Pepperoni Pizza Sunday..or Lasagne?

Prayers Please - HSN Community in 2020 | Good day quotes, Good morning  quotes, Good morning love

AN ATHEIST SINGLE MOM SET OUT TO SHOCK THE RELIGIOUS FANATICS AND ENDED UP STAYING

Sibyl Sender

COURTESY OF MCKERNAN FAMILY

SIBYL SENDER 1934–2014

Raised in New York, Texas, and Florida, Sibyl was the only child of upper-middle-class parents. After attending an exclusive school for girls, she enrolled at Radcliffe, the then all-male Harvard’s separate college for women. Her wedding was announced in the New York Times. She was listed in the Social Register, the Northeast’s go-to index of patrician families and members of high society. But in spite of all that, she defied the “stultifying conventions” of her upbringing, most especially the patina of religion provided by her family’s occasional churchgoing, which she denounced as an “utter farce.”

My story is a typical atheist’s story. We come into the world with a preconceived idea. It’s as if we have a pre-birth memory of better days. By the time of my fourth birthday, I knew the place was a mess. Burdened by an image of children lying, fly-covered, in gutters in India, I was sure I could do a better job, and vaguely wished, as I blew out the ritual candles on the cake, that whoever was in control would “make it all better.”

Of course nothing got better. If anything, it got worse. At four and a half I attended my first Sunday school class. Upon being told where we were going, I thought, “At last, a chance to meet God face to face.” Instead, we cut out white sheep and pasted them on green paper. Institutional religion never recouped itself in my eyes.

By the time I was fourteen, I had come to the end of my tether, inwardly. There was an overabundance of badness and, worst of all, I was beginning to see that the goodness was about 95 percent phony. In California, a three-year-old child lay dying in a narrow drainpipe she had fallen into. As men and machines tried to extract her, the entire nation prayed for her safe release. It was time for a showdown. “This is it, God, your last chance,” I thought. “Get her out alive, or we’re finished. Look, if it were left to me, I’d save her without even being worshiped.” She died in the pipe.

Though I smoked hard, and drank hard, and lived hard, I could not suppress a wrenching, clawing feeling that there might be a meaning to life, after all.

So it was all over. The child and my regard for God were equally dead. Now I knew that human beings were nothing but animated blobs of protoplasm. 

Then there was the idiocy of morality. It appeared to be deeply rooted in “what the neighbors would think.” And what the neighbors thought depended on where you lived. Morals, ethics, right and wrong, they were all purely cultural phenomena. Everyone was playing the game. I opted for nihilism and sensuality. And lived accordingly. Out with good and evil, out with morality of any kind, out with accepted cultural customs. 

A line from Knock on Any Door, a 1949 film, summed it up: “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.” I proceeded to live my beliefs, preaching atheism to any idiot who “believed.” Though I smoked hard, and drank hard, and lived hard, I could not suppress a wrenching, clawing feeling that there might be a meaning to life, after all. In retrospect I see that I was so hungry, so aching for God that I was trying to taunt him out of the clouds.

Capturing the Christmas lights at Trafalgar Square

During high school, my two closest friends and I discussed philosophy endlessly, worked on the God question, reaffirmed our atheism, and read C. S. Lewis so that, in case we’d really meet him one day, we’d be ready to “cut him down.” Attendance at chapel was required, but I refused, as a matter of conscience, to bow my head during prayers. Caught, I was banished to the back row, where I defiantly sat and read Freud.

Radcliffe, she soon discovered, “was as phony as church,” so she dropped out and married Ramón, a student at Brandeis and the son of a dissident Spanish novelist whose mother had been executed by the forces of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. 

It was not long after this that a baby girl, Xaverie, was born to us. As I looked across the maternity ward of the big Brooklyn hospital where she was born, the absolute innocence and trust she radiated just tore at my heart. I could not understand how something so beautiful could be put into such a horrible, evil, cruel world. I knew I was a part of this world. I could not find the answer.

While I nursed her at night, I steeped myself in the writings of Dostoyevsky. Truths were coming at me, though I couldn’t have defined them then. Ramón and I had acquainted ourselves with various offbeat religions, but none held the slightest appeal for me. It was Dostoyevsky that was the real religious experience. Today I can say that he was the one who delineated, for me, the realization that humans are buffeted and driven by dark forces greater than themselves, and that these forces chain us all – and (as he suggested in the gentlest possible way) that another, stronger, freeing power exists.

Lunch time: Young and old converge on the path that leads to the dining room.

By the time Sibyl’s daughter turned one, her marriage was falling apart, and Ramón had left the house. “I knew we bore equal blame,” she later recalled. “If I were him, I would have left me.” 

My mode of life descended steadily into the swineherd’s berth. Sometime during what I considered a final separation from Ramón, the man I was currently “in love with” decided I should abort our child. I hoped to the last minute that he would change his mind. But he didn’t. And so, tough atheist that I was, I went through with the most devastating and most regretted ordeal of my life. Why, when I had been dedicated to the proposition that there was no such thing as right and wrong, when no intellectual, believer, or educator had been able to persuade me otherwise – why was I burdened with such guilt?

There soon came a time when Xaverie was all that stood between suicide and me. I had reached as close to the bottom as a person could. Then, on a hot August night in 1957, in surroundings I will not describe, I groaned to a Being I did not believe in, “Okay, if there’s another way, show me.” Two months later I was at the Bruderhof.

It all began with Ramón’s startling appearance in my Manhattan office. A year earlier, he had left New York to join the Beats in San Francisco – Kerouac, Ginsberg, and company – and we’d not seen each other since. Meanwhile, I was settled and had a good job as a magazine editor. 

At a recent party in Greenwich Village, he had met someone who was on his way upstate to check out a religious community. Ramón had tagged along, and now he was on a mission to get me to visit this community.

Everything in me recoiled from the idea. The Christians I knew wore disapproving grimaces. They worried about their reputations. They were stiff and self-conscious – they waited for you to notice how good they were. Then, there was Ramón himself. I wanted nothing more to do with him. So I told him, “No, I’m not going anywhere with you, and most definitely not to some stupid religious joint.”

The Christians I knew wore disapproving grimaces. They worried about their reputations. They were stiff and self-conscious – they waited for you to notice how good they were.

Ramón left, but only to reappear a few weeks later. The same scene. It happened I don’t know how many times. Once he took me to a restaurant and wept. It wore me down. “Okay,” I finally told him. “I’ll come, next weekend. I’ll hate the Bruderhof and they’ll hate me. And then you’ll stop nagging me about it.”

I picked my traveling clothes carefully: my fire-engine-red knit tube dress. That ought to ensure immediate rejection. Friday afternoon Ramón drove Xaverie and me upstate. All the way, I was cultivating a venomous attitude toward “that place.”

Once she arrived at the community, however, none of Sibyl’s preconceived notions fit the realities that met her. In her own words, “Everything seemed to be turned inside out, and set on its head.” People greeted her, she later remembered, as if she were an old friend. So while Xaverie happily lost herself on a swing set, Sibyl, disarmed by a wave of love, found herself trapped in a life-changing dilemma.

And yet, I wasn’t going to leap into the burning bush, not me. There was always hope that the Bruderhof would reveal itself to be utterly phony.

A live nativity scene

The heavens and hells I lived through in the next forty-eight hours were as several entire lifetimes. How could I be moved to tears in half my being, while the other half scorned my reaction and told me I was surrounded by seemingly mindless adults trapped in spiritual schizophrenia? 

On Sunday morning, I looked forward to surcease in the battle. Surely the “religious service” would cure me of these strange leanings toward “goodness” that I was feeling. It would be like every other nonsensical religious powwow I’d been to. Empty. Nothing there.

But then the service began, and horrors – they were reading Dostoyevsky! “God, don’t do this to me,” I found myself pleading. “Don’t hit me in the literary solar plexus like this!” It was a passage from The Brothers Karamazov, where Ivan, the intellectual, tells Alyosha, the believer, that he, Ivan, refuses to believe in a God who would countenance the torment of even one innocent child. There followed for me the ­spiritual denouement. Worlds, galaxies collided, and I quietly accepted and embraced a brand new thought: it is not God who torments the innocent. It is Sibyl.

Afterward, Sibyl found herself pouring out the entire wretched contents of her personal life to a complete stranger named Heinrich, a pastor at Woodcrest. 

Later it seemed to me that in talking, the two of us had lived through the entire gospel, and that the heart of it was, as I had always suspected way deep down inside, “C’mon in, sit down, and have a cup of coffee.” It had nothing to do with wooden pews. It had to do with goodness’s compassionate love for badness.

At the end, I told Heinrich that this did not mean I was about to join the Bruderhof; I had to return to New York City. He said, “That is death.” I said, “I know.” Still, I was determined to get back home and pick up living again as if nothing had happened. So I did.

I spent the next three months trying to escape God and the call I felt – the call of total commitment, the death of the “old man.” Oh, how the devil tried to lure me – and how I tried to follow him! He offered me money and fame in the strangest ways. But I could not eat the foul dish he set before me. I turned from it in disgust. What had happened to me? My taste buds had changed; my eyes were different, my ears, my nose, my sense of touch. I was Sibyl poured into a differently perceiving vessel. In the end, I had nowhere to go but back to the Bruderhof, until I could decide which way I would go forever. 

After returning a second time, Sibyl knew it was for good:

I was as one in love. I was utterly consumed by the life of the community. The struggles of each member – their joys and sorrows, openly shared – seemed to be mine. But it was more like an ongoing adventure in discovering God’s will. And it was punctuated by laughter, of all things! This adventure had nothing in common with a gloomy, introspective mining operation. Life was unutterably beautiful, wonderful. All I had been through – and was going through now, each day in community – was a miracle: of forgiveness, of mercy, of prayer, of God. And that a wretch like me was allowed this!

There was a price to be paid. Sibyl’s relationship with Ramón, which had never been stable or monogamous on either side, continued to crumble. In the end he left her once more, eventually divorcing her and moving to California. Sibyl was now a single mother raising Xaverie on her own.

Years later, when Xaverie decided to join the Bruderhof, Sibyl asked her: “How did you know what this was all about? I never used religious words.” She answered, “Oh, Mama, Jesus was everywhere.” This confirmed something Sibyl had always felt, that “if our deeds don’t bespeak God’s will, then there’s no point talking about him.”

In her late sixties, before moving to Bellvale, where she spent her last years, she told the Woodcrest community:

It’s no good if we live by traditions, or what other people think of us. It’ll be the death of our life together. In love there is total freedom. If we love our brothers and sisters, we can be totally free. If we don’t love them, we are going to become uptight, watching for rules and doing what you think people want you to do. Don’t let that happen or else I’m going to come back and raise HELL.

A Prayer for Teachers During COVID-19

By Rebecca Barlow Jordan on Sep 03, 2020 07:45 am

A Prayer for Teachers During COVID-19

Prayer for teachers is important at all times, but especially right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as school starts again. Whether you are teaching students online or in the classroom, or you know a teacher, here is a prayer for teachers that might offer encouragement to you:

Prayer for God’s Protection and Presence

Lord, as school gets underway again, bless every teacher in every classroom around our world. Place your shield of protection around them as they teach and encourage our children. Give them a sense of your presence and reinforce your plan for their lives. Especially guard the older teachers and those who may have underlying conditions which could endanger their health and well-being. Calm their fears and fill them with the knowledge of Your faithfulness.

Prayer for Online Teaching

For those who are teaching online as well, we ask that You would give them exceptional wisdom to understand the technology needed. Empower both the introvert and extrovert teachers so they can focus entirely on the students, rather than on their performance. Help them work out any technical glitches that may bring frustration and slow down the process of learning.

Prayer for Passion, Influence, and Joy

Continue to give them a passion for learning and for those they teach. Help them to see the powerful influence they carry by being Your personal representatives—at all times, but especially now in this uncertain season. Give our teachers a creative ability to engage their students and truly make learning a joy.

Prayer for Sensitivity, Confidence, and Courage

Increase their sensitivity to the ones who need extra encouragement and motivation. Bless them with confidence, courage, and a cooperative, enthusiastic spirit that is contagious to their entire teaching team. Speak Your encouragement to them deep in their spirits, and help them see the tremendous value they add to our kids.

Prayer for Peaceful and Calm Spirit

Lord, fill our teachers with a peaceful spirit and the ability to calm any anxious hearts in their classrooms. Give them a tender but firm presence that invites respect and honor from their students. Keep them spiritually tuned to Your Word and Your leading so they can mirror Your heart and teach with Your sound principles. Build their character, even as they face challenging situations. And nurture their sense of gratitude for the privilege of teaching and growing kids in truth and wisdom.

Prayer for Strong Convictions

When our teachers confront differing opinions, whether from co-workers, parents, or students themselves, give them a listening ear and a gentle answer. Help them refrain from anger, but give them a strong conviction of what is right or wrong. Allow them to speak the truth with freedom and love and trust You to work all things out for them and their students’ good.

Reward Their Faithfulness and Sacrifices

Reward our teachers for their faithfulness, and for their sacrifices of time and love. Guard them from false guilt, misplaced expectations, or unrealistic responsibilities. May Your “well done” motivate them as much as their desire to teach. Keep them focused on You and the needs of their students. You are the great Provider of all their needs as well as their students. And You are the only One who can really change lives.

Prayer for Balance, Rest, and Encouragement

Bless them with balanced schedules that include rest and play, along with time for their families. Encourage those who are discouraged; lift up those who are downhearted, and restore joy to those who may have lost their passion for teaching due to all the changes and confusion COVID-19 has brought. Let nothing formed against them prosper; instead, make our teachers strong and resilient. Bring good out of this year—and every year. Thank You, Lord.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

Bible Promises to Remember

A wise teacher makes learning a joy. Proverbs 15:2 TLB

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11 NIV

‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.” Isaiah 54:17 NASB

*If you missed these posts, you might also enjoy: 3 Back to School Prayers for Students, and Five Back to School Prayers for Kids and Grandkids. 

It’s Your Turn

What about you? Will you join me in praying for our teachers this year What would you add to the above prayers for teachers? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

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Hope: Bible Promises for Today to Give You Comfort

By Rebecca Barlow Jordan on Sep 17, 2020 08:00 am

Hope: Bible Promises for Today to Give You Comfort

Ever feel like a tree that’s been uprooted? Does hope seem like a distant reality?  Maybe the following verse describes you.

He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree (Job 19:10 NIV).

When Job was tested beyond imagination and found no relief for the loss of his children, his possessions, and his health, he felt like an uprooted tree whose hopes had been torn from him on every side.Like Job, maybe you, too, could use a little encouragement.

Encouraging Quotes about Hope

Through the years authors, poets, and leaders have tried to encourage us by defining and explaining hope:

Hope means expectancy when things are otherwise hopeless. – G. K Chesterton

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. – Martin Luther King

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. – from E. C. McKenzie, 14,000 Quips and Quotes, March 2000, Hendrickson Publishers

Hope itself is like a star–not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.  – Charles H. Spurgeon

In spite of all that Job lost through his time of severe testing, he refused to give up:

Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him. (Job 13:15, NIV)

Do You Need Hope Today?

Where are you today? Are you looking for a promise from God to sustain you? If so, here are some encouraging Bible verses and promises that might help:

Encouraging Bible Verses and Promises to Give You Comfort:

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11 NIV).

We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20 NLT).

Why am I discouraged ? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:11 NLT).

I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word (Psalm 130:5 NLT).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

“And his name will be the hope of all the world” (Matthew 12:21, NLT).

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has give us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:5, NLT).

…to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27, NASB).

Hope: Bible Promises for Today to Give You Comfort

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12, Amplified Bible).

Today I couldn’t stop with one encouraging Bible verse or promise from God’s Word. There are so many! His Word brings so much more comfort and encouragement than any words I could add.  No matter what you face today, I pray these promises will encourage your heart and lift your spirits today.

My Prayer for You Today

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NLT).

It’s Your Turn

What do these Bible promises mean to you? How does God encourage you and give you comfort? I’d love to hear from you anytime. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the e-mail will come to me. We will not share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

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Plough Weekly

It’s back-to-school time! Whether your family is virtual learning, homeschooling, attending class in-person (or dreaming of it), interested in Christian higher education, or simply engaged in lifelong learning – this week, we have something for you.
 
“It isn’t that we’re being asked to do something unexpected. It’s that they’re asking us to do something unnatural,” writes Italian teacher Enrico Galiano on the difficulties of the surprise transition to virtual instruction in the spring. This is how he and his students rose to the occasion – an occasion that so many this fall must rise to once again. “Is there a word capable of expressing what we’re feeling right now? My first answer: No. Today we should only have silence. Out of respect. But then it occurred to me maybe there is a word.”
 
For parents contemplating home education but unsure where to begin, veteran homeschooling mother of four Sally Clarkson is here to the rescue. In an excerpt from her new book Awaking Wonder, she details the secret at the heart of her children’s school day, around which all the rest was built: family reading time. “If we gave our children great food for thought, and gave them an appetite for how satisfying learning could be, they would be able to access anything they wanted to learn for the rest of their lives.”
 
Saint Macrina, oldest of nine, was teacher to her younger siblings, among them Saint Gregory of Nyssa and Saint Basil the Great. Susannah Black and Jason Landsel portray her as “the heart of the family, as well as its keenest mind; the one who taught them all, the one who drew them all, through her sheer delight in Christ, to lives that shook the world.” 
 
“The home is our first school” even when it isn’t, writes Doug Sikkema at Breaking Ground. The atmosphere that is created there conveys its own lessons in “how to talk, how to think, how to behave, how to love.” As distance learners strategize how to make a more school-like environment at home, those lessons in turn contain insights for better ways to design in-person school.
 
The word kindergarten means a “garden of children” – an image that animates this educational philosophy for students of any age, as described by Johann Christoph Arnold in Their Name Is Today, a free ebook this week. “We need to allow children to be children for as long as possible. They need time to breathe in and breathe out. They need to play. Children are not computers or robots that can be programmed according to our wishes; they have a heart and soul, not only a brain.”
 
Vivarium (“place for a living thing”): Is it a fishpond, or liberal-arts monastery? Both, of course, writes Richard Hughes Gibson, for passing on the faith is a life-giving enterprise – indeed, a necessary one. “Our present circumstances already demand fresh thinking about how to do the essential work of preserving, transmitting, and joining the Christian intellectual tradition.” Cassiodorus’s ancient Vivarium offered a vision of “a grand investigation of the Christian God, occurring through multiple channels, and resting only when that God is finally and blissfully beheld face-to-face.”

Till next week,
Caitrin
 

P.S. Even when more classes met in classrooms, the setting was a poor fit for many students: energetic boys. Sally Thomas recalls the upside-down experience of having a son “who at three was expelled from, of all things, a church nursery, because he refused to sit at the table and color quietly with everyone else.” By contrast, she describes another son’s experience with a preschool where he was understood “as a person of intellect and interest on his own developmental terms.”

Boys Aren’t the Problem

In this school, the teacher’s role was far less oriented toward instruction than toward support and observation of the children in their pursuits. Teachers were there to mix paint colors, to find the end of the roll of tape, or to buckle on a firefighter’s hat. They were also there to observe the children as they played, and to chat casually but purposefully with parents when we arrived at the end of the day. It was in informal conversations with his teachers that I discovered many things about my son. I learned, for example, that like many little boys he was a kinetic learner, who formed and communicated his thoughts about, say, interplanetary travel while hopping on one foot. Or that he was generous: once he’d spent his entire outdoor time pulling a wheelchair-using classmate around the covered pavement in a wagon. Or that he was imaginative and perhaps unusually historically literate for a three-year-old; the dig for the Roman city had clearly bemused the teacher who beheld its progress. At any rate, daily I came away with an illuminated view of my child as a person who was thoughtful, interesting, imaginative, kindhearted, able, and good. Inevitably, it seems to me now, he came away from nursery school with a similar impression of himself. In hindsight I can see that this early vision of himself shaped and empowered him, as a student and a human being, in lasting ways.

Recently I have encountered a term that encapsulates everything I treasure in my memory of that nursery-school experience. In Oh Boy! Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood, educator Francis Wardle invokes the phrase goodness-of-fit to describe, as he puts it, “a match between a child’s unique behaviors, characteristics, and dispositions, and the social and physical environment in which the child develops and learns.” Goodness-of-fit, in other words, suggests an educational experience that acknowledges both the fullness of the child’s personhood and the fact of his developmental stage. In this paradigm, his education is oriented toward the reality that he is a person, here and now, with particular abilities and needs, not an eventual product inching toward completion down an assembly line. Goodness-of-fit, for young children, recognizes and validates the ways this age group learns and knows: hands-on, experiential, concrete, social, physical. A pedagogy based on goodness-of-fit presumes that when a child is allowed to learn and know in these ways, he will naturally prepare himself, in intellectual, emotional, physical, and social ways, for the challenges of his education’s next phase.

Written for educators, but accessible to and useful for parents, Oh Boy! describes in detail what goodness-of-fit looks like, and what makes it good. Though the book’s focus is little boys, the principles and solutions it proposes point to good early learning experiences for all children. As Wardle notes, preschool-aged children learn best through largely self-directed avenues of play and exploration, engaging both mind and body. The child’s intellect, still apprehending the concrete world, is developing toward abstract reasoning, but hasn’t reached it yet. The child’s emotions, like his body full of impulsive energy, are developing toward self-regulation, but haven’t reached it yet, either. The most successful educational models will work with, not against, these realities.

Anne Graham Lotz: When God Shakes a Nation

Our nation is being shaken by COVID-19, an economic collapse and violent unrest in our streets. There are endless conversations, discussions and opinions voiced by friends and family, educators and scientists, politicians and pundits—discussions about all the causes as well as the effects. At the same time, many people are being shaken by job loss, isolation, loneliness and the stress from all of the above.

But I wonder … Is God using this time of great unsettledness to shake our nation? Is God trying to get our attention? 

When God shakes a nation, what should His people do?

I. LOOK AHEAD

  • What are some reasons that God shakes a nation? See Haggai 2:6-9; Psalm 18:7; Isaiah 2:17-19.
  • How does the Bible describe the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus? See Mark 13:24-26; Luke 21:25-28.
  • As you look ahead, what encouragement do you receive from Hebrews 12:25-29?

II. LOOK ABOVE, ISAIAH 6:1-4

  • How was Isaiah’s nation shaken in verse 1? Describe it in a contemporary setting.
  • When his nation was shaken, what unique revelation did Isaiah have? See verse 1.
  • Who specifically did Isaiah see seated on the throne? See John 12:41.
  • Put into your own words each phrase that describes the Lord in verses 1-3. 
  • Match the following verses with a phrase from verses 1-3: Ezekiel 1:25-28; Revelation 4:2; 5:13; Genesis 14:19-20; Numbers 24:16; Job 22:12; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Exodus 15:1; Acts 5:31; Ephesians 4:8; 2 Chronicles 6:18-21; Revelation 4:8; 15:4; 1 Peter 1:15-16. 
  • Do you think Isaiah would have looked up if his nation had not been shaken?
  • How are you being shaken? What difference has it made in your life?

III. LOOK WITHIN, ISAIAH 6:5

A. REPENT OF YOUR SIN

  • What impact did the vision of the Lord have on Isaiah? Read verse 5.
  • Give phrases that indicate a similar impact from Job 42:5-6; Luke 5:4-8; Revelation 1:17; Ephesians 5:13-14.
  • How is this impact affirmed in Psalm 51:17? Isaiah 57:15? 2 Corinthians 7:8-11? Revelation 3:19?
  • Rending your heart is a Biblical phrase for repentance. Is it an option according to Joel 2:13? Matthew 4:17? Luke 13:3? Acts 3:19? 
  • Use the following references to pinpoint possible sin in your own life from which you need to repent: Romans 1:21; Hebrews 3:19; Matthew 23:28; 1 John 2:16; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Malachi 3:8. 
  • Is anyone exempt from the need to repent, according to James 2:10; 4:17; Romans 3:10, 23; 2 Peter 3:9? 
  • When was the last time you wept in grief over your own sin? 

B. RETURN TO THE CROSS, ISAIAH 6:6-7 

  • When the seraph touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal, what did this represent? See John 16:8. 
  • What did the altar illustrate in verse 6? See Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:14, 22; 1 John 1:9. 
  • What hope does God offer ruined sinners like you and me? See Isaiah 1:18; Acts 10:43; 26:18; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Romans 8:1. 
  • What is hindering you from returning to the cross and repenting of your sin? Whatever it is, what do you need to do to overcome it? Would you do it now? 

C. RECOMMIT TO SERVING GOD, ISAIAH 6:8 

  • What bearing do you think Isaiah’s repentance and return to the cross had on his experience in verse 8? 
  • How were the calls in the following Scriptures the same? How were they different? Isaiah 6:8; Nehemiah 1:1-4; Exodus 3:1-10; Luke 5:4-11; John 21:16-18; Acts 9:1-6; 13:2. 
  • What is your calling, according to Romans 1:6; 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 9; 7:15; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:15; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 2:9, 20-21; 3:9; Revelation 1:5-6; 17:14; John 21:19-22? 
  • How does your response to God’s call compare with Isaiah’s in verse 8? Simon Peter’s in Luke 5:10-11? Matthew’s (or Levi’s) in Luke 5:27-28?
  •  Is it possible that God is shaking our nation as a means of getting your attention? Is He even now recalling you to serve Him at this critical time?

As God shakes not only our own lives, but also our nation and our world, look ahead! Jesus is coming! Look up. He is in control, seated on the throne! Look within. Make sure everything in your life is right with God. ©2020 ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ

This article is adapted from a study originally published in March 2006 titled “Wake-up Call.” 

Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online. 

Today's Headlines

More than 2K Christians gather in ‘worship protest’ after they are shut out of Seattle park

More than 2K Christians gather in ‘worship protest’ after they are shut out of Seattle park

By Leonardo Blair, Christian Post Reporter FOLLOW| Wednesday, September 09, 2020FacebookTwitterEmail Print Menu  Comment

Worshipers in the streets of Seattle on Labor Day 2020 | Facebook/Sean Feucht

More than 2,000 Christians gathered in the streets of Seattle in a “worship protest” Monday in defiance of public officials, who shuttered a local park to prevent them from participating in a prayer rally organized by missionary and political activist Sean Feucht.

The rally was supposed to take place in Gas Works Park by Seattle Parks and Recreation but officials abruptly announced the park would be closed all day Monday “due to anticipated crowding that could impact the public health of residents.”

Despite efforts to keep the rally from happening, Feucht announced on Facebook Tuesday that their worship session led to miracles and baptisms in a session that lasted about two hours.

“They shut the park, so we took the WORSHIP PROTEST to the streets!! The church of Seattle WILL NOT be silenced! Over 2000 took to the streets and GOD LIT THE PLACE UP with miracles, baptisms, salvations, racial reconciliation (with the police!) and HOPE!!” Feucht wrote.

Feucht, who has helped local pastors host 19 prayer rallies in defiance of coronavirus guidelines in 19 cities over the last eight weeks, told KIRO 7 that he believes the shuttering of the park to his gathering was “blatant discrimination.”

“If this was about COVID that would be one thing,” he said. “But this is about a blatant discrimination against Christians because the same questions were not asked and are still not asked about protesters.”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsean.feucht%2Fvideos%2F601987183823563%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Park officials explained in a statement Friday that the decision was made to shutter the park because they anticipated that people would gather and flout social distancing protocol. Previous attendees at Feucht’s rallies reportedly did not wear masks or practice social distancing.

“Out of concerns for the safety of all those who visit Gas Works Park we have opted to close the entire park for the day,” park officials said.

One man who attended the rally but did not give his name to KIRO 7 agreed that Seattle officials were not being fair when they shuttered the park to the Christian group.

“The opposite side of it is the CHOP,” he said. “They open it up and let them do whatever they want but they don’t let Christians come here and peaceably assemble. I don’t understand the hypocrisy of that.”

Kelly Seiben told KOMO News that she believes the city was targeting Christians, and others like Joyce Seiben agreed.

“We were not there to cause any harm but just to lift the name of Jesus,” Seiben said.

Pastor Michael Lee, who leads All Nations Community Church in Bellevue, said regardless of the actions of protesters, Christians needed to do the responsible thing and not gather in large numbers.

“I feel like it’s a responsible thing to do for a Christians to minimize the spread and risk of COVID,” said Lee. “You can do all of those things in smaller group contexts.”

How Should I Vote November 3rd?
Seven Guidelines for Jesus Followers

Recently, a committed Christian friend on Facebook opened up about her concerns over the coming presidential election, posting:

I have a heaviness in my soul today. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt it. A weight. The heaviness is because my heart is breaking. Plus, my disillusionment. It seems like so many Christians are willing to toss all morals aside when it comes to supporting any candidate that reflects their political agenda. Why are so many choosing to turn a blind eye to behaviors that are completely, blatantly in opposition to the heart and character of Christ?

Frankly, I’m hearing that same level of anguish among other Christian friends as they wrestle with how to decide on the leadership options before us, both locally and nationally, come November 3rd.

Of course, all Jesus followers claim that our primary leader is God’s Son, who is Lord of all, both in this world and the world to come. As we’re told in Revelation 11: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ.”

Even so, one pressing question remains for us in terms of any kingdom of this world: 

Of all the candidates vying for our votes this year, which ones come closest, not only in policy but in lifestyle and values, to exhibiting what Jesus’ kingship is all about?

Jesus 2020, anyone?

Have you seen the yard signs springing up all over the country that announce: “JESUS 2020”? Initiated by a small rural church in Texas this spring, the campaign has quickly spread beyond expectations.

The message it’s meant to send is that in the end, the only leader our nation should be looking to this fall is the “Ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1). After all, Jesus is not waiting to be crowned king; he already is king. He’s simply waiting to be recognized and welcomed as king, to exercise the blessings of his reign—in 2020 and beyond.

It’s like the picture at the top of this blog post humorously suggests: When you get right down to it, the candidate our nation needs right now is “none of the above”—not a Donkey or an Elephant. What we need to do is surrender to the Lamb on the throne (Revelation 5).

That’s why, here at ChristNow.com, we labor daily to foster and fuel a “nationwide Christ Awakening movement” wherein God’s people begin to give God’s Son his rightful place among us—which in turn will extend the gospel of his saving grace and power into the wider American community.

There’s no question about it: At this critical hour, the ultimate hope for our nation’s deliverance—both socially, morally, and spiritually—is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet, on the other hand, as faithful citizens in a vibrant democracy, we remain responsible for voting in November. So, how do we vote in a way that most faithfully represents and reflects the active lordship of Jesus today? 

The guidelines I outline below will help you sort out your options—and lift some of the heaviness of soul like that which my Facebook friend is experiencing this fall.

But first, a brief primer on biblical leadership

 
Dr. Kenneth Gangel, one of the most influential Christians in the past half-century, taught on biblical leadership in forty academic institutions and published 57 books on the subject. In 2007, he wrote in Christianity Today:

We should paraphrase John’s words at the end of his gospel and say: If every leadership principle available in the Gospels or Acts were written down, the whole world might not have room for all the books that would be published!

In the article, some of the most important characteristics of godly leadership that Dr. Gangel suggests include servanthood, stewardship, shared power, caring, and modeling. Before concluding his insights, he quotes John Stott, a British Anglican and the world-renowned father of the modern global evangelical movement, who wrote:

Christian leaders serve not their own interests but rather the interests of others. This simple principle should deliver the leader from excessive individualism, extreme isolation, and self-centered empire building.

Here’s why I share this primer: For me, a good place to start when trying to determine the person I will vote into a political office is to weigh each candidate against biblical standards—even if the person is not a believer.

That’s where these seven principles come from—the Bible. They are godly clues to help Christians make serious choices on November 3rd.

Seven voting guidelines
for Jesus followers

 
To make them easy to remember, I use keywords that begin with “C.” In each case, I suggest synonyms that represent a few facets of each that are most important to me.

  1. CHARACTER: As I look at a candidate’s life, do I observe uprightness, truthfulness, nobleness, teachability, dignity, empathy, humility, principled moral standards—to name a few qualities to look for. What else would you add?
  2. COMPETENT: Is the person capable, proficient, gifted, skillful, intelligent, experienced, proven, productive, energetic. In other words, are they up to the job?
  3. CONSISTENT: Have they shown themselves to be solid, firm, dependable, stable, steadfast, resolute in their convictions? Do their private and public lives match up? Do they keep their promises?
  4. CONCILIATORY: Are they predisposed toward building bridges, peacemaking, and mediating for conflicting parties whenever possible? Does their leadership style bring healthiness to a group or situation as they calm, disarm, diffuse, affirm? Do they show respect toward the opposition—even as they lobby for the agenda they believe in?
  5. COLLABORATIVE: Similarly, do they put a high premium on working with others toward the common good? Are they active listeners, open-minded, transparent, reasonably flexible, conducive to seeking compromise, and willing to share credit for successes? Are they convinced that to achieve the best results we need one another? Do they entertain creative alternatives that might result in win-win outcomes?
  6. COURAGEOUS: When faced with challenges or opposition—or temporary setbacks—does the candidate continue to display boldness, bravery, fearlessness, even audacity, as they pursue what they feel is right? In “struggles” that arise in any political arena, have they shown themselves to be resilient and persistent? Do they instill similar courage in those around them? But, even as they stand their ground, do they regularly show kindness and respect toward those who disagree with them?

The most important “C” of all: CHRIST

  1. CHRIST: I hinted at this seventh guideline above. Obviously, for Jesus followers, the overriding touchstone in any decision—and certainly in our decision about who to vote into office—must be the person of Christ himself.

To start with, consider this: In his earthly ministry, Jesus confronted people in leadership more often than any other segment of the population in his nation. 

Recall that the Sadducees and Pharisees were similar to our national leaders because, under the watchful eye of Rome, they took responsibility for both government and religion, which were melded under one authority. So, the insights we gain from Jesus’ words to them hold useful relevancy for our leaders in local, state, or national government today.

That means the people we choose to lead us retain equal priority today in Jesus’ eyes since he remains Lord of them all.

Therefore, just listen to this sample of his evaluation of those in charge in Matthew 23 (from The Message), and ask yourself: Would Jesus say anything similar to any of the candidates on the ballot this fall—especially at the federal level—if he confronted them personally, face-to-face here and now?

