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Lenten Devotional – Day 4 – The Light Blazes in Fury

Lent 3Key Bible Verse: “Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen …”   – John 2:15a

Bonus Reading:  John 2:13-22

If you picture Jesus as a meek, gentle man you might be surprised at what He does here in the temple. But you shouldn’t be—the thicker the darkness, the brighter the Light must shine.

Our Savior knows animals must be sold for sacrifice, and foreign currency needs to be exchanged for temple currency. But His problem is where this is all taking place.

This trading is being done in the Court of the Gentiles, i.e. in the back of the church. The Jewish worshipers aren’t bothered, they can move
up front closer to the temple. But what infuriates Jesus is the way the Gentile believers are being forced to worship and pray in all this noise and commotion.

When Jesus shouts “Take these things away; do not make My Father’s house a house of trade,” the Jewish authorities are filled with a dark rage of their own. The darkness tries to overcome the Light as they demand Jesus perform a miracle proving His authority to cleanse the temple.

Jesus will provide that sign in His coming death and resurrection. On the cross His enemies will destroy His body—the true temple and dwelling place of God. But on the third day Jesus will raise it to life again.

Today the darkness still challenges Jesus. When we gather at the Lord’s house to worship, pray and receive Christ’s gifts in Word and Sacrament, the darkness fills our minds with all sorts of trade and business concerns, as well as other worries, fears and distractions. But the light shines in the darkness and draws our thoughts back to our Savior.

Prayer:  Lord, cleanse my heart and mind that I may hear Your words of grace and forgiveness. Amen.

 

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Prayer Following Florida School Shootings

Life brings good days and bad. From natural and man-made disasters to personal struggles, we all face tough times. God is always there to comfort us. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)

A football coach. An athletic director. And young, eager and forward-looking students. They were among the 17 people killed by a gunman Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

On days like these that end in “why,” this prayer reminds us of God’s constant presence in our lives.

Dear Lord,

When all we have left to do is cry out in the midst of the pain, give us hope.

When our tears feel like the only way to quench our thirst, remind us of your providing presence.

When loneliness seems overwhelming,

Make your presence known.

This world seems so full of death and destruction, but you are a God of life and restoration.

Mold us into an unwavering people of grace, passion and love that cannot ever be ignored.

Amen.

 

 

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 3 – The Darkness of Rash Judgment

Lent 30Key Bible Verse: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth? …” John 1:46a

Bonus Reading:  John 1:43-51

As we near the end of John’s first chapter, Jesus is gathering His twelve disciples.

Even here we see the battle rage between light and darkness—in this case it’s the darkness of a preconceived notion. Before he ever met Jesus, Nathanael arrogantly asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

That’s what the darkness in us does. We sit as judge of everyone and everything around us, jumping to conclusions about people without knowing their whole story. And it’s just too bad for the person who doesn’t fit into our nice neat categories—whether it’s that nerdy kid at school who doesn’t dress like we do or that estranged family member, quirky neighbor or congregation full of hypocrites.

We even do the same with God. We judge His holiness and faithfulness by the circumstances of our lives. We don’t give God the right to be God.

Philip is wise. He doesn’t try to argue away Nathanael’s prejudice. He gives his friend a simple invitation: “Come and see.” He is confident Jesus will shatter Nathanael’s false judgment, and Jesus doesn’t disappoint him.

Lent is the time to humble ourselves and to come to Jesus and admit our rash judgments.

Jesus does something we would never expect: He shines His grace, power and love as He suffers from the darkness of human rejection, flogging and a cross. Yet in that brutality, suffering and death Jesus won our salvation. He gathers us together in congregations around His Word and Sacraments to shatter our preconceived notions and empower us to accept one another and work together to show His love to all those around us.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, forgive me for judging by appearances. Open my heart to see You as You are and to share Your Name everywhere I go. Amen.

Lenten Devotional – Day 2 – He Takes Away the Sin of the World

Lent 3Key Bible Verse: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”John 1:29

Bonus Reading: John 1:19-34

The teacher walks into the classroom and finds a broken vase. She’s not sure who broke it, but she has a pretty good idea. She singles
out the one child who always gets into trouble—the scapegoat— and though it’s completely unfair, off he goes to face the principal in place of the child who is truly guilty.

The word “scapegoat” comes to us from the Old Testament Day of Atonement, the day God forgave the nation’s sins. God commanded His people to bring a goat to His altar. The priest laid his hand on its head confessing the sins of the people of Israel.
The scapegoat took the punishment for their sins as it was led out into the wilderness.

Here in the middle of John’s first chapter, the Baptist points at Jesus and calls out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29

John looks past Jesus’ Baptism to Good Friday when He will suffer the full wrath and punishment for our sins. When we receive the assurance of God’s forgiveness in Jesus’ body and blood in Holy Communion, we repeat John’s words, “Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; grant us peace.”

As we follow Jesus through this season of Lent, we will see how brightly God’s Light shines in our dark world.

Prayer: Lord God, turn my eyes to my Savior this Lenten season that I may say with John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”—and my sins. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Lenten Devotional – Day 1 – Ash Wednesday – Shining in the Darkness

Lent 3Key Bible Verse: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

Bonus Reading:  John 1:1-18

Our Lenten season begins in the darkness of winter and by the end of our nearly seven week journey the darkness will have given way to the light of spring.

This battle between darkness and light is the theme of the Gospel of John, and it will be the theme of our Lenten devotions this year.

Chapter 1 begins with the Christmas story; John tells us the Word of God became human and entered our world. But immediately John hints at the struggles our Savior will face: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  (John 1:5)

In the coming weeks we will see Satan, the prince of darkness, use many instruments in his efforts to snuff out the Light: fanatical crowds, treacherous enemies, a disciple’s kiss, a high priest’s oath, a Roman official’s fear, a whip, thorns, nails, a dead tree
and a huge stone.

