On Broken Wings

We’re sharing Joan Clayton’s experience as Words for the Week.

I wanted to share an experience I had concerning broken wings. This experience came when I needed it the most. In June 2003 my husband was in a terrible car wreck. He spent several days in the hospital. I have expressed my gratitude to God many times for saving his life. His body was one solid bruise, a whiplash, and broken ribs. I had to get a strong stance just to help him up (he’s 6’3″ tall) as he couldn’t do that by himself.

I did great for two weeks, but utter exhaustion and emotional drain attacked me. I went to bed one night, half praying, half crying and half asleep, sort of in that twilight zone just before falling asleep. (Some may call this a dream, but to me it was straight from God.) I had what I call a vision. I saw a beautifully wrapped package with beautiful ribbons and bows. I tore into it immediately and there lay a bird’s wing, shimmering in brilliance and outlined in silver and gold. I immediately fell asleep and awakened the next morning totally restored.

I just knew this had to be in the Bible and I found it. It was Psalm 68:13 (NIV): Even while you sleep among the campfires, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.

The Comforter had come to me, and, by the way, my husband recovered.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: People with good intentions make promises. But people with good character keep them — Eric Thomas

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Jehovah Our God Is One Jehovah

Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. — Deuteronomy 6:4

For centuries, the six words of the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 6:4 have been used by people of the Jewish faith as part of a devotional prayer. They say it daily, morning and evening. This prayer is called the Shema, which is the first word of the verse. With this prayer, devout Jews declare their exclusive devotion to God.

Those words are part of Moses’ parting speech to the nation of Israel gathered on the plains of Moab in the year 1473 BCE. The nation was about to cross the river Jordan to take possession of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 6:1). Moses, their leader for the past 40 years, wanted the people to be courageous when facing the challenges ahead. They needed to trust in Jehovah and be faithful to Him as their God. Moses’ final words would understandably have a profound effect on the people. After mentioning the Ten Commandments and other regulations Jehovah had given the nation, Moses made the powerful declaration found at Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. 

Did the Israelites gathered there with Moses not know Jehovah their God is “one Jehovah”?

Of course, they did. Faithful Israelites knew and worshiped only one God​ — the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That being so, why did Moses call to their attention Jehovah their God is one Jehovah? Does the oneness of Jehovah relate to loving Him with one’s whole heart, whole soul, and whole strength, as stated in verse 5? And what meaning do the words of Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 have for us today?

The word “one” in Hebrew and many other languages can mean much more than a simple number. It can imply being unique, the one and only. Jehovah is the Maker of heaven and earth, the Sovereign of the universe. There is no real or true God but Him; no other god is like Him (2 Samuel 7:22). Thus, Moses was reminding the Israelites their worship of Jehovah must be exclusive. They were not to follow the people around them who worshiped various gods and goddesses. Some of those false gods were viewed as ruling over certain parts of nature. Others were separate forms of a particular deity.

For example, the Egyptians worshiped the sun-god Ra, the sky-goddess Nut, the earth-god Geb, the Nile-god Hapi, and numerous sacred animals. Many of these false gods were dealt devastating blows by Jehovah through the Ten Plagues. The prominent Canaanite god was Baal, the god of fertility, who also appeared as the god of the sky, rain, and storm. In many places, Baal was the local patron deity as well (Numbers 25:3). The Israelites were to remember their God, the true God is one Jehovah (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39).

The word “one” also suggests unity and oneness of purpose and activity. Jehovah God is not divided or unpredictable. Rather, He is always faithful, consistent, loyal, and true. He promised Abraham his descendants would inherit the Promised Land, and Jehovah performed mighty deeds to fulfill that promise. The passing of 430 years did not diminish Jehovah’s determination to do so (Genesis 12:1, 2, 7; Exodus 12:40, 41).

