Quack Quack!!

 

 

 

 

Daily Prayer for June 9

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17, NIV

Lord our Savior, you are our Lord and our Helper. Show yourself again and again in our hearts as the Savior who is strong to help us even in difficult times. Remember the many people who sigh to you. Guide them into the protection of the almighty God. Even if they suffer pain and distress and have to go through fear and anxiety, even if they die, Lord Jesus, you are comfort and help. In everything life brings us you will show yourself as the One who does the will of God and who carries it out for us on earth. Amen.

 

Daily Dig for June 9
Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

From every pulpit, and in every street and workplace, it should be proclaimed: “You all belong to God! Whether you are godless or devout, under judgment or under grace, blessed or damned, you belong to God, and God is good and wants what is best for you. Whether you are dead or alive, righteous or unrighteous, in heaven or in hell, you belong to God, and as soon as you are swept into the current of faith, the good within you will emerge.”

Source: Everyone Belongs to God

 

 

Today’s Verse Illustrated…

Logos.com

 

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

 

Saddling Up Anyway

They told Esther’s words to Mordecai. Then Mordecai asked them to return this answer to Esther: ‘Don’t think to yourself that you will escape in the king’s house any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows if you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Esther 4:12 WEB

John Wayne once said that ‘Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.’ A young woman named Esther was once faced with a decision like that, and it could have led to her execution. There was a law was passed in the land to exterminate all the Jews that were living in Persia, and she was Jewish.

Esther had hidden her family’s identity and she was safely living in the royal palace when her uncle Mordecai sent her word to go and speak with the king. Mordecai wanted Esther to try and obtain mercy for her people. But if Esther went into the king’s chamber without first being summoned, it was an automatic death sentence, unless the king chose to pardon her by extending his golden scepter.

When Esther hesitated to take the message to the king, her uncle Mordecai told her that if she did not go, the Lord would send someone else, but she would miss out. Esther was just a young girl and very scared, but she pulled herself together and said: ‘If I perish, I perish.’ After fasting and praying for three days and nights, she went in to meet the king and convinced him to spare her people, and the one that devised the extermination plot was himself exterminated. There is a Jewish holiday called ‘Purim’ that commemorates the event.

It is easy to be strong when there is nothing to be afraid of, but faith is tested in the furnace like refined gold. Do not cower back from whatever you have to face today, for you are here for a purpose, for such a time as this. If God is for you, who can stand against you? If you withdraw, God will send someone else, but you will miss out on what He has in store for you. So stand strong, know that God is with you, and that you are well able to face whatever comes your way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for bringing me to Your kingdom for such a time as this. It is no accident that I am living here today and I know that You have a plan and a purpose for me. Please fulfill Your will in my life, guide my steps, and draw me into a deeper relationship with You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: There are 260 chapters in the New Testament.

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘He Must Suffer!’

[After Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah,] Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Key Thought

Once the apostles had the right designation for Jesus — the Messiah from God, they needed to have the implications of the term explained to them. While Jesus had to repeat this explanation for them several times, they needed to get it through their hard heads that God’s servant, the Messiah, had to suffer and rise from the dead. Jesus redefined everyone’s expectations of the Messiah, but not because he was powerless to accomplish his mission in another way. He suffered because it was God’s will that the Messiah would do so in an effort to reach all peoples and fulfill all the promises.

Today’s Prayer

Dear LORD God Almighty, please give me the courage to truly follow Jesus as the Messiah, all the way to the cross! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Galatians 6:10 — Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 

Spiritual Warfare: ‘God Rescues Us and Carries Us’

God’s Power for Our Battles

Illustration of Psalm 68:19-21 NLT — Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death. But God will smash the heads of his enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.

Lord, I praise You as my Lord and Savior! Thank You for carrying me in Your arms each day and rescuing me from all my enemies. You are the God who cares for me and saves me from death. Death has no power over me now because I know I will rise from death, just as Jesus did long ago. Thank You for conquering this enemy for me. Please continue to carry me as I try each day to walk in Your ways and witness to others about Your greatness and love and power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

with Jesus: ‘Pentecost!’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

A new era began after My resurrection. On the day of Pentecost, I poured out the Holy Spirit first on My closest disciples. Then I poured out the Holy Spirit upon all those who responded to their message (Acts 2:38-39Titus 3:3-5). The pouring out of the Spirit upon My disciples was done loudly and with no small disturbance. The apostles spoke about Me. People from many countries heard the message in their own languages. Yes, there were some skeptics — as there always are. Undeniably, something dramatic was happening. The words spoken by Peter and the apostles were powerful, but there was something more than convincing words touching the hearts of the people. My life, death, and resurrection were proclaimed. Conviction swept through the crowd like wildfire. Their yearning hearts cried out for relief from their rejection of the Messiah, their Lord and Savior — Me.

Peter let the crowd at Pentecost know that the same Spirit Who propelled this message past their defenses and brought conviction to their hearts was now available to them if they repented and were baptized. And many were immersed that day based on their faith in Me and turning their lives around to follow Me! Luke, the writer of Acts, described it this way:

Whoever made a place for his [Peter’s] message in their hearts received the baptism; in fact, that day alone, about 3,000 people joined the disciples.

The movement of the Spirit in My disciples had begun and would sweep across the Mediterranean area in about thirty years. And you, My dear disciple, are a part of that movement that began at Pentecost. You are part of a movement centered on My death, burial, and resurrection. This gospel is proclaimed by people filled with the Holy Spirit. These people are built into a spiritual family that reflects my righteous character and gracious compassion. You can see that Luke emphasized all of this in his telling of the Pentecost story.

Please know that I long to do in your day what happened in that time long ago. Come! Believe! Ask for the Spirit’s power to be at work in you, among your spiritual family, and with your efforts to bring the kingdom of God to the lost world around you.

Verses to Live

These verses talk about the birth of the new era of the Holy Spirit. Read through them a couple of times and then ask yourself if you have responded to the call of My gospel the way those early disciples did. Then open yourself to the work of the Holy Spirit in your day. I long to reanimate My people with grace and power. Don’t let the power of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, be dead in your day!

When the holy day of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover, they [the disciples] were gathered together in one place.

Picture yourself among the disciples:

A sound roars from the sky without warning, the roar of a violent wind, and the whole house where you are gathered reverberates with the sound. Then a flame appears, dividing into smaller flames and spreading from one person to the next. All the people present are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in languages they’ve never spoken, as the Spirit empowers them.

Because of the holy festival, there are devout Jews staying as pilgrims in Jerusalem from every nation under the sun. They hear the sound, and a crowd gathers. They are amazed because each of them can hear the group speaking in their native languages. They are shocked and amazed by this.

Pilgrims:

Just a minute. Aren’t all of these people Galileans? How in the world do we all hear our native languages being spoken? Look — there are Parthians here, and Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, and Judeans, residents of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygians and Pamphylians, Egyptians and Libyans from Cyrene, Romans including both Jews by birth and converts, Cretans, and Arabs. We’re each, in our own languages, hearing these people talk about God’s powerful deeds.

Their amazement becomes confusion as they wonder:

Pilgrims:

What does this mean?

Skeptics:

It doesn’t mean anything. They’re all drunk on some fresh wine!
As the twelve stood together, Peter shouted to the crowd:

Peter:

Men of Judea and all who are staying here in Jerusalem, listen. I want you to understand: these people aren’t drunk as you may think. Look, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! No, this isn’t drunkenness; this is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. Hear what God says!

In the last days, I will offer My Spirit to humanity as a libation. Your children will boldly speak the word of the Lord. Young warriors will see visions, and your elders will dream dreams. Yes, in those days I shall offer My Spirit to all servants, both male and female, and they will boldly speak My word.

Everyone in Israel should now realize with certainty what God has done: God has made Jesus both Lord and Anointed King — this same Jesus Whom you crucified.

When the people heard this, their hearts were pierced; and they said to Peter and his fellow apostles:

Pilgrims:

Our brothers, what should we do?

Peter:

Reconsider your lives; change your direction. Participate in the ceremonial washing of baptism in the name of Jesus God’s Anointed, the Liberating King. Then your sins will be forgiven, and the gift of the Holy Spirit will be yours. For the promise of the Spirit is for you, for your children, for all people — even those considered outsiders and outcasts — the Lord our God invites everyone to come to Him.

Peter was pleading and offering many logical reasons to believe. Whoever made a place for his message in their hearts received the baptism; in fact, that day alone, about 3,000 people joined the disciples.
(Acts 2:1-18Acts 2:36-41)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, do in our day what we heard that happened in bygone days. I long to see Your name glorified, Jesus’ grace received, and the Holy Spirit’s power bring thousands to salvation. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Pentecost (Whitsunday)

feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghostupon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewishfestival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22Deuteronomy 16:10). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptised during the vigilPentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth” (day after Easter).

Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast. This is not surprising, for the feast, originally of only one day’s duration, fell on a Sunday; besides it was so closely bound up with Easter that it appears to be not much more than the termination of Paschal tide.

That Whitsunday belongs to the Apostolic times is stated in the seventh of the (interpolated) fragments attributed to St. Irenæus. In Tertullian (On Baptism 19) the festival appears as already well established. The Gallic pilgrim gives a detailed account of the solemn manner in which it was observed at Jerusalem (“Peregrin. Silviæ”, ed. Geyer, iv). The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V, Part 20) say that Pentecost lasts one week, but in the West it was not kept with an octave until at quite a late date. It appears from Berno of Reichenau (d. 1048) that it was a debatable point in his time whether Whitsunday ought to have an octave. At present it is of equal rank with Easter Sunday. During the vigil formerly the catechumens who remained from Easter were baptized, consequently the ceremonies on Saturday are similar to those on Holy Saturday.

The office of Pentecost has only one Nocturn during the entire week. At Terce the “Veni Creator” is sung instead of the usual hymn, because at the third hour the Holy Ghost descended. The Mass has a Sequence“Veni Sancte Spiritus” the authorship of which by some is ascribed to King Robert of France. The colour of the vestments is red, symbolic of the love of the Holy Ghost or of the tongues of fire. Formerly the law courts did not sit during the entire week, and servile work was forbidden. A Council of Constance(1094) limited this prohibition to the first three days of the week. The Sabbath rest of Tuesday was abolished in 1771, and in many missionary territories also that of Monday; the latter was abrogated for the entire Church by Pius X in 1911. Still, as at Easter, the liturgical rank of Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost week is a Double of the First Class.

In Italy it was customary to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues; hence in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy Whitsunday is called Pascha rosatum. The Italian name Pascha rossa comes from the red colours of the vestments used on Whitsunday. In France it was customary to blow trumpets during Divine service, to recall the sound of the mighty wind which accompanied the Descent of the Holy Ghost. In England the gentry amused themselves with horse races. The Whitsun Ales or merrymakings are almost wholly obsolete in England. At these ales the Whitsun plays were performed. At Vespersof Pentecost in the Oriental Churches the extraordinary service of genuflexion, accompanied by long poetical prayers and psalms, takes place. (Cf. Maltzew, “Fasten-und Blumen Triodion”, p. 898 where the entire Greco-Russian service is given; cf. also Baumstark, “Jacobit. Fest brevier”, p. 255.) On Pentecost the Russians carry flowers and green branches in their hands.

 

 

 

 

Donald Duck Day

Date When Celebrated : Always June 9

Happy Birthday, Donald. We hope that Daisy Duck bakes you your favorite cake!

Donald Duck Day in honor of the Walt Disney Donald Duck’s cartoon debut. Donald first appeared in “The Wise Hen” on June 9, 1934.  While Donald is over 70 years old, he doesn’t act a day over 20. Donald is one of Disney’s most famous and popular characters.

Did you Know? Donald has a middle name. Donald F. Duck’s middle name is “Fauntleroy”.

Enjoy Donald Duck Day in front of the television watching Donald, along with all of his family and friends.


The Origin of Donald Duck Day:

We discovered why this day was created…… to honor Donald’s cartoon debut on June 9, 1934. We do know know for sure “who” created it. We strongly suspect it was Daisy Duck.

 

 

 

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Political Humor…

 A.F. Branco for 6/6/2019

 

Momma, on Sunday…

 Momma for 6/9/2019

 

Aunty’s Sunday Request…

 Aunty Acid for 6/9/2019

 

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Fickle Fridays!!

Fri3

Daily Prayer for July 27

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16, NIV

Lord our God, bring us together as one. Give us your Spirit so that we may know you, so that joy may fill our hearts, not only for ourselves but also for others. Root out evil from the earth. Sweep away all that offends you, all lying, deceit, and hate between nations. Grant that all people may come to know you, so that disunity and conflict may be swept away and your eternal kingdom may arise on earth and we may rejoice in it. For your kingdom can come to people even while on earth to bring them happiness and to make them your own children. Yes, Lord God, we want to be your children, your people, held in your hand, so that your name may be honored, your kingdom may come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Prayer: Changing My Life - Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for peace and not of harm, to give you a future and a hope.

Forgiveness

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. —Mahatma Gandhi

God’s Cop

A Tribute to Steven McDonald: Friend, Hero, Saint

Sam Hine

Detective Steven McDonald of the New York City Police Department, who died January 10, was shot in the line of duty in 1986 and paralyzed from the neck down. Confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a ventilator to breathe, he forgave his teenage assailant.

I first met Steven McDonald in the studio of a national TV talk show. The night before, a young black man, Malcolm Ferguson, had been shot and killed by police in the Bronx after protesting the acquittal of four police officers in the shooting death of unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo in the same neighborhood. Tensions between police and the black community had skyrocketed. Could anyone bridge that chasm or at least close the distance? Or would a third-generation Irish-Catholic NYPD officer who had been shot point-blank by a black teenager pour gas on the fire?

Steven McDonald addressing high school students

Steven McDonald addressing high school students in the Bronx in 2006. Photo by Anthony DelMundo for New York Daily News.

I needn’t have worried. McDonald was there to promote a new book, Why Forgive?, in which his friend, Bruderhof pastor Johann Christoph Arnold, tells McDonald’s story. Joining him was Roberto Rodriguez, a victim of police brutality in Los Angeles who is also featured in Why Forgive? Radiating peace as they calmly recounted their stories, the two men acknowledged the need for justice but offered a more radical prescription for the healing of individual souls and entire cities: forgiveness and prayer.

Speaking in bursts between the puffs of his breathing machine, McDonald said, “Many people of different races and different religions were praying for me to live when I was dying, which I was. And when I was told that I would be completely disabled, they prayed that I would recover my abilities. I believe God answered that prayer in giving me the faith and love to forgive the young man who shot me.”

Steven McDonald, his wife Patti Ann, and son Conor in March

Steven McDonald, his wife Patti Ann, and son Conor in March 2015. Photograph by Stuart Ramson / AP Images.

On July 12, 1986, McDonald, a twenty-nine-year-old police officer on patrol in Central Park, stopped to question three teenagers about a recent bicycle theft. The oldest, a fifteen-year-old, took out a gun and shot him in the head, neck, and arm. McDonald was rushed to a hospital, where surgeons told his wife that he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. He later wrote:

12mcdonald_videoWatch this Tribute to Steven McDonald

My wife, twenty-three years old, was three months pregnant. Patti Ann was crying uncontrollably at the cards she had been dealt, and I cried too. I was locked in my body, unable to speak, move, or reach out to her.

A week after I was shot, the media asked to speak to my wife. Though still in shock, Patti Ann bravely told everybody that she would trust God to do what was best for her family. That set the tone not only for my recovery but also for the rest of our lives.

McDonald spent the next eighteen months in hospital. Six months after the shooting, Patti Ann gave birth to their son, Conor. At Conor’s baptism, McDonald publicly forgave Shavod Jones, the teen who had shot him.

I wanted to free myself of all the negative, destructive emotions that this act of violence awoke in me – the anger, the bitterness, the hatred. I needed to free myself of those so I could be free to love my wife and our child and those around us. I often tell people that the only thing worse than a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my tragic injury into my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It is bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury.

A year or two later, Jones called the McDonalds from prison and apologized. McDonald hoped that someday the two of them could travel the country together, sharing the story of the terrible day that changed the course of both their lives. In 1995, Jones was released from prison. Three days later he died in a motorcycle accident. But as McDonald would often say, “Shavod Jones is with me wherever my story is told. We have helped many people, the two of us.”

I know it may be hard to understand, but I would rather be like this and feel the way I do, than go on living like I was before. Of course, I have my ups and downs. Some days, when I am not feeling well, I get angry. I get depressed. There have been times when I even felt like killing myself. But I have come to realize that anger is a wasted emotion. So I forgive that young man all over again, and every time I tell my story, I think of Shavod, and I forgive him.

Months and years have come and gone, and I’ve never regretted forgiving Shavod. Back then we never imagined it would carry any importance in other people’s lives. We did it for ourselves. But ever since, people have wanted to hear about this act of forgiveness. It helped us, but more importantly it has helped others as well.

In the wake of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, McDonald and Arnold joined forces to launch a program called Breaking the Cycle, bringing a message of nonviolent conflict resolution through forgiveness to assemblies at New York–area schools.

I’ve been able to reach out to children in particular, because it was a child of my city that did this terrible thing to me. I have spoken at hundreds of schools about nonviolence, and I know from responses I get that many of the children have embraced my message and internalized it. Instead of responding to violence with more violence they have decided to choose forgiveness and love. So God has turned something terrible into something beautiful.

Johann Christoph Arnold, Steven McDonald, and students

Johann Christoph Arnold, Steven McDonald, and students from Lawrence Road Middle School, New York, in 2008. Photograph courtesy of Breaking the Cycle.

A quintessential Irishman and Catholic, McDonald asked Arnold, a Protestant, to help him bring their message of healing through forgiveness to Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement had recently been effected, ending decades of open conflict, but the wounds were still raw and deep. With “marching season” tensions simmering and police in armored vehicles and riot gear standing by, the two men accompanied a children’s chorus up Garvaghy Road and through other volatile neighborhoods, prayed together in Protestant and Catholic churches, listened to victims of violence on both sides, and addressed members of Parliament at Stormont.

Accompanying them was Franciscan priest Mychal Judge, the New York Fire Department chaplain who would become the first recorded fatality at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, where he had gone to minister to the wounded. That day scuttled the three men’s plans to bring their work for reconciliation to the Middle East. Four years later McDonald and Arnold made the trip, meeting with Jewish and Palestinian bereaved parents, police, and human rights activists.

Steven McDonald visiting the Sea of Galilee

In 2005, McDonald brought his message of forgiveness to the Holy Land. Visiting the Sea of Galilee, he asked his caregivers to remove his shoes and place his feet in the water.Photograph courtesy of the McDonald family.