All of us struggle with the power of darkness in our lives, the darkness of fear, doubt, dread and anxiety. We see it in our health problems, financial struggles and our strained relationships. We see it in the darkness of our own struggles within.

Ash WednesdayOn this Ash Wednesday, the Holy Spirit calls you to gather with His people in church where He will shine His glorious light into the darkest corners of our sin-filled hearts and minds.

The ashes of Ash Wednesday remind us of the death that darkness has brought to all. But it also reminds us our Savior took our death upon Himself, giving us His life and forgiveness.

Join us as we journey through the Gospel of John, watching the Light battle and overcome the darkness for us.

Prayer: Light of the world, shine in my heart and bring me peace. Amen.

 

“Fat Tuesday”

Mardi GrasIn Louisiana, Mardi Gras is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.  Mardi Gras began as a festival to enjoy the things a person was “giving up” for Lent.  During the parades, beads are tossed from the floats to the onlookers.

Okay, let’s talk about what happens after Mardi Gras.  The day after Mardi Gras – tomorrow – is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Lent is a season of the church that we use to concentrate on the suffering of Christ.  People “give up” something, usually a sweet food, a bad habit, etc. for the 40 days, representing Christ “giving up” his life for us.

What is the difference between a crucifix and an empty cross?  The empty cross represents Christ’s resurrection. The crucifix represents Christ’s choosing to suffer for us.

Christ didn’t have to die on the cross, He could have saved Himself, but He chose to die for our sins.

Prayer:  Dear God, help us to remember during Lent, and always, of Christ’s suffering for us. Amen.

Preparation for Lent – A Mardi Gras Prayer

Mardi GrasToday is Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) and Carnival (“Farewell to Meat”), which precedes Ash Wednesday and Lent around the world, even where Lent has ceased to have much religious meaning.  It was natural to develop a festival, a “last fling,” before the prayerful fasting and abstinence of Lent.

How can we give this day before Ash Wednesday some religious meaning for us?

It may be that we are going to a Mardi Gras party and there will be much feasting.  Our country may celebrate Carnival with gusto.  Perhaps we can have a special family dinner together, with meat.

Lent 4What’s important is that we let our feasting anticipate our fasting.  One way to do that is to begin to focus on the meaning of the day, when we first get up. 

It can create a sense of anticipation all day, that something very new is about to begin tomorrow.

We can prepare for whatever we will do, no matter how purely “social” or simply ordinary our day will be.  Knowing why we go to a party, or enjoying the planning or preparation for a special meal, will add much meaning to this day.

Our Prayer

In these or similar words, we can pray in the spirit of this day.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for it is from your goodness that we have this day
to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.

Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat.
Today we feast.
We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us.
We thank you especially for one another.
As we give you thanks,
we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do.
As we share these wonderful gifts together,
we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those
who need our support.

Prepare us for tomorrow.
Tasting the fullness of what we have today,
let us experience some hunger tomorrow.
May our fasting make us more alert
and may it heighten our consciousness
so that we might be ready to hear your Word
and respond to your call.

As our feasting fills us with gratitude
so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us
a place for deeper desires
and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor.
May our self-denial turn our hearts to you
and give us a new freedom for
generous service to others.

We ask you these graces
with our hearts full of delight
and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead.
We ask them with confidence
in the name of Jesus the Lord. 

 

What Does the Bible Really Say About Immigration?

Now that Congress is poised to take up the issue of U.S. immigration, you may find this short February 8 article by Dillon Burroughs to be of some assistance in helping to frame the major issues and what possible responses might be from thoughtful Christians.


The recent “Dreamer” immigration battle in U.S. government continues to elicit strong emotions from Christians of all backgrounds. Pelosi quotes the Bible to support her Democratic view, while wall-supporters argue security is of utmost importance.

One interesting observation is the use of the Bible by those who hold views across the spectrum on immigration. What does the Bible really say about immigration?

The Old Testament is clear about providing care to what translations often call “foreigners.” The Torah based this on the concept that the Jews knew what it was like to be a stranger in a strange land. As those who had encountered brutal slavery at the hands of another nation, they were called to treat the immigrants among them with better respect.

The New Testament likewise notes immigrant-friendly teachings regarding not showing favoritism, no distinction between Jew and Gentile, and unity in Christ. The Sermon on the Mount tends to appear more immigrant-friendly than security focused, even supporting “turning the other cheek.”

Yet the Bible’s words are not fully immigrant-supportive. The Jewish people often warred against neighboring people groups, taking some as prisoners of war while annihilating others. Some of the most disturbing passages of Scripture involve God’s commands regarding treatment of the Canaanites, instructing genocide rather than an open border.

A full look at the biblical data shows support for and against immigrants depending on other factors. This is extremely important and relevant to America’s current immigration discussion.

For example, many Christians may desire to show love and compassion to immigrants already within the nation’s borders, but these same principles may apply different regarding those yet to enter the nation. It may also apply differently to those undocumented individuals convicted of criminal activities. After all, Scripture does command Christians to abide by the laws of governing authorities (Romans 13).

So where should Christians stand on immigration? A few guidelines to consider:

We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, no matter the origin of the neighbor’s home.

Love is the overarching command of Scripture.

We are challenged to protect our loved ones, community, and nation.

Safety is an important factor. This influences immigrants with a criminal history, the issue of “the wall,” future immigration laws such as banning immigration from terrorist hot spots and other related factors.

We are called to treat people as we wish to be treated.

If I was the undocumented person, how would I desire to be treated? If I was honest, I would accept punishment or deportation for breaking the law, but would still desire to be treated with dignity and respect. There is a tremendous difference between enforcing current laws and sheer discrimination.

As followers of Jesus, these three concepts should inform our views and actions regarding immigration. God’s love does not stop at the border; neither should ours.