Centuries later, when identifying the Israelites as His witnesses, Jehovah told them: I am the same One. Before Me no God was formed, and after Me there has been none. Emphasizing His unchanging purpose, Jehovah added: I am always the same One (Isaiah 43:10, 13; 44:6; 48:12). What an extraordinary privilege for the Israelites​ — and for us — ​to be servants of Jehovah, the God who is consistent and loyal in all his ways (Malachi 3:6; James. 1:17)!

Yes, Moses reminded the people Jehovah was constant and unchanging in His love and care for them. That being so, it logically followed they were to render Him exclusive devotion, loving Him unreservedly with all their heart, soul, and strength. Young ones too were to follow this way of complete devotion because the parents were to teach the children at every opportunity (Deuteronomy6:6-9).

Because Jehovah is unchanging and constant regarding His will and purpose, it is clear His fundamental requirements for true worshipers remain the same today. For our worship to be acceptable to Him, we too must give him exclusive devotion and love him with our complete heart, mind, and strength. In fact, that is exactly what Jesus Christ told an inquirer (Mark 12:28-31). Let us, therefore, see how we can show by our actions we truly understand Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.

To have Jehovah as our one and only God, we should give Him our exclusive devotion. Our worship of Him cannot be divided or shared with any other gods nor tinged with ideas or practices from other forms of worship. We must bear in mind Jehovah is not just one among many gods; nor is He even the highest and most powerful among them. Only Jehovah is to be worshiped (Revelation 4:11).

In the book of Daniel, we read about the Hebrew youths Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They demonstrated their exclusive devotion to Jehovah not only by abstaining from eating foods that were unclean but also by refusing to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. Their priorities were clear; there was no room in their worship for compromise (Daniel 1:1–3:30).

To give Jehovah exclusive devotion, we must be careful not to allow anything to take, or even to share, the place in our life Jehovah alone should occupy. What might such things be?

In the Ten Commandments, Jehovah made clear His people must have no other gods besides Him and they must not practice any form of idolatry (Deuteronomy 5:6-10). Today, idolatry can take many forms, some of which might be hard to recognize. But Jehovah’s requirements have not changed​ — He is still one Jehovah. Let us see what meaning that should have for us.

At Colossians 3:5, we find strong counsel to Christians regarding what might break their exclusive relationship with Jehovah. Note greediness is linked to idolatry. That is because the object of one’s desire, such as riches or luxuries, can become so controlling in life, it takes on the role of a powerful god. But when we look at the entire verse, it is not hard to see all the other sinful practices mentioned are in some way connected with greediness and thus with idolatry. The craving for such things can easily take the place of our love for God. Can we take the risk of allowing any of these things to control us, so Jehovah is no longer one Jehovah to us?

No, we cannot.

The apostle John made much the same point when he warned if anyone loves the things in the world​ — the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life — then the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15, 16). This means we need to examine our heart constantly to see if it is being enticed by worldly entertainment, associations, and styles of dress and grooming. Or the love of the world might involve efforts to attain “great things” (Jeremiah 45:4, 5).

We stand at the threshold of the promised new world. Thus, how important it is we keep well in mind Moses’ powerful words! If we clearly understand and firmly believe Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, we will do all we can to give Him exclusive devotion, serving Him as He approves (Hebrews 12:28, 29).

The oneness of Jehovah also implies unity and oneness of purpose, characteristics we as His worshipers must have as we serve Him. The first-century Christian congregation was made up of Jews, Greeks, Romans, and people of other nationalities. They had different religious backgrounds, customs, and sensibilities. Because of that, some had difficulty accepting the new way of worship or fully relinquishing their former ways. The apostle Paul found it fitting to remind them Christians have one God, Jehovah (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6).

What about the situation in the Christian congregation today?

The prophet Isaiah foretold in the final part of the days, people of all nations would flock to Jehovah’s elevated place of true worship. They would say: [Jehovah] will instruct us about His ways, and we will walk in His paths. (Isaiah 2:2, 3) How happy we are to see this prophecy undergoing fulfillment before our eyes! The result is many congregations have become multiracial, multicultural, and multilingual, giving praise to Jehovah. This diversity, however, can present issues that merit our serious consideration.

