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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Devotional

Lost in the Fog

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Driving in heavy fog is very unsettling. Yesterday morning I had to drive to church in such conditions, and although it’s a road I’ve taken dozens of times before, everything looked different in the fog. Each turn seemed unfamiliar, large trees weren’t visible until we were practically next to them, and cars coming from the opposite direction didn’t emerge from the fog until they were pretty close to us, which was startling and a bit scary. I was on edge the entire time, not knowing if a deer would suddenly leap out in front of me or a car would pull out without being able to see me coming. I felt disoriented, but I was not lost. I may not have been able to see a hundred yards ahead of me, but I knew I was on the right road, and I knew that road was going to get me to my destination.

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Jesus in the Old Testament

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I came from a no-name town. My ministry began at the Jordan River. I performed many miracles, including healing a leper, multiplying food to feed a crowd, and raising someone from the dead.

Who am I?

When I pose this riddle to the students in my Midweek School class, they all give the safe answer: Jesus. Jesus came from Nazareth, a no-name town in His day, His earthy ministry began at the Jordan River when He was baptized by John, and He performed all those miracles listed above. But my students are usually surprised to learn that Jesus wasn’t the first biblical figure to fit the description. To find the answer we need to look back nearly 900 years before Jesus was born.

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Deathbed Requests

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It plays out like a scene from The Godfather. The aged king is passing along final instructions to the son who is to succeed him on the throne. He starts off well, admonishing him to be God-fearing and of noble character. So far, so good. But then he gets personal. He instructs his son to “deal wisely” with two specific men who had wronged him. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to know what the king means. “Do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace,” the king says of both men. In other words, kill these guys. These are the king’s final words, and then he dies. It’s the stuff of movies. Cue the climactic music. Get one last close-up of the characters in this scene, who are none other than King David and his son Solomon.

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Sand on the Seashore

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Last week we went to the beach for a couple days. The kids had a wonderful time splashing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, jumping into the waves, finding seashells, and of course, playing in the sand. They dug holes, made sandcastles, and even had “sandball” fights. They had a blast. But afterward, the sand was everywhere. Despite my best efforts to rinse our bathing suits, shake out our towels, and beat the sand out of the floor mats of the van, we still managed to escape with a fair amount of sand. It was as if a fine layer of sand had settled over everything. When I washed our towels and bathing suits at home, there was so much sand on the bottom of the washing machine afterward that it took two damp paper towels to collect it all. It’s still all over the floor of the van. It’s probably in our suitcases too, so that when we open them next time we go on a trip it’ll be there to remind us of the beach. It’s like we just can’t get rid of this stuff.

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The “Lazy” Days of Summer

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Whoever coined the phrase “lazy days of summer” obviously didn’t have a summer like mine. I could make my own version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Between five kids home from school, four summer reading programs, three weddings, two sets of houseguests, and a cross-country vacation just before school starts again, there’s nothing lazy about this summer. This past week was a real doozy. I played for a wedding last weekend, and the rest of the weekend was devoted to an out-of-town baseball All-Stars tournament. Monday ushered in VBS week, for which I led music. Friday was the final day of VBS, plus the closing program, as well as my daughter’s birthday. To say it was a crazy week is sort of an understatement. On Saturday, when we all finally had nothing going on for once, my three-year-old, who never naps, was so exhausted he just fell asleep on the couch. Clearly the busy pace had caught up to him at last. He needed rest.

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Life in the Royal Household

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Americans in general are fascinated with the Bristish monarchy. Everywhere I turn, magazines and tabloids have the latest scoop about the royal wedding, who’s fighting with whom, and how the new generation is changing the way things have been done for centuries. I can’t imagine how Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, puts up with the constant paparazzi and being so much in the public eye all the time. Every decision is scrutinized, from what she wears to a wedding to how she and her husband plan to raise their children. She has to be ready at every moment to be photographed, even upon leaving the hospital with a newborn. Very little in her life is truly private. She’s being watched all the time. It must be exhausting. Frankly, I’m glad I’m not royalty.

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Life is Hard and Then You Die

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Life is hard and then you die.

While the exact origin of the quote may be debatable, it’s a sentiment that resonates with many people. When I was a kid, I wanted so badly to be an adult. In my mind, I’d really be free then. Free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could stay up as late as I wanted, eat chocolate whenever I wanted, buy whatever I wanted. I’d get married and have kids and be a perfect mother and a perfect wife with a perfect husband, and we’d all live happily ever after. Basically, I’d have it made. But then I became an adult and realized that adulthood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I discovered that I’m not a perfect wife or mom, and neither are my husband or kids perfect. As a child, I never considered things like financial struggles, job loss, relationship difficulties, sickness, or the challenges of parenting. Despite my high hopes for adulthood, my adult self knows something my younger self did not: life is hard.

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Lambs Among Wolves

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It’s a familiar enough scene: Jesus is sending out the seventy-two into towns and villages ahead of Him, and His words to them are well known. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). Ahhh. Lovely, iconic scene. We all know those words well, and we pray in church that God would do just that—send workers into His Church. What could be more rewarding than working as a laborer in God’s field? This verse is often quoted at installation services, and rightly so. But we often stop with that verse and fail to read Jesus’ very next words. “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). Wait, what? What did You just say, Jesus? You do know what wolves do to lambs, don’t You? They eat them. That’s not exactly something You ought to put right there in the job description. On second thought, maybe I don’t want to be sent into the harvest field after all…

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Where is God, Anyhow?

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It was a confounding problem. It was dinnertime, there were over 5000 hungry people, and they were in a desolate location with little to no food immediately available. So the disciples naturally urged Jesus to send everyone away to fend for themselves. They looked to Him to make things right, and He did. But not at all in the way they were expecting. He told them calmly, “You give them something to eat.” Um, Jesus? All we have here is five loaves and two fish. That won’t even feed the 13 of us. Still, Jesus meant what He said. He directed everyone to sit down on the grass, blessed the food, and had the disciples distribute it to everyone there. Incredibly, everyone was fed, and there were 12 baskets of leftovers. Way to go, Jesus! And clearly, yes, He deserves all the glory for the miracle. But there’s something we’re missing if we stop there—the role the disciples played.

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