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Monday, February 29, 2016


So here we are on the last day of February which is Leap Year which only happens every 4 years has we prepare ourselves for the New Week let's take a moment to reflect on these words. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22 Mary Ann believed in God and His Son Jesus, but she struggled with why Jesus had to shed His blood to bring salvation. Who would think of cleansing something with blood? Yet the Bible says, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood” (Heb. 9:22). That, in Mary Ann’s opinion, was disgusting! Then one day she had to go to a hospital. A genetic condition had altered her immune system, and doctors became alarmed when the illness started attacking her blood. As she was in the emergency room she thought, If I lose my blood, I will die. But Jesus shed His blood so I can live! Jesus made His sacrifice our sacrifice, His life our life, and His Father our Father. Suddenly everything made sense. In the midst of her pain, Mary Ann felt joy and peace. She understood that blood is life, and a holy life was needed to make peace with God for us. Today she is alive and well, thanking God for her health and for Jesus’ sacrifice on her behalf. Hebrews 9 explains the meaning of the Old Testament blood ritual (vv. 16-22) and the once and for all offering of Jesus that brought animal sacrifice to an end (vv. 23-26). Bearing our sin, He willingly died and shed His blood to become our sacrifice. We now have confidence to enter God’s presence. How could we ever thank Jesus enough for making His sacrifice our sacrifice, His life our life, and His Father our Father? Lord, I thank You for Jesus and for the shedding of His blood for me. I want to live my life in gratitude to You. The blood of Christ washes away our sins. INSIGHT: The writer of Hebrews compares the old covenant initiated by Moses (9:1–23) with the new covenant initiated by Jesus (9:24–10:18). As High Priest and “mediator of a new covenant” (9:15), Christ did not offer the blood of animals (v. 19) that could not take away sins; He sacrificed Himself “once for all . . . to do away with sin” (v. 26).

Friday, February 26, 2016

How to Grow Old

We are here at the end of the week and at the end of the month of February before we head into the 3rd month of the New Year let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom Read: Isaiah 46:4-13 Bible in a Year: Numbers 15-16; Mark 6:1-29 I will sustain you and I will rescue you. —Isaiah 46:4 “How are you today, Mama?” I asked casually. My 84-year-old friend, pointing to aches and pains in her joints, whispered, "Old age is tough!" Then she added earnestly, "But God has been good to me." “Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life,” says Billy Graham in his book Nearing Home. "I am an old man now, and believe me, it's not easy." However, Graham notes, "While the Bible doesn't gloss over the problems we face as we grow older, neither does it paint old age as a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth.” He then mentions some of the questions he has been forced to deal with as he has aged, such as, “How can we not only learn to cope with the fears and struggles and growing limitations we face but also actually grow stronger inwardly in the midst of these difficulties?" In Isaiah 46 we have God's assurance: "Even to your old age and gray hairs . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" (v. 4). We don’t know how many years we will live on this earth or what we might face as we age. But one thing is certain: God will care for us throughout our life. —Lawrence Darmani Lord, please teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (See Psalm 90:12) Don't be afraid to grow old; God goes with you! INSIGHT: Isaiah presents a stark contrast between the chief gods of Babylon—Bel (or Baal) and Nebo—and the God of Israel. The Babylonian gods needed their worshipers to care for and protect them (Isa. 46:1-2). But the God of Israel would care for, carry, sustain, and rescue His worshipers even when they were old and gray (v. 4).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Celebrating and Honoring Black History Month

