New Excitement

What is it about the word "new" that makes us so excited?

New life, new try, new baby, new piano.

I'm not big on resolutions, but there's something about the start of a new year that makes me hopeful.

I'm certainly ready for this year to be over. Along with this ongoing, hard thing, my dad had open-heart surgery and my husband lost his last two grandparents this year.

My eldest knows more vocabulary about death than any three year old should know.

I'm ready for new.

A new year. A new start. A new attempt.

Thinking about new makes me want to explore God's idea of new. Will you explore with me?

The first idea that came to my mind was the new covenant.

I've always been struck by the ridiculousness of the idea that God would make any sort of a promise with us, that He would uphold His side of the covenant even when we fail to keep our own promise, but I've never explored the idea that it is a new covenant.
'The time is coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers...because they broke my covenant...' declares the LORD. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the LORD. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.' ~ Jeremiah 31.31-33
I can already see that I will be jumping between the Old and New Testaments to explore this word.

So what is the new covenant that God makes with us, the covenant that is different from the one that we broke?

In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.' ~ Luke 22.20
Jesus. That birth we just finished celebrating leads to the new covenant drenched in His blood.

Hebrews 8 and 9 talks through all of the fascinating details of the old covenant and how it foreshadows the new covenant. Towards the end, after explaining the system of sacrificing goats and bulls and using their blood to take away the sins of the people, the author of Hebrews says this: 
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ...cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
I sit, sit awash in gratitude for this new covenant that cost so much.  The new covenant leads my mind around to another use of the word "new": in Christ, we are a new person, a new creation.

Back to the Old Testament. God promises in Ezekiel 36
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
The fulfillment of that promise? 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ II Corinthians 5.17
And this:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4.22-24
Praise God!!! What mercy! What grace!

Again, I sit in gratitude, in silence, letting this beauty wash over me.

Because God was willing to make a new covenant with us when we broke the original one, because Christ was willing to spill His blood to seal this covenant, I am now a new creation in Christ, created to be like God!

And as I sit in gratitude, I can't help but think of the new that is still ahead of us.

Isaiah prophecies this beautiful thing in Isaiah 65
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind...I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years...my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.

We are given a beautiful glimpse of the future fulfillment of all of this in Revelation 21
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away...and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'
It sounds as though God Himself gets excited about the word "new".

Perhaps our own excitement over new things in this world is there for a reason, was placed deep inside of us by Him in Whose image we were created, was given to us to point us toward the most beautiful new thing of all.

I'm participating over at A Holy Experience in the Walk with Him series. Join me?

Art credits: Last Supper by Da Vinci; cross and winter sky by Davenport; cross and sunset by vivekchugh; Golden City


The Word of God

The Word of God.

God spoke His Word and light exploded out of the dark.

God spoke His Word and our earth was filled with life.

God spoke His Word and law was given as a mirror to show His people their soul-dark, their sin-death.

God spoke His Word
and His Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 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.
The Word of God.

Sent to us who have walked in darkness to bring us into the grace of His light.

God sent His Word, Himself, in the soft, touchable skin of a baby. His Christmas gift to us.

Joy to the world! The Word has come!

The Word of God. 

Light of lights! All gloom dispelling,
Thou didst come to make thy dwelling
Here within our world of sight.
Lord, in pity and in power,
Thou didst in our darkest hour
Rend the clouds and show thy light.
Praise to thee in earth and heaven
Now and evermore be given,
Christ, who art our sun and shield.
Lord, for us thy life thou gavest,
Those who trust in thee thou savest,
All thy mercy stands revealed.
St. Thomas Aquinas 

May we worship Him alone, our light, our gift, God's Word.


Merry Christmas to you all. 


What Do You Want?

I love to read.

Many of my family and friends have funny stories of me reading books in odd places while I was growing up. 

And maybe a few stories from after I had grown up.


I love words and books. Fiction and non-fiction, modern mystery and classic literature, books about God and books about art and books about technology and books about history and books about...

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote "It's the words that sing, they soar and descend...I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down."

This is me.

I've been discovering lately, though, that this is not always a good thing.

As much good as can come from reading, my books can also take me away from God.

I read to learn but I also read to relax, to be refreshed, to be fulfilled.

Don't fret, my fellow bibliophiles. I'm not about to tell you to burn all of your books in the name of Jesus.

