Seed of Christians

“The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”! So wrote an ancient, Christian spiritual writer named Tertullian, in the year 197 AD.  As inspiration for this famous saying, he was aware of the story of the sower in the Gospels.  The seed falling into the ground is the source of life for the new plant to grow—the way God’s life grows.  He also was thinking of what Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”  (John 12:24). 

So there they were: Christians standing in prayer as they are about to be mauled by lions.  The witness of how they died became a source of strength to others to come to believe in the life of Jesus who died for them.  The martyrs were willing to die, because they believed they would rise like Jesus.  And so it is for us!

Revelation 18:21-24

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

The Bad Bursts Away

Imagine what it would be like to have a ten-cylinder engine for the family car!  The biggest ones around are eight cylinders…and not too many of those; the most common are cars with four cylinders.

Well, today your day can be powered by a “ten-cylinder” engine!  What I mean are the ten verses of today’s psalm that can have you move through your day with the power of God.  We often call this power, “grace.”  With God’s grace, you can block negative forces that might be coming against you—the meanness of others, the nasty, critical words that someone might say to you.

There’s one word in this Psalm that can counter the bad effects of any other words.  It’s “Alleluia,” which means, “Praise the Lord.”  Like poking a hole in a big balloon, “Alleluia” bursts the bad away.

Psalm 146

Wednesdays are devoted to the reading of the Psalms,
one a week across the three-year cycle.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Those Who Inspire

On and on we read about the story of evil kings and their evil deeds, desperate to hold onto power.  Good kings seem up against it, given that bad kings come before and after them, pressing them like bookends.

Recall what I wrote about yesterday and how the Bible is reflected in the life of Jesus and in our own lives.  Read about the special protection of God for Joash.  It reminds us of the protection God gave to Moses and Jesus in their births.

The holy priest Jehoiada was a great inspiration to Joash.  But when Jehoiada died, Joash slipped into the evil ways of the kings before him.  Who are the ones in your life that inspire you to be good and to prepare yourself for the special future that God has in store for you?

 2 Chronicles 22:10-12; 24:1-4;13-16

Tuesdays are dedicated to the the History and Writings
of the Hebrew Scriptures.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Life Connected to God’s Word

The gospel writers love to tell the story of Jesus’s suffering and death, with verses from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Like echoes bouncing off the walls of a cave, the story of Jesus’ passion echoes in some ways the history of God’s people in Old Testament days.  

Zechariah talks about taking thirty pieces of silver and tossing them to a potter.  St. Matthew uses just these words to describe what the religious leaders did with the thirty pieces of silver they paid to Judas so that he would betray Jesus.   When Judas threw the silver pieces into the temple and then hanged himself, the leaders took the coins and bought a field where foreigners could be buried. St. John in 19:37 of his gospel was thinking of Zechariah 12:10 with these verses that describe Jesus’ death, “They looked on the one they had pierced.”  

Here’s a way to read the Bible…  What events in your own life come to mind when you read stories from Scripture that are over two thousand years old?  Feel your life connected to God’s Word. 

Zechariah 11:10-13; 12:10

Mondays are dedicated to the reading of the Hebrew Prophets.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

God, Be Merciful to Me!

The tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said,
“God, show mercy to me, a sinner.”Luke 18:13

My kindergarten teacher was a short, sweet religious woman.  She taught generations of children as they began the long years of learning.  She had a chart of Bible images for her lessons.  In my mind, I  can still see the one for the Pharisee and the Publican; I’ve posted it on the blog.  The two persons are in strong contrast in the picture: to the left and in the front, with face lifted up, is the Pharisee; to the right, toward the back of the temple, is the humble tax collector with his face down.  He simply prays for God’s mercy on him.

God’s mercy and love are far greater than any sin in this world.  So whatever wrong you may have done, just let this simple Bible breath flow in and out with your breathing: “God, be merciful to me!” 

  Luke 18:9-14

On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

The Sabbath Feeling

Jewish people all over the world have just completed weeks of special holy days.  The last one is called Simchat Torah, which means “The Joy of the Torah.” They dance with the handwritten scroll of the first five books of the Bible.  They embrace the scroll and twirl in circles with it, thanking God for the year of reading the Torah which has just passed and happy to be blessed with a new year of reading it again, every Sabbath.

In The Bible Through the Seasons we follow their plan for these readings on Saturdays. We’re back to the first book of the Bible.  The name “Genesis” and Bereshith (the Hebrew name of the book) means “In the beginning.”

You’ll see a pattern as the parts of creation are stitched together with the words, “And God saw that it was good,” leading up to the last work on the sixth day of creating the first human beings.

It’s a beautiful poem that tells how God changed chaos and confusion into the creation of an ordered, wonderful world of peace. Then there’s the final day, the Sabbath, when God rested.

We are urged to do the same.  Take some time this and very Saturday to get in touch with a Sabbath feeling on Saturday, the last day of the week.  The world doesn’t honor it, though fervent Jews really get into the spiritual feeling of the Sabbath—a day to live very aware that God is totally in charge.  But you can have a Sabbath-feeling being off from school and playing; play is a great part of the Sabbath.  Having fun with God’s people—that’s what God wants us to do!

Genesis  1:1—2:3

The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Staying Near to Jesus

El Greco
The Repentant Peter c. 1600
Oil on canvas, 37 by 30.5 inches – Phillips Collection, Washington

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered the Lord’s words: “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 
And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably.
Luke 22:62

After Jesus is arrested, Peter lurks in the courtyard.  The chilly, cool night air adds to Peter’s shivering in fear.  He warms himself by a fire as others gather around.  The stage is set for Peter to deny Jesus.  It’s  a  very sad moment in the story of Jesus’s suffering and death.  Greater than the beating, the mocking and the crown of thorns, how hurt and very sad Jesus must have been to have such a close friend deny that he even knew him!

The rooster crowing was like a scratch on Peter’s memory.  He recalls that Jesus had said at the Last Supper that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crows.  Never again would the early morning sound of a rooster crowing be the same for him.

Peter became weak by being too far away from Jesus.  For you: stay nearby Jesus as you let the story of Jesus’s suffering touch you.  The risen Jesus finds joy in your faithfulness and presence to him!

Luke 22:47-71

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year C,
the third year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Luke.

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.