11 posts categorized "Advent"

Advent - A Season of Waiting ...

Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net I received a call that I wasn’t expecting. From my sister. It was Saturday night, two weeks ago. She was relaying some information she’d received about our brother, John. He had been admitted into hospital that afternoon, had an MRI that found he had a ‘mass’ in his head. Oh dear. Not at all what we wanted to hear. And so the waiting began. Over the next week John had a bunch of tests and scans. Lots of waiting for things to happen – John dubbed it “hospital time”. All confirmed there was only the one mass. Everything else was normal except that movement in both his right arm and right leg were slightly impaired. The mass was pressing on his brain impacting a signal to those limbs. Finally, a biopsy was to be taken. But this was no simple biopsy as they had to... Read more →

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Advent - Jesus Came to Bring us Life!

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net So here we all are. The week before Christmas with still lots to do. Work to finish off, shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, travelling and hosting just to name a few things. It’s exhausting just reading that list. Besides all of this we may have the added stress of having family staying with us (we do) and/or going to stay with family. A quick tip, delegate things. Don’t try to do it all. Engage everyone in the doing. Yes, this can be a struggle and frankly I’m preaching this as much to myself as anyone. Because sometimes people don’t follow instructions well or try to take over. Breathe, Ian, breathe. Abundant Life “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV) We all know this verse. At Christmas both parts... Read more →

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Advent - God of Surprises

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net I sat chatting with my publisher. We’d only just met face to face for the first time and here we sat, an Englishman and an Aussie, having a cup of tea (as in hot) in a café in a Nashville hotel. We were attending a Christian Writers Conference, he prospecting for new content and I hoping he’d give me an update on my manuscript that I’d sent through to his employer three months previous. Unfortunately, Tony knew nothing about my manuscript. He was now a contractor to the business and so wasn’t involved in the day-to-day. I thought we’d end up having a nice chat about nothing in particular until he quickly changed the subject with the question: “Have you thought of writing non-fiction?” (for those of you who don’t know I write fiction). My heart jumped a little. I’d come to the conference... Read more →

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Advent - Sharing the Longing

Image courtesy of 9comeback at FreeDigitalPhotos.net One Bible story that I keep coming back to each Advent season is the one that features Zechariah and Elizabeth. I hadn’t spent a lot of time reflecting upon it until a few years ago when I began to observe Advent. Most of you will know their story is briefly told in Luke 1 before Mary’s story. I’d encourage you to read it again (v5-25) and as we’ve done in the past read it meditatively. Perhaps listen to it and put yourself into the story. Imagine you are Zechariah or Elizabeth or one of the crowd and see what the Spirit reveals to you. Longing This couple was probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s. He was a respected Jewish priest and would have been highly thought of within society. However, even though holding an elevated position in society they were probably looked... Read more →

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Advent - a Season to Remember and to Anticipate

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net We got the call that our son and his wife had left for the hospital. Our excitement increased thinking the next time we hear from them they will share the wonderful news of becoming parents for the first time. And we’d be grandparents. Yay! We went to bed believing we’d wake to receive the news. Morning came. Still in labour. Lunchtime. Still going. Staying focused on anything else was pretty difficult. The anticipation was thrilling. Words of encouragement for our son as he worried for the love of his life as she so bravely persevered. Evening came. All was quiet. We hoped and prayed for news and that they wouldn’t enter into a second night of labour. Just after dinner, the text arrived. How our hearts jumped into our throats. A son. A healthy boy. And mom is doing well after such a long... Read more →

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Fourth Week of Advent: Peace (and Christmas!)

Merry Christmas, SUMites! I’m finishing up my Advent series today, because Lynn and I will be taking next week off to have more time with our families. We love you and bless you with all the joy and gladness this season holds, dear friends. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends and most importantly, ENJOY JESUS! He’s not only our Savior, but our very best friend and partner in this life and the one to come. We are about to enter the fourth and final week of Advent this Sunday, my friends. I’ve included a picture of what my Advent wreath will look like this Sunday as I light all four candles. This last candle represents peace, and as the Word says, Jesus came to bring us peace. Not the peace the world offers, but His peace. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the... Read more →

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Third Week of Advent: Love

Hello, SUMites! We’re less than two weeks away from Christmas. Can you believe that? I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping…I think. How about you? And what’s on the menu for Christmas Day? What do I need to make? Who’s coming over? Need more lights up outside. I hope my mother loves her gift… I bet your mind is filled with thoughts like these, one after another tumbling after each other like dominoes. It’s totally normal, right? We do this every year and we go into it all with the best intentions. Doesn’t always work out perfectly, but we hope for the best. So what’s at the heart of all that? Love. We love our families and friends. We want the very best for them. And we want to enjoy them during the celebrations too. Doesn’t take much in my book. So far my favorite gift for a friend cost... Read more →

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Second Week of Advent: JOY!

Hello, SUM Family! We’re moving closer and closer to Christmas, and like you, I want to be intentional in enjoying the details of Christmas. Yesterday morning I went into my prayer room to pray for my own family and our SUM family here. I continue to pray and declare Jeremiah 24:7 over our spouses and am praying the Scriptures written on the beams of this house over you. They are such good words! JOY is also a very good word, my friends. And it’s the theme of the second week of Advent. As I searched for the word JOY in the Bible, I was struck by several verses that spoke of JOY. Then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see a beautiful flow and connection in these Scriptures. And connection is so instrumental to our relationship with God. As you can see in my picture I’ve lit the second... Read more →

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The Hope in Waiting … reflections on Advent

Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/FreeDigitalPhotos.net There’s something both exciting and tremendously nerve-wracking when an author presses the send button on the email that whisks their latest manuscript off to a publisher. Exciting? The project we’ve been working on has now reached a point of completion. In my case that project had consumed a lot of my mind space for the past three years. Nerve-wracking? Will they like it? Enough to publish it? What if they don’t? What will I do then? It’s a moment that is soon forgotten. And then we wait. And wait some more. A few months later an email arrives outlining your manuscript is still in the game. Being reviewed by some others. They liked it sufficiently to pass onto others. Great. And then we wait. And wait some more. As I shared with a writing friend recently: the Lord's got it in His big capable hands. Waiting... Read more →

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Childlike in Anticipation - some reflections on Advent

I've always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas. I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds. We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep. And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in those magical pillowslips. We... Read more →

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Weekend Devotion — Advent

In my churches in Memphis and Zürich, we always had an advent wreath. I loved the lighting of the candles so much, that I adopted the tradition as my own. Each year, around Thanksgiving, I find the candles for our wreath. I'm a little behind this year and didn't realize the first Sunday of Advent hit the end of November, but I still would love to share this tradition with you. Advent means "coming" or "arrival." So appropriate. And I just love the way each candle counts down the time to our Saviour's birthday. Both my girls were born in December, so it's a very special (and extremely busy) month. This tradition and an Advent Christmas tree quilt I created have helped my girls and I count down the days each December. I've heard and read several interpretations of the wreath. Here are few of my favorite aspects: The green... Read more →

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