FOLLOW ME

Jesus and the FishermenThen Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him. Luke 5:10-11

 

CNN reported this week on the efforts of US and Allied troops to extinguish the remaining stronghold of ISIS fighters in Syria. Hundreds of people from all over the world have assembled and are being interviewed, questioned and sometimes detained. They are fleeing the terrorists’ last enclave, the besieged town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani. There are men, women and children from Canada, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Syria. With the exception of two Canadian women, nearly everyone denied any connection with ISIS. One of the Canadian women says she came over to be with her husband, who had joined the rebel fighters expecting a wonderful life. She believes in Sharia law and insists she and her two children “must follow whoever is implementing the way, the law.” She insists she knew nothing of the war going on until she arrived in Syria. No word of terrorist executions or enslavement of women. She came, trusting. Now, she isn’t certain what has happened to her husband.

 

Reading the article, I was reminded of the innocent peasant fisherman who “left everything and followed (Jesus)” (Luke 5:11). Were they so different from these men and women who have chosen to be “radicalized” into what most of us believe is a cruel and hateful shadow-society of murderers, rapists, and kidnappers? I have always imagined Jesus was so charismatic that people just trusted Him and wanted to be around Him. Yes, He healed their diseases and cast out their demons. Yes, He made them feel good about life and gave them hope. Yes, He preached an easy message to hear, a message of love and kindness and honor and goodness. But isn’t that exactly what those who have joined ISIS and other terrorist groups said about the ones who “recruited” them? What was so different about Christ? The answer, of course, is that Jesus was not spouting lies. His Word was true. His promises could be counted on. He really is the Son of God, and He is and always will be pure Light and Goodness. He is everlasting, and He will never lie to us.

 

Jesus, we humble ourselves before You because You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

TERROR IN THE NIGHT

Mountain Lion

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. Exodus 20:18

 

When I was about ten years old, we lived in a home my father had built on the side of a mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ours was one of the first houses in the area, and until more homes were built, we were some distance from any neighbors. One night, our family woke to what sounded like a woman screaming outside. Looking out the window, my father saw a full-grown mountain lion in our back yard. He watched the animal run from our yard back up the mountain. We never knew what made it scream like that, but it was something none of us forgot quickly. One thing that did not occur to us in our fright was that we were really the ones encroaching on the mountain lion’s habitat, not the other way around.

 

The book of Exodus tells of a time when the Lord was very stern with the Israelites for their disobedience. God told Moses to warn the people not to come near Mount Sinai or touch any part of it, or they would die (Exodus 19:11-13). God caused thunder and lightning to surround the mountain, shaking it violently. The Israelites were terrified, and they asked Moses to speak to God for them so they wouldn’t have to face Him. They feared the Lord so much, they thought they would surely die if He spoke directly to them (v. 20:19). Moses ascending the mountain and listened to God for forty days and forty nights. God had a lot to say, and Moses knew it was important to hear and remember every word. But while Moses was gone, the Israelites forgot all their fear and made idols out of gold because they weren’t sure Moses was even coming back (Exodus 32). Neither God nor Moses were very happy that the people forgot their reverence so quickly.

 

God had said to the people, “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). But the people forgot that God was sovereign over everything, and they disobeyed the very One Who had created them.

 

Lord, this world can be frightening. Instill in us a sustaining trust in You. Amen

 

From Istanbul to Edinburg, Rwanda to New Zealand, followers of Meg Blaine Corrigan’s blog “Brilliant Resilience,” have been in for a treat. Part devotional, part memoir, part commentary on life, Corrigan’s weekly devotion topics range from gut-wrenchingly serious to laugh-out-loud funny. When the blog debuted in 2015, it was read in over forty countries by more than nine thousand people. A few weeks into the year, Corrigan’s followers began asking her to put the blogs into print. Thus a book was born: Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, available from Amazon.com or from Corrigan’s website, www.MegCorrigan.com . New readers will be intrigued by her amusing titles and devotions that are grounded in reality. A great read for those in need of a spiritual lift, and a wonderful gift for anyone we hold dear. Watch for Saints With Slingshots Two soon to be published.