World leaders, celebrities, and millions of ordinary people have drawn inspiration from the McDonalds’ story. And who can deny that it was their witness to faithfulness in marriage, come what may, that so stirred and challenged us? Last December, Patti Ann, now the mayor of Malverne, New York, joined Steven on stage at a school assembly. Looking back over their thirty-one years of marriage, she told the students, “We were married eight months when Steven was shot. People ask me if I was to do it all over again, would I do it, and I say yes. I would do it again even if I knew what was going to happen.” Steven responded, “I’m very blessed to have had this time with Patti Ann. I think I never understood or appreciated how beautiful, wonderful, and great an experience it would be to share a life with someone else. It’s been life-giving without any end. Without Patti Ann in my life, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be speaking on these very important issues, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Steven McDonald’s life ended on January 10, four days after a heart attack left him in a coma. Thousands of New Yorkers packed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the streets outside to pay their respects at his funeral Mass, which Timothy Cardinal Dolan officiated. Mayor Bill de Blasio said McDonald showed us that “the work of policing is profoundly based on love and compassion for your fellow man and woman” and must be guided by Jesus’ greatest commandments: to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. “Brothers and sisters, we all watched Steven live out these commandments. That message from the gospel governed his life, a message centuries and centuries old that he made fresh and real for us all.”

NYPD officers await McDonald’s casket outside New York’s Saint Patrick's Cathedral

NYPD officers await McDonald’s casket outside New York’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on January 13, 2017. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images.

NYPD officer Steven McDonald after the shootingMcDonald was taken to Bellevue Hospital after the shooting.Photograph by David A. Cantor.
Steven McDonald with his wife and sonThe aftermath: McDonald, now paralyzed, as a young father.Photograph courtesy of the McDonald family.

Conor McDonald, now an NYPD sergeant, recounted how his father would call him every day at 5:00 a.m. while he patrolled, just to wish him a good morning, and how during his college years his father would make a weekly trip to Boston just to have lunch together at Applebee’s. “My father was always committed to me. He did more than most able-bodied fathers could ever do with their sons.… My parents created the most phenomenal life out of such darkness. It was due to their unmatched, unconditional devotion and love for each other, which I witnessed from the beginning of my life.”

At one of his last school assemblies, at the Mount Academy in Esopus, New York, Steven McDonald said:

People want to know: How did you forgive the young man who shot you? And again, looking back, pondering on my life since that time, it’s clear to me that God was in charge. All he wanted was the opportunity to use me. He just needed my yes, and that was made possible by prayer. It’s that simple, really.

Through the people, the family and friends, that God put in my life, and their prayers, God spoke to me and said, “Will you love this boy who shot you?” And the best way that I could love him was to forgive him. Left to my own abilities, I don’t think I would have done it. But it was through those around me, God speaking through them and touching me through them, that I was able to say yes. And I know that I would have died a long time ago had I not listened to God, said yes to God, followed the example of his Son, and loved and forgiven.…

Everything that I’ve experienced in the last thirty-plus years can only be from God. At first I wondered why this was happening to me, to us, and a quiet, still voice – we all know what it is: God – spoke to me. After the shooting and throughout the hours, days, months, and years that have followed, that quiet, still voice has assured me that it’s of God, from God, a blessing.

Catholics have their own criteria and process for sainthood. But as far as many a New Yorker is concerned, we can skip the formalities: McDonald is a saint for our times. He wasn’t just a hero and role model. He allowed God to work powerfully through his suffering and weakness, and everyone whose life he touched came away blessed.

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

eupahaedra butterflyThe man who preserves his selfhood, ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence – not a leaf, as it were, astir on a tree; not a ripple upon the surface of shining pool – his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life. If you ask him: “What is silence?” he will answer: “It is the Great Mystery! The holy silence is His voice!” If you ask: “What are the fruits of silence?” he will say: “They are self-control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity, and reverence. Silence is the cornerstone of character.”

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Hebrews 12:1

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

With all the great heroes of the Bible, both big and small, we can do God’s work with confidence. But to boldly go where he wants us to go, we must first be willing to let go of the sin that entangles our lives, distorts our vision, enlarges our doubts, and robs us of our spiritual vitality and stamina.

My Prayer…

Holy Father, forgive me for my sin. Not just my blatant sins, but my willingness to dabble in things that are not holy, to flirt with things that are spiritually dangerous, and to expose myself to things that leave a residue of Satan’s world. Give me strength to say no to the things that distract me from you and to embrace with passion those things that make me more like you. In the name of Jesus my Lord I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Blessed Antonio Lucci

Saint of the Day for July 27

(August 2, 1682 – July 25, 1752)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul27.mp3

 

Blessed Antonio Lucci’s Story

Antonio studied with and was a friend of Saint Francesco Antonio Fasani, who after Antonio Lucci’s death, testified at the diocesan hearings regarding the holiness of Lucci.

Born in Agnone in southern Italy, a city famous for manufacturing bells and copper crafts, he was given the name Angelo at baptism. He attended the local school run by the Conventual Franciscans and joined them at the age of 16. Antonio completed his studies for the priesthood in Assisi, where he was ordained in 1705. Further studies led to a doctorate in theology and appointments as a teacher in Agnone, Ravello, and Naples. He also served as guardian in Naples.

Elected minister provincial in 1718, the following year he was appointed professor at St. Bonaventure College in Rome, a position he held until Pope Benedict XIII chose Antonio as bishop of Bovino in 1729. The pope explained, “I have chosen as bishop of Bovino an eminent theologian and a great saint.”

His 23 years as bishop were marked by visits to local parishes and a renewal of gospel living among the people of his diocese. He dedicated his episcopal income to works of education and charity. At the urging of the Conventual minister general, Bishop Lucci wrote a major book about the saints and blesseds in the first 200 years of the Conventual Franciscans.

Antonio Lucci was beatified in 1989, three years after his friend Francesco Antonio Fasani was canonized. His Liturgical Feast Day is July 25.


Reflection

As Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975, people today “are more impressed by witnesses than by teachers, and if they listen to these it is because they also bear witness” (Evangelization in the Modern World, #41).

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Bad Things, God’s People’

 

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick.

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Illustration of John 11:1-2 NLT —  Her brother, Lazarus, was sick.

Key Thought

While John tells us this story of Lazarus’ sickness and death in today’s verses and the following verses, this story is part of a much bigger story. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are Jesus’ disciples. Jesus knows them and loves them deeply. They love him and have chosen to follow him no matter the cost. Their loyalty and love are without fault. Yet Lazarus gets sick. Death comes to their door. Grief rips at their hearts. This story is also our story. We can listen to it and look and find our answers to life’s most painful reality and several of life’s most confusing questions. We are touched by Jesus and the simple, incomplete, and determined faith of these precious people. Bad stuff does happen to God’s people, but Jesus will not allow the bad stuff to win! Jesus triumphs. Jesus is glorified. Those who love Jesus enjoy the reunion. Let your heart settle in this place for the next several days as we continue through the story. Drink deeply of Jesus’ words. Let the questions, as well as the faith of Martha and Mary, become your own. Find hope and life here, for while dark days will come your way, Jesus has the final victorious word, and you will have the final joy!

Today’s Prayer

Father, please deepen my faith and stitch these words of faith and comfort on my heart these next several days walking with Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and Jesus. Give me hope beyond my fear of death and trust beyond my limited faith sight. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Passion for Praise: ‘Praise Him’

Illustration of Psalm 135:1 — Praise the name of the LORD! Praise him, you who serve the LORD.

 

Spiritual Warfare: ‘Warn Each Other Every Day’

God’s Power for Our Battles

You must warn each other every daywhile it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Lord, it’s hard to go to a fellow Christian and warn them about some sin they might be inadvertently involved in because I know I also have sin and deception in my own life. So I have a two-part prayer concerning this verse. One, please help me to recognize my own sin and immediately correct it. Then, two, help me to have the boldness and the kindness to properly bring an issue to my brother or sister in Christ if I need to. Then please give them a heart willing to receive it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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.

 

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Rest With Our Champion

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?
Romans 8:33

Most blessed challenge! How unanswerable it is! Every sin of the elect was laid upon the great Champion of our salvation, and by the atonement carried away. There is no sin in God’s book against His people: He sees no sin in Jacob, neither iniquity in Israel; they are justified in Christ forever. When the guilt of sin was taken away, the punishment of sin was removed. For the Christian there is no stroke from God’s angry hand—no, not so much as a single frown of punitive justice. The believer may be chastised by his Father, but God the Judge has nothing to say to the Christian except “I have absolved you: you are acquitted.”

For the Christian there is no penal death in this world, much less any second death. He is completely freed from all the punishment as well as the guilt of sin, and the power of sin is removed too. It may stand in our way and agitate us with perpetual warfare; but sin is a conquered foe to every soul in union with Jesus. There is no sin that a Christian cannot overcome if he will only rely upon his God to do it. They who wear the white robe in heaven overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and we may do the same. No lust is too mighty, no besetting sin too strongly entrenched; we can overcome through the power of Christ.

Do believe it, Christian—your sin is a condemned thing. It may kick and struggle, but it is doomed to die. God has written condemnation across its brow. Christ has crucified it, nailing it to His cross. Go now and mortify it, and may the Lord help you to live to His praise, for sin with all its guilt, shame, and fear is gone.

Here’s pardon for transgressions past,
It matters not how black their cast;
And, O my soul, with wonder view,
For sins to come here’s pardon too.

 

 

 

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Weekend Starts Today!

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Daily Prayer for July 20

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. Jeremiah 32:38–39, NIV

Lord our God, you want to be our God and you want us to be your people. Give us the inner integrity and the power to discern and reject what does not come from the heart, so that everything may be genuine among us. Then no lies and deception will creep in, and honesty and goodness will flow from our hearts to the glory of truth, to the glory of the gospel and the great hope you give us through the gospel. Guard our hearts. Protect the good that is planted in them, that it may grow and thrive and bear fruit. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

green elm leavesGod and the suffering caused by sin are inseparably united, and will be so until sin ends. The mind boggles but there is enormous comfort here. For one thing it is hard to doubt the love of a God who is ready to suffer and die for us. For another thing, when we suffer we must be as close to God as we are to the pain.

Source: The Joy of the Snow

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of 1 John 1:7

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

As we seek to please God and trust in his grace, more grace is supplied — we are given relationship with each other. And while Jesus’ death was “once for all,” its cleansing power goes on and on as long as our hearts are tuned to his grace and our hearts seek to walk his path.

My Prayer…

Loving Father, thank you for the gift of Jesus and the cleansing his death brings me. Help me today to live a more dedicated life. Thank you for the assurance that as I seek your will and live your life you are also forgiving me of my sins and cleansing me and making me new. Through the intercession of Jesus, and in his mighty name, I offer these words of thanks. Amen.

 

 

 

Statue of Saint Apollinaris in Santa Maria del Suffragio, Ravenna | José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro

Saint Apollinaris

Saint of the Day for July 20

(d. c. 79)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul20.mp3

 

Saint Apollinaris’ Story

According to tradition, Saint Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.


Reflection

Following Jesus involves risks—sometimes the supreme risk of life itself. Martyrs are people who would rather accept the risk of death than deny the cornerstone of their whole life: faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone will die eventually—the persecutors and those persecuted. The question is what kind of a conscience people will bring before the Lord for judgment. Remembering the witness of past and present martyrs can help us make the often small sacrifices that following Jesus today may require.

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Again, Time to Decide’

Illustration of John 10:19-21 NLT — "He's demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?"   ——   "This doesn't sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

When [Jesus] said these things [about laying down his life and taking it back up], the people were again divided in their opinions about him. Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Key Thought

Sometimes we fail to hear the bite in Jesus’ words because we have heard them so many times before. For Jesus to claim to have the power to lay down his life and take it back up again is to claim the humanly impossible and preposterous. The people react with clamoring, as they often did, to his strong claims. They recognize that they either have to believe him and put their trust in him, or else recognize him as self-deluded and crazy. What’s your choice? You cannot be neutral about Jesus. He is either Lord or liar, Christ or crazy man.

Today’s Prayer

Father, I choose to believe that Jesus is your Son, and I want him to be my Lord. Fill me with your Spirit and with the passion to live this truth and to share it with others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom: Deuteronomy 4:31

Illustration of Deuteronomy 4:31 — For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

 

 

 

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Following God

And now what do you gain by going to Egypt
to drink the waters of the Nile?
Jeremiah 2:18

By different miracles, by various mercies, by strange deliverances Jehovah had proved Himself to be worthy of Israel’s trust. Yet they broke down the hedges with which God had enclosed them as a sacred garden; they forsook their own true and living God and followed after false gods. Constantly the Lord reproved them for this infatuation, and our text displays God’s remonstrating with them, “And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile?” “Why are you wandering and leaving your own cool stream? Why do you forsake Jerusalem and turn aside to the wasteland? Why are you so strangely set on mischief that you cannot be content with what is good and healthy, but instead chase after what is evil and deceitful?” Is there not here a word of exposition and warning to the Christian?

O true believer, called by grace and washed in the precious blood of Jesus, you have tasted a better drink than the muddy river of this world’s pleasure. You have fellowship with Christ; you have obtained the joy of seeing Jesus and resting in His loving embrace. Do the trifles, the songs, the honors, the merriment of this earth content you after that? Have you eaten the bread of angels, and can you live on scraps?

Good Rutherford once said, “I have tasted of Christ’s own manna, and it has put my mouth out of taste for the brown bread of this world’s joys.” I think it should be so with you. If you are wandering after the waters of Egypt, O return quickly to the one living fountain: The waters of the Nile may be sweet to the Egyptians, but they will prove only bitterness to you. What have you to do with them? Jesus asks you this question this evening—what will you answer Him?

 

 

A Faithful Man
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
July 20, 2018

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20

There is a distinct difference between the workplace believer who operates based on living in the Promised Land versus the one who operates in Egypt. In Egypt, the workplace believer sweats and toils to generate an outcome. The final objective is foremost in their mind. Outcome is everything.

In the Promised Land, we learn that obedience is the only thing that matters. We are called to execute, and leave outcome to God. Sometimes that outcome is very positive, yielding a return. In other cases, we may not yield a corresponding return. We may even get a negative outcome. The difference is that we know that we have been faithful to what God has called us to and we yield results to God. God often blesses obedience beyond what we deserve. If God brings wealth to your life, it should come as a by-product of obedience, not an end in itself.

God may call each of us to be obedient to situations that may not yield immediate, positive results. It is in these times that our faith must be obedience-based versus outcome-based. What if Jesus had considered the immediate ramifications of whether he would go to the cross? Based on the immediate outcome, the decision would have been an easy one. Who wants to die on a cross? However, for Him there was a higher purpose in that obedience. We are called to this same kind of obedience. This means putting our own flesh on the line daily, dying to our own self-will.

This is what it means to be a faithful man. Pray that God will make you a faithful man today.

God Delays
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
July 20, 2018

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17).

Mary and Martha were very close to Jesus. The Bible says Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Mary was the woman who came and poured expensive perfume on Jesus and the disciples rebuked her. Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, had become terminally ill. Jesus was away in Jerusalem during the time of Lazarus’ illness. After Jesus heard the news that Lazarus was ill, instead of running to the aid of Mary and Martha, Jesus waited two days. Lazarus died and was placed in a tomb. His response to the news was: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus had to look beyond Mary and Martha’s current grief in order to fulfill God’s purpose for this sickness.

“When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home” (John 11:20-22). Mary was in deep mourning over the death of her brother. When she finally went to see Jesus, she immediately cried out to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

There was a pre-ordained plan for the purpose of Lazarus’ death. But only Jesus knew this. Jesus healed Lazarus that day after being dead four days.

When we experience sickness and do not see a breakthrough, we can only seek Jesus for our healing and leave the outcome to Him. We must trust that He knows the answer to our need and the timing for its solution. There are times when we experience supernatural healing and other times that we simply do not know why Jesus chooses not to heal. In either case, our devotion to Jesus must not change.

God-delays are always pre-ordained for a greater purpose. If you find yourself in this place, bring your concerns to Jesus and leave them there. A day will come when Jesus will reveal His purposes in your situation. The psalmist said, “My times are in your hand” (Ps 31:14b). Jesus may have been four days late, but as is often the case, He was still right on time. Are you able to trust His timing?

Listening to the Father’s Heart – July 20 
by Os Hillman

Son, sometimes delays are self-inflicted. You must know that my heart is always to deliver, always to bless my sons and daughters. However, it cannot be at the expense of obedience. The freedom you have in your relationship with me comes with imperative boundaries. Take my sons in Israel for example. Their journey to the Promised Land was to be accomplished in 12 days. But due to the stubbornness of their hearts I could not deliver them. They chose not to honor me, but rebelled instead due to the hardness of their hearts. Most things do ultimately come down to the heart. Those whose hearts remain soft see my goodness revealed. Keep your heart soft towards me son, and you will see me move on your behalf.

Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries. Psalms 81:13-14

Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:2

 

 

Charisma Media

The UMC Book of Discipline
The UMC Book of Discipline (Kathleen Barry/UMNS)

Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.


Documents filed with the United Methodist Church’s top court are shedding first light on specifics of long-awaited proposals to avoid schism in the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

The three plans were published Tuesday (July 17) as part of the docket for the United Methodist Church Judicial Council’s October meeting. The denomination’s Council of Bishops is asking its top court for a decision on whether those plans and related petitions are constitutional.

“We are asking for this so that we can gain greater clarity about constitutional issues within the three plans, and in service to and support of the delegations, who will do extremely important work in a very limited amount of time,” Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, said in a written statement last week.

The Rev. Maidstone Mulenga, director of communications for the Council of Bishops, described the request in an email as “a pre-emptive move by the bishops.”

The three plans were expected to be made public earlier this month as part of the Commission on a Way Forward’s report to the upcoming special session of the General Conference on sexuality, but their release was postponed until they could be translated into all the official languages of the global denomination’s General Conference: English, French, Kiswahili and Portuguese. That work is expected to be complete by July 30, but the Council of Bishops noted on its Facebook page that it has “no control over the Judicial Council procedures and deadlines.”

At the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon, delegates had voted to defer all proposals on issues related to sexuality to a specially appointed commission and left the door open for a special session.

The denomination’s rulebook, the Book of Discipline, states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained as ministers, appointed to serve or married in the church. But United Methodists long have been divided on their beliefs about sexuality.

The Commission on A Way Forward concluded its work earlier this year, and bishops recommended one of the three plans it put forward: the so-called One Church Plan. Its report to the special session of the General Conference, scheduled for February 2019, also includes the Connectional Conference Plan and Traditional Plan, as well as proposed legislation to put each into effect.

