Little Things

John Kerr reminded us of the stories from 9/11 as retold on Weekend Encounterfrom Acts International. I though we could use the unknown prompt as our Words for the Week.

As you might remember, the head of a company survived 9/11 because his son started kindergarten.

Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts.

One woman was late because her alarm clock didn’t go off in time.

One was late because of being stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike because of an auto accident.

One missed his bus.

One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.

One’s car wouldn’t start.

One couldn’t get a taxi.

The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work, but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today.

Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, you can’t seem to find the car keys, and you hit every red traffic light, don’t get mad or frustrated; it may be just that God is watching over you.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Dreams are lovely … But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. — Shonda Rhimes

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Continued Grace

Normally, Sunday means a devotional, sermon or sermonette. But this Sunday — today — marks the 12th anniversary of my wife Karen’s death, a day that impacted myself, my family, and everyone who knew her well beyond her years. She continues to be an inspiration … and I hope to continue highlighting her legacy via this venue.

The two thoughts — the remembrance and the reflection — dovetail together. Karen’s life — especially her last few months — was a living sermon on grace. Words are just a crude way to express this grace; you really should have seen it.

Throughout Karen‘s diagnosis, I tried to stay optimistic, looking for that miracle. She knew better, but instead of dwelling on her death, she used the time to reflect on her life and put things in order {putting things in order was her specialty}.

After five months of diagnosis and treatment, 10 days in the hospital — including our 40th anniversary — and two more weeks of radiation, it all came to a quiet end. Those days are etched forever in my mind.

During her radiation treatment, she started complaining of pain, but refused to have any more tests. We had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday and her oncologist came in with the dreaded news, the cancer had returned – both in her liver and lung. There was nothing more that could be done. It was too soon to restart chemo and too extensive for more radiation. The best they could do was keep her comfortable until it was time to let go.

The doctors estimated a couple of weeks. We got a couple of days.

Karen was so weak, but she was still stoic. We conference called the kids Tuesday afternoon with the news and they immediately dropped everything to make a quick arrival despite most being way out of town. All she wanted was to see her kids again.

The plan was for me to give them the letters and sentimental “things” to remember her by after she died. But when they all got there by Thursday night (Sept. 25), she wanted to say goodbye to her kids personally.

I know it was emotional for them, just as much as it was for Karen and me. But she wanted me to let them know they all were her life.

In her letter to me – yes, she wrote one to me as well – she wanted me to make sure each of our children knew, though she made a lot of mistakes along the way, she did her best and above all, she loved them with all her heart and soul … unconditionally.

Karen had a rough Thursday night/Friday morning, but we were able to talk alone, walk down Memory Lane again and say the things we wanted to say to each other. Early Friday morning, she said she was tired of hurting. I told her it was okay. It hurts – and it will hurt – but we would rather hurt than her. When she was ready, just go. Our Lord was waiting.

She was basically unresponsive all day Friday, Friday night and Saturday morning, but her breathing became more and more labored. At 12:35 p.m. she opened her eyes and we all gathered around her to tearfully say goodbye. She took her last breath at 12:38 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008.

I don’t know much about the mechanics of death, but I do know Karen faced it with grace and dignity. There was no apprehension. There was no tension in her hands.

It may not be scientifically nor theologically true, but I believe her eyes opened to the glory of eternity as she saw her Lord and Savior come with open arms to embrace her and bring her to the Father.

She wrote to me, “Ready or not the Lord is going to bring me to a new home. I’m not sure He’s ready but who am I to question? I do wonder what it is like. I guess we are always afraid of the ‘unknown’ and, trust me, I’m no different. Eternity is a long time. Do you think I’ll be charged with cleaning? Maybe cooking? Wow, can you imagine the kitchen I’d have there? I could do the cooking and be in heaven … literally.

“The only thing I know for sure is that there will be no more cancer, no more tears, no more tiredness or sickness, swollen bodies from fluids and poisons. Just, joy, laughter, praise, worship and glorious peace.”