SOMEBODY WOKE UP JIM CROW

Jim Crow“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. …” Matthew 5:43-48

 

We recognize Bishop Michael Curry as the Episcopalian preacher who so recently stunned the world with his energetic words at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Now, Curry and other prominent Christian leaders have taken their message of Christ’s unfailing love to the streets of our nation’s capital. Curry was joined by other progressive Christian leaders, including Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Friar Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A candlelight vigil was held Thursday, May 24, 2018, followed by a march to the White House, dubbed “Reclaiming Jesus.” “As elders,” Curry stated, “we view bringing (this movement) to the public square as a tangible example of how to live out (Christ’s) way of love.” About two thousand people packed the National City Christian Church prior to the march.

 

Curry said, “It’s like somebody woke up Jim Crow*.” Without naming politicians, parties, or national leaders, these committed Christians issued a statement rejecting the “America First” philosophy as “theological heresy for followers of Christ.” They denounced “xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal.” They also condemned “the normalization of lying…in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance.” The leaders shared their concerns of a “dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest level of our government and in our churches,” which put “the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith” at stake. It is time, they said, to prove that conservative “evangelicals” cannot claim exclusive rights in the United States to defining and interpreting Christianity.

 

“As citizens,” Curry stated, “we want our government to reflect our values…(to) follow the teachings of Jesus Who taught us to love God and love our neighbor.”

 

Lord, stir in us a passion for Your message of love and tolerance for all peoples, nations, creeds and persuasions. Amen

 

  • The “Jim Crow” persona was a theater character by Thomas D. Rice and an ethnic depiction in accordance with 19th century ideas of African-Americans and their culture. Rice’s famous stage personal eventually lent its name to a generalized negative and stereotypical view of black people. The “Jim Crow” period began when segregation rules, laws, and customs surfaced after the Reconstruction era ended in the 1870’s. The period existed until the mid-1960’s when the struggle for civil rights in the United States gained national attention. (Source: Wikipedia) Curry’s reference to the “reawakening” of the “Jim Crow” era is a direct reference to the insurgence of racial tension in the United States today.

FALSE POWERS

Wizard of Oz CostumesFor false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Mark 13:22

 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s book written by American author L. Frank Baum, published in 1900. The verson best known today is the 1939 musical film adaptation entitled The Wizard of Oz. My favorite character is the Wizard, whose multiple roles in the story are explained on gradesaver.com. “The Wizard reveals himself to be a balloonist…who accidentally ended up in the Land of Oz, and was taken for a powerful sorcerer by its Munchkin inhabitants.” The Wizard is not a bad man. But his newfound fame with the Munchkins, and Emerald City, built for him by his tiny admirers, lead the man to think he is more important than he actually is. A clever Kansas girl named Dorothy reveals the Wizard’s sham. He then becomes himself, employing ordinary common sense to help Dorothy and her friends realize all their wishes. Of course, the entire adventure ends up to be a dream of Dorothy’s when a Kansas tornado knocks her senseless.

 

Today, there are many “wizards” competing for our allegiance. In her insightful Bible study, No Other Idols, Christian writer Kelly Minter exposes many ways modern people confuse illusion with reality. Minter says, “Our idols may look different, but our enslavement to them is the same.” She details the pitfalls of modern “idols” from smartphones to super-sized meals to lust for more and better “stuff.” Her study reminds us that people have always found “false gods” in this world, but the Internet has just delivered the next form of idolatry with alarming speed. Perhaps no place in modern history have we seen a worse example of “false power” than in the influence by the Russian government on the United States’ most sacred democratic principle of a free election. Unsuspecting people were duped into believing false social media posts clearly designed to sway opinions during the presidential campaign of 2016.

