delighting in the names of Jesus

A few of you may remember the Advent devotional I created a couple of years ago called “Christ the Lord.” It included twenty-four short devotionals and their corresponding Bible readings regarding twenty-four different titles of the Messiah used in the Scriptures.

It was a joy to meditate on the significance of some of the many, many names used to describe my Jesus as I wrote that study. Then, this past February, I spent two lovely weeks meditating on Him in the very places He walked in the Holy Land. It’s so easy to get caught up in the distractions and overwhelm of everyday life, but these short times of simply delighting in Jesus have been oases of spiritual riches in a couple of rather difficult years.

Those oases inspired me to create something that, maybe, can recapture a taste of those riches and bring us back toward that rest. I’ve bound all twenty-four studies on all twenty-four names of Jesus into a beautiful softcover photo book filled with some of my favorite photographs of the Holy Land - just in time for another journey into the Advent season, but also perfect for any time you need to re-center yourself on who Jesus is and what He has done. It would make a lovely gift, too. In the back, there’s a directory of exactly where in Israel each photograph was taken so that you can take a miniature tour of the Land within these pages.

If you’d like to have one, you can purchase your copy here. I hope it blesses you.

Note: Any proceeds from this devotional will be attributed to the costs involved with keeping this blog up and running.

2 Comments

Hallie Liening

Hallie grew up on a small farm in rural eastern Washington. At 18, she moved across the country to go to Bible school, and then married the Boy Next Door at 20. Now 22, she is a graduate of Great Commission Bible Institute with a Certificate in Biblical Studies and resides in Olympia with her husband and her two cats. She survives the claustrophobia of living near the city by making frequent trips back home to visit her family and her horse, writing sentimental blog posts about the countryside, and by filling her house with photographs of Mt. Adams sunsets.

because he lives

It’s so loud.

It’s too loud to hear God’s voice here.

That’s what I thought as I walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, trying so hard to concentrate on Jesus’ walk to the cross but finding that a nearly impossible quest in the face of incessant interruptions - people, voices, languages, vehicles - all screaming to be heard and bouncing off ancient stone everything, with nothing to cushion, nothing to quiet. All I wanted was a shred of peace to cling to and an inch of brainspace to care about what my Savior accomplished for me so many years ago.

I found it in a cistern.

We walked into a tiny, unassuming Coptic church a few steps off the beaten path, and stooped down into a tight and steep underground stairway. It opened up into a partly-full underground water cistern deep beneath the clamoring city, cut into the side of the hill we call Calvary. Its location, so near where Jesus died and was raised, makes it a likely sanctuary for the very first Christians who sought to worship together in some degree of safety from the loud, God-hating world.

The inside of the cistern

The inside of the cistern

There, our voices echoed off the water and the rock, enriching our a cappella versions of “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Because He Lives,” remembering the longstanding heritage of our faith - the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us - and remembering that this call is a hard one. A death sentence, even. Sometimes physically, but always spiritually.

But because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

That’s what my Savior accomplished for me - a future and a hope. Life everlasting.

Because HE lives.

2 Comments

Hallie Liening

Hallie grew up on a small farm in rural eastern Washington. At 18, she moved across the country to go to Bible school, and then married the Boy Next Door at 20. Now 22, she is a graduate of Great Commission Bible Institute with a Certificate in Biblical Studies and resides in Olympia with her husband and her two cats. She survives the claustrophobia of living near the city by making frequent trips back home to visit her family and her horse, writing sentimental blog posts about the countryside, and by filling her house with photographs of Mt. Adams sunsets.

streams in the desert

Experiencing Israel in February versus May was like going to two different countries. The brilliant emerald green fields bejeweled with wildflowers bore no resemblance to the many shades of gold that characterized the entire landscape for my first visit. That time, whether we were in Galilee or the Negev, the color range was only as broad as warm beige to deep rust. I loved it, but the rainbow of color I got to see this time was simply beyond words.

But the wilderness around the Dead Sea looked just as I remembered: reddish-tinted rock mountains under a hazy-blue sky, reaching down to the crystalline edges of the Dead Sea. After several days in lush Galilee, this was an adjustment. I might even admit that I was underwhelmed.

But then I sat under the trees at Ein Gedi, an oasis in the middle of this wilderness - a place where the water runs crystal clear over a bed of smooth stones, cutting its way through the rough chalk mountains under the watchful eyes of many a cliffside cave. The birds were all but bursting with song over the sound of the humming brook.

And I thought of David, not yet crowned king, hiding there from jealous Saul. He was hated and hunted down for no legitimate reason, waiting for God to come through on His promise, afraid for his life.

So he wrote songs. Songs of pleading, lament, praise, and prayer.

The desert is a harsh place, and yet sometimes, hidden there in the rocks, God gives a lush abundance of Himself.

Galilee was beautiful, rich, familiar. But at the foot of the falls of Ein Gedi, I was reminded that God did transforming and eternal work there, too. I don’t have to restlessly search for the place that seems green and home-like because God is still working in the land that is lonely, monochrome, and difficult.

And the longer I spent in that wilderness, the more evident its loveliness became.


Psalm 57

For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah.
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.

My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into the midst of it. Selah.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Comment

Hallie Liening

Hallie grew up on a small farm in rural eastern Washington. At 18, she moved across the country to go to Bible school, and then married the Boy Next Door at 20. Now 22, she is a graduate of Great Commission Bible Institute with a Certificate in Biblical Studies and resides in Olympia with her husband and her two cats. She survives the claustrophobia of living near the city by making frequent trips back home to visit her family and her horse, writing sentimental blog posts about the countryside, and by filling her house with photographs of Mt. Adams sunsets.