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Monday, December 29, 2014

Delay May Not Mean Denial

As we are nearing the end of 2014 and entering into a New Year and kick starting the new week off with these words of wisdom that should resonate within our spirits as we prepare to step into a New Year 2015. When [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:6 My sons’ birthdays are in December. When they were small, Angus quickly learned that if he didn’t receive a longed-for toy for his birthday at the beginning of the month, it might be in his Christmas stocking. And if David didn’t receive his gift for Christmas, it might appear for his birthday 4 days later. Delay didn’t necessarily mean denial. It was natural for Martha and Mary to send for Jesus when Lazarus became seriously ill (John 11:1-3). Perhaps they looked anxiously along the road for signs of His arrival, but Jesus didn’t come. The funeral service had been over for 4 days when Jesus finally walked into town (v.17). Martha was blunt. “If You had been here,” she said, “my brother would not have died” (v.21). Then her faith flickered into certainty, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (v.22). I wonder what she expected. Lazarus was dead, and she was wary about opening the tomb. And yet at a word from Jesus, Lazarus’ spirit returned to his decaying body (vv.41-44). Jesus had bypassed simply healing His sick friend, in order to perform the far greater miracle of bringing him back to life. Waiting for God’s timing may also give us a greater miracle than we had hoped for. —Marion Stroud My Savior hears me when I pray, Upon His Word I calmly rest; In His own time, in His own way, I know He’ll give me what is best. —Hewitt Time spent waiting on God is never wasted. Bible in a year: Zechariah 9-12; Revelation 20 Insight Martha, often maligned for her attitude in Luke 10:38-42, displays great faith in today’s passage. Not only does she believe that Jesus has a special relationship with the Father (John 11:22), she also affirms her confidence that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God (v.27).

Friday, December 26, 2014

HAPPY KWANZAA!