 “You [leaders] are hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.” (vs. 23-24)

“You [leaders] are hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ . . . A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.” (vs. 16, 22)

“You [leaders] are hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” (vs. 27-28)

That’s very sobering language from the One before whom all nations will one day stand at the judgment! And note, it is all about revealing who they are as people—at their heart level.

Then, look at how Matthew 23 ends: Jesus weeps over these leaders and their fellow Israelites. Why? Because so often, he wanted to draw them to himself as their Master and Savior, but they refused his offer. Instead, they stuck to their wayward patterns. Consequently, as Jesus knew, in forty years (in 70 A.D.), God would send the entire nation into a millennia-long exile.

That outcome is worth pondering for America in 2020 as we select our leaders at the polls in a few weeks, wouldn’t you agree? 

Many are claiming this will be the most critical presidential election in US history. Without a doubt, therefore, having the proper leadership in America right now also must be a defining issue for King Jesus.

With that background, let me suggest four applications of the seventh guideline—the “Christ” principle:

  • Does the candidate ever openly indicate in some fashion that they have been “Christ-conquered”? In our secularized culture, most are not. But some have. There are candidates on the ballot this fall who have given their whole lives over to God’s Son as their sovereign Redeemer. Potentially, those who have will bring so much more kingdom ways into their approach to leadership. “Those who confess me publicly I will confess before my Father,” Jesus promised. What if we had people like that in office?
  • At a less demanding level, do they at least seem to be somewhat “Christ-aware”? In the prophetic words of Psalm 2, pagan rulers are called upon to exhibit such sober reverence toward Christ himself and take him seriously. So, ask: Have any current candidates shown a measure of what Scripture terms “the fear of the Lord”? That means they have some concern that their leadership, their policies, and the ultimate outcomes will be “pleasing to the Lord”—at least as best as they know who Jesus is and can determine what God wants, even if they are not conquered (and saved) by him. 
  • Even if not aware, at least do they exhibit a way of life that is “Christlike” in how they act, how they treat people, with the values they promote, and in the influence they hold? They may not yet have put their faith in Christ; still, they may manifest Christlike qualities. And if so, those qualities hold out promise for godlier, more effective service to the community or nation.
  • Finally—and this applies to every single candidate whether Christian or not: Is their approach to leadership—both in terms of style and substance, and certainly in terms of policies—at least “Christ-compatible”? To say it another way: How many of their policy initiatives are moving in directions supportive of, and not in opposition to, the goals of the kingdom of God? How many of their priorities, knowingly or unknowingly, line up with the righteous values and standards of the reign of Christ? Of highest importance, will their leadership be conducive to allowing and even encouraging the free spread of the gospel in our land?

Of course, it goes without saying: When it comes to applying any of these guidelines, there are NO perfect candidates on the ballot this year—or ANY year.

For sure, not one candidate in November fully measures up. Each politician is equally frail, finite, and fallen. None of those at any level asking for your vote matches all seven marks flawlessly.

After all, need I remind us, we have not yet arrived at “the new heavens and earth” (Revelation 21)! Even the most appealing candidates we may choose will give us, at best, only a glimmer of the leadership the whole creation is yearning for but won’t experience until Christ returns. Philippians 3:20-21 states it like this:

We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ . . . He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. (The Message)

So how will you vote on November 3rd? 

 
Until that glorious day, however, we do have to vote! If we choose not to vote, that very act itself actually is a “vote.”

In just a few weeks, you will be stepping into a voting booth or filling out your mail-in ballot. How will you respond at that critical moment?

Of course, before marking your choices, you want to be sure you know something of the platform and policies your candidates already embrace and what their track record is regarding pursuing those issues. So, be sure you do your homework.

But this blog post argues that there is something even more important than party platforms and policies—something prior, something more fundamental. 

In addition, we need to ask: What kind of character does this candidate exhibit? Does she or he lead with a measure of competency and consistency? Do they tend to be fairly conciliatory and collaborative in their approaches? Are they courageous, holding firmly to certain convictions?

But above all: Which candidate comes closest to being either Christ-conquered, or Christ-aware, or Christ-like, or at least Christ-compatible? 

In the end, from a kingdom perspective, any election is far more about the quality of the persons than about the precision of their politics.  

As Scripture warns all of us in Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your HEART, for EVERYTHING you do flows from IT” (emphasis added).

VOTE, even though you know whomever you choose won’t be perfect or in perfect alignment with every one of your top priorities and values. Still, try to vote for the leaders you believe have a heart that will help secure kingdom-type outcomes for your communities and our nation.

VOTE. Soberly. Boldly. Prayerfully.

VOTE as an act of worship. Do it as unto the living, reigning Lord Jesus Christ, King of the ages, whose will, ways, works, and worth will prevail throughout the earth long after every other authority has passed away.

After all, apart from our passionate and unceasing intercession for a spiritual and moral revolution in our nation, what more strategic option than our vote do we possess this fall for securing a better future for America?

As a follow-up to this blog post: Listen to David Bryant’s 30-minute CHRIST TODAY Podcast, episode 3: “The Lion Speaks. Every Word Matters. Listen.


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Luke 9:20

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

A lot of people have their opinions about Jesus’ identity. The real issue, however, is what you believe about Jesus. What you decide about God’s Son means everything for you and for those you influence. So listen to Jesus’ question to his disciples as if he is asking it of you: “Who do you say I am?” I pray that your answer is the same as Peter’s: “The Christ (Messiah) of God.”

My Prayer…

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, who is my Lord, Savior, friend, and older brother in your family. I praise you for sending him to reveal yourself to us and I thank you for your love demonstrated by him on the Cross. I do believe that Jesus is the Christ, your chosen Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and the only Savior who can bring freedom, pardon, cleansing, and complete salvation. Thank you! In Jesus’ mighty name I pray. Amen.

Passion for Praise: ‘All Wisdom’

Illustration of Jeremiah 32:19 — [O LORD] You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve.

Plough Logo

Daily Dig

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardtbfly23

Human peace, in which the nations give up war “for a while,” is never enough. The peace of Christ is greater than all our understanding and cultural achievements; for even where we work hard for harmony, strife among us and in our families breaks out far too easily. What we need is deep-rooted reconciliation in Jesus Christ – God’s peace for us all, changing this earth into heaven.

Source: When the Time Was Fulfilled

HUMOR~~~

Aunty Acid for 9/20/2020
Fowl Language for 9/20/2020
Mother Goose and Grimm for 9/20/2020
Happy Sunday Quotes, #sunday #quotes #funny #memes #soumo_eu | Sunday  quotes funny, Happy sunday quotes, Sunday quotes

Hello Friends, Have A Wonderful Sunday! good morning sunday sunday quotes  happy sunday happy sunday qu… | Happy sunday quotes, Happy sunday pictures,  Friends quotes

A Sunday For Trump

Daily Prayer for August 30

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for moving our hearts so that we may know we are your children. Even in the midst of turmoil and evil, fear and pain, you bring us happiness; we can know that you are holding us with your right hand and will finally deliver us from all evil. Let your Spirit be at work everywhere. Give us patience when time is needed in our own hearts and in the hearts of all people, who also belong to you. Continue to strengthen us so that even the heaviest burden does not crush us and we may exult in hope because you right every wrong, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Dig

plum1

Whether in Hell or in Purgatory, you get what you want – if that is what you really do want. If you insist on having your own way, you will get it: Hell is the enjoyment of your own way for ever. If you really want God’s way for you, you will get it in Heaven, and the pains of Purgatory will not deter you, they will be welcomed as the means to that end.

Source: The Gospel in Dorothy L. Sayers

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The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Repentance

Then he began to denounce the cities in which most of his mighty works had been done, because they didn’t repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.’ Matthew 11:20 WEB

When John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, he preached a message of repentance. When Jesus came, He healed the sick, raised the dead, sought out the lost, and preached repentance. Repentance means changing your ways, a change in your heart and mind, a change in your actions. It involves turning away from sin and turning towards God. It is changing our lives to line up with God’s plan, for God is not on our team, we are to be on His.

When Peter began to preach after the Holy Spirit descended on them in the upper room, the people asked what they needed to do: ‘Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:37’38).

In the book of Revelation, Jesus said: ‘As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent’ (Revelation 3:19). That is what the cross brings, a crossroads in our lives. Jesus said to all: ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me’ (Luke 9:23).

Repentance involves saying: “I am sorry for that.’ Though it is not a popular subject today, it is the number one way to take a load off of your shoulders, make things right with God, and bring a spiritual revival to your life. If you want to see a breakthrough, start with repentance. Simple, but yet difficult because our very nature wants to hide our mistakes, just as Adam, just as the Pharisees. Jesus told them:

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness’ (Matthew 23:27).

When you mess up, be quick to tell the Lord you are sorry and try to do better next time. Forgiveness is there when we ask for it, but keep a short list. In doing so you completely disable the enemy’s plan to use your mistake against you. Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for all that You do for me. Please forgive me of the things that I have done and said wrong, wash me and I will be clean. Deliver me and I will be free. Teach me, and I will understand better. I want more of You in my life Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

For the past four years, Donald Trump has carried such a burden……do you really think that he WANTS this burden, for four more years?  Yet, he feels he isn’t done….there’s so much more he wants to do, for our great country and for us, its people!  From his first day in office, he has worked tirelessly to keep every one of his promises……he has pushed himself to his very limits……..he loves this country and has proved this over and over again!  Matthew 23:27 mentions Pharisees and I think this describes our Democratic Party…..hypocrites and liars and backstabbers, all of them.  Joe Biden can’t, and won’t, do what President Trump can and will continue doing…..Joe Biden will be a puppet and do as he’s ordered to do….America will never be the same in their hands.  This should scare us all, and it does scare me……I pray that President Trump is allowed to finish what he began…..make America even greater!!!

Trump and Truth | National Affairs

Where to watch Trump's first State of the Union address | DC Refined

Young Americans for President Trump - Home | Facebook

Gender and Racism: Voting trends show half of white women still support  anti-women politicians | The Milwaukee Independent

Amazon.com : Kaiyuan Dynasty Trump Flag Train Donald Trump Flags Support  for President 2020 Banner - All Aboard The Trump Train 3 x 5 feet with Two  Brass Grommets : Garden & Outdoor
Someone's turned the nonsense words of Donald Trump into poetry and it's a  thing of terrible beauty The Poke

(Just satire…..but cute!)

This book rearranges Donald Trump's worst quotes into poetry

(Another bit of cute satire….yet, true, some of it…)

You see, everyone’s for Trump…Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Women, Men…….these paid activists creating chaos in our streets and towns are truly not proving anything except that they are evil, wrong, and so unfair to what they are claiming! Black Lives Matter? Do they really believe this? Then why are they destroying what the great Mr. King created? Why are they making themselves look so ridiculous? Why are they spreading HATE and not LOVE? They’re trading their very souls!!

Vote Donald Trump 2020 - Home | Facebook

That’s right……No More B.S.

Donald Trump Campaign Vote Trump President 2020 Men's Longsleeve Shirt |  Spreadshirt

I will stay true to our values again……I made a mistake and voted for OBama the first time he ran….I was ignorant…..I’m not that inane woman now……I even read Hannity’s books…..this time, I know what’s going on…….I know what’s right and good for our country!!

Re-Elect trump 2020 Make liberals Cry Again Vote Trump Supporter Voter - Re  Elect Trump 2020 - Sticker | TeePublic

Not just this, though…….let’s keep making America great!!!!

God bless America, and God bless you all!!! Thanks for reading!!!!

Humor~~~

Mother Goose and Grimm for 8/30/2020
Aunty Acid for 8/30/2020
Holy Humor Sunday – Grace Presbyterian Church
re:Worship: Worship Resources for Holy Humor Sunday

Make Room For God!

 Daily Prayer for August 23

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10–11, NIV

Lord our God, we thank you that you have given us an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We thank you that you have already begun to give us new vision, that already many things are being transformed, so that we may go gladly and confidently on our way with hope for whatever is still unsolved. May all this live in our hearts and fill us with thanks to you. We want to be courageous and keep in sight what still needs to be changed. Then we can take part as workers in your vineyard. May the light you have given us continue to shine in us and burn ever more brightly, as you have promised. Amen.

 

Daily Dig

In your inbox every morning

two feathers

Christ says: “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The Pharisee answers correctly, “The one who showed mercy to him” (Luke 10:36). This means that by doing your duty you easily discover who your neighbor is.… He towards whom I have a duty is my neighbor, and when I fulfill my duty, I prove that I am a neighbor. Christ does not speak about recognizing our neighbor but about being a neighbor yourself, about proving yourself to be a neighbor, something the Samaritan showed by his compassion. Choosing a lover, finding a friend, yes that is a long, hard job, but your neighbor is easy to recognize, easy to find – if you yourself will only recognize your duty and be a neighbor.

Source: Provocations

 