The month of February is highly anticipate because it has alot of things to Celebrate such as Ash Wednesday, Valentine's Day, President's Day and most of ALL Black History month kicks it ALL off, I just want to take a moment to Celebrate Black History Month 365 days a year NOT just on or in the Month of February.What I want to share with so many of you is the history behind the Civil Rights Movement. Nearly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans in Southern states still inhabited a starkly unequal world of disenfranchisement, segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence. “Jim Crow” laws at the local and state levels barred them from classrooms and bathrooms, from theaters and train cars, from juries and legislatures. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine that formed the basis for state-sanctioned discrimination, drawing national and international attention to African Americans’ plight. In the turbulent decade and a half that followed, civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to bring about change, and the federal government made legislative headway with initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Many leaders from within the African American community and beyond rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman and others. They risked—and sometimes lost—their lives in the name of freedom and equality. Because large segments of the populace–particularly African-Americans, women, and men without property–have not always been accorded full citizenship rights in the American Republic, civil rights movements, or “freedom struggles,” have been a frequent feature of the nation’s history. In particular, movements to obtain civil rights for black Americans have had special historical significance. Such movements have not only secured citizenship rights for blacks but have also redefined prevailing conceptions of the nature of civil rights and the role of government in protecting these rights. The most important achievements of African-American civil rights movements have been the post-Civil War constitutional amendments that abolished slavery and established the citizenship status of blacks and the judicial decisions and legislation based on these amendments, notably the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Moreover, these legal changes greatly affected the opportunities available to women, nonblack minorities, disabled individuals, and other victims of discrimination. Did You Know? The 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, a protest against segregated public facilities in Alabama, was led by Martin Luther King Jr. and lasted for 381 days. The modern period of civil rights reform can be divided into several phases, each beginning with isolated, small-scale protests and ultimately resulting in the emergence of new, more militant movements, leaders, and organizations. The Brown decision demonstrated that the litigation strategy of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) could undermine the legal foundations of southern segregationist practices, but the strategy worked only when blacks, acting individually or in small groups, assumed the risks associated with crossing racial barriers. Thus, even after the Supreme Court declared that public school segregation was unconstitutional, black activism was necessary to compel the federal government to implement the decision and extend its principles to all areas of public life rather than simply in schools. During the 1950s and 1960s, therefore,NAACP–sponsored legal suits and legislative lobbying were supplemented by an increasingly massive and militant social movement seeking a broad range of social changes. Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, The initial phase of the black protest activity in the post-Brown period began on December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat to a white bus rider, thereby defying a southern custom that required blacks to give seats toward the front of buses to whites. When she was jailed, a black community boycott of the city’s buses began. The boycott lasted more than a year, demonstrating the unity and determination of black residents and inspiring blacks elsewhere. Martin Luther King, Jr., who emerged as the boycott movement’s most effective leader, possessed unique conciliatory and oratorical skills. He understood the larger significance of the boycott and quickly realized that the nonviolent tactics used by the Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi could be used by southern blacks. “I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom,” he explained. Although Parks and King were members of the NAACP, the Montgomery movement led to the creation in 1957 of a new regional organization, the clergy-led Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with King as its president. King remained the major spokesperson for black aspirations, but, as in Montgomery, little-known individuals initiated most subsequent black movements. On February 1, 1960, four freshmen at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College began a wave of student sit-ins designed to end segregation at southern lunch counters. These protests spread rapidly throughout the South and led to the founding, in April 1960, of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). This student-led group, even more aggressive in its use of nonviolent direct action tactics than King’s SCLC, stressed the development of autonomous local movements in contrast to SCLCs strategy of using local campaigns to achieve national civil rights reforms. Birmingham and the March on Washington TheSCLC protest strategy achieved its first major success in 1963 when the group launched a major campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. Highly publicized confrontations between nonviolent protesters, including schoolchildren, on the one hand, and police with clubs, fire hoses, and police dogs, on the other, gained northern sympathy. The Birmingham clashes and other simultaneous civil rights efforts prompted President John F. Kennedy to push for passage of new civil rights legislation. By the summer of 1963, the Birmingham protests had become only one of many local protest insurgencies that culminated in the August 28 March on Washington, which attracted at least 200,000 participants. King’s address on that occasion captured the idealistic spirit of the expanding protests. “I have a dream,” he said, “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed–we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Although some whites reacted negatively to the spreading protests of 1963, King’s linkage of black militancy and idealism helped bring about passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation outlawed segregation in public facilities and racial discrimination in employment