Our National Sin

One week ago, the light of our nation grew dimmer. Andrew Cuomo tweeted,

Today I signed the #ReproductiveHealthAct – codifying Roe v. Wade into state law and protecting women’s reproductive rights no matter what the federal government does. This is a victory for all New Yorkers.

I am curious if it’s a victory for those “almost-born-New-Yorkers?” My stomach turned watching a video of people applauding and cheering this decision. What makes this situation even more sad is that New York is not alone! Over 60,000,000 babies have died since Roe v. Wade passed into law. That’s ten times the number killed in the Holocaust!

Abortion is not a political issue. It’s a spiritual problem.

 

It’s not political. I understand the media force-feeds us biases by the truckload. But this post is not about supporting blue donkeys or red elephants. (Both Democrats and Republicans have failed us on this issue.) Abortion is not a political issue. It’s a spiritual problem. Abortion is a grievous sin before God. We, as a nation, must repent!

Christians use neutered tactics in the fight for life. Like gullible guppies, we have swallowed the bait of spiritual neutrality.  We focus on legislation alone, but the answer is not in the ballot box. The answer is the Gospel! I am not speaking of the gospel of greasy grace televangelists. The true Gospel reveals sin and calls for conversion (faith and repentance) to Christ. A cast vote will do nothing to convert the soul of a nation. We must return to preaching the Gospel! For the Gospel has the power to change the hearts of humanity.

Two Passages to Consider

As I read my morning devotions, I came across two passages that speak to the current situation. I will refrain from any commentary and let the Word speak for Itself. I found the first passage in Genesis 9. The Bible says,

 

Genesis 9:6-7 (NASB)
 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. 7  “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

The next passage comes from Psalm 9. The Bible states,

Psalm 9:15-20 (NASB)
15  The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16  The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah. 17  The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God. 18  For the needy will not always be forgotten, Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever. 19  Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged before You. 20  Put them in fear, O LORD; Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.

God have mercy on our nation! If we do not repent, God will judge us. Give us Christians the boldness to herald Your Good News! Amen.

For Resources visit: www.endabortionnow.com 

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It’s Monday!

It’s Monday!

So, why am I excited?

Yes, I am caffeinated, but that is not the reason I am thrilled. I confess I am not generally happy with Monday’s arrival. However, I am reminded on this first Monday of 2019 of the daily renewal of God’s mercies (see Lam. 3:22-23). I need His mercy (especially on Mondays).
Today, I am heading back to the hustle of the second semester of school, but I have a positive outlook. It is my choice to rejoice. I could complain about the struggle of juggling parenting two active kids, shepherding a growing congregation, and teaching at the academy, but I embrace these opportunities. God has entrusted me with these opportunities. And I am humbled.
No, I am far from perfect and I am tempted to grumble when the schedule is full. On this first Monday, I shift my perspective from viewing my life as being busy to having a full life. The encounters of this day are not obstacles to overcome, but they are a means of grace I should not attempt to bypass. I am not advocating pie-in-the-sky-ism, for it is a balancing act.  But this is the life God has given and I rejoice at the opportunity to live for His glory today.  I cannot relive a single day. My verse for this Monday is Psalm 118:24. The Bible says, “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24, NASB). Lord, may this verse make its abode in my heart every day. 
 
What about you? Are you living for God’s glory?

The Butterfly Effect

It was in this moment, I witnessed something everyone could not see. I had passed by this way in the same frantic pace like the others and missed it.

The crack in my windshield forced me to slow down. What began as a garden snake had grown into an anaconda stretching in both directions, obstructing my field of vision. This slow-growing serpent started months back from a surprise encounter with a rock (or some form of road debris.) I was reluctant to admit it needed to be fixed. (Actually, I was unwilling to take the time to have it repaired.)

Dropping my Silverado off at the glass shop, I planned to walk back home. The shop is about three and a half to four-mile walk depending on the route taken. With school being out, I left my wife and kids sleeping and delivered my truck. I grabbed my bag out of the backseat and began my journey back.