Here is a brief summary of each plan:

One Church Plan

The first of 17 petitions that would enact bishops’ recommended plan begins with the words, “We agree that we are not of one mind regarding human sexuality.”

The One Church Plan acknowledges “persons of good conscience” can interpret what Scripture says about sexuality differently. It affirms both those who believe it does not “condone the practice of homosexuality” as well as those who believe it “calls us to reconsider the teaching of the church with respect to monogamous homosexual relationships.”

Related petitions would amend the Book of Discipline to remove the language about incompatibility with Christian teaching and marriage being limited to a man and woman. They would allow regional decision-making bodies called annual conferences to determine whether to ordain LGBTQ clergy and allow individual churches to vote whether to perform same-sex marriages in their buildings. They also would clarify that no clergy would be required to perform a same-sex marriage and would allow them to transfer or be reassigned if their beliefs conflict with those of their churches.

Bishops could not prevent or require a pastor or church to perform a same-sex marriage under the plan, and they would not be required to ordain LGBTQ clergy, who could be ordained instead by the larger jurisdictional conference’s College of Bishops.

Traditional Plan

The Traditional Plan would clarify what is meant in the Book of Discipline by a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” That would include those who have publicly stated or told clergy they are “a practicing homosexual,” or those in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union.

It would make a way to recommend a bishop for an involuntary leave of absence or retirement and a Council Relations Committee to hear those requests, creating a “process by which the Council of Bishops may hold one another accountable.” And it would strengthen current complaint procedures and penalties in the Book of Discipline.

It also would include language that bishops are not allowed to consecrate, ordain or commission “self-avowed homosexuals” even if they have been elected or approved by the appropriate church body, and it would require bishops to sign a statement certifying, “I will uphold United Methodist standards on marriage and sexuality in their entirety.” If they do not, they would be subject to review by the Council Relations Committee.

As part of the process to determine whether to ordain a candidate, the plan says the Board of Ministry “shall conduct an examination to ascertain whether an individual is a practicing homosexual, including information on social media.”

A church or annual conference that differs in its beliefs about sexuality would be allowed to leave the denomination to form its own “self-governing Methodist church,” and clergy would be allowed to transfer to those churches.

Connectional Conference Plan

The Connectional Conference Plan would create new connectional conferences from the denomination’s existing jurisdictional conferences inside the U.S. and central conferences around the world. Central conferences either could become their own geographically based connectional conferences or vote to join one of three “theologically based” connectional conferences in the U.S., which would align like-minded congregations on matters of sexuality.

The plan would include sections regarding sexuality in the parts of the Book of Discipline that those connectional conferences could change or adapt to “more fruitfully accomplish our mission in various contexts.”

The so-called Traditional Connectional Conference would define marriage as between one man and one woman, would not allow same-sex weddings or LGBTQ clergy and would express a “covenantal commitment to a more traditional understanding of the doctrinal and moral standards of the church with enhanced accountability.” Like all proposed connectional conferences, it would choose its own name later.

The Unity Connectional Conference would acknowledge members “are not of one mind regarding biblical interpretations related to human sexuality.” Clergy would be allowed, but not required, to perform same-sex weddings. Similarly, annual conferences could decide to ordain LGBTQ clergy, and local churches could decide to receive them.

In the Progressive Connectional Conference, all clergy would perform same-sex weddings, all annual conferences would ordain qualified LGBTQ clergy and all churches would welcome LGBTQ pastors who “match the needs of the congregation and its ministry.” 

© 2018 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.

Deborah, Esther and Anna carried a profound anointing. Become a Godly woman of boldness, power and strength. Get the Anointing Bundle.

 

 

 

National Moon Day July 20

NATIONAL MOON DAY

National Moon Day is observed annually on July 20 and commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969.   NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon.  Six hours after landing, Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface. He spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft. He was soon followed by Buzz Aldrin. While Aldrin spent slightly less time on the moon than Armstrong, together they collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material to bring back to Earth.  Michael Collins, piloted Apollo 11, remained alone in orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned.

Caught up in the thrill of the adventure, millions watched the mission from Earth. Televisions around the world tuned in to the live broadcasts giving the astronaut a world-wide audience. As a result, all witnessed as Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface and described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Unquestionably a tangible achievement in the space race, reaching the moon placed the United States in a role to go forth and explore farther and deeper into the reach of the universe. In the months and decade that followed, NASA and the Soviets stepped up the missions.

Fast forward forty years and private expeditions plan to take humankind exploring our solar system. Armstrong’s “one small step for mankind” inspired imaginations and sparked innovation for generations to come.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Share your memories of the moon landing. View the moon through a telescope and explore the surface. Start a discussion about space exploration and how it’s influenced the world today. Use #NationalMoonDay to share on social media.

NATIONAL MOON DAY HISTORY

In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20 to commemorate the anniversary of man’s first moon landing.

With no continuing proclamation to follow, Richard Christmas took up the baton and began a “Chrismas Card” writing campaign. A former gas station attendant, the Michigan native wrote to governors, congressmen and senators in all 50 states urging them to create National Moon Day. By July of 1975, 12 states had sponsored bills observing Moon Day.

James J. Mullaney, former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Staff Astronomer at the Allegheny Observatory, is a modern day supporter of a National Moon Day.  He says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!”  Mr. Mullaney has been working toward making National Moon Day an official Federal holiday.

 

 

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Silly Saturday or Sabbath Saturday?

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Daily Prayer for June 30

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Matthew 11:25, NIV

Lord our God, we thank you for your Word, which is light and strength to us. We thank you for all you give us. We thank you that we may be counted among the simple-hearted, among the children. We do not want to be anything great in the world. We want only to be with you as your children, helpless little children, watched over by you, the Creator and Father of all. Grant us your blessing. Help us in all that is good and right, also in our daily work, so that we can be your children and do what you have commanded. May your name be honored at all times, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who have wronged us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

birchleavesPut your sword back! These are the last words – a definitive rebuke – the disciples hear from Jesus before they run away. If ever there was a moment in God’s eyes when violence would be justifiable, this is it! But Jesus is clear: Put your sword back! His followers are not allowed to respond with violence. They are not allowed to kill. They are not allowed to harm others. They are not allowed to threaten others. They are not permitted to “deter” violent crime with the use of violence.

Source: Jesus the Rebel

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Zechariah 14:9

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus taught us to pray for the day that the LORD would be The recognized King over all the earth. We look forward to that, because our faith will be shown true and the LORD himself will be glorified as he should be. In a world of profanity, a world where God’s name is blasphemed, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that he is not only LORD Yahweh, but he is also incomparable without rival, that his name is the only name worthy of reverence, honor, and praise.

My Prayer…

Great Almighty LORD, work to bring yourself glory, not only in me, but in your people, and in our time of history. With all my heart I pray for your name to be reverenced in all the earth. Do mighty works that show your control and sovereignty to help your people bring others to call on your name and to praise your grace. In Jesus’ holy and precious name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

A July 4th Meditation:
“In God We Trust.” Really?
Which God? Trust How?

 

[Editor’s Note: This blog post unpacks the biblical implications of our national motto. It shows how fulfilling its truest meaning is the only hope our nation has at this hour full of intensifying strife among us and nervousness about global upheavals directed at us. As you catch David Bryant’s sense of purposefulness for us through Christ, it will ignite fireworks of faith in your heart, not only on this upcoming Independence Day but also far beyond.]

 

To help you prepare to celebrate our freedom as Americans, let me quote someone who currently has no freedom.

His name is Newton Francis. He has spent many years and has many to go as an inmate at one of America’s best-known maximum-security prisons. What he did to be remanded there was tragic. What’s happened to him since arriving, however, has been glorious!

Now fully devoted to Jesus Christ, Newton helps give leadership to one of the most phenomenal “Christ Awakening movements” anywhere in our nation—inside a penitentiary! (That’s a whole other story.) Among many accomplishments, this brother (whom I’ve known for years) just published his first book, The Prisoner’s Hope Personal Bible—and it’s all about Jesus.

This week he wrote me with fresh insights about our national motto, “In God We Trust.” I want to share some of them with you. Then I’d like to pass along additional reflections Newton stirred up in me about the motto.

This blog post is meant to enrich your 2018 celebrations of this Fourth of July—by focusing on how the Lord Jesus can bring us as a nation into the fullest implications of our motto in order for America to truly realize the destiny God wants for her.

 

 

 

 

What an Audacious Claim
for Any Nation to Make!

 

Listen to what Newton (his friends call him Carl) thinks about the claim we state on all our money:

What would move a nation with such bold authority as to inscribe on its currency, “In God We Trust”? No mystery—this is the working power of God himself inspiring a nation that He is the sole source of their revenue. You can’t find a dollar without finding God. This currency penetrates the nations where the Bible is refused and banned, with resounding testimony of a whole nation: “In God We Trust”! We have nothing for Caesar. All we have belongs to God. How humbling a way for a nation to honor its Creator.

He’s right, you know. Never in history has any other nation (other than ancient Israel) dared to assume such a claim about its entire population. How did this come about?

Although at different points in our history the phrase had been incorporated into hymns and patriotic songs, “In God We Trust” was voted into law as the official motto of the United States in 1956 because of the ominous threat of atheistic Communism during the Cold War at mid-20th century. It was a unanimous Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. It declared that as our national motto, the words must appear on all American currency, both paper and coin. Shortly after, these words were placed above the dais in the House chamber (between the clock and flag).

All of that is well and good—and positive.

Yet, the very wording forces me to ask two prior questions:

1. Out of all the deities on planet earth, including a colorful array worshipped in our own land, which god are we being called to trust in? Does knowing this make any difference concerning our strength and fate as a people?

2. Once we settle that question, what are we to trust this god for? In fact, what does “trust” really mean for a whole nation? Is it something we as Americans even know how to do?

My initial thoughts follow. I would enjoy hearing from you about how you might answer these same two questions.

 

 

 

 

 

WHO Do You Trust?

 

Beyond question, when it came to “God,” our Founding Fathers—including most of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence—held to a vague, remote, providential personality. He was veiled in mystery, responsible for the creation of the cosmos, designer of the human race, generally in charge of the outworking of nature and history, and willing at times to intervene in the affairs of peoples.

Thus, they concluded that among the “laws of nature” built into running his universe was the principle that all humans are equal by virtue of having the same Creator—equal in terms of three indisputable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Beyond that, it was anybody’s guess. John Adams saw God as a stern, New England, Old Testament-shaded Being. Thomas Jefferson saw him as merely a benevolent force, which is why he literally used scissors to cut out of the four Gospels everything (like all the miracles) that showed Jesus to be anything more than a wise and determined social reformer. In his first inaugural address, George Washington portrayed God as “Divine Providence” (leaving a lot to the imagination as to what that might include).

By the time we get to Abraham Lincoln, “God” had pretty much distilled into the personage envisioned by most Americans today—a generic though semi-personable, intelligent but enigmatic sovereign and lofty figurehead for a civil religion readily embraced by most Americans. He was a god to call on at times of national mourning, in the midst of violent war, during annual celebrations, in times of natural disasters.

In his 600-page watershed study, America’s God, Mark Noll, Notre Dame University’s distinguished professor of history, establishes that by the time of the Civil War, the concept of God in our nation, in both the North and South, had been tragically “brought down by the . . . synthesis of Christian theology and American ideology.”

Thus, our national religious overtures have been infected by a sub-biblical view of deity, leaving us with a watered-down concept of the Almighty.

Noll purports that America’s “God” had become merely the prime moral governor, lawgiver, judge, and dispenser of rewards and penalties (not unlike the Islam’s Allah in many ways). He concludes at one point: By the opening year of Lincoln’s presidency, the Christian view of God had essentially been “trivialized” and replaced.

In other words, America’s “God,” our jointly embraced Higher Power, is found to be far off the mark of the claims about God in the New Testament.

Jesus nails the difference for us in John 14:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him . . . Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? (emphasis added).

Scores of other New Testament writings back up his claim, but there’s not enough space to present them here.

But the conclusion is inescapable:

No Jesus. No God.
Know Jesus. Know God.

It’s that simple. And that profound.

On this 4th of July, we need to come to grips with how pervasive in our land is the concept of a distant, tolerant, shiftshaping, grandfatherly, “generic God” who sits at the head of our national civil religion.

Unwittingly for most, but practically speaking, day to day this is the “God” whom we claim to trust as a people. This is the “God” who adorns our currency.

This brings me to my fundamental premise in this blog post:

If America is to survive and thrive, it will be by divine intervention and reclamation, by the transforming power and grace coming from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—the one true God before whom there is no other.

Therefore, for decades now I have called for the only hope we have as a nation:

We must as a people experience a profound, pervasive, Spirit-driven, nationwide awakening to the supremacy and majesty, to the greatness and glory, to the all-sufficient redeeming reign of God’s sovereign, saving Son—Lord of the nations and ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1)—Jesus.

This is the One of whom the Bible says in Colossians 1:15-20 (making him the only hope for America):

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. 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. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

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. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe . . . get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross (The Message, emphasis added).

 

 

 

Who Do You TRUST?

The dictionary defines TRUST as: “A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”

Have you ever experienced anything like the picture above—where you’ve been on a hike in rugged territory and found yourself in a fix with only one option: to reach out, take another’s offer to pull you to safety and trust that person to do what they claim they are able and willing to do? How did it make you feel knowing someone was there for you, in whom you could put total confidence in a moment of helplessness?

On the other hand, have you endured a relationship where you concluded, as in the title of this popular Prince ballad: “Eye Love U But Eye Don’t Trust U Anymore.” Trust can easily be dashed to pieces if it is placed in the wrong person for the wrong reason in the wrong way.

As noted above, when we say, “In God We Trust,” first we need to decide which “God” we’re trusting: What’s his nature? What is he up to? What are his promises? Where is his power? How do we find him and how do we make contact with him? Important questions.

Rather, trust is having “a firm belief” in the totality of who that “God” is and what he offers and then putting ourselves into his hands.

Taking a step further: Trust, as used in our motto, requires a commitment to that “God,” a surrender to what that greater Person is ready to do, a willful abandonment to him—in the way patients submit to a surgeon and his skills as they go under the anesthesia.

Once again, there’s only one totally reliable option to “trust” for true wholeness—for restoration as an individual or as a nation. The Bible brings us back exclusively to the Lord Jesus Christ, who said at the opening verse of that same section of John 14: “Trust in God. Trust also in me.

Fundamentally, Jesus meant one thing. He was saying to all believers—to all Americans who claim to have faith in God—something like this:

You started out trusting God without fully knowing all he is. Now, however, I have been among you and you have been introduced to the fullness of the living God as you’ve grown closer to me, because the Father and I are one—one in essence, in nature, in purpose, in power. So then, take up the trust in God you’ve experienced until now; take it and transfer it and expand it and anchor it in me as God’s Son and your Savior, Lord of all, Hope of the nations, Healer of broken hearts, Fountain of all wisdom, Renovator of the entire universe.

This brings me once again to my fundamental premise in this blog post:

If America is to survive and thrive, it will be by divine intervention and reclamation, by the transforming power and grace coming from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—the one true God before whom there is no other.

Therefore, for decades now I have called for the only hope we have as a nation:

We must as a people experience a profound, pervasive, Spirit-driven, nationwide awakening to the supremacy and majesty, to the greatness and glory, to the all-sufficient redeeming reign of God’s sovereign, saving Son—Lord of the nations and ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1)—Jesus.

Our nation must become saturated with the reality of the REAL and TRUE God, who is none other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our nation must become saturated with a life of DEPENDENCE and RELIANCE and wholesale COMMITMENT to God’s Son as the One who brings us to the Father, shows us the Father, unleashes upon us the promises of the Father, and carries us forward in the purposes of the Father.

That is just as true for a nation of 360 million other Americans as it is for each one of us who can say, “this land is my land.”

 

 

 

Turn This “Independence Day” Into
the Beginning of “DEPENDENCE Day” for You!

Take five minutes—or more!—on July 4th to pray for nothing less in this hour than a nationwide Christ Awakening movement that will awaken and revolutionize our churches first of all and then spread across our whole land, beginning with a fresh encounter with the wonders of God’s Son in your own life.

Then take time to ponder the words from the radical Christ proclaimer, Martin Luther, in his introduction to his commentary on the Book of Romans:

TRUST in Christ is a living, creative, active and powerful thing. . . . It is a bold TRUST in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor in Christ that it would risk death a thousand times TRUSTING in Christ. Such confidence and knowledge make you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, while you love and praise the God who has shown you such grace through his Son (emphasis added).

What if this approach became the way of life
for every American who claims that
“In God We Trust”?

Again, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic.

 

 

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 to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com

 

 

 

<em>Christian heroes and martyrs</em> | William A. Foster | The Library of Congress

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Saint of the Day for June 30

(d. 64)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun30.mp3

 

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome’s Story

There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.

There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’ death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.

In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.

Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.


Reflection

Wherever the Good News of Jesus was preached, it met the same opposition as Jesus did, and many of those who began to follow him shared his suffering and death. But no human force could stop the power of the Spirit unleashed upon the world. The blood of martyrs has always been, and will always be, the seed of Christians.

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Light to See’

[Jesus said,] “But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

Key Thought

Jesus longs to bring us his blessings. A blessing that we desperately need is the sight to see things as they are and to be able to discern Jesus’ will and follow it. So often we view obedience as a burden rather than a blessing. However, Jesus wants to bless us through our obedience just as he blessed the blind man. Obeying him, doing what he sends us to do, brings a much greater blessing than any perceived burden it might entail.

Today’s Prayer

O gracious and generous Father, please make my heart pliable and open to your truth. Help me move from merely understanding your will to obeying it with joy and expectation. Forgive me for being reluctant to obey when I do not fully understand why you want me to do something. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Quotemeal: Jun. 30th, 2018

Illustration of Tim Storey — "Somebody is waiting on the other side of your obedience."

 

 

 

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An Impossible Promise

Ah, Lord God! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17

At the very time when the Chaldeans surrounded Jerusalem, and when the sword, famine, and pestilence had desolated the land, Jeremiah was commanded by God to purchase a field and have the deed of transfer legally sealed and witnessed. This was a strange purchase for a rational man to make. Caution could not justify it, for it was buying with hardly a probability that the purchaser would ever enjoy the possession. But it was enough for Jeremiah that his God had instructed him, for he knew with certainty that God will be justified of all His children. He reasoned thus: “Lord God, You can make this plot of ground useful to me; You can rid this land of these oppressors; You can make me sit under my vine and my fig-tree in the heritage that I have bought; for You made the heavens and the earth, and there is nothing too hard for You.” There was a majesty in the early saints, who dared to do at God’s command things that human reason would condemn.