For example, how do you feel about fellow Christians who are from cultures very different from your own? Their first language, style of clothing, manners, and food may not be what you are accustomed to. Do you tend to shy away from them and associate mainly with those who have a background similar to yours? Or what if those appointed as overseers in your congregation​ are younger or are culturally or racially different from you? Do you allow such matters to undermine the unity and oneness of purpose that should exist among Jehovah’s people? What can help us to avoid such pitfalls?

To the Christians in Ephesus, a prosperous and diversified city, Paul offered some practical counsel (Ephesians 4:1-3). Note Paul first mentioned such qualities as humility, mildness, patience, and love. These might be likened to the pillars of a house that keep it standing. But besides having strong pillars, a house needs maintenance, which must be done regularly; otherwise, deterioration could set in. Paul appealed to the Ephesian Christians they earnestly endeavor to maintain the oneness of the spirit.

Each of us should accept it as his or her personal responsibility to contribute to maintaining the oneness in the congregation. What can we do?

First, cultivate and display the qualities Paul mentioned​ — humility, mildness, patience, and love. Then, put forth earnest effort to promote the uniting bond of peace. We should work to repair, as it were, any fissure-like weaknesses that may appear. Doing so, we contribute to the maintenance of our precious peace and unity.

Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. What a powerful statement! That reminder fortified the Israelites to confront the challenges facing them as they entered and took possession of the Promised Land. Our taking those words to heart will empower us and contribute to the Paradise to follow. Let us go on rendering exclusive devotion to Jehovah by loving and serving Him whole-souled and putting forth earnest effort to maintain oneness in the Christian brotherhood. If we continue to do so, we can look forward with confidence to seeing fulfilled what Jesus said about those whom He will judge as sheep: Come, you who have been blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world​ (Matthew 25:34).

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If Jesus is calling, answer Him. You can’t afford to miss His call!

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Prayer Changes Things …

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. 

Prayers requested for Kendall who was injured in a ball game last weekend. She had a MRI and a torn ACL .

Stacia needs your prayers again. Same stuff with her heart and breathing … going on three days straight this time.

Please pray for Rene. She is fighting an aggressive cancer.

Andrew can’t keep food in at either end, is very tired, and has massive swelling in the neck and chest, but he continues to fight the fight. Keep him in your prayers.

Prayers up for Sabrina with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain and needs to be re-evaluated.

Joe asks for prayers for a CT scan scheduled Wednesday.

Astrid and Betty ask for prayers for their health.

David’s MRI showed he doesn’t have a blockage and did not have a stroke. His condition was diagnosed as viral Bell’s palsy. He’s still in hospital though and being treated. Prayers requested.

Randy is preaching the Stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:51-8:1) tomorrow. Please pray for him as I make much of the Sitting Lord who Stands. Pray for all pastors bringing the gospel to life.

Antonio is asking for prayer his eyes get better and he doesn’t go blind . For the past month he has been dealing with inflammation in his cornea which could lead to scarring and possibly blindness.

Please pray Pam recovers from her brain cancer.

Please pray God will heal Maddie’s eyes. She’s only five and has serious problems.

Please pray for Kathy whose retina detached recently.

Healing prayers requested for Patricia who has early dementia.

Please pray for Sheila, newly admitted (during hurricane warnings) to the hospital with respiratory issues.

David has a health issue that is causing him great anxiety. Please pray for a speedy healing and peace of mind.

Please pray for Clifford. Previously he was able to get around with his walker. Now, he can’t even stand.

Andrea is asking for prayer the nodule in her lung is not cancer.

Please pray for Jackie, recovering from hip replacement but facing a heart procedure.

Please pray for Mary, who has leukemia.

