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Unprecedented

Reflection Unprecedented: the word of the month. Indeed, it IS unprecedented the number of times I have heard and read the word “unprecedented” in the last month. (Thankfully, what I have not heard is, “This is a plague of biblical proportions!”) Really? Not to diminish our challenges here, which must rank in the top tier of those our generation has faced. But let me offer some perspective. ·1347-1351 The Black Death killed between 75 and 200 million people, reducing the entire world population by 25% and that of Europe by 50% ·1914-1918 WWI: 18 million soldiers and civilians died ·1919 Spanish flu killed 50 million people ·1939-1945 WWII killed 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians,

Asceticism

Scripture: Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Reflection: The word “asceticism” is so unfamiliar to us we likely do not know what it means (long periods of solitude, fasting, prayer, and sacrificial service), or even how to pronounce it. This was not so with Jesus, Paul, the disciples, and most of the first believers. During this time of “forced” asceticism, surely the Holy Spirit can make use of this special opportunity—if we allow it and seek it. “It is clear that ascetic practices were seriously engaged in by Jesus

REAL reality

Reflection A main concern of the Bible’s last book is the severe persecution and suffering of God’s people under the hand of the Roman Empire. In chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation it is like the Spirit is saying to John, “Come with me. I’ll show what REAL reality is.” For your encouragement and comfort today, let’s take a look! Scripture Revelation 1:17b, 4:2---5:14 Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat th

fear focus

Scripture Joshua 1:7-9 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Reflection In 1978, the high wire artist Karl Wallenda fell to his death during a show in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His wife said that, after decades of success by foc

Brokenness and sonship

Scripture Romans 8:22-24 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Reflection Brokenness “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth….we ourselves …. groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Have you noticed

Lament: devotions for today

Scripture: Psalm 22 A Psalm of Lament 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. 4 In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. Reflection: Laments are only one type of Psalm, but there are more laments (60+) than any of the other six types. Why so many? Perhaps because they express deep trust in their Lord, while at the same

In Jesus' day

Reflection Come with me to Jesus’ day. One quarter of all babies died before their first birthday. Only half of the surviving children lived to ten years old. To bring that home a bit, here is a list of our current 4-5th graders. Dawson, Gabby, Isaiah, Darci, Corbin, Cassie, Brayden, Mina, Joshua If you lived past 10, you had a good chance of reaching 45-50 years, but the overall life expectancy was 35, less than half of ours today. Why so short? Mostly lack of medicinal treatment for both common and serious illness. No vaccines. No antibiotics. After the nurse had gently pushed the cotton swab up my left nasal passage to “swab” me for Covid-19, I reflected on how in Jesus’ day you could act

Love greater than fear

Scripture: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18 "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."1 Cor. 13:13 Reflection: Today I share part of a reflection by Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan leader and teacher. “We are in the midst of a

The Vine

Scripture: Isaiah 5: 1-2, 7; John 15:1-2 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me

Planning and God's Presence

Scripture: Numbers 9:15-23: On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was o

Do not fear

[The Lord God says] do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10 Here is a picture of one of my favorite T-shirts. So often we seem to just grab a text from the Bible and fit it to our purpose. But surely this text is NOT such a text or time. The people of Israel are entering a period the likes of which it had never known. Their lives would never be the same. Yet listen to the prophet. Yes, listen to the prophet. And then read this beautiful poem by Jan Richardson, via Biola University's Lent Project. Blessing at the Burning Bush by Jan R

Different

Last week we had a flurry of activity with March is Reading Month "egg-cellent" opportunities, like this STEM activity the entire school did: And now, this post is written from an empty school building. What a different week. However, we know that in all things our God works for the good of those who love him and we seek His glory through all things. We'd also love to know how kids are reading at home, and get some fun pics and videos of those experiences!

 

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