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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Christian Living

Meeting Together Apart

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I sat in my car with my five children, rain steadily pelting the roof, the windows slowly fogging up with our warm air inside. We had only a limited view of the other cars around us in similar situations. My husband was leading a drive-in church service and had partially retreated to the open door of the church to avoid the rain. We could see neither him nor our fellow worshipers on Sunday morning, but we could hear him over a local radio frequency that had a limited range barely reaching the edge of the parking lot. This has become the new normal. Drive-in church. And I admit, it’s a bit of a letdown. My five-year-old, who was never terribly well behaved in church anyhow, no longer has to sit on my lap during the service, so he slides on and off his seat in the car. My other kids, who are generally quite well behaved in church, now have the freedom to whisper little side comments throughout the service or slouch back in their seats or take off their shoes. Sitting in our car doesn’t have the same effect as sitting in a physical church building with other congregants around us and the organ accompanying us for hymns. Listening over a radio frequency just isn’t the same.

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Grudgingly Serving My Neighbor

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If you’re anything like me, you’re getting sick (no pun intended) of hearing about the coronavirus. Everywhere I turn, there’s a new update or restriction or cancellation. March and April, which for us was supposed to be chock full of track practices and meets, archery practice for the State tournament, field trips, music competitions, and Confirmation activities, has suddenly cleared for an unspecified amount of time, leaving a conspicuous absence of activity. That unnerves and irritates me. My kids just finished a week of spring break, and now they have more time at home, which throws off my own schedule. And from what I can gather, this isn’t going to be a quick fix. Many states have already called off school (or imposed “distance learning”) for up to three weeks. This is going to drag out for a while. I fear we’ve only just begun.

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What Prayer Isn’t

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Prayer is hard for me. I’ve been struggling for years to establish a schedule for daily prayer, but it just isn’t happening. I even had a wonderful friend share with me her prayer journaling plan, complete with different prayer categories for different days. That helped, because it gave me some structure, but if you look at my entries you’ll see I’m still very sporadic. I was doing pretty well for about a week, with entries on January 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7, but then there’s a huge gap until the 27th. The same pattern holds true for February. I’m so much better at sticking with a devotional or Bible reading plan. Working through a Bible study or reading through the Bible is tangible. I can update my progress on Goodreads as I go. (And trust me, I do just that! Check out my profile to see what I mean.) But prayer isn’t like that. I can’t update my progress or gauge how far I’ve come. I need to think of prayer differently. So I find it helpful to keep in mind a few things abut prayer. Specifically, what prayer isn’t.

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Is Our World the Worst It’s Ever Been?

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Oh, that God in heaven would have mercy on us! Today, even the faithful have become unbelievers. A reformation, therefore, appears to be impossible. It is clear that the world is declining. The examples of the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the destruction on Jerusalem are being fulfilled before our eyes. The darkness of the midnight hour of the world has come upon us. The Judge already stands at the door. The hammer of the world’s clock has been raised in order to announce the expiration of the last hour. God’s army, the angels of the Lord of the heavenly hosts, stand in battle formation to fight the great battle of the Last Day. In but a few minutes of the world’s time, God’s trumpet will sound.

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The Meanest Mom in Town

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Last summer some friends from the neighborhood came over to play with my girls. They played outside for awhile before coming in to get out of the heat. Upon walking into the house, our guests spotted the xBox and asked to play. I told them no and suggested Legos instead. Walking away, I heard the nine-year-old mutter to my daughter, “My mom is nicer than your mom.”

My son and his friends were talking around the lunch table their eighth-grade year, and one friend bemoaned, “My mom just started this new thing called ‘no phones after dinner.’” My son shot back, “Yeah, well, my mom has this thing called ‘no phones…’”

Is it bad that in both cases, I was secretly pleased?

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When You Feel Insignificant

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My son is in marching band this year, and each member of the band has his or her own set of steps to learn. No two people have the same drill, and yet everyone works together to form a cohesive show. My son knows this, but it didn’t really dawn on him until they had a competition recently, and the band directors sent a video of their show to each of the members to watch. As he watched the entire show, finally able to see everyone together, he said in awe, “Wow. I had no idea that’s what we look like. It’s neat to see the big picture.”

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When Money Gets in the Way

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There were a dozen reasons to say no. The family asking for help with their bill was well-known around town. They didn’t make wise use of money, often asked for handouts, and were generally looked upon with suspicion. People didn’t trust them, and for good reason. Besides, it’s not good to enable people, right? Let them learn from the consequences of their actions. You don’t want to risk them coming back to you again and again. It’s best not to get involved at all.

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A More Effective Workout Routine

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Apparently I’ve been exercising all wrong. According to my teenage son, who fancies himself an expert on fitness, there are three phases of strength training one ought to do in order to maximize the benefits. Silly me, I’d just been following the number of reps and sets suggested in my program, gradually increasing the amount of weight for each exercise. But my son set me straight. One ought to rotate strength, hypertrophy, and endurance workouts for the best results. With a strength workout, you add as much weight as possible, enough that you can only lift 2-6 reps for each set. Hypertrophy is the “normal” workout, where you do 8-12 reps with a challenging but doable amount of weight. And endurance is a slightly less challenging weight so you can do 15-20 reps per set. All three of these work together for the best results.

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Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

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1. What do you call a group of crows?

2. Often seen at the end of a sentence, the three trailing dots that indicate the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues are known as…

3. How many kingdoms are part of the United Kingdom?

4. Solve the following equation: 5 + 3 * 4 / 2 – 1 = ?

Can you answer these questions? All were featured on the show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? What made the show funny was that college-educated adults went head-to-head with fifth-grade students and usually had to admit, “I am not smarter than a fifth grader.” Only two contestants actually won the $1,000,000 grand prize. Of course, the students had more recently studied all the subjects, and as the expression goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” I am never more aware of that then when I’m helping my middle-schooler with math. Every time I have to look up the difference between rational numbers, irrational numbers, whole numbers, and integers. My son will ask, “Mom, didn’t you have to learn all this?” And I reply, “Of course, but that was years ago.”

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