I do my best thinking and praying when I walk. I love walking because you encounter the world from a different perspective. It forces you to move at a slower pace and breathe in your surroundings.  I was looking forward to the trek across town because I could get a bit of exercise as I experience God’s creation afresh.

But something was hindering my mind as I walked. I couldn’t get into my sacred place (or pace). A nagging fear of how I looked to the passerby kept me unfocused. Usually, I walk the less crowded thoroughfares, but on this trip, I traveled through the congested streets. Cars and trucks zoomed by leaving me in the wake of their exhaust. I felt uncomfortable and awkward as I walked because everyone else was in a hurry. Was I wasting my time? Shouldn’t  I be doing something more productive? These thoughts swirled in my brain leaving me unsettled.

Then I witnessed something everyone else could not see. I had passed by this way in the same frantic pace like the others and missed it. As I hiked over the Hero’s Bridge Overpass, I noticed the wildflowers blanketing the roadside. Floating on the torrents of traffic-disturbed air a butterfly glided from flower to flower. Carrying out his duty to the Father’s decree. Immediately, I realized this was a gift from my Father and I was ushered into a moment of glory.

God is present in the minutia of life. Often, I think the fear of being seen as odd or different keeps us from experiencing these types of moments. We whizz by on the road of life never thinking of what God is doing around us. As productivity drives us to be human “doings” instead of human beings we miss the wonder of it all.

Don’t believe me? When is the last time you spent time lying on your backside watching the various objects, animals, and characters drift by in the clouds? Or staring in the wonder of a starlit night? You may object that you’re too old to do this kind of stuff anymore. Who says? Or is it that you are worried about being the weirdo? The fear of people’s perception of us robs our childlike wonder. We weigh ourselves down with personal expectations of productivity. We must be doing something not simply being. We often fail to embrace the gloriousness of the creation around us.

By posting this I may have confirmed your suspicion of me. Yes, I may dance to a different beat than you but I am okay with that. It’s okay to slow down and go against the grain of our frantic culture. Taking the time to drink the world in one refreshing sip at a time. Taking time to enjoy the Father’s handiwork and just be human. I never want to be so occupied that I miss another butterfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying for the Victims of Michael

After opening my front door, I surveyed my property. Pine limbs littered my lawn. Fortunately, our lights flickered but never went out for any significant amount of time.  Realizing I would spend a few hours cleaning up minor debris, I thanked God for our safety.

Returning inside, I turned the television to the Weather Channel. Only to see images of complete devastation. One reporter stood in front of a long line of overturned train cars blasted by the storm. Another asked the camera to pan to see buildings that appeared as a pile of broken matchsticks. The panhandle of Florida lies in ruin. People’s lives and livelihood lay in shambles. My heart aches.

Honestly, I planned to introduce a new type of post today, but I was prompted to write this instead. We need to pray. So, what should we pray for?

  • Thank God for those who escaped harm’s way.
  • Pray for those who are waking to a season of bereavement.
  • Pray for those whose homes and businesses are destroyed.
  • Pray for those who do not have power or utilities.
  • Pray for those who are in need of rescue.
  • Pray for rescuers, first-responders,  and linemen.
  • Pray for government agencies and non-profit agencies to quickly assess and administer aid.

Again, please take a minute out of your day to pray for the victims of Hurricane Michael. Go volunteer in some capacity or give to a charitable organization. We must come together in moments of crisis! Here are some organizations you can donate to:

 

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Water from the Rock

Daily Reading

 The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.So the people complained to Moses, “Give us water to drink.”“Why are you complaining to me?” Moses replied to them. “Why are you testing the Lord?”But the people thirsted there for water and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? In a little while they will stone me!”The Lord answered Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Take the staff you struck the Nile with in your hand and go. I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Would you like to read this passage in another translation? Click Here 

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Daily Reflection

God’s provision often comes from the unlikeliest source.