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa it is traditional celebrated right after Christmas, so on this first day of Kwanzaa here is the history on this lost African American Celebration. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa. KWANZAA HISTORY The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31. Did You Know? The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle. The candle-lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa. The first night, the black candle in the center is lit (and the principle of umoja/unity is discussed). One candle is lit each evening and the appropriate principle is discussed. SEVEN PRINCIPLES The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle. Unity:Umoja (oo–MO–jah) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah) To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together. Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah) To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. SEVEN SYMBOLS The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle. Mazao, the crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables) Symbolizes work and the basis of the holiday. It represents the historical foundation for Kwanzaa, the gathering of the people that is patterned after African harvest festivals in which joy, sharing, unity, and thanksgiving are the fruits of collective planning and work. Since the family is the basic social and economic center of every civilization, the celebration bonded family members, reaffirming their commitment and responsibility to each other. In Africa the family may have included several generations of two or more nuclear families, as well as distant relatives. Ancient Africans didn’t care how large the family was, but there was only one leader – the oldest male of the strongest group. For this reason, an entire village may have been composed of one family. The family was a limb of a tribe that shared common customs, cultural traditions, and political unity and were supposedly descended from common ancestors. The tribe lived by traditions that provided continuity and identity. Tribal laws often determined the value system, laws, and customs encompassing birth, adolescence, marriage, parenthood, maturity, and death. Through personal sacrifice and hard work, the farmers sowed seeds that brought forth new plant life to feed the people and other animals of the earth. To demonstrate their mazao, celebrants of Kwanzaa place nuts, fruit, and vegetables, representing work, on the mkeka. Mkeka: Place Mat The mkeka, made from straw or cloth, comes directly from Africa and expresses history, culture, and tradition. It symbolizes the historical and traditional foundation for us to stand on and build our lives because today stands on our yesterdays, just as the other symbols stand on the mkeka. In 1965, James Baldwin wrote: “For history is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the facts that we carry it within us, are consciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.” During Kwanzaa, we study, recall, and reflect on our history and the role we are to play as a legacy to the future. Ancient societies made mats from straw, the dried seams of grains, sowed and reaped collectively. The weavers took the stalks and created household baskets and mats. Today, we buy mkeka that are made from Kente cloth, African mud cloth, and other textiles from various areas of the African continent. The mishumaa saba, the vibunzi, the mazao, the zawadi, the kikombe cha umoja, and the kinara are placed directly on the mkeka. Vibunzi: Ear of Corn The stalk of corn represents fertility and symbolizes that through the reproduction of children, the future hopes of the family are brought to life. One ear is called vibunzi, and two or more ears are called mihindi. Each ear symbolizes a child in the family, and thus one ear is placed on the mkeka for each child in the family. If there are no children in the home, two ears are still set on the mkeka because each person is responsible for the children of the community. During Kwanzaa, we take the love and nurturance that was heaped on us as children and selflessly return it to all children, especially the helpless, homeless, loveless ones in our community. Thus, the Nigerian proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is realized in this symbol (vibunzi), since raising a child in Africa was a community affair, involving the tribal village, as well as the family. Good habits of respect for self and others, discipline, positive thinking, expectations, compassion, empathy, charity, and self-direction are learned in childhood from parents, from peers, and from experiences. Children are essential to Kwanzaa, for they are the future, the seed bearers that will carry cultural values and practices into the next generation. For this reason, children were cared for communally and individually within a tribal village. The biological family was ultimately responsible for raising its own children, but every person in the village was responsible for the safety and welfare of all the children. Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles Candles are ceremonial objects with two primary purposes: to re-create symbolically the sun’s power and to provide light. The celebration of fire through candle burning is not limited to one particular group or country; it occurs everywhere. Mishumaa saba are the seven candles: three red, three green, and one black. The back candle symbolizes Umoja (unity), the basis of success, and is lit on December 26. The three green candles, representing Nia, Ujima, and Imani, are placed to the right of the Umoja candle, while the three red candles, representing Kujichagulia, Ujamaa, and Kuumba, are placed to the left of it. During Kwanzaa, on candle, representing one principle, is lit each day. Then the other candles are relit to give off more light and vision. The number of candles burning also indicate the principle that is being celebrated. The illuminating fire of the candles is a basic element of the universe, and every celebration and festival includes fire in some form. Fire’s mystique, like the sun, is irresistible and can destroy or create with its mesmerizing, frightening, mystifying power. Mishumaa saba’s symbolic colors are from the red, black, and green flag (bendara) created by Marcus Garvey. The colors also represent African gods. Red is the color of Shango, the Yoruba god of fire, thunder, and lightning, who lives in the clouds and sends down his thunderbolt whenever he is angry or offended. It also represents the struggle for self-determination and freedom by people of color. Black is the people, the earth, the source of life, representing hope, creativity, and faith and denoting messages and the opening and closing of doors. Green represents the earth that sustains our lives and provides hope, divination, employment, and the fruits of the harvest. Kinara: The Candleholder The kinara is the center of the Kwanzaa setting and represents the original stalk from which we came: our ancestry. The kinara can be shape – straight lines, semicircles, or spirals – as long as the seven candles are separate and distinct, like a candelabra. Kinaras are made from all kinds of materials, and many celebrants create their own from fallen branches, wood, or other natural materials. The kinara symbolizes the ancestors, who were once earth bound; understand the problems of human life; and are willing to protect their progeny from danger, evil, and mistakes. In African festivals the ancestors are remembered and honored. The mishumaa saba are placed in the kinara. Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup The kikombe cha umoja is a special cup that is used to perform the libation (tambiko) ritual during the Karamu feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. In many African societies libation are poured for the living dead whose souls stay with the earth they tilled. The Ibo of Nigeria believe that to drink the last portion of a libation is to invite the wrath of the spirits and the ancestors; consequently, the last part of the libation belongs to the ancestors. During the Karamu feast, the kikombe cha umoja is passed to family member and guests, who drink from it to promote unity. Then, the eldest person present pours the libation (tambiko), usually water, juice, or wine, in the direction of the four winds – north, south, east, and west – to honor the ancestors. The eldest asks the gods and ancestors to share in the festivities and, in return, to bless all the people who are not at the gathering. After asking for this blessing, the elder pours the libation on the ground and the group says “Amen.” Large Kwanzaa gatherings may operate just as communion services in most churches, for which it is common for celebrants to have individual cups and to drink the libation together as a sign of unity. Several families may have a cup that is specifically for the ancestors, and everyone else has his or her own. The last few ounces of the libation are poured into the cup of the host or hostess, who sips it and then hands it to the oldest person in the group, who asks for the blessing. Zawadi: Gifts When we celebrate Imani on the seventh day of Kwanzaa, we give meaningful zawadi (gifts) to encourage growth, self-determination, achievement, and success. We exchange the gifts with members of our immediate family, especially the children, to promote or reward accomplishments and commitments kept, as well as with our guests. Handmade gifts are encouraged to promote self-determination, purpose, and creativity and to avoid the chaos of shopping and conspicuous consumption during the December holiday season. A family may spend the year making kinaras or may create cards, dolls, or mkekas to give to their guests. Accepting a gift implies a moral obligation to fulfill the promise of the gift; it obliges the recipient to follow the training of the host. The gift cements social relationships, allowing the receiver to share the duties and the rights of a family member. Accepting a gift makes the receiver part of the family and promotes Umoja.

