WORLD PEACE

World Peace FlagsI urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

World Peace? How is it possible to imagine that in today’s world? According to worldpopulationsreview.com, “As of 2018, there are…a total of fifty nations that have a dictator or authoritarian regime ruling the nation to this day. Europe is home to one.., while three…can be found in Latin America and South America…,eight…in Asia, seven in the Eurasian region of the world, and twelve…from the northern parts of Africa to the Middle East.” And worldatlas.com reports Syria is the most war-torn country in the world, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan; other countries experiencing “war” (including threats from other nations, civil unrest, gang and drug conflicts, etc.) today include Ukraine, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, and Central African Republic. Many other nations are dealing with ongoing political partisanship, the rise of hate groups, and religious and human rights battles among their populace. The concept of world peace seems further away than it did even a decade ago.

 

1 Timothy above among our daily readings for today. I remembered that Jesus came into this world during a time of political and civil unrest. At the time of Christ’s birth, Israel was an occupied nation, under the strong arm of the Roman government. The Romans, in concert with the Jewish religious leaders of the day, executed Jesus on false charges. The Romans were still in power when Paul’s protégé Timothy was a leader in the Christian church at Ephesus (now modern Turkey). Paul urged Timothy to pray “for kings and all those in authority” in the hope that these prayers would bring “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It’s hard to think of strong-arm governments like the Roman Empire allowing the people to live “peaceful and quiet lives!” Indeed, the Romans sought to keep the people in line!

 

Paul’s admonitions apply today as well. We must continue to pray that world leaders will take their responsibilities seriously. We can pray fervently that leaders who see themselves above their people will have a change of heart and move towards compassion for others.

 

Lord, heal this broken world, we pray! Bring all nations into “peaceful and quiet lives.” Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingAnd you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

 

At a training seminar on child safety recently, I sat next to a woman who had just returned from missionary work in war-torn Syria. She told me how surprised she was to return to the United States and listen to national news broadcasts here. She had forgotten how sensationalistic our news programs were. In Syria, she said, the news was delivered with solemnity and very little drama, which she found refreshing. I would agree. I long for the days when newscasters like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley reported in a straight-forward and honest fashion, without shoving microphones into traumatized people’s faces asking, “How did you feel when…?” Our national discourse has become sharper and more divisive in recent years, and it doesn’t appear to be likely to improve any time soon. The internet, for all the good things it brings us, has also made it harder to know what is true and what is a lie.  We must be careful to examine what we hear and read and be wise about what we take away from all sources available to us. The old saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” But what we “stand for” to begin with must be based on the truth and not some twisted spin on reality.

 

Jesus warned against “false prophets,” people who “will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive…even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). So even practicing Christians—the elect—with strong faith in God can become confused. Jesus added to His warning, “See, I have told you ahead of time” (v. 25). We as Christians have no excuse not to heed Christ’s warning: it is up to us to listen to the Spirit as He helps us discern the truth in this life (1 Corinthians 2:14). Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” We will overcome the darkness of lies and false teaching by shining the light of Christ into the midst of that darkness. We must stand firm in our faith and seek God’s wisdom over that of questionable sources.

 

Jesus, You are our true Redeemer. Walk with us in the light of Your wisdom and justice. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Learn the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Ocean LinerPeace I leave with You, My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

 

On the brink of another year, what does it mean to have peace in your life? In John 14, Jesus’ words are difficult for the disciples to understand. Jesus says He is going away, not what these men want to hear. But He also says He will return, and even more puzzling, that God will send the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—to help them. The disciples are not comforted; they want Jesus to stay. His words leave them uneasy and restless.

 

What the men don’t grasp is that Jesus is always with them, even when they cannot see or touch or hear Him. He has already inhabited their beings, and though they are fearful, they will soon be emboldened to carry His message far and wide. They will start a movement still with us today: the church that our Lord Jesus asked them to inaugurate. Before their own earthly deaths, they will know the promise of eternal life is theirs. It is well with their souls.