   ~~~Dion Todd

Fire and Ice

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I don’t make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time!’ When he saw that, he arose, and ran for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree. Then he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough. Now, O Yahweh, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.’ 1 Kings 19:1’4 WEB

Elijah had a major breakthrough in his life on top of Mount Carmel when he won a showdown with 850 false prophets. God had confirmed Elijah’s words and ministry by raining fire from heaven. Then Elijah prayed and brought rain, ending a three and a half year drought (James 5:17). He had outrun a chariot while on foot in a sixteen mile race to town (1 Kings 18:46). This was certainly a high point in Elijah’s life. He was the man of the hour living in a season of major breakthrough, walking in power. It seemed that he could do no wrong. Yea, things were going great.

Right behind Elijah’s victory came sudden and massive fear and discouragement. Elijah ran for his life. He ran far into the wilderness, sat down under a juniper tree, and prayed that he might die. Elijah was completely drained, tired, and burnt out. He lost his appetite and was consumed with self-pity. The man of God was now in a gloomy, dark place in his life. He had gone from hot as fire, to as cold as ice, from feeling like a hero, to feeling like a zero.

The Lord asked him: ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ After Elijah carefully explained his circumstance, and how he felt like it was only him against the entire nation of Israel, the Lord clarified things and gave him a new task. Elijah had needed direction, so the Lord gave him a fresh vision, and a renewed hope.

Anyone that has walked with the Lord a while has had something go differently than they planned. You don’t always get what you want, the way you want, when you want it. Be assured that every time that you fall down, give up, and pray to die, God is going to say ‘What are you doing here again? Get up. There is still work to do.’ So today, if you are ready to give up, hide under a bush and sleep, have hope. It’s not over yet.

Sometimes the greatest defeats follow amazing breakthroughs. When that happens, get somewhere quiet, pray, and get a fresh vision from God for what is coming next. Your journey is not over until you stop getting up.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please give me a fresh vision for my life. Renew my hope. Take away the doom and gloom and help me focus on knowing You. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Bible Fun Fact: (KJV) There are 602,585 words in the Old Testament.

 

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What Jesus Did! ‘Finally, the Son’

[Jesus continued the story:] “The owner then sent another servant, but [the tenants] insulted him and beat him over the head. The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, until there was only one left — his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.'”

 

Key Thought

As this story of Jesus unfolds, we begin to get the picture. The owner of the vineyard (God) had sent servant after servant (all God’s prophets), and they had been abused, battered, and even killed. So surely, if the owner (God) sent his dearly loved son (God’s Son, Jesus), he would be respected and loved by the farmers (the Israelites). But we know the way this story ends, don’t we? The Son is killed by those who want to maintain control of the vineyard. The Son wasn’t respected but rejected. Suddenly, this story of Jesus is filled with emotion and with a strong warning. For those of us who know the end of the story, we can only be in awe of the love of God and fall on our knees aghast at the short-sided brutality of petty religious leaders. God spare us from such as these. God forbid that we would ever be one of these petty servants!

Today’s Prayer

O Father, my heart breaks at the thought of your gift of love being so rejected and abused. Forgive us for our petty, selfish, and brutal ways, and use the sacrifice of your Son to touch hearts around the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of 1 John 2:9 — Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Psalm 106:4-5 — Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me. Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Caring for the Family of Believers’

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father,

You live in an interconnected world more than any other human beings in the history of planet earth. You can travel quickly by air, sea, and land. You can speak to people on the other side of your planet by phone or over the internet. You can rally people for great causes through social networking, special funding tools, and circles of online friends. For you, the world is an interconnected place. So I will share with you a great disappointment that I have: those of you who have much seem so reluctant to share it with your brothers and sisters who have so little. Please remember what My apostle John said so many years ago:
We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters.

If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.
(1 John 3:16-18)
One problem is that you have not put in the effort you should to learn about the needs of others. Unfortunately, your preachers, elders, pastors, and other leaders have not been as diligent as they should in informing you of the needs that exist. They also have not been as diligent as they should be in calling you to share with and care for your brothers and sisters who are in need in your own area and in other parts of the world. But today, I want you to know that I have called you to share My message and care for others!

You have brothers and sisters who are enduring great atrocities because of their faith. They have been tortured, beheaded, crucified, mutilated, sold into sexual slavery, raped, and imprisoned. Help them. Use your governmental system to cry out for justice and protection. Research organizations that help those in My church who are persecuted.

In addition, well-trained and passionate evangelists and church planters have opportunities to take My message to many places all over the world. Support these messengers. You can encourage and build up churches in other areas and in other nations when you go on vacation or travel for business, so don’t forget to assemble with believers when you travel. Bless them and encourage them by sharing your offering with their congregation. Go on mission and service trips. Connect with other churches wherever you go and give them encouragement and financial support. You have brothers and sisters who are hungry and who need medical care. Support programs and people that are ministering to these needs and get involved yourself.

When you see the elaborate and comfortable places rich Christians have built for themselves, I want you to remember two things. First, I want you to think about your poor and suffering brothers and sisters in other places and how monies that have gone into buildings could have been used to bless them. Second, while some of these buildings can be marvelous tools of outreach, I want to remind you that every building will one day be nothing more than rubble. However, every lost person who is saved and every brother and sister in need who is helped is eternal. Each is someone who will share with you in My glory. Think about these things and invest wisely in growing My kingdom!

My earliest followers were generous with each other and offered hands-on care to each other. Today the final reading from Paul’s letter you call 1 Corinthians is among the passages below. As you read these verses, let them remind you of the generosity of the early Christians. I want you to let the Holy Spirit touch your heart with great generosity for those in need in your own spiritual family — both those who are geographically near and those who live in places far from you.

Verses to Live

Your verses today come from several places in the New Testament. The first verses are from Galatians and relate to Paul’s meeting with key leaders in Jerusalem. Those leaders recognized his ministry to Gentiles but requested that he and his fellow missionaries help the poor in the Jerusalem church. The other passages show Paul responding to this request and encouraging Gentile churches to participate. The last passage, from a later letter to the Corinthians, holds up the Macedonian churches as an example to the Corinthian church and to you: be generous, excel in the grace of giving to the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ. This kind of generosity offers tangible love to those in need who are part of your spiritual family.
As a result of a revelation, I returned to Jerusalem 14 years later; and this time Barnabas and Titus accompanied me. When I arrived, I shared the exact gospel that I preach to the outsiders. I first shared God’s truth privately with those who were people of influence and leadership because I thought if they did not embrace the freedom of my good news, then any work I had done for Jesus here and any in the past would be spoiled.

When James, Cephas (whom you know as Peter), and John — three men purported to be pillars among the Jewish believers — saw that God’s favor was upon me to fulfill this calling, they welcomed and endorsed both Barnabas and me. They agreed that our ministries would work as two hands, theirs advancing the mission of God among the Jews and ours toward the outsider nations, all with the same message of redemption. In parting, they requested we always remember to care for the poor among us, which was something I was eager to do.
(Galatians 2:1-2Galatians 2:9-10)

During that year, some prophets came north from Jerusalem to Antioch. A prophet named Agabus stood in a meeting and made a prediction by the Holy Spirit: there would be an expansive, terrible famine in the whole region during the reign of Claudius. In anticipation of the famine, the disciples determined to give an amount proportionate to their financial ability and create a relief fund for all the believers in Judea. They sent Barnabas and Saul 
[Paul] to carry this fund to the elders in Jerusalem.
(Acts 11:27-30)

Through all this upheaval, God’s message spread to new frontiers and attracted more and more people. Meanwhile, the time Barnabas and Saul 
[Paul] spent in Jerusalem came to an end, and they reported back to Antioch, bringing along John, who was also called Mark.
(Acts 12:24-25)

Now I call you, just as I did the churches gathering in Galatia, to collect funds to support God’s people in Jerusalem. On Sunday, the first day of the week, I want each of you to set aside an amount, as God has blessed you, so the funds will be collected by the time I come. When I get there, I will send those you recommend by your own letters to carry your generous and gracious donation to Jerusalem. If you think it seems appropriate for me to travel with them, then we’ll go together.
(1 Corinthians 16:1-4)

Now, brothers and sisters, let me tell you about the amazing gift of God’s grace that’s happening throughout the churches in Macedonia. Even in the face of severe anguish and hard times, their elation and poverty have overflowed into a wealth of generosity. I watched as they willingly gave what they could afford and then went beyond to give even more. They came to us on their own, begging to take part in this work of grace to support the poor saints in Judea. We were so overwhelmed — none of us expected their reaction — that they truly turned their lives over to the Lord and then gave themselves to support us in our work as we answer the call of God. That’s why we asked Titus to finish what he started among you regarding this gracious work of charity. Just as you are rich in everything — in faith and speech, in knowledge and all sincerity, and in the love we have shown among you — now I ask you to invest richly in this gracious work too. I am not going to command you, but I am going to offer you the chance to prove your love genuine in the same way others have done. You know the grace that has come to us through our Lord Jesus the Anointed. He set aside His infinite riches and was born into the lowest circumstance so that you may gain great riches through His humble poverty. Listen, it’s been a year since we called your attention to this opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace, so here’s my advice: pull together your resources and finish what you started.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-11)

Response in Prayer

Father, open my heart to the needs of my brothers and sisters who need help. Please help me find ways to bless them. Help me find ways to invest in their needs so that my monies will not be wasted or squandered. Please help me to give wisely so that my gifts actually bring help. Use me to empower others to know of the needs of our spiritual family both near and far. I ask for the Holy Spirit to partner with me in giving me a generous heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

Wonder Where Christ Is
in Our COVID Crisis?

SEVEN WAYS TO GET AT A GOOD ANSWER

Many of us have asked this question more than once in these past months during the tragic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic: Where is the Lord Jesus Christ in this historic, catastrophic moment?

In other words: How engaged is our Savior with this crisis? Or is he? If he is, then how should I expect him to respond? What should I be looking for?

What practical difference does it make to call Jesus the Lord of all as the disease rages across the land? How is his dominion relevant to the suffering and grieving going on all around us? 

The fact is that our answers to such questions ultimately shape our vision of who he is—as well as our passion for him, our ability to trust in him, our desire to adore him, and the depth of our daily walk with him.

In this blog post, I’d like to share with you how I’ve been processing these questions over the past few weeks as, like you, I’ve had to try to make sense of this unprecedented pandemic.

Here are SEVEN WAYS to come at these questions that have helped me gain a fresh perspective on what the supremacy of Christ truly means—not only for a nation in the midst of a crisis but for each of our lives. 

Where we come down on these few key issues can lead us into a more joyful embrace of Jesus’ lordship over everything—in spite of COVID-19. Maybe even because of COVID-19.

The right questions make all the difference!

 
Ephesians 4 tells us Jesus ascended to the throne of heaven precisely so that “he might fill the whole universe.” Right now, he is “filling” it—with his authority, his presence, his activity, and his supremacy.

But what does that look like, especially when millions are falling sick to a stealth virus that has already killed over 167,000 Americans and seriously damaged the health of tens of thousands more—with no end in sight?

Many of us find ourselves gripped by fear. As Jesuit leader James Martin put it recently in America magazine:

The sheer horror of this fast-moving infection is coupled with the almost physical shock from its sudden onset. As a priest, I have heard an avalanche of feelings the last month: panic, fear, anger, sadness, confusion and despair. Even the most religious people ask me: Why is this happening? Where is Jesus in all of this?

Father Martin goes on to answer his own question by saying: 

The most honest answer is we don’t know. But we do know that in the final analysis, JESUS is the answer.

Essentially, this Christian leader calls on us to believe in who our Savior is even though we don’t fully grasp his ways at this hour.

We can be sure of this one thing: According to Scripture (cf. Hebrews 2 and 4), Jesus’ engagement at this moment with a nation of people, young and old, slammed by this deadly disease—with all the physical, emotional, and economic trauma it brings—is carried out with profound understanding and empathy for what we’re going through because he has faced it all in the days of his earthly ministry. Furthermore, he knows precisely what it will take to bring us out of this nightmare.

Thus, the best approach isn’t “WHERE is Jesus in our national tragedy?” The best approach is “HOW is Jesus involved in our national tragedy?”

More specifically, we should ask, “HOW is Jesus supreme as we see the future of our physical and economic health on the line? HOW does he manifest his reign in the midst of great fears? What should I be looking for?”

My last blog post asked a question that actually sets the stage for this discussion: Is Jesus our PUPPET MASTER, or is he our CHESS MASTER? If you did not have an opportunity to read it, you might want to start there before reading what I share below.

I take you further in this post than the last one. Here I offer a series of seven questions that all believers need to ask and answer in order to probe the “how” issue of Jesus’ reign.

Note: These are really seven different ways to raise the same issue and pursue the final answer.

Furthermore, I suggest you pause at the end of each section to ask yourself three additional questions that encourage a more personal application:

On this question, how would you describe to others what you sense about who Jesus is and what Jesus is up to in the face of our current COVID crisis?

Practically speaking, how might the position you take on the issue change your outlook on the pandemic as well as shape your approach to helping others deal with it?

More importantly, how will your answers shape your worship of Jesus and your daily walk with him as Redeemer Lord over all of life?

 
Remember: There are no easy resolutions, as Father Martin admits. But each of these questions definitely will serve to sharpen your view of Christ, your relationship to him, and your walk with him through the dark wilderness of COVID-19.

I present them in no order of importance.

(1) Do Jesus’ attributes shape and define how he reigns?

 
When it comes to Jesus’ attributes as God’s Son, the whole Church agrees that our King is both just and justifier, sovereign and servant, great and gracious, regal and respectful, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

The question is this: How do these wonderfully diverse qualities shape his reign? Or do they?

In Islam, the Koran teaches that Allah’s attributes flow out of his sovereignty— they are defined and shaped by Allah’s absolute and total control of everything.

Should we interpret the reign of Christ in similar terms? 

Or does Jesus’ sovereignty flow out of, is tempered by, and becomes responsive to his eternal, innate attributes—such as love and holiness, righteousness and mercy, steadfastness and “servant-heartedness,” compassion and justness? 

In other words, do you see the exercise of his sovereignty defined and shaped by the nature of the person he is? Do you expect the qualities of his personhood to govern how he expresses his reign? Is this a time to rediscover more of who Jesus is as we watch and learn by how we see him at work during COVID-19?

(2) Did Jesus sovereignly prescribe this pandemic?
Or did he foresee it and sovereignly respond?

 
Based on Scripture, some Christians say Jesus’ kingship requires that he must foreknow everything that will happen before it comes to pass because all human decisions, actions, and experiences—including all pandemics—have been predetermined from eternity in the councils of Heaven.

Based on Scripture, however, other Christians conclude that it is more appropriate to say that as Lord of the universe, Christ accurately and perfectly anticipates all things that will happen—at every moment and in every place, including financial panics and global pandemics—before they take place.

Then, he sovereignly and effectively responds to each development as it unfolds, ensuring that the outcome of each act—including a pandemic—ultimately fulfills Heaven’s councils.

(3) Is Jesus in his reign reactive or proactive
in dealing with COVID-19?

 
Generally, Christians agree that, at the very least, nothing in this universe happens “by chance,” that is, outside of the complete awareness, sovereign permission, and full engagement (one way or another) of King Jesus.

Generally, Christians also declare that the Lord Jesus is an active ruler—that there is an orderly, purposeful advancing of his kingdom and his work of redemption, day in and day out.

Where Christians have become divided on this topic relates to the following two key questions:

(1) To what degree does Christ’s reign over us become proactive so that everything starts and ends by his initiative alone—including the emergence, the course, and the defeat of deadly diseases?

On the other hand, (2) to what degree is his reign more reactive? That is, at times he may choose to work with and through our decisions and actions, reacting to the path we have freely chosen and then adjusting his actions so that all things ultimately fit into where he was already headed, what he was already doing, and how he finally gains the greatest glory.

In terms of COVID, for example, considering the variety of national approaches to the pandemic around the world and the major contrasts in effectiveness from country to country, we wonder how the reigning Savior is involved in all of these developments.

Is he directly, actively responsible—is he proactive—for the spectrum of health outcomes worldwide? Or is he more involved reactively—by responding to, at times counteracting, human frailty and folly, to bring about God’s very best in the midst of the battle?

(4) Is God’s Son controlling the pandemic?
Or is he in control of the pandemic?

All Christians agree that in the thick of everything—including pandemics—our Lord Jesus remains in control. But does his being in control mean that at all times, in all places, with all peoples, he is actually controlling all that’s going on? What’s the difference? Words matter. Let’s look.

Certain “theological camps” of sincere believers teach that Christ’s headship means that at this very moment, he controls the universe, including every activity of every person as well as every movement and endeavor among earth’s peoples—all for the fulfillment of God’s plan for the ages.

Other “camps” of committed Jesus followers believe it is more appropriate, and more biblically accurate, to say Christ manages a divinely-orchestrated process—one that has been advancing throughout human history and among the nations, ensuring that ultimately everything will turn out right for the perfect accomplishment of God’s eternal purposes in and for his dear Son.

To ask it another way: As Jesus reigns “from sea to shining sea,” how much of what is happening with the raging virus in our land is he directing? On the other hand, how much of it is he simply permitting—allowing surges to come and go based on human decisions and actions?

Can Jesus be “omni-potent” without being “omni-controlling”? In other words, can Christ’s supremacy manifest itself as forceful and flexible—both at the same time?

(5) Is Jesus’ authority over our national health nightmare static or dynamic?

 
Does Scripture characterize Christ’s forcefully increasing dominion as basically static—that is, everything is predetermined all along the way, like a published novel where every detail of every page in the story has already been set in place?

Or does the Bible suggest that often his kingship is more dynamic—meaning that God leaves room for variations and surprises along the way as Jesus’ reign interacts with people’s free choices and actions, even while, at the same time, he brings God’s “Master Blueprint” for the ages to its completion, especially during a time of plague?

(6) What does the Bible mean when it teaches that Jesus has all power in heaven and earth?

 
Biblical Christians recognize our ascended and reigning Messiah is “all-powerful.” We also agree this means that, at the very least, he is the embodiment of divine omnipotence in the universe, whenever and however he chooses to exercise it.

Where the debate inside the Church arises is on this point: Does being all-powerful also mean he is constantly exercising all his power, in all places, with all peoples, and at every moment?

Or are there times when his reign could seem more passive—when he appears to stand back and release those who reject his presence, purposes, and promises to move toward the tragic outcome of their own decisions?

Are there times when he is not exercising his undiminished power, but allowing people to reap what they sow—that itself being a demonstration of dominion—even during a national health emergency?

(7) As COVID-19 steals thousands of lives, is Jesus truly actively challenging evil today?

 
We might ask this: How much evil in the world is ordained by the ruling Son, if any? How much evil simply is permitted for a brief season, for vital reasons, and with blessed outcomes when seen within the councils of the living God?

How much is evil and disease—including the spread of COVID—being contained by our Victor, though we don’t see most of his ways of going about doing this?

How much is he actively opposing the destructive forces in our world right now, on a variety of fronts—seen and unseen, viral and vicious?

In what ways does Scripture portray our Savior on the throne aggressively warring against every malevolent force, demonic and human, that is working to destroy his creation and oppose his kingdom purposes?

On the other hand, how much evil and suffering in the world currently is due to collateral damage resulting from an age-old cosmic battle in which our King is confronting a tenaciously perverse Predator, engaged in ongoing mortal combat (mortal for Satan, that is!)?

Once again, I encourage you to reflect on each of these seven sections you’ve just read in light of these three questions that follow, contemplating how your responses personally impact how you see, seek, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. 

On this question, how would you describe to others what you sense about who Jesus is and what Jesus is up to in the face of our current COVID crisis?

Practically speaking, how might the position you take on the issue change your outlook on the pandemic as well as shape your approach to helping others deal with it?

More importantly, how will your answers shape your worship of Jesus and your daily walk with him as Redeemer Lord over all of life?

 

CONCLUSION:
Which outlooks on Jesus’ reign today
bring him the greatest glory?

 
Some Christians believe Christ is most fully exalted by his ability to enforce his will, uncontested—to impose his ways upon the course of everything and every life.

Other Christians believe his majesty is more wonderfully manifested by how he effectively redeems people rather than dominates them—by how he wholly reclaims, restores, renews, and redeploys saved sinners to give themselves freely to serve his kingdom agenda.

This perspective would apply not only in a season of deadly pandemics marching across the land but also in a season full of Christ Awakening movements saturating people with the power of the gospel (which many praying Christians believe is on the horizon for our nation).

Putting all these questions together, I think it makes the most sense to view and value the supremacy of Christ with these seven conclusions—each of which defines where Christ is in the COVID crisis and how his reign is displayed:

  1. Jesus’ eternal attributes define the distinctives of his reign—even during this pandemic.
  2. His power is absolute but exercised for the purpose of revealing the wonders of his heart and his kingdom purposes—even during this pandemic.
  3. He foreknows that what he has ordained will be accomplished one way or another, in total fulfillment of all of God’s purposes and promises—even during this pandemic.
  4. His reign is dynamic. He is creatively responding to all that is going on in our world to bring everything out exactly where he intends it to end—even during this pandemic.
  5. His reign is very proactive as he reacts to how things are developing in our nation, moving hearts and plans in his direction to ultimately accomplish what he has designed and what he deserves—even during this pandemic.
  6. He doesn’t need to be controlling—that is, micromanaging—every motive or movement of the human race because he never loses control of all that’s unfolding—even during this pandemic.
  7. In his supremacy, Jesus is totally engaged in his strategic battle with the forces of evil and darkness to bring all that oppose him to final defeat, dispelled once and for all—even during this pandemic.

So then, what about you? Where do you come out? Where and how do you see Christ at work during the COVID crisis? In what ways have you witnessed the majesty of his supremacy in your life during these challenging times for our nation?

Let me share with you more about the wondrous reign of Christ today—from the book of Revelation. Set aside 30 minutes, sit back and relax, and listen here to my CHRIST TODAY Podcast, episode #111, titled “Behold the Lamb of God!”

 


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.

 

Partisans of the Prince of Peace

 

Oscar Romero

In 1977, Oscar Romero was appointed archbishop of San Salvador. At the time, El Salvador was a nation in violent upheaval: El Salvador was sharply divided between rich and poor, and left-wing guerrilla groups, supported by the Soviet Union and by other Soviet-bloc countries, staged incursions against the right-wing junta in charge, which was supported by the Carter administration in the United States; in response, the government carried out kidnappings and assassinations on a large scale. Romero saw both the leftist groups and the government as his children to shepherd. He spoke to all, commanding conversion to Christ and a repentance and forgiveness based on acknowledgment of truth. He was murdered as he was saying Mass by agents of the state police. The following is drawn from The Scandal of Redemption and from The Violence of Love, two Plough books of selections from his homilies and writings.

We want peace, but not the peace of violence and of cemeteries, not peace imposed or extorted. We want peace that is the fruit of justice, peace that is the fruit of obedience to God.

We are not planting discord with these. We are simply crying out to the God who is weeping, to the God who hears the laments of his people because there is so much violence, to the God who feels the distress of his campesinos who cannot sleep in their homes because they must spend their nights in flight. God hears the wailing of the children who cry out for their parents who have disappeared: Where are they?

There is tremendous anticipation, sisters and brothers. The call to conversion has awakened many hearts that were asleep in sin, like the people in Zebulun and Nephtali. These people thought that the church was meddling in politics and other areas where she had no business. Now they have finally understood that we are simply preaching the kingdom of God, which means pointing out sin in any human situation even when the sin is found in political and economic situations. The church must be the voice of Christ; she must declare, “Be converted, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt 4:17).

Those who want to enter this kingdom must draw close to God by being converted and repenting of their sins. This has been the cry of the church in these recent times: conversion. Therefore, sisters and brothers, be converted! I am the first to need conversion. We all need conversion, for as the Apocalypse says, “The righteous must still do right, and the holy still be holy” (Rev. 22:11). Naturally, those who are in sin must be restored to God’s grace and renounce all forms of injustice and selfishness and violence. Let us become friends of God, for God has no part in sin.

There can be no freedom as long as there is sin in the heart. What’s the use of changing structures? What’s the use of violence and armed force if the motivation is hatred and the purpose is to buttress those in power or else to overthrow them and then create new tyrannies? What we seek in Christ is true freedom, the freedom that transforms the heart, the freedom the risen Christ announces to us today, “Seek what is above” (Col. 3:1). Don’t view earthly freedom and the oppression of this unjust system in El Salvador just by looking down from the rooftops. Look on high!

That doesn’t mean accepting the situation, because Christians also know how to struggle. Indeed, they know that their struggle is more forceful and valiant when it is inspired by this Christ who knew how to do more than turn the other cheek and let himself be nailed to a cross. Even submitting to crucifixion, he has redeemed the world and sung the definitive hymn of victory, the victory that cannot be used for other ends but benefits those who, like Christ, are seeking the true liberation of human beings. This liberation is incomprehensible without the risen Christ, and it’s what I want for you, dear sisters and brothers, especially those of you who have such great social awareness and refuse to tolerate the injustices in our country. It’s wonderful that God has given you this keen sensibility, and if you have a political calling, then blessed be God! Cultivate it well, and be careful not to lose that vocation. Don’t replace that social and political sensitivity with hatred, vengeance, and earthly violence.

a cormorant on a lake

Photograph by Ray Hennessey (public domain)

Those who preach and inspire the various forms of earthly liberation do not have to be ideologues, much less atheists who are without God and without Christ. The one who most inspires the liberation of our country and of humanity is the one and only liberator, the risen Christ. Christ is the one who proclaims this morning the true victory over all the oppressive forces of the earth. This Christ who now reigns in the glory of the Father can challenge the might of Pontius Pilate and the Roman Empire; he can defy the fanaticism of the spiritual leaders of Israel, the priests who have perverted the meaning of religion. By his resurrection Christ offers all the liberators of earth this challenge: “You will not free people! The only liberation that endures is that which breaks the chains on the human heart, the chains of sin and selfishness.” Christ is the one who has left the grave empty and has broken through the bars of death and hell, and now he invites all men and women to die happily so that they also, at the hour of the universal resurrection, can defy the tombs of our cemeteries, saying, “Death, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55)

Everything else dies, everything else is sin, everything else is hatred and violence, everything else is bloodshed and murder and kidnapping. None of that is liberation. All that is buried among the old things that Christ leaves behind to give us the new, true life which only true Christians can experience. Let us hope that the fanatics of violence and terrorism, as well as those who think repression and force are going to fix the situation, learn that those are not the ways of the Lord. Rather, the ways of the Lord are love and respect and obeying the law of the Lord; they are the humble ways of Christ. Christ is the one who grants true liberation to those who want to accept it. Christ is indeed the key to the revelation of God.

Dear young people given to violence and vice, you who have already lost your faith in love and think that love can solve nothing, here is the proof that love alone solves everything. If Christ had wanted to impose his redemption through armed force or through fire and violence, he would have achieved nothing. That would have been useless; there would be only more hatred and wickedness. But going straight to the heart of redemption, Christ tells us on this night, “This is my commandment: as I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” And he says more: “So that you may see that these are not simply words, stay with me tonight when I will sweat blood as I observe the evil of humankind and the pain of my own sufferings! And tomorrow you will see me carrying the cross like a silent lamb and dying on Calvary. Be assured that I bear no resentment toward anybody. From the depth of my soul I will cry out, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’” Let us reflect, sisters and brothers, on this personified gesture of love. And when we are tempted to act with vengeance, resentment, cruelty, or selfishness, let us not consider the sad example of people who hate one another. Rather let us raise our eyes toward the love that becomes lamb, that becomes food, that becomes Passover, that becomes covenant.

 

Isaiah presents us with a beautiful panorama (Isa. 60:1–6). Darkness covers the earth, confusion reigns in the world where God has not shed his light. Then in Jerusalem the people behold a light, not a light coming from outside, but rather a God who becomes incarnate in Jerusalem a light that illuminates the paths of history and the world. Along these roads illuminated by God travel all the world’s peoples, bringing their tribute so as form one single kingdom, the kingdom of God…. He did not create different races and peoples so that they would be confounded by their diversity of languages and unable to understand one another, nor did he create social diversity so as to marginalize some people while others lived well. What God wanted was to make the whole world a great community.

 

There is no longer distinction between Jew and Gentile (Gal. 3:28). There is no longer a privileged people and a marginalized people. All of us are coheirs in the mystery of Christ. The inheritance of God our Father is for all of us who are sisters and brothers. Christ, the elder brother and heir of all the promises, makes us his sisters and brothers; he makes us “coheirs,” a word invented by Saint Paul…. In Christ all human beings are called to this wealth of God’s kingdom. We are members of the same body.

 

God did not make us to live dispersed and separated. We need one another. The head can never tell the feet, “I don’t need you.” The hands cannot tell the heart it’s unnecessary, nor can the heart say that to the other members. All the members, each in its proper functions, are members of the living body (1 Cor. 12:26).

 

Christ is already building this kingdom. We human beings are not going to do this by ourselves. We have heard the beautiful description of Isaiah when he refers to Christ our Lord: “A child is born to us; a son is given to us; upon his shoulders dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice” (Isa. 9:6–7).

In our days the church has been given the responsibility to criticize and analyze the kingdoms of earth and bring people to an awareness that they are still lacking in justice and peace and effectiveness. Only when Christ, the true king announced by God, becomes truly the king of all hearts will the reign that God desires become a reality. The ideal king did not appear on the throne of David until that night when the angels sang the words of the prophet: “For a child is born, and upon his shoulders is the reign of peace and justice and love.”

 

Five Back to School Prayers for Kids & Grandkids

Back to school prayers – It’s one of the best ways you can prepare your children each year as they head back to school. And praying Scripture over them is one of the most powerful ways to pray. In this pandemic year of challenges, whether your kids study online or in the classroom, here are five back to school prayers you can pray for your kids and grandkids:

* Back to School Prayers for Peace (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6-7; Romans 5:1).

Lord, I pray that my kids (grandkids) will experience the peace of God this year that exceeds all understanding. Help them not to worry about things they cannot control, but guard their hearts and minds and keep them trusting in You.

Lord, may they not only enjoy the peace of God, but peace with God. I pray they will develop a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving as they look to You daily for their needs, and that You will give them the capacity for joy that bubbles up from Your peace.

* Back to School Prayers for Protection (2 Thessalonians 3:3Psalm 46:1; John 17:15; Psalm 91)

Lord, I pray Your emotional, physical, and spiritual protection over my kids (grandkids). Keep evil far from them, and help them to trust You as their refuge and strength. Guard their minds from harmful instruction, and grant them discernment to recognize truth.

Make them strong and courageous in the presence of danger, recognizing that You have overcome and will set right all injustice and wrong one day. Help them to find rest in Your shadow, as they live in the spiritual shelter You provide for them. Let them know that the only safe place is in Jesus, and that their home on earth is only temporary.

* Back to School Prayers for Purity (Psalm 51:10; Mathew 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Psalm 19:14)

Lord, I pray that You will create in my kids (grandkids) a clean heart and that You would constantly renew a right spirit within them, keeping their thoughts and actions pure and motivated by love. Guard them from temptation, and let them know You are always faithful to give them a way out and help to endure. May the words of their mouths and the meditations of their hearts always please you and edify others.

 * Back to School Prayers for Passion (Psalm 42:1; Matthew 22:37-39; John 13:34-35)

Lord, I pray that my kids (grandkids) will develop a passion for the things of God. Create in them a hunger and thirst for You and Your Word. May they love You with all of their heart, soul, and mind. Give them compassionate and generous hearts to love others as much as You love them.

I pray they will always work and study with excellence, but that You will help them desire a servant spirit of greatness, rather than a worldly lust for success. May they fall in love with Jesus over and over again.

* Back to School Prayers for Perspective (Galatians 2:20; Matthew 28:18-20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:1-2Ephesians 3:17-20)

Lord, I pray that our kids (grandkids) will develop an eternal perspective and purpose, not an earthly one.  Help them to see life–and every challenge–through Your eyes, eager and unafraid to share with others the good news of Jesus wherever they go.

I pray that they will set their minds on things above, not just what’s going on here, and that they will be rooted and grounded in Your love. Help them to understand how much You Love them, and that Your love surpasses all the head knowledge they will acquire in school. I pray they will be filled up with You from morning ’til night.

Other Prayers for Your Kids

These are only sample prayers, and hopefully easy ones to remember. They are by no means exhaustive. Find your own Scripture promise or principle and pray those things daily for your kids or grandkids. But don’t confine your praying to the first few weeks of school.

Your children and grandchildren need your prayers all year long–as long as you or they live. Prayer is the best protection you can give your children or grandchildren! When we pray Scripture, God listens! And we can always know those prayers are in His will.

You might also like this blog post I wrote: A Prayer for Parents, Grandparents, and Their Children.

*I like to share these Back to School Prayers often with my readers, so they can keep a reminder to pray every year.

It’s Your Turn

What about you? What do you pray for your kids and grandkids as they go back to school? Will you commit to pray for them earnestly this year? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

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Trump says he spoke to God about economy, believes God will help him rebuild it again

President Donald Trump revealed he spoke to God about the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic and God told him He’s going to have him rebuild “the greatest economy in the history of the world” again.

Speaking at a small rally that attracted several hundred supporters in Mankato, Minnesota, Monday, Trump branded presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a “puppet of left-wing extremists” who would destroy the American way of life by “trying to erase our borders, eliminate our police, indoctrinate our children, vilify our heroes” and “take away our energy.”

If Biden were to be elected, he would “replace American freedom with left-wing fascism,” Trump added. 

The president hailed his pre-pandemic economic record which reflected a strong stock market, wage growth of about a 3% average and low unemployment as “nothing short of an economic miracle.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. economy suffered its biggest blow since the Great Depression in the second quarter as consumer and business spending plummeted, the World Economic Forum noted. Gross domestic product dipped at a 32.9% annualized rate last quarter, “the deepest decline in output since the government started keeping records in 1947,” the WEC said.

“What we have achieved together and what we’re doing together is nothing short of an economic miracle and now we’re doing it again,” Trump told his supporters. “We built the greatest economy in the history of the world and now I have to do it again.”

He then revealed the conversation he had with God about the economic crisis.

“You know what that is? That’s right. That’s God testing me,” Trump explained. “He said, You know, you did it once. And I said, ‘Did I do a great job, God? I’m the only one who could do it.’ He said, ‘That you shouldn’t say. Now we’re going to have you do it again.’ I said, ‘OK. I agree. You got me.’ But I did it once. And now I’m doing it again. And you see the kind of numbers that we’re putting up. They’re unbelievable. Best job numbers ever. Three months, more jobs in the last three months than ever before.”

 

 

Humor…

Aunty Acid for 8/23/2020

Song of Solomon for Seniors | Church humor, Song of solomon, Jw humor

 

 

 

 

My Baby’s Birthday!!

Verse of the Day 2020-08-08

Daily Prayer for August 9

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20, NIV

Lord our God and our Father, we praise you because we are allowed to have community together in the name of Jesus, who has opened our eyes to see you and who has promised to be among us when we are gathered in his name. May our hearts remain unshadowed, even when our lives seem to grow difficult and the future looks dark. Protect us whenever we are tempted and have battles to fight. Deliver us. Make us free people who know we belong to you and who are allowed while still on earth to have a share in eternal life. Amen.

 

Today’s Daily Dig

The most precious things of life are near at hand, without money and without price. Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door.… So, on a large scale, the student and lover of nature has this advantage over people who gad up and down the world seeking some novelty or excitement: he has only to stay at home and see the procession pass. The great globe swings around to him like a revolving showcase; the change of the seasons is like the passage of strange and new countries; the zones of the earth, with all their beauties and marvels, pass one’s door and linger long in the passing.

Source: John Burrough’s America

 

 

 

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US Christians increasingly departing from core truths of Christian worldview, survey finds

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter

A new survey shows that the majority of Americans no longer believe that Jesus is the path to salvation and instead believe that being a good person is sufficient.

As part of the ongoing release of the Arizona Christian University-based Cultural Research Center’s American Worldview Inventory, the latest findings — exploring perceptions of sin and salvation — from George Barna, the group’s director, show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns.

Sixty-eight percent who embrace that notion identify as Christians, including 56% of self-described evangelicals and 62% of those who identify as Pentecostals. Sixty-seven percent of mainline Protestants and 77% of Catholics also embraced that idea, the findings show.

Slightly over half of Christian respondents said they believe someone can attain salvation by “being or doing good,” a figure that includes, 46% of Pentecostals, 44% of mainline Protestants, 41% of evangelicals, and 70% of Catholics.

In addition to the viewpoint that eternal salvation can be earned, survey results show that 58% of Americans believe that no absolute moral truth exists and that the basis of truth are factors or sources other than God. Seventy-seven percent said that right and wrong is determined by factors other than the Bible. Fifty-nine percent said that the Bible is not God’s authoritative and true Word and 69% said people are basically good.

“If you look at some of the dominant elements in the American mind and heart today, as illuminated by the Inventory, most people believe that the purpose of life is feeling good about yourself,” Barna said in a statement sent to The Christian Post.

“Most people contend that all faiths are of equal value, that entry into God’s eternal presence is determined by one’s personal means of choice and that there are no absolutes to guide or grow us morally.

“That philosophy of life contradicts a fundamental basis of what may be the two most significant documents to the longevity and success of America – the Bible and the Constitution of the United States. Those documents agree that this nation will only be healthy and fruitful if it is populated by moral people. By abandoning our moral standards and traditions, and replacing them with inclusive and conditional preferences, we’re losing the foundations that have enabled the ‘American experiment’ to succeed for more than two centuries. We can only hope that our critical moral institutions — particularly the family and the church — will wake up and help the nation to get back on track.”

The results are from a January 2020 survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, with a maximum sampling error of approximately plus or minus 2 percentage points, based on the 95% confidence interval.

 

 

          ~~~Dion Todd

A Healthy Body

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I’m not the hand, I’m not part of the body,’ it is not therefore not part of the body. If the ear would say, ‘Because I’m not the eye, I’m not part of the body,’ it’s not therefore not part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? 1 Corinthians 12:14 WEB

The human body is made up of many parts, and each part is made up of many cells, and each cell is made of even smaller parts like chromosomes. All of it works together in harmony to maintain a healthy body, and every part has its own job to do. It’s an amazing creation and balance.

If you could interview them, different parts of the body would never agree on which job is the most important, because they fully believe it is what they are called to do. For example, the heart pumps blood, while the lungs pump oxygen. To each of them, their job is the most important part of existence, and thankfully they do not try and do the other’s job. If the heart started pumping air, or the lungs started pumping blood, the body would die. We need both the heart and lungs doing their own job for the body to live.

Many times in our walk with Jesus we meet other Christians that just don’t think like we do. One is deep into politics and government, another is an intercessor, another is into mission work, another is a chaplain, while another is focused on prison ministry, others are involved in music, or something else entirely. The list is diverse and unending. It is supposed to be this way. It takes all of us to make the body of Christ work.

When we attend our local church, the welcome team greets us at the door, people work at the coffee counter, in the children’s church, in the nursery, in the praise team, some run the sound, lighting, projectors, recordings, cameras, another speaks a message, others are on the prayer team. It takes everyone working together to build a healthy community.

As Paul told us, we are all a part of the body of Christ and one part is not more important than another. There is no top or bottom in God’s eyes, as we are all His children. Jesus told us that the greatest among you, will be your servant (Mark 10:43, Matthew 23:11). Wherever you find yourself, work like you are working directly for God and you will be rewarded (Colossians 3:23).

Do not get sidetracked by people that try to turn you away from following your own calling, so you can follow theirs. People will live your life for you if you let them, but they are most likely from another part of the body. They cannot do the job that God created for you, nor will they understand your desire to do it. I grew up in the country and people never understood my fascination with computers, but God had a plan later that required it. You will never be satisfied doing what they are meant to do for each of us are unique in our own gifts and our calling in life.

Find what you are passionate about, that seems to come naturally, and follow that. Don’t strive to be like someone else. The greatest thing you can do, is to truly be yourself. Serve your heart out wherever you are, and God will raise you up in due time. If you are washing dishes, be the best dish washer the world has ever seen, and God may make you the manager.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please put me where I need to be and help me to recognize the gifts that You have placed in my life. Stir me up and wake me up. Guide me onto the path that You have laid out for me and make it so clear that I know that it can only be You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Bible Fun Fact: The middle verse in the Bible: Psalm 103:2-3.

 

 

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What Jesus Did! ‘Worship and Honor in the Real World’

Then [the disciples] brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.

Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.

— Mark 11:7-8 NLT

Key Thought

While an unknown owner supplied the colt on which Jesus rode (see Mark 11:1-6), many in the crowd offered their coats to welcome and honor Jesus as he came into town. Others spread branches showing their honor and respect for the Christ. It is a great moment of worship, celebration, and joy. However, the real test of the crowd’s loyalty came in the days that lay ahead for Jesus. Like Christians who celebrate God’s grace, Jesus’ love, and the Spirit’s power only on Sundays, the real heart of worship was not found in the crowds who looked on Jesus with joyous admiration as he rode the colt into Jerusalem but then wanted him crucified a few days later. Likewise, the real test for us is not in Christian assemblies on Sundays but in the dark hours of trial when our faith is confronted by another, more hostile, crowd. Should we share in the joy of Jesus’ glory with those who share our faith? Absolutely! However, we must realize the real test of that faith and the authenticity of our worship will be determined by what we do when confronted by the darkness and the hostile crowd!

Today’s Prayer

O LORD God Almighty, may my life during the week match my worship words on Sunday. Help me in my heart to realize that what I do each day is an integral part of my worship. I want to honor you with my heart, soul, mind, and strength every day of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Matthew 6:19-21 — "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Psalm 145:5-7 — I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Wouldn’t It Be Better?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Today’s verses are from 1 Corinthians. Paul had begun to address the sin and division damaging the holiness and fellowship in the house churches in Corinth. In yesterday’s verses, he wrote about dealing with the problems of illicit sexual relations and the Christians’ boasting about their open-mindedness at allowing it to go on in their fellowship. In today’s verses, Paul addresses the problem of lawsuits that believers were bringing against each other before unbelievers. He emphasizes the embarrassment that such lawsuits were bringing on My spiritual family due to the way that outsiders viewed the church.

Paul tells the Christians why they should prefer to be “ripped off or defrauded” by a fellow believer rather than go to court before unbelievers. He makes some important points about why there shouldn’t be lawsuits between Christians:

  1. Any disagreement believers cannot settle between themselves should be decided by using wise believers in the church family to resolve the issue. Christians should have more wisdom and better values on which to make such a decision. After all, the Father will have Christians judge “heavenly messengers” or angels at the end of time.
  2. Going to unbelievers to decide a legal matter is an embarrassment to the church.
  3. This legal action also places Christians under the authority of those “who have no allegiance to” Me or to My standards of morality and integrity.

The ultimate question you face in these matters is really pretty simple. Are you seeking My kingdom and My righteousness (Matthew 6:33) or are you trying to store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21)? When a person’s heart is more concerned about keeping what he or she has than it is about the good of My kingdom, then that person is living in darkness, and My following words of warning are relevant:

The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray — that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.
(Matthew 6:22-23)

I want to encourage you, as Paul does, to find a way to solve your differences and not go to court (Luke 12:57-59). Paul said it well:

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded?

If you cannot work out a disagreement between yourselves, seek the help of wise brothers and sisters in Christ to help you come to a fair understanding (Matthew 18:16). Remember that there are more important things than your getting what you believe is fair in such matters. One of those more important things is the reputation of the Christian community among unbelievers, and another is not placing yourself under the authority of someone who does not live by My values of truth, honesty, and integrity.

Verses to Live

There are times when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree, disappoint each other, or even sin against each other. To help resolve these disputes, seek the wisdom of wise believers. Don’t go to court with each other before unbelievers and embarrass the church!

