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Posts tagged ‘God is still speaking’

There Might Be Giants – a StillSpeaking Devotional

(I think I posted this in December, but it spoke to me today.)

They Might Be Giants

Numbers 13:3
“We saw the Nephilim giants there‚ we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

One year during the holidays, I was buying a magazine at a tiny concession stand in the airport when suddenly, in walked these six enormous people. They were bigger than anyone I had ever seen in real life. In fact, the women were bigger than most men I know. Suddenly there really wasn’t room for anyone else.

But I stuck around for three distinct reasons. One, I couldn’t move. Two, I didn’t want to irritate them in any way. And three, I was having the strong feeling that I was with people who were famous, but I didn’t quite know why.

The women wore high-heeled boots and their hair was bleached and teased. The men were as wide as refrigerators. But they all wore similar tee shirts that I wriggled around to read: “World Wrestling Federation.” I was surrounded by professional wrestlers.

And there was one of them, his face on the cover of the celebrity magazine in front of me. I realized I buying a magazine right behind the most famous wrestler of the day: The Rock.

I remember three things about my encounter with the Rock. He was very polite. He used exact change. And he was reading the latest issue of The Economist.

So now I confess. I did not expect the professional wrestler to be reading The Economist, the British magazine of international news, politics, business, and technology.

But why didn’t I? Shame on me, for stereotyping.

Prayer
I thank you God that I never know who I will meet, or what he will be reading or what you have in store for the complex creatures you have created. Thank you, God, for giants, grasshoppers and Economist-reading wrestlers. Amen.


Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Nameless Heroes – a Stillspeaking Devotional

Nameless Heroes –

Acts 23: 12-17 (NIV)
The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, ‘We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. . . .’ But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” So he took him to the commander.

Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel

The Apostle Paul played a leading role in the spreading of the gospel and in the establishment of the first-century church. Indeed most of the narrative of the book of Acts is a vivid chronicle of the life, witness and ministry of Paul. But behind every major character, there is always a host of supporting characters.

These are the foot soldiers who work inconspicuously and almost invisibly in the background. They are seldom noted, easily overlooked and almost never remembered. Their names are often forgotten or never mentioned. They are like the nameless young man of Acts 23. Barely noticed. Quite indistinct. Practically obscure. Yet this non-distinct, nameless young man is the agent God used to intercept a plot to murder Paul and to stifle the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles.

To how many nameless heroes and heroines do we owe our success? How many forgotten souls have sacrificed and selflessly intervened on our behalf to save us from pending doom? How many times has God used minor characters to deliver major victories for us? We could so easily forget them and believe that we have made it by our own abilities. But the truth is that without their pivotal contributions, we would not be. A full appreciation of Paul’s life and ministry must also include an appreciation for the life and ministry of the nameless one.

Prayer
Dear Lord, for the countless, nameless persons whom you have used throughout my life to save my life, I give you thanks. Amen.

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

What was that all about – a Stillspeaking Devotional

What’s That All About?

Joshua 4:20-24a

Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, so that all may know the power of the Lord.”

Matt Laney

Go visit Stonehenge in the English county of Wiltshire and ask, as people have for centuries, “What do these stones mean?” The only honest answer is “We don’t know” or “Go ask an archeologist.” If there ever was a plan to pass on the meaning from generation to generation, it didn’t stick.

Go visit the Holy Land and you’ll find rocks everywhere. Big ones, little ones and stacks of them, just like the pile described in Joshua 4 near the Jordan River. As soon as the Israelites stepped in the river, the waters parted, Red Sea-style, and the whole nation crossed over. It was a moment to remember.

But Joshua was smart enough to know that even mighty miracles are easily forgotten unless we do something to remember them. The twelve stone pillar was meant to arouse the curiosity of younger generations who would see it and naturally ask, “What’s that all about?” We are instructed to answer: “It’s there to remind us God is real and powerful and faithful.”

A common fear for parents of confirmation students is that their child will ask a question for which they have no answer. What’s baptism all about? What’s communion all about? And what about miracles, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection?