Whether it be a Noah who is to build a ship on dry land, an Abraham who is to offer up his only son, a Moses who is to despise the treasures of Egypt, or a Joshua who is to besiege Jericho for seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of trumpets, they all act upon God’s command, contrary to the dictates of human reason; and the Lord gives them a rich reward as the result of their obedient faith. Would to God we had in contemporary Christianity a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we would enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers. May Jeremiah’s place of confidence become ours—nothing is too hard for the God that created the heavens and the earth.

 

 

National OOTD Day - June 30

NATIONAL OOTD DAY

On June 30, National OOTD Day gives us an opportunity to express ourselves and document our personal style by sharing our Outfit Of The Day.

Fashion and self-expression both play a role in self-confidence. On National OOTD Day, take a few extra minutes getting ready, select the perfect outfit that reflects your outstanding style and put on the perfect smile before taking a selfie. Then let the world know just how much better your day is going to be when you have your OOTD!

HOW TO OBSERVE

Stassi Schroeder shares her personal OOTD style philosophy saying “to take a good hard look at your body and choose your favorite parts. Got ’em? Good.”

  • Create a uniform accentuating your favorite features to develop your personal style.
  • This will become your go-to style.
  • Add accessories, different colors, and textures.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • reddit
  • LinkedIn

“When you have a great outfit on, your day is that much better, and in my opinion, you should honor that feeling with an OOTD! So, if you’re feeling your look, post that OOTD and celebrate what makes you feel good about yourself.”

Use #nationalootdday to share on social media.

HISTORY

Stassi Schroeder founded National OOTD Day on June 30, 2018, to share her OOTD style philosophy.

When you have a great outfit on, your day is that much better, and in my opinion, you should honor that feeling with an OOTD!
Xx, Stassi

The Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed National OOTD Day to be observed annually in 2018.

 

Social Media Day June 30

SOCIAL MEDIA DAY

Social Media Day is observed annually on June 30th.  In its short life, social media has redefined how people interact, communicate and share with family, friends and the world.

With the launch of Friendster in 2002 and MySpace in 2003, social media had become mainstream.  Then 2004 brought the founding of the king of social media, Facebook.  Twitter encouraged us to be succinct by posting our thoughts with fewer than 140 characters. We can be social through Instagram and Flickr by sharing all the pictures and videos you love.  And speaking of video, YouTube is the social place for everything from how-to to pop culture to what not to do with your fireworks on the 4th of July.

Social media has made it possible to stay connected and informed about with those important people in our lives.   Reconnecting with classmates, past work associates and more is also a valuable part of social media.  It has also made it possible to connect with ancestors and find relatives you never even knew existed.  Yes, the family tree has become a social media platform as well.   MyHeritage.com and Ancestry.com and many others all supply a social platform where distant family members have the potential to meet and built their family trees.

The internet has long loved food, and social media is no different. Pinterest, Tumblr, and WordPress all make sharing and socializing about the latest food trends accessible and exciting.  This may be the most addicting part of social media.  One moment a picture of a decadent, perfectly golden roast duck comes across your news feed.  In an instant, the complete video detailing how to execute this delicacy in 17 easy steps is provided for you.  One tweet later and you are off to the butcher.  In a Snapchat -Instagram -Tumblr hour you destroy your kitchen and end up with a Pinterest board titled “They Lied.”

HOW TO OBSERVE

Post something on your favorite social media platform.  Find a social media meetup in your area.  Use #SocialMediaDay when posting to remind others of this day.

HISTORY

Social Media Day was founded in 2010 by Mashable.

 

 

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Friday Follies??

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Daily Prayer for June 29

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. Psalm 59:16–17, NIV

Lord God, we glorify your name. How we wish our voices could ring out over all the world, telling of the great things you have done for us, praising you that we can come to you in Jesus Christ, that we can worship, honor, and thank you for all your goodness! Safeguard all your children so that they hold to faith and remain true to the message of the gospel. May we thank and praise you for all you have done this day and for your working in the hearts of many people who are still unknown to us. Your Spirit rules and calls people, to bring them to you, the Father in heaven. Watch over us and continue to bless us. Help us who belong to your people, and protect us through the night. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

two black pebblesTrue individuality is measured by this: how long or how far one can endure being alone without the understanding of others. The person who can endure being alone is poles apart from the social mixer. This person is miles apart from the one who manages successfully with everyone – the one who possesses no sharp edges. God never uses such people. The true individual, anyone who is going to be directly involved with God, will not and cannot avoid the human bite. The true individual will be thoroughly misunderstood. God is no friend of cozy human gathering.

Source: Provocations

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Psalm 138:8

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

God has a purpose and plan for each of our lives. The greatest thing we can do is to find that purpose and live it out. We can trust his purpose for us because it is based on his wisdom and love. As long as we seek his will, we’re not going to do anything that can ultimately mess up his purpose for us. Yes, we may at times stray from the perfect channel he wants us to travel, but we never get totally out of the main channel. As long as we do not abandon him, and remember he will never forsake us, he will use us for his purposes.

My Prayer…

O Sovereign God, help me discern today what my life is intended to fulfill in your plan. Thank you for loving me and promising to walk beside me every step of my life. I live trusting that you will never forsake me and committed to never forsaking you. In the name of your faithful Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Watchman on the Wall, with Jennifer LeClaire

(Photo by Awais Jamil on Unsplash)

In times of battle, modern-day warriors would surely choose a machine gun with heavy ammunition over a sling and a stone. But spiritual warriors would do well to adopt the mindset of a slinger.

While the enemy is throwing fiery darts and his puppets are slinging mud on the saints, Davidic warriors who know when to worship and when to run to the battle line are slinging stones and defeating every foe. Indeed, the Bible highlights the warfare ministry of the slingers over and again, and demonstrates the power of the sling.

In a season when the spirit of assassination is working through believers to backbite, accuse and otherwise tear down, the Lord is calling the slingers to arise and face down giants in the spirit. These giants include slander, offense and sabotage, but the slinger can take out any foe the Holy Spirit leads them to battle.

Pick Up Your Slingshot

You’ve probably seen a slingshot. It’s essentially a forked stick with a rubber band. It does not look imposing or intimidating when compared to other battle gear. But it packs a punch–especially when the Holy Spirit’s power propels the stone toward the giant.

David could have faced down Goliath with a full coat of armor but he chose the sling and the stone. I don’t believe it was only because he hadn’t tested Saul’s armor. I believe it was because David was so dependent on God that he didn’t feel the need heavy artillery to take down his enemy. David knew His God was stronger than the Goliath. For all Goliath’s empty threats, David defeated him with a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17:50)

Of course, slingers need spiritual accuracy. David understood who his enemy was before he ran to the battle line. He was accurate in spirit and accurate with his slingshot. Many warriors today lack accuracy in discerning the real foe and the weaponry demanded to defeat them.

Our aim is to rise up in the spirit of the warriors in Judges 20:16: “Out of all these people there were seven hundred specially chosen men who were left-handed, all of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.”

A Company of Slingers Arising

We know one can put 1,000 to fight and two can put 10,000 to flight (see Deut. 32:20). With that concept in mind, it’s important to understand the power of slinger companies in battle.

When the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom went to battle against the Moabites. First Kings 3:25 tells us, “They demolished the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone and filled it with stones, and they stopped every spring of water and cut down every good tree. Only in Kir Hareseth did the stones in the wall remain, until the slingers surrounded it and struck it.”

When you go to battle, take the whole armor of God. Take the sword of the Spirit (see Eph. 6). Understand the weapons of your warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God to pull down strongholds (see 2 Cor. 10:4). And don’t forget your sling.

Remember the king’s winning strategy in 2 Chronicles 26:14: “Uzziah prepared for the entire army shields, long spears, helmets, scale armor, bows, and slings for stones.” And when you can’t defeat your enemy along, call for the slingers to surround him.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior leader of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founder of the Ignite Network and founder of the Awakening Blaze prayer movement. She is author of over 25 books. Find her online at jenniferleclaire.org or email her at info@jenniferleclaire.org.

 

 

 

<em>The Virgin and Child with Saints Peter and Paul</em> | Girolamo Figino

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Saint of the Day for June 29

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun29.mp3

 

Saints Peter and Paul’s Story

Peter (d. 64?). Saint Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding, and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.

The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life, and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. His name is first on every list of apostles.

And to Peter only did Jesus say, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17b-19).

But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.

He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ’s anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23b).

Peter is willing to accept Jesus’ doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus’ ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17).

Paul (d. 64?). If the most well-known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul’s life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.

Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil, and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.

Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God’s chosen people, the children of the promise.


Reflection

We would probably go to confession to Peter sooner than to any of the other apostles. He is perhaps a more striking example of the simple fact of holiness. Jesus says to us as he said, in effect, to Peter: “It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you. Peter, it is not human wisdom that makes it possible for you to believe, but my Father’s revelation. I, not you, build my Church.” Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was the driving force that made him one of the most zealous, dynamic, and courageous ambassadors of Christ the Church has ever had. But persecution, humiliation, and weakness became his day-by-day carrying of the cross, material for further transformation. The dying Christ was in him; the living Christ was his life.


Saint Paul is the Patron Saint of:

Greece

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Urgency!’

Illustration of John 9:4 NLT — [Jesus said,] "We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.

Key Thought

Jesus recognizes that his time on earth is short. He feels a sense of urgency to get the work of God completed. He also shares the importance of getting that work done with his disciples. Many of us have all sorts of distractions crowding into our lives. Some of these distractions seem important to us. Others, we recognize as insignificant intrusions. The real question, however, is this: How well are we doing with placing God’s priorities first in our lives regardless of the apparent importance of possible distractions? Do we feel a sense of urgency to get God’s work done? Is God’s work our focus or just another item to check off our “to do” list crowding into our busy lives?

Today’s Prayer

Holy God, help me better know how to order my priorities. Please help me be more confident of the things you want most for me to do. Father, I gladly submit my will to be led by your Spirit and to live for your glory. Please guide my way. In Jesus’ name, I ask it. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

 

 

 

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Trust in God Alone

And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.
2 Chronicles 32:31

Hezekiah was growing so inwardly great and priding himself so much upon the favor of God that self-righteousness crept in, and because he trusted in himself, the grace of God was for a time, in its more active operations, withdrawn. If the grace of God were to leave the best Christian, there is enough sin in his heart to make him the worst of transgressors. If left to yourselves, you who are warmest for Christ would cool down like Laodicea into sickening lukewarmness: You who are sound in the faith would be white with the leprosy of false doctrine; you who now walk before the Lord in excellency and integrity would reel to and fro and stagger with a drunkenness of evil passion. Like the moon, we borrow our light; bright as we are when grace shines on us, we are darkness itself when the Sun of Righteousness withdraws Himself.

Therefore, let us cry to God to never leave us. “Take not Your Holy Spirit from me! Do not withdraw from us Your indwelling grace! Have You not said, ‘I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day’?1 Lord, keep us everywhere. Keep us when we’re in the valley so that we do not grumble against Your humbling hand; keep us when we’re on the mountain, so we do not lose our balance by being lifted up; keep us in youth, when our passions are strong; keep us in old age, when becoming conceited in our wisdom, we may therefore prove greater fools than those who are young and silly; keep us when we come to die, in case at the very end we should deny You! Keep us living, keep us dying, keep us working, keep us suffering, keep us fighting, keep us resting, keep us everywhere, for everywhere we need You, O our God!”

1) Isaiah 27:3

 

 

National Camera Day June 29

NATIONAL CAMERA DAY

National Camera Day is observed each year on June 29th.  This day commemorates photographs, the camera, and their invention.  A camera is an irreplaceable tool used to record and replicate memories, events, and people/places.  Before the invention of the camera, the only resource to document a vision was a painting.  There are very few who can perfectly capture the image of a person or a place in a drawing. The power of a camera provided many with a simple, inexpensive and fast solution.

George Eastman, also known as “The Father of Photography,” brought the camera to the masses.  While he did not invent the camera, he did invent many additions that improved the use, ease, and production of the camera, making it widely available to homes around the world.

The original camera was large and bulky but has now evolved into something that can be as small as a pen.  Cameras have many features and variations, making them appealing to men and women of all ages for personal and professional use.

HOW TO OBSERVE

To celebrate National Camera Day, snap a picture of something or someone you enjoy and cherish the memory.  Post photos on social media using #NationalCameraDay.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the origin of National Camera Day.

 

 

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Simply Saturday

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Daily Prayer for June 23

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:14–l5, NIV

Lord our God, grant your peace in our hearts. Grant that we may be your children, allowed to serve you in true peace through the forgiveness of sins. Turn your eyes to the world and its sin, that something new may come for all who are deeply unhappy, groaning under the anguish of their lives. Your mercy is great, your compassion is beyond measure. For Jesus Christ’s sake you will bring into the world the salvation that is promised. You will bring the great day of Jesus Christ the Savior, who has shed his blood for us. He can come to those now in need and misery, bringing his peace and his power into their hearts so that even death turns into life and everything serves your praise and glory, Lord our God and Father in heaven. Bless us and bless our nation. May life from heaven grow in those who understand you and who are to be your people. May your will be done, Lord God, until your kingdom comes in its fullness and all the world may see that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to your glory, O God our Father. Amen.

 

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TODAY’S DAILY DIG

bfly4If we are able to tell everybody straight out and with a joyful heart that we praise God and thank him for all his goodness, if we represent and proclaim our kind and merciful God, then we will be a great comfort to many people. We will forget about our own cross and rejoice with those who praise God. Then we will be able to sing songs of praise from the bottom of our hearts. How good, how pleasant it is to praise the Lord!

Source: The God Who Heals

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Isaiah 40:31

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

It is easy for us to live victoriously for the Lord when we soar on the wings of eagles. It can be exciting when we run and don’t grow weary in the work of the Lord, buoyed by his power and presence. But it often takes heroes to keep walking and not faint when trying times come. Keep on walking brother and sister. The Lord is there when you most fear he has forgotten you!

My Prayer…

Majestic God, whose voice holds together our universe, give those who can barely walk the strength to continue as they face the stress and assault of the evil one. I specifically want to pray for those I know personally who are facing trying times. Please, dear LORD, give them strength and meet their most pressings needs. Through Jesus, who conquered Satan, sin and death, and in the power of his holy name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 from a book entitled <em>The life and death of Cardinal Wolsey</em> | Authors: George Cavendish, Hans Holbein, and Bruce Rogers

Saint John Fisher

Saint of the Day for June 23

(1469 – June 22, 1535)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun23.mp3

 

Saint John Fisher’s Story

John Fisher is usually associated with Erasmus, Thomas More, and other Renaissance humanists. His life therefore, did not have the external simplicity found in the lives of some saints. Rather, he was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day. He was interested in the contemporary culture and eventually became chancellor at Cambridge. He had been made a bishop at 35, and one of his interests was raising the standard of preaching in England. Fisher himself was an accomplished preacher and writer. His sermons on the penitential psalms were reprinted seven times before his death. With the coming of Lutheranism, he was drawn into controversy. His eight books against heresy gave him a leading position among European theologians.

In 1521, Fisher was asked to study the question of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his brother’s widow. He incurred Henry’s anger by defending the validity of the king’s marriage with Catherine, and later by rejecting Henry’s claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England.

In an attempt to be rid of him, Henry first had Fisher accused of not reporting all the “revelations” of the nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton. In feeble health, Fisher was summoned to take the oath to the new Act of Succession. He and Thomas More refused to do so because the Act presumed the legality of Henry’s divorce and his claim to be head of the English Church. They were sent to the Tower of London, where Fisher remained 14 months without trial. Finally both men were sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of goods.

When the two were called to further interrogations, they remained silent. On the supposition that he was speaking privately as a priest, Fisher was tricked into declaring again that the king was not supreme head of the church in England. The king, further angered that the pope had made John Fisher a cardinal, had him brought to trial on the charge of high treason. He was condemned and executed, his body left to lie all day on the scaffold and his head hung on London Bridge. More was executed two weeks later. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 22.


Reflection

Today many questions are raised about Christians’ and priests’ active involvement in social issues. John Fisher remained faithful to his calling as a priest and bishop. He strongly upheld the teachings of the Church; the very cause of his martyrdom was his loyalty to Rome. He was involved in the cultural enrichment circles as well as in the political struggles of his time. This involvement caused him to question the moral conduct of the leadership of his country.

“The Church has the right, indeed the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of man and his very salvation demand it” (Justice in the World, 1971 Synod of Bishops).

 

 

Open Adoption

We wait eagerly for adoption as sons.
Romans 8:23

Even in this world saints are God’s children, but the only way that people will discover this is by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not displayed; the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child and keep it private for a long time; but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities, its old clothes were removed, and the father who took it to be his child gave it clothing suitable to its new status in life. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.”1 We are not yet clothed in the apparel of heaven’s royal family; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the children of Adam. But we know that “when he appears” who is “the firstborn among many brothers,”2 we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.

Can’t you imagine that a child taken from the lowest ranks of society and adopted by a Roman senator would say to himself, “I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall discard these poor clothes and be dressed in clothes that depict my senatorial rank”? Glad for what he has already received, he still groans until he gets the fullness of what has been promised to him. So it is with us today. We are waiting until we put on our proper clothes and are declared as the children of God for all to see. We are young nobles and have not yet worn our crowns. We are young brides, and the marriage day has not arrived, but our fiancée’s love for us leads us to long and sigh for the bridal morning. Our very happiness makes us long for more; our joy, like a swollen stream, longs to spring up like a fountain, leaping to the skies, heaving and groaning within our spirit for lack of space and room by which to reveal itself to men.

1) 1 John 3:2 
2) Romans 8:29

 

 

National Pink Day June 23

NATIONAL PINK DAY

National Pink Day is observed annually on June 23rd.  This day is set aside for the color pink and all it represents.

First used as a color name in the late 17th century, pink is a pale red color which got its name from a flower of same name.

According to surveys in both the United States and Europe with results indicating that the color pink combined with white or pale blue is most commonly associated with femininity, sensitivity, tenderness, childhood and the romantic.  Pink, when combined with violet or black is associated with eroticism and seduction.

Dating back to the 14th century, “to pink” (the verb) means “to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern.”

It would have been curious to find pink used in fabric or decor during the Middle Ages.  Occasionally it was seen in women’s fashion and religious art.  In the 13th and 14th century, the Christ child was sometimes portrayed dressed in pink, the color associated with the body of Christ. Pink was mainly used for the flesh color of faces and hands during the Renaissance.

The Rococo Period (1720-1777) was the golden age for the color pink. Pastel colors became very fashionable in all the courts of Europe during this time.  Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), the mistress of King Louis XV of France, was known for wearing the color pink, often combined with light blue.  At one point in time, Ms. Pompadour had a particular tint of pink made specifically for her.

