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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Devotional

Basking in the Son

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Jesus’ transfiguration must have been an impressive sight. His face “shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2), and his clothes became “as bright as a flash of lightning” (Luke 9:29), “dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” (Mark 9:3). The disciples weren’t even seeing Jesus in all His glory, because no sinful human can do that and live, but they saw Him in a more glorified state than anyone else had. It’s interesting that Moses was there, because He was another person who had not only seen God’s glory, but also been “transfigured,” in a sense. When He came down Mount Sinai after being in God’s presence, his face was radiant as well, similar to the way Jesus’ face shone on the Mount of Transfiguration. But it might surprise you to learn that you are in the process of being transfigured as well.

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Tried and Found Wanting

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Looking at my friend’s list of goals for the week, I started to feel rather unambitious. She and I are accountability partners, so we check in every week to report progress and set new goals. It’s a lovely arrangement, but last week she sent me her list that included seven items, many of them multi-faceted. My list had all of two things on it, both related to writing. I told her my goals looked completely lame in comparison, and she laughed and said, “I was thinking my goals were lame! You’re writing a book, and all I’m doing is finding people to fix stuff around our house!” Then she reminded me of a saying someone had once told her: “To compare is to despair.”

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Nowhere to Hide

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I never clean more thoroughly than when the exterminator comes. He’s coming today, and all day yesterday I was preparing for him. I clean closets, vacuum the rooms, clean under the beds, scrub the bathrooms, sweep and steam mop, and pull out the couch to clean underneath it. You’d think I was preparing for royalty.  And all this for a visit that takes less than half an hour.

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How Not to Pray

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Mary was in a delicate position. She was at a wedding, and they had run out of wine. This would be a huge embarrassment for the bride and groom. Wedding celebrations in those times ran for days, and running out of wine early meant the party would have to be cut short. Mary knew her Son could help. As His mother, she could have pulled the “parent” card and told Him what to do. But this wasn’t your typical mother/son relationship. Her Son was God, and she knew her place. The way she handled the situation was diplomatic and wise, and it can teach us a thing or two about prayer.

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Pushing the Limit

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This weekend I watched the movie Silence. It takes place in 17th-century Japan, when there was heavy persecution of Christians. The story follows two Jesuit priests who are seeking their mentor, who has reportedly committed apostasy and denied the faith. It is an intense movie, and disturbing on many levels. I was drawn into the conflict the characters faced, wondering how I would respond under similar circumstances. Many were strong even in the face of death. But there is one character in particular whose weakness was all too apparent, to the point that I got irritated with him. It was difficult to tell whether he was sincere or not, as he repeated the same mistake over and over. At one point, the priest asks himself, “How can Jesus love such a wretch as this man?”

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Broken Resolutions

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I broke my New Year’s resolution on January 2. It was my daughter’s birthday, and with everything else going on that day, I just didn’t in get the 30 minutes of decluttering that I’d vowed to do each day.  Understandable, sure, but what a downer all the same. I didn’t even make it two days into the new year before I broke my resolution. So much for a fresh start.

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Mary Had a Little Lamb

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Mary had a little Lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.
Down from heav’n to earth it went
Salvation to bestow.
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The Golden Calf in Your Life

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The story of the Israelites and the Golden Calf is a ridiculous one, isn’t it? C’mon, people. Just a few weeks after God performed ten miraculous plagues, led you through the Red Sea on dry ground but drowned Pharaoh’s army after you, and fed you with manna and quail, you forget all this and make an idol to worship? After all God has done for you, this is your response? It’s laughable, really. This golden calf that Aaron made in front of your eyes is the one who led you out of Egypt? Lame. And yet, all too familiar. Because we are no different today.

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Obsessed with Death

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A visitor to church might have wondered what was going on yesterday. All Saints Sunday is somewhat of an unusual one, as we remember with joy the deaths of those saints who have gone before us. In churches around the world, we took time to list the names of church members who have died within the past year. We even sing in gory detail about the deaths of the saints of old:

They have come from tribulation And have washed their robes in blood,
Washed them in the blood of Jesus; Tried they were, and firm they stood.
Mocked, imprisoned, stoned, tormented, Sawn asunder, slain with sword…
(TLH 471, v 3)

A glorious band, the chosen few, On whom the Spirit came,
Twelve valiant saints—their hope they knew And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, The lion’s gory mane;
They bowed their necks their death to feel—Who follows in their train?
(LSB 661, v 3)

Nice thing to be singing about with the kids, isn’t it? Being stoned, sawn in half, eaten by lions, burned to death, beheaded… Yep. Nothing to see here, folks. Just an ordinary church service, singing about various ways to die. What is it about Christians, that we’re so obsessed with death?

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