The honest answer might be “I don’t really know” or “Go ask the pastor.” But if all we offered was the Joshua answer: “Those things remind us God is real and powerful and faithful,” it would be enough.

Today we don’t have a pile of twelve stones. We have a pile of stories, poems and letters known as the Bbble to arouse our curiosity and help us remember God’s presence and faithfulness. It’s really the only thing worth remembering.

Prayer
God help us to remember that you never forget us.

About the Author
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.

“I trace the rainbow through the rain and see the promise is not in vain.”

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Challenge, Controversy and Change – a Stillspeaking Devotional

Challenge, Controversy and Change

Acts 21:17-26

When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

Reflection by Ron Buford

Among religious people, breaking the 10th commandment is a great stumbling block: “Thou shalt not covet.” Here are two Christian sects: one Jewish; the other Gentile. The Jewish sect has good reason to ask, “Why keep Moses’ law when newcomers don’t have to keep it?”

The church today stumbles similarly. Why do we accept unmarried couples living together? We had to get married. Why do we let gay people get married? They used to have enough shame to keep their behavior a secret. Why do we accept people who are divorced? We stayed married and hated each other. Bottom line: We suffered, you suffer too; God requires it.

Correction: No, not God but our imperfect understanding of God required these things for a while. The love of God, changing our understanding, and our own repentance compel us to risk making change, no matter how much it costs us, no matter how many jobs, members, churches, or friends we lose. God’s ever-expanding inclusion and grace is the greater good—even greater than everyone getting along.

In the book of Acts, Paul connives (yes, connives), strategically dividing his enemies based on their theological differences, opportunistically seizing upon his Roman citizenship to bring about change. He escapes Jerusalem’s perception of control over God’s plan, moving it to the Roman Empire–whose control will also eventually fade . . . just as we and so much of what we believe and do eventually fade into the arc of God’s future.

Prayer

Gracious God, we believe in You, and to Your deeds we testify. Let the stillspeaking God be true, and every human trapped in time and space be a liar. As we receive new light from You, grant us courage in the struggle for justice and peace, Your Presence in trial and rejoicing. Amen.

God is still speaking

http://www.stillspeaking.com”>http://www.stillspeaking.com

 

Challenge, Controversy and Change – a Stikkspeakng Devotional

Challenge, Controversy and Change – Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Acts 21:17-26
When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

Reflection by Ron Buford

Among religious people, breaking the 10th commandment is a great stumbling block: “Thou shalt not covet.” Here are two Christian sects: one Jewish; the other Gentile. The Jewish sect has good reason to ask, “Why keep Moses’ law when newcomers don’t have to keep it?”

The church today stumbles similarly. Why do we accept unmarried couples living together? We had to get married. Why do we let gay people get married? They used to have enough shame to keep their behavior a secret. Why do we accept people who are divorced? We stayed married and hated each other. Bottom line: We suffered, you suffer too; God requires it.

Correction: No, not God but our imperfect understanding of God required these things for a while. The love of God, changing our understanding, and our own repentance compel us to risk making change, no matter how much it costs us, no matter how many jobs, members, churches, or friends we lose. God’s ever-expanding inclusion and grace is the greater good—even greater than everyone getting along.

In the book of Acts, Paul connives (yes, connives), strategically dividing his enemies based on their theological differences, opportunistically seizing upon his Roman citizenship to bring about change. He escapes Jerusalem’s perception of control over God’s plan, moving it to the Roman Empire–whose control will also eventually fade . . . just as we and so much of what we believe and do eventually fade into the arc of God’s future.

Prayer
Gracious God, we believe in You, and to Your deeds we testify. Let the stillspeaking God be true, and every human trapped in time and space be a liar. As we receive new light from You, grant us courage in the struggle for justice and peace, Your Presence in trial and rejoicing. Amen.

  Join us on i.ucc.org for prayer and conversation.