Pink ribbons or decorations were worn by young boys in 19th century England.  The men in England wore red uniforms and since boys were considered small men, boys wore pink.

Pink became much bolder, brighter and more assertive in the 20th century and 1931, the color “Shocking Pink” was introduced.

As one of the most common colors of flowers, pink serves to attract the insects and birds that are necessary for pollination.

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  • In the pink – To be in top form, in good health, in good condition.
  • To see pink elephants – To hallucinate from alcoholism.
  • Pink slip – To be given a pink slip means to be fired or dismissed from a job. First recorded in 1915 in the United States.
  • Pink-collar worker – Persons working in jobs conventionally regarded as  “women’s work.”
  • Pink Money –  the pink pound or pink dollar is an economic term which refers to the spending power of the LGBT community.
  • Tickled pink – means extremely pleased.

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HOW TO OBSERVE

The most apparent way to celebrate is to wear pink.  Enjoy foods and beverages that are pink.  Give a donation to any of the charities that use the color pink.  Use #NationalPinkDay in social media.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the creator and origin of National Pink Day.

 

 

 

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Dad’s Day 2018

Pray3

Daily Prayer for June 17

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15, NIV

Lord our God, we come into your presence and bow down before you, the Almighty. We come before you and repent, believing in you and in your will to save us. Your will to save goes out over the whole world, over the whole godless world, that all may repent and be redeemed. Grant us the thoughts of your heart so that we may begin to understand your will. We dedicate ourselves to you, the holy, just, righteous, and merciful God. Grant that we may be your children, led and guided by you every day. Turn our hearts to you so that you can make us more and more as you want us to be. Turn our hearts to you until your goal of atonement and redemption is reached through the quiet working of your almighty power. Amen.

 

Why Dads Matter

And Moms Don’t Toss Babies

Glenn T. Stanton

In the passenger lounge of the Kansas City airport some years ago, I saw the most amazing thing: an infant flying up above a dividing wall, levitating for just a second, then dropping back down behind the wall. I couldn’t look away; it happened again. And again, and again. I surmised one of two things. Either they have flying babies in Kansas City, or this baby was being tossed a couple of feet above head height by someone. And dollars to donuts, it was bound to be a father or grandfather doing the tossing.

I walked around a corner in order to see the event in full and sure enough, it was a “good ol’ boy” American father doing the throwing, with baby loving every bit of it. Not by coincidence, mom was nowhere in sight.

On a recent trip to Asia, I turned on Chinese television, not able to understand a word. But I did understand what I saw in a commercial, and I saw the same thing happening in parks as I walked to my meetings. Fathers and grandpas were throwing their little ones into the air, to the children’s immense delight and happiness (assuming that giggles have the same meaning across cultures). Apparently, this startling dad behavior is universal.

Consider this from the perspective of the baby, for whom the challenge of trying to figure out this interesting world is a full-time job. Every baby who has ever taken flight in such a way learned an essential life lesson. I call it the “scary world–safe world” experience.

When a baby – boy or girl – is thrown into the air the first few times, what does he or she do? You know, because you’ve seen it yourself, and in fact likely experienced it yourself way back when. The children gasp and hold their breath, eyes wide as quarters. With my children, I’ve often caused and seen that look of sheer terror.

First lesson learned? The child is realizing that the world is a scary place. (This is not a lesson he or she is likely to learn from mom, because moms are not into scaring their children; usually they are the comforters.) But just as quickly as the child feels that fear coming, gravity kicks in and he or she always comes back down, safely into the strong hands of dad.

Second lesson learned? The child learns the world can be a safe place in dad’s hands. He or she experiences two very raw and deeply instructive human emotions. At one point, the child’s whole being screams out, “Holy cannoli, this world is a dang scary place and I can’t seem to trust anyone to take care of me!” Then, a split second later, the child feels, “Oh…good, now the world is safe and dad is there for me.”

Good fathers challenge their children to take risks while keeping them safe.

As babies, most of us have gone from being scared poop-less to giggling hysterically and begging for more. And almost always it was a male – a father, uncle, grandfather, family friend – who provided this experience, satisfying the same inborn desire that fuels the thrill-ride industry. But unlike roller coaster rides, this process is more than merely fun. It teaches the child that while scary things will come in life, you can count on dad to take care of you. This builds both confidence and comfort.

Mom is different. She mostly doesn’t feel compelled to throw babies, but rather to hold them close, offering a different kind of security. Mom’s way of comforting is essential, but it’s also less likely to build confidence – it doesn’t force the child out of his or her comfort zone. Confidence comes from taking risks and recovering safely from them. Dad’s work.

A sad story told to me by a friend – who is a professional counselor – illustrates this truth poignantly. One of his adult clients was seeing him about his lifelong struggle to trust others. The client told how when he was a boy, his father played with him one day, having him jump off the porch steps and into his arms. With each jump, his dad would take a step back, forcing the boy to jump farther and harder. With each jump, the boy was learning that he could do it – he could take chances and succeed in hitting the mark, his dad’s arms. When the father was a considerable distance from the porch, he encouraged the boy to give it all he had: “Jump one more time!” When he was in mid-air, the father stepped back a few steps, allowing his son to land right on his little face on the concrete walkway. In that instant, the boy’s perception of the world changed dramatically, for life. He was hurt, crying, and terribly shaken, but the inward damage was much greater. He looked up at his father with an expression that screamed, “Why did you do that?” The dad looked sternly at the boy and said, “Just a little lesson, son. Nevertrust anyone.”

And that is exactly what the boy grew up to do. His inability to trust others plagued him well into late adulthood.

Fathers who challenge their children to take risks while keeping them safe give them an irreplaceable gift. They encourage their children to push themselves, to climb higher, to run faster, to throw harder, to not give up on a problem, to move beyond fear. Moms, meanwhile, teach caution: “Please be careful. Not so high!” Children need both lessons.

Even in an age when we claim to have evolved beyond narrow gender stereotypes, fathers know their children need them. A national newspaper featured an ­experimental parenting co-op of four homosexual adults: two lesbians, their sperm-donor friend, and his gay partner. The foursome had one child and were expecting another. The interviewing journalist asked them whether, given their unique parenting arrangement, they ever had conflicts on how to raise the three-year-old child. The sperm-donor father spoke up, saying he believed the biological mother had a tendency to pamper the little boy too much. “When he falls down,” he explained, “she wants to rush over and make sure he is okay. I know he will be fine.” He wanted his boy to learn to trust in his own ability to solve his own problems – a crucial part of growing up. Like most dads, he was not as inclined as mom to provide an immediate answer, preferring to hold back and let the child figure it out.

In this instance, however, when the journalist probed how the four adults resolved such disagreements, the father sheepishly explained that since he was not a legal parent he just kept quiet. As a result of his silence, this child is missing out on a vital life experience. What’s more, this man knows that the boy is being robbed of something important, thanks to a fathering nature that still exists regardless of any attempt to transcend seemingly old-fashioned male and female roles.

Self-Control

The benefits that a mother and a father can provide their children extend to learning self-control. Consider roughhousing. Moms often teach self-control by setting absolute rules on wild behavior in the house, with slightly less rigid rules applying outdoors. This is good. Children need to learn that there are not only an inside voice and an outside voice, but also inside and outside behaviors.

Fathers, however, are more likely to rough it up both in and outside the house. And when they wrestle with their children, the little ones are likely to get so intoxicated with the excitement that they will take it up a notch to increase the buzz. “It’s all fun and games till someone loses an eye” – but with dad, that’s only true up to a point. The fun stops quickly when he catches a little swinging foot or fist solidly in the daddy zone. Generally, this is the moment when dad initiates a firm talk about self-control. Usually it only takes a couple of such instances before junior gets the message. Boys with a good dad learn how to be physical while keeping proper self-control and considering others.

Dads and Pro-Social Behavior

Is there any community that is proud of its high gang activity? Is there any community that mourns its low teen-pregnancy rate and wishes that its young ladies would get out there more and mix it up? Moms and dads teach their sons and daughters universal virtues to combat these problems, but in different ways.

Boys generally have a naturally high level of aggression. They like to break things, rule them, show others who’s boss. Every boy in every culture must learn how to manage this natural male aggression in socially constructive ways. Boys typically do so by receiving correction, acceptance, and encouragement from older men – whether through sports, in the military, by going hunting, or by building things that benefit others.

When a boy goes over the top – driving too fast, burning things, being aggressive toward others – the men, starting with dad, step in and tell him to bring it down a notch. On the other hand, if the boy is reticent or timid, the men will throw him into the middle of the action. In either scenario, the youngster eventually earns the respect and acceptance of the men around him. When a boy misses out on this because there is no dad to help him navigate through the curious world of the male, he may turn either hyperviolent or terribly passive.

Too often, the result is gangs. Gang members typically don’t have a father to guide them and to let them know that they measure up and can respect themselves. In response, these boys make sure the world recognizes them – by engaging in conscienceless physical violence, intimidation, sexual dominance and opportunism, and foolish risk-taking. Mothers can help curb such behavior by their disapproval and broken hearts, but the most powerful and direct cure is an involved dad.

Girls can be violent as well, and they too will desire the attention of the opposite sex. Young women who have been mothered and fathered well are dramatically less likely to become victims of their own emotions and sexuality. A young girl who is sexually healthy is one who has learned what it’s like to be properly loved and cared for by a good man. She learns this first and foremost from her father. To such a girl, a man is not a mystery, and so she is less likely to fall for the manipulative advances of opportunistic males.

Dads and Language Development

Even in terms of language ability, mothers and fathers make different yet essential contributions to a child’s development. A mom is more likely to connect verbally with her children at their own level, using words, phrases, and tones of voice that allow for immediate understanding. Dad’s way is different, less tailored to the child’s own speech and often seemingly less successful. I often noticed this when our children were young. Our child would fall, skin her leg, and start crying. Mom would say, “My goodness, you have a terrible boo-boo.” Dad’s response might be: “That’s quite an abrasion, kid.” Dad’s way provides a vocabulary lesson. In addition, fathers are also more likely to communicate with non-verbal cues, grunts, and facial expressions. Girls and boys who grow up learning from their fathers will be better able to communicate with other males as they enter school and the work world.

Not every man needs to be a stereotypical alpha male in order to be a good dad. Nor do mothers need to be the model of June Cleaver. As I explain in my book Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity, there are a hundred different ways to be a good man and a good woman. Compare Payton Manning and Yo-Yo Ma: two very different ways of being real men. Or contrast Margaret Thatcher and Jacqueline Kennedy: two very different ways of being undeniably female.

There is indeed a universal male nature, just as there is a female nature. If the Western world’s effort to de-gender our children has taught us anything, it’s that gender difference is far more than just a social construct.

The reality of distinct male and female natures extends far beyond the bedroom and bathroom. It shows itself on the playground, in the community, at the school, and on the street. Both a man and a woman are required for the creation of a new child, and both are equally indispensable for rearing that child. This holds true no matter what continent we live in, or in what century. To deny it is delusional. By building families and a culture that affirm the importance of both fathers and mothers, we can give our children – all of them – the childhood which they are entitled to, which they deserve, and which they require.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

two feathersWhat does the Lord ultimately want from us? Our hearts.…God’s grace is always given to a heart that seeks him, and when relief comes, your heart will be flooded with more love, and you will feel liberated from everything that binds you and keeps you from being genuine. You will be truly joyful – you will be able to freely give or withhold whatever is required by the Spirit. You will no longer feel the need to measure up to anything or anyone, because your love for God, to whom you belong, will make you stand firm.…Happy and secure are those who have given their whole heart to God. How simple this is if we but look to Jesus, God’s Son and our brother, whose pure heart reaches out to us.

Source: The God Who Heals

 

 

 

Statue de San Giuseppe Cafasso | José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro

Saint Joseph Cafasso

Saint of the Day for June 17

(January 15, 1811 – June 23, 1860)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun17.mp3

 

Saint Joseph Cafasso’s story

Even as a young man, Joseph loved to attend Mass and was known for his humility and fervor in prayer. After his ordination, he was assigned to a seminary in Turin. There he worked especially against the spirit of Jansenism—an excessive preoccupation with sin and damnation. He used the works of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Alphonsus Liguori to moderate the rigorism popular at the seminary.

Joseph recommended membership in the Secular Franciscan Order to priests. He urged devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and encouraged daily Communion. In addition to his teaching duties, Joseph was an excellent preacher, confessor, and retreat master. Noted for his work with condemned prisoners, he helped many of them die at peace with God.

Joseph urged one of his former pupils—Saint John Bosco—to establish the Salesians congregation to work with the youth of Turin. Joseph Cafasso died in 1860, and was canonized in 1947. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 23.


Reflection

Devotion to the Eucharist gave energy to all Joseph’s other activities. Long prayer before the Blessed Sacrament has been characteristic of many Catholics who have lived out the Gospel well: Saint Francis, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, and Saint Teresa of Calcutta among them.


Saint Joseph Cafasso is the Patron Saint of:

Prisoners
Prussia

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Always? Always!’

Illustration of John 8:29 NLT — [Jesus said,] "And the one who sent me is with me — he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him."

Key Thought

The premarital counselor gave me this advice: “Never say ‘you never,’ ‘you always,’ or ‘you’re just like your mother.'” None of us does “always” very well! We usually use it to exaggerate and emphasize something, or we use it as a put-down. But for Jesus, “always” fits. He does what is pleasing to God no matter the public response or the price there is to pay. He is obedient, submissive, and sacrificial in doing God’s will. And Jesus is our model, our goal, and the perfect one toward whom the Spirit leads us. While we may not live up to “always,” let’s shoot always to do what pleases our heavenly Father!

Today’s Prayer

Righteous Father, please forgive my sins. I know they disappoint and disgust you. Thank you for providing your forgiveness for me through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for my sins. Be with me and empower me through your Holy Spirit as I seek always to please you, not out of a sense of guilt or fear, but out of a deep sense of love, joy, appreciation, and praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

 

 

 

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Promises Fulfilled

Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well! Sing to it!’
Numbers 21:17

This well was famous in the wilderness because it was the subject of a promise: “That is the well of which the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together, so that I may give them water.'” The people needed water, and it was promised by their gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the covenant the Lord has pledged Himself to give us all we require.

The well also became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed out, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw the crystal fountain bubbling up, the music grew more joyful. In similar fashion, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsting? Then let us not grumble but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need not bear it—the promise indicates a well; so let us be of good heart, and look for it.

Moreover, the well was the center of prayer. “Spring up, O well.” What God has promised to give, we must seek after, or we show that we have neither desire nor faith. This evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality but a channel of grace to our souls. May God the Holy Spirit work in us with all His mighty power, filling us with all the fullness of God. Lastly, the well was the object of effort. “The nobles of the people delved, with the scepter and with their staffs.” The Lord wants us to be active in obtaining grace. Our implements are ill suited for digging in the sand, but we must use them to the best of our ability. Prayer must not be neglected; the gathering of God’s people must not be forsaken; ordinances must not be set aside. The Lord will give us His peace most generously, but not on the path of laziness. Let us, then, stir ourselves to seek Him in whom we find all our fresh and flowing springs.

 

 

Learning to Stand
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
June 17, 2018

…”Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today….” – Exodus 14:13

The Israelites had just left 400 years of slavery in Egypt. They had fled to the desert, but they had come to a dead end at the Red Sea. Word reached them that Pharaoh had changed his mind. He was sending his troops to recapture the Israelites. They cried out to their leader Moses, complaining that he had brought them that far only to die in the desert.

Learning when to move and when to stand is the greatest challenge for a workplace believer. We are trained for action. We are not trained to sit idly and wait. We are trained to solve problems, not wait for them to resolve themselves. However, God says there are times to wait. We are to wait until He says go. If we go before He says go, we likely will make our situation worse. If the Israelites had attempted to cross the Red Sea before it parted, they would have drowned. If they had fled north to try to avoid the Egyptians, God would not have moved in a miraculous way. God cannot work on our behalf if we continually try to solve our problem when He has instructed us to stand still. Standing still is sometimes the greatest action we can do, although it is the most difficult thing to do in the Christian walk.

Stand still when He says stand and see the deliverance of the Lord.

 

 

FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day is observed annually on the third Sunday in June.  This day is set aside to honor the role that fathers play in the family structure and society.

After the success of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day observances began to appear.  The road to this national observance was not easy.

  • The first recorded celebration of Father’s Day happened after the Monograph Mining Disaster, which killed 361 men and left around 1,000 children fatherless in December 1907.  Grace Golden Clayton suggested to her pastor Robert Thomas Webb a day honoring all those fathers.  On July 5th, 1908, a gathering in honor of these men took place at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church, in Fairmont, West Virginia.
  • In 1910, the YMCA in Spokane, Washington recruited several clergymen with the help of Sonora Smart Dodd to honor fathers throughout the city.  The date was set for June 5th but was later changed to June 19th (the 3rd Sunday in June) as many clergymen needed more time to prepare.
  • Harry C. Meek, a member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he first had the idea for Father’s Day in 1915.  Meek argued that the third Sunday of June was chosen because it was his birthday.  The Lions Club has named him “Originator of Father’s Day.”  Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.
  • After a visit to Spokane in 1916 to speak at a Father’s Day celebration, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted fearing that the observance would become too commercialized.
  • President Calvin Coolidge stopped short of issuing a national proclamation in 1924
  • Sonora Smart Dodd continued to work to make Father’s Day a national observance.  In 1938, she collaborated with the Father’s Day Council, a group of New York Men’s Wear Retailers for the commercial promotion of the observance.  Many Americans resisted the holiday for decades because of these attempts to commercialize the day.
  • In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June.
  • President Richard Nixon signed into law a permanent national holiday in 1972 over 50 years after Mother’s Day came into existence.

Father’s Day is now celebrated in many countries around the world.

 

 

 

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Thanks, Dad!

 

 

 

Friday Follies…

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Daily Prayer for June 15

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. John 1:14–16, NIV

Lord God, help us who are allowed to hear your Word. Help us come with all our hearts to the Savior, who leads us into your arms. Hear our pleading and let your countenance shine over the world. Send a new age soon, a new salvation to the earth, to the glory of your name. Show us that what we have learned about you is the truth and that we may live in the truth and find the way through to heaven, to the glory of your name. Hear us, O Lord our God. Often it seems that you are far away. But we know that our voices still reach you and that those roused by your Holy Spirit will become your workers for the Lord Jesus. Send your Spirit soon, O Lord God. Send the Comforter, who leads us into all light and all truth. We entrust ourselves and our daily lives to you. We want to be faithful. Help us to be your children, to remember at every step that we belong to you, Lord God. No matter how dark it is on earth, help us remember that we are with you, your children in eternity. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

new ornamental leavesEternity is a very radical thought, and thus a matter of inwardness. Whenever the reality of the eternal is affirmed, the present becomes something entirely different from what it was apart from it. This is precisely why human beings fear it (under the guise of fearing death). You often hear about particular governments that fear the restless elements of society. I prefer to say that the entire age is a tyrant that lives in fear of the one restless element: the thought of eternity. It does not dare to think it. Why? Because it crumbles under – and avoids like anything – the weight of inwardness.

