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Monday, February 27, 2017

Ring of Invisibility

Here we are wrapping up the last couple of days in the month of February before we head into the 3rd month of the New Year which is March as we take this moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to guide us through the rest of the week with these words Read: John 3:16–21 Bible in a Year: Numbers 17–19; Mark 6:30–56 Everyone who does evil hates the light.—John 3:20 The Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427-c. 348 bc) found an imaginative way of shining light on the dark side of the human heart. He told the story of a shepherd who innocently discovered a golden ring that had been hidden deep in the earth. One day a great earthquake opened up an ancient mountainside tomb and revealed the ring to the shepherd. By accident he also discovered that the ring had the magical ability to enable the wearer to become invisible at will. Thinking about invisibility, Plato raised this question: If people didn’t have to worry about being caught and punished, would they resist doing wrong? In John’s gospel we find Jesus taking this idea in a different direction. There, Jesus, known as the Good Shepherd, speaks of hearts that stay in the cover of darkness to hide what they are doing (John 3:19-20). He isn’t calling attention to our desire for cover-up to condemn us, but to offer us salvation through Him (v. 17). As the Shepherd of our hearts, He brings the worst of our human nature to light to show us how much God loves us (v. 16). God in His mercy calls us out of our darkness and invites us to follow Him in the light. —Mart DeHaan Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the light of Your presence in my life. May I walk obediently in the light of Your truth in all that I do this day. Sin’s darkness retreats when Christ’s light is revealed. INSIGHT: Often we think of judgment and eternal life as primarily future realities, but John’s gospel emphasizes that each person experiences either judgment or eternal life now, based on how we respond to Jesus. People experience judgment, are “judged already” (v. 18), when they reject Jesus—through the pain and emptiness of life outside of the fellowship of God. This judgment is not because God is eager to judge. If He was, He would not have sent Jesus (v. 17). Jesus was a pure gift from the heart of a God who loves His creation (v. 16). Those who reject Jesus condemn themselves by rejecting the only solution to the evil and brokenness in the world (v. 18), choosing darkness when God has made His light freely available in Jesus (vv. 19-20). But when anyone turns to Jesus, they experience life—overwhelming, overflowing, abundant life (see 4:14, 10:10).Questions to consider: Why do we sometimes struggle to believe that God is more eager to show us love than judgment? How can we be more rooted in Christ’s love? Monica Brands

Friday, February 24, 2017

Check Out Our New Look

Here is our February Issue of CCFA'S Newsletter Check out our New Look. Letter from our President & CEO For the past 50 years, the Foundation has worked to improve the lives of patients living with Crohn's and colitis, and to find cures for these debilitating digestive diseases. I am pleased to share with you the exciting news that today the Foundation unveiled its new brand, which includes a new logo with a unifying symbol. This is reflective of our commitment and determination to uniting members of the IBD community to care and cure, and to guide the Foundation into the future. That's not the only difference—we are simplifying our name to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation to place greater emphasis on the diseases we are working to cure. We are excited to share our new brand, and can't wait to work with each and every one of you to continue the pursuit of our mission. Best, Michael Osso President & CEO Thank You to Our Team Challenge Family! The overwhelming feeling of love and hope at the Inspirational Pasta Party among the Mardi Gras floats…The sense of family and community gained from meeting new friends from across the country…The rush of accomplishment, gratitude, strength, and resolve as you cross the finish line hand-in-hand with your coach. These are just a few of the moments that make Team Challenge event weekend truly life changing. This month, 288 teammates from across the country came together to run and walk the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon. They raised more than $1.35 million to help us fight Crohn's & colitis—which is incredible! Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and heart. Get a taste of what it's like to be a part of our #TCfamily. Click HERE to see video & photo highlights from our event in New Orleans earlier this month. Join us this year at a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon, Triathlon, IRONMAN®, cycle event, or turn anything else into a fundraiser when you Race in Orange. JOIN US ► Colorectal Cancer & IBD Twitter Chat March is Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Awareness Month. After eight years of symptoms, patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease involving the colon are at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer; however, it's important to know that CRC is highly treatable when detected early. Join the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, Dr. Karlee Ausk of the Swedish Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, and ulcerative colitis patient Will Lanier on March 22 from 8-9 p.m. EST for a Twitter chat about colorectal cancer, IBD, and how you can minimize your risk of developing CRC. Follow along or participate in the chat using the hashtag #IBDchat. #IBDCHAT ► Donate to the Foundation Support the organization that has been dedicated to finding IBD treatments and cures for 50 years. IBD & Dating For some people with IBD, the thought of dating or being intimate may be daunting. To provide some guidance in this area, we have several resources available that may help, including our "Being Intimate with IBD" video. Please reach out to our IBD Help Center for additional information at Walk With Us This Spring! We will Take Steps in 68 communities this spring to raise funds and awareness for the 1.6 million people living with IBD. Connect with other patients, families, healthcare professionals, and caregivers. Bigger than one day, we're a family! Register your team today. REGISTER ► Camp Oasis—Summer Is Right Around The Corner! Camp Oasis is a fun environment where kids learn, play, and meet others with IBD. If you know a child who might be interested, visit our website for more information and to apply! We’re also looking for dedicated, compassionate people to serve as camp counselors and members of our Medical Team. Learn more here. LEARN MORE ► Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides a comprehensive database of studies, clinical trials, and other research opportunities on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Here is one of the recently added studies: An Open-Label, 2-Part, Multicenter, Post-marketing Study to Evaluate the Effect of Moderately or Severely Active Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease on Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Substrates Compared to Healthy Subjects and the Effect of Vedolizumab Treatment on Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Substrates in Subjects With Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease. 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.
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The Land of “What Is”

