Friday, November 29, 2013

"Journey To The Manger With St. Patrick & Friends" by Jean McLachlan Hess

Here is a little gem of a book, and just in time for Advent.
Journey to the Manger With St. Patrick & Friends by my friend Jean McLachlan Hess.

And actually, according to Celtic traditions, we are a wee bit late: Advent used to be a 6 week affair, so Jean has set about to re-start that ancient tradition.

These devotionals, one for every day, touched my heart and brought me a deep feeling of peace. Jean has brought her memories of old hymns, and ancient rhythms to life with these wonderful devotionals; but not to put aside after the Christmas season, but to keep handy when life gets too hectic and we forget Emmanuel—God with us.
Here is a taste: this is the devotional for November 14th.

“Several years ago, when God placed a call on my life to research and embrace Celtic Christianity, excitement rose up within me. My husband and I had sought God’s plan and design for our church. God’s answer: Celtic Christianity. Celtic formed part of my DNA. Born and raised in Scotland, I had never given much thought to my heritage. I had no idea that this journey into things Celtic would revolutionize my life and transform my relationship with Christ.

The Celts were Peregrine—people of the journey. They never worried about where they were going or how they would get there, because they knew that God would lead the way. They trusted His promise to be with them, to never leave them nor forsake them; He always proved faithful.

As I studied the lives and ministries of these ancient Celtic saints, I became enthralled by their love of the Word, the depth of their prayer life, and the way they experienced God: Father Son, and Holy Spirit. They had an expectation of encountering their maker in all things, at all times and in all places. They lived an Emmanuel—God with us life, as the normal way to follow their Lord.

This Emmanuel—God with us aspect of their faith captivated my heart. Looking back over my life, I only knew the term Emmanuel as associated with Christmas. The promise of the coming Messiah, the Emmanuel—God with us found in Isaiah 7:14, is also recorded in Matthew 1:23. There the angel tells Joseph in a dream that he should marry Mary. These verses were always front and center in the church as we approached, and then celebrated, the birth of the Christ Child. The concept lingered, perhaps a week or two longer, and then, almost unobtrusively, we packed it away with the nativity scene and the rest of the tree ornaments.

Each year, as we celebrate Christmas, we rejoice in Emmanuel—God with us. Yet for most of the year—therefore most of our lives—we live as if He is not with us, except when we find him in those carved-out scheduled “quiet times.” But we do not need to merely settle for an hour in the morning in the hope of encountering the living Christ.

If we truly believe God’s Word, that He is Emmanuel—God with us, then we should expect to experience Him in our regular daily lives.

Celtic Christianity has taught me that living an Emmanuel—God with us life will transform your world. My life has been richer and my spiritual walk deeper since I began to embrace God as Emmanuel.

No longer do I carefully pack Him away each year after the Christmas celebration has passed. No longer do I only hope to experience Him when reading my Bible or praying. Instead, I expect to meet him in the midst of my ordinary day, in every moment and in every way. I look for Him and find Him in the mundane as well as in ministry. Now I walk every day in the assurance that He is with me and that He will never leave me nor forsake me.” (pp 19-20)

You can find Jean's book here on Amazon.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Introducing "Bold Girls Speak: Girls of the Bible Come Alive Today"

I would like to introduce the book I illustrated: "Bold Girls Speak: Girls of the Bible Come Alive Today" a book wonderfully written by my friend Mary Stromer Hanson.

Each Story features girl characters from the Bible, like Miriam. (below) These books are written for the 5th and 6th grade reading level, with the goal of giving girls their very own Bible heroes.

There are five Old Testament stories; like "The Daughters who Built the Walls of Jerusalem" (below)

And five New Testament stories, like "The Daughters Who Prophesied" (below)

Each story is complete with a study guide for parents at the end of each story; to guide your readers through further discussion.

Mary is a graduate of Denver Seminary, with an MA is New Testament Biblical Studies. She also has an MA in Special Education from the University of Colorado.

The book is listed on Amazon here.

Or you can contact me directly for a signed copy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Quote from Cicero's "Hortensius" by way of Augustine

A quote from Cicero's Hortensius, recorded by St. Augustine in his book On the Trinity, Book XIV.

“At the end of his dialogue Hortensius, Cicero, commending this contemplative wisdom—I think the Sacred Scripture properly call it “wisdom” to distinguish it from knowledge; it is, of course, the wisdom only of man, and indeed it does not come to him from himself, but from Him of whom the rational and intellectual mind can partake so as to be truly wise—says: ‘If we consider these things day and night, and sharpen our understanding, which is the eye of the mind, and take care that it never grows dull, that is, if we live in philosophy, there is great hope, that even though our sentiments and knowledge are mortal and transitory, yet a pleasant setting rather than a painful extinction and, as it were, a rest from life will be ours when we have discharged our human offices. But if, as the ancient philosophers agreed—and indeed the greatest and by far the most illustrious among them—that we have eternal and divine souls, then we must needs think, that the more they were always in their proper course, that is, in reason and in an eagerness for investigation, and the less they mingled with and became entangled in the vices and delusion of men, so much the easier would be their ascent and return to heaven.’ And then he adds this sentence which recapitulates and concludes his treatise: ‘Therefore, to end my discourse at last, if we wish either for a peaceful extinction when we have spent out life in the pursuit of these subjects, or to migrate without delay from this home to another that is certainly much better, we must devote all our labor and care to these studies.’

I marvel here that a man of such talent promises a pleasant setting upon the discharge of their human offices to those who have spent their lives in philosophy, which makes men happy by the contemplation of the truth, if our sentiments and knowledge are mortal and transitory, just as if this which we did not love, or rather fiercely hated, were then to die and be reduced to nothing so that its setting might be pleasant for us.

He had not learned this, however, from the philosophers, upon whom he lavishes such praise; it savors rather of that New Academy where it seemed proper to doubt even the most evident truths. But, as he himself admits, he had learned from the philosophers, ‘the greatest and by far the most illustrious,’ that souls are eternal. For eternal souls are not unfittingly aroused by this exhortation, so that they may be found in their proper course when the end of this life comes, that is, in reason and in the eagerness for investigating, and they mingle less and becomes less entangled in the vices and delusions of men, in order that their return to God may be easier. But this course, which consists in the love of God and in the search for the truth, does not suffice for the miserable, that is, for all mortals who rely on this reason alone without the faith of the Mediator…” (p 165-166)

Augustine, On the Trinity, Gareth B. Matthews Edt. Stephen McKenna Translator. (2002, Cambridge University Press)