Prayers requested for Rebecca, Linda, and Linda, all dealing with recurring breast cancer diagnoses.

Duarte’s colon test came back positive and surgery is scheduled to see if the polyps are cancerous. Please pray for him.

Debbie is asking for prayers for her finances.

Please pray for the health of Kuriakou to improve, especially her legs and heart.

Prayers requested for Florence who has non-hopkins lymphoma and is experiencing severe pain in her right arm.

Bill and Janet were in a bad car accident and have back and neck injuries. Prayers requested.

Please pray for Brandon. He was driving and had a seizure, totaling his work van and several cars.

Please pray for John who is struggling with excessive cholesterol problems and diabetes.

Christylin asks for prayer for gallstones, gallbladder, and lover problems.

Prayers requested for Betty whose white blood cell had dropped dangerously low.

Prayers requested for Bebelin who has not been able to sleep for two months.

Please pray for Shalini, who has had a high fever the past two days.

Greg’s tests confirmed he does have esophageal cancer that spread to a lung. He is on chemo. The cancer is not curable, but manageable. Prayers requested.

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 Kendall, Stacia, Rene, Andrew, Sabrina, Joe, Astrid, Betty, David, Randy, Antonio, Pam, Maddie, Kathy, Patricia, Sheila, David, Clifford, Andrea, Jackie, Mary, Rebecca, Linda, Linda, Duarte, Debbie, Kuriakou, Florence, Bill, Janet, Brandon, John, Christylin, Betty, Bebelin,  Shalini,Greg  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: A generous prayer is never presented in vain; the petition may be refused, but the petitioner is always, I believe, rewarded by some gracious visitation. – Robert Louis Stevenson

 

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Five Minute Friday — Respect

Is everybody ready for Five Minute Friday?

It’s where our group of writers gather  to write unscripted for five minutes on a specific word prompt. Our prompt is diligently supplied by Kate Motaung. After we post, we link up on Facebook at fiveminutefriday.com {in the Join the Community section} to share our pearls of wisdom or our pig’s ears and just mix and mingle.

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 an up close and personal testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Kimberly. I hope she inspires you to check us out … and maybe join in?

“FMF gave me permission to release my need for perfection, for over-thinking, and for worrying about how the readers will receive my work. It allowed me to revel in the smaller details of my ordinary days and receive them as a gift. Thanks to you, Kate, and Lisa-Jo [the originator of Five Minute Friday], I have embraced moments I would have otherwise have forgotten. It’s been a joy to participate.”

Yes. It’s a great creative outlet. Not everything is perfect … but neither are we. It’s always eye-opening. You should check out the site and see for yourself … or better yet, try it yourself.

The prompt this week is RESPECT and the timer is set, so let’s GO…

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Anyone singing or dancing in the late 60s remember that song belted out by Aretha Franklin. Although not the first to sing the song — Otis Redding released the original version in 1965 with a more soulful intention — Franklin’s version two years later, with just a few subtle lyric and style changes, became an anthem as women were starting to flex their muscle. It was a declaration from a strong, confident woman. It was embraced by just about everyone, not because it was an “anthem” but because it was a universal truth. We all want respect — just give me some respect.

Unfortunately these days, R-E-S-P-E-C-T has been often tossed onto the pile labeled “outdated”. We don’t see enough of it … and that is just too bad.

The song and lyrics weren’t new for the country at the time. Women, minorities, you and me were clamoring for the same thing — a little bit of … STOP

R-E-S-P-E-C-T — nothing more, nothing less. And so it goes today.

It’s a little seven letter word that sets the stage for a life well lived. You want respect; give some respect.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Happiness is a journey … not a destination. — Ben Sweetland

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I’m Tired

I’m tired.

I don’t like to clutter my space with social issues, but today I can’t help myself. I will apologize up front if I offend anyone during this rant. But I AM tired.

