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Nuggets of Wisdom

Nuggets of Wisdom

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Crack. You open the fortune cookie and pull out the little paper. You read aloud: “A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.” Thought-provoking, maybe. But profound? Useful? A truly helpful nugget of wisdom? Hardly.

The apostle Paul wrote short, concise sayings too. But he offered far better wisdom and help than anything found in a fortune cookie. “Rejoice always.” “Pray continually.” “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Short. But profound. And helpful!

“Rejoice always.” Joy is a fruit of faith in Jesus. When we belong to Christ Jesus, God wants us to reflect how blessed it is to have forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. It’s deeper than being in a happy mood all the time. Joy is a deep-down blessedness, a quiet, lifelong celebrating that we belong to Christ.

“Pray continually.” All day, every day, we get to talk to God. And even though we are sinners who should be shut out, God listens. Because of Jesus, he listens! He listens to our prayers, whether they are out loud or silent, thought out or spontaneous, from a prayer book or in our own words. He listens to our thanksgiving, as Paul says: “Give thanks in all circumstances.” So much to give thanks for. So many blessings from our gracious God. Though we too often complain or fall into self-pity or a sense of entitlement, our gracious God loves us and forgives us. He gave his own dear Son Jesus to earn full forgiveness for us by his death on the cross. And on top of that, God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, for time and for eternity.

Short. Concise. But nothing fluffy about these little sayings. They are God’s wisdom. They give his encouragement and daily help. They carry God’s own blessing: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

These little sayings don’t belong in fortune cookies. They belong in our hearts and lives.

See series: Devotions

Dear Father, feed me with your divine wisdom. Give me daily joy. Hear my constant prayers to you in Christ. Lead me in thankful living in all circumstances. Amen.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Inappropriate Behavior, No Long Acceptable – By Alan Mead

Inappropriate Behavior, No Long Acceptable

By Alan Mead

It would be almost impossible to read any news source over the past few days and not be aware of people, formerly silent, speaking up, revealing incidents of past abuse or misconduct. In many cases, at least those that are making the national news, it is not only individuals unloading a burden of hurt and anger that sometimes had been carried alone for years; but importantly it is a growing number of people gaining strength from each other, finding support and courage, and speaking truth to power.

Perhaps we are in the beginning of a societal change, although from my perspective there has been a growing awareness, at least within the church, for a number of years. We all know stories of moving a priest or minister to another location, of smoothing things over, calming things down, keeping things secret and hidden. In the Episcopal Church we began to see a shift in the early 1990’s with the introduction of extensive background checks being required of all clergy, and the continuance of those background checks before every new ministry and after a set number of years if one didn’t move.

As an interim that meant going through a new background check more than every two years on average. Along with background checks, attendance and participation in education about abuse and misconduct became mandatory, teaching people to recognize signs of abuse and misconduct, and learn ways to create safer spaces in churches and congregations. Importantly, this education has extended beyond the clergy and is being expected and increasingly required for all who desire to teach or serve on a committee or minister in any way within a congregation. This is making a difference! It is changing culture and at the very least, raising awareness.

Maybe the church has actually been leading the way with an insistence that hiding abuse and misconduct and bad behavior will no longer be tolerated. Maybe we are simply in a time when people who once remained silent and suffered alone are finding that they can speak their truth and others will speak and stand with them. It is not by accident that the powerful respond by denial and then attacking their accusers, for that is a tactic of power and privilege that has worked maybe forever. There are growing signals that it may finally be stopped.

But it is not only abuse and predatory behavior; it is also a cultural and societal issue that says, “boys will be boys,” where poor behavior is not only accepted but is thought to be humorous. This may be exemplified perhaps by the photo of a grinning Al Franken as he gropes a sleeping Leeann Tweeden while on a USO tour in 2006.

I remember at a clergy conference, witnessing an elderly minister laughingly patting a young clergywoman on her backside. I noticed that evening that he did this more than once, although never to a male clergy. I doubt if he even thought anything at all about it. As a white male growing up in the previous century we simply had a pass on something like that.

Are we in a time when society will put the brakes on abusive behavior by those who have more power? I can’t answer that; but I know that I have been changing, becoming more aware of boundaries and their importance, more aware of the power that I have by nature of my position. Those of us who minister during times of transition are in a unique position to help a congregation reflect on their strengths and joys; and also to observe and question patterns of behavior.

What do you think? What are some of the ways that you have helped a congregation to become a healthier church and community? Have you observed patterns of behavior by leadership that speak of power rather than respect?

A surprising sunrise – By Alan Mead

I awoke early as is my custom, to await the morning light and to pray. Although we are on vacation my pattern remains constant, giving balance to the day that is dawning. We are in a wonderful location to capture each sunrise. It has been cold and cloudy. Yesterday the sunrise was a non-event and as I looked out from our balcony I was certain that today’s sunrise would be a repeat of yesterday. The entire sky was covered in cloud, especially along the horizon where I knew the sun would rise. Even so I put on coat and hat, took my camera in hand and left for the beach and quay, prepared for whatever this morning would bring, determined to be there to see and to record.

To my surprise it was a spectacular sunrise. I took several photos and liked one where many birds seemed to be soaring with the morning light.

It is so easy for each of us to live into our limited expectations, sometimes based on experience, at other times because of what we observe. When we live into each moment prepared for something extraordinary, doing our part, so to speak, we put ourselves into that space that is open to grace.

Help each of us, in our ministries and in our relationships, to look for beauty and light, to sometimes be led by our hope rather than by our expectation. O God, bring light and peace into this day that we may soar with joy.

Preparing for and Recovering from Un-natural Disasters
Preparing for and Recovering from Un-Natural Disasters
by The Rev. Martin Homan

Click on book image to order.

With the unnatural disasters occurring in New York City and now in a church in Texas do we as pastors and churches need to prepare for such occurrences even at our own doors? Westminster John Knox Press recently published RECOVERING FROM UN-NATURAL DISASTERS: A Guide for Pastors and Congregations after Violence and Trauma. The authors are Laurie Kraus, David Holyan and Bruce Wismer. Whatever we use in our church bodies what can we do to assist our faith communities with such disasters?

The Kindle version is FREE. To download and read:

Morning Prayer after another day of violence


Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you; * in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by. Psalm 57:1

Innocent blood has once again poured out staining pews and crying out for mercy. Violence has again burst unexpectedly into the news and into our minds and hearts. As we live into this time of anger and violence may we live this day as people of hope. As we live into this new day may the light of our hope shine as a beacon that shows safe harbor. May our prayers this day flow as many rivers into the sea and rise to fill the sky with tears that cleanse the hatred from our souls


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