Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Written by Beth Patch, a contemporary author and Internet producer/editor.

Memorial Day – to some it’s merely the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. However, to the war veteran and to the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries significance so deep that words cannot express their hearts. When we look into the eyes of those who still mourn these once vibrant men and women, we often sense their loneliness and pain. We hear them choke back tears as they simply say the ranks and names of their military brothers and sisters at a Memorial Day service. White gloves, dress uniforms, rigid posture, and perfectly precisioned salutes represent the reverence and respect flowing from within. Those who have been personally affected by war understand and appreciate this day of remembrance. What should we say to those who sincerely honor this day? “Happy Memorial Day” doesn’t seem fitting. “I’m sorry for your loss” may be closer to appropriate. What would the fallen soldier want from their comrades and the rest of the country on this day?

In an often quoted Memorial Day speech given in 1884 by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the speaker ended his address with these words, “Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death — of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.” The American soldier who gave his or her life for U.S. citizens to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness won’t be telling us how to observe the holiday. But I believe that Holmes’ proposition to “think of life, not death” would honor the fallen soldier. Their sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down His life for our freedom. It’s selfless love for others – not so others can mourn forever, but live!


The author of this prayer is unknown.

Gracious God, on this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace. In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe. We ask this through your name. Amen.

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Written by Ben Tertin, a contemporary pastor and podcast editor.  This is an excerpt from his article “When is Pentecost? And How Does It Relate to God’s Kingdom.”

Pentecost is a long-standing Jewish harvest party, a Christian celebration as old as Jesus’ Church, and a Greek word that means “fiftieth.” And the Pentecost moment described in the New Testament is a 1st-century event in Jerusalem where people’s heads caught fire (sort of). At this event, an indoor windstorm swirled through a packed house party, and everyone was baffled—some panicked. And then the guys with fiery heads became spontaneously multilingual… In the Hebrew Bible, mysterious windstorms with fire or lightning are consistently associated with two things: God’s presence and the formation of a temple.  The stories of Moses and the burning bush, Mount Sinai, the tabernacle, and the temple all include fire that shows up when God’s presence arrives and marks his dwelling space or temple. In Acts 2. Luke is hyperlinking to these previous divine-fire scenes to give a background to the Pentecost story. The divine fire has previously rested on Yahweh’s temple spaces, so where does it rest in this scene?… It’s a temple made out of “each one of them.” It’s made of people. People will meet with God not in a geographic place or constructed space but in connection with those who choose to trust and follow Jesus. God’s fire shines with power and harms nobody, and it ignites a cosmic revolution, the Church. The story tells us that God now dwells within the community of Jesus followers. This living temple is made of people who operate like Jesus, ending fear and oppression with love and peacefully teaching humanity how to love and bless one another. In this sense, Pentecost marks the beginning of a new world… So what is Pentecost Sunday all about? It’s about this unexpected (yet expected) moment in 1st-century Jerusalem when the apostles’ heads caught fire, when a strange indoor windstorm swirled through a packed party filled with international travelers. It is the day foreshadowed by every wind-and-fire episode in the Old Testament and the day Jesus promised would happen as he quoted the prophet Isaiah. It’s the moment his loving Church began, and it’s the beginning of a new, peaceful world.


Written by Pete Briscoe, a contemporary pastor, radio host, and author.

Come Holy Spirit dance in our souls.

Come as the fire of love and burn in our hearts.

Come, O Breath of God blow through our lives.

Come, O come, Dove of peace and beat your strong wings

above all that we do in Jesus’ name.


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Today’s meditation is from the group “Lead Like Jesus,” a group founded by author Ken Blanchard with the mission of glorifying God by inspiring and equipping people to lead like Jesus.

How effective are you at influencing others through your words? The wise person considers how to share their knowledge in ways that will draw people’s interest and attention. Considering what to say, how much to say and when to say it, are all elements of wise speech. Talking with God about the matter before we talk with others is always a good idea. Asking Him to sort through our words and anoint them so that they are appealing will infuse our words with appropriate humility and confidence.


Written by Scott Cairns, a contemporary American poet, professor, librettist, and spiritual essayist.

Lamb of God and Good Shepherd, Holy Servant and Holy King, Infant Child and Eternal Lord Whom the Heavens Cannot Contain, teach us what we are to cry aloud. Bless our tongues with words that lead us and others truly to the Word. Now and ever, and unto the ages. Amen.

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Written by Christine Perry, a contemporary author.