I am tired of this whole covid thing. Certainly it is nothing to ignore, but we are being pummeled relentlessly with “facts” and “figures” which, quite honestly, I feel are often presented to confuse us and, worse yet — scare us. We seem to relish in this death watch, nationally and globally. We can’t wait for the next update.

Yet no one seems to care about the unintended consequences of lockdowns. Suicide and suicide attempts are dramatically up. Drug abuse is up. {I can’t explain this since no one is working and thus should have less cash on hand.} Spousal and child abuse is up. Crime is up. Depression is more prevalent. Doctors were mandated to defer non-emergency tests, procedures, and treatments. I have to wonder how many illnesses could have been discovered earlier when, perhaps, they were more easily treatable.

I do think we needed a worldwide pause as we wrapped our heads and most brilliant minds around the pandemic. I just don’t think we needed to shut everything down except essentials — isn’t every job essential? — for as long as we did. Within weeks, our doctors and scientists were able to dissect the little bug and start breakneck speed “discoveries” in its epidemiology.

That’s where it breaks down for me. There has been a lot of worldwide work on the virus and, as is often the case among doctors and scientists, their expertise and bias drives their conclusions. And they tend to be non-committal — could, may, might. We’ve heard it — “maybe a year” when it turns out to be weeks or, on a positive note, turns out to be years. That’s why we get second and third and fourth opinions trying to find a narrative we’re comfortable with. The epidemiology may be scientific but it’s more an educated guess. The truth is the virus will affect — or not affect — each person differently based on their genetic makeup, their lifestyle, their underlying conditions.

I’m not getting into the efficacy of masks or social distancing. That’s your individual call. But it seems a little common sense would go a long way in mitigating the disease — washing your hands … coughing into your arm … staying away from crowds, especially if you’re feeling under the weather.

It’s time to put things in perspective, not propagate fear. I refuse to live in fear. My time will be up at the appointed time — not before, not after, whether or not we are experiencing a pandemic.

I’m tired of politics. Especially as we race to a national election, the rhetoric has become more divisive on both sides of the aisle. Our elected leaders — let me emphasize OUR — look at party first and people last. How do speeches reflect party planks? What gotcha comment did the opponent say or do today to advance the party agenda? How can facts be twisted to benefit the party?

A perfect case in point was the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr. That wasn’t a hearing. That was political posturing. I mean, really, you “invite” the sitting attorney general to get answers and don’t allow him to answer? He is called rude and ridiculed. It was a farce. It was a perfect illustration of how power hungry the politicos in Washington have become. And we’re supposed to take them seriously? Seriously!

You don’t have to look far beyond the Beltway to recognize this. Although perhaps not as blatant, just look at campaigns in your state, county, city, village, town. Are the candidates telling you what they would do if elected, or the horrors their opponents have committed?

I’m tired of all the political correctness. A blade of grass is not a cow — even after being digested. Doesn’t anyone realize any person or group can be offended by almost anything? So we “correct” the affront — at the expense of everyone else. Washington Football Club? Lions & tigers & bears, oh my!

I’m tired of revisionist history. History is history. Our founding fathers were not perfect. Our leaders over the past 200-plus years were not perfect. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. In fact, the only Person I know who was perfect was Jesus — and they crucified Him … literally!

The Civil War is part of that history. The Civil Rights movement was part of that history. We can’t, we just can’t erase our past. We can learn from it. We can grow from it. We can’t and we shouldn’t erase it.

I’m tired of the protests. Yes, black lives matter, but all lives matter. Police lives matter. White lives matter. Asian lives matter. Muslim lives matter. We all matter because our God created us uniquely.

I have no problem with peaceful protests. I want to know your experiences. But you’ve lost me at the first brick thrown. You’ve lost me when you allow the protest to be hijacked by thugs. You’ve lost me when the “protest” denigrates into rioting, looting, and violence. You’ve lost me when the stereotypes surface.