If we really care about all the people God has created; if we really desire to make disciples of all nations; if we desire to provide safety for our children and their children; if we long to be known by our love; then we must deal with the tension between accepting every person who breaks the law to enter our nation and showing respect to those who have.

 

What is Lent?

Lent 4Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, the day of Mardi Gras.  This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the 40 days of Lent (not counting Sundays). 

Did you ever wonder what these terms mean?   Well, here’s the scoop!

Mardi Gras – is a French word pronounced: märd grä, the last day before the fasting season of Lent.  It is the French name for Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Literally translated, the term means “Fat Tuesday” and is so called because it represents the last opportunity for merrymaking and excessive indulgence in food and drink before the solemn season of fasting.

Ash Wednesday – is the first day of Lent.  On this day, ashes are placed onto the foreheads of the faithful to remind them of Christ’s death, of the sorrow one should feel for their sins, and of the necessity of repenting, which is turning from your sins and turning to God.

Ash Wednesday, is so called from the ceremony of placing ashes on the forehead as a sign of penitence.  The ashes are obtained from burned palm branches from the Palm Sunday of the previous year.

The ashes are placed onto the foreheads of the officiating clergy, and the congregation, while saying: “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Many believe the practice of placing ashes onto the forehead began in 1091 A.D. by the Roman Catholic Church.  However, the custom of placing ashes onto the head as a sign of repentance dates back to Old Testament times:

“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. Daniel 9:3-5

See also, Esther 4:1-3, Job 2:8; Job 4:2-6, and Isaiah 58:5.

 

Lent– from Old English ‘lencten=spring’, Latin ‘Quadragesima’.

In Christianity, Lent is a time of penance, prayer, preparation for, or recollection of baptism, and preparation for the celebration of Easter.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the 40th weekday before Easter.  Of the Sundays in Lent the fifth is Passion Sunday and the last is Palm Sunday.

The week preceding Easter is Holy Week. Lent ends at midnight, Holy Saturday.

Lent may also have a parallel in the Jewish Omer, the interval between Passover and Shavuot that has become a time of semi-mourning and sadness.  During the weeks of the Omer period, Jews in some communities refrain from wearing new clothes and there are no marriages or other public festivities.

Although we are almost to the beginning of this special season, remember that Jesus wants all of our hearts and lives–everyday–not just during the 40 days of Lent.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14.

Preparation for Lent – What Can I Do Before Lent Begins?

Lent 2Anything worth doing is worth preparing for.

Just imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we’ve experienced.  Imagine that there will be many graces offered me this year.  Let’s even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, deeper desires for love and service.

If we want it, we will choose it.

Lent will be this wonderful season of grace for us if we give ourselves to it.  And, we will give ourselves to it to the degree we really want it badly.  So, in these days before Lent, we need to prepare our hearts.  We need to prepare by realizing how much we want to grow in freedom, how much we need to lighten our spirits and experience some real joy, and how much some parts of our lives really need changing. 

So, preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires.  This means practicing our sense of anticipation.  If I imagine Lent as an “ordeal” or a time I dread in some way, then I’ve already predisposed myself to not get very much out of it.  These days before Lent are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.

Our Focus:  On what God wants to give us.

Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us.  There is really something coming that we can truly look forward to.  If we get too focused on ourselves, and what we are going to do or not do, we could risk missing the gift God wants to give us.  We have to keep aware of the fact that grace comes from God.  This is about God’s great desire to bless us.  Then, it is easier for us to imagine that what we really want to do is place ourselves in a space to receive what God wants to give us.

Not starting from a dead stop.

LentTaking some time to get ready for Lent will ensure that we aren’t going to miss the first week or two of Lent, because we are just getting started.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, but we want to be ready to really take off on that day, rather than just beginning to think about Lent on that day.  Part of what makes a vacation or a special anniversary so special is the build-up to it. 

Before we get to Ash Wednesday, we should start asking ourselves some questions and we should start with some preparations.  “What does God want to give me this year?”  This question may require that I slow down a bit and listen to my inner spirit.  For example, even if I’m very busy, I realize I’m hungry when I hear my stomach start “growling.”  “What am I going to be doing on Ash Wednesday?” 

Too often, Ash Wednesday is like every other day, except that I manage to get to church and get ashes on my forehead.  Is there anything else I can do on Ash Wednesday?  How will fasting and abstaining happen for me, for my family on that special day? 

Lent is not something I need to do alone.

If I have a spouse, or children, or some close friends, or distant e-mail companions, I can begin now to talk about how we will support each other in this Lenten journey.  The anticipation and the preparation is transformed with the companionship of family and close friends.  We shouldn’t be deterred by the fear that our spouse or children or friends “won’t be into it.” 

Jesus said, “Fear is useless; what’s needed is trust.”  Let’s begin now to tell others about our desires.  Let’s help support others’ expectations.  Let’s help others see that Lent doesn’t have to be something I avoid, and certainly can’t be reduced to “giving up candy.”  We can help our loved ones to begin to imagine what they could receive from God in these days.

Ash Wednesday is a great place to start with our planning.  “What are we going to eat?”  We shouldn’t be embarrassed if we really haven’t fasted in a long time, or perhaps ever before.  We can plan to intentionally have only one full meal on Ash Wednesday.  We can make that meal very meaningful and symbolic. 

Lent 4Getting ready, means getting my house ready, too.  And, it can mean lots of choices.

The symbols in our home, and the concrete choices we make can shape the way we will begin Lent, as individuals and as a family.

And, it doesn’t take much time.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare for the beginning of Lent.  It just takes desire and focus.  God can do so much with that.  We can give God more of a space to touch our hearts if we begin to establish some simple patterns. 

We could  wake up each morning, and for something like a half a minute to a minute, stand by the edge of our beds, and just ask the Lord for the grace to let this day be one in which I long for the beginning of Lent.  Perhaps we need to ask for specific helps or graces to get ready to begin Lent. 