and education. In addition to blacks, women and other victims of discrimination benefited from the act. Freedom Summer While the SCLC focused its efforts in the urban centers, SNCC‘s activities were concentrated in the rural Black Belt areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, where white resistance was intense. Although the NAACP and the predominantly white Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) also contributed activists to the Mississippi movement, young SNCC organizers spearheaded civil rights efforts in the state. Black residents in the Black Belt, many of whom had been involved in civil rights efforts since the 1940s and 1950s, emphasized voter registration rather than desegregation as a goal. Mississippi residents Amzie Moore and Fannie Lou Hamer were among the grass-roots leaders who worked closely with SNCC to build new organizations, such as the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party (MFDP). Although the MFDP did not succeed in its attempt to claim the seats of the all-white Mississippi delegation at the 1964 National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, it attracted national attention and thus prepared the way for a major upsurge in southern black political activity. After the Atlantic City experience, disillusionedSNCC organizers worked with local leaders in Alabama to create the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. The symbol they chose–the black panther–reflected the radicalism and belief in racial separatism that increasingly characterized SNCCduring the last half of the 1960s. The black panther symbol was later adopted by the California-based Black Panther party, formed in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Selma to Montgomery March Despite occasional open conflicts between the two groups, both SCLCs protest strategy and SNCC’S organizing activities were responsible for major Alabama protests in 1965, which prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to introduce new voting rights legislation. On March 7 an SCLC planned march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery ended almost before it began at Pettus Bridge on the outskirts of Selma, when mounted police using tear gas and wielding clubs attacked the protesters. News accounts of “Bloody Sunday” brought hundreds of civil rights sympathizers to Selma. Many demonstrators were determined to mobilize another march, and SNCC activists challenged King to defy a court order forbidding such marches. But reluctant to do anything that would lessen public support for the voting rights cause, King on March 9 turned back a second march to the Pettus Bridge when it was blocked by the police. That evening a group of Selma whites killed a northern white minister who had joined the demonstrations. In contrast to the killing of a black man, Jimmy Lee Jackson, a few weeks before, the Reverend James Reeb’s death led to a national outcry. After several postponements of the march, civil rights advocates finally gained court permission to proceed. This Selma to Montgomery march was the culmination of a stage of the African-American freedom struggle. Soon afterward, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which greatly increased the number of southern blacks able to register to vote. But it was also the last major racial protest of the 1960s to receive substantial white support. Rise of Black Nationalism By the late 1960s, organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC, andSNCC faced increasingly strong challenges from new militant organizations, such as the Black Panther party. The Panthers’ strategy of “picking up the gun” reflected the sentiments of many inner-city blacks. A series of major “riots” (as the authorities called them), or “rebellions” (the sympathizers’ term), erupted during the last half of the 1960s. Often influenced by the black nationalism of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X and by pan-African leaders, proponents of black liberation saw civil rights reforms as insufficient because they did not address the problems faced by millions of poor blacks and because African-American citizenship was derived ultimately from the involuntary circumstances of enslavement. In addition, proponents of racial liberation often saw the African-American freedom struggle in international terms, as a movement for human rights and national self-determination for all peoples. Post 1960’s Civil Rights Movement Severe government repression, the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and the intense infighting within the black militant community caused a decline in protest activity after the 1960s. The African-American freedom struggle nevertheless left a permanent mark on American society. Overt forms of racial discrimination and government-supported segregation of public facilities came to an end, although de facto, as opposed to de jure, segregation persisted in northern as well as southern public school systems and in other areas of American society. In the South, antiblack violence declined. Black candidates were elected to political offices in communities where blacks had once been barred from voting, and many of the leaders or organizations that came into existence during the 1950s and 1960s remained active in southern politics. Southern colleges and universities that once excluded blacks began to recruit them. Despite the civil rights gains of the 1960s, however, racial discrimination and repression remained a significant factor in American life. Even after President Johnson declared a war on poverty and King initiated a Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, the distribution of the nation’s wealth and income moved toward greater inequality during the 1970s and 1980s. Civil rights advocates acknowledged that desegregation had not brought significant improvements in the lives of poor blacks, but they were divided over the future direction of black advancement efforts. To a large degree, moreover, many of the civil rights efforts of the 1970s and 1980s were devoted to defending previous gains or strengthening enforcement mechanisms. The modern African-American civil rights movement, like similar movements earlier, had transformed American democracy. It also served as a model for other group advancement and group pride efforts involving women, students, Chicanos, gays and lesbians, the elderly, and many others. Continuing controversies regarding affirmative action programs and compensatory remedies for historically rooted patterns of discrimination were aspects of more fundamental, ongoing debates about the boundaries of individual freedom, the role of government, and alternative concepts of social justice. Check this out I'm exploring digital artifacts and exhibitions on the Google Cultural Institute #gci President John F. Kennedy's Civil Rights Address