 

Composer Horatio Spafford wrote one of the church’s most beloved songs, “It Is Well With My Soul” (often called “When Peace Like a River”) in 1876. One would think he penned these beautiful words when he was praising God for his many blessings. But nothing could be further from the truth. After losing a two-year-old son in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead on the Ville de Havre steamship for a European vacation. He delayed joining them until some business could be attended to. The ship sank, with only his wife surviving. Aboard a second ship, on his way to meet his grieving wife, Stafford wrote the words to the song as he passed by the place where the ill-fated vessel had sunk. At the lowest point in his life, he proclaimed that, with God, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

 

Jesus, You know our human situation can be dire and dismal. We praise You for dwelling in our hearts and providing peace and comfort all year long. 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 over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

JOSEPH, STEP-PARENT

JOSEPHBut while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

 

Our Gospel lesson last Sunday morning was from Matthew 1, specifically about Joseph and his reaction to the news that his fiancé was suddenly, questionably with child. Joseph is conflicted: he is a kind man, not wishing to bring shame and even abuse on the young woman he thought he loved. But he believes he should—must—“dismiss her quietly” and move on with his own life. He knows this child that Mary carries is not his. He wants to believe her, but her story is just too preposterous! How would things go if another man suddenly came forth and claims the child as his? Imagine Joseph’s surprise when an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and says, “No, Joseph, you must not let Mary go! Her Child was conceived by God’s Holy Spirit, and He is coming to save the world.”

 

Some refer to Joseph as Jesus’ “foster father.” Being a step-parent myself, I must take issue with that designation. A foster parent only takes a child for a short time, presumably until a “forever family” is found for the youngster. But Joseph did, in fact, take Mary as his lawfully wedded wife, which in my book clearly makes him a step-father. I’ve never born any children, but instead, I collect other people’s kids. I married two different men who had daughters, so I became all three of their step-mothers. And I can tell you that the love and devotion I have for these three step-children, and my one adopted daughter could not be any more real if I had carried them each for nine months and brought them into this world. Joseph was signing up for the long haul, and so was I. Step-parenting is a unique relationship, but every bit as poignant as bearing natural children.

 

Jesus, You know the blessing of having Joseph choose to marry and support Your mother. Bless all non-traditional families this special season! Amen

 

Merry Christmas Mary Joseph Jesus

A LITTLE LOVE

charliebrownchristmasjpgBut the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

 

Even the producers were sure it would be a flop. They went through with it only because they had already publicized it. On December 9, 1965, CBS aired “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” in spite of just about everyone’s belief that the show could not succeed. Everyone, that is, except the American public, forty-five percent of whom watched the show that night. The program eventually won an Emmy and a Peabody, and it has been broadcast every Christmas season since. Why was the show so successful, when pitiful Charlie Brown started out depressed about Christmas? He blamed himself, telling Linus “there must be something wrong with me,” and he laments the behavior of the entire Peanuts gang. Snoopy has entered his doghouse in a Christmas decoration contest with a cash prize. Lucy wants more than “stupid toys or clothes or a bicycle” for gifts; she wants “real estate.” Sally writes to ask Santa to “make it easy on yourself, just send money.” “Christmas is a big commercial racket,” Lucy declares.

 

Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz, insisted that the film include the next scene, Linus reciting the Gospel of Luke’s Nativity Story. The producers thought the move was risky because “religion” didn’t seem to mix with cartoons. But Schultz won out. “If we don’t do it, who else can?” he said. Charlie Brown loses his melancholy but fails again trying to decorate his miserable little tree. The entire Peanuts gang has a change of heart when they see Charlie so discouraged. Linus says, “Maybe (the tree) just needs a little love.” They come together to adorn the little tree with all the ornaments they can find. Charlie’s heart is changed too, and the cartoon’s creator, Schultz, again shows that his little characters, while flawed, really aren’t so bad. They all just need a little love.