Whatever we try to say, our Lord can understand the Spirit trying to speak through our simple words. And all it takes is the time to find and put on our slippers. 

And each night, in the days ahead, we can practice giving thanks to God before I go to bed.  This simple pattern, in the morning and evening can stir our spirits to look forward to and prepare for Lent, as a season of grace.

May our Lord bless us all on this journey ahead.

 

Fat Tuesday – Booster or Buster?

Key Bible Verse: You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were pure and honest and faultless toward all of you. 1 Thessalonians 2:10

Bonus Reading: Ephesians 4:17-24

All too often, when talking with a guy who’s a believer, I hear statements like, “WMardi Grase had a great service last weekend. Pastor hit the nail on the head. I’d be there this Sunday, but I’m going to Vegas.”

For me, hearing this statement is like scratching a fingernail across a chalkboard. I know that are some decent shows there, but when I hear “Vegas,” my mind goes to gambling, sensuality, and organized crime. “What happens here stays here.” Sin City.

I believe when most unbelievers hear statements like this or “I’m going to Mardi Gras” they have the same reaction. It’s a witness buster. An unbeliever can conclude, “He’s just like me” or “He’s worse than me.” It will at least arouse his suspicion. Christ doesn’t appear to be directing and altering that person’s life. Multiply this statement by thousands like it across our country, and the gospel is severely undermined.

How much better for an unbeliever to hear, “This weekend I’m going on retreat to a Christian camp to recharge my batteries. It’ll be a lot of fun too.” Or “A bunch of us guys from church are going to repair a home for a single mother this weekend. We’re looking forward to helping her out.” Witness boosters.

—James Hilt in Wisconsin

My Response: How do my pursuits validate or cast doubt on my faith claim?

Prayer for the Week: Lord, give me the discernment and determination to make my conduct consistent with my beliefs.

 

Schedule of Our Lenten Worship Services

  • Wednesday, February 14 – Ash Wednesday – Community worship service of all of the downtown Beaver Falls churches at First Presbyterian Church (11th Street & 8th Avenue), beginning at 7 pm

 

  • Sunday, February 18 – The First Sunday of Lent –        Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, February 25 – The Second Sunday of Lent –   Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 4 –  The Third Sunday of Lent –            Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 11 –  The Fourth Sunday of Lent –         Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 18 –  The Fifth Sunday of Lent –            Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 25 –  Palm Sunday  –                                Central, 11 am

 

  • Thursday, March 29 –  Maundy Thursday – Combined community worship service at Central at 7 pm
  • Friday, March 30 –  Good Friday – Combined community worship service at Central at 12 Noon.

 

  • Sunday, April 1 – Easter Sunrise Service – Combined service with Christ’s Lutheran Church at Grandview Cemetery, 6 am (with breakfast to follow)
  • Sunday, April 1 – Easter– Central, 11 am

Please join us for these special times of worship this Lent.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”1 Corinthians 1:18

2018 Lenten Devotionals (February 14 – April 2) – The Light Shines in the Darkness

Lent 2“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

In John 9:5b Jesus declared, “… I am the Light of the world.”  That will be the theme of our Lenten journey as we follow Jesus of Nazareth to His cross and empty tomb.  From the very beginning of His Gospel to the end, John follows the tremendous struggle between Jesus Christ and the forces of darkness gathered together against Him.

Lent 3We will see Jesus wrestle with the darkness all around Him—the darkness of Satan and his demons, the Jewish crowds and religious authorities who made themselves His enemies and even those who called themselves His friends and followers.  But Jesus Christ will also wrestle with the darkness that still hides in the corners of our hearts, our families, our churches, and our world.

Each day, beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 14, through Easter Monday on April 2, we will read portions of John’s Gospel in our 2015 Daily Lenten Devotionals on our “Food for Thought” page, but we encourage you to read the verses in between as well. 

Lent 4May our Lord richly bless your Lenten journey. 

Along the way expect to see a few surprises; you may see a side of Jesus Christ you never saw before and a side of yourself too.

Lent Your Way!

Worship Services, Printed Devotionals, and Online Devotionals

In addition to our weekly and special worship services during Lent, this year, we also have “Journey to the Cross”, a 40-day printed guide for family or individual reflection.

If your tastes run to the electronic format, we will also offer special daily Lenten devotionals on the “Food for Thought” page.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

In John 9:5b Jesus declared, “… I am the Light of the world.”  That will be the theme of our online Lenten journey as we follow Jesus of Nazareth to His cross and empty tomb.  From the very beginning of His Gospel to the end, John follows the tremendous struggle between Jesus Christ and the forces of darkness gathered together against Him.

We will see Jesus wrestle with the darkness all around Him—the darkness of Satan and his demons, the Jewish crowds and religious authorities who made themselves His enemies and even those who called themselves His friends and followers.

But Jesus Christ will also wrestle with the darkness that still hides in the corners of our hearts, our families, our churches, and our world.

Each day, beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 14, through Easter Monday on April 1, we will read portions of John’s Gospel in our 2018 Daily Lenten Devotionals on our “Food for Thought” page, but we encourage you to read the verses in between as well. 

May our Lord richly bless your Lenten journey.  Along the way expect to see a few surprises; you may see a side of Jesus Christ you never saw before and a side of yourself too.

 

 

Destiny and Detours – Navigating Through the Wilderness

Wilderness 2The ragtag “marching army” of Jacob’s enslaved descendants abandoned the beaten travel route from Egypt to the Fertile Crescent, heading from Etham into uncharted wilderness.

That’s when the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night appeared.  Forty years later, as they crossed the Jordan River into Canaan, it disappeared.

While we don’t require such visible direction, the pillar provides important clues about how God guides His children today.