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Love, and our respects, this Valentine's Day

Since February is the month of Love here is our CCFA Newsletter about ALL that's going on with Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis. Letter from our President & CEO With Valentine's Day upon us, we wanted to remind you that CCFA began as the result of a love affair. Irwin M. Rosenthal, one of the visionary co–founders of CCFA, and Suzanne were due to be married in a few months time when suddenly Suzanne became very ill. Motivated by her struggle with Crohn's disease, Irwin, along with William and Shelby Modell, and Dr. Henry D. Janowitz, established the Foundation for Research in Ileitis, now known as the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. A passionate philanthropist, entrepreneur, and lawyer, Irwin served as president of the Foundation for the first 10 years of its existence. Sadly, Irwin recently passed away. This Valentine's we honor Irwin for his tenacity, compassion, and love for Suzanne, and for putting CCFA on the road to success. May you and your loved ones have a very Happy Valentine's Day. Sincerely, Michael Osso President & CEO Happy Valentine's Day To all of our supporters and their loved ones, CCFA wishes you a very Happy Valentine's Day! Don't forget to tell someone special you love them by sending one of our CCFA/Colitis Ninja IBD Valentine's cards. READ MORE ► IBD & Dating For some people with IBD, the thought of dating or being intimate may be daunting—but there’s no reason you can’t have healthy, successful relationships. To provide some guidance, we have a few resources, including our "Sex, Intimacy and IBD" fact sheet and "Being Intimate with IBD" video. Additionally, we will host the first of five Twitter chats on Wednesday, February 17th from 1-2pm EST. This chat will focus on IBD & relationships and feature patient Kirbi Fagan (@KirbiFagan), her fiancĂ©e Evan Hulscher (@EvanThomasHulsc), social worker Sofia Rivkin-Haas (@scrh326), and the IBD Help Center (@IBDHelpCenter). Tag @CCFA in your questions using the hashtag #IBDchat! READ MORE ► Register Now for Camp Oasis For children with IBD, Camp Oasis is a place where they can bond with each other and truly be themselves. Jessica Heirtzler is a wonderful example. Now a counselor, she says, "Everyone at camp—both campers and volunteers—taught me that Crohn's isn’t who I am, but it is a part of me…” Last year, more than 1,100 campers participated in Camp Oasis, and 2016 will be an even bigger success! We're proud to announce that there will not be a fee increase this year—and, as always, we offer scholarships to families unable to pay. Camper and volunteer applications are now open, so apply today. READ MORE ► Find Your Community Team Challenge trains you to run or walk an amazing destination race while raising funds for cures. But it’s so much more than that. Team Challenge enables you to find like-minded people who understand what you are going through. Join us in wine country for the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon or 5K, a scenic race that finishes in Sonoma with a wine and music festival. This popular race is SOLD OUT to the general public, but Team Challenge still has guaranteed entries! Come join the Team Challenge family. READ MORE ► Become a CCFA Member Now is the perfect time to become a CCFA member and receive all the benefits in 2016. Joining is easy—and it has a huge impact on the fight against IBD. Managing SBS CCFA and Medscape are teaming up to help manage Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS). Patients and caregivers can learn about things like diet and treatment options, while clinicians can gain new knowledge and skills. READ MORE ► Tell Congress to Fund IBD Research Congress is starting to consider funding priorities for fiscal year 2017—so email your legislators and ask them to support IBD research. The earlier we can generate support and the more legislators that request it, the more likely IBD programs will be funded in the final bills. READ MORE ► IBD Clinical Trials and Other Studies CCFA provides a comprehensive database of studies, clinical trials and other research on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. One of the recently added studies includes: A Phase 3, Multicenter, Randomized, Double–blind, Placebo-controlled Trial of Oral RPC1063 as Induction and Maintenance Therapy for Moderate to Severe Ulcerative Colitis, sponsored by Receptos Deciding whether to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision, best made with a full understanding of the drug development process and a participant’s role. Team Challenge CCFA Facebook CCFA Twitter CCFA YouTube CCFA Pinterest Forward Donate to CCFA Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America 7​33 Th​ird Av​en​ue, Sui​te 51​0, Ne​w Y​ork,​ N​Y 10​01​7 | 8​00-​93​2-​2​423 Talk with an I​BD Info​rmation Specialist at 88​8.M​y.Gu​t.P​ain | 8​88-​69​4-8​87​2