 

Precious Jesus, You came to us as an innocent Child, to see us in our flawed and sinful situations. Thank You for changing our hearts and understanding that we too just need a little love. 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 .

A PRIVILEGED PLACE

Standing on Solid RockThrough Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:3-4

 

Each year when Advent begins, I have a particular sense of awe about the coming of Christ. Our Savior is like a super-hero Who comes to avenge all evil in the world and bring healing and hope to the masses. The magnitude of what He comes to accomplish is overwhelming. It pushes aside all the pettiness of our collective yearning for the “stuff” of life, the achievements and accumulations that bind us to our own humanity. God in the world is a scary thought, even while it is comforting. So…there is hope after all. There is a reason to think that goodness prevails in this seemingly wicked world.

 

But when I think of Christ coming to redeem the world, I can’t help but think of what His coming means for me personally. Yes, me, just little old (and-getting-older) me, insignificant in the world’s view perhaps—but not in Christ’s sight. Jesus thinks I’m really something, and He wants me to know that. He looks at my meager accomplishments and says, “Well done!” He views my spiritual immaturity as great progress—after all, what other way is there to learn to live like Christ than to find our way slowly, haltingly? Like the father of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, our Lord sees us when we are “yet far off.” He runs to meet us and celebrates every accomplishment in our lives. God is the expert in working with people’s mistakes. He never grows tired of waiting for us to push our egos out of our own path and find our way back to Him.

 

As if that isn’t enough, Christ also came to tell us that our bodies—our imperfect, decaying, funky bodies—are His temple, His sacred place (1 Corinthians 3:16). He dwells in us, inhabiting our very beings if we ask Him to. And in so doing, He declares that we are sacred and precious to Him. How astonishing it is to know that my Lord calls me a privileged place for His Spirit to dwell! This Advent, remember this God Who came to dwell in your heart and mine.

 

Abiding Savior, make Your home here in my heart forever. 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 over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

JESUS DELIVERS

Jesus DeliversPeace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. John 14:27

 

Every Christmas season, retailers seek to outdo their records from the previous year. They strive for more sales, better deals, quicker delivery, and happier customers. The website holidaycommerce360.com tallies ten factors that go into retail selling in the United States from Thanksgiving weekend until New Year’s Day. The site reports that in 2018, “consumer confidence” (public trust in the economy) was the highest it has been in eighteen years. Last year’s sales growth (total dollars in sales for the year) was up fifteen percent from the previous year. Sixty percent of consumers planned to spend at least fifty percent of their shopping dollars online, and seventy-six percent planned to purchase at least one-fourth of their holiday dollars online—up seventy-three percent since last year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the top two days of shopping on Amazon Prime. Purchasing online to pick up locally and same-day delivery were important factors in people choosing to order online.

 

If you think this data is a strange way to celebrate the birth of the Son of God, you are not alone! While the Christmas spending “hype” is going on every year, Christian pastors around the nation are proclaiming the true meaning of Christmas from their pulpits. Choirs and church bands and Sunday school coordinators are practicing in preparation for special Christmas programs throughout the Advent season. Many who believe in the coming of the Son of Man at Christmas—including me—know that the season we call Advent cannot be measured by sales growth or percent of online purchasing. Jesus came to deliver the very best deal of all time: His presence here on earth, walking, talking, healing, bringing a message of peace and love. He gave the ultimate gift when He willingly went to the cross thirty-three years after His birth, to show that He indeed could conquer death and live in our hearts forever. Jesus doesn’t care if we worship Him through a televangelism program or at a physical place of worship, as long as we come and have fellowship with Him and our fellow believers.

 

Precious Jesus, how did we ever get here, where the celebration of Your birth has become so commercialized? Take us back to seeing only You in Christmas. 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 over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

ASHAMED

Greta ThunbergThe earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. Psalm 24:1

 

Greta Thunberg arrived on the climate crisis scene like a meteor crashing into the earth—the fragile earth that she is trying desperately to protect. The sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist is pleading with the adults throughout the world to do all they can to reverse the effects of human-induced climate change that multiple experts claim will begin ruining the planet before Greta herself is an adult. Speaking at the United Nations climate action summit earlier this year, an emotional Thunberg accused members of ignoring the science behind the climate crisis, saying, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth—how dare you!”