A recent Pew Research Center poll of the frequency of prayer among Christians showed 68% of Christians pray daily. Living in an instant gratification society, we are not very patient and often give up when we don’t see the results we want. In DL Moody’s book Prevailing Prayer, he shares this story, “About 1,500 gathered for two hours of lively, focused prayer. Later, I asked Pastor Jim Cymbala why so many were attending the Brooklyn Tab prayer meetings when many other churches have canceled their prayer meetings for lack of interest. He answered, ‘You would also have a full church on prayer meeting night if your people actually believed that God answers prayer!'”  When we face delayed answers, we tend to grow weary of praying. But, remember, the God we are praying to is the same God who: gave Sarah a son past child-bearing years, parted the Red Sea, brought forth water from a rock and manna from heaven, shut the mouths of lions, rescued three men from the fiery furnace, healed the lame, gave sight to the blind, and paid for the penalty of sin so we could spend eternity with Him. Is there anything too hard for God? No! When we pray, the power does not rest on our abilities. Instead, it rests on the character of who God is. And lest we forget, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). St. Augustine said, “If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. That is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.” If you feel battle-worn and tired of prayer, take heart, it happens to us all. Scripture recorded when Jesus kept waking his disciples to ask them to pray. I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of falling asleep instead of praying. Where do we find the strength to pray when we don’t see answers? Hebrews 4:14-16 says Jesus is a sympathetic High Priest who tells us to come boldly to the throne of grace. Friends, Jesus knows we will grow weary and tired. He doesn’t condemn us; instead, He prays for us and lives to make intercession (Hebrew 7:25). We are not alone in praying. 


Written by Rebecca Barlow Jordan, a contemporary author.

I remember your great faithfulness in the past and am so grateful that you shower fresh mercy and grace on me each morning. I rehearse your goodness through answered prayer and personal reminders to me daily of your love for me. Even when I feel alone or distant from you, you draw me back into your presence when I purposely slow down and draw close to you. I treasure your Word and want to chew on the truths you reveal to me today. As I pull apart each piece and reflect on every principle and word of instruction, I’m asking you to guide me and teach me what you want me to know. Amen.

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Written by Phil Rehberg, a former pastor and attorney. He is currently an author and director of Road to New Life Ministries.

It’s not reasonable to expect unbelievers to act like believers. Therefore, it is not appropriate to have an accusatory attitude toward them or express forms of accusation to them. We are in this world as lights, not as adversaries to the world. We love our enemies as well as those who are not our enemies (which I think covers everyone.) If we should reach the point of discussing the way of salvation with them, then we need to say words to convict them of sin. Until then, we should try to understand unbelievers and convey God’s goodness and blessings for them. If we change our expectations, we won’t be so discouraged when our culture is destructive. In America, our dominant culture has become narcissistic and hedonistic. Self-righteousness abounds, reminding us of the Pharisees that Jesus faced; but American Pharisees are secular activists who condemn anyone who does not follow their preferred rules for social engagement, which conflict with Jesus’ teachings. This is very disturbing and sad for believers, but we need to respond in a Christlike way. Instead of thinking we have a right to live in the kind of place we want, it might help to think of ourselves as missionaries in our community and our world. As missionaries, we need to understand the culture around us. We need to understand how the people around us think and live. Since there is such a diversity of views wherever we go, our lives are a constant cross-cultural experience. Even talking to our neighbor is often a cross-cultural experience. Once we get to know someone and understand them a little, then we can think about finding the right words and actions that will draw them to God. This is what Jesus did, and what Paul did when he went to Athens and Corinth which had a tremendous variety of philosophies. Paul didn’t condemn them; instead, he used a poem from one of their poets to reach them… It’s a matter of loving people enough to put the effort into discovering how to connect with their hearts. Have you been getting to know and understand an unbeliever around you? Do you know about their beliefs, hopes, fears, pains, and joys?


Written by Megan Bailey, a contemporary writer and content producer.

Lord, I know it is my duty to spread the Word of God and show others the glory that can be found within You. Many people come to faith after seeing Christ’s loved displayed through the ministry of Christians. So today, I pray for opportunities to minister to unbelievers. Help me to spread Your ministry effectively to those who do not know you. I pray that You work through other Christians, so that they have the ability to minister to nonbelievers too. Lead us all to opportunities to encounter those who do not know Jesus. Let us all be an example of Christian living. Amen. 

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Written by Mark D. Roberts, a contemporary author and speaker.