In The Neighborhood

Still in the Christmas Celebration as the week as come to an end it's a FRIDAY HOLIDAY! so let's take a moment to reflect on ALL this week has meant to us with these words of wisdom. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. —John 1:14 It was the buzz of our neighborhood. A famous professional football player had moved in just two houses down from where we lived. We had seen him on television and read about his great skills on the field, but we never thought he would choose to reside in our neighborhood. Initially, our expectations were that we would welcome him into the neighborhood and we would all become great friends. But his life was obviously far too busy for any of us to get to know him personally. Imagine this: Jesus—the Lord of the universe and Creator of all things—chose to dwell among us! He left heaven and came to this earth. As John says, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Jesus chose to become intimately involved with all who will come to Him. And, even more significant, for those of us who have received His redeeming love, the Holy Spirit has now set up residence in our hearts to comfort, counsel, convict, lead, and teach us. When you think of the Babe in the manger, remember how special it is that He not only moved into our “neighborhood,” but that He did it so He could bless us with the intimate privileges of His residence within us. —Joe Stowell Lord, I’m amazed that You, the greatest One of all, would take up residence within us! Help us to treasure the gift of Your presence as our ultimate joy. Draw us to Yourself to enjoy intimacy with You. Take advantage of the gift of God’s presence. Bible in a year: Haggai 1-2; Revelation 17 Insight John’s writings focus on the theme of light. Here, in the prologue of his gospel, John identifies Jesus as “the Light” to whom he bears witness (v.7). While also picturing Jesus as the Word (v.1) and the Creator (v.10), the portrayal of Jesus as the “Light of the world” seems to be foremost in John’s mind (John 8:12; 9:5). He is the Light who has come to live among us.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

As we STOP and take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, let's have JOY in our heart for the GREATEST gift to us which was JESUS. So as we fellowship with family and friends exchanging gifts let's always keep in mind that CHRIST is the true meaning of Christmas. I want to wish ALL of U a MERRY CHRISTMAS! May this day be filled with alot of JOY, LAUGHTER, PEACE and BLESSINGS on this Christmas. Let's ALWAYS keep CHRIST in CHRISTMAS. May the Light that entered the world that night cast its brilliance into the deepest corners of our souls this Christmas, giving us the peace on Earth of which the angels spoke so long ago. —Randy Kilgore Father, help our hearts to know the love of Christ and to honor Him with our unyielding devotion in this and every season. We love You. Jesus understands.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Remember The Wrapping