Here’s another troubling issue. If you have a grievance against another follower of Jesus, do you have the audacity to bring that brother or sister into the civil courts rather than submitting yourselves to the authority of God’s people? Don’t you know that His people are destined to judge the world? If you have the authority to judge the world, can’t you handle these small matters and render a better judgment than the civil courts? Further, don’t you know that we are destined to judge the heavenly messengers? So if we are to exercise authority in the heavenly realms, can’t we take care of the conflicts that arise in this life? To put it another way, if you are asking the courts to adjudicate your mundane conflicts, aren’t you placing your problems under the authority of judges who have no standing within the church? My words should embarrass you. Is it possible that you have no one among you with the wisdom to mediate between two siblings? So one brother sues another brother in public and drags the dispute before outsiders who have no allegiance to Jesus?

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded? In fact, you are guilty of ripping off and defrauding your own brothers and sisters, not the other way around.
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8)

Response in Prayer

Father, help me as I work on my heart to love You, Your people, and the reputation of Your people. I want to care about the reputation of Your people in the eyes of the world more than I love myself and my stuff. Help me, please dear LORD, for the world pulls at my heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Plough Weekly

What can the Radical Reformation tradition teach about faith and politics in an election year? The heart of Plough’s spring issue was on just this question. Between the day it went to press and the day it launched online, the pandemic changed everything, and we quickly turned our attention to walking alongside readers through this new reality. And yet, in terms of the essential question of faith and politics, the pandemic changed nothing at all. As we close in on the US election, with the two major party conventions later this month, the moment has arrived to deeply consider how to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

“Questions of public justice should matter deeply to Christians,” writes Peter Mommsen, but there’s an essential incompatibility between politics and faithful witness. Emperor Constantine, the first ruler to embrace Christianity, straddled this divide by postponing his baptism till his deathbed. In the centuries that followed, the meaning of this incompatibility was revealed in the extreme: Christians killed other Christians under the church-blessed laws of Christian states. The Anabaptist movement was and is an effort to recover the tradition of the first Christians, who understood that “the church, not the state, embodies God’s will for history.”

“The church community as a practical manifestation of the coming kingdom of God is what speaks most loudly in the world.” In “The Bruderhof and the State,” the community’s General Counsel, John Huleatt, very practically lays out its beliefs – what civic functions members take part in, what are matters of reasoned disagreement and what are nonnegotiables, what their stand has cost them under various political regimes, and how each one of these convictions is driven by “active love of God and neighbor.”

Anabaptists almost never seek power, as this history by John D. Roth explains, but in 1990s Paraguay, a good-faith exception was made. The new government earnestly invited Mennonites to help shape the future of the country, even contribute to the new constitution. How could anyone turn down such an opportunity, with all the good that could be done? And good was done indeed . . . but within a few years, the mixed results of this experiment reaffirmed the wisdom of engaging in political witness from the outside, “not primarily as citizens, or as representatives of political parties, or as a lobby group shouting to be heard, but as ambassadors of the Prince of Peace who came as a servant, welcomed children and foreigners into his circle, and taught us to love our enemies.”

For a non-Anabaptist take on faith and politics, read Michael Wear’s piece over at Breaking Ground: “In politics, as in all things, our call is to be faithful. To stay awake. To walk with those who face injustice.”

Sneak a peek of our autumn issue on solidarity, out next week, with Rosalind Stevenson’s explanation of the cover design, which “signifies a willingness to come together, to change, and to learn from one another. What’s also important is that the different components are bound together by something beyond themselves – a golden cord that comes down and encircles them, and keeps moving, the ongoing work of God.”

If you’re enjoying Plough (we hope you are!), we have a special offer for you. New subscribers to the magazine will receive a free print copy of our new graphic novel of The Grand Inquisitor, as well as free access to all our ebooks. Learn more here, and thanks so much for reading.

Till next week,
Caitrin
P.S. Mom, how do you make friends with a bird? This whimsical question from Aarik Danielsen’s son leads into the world of a young Flannery O’Connor and her assorted fowl. But this innocent exploration opens into more complicated questions about how she spoke of black Americans – and how they spoke of her.

When the Other Has Wings

“There’s a woman I love, she’s really hostile, Flannery O’Connor, she’s really really good,” said Toni Morrison, who devotes an essay in The Origin of Others to a race-centered story in which “O’Connor exhibits with honesty and profound perception her understanding of the stranger, the outcast, the Other.”

This understanding of the Other is the first step toward an ideal described by the late writer Brennan Manning, who called Christians to mature “in tenderness to the extent that we are for others – all others – to the extent that no human flesh is strange to us, to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love, to the extent that for us there are no ‘others.’”

It isn’t that O’Connor’s sin of racism is absolved by her art. But in her art there are the clues to repentance and redemption. O’Connor, unfazed by the blemishes she saw in other people, would be the first to admit that her own blemishes must be reckoned with as well. Like chickens, she seized us by the neck and trained us to stare – at our neighbors and ourselves in the mirror. She wrote in an essay, “Most of us have learned to be dispassionate about evil, to look it in the face and find, as often as not, our own grinning reflections with which we do not argue, but good is another matter. Few have stared at that long enough to accept that its face too is grotesque, that in us the good is something under construction.”

 

 

Five Ways to Make Hard Times Better

When the hard times of life descend, leaving a trail of destruction, how do you deal with them? No matter who you are: parent, grandparent, single or senior,  writer or teacher, blue collar or white collar, here are five ways to make hard times better:

1. Give thanks for what you still have.

Job knew about hard times. He lost his possessions (7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 599 female donkeys)and all His children (10 of them) in one day. Soon after that, he was struck with incurable boils from head to toe. (Job 1-2). What could he possibly give thanks for?

His wife? Well, that’s debatable, considering how she reacted to all of it: “Curse God and die!” Friends? Um, maybe not. Their advice would not encourage a grateful heart. But Job did have God on his side, the One who considered him as a man of integrity. He refused to blame God for anything.

2. Give thanks for what you can still do.

I’m still amazed at Nick Vujicic’s life and story. This man, born without limbs, will more than inspire you and stir up a heart of gratitude for the things you can still do, even in hard times. Sort of makes our circumstances or complaints fade, huh?

Just a note of thanks here, too, for all who have pitched in to help during the coronavirus pandemic. In a thousand different ways, you have sewn, you have given, you have cared, you have baked, and you have prayed..and so much more. Be thankful for what God has allowed you to do and what you still can do to make a difference in these hard times.

3. Trust God to do what you cannot do.

The secret lies not in our strength, but in God’s. That’s true in Nick’s life, and it will be true for us. Looking to Jesus for our strength takes our eyes off our own weaknesses and difficulties. The apostle Paul learned that same truth: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV).

4. Pray for others you know who are also enduring hard times.

It’s not always easy to think about others when we’re hurting, because we can always find someone in a worse condition than ourselves. And we don’t always want to consider that–right now. But hard times are not occasions for a pity party, but an opportunity for an empathy party. In these pandemic times, we are all being affected with loss in one way or another. Praying for others focuses our attention upward and outward, rather than inward.

5. Rest in the Lord.

I know, easy for me to say. I haven’t walked in your shoes. But you haven’t walked in mine, either. Pain is pain. And we’ve all been there or will be, someday. It never helps to compare ourselves to others using a “my situation is worse than yours,” kind of mentality. What does help is to celebrate that God is still in charge; He still loves us; and He wants us to cast all our cares on Him. In other words, to rest in Him and in His Word (Psalm 37:7).

Like He did for Job, God may restore what we lost in this life, or He may wait until eternity to do that. But one day, the temporary will pass away. No more hard times. No more sadness. No more pain. But until then, we can contribute to making the hard times better. Both in this life and the next, Psalm 16:11 says in God’s presence, there is joy, fullness of joy. What a beautiful promise!

I love this translation of a verse I mentioned earlier, Philippians 4:13 (MSG):

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Because if we have Jesus, we have everything.

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, You hold the keys to this world, to these times, and to our hearts. We cast all our cares on You, because You do care for us. Forgive us for trying to make it through hard times by ourselves, or for not turning to You for the help we need. You are the only One who can truly heal us from the disasters that befall our lives and our world. And we bow before You, seeking Your face and admitting our weakness.

In You we find strength, rest, and renewal. You are our only Hope. Thank You for the things we still have, and the things we can still do. No matter how hard or how tough the times, we are blessed knowing and loving You.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What about you? What has helped to make hard times better for you? How do you get through tough times? How are you coping in this pandemic? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

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ChristNOW

Puppet Master or Chess Master?

How Does King Jesus Reveal His Reign in Your Life?

 

Like Christians everywhere, I’m sure you find great comfort in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ when you read these words of promise about Jesus in Romans 14 (emphasis added):

To their own master, servants stand or fall.
And they will stand,
for the master is able to make them stand.

Clearly, for all of us who have been brought out of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13), Jesus is our “master”—in fact, he’s the one and only true “Master of the Universe.” Now and forever.

What’s more, Christians agree a day is coming when every knee in all of creation will bow before Jesus, as every tongue in heaven and earth declares him to be Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11).

Redeemed by the Lamb of God, the Church confesses that both this day and on that glorious day, we have

but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things came
and through whom we live.
(1 Corinthians 8, emphasis added)

However, there is one facet concerning the lordship of Christ about which there remains considerable debate—and even serious division—among believers. It concerns this question:

HOW FULLY does Jesus exercise his supremacy
in all of life?

Even more specifically, we might ask this:

HOW FULLY does he display his reign
and involve himself in my daily life with him?

Stated more broadly: How much of the history of the world has been determined by the decisions and actions of the human race and how much has been determined by God’s decisive, dominant discharging of his sovereign plan for the ages through the person, work, and reign of his Son, Christ Jesus?

Stated more narrowly: How much of my life is determined by my own choices and responses? On the other hand, how much is shaped by the way God takes charge of my life to advance through Christ his prior purposes for my life that were set in place ages ago?

Essentially, such questions suggest two options to choose from—two perspectives over which the Church has debated for centuries and, unfortunately, sometimes split apart. Sometimes violently.

However, as we go forward into more of Christ, we each must decide. Every person must render a verdict that brings significant implications for how one loves Jesus, trusts him, follows him, serves him, and proclaims him.

My goal in this blog post is to simplify these two options for you by exploring them as two metaphors: PUPPET MASTER vs. CHESS MASTER.

As I do, ask yourself: Which one comes closest to how I currently view and value the supremacy of Christ in my own walk with him?

OPTION #1

The reigning Son of God acts as your

PUPPET MASTER

Throughout Church history, one camp of sincere Christians has held to the conclusion that Jesus displays his supremacy most fully in the lives of his followers—and in the course of the entire world—by an approach that most resembles a puppeteer.

This metaphor pictures the reign of King Jesus as comprehensively engaged with, in command of, and dominate over every detail of every facet of every bit of human existence and experience. He is thoroughly in charge. Nothing lies outside what he wills.

One passage, among many, that leans toward this image is Ephesians 1:20-23, which says:

God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (emphasis added).

That is to say, God has chosen to display the absolute nature of his power by appointing his Son to be sovereign Lord, given all authority in heaven and earth. The Son embodies and invokes God’s final say, demonstrating divine omnipotence as his reign overrules and overrides everything and everyone.

In other words, unbounded in grace and mercy, with superior wisdom and insight, claiming unmitigated omnipotence and unyielding righteous resolve—in keeping with God’s redemptive purposes sealed from all eternity—Jesus continually “pulls the strings” (as it were) in terms of how we and all earth’s peoples live and move and have our beings—past, present, and future.

Therefore, whatever unfolds in my life and yours—including every decision, every action, every word out of our mouths, and every direction and outcome of our daily journeys—comes to pass under his sweeping jurisdiction, his undistracted supervision, and his unabated control.

Despite how “free” we may think we are, Jesus rules from his throne every minute, ordaining and orchestrating in innumerable ways, most of which we are unaware.

Option #1 suggests that the best image to capture this phenomenon is to envision a puppet on a stage. The little guy seems to be acting on its own. But what the audience doesn’t see are the strings that an invisible puppeteer behind the curtain is tugging to make the figurine look alive.

In somewhat the same style, our Lord Jesus Christ fulfills his kingly role as a master decider, composer, and conductor of whatever is going on anywhere at any time with anyone—including what is transpiring around me as well as inside me.

Just as he does throughout the whole earth, the Son of God exercises his supremacy in my sphere of existence so fully that nothing happens to me or with me except by his desire, his design, his decree, and with his direct, “hands-on” involvement.

Moment by moment, all peoples and nations, all the animations in creation, all events large and small in human enterprises, the flow of history as well as its culmination—ALL THINGS, whether personal or cosmic in nature—take their cue from a divinely predetermined, predesigned, and preordained script written with our Redeemer as the main theme and the central character.

Many would point to these verses in Colossians 1 to back up that conclusion:

We look at this Son and see . . . God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment . . . He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. (Colossians 1:15-18, The Message, emphasis added).

In other words, the entire storyline was laid out by the triune God before anything was ever made. Now, in time and space, God’s program is being implemented perfectly and unrelentingly under the sovereign sway of the Son of God—page by page, word for word, according to the sacred, ages-old playbook.

Reflective of the way a puppet master can make a marionette dance a particular jig by how he raises and lowers the strings attached to its limbs, even so, Jesus, as the Lord of your life, is the real explanation for how you end up “dancing before the Lord.”

The Puppet Master in Scripture

Let’s look at some additional biblical support. Paul confessed to the Corinthians:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10, emphasis added).

In Ephesians 2, Paul writes this about all of us:

God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved . . . and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (vs. 4-9, emphasis added).

Or again, in Romans 8:28-32 (Phillips, emphasis added), it says:

Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons. In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The show of all-inclusive sovereignty expressed in these passages seems to be the kind Jesus frequently highlights in the book of Revelation—such as his sweeping claim to operate currently and actively as the ruler of all the kings of the earth (1:5) or when he wraps up the drama of the consummation of history by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:13). He’s there at the start, he’s there at the finish line, and he’s there to ensure the outcome by managing every moment in between.

As Jesus informed his disciples in the upper room, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added). That appears to be an indisputable word on the subject, doesn’t it?

Scores of other such passages in the Old and New Testaments suggest a similar interpretation of how God displays his sovereignty through the lordship of Jesus—verses that cause some to liken Jesus’ reign to something akin to a puppet master.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “puppet master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

On the other hand, you might want to consider this:

OPTION #2

The reigning Son of God acts as your

Chess Master

Other Christians choose to live out their walk with Jesus in the security of trusting him to be for them a chess master rather than a puppet master.

In other words, for many Jesus followers, the reality of his supremacy is revealed for them most often by how he is able to combine a measure of their own freedom of choice and action with his ultimate claim to hold unswerving sway in all things, assuring that his intended outcome for all peoples will prevail in the end.

When our lives or our world starts to get off track, they are sure Jesus knows how to “recalculate” an alternative, like your car’s GPS does for you all the time, in order to get life back on the road so that all things end up at their ordained destination—set at his feet for final disposal.

They believe that as Lord of all, Jesus is perfectly able to anticipate and then strategically engage for his own glory every action we take. In fact, in his supremacy, he has the inexhaustible capacity to do so in the face of the countless motives and moves made by people worldwide minute by minute.

Those who hold to Option #2 envision Jesus taking charge across the earth the way a world champion chess master takes charge of a chess game—and gradually takes mastery over his opponent in the process and defeats him.

It is a known fact that a world-class chess player reaches his or her superior level of expertise over many years as they become more and more proficient in the ability to foresee and then outfox their opponent’s game plan—incredibly within the opening gambits of the match.

Furthermore, most champions can predict their opponent’s intended moves as far as ten moves or more past where the game rests at any given moment. This is due to the champ’s incisive intelligence plus decades of study, preparation, and experience.

A chess master comes to the game confident that before long he will be able to compel the other player to move his chessman precisely where the champ intended them to wind up from the beginning—even though his opponent was free to place his pieces where he thought best all along the way.

If such an extraordinary talent can be achieved by frail, finite human minds, consider this:

  • How much more should this be true for the Son of God who is exalted to the throne of heaven, given all authority in heaven and on earth, in whom everything finds its ultimate place in his forcefully advancing kingdom?
  • How much more is our Lord Jesus supremely capable of foreknowing and preplanning and outmaneuvering everything and everyone at every moment, in order to achieve a perfect outcome of every good plan and purpose God established in his Son from eternity past—never threatened in the least by the liberty he gives us to make choices and take actions for a time?
  • How much more will the King of kings gain the victory, in matters large or small, simply by foreseeing and outwitting every real and potential action and reaction in the universe—including all desires of every heart, all decisions of every will, and all actions of every being?
  • How much more, in his infinite, omnipotent wisdom, should the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” established on his cosmic throne, be able to stay ahead of and on top of the combined sum of every desire, decision, and deed in every part of the earth—doing so while simultaneously outthinking, outflanking, and outsmarting every “play” from the other side thus causing creation and history—and me!—to keep flowing toward the fulfillment of his everlasting blueprint?

Don’t miss this core assumption about the “chess master” view of Jesus’ lordship: Those who hold to Option #2 believe all of his non-negotiable engagements with us are going on while at the same time God allows those made in his image—believers and unbelievers alike, sinners that we all are—to retain a measure of freedom to think, choose, and act according to the dictates of our hearts and consciences.

Of course, I state this with the caveat that “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34)—which means our fallen human race has only a measure of “freedom”—no more than the limited prerogatives any slave has who must ultimately give an account to their owner at the end of the day.

The Chess Master in Scripture

Again, there are scores of passages to buttress this position. Let’s look at two Old Testament passages that the New Testament quotes as fulfilled in the reign of Christ today. They seem to point to the “chess master” metaphor.

In Psalm 2, we read about rulers and nations “freely” choosing to rebel against God’s sovereignty. But God laughs at their efforts because he knows he has other “moves” up his sleeves (so to speak) that will outmaneuver these sinners and finalize things just as he wants them to be under the reign of his Son—the Chess Master. Here’s a portion (emphasis added):

The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs . . .
saying, “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain” . . .
I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron . . .
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction . . .
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Notice the combination: There’s a measure of free choice—to rebel or to return—on one side of the “chessboard” combined with the confidence in heaven that finally everything will come out exactly as God has intended through and for his Son.

Or, look at Psalm 110, the most frequently quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It says in part (emphasis added):

The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
The LORD will extend your mighty
scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.

Here we see the balance between Jesus’ sovereignty (as the one God has set at his right hand to reign, which began with Jesus’ ascension) and the ability of others to make choices on their own—whether to resist the king or to “willingly” join his army.

Notice, at the same time, how competently and confidently the King prevails. There’s a process in motion that ultimately will make his enemies fully submit (footstool). Until that process has worked its way through, our Lord Jesus sustains its forward movement every day, not by dominating or manipulating the multitude of moves by the opposition but rather by carrying out his kingdom’s purpose “in the midst” of an active revolt that he allows to freely continue for a season.

Finally, observe that those who see the winning side of the battle, rally to the king, freely choosing to sign up and get involved with him—the Chess Master.

As with Option #1, there are many other passages that would seem to suggest that Option #2, the metaphor of a chess master, provides a credible biblical view of the supremacy of Christ worth carefully weighing. Here’s one more, found in Philippians 3:12-15 (emphasis added):

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus . . . And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “chess master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

Would you like to know
which option I chose and why?

For sure, these two perspectives create genuine tension for Jesus followers. Eventually, here’s how I resolved that tension for myself.

As best as I can determine—after carefully weighing the wealth of Bible passages for both options—for me, it comes down to one major issue:

Which view of the supremacy of Christ
appears from my perspective to bring
the GREATEST POSSIBLE GLORY to God’s Son?

Is it that Jesus can and does control everything in unchallenged totality—with nothing transpiring over which he does not retain the final say every day, over which he is not in absolute, unimpeded, all-encompassing control—in order to activate and complete God’s eternal purposes, down to every last detail?

Or does Jesus gain even greater glory because

  • In exercising the full extent of his supremacy, our Lord Jesus can and does outthink, outwit, outmaneuver, and outplay the actions and even the secret intentions of every resident in heaven and on earth?
  • He does this while at the same time honoring the dignity of those created in God’s image by allowing them to fully and freely express themselves to whatever limits fallen sinners can as well as to whatever limits redeemed believers are permitted?
  • Ultimately, he prevails simply by creatively pursuing and achieving every single desire and design and decree of God’s heart, securing every triumph of his kingdom-focused purposes, prophecies, and promises—while also honoring those created in God’s image to exercise a level of freedom (dead in sin as we are) that expresses some of the wonders of that image that remain?
  • He does all of this not only for the whole of creation but also, in fullest measure, for every facet of a believer’s life and destiny in him?

Many years ago, given that alternate outlook, I concluded that Option #2—Jesus as our chess master—brings the GREATEST GLORY to him.

The very thought of that image fills me with wholehearted praise to the living God! I’m called to adore and serve an awesomely majestic, yet unconditionally compassionate Savior, who takes me (and all humankind) so seriously that he refuses to regard our relationship as something “robotic”!

Instead, he chooses a relationship to us where he works for us and with us—and at times around us and ahead of us, and even, as needed, against us.

Freely he engages with us each day with an eye to where the “chess match” will come out for the whole creation (Revelation 21-22). Just as it will be in the Consummation, he wants his interactions with us even now to exhibit a significant measure of respect, reciprocity, cordiality, cooperation, collaboration, and community.

Yet, through it all, we must never forget: At no time, then or now, will the Lord Jesus Christ forfeit one inch of his permanent position as supreme redeemer, heir, and ruler of all things, who never ceases to execute universal authority over a dominion of which there will be no end (Isaiah 9).

So now, it’s over to YOU!

Have you made a choice yet?  #1 or #2? Puppet master or chess master?

To be candid, I have dear Christian friends who would choose Option #1 and do so because they believe that conclusion is the one that will bring the greatest glory to Jesus. Maybe you are one of them. If so, please know that I honor and value that conclusion as well.

Yet, for all of us, let me restate the truth I expressed earlier:

In the end, in order to go forward into more of Christ, each of us must render a verdict. The fact is that how you define the way Christ exercises his supremacy in all things carries significant, lifelong ramifications for how you respond to him day by day—for how you go about loving him, trusting him, following him, serving him, and sharing him with others.

Happily, both “camps” do agree about one major response we can share in together: We always can unite to exult in and praise our glorious Savior King while we work hand in hand to exalt his name and spread his fame throughout a world that desperately needs to submit to his redeeming reign—today more than ever.

As you weigh the options for yourself, take a look at this 11-minute video clip from The Christ Institutes here, where I share my thoughts on “What does the supremacy of Christ really involve?”

In this short video clip, I define a high view of Jesus in fresh ways that I’m certain every Jesus follower—whichever option they choose—will want to celebrate. Together let’s shout “Hallelujah!” to our reigning King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender our lives daily to him!

 


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.

 

 

Personal…

Char Delia Carys1

This is my baby boy, my youngest child, with his two beautiful daughters, Delia and Carys.  His name is Charles and today is his 34th birthday.  He lives in Pennsylvania and I’m in Oklahoma and we haven’t seen each other for a few years, but I’ll share my favorite memory of him with you.  He was about four years old and I awoke one morning to find his crib empty.  He was nowhere in the house, either!  So I went outside to look for him.  At the end of the block was a sort-of cul de sac and that’s where I found him.  He had dressed himself— long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and his Dad’s work boots!  He was so funny looking!!  And, to this day, I still laugh at this memory and it warms my heart…. Happy Birthday, Baby boy of mine!!!!

 

 

 

Humor—

Aunty Acid for 8/9/2020

https://www.facebook.com/maxine/photos/a.167331877944.118063 ...

 

 

Happy Sunday Love Quotes, Images and Funny Meme - Quotes Square

 

 

Sister Day!

 

 Daily Prayer for August 2

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, NIV

Father in heaven, we thank you that we may feel your leading, your lordship, for you have blessed us with every spiritual and heavenly gift in Christ. We thank you that we may be among those who receive true life always anew, who praise and glorify you, exulting even in difficult days. For it is just in the difficult days that we need to belong to those who are thankful and joyful, who always find new certainty in their lives. With them may we experience the good you give on earth so that humankind may be blest and come at last into your hands. Amen.

 

Plough Logo

When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds, there could be no rain, and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made of entirely non-flower elements; it has no independent, individual existence. When we see the nature of inter-being, barriers between ourselves and others are dissolved, and peace, love, and understanding are possible. Whenever there is understanding, compassion is born.

Source: Living Buddha, Living Christ

 

 

                 ~~~Dion Todd

The Last Supper

He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet!’ John 13:4 WEB

When they gathered in the upper room that evening, only Jesus understood it would be the last time they would share a meal together on Earth. It was customary before a passover meal to ceremonially wash at home, but as you walked on the dusty roads to go to the supper, your feet would get dirty. On arrival, a servant would typically wash the guests feet to refresh them before the meal. According to Jewish tradition, a Jewish servant was not even asked to wash people’s feet for it was considered beneath them. This lowly task was assigned to gentile servants.

On the evening of the last supper, there was no servant present to wash the guests feet. So the disciples looked around at each other, then they all sat down with their feet dirty. They apparently felt too important to perform such a menial task. Jesus watched them all sit down, then He arose, wrapped a towel around His waist and began to wash their feet one at a time, even those of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him.

They all sat in embarrassed silence while Jesus washed the feet of one disciple after another, until He came to Peter. You could count on Peter to speak his mind, and Peter rebuked Jesus, the King of all Kings, because He was acting like a Servant. The disciples did not understand then, but later, after the events that followed that night came to pass, they understood.

Jesus could see what was coming, before it came. The disciples could not, yet it all worked out just the way it was supposed to. God does not tell us all the details, and if He did, we would not understand it all, just like the disciples. God is the General, and He tells us what we need to know in order to do our part. He also tells other people their parts, then He takes care of putting it all together. Only He can see the entire picture.

In my life, there have been many times when I did not understand what was going on. How could this event even happen? Then after the storm passed, it all made sense. Looking back on the events, I can see how God used circumstances to steer me like the rudder of a ship to get me where I needed to go. I would not be here writing this, if I had not first been there.

You may be facing something that you do not understand, and you may feel like God is doing the wrong thing, or nothing at all. You may question ‘Why is this happening?’ Don’t panic. Give it time. Things may be lining up behind the scenes. God reserves the right be God, and sometimes He does things without explaining it to us. He knows what He is doing, where this is going, and how all this fits together. Our part is to pray and trust Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for guiding me today. Please put me where I need to be to serve You the best. Cut me loose from the things that hold me back. Speak to me in a way that I understand and fulfill Your perfect will in my life, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Bible Fun Fact: There are over 8,000 predictions in the Bible!

 

 

Logos.com

 

 

Heartlight

What Jesus Did! ‘I Came to Serve and to Give’

[Jesus said,] “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Key Thought

Here is the heart of our hero, Jesus, given in one simple statement. His words must be our legacy. His example must be the pattern for our lives. Jesus bought us out of Satan’s grasp and brought us to freedom through the ransom price he paid. We are now called to follow his example and live his life in our world. We are to serve and sacrifice for others. Living to serve others is the Jesus-way of life!

Today’s Prayer

O Father in heaven, use my life to your glory and for blessing others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 6:10-11 — A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Psalm 140:6-8, 13 — I said to the Lord, "You are my God!" Listen, O Lord, to my cries for mercy! Sovereign Lord, the strong one who rescued me, you protected me on the day of battle. Lord, do not let evil people have their way. Do not let their evil schemes succeed, or they will become proud. ... Surely the righteous people are praising your name; the godly will live in your presence.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Dealing with Idlers’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Some messages of truth are hard to hear. Nevertheless, a family has to have expectations of family members if it is going to function productively and impact the community around it positively. The way one “bad apple” behaves can destroy the influence of the whole family and can bring disorder and frustration to the whole family.

Today’s message is a hard message. Paul and the church in Thessalonica were facing a real problem. The group of disciples in Thessalonica had some folks who were “idler busy-bodies” — folks who didn’t work and went around sticking their noses into everyone else’s business telling these productive folks how to live their lives. The idlers’ reputations were rubbing off on the whole body of believers. The result was that the church was becoming more and more disrespected in the community. So Paul sent some instructions to the Thessalonians about how to discipline these idlers, the purpose behind this discipline, and the principles upon which the discipline was built.

Paul taught the Thessalonian Christians to discipline these “idler busy-bodies” by warning those who were lazy and who were depending on the church to take care of them. If they didn’t change their lazy ways, the church family was to “withdraw” from active fellowship and support of the idlers. There should be no more help for folks too lazy to work.

Paul reminded the Thessalonian disciples of the purpose of this discipline. The goal was to restore these brothers and sisters to fruitful lives of service. This discipline was to be done with an attitude of helping a family member, not treating this idler as an enemy.

Paul also helped the Thessalonian believers recall his own teaching and example when he was with them. He had purposefully worked hard when he was among them to set an example so they could see what it looked like to work hard and not depend on others for support.

For Paul, the church family needed to have a reputation in the community as good, decent, hard-working folks: people who “never grow tired of doing good”!

Verses to Live

I know that you sometimes struggle with what to do when people do not seem “to get it” — that is, when they do not realize that they are not going to change their circumstances until they change their behaviors. This complacency is especially true of folks who can work but learn to grow dependent upon support from the church family and become lazy in their own lives. I hope you will read carefully as you see Paul lay down some great principles for you to follow as you try to deal with these kinds of situations.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NLT)

For the sake of the church, brothers and sisters, we insist in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed that you withdraw from any brother or sister who is out of order and unwilling to work, who is straying from the line of teaching we passed on to all of you. You know how essential it is to imitate us in the way we live life. We were never undisciplined nor did we take charity from anyone while we were with you. Instead, you saw how we worked very hard day and night so we wouldn’t be a burden to even one person in the community. We had the right to depend on your help and hospitality, as you know; but we wanted to give you a model you could follow, to lay a path of footprints for you to walk in. This is exactly why, while with you, we commanded you: “Anyone not willing to work shouldn’t get to eat!” You see, we are hearing that some folks in the community are out of step with our teaching; they are idle, not working, but really busy doing nothing — and yet still expect to be fed! If this is you or someone else in the community, we insist and urge you in the Lord Jesus the Anointed that you go to work quietly, earn your keep, put food on your own table, and supply your own necessities. And to the rest of you, brothers and sisters, never grow tired of doing good.

If someone disregards the instructions of this letter, make a note of who it is and don’t have anything to do with that person so that this one may be shamed. Don’t consider someone like this an enemy (he is an enemy only to himself) but warn him as if you were redirecting your own brother.
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Response in Prayer

Righteous Father, I want to be a compassionate person who helps those in need and yet does not enable those who are lazy. Please give me wisdom and grace to deal with these kinds of situations that I find in my world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

21-DAY JOURNEY
INTO MORE OF CHRIST!
This unique experience consists of twenty-one videos that are ONLY TEN MINUTES EACH, taken from the original 9 one-hour videos of The Christ Institutes Video Series.

Take 10 minutes (some are shorter!) to view one video a day during this three-week exploration (you choose the days). Let David Bryant help you uncover amazing, fresh insights into the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ and your walk with him—wonders you may have never thought about before.

Take a look at the variety of topics here. It is also available as 21 ten-minute podcasts here.

What can 10 minutes a day
do for you?
This could be the month you look back to and say:

“In August of 2020, I saw the greatness and glory
of Jesus in whole new ways!
I’ll never be the same! I want to keep going deeper
with him for the rest of my life!”

Once you taste more of who Jesus is today as reigning Lord over all—yet the One who loves you and lives within you—you will hunger for him even more!
It’s August! GET STARTED TODAY! 
What can 10 minutes a day do for you?
Take the journey here!

 

 

The Power of Encouragement: When Can Silence Hurt?

The Power of Encouragement: When Can Silence Hurt

Most of us have heard that silence is golden. But sometimes silence can hurt, especially when people misjudge us unfairly. We all underestimate the power of encouragement.

We held one of those infamous garage sales one year at our home–the kind where you clean out closets, drag out forgotten things from under beds, and purge the garage of stacked “stuff” that won’t fit into your house. It’s always fun to meet interesting people who stop by to view your wares. Occasionally, they’ll stay long enough to share personal stories.

This sale was no exception. An attractive boomer-age woman who came by told us of an experience that happened to her mother years earlier. This is my paraphrase of her story:

Her mom had just moved to a large metropolitan area and was hoping to meet and make friends in her new home. She joined several organizations, including a local church. But no one would befriend her. No one even spoke to her.

Is it my deodorant? My clothes? The way I talk? A hundred questions raced through her mind, but she found no answers. Women seemed to avoid her as if she had a contagious disease. No one spoke to her or invited her to their home.

What’s Wrong with Me?

Finally, her mother decided to confide in one woman whom she respected, one of the women leaders in the church women’s organization. “What’s wrong with me? Have I angered someone? Why is everyone avoiding me?”

The woman leader frowned slightly and looked around, then spoke in a hushed tone. “Are you sure you want to know?”

“Of course, I do. Please, if you know something, tell me!”

The leader continued in a soft whisper-voice. “It’s–it’s the company you keep.”

“The company I keep? What do you mean?”

It’s Your Lifestyle

She took a deep breath and said, “It’s your lifestyle. You have police cars coming and going to your house, night and day. A woman of your reputation and your kind of company, um, doesn’t exactly paint a good, wholesome picture. The ladies are offended by this kind of activity.

Her mother’s eyes widened as a she tried to stifle a grin. “Would you do me a favor? Ask some of the ladies to come to my home this Tuesday for lunch. I’d like to show you something.”

“Well, um, I don’t know….” The woman stammered, shaking her head.

“Please, just ask. You and the ladies come at 12:00 Noon this Tuesday. I’ll have lunch waiting.”

The ladies decided to go together as a group and accept her mother’s invitation. But when they arrived at Noon on Tuesday, just as they expected, police cars surrounded her mother’s home. Her mom invited the women in and took them immediately to her kitchen where she had prepared lunch. Eight uniformed police officers sat at the kitchen table, eating lunch.

Meet the Special People in My Life

Turning to the women, then pointing to the policemen, her mother smiled and said, “I want you to meet some special people in my life: “This is my husband, my brother, my son, my son-in-law, my brother-in-law, my nephew…They’re all police officers.”

The mother had no problem with friendships from that point on.

Silence Is Not Always Golden – The Power of Encouragement

Silence is not always golden. And the absence of words can do just as much damage as speaking harmful ones. We may not start a juicy morsel of gossip. But saying nothing is just as bad, especially if we believe without checking out the truth for ourselves.

Words originate with thoughts. And God knows the thoughts of our hearts. Things are not always as they seem. Judging–or jumping–to the wrong conclusions can discourage the hearer. And who hasn’t been the victim growing up at one time or another with the powerful effects of “the silent treatment?” To “ice” others by refusing to acknowledge their presence or to express our disapproval of them may prove a point, but it won’t win friends. Both of these methods involve an intentional withdrawal of affection. It’s so–pharisaical and just plain, mean-spirited.

We All Need Encouragement

God knows our need for encouragement. “Encourage one another daily,” (Hebrews 3:13). Encouraging words are like warm blankets that ward off hurtful, icy blasts. And in the wintertime moments of our lives, we all need a warm blanket.

Have you ever misjudged someone? Or been the object of someone’s hurtful gossip? How has someone been a “warm blanket” for you with their encouraging words? Remembering how it feels may help you go searching in your spiritual closet for some spare blankets. Those kind should never be sold in a garage sale. Instead, dispense them freely to everyone you meet. Never forget the power of encouragement!

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, we’ve all experienced times when silence was hurtful to us or to a loved one. And we’ve all spoken words we’ve later regretted. Help us not to embrace opinions as facts, or to jump to inaccurate conclusions about what we see or hear, but to check out the truth with diligence and then speak that truth in love. Forgive us when we are quick to judge, and too eager to pass on inaccurate statements that could hurt others. You are the One who changes hearts, not us. Help us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

We need wisdom, Lord, as to when to speak up and when to remain silent. Teach us Your ways, for You are the Master Communicator. We can’t see the hearts of others like you can, Lord. Refine our motives, and purify our desires. May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable, pleasing, and always honoring to You.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What about you? When have you seen silence hurt others? How have encouraging words been a warm blanket for you? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

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Another Life Is Possible: From Isolation to Community

FROM A FATHERLESS CHILDHOOD TO COMMUNITY

Kim Comer

COURTESY OF COMER FAMILY

KIM COMER 1962 –

Kim’s journey from loneliness to community began during his childhood in Alabama:

I grew up in a single-parent household: just me and my mother. Naturally, as I grew up, I wondered where my father was. She told me he was a very important person who had important things to do – things that kept him away from our home – and that our job was to keep the home fires burning and make him proud. Not surprisingly, I created, over time, a sort of fantasy picture of the world’s greatest dad.

When Kim turned six his mother sent him to boarding school, a military academy that she hoped would instill discipline and perseverance in her son.

During his senior year of high school, Kim’s fantasies regarding his heritage were shattered. A half-brother he had never heard of showed up one day and took him to visit their father, who was dying:

We talked as we drove to the hospital, and the more my half-brother told me, the more it became apparent to me that my father was no hero but just a regular married man with a family who had, somewhere along the way, gotten involved with my mom; and that I was an accidental result of that relationship. When we got to the hospital I was not really prepared to meet him. The man I saw in that hospital bed was in no way the dad that I wanted. I left that room rejecting him, and in the process rejecting a big part of myself.

After high school, Kim attended Georgia Tech, where he studied engineering on a scholarship. But try as he might, he couldn’t shake the feelings of confusion and bitterness and even hatred that followed his brief encounter with his father. When an opportunity to stay in Europe opened up, he took it. It was a chance to get as far away as possible from the mess he was in.

Kim’s time in Hamburg was the happiest chapter of his life thus far: he was embraced by Ulrike’s extended family, which included not only her relatives but also the members of a vibrant network of youth groups associated with her church. He recalls:

These young people were grappling with finding a real faith: one that could be expressed and lived out, personally, and in society at large. They accepted me and made me feel that I was one of them.

And yet, the Comers grew uneasy with the pressures they faced as young professionals. In Kim’s words:

I never saw my training as my calling in life; I knew very well that it was a fluke. On the one hand, there was the supposed privilege of working at a university. In Germany, a sense of awe and wonder pervaded the air around people with academic titles. But it was so empty: all this prestige, though they hadn’t worked any harder than anyone else.

I was just coming into the final phase of my studies, finishing research and taking exams; and Ulrike was coming into the internship and residency phase of medical school. And both of us kept hearing these questions in the back of our minds: “What are we going to do with our lives, once we are finished with school? What is our vocation, our real calling?”

I kept on studying. Even though I sensed that my work wasn’t all that important, it was interesting. And once our son Clemens was born, I had to provide for him. Plus, my job had been created for me by the university and couldn’t have fit me better. My field of research was the transmission of ancient Greek mathematics through the Middle Ages, and I knew of only one other person specializing in it at the time – some guy in Austin. So I threw myself into producing quality academic work, getting published, speaking at conferences.

Despite our best intentions, we were increasingly caught up in the rat race and the need to present ourselves as “successful.” Our lives were so disjointed.

During the first year or two of our relationship, we were involved with youth work and the Salvation Army; we attended Bible study. By the time our second child, Bennet, came along, such activities were falling by the wayside, and we were being supported by our church, rather than the other way around: for example, an older lady came to take our kids out for walks when we felt that we should actually be supporting her. Despite our best intentions, we were increasingly caught up in the rat race and the need to present ourselves as “successful.” Our lives were so disjointed.

Then two events brought everything to a head. The first happened on the night of January 17, 1991, when the United States began bombing Baghdad. I was at the university, working late on some important papers that were to be presented at some important conference on some very unimportant things.

I was working in a tall building known as the Philosophenturm – the philosophers’ tower, which housed offices for the humanities, and suddenly I heard shouting down in the streets. I looked out, and saw all these young people milling in the streets, protesting the bombing and setting things on fire. I turned the radio on, and there was a CNN reporter in Baghdad. It was horrific – grotesque – what was happening: all-out war in Baghdad and in the streets below me. And here I was, trapped in the proverbial ivory tower, completely detached from anything of substance, poring over old Greek ­manuscripts. If I could put my finger on one place in my life where I almost snapped, it was there.

The community welcomes Marcus and Becky’s fifth child – through a window, of course, till he’s a little older.
Darvell’s famous free donuts at the Robertsbridge village Christmas fête

The second decisive event came the following week, when a couple – good friends of ours who had been married for ten years – told us that they were separating. Ulrike and I both felt then, and in the weeks and months afterwards, that we were actually on the same path: that there was nothing holding our marriage together that hadn’t also been holding our friends’ marriage together, so to speak. It left us ­wondering how we could change our life.

Then the Comers heard about Michaelshof, a Bruderhof community in Germany, and out of ­curiosity made plans to visit.

All we really knew was that we didn’t want to slide into a life of materialism: we had just bought a new stereo system, and were talking about getting a car. And we knew that we wanted to be part of a church where we could do things together, also as a family.

We felt that the “modern” way of life, where each spouse is focused on working to pay the bills while the children are off on their own all day in school, was ultimately destructive. It pulls you in all directions at once. It never comes together anywhere. It never allows you to commit to anything, or even to really contribute to something bigger than your own happiness.

When we drove into the driveway, we knew we were home. We asked to become members the same week. Later, people wondered what had made us decide so fast. But there was really no decision to make. When you’re drowning and somebody throws you a life ring, you just grab it.

Mercy at a London Christmas market

In retrospect, Kim says he feels it was “a grace” that they weren’t looking for community per se: “We knew people who went from one community to another, shopping for the ideal place. We were spared all that.”

At the Bruderhof, he found a new context for addressing old challenges:

My whole life has been blessed (or plagued, according to my mood!) by different forms of community, so I have hardly ever experienced loneliness in the sense of social isolation. But I would say that none of them, including marriage and Bruderhof life, have solved or ­resolved or eliminated my tendency toward being a loner, or feeling alone. In some ways,

I would even say that the aspiration to community exposes and highlights the problem.

But working through his problems with others who have made an unconditional voluntary commitment to each other provides “a security which stands in stark contrast to the precariousness of other human relationships.” True community “does not depend on living up to a particular standard,” but “requires honesty, forgiveness, and vulnerability. You can live alongside others without those, and it may look and feel like community, but without them, you are missing its essence.”

This vulnerability begins in one’s relationship with God. Kim explains:

It is before God himself that you have to own up to your own weaknesses, and to the patent discrepancies between the person that you would like to be (that is, the person you would like others to see) and the person that you actually are. Someone once said that God doesn’t love the imaginary person you try to be; he can only love you as you really are.

That was my struggle as a young man. I was angry about who I had found out I really was. Once you can accept who you are, and accept God’s love for you, the community you have with him will allow you to overcome your lack of confidence, and your isolation, and to find community with others.

 

 

 

NATIONAL SISTERS DAY – First Sunday in August

I have four sisters and two Angels…..my oldest sister, Joan, in Heaven and my brother, Jim, also in Heaven.  Growing up with my sisters was an experience that I am so very glad to have had…….there was always someone to play with or just hang out with……my youngest sister, Nan, though we no longer talk to each other, was like my favorite toy…..a real, live doll and when our Mom needed someone to stay home to play with Nan, I was always quick to volunteer!  So today, I wish them all lots of love and happiness and, to Joan, “Save a spot for me!”

National Sisters Day on the first Sunday in August celebrates the unique bond between sisters. This particular set of siblings embrace moments that make them laugh and cringe. While they don’t always agree, sisters have each other’s backs.

All siblings have the odd argument here and there, but deep down there’s little way around the natural connection between siblings. Even those who don’t have a natural sister sibling know the bonds of sisterhood. Those who forge a relationship with their spouse’s sisters understand. Also, women who support each other through difficult times form a sisterhood.

Quote markA sister is like yourself in a different movie,
a movie that stars you in a different life. ~ Deborah Tannen

No two sisters are alike. From love interests to cars, sisters will disagree. And food, cleaning, and children require interventions. However, we rely on each other while privately envying a sister’s style, ability or grace. A sister understands when no one else does, sometimes when even you don’t. So, sister time provides vital healing.