I know the movement is to deal with systemic oppression. However, that’s a two way street. The last time I was involved in a traffic stop, I couldn’t help but notice the trooper had her hand on her pistol throughout the entire stop and especially when I reached into the glove box for my paperwork. The thing is she had no idea what was in that glove box. You don’t know what kind of day she had … did her call log include a domestic incident? Was her last call a death or injury notification? Put yourself in her shoes if you want her to walk in yours.

I personally don’t think the unrest is caused by systemic police procedures. It goes deeper than that. It goes to a legal system where indigents overwhelm the public defender system resulting often in less than effective court representation and additions to a rap sheet. It goes to the family unit that too often includes a single mom, an absent dad, and a slew of step-siblings. It goes to education — or lack of it. It goes to economics where the glitzy allure of quick gain through illegal activity overpowers hard work. It empowers gangs as the familial support unit. It goes to a total lack of respect for anyone but self.

We’ve successfully taken God out of our schools, communities, and lives. Is it surprising many have no moral compass?

I’m tired of social justice commandeering our lives. I am all for social justice, but for goodness sake, take it out of our sports arenas. Celebrities — who typically are as far removed from experiencing injustice as anyone — are not spokespersons for the oppressed and down-trodden. It’s easy to talk about the plight in the projects from your $150 million gated mansion in Malibu. It’s easy to pick up on a cause behind a wall of armed bodyguards. Please. Please. Please. Actors act. Singers sing. Athletes play. Don’t push your values on me or anyone else. Use your talent. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I do want to understand the struggles my friends of color have gone through … and I have listened. I understand the frustrations. But, you know what, when we talk — and listen — we find out we have more in common. The roads we travel may take us through different landscapes — urban, rural, peaceful, chaotic — but we are in this life together.

My suggestion is to stop the whining. Stop the entitlement mentality. Stop blaming everyone else for the choices you make. Educate me by showing the accomplishments of those who have fought the battle — people like Hank Aaron, Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Condoleezza Rice, Jackie Robinson, Mary Church Terrell, Harriett Tubman, Ida Belle Wells-Barnett. The list can go on and on.

I’m getting off my soapbox now because …

I’m tired.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: It is at the end of the race when we know who the winner is. It is not at the start. If you are winning at the start, do not consider yourself the winner until you cross the finish line.

 

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Midweek Mirth

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!

Franken Car

Guy 1: “My uncle in Detroit tried to invent a new kind of car. He took the engine from a Ford, the transmission from a Chevy, the tires from a Cadillac and the exhaust system from a Chrysler.”

Guy 2: “Really? What did he get?”

Guy 1: “Fifteen years for theft.”

… And now for the bonus …

The Solution

When a man worked for the security department of a large retail store, his duties included responding to fire and burglar alarms. A side door of the building was wired with a security alarm because it was not supposed to be used by customers. Nevertheless people found the convenience of the exit tempting. Even a sign with large red letters, warning “Alarm will sound if opened,” failed to deter people from using it.

One day, after attending to a number of shrieking alarms, the guy placed a small handmade sign on the door that totally eliminated the problem: “Wet paint.”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: I am interested in entertaining people, in bringing pleasure, particularly laughter, to others, rather than being concerned with “expressing” myself with obscure creative impressions. – Walt Disney

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A (Virtual) Evening with Author Joe Siccardi

Do you remember your first date? How about your last date?

I don’t think it matters whether you are the dater or the datee. I’m pretty sure the emotions are similar. There is anxiety, anticipation, maybe a little bit of trepidation. Will I make a good impression? A bad impression? What will we talk about? How much will I learn about my date? Will it be an enjoyable experience? Will I chalk it up as a learning lesson? Will I look forward to another connection or one is done and enough?

Those are some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind after announcing Friday’s (Virtual) Evening with Author Joe Siccardi. The first thing that popped into my mind was being stood up for my first real date. But then I remembered other dates, ones that actually materialized. I remembered having all those questions race through my mind. I also remembered sighing a sigh of relief after dropping my date off.