Well we are in the mist of the Christmas Celebration, we are starting this new week out with Christmas fast approaching I want to take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom as we head into Christmas. [Jesus] made Himself of no reputation . . . coming in the likeness of men. —Philippians 2:7 At our house some Christmas events are the same each year. Among them is my wife Martie’s appeal to the kids and grandkids as they attack their gifts: “Save the paper, we can use it next year!” Martie loves to give nice gifts, but she also appreciates the wrapping. Presentation is part of the beauty of the gift. It makes me think of the wrapping Christ chose when He came as a redemptive gift to rescue us from our sinful selves. Jesus could have wrapped Himself in a mind-boggling show of power, lighting up the sky with His presence in a celestial show of glory. Instead, in a beautiful reversal of Genesis 1:26, He chose to wrap Himself “in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). So why is this wrapping so important? Because, being like us, He is no stranger to our struggles. He experienced deep loneliness and the betrayal of a dear friend. He was publicly shamed, misunderstood, and falsely accused. In short, He feels our pain. As a result, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). When you think of the gift of Jesus this Christmas, remember to keep the “wrapping” in mind! —Joe Stowell Lord, thank You for wrapping Yourself in our likeness! Remind us that You understand our struggles and that we can confidently take advantage of the mercy and grace You offer to make us victorious. Don’t disregard the wrapping of the best Christmas gift of all. Bible in a year: Micah 6-7; Revelation 13 Insight Philippians 2:5-11 is perhaps the greatest declaration of Christ’s deity and humanity in the Bible. In His incarnation, Jesus did not replace His deity with humanity, but added humanity to His deity; He did not cease to be God, but surrendered the independent use of His divine powers and the right to manifest His own glory as God. Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed that the Father would restore to Him the glory He had with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). Jesus’ prayer was answered when the Father “highly exalted Him and [gave] Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Heart Of Christmas

Yep it's FRIDAY, YES! We have made it through another week so let's take a moment to reflect on this week alone and as we do let's think on these words of wisdom. The grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. —1 Timothy 1:14 Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol was released on December 19, 1843, and has never been out of print. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy, sour, stingy man who says, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas,’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding!” Yet, one Christmas Eve, Scrooge is radically changed into a generous and happy man. With great humor and insight, Dickens’ book captures the universal longing for inner peace. As a young man, the apostle Paul opposed Jesus and His followers with a vengeful spirit. He “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). But one day he encountered the risen Christ, and his life became a different story (9:1-16). In a letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul described that life-changing event by saying, even though he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man . . . the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13-14). Jesus was born into our world and gave His life so that we can be forgiven and transformed through faith in Him. This is the heart of Christmas! —David McCasland Then let us all with one accord Sing praises to our heavenly Lord, That hath made heaven and earth of naught, And with His blood mankind hath bought. —English carol A change in behavior begins with Jesus changing our heart. Bible in a year: Jonah 1-4; Revelation 10 Insight Though Paul’s words to Timothy in today’s reading are not one of the traditional biblical texts we read at Christmas, they definitely have application for this season. In verse 15 we read: “Christ Jesus came into the world.” This is a reference not only to Christ’s coming but also to His purpose for coming. Why was He born in human flesh? Paul answers that question by adding, “to save sinners.” Jesus’ coming was a mission of rescue for a race that desperately needed a Savior.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HAPPY HANUKKAH!

Today is the first day of the Jewish Holiday Hanukkah. So I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone Celebrating a very HAPPY HANUKKAH! May this be a very Blessed Hanukkah Season. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated for eight days beginning at sundown on Dec. 16, 2014. On the Hebrew calendar, the dates are 25 Kislev to 2 Tevet in the year 5775. An eight-day celebration, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E. during the Maccabean revolt against oppressive Greek rulers. Jews celebrate the holiday by lighting a nine-branch candelabrum, commonly called a menorah. (Technically, the candelabrum for Hanukkah is called a hanukkiah to distinguish itself from the seven-branch menorah used in the Temple and described in Exodus 25.) The story of Hanukkah is one of revolution and miracles: Greek influence over the Jews in the Land of Israel had become an affront to Jewish culture and ritual. Antiochus, the Greek ruler, forbade Jewish religious practice, so a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, revolted. These Jews eventually prevailed and, as a first order of business, restored the Holy Temple, which had been desecrated. The menorah in the Temple needed to be re-lit because, according to tradition, it should burn continuously. The Temple liberators found one vial of olive oil, enough for one day of light. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. Today, Jews everywhere light menorahs on each night of Hanukkah. Traditionally, one candle or flame is lit for each night until the eighth night, when all eight lights shine together. The menorah has a ninth "helper" flame -- known as the shamash -- used to light the other candles. This is necessary because in Jewish law the Hanukkah lights' only purpose is to visually proclaim the miracle of the holiday. Jews place the lit menorah in a prominent window in order to fulfill this commandment. Gift giving is now a common practice on Hanukkah, and it is therefore a beloved time for many Jewish children. Fried potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts (sufganiyot) are traditional fare, and a spinning top (dreidel) with four Hebrew letters has become synonymous with the holiday. The letters -- nun, gimel, hei, shin -- form an acronym for the message of Hanukkah: A great miracle happened there.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Story Stewards