Whether your sisters harrassed you from day one or found you later in life, this day brings you back together. Cherish the memories and make plans to create new ones. Reconnect or patch up any misunderstandings. Sisters are forever.

HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL SISTERS DAY

Is your sister getting married? Make this day a special celebration for her by telling her all about Amazon’s Wedding Registry.

If you don’t have a sister, celebrate the friendships of sisterhood by having a girls’ night out! Other ways to celebrate sisters include:

  • Watch a sisterly movie like Sisters, Hannah and Her Sisters, Soul Food, Little Women, Frozen, or The Other Boleyn Girl.
  • Make memories together by taking a road trip with your sisters.
  • Get a professional photo taken of you and your sisters to cherish forever.

Post on social media using #NationalSistersDay to encourage others to do the same.

NATIONAL SISTERS DAY HISTORY

We were unable to identify the creator of National Sisters Day.

 

 

Humor—

Mother Goose and Grimm for 8/2/2020

Aunty Acid for 8/2/2020

Lemme read you your rights sir | Cartoon jokes, Funny cartoons ...

20 Seriously Funny Cartoon Jokes | Funny cartoons jokes, Cartoon ...

 

 

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Sunday Blogging

 

 Daily Prayer for July 19

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, NIV

Lord our God, we rejoice that we may be called your children. In our weakness we ask you to shelter us in your hands. Strengthen us in the hope and faith that our lives will surely go the right way, not through our strength but through your protection. Grant that through your Spirit we may come to know more and more that you are with us. Help us to be alert in our daily life and to listen whenever you want to say something to us. Reveal the power and glory of your kingdom in many people, to the glory of your name, and hasten the coming on earth of all that is good and true. Amen.

 

Daily Dig

In your inbox every morning

fan shellsWhen despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the green heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Source: The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

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            ~~~Dion Todd

The Monument

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26 WEB

When God told Abram to leave his country, he brought along his nephew Lot. In time, the families grew and prospered so much they had to separate from each other. Lot and his family then moved to the city of Sodom. It was an extremely wicked, prideful city, and eventually their sins caught up with them.

Because of Abraham, angels visited Lot and told him to get his family out of Sodom before the destruction began. The angels told them when they left, to not look behind them. So Lot’s family all left the city together. Lot’s wife went out of the city with the family, but she stopped, lingered, and looked back longingly at what she was leaving behind. She became a pillar of salt. She became a monument.

In our life God is always calling us forward, always stretching our faith, and as long as we live, we are not finished. He is infinitely smart, and we only know a fraction of what He has in store for us. We will still be learning about God while in heaven. To think that we know everything about Him now is hubris, and prideful deception. He has given us enough truth to live by today, but tomorrow we will learn even more. None of us know everything.

If you take a broad look at denominations, you will always see they are formed this way: A revelation, a movement, then a monument. Each one starts with a new revelation about something they believe, it becomes a movement and gathers a following. Eventually what they believe is written out in a ‘Statement of faith’ and then whatever is not included in that statement, is rejected, and whoever does not agree with them, are wrong. What started out as something new and fresh, ironically now rejects anything new, and it becomes an unchanging monument.

Old wineskins become brittle and will not hold new wine, so God has to use someone else. He moves on and reveals something new to those that are willing to listen, and soon another movement is formed around that truth. Revelation, movement, monument, is the pattern as God restores His church from the dark ages.

God is full of surprises, and to think that He is predictable is a mistake. I know that He said ‘I change not’ and He does not, but our understanding certainly does. The fact is that no one walked on water, until a couple of people did (Matthew 14:29). No one raised the dead, until someone did (Acts 20:9). No one cast out evil spirits with a handkerchief, until someone did (Acts 19:11). Bread had never rained from heaven, until the day that it did (Exodus 16:14). Unless scripture clearly prohibits something, be open and ‘Test all things, keeping what is good’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Do not despise prophecies (1 Thessalonians 5:20).

Stay stretchable today and allow God to do something new in your life. Do not write off everything new that comes your way as not of God, especially things that are clearly discussed in the Bible. Keep looking forward and not behind you. Do not stop listening to God, do not stop growing, or you will become just another monument along the path.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please let me see through Your eyes what You are doing today. I choose to believe that You are alive, that You love me, and that You are listening to me today. I want to ally myself with You and walk hand in hand. Come and be a part of my life today, help me be stretchable and teachable, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Bible Fun Fact: God once used a poultice of figs to heal a boil on Hezekiah (Is. 38:21).

 

 

Unstoppable! ‘Gifted, Gracious, and Going’

 

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

— Acts 13:1-3 NLT

Key Thought

Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch from their trip to take needed financial support to the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. Luke listed five prominent leaders in the church in Antioch. They came from a variety of different backgrounds, reflecting the diverse church. They had broken through all sorts of barriers culturally. The Holy Spirit grew them into a gifted and gracious church, eager to share their fellowship, funds, and very best leaders. While worshiping and fasting — always an invitation for God to be praised and for them to be open to God’s leading — the Spirit challenged them to send Barnabas and Saul, two of their most vital leaders, out on your mission to the world. They obeyed the Spirit and began a missionary journey to reach people in other parts of the world. We should long to be like them — gifted with dynamic leaders, gracious in sharing their fellowship and funds, as well as being willing to send their best to take the Good News to the world!

Today’s Prayer

O Father, move in your people through the Holy Spirit. Stir up leaders in all parts of the world. Speak into the hearts of those who are worshiping and fasting to know your will for them. Fashion more of our churches to be like the early church in Antioch, welcoming all sorts of people into our fellowship and committed to go all over the world to share the love and grace of Jesus with all people. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of James 5:15 — And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

Passion for Praise: ‘All Glory to Him!’

Illustration of Romans 11:33-36 — Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Guidance from the Holy Spirit’

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple,

The conference that you read about in the verses below occurred in Jerusalem. The focus of that conference was what should be done about Gentiles becoming Christians. There was a controversy concerning whether Gentile Christians would have to follow the law of Moses fully to be accepted into My family. The decision was crucial for the future of the mission of My church. At risk was the worldwide mission to the nations, the mission I had given before I ascended back to the Father. The wrong answer at this point in the development of the early church would have limited My movement to being nothing more than another sect of Judaism. However, the disciples at the conference came to the correct answer because they trusted in the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I had promised My disciples that I would send the Holy Spirit to them to be with them and to empower them to be My witnesses all over the world (Acts 1:8), and they believed it!

I promised them that the Holy Spirit would be their Helper and their Counselor Who would guide them into all truth (John 16:13), and they trusted that what I told them was true.

They had experienced the Holy Spirit responding to their worship of prayer and fasting by calling Barnabas and Paul into the mission field (Acts 13:1-3), and they sent out these great disciples as missionaries.

So when it came time to make this huge decision about Gentile Christians, what did they do? They relied on the Holy Spirit to lead them. Peter said that Cornelius’ conversion happened because “God decided” to include Gentiles, and He confirmed their inclusion by sending the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his household. So they described the final decision they reached this way: “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” They were confident that the Holy Spirit was helping to provide them a clear path forward as they prayed and worked together on a resolution of their controversy.

So here’s My point: You need to trust in the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit as you seek to live out My mission in your world. The power and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are gifts I have left you as you wait for My return!

Verses to Live

These words that Luke wrote in Acts show how My disciples in the early church relied on the Holy Spirit to help them make a crucial decision. They made this monumental decision with certainty because they were convicted that the Holy Spirit was guiding them. I want you to trust that the Holy Spirit will also guide you in your decisions as you seek to live out My mission to reach the lost world.

Upon arrival [of Paul, Barnabas, and others from Antioch] in Jerusalem, the church, the apostles, and the elders welcomed them warmly; and they reported all they had seen God do. But there were some believers present who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. They stood up and asserted,

Pharisees:

No, this is not acceptable. These people must be circumcised, and we must require them to keep the whole Mosaic law.

The apostles and elders met privately to discuss how this issue should be resolved. There was a lot of debate, and finally Peter stood up.

Peter:

My brothers, you all know that in the early days of our movement, God decided that I should be the one through whom the first outsiders would hear the good news and become believers. God knows the human heart, and He showed approval of their hearts by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did for us. In cleansing their hearts by faith, God has made no distinction between them and us. So it makes no sense to me that some of you are testing God by burdening His disciples with a load that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to carry. No, we all believe that we will be liberated through the grace of the Lord Jesus — they also will be rescued in the same way.

There was silence among them while Barnabas and Paul reported all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among outsiders.

When they finished, James spoke.

James:

My brothers, hear me. Simon Peter reminded us how God first included outsiders in His favor, taking people from among them for His name. This resonates with the words of the prophets:

“After this, I will return and rebuild the house of David, which has fallen into ruins. From its wreckage I will rebuild it; so all the nations may seek the Eternal One — including every person among the outsiders who has been called by My name.”

This is the word of the Lord, Who has been revealing these things since ancient times. So here is my counsel: we should not burden these outsiders who are turning to God. We should instead write a letter, instructing them to abstain from four things: first, things associated with idol worship; second, sexual immorality; third, food killed by strangling; and fourth, blood. My reason for these four exceptions is that in every city there are Jewish communities where, for generations, the laws of Moses have been proclaimed; and on every Sabbath, Moses is read in synagogues everywhere.

This seemed like a good idea to the apostles, the elders, and the entire church. They commissioned men from among them and sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent two prominent men among the believers, Judas (also known as Barsabbas) and Silas, to deliver this letter:

The brotherhood, including the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, send greetings to the outsider believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. We have heard that certain people from among us — without authorization from us — have said things that, in turn, upset you and unsettle your minds. We have decided unanimously to choose and send two representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul who, as you know, have risked their lives for our Lord Jesus the Anointed. These representatives, Judas and Silas, will confirm verbally what you will read in this letter. It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to keep you free from all burdens except these four: abstain from anything sacrificed to idols, from blood, from food killed by strangling, and from sexual immorality. Avoid these things, and you will be just fine. Farewell.

So the men were sent to Antioch. When they arrived, they gathered the community together and read the letter. The community rejoiced at the resolution to the controversy.
(Acts 15:4-31)

Response in Prayer

O Father, bless the leaders in our churches today. Give them hearts that yearn for Your will and a passion to lead us to live out Your mission to our lost world. Give them a willingness to work together to achieve that mission and a commitment to rely on Your Spirit to lead them to consensus and to clarity about the directions that they are to lead us. We need Your wisdom, guidance, and direction for our lives and for our churches. We ask for Your leading through the influence of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Life Is Not Essential

B.D. McClay
B.D. McClay is Senior Editor of The Hedgehog Review. She has written for various publications, including Commonweal, The Outline, and The New Yorker.

“Life is not essential” is, in some ways, the lesson we are learning from coronavirus. By this I mean to lean, in part, on the distinction, not much heard before the pandemic but ubiquitous since it began, between essential and unessential workers. “Essential” quickly assumed a moral quality. There was scrutiny over what went under the heading—why liquor stores but not bookstores? There was judgment about what fell outside—deserved, in one sense, when you consider that many essential workers (grocery-store cashiers, food delivery drivers) make penury wages, something that was a moral outrage before and only became more so.

“Our society no longer believes in anything but bare life,” Giorgio Agamben wrote, in one of a series of briefly infamous missives critical of coronavirus-induced lockdowns. “It is obvious that Italians are disposed to sacrifice practically everything—the normal conditions of life, social relationships, work, even friendships, affections, and religious and political convictions—to the danger of getting sick.” As the protests that have spread throughout the United States and even worldwide over the killing of George Floyd have demonstrated, this was not exactly true. If some things are worth sacrificing the pleasures of life for, other things are worth risking life’s pains.  The willingness to do both is encouraging, if you think those were the right decisions; not, if not. (For the record, not to be coy: I do.) Life is not essential in this other sense too: sometimes you risk it.

If some things are worth sacrificing the pleasures of life for, other things are worth risking life’s pains.

Most of us would identify Agamben’s list (“the normal conditions of life, social relationships, work, even friendships, affections, and religious and political convictions”) as the things that make life something richer than surviving. In this sense I have more sympathy for his point of view than perhaps one would expect. People who insist on casting resistance to this sacrifice as selfishness are taking a narrow view of a situation that is lonely, stressful, and in some cases financially disastrous. They are not looking squarely at, for instance, what it means to be home all the time if your home is itself dangerous.

But even if you’re in the best possible situation, employed and safe, there’s not much to do. Coronavirus has created a situation that is stressful enough to have practically destroyed my short-term memory but that is also, somehow, crushingly boring. You look out your window. Has everything simply stopped?

***

In Marlen Haushofer’s novel The Wall, a nameless, slightly pathetic middle-class widow—mother to two “rather unpleasant, loveless and argumentative semi-adults,” friend to various people who feel sorry for her—falls asleep in a friend’s hunting lodge and wakes to discover that she is the only person left in the world. The hunting lodge, suddenly pressed into service as a farm, is surrounded by an invisible wall, outside of which nothing remains alive but is instead eternally suspended. The Wall is the record that she keeps, even though nobody will ever be left to read it when she eventually dies.

Like Robinson Crusoe before her, our heroine inherits various objects she uses to survive as she suddenly and without any experience takes on trying to care for animals, grow crops, and keep house without any help; she remains painfully aware that as her supplies dwindle, they can’t be replaced. Her chores and her inventory are the only thing like a plot that The Wall has; it is a kind of masterpiece of tedium, the same thing over and over, punctuated only by sudden acts of violence. “I still had ten boxes of matches, about four thousand altogether,” she muses to herself.

According to my calculations I could last five years with these. Today I know I calculated more or less correctly; my supplies will last another two and a half years, if I’m very economical. . . . And yet I still nurture an insane hope. I can only smile upon it indulgently. With the same stubborn independence, as a child I had hoped that I should never have to die. I see this hope like a blind mole, crouched within me, brooding over his delusion. As I can’t drive him from me, I have to endure him.

I found myself thinking of this passage often as I sized up the sixteen roles of toilet paper I’d purchased in the early days of March. I watched their number steadily tick down without being replaced. I can’t say that I was ever really afraid I would run out altogether. But everything I used reminded me that it would be frustrating to replace. And during the stretch of the pandemic when really nobody was out, it did feel a little like I was living in an empty city with just my dog, demanding his daily walks, for company. Of course, I wasn’t; there were lots of people. But it’s a weird thing in New York to be able to walk for any stretch in the middle of the day and see nobody else.

 

 

 

When Life Is Not Fair, How Do You Respond?

life is not fair - "Come Alone With Me" 3

When have you uttered those four words, “Life is not fair?” How do you respond when that happens? Today is a Guest Post by Sally Philbrick Smith. In the following devotion, she discusses that issue:

Life Is Not Fair

“Mother, you rocked my world when at age six you told me that life is not fair,” confided our adult daughter Carla. “That was the first life lesson that shocked me, and I’ve never forgotten it. Everything at our house was fair in my mind from the choice of cereals to chores.

Every one of us could name a time when we felt that life has not been fair to us. My mother remembered to her deathbed the shame of being accused of cheating in front of her grade school class. I did not believe my mother was innocent just because she said that she was. No, I believed her because I knew my mother. I never saw her treat another person unkindly. If the check-out clerk gave her three cents too much, she would return it to the store. If I asked her to tell the person calling on the phone that I was not in, she refused. “I’m not lying for you, Sally. If you don’t want to talk to that person, you’d better run outside quickly.” I wish that I had a nickel today for every time that I was not “in” but ran “out” the door like blazes.

Biblical Examples When Life Is Not Fair

The Bible calls Job a “righteous” man. God’s favor was on every part of Job’s life…that is until his servant ran into his house breathlessly one day to tell him the bad news. Job lost all ten children, his crops, barns, animals and all other possessions in a huge storm. Not fair! Is this how God treats His own?

Joseph was chosen by God while still a child living at home. Before he was grown, his eleven jealous brothers sold him into slavery. While serving in Potiphar’s house, Joseph was wrongly accused of rape and spent the next thirteen years in prison. A fellow inmate told Joseph that when he got out, he would plead for Joseph’s release. But he forgot his pledge. Not fair!

Daniel was raised in a God-fearing family of nobility. He was handsome and showed aptitude for every kind of learning. The future looked promising for Daniel until the Babylonians with their fast horses and iron chariots roared into his city. After besieging Jerusalem, these idol-worshiping warriors kidnapped Daniel and other young men of his caliber. He was ripped from his family, home, school, country and everything that was familiar to him. Their goal was to remake Daniel and his friends into Babylonians and teach them to serve their king. He was forced to learn a new language, wear clothes unfamiliar to him and eat food too rich for a Jewish diet. Where is a loving God in all of this? Not fair!

Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael left a comfortable life and set aside her own dreams to follow the Lord’s call to India as one of its earliest Christian missionaries. Soon after she arrived, an accident changed her life. She stepped in a hole and badly injured a foot. For the remainder of her life and ministry, this foot caused acute pain and discomfort with every step.

That’s not fair, Lord. She left all to share the wonderful news of the Savior with those who had never heard, and you allowed this to happen to her? What were you thinking?

The Decision We Must Make

When life is not fair, we each have a decision to make. We can say:

(1) I don’t see God or understand anything that is happening. If there is a God, he doesn’t care about me. He’s the ultimate absentee father. People in Malachi’s day thought the same thing:

“You have said harsh things against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape’” (Malachi 3:13-14).

(2) Or, we can choose to stand on what we do know about God and proclaim:

I don’t understand where God is right now. Nor do I know yet His purpose in these circumstances.

What I do know is that He cares for me with a lavish love and wants what is best for my life. He will use this circumstance for my good in molding me into His image. I can’t see His hand right now, but I trust His heart completely.

Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is a righteous judge. This life is a training ground for the life to come.

The Betrayal Barrier

Dr. R. T. Kendall, the senior minister of Westminster Chapel in London, refers to this as the “betrayal barrier.” It is his opinion that 100 percent of all true believers will go through a period when God seems to let them down. This may be as a new Christian just starting out, or one in the middle or at end of life. Most people bail out or turn their back on God without giving Him the opportunity to “work everything together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Dr. Kendall believes over 90% of us fail to break through this feeling of betrayal and abandonment by God.

Another Choice

But what about those God-fearing believers who hang on all the tighter to God when things seem out of control? Joseph held fast to his faith and God used him to save the lives of a nation suffering a seven-year-drought. When Job refused the advice “to curse God and die,” the Lord God took note and restored to him over abundantly above all that he could ask or imagine. The Bible says in Job 42:12, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” Because Daniel remained faithful, King Darius issued a decree to his vast empire that all must fear, worship and reverence the living God of Daniel.

Close to Home

A close couple friend of ours received the devastating news that the wife had a very fast aggressive cancer. They called to tell us the diagnosis. Though their hearts were rupturing, they stated with quiet confidence: “No one knows what this year will bring. But one thing is for sure. He will be with us and He is enough.”

Another friend of ours was given a death sentence by her doctor. “Well, Lord, I guess I’ll see You sooner than I thought,” she said to herself. Ben, a seventeen-year-old relative is a scholar and athlete. He was looking forward to his last year of high school when cancer came from his blind side and knocked him down. Ben’s response? “I had planned to enter my senior year, but God has me on a different path now.”

How Will You Respond?

Every demand on me as a child of the Living God is a demand on the One who lives inside me. Our commitment to each other goes beyond any circumstances the world, the flesh or the devil can throw at me. Proverbs 24:10 says: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 tell us how to build our strength in the Lord. We are to send our roots down deep and wide to tap into the unending strength of the Lord. He will walk through the dark way with us and bring us out on the other side. We can claim with the prophet Nehemiah that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

This life is not fair. But for us believers, the next life is totally fair.”1

1(c) 2012, Sally Philbrick Smith, “Come Alone with Me” 3, Used by permission. All Rights Reserved. 

Personal Words from Guest Sally Philbrick Smith

As a young mother, the Holy Spirit pierced my spirit by saying: “If you do not record what I am doing in your life, you will forget my works and blessings.” After 40 years of journaling, the Lord then led me to put selected stories into a booklet for others. “Come Alone With Me” is a result of my obedience to Him.

*This is one of Sally’s longer devotionals, but I felt it had an important message we all need to hear often. She also wrote two others: “Come Alone with Me,”and  “Come Alone with Me” 2. Sally’s strong faith is exemplified in her personal stories and devotions. I shared her post several years ago, but the message has even greater impact during these Covid-19 times when we see economic challenge, sickness, and death all around us. I pray it will encourage your heart as it did mine.

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, when life is not fair, how easy it is for us to jump to the conclusion that You don’t care. Forgive us when we respond too quickly in our haste to blame someone or something–even You. Thank You that You love us passionately and want us to trust You even more in uncertain times like the ones in which we live. Nothing will ever seem right or fair in this life, because sin is a part of our world. But You will work out everything for our good–if we will trust Your timing and respond to You as our Sovereign Lord and Savior.

You will give us peace in our hearts even in the midst of unfairness, confusion, and disappointment in our lives and in our world. And one day, You will turn the tables. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that You are indeed Lord. You will bring true justice, wholeness, and fairness. And those who choose to respond to Your loving invitation of salvation will see and experience Your perfection and beauty forever. Death will be no more. Thank You for Your promises, Lord.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What about you? How have you responded when life is not fair? What did God teach you about Himself during that time? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

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Daily Prayer for July 12

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20, NIV

Almighty God, keep watch over us and lead us fully into the life of Jesus Christ. Let your Son Jesus Christ become truly living within us so that we may be full of joy because we belong to the realm of heaven and may live every day with faith in him. We thank you for all you have let us experience. We thank you with all our hearts that in your great compassion you have showered so much good on us who are not yet perfect in faith. Keep our hearts in the light, we pray. Keep us patient and dedicated, for then more and more can be done among us poor children of earth, to the glory of your name. Amen.

 

Daily Dig

In your inbox every morning……..

bfly8Jesus went directly to those who were outcasts. He much preferred to associate with the “sinners” than with those who proudly set themselves apart. Jesus shared the lot of the downtrodden because God himself loves those rejected by society, those the world deems unworthy. God wants to help all people, and raise the dignity they possess to the light.

Source: Everyone Belongs to God

 

 

 

    ~~~Dion Todd

Happy Days

But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their borders. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:50 WEB

Paul and Barnabas traveled from town to town preaching the gospel. Many people believed, but sometimes entire towns threw them out. They did not let it get to them, but shook it off, and went on to the next town. During all of this rejection, Luke wrote ‘The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.’ Their joy did not come from their circumstances, but instead from their relationship with God.

Paul later wrote ‘Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound’ (Philippians 4:11). Paul concentrated on the invisible and eternal knowing that God was in control of His situation. His mind was fixed on Jesus, and that is where his strength came from (v13).

Once after Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison, they were praying and singing hymns to God, when there was a great earthquake. Everyone’s chains fell off and all the doors opened, but Paul and Silas remained in their cell until the jailor came (Acts 16:25). Peace, joy, and contentment, was the normal lifestyle for them, even when in prison.

There is a joy and peace obtainable that surpasses our understanding and our circumstances. ‘The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7).’for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). ‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You’ (Isaiah 26:3).

I spent some seasons of my life working in construction. Many of those around me were just working for the weekend, which meant they were pretty miserable during the week while waiting for it to arrive.

There was this one particular guy that had a horrible attitude, he always seemed angry at the world. He watched me for a while, then one day while I was washing my hands before lunch, he walked up and asked me ‘Why are you so xxxx happy all the time? What’s wrong with you?’

Though I know it would have been a great time to witness, it surprised me as I did not realize that I was that happy myself. It seemed natural enough to me, but after looking around at the others, I could see that it was mostly, just me.

Those days I often worked in a man lift sixty feet in the air, mindlessly painting a giant warehouse. I could not attend church because I worked a twelve hour shift every Sunday while the plant was closed. So I listened to the Bible all day on a set of headphones. It was part of my normal equipment just as my hard hat, spray sock, and respirator. While meditating on the Word, I began praying and praising God under my breath. I just thought of it as a way to pass the time, but it began to change me.

After a while, I was as carefree as an eagle. Pranksters would come by my man lift, switch it to ground control, and bounce me up and down, which when extended out sixty feet in the air can be terrifying, but I could not care less and they eventually lost interest. ‘I have put my trust in God. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ (Psalms 56:11).

Meditating on God’s word calmed my mind and brought His peace and joy in a special way. Spending time praying and praising God brings a deep settled peace that is hard to be shaken. Hearing about the end of the world only brings a smile and a spark of hope that we will soon be with Jesus. God’s word is treasure, and it is timeless. It worked for Paul, it worked for me, and it will work for you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please give me a hunger for Your word and make me able to understand and retain it. Please fill me with Your peace and joy. Help me to focus on eternal things and not the temporary, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

 

 

Unstoppable! ‘Heading to Mary’s House’

 

Peter finally came to his senses [after the angel released him from prison]. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”

When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.

— Acts 12:11-12 NLT

Key Thought

Let me make two simple observations for these verses:

  1. Peter “came to his senses” and realized that God had truly delivered him from Herod’s grasp through the work of the angel and as an answer to the prayers of other believers.
  2. Peter knew where to go to find the people who were praying for his deliverance: Mary’s house, “where many were gathered for prayer”!

Our houses can be described in many ways — beautiful, expensive, simple, craftsman, colonial, modern, etc. Shouldn’t we strive for our homes to be known like Mary’s home was known? I want my home to be known as a place where believers gather to pray big prayers, even seemingly impossible prayers, to God!

Today’s Prayer

O Father, may my home be known as a place of prayer. May my family be a family where believers feel welcomed and wanted. May our friends join us as we cry out to you. Our heart desires that your Kingdom come and that your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

What Jesus Did! ‘A Childlike Kind of Faith’

When Jesus saw [the disciples stopping parents from bringing children to him], he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Key Thought

We must have childlike faith to be a part of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom requires a “dangerous innocence” of us — a true purity and a genuine humility. Jesus demonstrated these childlike qualities. He wants us to travel along our religious journey as trusting children of God, not necessarily as worldly wise theologically astute scholars. Now don’t take me wrong; we are not told to throw away our brains to become Christians. However, we are taught to live in a way that is often upside down to the world and its conventional wisdom. To do so, we need to go back and experience the gift of salvation, the magnificence of God, and the wonders of grace as wide-eyed, excitable children who trust in God’s ways, God’s love, and God’s care.

Today’s Prayer

O God, make my heart childlike and my faith fresh and new each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of 1 Peter 2:17 — Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Passion for Praise: ‘For Those Who Search’

Illustration of Psalm 70:4-5 — May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, "God is great!" But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Wisdom, Peace, and Righteousness’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

When James wrote about wisdom and peace, he used terms whose meanings were rooted in what you call the Old Testament — The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. To fully appreciate what James taught in today’s verses, you must understand what peace and wisdom meant when he used those terms.

For James, peace was much more than an absence of conflict. Peace was living in true shalom — the state of blessing and wholesomeness in life that comes when people live in complete harmony with the Father’s will. For James, righteousness would flourish, and compassion would be displayed when the joy of right living produced the place and the people where the Father’s presence would love to dwell. True shalom for them, and for you, is the blessing of living Our life in your world. True shalom is experiencing the blessedness of the Father’s presence and rule over every area of life.

For James, wisdom was not some theoretical attainment of mental excellence, but a life full of all the goodness and true shalom that come from the Father’s grace. This life flowed out of a person’s commitment to living the Father’s values in his or her world. James emphasized that this wisdom would be shown by a disciple’s example of good living. This kind of wisdom was not just the subject of some philosophical speculation. Instead, this true wisdom was about life being tuned to Our righteous character and gracious compassion. Wisdom would mean living in reverential respect for Us and living in harmony with your neighbor. This reverential respect for Us would then be the beginning of all wisdom:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
(Psalm 111:10 ESV)

What I taught as the two greatest commands captures both elements of true wisdom — living in reverential respect for the Father and loving your neighbor:

And again the crowd was amazed. They were astonished at His [Jesus’] teaching.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, a group of Pharisees met to consider new questions that might trip up Jesus. A legal expert thought of one that would certainly stump Him.

Pharisees:

Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?

Jesus (quoting Scripture):

“Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.

(Matthew 22:33-40)

Wisdom springs from living these two principles. However, when jealousy and selfish ambition are found in a group or culture, true wisdom and peace go out the window. Chaos and evil flourish as each person competes for his or her own interest at the expense of others. Loving God is soon forgotten in the love of power, the pursuit of prestige, and the jockeying for position. Love of neighbor is ignored in the rush to love oneself and forget about others.

This kind of selfishness that masquerades as worldly wisdom has given the world the mess in which it finds itself. This selfishness is one way the evil one captures the hearts of people and enslaves them in what is not wise. This kind of selfishness never brings true wisdom and true shalom. So rather than focusing on what you can get for yourself, center your focus on how to live the character and compassion that you see in Me. Also, notice the characteristics that James said are from the devil and should not be found among My disciples:

  • Jealousy
  • Selfishness, selfish ambition
  • Pride

Now notice the character qualities that James urges you to pursue:

  • Purity
  • Peace
  • Gentleness
  • Deference
  • Mercy
  • Other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy

Make this last set of attributes the goal to bring forth in your daily life. If you do so, you will find yourself in God’s peace, the true shalom that brings real life. This harmony is true wisdom!

Verses to Live

James spoke in clear, simple language to remind you that heavenly wisdom and true peace will be found where the life of God is lived. Righteousness is the natural result of such a life lived in the Spirit.

Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.
(James 3:13-18)

Response in Prayer

O Father, please bless me with true wisdom. I commit to pursuing the things that bring peace and demonstrate wise living. Forgive me for the times that I have put my own desires and my own yearning for things and status above developing the true wisdom that brings peace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

When God Wants Change, What Does He Mean?

When God Wants Change, What Does He Mean?

The word change usually makes us think about our circumstances, or things that involve other people, not changes in us. But what about when God wants change? What is He looking for?

What Does Change Mean to You?

What does the word “change” mean to you? Most of us, if we admit it, think about our circumstances. Things like “government,” “culture,” “personal health,” “personal finances,” “job,” “family,”or  “difficult relationships,” may trigger a desire for some kind of change in things that affect us.

The pandemic we are living in right now has brought changes to our world and to our lives that we never imagined.

Everyone and everything else should change. But us? Hmm. That’s not usually my first thought. How about you? No matter what our circumstances, we’re not always interested in God changing us.

Does God Even Care?

It’s not that God doesn’t care about your circumstances. The God who created this world–and your own unique self–loves you so much He sent His own Son, Jesus, to die for you. He does care.

But God knows everything about us: our potential, our strengths, our weaknesses, our past, and our future. He has a plan for our lives, and He knows better than us how to accomplish that plan. It’s a good plan, one that will not only be good for us, but one that will bring Him glory. Ultimately, He wants to help us reflect Jesus in our lives, more and more.

And when true heart change happens in us, as we allow God to change our character, we actually free God’s power to change our world and maybe even circumstances for the better, one by one.

Trust Is the Key

While God is more interested in changing us than in changing our personal circumstances, He often does both. Sometimes when we change, our circumstances may change as a natural result. But whether they do or not, trusting God means welcoming His changes–whatever they are–and cooperating with Him to make them happen, even if those changes are painful. Here’s a daily prayer that might help you invite God to change whatever He wants in your life to make you more like Him:

Personal Daily Prayer for Change

Lord Jesus, I invite You to take control of my life in every way. You created me; you formed me in Your own image. And I truly want my life to reflect Yours. Create in me a clean heart. Change anything in me that needs changing or rearranging. Show me areas that are harmful and habits that keep me from being all you want me to be. If You also choose to change my circumstances, those around me, or things affecting me as well, then I’ll be grateful. And as Your child, I’m eager for You to do that. But either way, I trust You to bring the needed changes in my life so I can be more like You.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires, (Psalm 51:10, TLB).

It’s Your Turn

What about you? Will you make it your daily prayer for God to change you to make you more like Him? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

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National Eat Your Jello Day – July 12, 2020

Jell-O was trademarked in New York in 1897, but it’s a classic dessert we all know and love! The best part of it is that it comes in a variety of flavors and can be combined with many ingredients for a simple, delicious treat. Thanks to some very crafty chefs, we can also from Jell-O into fun shapes. So get ready to celebrate July 12 by eating Jell-O just the way you like it!

NATIONAL EAT YOUR JELLO DAY TIMELINE

2017

164.17 million Jell-O snacks were eaten in the U.S.

Jell-O and other gelatin snacks were eaten by a whopping 164.17 million. That’s huge number!

2001

Jell-O became an official Utah state snack

Utah State Representative Leonard M. Blackham wrote legislation recognizing Jell-O as an official state snack.

1950’s

Jell-O shots where invented

An American musician named Tom Lehrer invented the idea of adding vodka or rum into Jell-O

1930

Lime Jell-O was invented

Though Jell-O had come up with a few flavors in the 1900s, the still-popular lime Jell-O was invented in 1930

1845

Jell-O was trademarked

Though the nutritional value of gelatin had been recognized since the 1800s, Jell-O wasn’t trademarked until 1897

NATIONAL EAT YOUR JELLO DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Make your own Jell-O

    Thankfully you can find Jell-O packets in almost any grocery store. Follow the instructions on the container and you’re good to go! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can find gelatin in some stores and try making it from scratch!

  2. Eat Jell-O, of course!

    If you don’t feel like making your own Jell-O for this special day you’ll most likely find it as a desert in some restaurants, or you can find it ready-made in most stores. You may also have some leftover Jell-O from a party or gathering, so you can finish whatever you have.

  3. Get crafty with Jell-O powder

    You can use Jell-O for other things besides eating. It’s possible to make a Jell-O-powered fuel cell battery, homemade Play-Doh, and even lipgloss. With the right tutorial, the possibilities are endless!

WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL EAT YOUR JELLO DAY

  1. There’s something for everyone.

    Jell-O can be made in almost any flavor, color, and shape. Plus, you can add fruits, nuts, and even alcohol (as long as you’re of legal age). You can always make Jell-O in a way that makes everyone happy.

  2. Gelatin is good for you!

    Gelatin is the ingredient that gives Jell-O its texture. Since it comes from animals, it’s usually high in proteins. It also contains collagen, which is great for your skin, hair, and bones. Plus, it’s low in calories.

  3. Jell-O is fun!

    It’s rare to be able to eat something in your favorite color or that has such a cool texture. You can have fun while making Jell-O by using fun containers and choosing a color and flavor you like.

     

 

 

 

Humor—

Between Friends for 7/11/2020

9 Chickweed Lane for 7/11/2020

Aunty Acid for 7/12/2020

Phil Hands for 7/9/2020

Steve Kelley for 7/12/2020

 

 

Have a beautiful day!

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Workaholics’ Day?

Need PRAYER? | Woman of God Day

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8:22–24a, NIV

Lord our God, we thank you for the great calling you have given us. We thank you that in all the evils of today’s world you give us the hope and faith that you are leading us to a goal that is good, and you make us free. You make your children free so that throughout humankind a new spirit may come, a new life and a new power to serve you in time and eternity. Praise to your name that we can always have hope; nothing can discourage us, but everything must work together for good in accordance with your great purpose. Grant that your compassion may come to all the world, to all peoples, whom you have looked upon with mercy in sending Jesus Christ as Savior. Amen.

 

Daily Dig

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starfishThe healthy body is being constantly renewed. This is just as true mentally and spiritually. There is so much in God’s Word about renewal of life that it is strange that any conscientious Christian would be afraid of change in his outlook on life or even in his religious ideas. Of course, the fear is that change would mean loss of faith, but this is never true if the faith is in the living God and not in one’s ideas of God. God never changes, but our minds must be open to new knowledge or grow stagnant. When we quit growing we begin to die. Renewal can come to anyone at any time by turning to God in faith.

Source: So Who’s Afraid of Birthdays

 

 

 

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What Jesus Did! ‘God’s Plan’

[Jesus continued his teaching about marriage:] “But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation.”

Key Thought

God’s plan, rooted in the creation story of Genesis 2, is that one woman and one man be married for life. As male and female, they are different, yet each one is created in the image of God. They are different — not just because of their physical differences and the differences in their two lives, with different experiences and different tastes, but also because they are made fundamentally different. Learning to blend these differences through mutual love and submission reflects the mystery of God himself, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Today’s Prayer

O Father in heaven, help the marriages among your people today more fully reflect your divine intention. Teach us to submit to each other out of love and respect — not just love and respect for our marriage partner, but also love and respect for Jesus as our Lord. In his name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Luke 18:27 — Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Passion for Praise: ‘For the Honor of Your Name’

Illustration of Psalm 31:1-3 — O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don't let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe. You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.

Spiritual Warfare: ‘The Gospel Saves through Faith’

God’s Power for Our Battles

I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”

— Romans 1:16-17 GNT
Lord, thank You for the gospel message of salvation that is available through faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Your Son. Thank You for making us right with You through Jesus. Thank You for accepting us into relationship with You through His sacrifice on the cross and our belief in Him. Give us the courage to share that message with the lost people right around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Released from the Curse’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Child of God,

I love Peter’s statement about the apostle Paul’s writings:

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him — speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand…
(2 Peter 3:15-16 NLT)

Some things Paul wrote are very easy for almost anyone to understand. Other things he wrote used technical language and logic, a kind of logic and reasoning that he had learned in the school of Gamaliel for rabbis (Acts 22:3). Today’s verses contain some of that rabbinic style of teaching. So I want you to pay close attention to what Paul says and not lose his important message to you.

Some people in the Galatian churches knew little about the Scriptures — what you call the Old Testament. Others were very accomplished in the study of the Scriptures. So Paul had to use different styles of teaching and different kinds of examples that made sense to these very different people. He wanted to bring them together in My church through the Father’s grace. Some of Paul’s teaching you will understand. Some may be a bit confusing. Don’t let any confusion discourage you. With a little time and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to understand the most important things the Spirit led Paul to write to these new Christians.

The fundamental truth behind what Paul wrote is very important. That truth is that your being made right with the Father depends on your faith in:

  • My sacrifice on the cross.
  • My resurrection from the dead.
  • My pouring out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and on you at your conversion.

You are saved by faith in Me and what I did to save you, not by keeping any law!

In your verses for today, Paul made several points about the inability of a law to save people and make them righteous. This inability of a law to save is true of all law, even the law of Moses. Here are some of the key points to notice in Paul’s message:

  • Abraham was counted righteous by the Father because of his faith — not because he obeyed the Mosaic Law. (Abraham lived hundreds of years before the Mosaic law was given.)
  • People who trust in Me are counted righteous because of their faith just as Abraham was.
  • Trying to be counted righteous by obeying law ends only in frustration. If you break one law out of a system of laws, then you are guilty of all of the law. (“Cursed is everyone who doesn’t live by and do all that is written in the law.”)
  • I obeyed and fulfilled the law completely, then endured the cross to carry the curse of the law for you and to release you from that curse.
  • No one can be counted righteous or made right with the Father by obeying the law. The life the Father wants to give you is found only by trusting what I did to make you right with Him.
  • This life as the Father’s beloved child is yours no matter your nationality, race, or gender. It is given you when you trust in Me and put Me on in baptism and become the Father’s beloved child.

Verses to Live

Law in general, and the Mosaic law, which came from God, are good. They help limit the corruption in a society that comes from people who do evil things. They also help you better understand the kind of character the Father wants from you as His child. But no law-keeping can save you! Only I can do that. So quit trying to earn your salvation by trying to be better by doing a list of rules. Trust that what I did for you in my life, death, and resurrection makes you right with God. Realize that the good things you do and the godly life you try to lead are not done to earn Our favor or get you into heaven. You are choosing to do those things because you have been saved. You do them because you have been adopted into Our family. You want to share the character and compassion of the Father with others!

You remember Abraham. Scripture tells us, “Abraham believed God and trusted in His promises, so God counted it to his favor as righteousness.” Know this: people who trust in God are the true sons and daughters of Abraham. For it was foretold to us in the Scriptures that God would set the Gentile nations right by faith when He told Abraham, “I will bless all nations through you.” So those who have faith in Him are blessed along with Abraham, our faithful ancestor.

Listen, whoever seeks to be righteous by following certain works of the law actually falls under the law’s curse. I’m giving it to you straight from Scripture because it is as true now as when it was written: “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t live by and do all that is written in the law.” Now it is absolutely clear that no one is made right with God through the law because the prophet Habakkuk told us, “By faith the just will obtain life.” The law is not the same thing as life formed by faith. In fact, you are warned against this when God says, “The one who observes My laws will live by them.” I am trying to tell you that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. It was stated in the Scriptures, “Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed by God.” This is what God had in mind all along: the blessing He gave to Abraham might extend to all nations through the Anointed One, Jesus; and we are the beneficiaries of this promise of the Spirit that comes only through faith.

My dear brothers and sisters, here’s a real-life example I can give you: With a last will and testament, when all the property is accounted for, the document is signed, witnessed, and notarized; and afterward no one can make changes to it. In a similar way, God’s promises established a binding agreement with Abraham and his offspring. In the Scriptures, it is carefully stated, “and to your descendant” (meaning one), not “and to your descendants” (meaning many). Therefore, in these covenant promises, God was not referring to every son and daughter born into Abraham’s family but to the Anointed One to come. What this all means is that the law given to Israel comes along some 430 years after the promise made to Abraham; so it does not invalidate the covenant God previously agreed to or in any way do away with His promise. You see, if the law became the sole basis for the inheritance, then it would put God in the position of breaking a covenant because He had promised it to Abraham.

Now you’re asking yourselves, “So why did God give us the law?” God commanded His heavenly messengers to deliver it into the hand of a mediator for this reason: to help us rein in our sins until the Offspring, about whom the promise was made in the first place, would come. A mediator represents more than one, but God is only one. “So,” you ask, “does the law contradict God’s promise?” Absolutely not! Never was there written a law that could lead to resurrection and life; if there had been, then surely we could have experienced saving righteousness through keeping the law. But we haven’t. Scripture has subjected the whole world to sin’s power so that the faithful obedience of Jesus the Anointed might extend God’s promises to everyone who has faith. Before faith came on the scene, the law did its best to keep us in line, restraining us until the faith that was to come was fully revealed. So then, the law was like a tutor, assigned to train us and point us to the Anointed, so that we will be acquitted of all wrong and made right by faith. But now that true faith has come, we have no need for a tutor. It is your faith in the Anointed Jesus that makes all of you children of God because all of you who have been initiated into the Anointed One through the ceremonial washing of baptism have put Him on. It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a freeman, a man or a woman, because in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, you are all one. Since you belong to Him and are now subject to His power, you are the descendant of Abraham and the heir of God’s glory according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:6-29)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I offer You my heart so that the Holy Spirit will help me understand and live Your truth. One thing I know, dear Father, is that You sent Jesus to save me and include me in Your family. So thank You from the bottom of my heart. I trust that what Jesus did not only paid for my sin but also provided the way for You to make me righteous in Your eyes. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart and the actions in my daily life show Your character and compassion to people in my world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

   ~~~Dion Todd