In the solitude of the car, I could assess my version of success or disappointment. I would re-live the night (or day). I would re-evaluate my words — what I said right, what I said wrong, how guarded my conversation was, how much I learned about my date, how much I shared with my partner for the evening. So Friday night and Saturday I will definitely be looking inward.

To recap, A (Virtual) Evening with Author Joe Siccardi will include a short overview about my journey, the writing/publishing process, an introduction of my three books,– Heaven Shining Through, My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through, and Wisdom From a Father … one dad’s thoughts on life — with ample Q & A time. And I do have some new and exciting news to share! It is scheduled Friday (July 31) at 7 p.m. (ET) as a Facebook Live presentation.

This isn’t totally new for me — except for the virtual part. I am most comfortable with small, intimate groups — five to 10 people — in a living room, but I’ve addressed bigger audiences at libraries and cafes. I like the smaller venues, though, because I feel a closer connection with the guests. I can interact with them more, answer probing questions they want to ask rather than inquiries I think they want answered. And I have launched all three of my books with Facebook Live feeds.

Thus far, I have five commits, however there are an additional 64 interested, so … it’s anybody’s guess how many will actually tune in either live or later. My book launches reached nearly 200 visitors. Guests at this event literally are from around the world and include family, friends, followers, and names I don’t recognize.

During the broadcast, I will attempt to follow comments, but I’m not sure I will be able to comment in real time. I don’t multitask very well.

I do hope you stop by Friday. I do hope you have some questions. Send them in and I’ll address them during the broadcast or as a follow-up.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Where you are matters; but where you will be matters more. Where you start matters; but where you will end matters more.

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Losing Everything

A fellow servant, Gary Kallio, offers the Words for the Week today from his writing at Fiber for the Soul.

What would you do if a crisis sours your life?

We hear of folk who lose everything in a house fire, or, more recently, of folk who struggle to make ends meet. Tough circumstances draw us closer to God if we don’t whine or complain. It’s hard to trust when our prayers are not answered right away, and even harder the longer we wait. It takes faith to believe the answers will come.

I’ve been reading Job, the oldest book in the Bible. We know Job was the richest man of his era, but in one day he lost every thing he owned. And, he was devastated when all his children died in an unexpected tornado. His wife suggested he curse God and die. Cursing God was something he could not, and would not do. In the depth of his despair, he remarked since God had given him all things, He was entitled to take them all away.

When three friends visited, supposedly to comfort him, Job argued he had done nothing so wrong to deserve losing every thing. When the argument heated up, Job became irritated and his friends stopped talking. They saw he was self-righteous. To his credit, Job said he knew God was quietly behind the scenes though he couldn’t see His steps. He did not know God permitted this test because God trusted him to not curse.

The question comes back: how do we handle ourselves when we lose every thing? Do we believe God knows what is happening, and do we know He hears our prayer?

When Job was at the “end-of-his-rope”, God stepped in to ask: “Job, where were you when I created the heavens?”

When asked a second time, Job surrendered. Humbling himself, he said he was indeed sorry for rambling beyond what he knew. He admitted he had known God only by reputation, but now he knew God from personal experience.

Job learned God lifts us up at our weakest point. Job’s story is not unlike the story in Philippians 3:10, where Paul said what counts is to know Christ from personal experience. After Job’s admission and submission, God allowed his things to be restored and then doubled. Job had 10 more children; he lived another 140 years; and saw four generations of his family mature.

The reward for enduring trials is an amazing maturity in Christ, a deeper relationship with God, where His closeness is our treasure.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching — C.S. Lewis

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In the Nest

Our reflection this week is from Rev. Martha Spong from Daily Devotions, a publication of the United Church of Christ.