In Genesis 1 God creates the universe out of nothing. God doesn’t base creation on any existing model or universe. Rather, the cosmos is a physical expression of God’s imagination. What God sees God speaks into being. The creation of human beings is like the creation of everything else in that it is an expression of God’s imagination. But God’s vision of humankind is different from everything else in the universe because people are created in God’s image and likeness. Human beings are uniquely like God. Part of this uniqueness is expressed through the authority people have over everything else on earth.  Now, if we were created in God’s image, and imagination is part of this image, then part of our human DNA includes the imagination. The human imagination is not only a great gift of God; it is also an aspect of the image of God.” [Matthew Ristuccia and Gene Veith, Jr., “Imagination is a facet of the image of God”]. Why has God given us this special gift? Genesis implies that this is part of God’s plan for human beings. After creating the man and the woman, “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’” (Genesis 1:28). In order to do the work God assigned to humanity, we need many gifts and abilities, including imagination. We need to be able to see what does not yet exist so that we might labor to bring it into existence. We might call this sort of imagination “creative imagination.” Even as God’s imagination contributed to creation, so it is with us, though on a very different level and in a very different way. When a sculptor imagines a new sculpture, they can’t simply speak it into existence as God did in the first creation. Rather, their imagination leads to weeks, months, or even years of work. (It took Michelangelo three years to sculpt David.)  Genesis 1 reminds us that imagination is not only for people like Michelangelo, unusually gifted artists. Sometimes we think that way, thereby devaluing our own creative gifting and calling. To be sure, some people have extraordinary imaginary ability, whether in art (Michelangelo), literature (Tolkien), music (Beethoven), cooking (Child), or technology (Jobs). But every human being created in God’s image reflects God’s imagination. If you stop to think about it, many “ordinary” human tasks actually require extraordinary imagination—things like raising children, managing a staff, designing a product, or leading a church. 


Written by Mark D. Roberts, the author of today’s meditation.

Gracious God, it is truly a wonder to think that you created us in your own image. Right from the start, we are special to you, special in all of your creation.  Thank you for creating us with the capacity for imagination. Thank you for giving us this gift so that we might effectively and imaginatively do what you have given us to do: being fruitful, multiplying, filling the earth, and exercising authority over it. Help me, I pray, to learn to be more imaginative in the work of my life, whether I’m in the office, the study, the workshop, the classroom, or the store. May I be creative in my core relationships, with family, friends, neighbors, and folks from church. May I learn to use my imagination to serve people in the world, whether by painting murals, feeding the hungry, freeing the captives, or embodying the love of Christ. Amen.

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Written by Cara Whitney, a contemporary author. This meditation is an excerpt from her book “Unbridled Faith.”

Horse ownership means that we are making a commitment to a horse — and that we are willing to accept the lifestyle change that comes with it. Nothing says unconditional love like leaving your warm house to feed horses when it’s fifteen degrees below zero outside. Once we commit to ownership, even in trying times, there are many joys and benefits that come with it. Some people want the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ but not the accompanying lifestyle change. Yet we must ask ourselves if we’re on a truth quest or a happiness quest. We can always find a person, web page, or even a church that will promote lies — spiritual junk food — that sound good but lack the whole truth of the Bible.  When it comes to a horse lifestyle, you know you’re growing when it becomes second nature to clean out the stall, brush and feed your horse daily, and ride as often as you can. When it comes to our spiritual lives, growing in truth means tapping into God’s faith-building resources: having a daily quiet time, reading devotionals, and engaging in spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, church, and sharing our faith. Personally connecting with God on a daily basis is essential to the life of every believer. God’s Word is alive and active, and it will change our lives. Truth isn’t always easy to hear, but by accepting the lifestyle change that comes with the love of Jesus, we can receive the full benefit of having a relationship with Him.


Written by Cara Whitney, the author of today’s meditation.

Lord, help me to avoid spiritual junk food. I want the solid food of Your truth, amen.

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Written by Emily Rose Massey, a contemporary author.

“Ministry” is derived from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning “to serve.” Every believer is called into ministry to serve Jesus and His body. Jesus came to earth to serve others and calls us to follow His lead in selflessness and compassion for others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is human to seek after the cravings of our flesh, but in Christ Jesus, we can turn from old ways. The Holy Spirit empowers us to set our selfishness aside to follow Jesus in service of others. That kind of lifestyle starts with our mindset. Bible study and spiritual discipline allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, shifting our focus to eternal and spiritual matters. The longer we walk with the Lord, the more able we are to hold up under the temptations of worldly thinking and fleshly desires. Our behavior and attitude change as God gives us the desire to love, obey, and serve Him fervently! Selfish living isn’t an option for Christ followers! In dying to our selfish ways, our lives bring glory to God. We may feel pain and joy as the light of God shows up in other people’s lives. He does not leave us to our strength to follow the command to love and serve one another. God empowers us to surrender to Him and His ways entirely. Our love for Him and others will grow stronger with each obedient step. Every passing day, by God’s grace, we mature and cultivate a heart to serve others for His glory! Who is God asking you to serve? What selfish desires do you need to put aside to put someone else’s life before yours? Are you too busy or distracted to serve or pray for others? Let’s take some time and write down those who might come to mind. Who can you minister to, even if it is just a simple phone call to encourage someone or invite a new couple from your church over for dinner? May God empower us to choose others above ourselves and show the love of Christ with great compassion.


