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Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Morning Devo - Song Stories: O Come O Come Emmanuel

Wow, talk about old Hymns--this one is the oldest one I've talked about so far. The poem stanzas date back to around about 1100, when an unknown writer put them into a Latin poem. The verses become a collection of "O antiphons" sung or chanted between two choirs, a little like between the liturgist and a congregation in some churches, but more rhythmical. The O antiphons are still done in a lot of Catholic and Anglican churches between December 17 and 23 each year.

In the mid-1800s, it came to the attention of an Anglican Priest and hymn writer John Mason Neale, who put it to music written by "French sources." The tune was apparently an old funeral hymn sung by French Franciscan nuns.

I think this story comes more under the heading of "interesting" rather than "inspirational," but it came to be one of my favorites the year I heard it sung by a big roomful of men. Now, that was inspirational. The hymn sounds pretty amazing sung by all deep voices. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to locate a version like that, but this one is pretty cool too. Click HERE.

Lord, once again we embark on that season where we are introduced to the Baby You. Most of us go "awwwww" when we see a baby--but if we had seen You, it would have been much more like "awe" because You were, are, and always will be awesome. May we never lose that feeling of wonder and amazement at that fact that You gave up a heavenly throne at the Father's right hand to take that thirty-three-year laborious, painful journey just to come to us in a recognizable and humble form. Thank You, Lord.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Sermonette - A Religious Prig

"Ah, yes, my books are all on the best seller lists, leading thousands to Christ...."
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Luke 18:10-13, KJV

I read a daily devotional called My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. The other day, he said, "It is not your devotion to God that makes you refuse to be shallow, but your wish to impress other people that you are not shallow, which is a sure sign that you are a spiritual prig."

The Google dictionary defines "prig" as "a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if superior to others." As the Pharisee did when praying.

Goodness, how we Christians like to compare ourselves to the non-Christians--favorably, of course. Beware, those of you among the born-again. We're no better than anyone else. Maybe not as good as some. Hopefully we mature and become better Christians than we were yesterday or last week or ten years ago, but I don't believe we will arrive until the day we die--and even then, the only reason we'll get into heaven is because the Father will look at us through Jesus, the one and only perfect person.

I really don't want to be a religious prig. Do you?

Nah, I didn't think so.

Father, please provide our comeuppances when we get priggish. Every time. Thank You, and amen.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review - CHRISTMAS FUTURE by Rita Garcia

I love Christmas stories--fictional or real, doesn't matter! My only personal stipulation is that they don't violate Christian standards, so this novella by Rita Garcia qualifies. It's a sweet story (no violence or ugliness), and I think you'll love it too.

Two angels--Mercy Grace, a novice guardian angel, and her mentor, Shirley Goodness--are strolling around heaven one day admiring all the glorious beauty of the realm and discussing a family in Serenity Cove. Mercy is wondering what the future holds for a pair of twins (Sarah Anne and Josh) who will be born to Samantha and ***. Being in heaven, Shirley Goodness knows they can pull back the curtain that veils the future, so she begins to show Mercy some of what will be happening.

Sarah Anne (better known as Sarah to all but her family members) loves Serenity Cove. She also loves the handsome Ian--but Ian wants to live in the bustling city rather than the homespun little seaside village. There's a bookstore--an old-fashioned one with real vintage books!--for sale, and Sarah buys it with all kinds of optimistic plans for the shop to make it profitable, which hasn't happened for some time.

So therefore, she and Ian just will never be. *sigh*

Little does Mercy Grace know the role she will play in Sarah Anne's future, but the angel is destined to be Sarah's guardian angel.

But you can get a glimmer if you buy this charming little book. Available at Amazon today for FREE! I don't know how long it will be free, though, so grabbit today!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review - DAYDREAMS by JoAnn Durgin

This book is the fourth in the Lewis Legacy Series. Goodness, but JoAnn Durgin does know how to spin a romance! I think you'll enjoy this one. I did.

Amy Jacobsen is a sophisticated New York writer, working for a popular and prestigious magazine called Habits. It seems an accident one evening that she meets the owner of the equally prestigious New York Scene. Most men who have reached the pinnacle Landon Warnick has are a lot older, but Landon is young, too handsome for his own good, and...deceptive.

Amy's brother introduces them, and the attraction is mutual and instant. She has a tough time remembering she has Christian values that preclude, well, hanky panky.

And then she goes to the wedding of a close friend in Texas and meets Cooper Warren, a dead ringer for Landon. At first she's sure they are one and the same, but this guy has that outstanding Texan drawl while Landon has none.