There hasn’t been a day since that day when I haven’t felt her presence in my life.There was a Funky Winkerbean cartoon I taped to the file cabinet next to my desk. I looked at it every day. Les Moore lost his wife to cancer and he is driving with his daughter Summer. She asks, “Dad … Do you still miss Mom?”

Next frame, Les responds, “There hasn’t been a day. But after a while, you begin to understand …” Jump to frame three. “That you can’t let your grief become the substitute for the one you love.”

It took me a while to take that in, to understand it, to make it make sense.

Everyone grieves differently and at a different pace, but the commonality is grief has a way of muddling life. Your perspective becomes clouded. Every day activities look and feel differently. Often, it takes all your energy just to get out of bed. There is no such thing as a routine. Life looks more like a jigsaw puzzle straight out of the box. Emotions are raw and unpredictable.

That was me. Only through the amazing grace of God did I get through it.

Literally, after the kids went home and things started “quieting” down, the numbness set it. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t want to go out of the house and I didn’t want to stay there. I thought I was losing my mind.

Fortunately, my faith kicked in … and kicked me into proactive action. These are the steps I took. Others may have different journeys.

First, I recognized I needed help. I was floundering on my own and needed a fresh perspective. I wasn’t sure about it, but I joined a bereavement support group just starting through the spiritual care department at a local hospital.

I was the “rookie” in the group. My wife had died less than a month prior. The others had been walking the journey for three, four, five, six or more months. The experience was invaluable. We started with a river of tears and ended with hugs and even smiles. Somehow recognizing others are going through the same struggles brings us closer. I was no longer a “victim.” As sad as that time was, I was fortunate to be have been able to say goodbye. Others in my group did not have that opportunity.

During our memory walk, Karen had told me how much she loved the sunrise we had seen in Florida. She told me she was sad we wouldn’t see another. We had planned on going to the Jersey shore to see another one, but we never got around to it. So, one weekend in early November, I packed her up {one of the advantages of cremation} and we watched the sun rise over the ocean. It wasn’t the same, of course, but I felt her presence on a crystal clear, albeit chilly night turned morning.

Then came Thanksgiving. Again I placed her in the truck and headed to Illinois for Thanksgiving dinner. It was bittersweet, but it gave the grandchildren from the west a chance to say their goodbyes to Grandma. We placed the urn on a mantle and they respectfully visited with her.

The turning point of the trip, for me, though was a comment my then four-year old grandson made. To set the scene, our urns sit side by side encompassed by intertwining rings. Our names are on a plate in front of our respective urns. My grandson said he understood about Grandma, but was confused. “How can you be in there when you’re here?” he asked. We explained that would be my FUTURE home, but what resonated to me was I was still here and God still had something for me to do. Didn’t know what it was, but out of the mouth of babes …

That was the tipping point. I decided to start living, albeit with a hole in my heart that has since scabbed over, but has not and probably never will be filled in.

I also wrote a memory book, detailing our life together. 40 Years of Memories … In the Blink of an Eye was written for my kids and grandkids. It included anecdotes, photos, birthday, holiday and anniversary cards and even some love letters chronicling our 40 years together, from our first meeting through our wedding, our moves and stages in life, right to the end. I had intended it to be a Christmas present, but it turned into a six month project. While I hope they treasure it, it was a catharsis for me. Despite the tears, I was able to rebuild the memories … and those memories have helped to salve the hurt.

Finally, I surrounded myself with positive, grounded people. In particular, we had a family friend who lost her husband to cancer a couple of years before Karen died. She had an editorial background, so I sought her out to help edit 40 Years of Memories. She turned out to be more than an editor. She became my mentor, walking me through the minefield of grief and lifting me up whenever I drifted back toward the dark side.

Karen has always been my earthly rock. She supported me through multiple moves halfway around the country. She encouraged my involvement at the pulpit and ordination as an elder. She planted the seed of retiring to Maine. She was the inspiration behind my free time writing — this blog and my four books. She still inspires me.I can hear her cheering me on. I know she is lobbying and praying for me from her heavenly perch.

In a way, I am glad Karen died first. I would do anything to get another day, hour or few minutes with her, but I also would not have wanted her to go through the grief process. She was the strongest woman I ever knew and would certainly have survived, but I would not have wanted her to go through the turmoil.