Jesus put before them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. — Matthew 13:31-32 (NRSV)

When my older children were college age, any time everyone came home I would post on Facebook: “All the birds are in the nest.” Those opportunities became more fleeting as time went by and adult life took them in opposite directions. My son the New Yorker moved to Los Angeles. Then his brother moved from Portland, OR, to Boston. And their “baby” sister prepared to move to Japan. When we are all together, I pay attention and make memories to savor later.

This spring as Covid-19 escalated, my oldest needed to leave L.A. He could carry his work wherever he went, and so he came home — although it is not the house or even the state in which he was raised. It’s strange having him here, cooking in my kitchen, walking his dog around the block, without flying off after a day or three. It’s strange and wonderful.

Could a mustard seed actually grow into a tree?

Jesus told parables that we may have to research to understand, but this one does not seem so hard. My son needed a place to land, and in this strange and strained time, we needed him too. This tree has room for all the birds in the nest.

Prayer: Loving God, bring us to the day when all people have their place in your commonwealth of love. Amen.

Martha Spong is a United Church of Christ pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press. Daily Devotional was created by StillSpeaking Writers Group and a United Church of Christ offering.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Love forgives.

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Prayers Up

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. 

Janel spent a few days in the hospital with severe abdominal pain. No real conclusion, but she has an appointment with a specialist in September. Share good thoughts and lots of prayer.

Andrew can’t keep food in at either end, is very tired, and has massive swelling in the neck and chest, but he continues to fight the fight. Keep him in your prayers.

Abby asks prayers for the three tests she has this month.

Gail is on her way to a trauma center with her whole left side numb. Tests at the local hospital ruled out stroke after three CAT scans, but she is still unable to stand. Prayers requested.

Please send prayers for Brenda who is in ICU with stage 4 kidney failure.

Prayers up for Margie. She tested positive for covid while planning to have her gall bladder removed. Doctors want to postpone surgery for six weeks.

Please pray for Annie who has been in intense physical pain for three straight days and the pain is getting worse.

Joyce is fighting and struggling with leukemia and all/every prayer is needed!

Victoria discovered a lump on her neck which turned out cancerous and is in the middle of her thyroid pushing the gland up and out, causing a “subtle protrusion.” She will undergo surgery Monday to remove the tumor, her thyroid, and a couple of nearby lymph nodes. Prayers requested.

Bryce was rushed to the hospital with a collapsed lung. The family is asking for prayers.

Geska has been very busy between treatments, visits from homecare nurses, and bedtime. To make things worse, his hands are trembling all the time. He asks to be kept in your prayers.

Please pray for Arielle who has been experiencing chest pains that started last night .

Prayers for Richard who is looking for a job and has become very frustrated.

Please pray for Lynnette. The doctor said there is something wrong with her liver.

Please pray Sandhya who is suffering from leg pain and depression from her job in a hospital.

Please pray for Brijlani who is suffering from blindness in both eyes.

aJerome asks for prayers for his right foot wound and toe fungus.

Bruno still hurts. His tooth is healing, but his neck and head still hurt. Prayers requested.

Pray for Gracie for her high blood pressure.

Please pray for Ron whose cancer has spread.

Please pray for Al to be cancer free and live many years without suffering.

Praying for Eileen and a good healing process.

Prayers for baby Rosie’s doctor appointment to go well.

Martha has cancer and her family is struggling financially right now so they cannot afford to buy her medicine right now. May the Lord heal her and provide for her family during these difficult times. May the Lord strengthen her family and open doors for them. May the Lord lead them to the right people who will help them.

Please pray God would save Emily’s life from crippling fear, anxiety, and depression.

Please bless Ashley and give her a miracle healing since she has been taken off life support.

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 Janel, Andrew, Abby, Gail, Brenda, Margie, Annie, Joyce, Victoria, Bryce, Geska, Arielle, Lynnette, Sandhya, Brijlani, Jerome, Bruno, Gracie, Ron, Al, Eileen, Rosie, Martha, Emily, Ashley, 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 is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God. – Teresa of Avila

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