Source: Provocations

 

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Proverbs 23:24

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

The greatest gift I can give my father, and my Father, is to be righteous in my heart and life.

My Prayer…

Holy and righteous Father, may my life please you and bring honor to my father and his name. I know that if I please you, it will make his heart glad. Help me as I seek to know you and serve you in ways that show your character in my life. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

<em>Portrait of Mère Marguerite d'Youville (1701-1771)</em> | James Duncan

Saint Marguerite d’Youville

Saint of the Day for June 15

(October 15, 1701 – December 23, 1771)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun15.mp3

 

Saint Marguerite d’Youville’s Story

We learn compassion from allowing our lives to be influenced by compassionate people, by seeing life from their perspectives, and reconsidering our own values.

Born in Varennes, Canada, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais had to interrupt her schooling at the age of 12 to help her widowed mother. Eight years later she married François d’Youville; they had six children, four of whom died young. Despite the fact that her husband gambled, sold liquor illegally to Native Americans, and treated her indifferently, she cared for him compassionately until his death in 1730.

Even though she was caring for two small children and running a store to help pay off her husband’s debts, Marguerite still helped the poor. Once her children were grown, she and several companions rescued a Quebec hospital that was in danger of failing. She called her community the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal; the people called them the “Grey Nuns” because of the color of their habits. In time, a proverb arose among the poor people of Montreal, “Go to the Grey Nuns; they never refuse to serve.” In time, five other religious communities traced their roots to the Grey Nuns.

The General Hospital in Montreal became known as the Hôtel Dieu (House of God) and set a standard for medical care and Christian compassion. When the hospital was destroyed by fire in 1766, Mère Marguerite knelt in the ashes, led the Te Deum—a hymn to God’s providence in all circumstancesand began the rebuilding process. She fought the attempts of government officials to restrain her charity, and established the first foundling home in North America.

Pope Saint John XXIII, who beatified Mère Marguerite in 1959, called her the “Mother of Universal Charity.” She was canonized in 1990. Her Liturgical Feast Day is October 16.


Reflection

Saints deal with plenty of discouragement, plenty of reasons to say, “Life isn’t fair” and wonder where God is in the rubble of their lives. We honor saints like Marguerite because they show us that with God’s grace and our cooperation, suffering can lead to compassion rather than bitterness.


Other Saints of the Day for June 15 are Servant of God Orlando Catanii and Saint Vitus.

Servant of God Orlando Catanii’s Story

An unexpected encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi in 1213 was to forever change—and enrich—the life of Count Orlando of Chiusi.

On the day a festival was being organized for a huge throng, Saint Francis, already well known for his sanctity, delivered a dramatic address on the dangers of worldly pleasures. One of the guests, Orlando (also known as Roland) was so taken by Francis’ words that he sought out the saint for advice on how best to lead a life pleasing to God.

A short time later, Francis visited Count Orlando in his own palace, located at the foot of Mount La Verna. Francis spoke again of the dangers of a life of wealth and comfort. The words prompted Orlando to rearrange his life entirely according to the principles outlined by Francis. Furthermore, he resolved to share his wealth by placing at Francis’ disposal all of Mount La Verna, which belonged to Orlando. Francis, who found the mountain’s wooded recesses and many caves and ravines especially suitable for quiet prayer, gratefully accepted the offer. Orlando immediately had a convent as well as a church built there; later, many chapels were added. In 1224, two years before the death of Francis, Mount La Verna was the location where Francis received the holy wounds of Christ, the stigmata.

In return for his generous gift, Orlando desired only to be received into the Third Order and to have Saint Francis as his spiritual director. Under Francis’ guidance, Orlando completely detached himself from worldly goods. He zealously performed acts of charity as a Christian nobleman. After his happy death, Orlando was laid to rest in the convent church on Mount La Verna.


Reflection

Even Francis, Lady Poverty’s favorite knight, needed a suitable place to pray. Captivated by Francis’ preaching, Orlando restructured his life. One of the possessions he parted with was Mount La Verna which he offered to the Little Poor Man. There, Francis found the solitude he sought. In one mountainside cave, he was branded with Christ’s own wounds. We may not be as wealthy as Orlando, but we have enough to spare. Only God can know who in Lady Poverty’s realm will be nurtured in sanctity because we imitate Orlando in generosity.

Saint Vitus’ Story

According to legend, Saint Vitus converted to Christianity at the age of 12. Valerian, the administrator of Sicily, tried to dissuade him, but was unsuccessful. Many miracles were attributed to Saint Vitus, including the cure of Diocletian’s son.

Accused of sorcery, Saint Vitus was subjected to various tortures but was miraculously saved. He was eventually martyred in Lucania.

A great devotion to Vitus developed in Germany when his relics were moved to Saxony in 836. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.


Reflection

Legends rise up about various saints and these can get confused with the facts. But what is most important is that there was a man names Vitus who lived and died for the faith. Some of the other details pale in light of his sacrifice.


Saint Vitus is the Patron Saint of:

Comedians
Dancers
Epilepsy

What Jesus Did! ‘Die in Your Sins’

Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?” Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”

Key Thought

Jesus came to deliver us from sin and its consequences. God sent Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Jesus makes the importance of his coming clear: Those who die in their sins will not come to be with him in heaven. Unless people believe that he is God with us, they will die in their sins. (Actually, Jesus said “unless you believe that I AM,” using the name of God from Exodus 3:13-14“who I claim to be” was added by the translators for clarity.) Jesus came from God to bring us back to God. He is not from this world and is not bound by this world. He is from above and will return to take us back home with him.

Today’s Prayer

Father, thank you for my faith and for all those who helped me come to faith. I know that my trust in Jesus as your Son and my Savior has changed my eternal destiny. Thank you for giving me a way to escape my sin and its guilt and stand before you as your righteous child. I know that these gifts come from your love and grace. Thank you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

A Year with Jesus: ‘Risk-taking & Faith-filled’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

What is the greatest obstacle that you face?

What seemingly insurmountable forces are at work against you?

Keep these two questions in mind as you read the verses below about Saul, the persecutor who became My great proclaimer of the gospel especially to Gentiles.

My disciples were growing in number and impacting areas outside of Jerusalem and Judea. They shared My message everywhere they went. Persecution was mounted against them with the martyrdom of Stephen and drove them out of the original areas of proclamation. In the process, Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles were becoming My disciples. In response to this growth, the Jewish powers aligned against My people sent Saul of Tarsus into neighboring lands to arrest Jews who believed in Me. This same Saul was the one who oversaw the execution of Stephen (Acts 7:59-60Acts 8:1-3). He was sent to bring My disciples in Damascus back to Jerusalem in chains to face imprisonment, persecution, and possible death (Acts 9:1-2).

The people of Damascus knew he was coming. They knew what he had done. They knew what he was supposed to do in their city. If you were a believer in Damascus, what would you have done?

You would have prayed for deliverance!

And what would you have expected from your prayers?

You might have expected deliverance, but probably not in the form in which deliverance came! When faced with a great obstacle, most believers would never expect that obstacle to become their leading advocate and ally in sharing My good news. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable force, most would not expect that antagonistic force to become the great force for reaching the nations with My grace. However, I answered their prayers about Saul, their persecutor, by making him My spokesman to the Gentiles. Saul met Me on the road to Damascus. He became a believer. Later, he became the great apostle to the Gentiles you also know as Paul!

We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are the sovereign God! Our ways are not your ways. Our thoughts are not your thoughts. Our plans are not your plans. But even in Our sovereignty, We do not force men or women to do what We want them to do. They must choose to do it. Saul had to choose to believe. He chose to risk everything to follow Me. He chose to entrust himself to the very people he came to persecute. Ananias of Damascus, with some extra reassurance, chose to participate in My plan by reaching out to Saul. He knew the reports of all that Saul had done and was planning to do in Damascus. Ananias had to risk his safety, his freedom, and his very life to obey Me. Both Saul and Ananias responded to My call with obedience. Not only were their own lives very different from that day forward, but My people in Damascus, Syria, Phoenicia, Samaria, and Galilee were spared the rampaging persecution of Saul.

Saul paid a high cost. While he was accepted by believers in Damascus, Jewish opposition soon mounted to his presence in the city. To escape from those who wanted to take his life, he was lowered in a basket through an opening the city wall. Saul returned to Jerusalem, where the church received him reluctantly. He was finally accepted because of the influence of Barnabas. However, Jewish opposition to Saul mounted in Jerusalem, and the church did not have peace until he left and went home to Tarsus. He had lived for an extended time in Arabia and Tarsus before he re-entered the life of My church as an apostle (Galatians 1:13-24Galatians 2:1-2).

Saul went from being a legendary persecutor of My disciples in Jerusalem, which gave him favored status among the Jewish religious leaders, to being an exile as far as the leaders were concerned. He gave up his favor, status, and influence with the Jewish religious establishment to become a Christian convert living largely away from the church in Jerusalem. All of this high cost was My preparation for him to become the most influential missionary the world has ever known.

I used Ananias to remove both the physical and spiritual scales from Saul’s eyes. Ananias was privileged to hear Saul confess Me as Lord and Christ and then baptize him. But if Saul had not given his life to Me, Ananias could have lost his life trying to do what I asked him to do. He demonstrated great faith in the face of great risk!

So here are some points I want you to consider while you read this powerful story of risk, change, salvation, and mission.

First, I can turn things around in ways you would never expect; so pray! Pray in faith. Pray with confidence expecting Me to act.

Second, great movements led by the Holy Spirit often begin with a few people risking in faith to do what I have asked them to do. You never know how much hangs in the balance when I ask you to obey Me. Please know that what you do with what I ask of you matters immensely!

Third, you live in a time where many offer an easy form of Christianity. This easy, watered-down pseudo-faith doesn’t require action, demonstrable change, or taking risks. It is not real faith. That is why so many languish in lukewarm Christianity. I am calling you, along with them, to risk-taking and action-oriented discipleship. As you read this amazing story of Saul and Ananias, please let the Holy Spirit stir your heart to follow Me with passion and with a willingness to take risks in faith.

Verses to Live

So much hangs in the balance with the decisions of two people in the account below. Will Saul do a complete U-turn and believe in Me and live for Me and claim as family those he had gone to persecute? Will Ananias risk his freedom and his life to save the man who had come to put him in chains and haul him to Jerusalem to face persecution? Read this story with fresh eyes and an open heart. Follow these two men into risk-taking, faith-filled, and vibrant discipleship!

… Saul — this fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord’s disciples: he went to the high priest in Jerusalem for authorization to purge all the synagogues in Damascus of followers of the way of Jesus. His plan was to arrest and chain any of Jesus’ followers — women as well as men — and transport them back to Jerusalem. He traveled north toward Damascus with a group of companions.

Imagine this: Suddenly a light flashes from the sky around Saul, and he falls to the ground at the sound of a voice.

The Lord:

Saul, Saul, why are you attacking Me?

Saul:

Lord, Who are You?

Then he hears these words:

The Lord:

I am Jesus. I am the One you are attacking. Get up. Enter the city. You will learn there what you are to do.

His other traveling companions just stand there, paralyzed, speechless because they, too, heard the voice; but there is nobody in sight. Saul rises to his feet, his eyes wide open, but he can’t see a thing. So his companions lead their blind friend by the hand and take him into Damascus. He waits for three days — completely blind — and does not eat a bite or drink a drop of anything.

Meanwhile, in Damascus a disciple named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord Jesus spoke to him.

The Lord:

Ananias.

Ananias:

Here I am, Lord.

The Lord:

Get up and go to Straight Boulevard. Go to the house of Judas, and inquire about a man from Tarsus, Saul by name. He is praying to Me at this very instant. He has had a vision — a vision of a man by your name who will come, lay hands on him, and heal his eyesight.

Ananias:

Lord, I know whom You’re talking about. I’ve heard rumors about this fellow. He’s an evil man and has caused great harm for Your special people in Jerusalem. I’ve heard that he has been authorized by the religious authorities to come here and chain everyone who associates with Your name.

The Lord:

Yes, but you must go! I have chosen him to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well. I have much to show him, including how much he must suffer for My name.

So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying. He laid his hands on Saul and called to him.

Ananias:

Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, sent me so you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

At that instant, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see. So he got up, received the ceremonial washing of baptism identifying him as a disciple, ate some food (remember, he had not eaten for three days), and regained his strength. He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days. Then he went into the very synagogues he had intended to purge, proclaiming,

Saul:

Jesus is God’s Son!

Obviously this amazed everybody, and the buzz spread.

The People:

Isn’t he the man who caused so much trouble in Jerusalem for everyone identified with Jesus? Didn’t he come here to arrest followers of Jesus and bring them in chains to the religious authorities? Now he’s switched sides and is preaching Jesus?

As time passed, Saul’s confidence grew stronger and stronger, so much so that he debated with the Jews of Damascus and made an irrefutable case that Jesus is, in fact, God’s Anointed, the Liberating King.

They didn’t like being confounded like this; so after several days, the Jews plotted to assassinate Saul. But he learned of the plot. He knew they were keeping the city gates under constant surveillance, so they could follow and kill him when he left. To save Saul, the disciples came up with a plan of their own. During the night, they put Saul in a basket and lowered him by ropes from an opening in the wall of the city rather than passing through the gates. Their plan worked, and he returned to Jerusalem.

He tried to join the disciples there, but they didn’t think he was sincere.

Only one person accepted Saul as a genuine disciple, Barnabas, who became Saul’s advocate to the apostles. He told the whole story of what happened in Damascus, from Saul’s vision and message from the Lord to his transformation into a confident proclaimer of the name of Jesus. Finally they accepted Saul and gave him access to their community, and he continued to speak confidently in the name of the Lord. He dialogued — and argued — with a group of Greek-speaking Jews. That didn’t go well either, because soon they were plotting to kill him also. His fellow believers helped him escape by bringing him to Caesarea and sending him to his hometown, Tarsus.

And so the church enjoyed a period of peace and growth throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The disciples lived in deep reverence for the Lord, they experienced the strong comfort of the Holy Spirit, and their numbers increased.
(Acts 9:1-31)

Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me for my times of lukewarm faith. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to live with passion and in risk-taking, faith-filled discipleship. I want to follow Jesus, willing to obey and honor You no matter the cost. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

He Sets an Open Door

. . . Who opens and no one will shut.
Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise, and before every believing soul He sets an open door, which no man or devil will be able to close. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, do you carry this key close to you, or are you trusting in some dishonest locksmith who will fail you in the end?

Pay attention to a parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and He has proclaimed to all the world that no one will enter except those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and each one brings the flower that he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence and do not enter into the festive halls. Some are carrying the poisonous plant of superstition, others the flaunting poppies of empty religion, and some the hemlock of self-righteousness; but these are not precious to the King, and so those carrying them are shut out of the pearly gates.

My soul, have you gathered the rose of Sharon? Do you wear the lily of the valley on your lapel constantly? If so, when you arrive at the gates of heaven you will know its value, for you only have to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open and without a moment’s delay, for to that rose the Porter always opens. You will find your way with the rose of Sharon in your hand up to the throne of God Himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise, none of them can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into your hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it your all in all, and you will be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine forever, my God, my heaven, my all.

 

 

When God Speaks
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
June 15, 2018

…”The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” – Judges 6:12

Has God ever spoken directly to you in such a way that you knew that it was actually His voice speaking to you specifically? I don’t mean just an appropriate verse of Scripture, or a circumstance that seemed probable that it was God. I am talking about a situation that you know that you know it was the God of the universe speaking directly to you.

In the book Experiencing God, authors Henry Blackaby and Claude King say that one of seven important steps to experiencing God in everyday life is how God speaks to us. “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” [Henry Blackaby and Claude King, Experiencing God (Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Press, 1990), 225]

You can examine the life of every major character in the Bible and see this principle expressed in the way God worked in each of their lives.

One of the ways God speaks is through others. God often used others to speak to individuals, especially in the Old Testament when God often spoke through the prophets. This is still one of the ways He speaks today.

Several years ago I was in a church on the west coast that I had never been in before. I was in the midst of a tremendous trial. Three people prayed for me, and as they did, they began to describe a picture that was reflective of my life since I was a young Christian. It was a very accurate picture of my life. About a year later a man from Virginia prayed with me in my office. After our prayer time, he began to describe what he had just seen as a picture of my life. It was the same picture that had been described a year earlier. A year after that I was on a trip overseas and a man from England whom I had never met before came to me. He and I had a time of prayer together, and at the end of our prayer time he described a picture he had just seen in his mind while we were praying. Again, it was the same type of picture as the two previous encounters. Only this time, one element was added that was important for me to know related to what God was doing in my life at that time. When God chooses to speak into our lives through others, it can be an incredible blessing. He speaks in many ways. This is just one of them.

God desires to encourage us by speaking to us. He does this in many ways. The next time someone speaks into your life, prayerfully consider whether God is using that person to convey something important He wants you to know.

 

 

 

National Smile Power Day June 15

NATIONAL SMILE POWER DAY

June 15th is the day we observe National Smile Power Day.  This is a day for everyone to share the power of the smile.

From the good morning greeting and the first “How may I help you?” present yourself with a smile.  No matter where you are employed, job seeking, retired or looking for new horizons starting the day with a smile is certainly more empowering than a pout or grump.  Starting with a smile first is easier than trying to get there later in the day.

When you smile at someone, you are telling them that they are valued and worth the smile that you just gave them.  Smiles are moral boosters and confidence builders.

Research has proven that smiling really does increase attractiveness and likability between humans.  Smiling creates a greater trust and increased interpersonal cooperation.  Smiling at someone can help them to relax and relieve their stress while at the same time, it will make you feel right.  Smiling (even if you do not feel like it) will lift your mood and can make you a  happier person.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Challenge yourself to smile more often today.  Use a smile to disarm a tense situation, or simply smile during your daily tasks.  Use #SmilePowerDay on social media.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the creator of National Smile Power Day.