It's FRIDAY! We have made it to the end of the week and almost the end of the month before we head into the 3rd month of the New Year which is March BOY! Time is moving but lets take a moment just to reflect on this week alone before we get ahead of ourselves with these words of wisdom. Read: Psalm 46:1–7 Bible in a Year: Numbers 9–11; Mark 5:1–20 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.—1 Thessalonians 4:13 Even all these years after losing our seventeen-year-old daughter Melissa in a car accident in 2002, I sometimes find myself entering the world of “What If.” It’s easy, in grief, to reimagine the events of that tragic June evening and think of factors that—if rearranged—would have had Mell arriving safely home. In reality, though, the land of “What If” is not a good place to be for any of us. It is a place of regret, second-guessing, and hopelessness. While the grief is real and the sadness endures, life is better and God is honored if we dwell in the world of “What Is.” In that world, we can find hope, encouragement, and comfort. We have the sure hope (1 Thess. 4:13)—the assurance—that because Melissa loved Jesus she is in a place that is “better by far” (Phil. 1:23). We have the helpful presence of the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). We have God’s “ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). And we often have the encouragement of fellow believers. We all wish to avoid the tragedies of life. But when we do face hard times, our greatest help comes from trusting God, our sure hope in the land of What Is. —Dave Branon Father God, You know my broken heart. You know the pain of loss because You suffered through the death of Your Son. In the midst of ongoing sorrow, help me to dwell in the comfort of Your hope, encouragement, and comfort. See the book Beyond the Valley by Dave Branon at Our greatest hope comes from trusting God. INSIGHT: In Psalm 46, the psalmist uses exaggeration to express his trust in the safety God provides. He tells of feeling safe in circumstances where safety is unimaginable. When the very ground under our feet is uncertain, the psalmist expresses confidence in the protection of the Lord. He isn’t saying, “Do not fear” because our circumstances are not fear-worthy, but because our God is bigger than our troubles. In uncertain times, He is stable. The mountains crumbling into the sea is a graphic image of the most stable land feature giving way. In what circumstances do you need to remember that God is constant and unchanging? How can you express your trust in Him as your refuge? J.R. Hudberg

Monday, February 20, 2017

River Tree

So here we are starting the New Week off on this Presidents Day Holiday with these words of wisdom to help get through the rest of the week with Read: Jeremiah 17:5–10 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 26–27; Mark 2 They will be like a tree planted by the water.—Jeremiah 17:8 This was a tree to be envied. Growing on riverfront property, it didn’t have to worry about weather reports, withering temperatures, or an uncertain future. Nourished and cooled by the river, it spent its days lifting its branches to the sun, holding the earth with its roots, cleaning the air with its leaves, and offering shade to all who needed refuge from the sun. By contrast, the prophet Jeremiah pointed to a shrub (Jer. 17:6). When the rains stopped and the summer sun turned the ground to dust, the bush shriveled into itself, offering no shade or fruit to anyone. Why would the prophet compare a flourishing tree to a withering bush? He wanted his people to recall what had happened since their miraculous rescue from the slave yards of Egypt. For forty years in a wilderness, they lived like a tree planted by a river (2:4-6). Yet in the prosperity of their promised land they had forgotten their own story; they were relying on themselves and on gods of their own making (vv. 7-8), even to the point of going back to Egypt looking for help (42:14). So God, through Jeremiah, lovingly urged the forgetful children of Israel, and He urges us, to hope and trust in the Lord and to be like the tree—not the bush. —Mart DeHaan Father, in so many ways You have taught us that You alone can be trusted—even when it seems like You are nowhere to be seen. Please help us to recall today what You have already shown us along the way. Let’s remember in good times what we have learned in days of trouble. INSIGHT: Today’s Bible reading contrasts the life of the person devoted to God with the life of one who trusts in his own strength. Jeremiah uses incredibly strong language to differentiate between the two. One is blessed and one is cursed. It’s mind-boggling that we would choose to trust in ourselves instead of God, yet we all choose to do so from time to time. But verse 10 offers hope. It is not what we claim that determines whether we are a tree by the streams or a bush in the desert; it is the Lord who examines and rewards us. Are there any areas of your life you need to ask the Lord to examine? J.R. Hudberg