Written by “Education for Justice,” a project of the Ignatian Solidarity Network that brings social teaching resources to worldwide users.

Sharing the loaves and fishes,

You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.

Sharing yourself in the bread and wine,

You called all to the table, O Lord.

Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding

And the healing of this world.

Nourish me with your Grace,

So I may work with joy to serve your children.

Open my eyes and my heart

To recognize those in poverty

And increase my awareness

Of the structures and systems

That need to be changed

So we may all break bread together.

In your name we pray for the end of hunger. Amen.

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Written by Anne Graham Lotz, a contemporary American evangelist, author, and founder of AnGeL Ministries.  She is the second daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife Ruth.

There’s a long one lane winding road that leads up to the place that I call my father’s house. I know every curve, every foot along the way because when I was a child I was schooled down in the Valley. So I walked down this mountain every morning, and I walked back up this mountain every afternoon, five days a week. But later in life when I moved away and had my own family, and I would return to see my parents up at my father’s house, if I arrived after dark my mother would keep the light on near the driveway to let me know I was expected, and I was welcomed. This home has always been a place where I felt welcomed, unconditionally loved, accepted, safe, and comforted. The home is quite different today than it was during my childhood. All the sights and sounds of family activity are no longer here, because like many family homes, children grow up, move out, parents age, and eventually pass on. And our homes can eventually become an empty shell. But what lives on is the eternal truth that was taught to me as a child. All the lessons I learned. Some were spoken, some were observed, some good, some difficult. And then those were the truths that as a parent I sought to pass on to my children by my own words and by my example. What are you passing on that has eternal value? Your legacy is not something to be thought about towards the end of your life, because whether you know it or not it’s already begun. The good news is that you can start now right where you are to be a Jesus follower. You can model a faith that will influence the generations that follow you.


Written by William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a British politician, philanthropist and leader of the movement to stop the slave trade.

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom: Enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn, that, rejoicing in the knowledge of your truth, they may worship you and serve you from generation to generation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, Amen.

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Written by Max Lucado, a contemporary pastor, speaker, and author. This is an excerpt from his book “Anxious for Nothing.”

Our aim — our only aim — is to be at home in Christ. He is not a roadside park or hotel room. He is our permanent mailing address. Christ is our home. He is our place of refuge and security. We are comfortable in His presence, free to be our authentic selves. We know our way around in Him. We know His heart and His ways. We rest in Him, find our nourishment in Him. His roof of grace protects us from storms of guilt. His walls of providence secure us from destructive winds. His fireplace warms us during the lonely winters of life. We linger in the abode of Christ and never leave. The branch never releases the vine. Ever! Does a branch show up on Sundays for its once-a-week meal? Only at the risk of death. The healthy branch never releases the vine, because there it receives nutrients twenty-four hours a day. If branches had seminars, the topic would be “Secrets of Vine Grabbing.” But branches don’t have seminars, because to attend them they would have to release the vine — something they refuse to do. The dominant duty of the branch is to cling to the vine. The dominant duty of the disciple is the same. We Christians tend to miss this. We banter about pledges to “change the world,” “make a difference for Christ,” “lead people to the Lord.” Yet these are by-products of the Christ-focused life. Our goal is not to bear fruit. Our goal is to stay attached. Maybe this image will help. When a father leads his four-year-old son down a crowded street, he takes him by the hand and says, “Hold on to me.” He doesn’t say, “Memorize the map” or “Take your chances dodging the traffic” or “Let’s see if you can find your way home.” The good father gives the child one responsibility: “Hold on to my hand.” God does the same with us. Don’t load yourself down with lists. Don’t enhance your anxiety with the fear of not fulfilling them. Your goal is not to know every detail of the future. Your goal is to hold the hand of the One who does and never, ever let go.


Written by Pedro Arrupe (1907-1991), a Spanish priest.


More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.

This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.

But now there is a difference;

the initiative is entirely with God.

It is indeed a profound spiritual experience

to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

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