We had something special. No, we had 40 years of something special. We didn’t agree on everything, but we agreed on the important things. And there was nothing more important to each of us than each other. We always had each other’s back.

We all have some regrets. If I had it all to do over again, I probably would change some of my reactions. I would have listened more, talked more, communicated better.

But I don’t think I would have changed anything substantively. I loved Karen just for being her … the way she was. And I know she loved me for just being me … the way I was … faults and all.

It was a great ride.

We always kidded each other. I would say “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone” and she would respond, “No, no, no. You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.” Once again, she was right.

My prayer is when it is time for me to join her, I have the same peace, grace and dignity.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: There will always be another step on your journey, and that’s why it’s so important to have that anchor inside of yourself. – Nikita Chopra

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Our Father Who Art in Heaven …

As we build this community prayer platform, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

Approach the throne room and respond with faith and not fear, knowing the promises of God and His mighty hand will hold us through any situation! Sometimes, all it takes is just one prayer to change everything. Something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer.

What is one of the most important things we should do as Christians? Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

And, so, Lord, we come to You with our petitions, knowing and expecting Your will to be done.

Thoughts and prayers to all worldwide suffering from the consequences of coronavirus flu – and all other strains. Many – many – of the prayer requests are covid-19 related … people diagnosed … people sick … people dying … relatives worried and isolated. We are in this together – in prayer!

Please keep the victims of household abuse in your prayers. Whether it be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect, this time in particular is very horrifying for them to be trapped in a house with their abuser(s) and not being able to escape.

We also need to pray for colorblind peace. Racism will remain a plague until we stop looking at people as black and white, but as human beings created by the same Creator. We pray for new eyes, calmer heads, and softer hearts. 

Special prayer requests have been made for orphanages in Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and right here in the United States. The need is real.

There were also quite a few requests for students and the new school year. We ask, Lord, You bless the students, teachers, and administrators as they continue to face new learning/teaching challenges this year. Keep them safe.

Financial issues were also high on the prayer lists with millions still out of work. Sustain those who are hurting financially. Give us and them our daily bread.

Natural disasters continue. Keep those in the path of fires and storms safe and focused on You, Lord.

LaVerne thanks everyone for their prayers. The good news is all major organs look great! The not so good news is there are some new spots on my bones – ribs and illiac. The spots on the ribs are small, but still evident cancer is still with her and trying to take over. The other spot on my illiac bone in lower back area is bigger and may be what is causing some pain issues. Next step is to see a radiologist. As far as treatment, she was encouraged to be offered just the monthly hormone blocker shots again without the chemo pill, which lowers her immunity so badly. A re-scan is scheduled in three months. She believes prayer and God’s guidance in naturopathic helps and vows to press on and praise!

Keep Andrew in your prayers as he continues to fight the fight. He contacted me the other day. Things continue to deteriorate. Prayers. Prayers. Prayers.

Eileen has been in the hospital. She has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and acute (and painful) arthritis, and has lost quite a bit of weight. Prayers requested.

Please pray for Nate who is 17 and appears to have a punctured lung and broken ribs plus other complications.

Please pray for Tab. She is reportedly struggling with her health.

Zibah asks for healing prayers after being hit by a car while bicycling to his job. He has tissue and muscle damage to his shoulder.

Please pray for Elizabeth who is battling a diabetes 2 and high cholesterol diagnosis.

Stephanie has a job interview Oct. 2 and is asking prayers it goes well.

Please pray for Regina who thinks she has a UTI or some other kind of infection. She does not feel well.

Please pray for Mercy who has a severe cough and cold. Skin on her feet have started to peel off as well.

Please pray Viviane’s neuropathy does not get any worse.

Andrea has diabetes and can’t stop vomiting, resulting in diabetic ketoacidosis. The doctors think she may also have gastroparesis. Please pray she doesn’t have gastroparesis and will not need a pacemaker.

Brenda is experiencing a blood issue and requests prayers.

Sarakutty has a heart blockage. Please pray for her.