 

 

 

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Silly Saturday…

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Daily Prayer for June 9

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17, NIV

Lord our Savior, you are our Lord and our Helper. Show yourself again and again in our hearts as the Savior who is strong to help us even in difficult times. Remember the many people who sigh to you. Guide them into the protection of the almighty God. Even if they suffer pain and distress and have to go through fear and anxiety, even if they die, Lord Jesus, you are comfort and help. In everything life brings us you will show yourself as the One who does the will of God and who carries it out for us on earth. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

bfly1Are you worried because you find it so hard to believe? Don’t be surprised at the difficulty of faith, if there is some part of your life where you are consciously resisting or disobeying the commandment of Jesus. Is there some part of your life which you are refusing to surrender at his behest, some sinful passion, maybe, or some animosity, some hope, perhaps your ambition or your reason? If so, you must not be surprised that you have not received the Holy Spirit, that prayer is difficult, or that your request for faith remains unanswered….The person who disobeys cannot believe. Only if you obey can you believe.

Source: The Cost of Discipleship

 

 

 

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A Prayer from Psalm 23
By Debbie McDaniel

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:1-6

This well-known Psalm is so rich with peace and blessing for all our days. Yet often we can become so “familiar” with popular verses and chapters of God’s word, that they can almost lose the important message that He is wanting to instill within our hearts. Praying God’s words back to Him, and meditating on them verse by verse, can help us to remember his goodness, and be strengthened by his truths.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” v.1 – He leads us, He guides us, He’s always with us, and we can be assured and feel safe under His protective care.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul…” v.2-3 –  He knows where true rest and blessing are found, and leads us there, He restores, He refreshes, He brings peace and goodness.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” v. 3 – He leads us to walk in His ways, He draws us to stay close to Him and follow Him.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.” v. 4 – Though life is uncertain and we may suffer with illness, loss, or pain, our God of comfort, our Lord who holds all power over death and disease walks with us. Always. He is the only One who can take us by the hand through life’s darkest moments of suffering, bringing freedom and healing from the pain of this life, straight into glory and the hope of heaven that He has reserved for us. We never have to fear, in life or in death, for He is with us, our constant strength and Shepherd.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” v. 5 – We have a place at His table, He makes room for us, He wants us to stay close to Him. Through history, hosts were expected to protect their guests at all costs. God’s protection is real, in the midst of the traps and attacks of enemy forces, we can find security and refuge in His great care. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever face huge battles, but that He covers us with His Spirit of anointing and power, to live out our days with His strength and blessing.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” v. 6 – That word for “follow” means “to chase, to pursue.” We can be assured, He chases us today, and all our days, with His goodness and love. And even at the end of all our days here on this earth, He still has more in store, and it’s greater than we could ever imagine.

Dear God,

Thank you that you are our good Shepherd and we can trust you with our lives. Thank you for your leadership and Sovereignty. Thank you for your guidance and care in all our days. Thank you that you restore our souls, give us peace, and bring us hope in all of our tomorrows. Thank you for your protection and strength that surrounds us like a shield. Thank you that we never have to fear. Thank you for your goodness and love that follows after us, chases us, even when were unaware. Thank you Lord, that you trustworthy and able, that you are our Refuge and hope.

In You alone is rest and peace. We praise you for the assurance that we will dwell with you forever.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Matthew 7:13-14

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

The world wants a Savior but not a Lord. The New Testament is clear, a Savior who is not Lord is no Savior and no friend. If the Old Testament showed us anything, it is that God’s seemingly bizarre laws were written not for his fascination but for his people’s preservation. Let’s not only call Jesus Lord this week, let’s live in a way that shows he controls our lives and his Spirit produces our character.

My Prayer…

Most Holy Lord, please take control of my life and my will that I may be wholly yours, not just in word, but in thought and in deed as well. Amen.

 

 

 

Detail | Tryiptych of Saints George, John of Damascus, Ephrem the Syrian | Unknown

Saint Ephrem

Saint of the Day for June 9

(c. 306 – June 9, 373)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun09.mp3

 

Saint Ephrem’s Story

Poet, teacher, orator, and defender of the faith, Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a doctor of the Church. He took upon himself the special task of opposing the many false doctrines rampant at his time, always remaining a true and forceful defender of the Catholic Church.

Born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, he was baptized as a young man and became famous as a teacher in his native city. When the Christian emperor had to cede Nisibis to the Persians, Ephrem fled as a refugee to Edessa, along with many other Christians. He is credited with attracting great glory to the biblical school there. He was ordained a deacon but declined becoming a priest. Ephrem was said to have avoided presbyteral consecration by feigning madness!

He had a prolific pen, and his writings best illumine his holiness. Although he was not a man of great scholarship, his works reflect deep insight and knowledge of the Scriptures. In writing about the mysteries of humanity’s redemption, Ephrem reveals a realistic and humanly sympathetic spirit and a great devotion to the humanity of Jesus. It is said that his poetic account of the Last Judgment inspired Dante.

It is surprising to read that he wrote hymns against the heretics of his day. He would take the popular songs of the heretical groups and using their melodies, compose beautiful hymns embodying orthodox doctrine. Ephrem became one of the first to introduce song into the Church’s public worship as a means of instruction for the faithful. His many hymns have earned him the title “Harp of the Holy Spirit.”

Ephrem preferred a simple, austere life, living in a small cave overlooking the city of Edessa. It was here that he died around 373.


Reflection

Many Catholics still find singing in church a problem, probably because of the rather individualistic piety that they inherited. Yet singing has been a tradition of both the Old and the New Testaments. It is an excellent way of expressing and creating a community spirit of unity as well as of joy. An ancient historian testifies that Ephrem’s hymns “lent luster to the Christian assemblies.” We need some modern Ephrems—and cooperating singers—to do the same for our Christian assemblies today.


Another Saint of the Day for June 9 is Saint Columba.

(c. 521 – June 9, 597)


 Saint Columba’s Story

St. Columba was most likely born  in Donegal Ireland. He moved to Leinster where he studied under Saint Finnian of Moville. He was ordained in 551 and spent 15 years setting up various foundations throughout Ireland. He left Ireland at the age of 42 and went to the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland where he and his disciples built a monastery which was to become world famous.

With Saints Canice and Comgall, he spread the Gospel to the Picts. He is credited with developing a monastic rule of life which was followed in many places until Saint Benedict’s Rule of life was introduced and became more common. He is also known as Colm, Colum, or Columcil. He died at Iona.


Saint Columba is the Patron Saint of:

Ireland
Poets

What Jesus Did! ‘Rescue and Righteousness’

Illustration of John 8:7-9 NLT — "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"

Key Thought

A lynch mob doesn’t want truth. It doesn’t want redemption or righteousness either. With the shame of the woman, the Jewish leaders had tasted blood. Now they planned to press on until their desire was satiated. It appeared as if no word could hold them back. They would press Jesus till they had what they wanted. But then Jesus spoke a word they had not expected. It was a heaven-sent word. It was a word rooted in truth and a word that struck their very souls. They knew they were not sinless. This word of truth penetrated to the hearts of those who were mature and knew both life and law. As Jesus glanced away to write in the dust, he gave them permission to leave without being shown up. For a brief moment, righteousness triumphed over hatred and self-importance. Those who were younger followed the example of the older men, leaving the woman protected and safe with Jesus. Redemption in action. The Gospel portrayed before our very eyes. Jesus takes the hate of hell and our own sin and turns back the foe, leaving us safe and in his presence.

Today’s Prayer

How can I thank you, dear Father, for the salvation Jesus has purchased for me. Lord Jesus, thank you! The words seem so shallow and so small before your expansive grace. Use me to be a conduit of that grace to others. All glory to you, O Father who reigns above all, and to you, Lord Jesus, for you have triumphed over sin and death to rescue me. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom: Galatians 6:10

Illustration of Galatians 6:10 — Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Spiritual Warfare: ‘God Rescues Us & Carries Us in His Arms’

God’s Power for Our Battles

Illustration of Psalm 68:19-21 NLT — Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.  Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death. But God will smash the heads of his enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death. But God will smash the heads of his enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, I praise You as my Lord and Savior! Thank You for carrying me in Your arms each day and rescuing me from all my enemies. You are the God who cares for me and saves me from death. Death has no power over me now because I know I will rise from death, just as Jesus did long ago. Thank You for conquering this enemy for me. Please continue to carry me as I try each day to walk in Your ways and witness to others about Your greatness and love and power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Growing through Problems’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

The apostle Paul spoke the truth about Our — Father, Son, and Spirit’s — desire for Our new covenant people when he wrote:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)

However, it often takes time for social reality to be brought into conformity with My will. So My disciples must always seek to live the values and ethics of My kingdom even if the world doesn’t appreciate those values.

Almost everyone in the earliest days of the church was Jewish. Prejudice was a significant problem. Sometimes that prejudice manifested itself toward non-Jews coming into My spiritual family — the dominant problem addressed in Acts chapters 10-15. However, prejudice was also an issue between sub-groups within the Jewish community. In the verses below, Grecian Jews who were in Jerusalem and who had become My disciples made an accusation of discrimination. Their widows who did not speak the native language in Jerusalem were being overlooked and were going hungry while the native-speaking widows were receiving better care and more ample provision as the early Christians shared their possessions (Acts 4:32-35).

Rather than denying the accusation of prejudice or ignoring this charge of discrimination, My apostles acted very wisely. Notice what they did:

  1. Openness
    The apostles brought all the community of disciples together to discuss this issue — no secret meetings and no sweeping the problem under the rug!
  2. Calling
    The apostles pointed out that their primary calling was to proclaim the message they had received from God.
  3. Involvement
    The apostles called on the church family to be involved in the solution to this problem — more than just being open with the communication, the apostles were asking for help in selecting men to find a solution.
  4. Direction
    The apostles gave clear criteria for selecting those who would be part of the ministry team to the Grecian widows and asked the whole congregation to put forward leaders who fit this description.
  5. Participation
    The congregation of believers selected seven men who fit the criteria of being full of the Spirit and wisdom.
  6. Empathy
    The congregation recognized the need for those who could understand both the language of the Grecian widows and also their plight as hungry foreigners in the homeland of their ancestors. So they chose men who had Greek names — one was even a non-Jewish proselyte — and who would be familiar with the Greek language these widows spoke.
  7. Appointment
    The apostles publicly commissioned or ordained these men for service and publicly prayed for their ministry.
  8. Growth
    The problem was overcome, the message continued to spread, and many came to faith in Me.
  9. Equipping
    Some of these men selected to serve the widows later became very important leaders in other ways.
  10. Focus
    The apostles devoted themselves to their calling — prayer and sharing My message — while encouraging and equipping others to engage in ministry.

Before you read the verses below, review the ten principles of great leadership and congregational problem-solving that are listed above. These are great principles to put into practice among My people today. Every problem has a potential for disaster or development. Led by the Holy Spirit, the apostles turned this potentially crippling problem into an opportunity for the development and growth of My disciples.

Verses to Live

Imagine how unaddressed prejudice could have wrecked the growth of My early church. However, the Spirit’s guidance through Godly leaders turned around this potential disaster. Instead of disaster, the actions of My leading disciples became the springboard for greater growth. It also provided a new group of leaders the opportunity for development and service.

Things were going well, and the number of disciples was growing. But a problem arose. The Greek-speaking believers became frustrated with the Hebrew-speaking believers. The Greeks complained that the Greek-speaking widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. The twelve convened the entire community of disciples.

The Twelve:

We could solve this problem ourselves, but that wouldn’t be right. We need to focus on proclaiming God’s message, not on distributing food. So, friends, find seven respected men from the community of faith. These men should be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. Whomever you select we will commission to resolve this matter so we can maintain our focus on praying and serving — not meals — but the message.

The whole community — Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking — was very pleased with this plan, so they chose seven men: Stephen (a man full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (a Greek-speaking convert from Antioch). These men were presented to the apostles, who then prayed for them and commissioned them by laying their hands on them. The message of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples continued to increase significantly there in Jerusalem. Even priests in large numbers became obedient to the faith.
(Acts 6:1-7)

Response in Prayer

O Father, please bless our leaders in Your church today. Give us the courage to select leaders based on their Spirit-led wisdom and their ability to serve, with empathy, those who need to be served. I pray that Your leaders can be open and courageous in dealing with problems like prejudice, division, and hunger among Your people. Help us, O LORD, to demonstrate Your love for all people in the way we treat each other. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Hunt for Truth

Search the Scriptures.
John 5:39

The Greek word translated search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, the kind men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in pursuit of game. We must not be content with giving a superficial glance to one or two chapters, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the meaning of the Word.

Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, indeed, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian declared, “I adore the fullness of the Scriptures.” The person who merely skims the Book of God will not profit from it; we must dig and mine until we obtain the treasure. The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand to be searched. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur—who shall dare to treat them casually? To despise them is to despise the God who wrote them.

God forbid that any of us should allow our Bibles to become witnesses against us in the great day of account. The Word of God will repay searching. God does not ask us to sift through a mountain of chaff with only here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is sifted corn—we have only to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student.

It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye, it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. There is no merchandise like the merchandise of scriptural truth. Finally, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: “They that bear witness about me.” No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, and all things. Happy are they who, in searching the Bible, discover their Savior.

 

 

 

National Donald Duck Day June 9

NATIONAL DONALD DUCK DAY

National Donald Duck Day is observed annually on June 9th.  This day commemorates the birthday of the funny animal cartoon character, Donald Duck. Donald made his first screen debut on June 9, 1934, in The Wise Little Hen.

Donald Duck usually wears a sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie and is most famous for his semi-intelligible speech along with his mischievous and irritable personality

Donald Duck has appeared in more films than any other Disney character.   Donald was also declared in 2002 by TV Guide as one of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all times.

It was in Donald’s second appearance in Orphan’s Benefit that he was introduced to his comic friend, Mickey Mouse.  Donald’s girlfriend, Daisy Duck, along with his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, were introduced shortly after that. 

In addition to animation, Donald is also known for his appearance in comic books and newspaper comic strips.

One of Donald Duck’s famous sayings is “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.”

HOW TO OBSERVE

Use  #DonaldDuckDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

National Donald Duck Day first proclaimed by LA Mayor Tom Bradley in 1984 on Donald’s 50th birthday. The world’s most famous duck gave the city a silver statue of himself as a gift in memory of the big day. He also toured the country leading up to the big Disney birthday party bash.

 

 

 

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Friday Funnies…

Time Pray1

Daily Prayer for June 8

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Proverbs 10:28, NIV

Lord our God, we wait for you night and day. We believe in you and we long for your righteousness. You will answer our prayer. Bless us, we pray. May your name be kept holy and your kingdom come. O Lord our God, may your will be done among the nations. May your will be done in each of us and be plainly seen, as it is in heaven. Look upon the nations. Watch over all humankind. Let a new path be broken so that a peace that passes all understanding may come, a peace from you, the Lord our God. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

striped snail shellThe Master never wrote anything down, nor did he ask his followers to record his teachings. His words are spirit and life. Spirit can only infuse spirit. Life can only infuse life. The Master’s teaching cannot be contained on the pages of a book. Other great teachers left behind books to replace the living voice, to guide and help their bereft followers. But the Master did not do this, because he has not left us. He is always with us, and his living voice guides and counsels us. His followers recorded his teachings after his ascension as a help to those who cannot yet perceive his living presence. In the end, however, when people ask me, “What made you a follower of the Master?” I can only answer: the Master.

Source: Wisdom of the Sadhu

 

 

 

ChristiansTT

Friday Morning Prayer – Start Your Day with God and Prayer‎

The best way to start your Friday morning is with prayer. Give the Lord thanks for everything. Wake up to some great Scriptures that you can meditate on, and prayer to set your mind on God.

Seek God’s plan for the day ahead, seek His Glorious presence. Pour your heart out to God and connect with the Lord to start your day off in the best way.

Morning Prayer

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For You are with me. Heavenly Father, I thank You for the dawn of a new day! Thank You for Your blessings upon my life and my family.

I give You all the praise and honor, because this is the day You’ve made, and  You are mighty and worthy indeed! All honor and glory belongs to You.

With You, I will do the impossible, I will not fail. My past is no longer important, because You, Oh Lord, are my future.

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. 

Weekend Blessings

Bless this day, Oh Lord. Protect and guide me. Lead me in Your way of righteousness.

Even as the weekend approaches, prepare my mind and thoughts for work today. Comfort my mind and take away all worry. Because You are the great provider and You never fail me.

Psalm 86:2  Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God.

 Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, hear my voice. In the morning I lay my needs in front of you, and I wait..

Psalm 119:147  I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. 

I come to You with an open heart, oh Lord. Search me and remove anything that is not of You, that is not pleasing in Your sight.

Cover me with the blood of Your Blessed Son Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Habakkuk 3:19

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

“The Lord is my strength!” Wow, what power we have in his abiding and empowering presence in the Holy Spirit.

My Prayer…

Sovereign God and Almighty Father, be not only my strength, but the strength of those battling depression, grief and despair. I ask your blessings especially and specifically for _________ at this time of difficulty and struggle. Through Jesus I ask this. Amen.

 

 

 

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How Can I Overcome Addictions? What Does The Bible Say Can Help?

It seems like addictions are growing as are the number of things we can become addicted to, so how do we overcome addictions?

Addictions

Addictions are those things we just can’t seem to live without. It might be shopping, smoking, exercise, drinking, drugs, or some other addiction, but not all addictions are bad. For example, I’m addicted to reading my Bible every morning and evening, and if I don’t, I feel like I’ve missed something (and I have!), but strictly speaking, addictions are described as a medical condition that is characterized by a compulsive engagement in rewarding certain stimuli, and despite the adverse consequences, so it can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviors, but there are good addictions and bad addictions at different times, but I believe we can swap out the bad and insert the good, but we’re going to need help! Truth be told, every Christian that is not in heaven still struggles with sin. Some have addictions to marijuana, to alcohol, to pornography, to gambling, to overeating, to shopping, and many other things, so is there any hope for breaking these addictions? Since many Christians struggle with addictions, they also begin to doubt their own salvation, so what can a believer do to escape or to overcome their sinful addictions? What does the Bible say can be our source of help?

Paul’s Struggle

If anyone could overcome sin, surely it would have been the great Apostle Paul. He wrote more books in the New Testament and founded more churches than any other apostle. Even though this great man of faith was a spiritual giant, he also struggled with sin, and even regarded himself as the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15), so if Paul calls himself the chief of sinners, what does that make us?! Don’t let anyone tell you, you won’t struggle with overcoming sin once you’ve been saved. For one thing, before the Spirit of God dwells in us, we sin with little or no conviction, but when the Spirit of God abides in us after conversion, we are convicted of sin, and now we know we must repent of it. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 7:19), and all of God’s people can say “Amen” to that because what Christian has not battled with the flesh? And this is written in the present tense, not past, so we often end up doing just what we don’t want to do. Paul understood that “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Rom 7:18), so even Paul needed help, but from where?