Monday, February 22, 2016

Be Still

Here we are on the last week of the Month of February as we start this New Week let's remind ourselves of God Goodness & Mercy in our lives with these words of wisdom Read: Psalm 46 Bible in a Year: Numbers 4-6; Mark 4:1-20 Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10 Years ago I responded to letters within a couple of weeks and kept my correspondents happy. Then came the fax machine, and they seemed content with receiving a response within a couple of days. Today, with email, instant messaging, and mobile phones, a response is expected the same day! “Be still, and know that I am God.” In this familiar verse from Psalm 46 I read two commands of equal importance. First, we must be still, something that modern life conspires against. In this hectic, buzzing world, even a few moments of quiet do not come naturally to us. And stillness prepares us for the second command: “Know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” In the midst of a world that colludes to suppress, not exalt, God, how do I carve out time and allow Him to nourish my inner life? “Prayer,” writes Patricia Hampl, “is a habit of attention brought to bear on all that is.” Ah, prayer . . . a habit of attention. Be still and know. The first step in prayer is to acknowledge or to “know” that God is God. And in that attention, that focus, all else comes into focus. Prayer allows us to admit our failures, weaknesses, and limitations to the One who responds to human vulnerability with infinite mercy. —Philip Yancey Dear Lord, help me to be still. Nourish my soul as I spend time with You in prayer. In prayer, God can quiet our minds. INSIGHT: Today’s Scripture passage ends with one of the most well-known and beloved phrases in the Bible: “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10). The Hebrew word translated “be still” can also be translated “become helpless,” “collapse,” “cease,” “fall limp,” and “relax.” The sense is to stop striving. So Psalm 46 could be translated, “Relax, and know that I am God.” Transformation, deliverance, and resurrection are all works of God; we just need to relax and acknowledge who He is.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Love, Running, & Ulcerative Colitis