 

Both Mark and Matthew’s Gospels recount Jesus’ words, “False messiahs and false prophets will… perform signs and wonders to deceive” (Mark 13:22/Matthew 24:24). Kelly Minter concludes, “Nothing has brought me the joy, freedom, and happiness that Christ has given me…No (false) god can compare to Jesus.”

 

Holy God, deliver us from the evil of false gods. Compel us to worship only You. Amen

ONE SIMPLE QUESTION

CounselingAsk and it will be given to you…. Matthew 7:7

 

“What happened to you?” Not, “What’s wrong with you?” The difference in those two questions, according to Oprah Winfrey, was to her “life changing.” On a CBS 60 Minutes television segment hosted by Winfrey, the topic was “trauma-informed response” to mental health issues. This is an issue that was “life changing” for me as well, when I walked into a workshop two years ago and realized, as Winfrey did, that I had been asking the wrong question—of clients, students, friends, my children, and even myself—for most of my life. What a difference it makes, when people are experiencing a crisis, to ask, “What happened to you?” and not, “What did you do?” or “What is wrong with you?” Rephrasing this simple inquiry takes the sting out—the shame, the guilt, the blame, and the ego-deflating accusation, all gone. Instead, the focus is on, simply, what happened and how can we move to a better place from here?

 

Isn’t this what Christ came to tell us? He came not to condemn the world, but to reconcile the world to Himself through grace, and not through what we might do to earn His wonderful love (John 3:17). He asks not, “What’s wrong with you?” but “What hurts?” “What can I heal?” “What can I show you to make you understand how much I love you?” In this imperfect world in which we are all broken, a Savior comes to hold us in our pain, to encourage us in our rising from that pain, and to replace that pain with comfort and healing. The promise of eternal life may seem distant and unimportant when life tears at our souls and our spirts. But Jesus promises to be with us in this life, in this journey too. He makes our earthly walk abundant beyond our wildest dreams because He does not ask us to prove ourselves in any way. He quietly watches as we choose divergent paths, and He rejoices when we find the high road again. He is a total Gentleman; He is the ultimate Doorman, ushering us toward the better option but allowing us to exercise our free will as we choose.

 

Jesus, ask us questions, not always the most comfortable ones, but always the right ones. And give us the answers through Your Word. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has worked with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and war veterans.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

THE PEOPLE CAME LAST

God Creating the WorldSo God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing…(and) every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21

 

Sometimes, I can read the same passage in the Bible over dozens of times and miss an entire point until one day it smacks me in the face. That happened yesterday at church, when our pastor preached a special sermon for Earth Day. In speaking about the creation of this world, the pastor pointed out, rather casually, that the people came last. What?!? I had never thought about that before. But it’s true. In the first chapter of Genesis, God begins His little project by creating light and dark and separating the two into morning and evening (vs.3-5). From there, He moves on to separate the waters and the sky; then comes land. Then vegetation was fashioned, along with two great lights, the sun and the moon (vs. 9-12, 14-18). Next came all the “creatures” of the earth, every kind of living thing on land and in the water and in the sky (vs. 20-25). After each of these steps, what did God say? He said that everything He had crafted so far was “good.” And so far, He hadn’t even talked about creating “mankind in (His) image.” Surprise! It suddenly dawned on me that it didn’t take human beings to declare what was “good.” God had “honored” all of His creation and deemed it worthy before He put humans into the mix (vs. 26-27). No wonder we celebrate Earth Day!

 

Fast forward to our current political climate in the United States, where there is a battle being waged in the once hallowed halls of the Environmental Protection Agency. On the offensive is an EPA Director who, under the direction of the President’s office, has dismantled literally hundreds of regulations put in place by previous administrations in an effort to protect the environment. The battle is literally being waged between two factions: science and truth, and lies and big business. In Genesis 1:28-30, God gives human beings dominion over all of His creation, but He intended for us to care for the Earth and not destroy it. That’s a point none of us should miss.

 

Creating God, You gave us a beautiful planet to live on and we are commanded to care for it. Amen