Interact with God’s Word

Exodus 13:17-22

  1. Was the circuitous route the Israelites took to the Promised Land a chance development or was it deliberately directed?
  2. What reason for this divinely directed detour is given in verse 17?
  3. What other reason is described at length in the next chapter (14:1-4, 19-28)?
  4. Why would taking Joseph’s coffin with them (v. 19) reassure the Israelites that they would eventually reach their destination?
  5. How did God give the Israelites a tangible sense of His presence (v. 21)?
  6. How did the cloud column reveal God’s direction, timing, and protection (see also Numbers 9:15-23; 10:34)?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to make you content to accept the direction in which He points you and the timing of the pauses and moves He determines for you.

Exodus 13:17-22

17 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on the road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them along a route through the wilderness toward the Red Sea, and the Israelites left Egypt like a marching army. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear that they would take his bones with them when God led them out of Egypt—as he was sure God would.

20 Leaving Succoth, they camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The LORD guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. That way they could travel whether it was day or night. 22 And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from their sight.

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process You are using to shape my character.

Worship Services During Lent

For many of us, we have come to assume Easter is all about chocolate and Easter bunnies, but originally it was the celebration of the Christian church to commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He did that on his own power as the God who had come into human history in human form and died on the cross to redeem people from their sins. In all of history, no one had ever made that claim before.

Because of this fact, history was split in two; the Christian church was started, and the disciples who ran away in fear after the cross became the fearless messengers of this message

Many people today believe that life goes on after death and we would agree with that, but we also think it is important to share that though we believe that God created everyone to live eternally, we won’t all live in the same neighborhood. Not only do we believe that because of Jesus we can spend eternity in heaven, but we also believe that those who do not trust Jesus will spend eternity separated from God in conscious torment forever.

Join us for our worship services during Lent and learn how you can choose to live in the neighborhood of joy forever.

Schedule of Our Lenten Worship Services

  • Wednesday, February 14 – Ash Wednesday – Community worship service of all of the downtown Beaver Falls churches at First Presbyterian Church (11th Street & 8th Avenue), beginning at 7 pm

 

  • Sunday, February 18 – The First Sunday of Lent –        Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, February 25 – The Second Sunday of Lent –   Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 4 –        The Third Sunday of Lent –      Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 11 –       The Fourth Sunday of Lent –   Central, 11 am
  • Sunday, March 18 –      The Fifth Sunday of Lent –       Central, 11 am

 

  • Sunday, March 25 –       Palm Sunday  –                           Central, 11 am

 

  • Thursday, March 29 –   Maundy Thursday – Combined community worship service at Central at 7 pm

 

  • Friday, March 30 –        Good Friday – Combined community worship service at Central at 12 Noon.

 

  • Sunday, April 1 – Easter Sunrise Service – Combined service with Christ’s Lutheran Church at Grandview Cemetery, 6 am (with breakfast to follow)

 

  • Sunday, April 1 – Easter– Central, 11 am

Please join us for these special times of worship this Lent.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

 

 

Giving God the (Olympic) Glory: Christian Athletes to Watch in PyeongChang

Giving God the (Olympic) Glory: Christian Athletes to Watch in PyeongChang

Image: Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

An article in Christianity Today online relates how the Winter Olympic sports take strength, grace, speed, precision, and incredible courage.

For many of the athletes we’re about to see in PyeongChang, South Korea, those qualities are bolstered by their faith in God, which has seen them through their darkest hours and hardest struggles.

Here are just a few of the athletes who have shared about God’s role in their Olympic journeys.

Maame Biney, speedskating (USA) @BineyMaame

Just before her 18th birthday, Maame Biney became the first African American woman to qualify for the US Olympic speedskating team, winning accolades from one of her heroes, Apolo Ohno. For the bubbly teenager, it’s been a long road from her native Ghana, which she left at the age of five to live with her father, Kweku, in the United States.

Both Biney and her father thank God for her phenomenal success. Kweku Biney believes it was God who first drew his attention to a sign advertising skating lessons, which inspired him to ask Maame if she wanted to try—though he sometimes regretted it when his little girl woke him up early on Saturdays to go to the rink. As Maame herself posted on Instagram after her win at the Olympic trials: “If God hadn’t given my dad the strength to wake up, and take me to practice, I wouldn’t be here today.” In her emotional post, she also thanked her church family for their “prayers for safe travels and successful competitions.”

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, figure skating (USA) @Scimeca_Knierim

A couple on and off the ice—they were married in 2016—the Knierims won the United States’ only pairs spot at this year’s Olympics. But their victory wasn’t always a foregone conclusion. Not long after their wedding, Alexa underwent three surgeries for a life-threatening abdominal illness. The photos she posted online of her recovery process, including her surgical scars, drove home just how serious and scary the ordeal had been.

Yet the pair was back on the ice not long after Alexa’s final surgery. At first, she could skate only a few minutes at a time before needing a nap, and certain pairs moves were harmful to her incision. But the two made it to the 2017 World Championships and are now headed to their first Olympic Games. “I may have lost a lot of faith in myself, but I grew with my faith in God,” Alexa says. “I have some insecurities now that I didn’t have before, but I’m able to work on it and move forward because I’ve shifted my focus and my attention to my faith instead of myself.”

Katie Uhlaender, skeleton (USA) @KatieU11

As she prepares for her fourth Winter Olympics, Katie Uhlaender is still dealing with fallout from her third. At Sochi in 2014, Uhlaender barely missed a bronze medal, coming just four hundredths of a second behind Russian Elena Nikitina. In the years after that, Uhalaender found herself on an emotional roller coaster. When Russia’s doping program came to light, Nikitina was banned and stripped of her medal by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)—only to be reinstated when the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the ruling.

Along with other Winter Olympians, Uhlaender has had to deal not only with suspense over whether a Sochi medal might come to her after all but also the possibility that Olympians who flouted the rules will be in PyeongChang. Uhlaender is relying on her faith in God to see her through. “I’m a human being. There is a lot of emotion in just seeing something so unjust happen,” she says. “But to be a good human, to be a good Christian, I have to focus on what I can control and set the example.”