Here is a Love Story told by Team Challenge alumnus Katie Dolgert of how she overcame Ulcerative Colitis I met Mike through mutual friends at work where we bonded over a shared love of international adventure travel and beer. When he told me he had planned a trip to Iceland in the winter of 2009, I was very jealous. So much so that when he offhandedly asked me to tag along, I jumped at the opportunity. At that point in time, he saw me as a single, healthy 30-year-old woman that would be a fun travel companion. On our first night at the hotel, Mike expressed interest when I pulled out my giant container of prescription medication and proceeded to swallow six pills. I glossed over it with a vague statement about "stomach issues." Thankfully, he didn't bring it up again. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2001 at 22 years old. At the time, I had never even heard of the disease but it didn't seem that serious. I took some medication and within a few months, my symptoms had cleared up and I enjoyed a medication free 7 year period of remission. By the time I was in Iceland with this cute guy, I was terrified. My colitis had returned in the previous year and the medication that initially put me into remission was no longer working. I was in a foreign country eating weird food and sharing a bathroom in a tiny hotel room. I'm sure he noticed when I disappeared to the bathroom but was too much of a gentleman to say anything and embarrass me. When we returned to the United States and officially started dating, I came clean about my illness. He was nothing but supportive, asking lots of questions and wanting to learn more. Over our years together, he has seen me at my lowest. He's covered for me in public when I'm not able to eat or drink. He's hugged me while I've cried in pain in the bathroom. He's held my hand through multiple colonoscopy preps and procedures. He's been my rock. Shortly after we were married in 2011, I heard about Team Challenge and brought it up to Mike. He was totally on board- we had run a few half marathons in the past and this seemed like a good fit. But as I sat in that information meeting, I got scared. Scared to put myself out there. To talk about my disease in public to friends, family members and co workers. I would have to abandon the story I'd stuck to for a decade about my stomach issues. I would have to publicly declare that I was sick with an incurable disease. Mike insisted we sign up on the spot so we couldn't back out. We got home that night and started writing our letters and setting up our webpage. When I sent out that first email with my story, I was terrified. But then the donations started rolling in. The support we received was overwhelming. We raised $3,000 in the first week. Within 6 weeks, we had reached our goal of $7,500. By the time we were lining up at the start line of the Las Vegas Half Marathon, we had raised over $11,000 for CCFA. It was a humbling and emotional moment. Team Challenge introduced me into a whole new world filled with people just like me. We could talk openly about our disease without fear, knowing that everyone got it. When there were trainings that I fell behind because I wasn't feeling well, someone always stayed with me. It was a support group I never knew existed. It was a family. Since Las Vegas, Mike and I have completed two additional events with the Team Challenge. The program was so inspiring that even my parents joined the team and walked their first half marathon with me in 2014. I no longer let my illness define me. I am a lucky woman with the love of a wonderful man. I am blessed to be the mother of two amazing children who inspire me every day. I have the support of the incredible family I was born into and the Team Challenge family that adopted me. I may have to face challenges on occasion and make peace with the fact that I am "sick." But this illness has brought more positives into my life then negatives and that love, support and camaraderie is something I'm truly thankful for.

The Voice of Faith

It's the end of the week YES! we have made it to FRIDAY! with these words of wisdom. Read: Habakkuk 3:16-19 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 25; Mark 1:23-45 Though the fig tree does not bud . . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord. —Habakkuk 3:17-18 The news was numbing. The tears came so quickly that she couldn’t fight them. Her mind raced with questions, and fear threatened to overwhelm her. Life had been going along so well, when it was abruptly interrupted and forever changed without warning. Tragedy can come in many forms—the loss of a loved one, an illness, the loss of wealth or our livelihood. And it can happen to anyone at any time. Although the prophet Habakkuk knew that tragedy was coming, it still struck fear in his heart. As he waited for the day when Babylon would invade the kingdom of Judah, his heart pounded, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled (Hab. 3:16). Fear is a legitimate emotion in the face of tragedy, but it doesn’t have to immobilize us. When we don’t understand the trials we are going through, we can recount how God has worked in history (vv. 3-15). That’s what Habakkuk did. It didn’t dispel his fear, but it gave him the courage to move on by choosing to praise the Lord (v. 18). Our God who has proven Himself faithful throughout the years is always with us. Because His character doesn’t change, in our fear we can say with a confident voice of faith, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength!” (v. 19). —Poh Fang Chia Dear Lord, when my world is turned upside down, help me to trust You. You have always been faithful to me. We can learn the lesson of trust in the school of trial. INSIGHT: Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter three is the prophet’s response to a conversation he has been having with the Lord about justice—for Israel and the surrounding nations. After God responds to Habakkuk’s two complaints, the prophet launches into this song of praise for God’s righteous deeds and character. Habakkuk rehearses the great deeds of the Lord in protecting His people (vv. 1-15), but he also admits his fear when he sees the demonstration of God’s power and judgment (v. 16). But his fear does not control him, because God is his hope and strength (vv. 16-19).

