Advent :: Embracing Christ In The Midst of Christmas Day 3

Wednesday, November 30


Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.


O Lord, How Shall I Meet You, Paul Gerhardt, 1607-76
Stanzas 1 & 3

O Lord, how shall I meet You,
How welcome You aright?
Your people long to greet You,
My hope, my heart’s delight!
O kindle, Lord most holy,
Your lamp within my breast
to do in spirit lowly all that may please You best.

I lay in fetters, groaning;
You came to set me free.
I stood, my shame bemoaning
You came to honor me.
A glorious crown You give me,
A treasure safe on high that will not fail or leave me
As earthly riches fly.


Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
O Lord hear my prayer.
And let my cry come to You.


Provided by Passion City Church


Advent :: Embracing Christ In The Midst of Christmas Day 2

Tuesday, November 29


Isaiah 1: 2-4, 6-20

The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear Me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.

From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege. Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of My courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to Me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide My eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of My sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.


Creator of the Stars of Night

Text: Latin, 5th-10th cent.: tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66, alt. Public Domain.
Stanzas 1, 2 & 5

Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting Light:
O Christ, Redeemer, save us all
And hear Thy servants when they call.

Thou grieving that the Ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
Hast found the healing, full of grace,
To cure and save our ruined race.

O Thou, whose coming is with dread
To judge the living and the dead,
Preserve us from the ancient foe
While still we dwell on earth below.


Father, You came to us and found us when we were lost and unable to find You. As we continue our Advent journey strengthen our hearts so that we may persevere as we hear Your righteous judgment spoken against Your wayward and rebellious children. We are all those who sin and we have no hope apart from You. Jesus, thank You for Your willing sacrifice and the gift of righteousness which only comes from You. Amen.

Provided by Passion City Church

Advent :: Embracing Christ In The Midst of Christmas (Passion City Church)

Advent Day 1: November 28

If you stop and think about it, it’s safe to say that nothing that has ever happened on earth is as staggering as the miraculous arrival of the Son of God. Heaven come down. Jesus, in human flesh. Emmanuel, God with us!

Yet, lost amidst the frenzy of western consumerism and a Christmas season gone wild is the beauty of that message and the powerful hope Christ’s appearing brings to a broken, weary world.

The Advent season is simply an effort to embrace the Christ of Christmas by creating space and a posture of expectation as we celebrate His supernatural birth and the promise of all that lies ahead.

Our hope is that this daily Advent guide will help you prepare ample room in our hearts for faith and hope to bloom again, with the prayer that this year Christmas will actually fuel our lives with endurance for today and fresh vision for tomorrow.


Isaiah 64:1-10

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation.


Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Charles Wesley, 1774

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.


Father, meet us, Your children, as we begin our Advent journey. Give us eyes to examine ourselves, and ears to hear Your Word so that we may rejoice anew at the birth of Your Son. Jesus is our all in all. He is our hope and a sure foundation both now and forever. Be glorified in these days and shine Your light upon us all. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Provided by Passion City Church

Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Washington, D.C.
March 30, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Washington, D.C.
March 30, 1863

Helping Your Employees Find Their “Flow” (Repost)

Helping Your Employees Find Their “Flow”



This blog is written by a member of our expert blogging community and expresses that expert’s views alone.

We all know the saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” It’s sound advice–but it’s also a dangerous habit unless you step back occasionally to see what impact it might be having on the busy person’s experience at work. For most managers, having a “go to” person is a great asset, but make sure you don’t overdo it by going to the same person again and again.

This is a dilemma for most managers. It’s only natural to assign tasks to the most accomplished people on your team. And while that might make sense if the only goal of a manager were to get things done, one of the things we’ve stressed in this column is that the real goal of leadership is to get things done while creating an environment that is engaging and encourages long-term growth.

To be successful as a leader, you have to balance a short-term need for immediate results with a long-term view for growth and development of your people.

Finding the perfect balance

In the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi highlights the importance of finding the right balance.

He uses the term “flow” to describe the mental state where a person is fully immersed in an activity, performing at his or her best, and feeling energized throughout the process. One of the keys to achieving this state is finding the perfect balance between challenge and skill on one axis and anxiety versus boredom on the other.

Managers need to step back and take a look at each person’s job to identify where that person falls in relation to these four elements. If people are bored, they are not in flow. There is no tension, nothing new, and nothing exciting to keep their interest. On the other hand, you don’t want them to be under so much tension that it turns into anxiety. Bear in mind that some anxiety may be normal in a brand-new employee. However, a long-time veteran who is more settled may be craving something fresh to focus on. So have conversations with each of your people regarding their own appropriate level between those two extremes. It is every manager’s responsibility to make sure direct reports are individually challenged.

Three ways to get started

Managers can get started on the right path by following three rules:

  • Become more aware of your goal-setting habits.  Have you optimized the challenge inherent in each person’s goals or tasks, or have you fallen into the habit of overusing and under-challenging your best people? Have you focused more on your own needs instead of theirs by giving them routine work you know they can accomplish successfully with little intervention on your part?
  • Focus on both the long and short term.  Manage the urge to assign a task to a proven winner to ensure quick completion versus assigning the same task to someone who is brand new and may require some direction and support. But don’t go overboard. You don’t want to focus solely on employee development and compromise organizational effectiveness. Balance is the key.
  • Create variety for yourself and others. According to Warren Bennis, the most effective managers are the ones who actively engage in clear periods of reflection as well as action. Balancing task variety is one of those projects that requires some discipline and awareness to think through.

Get started today

We recently spoke with a manager who told us about an ongoing conversation he was having with a direct report. Even though both of them could remember the manager saying when the employee was first hired, “You are very smart and this job is great, but if you’re still doing this same job in five years, I’m going to be disappointed–in you and in me.”  But guess what? Eight years later, they found out that was exactly what happened.

Don’t let this happen in your organization. Create a landscape of your direct reports and see if there isn’t someone on the “bored” side of this scale who might need help becoming reengaged. Keep in mind that most people become bored because they’re doing boring tasks, not because of a character flaw. Instead of moving away from a person you might see as a complainer, see that person instead as someone who is not really “in flow” and work with him or her to find out what the right mix could be.

Maintaining task variety is a must-do for managers. It’s like flossing your teeth–it’s not the most fun, but it’s something you have to do on a regular basis–and if you don’t tend to it, you’re going to have bigger issues down the road.

Scott Blanchard is the Executive Vice President of Client Solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies®. Ken Blanchard is the best-selling co-author of The One Minute Manager®and 50 other books on leadership. You can follow Ken Blanchard on Twitter@KenBlanchard or @LeaderChat and also via the HowWeLead and LeaderChat blogs.

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Original Article