Complaints had reached a feverish pitch. The elders of Israel stared at Moses as mutinous imaginations bubbled to the surface of the minds. Some younger men in the crowd, with their feet,  loosened fist-size rocks with from their earthy bed.  A few of them already wielded stones with white-knuckled grasp. Moses felt their gaze burrowing into his back, and their complaints filled his ears. All Moses could think was, water from a rock? Nevertheless, he trusted Yahweh’s instructions.

After wiping the sweat from his brow, Moses stretched the rod of God to the heavens bringing it down on the rock with an echoing crack. The mob of mad Hebrews winced at the deafening blow. The murmuring slowly halted. In the silent moment, the sound of water grew from a faint trickle to a gushing crescendo of living water. God had given the provision of water from the unlikeliest source. Life-sustaining water flowed from a rock.

In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul affirms that the rock “was Christ.” Who would have considered a carpenter born of seeming scandal in Bethlehem, raise a Nazarene, would build a bridge to glory? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Jesus of Nazareth was struck for us. From His suffering, flows living water for all that believe. Some may wonder why God chose this method, but He delights in using the unlikeliest means to accomplish His will. Have you drunk from the Fount, which is Christ?

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Suggested Prayer

Lord, thank you for Christ’s sacrifice. Help me to realize today that my help may come from the unlikeliest source. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 


In the Word TogetherIn the Word Together is a devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary that aims to aid in daily devotions. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows:

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary –The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff

Daily Bread

Daily Reading

The entire Israelite community departed from Elim and came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt. The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites: “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt,and in the morning you will see the Lord’s glory because he has heard your complaints about him. For who are we that you complain about us?” Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat this evening and all the bread you want in the morning, for he has heard the complaints that you are raising against him. Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your complaints.’” 10 As Aaron was speaking to the entire Israelite community, they turned toward the wilderness, and there in a cloud the Lord’s glory appeared.

11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them: At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

13 So at evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, there were fine flakes on the desert surface, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, “What is it?” because they didn’t know what it was.

Moses told them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat. You may take two quarts[b] per individual, according to the number of people each of you has in his tent.’”

17 So the Israelites did this. Some gathered a lot, some a little. 18 When they measured it by quarts,[c] the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat. 19 Moses said to them, “No one is to let any of it remain until morning.” 20 But they didn’t listen to Moses; some people left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. Therefore Moses was angry with them.

21 They gathered it every morning. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat, but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

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Daily Reflection

God desires daily dependence.

“What is it?” asked every quail-filled Hebrew. Bewildered, in the dawning light, they gazed at the frostlike substance blanketing the desert sands. With slow-reaching hand, some gathered it for closer inspection.  While inhaling the scent of this foreign substance smiles formed on their faces. It was the promised bread of heaven.

“It tastes like honey… and…umm…wafers,” declared one from the camp.

After this Moses and Aaron instructed the people on how to collect and keep heaven’s provision. They were to depend on this regular distribution, except on the Sabbath. God was testing their obedience. Would they come to Him daily for fresh nourishment? Unfortunately, some tried to preserve the manna, but it spoiled filling the camp with a foul smell.

Many people are merely surviving on what God provided yesterday. They are living in the “glory days” of yesteryear. Put the stale bread down. God wants you to encounter His fresh grace and thrive each every day.

Are you living off a previous Sunday sermon? Or are you engaging the Scriptures every day? When is the last time you felt the wind of the Spirit rush over your soul? Has hunger pangs become normal for you? Like the Israelites, God desires your daily dependence.

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Suggested Prayer

Lord, forgive me for attempting to live off of past experiences. Your grace is renewed every day. I need a freshness in my walk with You. In Jesus name, Amen.

 


In the Word TogetherIn the Word Together is a daily devotional blog series based on the Narrative Lectionary that aims to aid parents in leading family devotions. Unless stated, all posts are written by Kevin W. Bounds.  Necessary attributions are as follows:

Christian Standard Bible – Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Narrative Lectionary –The Narrative Lectionary (http://www.narrativelectionary.org) is an open-source project created by Profs. Rolf Jacobson and Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.

Daily Readings for the Narrative Lectionary – Copyright © 2018 Clergy Stuff