WOW! The long busy weekend has come to and end and we are starting a new week with Take heed . . . lest you forget the things your eyes have seen . . . . And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. —Deuteronomy 4:9 Many people take great care to make sure their resources are used well after they die. They set up trusts, write wills, and establish foundations to guarantee that their assets will continue to be used for a good purpose after their life on earth is done. We call this good stewardship. Equally important, however, is being good stewards of our life story. God commanded the Israelites not only to teach their children His laws but also to make sure they knew their family history. It was the responsibility of parents and grandparents to make sure their children knew the stories of how God had worked in their behalf (Deut. 4:1-14). God has given each of us a unique story. His plan for our lives is individualized. Do others know what you believe and why? Do they know the story of how you came to faith and how God has worked in your life to strengthen your faith? Do they know how God has shown Himself faithful and has helped you through doubts and disappointments? The faithfulness of God is a story that we have the privilege to pass on. Record it in some way and share it. Be a good steward of the story that God is telling through you. —Julie Ackerman Link How great, O God, Your acts of love! Your saving deeds would now proclaim That generations yet to come May set their hope in Your great name. —D. DeHaan A life lived for God leaves a lasting legacy. Bible in a year: Amos 1-3; Revelation 6 Insight In today’s passage, Moses reminded the people of Israel that—unlike the nations around them—they were the only ones privileged to have intimate fellowship with God (v.7) and the only nation given God’s law (v.8). If they faithfully obeyed His law, God would make them a great and wise people (vv.6,8-9).

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Do Me a Sheila E. Have In Common? HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHEILA E!

Yeah you may be asking yourself so What do they have in common well to answer that question Me and Sheila E. Share and have the same Birthday YES! The same BIRTHDAY! So on this day I would like to honor my Musical Shero Sheila E. It's such and honor and a Blessings for us to share the same BIRTHDAY!. So HAPPIE BIRTHDAY 2 US! May God continue to richly bless us on our Special Day. Some day soon we will Celebrate our Birthday's together but for know I will be ROCKING OUT 2 Sheila's music. So Tonight it's going DOWN at the Conga Room wish I could be there but I'm there in Spirit May tonight's Celebration be filled with LOVE, JOY, PEACE, and HAPPINESS.

Snug As A Bug In A Rug!

We have made it to the end of the week YES! it's FRIDAY! so let take a moment to be grateful for another week we have came through the HIGHS and LOWS of everyday situations well hear is something for us ALL to reflect on. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8 When I was a child, my family lived in a house my father built in the cedar breaks west of Duncanville, Texas. Our house had a small kitchen-dinette area, two bedrooms, and a great room with a large stone fireplace in which we burned 2-foot-long cedar logs. That fireplace was the center of warmth in our home. There were five people in our family: my father and mother, my sister, my cousin, and me. Since we had only two bedrooms, I slept year-round on a porch with canvas screens that rolled down to the floor. Summers were delightful; winters were cold. I remember dashing from the warmth of the living room onto the porch, tiptoeing across the frost-covered plank floor in my bare feet, leaping into bed and burrowing under a great mountain of blankets. Then, when hail, sleet, or snow lashed our house and the wind howled through the eaves like a pack of wolves, I snuggled down in sheltered rest. “Snug as a bug in a rug,” my mother used to say. I doubt that any child ever felt so warm and secure. Now I know the greatest security of all: God Himself. I can “lie down in peace, and sleep” (Ps. 4:8), knowing that He is my shelter from the stinging storms of life. Enveloped in the warmth of His love, I’m snug as a bug in a rug. —David Roper Leaning, leaning, Safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, Leaning on the everlasting arms. —Hoffman No one is more secure than those who are in God’s hands. Bible in a year: Hosea 9-11; Revelation 3 Insight Psalm 91 celebrates the safety and security of those who trust in God, who have made the Lord (the Most High) their refuge, fortress, and dwelling place (vv.2,9). The psalmist affirms that our God is powerful and faithful and therefore trustworthy (vv.1-8). He also testifies of God’s protection and deliverance in a dangerous and destructive world (vv.9-16). In the New Testament, Satan misquoted verses 11-12 to tempt Jesus to test God’s protection by jumping from the top of the temple (Matt. 4:6). In response, Jesus says that God’s promise is for those who love and obey Him (Ps. 91:14-15) and not for those who presume upon God’s grace (Matt. 4:7).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Awareness Week 2014 Is a Wrap!

