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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Faith

Day 24: Parents

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7
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Eleventh-Hour Conversion

Crucifixion was the best thing that could have happened to him.

No, I’m not talking about Jesus. I’m talking about the repentant thief next to Him on the cross. Presumably, he’d led a pretty miserable life, resorting to criminal activities that gained for him the death penalty. As he woke up that morning, he was probably looking back upon his life with bitterness and regret, knowing he had wasted his potential and squandered his talents. What he didn’t see coming was an encounter with a man who would alter the course of his eternity.

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On Fire for the Lord

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Pentecost must have been an amazing sight to behold. Men were quite literally on fire for the Lord, as the Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire. The apostles began to speak in languages they did not know, so that everyone there could hear the Gospel in his own language. Some mocked the apostles, claiming they were drunk. But many did believe, and after Peter’s sermon, Acts 2:41 tells us that “those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Whoa. Three thousand people? And a short while later, after Peter and John healed a lame beggar, John preached again about Jesus, and that day five thousand men believed! That’s astounding. Suddenly the growth of the Church in our own day can seem very meek in comparison.

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What We Can Learn from a Mustard Seed

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When I was a girl, I had a bracelet with a mustard seed in it. The mustard seed was enclosed within a clear ball, like a marble. The seed itself was tiny, a visual reminder of Jesus’ mention of the mustard seed. Indeed, the mustard seed has become symbolic of faith. Yesterday was LWML Sunday, and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League is known, among other things, for their “Mustard Seed” devotionals. Many times we think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 17:20, where He says, “‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Oftentimes the implied question is this: do you have that kind of faith? But there’s another mustard seed reference in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the parable of the mustard seed, which has a completely different nuance. Instead of likening one’s faith to a mustard seed, this time Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven, a far broader scope that places the action solely upon Him.

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Who Do You Think Jesus Is?

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Who do you think Jesus is?

The question was addressed to my sixth grader in an email from a friend and classmate. “Mom, what should I write?” he asked me. Half a dozen responses popped into my head, but I bit my tongue. “What do you think you should write?” I asked instead. I wanted to see what he would come up with on his own. After all, it’s a fairly basic question for a Christian; one that any of us could be asked at any time. So how would you answer?

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Wrestling with God

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Have you ever wrestled with God? Jacob did. Literally. He wrestled with God all night long the night before he met Esau again after years away. In the morning, the man (God) touched Jacob’s hip socket and put it out of joint, showing how powerful He really was. He could easily have disabled Jacob from the beginning, yet He chose to engage the patriarch in a familiar and personal way. We see that God’s ultimate purpose of struggling with Jacob was not to defeat him, but to bless him. Now, I doubt you’ve wrestled with God quite like that, but perhaps you’ve wrestled with Him in a different way—in prayer.

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Growing Out of Faith

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This morning I dropped my daughters off at school and they both walked in without looking back. This is quite a change from the beginning of the year, when my kindergartner would cling to me for dear life before I left. I had to walk her down to her classroom, help her put her backpack in her cubby, and give her a dozen hugs before leaving. After a few days of that routine, we shortened it so that her big sister walked her to the classroom, so long as I stood in the entryway where she could see me until she got to her classroom. Then when she got more comfortable with school and more self-reliant, I was able to wave at her from the doorway when she turned the corner to go to her classroom. And now she doesn’t even bother to look back. She’s on her own.

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No Big Deal

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I did the dishes in my kitchen sink yesterday. I know, big deal, right? But in fact it was a big deal. I was grinning ear to ear as I did those dishes. We had been without a kitchen faucet for four and a half days, due to a comedy of errors. I’d never realized how much I used the kitchen sink until I was without one. Washing hands, rinsing fruits and veggies, filling a pot of water, cleaning off plates before loading them in the dishwasher––simple tasks I take for granted suddenly weren’t so simple, and it wasn’t until I didn’t have the luxury of a kitchen sink that I realized how blessed I was to have a working faucet.

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Predictable

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I started a new book the other day. By the end of the first chapter, I knew who would end up with whom and what seemingly insurmountable obstacle would be overcome in the course of the story. It was completely predictable. And yet I continued reading nonetheless, and thoroughly enjoyed the book. A number of books are like this (my own included, one might argue). We know pretty much from the get-go what’s going to happen. And this knowledge helps us through the conflicts and tensions that arise in the middle of the story. We read on, through painful setbacks and embarrassing scenes, knowing that things are going to turn out okay in the end. We trust that the author has the characters’ best interests in mind and will see them to a satisfying conclusion.

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