Shalini has kidney failure, breathing problems, high blood pressure, and her creatine level is increasing every day. She has also lost quite a bit of weight. Prayers requested.

Please pray for the speedy healing of the eyes for Olina. Her retina has shrunk and detached. As such, she cannot see.

Esther is asking for prayers for a nodule on her thyroid to dissolve.

Jose is battling cancer and is requesting prayers.

Please pray for a benign lymph node on Arlin’s breast, negative result for her pap smear, and transvaginal ultrasound healing for her thickened endometrial lining.

Pray for Peter to receive urgent treatment for prostate cancer in time to save his life.

Please continue to pray for Ann’s full recovery from sepsis and surgery.

Yvonne has had terrible bone issues and her health is declining. Prayers requested.

Shannon’s biopsy is scheduled Tuesday. Prayers requested.

Prayer requested for Jacob and his family for medical and family issues.

There were a host of unspoken prayer requests and we heard of a number of deaths this week. Prayers for their families as they go through this earthly trial. We grieve … heaven rejoices.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week. Some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up LaVerne, Andrew, Eileen, Nate, Tab, Zibah, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Regina, Mercy, Viviane, Andrea, Brenda, Sarakutty, Shalini, Olena, Esther, Jose, Arlin, Peter, Ann, Yvonne, Shannon, Jacob, and all those needing Your healing and guiding touch. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Prayer, then, is a matter of our participating in the life of Jesus Christ. – Michael Casey

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Five Minute Friday — Your

Happy Friday! Time for my Five Minute Friday contribution. Check out the amazing five minutes takes at fiveminutefriday.com by our special community of writers.

I’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat compiled by Susan Shipe. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Jolene who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on the website. Start at the Community tab.

“I stumbled across Five Minute Friday several years ago, when I noticed that several blogs that I read participated in the weekly link up. I checked it out one Friday night, and thought it was a fun idea and a great writing exercise. I didn’t realize then, that it is truly a community. The fellow FMF writers became my friends as we gathered each week and commented on each other’s posts. I have several friends that I would never have met if it had not been for Five Minute Friday. I am blessed to be part of this wonderful community of writers.”

The prompt is YOUR. This should be interesting.The timer has been set, so I guess it’s time to GO…

The last thing I read last night was my Five Minute Friday friend Andrew’s post. He is dying. He knows  it. In the post he took an introspective look at himself and his life … how his plans were askew with visits from both Satan and God.

I drifted off into slumberland with his words etched in my mind. I also received a nocturnal visit — only just from God. This is how the conversation went …

“So, what are your plans today,” the Voice asked.

“The usual. Nothing special planned,” I responded.

“Am I included?” the Voice asked.

“Of course! I’ll start with some time just for You, take the dog out, make coffee, wander around social media, share some hopefully encouraging words with family and friends, and get back to some writing.”

“Hmm,” was the reply. “Just that brief encounter with Me when you wake up?”

“No. I’ll probably lean on Your guidance throughout the day.”

“Hmm. Those are your plans.”

“Pretty much.”

“What about My plans? You going to follow them?”

“Well, I’m … STOP

going to try.” I paused. Thinking through the suspended state I added, “I always try to follow Your plans.”

“And do you succeed?”

“No. You know that better than anyone. But I try.”

“What do you want to do right now?” the Voice asked.

Since it was still the middle of the night, I said, “Sleep!” I rolled over, got my feet caught in the sheet and blanket and literally rolled out of the elevated air mattress onto the carpeted floor. Angelina literally popped out of the bed as well. I looked at the time. It was 4:54 a.m., a couple of hours before normal wake up time. The vision was long gone. The dog had a stunned what just happened look on her face. I looked at her and blurted out, “Well, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

I started the pre-dawn day — Angelina was not going to go back to sleep — with extended quiet time with my Lord and Visitor. But every task I attempted this morning ran into roadblocks — nothing catastrophic, but repetitive enough to divert my attention back to the dream. I ran out of coffee {I did have enough for a mug but had to run to the store when it opened}. The Internet went down for a couple of hours. Friends I usually reach out to with a quick message suddenly wanted to talk. They needed extra encouragement and/or self-assurance. Forty seconds morphed into 40 minutes, often just listening or searching for just that right word or phrase. Other than this post, I haven’t been able to add a word to the WIP.