WOW! What a week we have had joining in on the Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week which was held on December 1st-7th it has now come to an end. Awareness Week 2014, that's a wrap! We are here to help. Thank you for joining us to learn more about what we do. Visit www.ccfa.org for more resources for patients and caregivers.

Stones Cry Out

Here we are jump starting a new week with I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out. —Luke 19:40 Every year it seems that Christmas becomes more and more commercialized. Even in nations where the majority of people call themselves “Christian,” the season has become more about shopping than worshiping. The pressure to buy gifts and plan elaborate parties makes it increasingly difficult to stay focused on the real meaning of the holiday—the birth of Jesus, God’s only Son, the Savior of the world. But every holiday I also hear the gospel coming from surprising places —the very places that so commercialize Christmas—shopping malls. When I hear “Joy to the World! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King” ringing from public address systems, I think of the words Jesus said to the Pharisees who told Him to silence the crowds who were praising Him. “If they keep quiet,” Jesus said, “the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40 niv). At Christmas we hear stones cry out. Even people spiritually dead sing carols written by Christians long dead, reminding us that no matter how hard people try to squelch the real message of Christmas, they will never succeed. Despite the commercialism that threatens to muddle the message of Christ’s birth, God will make His good news known as “far as the curse is found.” —Julie Ackerman Link No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found. —Watts Keeping Christ out of Christmas is as futile as holding back the ocean’s tide. Bible in a year: Daniel 8-10; 3 John Insight Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The salvation Christ brings is what all creation is waiting for (see Rom. 8:19-20) and is a message that cannot be silenced (Luke 19:40).

Friday, December 5, 2014

Celebrate Awareness Week with Us!