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Widow’s Choice

As we starts this New Week off On a President's Day Holiday and wrapping up a Valentine's Day Sunday let's take a moment to reflect on these tidbits of wisdom Read: Psalm 34:15-22 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 17-18; Matthew 27:27-50 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. —Psalm 34:18 When a good friend suddenly lost her husband to a heart attack, we grieved with her. As a counselor, she had comforted many others. Now, after 40 years of marriage, she faced the unwelcome prospect of returning to an empty house at the end of each day. In the midst of her grief, our friend leaned on the One who “is close to the brokenhearted.” As God walked with her through her pain, she told us she would choose to “wear the label widow proudly,” because she felt it was the label God had given her. All grief is personal, and others may grieve differently than she does. Her response doesn’t diminish her grief or make her home less empty. Yet it reminds us that even in the midst of our worst sorrows, our sovereign and loving God can be trusted. Our heavenly Father suffered a profound separation of His own. As Jesus hung on the cross He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Yet He endured the pain and separation of crucifixion for our sins out of love for us! He understands! And because “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted” (Ps. 34:18), we find the comfort we need. He is near. —Dave Branon Dear heavenly Father, as we think about the sadness that comes from the death of a loved one, help us to cling to You and trust Your love and goodness. Thank You for being close to our broken hearts. Know anyone who is hurting? Share this devotional from our Facebook page. God shares in our sorrow. INSIGHT: In the superscription of Psalm 34, a song of David, we are told that it was written “when he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.” That event is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:13. In fleeing from Saul, David sought refuge in the city of Gath—the hometown of the warrior Goliath who David had killed in battle. When the people of Gath protested David’s presence in their city, he pretended to be insane in order to escape. It may seem that David escaped by his own cleverness, but he clearly gives God the credit for his rescue.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Undigested Knowledge

Another week has come to the end we have made it to FRIDAY! YES! I'm so EXCITED about ending the week on a Strong note with these words of wisdom Read: John 8:39-47 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 13; Matthew 26:26-50 If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. —John 8:31 In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant. Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.” At the temple one day, Jesus encountered people who thought they had all the right answers. They were proudly proclaiming their status as Abraham’s descendants yet refused to believe in God’s Son. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did” (John 8:39). And what was that? Abraham “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Still, Jesus’ hearers refused to believe. “The only Father we have is God himself,” they said (John 8:41). Jesus replied, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (v. 47). Piper recalls how things “fell apart” for him before he “encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way.” When we allow God’s truth to transform our lives, we gain much more than the right answer. We introduce the world to Jesus. —Tim Gustafson Father, thank You that You receive anyone who turns to You in faith. Faith is not accepting the fact of God but of receiving the life of God. INSIGHT: John 8 is a chapter filled with conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel. In verses 1-11 the conflict is based on whether a woman caught in sin should be publicly executed or shown compassion. In verses 12-20 the point of friction focuses on whether Jesus is who He claims to be: the “Light of the world” and the Son of God. The religious leaders dispute Jesus’s claim that God is His Father, even accusing Him of being born illegitimately (v. 41). When Jesus says that He existed before Abraham was born (vv. 56-58), His antagonists respond by attempting to stone Him to death.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Can’t Take It Back

It's the dawn of a New Week as we start this New Week let's take these words of wisdom and reflect on them throughout this week Read: Galatians 5:13-26 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 4-5; Matthew 24:29-51 The fruit of the Spirit is . . . gentleness and self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23 I couldn't take my actions back. A woman had parked her car and blocked my way of getting to the gas pump. She hopped out to drop off some recycling items, and I didn't feel like waiting, so I honked my horn at her. Irritated, I put my car in reverse and drove around another way. I immediately felt bad about being impatient and unwilling to wait 30 seconds (at the most) for her to move. I apologized to God. Yes, she should have parked in the designated area, but I could have spread kindness and patience instead of harshness. Unfortunately it was too late to apologize to her—she was gone. Many of the Proverbs challenge us to think about how to respond when people get in the way of our plans. There’s the one that says, “Fools show their annoyance at once” (Prov. 12:16). And “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (20:3). Then there’s this one that goes straight to the heart: “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (29:11). Growing in patience and kindness seems pretty difficult sometimes. But the apostle Paul says it is the work of God, the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23). As we cooperate with Him and depend on Him, He produces that fruit in us. Please change us, Lord. —Anne Cetas Make me a gentle person, Lord. One who doesn’t quickly react in frustration to every annoyance that comes my way. Give me a spirit of self-control and patience. To study more about the fruit of the Spirit, read Live Free by Constantine Campbell at God tests our patience to enlarge our hearts. INSIGHT: In his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes fourteen references to the Holy Spirit. Believers receive the Holy Spirit through faith the moment they believe (3:2-3, 5, 14). Believers are born of the Spirit (4:29), which qualifies them to call God “Abba, Father” (4:6). In today’s passage Paul warns that the flesh continues to resist the indwelling Spirit (5:17), but the key to victory is to walk in (or by) the Spirit (vv. 16, 25). Only in this way can a believer overcome the limitations of the flesh and live in a way that pleases God.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Serving Leader