I found myself going back to Andrew’s post again and again. “God’s didn’t say it’s all right, that He’ll fix everything. He didn’t offer Double for my Trouble, or to turn my setbacks into setups for greater things. He didn’t say that my purposes will be fulfilled. He did say that His purposes are fulfilled. Always. He did say, “Your sins are forgiven.” And He said that if I accept that forgiveness, I am His, and He is mine, that His purpose for me is my salvation through Him.”

I wish I was more than just a virtual friend to Andrew. At this point, all I can do is virtually hold his hand as he crosses the River Jordan. Andrew knows what his new address will be — in the ritzy neighborhood on the other side of the Jordan. We’ve chatted about it. I also know we will meet soul to soul some day at the beginning of eternity.

Prayers for a safe journey, Andrew, and for all whose life you have touched, beginning with Barb and including me and our FMF friends.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you judge people, you have no time to love them — Mother Teresa

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The Summer of Discontent

Well,that might not be the right word. Anxiousness? Disquieting? Those may be better discriptors of the state of my world as summer fades into fall.

As I wander around various social media platforms, I’ve noted just a little bit of apprehension, just as often from friends and colleagues known for their half full approach to life. I will include myself in the conversation.

There is definitely an air of mild anxiety about what might possibly develop. It’s like waiting for the next shoe to drop. Many of us are looking to fast forward to 2021 and just chalk 2020 off as a year to forget. The brilliant color change of seasons is muted. We’re finding it hard to find much to be thankful for. Even the hope of Christmas is approached with apprehension.

This is particularly a dark period for yours truly, but it has happened every year for the past 12 years since Karen died so I can take myself out of the equation. I’m speaking more in general. I don’t see the love. I don’t see the open sharing. I certainly don’t see the hope. I do see a more reserved, let’s wait and see view of life from my friends.

Certainly, the pandemic has contributed more to the angst than just sickness. It changed the WAY we live. We are constantly reminded of the chilling effects of the illness, with mortality emphasized and recovery de-emphasized. We get a daily overload of common sense precautions — wash you hands, stay home if you’re sick. We’re encouraged to isolate with six foot social distance mandates and closure or restrictions on most normal activities like church and other fellowships. Mask wearing has become the new normal either by state mandate or strong suggestion.

That all being said, we are told Cold War style to trust the experts — scientists, immuniologists, first providers, politicians, mainstream media. The problem is everyone is an expert and each bring their collective biases into the conversation. Joe and Jane Average don’t know who to trust.

There has been a series of street incidents which have painted people into corners that has erupted into chaos in the name of justice. We’ve seen peaceful protests evolve into violence, lawlessness, and looting, all belying the very stereotypes the protesters are battling for. We’re been spoon-fed — no, strike that — we’ve been hit over the head with “videos”, often out of context and amateurish thanks to smart phones, “proving” a particular point of view. Joe and Jane Average have been frozen in fear, afraid to venture out for a night out.

Covid and social justice issues have hijacked entertainment choices. School activities have been minimized “in the name of safety.” People’s livelihoods have been impacted. Governmental promises — from both sides of the aisle –have not materialized. Elections very well may be compromised

It’s all been very disconcerting for Joe and Jane Average. There is a real caution about moving forward because — as we have been acutely reminded — things out of our control can change plans in a heartbeat.

I think it’s time to break that cycle. There are natural events we can’t plan or control. But we can enjoy the day, whatever it brings. We can look beyond our selves and our circles and embrace the brilliant color change of seasons … and see God’s hand as green turns to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. It might take some looking, but we can intentionally seek out an unexpected blessing every day … and see how God’s presence transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. We can thank God for our very lives and the lives of all we touch and who touch us. That inter-connection itself is wider than you might imagine. We can look beyond the glitz and glitter of Christmas and focus on the Gift we received 2,000 years ago or so … the birth of our Savior and the bridge back to heaven.