Seun Adigun, bobsled (Nigeria) @Seun_MsAmazing

Former Summer Olympian Seun Adigun represented Nigeria in track and field during the 2012 Summer Olympics, but confesses that she “stunk it up.” Hungry for athletic “redemption,” she then switched to bobsledding, building her own training sled from scratch. (It’s called “The Maeflower,” after her sister Mae-Mae, who died in 2009.) She and her teammates will constitute Africa’s first Olympic bobsled team.

At the same time she was training for her new sport, Adigun was also earning two degrees: a doctorate of chiropractic and a master’s in exercise and health sciences. Asked how she managed it all, she says, “I honestly only have the one answer: God.” The support of family and friends helped, she adds, but prayer was a significant tool in getting through her massive workload. And the “fearlessness” and “selflessness” that come with faith are the ultimate key to her success.

David Wise, freestyle skiing (USA) @mrdavidwise

In Sochi four years ago, David Wise was the first man to win gold in the ski halfpipe, which was then a brand-new Olympic event. Since then he hasn’t been at his best, dealing with various injuries, including concussions. But he managed to fight his way back onto the Olympic team.

With him in South Korea will be his wife, his children, and his sisters, his sources of support through good times and bad. Four years ago, NBC News caught some flak for saying that Wise—with his focus on faith and family instead of partying with his fellow athletes—was living an “alternative lifestyle.” He’s still living that lifestyle, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I know that whatever happens to me is not outside the control of a God that faithfully cares for my family and I,” he says. “The fact that God is in control over my life and my family’s life, takes pressure off of me. It makes it easier for me to go out there and enjoy the ride.” Wise has also had the opportunity to support his family in turn—for example, pledging 10 percent of his winnings and endorsement earnings to a charity he and his sisters founded that provides children with prosthetic limbs (Wise’s sister Christy, an Air Force pilot, lost her leg in a 2015 boat accident).

Gim Sohui (a.k.a. Kim So-hee), Alpine skiing (South Korea)

Gim competed for South Korea in Sochi in 2014 but could not finish the slalom event because of injury. Now she’s back to compete in her home country.

In an interview before Sochi, Gim said that she prays before every competition. Like her grandmother, minister and skiing tutor Rev. Jang Jin-seon, who helped raise her, Gim hopes “to spread the Gospel through sports,” possibly as a future member of the IOC.

Nicole Hensley, ice hockey (USA) @NicHens29

Nicole Hensley may be known almost as much for her love of Scripture as for her goaltending skills. The 2018 Olympic women’s hockey team member tweets out Bible verses and writes them on her face mask. Recently seen on the mask was Psalm 144:1: “Praise be to the LORD my rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”

Hensley—one of the featured athletes in a YouVersion “The Winter Olympics & the Bible” reading plan—credits God’s Word not just with inspiring her athleticism, but also with forming her character. “I would say that I used to have a bit of a temper on the ice. … That is not how I want to portray myself or portray how God has acted in my life,” she says. “My faith has calmed me down on the ice and helped me realize too that the result is not necessarily the most important thing. It is more important to be on the ice and enjoy the chance to play when God has given me such a passion and ability in this game.”

Elana Meyers Taylor and Nic Taylor, bobsled (USA) @eamslider24 and @NicTaylorUSA

While Elana Meyers Taylor is going to PyeongChang as a member of the women’s bobsled team, her husband, Nic, will be there to play multiple roles: both an alternate for the US men’s bobsled team, and Elana’s trainer and biggest supporter. Pastor Ryan Schneider, who married them and who leads a Bible study in which they participate, tells FCA Magazine that Nic’s sacrificial support of Elana, prioritizing her training and her needs above his own, is “the perfect picture of a husband loving his wife like Christ loved the church.”

Kelly Clark, snowboarding (USA) @thekellyclark

As she heads to her fifth Winter Olympics, Kelly Clark will take with her a board with a sticker that reads, “Jesus, I cannot hide my love.” After her victory at the 2000 Games, Clark turned to Christ for the sense of “significance” that even her beloved sport couldn’t give her. Now she relishes the opportunity to take the gospel to her fellow athletes. “I’m in an industry where [faith is] very foreign and it’s very counter-cultural,” she says. “I get to love these people really well who would never step foot in a church.”

Simidele Adeagbo, skeleton (Nigeria) @SimiSleighs

At age 36, Simidele Adeagbo is about to become the first African woman to compete in skeleton at the Winter Olympics. Like Seun Adigun, she moved from track and field to winter sports, though Adeagbo never became a Summer Olympian. After 10 years of trying and failing to qualify for the Summer Olympics in track and field, Adeagbo was inspired by watching the Nigerian bobsled team to try a winter sport instead, intrigued by the possibility of “making history.”

Though she only began skeleton last September, Adeagbo credits her background in track and field for helping her master the sport so quickly that she’s able to go to the Olympics just months later. She also credits God, saying, “Faith is most important because faith made this possible.”

 

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday, falling on Valentine’s Day this year.

Join us and the people of the other downtown Churches at First Presbyterian Church, 11th Street & 8th Avenue, at 7 pm for a combined worship service as we begin our season of Lent and consider the depth of love our Father God has for His children.

Destiny and Detours – Plan or Presence?

Trail GuideKey Bible Verse:  The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.  But sinners stumble and fall along the way. Hosea 14:9

Bonus ReadingPsalm 139:1-12, 23-24

People are constantly inquiring about how they can discover God’s plan for their lives.  Years ago I began first to doubt and then to disbelieve that God has a specific plan for me because it seemed to me that would run contrary to His purpose.  God’s overriding purpose is our maturity, and maturity can’t be reached by plan.