Friday, February 17, 2017

Seeing to Tomorrow

It's FRIDAY! The week has come to an end here are some words to help you get ready for the weekend and to also reflect on the Goodness of God Read: 2 Corinthians 5:1–9 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 21–22; Matthew 28 We live by faith, not by sight.—2 Corinthians 5:7 I enjoy gazing up at a cloudless blue sky. The sky is a beautiful part of our great Creator’s masterpiece, given for us to enjoy. Imagine how much pilots must love the view. They use several aeronautical terms to describe a perfect sky for flying, but my favorite is, “You can see to tomorrow.” “Seeing to tomorrow” is beyond our view. Sometimes we even struggle to see or understand what life is throwing at us today. The Bible tells us, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). But our limited visibility is not cause for despair. Just the opposite. We trust in the God who sees all of our tomorrows perfectly—and who knows what we need as we face the challenges ahead. The apostle Paul knew this. That’s why Paul encourages us with hopeful words, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). When we trust God with our day as well as our unseen tomorrows, we don’t need to worry about anything life throws at us. We walk with Him and He knows what is ahead; He is strong enough and wise enough to handle it. —Bill Crowder Lord, I know I can trust You for today and tomorrow because You are kind, good, loving, wise, and powerful. Teach me not to worry. God sees the beginning to the end. INSIGHT: Often I muse, “What will happen in my life tomorrow?” Tomorrow could bring me trouble and suffering. Job, the great sufferer of the Old Testament, said, “Man is born to trouble” (Job 5:7). Our days are filled “grief and pain” (Eccl. 2:23). Tomorrow may even see my death. But death holds no terrors for us who are in the Lord. For “if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Cor. 5:1). I need not fear even that tomorrow; in fact, I can look forward to being with the Lord (5:8). What fears or worries about tomorrow do you need to bring to God? Sim Kay Tee

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Death of Doubt

The weekend has come to an end and we are starting the New Week with these words of wisdom Read: John 11:1–16 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 14; Matthew 26:51–75 Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.—John 20:25 We know him as Doubting Thomas (see John 20:24-29), but the label isn’t entirely fair. After all, how many of us would have believed that our executed leader had been resurrected? We might just as well call him “Courageous Thomas.” After all, Thomas displayed impressive courage as Jesus moved purposefully into the events leading to His death. At the death of Lazarus, Jesus had said, “Let us go back to Judea” (John 11:7), prompting a protest from the disciples. “Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (v. 8). It was Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (v. 16). Thomas’s intentions proved nobler than his actions. Upon Jesus’s arrest, Thomas fled with the rest (Matt. 26:56), leaving Peter and John to accompany Christ to the courtyard of the high priest. Only John followed Jesus all the way to the cross. Despite having witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:38-44), Thomas still could not bring himself to believe that the crucified Lord had conquered death. Not until Thomas the doubter—the human—saw the risen Lord, could he exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Jesus’s response gave assurance to the doubter and immeasurable comfort to us: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). —Tim Gustafson Father, teach us to act on what we do know about You and Your goodness, and trust You in faith for what we don’t know. Real doubt searches for the light; unbelief is content with the darkness.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Leaning on Jesus