Unanswered Prayers

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Yahweh. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 WEB

There were many times in my life that I worked something out in my mind, planned the way that it should go, and then watched it as it went the other way. As a business owner, at times it was frustrating. I felt that I needed to be in control. Sometimes I became angry because I felt that it could have been a good break for us. Like Martha, I would ask God ‘Lord, don’t You care?’

Time and time again I saw that God had other plans for me. Many times He just kept me from making a bad choice, though it looked really good at the time. He could see further down the road than I could. Thank God for those unanswered prayers.

Many times He was preparing me for the next stage of my journey, and His next project. While I was working hard on ‘My plans,’ He was busy steering me to where I needed to be next. His plans sometimes involved being laid off, mistreated, and offended. At least that was my perception. In reality, it was mostly my pride that got hurt, and fairly often. God will discipline His children (Hebrews 12:7).

If my prayers had been answered, then I would not be a pastor, nor writing this. For we prayed, and we fasted, and we gave, and we begged God to bless our computer business, but He had bigger plans and could see further down the road than we could. He had prepared us to work for Him in the ministry, and when the time came, He squeezed us out of the old so that we would accept the new. I am happy to be here now, and it is better than I ever thought possible, but His thoughts were well beyond my thoughts. I didn’t care for the squeezing either.

Disappointment often comes when our plans do not line up with His plans. We struggle and strive to make a business work only to find that He is trying to move us into something better. We kick and fight and scream to hold onto the past when He is trying to gently pull it away so that He can get us to take the next step. It is like holding on to a bad tooth. God is always preparing you for the next stage of your life. What you are doing now is preparing you for what is coming. He will make it all worth it and one day looking back, it will make sense.

I am writing this to those that have submitted their lives to God as the Bible teaches us, because that is who the promises are for. ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths’ (Proverbs 3:6). ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalms 37:4). ‘You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13). ‘If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land’ (Isaiah 1:19).

All these verses state ‘If you do this’ then ‘this will happen.’ Jesus Himself said, ‘Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things which I say?’ (Luke 6:46). Our obedience is what actually makes Him our Lord and activates the promises of God in our life. Who shall eat the good of the land? The willing and obedient. Who will have the desires of their heart? Those who delight themselves in the Lord.

I have spent years of my life that were not submitted to God and He let me roam like a wild weed, doing whatever I chose, and reaping the consequences. My progress in life stalled, and years were lost. The Father did not stop the prodigal son from leaving His house (Luke 15:13), nor will the Lord stop you when you fully understand what you are doing, and choose to do it anyway. When the party is over though, we are always welcome to come home to Him.

When I began to intentionally seek God daily, tried to live right, laid on the carpet and poured out my heart to Him, then things began to change in my life for the better. Does the way that we live affect the blessing of God on our lives? Absolutely. ‘Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap’ (Galatians 6:7).

Submit yourselves to God and He will make your life worth living. He can fill the empty places. He can turn poverty into an abundance. He can surround the lonely with friends. He levels the playing field and brings the lowly up, and the haughty down. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts, but if we spend time with Him in prayer, He will share His thoughts with us. When we finally line our will up with His, then great things will happen, in us, to us, and through us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I submit my life to You. Use me as You will and put me where I need to be. Please share Your thoughts and plans with me so that I can be in tune with You. May Your will be done on earth, and in my life, as it is in heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

 

 

When You Need to Know Where God Wants You

When you need to know where God wants you, where do you go for answers?

Our pastor’s wife, Jana Howerton, recently led an online Flourish Bible study for women. I know she blessed many women, including me, with her encouraging teaching.  Her last lesson, “Flourishing in Your Calling,” was a great reminder to me of how we can truly bless God and others wherever we are.

As I was searching ideas for this week’s blog post, I remembered a post I had written several years ago in which I talked about how God had helped me find my “calling” or where God wanted to use me to bless Him and others. I hope today’s blog post will minister and encourage you:

My name is Rebecca Barlow Jordan, and I am a _________aholic. I could complete that sentence several ways.

How would you fill in that blank personally?

At different times and different seasons, here’s how I might characterize myself. I am a:

  • gardenaholic
  • bargainaolic
  • writeaholic
  • familyaholic
  • encourageaholic

How Do You Define “aholic”?

But then, how would you even define the term, “aholic”?

According to Miriam-Webster’s dictionary, it means “one who feels compulsively the need to (do something)” or “one who likes (something) to excess.” Well, that puts things in a whole, new light. I like to think my “compulsions” are of the healthier kind.

I post a variety of gardening pictures and spiritual, encouraging thoughts on Facebook and talk often of my gardening love in my blog posts. This season, particularly, has fostered my love of gardening, probably due to the early spring rains God orchestrated–and the pandemic that is keeping us sheltered at home more (I have more time to stop and smell the flowers). Some seasons, like life, haven’t been as productive. But that’s okay.

I’m a sucker for those bargains at nursery centers–you know, the plants that are bending over, gasping for breath. And each Spring I declare, “no more plants and no more flowers.” But if I buy perennials, I rationalize they’re an investment. They’ll come back year after year with many returns (and spreading profusely, I might add). And a few annuals always add a bit more color and beauty.

Guilty for Gardening?

A few years ago, I was feeling a little guilty about my love for flowers and gardening (ok, and yes, the bargains), the time I spend outside in this “season,” and confessing my “bargain habit” when a friend of mine, Ava, wrote this on one of my Facebook garden pictures: “Just look at it like this. You are a foster mom to plants that have lost hope.”

I LOVE that! Thanks, Ava.

But her comment did more than that. It reminded me that God wants us to enjoy His creation, and that we can have a part in “creating” by “breathing” life into the raw materials He’s given us to work with. Her words were a reminder of why I do what I do. I hope the things I enjoy, like gardening, writing, or loving my family are not just for me, or what I can get out of it, although I’m a firm believer that our motives will never be 100% pure this side of Heaven. I wish.

Because I love these things, am I a gardenaholic, a writeaholic, etc.? Do I feel a compulsive need for them? Do I like/love them to excess? Maybe. Maybe not. Should I be doing something more…productive, lasting? World-changing with my time and energies? Am I to move beyond this season?

A God-Given Compulsion?

But here’s the thing. Running through my roots is the, okay, compulsive need to encourage, to pass on, love without apology, and yes, even to spread a dollar as far as it will go; hence, the bargain hunt. But there is also the desire to foster, teach, and give encouragement to those who “have lost hope”–to those whose ragged leaves need a fresh touch, to those who need to know Someone bigger than them cares, loves them, and thinks they are beautiful. I like to think that’s a God-given desire, as long as He is the One in control. And there are many ways God will give me in life to do that.

Years ago, when I was asking God for ways He could use me, I “heard” Him sweetly whisper in my Spirit: “Add my beauty. Write my words.” So that’s what I like to do. No, that’s what I love to do. I like to think my love for flowers and gardens stems from a need to create, just like my love for writing, teaching, or encouraging wants to create beauty with words. Because God gave that to me.

An Act of Worship

To me, gardening is like painting a picture of beauty, if possible, that can point people to our Creator. And it’s a way that I can worship Him privately as well: to be still, and know that He is God. And besides that, I simply enjoy the fragrance, color, and beauty of God’s creation.

My actions are not always that noble, I confess. But the “compulsion,” or my heart’s desire is, that the time and effort I invest will not stem from an excess, but a reason.

Because of Jesus’s love for us, and because of His passion to encourage us, lift us up, capture our hearts completely as His own precious ones, we, too, can share that same passion in a thousand different ways.

I want to add His beauty in the way He created me for, and to leave my corner of the world better than it was before. I fail so many times to do that. But Jesus keeps loving and nourishing me as if I were that ragged plant. And I am so grateful that He does.

“For Christ’s love compels us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14, MSG).

Familyaholic?

In the same way, I want to love my husband and my family because they come first (within the circle of my love for Jesus), because God created them as a part of His beauty for my life. I don’t know what the future years will bring–or take away. So while I can, I want to add God’s beauty and value to their lives. My husband, my children and grandchildren are precious gifts to enjoy, to invest in, and to love. They are rare treasures I thank God for daily. If that love for family is compulsive, then, call me a familyaholic.

Stop, Drop, and Pray

When you need to know where God wants you, or if you’re in the right place, stop, drop and pray. Then listen.

Where God Wants you – What Are Your Loves?

God wants to bless you and use you. Where has He placed you? What “loves” or gifts has He given you? If they are from God, and used for Him, they will honor Him and encourage others in your path. You are a part of the beauty God created, and you can make a difference for Him just as He designed you to do. Whether you’re wired to teach, warn, encourage, lift up, pray for, serve, give, or lead–however He plans for you–it will be helpful and God-driven when you are compelled by His love.

You see, genuine love is never excessive; it’s extravagant (and excellent). It’s never conditional; but it is compelling–because God put it in your heart. Love is not grating; it is gratifying, grateful, and guilt-free.

Where God Wants You – Let His Love Compel You

No matter what you do, where you serve, or where you place your energies, let God’s love compel you. Whether you teach, change diapers, perform surgery, or mow yards, add beauty and share Him generously, and in big ways and in small ways, leave your corner of the world a better place than before. And enjoy what you do!

Springtime passes, and the hot summer, then cold winter will follow. One season will find us in different places at different times. But in everything we do, we can find joy and purpose–and the knowledge that God has ordained it–even in the challenging times.

Where God Wants You – It Will Always Honor Him

God will define your place, your work, your words, and your activity in a way that will honor Him.

All of us, in our own way, can bring encouragement and foster hope to others who are desperate for Him, one by one by one. And the returns will come back year after year and spread profusely.

And if you need to know where God wants you, start where you are. Pray for direction. Read His Word. Then listen. I’m praying for you to find your place, your service, your “calling.”

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, I’m not the only one who struggles with simple issues I’ve made complex. In the same way You have loved me, may Your love compel me and others to truly enjoy where You place us, no matter what the season in life. Help us to bring encouragement to others in big and small ways, for the world desperately needs Your beauty and hope. May we only be “addicted” to Your love, intent on bringing You honor and praise because of Your faithfulness to us. When You are in control, it’s all good. And so are You!

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

How has God helped you know where He wants you? What things do you enjoy most in life? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

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Prophetic Insight newsletter

Prophetic Vision: Jesus, Lincoln, MLK and Racial Harmony

Martin-Luther-King
Martin Luther King Jr. (Whitehouse.gov)

The vision that I am going to share with you here has been upon my heart for several days now. To be honest, I felt like I needed to wait and pray for the right time to even write about this and share with others.

As things in our nation continue to look very challenging with no end in sight, I felt a release from the Lord to go ahead and share what I saw in an open vision recently while speaking at a local church in Alabama. Please pray about what you are about to read.

Three weeks ago, I was in Dothan, Alabama, where I was scheduled to speak over the weekend at a church. The first gathering was on a Saturday night, and I was asked to address a group of leaders from within this local congregation.

This is a common thing that I am often asked to do during my times of ministry around the world, and I was blessed and excited to do this per the request of the pastor. I also had a great expectation regarding the deep work that would take place in the hearts of the people gathered on this night.

The gathering was actually larger than I had anticipated, and I began to pray intently during the time of worship while asking the Lord to anoint the theme that He had placed upon my heart to deliver. This was somewhat normal for me to do, but the burden I felt that night during the worship time was definitely stronger than what I am accustomed to, especially just before I begin to speak.

As the worship continued this Saturday evening, I literally began to experience the tangible presence of God as my entire being was being impacted by the weight of God’s glory. It was immediately after this happened and while I was still experiencing this supernatural phenomenon that I had an open vision that lasted for several minutes and caused me to experience a deep burden from the Lord.

Let me say that the vision that God gave me this night seemed to me as though it were completely out of left field, especially in the setting I was in, as well as with regard to what was upon my heart to share with the group of leaders that had gathered. In other words, what the Lord showed me had literally nothing to do with what I was prepared to speak on.

However, I knew immediately that what I saw was clearly from the Lord. I have had multiple open visions over the last 34 years, and I recognized this supernatural experience as something that was clearly from the Lord Himself. Let me share with you what the Lord showed me on this night.

I beheld President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. standing in what appeared to be a park-like setting. The lawn was manicured, the trees were beautiful and pruned to perfection. There were also benches around the perimeter.

The place that I was seeing in this vision was a place that had been prepared with great care. It seemed to me like the setting was literally created and chosen by God to host what I was experiencing in this open vision.

Upon seeing President Lincoln and Dr. King, I realized both of these men were struggling with all their might to come together in a physical way as if to embrace one another. By this I mean that they appeared to be at least 25 yards or so apart, but they were battling with all of their might to get to each other in order to embrace.

Despite their relentless efforts to come together, it seemed to me as though there were a very strong force field that kept them separated. The force field was so strong that they literally had no ability to make any progress at all in their effort to join one another.

The next thing I beheld was that both of these strong men became so overwhelmed emotionally and physically that they wept aloud and fell to the ground as their strength was completely gone.

Upon seeing these men fall to the ground in tears, I felt as if I were experiencing their emotions and exhaustion myself. This was so real to me that it seemed to be tangible. The feeling was as if there were no hope and nothing could remove or even weaken the force field. Hopelessness was reverberating in this vision.

While viewing President Lincoln and Dr. King in their states of exhaustion and tears, something drastic happened that changed everything. To be honest, I felt the change in the vision before I saw who would appear next. What I mean by this is that I felt the power of the force field subside before I even knew why this was happening.

What happened next is that I beheld a figure standing before both men, clothed in an ancient robe with his head bowed and his arms open as if he were gesturing both men to come to Him. I knew immediately that this was Jesus and that His power had destroyed the force field that kept them apart.

Upon seeing Jesus, I then beheld President Lincoln and Dr. King immediately arise from their fallen position, and their strength (physically and emotionally) was completely restored. Again, I could literally feel what they were both feeling as I was engulfed in this supernatural vision while great strength infused my own being.

As President Lincoln and Dr. King arose, both of them moved very quickly as if they were sprinting towards the Lord. As they both reached Him, they embraced Him vigorously, and He in turn embraced them as well.

As the three of them embraced I sensed a great level of freedom, resolve, peace and success. I knew that this represented the fulfillment of a vision for change that President Lincoln carried, as well as a dream for the fulfillment of Lincoln’s vision that Dr. King carried.

As the open vision closed, the Lord showed me the following important things that must be prayed about:

  1. President Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation represents a genuine effort that was used to bring freedom and change to African Americans and the enslavement they were forced to live in.
  2. King and his efforts to further Lincoln’s quest represent progress. However, there are still challenges that exist.
  3. The force field represents a multiplicity of demonic efforts enlisted to hijack the progress that has been made regarding race relations in America, especially since The Civil Rights Act of 1964. These demonic forces include confusion, deception, hatred, racial tensions, misconceptions, disunity and so on.
  4. The appearing of Jesus represents the fact that He is the only one who can bring healing and resolve in the challenging matters that we are facing as a nation. To look elsewhere is foolish and frivolous.

In closing, let me implore you to pray for our nation. We are in the midst of a very challenging season that will not find reprieve and resolve through the government, demonstrations (peaceful and violent), new laws, restructuring law enforcement, upcoming elections and more.

The only hope for America is Jesus, and His power that alone can change the human heart. Our nation has a sin problem, and only the Blood of Jesus will help!

Keith Collins is the founder of Generation Impact Ministries and Impact Global Fellowship. He is actively involved in itinerant ministry, teaching and writing. In recent years, Keith served as the president of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and as the director of FIRE School of Ministry, which were both born out of the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida. His recent book, Samuel’s Arising: Waking Up to God’s Prophetic Call, is now available on Amazon, and his podcast, titled Maintain the Flame, can be heard on iTunes and at cpnshows.com. You can contact Keith via his websites at keith-collins.org or impactgf.org.

 

 

 

Locating Our Invisible Wounds

Confronting our blindness before and after the virus

There’s something cheering about walking around my neighbourhood and seeing people swerve into the street or climb into flowerbeds to allot each other our six feet of safety. Even though I can only see eyes crinkle above masks in lieu of smiles, every action communicates, “I’m taking care of you. We’re in this together.”

The crisis has made us all look at each other more closely. In a time of lockdown, it’s the people nearest us, whom we may not have known or chosen deliberately, whom we have to rely on. The pandemic is pushing us past the limits of whom we previously trusted or entrusted ourselves to, and we have the opportunity to learn to extend ourselves in love, even when we no longer are forced to.

At present, no one feels like a stranger, since the biggest thing in all of our lives right now is shared, and known to be shared. Any pair of people passing may have very different levels of risk, and one may be more worried for his health while another is more concerned about her laid-off employees. But both know that the other one is swept up in the same storm. And that camaraderie isn’t specific to the coronavirus crisis. Rebecca Solnit, in her book on solidarity in disasters, A Paradise Built in Hell, contrasted the feeling of unity in shared suffering with the isolation of individual catastrophe. She highlights the work of sociologist Charles Fritz, who compared widespread disaster with the way people “suffer and die daily, though in ordinary times, they do so privately, separately.”

LOCATING OUR INVISIBLE WOUNDS

Confronting our blindness before and after the virus.

June 4 th 2020

There’s something cheering about walking around my neighbourhood and seeing people swerve into the street or climb into flowerbeds to allot each other our six feet of safety. Even though I can only see eyes crinkle above masks in lieu of smiles, every action communicates, “I’m taking care of you. We’re in this together.”

The crisis has made us all look at each other more closely. In a time of lockdown, it’s the people nearest us, whom we may not have known or chosen deliberately, whom we have to rely on. The pandemic is pushing us past the limits of whom we previously trusted or entrusted ourselves to, and we have the opportunity to learn to extend ourselves in love, even when we no longer are forced to.

The coronavirus crisis hits the already vulnerable hardest—it makes them suffer, but it also restores them to visibility.

At present, no one feels like a stranger, since the biggest thing in all of our lives right now is shared, and known to be shared. Any pair of people passing may have very different levels of risk, and one may be more worried for his health while another is more concerned about her laid-off employees. But both know that the other one is swept up in the same storm. And that camaraderie isn’t specific to the coronavirus crisis. Rebecca Solnit, in her book on solidarity in disasters, A Paradise Built in Hell, contrasted the feeling of unity in shared suffering with the isolation of individual catastrophe. She highlights the work of sociologist Charles Fritz, who compared widespread disaster with the way people “suffer and die daily, though in ordinary times, they do so privately, separately.”

It has been hard for me, in the past three years, to live through disaster again and again, as my husband and I lost six children in quick succession. Each child died in the first trimester of their lives, and two (Camillian and Luca) were lost through ectopic pregnancies that had the potential to put my own life in danger too.

Although we told friends and family, it still felt like our grief was lonely and private by default. I spoke publicly about our children, and I started ignoring the advice to keep a pregnancy secret until you were out of the first trimester and the baby was a little more likely to be safe. I wanted friends to know our children, no matter whether they made it to birth or not, as a living presence. But I had to keep a list of everyone I told, so that I could work my way back down the list to tell the sad news later.

My experience made me wish we still lived in the era of Victorian mourning clothing, so that everyone I met would know, without words, that we were missing someone. If nothing else, it would have given an answer to the casual, “How are you doing?” If I answered honestly, it was a jarring reply to small talk. If I kept quiet, I felt like I was lying by omission. I missed the way that the slow progression from jet black to grey to lavender would make our long climb out of sorrow visible. In the pandemic, there is less of a need for mourning clothes, because everyone is alert to the possibility of loss.

The coronavirus crisis hits the already vulnerable hardest—it makes them suffer, but it also restores them to visibility.The grandmother in a nursing home running with insufficient staff; the children who rely on free school lunch to be able to eat; the warehouse worker, who, despite taking extra shifts, is still one of the 40 percent of Americans who couldn’t raise the cash to cover a $400 expense on short notice. Those vulnerabilities will persist long after a vaccine.

Pope Francis reminded the world, in his out-of-season Urbi et Orbi blessing, that the unusual suffering caused by the novel coronavirus should also draw our attention to the suffering we ignore because it is not novel.

He said, “We did not stop at [God’s] reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.”

His prayers aren’t focused on simply returning to normal, since in the “normal” world, many people live through daily, lonely cataclysms. We are called to retain our present sense of solidarity, and, if we love our neighbour as ourselves, to enter into their suffering and need, even when, especially when, it becomes a choice again.

The pope gave his blessing with a nearly life-sized crucifix behind him. The wounded Christ looked out with him into the empty St. Peter’s Square. The crucifixion makes visible the full cost of sin. Every spiteful word, every charity withheld from the needy, every lustful look reducing someone else to a thing, wounded its immediate target invisibly, but that harm is shown in Christ’s flesh on the cross, undeniable.

In America, Martin Luther King Jr. and the non-violent protestors of the civil rights movement offered a different sort of passion. At lunch counters, with Freedom Rides, and on the long walk the Little Rock Nine made to the schoolhouse doors, people offered their bodies to make visible the hatred and violence festering within their communities.

Segregation, de jure in the South and often de facto in the North, was a division rent in the nation and in the body of Christ. The degradations suffered by African Americans, and the corruption of the souls of their white neighbours, were insidious. The poison of hatred could remain, if not invisible, then ignorable.

The non-violent protestors made the violence visible. They faced down police, and even their neighbours. In windows shattered by bricks, in flesh torn by police dogs, in bodies bruised by firehoses, they suffered in order to make the invisible wounds of Jim Crow starkly visible to those who had shut their eyes.They relied on news cameras to film their witness, but today’s protestors carry their cameras themselves. As people stream into the streets, many protestors offer their peaceful presence—sitting down, raising their empty hands—as the canvas for police brutality to be recorded.

We also struggle to see the face of God in our neighbour not because we are tempted to hate our neighbour, but because we have rarely glimpsed our neighbour’s face.

And, as Martin Luther King Jr. preached in a sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, the aim of all that suffering was not simply a matter of entering evidence into the record against their persecutors. While the world saw the wickedness of the South, King asked his followers to keep their eyes fixed on the image of Jesus Christ in everyone, even their oppressors. They were called to act not only out of solidarity with each other but also as an offering of love for their enemies. For, as he said from the pulpit, “love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals.”

It is a hard teaching to love our enemies, to overcome hatred with meekness. But, at present, we also struggle to see the face of God in our neighbour not because we are tempted to hate our neighbour, but because we have rarely glimpsed our neighbour’s face. We have sought each other out in the present moment of extremis.

In the grip of the virus, our collective suffering is unchosen, forced on us. In the days and months to come, we have a responsibility to retain the present sense of compassion, which means “to suffer with.” As stores eventually reopen, and parks fill again, we have to remember and seek out the people whose need was particularly acute in the pandemic, but for whom “normal” is still a slow-moving disaster.

Part of the work is a matter of individual initiative—we have to practice not averting our eyes from suffering, from vulnerability. In small moments, in our daily lives, that may mean not turning away from a homeless person. It might mean saying more than “It’s not polite to stare” to a child interested in someone with a visible disability, and instead finding a way to teach them that averting our eyes from someone vulnerable can be as bad as gawking. We need to tutor our interest, so it can grow into love, rather than curdle into an idle curiosity or atrophy into apathy.

I can tell I need to do more to see my own neighbourhood. Since I started checking Princeton’s website for local cases and new rules, I’ve been learning the names of all the assisted living and elder care centres near me. But I’ve discovered their existence only as I read the town’s press releases, which teach me their nature-inspired names as I see “Acorn Glen” and others on the notices of deaths.

On my own block, I went door to door handing out flyers so we could all sign up on a mutual aid email list together. It was the first moment that I learned that a ninety-something-year-old woman across the street was a painter. People have emailed with their small needs: a couple in quarantine who needed stamps, a volunteer mask-maker who needed first a sewing machine and then extra bobbins to keep up with the work.

Individual effort is worth it, and it’s the easiest place to begin, but it’s not sufficient. We are held at a distance from each other by structural factors that need reform. Labor law, zoning law, and health-care policies all play a role in hiding away the weak. The infirm and the poor are hidden from the stronger and the richer. The people who work under inhumane conditions are hidden in the hopes of selling a frictionless experience to consumers. Alternatives are possible and sorely needed.

One model is offered by Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, which planned (pre-pandemic) to break ground this year on a new residence for single mothers and assisted living for religious sisters. The mothers would enroll at the women’s college and have built-in support, while the sisters would receive the medical care they need and live as part of a vibrant, growing community.

Tiffany R. Jansen profiled Providence Mount St. Vincent in Seattle, a flourishing community, which combines a nursing home and a nursery school. The mix of small children and elderly people is a particular blessing to residents with mild dementia, whose lapses or repetitions are accepted by children who aren’t disappointed by their weakness. Children grow up knowing people of any age, and loving them as they are—which must be a relief to their parents, who will one day depend on the children who used to depend on them.

These lively, mixed-age communities are rare, and often received as experimental. But they mark a return to the way people commonly lived before families were defined as nuclear units. When both parents are expected to work to stay afloat, it’s harder to have room for people who require care. A lack of exposure to children makes it hard for twentysomethings to prepare for marriage, and everyone has a little less of a spur to hope. We also miss the witness of the elderly—both the benefit of their experience and the reminder that we must learn to live with infirmity and suffering as we, too, grow old.

These mixed communities stand in contrast to the homes where elderly people seem to be marking time as they wait for the end. The nursing homes ravaged by the COVID-19 virus have frequently been understaffed, leaving them particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. But, even in better times, a staff stretched so thin can only provide triaged care—sometimes focusing on medical needs above simple human needs for friendship and conviviality.

Service workers in nursing homes, grocery stores, and restaurants have been hailed as heroes during the lockdowns. They have put themselves at risk to help others (and also to be able to take care of their families), but in ordinary times, their work is undervalued and often underpaid because it is routine.

Restaurants, which have been particularly hard-hit by the lockdowns, need to think about how to more justly compensate their workers, which will require making the effort that goes into the work more visible to diners. Our system of tipping rests on an illusion—that the price on the menu covers the cost of the work, and we generously add a “gratuity.” But it is anything but superfluous.

Restaurateur Danny Meyer tried pricing meals honestly and eliminating tips in 2015. Unfortunately, his restaurants and staff have struggled in the transition, as diners balked when they saw the full cost of their meal reflected on the menu. Many chose other restaurants, where they might have spent as much but felt like the final total was a reflection of their largesse, not simple the amount fairly owed.

Some of the businesses that have profited from the pandemic actively mischaracterize their tipping structure, with companies like Doordash offering the customer what seems like the chance to tip their delivery person. However, the company claws back the tip, so if a customer tips $5, some or all of that money is used to cover what Doordash has committed to pay the worker. The tips save the company money, rather than adding to the worker’s take-home pay.

The only way to be sure the tips stay with the worker is to tip off the books, in cash. The customer has to reintroduce the friction and inconvenience that comes with deliberate action, while the company tries to make the whole process as smooth and invisible as possible.

Now is a time to be honest about the cost of other people’s work, especially the workers who are hidden from the people doing the purchasing. As Christ teaches in the parable of the lantern and the bushel, “Nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). The epidemic has exposed abusive workplaces like the Tyson meatpacking plants, because the illness ripping through their factories threatens to disrupt the usual deliveries of meat to grocery stores.

A plant that won’t offer sick days in a pandemic will continue to behave badly in a post-pandemic time. The danger just shifts from scarcity to the moral perils of eating from an abundance that is premised on the denial of dignity. We are in the position of the Jews in the desert in Numbers, who clamour for meat and rail against God, until the Lord declares, “The Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat . . . until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you—because you have rejected the Lord who is among you” (Numbers 11:18–20).

We reject him whenever we spurn our neighbours. We reject him when we build systems to hide our neighbours so that we are never offered the opportunity that came to the good Samaritan, to bind up the wounds of the person placed in our path by Providence.