This is the end of the week we have made it to FRIDAY! with these words to reflect on Read: 1 Kings 12:1-15 Bible in a Year: Exodus 36-38; Matthew 23:1-22 Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. —Matthew 20:26 In traditional African societies, leadership succession is a serious decision. After a king’s demise, great care is taken selecting the next ruler. Besides being from a royal family, the successor must be strong, fearless, and sensible. Candidates are questioned to determine if they will serve the people or rule with a heavy hand. The king’s successor needs to be someone who leads but also serves. Even though Solomon made his own bad choices, he worried over his successor. “Who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill” (Eccl. 2:19). His son Rehoboam was that successor. He demonstrated a lack of sound judgment and ended up fulfilling his father’s worst fear. When the people requested more humane working conditions, it was an opportunity for Rehoboam to show servant leadership. “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them . . . ,” the elders advised, “they will always be your servants” (1 Kings 12:7). But he rejected their counsel. Rehoboam failed to seek God. His harsh response to the people divided the kingdom and accelerated the spiritual decline of God’s people (12:14-19). In the family, the workplace, at church, or in our neighborhood—we need His wisdom for the humility to serve rather than be served. —Lawrence Darmani Dear Lord, please give me a humble servant’s heart. Help me to lead and follow with humility and compassion. A good leader is a good servant.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Always Pray and Don't Give Up

So here we are starting a New Week in the 2nd month of the New Year we have made it to the Month of February let's take a moment to STOP and Thank God for bring us into the 2nd month of the New Year. Here are words of wisdom to start our New Week off in this New Month of February Read: Luke 18:1-8 Bible in a Year: Exodus 27-28; Matthew 21:1-22 Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 Are you going through one of those times when it seems every attempt to resolve a problem is met with a new difficulty? You thank the Lord at night that it’s taken care of but awake to find that something else has gone wrong and the problem remains. During an experience like that, I was reading the gospel of Luke and was astounded by the opening words of chapter 18: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1). I had read the story of the persistent widow many times but never grasped why Jesus told it (vv. 2-8). Now I connected those opening words with the story. The lesson to His followers was very clear: “Always pray and never give up.” Prayer is not a means of coercing God to do what we want. It is a process of recognizing His power and plan for our lives. In prayer we yield our lives and circumstances to the Lord and trust Him to act in His time and in His way. As we rely on God’s grace not only for the outcome of our requests but for the process as well, we can keep coming to the Lord in prayer, trusting His wisdom and care for us. Our Lord’s encouragement to us is clear: Always pray and don’t give up! —David McCasland Lord, in the difficulty I face today, guard my heart, guide my words, and show Your grace. May I always turn to You in prayer. Prayer changes everything. INSIGHT: The parable of the judge and the persistent widow is one of the most challenging parables to interpret. The judge represents God, yet the judge is described as uncaring and unjust. Those terms certainly do not describe our heavenly Father. So how is this to be read? Most parables are intended to communicate one big idea rather than have meaning in every detail. In today’s passage the big idea is not the character of the God to whom we pray, but the value of persevering in prayer. When considering a parable, the simple guideline of looking for the one central idea can be helpful.