The Helper

Even though Paul said that he knew better, he still fell into sin…just like every other believer after conversion (1 John 1:9, 10). The thing is, he didn’t stay there. He acknowledged it and repented of it, and he moved on. He has the desire to do the right thing, but he still cannot carry it out…that is, in his own strength. This takes the very power of God: God the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:2). Even though Paul said, “I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (Rom 7:21), he still recognizes that he wants “to do good.” That is hopeful because he understands that the law is at work in him. The Law is a mirror, showing us our sins, and he recognizes the evil being there (James 1:23).

Deliverance

At one point, Paul almost seems to have given up, pleading to God, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Rom 7:24), but then he answers his own question by saying, it is “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:25a) that he can overcome his “body of death.” There are many resources available to help people overcome addictions to drugs, pornography, and alcohol. From various addictions help centers to 12-step programs. I’ve known people who have gone through these programs numerous times, and yet they still struggled. Some insurance companies will even pay for profession recovery centers. One person I had the opportunity to interview who went through one of these programs, later realized that overcoming their addiction is only possible through a full surrender to God. Most of us cannot overcome a marijuana addiction on our own or an addiction to pornography, and we can’t defeat the enemy of alcohol, gambling, overeating, or depression all by ourselves either. God wants to help you overcome the powerful addictions in your life. Think about the God Who created the entire universe; all the stars, the galaxies, the sun…everything! He knows the innumerable stars all by name, so is anything really too hard for God?! No! We have no power in ourselves, but the Holy Spirit is God and the very power of God working in us. The first thing we need to do is to acknowledge our inability to overcome on our own, and that victory will only come through surrendering to God. When you feel you’re in over your head, remember God is over all things.

Drastic Measures

Pray day and night for the help you need and ask others to pray for you, even if it’s unspoken needs. God can deliver you. For some, its instant deliverance, but for others, it takes time, so don’t lose heart. You will slip and fall, as we all do, but you’ll get back up, however, God expects us to be part of the process. We can’t do it on our own, but that doesn’t mean we sit back and “just let God!” We must ask God to cut off all the sources of our addiction, whatever that addiction might be. If you are addicted to pornography, get rid of the Internet or find a friend who can put a password protected filter on your computer. Jesus said, “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matt 5:30). This means we must cut it off at the source. If you are addicted to drugs, turn in the illegal drug dealers. The main point is, we can do nothing on our own (John 15:5), but we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13).

Common Struggles

Think you’re alone in your struggle? Nope. Evidence shows that 47% of all Christians say that they have major problems with pornography. Even among the discipleship group of the Promise Keepers, 53% of these men viewed pornography in the last week! An April 6th, 2007 CNN poll revealed that over 70% of Christian men and over 20% of Christian women are already addicted to some sort of Internet pornography. In the year 2000, Christianity Today completed a shocking survey that revealed 33% of the clergy (pastors and priests) admitted that they had visited a sexually explicit Internet website in the past week. Fifty-three percent of the clergy had visited pornographic websites several times in the past year. In a recent survey of pastors by the National Coalition in Seattle, a full 98% had been exposed to porn, intentionally or not, while 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website. Clearly, we all struggle with addictions and it runs from the pulpit to the pew.

Strategies

A web filter is a great way to screen out potential Internet websites that contain pornography. One of my friends has let me set the password an Internet filter, and I promised him that I would not reveal the password, no matter what he tells me. Of course, in this world, he’ll have no trouble finding other sources, so I used to check up on him at least twice a week. He said it was a small price to pay for having the protection that he so desperately needed. I also recommended putting the computer the in the living room. When our children were young, we had the computer in the living room so that we could easily monitor their sites. There primary use of it was for homework, but of course they were allowed to spend some free time browsing or playing games. There are dozens of free or inexpensive Internet filters out there.

Accountability Partners

If you are struggling with a powerful addiction like drugs, alcohol or pornography, find a trusted Christian friend (of the same sex) who can be an accountability partner for you. Have them call you every few days or so (at least once a week), and ask them how their week went. If you’re battling an addiction or some deeply entrenched sin, please don’t lose heart. The very fact that you searched over the Internet or wanted to read this is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in you. It may be that God brought you here today for the very specific purpose of seeking God’s help. God will never, ever give up on you.

Conclusion

I have a close friend who battled with pornography for over thirty years, and he prayed, “Lord, please help me, I am weak. I can’t do this on my own!” You know what? He’s right, and it worked. He surrendered to God, found some help from a friend, and God heard his prayer and answered it. It took him a very long time, but today, he says, “I am clean and sober, but still sort of a train wreck…a sinner, yet saved.” I know exactly what he means. Jesus’ blood covers past, present, and future sins…so the very fact that you have a sin or addiction weighing heavily on your mind should encourage you. You know the Spirit of God is working in you. Being saved doesn’t mean you’ll never sin again. We will all still sin, again and again…but also, again and again, we will repent of it. We’ll never be sinless this side of the veil, but we will begin to sin less. Paul’s question is for all who have trusted in Christ: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Rom 7:24). Of course we know the answer is, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:25).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

 

 

Medieval carved plaque showing Saint William of York as he cross the River Ouse | photo by Katy Stuart

Saint William of York

Saint of the Day for June 8

(c. 1090 – June 8, 1154)

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun08.mp3

 

Saint William of York’s Story

A disputed election as archbishop of York and a mysterious death. Those are the headlines from the tragic life of today’s saint.

Born into a powerful family in 12th-century England, William seemed destined for great things. His uncle was next in line for the English throne—though a nasty dynastic struggle complicated things. William himself faced an internal Church feud.

Despite these roadblocks, he was nominated as archbishop of York in 1140. Local clergymen were less enthusiastic, however, and the archbishop of Canterbury refused to consecrate William. Three years later a neighboring bishop performed the consecration, but it lacked the approval of Pope Innocent II, whose successors likewise withheld approval. William was deposed, and a new election was ordered.

It was not until 1154—14 years after he was first nominated—that William became archbishop of York. When he entered the city that spring after years of exile, he received an enthusiastic welcome. Within two months he was dead, probably from poisoning. His administrative assistant was a suspect, though no formal ruling was ever made.

Despite all that happened to him, William did not show resentment toward his opponents. Following his death, many miracles were attributed to him. He was canonized 73 years later.


Reflection

“Good things come to those who wait” might be the catch phrase for today’s saint. We don’t always get what we want when we want it. Sometimes we have to wait patiently, trusting that if it is for our good, God will bless us.

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Destroying People to Settle Arguments’

As [Jesus] was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

Note: The oldest and best Greek copies of John do not have verses 7:53-8:11. Nevertheless, they are in nearly all translations because the content is certainly consistent with Jesus’ ministry.

Key Thought

This situation was, of course, a trap set for Jesus. It involved a religious question intended to take the compassion of Jesus and use it to crush him against the law of Moses. It’s funny how we can get so ramped up about our religious discussions that we lose sight of the heart of God. God is a God of holiness and integrity, righteousness and steadfast love. The two pairs go together. They are inseparable. Those who call upon his name as their God must pursue his character with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. The religious leaders here remind us how easily we can shift from being righteous students of God’s teaching into being vicious brutes pursuing self-justification. Lost in the argument and the pursuit of Jesus was the personhood of the unnamed woman. She is no more than a token to those who took her to Jesus, the bit of cheese on their religious mousetrap. However, even in the midst of those who hate him and would trap him, Jesus finds a way to deflect their venom from the woman and restore her dignity. People matter to God. Do they matter to us?

Today’s Prayer

O LORD, God of Israel and Father of my Lord Jesus, please forgive me. I fear, dear Father, that I haven’t treated all people as you would have had me treat them. That is especially true with some people who didn’t fit into my religious comfortability, I haven’t treated them as you would have had me treat them. Please give me a more compassionate heart to better say and do the redemptive things in the lives of those who need your grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Spiritual Warfare: ‘Our Refuge Who Drives Our Enemies Away’

God’s Power for Our Battles

There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’

Today’s Prayer

Lord, there is none other like You. You own the earth and You ride the clouds across the sky in majestic splendor! You are Deed Holder of planet earth, and command the elements. You look after Your own and give us a place of refuge. Thank You for that place of safety. Thank You for holding me up when I can’t even hold myself up. Thank You for driving out all my enemies and giving me the victory through Jesus Christ. Thank You for loving me and doing all of them for me in spite of my faults. I give You credit for my victory. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Goodness and Deception’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Key transitions in the life and faith of My people need to be protected. In the early days of My church, this need for safety was especially true. My new disciples in Jerusalem endured repeated attacks from the Jewish religious leaders and those in power. The disciples persevered through threats, even death threats, beatings, and imprisonments from the same people who had Me crucified. Nothing outside their church family could derail this new movement of the Spirit. My message of good news triumphed throughout Jerusalem.

However, My disciples soon faced critical junctures that you see described in the verses below and in the verses tomorrow. They faced several difficult challenges from inside My family of disciples. Pressure from the outside would continue to erupt. But, the more dangerous threats came from inside My household of faith. Some folks needed the basic necessities of life — food, water, and a place to stay. With people becoming disciples so quickly and many being from outside of Jerusalem, the challenge of caring for needy people became a valid concern.

Because “the entire community of believers was deeply united in heart and soul,” My disciples effectively and lovingly addressed these needs. Notice what Luke says:

Not a single person in the community was in need because those who had been affluent sold their houses or lands and brought the proceeds to the emissaries of the Lord.

Notably, Barnabas — who would become a great leader among My disciples — was exceedingly generous. The compassion that Barnabas and other disciples displayed was glorious! The principles of My kingdom were clearly in evidence as needs were soon addressed with grace and generosity.

However, the devil was not content to let any great movement of My grace go unchallenged. So My disciples had to face two tough tests back-to-back. I will speak about the first challenge today and the second one tomorrow.

Seeing Barnabas held in such high esteem, a couple named Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property. That was great. Unfortunately, these two schemed and said that they had given all their proceeds from this sale to the apostles — My emissaries — when they hadn’t. Their gift was given so that the poor among My people would receive care. Although they said that they had given all the proceeds from the sale, they secretly kept back part for themselves. On one hand, their generosity was incredibly good. They gave a great amount to the needs of others. On the other hand, they lied. They lied to My people. They lied to My apostles. Most of all, they lied to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit.

At this crucial moment in the early church, We protected the integrity of the disciples’ generosity and the apostles’ leadership. Our actions were quick, decisive, and firm. We wanted everyone to know that generosity is important, but duplicity is not tolerated.

Harsh? Yes.

Necessary? Yes!

Effective? Absolutely!

Why did we react so strongly, as you see revealed in the verses below? Why did we take such drastic measures?

What is one of the most frequent criticisms hurled at My followers today? It’s that you are hypocrites. How many people have been turned away from faith in Me because of hypocritical people claiming to be My disciples? How many have ruled out learning about Me and becoming part of My people because of hypocrisy, especially hypocrisy and greed among leaders? My answer is simple: way too many!

So in the early days of the church, We acted to protect this fresh movement of grace. We wanted the disciples to practice undiluted goodness and honesty. Such blatant hypocrisy, lying, and duplicity would not be tolerated. (The Father acted in a very similar fashion in the early days of the conquest of Canaan concerning the sin of Achan at Jericho (Joshua 7:1-26).)

There are several truths in the Scripture below that I want you to realize from this episode in the life of the early church.

First, generosity is necessary if My movement is going to grow and reach the hearts of all people. When people are generous above their tithes, people are saved, lives are rebuilt, and My movement grows.

Second, during any great Spirit-empowered movement, the evil one will do all he can to divert, distract, and derail My people. While the outside attacks of the enemy are obvious, the inside attacks are often more subtle and potentially more damaging. Examine your own heart. Look carefully at your own attitudes, motivations, and desires. Especially watch out for the lure of greed and the desire to be seen as important. There are plenty of warnings in the Scriptures against both of these sins!

Third, don’t let the false motives and bad behaviors of others keep you from continuing your walk of faith. Unfortunately, the evil one will lead some astray — sometimes even well-known or beloved leaders. Don’t let that disillusion you. For every Ananias and Sapphira, there are others who are like Barnabas. For every hypocrite, there are unnamed others who do loving and sacrificial things for Christian brothers and sisters without recognition.

Fourth, when My people are led by the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop My work through them. What Satan intends for harm can be turned around and used by the Father for good!

Verses to Live

You are about to read two parts to the same story. The first is about the goodness of My people. The second is about how easy it is to lose goodness to greed. It is a reminder of how a desire to be considered important can corrupt what otherwise would be generous giving. Greed and self-importance are false desires that hold so many hostage in your world. Don’t let the evil one deceive you. First, these desires lead to spiritual death since they do not come from the Father (1 John 2:15-17). Second, remember Barnabas and the unnamed people like him. These people were generous because they cared and were led by My Spirit. So, after you have read both stories, come back and read the part about Barnabas again. Let this be the part that is an example for you!

During those days, the entire community of believers was deeply united in heart and soul to such an extent that they stopped claiming private ownership of their possessions. Instead, they held everything in common. The apostles with great power gave their eyewitness reports of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Everyone was surrounded by an extraordinary grace. Not a single person in the community was in need because those who had been affluent sold their houses or lands and brought the proceeds to the emissaries of the Lord. They then distributed the funds to individuals according to their needs. One fellow, a Cyprian Levite named Joseph, earned a nickname because of his generosity in selling a field and bringing the money to the apostles in this way. From that time on, they called him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”

Once a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira fully cooperating, committed fraud. He sold some property and kept some of the proceeds, but he pretended to make a full donation to the Lord’s emissaries.

Peter:

Ananias, have you allowed Satan to influence your lies to the Holy Spirit and hold back some of the money? Look, it was your property before you sold it, and the money was all yours after you sold it. Why have you concocted this scheme in your heart? You weren’t just lying to us; you were lying to God.

Ananias heard these words and immediately dropped to the ground, dead; fear overcame all those who heard of the incident. Some young men came, wrapped the body, and buried it immediately. About three hours had passed when Sapphira arrived. She had no idea what had happened.

Peter:

Did you sell the land for such-and-such a price?

Sapphira:

Yes, that was the price.

Peter:

Why did the two of you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Do you hear those footsteps outside? Those are the young men who just buried your husband, and now they will carry you out as well.

She — like her husband — immediately fell dead at Peter’s feet. The young men came in and carried her corpse outside and buried it beside her husband. The whole church was terrified by this story, as were others who heard it.
(Acts 4:32-37Acts 5:1-11)

Response in Prayer

Holy Father, I know that I am vulnerable to the sins of greed and the lust to feel important. Help me resist these temptations. I don’t want these sins to steal my integrity or compromise my generosity. Neither do I want to grow skeptical when I see these sins in others. I want to honor You in every area of my life and bring Your grace to those in need. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

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Look to the Creator

Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not. Numbers 11:23

God had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a whole month He would feed the vast company in the wilderness with meat. Moses is then overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the outward means, and is at a loss to know how the promise can be fulfilled. He looked to the creature instead of the Creator. But does the Creator expect the creature to fulfill His promise for Him? No; He who makes the promise always fulfills it by His own unaided omnipotence. If He speaks, it is done—done by Himself. His promises do not depend for their fulfillment upon the cooperation of the puny strength of man. We can immediately see the mistake that Moses made. And yet how routinely we do the same!

God has promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do what God has promised to do; and then, because we perceive the creature to be weak and feeble, we indulge in unbelief. Why do we look in that direction at all? Will you look to the North Pole to gather fruits ripened in the sun? You would be acting no more foolishly in doing this than when you look to the weak for strength, and to the creature to do the Creator’s work. Let us, then, put the question on the right footing. The ground of faith is not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performance of the promise, but the all-sufficiency of the invisible God, who will definitely do what He has said.

If after clearly seeing that the onus lies with the Lord and not with the creature we dare to indulge in mistrust, the question of God comes home forcefully to us: “Is the LORD’s hand shortened?” May it also be that in His mercy the question will be accompanied by this blessed declaration: “Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”

 

 

Forgiving Ourselves
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
June 08, 2018

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

The apostle Peter was one of three disciples who walked with Jesus closer than the other nine. He was the most enthusiastic and the one man who was willing to step into territories where others would not dare. He was the first to step out of the boat and walk on water. He wanted to protect Jesus at times when Jesus rebuked him for having a demon influence him. He cut off the ear of the guard who wanted to arrest Jesus in the garden. As Peter matured, the Holy Spirit harnessed his many extreme emotions.

The greatest trial for Peter was when he denied the Lord just before Jesus was crucified. Three times he denied knowing Jesus. Jesus predicted that the cock would crow after the third time just to reinforce the prophecy to Peter. Peter was crushed when he realized he had failed His Lord so badly.

The Lord forgave Peter for his denial. However, gaining forgiveness from Jesus was not the most difficult part for Peter. The hard part was forgiving himself. As we mature in the faith, we begin moving in victory after victory with our Lord. Then out of nowhere, an event happens that reveals our true sin nature, and we are confronted face to face with this reality. We cannot believe that we are capable of such sin. There is no good thing in us save the grace of Jesus Christ and His blood that cleanses us. When God looks at us, He looks at the blood of Christ that has covered our sin. He does not look at our sin once we confess it.

When we have difficulty forgiving ourselves, this is pride at its deepest level. We are making an assumption that we should never have sinned and that we are too mature to sin. This is a trap from the enemy of our souls. People who cannot forgive do not recognize from what they have been forgiven. That includes us.

 

 

National Best Friends Day June 8

BEST FRIENDS DAY

On June 8, honor your closest and dearest friend on Best Friends Day.

The relationship between best friends is often fierce and can withstand distance, storms and silence.  Whether we’ve known them all our lives or they are more recently acquired, best friends make tough times bearable, fun times memorable and memorable times priceless.

Maybe there are several best friends in your life.  No matter how many there are, get together and celebrate the day!

HOW TO OBSERVE

Celebrate National Best Friends Day by letting your best friends know how much they mean to you! Share some Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn with your best friend to celebrate! Use #BestFriendsDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the creator of National Best Friends Day.

 

 

Anthony Bourdain Has Died at 61

We’re devastated to report that Anthony Bourdain was found dead on Friday in France, where he was filming Parts Unknown. CNN confirmed the cause of Bourdain’s death was suicide, and shared the following statement: “It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain. His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.” Click here to read heartfelt memories from chefs, friends, celebrities, and writers who are mourning and remembering Bourdain on social media.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-talk (8255), or the Suicide Crisis Line, at 1-800-784-2433, or text 741741.

 

 

 

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