I think we North Americans are very arrogant to assume that all the principles that applied to the great leaders of the Scripture—Moses or Abraham or Joseph or David—apply to us as individuals.  I don’t know why we don’t rather apply to ourselves the principles of the followers among the children of Israel.

I’m sure that God does have an overall plan and those who are specifically involved in it are going to know about it, for He’s going to tell them, even coerce them, as He did Jonah.  But for most of us, His purpose is our maturity.

It has struck me that none of the saints whose writings I’ve read over the years talk about a specific plan that God has for his or her life.  They talk about the presence rather than the plan.  It seems that when you have a guide you don’t need a map.  We often try to substitute a program for His presence.

— Sr.Fred Smith in Texas

My Response: I’ll pray to be more absorbed with the Guide than with His guidance.

Thought to Apply: The center of God’s will is our only safety.

—Betsie Ten Boom (Dutch concentration camp victim)

 

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process  You are using to shape my character.

Destiny and Detours – Malfunction Junction

????????????????????????????????????????????????????Key Bible Verse:  The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.  – Psalm 37:23

Bonus Reading: Psalm 25:1-15

The intersection is a six-way circle of traffic confusion in the center of Missoula.  Every time I approach it, my head pounds and my hands grow clammy.  It is nevertheless the most direct route through the business district.

Approaching Malfunction Junction recently, I saw a puzzle of detour signs.  It looked to me like it had become the mother of all nightmares.  But I was wrong!  The detour led me to discover a route to get around Malfunction Junction in the future.  Although longer by distance, it’s shorter by time.

Sometimes God reroutes us as we travel the roads of life.  But His detours always turn out.

King David, the author of Psalm 25:1-15 had been anointed king as a teen, but it was many years before he actually ascended the throne.  As God flagged David’s life through many detours, He was building the character of one of Israel’s greatest kings.

Like David, the routes to our God-given destinies aren’t direct; they’re a tangle of detours designed to prepare us for our final destinations.

If the zigzags of God confuse you, ask Him to show you what He’s up to.  David often did, and came to see how God was directing his steps.  God will do the same for you.

—Mike Raether in Montana

My Response: I’ll read psalms of David and observe how he blurts out his questions to God.

Thought to Apply:  The basic decision, after all, is to let God be God, to say “yes” to the work of the Lord.

—Luke Timothy Johnson (theologian)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process  You are using to shape my character.

Destiny and Detours – Destination Confirmation

Cubicle FarmKey Bible Verse:  God guided all of them by sending a cloud that moved along ahead of them, and he brought them all safely through the waters of the sea.  – 1 Corinthians 10:1

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 32:8-11

Sometimes, in the midst of the zigs and the zags, we become discouraged.  If the progress seems slow or we appear to be going in the opposite direction, we even begin to doubt whether there is a point B.  Maybe that’s not God’s goal, we begin to say.  Maybe I wanted it so bad I just psyched myself into it.

If God is lovingly leading us toward His intended goal, how does He keep us encouraged and affirm the direction He’s taking us?

If point B is of God, He’ll find ways of coming to you and letting you know that’s where He’s taking you.  It may be that while you’re over there in this side cubicle, and nobody knows you work for the company, that somebody who phones in to do business with your company will find you at your desk, and say, “Are you still at that desk?  I would think that by now with the abilities you have you’d be … ”  And out of the blue, of all the positions in the company, he picks point B—and you’ve never breathed a word to anyone.  In your heart you hear God saying, “I am reminding you.”

God will also give you a tangible sense of His presence.  You’ll have a palpable sense of His nearness, His protection, and His guidance.

—Don Sunukjian in Preaching Today

My Response:  What indicator of God’s good intentions for me can I hang on to today?

Thought to Apply: Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.—Winston Churchill (statesman)

Adapted from Preaching Today (Tape 251)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process You are using to shape my character.

Destiny and Detours – Fast Track?

WildernessKey Bible Verse:  God did not lead them on the road that … was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Exodus 13:17

Bonus Reading:  Exodus 13:17-22

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  True in geometry, but not necessarily for what God is doing in my life.

Say I’ve started work at a certain company, point A, and sense that God’s will is to take me to that corner office on the second floor, point B. I envision being assigned to lead a strategic task-group and coming in under budget and on time.  This brings me to the attention of the decision makers, who start moving me to different positions to gain experience with the whole operation.  When the corner office comes open, I’m the natural choice for it—a nice straight line.

Instead, I get assigned to something peripheral, working in some side cubicle, and nobody knows I work here.  God in His wisdom knows that the shortest distance is a zigzag!

It may be that there’s some person who’d be envious of my rapid promotion and undercut it, and I’d never get to point B.  It could be that I’ll need some skills I don’t yet possess, and God will take me on an alternate path to develop them.  Perhaps some networking connections are key.  Then when I’m ready, He’ll move me back into the straight-line path.

—Don Sunukjian in Preaching Today

My Response:  Can I accept the alternate track God has placed me on without understanding the reason(s) for it?

Thought to Apply: I find that doing the will of God leaves me with no time for disputing about His plans.—George MacDonald (Scottish author)

Adapted from Preaching Today (Tape 251)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process You are using to shape my character.

Destiny and Detours – Calling Crisis

MetroKey Bible Verse:  We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.  – Proverbs 16:9

Bonus Reading:  Isaiah 42:16

3 a.m., Moscow. I helplessly watched our one-year-old struggle for each breath.  We had no car.  The metro shut down at 1 a.m.  Even if we got a ride, reaching the American Medical Clinic across town would take at least an hour.

“Do something!” I screamed at God.

He did, but in the process He smashed the dream I thought He’d given me.  The short-term answer came quickly.  An American acquaintance with a car drove us to the clinic, where our son received timely oxygen treatments for his asthma.