The first week of December is dedicated to IBD Awareness Week so take a moment to Celebrate Awareness Week with Us! Letter from our President & CEO The holidays can be an especially challenging time for people with IBD, and we're committed to raising awareness about IBD among all Americans, and inspiring them to join the effort to find treatments and cures. Not only is it Giving Tuesday, a worldwide day dedicated to supporting causes that are important to you, but December 1-7 is also Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week! Learn more about what you can do to help. That's not all! I'm excited to share that we have an incredible Million Dollar Match this year. Until December 31, every donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000. With your support, we'll be able to fund twice as much research and give hope to the 1.6 million Americans suffering from IBD today. What an amazing gift to give people with IBD. Richard J. Geswell, CCFA President and CEO Happy Holidays. Selfies? Check. Gear? Check. It's Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week, and chances are someone you know is dealing with IBD. We're asking all of our patients, caregivers and supporters to post a #IBDselfie in honor of someone with IBD. Our #IBDselfie campaign helps people share their stories AND raise awareness. Visit www.ccfa.org/SomeoneYouKnow to see our #IBDselfie submissions here! You can also wear your support for IBD research by purchasing one of these great shirts! Show your support – and help start the conversation of what it means to live with IBD. One gift, twice the impact Until December 31, your gift to CCFA will achieve twice as much in the search for treatments and cures. Donate today, and your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000! Donate now Enjoying a Stress Free Holiday For people with IBD, the holiday season can sometimes bring on stress and an increase in symptoms. Stress reduction techniques can help. To learn more, see our brochure Managing Flares and other IBD Symptoms. READ IT HERE ► Two new webcasts! Join us for two new Webcasts this December! Today, from 8:00-9:15PM EST, join us for our Diagnosing and Monitoring webcast, where you'll hear from a medical expert as we discuss diagnosing and monitoring through blood tests, endoscopy, biopsy, imaging, and genetic testing. Interested in what we're up to? On Thursday, December 18, from 8:00-9:15PM EST, Dr. Thad Stappenbeck will share the latest insights from CCFA's genetics and microbiome research. Register today! Support those who support us! Bertucci's Italian Restaurant wants to celebrate Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week with you! On Thursday, December 4, grab a meal at Bertucci's and 15% of your purchase will be donated back to CCFA when you present this flyer. Giving back never tasted so good! The Great Cookie is teaming up with CCFA to support our mission! For a limited time, a portion of proceeds from all cookies and cookie cakes purchased in their CCFA collection will be donated toward IBD research. Simply shop and enter promo code "CCFA" at checkout to support CCFA's fight to find a cure. Take Steps... towards an Apple Watch! Our sincere thanks to everyone who walked with us in 2014! There are 1.6 million people who are forever grateful, and because of you, we are one step closer to cures. There is still time to take advantage of our early bird registration and fundraising incentive contest as we kick off our 2015 walk season. Contest participants will be entered to win a brand new Apple Watch! Register early for a Spring 2015 walk and fundraise your way to being one of the coolest kids on the block with Take Steps! And, for our current Fall Walkers, if you stay involved through the end of the year, you too can be part of the fundraising incentive contest. REGISTER TODAY ►

Human Chess

We have made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY YES! so HAPPY we have ALL made to Friday, now lets approach the end of the week with this reminder Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. —1 John 4:7 Chess is an ancient game of strategy. Each player begins with 16 pieces on the chessboard with the goal of cornering his opponent’s king. It has taken different forms over the years. One form is human chess, which was introduced around ad 735 by Charles Martel, duke of Austrasia. Martel would play the game on giant boards with real people as the pieces. The human pieces were costumed to reflect their status on the board and moved at the whim of the players—manipulating them to their own ends. Could this human version of the game of Chess be one that we sometimes play? We can easily become so driven by our goals that people become just one more pawn that we use to achieve them. The Scriptures, however, call us to a different view of those around us. We are to see people as created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). They are objects of God’s love (John 3:16) and deserving of ours as well. The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Because God first loved us, we are to respond by loving Him and the people He created in His image. —Bill Crowder Open my eyes, Lord, to people around me, Help me to see them as You do above; Give me the wisdom and strength to take action, So others may see the depth of Your love. —Kurt DeHaan People are to be loved, not used. Bible in a year: Daniel 1-2; 1 John 4 Insight The apostle John wrote today’s memorable words about love to a church struggling with the influences of false teachers. The words of verses 7-12 follow his instructions in verses 1-6 about identifying false teachers and false teaching (mainly by their view of Jesus). These verses indicate that love for God and for others is a key test for identifying those who truly follow Christ. Therefore, it is no surprise that John emphasizes the Christian characteristic of love. In today’s passage, he says that we ought to love one another, and in his gospel he records Jesus’ words, “By this, all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). How we treat one another is a demonstration of our love for God.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week:Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colits Costs the US in the Billions