The trouble comes when I begin to think that I need my books, that I deserve my time to read...and then get angry with whoever stands in the way of that.

When I turn to books to satisfy myself, to fill myself up, when I begin to have arguments with myself over whether to spend time with God or go read my books, that is when my warning lights begin to flash.

When I desire my books more than I desire God, then my books have become an idol.

I know that I am not alone in this. We all have something that tries to take the place of God. 

What is it that you cling to? A parent, child or friend? Food or drink? Money, your home, a car, new clothes?

It is hard to understand why clinging to good things can be bad. How could my love for my child possibly be a bad thing? 

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis, when talking about Mother-love, says this 
No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.
Isn't that true about anything here on this earth, that only in their relation to God are they holy or unholy?

My love for reading can be holy or unholy depending on its relation to God.

Why is it that we think we need something other than God to fill us up, to make us satisfied?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? ~ Psalm 42
Sometimes we feel empty because we are clinging to something other than God. 
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Sometimes we have to let go before God can fill us up.

Letting go is scary. It takes courage, trust.

Can I tell you something? Something that I know beyond a doubt?

God will not let you down.  He really is enough.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
You will not feel a lack of anything when you are truly desiring God above all else in your life. His love, His mercy, His company, His spirit...He is our breath, our life, our food, our drink.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
We don't need other people, we don't need other things. God is gracious and gives us people and things to surround us, but we don't need them to be satisfied or content, we don't need them to give us comfort or protection.
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 
God is enough.

Ask Him to help you search your heart. What is it that you desire more than God? 

Ask Him to help you to desire Him above all else. Out of His infinite grace, that is a prayer that He will always answer!
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

photo credit for final photo: SP Veres


Be Still and Wait

Be still




Do you hear it?

It is a whisper in the darkness.

He is coming!

Can you feel it?

It is a gentle touch on your heart.

Love is coming!


In the stillness, we feel it — His movements. In the stillness, our hearts leap — His coming! In the stillness, we know it– what falls down upon us — breath of heaven. ~ Ann Voskamp

Will you be still? 

Will you give God this one gift, the gift of you, of your full presence?

In the excitement and the sparkle. 

In the loneliness and the hurt.


For just a few moments, hush and listen. Listen for that small whisper in your soul. Pause to feel God's Spirit love your heart.




He comes!

We wait...and find that He has been Emmanuel, God with us, all along.

art credit: The Nativity by Antonio da Correggio; Advent Wreath carved by 15-year-old Caleb Voskamp (click on the link to order your own...he gives all proceeds to Compassion)

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Can I Really Know God?

"This is one of the most beautiful things to me."

I look at her, my mommy-shepherd, wanting her to continue.

"A mother who knows her baby, who knows what her baby needs by being completely attuned to the cues her baby gives her."

Yes. This is beautiful.

Our conversation drifts to the back of my mind until I am reading Psalm 139, which begins like this: 

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
My mind leaps back to the beauty of a mother knowing her baby as I read more of the psalm: 
...you perceive my thoughts from afar...you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord...For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb...All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God knows me.

God, the One Who weighs the clouds heavy with snow, knows me even more deeply than a mommy can know her baby.

This is beautiful.

And then I read something that I have read many times. This time, with the beauty of God's knowledge of me fresh in my mind, I am stunned.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
The wonder of this takes my breath away and I want to check, to be sure this is true.

I know that the Old and New Testaments were written in different languages, but I check my Strong's for the meanings of "know" in both chapters and they are remarkably similar. It is the same kind of knowing.

We will know God as deeply as He knows us.

Stop for just a moment and let that fill up your heart.

Lately my heart has been too full of the mystery of God. I often struggle to see Him in the midst of the busyness, the hurts and disappointments of life. 

My heart needs to hear this, to savor it: God wants me to know Him.

I search for more of this truth. If you, too, need this, go slowly. Let God breathe these words into your distant heart and draw you close to Him.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom...but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD.'
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD.
I am filled with this beauty.

God knows all of the deepest pieces of me and in all of His knowledge of my dark places, He desires that I know Him just as deeply.


Scriptures in order: I Corinthians 13.12; John 10.14-15; Ephesians 1.17; Hosea 6.6; Jeremiah 9.23-24; Jeremiah 24.7 
Painting is Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Johannes Vermeer