We don’t want to live our lives so that we require, or even invite, a visible disaster in order to open our eyes and see the less visible wounds that still afflict our neighbours. God loves us and longs for us to repent. If we turn to him, our healing will be easier than if we persist in error and he must lay obstacles in our path to persuade us to turn back. Like Jonah, we may find our lives wracked with storms when we ignore his call.

We are our brothers’ keepers, and they ours. We must shore up both our private charity and our public institutions, so that, at every level of society, we are guided by a preferential option for the poor. The material harm to the poor of neglect is exceeded only by the spiritual danger to the rich of indifference. We can’t afford for life to go on the way that it did.

In King’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church sermon, he said that we are called to love with agape—the Christlike love that seeks nothing in return. Reaching agape can require overcoming hated, but, for many of us, the obstacle is apathy and obscurity. The pandemic has been apocalyptic, in both the colloquial sense and the classical one—it has torn down veils.

The present period of sudden, shocking visibility is an invitation to at least start with storge, the love of fondness and familiarity. It’s the kind of love my husband and I have for the tree that marks the turn onto our street. We love it not because it is the best tree, but because it is ours. We love it by expecting to see it and feeling a sense of rightness when we do.

We love who and what we can see. We can grow protective of them, and stiffen our spine to resist having them hidden from us again. We have to look so we can learn to love.

 

 

 

NATIONAL WORKAHOLICS DAY – July 5

NATIONAL WORKAHOLICS DAY

National Workaholics Day on July 5th reminds us to balance our work and home life. Work isn’t everything! Do you come in early, skip your lunch and stay late or know someone who does? This day is dedicated to the people who fit that description – the workaholics.

A workaholic feels the need to be busy at all times which may cause problems. They might perform tasks they are not required to do or are unnecessary for project completion. These unnecessary tasks cause inefficiency where the focus should be on production. Workaholics may have trouble delegating or entrusting co-workers with tasks. They struggle with organizational skills due to taking on too much work at one time. The solution for workaholics is to step back, regroup, and slow down a little bit.

Workaholics may suffer from impaired brain and cognitive function due to sleep deprivation. Take a look at National Work Like A Dog Day as one outcome of being a workaholic. Unlike other conditions, this one is socially acceptable. However, it does have signs. So, if you are aware, it can be identified and treated. Here are 5 signs to look for according to The Ladders.com.

  1. Workaholics have anxiety
  2. Work is priority #1
  3. No social life
  4. Won’t admit the problem
  5. They’re unhappy

One’s career relies on a good and strong work ethic. However, a balance between work and home unlocks the door to life’s successes.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalWorkaholicsDay

A healthy work-life means more to our wellbeing than just a paycheck! Today, take some time off to relax, slow down a little bit and maybe schedule a vacation for you and your family. Be sure to use #NationalWorkaholicsDay on social media to shout out to those you know who are workaholics.

NATIONAL WORKAHOLICS DAY HISTORY

We were unable to find the origin of National Workaholics Day.

In 2017, National Day Calendar® began celebrating each state in the order they entered the union starting the week of Independence Day and ending with Hawaii. We highlight a small part of each states’ history, foods, and the people who make up the state. Many states have their own state celebrations, and National Day Calendar’s observances in no way replace them. There’s so much more to explore; we can’t help but celebrate our beautiful country even more!

 

 

 

Humor—

Aunty Acid for 7/5/2020

Fowl Language for 7/5/2020

Mother Goose and Grimm for 7/5/2020

60+ Crazy Funny Funny Cartoons

Diet Cartoon - Great Clean Jokes

 

 

 

IMG_9086 - Version 3.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

Pop! Goes the Weasel….

 

Daily Prayer for June 14

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:3–5, NIV

Lord our God, in the grace of Jesus Christ we pray to you that your will may be done for us and for all the world. Through Jesus Christ grant us faith that you love us, faith that we may live in your love, that we may hope in your love every day and have peace on earth, where there is so much unrest and trouble. Keep us firm and constant, remaining in your peace and in the inner quiet you give us because Jesus Christ has overcome the world. He has truly overcome, and this fills us with joy. We praise you, Almighty God, that you have sent Jesus Christ and that he has overcome the world. We praise you that he has overcome all evil, sin, and death, and that we may rejoice at all times in your presence. Amen.

 

Your Daily Dig

Amy Carmichael
If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love. … If interruptions annoy me and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love. … If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 

 

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5 interesting things said during Trump’s ‘rebuilding’ roundtable at megachurch

President Donald J. Trump gives remarks at a roundtable discussion on the Transition to Greatness: Restoring, Rebuilding and Renewing June 11, 2020, at Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas. Official White House Photo/Shealah Craighead)

Pastor Robert Morris hosted on Thursday President Donald Trump and black leaders who addressed longstanding problems of race relations in America and steps to reform and rebuild the nation.

The discussion, called “Restoring, Rebuilding and Renewing,” took place at Gateway Church in Dallas, where Trump reiterated his desire for “law and order” amid ongoing riots in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Those who participated in the roundtable included Attorney General William Barr, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former NFL player Jack Brewer, Chief Vernell Dooley and Bishop Harry Jackson, among others.

Here are five interesting things that were said during the nearly 90-minute discussion.

1. Bishop Jackson: Church needs to come together

Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church and an evangelical adviser to Trump, said people shouldn’t expect the Trump administration to fix all the problems they’re seeing today, noting that it’s never worked that way.

“I’m tired of people blaming the current administration and others in our generation,” Jackson said. “These problems began many years ago.”

He outlined that throughout history, the Church came together to bring solutions.

“It was the Church that began the abolitionist movement. It was the Church and whites and blacks working together that started the NAACP … It was the Church that led through in the civil rights movement. So I want to offer you my support in these listening sessions, in that the Church needs to come together. I believe we can unify better than any group.

“I challenge you Christians — black, white, Asian: Let’s come together, and let’s provide a safety net, and then we’ll work with business, and then we’ll work along with the administration.”

2. Brewer: We need God

Brewer, a former NFL player, said right now, “we need God.”

“I want our nation to hear me: We need the fear of God,” he said.

He said Trump is the “only Republican I’ve ever voted for” because he “stood up for the Word of God.”

“We are in a spiritual warfare,” Brewer continued. “We cannot fight this battle with flesh and blood. We cannot fight this battle with politics. You cannot politicize oppression.”

He also argued that the root problem in America is “fatherlessness,” noting that 71% of students who drop out of high school don’t have a father in the house and that someone is “five times more likely to go to prison or have a run-in with the police department if they don’t have a father in the house.”

Those without a father in their house are also more likely to live in poverty.

“We don’t have to keep looking for the problem when we see it.”

He called on Americans to get out of their bubbles and go to the underserved communities and “do what Jesus told us to do.”

3. Achieving the ‘full American Dream for all communities’

Attorney General Barr listed four “critical elements” necessary to ensure that all American communities, including black communities, have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

Along with economic growth, he listed education, moral discipline and safety.

“I think Condi Rice said a few years ago it’s the civil rights issue of our time,” Barr said of education. “Because without a good education, they are not allowing our young people to seize their opportunities and pursue their dreams. And as the president mentioned, it’s only by empowering parents and giving them the power to choose the education for their children that we’re ever going to be able to obtain that.”

Earlier in the roundtable, Trump said his administration is renewing its call on Congress to enact school choice.

On “moral discipline,” Barr said young people “have to have the discipline to seize the opportunity, to make momentary sacrifices for later gain.”

Traditionally, such discipline came from religion, he noted. “We have to stop policies that undermine religion or relegate religion out of the public square,” he said.

On safety, he acknowledged that there is distrust among black communities toward law enforcement. But he argued that there has been improvement as the crime rate has been cut in half and reforms have been made.

“I don’t think now is the time to be tearing down our institutions because we’ve been on a march for the last 50 years of reforming our institutions, and we don’t need to tear them down. We have to be mature about this and when we see problems, we have to redouble our efforts to reform our institutions and make sure they’re in sync with our values.”

“While we saw something very bad, it has helped perhaps galvanize the will of the country to bring good out of that,” he said of the May 25 killing of Floyd while in police custody. “And we can’t let that incident obscure the fact that progress has been made; that policemen are, by and large, by overwhelming majority, good, decent people who care about their community and put their lives on the line for us, their neighbors.”

Trump also brushed off calls to defund the police and said he’s going to work to have “stronger police forces” and make sure they’re well trained.

“We must invest more energy and resources in police training and recruiting and community engagement,” Trump said. “We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They’re protecting us. And if they’re allowed to do their job, they’ll do a great job. And you always have a bad apple, no matter where you go. You have bad apples. And there are not too many of them.”

Addressing the recent riots, Trump said he’s also finalizing an executive order to encourage police departments to “meet the most current professional standards of force. And that means force, but force with compassion. But if you’re going to have to really do a job, if somebody is really bad, you’re going to have to do it with real strength, real power.”

4. Police mentor, help former inmates reenter society

Jon Ponder, CEO of Hope for Prisoners, highlighted a key aspect to his ministry’s reentry program through which former inmates are able to successfully reintegrate back into the community — and that is partnering with the police.

“Our local sheriff at Las Vegas, Nevada, has given us close to 100 volunteer police officers that are mentoring and training men and women coming home from the prison system.  And never before in the history of reentry, nowhere on this planet, to this magnitude, have the men and women from law enforcement come alongside formerly incarcerated folks and helped them to successfully reintegrate back into the community,” he said.

“That is just further evidence that we serve a gigantic God that wants to bridge the gaps … That is why that is so important because what God wants to do, the Bible calls it the “repairer of the breach.”

There is a “disconnect” between law enforcement and black communities, where there is a lack of trust “because they’re not in relationship with them,” Ponder noted.

But through creative ways of bringing them together, such as the ministry’s reentry program, the once disconnected communities can form relationships and realize they have “more in common than we have differences.”

5. Improvements that need to be made in law enforcement

While maintaining that “this is not the time to defund police departments,” Chief Dooley of the Glenn Heights Department in Texas offered ways to reform police departments nationwide.

He called for standardization in hiring, termination and disciplinary practices.

He also proposed developing a police officer decertification database “to get those bad apples out of our industry.”

“We need more training,” he further stated.

“When an organization or a business is struggling to be better, now is not the time to take away those resources. You provide them, and you hold them accountable, and you set expectations, and you manage them so they can be better.”

 

 

 

Could Mass Marches Across America
be Preparing the Way
for a Nationwide Christ Awakening?

In the Atlantic magazine this week, a headline about the demonstrations across America read: “The town square has come roaring back.” It certainly has around my home.

This past Sunday, I experienced one of the most profound moments of my life as I joined a march.

In many ways, it duplicated what hundreds of thousands of Americans have encountered the past few days in nearly 900 community-wide, overwhelmingly peaceful protest marches for racial justice and equality—held both in major cities and rural villages.

But my march experience became something more for me: Those hours of walking and cheering and praying (yes, praying) stirred in me a wholly unexpected—and yet thoroughly thrilling—hope about what the Spirit of God may be doing in the midst of these daily dramas occurring throughout our nation.

Frankly, I’m wondering if the Spirit of God may be at work across the land, maximizing the ferment in all these events for God’s grander purposes of redemption.

Have you ever considered the possibility that, from coast to coast, we may be witnessing the “birth pangs” of the nationwide Christ Awakening for which countless Christians have been praying for decades?

I have.

Looking through my “King Jesus glasses,” I’m beginning to wonder if this historic initiative is moving our nation in Christ’s direction—and, I would argue, at Christ’s direction—preparing us for a national spiritual revolution.

In other words, let’s ask: Could it be that our nation is moving in Christ’s direction—moving toward him during this time of turmoil—because Jesus himself is directing the outcome, using all that seems disruptive to prepare us for the solution: a nationwide Christ Awakening?

No surprise if this is so! It is just what Jesus taught us about how his reign often works. He said he unleashes it like a small amount of invisible leaven embedded in a lump of dough, causing it to swell up in readiness for the oven (Matthew 13).

Let me show you what I see going on and why I have a growing hope in God about what is coming next. I believe you’ll find it well worth your time.

Let me take you inside the surprising developments that unfolded during our protest last Sunday.

 

Have you joined a protest march where you live anytime in the past couple of weeks? If not, come with me into mine.

On a warm Sunday afternoon, about 3000 fellow citizens of my little community (just 20 minutes from Times Square) banded together, flowing like a mighty river.

It’s true that we were marching in protest. But remember the word “protest” has two meanings, one negative and one more positive: (1) to openly express objection or disapproval; OR (2) to make a solemn or earnest declaration.

Even so, in both senses, we visibly protested but without any violence, as also has been true for 95% of the demonstrations nationwide in the past two weeks. We did so about the following concerns:

AGAINST racism but FOR racial justice and equality.

AGAINST the carnage within the Black community but FOR social, economic, and psychological healing and restoration for our fellow citizens.

AGAINST violence (police and otherwise) but FOR reconciliation (among the races and the classes).

AGAINST the division and strife that is tearing our nation apart but FOR a national moral reset full of forgiveness, compassion, and love.

It was these strong themes that, at least for me, gave me a fresh “feel” for how the Bible describes the kingdom of God. We “protested” for the principles and values, priorities and passions, and emphases on human dignity, community, and flourishing that are highlighted by God’s kingdom ways.

At one point, I was reminded of Jesus’ response to a religious leader who correctly identified the two highest priorities for Israel: Love God and love neighbors. “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” Jesus reassured him.

In the same way, I felt I could say to that multitude on Sunday afternoon: “What you are  calling out for indicates that you—and this whole march—are so much closer to what life in the kingdom of God looks like than probably most of you know.” 

For example, a whole lot of the ideals found in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7) were being articulated and embraced that day, even if many who marched with me were unaware of the passage.

Therefore, as I said above: Looking through my “King Jesus glasses,” I’m beginning to wonder if this historic initiative is moving our nation in Christ’s direction and at Christ’s direction, preparing us for a nationwide Christ Awakening.

In addition, kingdom-type concerns were echoed by many of the homemade signs people carried as we walked along. Consider this sampling:

A young Black woman’s sign declared: “Who I am is enough!”—suggesting the truth that human dignity has nothing to do with skin tone because each of us has been made in God’s image.

A White woman’s sign admitted: “I can’t understand” (that is, understand the horrendous Black experience in America). Yet it went on to say, “but I can STAND” (that is, stand on behalf of all who are devastated and oppressed by the unjust world around them). This is clearly a kingdom-type calling.

One White man made his point in rhyme: “White silence is White violence.” He meant that for the majority culture—the culture primarily in power—to ignore the suffering of the Black community and its many poor is inexcusable IF, in fact, we could have done something about it. Similarly, God’s kingdom calls its citizens to love others the way Christ loved us by laying down his life for us to make us whole.

Or finally, take this sign: “BLACK lives matter because ALL lives matter.” In other words, if God’s kingdom is “pro-life” (and it is), then that means God’s kingdom is equally, totally pro-BLACK life, in the womb and in the world, just as much as it is pro-MY-life. We always need to act like this toward one another.

Now I’ve given you more reasons why I believe this historic initiative is moving our nation in Christ’s direction and at Christ’s direction, preparing us for a nationwide Christ Awakening.

Today, I got an email from a friend, an internationally respected Christian leader who lives in Houston. He shared his own protest experience from last week. What he reported reinforced my hunch:

I joined about 70,000 as we marched through the downtown to Houston City Hall. Somehow it felt to me like this was a “spiritual manifestation” as many pastors and ministry leaders took the initiative and prayed in the midst of a whole lot of hurting people.

His gathering, too, was bumping up against the kingdom of God!

Could such events as his and mine, taking place from coast to coast, serve as precursors of—and be preparing the way for—a coming Christ Awakening?

Let’s think about this a little more.

What was the impact of the kingdom truths that rang out to the multitude on Sunday?

Flooding the roadway, the thousands who walked the miles with me finally assembled at our Memorial Field. For ninety minutes, we listened to various leaders who solicited countless waves of applause from the crowd as one speaker after another proclaimed the moral urgencies impinging on the future of our nation.

Though the audience was diverse in race and age, most of the speakers were Black GenXer’s, our future leaders. Their talks brimmed with wisdom and graciousness—not anger or resentment. Their appeals were reminiscent of the biblical fervor of a Martin Luther King.

None of them showed anything but humility and respect, even as they passionately called for justice and righteousness, for new perspectives and new policies, and for transformed relationships with law enforcement on behalf of the historically abused and beleaguered African American peoples of our land.

Once again, like the placards in the parade, appeals from the platform were full of kingdom-type values. There was almost a call for Christlikeness at times, whether each speaker had those thoughts in mind or not.

In other words, the event highlighted priorities I would expect any follower of Jesus to endorse and practice. And they were shared with a spirit of love that resembled the love of Christ, which is the heart and soul of God’s kingdom.

The Black leaders also expressed their deeply felt gratitude that afternoon for the unprecedented support coming from the 80% of the audience who were White.

We were urged to work together in coming days with the local Black communities to ensure that this time the results would be different—that what former Newark mayor Sen. Cory Booker called this week a “moral moment” for our nation would ultimately become a “movement” for the realization of the American promise for all of its citizens of all races.

Without a doubt, our gathering echoed the nearness of the kingdom of God! Could hundreds of similar events, taking place all over America, actually be precursors of—and helping to prepare the way for—the coming Christ Awakening?

Furthermore, get this:

The official program at the field opened intentionally with the local Catholic priest leading the crowd (of Christians, non-Christian, Hindus, and other religions) in a spontaneous prayer asking God to “pour out your love on us and through us so that together we may work for your justice for all peoples in our nation.” The gathering responded unexpectedly in one voice with a hearty AMEN!

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

So, let me put it to YOU:

Do you think it is possible that everything we’re seeing right now is moving us, directly or indirectly, in Christ’s direction and doing so at Christ’s direction? Could it be that all this turbulence is actually setting the stage for a nationwide Christ Awakening?

Put another way: Are we in a season similar to what the ministry of John the Baptist was all about?

The Bible says John’s primary assignment with the multitudes at the Jordan River was to “prepare the way of the Lord” with them (as the Gospels call it, quoting from Isaiah 40).

John got the people to rise up in anticipation, restless for what Jesus alone could bring—even though neither John nor they knew what to expect, what shape it would take, what the Messiah himself would look like, how he would be revealed to them, or how he would take action—nor what would happen after that.

Essentially, John did all he could do: He preached to them about “kingdom values”—declaring that “the Kingdom is at hand”—in order to bring the crowds into a genuine spirit of brokenness and repentance as well as abounding hope, in readiness for the next chapter.

Finally, the next chapter did begin. It proved to be nothing short of a genuine “Christ Awakening” (as we might call it)—a spiritual revolution that spread throughout the life of the nation. The Jordon uprising spread everywhere starting the day “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” appeared at the river’s edge. It was a whole-life revival—a kingdom of God breakthrough—that has been redeeming and reconstituting peoples among the nations ever since.

Now, the Church in our nation is poised for a similar impact of Christ upon our lives together and then through us upon the whole country—as people in every part of our land begin to become wholly alive to the whole vision of God’s Son today.

The ramifications of this Spirit-driven movement for the kind of moral and social transformation that tens of thousands are marching for are incalculable.

It is that great hope that causes me to believe that what’s happening all around us at this moment is moving us in Christ’s direction and at Christ’s direction, preparing us for a nationwide Christ Awakening.

But I must not end my story without telling you about one sacred moment that Sunday afternoon that really opened my eyes!

There on the open field, there came a point in the program where the crowd was asked to drop to our knees and spend eight minutes and forty-three seconds in total silence in honor of George Floyd—reflecting the agony he endured for that same amount of time while his precious life was being snuffed out of him.

Eight minutes. In silence. On our knees. The entire gathering. A scene I could hardly take in. (At the top of this blog post is the picture I took of that moment.)

The experience took on even more meaning for me as I reflected on it later that day. It represented a prophetic act—a harbinger of an extraordinary outpouring of Christ and his salvation upon our nation, which is so desperately needed.

For me, thousands of knees on the ground recalled the biblical teaching that before seeking “kingdom” values such as racial justice, equality, and reconciliation, we must undergo a change in our HEARTS as Americans—beginning with God’s pe0ple in America. Our hearts must be surrendered to the King himself—Jesus.

The truth is that all of us qualify for a level of soul surgery so radical that we must come before our Redeemer in silence, admitting to him that we can never bring about this spiritual transformation on our own.

Yes, being on our knees for nearly ten minutes honored George Floyd. But it also served to portray how broken and helpless all of us are apart from some form of divine intervention within us and among us by our righteous Redeemer.

In the silence, whether most in the gathering knew it or not, we were kneeling before the Throne of Glory (where George Floyd, a Jesus follower, abides right now), dramatizing our need for a powerful, regenerating work in our innermost beings by the Lord of our salvation—for the sake of all the other George Floyds in our society and also for the healing of our nation as a whole.

Even in the midst of the current protests rising out of anger, woundedness, griefs, and fears, many Americans—believers and unbelievers alike—instinctively realize that without deeply reordered hearts, all our good resolves for moral and social renovation will fall flat no matter how many hundreds of thousands participate in countless marches.

Christians especially know, deep down, that striving for the flourishing of the Black community in America as well as for the reformation of our society from top to bottom–marks of God’s kingdom—can never be sustained apart from a widespread impact of the Gospel that radically overhauls our lives and loves, our principles and priorities, by the saving power of the reigning Christ.

There is only one solution for our crisis of the spirit. There is only one answer to the ultimate questions we face about race. There’s only one hope to match the energy, the vision, the appeals, and the soul-cries ascending from this daily, national uprising. It is the person and work of our victorious Lord Jesus Christ. Consider:

The revolution of our hearts, to deliver us from racism and anger and division—can spring only from the purposeful, penetrating, redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The kingdom promises of God that fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts for ourselves and our people can be entered into only through the great Promise Keeper, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The healing reconciliation among the races—especially Black and White—and the transforming regeneration of structural changes that so many are seeking will be found only through opening wide the gates to receive the active reign of our Lord Jesus Christ among us.

The righteousness, justice, and restoration of wholeness we are so desperate for, individually and as a nation, can truly begin only with full surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

The realization of the highest ideals of the “American experiment” for ALL of our citizens—but especially for the Black community— can still be ours. But it will come solely through the revelation and inbreaking of the righteous, reconciling, reforming, reviving work of our Lord Jesus Christ—and only as we embrace it daily and apply it comprehensively.

So, as needed, let’s keep on marching in our streets with our feet. But above all, let’s keep on marching to the Throne by our prayers—“marching” on our knees, as it were—seeking a fuller demonstration of the glory, greatness and goodness of God’s Son.

A “kairos” hour is upon us. We must be about the business of preparing the way of the Lord. We must get ready to welcome, enter into, and then spread, the coming Christ Awakening. That is the movement that offers the one true hope for America at this crossroads.

Most of all, it provides us our greatest opportunity to see Jesus highly exalted as Lord and Savior, reviving the Church and restoring the soul of our nation.

Today, Isaiah 40, which was brought to life in the ministry of John the Baptist, calls Christians everywhere to take similar actions in our generation on behalf of Christ, for the coming Christ Awakening and triumphant advances of his kingdom that lie just ahead of us.

Let these commands become your “marching orders,” as well, every day among the people where you live:

Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”

 

 

Grace - How deep is God's grace?

Can grace cover the worst thing you’ve ever done? The most terrible act committed against you? The one thing you have the most trouble forgetting? The worst deed ever committed in history? In your lifetime?

Can God’s grace cover that? How complete is His forgiveness? How unconditional is His love?

How Deep is God’s Grace?

By Rebecca Barlow Jordan

God’s grace is so deep, you can never contain it.

So wide, you can never explain it.

So deep you can never see its beginning,

So wide, you can’t see its ending.

So deep, you can’t comprehend it,

So wide, you can’t ever end it.

So good, you can hardly believe it,

So great, you can only receive it.

So free, you can never earn it,

So amazing, you will never return it.

Take a moment again to remember, because we never truly forget. Memories—we may replace them, but we can never erase them. What is your worst memory? Your greatest (actual) nightmare? Then place God’s grace beside it.

How Deep Is God’s Grace?

Deep enough to cover the deepest sin. Because of Jesus, it’s wide enough to erase it from God’s “memory,” in that He no longer holds it to our account (Psalm 103:11-12). We are forgiven!

His grace is deep enough to cover every prison cell in every country. It’s wide enough to envelop the darkest heart. It’s big enough to embrace you forever. But it’s a gift, and must be received (Acts 2:8-9).

How Deep Is God’s Grace?

Deeper than you think.

I don’t know about you, but I remember those times in my life—painful times when I wasn’t proud of my actions or thoughts. Judgmental times, too. At times, I’ve wished I could forget. But I choose to believe His grace is not only sufficient to forgive, but that it’s deep enough to heal every memory. And it’s strong enough to help us grow deeper with Him.

Maybe it’s time to really believe and act on that truth.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is” Ephesians 3:18 NLT

“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace” (Galatians 1:3 NLT).

NOTE: I found the inspiration for this blog several years ago through Christy Nockel’s song, Healing Is in Your Hands, as we sang it in our worship service one Sunday morning. Listen carefully to the words of that song on the video. It’s one of my favorite songs. God’s healing grace is so powerful!

* I first published this post several years ago, but wanted to share its powerful message again.

For more help on God’s grace, check out you can check out another blog I wrote. You can also find a unique picture of God’s grace on this post.

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, I truly don’t understand Your amazing grace. All I know is that I’ve experience it repeatedly. May that be true of every reader today. Surprise them with Your grace and Your unconditional love. Let them feel Your presence and the touch of Your healing hand on the hurts of their lives. Fill them with Your joy and help them receive Your grace daily. Lord, how can we thank You enough for pursuing us and accepting us, even at our worst? Thank You for Your precious covering of love.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What does God’s grace mean to you? How has it changed your life? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page and fill out the basic name and address info; then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

Share This Post with Others

 

 

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Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Want to Bring My Healing Touch to Black America’

African-Americans

In 32 years of ministry, I can’t think of one time I shared a word from God in the first person on a national level. But as my wife and I were driving from Tel Aviv to Ashkelon today, I began to pray, and I started to sense that God was speaking.

He started by telling me, “People think you are sharing your political opinion (in a few Facebook posts I posted), I want you to prophesy so they can hear my heart.” And then He began to speak to me about His heart.

I immediately wrote it down as soon as arrived at our destination. There are things written below that I had never even thought of until He spoke them.

New Testament prophecy is always partial (1 Cor. 13:9) and filtered through our personhood, and to be judged by others, but not to be despised. (1 Thess. 5:20-21). My words are the ones not in quotes.

I humbly submit this to the body in the fear of the Lord:

The Spirit of Lord says: “Do not process what is happening in America in a political way. If you do, you will choose a side, right or left, but I am seated in heavenly places, not on the political right or the political left, but in heaven above.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Messiah, set your hearts on things above, where Messiah is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God.” (Col. 3:1-3, TLV, author’s emphasis).

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8).

“You will say, ‘but this’ and ‘but that,’ but I am looking for your obedience. What does My Word say regarding the poor, hurting and broken? Does it say to choose a political side, or to reach out to them? Reaching out in My love is not a right-wing or left-wing solution, but an upward resolution that will release My grace and power.

“The key to the revival that you in the ‘white church” seek is the white church invading the black community with My love, healing power and practical help—such as mentoring, tutoring—I am calling you to share your lives with them.

“I will deal with the looters and criminals through the criminal justice system, yet even they have a purpose, just as I used Assyria to judge Israel (Isa. 10:5-6). In the end, I judged Assyria for her actions.

“But I want you to look deeper and bring My healing touch to black America. There is no other answer. Hear my voice: ‘There is no other answer!’ Will you be My body? Will you be My hands? My heart breaks for them; does yours?

“Why did I use the symbol of the Kansas City Chiefs to prophesy a coming revival? Because chiefs are native Americans, an oppressed community. Broken and in need.

(Some asked, “How long do [Native Americans] hold a grudge? How many years have passed since slavery was legal?” The answer is simple—until there is healing.)

“If you want revival, then you will have to leave your neighborhoods and gated communities. You will need to share your riches and experience with a people not your own. Are you willing? What is your life to you? You were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20).

“What was the cry of the Hebrew prophets? Look at their hearts. When they entered the political arena, it was to release My Word and speak against injustice. They cried out on behalf of the broken, the orphaned, the fatherless and the widow.

“‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?'” (Isa. 58:6).

(The woman caught in adultery, the Good Samaritan, all the untouchables that Yeshua touched from beggars to lepers to prostitutes.)

“You want me to remove the agitators so you can continue in comfort. Hear me, ‘I have not called you to a life of comfort, but comforting others—and in that you will find true comfort.’ The agitators are My servants, sent to wake you up to the need. If you respond to the need, I will deal with the agitators and send winds of refreshing—the ones you have longed for.

“No, this is not the revival ‘package’ you were looking for, but it is the one I am sending. I need you to be Me to them, not to make excuses why they deserve what they are getting.

“Will you rise up? Rise up to that heavenly calling where Yeshua weeps and intercedes (Rom. 8:34) for all who are in need. Will you call them to Me, to salvation and freedom?

“Where are My leaders? Where are My activists, where are My holy agitators, anti-looters, who give and don’t take, who love and don’t hate? I can’t do it without you (Rom. 10:14) I do not have a plan B. You are My representatives on earth until I come. Rise up people of God and do not miss this moment. Who will answer the call to love these people?

“You fight for biblical values, but I am calling you to live them out. For all your fighting what has it gotten you? You are losing ground daily. Why? Because you have the cart before the horse.

“Is the New Covenant commission to fight for biblical values in the public square? Or to preach the message of the gospel that changes lives. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ (1 Cor. 5:17)

“Did Paul my servant preach biblical values to the lost?

“For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Messiah accomplished through me, to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem and around even to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the Good News of Messiah. In this way I make it my aim to proclaim the Good News not where Messiah was already named, lest I build on another person’s foundation” (Rom. 15:18-20).

“His message was Jesus! Preaching biblical values to unbelievers is like driving a car without oil. It will not work. (And has not worked.)

“‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is’ not preaching biblical values to the lost, but ‘this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world ‘ (James 1:27b, NIV).

“However, the oil is the power of the My Spirit. When you preach the gospel in both power and love, in word and deed, when you truly represent my heart to a broken world, then you will see fruit. And then, they will gladly embrace My values.”

I felt there was more to say, but I do yet have the faith to prophesy it.

I have a friend in the U.S. He and his wife are very successful with three grown children. About 8 years ago, they took in an African American preteen. At first it was just visits for mentoring, but then after the death of her mother and then her caretaker, and being left in a completely dysfunctional environment, they adopted her. She is now about to graduate high school from a private school, and she knows Jesus. Without them, I can’t even imagine where she would be today!

No, not everyone has this type of grace, but it is an example of how actions of love speak louder than words. We can’t miss this moment.

Ron Cantor is the CEO of Tikkun International, a Messianic family of leaders and ministries dedicated to the restoration of Israel and the church. Ron is considered an authority on the Jewishness of the New Testament and has written several books. He also writes frequently on leadership topics and has just released Follow His Lead, his newest book. You can get a free copy of his encouraging e-book, The Coming End-Time Revival, at roncantor.com. Ron lives with his wife, Elana, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

 

 

Unstoppable! ‘Beyond Baptism to Full Fellowship’

 

Even as Peter was saying these things [about salvation in Jesus], the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.

Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.

— Acts 10:44-48 NLT

Key Thought

Luke made sure we understand the implications that the baptism of Cornelius and his many friends and relatives had for Christian fellowship. Full fellowship of Jewish Christians with Cornelius and all these new brothers and sisters had begun with their baptism. Cornelius asked Peter, a Jew, to stay with him, a Roman and a Gentile, and Peter did. Boom! The wall* that divided people as Jew and Gentile fell, and a new family of God, made up of all peoples who call on the name of the Lord, could be saved and enjoy full fellowship with one another. While Christians have worked on the implications of this moment for a long time, Cornelius and his many friends and family who came to Christ demonstrated God’s desire for full Christian fellowship with no dividing walls!

* See Ephesians 2:11-22, which is also in our Related Scripture Readings below.

Today’s Prayer

O, God, praise your name. You are God of all. I shout, “Hallelujah!” with the angels in heaven at the dawning of a new age of salvation with Cornelius’ conversion. May we, your children today, bring to full fruition your desire to have “every nation and tribe and people and language”* join in your chorus of praise for Jesus, your Son, our Savior, and the Lamb who was slain to give us life. To his glory, we pray and praise his name. Amen.

* See Revelation 7:9-17, which is also in our Related Scripture Readings below.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Isaiah 52:7 — How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"`

Passion for Praise: ‘King Forever’

Illustration of Psalm 10:16-18 — The LORD is king forever and ever! The godless nations will vanish from the land. LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.

Spiritual Warfare: ‘Listen Very Carefully: Guard Your Heart’

God’s Power for Our Battles

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. … Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

— Proverbs 4:2023 NLT
Lord, I confess that my life is too busy and my mind wanders. I usually focus on the things of this world much more than I focus on paying attention to Your commands or listening carefully to Your instructions. Forgive me. Lead me. Change me. Mold me into someone better than before. Help me to be on guard for the enemy at all times; to always be alert to the evil plans he has to lead me away from You. Help me to guard my heart above all else. My body will grow old and weak, but my heart and mind are Yours forever. Guide my heart to follow Your course. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Undaunted!’

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

Yesterday, I asked you to read about the paralyzed man that I healed through Peter and John. I wanted you to see the refreshing new life that I brought not only to that man but also to all who turn to Me. Peter and John spoke about My power and presence being available because I had been raised from the dead. The Sanhedrin, the highest ranking religious body in Israel, had asked that I be put to death. In today’s verses, My disciples were standing before the same religious body, but they were not intimidated or afraid. Because of My resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were undaunted!

As you might expect, the healing of the paralyzed man created a big stir among the religious leaders. “So they arrested Peter, John, and the man who was healed and kept them in jail overnight” (Acts 4:3). These religious leaders had a major problem: more than 3,000 people had already become My disciples, and the number was quickly becoming more than 5,000. The religious leaders hauled Peter and John in before them. This very same group that had asked the Roman Governor Pilate to have Me put to death now threatened My apostles.

