July 25, 2021

The Unwanted, the Unloved, the Uncared For

Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Psalm 82:3
In 1910 Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born to an Albanian family in Skopje, (Northern) Macedonia. Her father died when she was young, and her mother brought her up as a pious Roman Catholic. She first felt the call to a religious life at the age of twelve, and at eighteen, she entered a convent in Dublin, Ireland, taking as her new name Sister Mary Teresa.

Before the age of twenty, she was sent to India, and by the time she was 21 she was teaching at a high school in Calcutta, which served girls from the city's poorest neighborhoods. She quickly learned to speak both Hindi and Bengali fluently.

July 24, 2021

Words That Heal

There are words that hurt and words that heal. When our backs are against the wall or someone has done us wrong, we often think that we have every right to use hurtful words. When we feel this way, perhaps we should consider the patriarch Joseph. As a young boy, Joseph was resented by his older brothers, who took him out into the desert and sold him into slavery. Returning to their father, they told him his beloved son had been killed by a wild beast.

But in captivity in Egypt, Joseph remained faithful to his God and eventually became Pharaoh's prime minister. And then, when famine hit the entire region, Joseph's brothers came to Egypt, hat in hand, wanting to buy grain.

July 23, 2021

Solitude

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
Psalm 119:148
We live in a very extroverted world, and the church encourages this orientation toward the world. We would rather speak than listen. We glory more in quantity than quality. We would rather wade through the shallow rather than plumb the depths.

There are many times in the Bible when extroversion seems to be the way of things. After all, it is easier to make God's love known by shouting about it among the multitudes, than by keeping to one's self. 

And yet the Bible is just as adamant about quiet time, waiting time, alone time.

July 22, 2021

What Have You Done for Me Lately?


Sometimes it seems that, during their sojourn in the wilderness, Israel's relationship with God could best be described by the question, What have you done for me lately? Among many other miraculous blessings, God delivered them from bondage, gave them water from a rock, and fed them with bread from heaven. But at every turn, as soon as they met with inconvenience or difficulty, Israel seemed to think that God had abandoned them. Worse yet, there were times when they even gave into the temptation to worship false idols that they thought might do them more good than the God of the universe.

July 21, 2021

Wisdom from Above

My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof,
Proverbs 3:11
The Word convicts us. Our consciences direct us. Our experiences inform us. We receive God's guidance dozens—maybe even hundreds—of times a day. But because our minds, ears, and eyes are attuned to other things, we're often unable to discern God's will from everything else that's going on within and around us. Social media, peer pressure, partisan speech, our own desires and priorities—these usually speak much more loudly than the guidance God provides. 

The wisdom God sends our way leads to thoughtfulness, open hearts and minds, humility, and sincerity. If those things that are influencing me send me in the direction of arrogance or discord or dishonesty, then it is highly unlikely that it is the divine Voice that is speaking to my spirit. 

July 20, 2021

To Know Him Is to Love Him

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my Name.
Psalm 91:14
Today's text equates loving God with knowing God's Name, and divine deliverance with divine protection. To remember this verse, I just think of the old pop song, To Know Him Is to Love Him. I don't know what was on the flip side of that record, but I doubt it was To Be Protected by Him Is to Be Delivered by Him.

What the psalmist is conveying here is the close and loving relationship between God and those who worship God. This worship involves trust and gratitude, and this happens when God's Name is on the tip of a faithful person's tongue—not to use it in vain as an exclamation or a curse,

July 19, 2021

True Happiness

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psalm 32:1
What makes you happy?
There are many things we might name if somebody were to ask us this question. But the ones we speak out loud might not necessarily match with what lies in our hearts. For too many of us might secretly harbor a desire for wealth, or power, or the freedom to act upon our lusts.

The question, What makes you happy? often makes me think of a man from my hometown who twenty years ago won $27 million in the lottery. He had led an unhappy life up to that point (in fact he'd just gotten out of prison), and this was his chance at fulfillment—or so everybody thought.