Him…certain I didn’t deserve the love engraved on His palms. I shouted…I wept…I doubted my Savior. Still—He remained.

In the moment I finally gave all of myself? I realized complete freedom for the first time. Giving all of me to God was the exchange of chains for freedom,  self-condemnation for Christ’s acceptance, and the brokenness of the past for transformation in His mercy.

Friend, are you wrestling with God right now? Can I gently remind you that He guards you…protects you…loves you—even when the journey seems dark and lonely. Despite how you may feel, you are not alone. Why fight against God when He will do battle on your behalf? We know Christ intercedes for us in heavenly places—the victory has been won! Let’s give all of ourselves to Him today!

 

Scripture for Reflection

Gen. 22-23 But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.

24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.

26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”

Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”

27 The man said, “What’s your name?”

He answered, “Jacob.”

28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”

29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”

The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.

30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!” (MSG)

 

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“I’ve become the invisible woman,” she said.  The other ladies in the group nodded knowingly.  Surprised at the shared sentiment, I wondered how each of them had arrived at a place of feeling unnoticed…inconspicuous…unseen.  Had their identities been swallowed by motherhood?  Lost to unhealthy marriages?  Buried beneath daily demands and responsibilities?

The conversation prompted thoughts of Christ’s compassion and concern for those who lived unnoticed, invisible lives.  Lepers. Tax collectors.  Women.  Though each was an outcast, Christ spent the majority of his time ministering to the very people considered unworthy of his attention.

His gentle touch healed those slowly rotting away and dying for want of human contact.  His words of life transformed corrupt and greedy men into selfless givers of truth and hope.  His Creator’s heart acknowledged the value of the undervalued.

With Christ, dear friend, there is no invisibility.  Seek his healing touch.  Immerse yourself in the truth of his life-giving, transformational words.  Remember that your value and worth were ultimately expressed in his sacrifice on the cross.

Today’s Action Step: 

Embrace the truth.  Put your name where the words the world are written.

“For God so love the world that he gave his one and only son…”  John 3:16

Scripture for Reflection

“For we are God’s workmanship…”  Ephesians 2:10

Recommended Reading

Captivating Revised & Updated: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's SoulCaptivating by Stasi Eldridge

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

 

 

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The barren places..we all have them. They are the wounded, aching parts left empty; still waiting to be filled.

Was your mother critical, self-absorbed, or caught up in a drama so consuming that she overlooked your hurts? Did your father fail to fight for you–abandon you when you needed a hero? Perhaps your husband chose another or your children turned from their faith.
Invite The Lord to tend those wounds, Friend. He is “the balm of Gilead”. He offers the everlasting salve for a needy soul.

We may grieve momentary losses of relationship, yet we have gained the eternal presence of Christ. We may yearn for the tender words of a mother’s heart but the Lord exclaims, “I have loved you with an everlasting love!” We may desire the triumphant, sacrificial love of a hero and we know that the Lamb of God expelled his last breath thinking of us–you and me. He is the hero of our yesterdays, today’s, and tomorrow’s.

Take heart. Be encouraged. Your barren places will be filled for He is willing and able.

Scripture for Reflection
A bruised reed he will not break. Isaiah 42:3

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I read the child’s name and my throat constricts.  The words seem detached from the page and I wish I could wrap my hand around each letter–crushing the message they bear.  Dead.  Eight year old.  Mother attempted to revive.

Pausing, I think of my own children and something like guilt washes over me.  My children have been spared death.  They have escaped from the clasp of pneumonia…the rebellious actions of desperate youth…and the threat of childhood illness.  My daughter survived when she was resuscitated–and the memory of unmatched pain still lingers within.  And my heart aches for this mother.

Then, I think of the little boy–thin and frail when I knew him as a preschooler–and marvel at the way God used him to touch the lives of so many.  On Christmas Day, the boy drewMP900438983 his final breath.  And because of that boy several other children received an unimaginable Christmas gift–the gift of hope.

A blind child awakened to the colors of an undiscovered world while another now touches tender flesh marred by stiches–proof that much had been sacrificed for hope.

And my thoughts are of the boy–and of Hope.  The one who fully restores the brokenhearted mother…the dying child…the blind and desperate.  And I Ask for the grace to accept Hope’s promise for today.

 

Scripture for Reflection

“Put your hope in God and know real blessing.” Psalm 146:3-9 MSG

“Blessed are those…who have made The Lord their hope and confidence.” Jer. 17:7

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Dear One,

I’ve been watching you.  Your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. I see the way you meet the needs of your family and friends–serving from dawn till dusk without complaint. You search out opportunities to be My hands.

I’ve been listening to you. I hear the words you offer in prayer for your husband, children, and loved ones. Your gentle encouragement soothes weary hearts in a world that needs more of Me. You search for words that offer Life.

I’ve been waiting for you. Sometimes, Child, you’re consumed with life’s demands and responsibilities. Instead of leaving room for me, I’m pushed aside by your earnest desire to do what is right. Make time for me and “all these things will be added unto you”.  Search for Me.

Love always,

Your Father

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Are you going through that desert place?  desertHave burdens and doubts buried you like the blowing sands of a windstorm?

Maybe it’s your marriage. You feel like a woman wasting away…starved for affection, attention, acceptance.  Or, the dreams for your children have shriveled to dry bones–lifeless and unresponsive.  It could be illness has robbed you of  health. You search for solace…a respite…an oasis from the physical and emotional pain.

Your prayers seem like waater poured out on the burning sand; evaporting as soon as the words emerge from your dry lips.

Friend,  there is Hope.  He, too, endured trials in the desert–forty days of hungering and thirsting…forty days of yearning for relief.  Then, in his weakest and most vulnerable moments, Hope faced Temptation.

Seek your own fulfillment and you’ll be fed.  Indulge your desires for you only live once.  Deny God and serve yourself.

When we’re wandering in a spiritual desert, we’re faced with the same temptations. Isn’t there an easier way?   Why hasn’t God answered my cries for help?  How long must I wander in this wasteland?

Look to Hope, friend.  He understands.  He endured.  And He received his reward.

The desert place has boundaries.  There is a beginning…and an end.  And even in the most desolate place, God is with us.  His promises hold true and He provides relief.  He offers cool streams of water.  He gives us Hope.

Scripture for Reflection 

Matthew 4:1-11

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wheat fields

The arid prairie stretches to the horizon–it’s tanned face lined and creased–pulling away from itself because of the summer heat. And I’m reminded of my grandfather’s face. A farmer accustomed to toiling in the heat of the day, he was a man who enjoyed the feel of the earth sifting through his fingers.

And those grooves in  Grandpa’s face? They were the tell-tale signs of someone immersed in the day-to-day trials, frustrations, and pleasures of watching something nearly invisible grow into a gold-stemmed  life-giver.

I wonder…What sort of story does my face tell? Do the creases around my eyes convey joy? Are the lines around my mouth visible reminders of a mother impatiently pursing her lips or a woman smiling at the sight of her tousled children?

Even more–do I bear the likeness of Christ? If you were to talk with me or meet me for coffee, would you see that Christ has poured himself into my heart?  Is His love and compassion etched deeply enough in my life that you might notice Him?

 If only the day-to-day trials, frustrations, and pleasures of marriage and motherhood will leave spirit-impressions!  One day, maybe you’ll notice those  as much I noticed the creases in Grandpa’s face.

Scripture for Reflection

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

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