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Against Reason – Sort of. – A Stillspeaking Devotional

Against Reason – Sort Of

Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
“We speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this….these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”

Quinn G. Caldwell

Is there anybody else out there who’s tired of a reasonable faith? Who’s exhausted herself trying to explain the miracles in the Bible rationally? Of saying, “Oh, I don’t believe in that” to every single element of our faith that wouldn’t stand up to the peer-review standards of a scientific journal? Anybody else who’s tired of trying to reassure people that he’s not crazy or stupid just because he believes in beautiful impossibilities?

Sometimes I feel like we – I – have spent so much time trying to not be like those other Christians (you know: the superstitious ones, the unreasonable ones, the ones who don’t have brains as awesomely powerful as mine) that we’re in danger of reducing God to the size of our own intellect. Don’t get me wrong: our intellect, especially collectively, is prodigious and should be brought fully to bear on our faith. It’s just that intellect isn’t quite enough. Intellect isn’t what makes me cry for no reason sometimes while singing a hymn. Rationality isn’t what made me believe that someone who died two thousand years ago came back to life – and oh, by the way, is God. And I sure didn’t reason my way into believing that white-bread croutons and shot glasses of grape juice have salvific power. And yet, all of those things are true enough that I’m willing to bend my life around them.

Is there anybody else out there who’s become convinced that the beautiful and impossible, the powerful and unprovable, the ineffable and untestable in our faith, far from being embarrassments, are actually the most important things about it?

Prayer
God, grant that I might always bring my brain with me to church. But don’t let me forget my heart, either. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwe

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ.

FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit


Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Challenge, Controversy and Change – a StillSpeaking Devotion

Challenge, Controversy and Change
Acts 21:17-26

When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

Reflection by Ron Buford

Among religious people, breaking the 10th commandment is a great stumbling block: “Thou shalt not covet.” Here are two Christian sects: one Jewish; the other Gentile. The Jewish sect has good reason to ask, “Why keep Moses’ law when newcomers don’t have to keep it?”

The church today stumbles similarly. Why do we accept unmarried couples living together? We had to get married. Why do we let gay people get married? They used to have enough shame to keep their behavior a secret. Why do we accept people who are divorced? We stayed married and hated each other. Bottom line: We suffered, you suffer too; God requires it.

Correction: No, not God but our imperfect understanding of God required these things for a while. The love of God, changing our understanding, and our own repentance compel us to risk making change, no matter how much it costs us, no matter how many jobs, members, churches, or friends we lose. God’s ever-expanding inclusion and grace is the greater good—even greater than everyone getting along.

In the book of Acts, Paul connives (yes, connives), strategically dividing his enemies based on their theological differences, opportunistically seizing upon his Roman citizenship to bring about change. He escapes Jerusalem’s perception of control over God’s plan, moving it to the Roman Empire–whose control will also eventually fade . . . just as we and so much of what we believe and do eventually fade into the arc of God’s future.

Prayer
Gracious God, we believe in You, and to Your deeds we testify. Let the stillspeaking God be true, and every human trapped in time and space be a liar. As we receive new light from You, grant us courage in the struggle for justice and peace, Your Presence in trial and rejoicing. Amen.

  Join us on i.ucc.org for prayer and conversation.

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

The Big and the Small -a Stillspeaking Devotional

The Big and the Small

Amos 9:8-15 
The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth—except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the Lord. For lo, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the ground. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.” 

On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, says the Lord who does this. The time is surely coming, says the Lord, when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps, and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land that I have given them, says the Lord your God.

Reflection by Donna Schaper 

If you have ever had a pebble in your shoe, you know what harassment is. You have to stop, take off your shoe, potentially your sock as well, and get that pebble out. It is in your way. It may be small but it is still significant. God appears not to be harassed by the small. God appears not to know how not to pay attention to the little things or the little ones. 

This is good news for the small and bad news for the bigs. My kids always called us parents “the bigs.” We can go if the bigs say yes. We can get the ice cream if the bigs say yes. I always wondered how much they hated us for our power. Children are both protected and annoyed by what adults do to them. Never ignore a child who is telling you “I am a BIG girl.” She may be defensive but she means it. 

So what is it about God and Israel? It was small and God protected it. Does God preferentially care for the small and the powerless? The children? The ones who have to be shaken with a sieve to even be seen?