Peter and John were unafraid! They spoke powerfully to the Sanhedrin, unfazed by the threats of these religious leaders and their earthly power. Peter and John’s opponents immediately recognized the problem:

Now the leaders were surprised and confused. They looked at Peter and John and realized they were typical peasants — uneducated, utterly ordinary fellows — with extraordinary confidence. The leaders recognized them as companions of Jesus…
(Acts 4:13)

In the next several chapters in the book of Acts, you will find that My disciples were threatened, beaten, imprisoned, and even martyred. They were put to death because of their faith in Me and their commitment to sharing My message with others. But they were not intimidated! They were undaunted!

As you look at their examples, I hope you will also be undaunted by those who oppose you, ridicule you, and ostracize you. Let your commitment to share My message of grace with the lost world around you propel you past your fear, and let My Spirit empower you to greater things than you can imagine.

Verses to Live

What you will read below comes from the continuing story of the religious leaders’ failed attempts to keep My apostles quiet. My apostles were committed to sharing My message. They were committed to reaching the lost. They were committed to honoring Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — in spite of any threat from any human power or person.

The leaders brought the prisoners [Peter and John] back in and prohibited them from doing any more speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John listened quietly and then replied,

Peter and John:

You are the judges here, so we’ll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God’s. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.

(Acts 4:18-20)

After praying and being emboldened by the Spirit, My disciples continued to share the message about My life, death, resurrection, and grace. They continued to proclaim the good news, and their number grew rapidly as My power was demonstrated through them.

Those were amazing days — with many signs and wonders being performed through the apostles among the people. The church would gather as a unified group in Solomon’s Porch, enjoying great respect by the people of the city — though most people wouldn’t risk publicly affiliating with them. Even so, record numbers of believers — both men and women — were added to the Lord.
(Acts 5:12-14)

After being arrested and then miraculously delivered from jail (Acts 5:19), the apostles continued to proclaim My message, undaunted by the threats, beatings, and imprisonment. When questioned by the High Priest and the ruling council they remained undaunted:

The temple police — this time, accompanied by their captain — rushed over to the temple and brought the emissaries of the Lord to the council. They were careful not to use violence, because the people were so supportive of them that the police feared being stoned by the crowd if they were too rough. Once again the men stood before the council. The high priest began the questioning.

High Priest:

Didn’t we give you strict orders to stop teaching in this name? But here you are, spreading your teaching throughout Jerusalem. And you are determined to blame us for this man’s death.

Peter and the Apostles:

If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God.

(Acts 5:26-29)

The council… brought the apostles back in. They were flogged, again told not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released. As they left the council, they weren’t discouraged at all. In fact, they were filled with joy over being considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His name. And constantly, whether in public, in the temple, or in their homes, they kept teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Anointed One, the Liberating King.
(Acts 5:40-42)

Response in Prayer

O Father, give us the courage to do Your will and the grace to share the message about Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we be as undaunted in our day as these early disciples were in their day! I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

               Dion Todd

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Have you ever felt that God would not want to bother with the little things in your life? Read today’s word for a blessing. Today’s message is from my book, “Forty Days of Faith”.

So Good To Me

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalms 37:4 ESV

When the man tossed the cable on the desk, I started laughing. I could hardly believe it. I have always been drawn to technical things like a moth to a bug light and I like tinkering with them. I wanted to hook a computer up to my television and needed an DVI to HDMI cable. They are common today, but in 2004 they were nearly unheard of. I searched the Internet and found one for about forty dollars, but something told me to wait so I did not buy it.

We owned a small computer business and our first client of the day was an insurance company. We walked into the office and while discussing the issues that they were having, the man reached into a desk drawer and tossed an unopened DVI to HDMI cable on the desk. He said ‘I don’t know why I bought this, but I certainly do not need it. Maybe you can use it for something?’ I started laughing. ‘God is so good to me’, I thought.

Some would say that is not scriptural and HDMI is not in the Bible, but it does not matter. The scripture says that He will give you the desires of your heart. Like the blind man said, ‘I don’t know how it happened. I was blind, but now I see’, I needed a cable and did not have one, but now I do. Delight yourself in the Lord, put Him first in your life and He will take care of you. God cares about the little things, not just the big decisions and He wants to be intimately involved in your daily life. All that I know is this: He is so good to me.

Prayer: Father, draw my heart to You like never before. Give me the grace to live a life pleasing to You and walk with me each day, in the name of Jesus.

Bible Fun Fact: There are forty-nine different foods mentioned in the bible.

 

 

Celebrate Yo-Yo Day June 6 | NonStop Celebrations

Flag Day!

Happy National Pop Goes the Weasel Day!!! – the b. list

Pop Goes the Weasel Day celebrates the popular nursery rhyme, “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The rhyme’s meaning and origin are debated, and there are various American and English versions of it. It was first published in 1850, in America, as a dance song titled “Pop goes the Weasel for Fun and Frolic.” It was referred to as an English dance—meaning England is probably where it originated from. It is likely that an oral form of the nursery rhyme existed there long before 1850.

The dance “Pop goes the Weasel” was popular in England in the 1850s. Done on stage and in dance-halls, it didn’t have lyrics beyond the shouting out of “Pop goes the weasel.” More lyrics were soon added, but they weren’t solidified in Britain and took on various forms in America as well.

The most basic and common lyrics in England were as follows:

Half a pound of tuppeny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That's the way the money goes
Pop! goes the weasel

Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop! goes the weasel

A common American verse, which was first printed in 1914, is as follows:

All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey stopped to pull up his sock, (or The monkey stopped to scratch his nose, or The monkey fell down and oh what a sound)
Pop! goes the weasel.

One theory takes the lyrics literally, saying the song is about weasels popping their heads up—something they do naturally when they are disturbed. Weasel may also be a play on the word “whistle.” Another theory says that the song is about pawning a suit, where “pop” is the word for pawn, and “weasel” for suit. There are many other theories, and it is even possible that at the height of the dance craze in the 1850s, people didn’t know what it meant.

Shortly after the dance gained popularity, by at least 1856, the phrase “Pop goes the weasel” began taking on its own meaning apart from the song. It came to indicate that something had happened “just like that.” By the late nineteenth century, in Britain, the rhyme started being used to play a game that was similar to musical chairs.

 

 

Humor~~~

Aunty Acid for 6/14/2020

Maxine Mini | TF Publishing | Calendars + Planners - Journals + ...

 

 

 

 

 

Week of Senselessness…

PSALM 116:2 | A CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE

 

 

Daily Prayer for June 7

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1–2, NIV

Lord our God, our refuge forever, bless us who have gathered in your presence and who turn to you in all distress, not only in our personal need but also in the distress of the nations and peoples of the whole world. Grant that we may be your children, with a simple faith that gives us strength to go on working even when life is bitterly hard. We thank you for giving us so much grace, for helping us and never forsaking us, so that again and again we can find joy and can glorify and praise you, our Father. May your name be praised from heaven above and among us here below. May your name be praised by all people throughout the world, and may everyone on earth acknowledge you and receive all that they need from you. Amen.

 

Your Daily Dig

Eberhard Arnold
Difficulties should not depress or divert us. The cause that has gripped us is so great that the small weaknesses of individuals cannot destroy it. Therefore I ask you only one thing: do not be so worried about yourself. Free yourself from all your plans and aims. They occupy you far too much. Surrender yourself to the sun, the rain, and the wind, as do the flowers and the birds. Surrender yourself to God. Wish for nothing but one thing: that his will be done, that his kingdom come, and that his nature be revealed. Then all will be well.

 

 

Prophetic Vision: Angelic Armies Will Be Dispatched Over US

angels-presence

It’s not a surprise that with this global pandemic, we are seeing resistance throughout the nation as Americans watch the media’s portrayals of patriots as being extreme. I was given a glimpse into the spirit behind this movement; some of it was good and some of it was not.

But mostly, I saw righteous anger. I saw the strength of our forefathers emerge. I saw a reconnecting of patriotism. I saw fear, hurt, surprise and a fight.

I was then reminded why my family came to the United States. Suddenly, a wind passed by me, and I knew the Spirit of the Almighty was near. I heard this from our Lord: “Be strong and of good courage, I have overcome the world.” Then two Scriptures shot into my mind:

—”Be strong and of a good courage. Fear not, nor be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, it is He who goes with you. He will not fail you, nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

—”I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Angelic Army Dispatching

As these Scriptures flooded my mind, I was caught up in a vision. I saw a huge army of angelic beings dispatched from the throne of power. They were under direct orders from the King.

“May the word of my lord the king provide rest. For like the angel of God, my lord the king discerns good from evil. May the Lord your God be with you” (2 Sam. 14:17).

I knew when the King commands, obedience follows without challenge. In awe, I watched the portals over America open, and more dispatching from the throne occurred—multitudes … yes, a myriad of angelic forces came through the atmosphere with great power, focus and speed.

I whispered this Scripture, “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). Then I heard clearly, “I am dispatching these beings for such a time as this. I will send this guard. They are being strategically placed. They will linger just a while. They will be used to awaken the church first, then the lost to the original intent of the nation. Yes, first to the believer, then to the unbeliever.”

“I can do this,” says the Lord. “Each angel will bear a banner over a region. It will not be a banner of surrender; it will be the banner of original intent over that region [study your region]. Then, I will send a new movement—a movement like that of long ago when the clergy removed their robes and took up the fight to obtain a free world.

To Arms!

“I am calling you to arms! Arm yourself with the living Word of the Lord. Do not let it become void in your spirit,” says the Lord. “As you can see, I am giving you a directive. The Word in your mouth will be the greatest weapon against the surge of attacks against the nation of America. Decree from truth, passion and compassion. This will disarm many enemies. Use it.

“Remember, angelic beings are sent to assist you and report back to Me. You must act on the Word,” says the Lord.

“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the eternal gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Rev. 14:6).

The Lord says, “Yes, you cry for revival, you cry for an awakening, but cry for Me! I tell you now, I am revival. I am awakening. I have not changed.”

“For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6a).

I was being completely undone in this presence, fearful I might disrupt His presence in sharing with me the heart of the King, when suddenly, the wind passed me again. I looked to my left, out the window, and there I saw a soldier coming to the door. As I went to go to the door, I then realized he was not a visitor, he was a guard—a guard assigned to my home. For how long I do not know, but he arrived (and he is still here).

A sword of silver and a shield of gold stood in front of him. I felt a sigh come out of my being. I realized I was not the only one to have a supernatural guard assigned to me, and I rejoiced at the presence at the door.

Again, our Lord spoke, saying the words from Isaiah 41:10: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

As this Scripture bellowed over my soul, I knew God was strengthening and realigning us for the original intent and purpose of our nation, and I knew we were being called personally, collectively and globally to be a part of this awakening of our Founding Fathers, who were the forerunners of the fight for a nation.

My prayer this day is that God bless you and keep you. May the glory of God overtake you. May the heavenly hosts surround you. And may you enact your spirit to defend the right of freedom.

Dr. Theresa Phillips is an international speaker, author, recording artist and business owner. She is the host of Global Prophetic Live Web TV, and is the developer of Glory Oils and Redeem and Renew Skin Solutions. Dr. Theresa is an educator and author of kingdom principles, releasing many into positions of leadership in the “Seven Mountain” spheres of influence. In her 27 years of Ministry, Theresa has authored 22 books and released a number of short articles and prophetic words. She is impassioned to help others develop their own destinies!

 

 

 

Knee on the Neck or Knee at the Throne?
The Miami Police Answer!

A police officer callously snuffed out the life of George Floyd, who was a dedicated, growing Christian. That became the spark for the fire now raging. As one columnist put it, the state of race relations in our country had already turned America into a “tinderbox.”

The tinderbox exploded!

The map below indicates what transpired just last week: red dots mark cities where demonstrations took place; yellow shows where the National Guard was deployed.

The video images of mass gatherings full of anger and pathos—along with fires and destruction and looting—reveal a lot about the true “soul” of America. Our culture is profoundly, deeply wounded by 400 years of the systematic, dehumanizing abuse of one race by another.

The brutality in Minneapolis simply poured red-hot salt into that wound, making the pain no longer bearable—especially after the disproportionate physical and economic devastations within the Black community these past months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ultimately, it all came down to a knee.

A white man placed his knee on the neck of a black man already handcuffed, rendering him defenseless, helpless, panic-stricken, then unconscious, and finally lifeless. That inexplicable, inexcusable action became a metonymy—when one thing ends up being a part of but also representing something much larger.

In other words, a neck pinned by a knee—and Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe”—pictured what countless African Americans have been experiencing across our land for centuries, on every level of life.

Suffering many forms of injustice, racism, poverty, and oppression, Blacks in America have striven for, but failed to secure, a consistent, thorough enfranchisement in our national creed that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . . .” This was the appeal of the Civil Rights dream of the last century—a dream that remains elusive for many.

And so, the outrage broke forth. The anger spilled over. The grief and agony of generations would not be contained any longer.

Except that in one city, riots were replaced by repentance.

What happened there last week points us toward the most promising solution to what many define as “America’s original sin.”

The kneeling that brings the healing

 

Most news outlets did not report what happened this past Sunday. So, let me fill you in.

There was another kneeling that took place. A kneeling full of life and truth, pointing toward justice and hope. A kneeling that sprang from repentance.

Believe it or not, on May 31, police officers from different departments with the Miami-Dade Chiefs of Police Association, in an act of solidarity with protesters and their cause for justice, publicly knelt down before both the demonstrators and all of heaven to openly express, on behalf of cops everywhere, their regret and repentance for how badly and unjustly many law enforcers have treated African Americans historically. While bowing down, they asked for forgiveness.

Then after someone led the group in prayer, others in the gathering offered up their prayers as well. It was a holy moment. It was a healing moment.

In their dramatic statement, everyone involved was taking a practical, proactive stand against racism and injustice—doing so in the most powerful, most effective, most transformative way any of us could ever share.

They intentionally brought the reigning Christ into the equation!

They were “re-enacting,” we might say, the climax of God’s plan for all creation when justice will prevail thoroughly and universally—when everything will be made right and whole and be healed forever.

We read about this in Philippians 2 (emphasis added):

God exalted Jesus to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and
every tongue will acknowledge
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Whether the Miami police force realized it that day or not, they were reaching into that glorious future that awaits all who belong to Christ, and they were incorporating a significant measure of it—an approximation of it—in the present.

Their act was a picture of surrender to the lordship of Christ, as all of us will do when Jesus is visibly revealed in the future. Their act was inviting his decisive intervention in the present into the increasing upheavals in Miami and in other cities from coast to coast.

They portrayed what it looks like to lay before the Lord Jesus the current crisis, to confess our inability to adequately tackle the unremitting racial prejudice and strife and oppression that infects so many Americans. They were acknowledging that the resolution lies in him alone. They were appealing for his deliverance from the bitter fruits of hundreds of years of brutal slavery—“America’s original sin.”

What if last week this “re-enactment” had taken place in all the cities and communities where demonstrators gathered? How different might things be this week?

Knees at the Throne—the total opposite of knees on a neck—is the most vital step Christians can take for our nation right now.

Only God’s glorious Son, our sovereign Savior, can purge the national sin of racism, bringing forth a spirit of repentance and forgiveness, filling the soul of America with the healing power of his risen, ascended, victorious life, and applying the reign and the justice of God to every expression of our hatred and division.

Looking to the future, America—and especially the Church in America—is left with two possible outcomes. Which will it be?

More knees on the neck or more knees at the Throne?

Scientists worldwide may be feverishly looking for a vaccine for COVID-19. But to effectively secure the overall health of our nation, the far greater challenge we face is this: Will we ever discover the cure for the deadly plague of racism? This goes way beyond physical health. This is all about spiritual health!

For many of us, we’re convinced that the most critical cure lies in a mighty, Spirit-driven nationwide awakening to Christ for ALL he is today. A host of Jesus’ followers needs to rediscover the supreme glory and goodness found in our Redeemer King. In turn, they need to infect the whole of society with the gospel—with the life-redeeming, culture-changing fruits of the gospel.

Through such an awakening, black and white Christians will find new ways to engage with one another, maybe for the first time, by “knees at the Throne”—reproducing in our relationships right now what will be utterly unavoidable in the Consummation.

We must start living today as if we were already in the final fulfillment of Philippians 2, when EVERY knee will be bending and EVERY tongue proclaiming the same allegiance to Jesus—when all that divides us today will have passed away, replaced with one truly holy, happy, society that goes on forever.

“One holy, happy society”—that is what 18th-century Puritans defined as the ultimate result of revival. They actually experienced such a Christ-focused season from time to time. It is the hope for such a breakthrough today—but “on steroids,” we might say—that has caused multitudes of Christians across America to pray persistently for decades for a nationwide Christ Awakening.

For without a doubt, it will be such kneeling that will bring about that kind of healing!

After all, the Jesus destined to prevail as Lord of all at the end is the same Jesus ready to take direct action as Lord with us at this very moment—to do so with all authority, all power, all fullness of grace and love—in his matchless role as the reconciler of all things, in heaven and on earth, “making peace by his blood poured down from the cross” (Colossians 1).

Surely, in this time of national strife, our call must go out far and wide:

Take a knee! Take a knee! Take a knee!

 

Will you join me?

To learn more of all that the reign of Christ is ready to bring to Christians in America today, listen to David’s CHRIST TODAY Podcast, Episode 19 (30 minutes): “Jesus’ Fourfold, Irreversible Revolution.” Listen here.

 

 

One Thing You Can Do to Heal Your Country

By Rebecca Barlow Jordan 

Praying hands - Pray for your country. Prayer will help heal your country.

Everyone has an opinion today on what will help their country heal–especially when division, disaster, or election time rolls around. There are many things you can do to help. However, the most important thing you can do to bring healing is to pray for your country:

PRAY for Your Country to Heal

1. Pray for God to Heal Your Relationship with Him

Pray for your own relationship with God. What is it based on? Sacrifice? Good deeds? When do you approach God in prayer? In crisis, or every day? An intimate, praying relationship with God is based on one thing: God’s grace gift: Jesus’s death on the cross–the payment for our own sin–and His resurrection (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is a gift, but until we admit we are helpless without Him and until we receive that payment for our own sinful lives, willing to turn around and go in a new direction toward Him, we have no relationship–and no praying grounds (“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” John 1:12, NIV; “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened,” Psalm 66:18, NIV).

If we want to help our country heal, we need to be on praying ground–and that’s based on relationship–made possible through repentance and redemption. In his book, My Utmost for His HighestOswald Chambers said, “God does not hear us because we pray earnestly–He hears us solely on the basis of redemption.” He added, “Prayer is not simply getting things from God–that is only the most elementary kind of prayer. Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God.”¹

We cannot form a personal relationship with God, the perfect Creator of the Universe, by trying to earn our way to heaven. Jesus said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6 NIV). 

He wants none to perish, and His love is open to all who will accept the relationship He offers.

2. Pray for God to Bring Renewal

For those of us who call ourselves “Christ-ones” or followers of Jesus, first we can pray for a renewal of our relationship. The familiar passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV says:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” “Wicked” sounds rather…wicked, don’t you think? How could that apply to those who are called by His name? His followers?

Because God doesn’t classify “sin.” It’s all “wicked” to Him. Those words–and God’s promises–still apply today, just as they did centuries ago in Solomon’s time. It’s easy for any of us to allow self-interests, pride, or misplaced priorities to pull as away from the God who wants us to be light and salt–and healing to our world.

If our hearts are blinded by prejudice, immorality, or dishonesty, we can hinder God’s work. If we are more concerned with our own rights than our right relationship with Jesus and our fellowman, we cannot contribute to our country’s healing. Humility–humbling ourselves–is the opposite of selfish pride. And the Bible is clear that a prideful country (and its inhabitants) will fall.

Twisting God’s Word to suit our own agendas and ignoring God’s moral standards will only end in chaos and deceit. Our real enemies are not those who plot and terrorize to destroy our country or us. Satan is the one who is behind every wrong thinking pattern, every false teaching, and all “wicked” behavior.

He is the one who instigates revenge instead of restoration. Satan is the enemy who stirs up hatred and division. He is the one out to destroy every family and every leader–especially those who confess to be Christ followers.

Pray for a renewal of your own relationship with Jesus. Seek His face and ask Him to show you anything in your heart that has replaced Him or your love for Him–anything that needs changing or rearranging.

What follows repentance and renewal? God says He will forgive and heal our land–our country.

3. Pray for a Return To God

The principle of Revelation 3:4-5 (NLT) is the same for a country, a church, or even a marriage:

You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place.” 

Pray for Your Country to Return to Godly Principles and Leadership

Pray for a return of your country to the godly principles God gave to us in His Word. The Bible is still the best-selling book for all time. Why? Because it still holds the food that feeds empty lives, and it still teaches the truth that destroys ugly lies. It provides healing for broken hearts, and it offers life to those who are dying without hope. The Bible holds not just the key to heaven, but the key to victorious living on earth: peace in the midst of chaos, joy in the midst of pain, and love in the midst of hate.

Pray for God to raise up godly leaders in your country, and to wake up those who are unconsciously straying from godliness. Ask God to turn the hearts of all those in authority back to Himself. Pray for them to lead their country by loving godly example, based on biblical values and principles.

Pray for Wisdom and Godly Counselors

Ask the Lord to provide godly counselors who will surround the head lawmakers and leaders of your nation. Pray for His protection over those leaders and their families, that they will seek the truth that can set nations free. Ask Him to give them wisdom to influence every decision. Pray for your nation to return to God. Pray for revival.

Ask God to Open Blind Eyes

History has proved repeatedly what happens to the nation who ignores and shuts out the God who created them and has loved them since the beginning of time. Pray that God will remove the blinders from the eyes of those who cannot see the truth, and for an openness and hunger to hear the solutions that can truly heal a country and its people (“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” Psalm 33:12, NIV). Pray for Truth to be revealed. God–and His truth–never change. 

Do what God’s people–those who are called by His name–must do: pray. Pray for relationship, renewal, return, and true revival. Ask God for fairness, forgiveness, grace, and mercy to thrive. Then pray for justice, kindness, generosity, and love to permeate every decision. Ask the Lord to bring unity, understanding, wisdom, and peace to every heart.

Pray for fathers who have left their first love for Jesus to take their place in leading their families back to God. Ask God to help families humble themselves and reconnect with God. Pray for marriages to return to their first love. Also pray for children to respect and honor parents, and for parents to love their children. Strong families and strong marriages based on God’s Word make a strong nation.

We are all alike, and we are all precious creations by God with value and worth. God created all of us in His own image. But we also are all descendants of Adam. We are all stained with sin, and we all need God’s healing. We all need Jesus.

“No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18 NIV).

We Are All Broken and Need Restoration

We are all broken, and there’s only One Who can restore us. What He did, He did because of love:

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (Romans 3:23-25 NLT) 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him” (John 3:16-18 MSG).

Helpless But Not Hopeless

My heart breaks when I see pain, brokenness, hatred, and division. When you hurt; I hurt. When my country hurts, I grieve too. And sometimes I feel so helpless, but never hopeless.

Sin will always look for a place to find a permanent home. It can deceive, disappoint, and bring destruction. God will use many to bring change and healing. But His universal instructions to all who are called by His name–to all who bear the name of Christ: with humility and brokenness over our own sin, PRAY.

What Can You Do?

What can you do? Be faithful in your commitment to Jesus every day in whatever way He asks you. Then listen more, and seek true understanding. Watch for opportunities to love more and criticize less. Walk humbly and treat others fairly. But most of all, pray. Pray for healing, and pray for yourself. Remember to pray for others, and especially for your country. While others may regard prayer as unimportant or as a last resort, God considers it as the most important. Prayer is active, and it is godly action. Therefore, pray as if your life and your country’s healing depend on it.

Because it does.

¹Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Edited by James Reimann (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House), 1992.

*This is a revised blog post of one I wrote several years ago. In another blog, I shared a simple prayer we can pray for our country.

It’s Your Turn

Are you willing to pray for your country? Will you set aside a time each day to pray specifically for the healing of your country? You can always write me through my contact page and fill out the basic name and address info; then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

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The Rawness of the World

Richard Schiffman

The Perseids

Shards of interstellar flak,
some smaller than a human eyeball.
Too many shooting stars to wish on.
Soon the moon will rise to smudge
their tracks, then day will break
to end the game. How many streak
above our sleep, unheeded? I’ll check
my dreams for traces – sudden flashes
when an eyeball vanished
in the radiance of its own seeing.

The Rest Is Silence

It’s not the wind that cries
nor trees when they are ripped at by the wind,
but only the tree that’s slow to bend.
Sorrows are not what happens,
but what holds against what happens.
Speech is the resistance
of the larynx to the body’s wind.
Words are the forts we build
to keep the rawness of the world at bay.
The rest is silence.

 

 

Unstoppable! ‘God Opened the Door for Breaking Down Barriers!’

 

So [Peter and Cornelius] talked together and went inside, where many others were assembled.

Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.”

— Acts 10:27-29 NLT

Key Thought

Breaking down barriers between Jews and Gentiles was an enormous task in Peter’s day. However, breaking down barriers had been revealed as God’s plan since he first called Abraham centuries earlier (Genesis 12:1-3). Cornelius was the perfect test case of a Gentile coming to Christ. So, through Peter’s vision, angels, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and Cornelius’ messengers, God opened the door for Peter to go to Cornelius. Let’s commit to pray for open doors — open for us to go and for hearts to be ready to hear — so we can better share the Good News of Jesus, today.

Today’s Prayer

Dear Father, please open my heart and my eyes to the people around me who are seeking to know Jesus. Open the doors of their hearts to receive the message I long to share with them. Please, dear Father, send your Spirit afresh in my time so that I can be your instrument to take Jesus’ grace to those who do not know him. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of 1 Peter 1:14-16 — As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Isaiah 42:12 — Let the whole world glorify the LORD; let it sing his praise.

Spiritual Warfare: ‘Guiding You to Eternity’

God’s Power for Our Battles

Illustration of Psalm 73:23-24 NIV — Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

A Year with Jesus: ‘‘Through the Power at Work in Us’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciples,

I love My disciples to praise the Father! Look at Paul’s beautiful prayer in the verses below. He not only praises the Father, but he also asks for the Father’s help. In particular, this great church-planter and disciple-maker prays for the strengthening of the brothers and sisters he loves. He does not pray for generic strength, but for the Holy Spirit’s empowered strength:

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit…

The result of this prayer for strength should make your hearts beat a little faster. While the glory for the great things that the Holy Spirit does will go to God, the people through whom the Spirit works will be folks just like you, My disciples. Notice something else that Paul prays:

Now to the God Who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us…

God can and will do “awe-inspiring things” and He will do “things greater than we could ask or imagine.” Now notice carefully how God will do these things: through the Holy Spirit, His “power that is at work in us”!

So here are several things to ponder, and then take appropriate action:

  • Pray frequently for God to strengthen specific brothers and sisters in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray regularly that their work inspired by the Spirit will bring God glory.
  • Pray passionately that these brothers and sisters will be used by God to accomplish — and that they get to experience — many “awe-inspiring things” done through them by the Spirit.

Paul prayed these things for the brothers and sisters who received his letter called Ephesians. You should pray these things regularly for each other. Imagine releasing the power that comes from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — into the lives of people you love. Think about all the people in your spiritual family who need Our comfort, strength, and grace. I want you to invite the Holy Spirit to move mightily through you, your fellowship, your congregation, your home gatherings, and your small groups. Pray that you and your fellow Christians bring the Father glory and bring My grace to those around you. As you see this grace released, rejoice in the glory of Our grace and power for you!

Verses to Live

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is full of great bursts of praise and prayer. Today’s verses are an example that comes in the middle of Paul’s letter. It is part of what holds the whole message of the letter together. I want you to read through this prayer several times. Take time to write it out in your own words. Now begin to pray it for specific people. Let them know that you are praying it for them. Then give thanks when you see the Spirit at work in them!

So I [Paul] ask you not to become discouraged because I am jailed for speaking out on your behalf. In fact, my suffering is something that brings you glory.

It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, after Whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.

Now to the God Who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:13-21)

Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, please forgive me. I have spent too much time not expecting You to do any great things through me and others like me. I pray that as I read about the early church and the work of the Spirit over the next several weeks that You will help me to expect more. Help me to believe that the same Spirit Who empowered the early church will empower us today. Please strengthen us. Please strengthen me. Please strengthen those close to Me. Strengthen us with the power of Your Holy Spirit. Father, I do not pray this for us to receive glory, but so that others might believe and that You will receive the glory that is due You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Illustration

Illustration of  —

 

 

 

    ~~~Dion Todd

Heavy Metal

Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 WEB

God rewards those that diligently seek Him. The writer of Hebrews wrote these words and then spoke of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, Joseph and many more. These were people of faith, and the blessing of God followed them. They each suffered many trials and faced fearful circumstances, but they all overcame because God rewards those who seek Him.

The good seeds that you plant will always come up. We are living today what we planted years before, both the good seed, and the bad. Paul wrote, “Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7). There is always a harvest.

In my own life, I spent years seriously seeking God, attending Bible College, studying and listening to the Bible 24/7, fasting for weeks, and giving above my 10% tithe. I was very zealous for the Lord, Jesus was my passion, the most important Person in my life. Then suddenly in one year’s time, my business burned to the ground, my Dad passed away, and I went through a long, messy divorce. Much like Job, the life I had known disintegrated.

I had to start my life over with nothing at thirty-seven with my Dad gone, my business gone, and divorced. Worn out, depressed and tired, I quit going to church, and for the first time in my life, stopped praying at all. Yet the blessings of God continued in my life. The seeds that I had planted long ago, were still coming up. I could share testimony after testimony where a total mess, turned out to be a great blessing in disguise, but I will just share one.

The day came when I needed a truck to haul things in. I had recently met Sylvia and she had a 1996 Chevrolet Impala, white with a red pin stripe, tinted windows, 5.7L V8, 700R4 transmission, 373 differential, dual exhaust. There is a reason for the details:

1) For a season in my life, I was a mechanic.

2) I want you to know how detailed God is in His blessings. He goes above and beyond.

3) I did not pray over any of this, or at all during this time and I had not attended church in several years.

I thought to myself that it would be great to have a matching car and truck under the carport one day, sort of a his and hers. I daydreamed that it would be nice if the truck was a short wheel base with an extended cab, with an aluminum toolbox, rails, a bed liner, and a frame hitch to pull heavy things with, and I had about 6k to spend on it. In short, that would take a miracle, but a man can dream. All of these were just desires, and I was prepared to take whatever I could get.

The first car lot that I went to had a gray Chevy pickup about that year, without the extended cab. It was pretty plain and they were asking 11k for it, way out of my range. It looked like I would have to lower my expectations by a good bit.

The next lot that I went to, there sat a 1997 Chevy Silverado fully loaded with the gauge package, electric seats, windows, and doors, extended cab, short wheel base, white with a red pinstripe, tinted windows, 5.7L Vortec, 700R4 transmission, 373 differential, dual exhaust, aluminum toolbox, chrome rails, bed liner, and frame hitch with the towing package. They were asking $6,900. I offered them $5,900 but they refused, so I left them my number in case they changed their mind. They called me the following morning and accepted my offer.

As I write this, that truck sits under our carport. We have had it over a decade now and He blessed me with it even when I was not seeking Him. The good seeds that you have planted will continue to come up in your life. It is like a good investment. Also when God blesses you, He is able to go above and beyond your expectations. He does reward those that diligently seek Him.

You may face trials in your life, but they will pass, and you will overcome. Stay the course, keep the faith. When you fall down, get back up and take another step, for it is not over yet. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep sowing those good seeds. The end of a thing can be better than the beginning. What you have lost, can be replaced with better, and your best days are still in front of you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being with me this day. Help me see through Your eyes. Please give me grace, help me make the right decisions, fill my life with Your presence. Today I seek Your face, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: The word Bible comes from the Greek word for“papyrus plant” (biblos), since the leaves of that plant were used for paper.

 

 

NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVOR’S DAY – First Sunday in June

NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVOR’S DAY

Observed annually on the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivor’s Day has been set aside to “demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality.”

The day is a way for survivors to share their journey and offer hope and inspiration to those who have been newly diagnosed. Cancer survivors know the emotions and challenges associated with receiving a cancer diagnosis. They also know where the resources and support are for newly diagnosed cancer patients. The day encourages a celebration for survivors and their families. The day also offers a wellspring of support and outreach to cancer patients everywhere.

HOW TO OBSERVE #CancerSurvivorsDay #NCSD2020

Each year, communities, hospitals and support groups host events and celebrations around the United States honoring cancer survivors. Events may include parades, carnivals, art exhibits, contests, and testimonies. President George W. Bush and the National Cancer Institute director each included a commencement at the 2008 celebration. Attend an event or organize one to show your support. Other ways to celebrate include:

  • Post a photo on social media showing your support for cancer survivors.
  • Share your story, journey of cancer survivorship.

Use #CancerSurvivorsDay or #NCSD2020 to post on social media.

 

 

My Thoughts…

Well, this past week has been one of chaos, confusion, and senseless acts.  People are protesting one bad action by committing other bad actions and this, to me, makes no sense at all!  Their list of “demands” further tickles me…..a Grocery Store. a Police Captain ( who had nothing at all to do with the first bad action) voluntarily stepping down??  Why?  First, why the Grocery Store?  So they could go back to the days of segregation again?  Oh yes, I remember those days……I grew up in them……maybe we should turn back the clock!  I have nothing against their race……but I do hold it against them for destroying property this past week and thinking that this will change anything…..and what needs to be changed anyway?  It is a statistical fact that, since 2017, over 2300 WHITE people were killed by cops, and only less than 1300 BLACK people in that same time period….so what are they protesting?  Do they really think that they are treated any worse than white people?  And anyhow, they are making a mockery of George Floyd’s murder with their violent destruction……instead, they should be mourning the evil that exists in the world, the evil that caused that policeman to mercilessly kill that man and the others who stood idly by as he did his evil deed……

Besides, everyone knows that there is a force behind the protests……a force with an agenda……to get rid of President Trump, the first good President we’ve had in awhile…..So, stop the protests and start praying…….pray that the Democrats don’t get back in, because then our country will have no good future…….

 

 

Humor….

Aunty Acid for 6/7/2020

Funny Cartoon Pics - Best Funny Jokes and Hilarious Pics 4U

Funny cartoon jokes, kid cartoon jokes, funny kids jokes, funny ...

Sensible???

Peaceful Protest Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from ...

 

 

 

White Ribbons of Peace - Dear God | Facebook

 

 

 

 

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