A Different Kind of Sacrifice: Rethinking Lent

"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22   "Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." Pope Francis Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent wasn’t a part of my Baptist upbringing. I actually didn’t know much about it until my years at a Catholic university and, seeing some spiritual benefit, I began my yearly observance of Lent – at least superficially. I’d decide on something I could live without for 40 days and suffer through abstinence of junk food, Coke, maybe an hour or two of television. By the time Resurrection Sunday arrived, I don’t know that I had grown or changed deeply in anyway. I can’t say that I was closer to God. Truth: I  was just ready to indulge in all I’d missed for six weeks. As we enter this season of Lent, Holy Spirit encourages me to view with fresh eyes all this season can be as I surrender these 40 days along with myself to Him. He urges me to see beyond the sacrifice of my daily visit to my favorite coffee spot for a large vanilla latte with nonfat milk, beyond Tuesday nights spent with the Parsons family on "This Is Us", beyond that slice of key lime cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Even beyond…

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A Vision of Love by Danise DiStasi

God Speaks Today is pleased to introduce you to Danise DiStasi, our guest blogger. Danise is an author, speaker and workshop facilitator.  She is the president of DiStasi Advisors, LLC,  focused on business development and training using leadership lessons she's learned from Louie, her rescue dog.   Louie's Leadership Lessons and Love Like Louie, which Danise co-authored with her granddaughter, Evi, are available on Amazon.  www.louieleads.com   In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  ~1 John 2:9,10 “No child of God sins to that degree as to make himself incapable of forgiveness.” ~John Bunyan The vision of love that God blessed me with long ago is still very clear to me as I journey through my more ‘mature’ years. I remember that vision, and lovingly reflect on my earlier days as a mom, daughter, sister, friend and career woman. At the age of 28, I was given an opportunity in the corporate world without any real knowledge of business. I was hired to sell Nuclear Medical equipment and was immediately thrown to the wolves. I was strong-willed enough that I knew I could make it, and through many difficult trials, I actually became a very good sales rep. As the skill set and business acumen grew…

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Jesus Loves Me!

Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:18,19 The Passion Translation It was a God-ordained moment that August morning in 2005.  A rare moment when my mother and I were completely alone in her hospital room. No doctors prognosticating.  No nurses prodding.  No visitors praying.  Just the two of us, engulfed in God's peace.  A moment-–poignant and precious—that I will always hold in my heart. I gingerly climbed in the bed with Mommy and snuggled close.  She was tired. She hadn’t slept for days as if  she knew that if she closed her eyes, she’d awaken in the Presence of God.  Not that she was afraid of death; she wasn’t.  She’d seen beyond this earthly place and knew Who awaited her.  All she needed to know now was that I’d be OK. I snuggled closer and began singing:           Jesus, loves me this I know;           For the Bible tells me so;           Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Mom shifted in the bed. I continued:          Yes, Jesus loves me;          Yes, Jesus loves me. . . She looked at me with knowing and sang, her…

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Unapologetically (Sorry, Not Sorry)

"But God's amazing grace has made me what I am! And his grace to me was not fruitless. In fact, I worked harder than all the rest, yet not in my own strength, but God's, for his empowering grace is poured out upon me." 1 Corinthians 15:10 The Passion Translation  She’d answer the phone speaking in tongues! “Hello, Mother Clark!” I’d say. She’d laugh with such delight as she always did when I called, and she’d say (as she always did), “Ah, Sister Deborah! Daughter, I was just thinking about you!”  She’d barely give me a chance to ask how she was or if she needed anything before she’d go straight prophetic on me, give me a “thus saith the Lord,” and then pray for me.  I’d hang up, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with gratitude. I admit I don’t remember a lot of those conversations now. But there are some that I will never forget, for the words lodged deep in my spirit.   They didn’t necessarily take root at the time, but from time to time now those words returned to me to heal, to shift my perspective, to settle me more deeply, to strengthen my resolve. I’d come home from work one afternoon and called Mother Clark just to check on her. She began telling me about a segment of the Oprah Show about birth order that she’d just watched. Then she said, “You are bold, full of dazzle and sparkle! Full of life! Gifted…

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God With Us

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."  Isaiah 7:14  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 I have a confession to make: It is exactly 6 days before Christmas and I have not put up my tree nor have I bought one single gift. I am not a Grinch by any means.  I love Christmas. I love all the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas. I love shopping for others and surprising them. I love all the merry-making with family and friends. I love the carols (and a little Luther Vandross "Misteltoe Jam"). I love Christmas cookies and cakes.  I love all the "ho-ho-ho" of Christmas. But as much as I love the Christmas season, it can be bit unnerving. Making a list and check it twice, jingling all the way as I  bring good cheer to all, navigating through crazed and determined shoppers and traffic jams at the malls overwhelms me.  I have to step back, take a deep breath (or a  very long nap) to regroup from it all.  Then I remind myself that it's OK if  I don’t get the cake baked or the tree up,  if I inadvertently miss a name on the list, or if I don't mail out cards (does anyone still…

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A Change of Season

Know the importance of the season you’re in and a wise son you will be. But what a waste when an incompetent son sleeps through his day of opportunity! Proverbs 10:5 TPT  Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. I like the changing of the leaves from green to vibrant reds, and oranges, and yellows. I like to watch those leaves dancing on the breeze as they drift gingerly to the ground.  I like the sound of their crunch under my feet. I look forward to the sweater days, the hoodie days and light jacket days of fall. I even invested in a new London Fog coat this year—my ease-into-winter garment. I like the gradual shortening of days ( Daylight Saving Time disrupts my internal clock). I like “falling back” and the illusion of gaining the hour I never recovered from losing the previous Spring.  Autumn makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I want it to last. I want it to last right into Spring. And if not, then at least through Thanksgiving. So, when I woke one morning in early November to sub-freezing temps, saw the still-leaf-clad trees bending and breaking under the weight of ice on their branches, and read the school delays and closures that scrolled across the TV screen, I had to readjust – mentally, emotionally and physically. No easing into the idea of winter.  Winter had arrived!  I had to dig out the ice scraper buried in the trunk of the car, buy…

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