Archive for November, 2011

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Peapods update

Peapods! What in the world?


  • They have something to do with our grandtwins.
  • I wrote about Peapods almost a year ago.
  • The update is at Tell Me When To Pack.

P. S. In any case, this gives me an excuse to post a picture of the babies. It’s the first time I ever played double Trotsy-Horsey.

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

A Holy Ambition: free download

Many of you are familiar with Logos Software. Recently Logos launched Vyrso Christian eBooks.

Until December, Vyrso is offering a free download of  A Holy Ambitionby one of the best authors around (if I do say so myself).








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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Advent candles: Looking back

Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life”
 (John 8:12).

Advent candles are a helpful way of looking back, of remembering those who waited for God’s salvation, of waiting for the day we celebrate the arrival of our Savior.

The candles might be part of a wreath arrangement or in a log. Or they might simply be candles in holders. Various helpful schemes of symbolism can be attached to the candles, their number, and color.

But here are the basics—one candle for each of the Sundays of Advent, and if you wish, a fifth for Christmas Day. On the first Sunday, only one candle will be lit, then two on the second, and so forth. That’s all that’s necessary. But if we want our Advent candles to be more than a centerpiece, we have to ask ourselves, “What makes these more than wax and wick?”

The flame is a symbol of the one who is called “the light of the world.” We who follow him “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). As we move closer to the day when we’ll meet him, there is greater and greater brightness.

But we need to remember that our very young children will see only candles. No matter how much we explain the symbolism, they need some more years before they can comprehend it. That’s why I always incorporate a manger scene into our Advent candle arrangement. Tangible is my guiding word. What a child can see and touch, he might understand at a little more clearly. It’s helpful for us adults, as well.

Each Advent Sunday, when we at the table, we hear a word from the Bible before lighting the next candle. When the children were younger, each week’s passage probably would be one part of the Christmas story from Matthew or Luke. As they grew older, we expanded to include Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah’s coming. On other days of the week, whenever we sit at the dining room table where the candles are the centerpiece, we light that week’s number of candles.

The light, brighter by the week, points us toward Jesus who has called us to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

48335: Treasuring God in Our Traditions Taken from my book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.
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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Advent Reading: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Isaiah 11:1-9
A rod shall come forth from the stem of Jesse.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of  Jesse,

and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

2 And  the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by  what his eyes see,

or decide disputes by  what his ears hear,

4 but  with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

and he shall  strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and  with the breath of his lips  he shall kill the wicked.

5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,

and  faithfulness the belt of his loins.

6    The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;

and a little child shall lead them.

7 The cow and the bear shall graze;

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,

and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

9  They shall not hurt or destroy

in all  my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Art by a Native American brother

Over our mantel hangs artwork of Turning Bear Mason, a Native American who is forthright in his desire to glorify God through his art: “God has given me a hunger to know Him through His truth, that is through His Word and His creation.”

I’m drawn into the moody, deep blue landscape silhouetted with sparse evergreens.

But in the late afternoon, when the blinding western sun glows through our front window onto the print, the brooding scene awakens. Now I realize there’s a teepee that had been hidden in the shadows. It’s as if the woman inside has lit her cooking fire and her home flares with life against the darkening sky. I imagine the Evening Prayer of her family, gathered in a circle around the fire, thanking God for the food he has provided.

Turning Bear Mason’s 2012 calendar is a very accessible way of enjoying 13 of his paintings and sharing them, as family or business Christmas gifts. This Thursday, December 1 is the last date to order. Here’s the info for ordering. Page down for a sample of the calendar art.

2012 Fine Art Calendar:   Fine Art of  TurningBear Mason

13 Month Calendar January 2012- February 2013 

Pre Orders needed by Thursday December 1, 2012
Call 520-780-9547
or E-Mail

 Size:  17 x11 Folds into 81/2 x 11

If desired there will be a space allotted on the back of the calendar for your business label —  Size 1 ¼ x 3 ¼

Cost: $19.50
$15.00 for orders of 300 or more

The Fine Art calendar will have 13 Oil Paintings printed on very nice stock paper.

Great End of Year Gifts for your business associates, friends or family.

Samples of paintings on the calendar: Saguaro National Park, Arizona Sunsets, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, some wildlife in landscape from around the Western Us and Canada.

