Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"When will You comfort me, Lord."   ...   Psalm 119:82
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Members of a college basketball team from Wisconsin were so amazed at the heroism of a nine-year-old boy who lost his life in a fire in upstate New York that they undertook an eight-hour bus trip to attend his funeral—and moved the boy’s family to tears. Tyler Doohan, a fourth-grader, was asleep when fire broke out in his grandfather’s home near Rochester, New York.  After saving six people he went back into the blaze to attempt to rescue two others, and succumbed to the flames.
         The team at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, (sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity), inspired by Tyler’s heroism, attended the funeral with the family’s approval, and met the boy’s mother and father.
         “How did it make you feel to put a smile for a few minutes on the faces of a family going through the worst day of their lives?” asked Coach Phil Budervik on the ride back. “One of the players said, ‘It was the best feeling in the world to do that.’ That’s when I knew we had done the absolute right thing. We helped a family and paid our respects to a true hero.”
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"You, Lord, give light to my lamp..."   Psalm 18:29
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Psychiatrist and author Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross was known for her book On Death and Dying and for developing the five stages of grief. But she also offered many insights about living, not just dying.  Here are just a few:
■ “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
■ “There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.”

■ “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

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Scripture verse for today:
     "Oh that I were in the months past   ...   and my children we        round about me."
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“Hurry!” Matt Archbold told his wife and five kids.  “We’ve got to get on the road so we can sit in traffic.” 
And sit in traffic they did during the family’s road trip to Boston.  To test Archbold’s patience even more, the kids spent most of the ride noisily arguing, laughing, and yelling at each other while playing a game called Robot Apocalypse.
After finally arriving in Boston, the family did some sightseeing and Archbold found himself engaged in conversation with an elderly man who saw his abundance of kids. “My wife and I had seven,” he told Archbold. “Enjoy them. Treasure every moment. It used to be I couldn’t wait until I had some quiet in the house. And now quiet’s all I got. I miss the noise.”

That observation left an impression on Archbold. He wrote, “The next day the kids, my wife, and I got back into the van to go home. We took our time, sang, giggled, and snorted the whole way…It was a great long trip. When I parked the van in our driveway, I sat a moment and thanked God for the noise.”
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Lord, help me to love my family.
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Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday:  January 11
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Scripture verse for today:
.... "In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."       I Thessalonians  5:18
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During his high school years, comedian Tim Conway suffered a back injury during a football game that left him unable to talk or move.  When he couldn’t stand up, his team members carried him off the field.  A doctor took an X-ray, found nothing broken, and put him in a neck brace for a few weeks.
Many years later, Conway visited a doctor due to back spasms.  As he writes in his memoir What’s So Funny, he was shocked when the doctor told him his “spasms were a residual effect stemming from a broken vertebra.”  Conway insisted he’d never broken a vertebra, then recalled the football incident. 
The doctor explained that he’d likely broken his vertebra, but when his teammates picked him up, his back got stretched out and the vertebra went back into place.  If Conway hadn’t been moved, he may have been permanently disabled. 

That was a watershed moment for Conway, spiritually speaking.  He writes, “Ever since that incident on the football field, which might have altered the course of my life, Jesus and I have stayed in constant touch.  I never stop saying thank you.”
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Saturday, January 9, 2016

A thought for today, especially during this season prior to National Elections:
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Scripture reference:  Deuteronomy   chapter 1   verse 13
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... "Provide wise, discerning and reputable persons for each of your tribes ... "
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Thoughts:
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A letter from an 11-year-old girl may have inspired Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard as a help to his presidential campaign efforts.
Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York, wrote to candidate Lincoln suggesting that “all the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” She added, “You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin.”
Often, hidden motives can influence our choice for those we elect to lead us. The nation was fortunate in having chosen Lincoln to steer it through the dark years of the Civil War—however much his beard may have influenced the voting.

A better way to select a President or other candidates for public office is to weigh carefully their records, their stands on issues confronting the nation, and their plans to address those issues.
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Lord. be with me in my choices.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Feast of Juan Diego:

Today is the feast of St. Juan Diego! Juan Diego was the humble witness to the Guadalupe apparition. His love for her and for his faith has made him a great example of holiness for all ages! The following comes from thecatholic.org site:

St. Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 20 kilometers (14 miles) north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City).

On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk fifteen miles to daily 
Mass in what is nowMexico City. Juan lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and laborer. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow. A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful youngwoman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the VirginMary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said, "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings." 

The bishop was kind but skeptical. He asked Juan to bring proof of the Lady's identity. Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was dying. Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady. The Lady, however, met him on his path and told him that his uncle had been cured.

She then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met. Juan was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil. He gathered them in his cloak and took them at once to the bishop.


Juan told the 
bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico). But the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's cloak. 

Soon after, a church was built on the site where our Lady appeared, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas. He died on May 30, 1548, at the age of 74. 



Wednesday, December 9

Gospel    + + + + +     MT 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
The word of the Lord.

Just a thought:

Imagine a wick that is placed in oil, and then lit. If the oil runs out, the wick burns. As long as there is oil, the wick doesn't burn. As long as we are living in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit, we don't burn out. The question to ask: what's burning?
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So, are you weary? Are you carrying a heavy burden? Do you need rest? Jesus is inviting those who answer “Yes” to take on His yoke and become His yoke-mate.
It’s tempting for to take these words of Jesus and turn them into a 
promise that says, “No matter what your problems, come to Jesus and He will make you burden-free.” 

There are those who present Jesus as the remover of every problem. They portray the Christian life as though faith lifts you up and out of the realm of life’s difficulties, sorrows, and disappointments. This, I believe, is a false portrait of discipleship and a mistaken use of Jesus’ words.
Jesus makes it clear that the rest He offers us is not burden-free. He speaks of the putting on His yoke, and yokes are for bearing burdens.
Yokes were common in Jesus’ day. Yokes were made for oxen so that the animals could work together as a team and not be hurt by the burden they carried.

Yoke-making was a skilled craft. Good yokes were made of strong wood that could be made smooth. Any area of roughness on the yoke would cause skin irritation and muscle damage to the oxen as they pulled their load. Yokes also had to be expertly sized of the team for which they were made. If the yoke put the two animals too close together they would jostle and hurt each other. If the yoke put them too far apart they would not be able to share the load as easily as they might if the yoke had had a better fit.  The yoke was made perfectly for the one who wore it, the yoke was not a burden, rather, the yoke made life bearable.

Jesus is telling us that He is an expert yoke-maker. 

Try Him on for size!
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Oh, I wish I had seen this during the summer of 2014 ....

“That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience”


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This story is making the rounds of social media: the reaction of a college student to a sermon that he said made him feel bad.
To which Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, replied, in effect: “Tough.”
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His full response is reprinted below, from the university website:
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This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”
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I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.
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So here’s my advice:
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If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.
If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
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At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.
Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.
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This is not a day care.
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This is a university!

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Tuesday, December 1

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He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.
John Bunyan


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Gospel . . . LK 10:21-24
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
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The word of the Lord
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A friend of mine took his small son with him to town one day to run some errands. When lunch time arrived, the two of them went to a familiar diner for a sandwich. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch, and when the server brought the food, the dad said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time.

When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?" With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, "How do I know? It was a silent prayer."

I’m not so sure the young boy’s intention with the prayer but I think that it could well be good practice to get lost in our prayer from time to time, to allow prayer to meander wherever it might like to go, providing, of course, that we keep the prayer focused on God.

Have you prayed already today? It’s certainly not too late. You ever ask God, in your prayer, where God might like you to go in prayer? Try it sometime.
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