It takes a ride across Texas and her brother's snooping to convince her Mr. Warren aka Mr. Warnick is a first class fraud. What will it take to convince her she can forgive him?

Better get a copy and find out--but this is a thick one. Don't plan to finish it in one day unless you read really, really fast. That's not to say you still shouldn't get it. I love a long book, myself.

Amazon and Barnes and Noble both have it. Go ahead. Get yourself a gift, or buy it for a friend.

I received a copy of this book free in return for an honest review.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Morning Devo - Song Stories: Take My Life

Today's song was written by a passionate youngish Christian woman, Frances Ridley Havergal, in 1873. She was a talented poet and singer, a concert soloist, learned Greek and Hebrew, and memorized the Psalms, Isaiah, and most of the new Testament. Wow.

"Take My Life and Let It Be" has a wonder-filled story--wondrous to me and I hope to you. Read this little note by Franses Havergal:

"Perhaps you will be interested to know the origin of the consecration hymn, “Take my life.” I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, “Lord, give me all in this house!” And He just did! Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another, till they finished with, 'Ever, ONLY, ALL for Thee!'"

As she wrote the words, Frances found herself recommitting more and more of herself to him. As she wrote "Take my voice and let me sing..." she decided to give up her singing career and sing only for God; and, as she wrote "Take my silver and my gold..." she made the decision to sell her sizable collection of jewelry and spend it on missions. She's one who definitely put her money where her mouth was.

Would you like to hear a neat rendition of this one? Click HERE for a new version by Chris Tomlin.

Lord, I know there are still pieces of my life I hold back from You, but I don't want it that way. Show me, Lord, how to let go and trust You in this area too. I do trust You. I know that You know where my secret stash is, the place where I selfishly hoard things I've not been willing to give You, but here, now, I give You the key. Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Sermonette - The First and the Last

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." Revelations 1:17-18 NKJV

I started reading Revelations this week, a book filled with symbolism and mystery. A lot of people have said the visions John the Beloved had in this section of the Bible have already happened. I think that's at least partially true--but I think it's quite possibly also something that will happen in the future. History hasn't quit repeating itself.

This verse, though, is simply a statement of who Jesus is: The First and the Last; Crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected; and He alone has the keys of Hell and Death. Thank goodness! I certainly don't want them!

No one but the Lord has total wisdom. Only He gets to decide who or what will go into Hell. If it were left up to me, I'd probably let nearly everyone in, because I think once they died they'd convert quick knowing what their options really were and not the lies they'd been told.

Still--I don't want to have that decision--do you?

I love that He is alive forevermore, and if you believe in Him you will be too. He's the first (from the beginning and before) and the last (until and beyond the end of time). What an awesome God we serve!

Maybe the best part of these two verses? The part where John falls at Jesus's feet "as though dead." Probably exactly what would happen to me!

Father, thank You for giving us Jesus. Jesus, thank You for being willing to follow the Father's hard plan. Holy Spirit, thank You for opening our ears, eyes. and hearts to You. I love You, Lord!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Review - HOCKEY SANTA by Sue Badeau

The assignment for this series was to write a story about a character from previous Sweetland stories. That character was to relate a memorable Christmas from their youth. Well, in this case it's Homer Evers, father of six, remembering back to a special Christmas when he'd been in elementary school.

His family had been poor. Santa didn't always make it to his house, and it appeared he wouldn't that year either. Pops had lost his job, and what money they'd had he'd spent on liquor.

Homer's sister Lainey had a plan to get presents for everyone in the family for Christmas from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. She and he had to come up with the money before the order arrived from the store. She babysat, and he helped his big brother with a paper route. Sometimes when they collected for the papers, people would hand Homer a tip.

Homer and his brother rode double on Roy's bike. One day, he came up with an extra bike he'd been loaned, and he told Homer to run the route for him. Then Roy took off in the direction of the rich section of town.

Homer loved to play hockey, and so did Roy. Both of them were on the hockey teams at their schools. Sometimes Homer's hands and feet were numb before practice was over, but he was the fastest guy on the team. Homer's school had a big game coming up, so practice was important.

Hm. Lots of little miscellaneous tidbits. How in the world will Sue Badeau tie all these bits and buttons together to create a story? Well, knowing Sue, it will happen in a glorious fashion. Pick up this short story from Amazon or Barnes and Noble for only 99 cents.

I received a free copy of the story in return for editing and posting an honest review.