OK We are kicking off Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week starting from December 1-7th. It's Awareness Week 2014, so join us! THIS JUST IN: There are now 1.6 million Americans with IBD. New York, NY-November 30, 2013- The estimated direct cost for all patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in the US is $1.84 billion. In an effort to end inflammatory bowel disease and raise awareness for patients and families dealing with these painful, incurable diseases, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) gears up for Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week on December 1-7, 2013. “Awareness Week gives us a great opportunity to expand our reach and impact,” said Richard J. Geswell, President and CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. “This year we are focusing on sharing some of the very exciting things that are happening on the research front. We are making tremendous progress which is why continuing to fund research is more important than ever.” Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affects 1 in 200 people in the United States. They are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive track, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever and weight loss. Many patients require numerous hospitalizations and surgery. Due to the enactment of Senate Resolution 199, the week of December 1-7 is reserved to encourage all Americans to join in the effort to find cures for inflammatory bowel diseases, help raise awareness and support research for the 1.4 million Americans battling Crohn’s and colitis. The Senate Resolution 199 expresses appreciation to the family members and caregivers who support Americans living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It also commends health care professionals who care for these patients and biomedical researchers who work to advance research aimed at developing new treatments for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In support of Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America is asking people to: • Write to their House Representatives and encourage them to join the Crohn’s & Colitis Caucus: http://capwiz.com/ccfa/home/; • “Like” the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ccfafb) and follow the Foundation on Twitter (twitter.com/ccfa)Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/ccfa), and Instagram @ccfa_ibd; • Update all social media channels with CCFA Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week social media updates; • Sign up for CCFA’s e-newsletter at: http://online.ccfa.org/site/Survey?ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&SURVEY_ID=1781; • Start your own fundraising page at: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise/team?ftid=7310 ; • Reach out to anyone you know with IBD and let them know you care. Visit www.ccfa.org to learn more about the diseases and get more patient resources, including CCFA’s IBD Help Center (http://www.ccfa.org/living-with-crohns-colitis/talk-to-a-specialist/) About CCFA The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). CCFA’s mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit www.ccfa.org, call 888-694-8872, like us on Facebook, find us on Pinterest, LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter.

WORLD AIDS DAY

Today we are Celebrating and Remembering those with AIDS. Every year on December 1st, we commemorate World AIDS Day and re-commit to addressing HIV/AIDS, a disease that affects approximately 35 million people worldwide. The White House will honor this worldwide observance on Monday, December 1, with an important World AIDS Day event focusing on this year’s Federal theme, “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation.” Tune in to the live webcast of the White House World AIDS Day Event on December 1. We invite you to tune in to this event as part of your own observance activities. The event will be webcast at www.whitehouse.gov/live on Monday, December 1, from 12:00– 2:00 PM (EST). You can also join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #WAD2014 Exit Disclaimer. For more information about World AIDS Day and how you can take action, visit our World AIDS Day page. - See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/11/join-the-white-house-2014-world-aids-day-event-live-broadcast-on-december-1.html#sthash.7Bv6vZpR.dpuf

Struggling With Addiction

As we jump start a new week we are also starting a New Month we have entered into the last month of the year, so as we start this new week and new month let take a moment to look at ourselves and reflect on this. God is faithful. —1 Corinthians 10:13 Eric was struggling with an addiction, and he knew it. His friends and family members encouraged him to stop. He agreed that it would be best for his health and relationships, but he felt helpless. When others told him how they had quit their bad habits, he replied, “I’m happy for you, but I can’t seem to stop! I wish I had never been tempted in the first place. I want God to take the desire away right now.” Immediate deliverance may happen for some, but most face a daily battle. While we don’t always understand why the temptation doesn’t go away, we can turn to God on whatever path we find ourselves. And perhaps that is the most important part of our struggle. We learn to exchange our futile efforts to change for complete dependence on God. Jesus was tempted also, just as we are, so He understands what we’re feeling (Mark 1:13). He sympathizes with our struggles (Heb. 4:15), and we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v.16). He also uses others, including trained professionals, to lean on along the way. Whatever battles we may be facing today, we know this—God loves us much more than we can imagine, and He is faithful to come to our assistance. —Anne Cetas For Further Thought Read Matthew 4:1-11 about how Jesus handled temptations. Also read 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 to learn how He can help us when we are tempted. We are not tempted because we are evil; we are tempted because we are human. Bible in a year: Ezekiel 40-41; 2 Peter 3 Insight The high priest in ancient Israel was the representative of the people before God. The writer of Hebrews draws a distinction between the high priests of Israel and Jesus, our Great High Priest, who came and experienced life on the earth. We can approach Him with confidence, knowing that He truly understands what we face, for He faced it as well.