The long-term answer proved much more difficult.  Over the next few weeks, my wife and I realized that we’d need to return to the States to get our son’s asthma under control.  What I considered a calling and had pursued for 14 years—teaching as a Christian professor at a university overseas—would have to wait.  Perhaps indefinitely.  What was God doing?

Four years later, as I teach some of my first Russian graduate students in the United States, I can begin to see God’s hand.  I also sense His healing hand on our growing young boy, on a struggling marriage that needed renewal, and on my own heart that needed rejuvenation.  I now thank God for His detour.

—Perry Glanzer in Texas

My Response:  What detour in my life can I now thank God for?

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process You are using to shape my character.

Destiny and Detours – Fog-Bound

Fog BoundWho Said It…Jerome Daley

Jerome Daley pursues the passion of his life—intimacy with God and people—in partnership with his wife, Kellie.  Through oneFleshministries, the Daleys speak, write, and lead worship.

In a culture that says go, go, go, Jerome’s book When God Waits challenges us to wait, wait, wait, looking for God’s hand in unexpected places.  Jerome likes to return—with his three children or alone on writing retreats—to the house his grandfather built in a Blue Ridge Mountain town.

What He Said…Fog-bound

As the fog hung close for two days, cabin fever struck, and I launched out for an eerie yet enticing morning walk.  I could see 20 or 30 feet in front of me, enough visibility to follow the path on its circuit through woods and meadow.

I soon realized I was relying heavily on my sense of hearing to observe what was going on around me: the crows cawing obnoxiously, the wind whistling quietly along the ridges, hammers falling in the distance as work progressed on a new house, an occasional car creeping cautiously through the mist.

Funny, I thought, how much we rely on our vision when we can see, but then how automatically we listen more intently when we can’t see.

Fog, huh?  Not unlike this season of waiting.  I can see far enough ahead to keep walking but not enough to know what lies ahead or on either side.  I can’t envision much of what lies beyond two or three months ahead.  So I must listen more intentionally to all the sounds that may convey God’s voice.

Adapted from When God Waits (WaterBrook, 2005)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, decrease my preoccupation with my destination and increase my concern for the process  You are using to shape my character.

An Inside Job – Evil Desires

Evil Desires At War Within YouAccording to the Apostle James, all external conflict can be traced back to what he calls “evil desires at war within you” (4:1) and motives that are wrong (4:3).

For this reason, attempts at external reform will never be fully effective short of transformation of the way a person thinks.  Our “self-talk” gets to the core of our spiritual state.

The passage to be reviewed today points out some characteristics of the positive and negative attitudes that drive the way we behave.

Interact with God’s Word

James 3:13-18

  1. What sources for human attitudes are identified in these paragraphs (vv. 15, 17)?
  2. According to verse 13, what is it that makes a person wise?
  3. What satanic “wisdom” does James mention (vv.14-16)?
  4. What is identified as “God’s kind of wisdom” (vv. 13, 17-18)?
  5. What kinds of high goals is it appropriate for you to set as a believer? What kinds may draw you into greed and destructive competitiveness?

Spend Time in Prayer:   Ask God to deliver you from internal turmoil because you understand His ways and are shaping your thought life to match up with them.

James 3:13-18

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil.

16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Passed Over

Denied PromotionKey Bible Verses:  “Riches and honor come from you alone … and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:12-13

Bonus Reading:   James 3:13-18

When the CEO of our import-export company resigned, I believed I was the natural choice to replace him.  However, another person was appointed.  I was told by the board that my contributions were valuable to the corporation and that they very much wanted me to remain as chief operating officer.  But for me, a dream of many years had been shattered in seconds.

Bitterness and resentment swept over me, permeating my work and everything else.  I secretly applauded any slip by the new CEO.  As I allowed my emotions to spiral out of control, I knew I was heading for a crash.

Six weeks after the announcement, I began to see and understand a larger question: Either I believed in God’s providence and that He was sovereign, or I didn’t!  The issue was not my promotion or even the success of the company.  The issue was my spiritual attitude, and that was my responsibility to correct.

So rather than continuing to grouse, I began focusing my efforts on fixing my attitude and improving my job performance.  Shortly thereafter, the new CEO resigned unexpectedly, and I was promoted.  With my new perspective and attitude, I was ready.

—Steve Marr in Arizona

My Response: Since God is in control, I must surrender resentment about …

Thought to Apply: Keep your heart right, even when it is sorely wounded. — J.C. Macaulay (Christian educator)

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.

An Inside Job – Attitude Saver

VCRKey Bible Verse: “I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:33

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

My daughters frequently interrupted me in the fourth quarter of a crucial game or at a crucial part of a TV mystery show for something that needed my immediate attention.  I’d eventually get up.  But even if their request was appropriate, I’d procrastinate, moan, and glare while doing the chore.

When I finally caught sight of my poor attitude, I realized I needed a different way of reacting to interruptions.  Today, the first thing I do if I’m going to watch a game or show is start the VCR.  I have a blank tape labeled “Dad’s Tape: No FooFoo Shows; Sports and Guy Stuff Only.”

Now, when Cindy comes and asks for my help on something that can’t wait and there’s only two minutes left in the fourth quarter, I know the game’s being taped.  When Kari calls and needs to be picked up from cheer practice, I know the mystery’s being taped.  When Laura wants to shoot hoops with me and it’s the ninth inning of the playoff game, I haven’t missed a single run.  I can watch it later, and fast-forward through the commercials!

Your VCR can free you to meet the needs of your family—and protect a positive attitude at the same time.

—John Trent in Dad’s Everything Book for Daughters

My Response:  An adjustment I’ll make for positive interaction with my family is …

Thought to Apply:  Irritation in the heart of a believer is always an invitation to the devil to stand by.—Source Unknown

Adapted from Dad’s Everything Book for Daughters (Zondervan, 2002)

Prayer for the Week:  I can cope with external challenges, Lord, if I’m internally aligned with Your will.  Help me to think like a true Christian this week.