The calendar is being printed by Arizona Lithograph, a premiere Fine Art printer in Tucson, AZ.

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The greatest reason to celebrate. And yet . . . .

Advent–the weeks leading up to Christmas–is a time to look back and celebrate the coming of our salvation. God had been promising for centuries, and God’s people had been waiting and watching. God’s promises were fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.

Romans 8:22-23

 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved.

And yet we are still waiting. Our spiritual redemption came to us with the baby of Bethlehem. But still, as Romans 8 says, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (verse 23). There is suffering and tragedy still, even for Christians. Someone we love is dying. We may be in pain. Sometimes we have trouble believing God’s promises. In other words, our redemption is not complete. We are waiting for the redemption of our bodies—waiting for Jesus’ second advent, for him to come again.

So here we stand in the middle. Advent is a season of looking back, thinking how it must have been, waiting for the promised salvation of God, not knowing what to expect. And at the same time, it is a season of looking ahead, preparing ourselves to meet Jesus at his Second Coming.

48335: Treasuring God in Our Traditions Taken from my book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.
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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Advent reading: Tuesday, November 29

Isaiah 7:14; 9:2-7
Christ’s birth and kingdom are foretold by the prophet Isaiah.

Is. 7:14 Therefore the  Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the  virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name  Immanuel.

Is. 9:2   The people  who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of  deep darkness,

on them has light shined.

3  You have multiplied the nation;

you have increased its joy;

they rejoice before you

as with  joy at the harvest,

as they  are glad  when they divide the spoil.

4  For the yoke of his burden,

and the staff for his shoulder,

the rod of his oppressor,

you have broken as  on the day of Midian.

5  For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult

and every garment rolled in blood

will be burned as fuel for the fire.

6  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.

7 Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.


(Daily Advent readings compiled at Parish Presbyterian Church)

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Monday, November 28th, 2011

The Lord of all the earth

Jesus is the saviour of people from every tribe and tongue and nation. As a reminder of that during the Christmas season, I like to use a table cover from far away when I’m setting up our main manger scene.

This year, my mind and heart are turned toward China and the story of Esther Nelson. So the table cover is solidly-embroidered art from an ethnic people of China.


(You can follow my Esther Nelson adventure at my travel blog, Tell Me When to Pack.)

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Monday, November 28th, 2011

What is Advent?

1 Peter 1:10-12

 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year, it began yesterday, on Sunday, November 27, 2011.

1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent. For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming. Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating” (verse 11). They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.

In fact, God revealed to them that they were not the ones who would see the sufferings and glory of God’s Christ. “They were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (verse 12). They were serving us. We Christians on this side of Jesus’ birth are a God-blessed, happy people because we know God’s plan. The ancient waiting is over. We have the greatest reason to celebrate.

48335: Treasuring God in Our Traditions Taken from my book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.  
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Monday, November 28th, 2011

Bible story books

I think Bible story books make great gifts for the children we love.

I really appreciate Justin Taylor for his frequent book reccomendations, especially because I usually agree with his assessments. So today’s post recommending his top picks of Bible story books is right up my alley.

I’ve already given some of themThe Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments on earlier Christmas days. But I hadn’t yet seen The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments, by Marty Machowski. I’m looking forward to it. (Justin links to a great 72-hour discount on the book).

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Monday, November 28th, 2011

Today only!

For some reason, the link from the photo isn't working. Link through the text.

in 1968, when we got married, my mother-in-law had been using her KitchenAid Mixer (link here)  for more than 25 years. So when there was no mixer among our wedding gifts, we used gift money to splurge and buy a KitchenAid for ourselves. Our marriage is going on for 43 years, and so is our KitchenAid.

So when I saw that this one is almost half-off today–just today–I wanted to make sure you know about it. If it should last you 43 years, that would be, let’s see . . . about $6.00 a year. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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Monday, November 28th, 2011

Advent reading: Monday, November 28

Genesis 22:15-18
God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed.

And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said,  “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,  17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring  as the stars of heaven and  as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess  the gate of his  enemies,  18 and  in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,  because you have obeyed my voice.”


(Daily Advent readings compiled at Parish Presbyterian Church)

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