I think yes. I think the evidence from widow’s mite to shaken sieve is abundant. If you are small God is likely to be with you. If you are big, whoops. Israel as a nation surely must understand now that its smallness has become so big, or at least so pivotal. The rich surely understand, now that they fear the poor and gate themselves when not sitting in the walled protection of first class. 

No pebble shall fall to the ground. But what about the boulders? Who can care for them? I mean us. Is God large enough to shake and save both big and small? 

Prayer 
O God, whether we are big or small, boulder or pebble, enlighten us and show us how much you care. Help us to turn towards the small, especially as we get big. And keep the Bigs from being too large to fail. And protect the pebbles. Amen.

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

Sometimes Spirits Need Shelters – a Stillspeaking Devotional

Sometimes Spirits Need Shelters

Excerpt from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-20
“Do not quench the Spirit.

Reflection by Maren C. Tirabassi

Ellie adapted and adjusted to limitations caused by aging, redefining loss as opportunity.

“I can’t stay at home – how exciting to meet new folks in the assisted living facility. My children live in other states – isn’t Skype awesome? My pastor retired, but the interim (when plied with pumpkin bread) has amazing stories. My part-time job requires more vision than I have, but I can volunteer. When Fickle, my Jack Russell terrier, died, I found the perfect volunteer job walking dogs and cleaning small animal cages at the SPCA.”

For five years Ellie was settled. She avoided bingo and gossip at Plymouth Grove, but the new pastor was acceptable, and Ellie was indispensable at the SPCA. She was a model of “Thessalonian” life that Paul commends—never idle, full of contagious joy, prayerful and thankful. Then the “quencher” happened. Ellie lost the use of her legs and suddenly discovered how much of her life was based on mobility.

Then the SPCA director asked Ellie if she would be willing to sit on a small chair inside four of the shelter cages where new dogs were so timid and traumatized that they were virtually non-adoptable. Not walk. Just sit. For an hour visit with each one, Ellie sits and talks and scratches ears, if the dog is willing to approach her. Four hours a day, six days a week, she, in the words of Paul’s letter, “encourages the fainthearted, helps the weak, is patient with all of them.”

Prayer

God, thank you for all the small and precious stories of unquenchable spirits. Help me recognize them, share them and live into my own. Amen.

About the Author
Maren C. Tirabassi is Pastor of Union Congregational UCC of Madbury, NH. An updated version of Touch Holiness: Resources for Worship has just been published by The Pilgrim Press.

FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit


Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

The Cleaning Lady

Have you ever visited/belong tp a church like the one in this story? Your friendly Hippie is afreaid she has. But guess what? Jesus can be found there too!

The Cleaning Lady

There was a little old cleaning Lady who went to a local church. When the invitation was given at the end of the service, she went forward wanting to become a member. The pastor listened as she told him how she had accepted Jesus and wanted to be baptized and become a member of the church.

The pastor thought to himself, “oh my, she is so unkempt, even smells a little, and her fingernails are not clean. She picks up garbage, cleans toilets – what would the members think of her.” He told her that she needed to go home and pray about it and then decide.

The following week, here she came again. She told the pastor that she had prayed about itand still wanted to be baptized. “I have passed this church for so long. It is so beautiful, and I truly want to become a member.”

Again the pastor told her to go home and pray some more.

A few weeks later while out eating at the restaurant, the pastor saw the little old lady. He did not want her to think that he was ignoring her so he approached her and said, “I have not seen you for a while. Is everything all right?”

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I talked with Jesus, and He told me not to worry about becoming a member of your church.”

“He did?” said the pastor.

“Oh, yes” she replied. “Jesus said he’s been trying to get into your church for years, and even HE can’t get in!”

===================

FAIR USE NOTICE:

This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc.

This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

This material is distributed without profit

>
Every 3.6 seconds a real person dies from hunger somewhere in the world!!!
Feed a hungry person today:
http://www.hungersite.com

My YouTube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/Ninure

God is still speaking
http://www.stillspeaking.com

John Mark Ministries
http://jmm.aaa.net.au/

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