It’s all about perspective. Calmness or Anxiety. Peace or Restlessness. Trust or Skepticism. Sharing or Self. Hope or Doubt. Faith or Apprehension. Optimism or Pessimism.

That we can control.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You will learn a lot from yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. — Cheryl Strayed

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Smile Time

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

Here’s this week’s edition of Midweek Mirth  … so let’s smile a little!

Say what?

A woman went to a memorial service for World War One at St. Mary’s Church, Hemel Hempstead. The vicar said, “We will now give the peace.” This is where we shake each other’s hands and say, “Peace be with you.”

The elderly lady next to her, who was not a churchgoer and was hard of hearing, repeated after each shake of the hand what she thought was being said: “Pleased to meet you!”

… and now for the bonus …

Patience Persists

A man pacing back and forth glanced at his watch and yelled upstairs to his wife, “Honey, are you ready yet?”

Shouting back, the woman replies, “For crying out loud, Dewey, I’ve been telling you for the last half hour … I’ll be ready in a minute!”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it. — Lao Tsu

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COVID-19

I’ll be honest. I was asked to read this short treatise about the pandemic. Typically I would shy away from equating natural disasters to acts of God. But I was drawn in by the cover and wanted to see how author Michelle Cole would weave the two together.

I don’t know Michelle or her theological background. But in the 40 written pages she presented enough information to support her theory, liberally and deftly combining facts about what we knew (as of the August publication date) and what God’s role — through Scripture and His characteristics, specifically His omnipotence (all-powerful). omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresence (present everywhere), and sovereignty (in control of all things) —  in the pandemic is.

There are no new revelations in the book, but there is the constant drip of reminders how our actions — otherwise known as sin — contributed to God’s wake up call. For all practical purposes, as Michelle states, “The world was brought to its knees by the One who created the world – God … This is God’s world. We just live in it.”

She gently yet firmly reminds readers in this very secular world, we have created God in our own image and after our own likeness rather than the other way around. “Sin is plaguing our land like never before: idolatry, adultery, murder, sexual immorality, theft, violence … When we reject God, we are headed for destruction — hence, COVID-19.”

While focusing the reflective mirror straight on us {she includes herself as part of “us”}, she also addresses how we have usurped God’s presence in our churches and schools. She also chipped in her two cents worth — with Scriptural backing — on homosexuality, climate change and global warming, persecution of Christians, and the “rich and powerful.”

Michelle concludes by noting “This global pandemic is what can happen when the world rejects its Creator. Sin is the root cause of COVID-19 … In a world full of darkness, we need to turn to the Son. The vaccine that the world needs, most, is a biblical vaccine. The name that is above every name — JESUS.  

The book wraps up with Cole’s own words, “Prayer, minus worry, equals faith in God.” ™ That serves as a prelude to a series of Scripture verses on fear, God’s omnipotence, healing, and the Prayer of Salvation.”

I give the book four solid stars. I ticked one off because it is preaching to the choir and rather predictable, albeit in a well-written and presented format.

COVID-19 by Michelle Cole. Paperback, 54 pages; English; ISBN-10: 0972217363; ISBN-13: 978-0972217361; Publisher: Write World (Aug. 8, 2020). Available at amazon.com/COVID-19-Michelle-Cole/dp/0972217363/ $6.99.

Kindle: File Size  651 KB. Publication Date: Aug. 8, 2020, Publisher  Write World, 1st Edition (August 8, 2020); English; ASIN: B08BK8MTKZ; Word Wise: Enabled; Text-to-Speech: Not enabled; Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled; X-Ray: Not Enabled; Lending: Not Enabled. Available at amazon.com/COVID-19-Michelle-Cole-ebook/dp/B08BK8MTKZ/ $4.49 or read with free app.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. — 2 Timothy 1:7

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The Strength or Weakness of Society

Our Words for the Week come as a warning from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian novelist and Nobel Prize winner.

