{re}fresh

Category: devotional

Givens

by Wendy

Words by Rich Mason
Flickr.com_43109486_3ed3e4866b_CC BY-ND 2.0

I am uncomfortable with “words for the year.”  Actually, I despise them.  This year I struggled with concepts Jesus is teaching me, trying to fit them into the “here’s my word for the year” box. I even adopted other writers’ and prophets’ words. It didn’t work.  Page after page of discarded blog posts dropped into the recycle bin.

Until now.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Centered

by Dawn Aldrich

Image by Natallo
Flickr.com_25593058045_abdbaf3ccf_CC BY-ND 2.0

May He keep us centered and devoted to Him, following the life path He has cleared, watching the sign posts, walking at the pace and rhythms He laid down for our ancestors.

1 Kings 8:57-58 The Message

 

“What good is an island no one can find?” grumbles a pirate sailing upon the Black Pearl.

“What good is a compass that’s broken?” asks his mate. “It doesn’t point north!”

“Who’s looking for north?!” retorts Captain Jack Sparrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Good News!

by Rob Dunne

Image by Darren Tunnifliff
Flickr.com_4232232092_2be61c1467_CC BY-ND 2.0

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:31-33.

I try very hard not to read or watch the news. To a certain extent, I believe the media intentionally fills its headlines with bad news. The result is that we as consumers of media are in a constant state of fear or anxiety. News can give us a sense of hopelessness.

Two thousand years ago, God sent the angel Gabriel to give Mary and the world some good news. When Gabriel first appeared to Mary, she responded in fear. Unlike the fear that we may experience when watching the news, this fear was warranted. Imagine what it would be like for a supernatural being like an angel to appear in your room. Mary was justified in her initial response.

Read the rest of this entry »

Joy Ignited

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jone Vasatis_Flickr.com_7962560356_374f90ea74__CC BY-ND 2.0

“My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Luke 1:47

As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, we rejoice in God made flesh, our Savior Jesus Christ. An unusual “Christmas” verse comes to mind as I ponder rejoicing in my savior — a verse that takes us forward to the culmination of the Christmas story where we read of Jesus’ commitment to rescue us by choosing not only to be born of a woman but also to die on a cross:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

How does Jesus find joy in a brutal and painful death? He keeps His eyes on the prize. He kicks Satan in the teeth and purchases our freedom once and for all. For that great prize, he is willing to sacrifice His own life and call it a joy. Praise be to God!

Mary too, is asked to endure a type of sacrifice. Everyone knew from the Scriptural prophesies that the Messiah would be born to a virgin, but think about what it would mean to be “that virgin” — the one with child before the wedding vows are spoken. Mary, a betrothed but not-yet-married young lady, has no business being pregnant. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Is Not under Control

by Mike McKinniss

If the world always ran in accordance with my wishes (sigh!), there would eternally remain two to three unblemished days on the calendar every week. Naturally, the work day would be busy with productive toil, but at least a pair of evenings would ideally remain sparkling and unsoiled by plans. I’m forever hoarding a bit of space for myself, you see.

It wasn’t long ago—just before Thanksgiving, if I remember correctly—I took a peek at my December calendar, and I rather reflexively expectorated a mild but genuine curse. The whole flippin’ month is jammed full of events. Somehow without my notice, I lost control of my time this holiday season. I don’t like feeling out of control. Read the rest of this entry »

Where Are the Worms?

by Carol Nicholls

Image by Andy Langager
Flickr.com_4711980319_a417dcf16b_CC BY-ND 2.0

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.” John 5:8

Have you ever picked up a perfect apple, bit into its sweetness and then found half a worm? Suddenly that bite of deliciousness makes you gag! Or, perhaps, your computer is working fine until the next time you turn it on and the internet refuses to connect. After a lot of frustrating work you discover it has a “bug.”

It’s amazing how many times what starts with joy ends with irritation and disappointment. There’s the shiny new car that becomes a lemon; next door to the wonderful new home you purchased resides a noisy, rude neighbor or relationships that begin with hope, suddenly end with bitter disappointment.

When you think about your life, how many things have not worked out and left you wondering what went wrong? Is there someone or something that just rubs you the wrong way for no apparent reason?

Deep inside, like the worm in the apple, there is a reason. Read the rest of this entry »

What Good Is

by Wendy

Image by M42
Flickr.com_2537258043_306e52e206_CC BY-ND 2.0

Anxious and exhausted, I grabbed my journal and flopped on the bed. The room was quiet and neat, just what I needed before the harrowing week ahead.

Oh, the week.  I’d failed miserably two years ago, and I shuddered as images filled my head.  Forty international choral professionals. One world-renowned conductor. And me.  Five days, five opportunities dreaded assignments to conduct. I cloistered myself in my room, studied, skipped meals, and stayed up until 2am conducting.  Finally, with years of habit to unlearn and 2 nights to do it, my arms would not obey. Conducting patterns disappeared as I slipped and slopped my way through piece after piece.  Jangled, disoriented and dismayed, I cried myself to sleep. The next day, terrified, tears seeped out of my eyes in front of the professor, and soon the whole class knew. I was falling, with no net.

Now those same terrifying days would stare me down again in just… twelve hours. Read the rest of this entry »

Are My Beliefs Paramount to the Lord?

by Mike McKinniss

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Disagreement” by kodakhrome under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other night, at times intense, sensitive and personal. We were talking about things that mattered deeply to us about family and trauma, about healing and God.

And we disagreed. She, on the basis of her reading of Scripture and her experience, believed one way about the Lord and his work in the present. I, from similar grounds, believed another.

Sola fides. We’re only now a week past the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s epoch-altering convictions. His ideas he hammered to the parish door, then into the minds and hearts of generations of Protestants, and chief among these is the notion that it is through faith alone (sola fides was his Latin term for it) that we are saved by God. He got his cues from Paul: “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8a, ESV).

This is no small matter. Read the rest of this entry »

Repentance: Feel the Love

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jason Watson Flicker.com_deviantmonk_8khVEE-4P7_CC BY-ND 2.0

Image by Jason Watson
Flicker.com_deviantmonk_8khVEE-4P7_CC BY-ND 2.0

Love your enemies, do good to them….Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36

Love is tough. It’s gritty and glorious. I struggle to love people when I’m disappointed in them, or in myself, or with life in general. Sometimes I come across less like a lover and more like an accuser. You don’t want to know me when I get into striving mode with a long to-do list and a tight time schedule with little margin. I inevitably start to feel the strain, but instead of dealing with my own heart before The Lord, I like to start first by blaming others:

It’s the kids’ problem–they’re so disobedient. Why did I have so many children?

It’s my husband’s problem–he’s not at all helpful. Why didn’t I stay single?

It’s my many obligations–why didn’t I say “No!”? What was I thinking?

Read the rest of this entry »

Harvesting a surprise

by Rob Dunne

Image by Toni Verdu CarboFlickr.com_629236570_31721a3ebd_CC BY-ND 2.0

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

One of the most rewarding aspects of youth ministry I’ve experienced, was short term mission trips. To date, I have traveled to Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala and Uganda.  These overseas trips were particularly powerful because the students experienced how difficult life was outside of the United States. They realized just how good they had it back home!

Admittedly, students occasionally made poor choices. There were times when I wondered if my efforts were for naught.

Read the rest of this entry »

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