The Ups and Downs of Jesus

Imagine that you are sitting on the very top of a pitched roof—you know, one of those roofs that are pointed at the top. You’ve managed to get up there by climbing up one side; then you go down by the other side.

Today’s Gospel is something like that. We’ve reached the “top” of a movement that has been going on with Jesus teaching, preaching and bringing about so many miracles. There comes a moment when Jesus goes up to the top of a mountain and let’s all the amazing glory of who he is shine forth.

The Transfiguration of Jesus prepares his close friends for the cross and death of Jesus that is coming. Down that mountain they come, as though coming down from the roof of a building. There will be another mountain that Jesus will climb, called Calvary—the one that had the cross at the top of it. Then Jesus is brought down from the cross and that mountain, to be laid in a tomb. Yet up goes Jesus again in resurrection. In the final going up of Jesus called the Ascension, he rules the world and gives us the Holy Spirit who comes down to live in our hearts so that we can go up again in a spiritual sense and live with God now. I guess we could say that Jesus shares his “ups and downs” with us!

  Mark 9:1-13

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
“This My son: listen to him.” v. 7
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the tenth of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, 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…

Paul’s Pains

St. Paul had to put up with many who were jealous of him and all that God was doing through him. In this passage, he responds to accusations of others that they are just as important as Paul is. Actually, Paul says that these persons were phony apostles–not really called by God at all, and leading the people astray. Doesn’t it sound like the problems of the Old Testament are going on in the New one? Hey! When people are nasty, they may even continue to be mean even when great love like Jesus’ comes their way. Look what they did to Jesus! So they are making Paul suffer. Today’s reading is a list of all the kinds of suffering that Paul when through—read slowly so that you can imagine Paul’s pains.

But you know, St. Paul would suffer the same things over and over if it meant that he could bring others to Jesus. Perhaps you won’t have to suffer quite as much as Paul, but there is always some price to pay when we want to serve and love God most of all.

2 Corinthians 11:24-33

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Zealous to bring souls to You v. 2
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the eleventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.
In this season we read 2 Corinthians.

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…

Intercessory Prayer

Asaph suffers for the pain and anguish of God’s people. He prays earnestly for them. He knows that God will bring justice where the innocent are suffering.

This psalm teaches us about intercessory prayer. Like the intersection of two streets, you are standing there in prayer like a police officer, directly how the traffic needs to flow. These include your family and friends who need prayer for reasons of health or other difficult times they might be having. And then there’s simply all the innocent people of the world who are victims of abuse. Think of the children in Africa—homeless and orphaned because their parents died in wars or from AIDS. Many children around the world suffer at the hands of those who take advantage of them. Then there are kids bullied in your school. On and on the list goes….may your prayer go on and on as well.

Psalm 79

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
You’ve forgotten all my sins.  v. 8
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the eleventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, 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…

A Favorite Bible Story

AnimFireStarter

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like roller coasters very much. I once knew a family that used to spend their vacation roaming across the country in search of the biggest and scariest roller coasters there were. Yuk! I don’t think that’s very much fun at all!

Well, the first book of Kings is like that: it’s a roller coaster ride from the heights of wonderful people like Solomon, to the wicked kings we’ve been reading about recently on Tuesdays. But today we meet up with someone great who lifts up our spirits like the top curves of a roller coaster. His name is Elijah.

Today’s story is one of my very favorites in the whole Bible; I hope it becomes one of yours as well. I’ll just let the story speak for itself. Read it slowly, like you’re savoring a summer’s ice cream cone. Think about it a lot: talk about it too; it has wonderful meaning for us all.

1 Kings 17:8-24

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Jar of meal never empty v. 16
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the eleventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B.
Tuesdays are dedicated to Hebrew History and “The Writings.”
For the rest of this season, we read 1 Kings.

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…

 

Holding On to God’s Hand

AnimFireStarter

The day you took your first steps is on that your parents will never forget. They were holding you by the hand to help you walk, and then the moment came when you started to walk on your own.

God is thinking of Himself as a parent just like yours. God too is remembering the days teaching God’s “child,” God’s people, how to walk. We catch the tender memories that God has of those days…and God’s sadness too, for when the people learned how to walk holding the Lord’s hand, they soon let go and began to hold the “hands” of other gods who led the people astray.

Hearing about God’s tenderness is like drinking a fresh, cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. God’s love is even more refreshing, because it’s so real and fresh everyday. Imagine that you are holding God’s hand closely as you read these verses. Be sure and hold on when you stop reading. Today and everyday, hold onto God’s hand while he shows you how to walk where God wants to lead you.

Hosea 11:1-11

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
You lead with cords of kindness. v. 4
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the eleventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, Year B.
Mondays in this season are dedicated to the Prophet Hosea.

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 Bread that Makes Us Live Forever

The first time eating is spoken about in the Bible, is when God tells Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16). When Adam and Eve ate the fruit (which we sometimes imagine to be an apple), they brought death into their lives and all the lives of human beings who came after them.

When Jesus talks about himself as “The Bread of Life,” he is thinking of the bread called manna that God sent from the skies to feed our Jewish ancestors in the desert. That bread made the people hungry again. But Jesus is also thinking of the fruit that Adam and Eve ate that brought death. Jesus, “The Bread of Life,” not only brings the end to inner hunger for God, but Jesus also brings life forever and ever…no more death!

Now you might say, “But people still are dying!” Yes, but Jesus says that those who cling to him in faith, even though they die physically, their real persons don’t die at all! Wow! So lets cling to Jesus, take Communion often, and live a life of joy and satisfaction because Jesus is with us!

John 6:35; 41-51

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer from today’s reading:
With each breath I’m drawn to You. v. 44
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the eleventh of thirteen weeks in the season of Pentecost, 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…

 

Waking Up to God

Have you ever noticed a dollar bill pasted on the wall of a store? This is the first dollar made when the store went into business. Perhaps the owner put it there as a reminder to be grateful to God for all the income that has happened from the business since that first day.

The idea of the tithe, which means a “tenth” of one’s income, is something like that first dollar. It is a reminder to set aside the first tenth part of income from work and dedicate it to God. Usually this offering is made to one’s church. Really, everything we have belongs to God, but the dedication of a tenth makes it very clear that this amount belongs to God in a special way and is to be kept for the things of God.

While you may not be making any money at this time in your life, there are ways to give to God the first fruits of what God has been given to you…such as the first ten minutes or so of your waking up each day. This can be a wonderful way, not only to open your eyes and stretch after a night’s rest and turn on the TV, but to “wake up” to God and offer the day to God in those very first minutes. Thank God for letting you share in that gift that only God has—life itself!

Deuteronomy 14:22-23

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Offering my best to You
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…