The strength or weakness of a society depends more on the level of its spiritual life than on its level of industrialization … If a nation’s spiritual energies have been exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse by the most perfect government structure or by any industrial development.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Remember, that of all the elements that comprise a human being, the most important, the most essential, the one that will sustain, transcend, overcome and vanquish obstacles is … SPIRIT — Buddy Ebsen

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Beautiful Feet

Today’s reflection is by Beth Heath and based {loosely} on Isaiah 52:1-7.

When I think of beautiful things, different images come to mind, not a single one of them has anything to do with feet. Feet are not beautiful. Sometimes they are stinky and smelly. To be quite honest, they look a little funny. People spend a lot of time and money covering their feet.

Isaiah 52 reminds us though, when we bring good news, God takes the things that are stinky and smelly and makes them beautiful. I don’t think this verse is referring to smooth heels or perfectly manicured feet. The beautiful feet in Isaiah 52:7 are cracked from lots of walking to deliver the good news. These cracked feet are connected to beautiful people, created in the image of Christ, who are doing exactly what we were created for. These feet are walking with Christ and sharing the Good News: Christ is our hope. That is loving God and loving others.

Today look for ways to be who you are in Christ. Look for ways to have beautiful feet and bring good news of hope to those around you.

Heath penned this for Devotions for Daily Living, a publication of the Church of the Nazarene. Beth and her husband Joe are missionaries with the Church of the Nazarene serving on the Africa South Field in Johannesburg, and traveling  around the field in South Africa, Eswatini (Swaziland), Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Madagascar. Their ministries on the field include coordinating field work and witness, finances, administration, and teaching and training. Beth received a BA in Theology from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2004 and her Masters of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 2011. She is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene. Joe received a BA from Eastern Nazarene College in 2000. They were married June 29, 2013, and have one child, Peter James, born June 13, 2015.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A smile is a language even a baby understands. It costs nothing but it creates much. It happens in a flash but the memory of it may last forever. Keep smiling.

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In Our Prayers …

As we build this community prayer platform, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

Approach the throne room and respond with faith and not fear, knowing the promises of God and His mighty hand will hold us through any situation! Sometimes, all it takes is just one prayer to change everything. Something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer.

What is one of the most important things we should do as Christians? Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

And, so, Lord, we come to You with our petitions, knowing and expecting Your will to be done.

Thoughts and prayers to all worldwide suffering from the consequences of coronavirus flu – and all other strains. Many – many – of the prayer requests are covid-19 related … people diagnosed … people sick … people dying … relatives worried and isolated. We are in this together – in prayer!

Please keep the victims of household abuse in your prayers. Whether it be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect, this time in particular is very horrifying for them to be trapped in a house with their abuser(s) and not being able to escape.

We also need to pray for colorblind peace. Racism will remain a plague until we stop looking at people as black and white, but as human beings created by the same Creator. We pray for new eyes, calmer heads, and softer hearts. 

Special prayer requests have been made for orphanages in Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and right here in the United States. The need is real.

There were also quite a few requests for students and the new school year. We ask, Lord, You bless the students, teachers, and administrators as they face new learning/teaching challenges this year. Keep them safe.

Financial issues were also high on the prayer lists with millions still out of work. Sustain those who are hurting financially. Give us and them our daily bread.

Natural disasters continue. Keep those in the path of fires and storms safe and focused on You, Lord.

Keep Andrew in your prayers as he continues to fight the fight. He contacted me the other day. Things continue to deteriorate. Prayers. Prayers. Prayers.

Please pray for Christian, an 11 year old with cancer.  

Please pray for the Lord’s mercy and grace, and a miracle of healing for little Simon, who was diagnosed with leukemia about three years ago. It had gone into remission, but has recently come back with a vengeance.

Rob is scheduled for his second cochlear implant and asks for prayer.

Karen is experiencing arm problems and could use some prayer.

Debby continues to recover from surgery and is seeking prayers.

Kaleb is recovering from jaw surgery. He is doing well but still needs continued prayers.

There were a host of unspoken prayer requests and we heard of a number of deaths this week. Prayers for their families as they go through this earthly trial. We grieve … heaven rejoices.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week. Some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Andrew, Christian, Simon, Rob, Karen, Debby, Kaleb, and all those needing Your healing and guiding touch. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines. — Satchel Paige

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