A Covenant of Unity

 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk with me and be trustworthy.

Genesis 17:1

The aged couple Abram and Sarai cannot have children; Abraham is already 99! Sarai gives up and has Abraham bear a child through her servant, Hagar. Ishmael is born, the father of all the Arab nations.

It’s all been “downhill” in the Book of Genesis so far, but in Chapter 17 things begin to look up. God is going to bring a child to Abram, whose name is changed to Abraham, and to Sarai who becomes Sarah. Isaac will be born to them.

This chapter is one of those great ones where God gives a promise called a covenant to the human family. Through Abraham, a great nation of God’s people is going to come to be. Think of it: the three great religious of Islam, Judaism and Christianity all look to Abraham as our common father and patriarch. Let’s keep up prayer for unity and harmony among these religions. We don’t seem to be living up to the covenant of love and peace that God is offering us!

Genesis 16—17

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
El Shaddai: “God Almighty” 17:1
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Pain into Gain

 When they haul you in and hand you over, don’t worry ahead of time about what to answer or say. Instead, say whatever is given to you at that moment, for you aren’t doing the speaking but the Holy Spirit is.

Mark 13:11

There was very likely lots of pain for your Mom in the hours before you were born. But once you came into the world and your Mom held you, the joy of your presence and her tears of happiness had her forget about all the pain.

Jesus uses this very same image when he talks about the painful times that will come at the end of the world. But he reminds them that this is just the beginning of a new birth into heaven, our everlasting life there making the pain at the end just like the final pain of your Mom before you were born.

If you find that there is some pain going on for you—some spiritual pain of the heart—just stop and see how this pain can be turned into gain!

Mark 13:1-13

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Suffering all as birth pangs v. 8
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the seventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north. Year B.
Fridays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.
We read the Gospel of Mark in Year B.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

The Rope of Holy Habits

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions we taught you, whether we taught you in person or through our letter.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

Hurricanes remind us how very powerful the wind is. There is some cities such as Buffalo, New York and Chicago, Illinois that become so windy at times, that they have to put ropes along the sidewalk in the downtown areas so that people won’t be blown away! The ropes help them to do what St. Paul urges his readers to do when the winds of evil begin to blow strong: “Stand Fast.” We might put it this way: “Hang in there!”

What do you hang onto? Paul has the answer in the passage for today. What does his answer mean to you and how could you put in into your own words. And then when you do that, make a plan today to be sure that you are holding onto some of these holy habits like rope!

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Standing firm and holding fast v. 15
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the seventh of thirteen weeks
in the season of Kingtomtide,
autumn in the north Year B.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.
For the first six Thursdays, we read 1 Thessalonians.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Feeling-Prayer

Every day I call on you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.

Psalm 88:9

Here is the prayer of someone who’s having a very hard time in life. Look to see if there is any verse that would be a sign of hope for him. . . I can’t find one, can you? So how do we take a prayer like this that seems so hopeless and find comfort and strength in it?

Here’s the secret to the comfort in this prayer. One of the wonderful gifts in life is to find a friend who accepts you just as you are with all that you are feeling–someone who doesn’t judge you. Well, the writer of this prayer has found just such a friend in God! The writer knows that he is accepted by God and that he can go to the Lord in prayer. So by the time the prayer if finished, all the pain and anguish that he was holding in his heart is now in God’s heart! That must have made him feel so much better.

And you’ll feel better too, and closer to God, if you pour yourself out in feeling-prayer as he did.

Psalm 88

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
I spread out my hands to You. v. 9
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the sixth of thirteen weeks in Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north. Year B
Wednesdays are dedicated the Psalms.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Turn It Over to Jesus

AnimFireStarter

Jehoiada then made a covenant between the Lord, the king, and the people, that the people would belong to the Lord.
The king and the people also made a covenant.

2 Kings 11:17

Today’s episode describes what happens when Queen Athaliah tries to kill the rest of the royal family. Can you think of two other great persons in the Bible whose lives were threatened when they were infants?

When people do bad things and are mean all their life—it’s not going to turn out very well for them, unless they repent. Look what happens to Queen Athaliah!

Slowly, but surely, God’s justice is at work in this part of the Bible. There is no way that evil is going to finally win out. This is a sign of hope! When things look pretty bad in the world, and when things might seem difficult and even scary in your own life, just turn to the Lord and then turn over to Jesus all your needs and care. Trust that Jesus is going to bring signs of victory.

2 Kings 11

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Justice comes in Your own time.
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the seventh of thirteen Weeks in the season of Kingdomtide,
Autumn in the north. Year B.
Tuesdays are dedicated to Hebrew History and “The Writings.”

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

 

Monster’s Inc.

Rule, glory, and kingship were given to him;
    all peoples, nations, and languages will serve him.
His rule is an everlasting one—
    it will never pass away!—
        his kingship is indestructible.
 

Daniel 7:14

Why do you think that the movie “Monsters Inc.” was so popular with children? Perhaps it’s because there is a fascination with monsters. When we can make fun out of them and show them afraid of children, as that movie did, then we help young people with their fears of shadows and images in the night. Still, there are dark and mysterious aspects of life that are at work that can be frightening, even for a man very close to God, like Daniel. And so the dream that Daniel had was frightening to him.

I have the feeling that Daniel’s fear was not because he was going to be personally eaten up by some monster, but rather because the struggle between good and evil in the future, was going to be so strong. Yet the good news in his dream is that the Ancient of Days, an image of God the Father, and the man coming on the clouds, gave Daniel a glimpse of God and of Jesus who was to come who would win the victory over all the forces of evil.

So when Evil and meanness seem to be winning and appear to be strong, remember that God in all His power and glory is quietly working to bring about a Kingdom of love and peace. If you have received this kingdom in your heart, then it already has begun by the way in which you are trusting in God and loving others.

Daniel 7

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
To You: glory and kingship v. 14
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the sixth of thirteen weeks in Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north, Year B.
Mondays in this season are dedicated to the Prophet Daniel.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Is It Worth It?

“It’s impossible with human beings, but not with God.
All things are possible for God.”

Mark 10:27

Stand in the middle of your room and slowly turn around. There are likely a T.V., video games, stereos, perhaps a computer…lots of good stuff that you are very important to you. Now consider this: suppose you could have a life of peace, happiness and love, and a sense by faith of God’s presence and love, but it would mean that you would have to let go of the things that you possess. Would you be willing to let go of them? Suppose there was a very poor child in school with you who had nothing: would you be willing to give one of the things you enjoy so that he or she could have them?

This is the kind of challenge that Jesus puts to a rich man in today’s Gospel. The way of life that Jesus offers, called “The Kingdom,” is one in which the welfare and salvation of someone else is more important than your own. It means sacrifice and a willingness to let go of things, for so often these get between us and God. Is there anything in the world that is worth it, if it means that it blocks your way to God and God’s love?

Mark 10:17-31

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
For God, all things possible v. 27
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the seventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north.  Year B.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…