Made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY! with these words of wisdom Read: John 13:12–26 Bible in a Year: Leviticus 8–10; Matthew 25:31–46 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.—John 13:23 Sometimes when I put my head on my pillow at night and pray, I imagine I’m leaning on Jesus. Whenever I do this, I remember something the Word of God tells us about the apostle John. John himself writes about how he was sitting beside Jesus at the Last Supper: “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him” (John 13:23). John used the term “the disciple whom Jesus loved” as a way of referring to himself without mentioning his own name. He is also depicting a typical banquet setting in first-century Israel, where the table was much lower than those we use today, about knee height. Reclining without chairs on a mat or cushions was the natural position for those around the table. John was sitting so close to the Lord that when he turned to ask him a question, he was “leaning back against Jesus” (John 13:25), with his head on his chest. John’s closeness to Jesus in that moment provides a helpful illustration for our lives with Him today. We may not be able to touch Jesus physically, but we can entrust the weightiest circumstances of our lives to Him. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). How blessed we are to have a Savior whom we can trust to be faithful through every circumstance of our lives! Are you “leaning” on Him today? —James Banks Dear Lord Jesus, help me to lean on You today and to trust You as my source of strength and hope. I cast all my cares on You and praise You because You are faithful. Jesus alone gives the rest we need.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tried and Purified

As we start this New Week let's take these words of wisdom to heart to help us get through this week with Read: Job 23:1–12 Bible in a Year: Exodus 39–40; Matthew 23:23–39 When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.—Job 23:10 During an interview, singer and songwriter Meredith Andrews spoke about being overwhelmed as she tried to balance outreach, creative work, marital issues, and motherhood. Reflecting on her distress, she said, “I felt like God was taking me through a refining season, almost through a crushing process.” Job was overwhelmed after losing his livelihood, his health, and his family. Worse still, although Job had been a daily worshiper of God, he felt that the Lord was ignoring his pleas for help. God seemed absent from the landscape of his life. Job claimed he could not see God whether he looked to the north, south, east, or west (Job 23:2-9). In the middle of his despair, Job had a moment of clarity. His faith flickered to life like a candle in a dark room. He said, “[God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (v. 10). Christians are tried and purified when God uses difficulty to burn away our self-reliance, pride, and earthly wisdom. If it seems as if God is silent during this process and He is not answering our cries for help, He may be giving us an opportunity to grow stronger in our faith. Pain and problems can produce the shining, rock-solid character that comes from trusting God when life is hard. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt Dear Lord, help me to believe that You are with me, even when I can’t see You working in my life. I surrender myself to Your purpose for any suffering I may endure. Faith-testing times can be faith-strengthening times. INSIGHT: In today’s passage, Job responds to the accusations brought by his friend Eliphaz, who sarcastically asks whether Job thinks God is judging him because of his reverence for Him (22:4). Eliphaz insists that Job is suffering for a hidden scandal (v. 5). With assumptions but no evidence, he explains Job’s troubles by accusing him of being a self-centered rich man who has mistreated weak people for his own material gain. And so Job expresses his desire to be able to argue his case before God (ch. 23). The wrong assumptions of his friends have become part of the fire that is testing and refining him (v. 10). Do we have the courage to express our honest questions and true feelings to the Lord? Mart DeHaan

Friday, February 3, 2017

I See You

Made it to the end of the week in the second month of the New Year we are now in the month of February as we take a moment to reflect on these week let's take these words of wisdom to heart with Read: Genesis 16:1–13 Bible in a Year: Exodus 31–33; Matthew 22:1–22 I have now seen the One who sees me.—Genesis 16:13 “I see you,” a friend said in an online writers’ group where we support and encourage each other. Having felt stressed and anxious, I experienced a sense of peace and well-being with her words. She “saw” me—my hopes, fears, struggles, and dreams—and loved me. When I heard my friend’s simple but powerful encouragement, I thought of Hagar, a slave in Abram’s household. After many years of Sarai and Abram still longing for an heir, Sarai followed the custom of the culture and told her husband to conceive through Hagar. But when Hagar became pregnant, she treated Sarai with contempt. When Sarai mistreated her in return, Hagar fled far away to the desert. The Lord saw Hagar in her pain and confusion, and He blessed her with the promise that she would be the mother of many descendants. After the encounter, Hagar called the Lord “El Roi,” which means “the God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13), for she knew she wasn’t alone or abandoned. As Hagar was seen—and loved—so are we. We might feel ignored or rejected by friends or family, yet we know that our Father sees not only the face we present to the world, but all of our secret feelings and fears. He speaks the words that bring us life. —Amy Boucher Pye Father God, just as You saw Hagar in her distress, so You see those who are hurting, fleeing oppression, and afraid. Please send them help and encouragement. To know that God sees us gives us comfort and confidence.