 

Some continue to call the climate crisis a “hoax.” But the science is overwhelmingly compelling.

A 2018 report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program says a 100% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 must be achieved to avoid irreversible climate disaster. Melting icecaps are causing water levels to rise across the planet. Longer and harder droughts are being experienced, as are more frequent and violent forest and brush fires. Heat waves are one of the most common causes of death from natural disasters, in spite of climate change-induced stronger hurricanes, tornadoes, snowfall, hail storms and sandstorms. My husband and I recently installed a residential solar power system on the roof of our home, a simple and obvious way individuals and businesses can combat the ruination of the planet. But “climate deniers” continue to turn a blind eye to what humans are doing to cause these problems and what we must do to turn things around before it’s too late.

 

The Bible says God will reckon with those who destroy the earth because of selfish interest and refusal to believe the situation is critical (Revelations 11). Abusing the earth to make a profit, as Greta Thunberg has charged, is not the solution. We must care for and about each other, and for the great God-given blessings the earth has bestowed upon us.

 

Lord, You have warned us that Your wrath will come for those destroying the earth (Revelations 11:18). Let us be counted as those who honor Your great gift of life and our beautiful place to live. 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 over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

 

THE BATTLE STILL RAGES

Traumatized SoldierHave I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

 

When I was a child, my family visited my mother’s brother Norvel and his wife Mabel. Norvel had been an American soldier in Germany during World War I. During trench combat, he was one of many soldiers exposed to “mustard gas,” a toxic chemical used liberally by all the “antagonistic” nations during that way, including Germany. Although the use of chemicals in warfare had been banned worldwide in 1899 and 1907, the practice killed and wounded 1.3 million allied soldiers during World War I. Besides coping with lung problems, Norvel also experienced “shell shock”—now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—from the psychological wounds of war. Aunt Mabel scolded her husband when he tried to talk to us about what happened to him. “We don’t talk about the war,” she said.

 

Fortunately for our veterans, nations throughout the world have come a long way in the understanding of and treatment for both medical and psychological combat experiences. The symptoms haven’t changed: my Uncle Norvel and many other veterans past and present carry the scars of war with them every day. It is commonly accepted today that the path to recovery from trauma is to talk about one’s feelings, sometimes—but not always—recounting the exact atrocities that occurred. How sad for my uncle and countless others past and present who have not been allowed or felt comfortable speaking about the unspeakable.

 

It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is fear that has said its prayers. The Old Testament recounts many tales of fierce battles fought by the people of God. They were never promised that the battles would be easy, but they were given Someone to turn to when the situation seemed unbearable. As long as flawed human beings live at odds with each other in this world, there will be conflict. But God promises to be with us through any battles we face. He will uphold us with His righteous hand. The victory belongs to the Lord.

 

Heavenly Father, on this and all Veteran’s Day, stir us to give thanks for the brave men and women who fight to preserve freedom and justice in this world. 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 over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

COMING HOME

Oakdale Sanitorium

by Betty Brandt Passick, Guest Writer

Photo: Oakdale, Iowa Sanitorium in the 1900s, www.asylumprojects.org

 

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 KJV

 

A portion of Emma Bierkoff’s letter to her rural family in Iowa after undergoing treatment for tuberculosis at Oakdale Sanitorium, from the chapter “Even the Sparrows,” Gangster in our Midst (2017), Betty Brandt Passick, bettybrandtpassick.com:

 

“I am writing with such wonderful news—I am coming home! Though plans have yet to be finalized. I will write again in a few days to let you know when you should arrive at the sanatorium to collect me. Isn’t it all so wonderful? I am well—finally well enough to come home! Several month ago, when I desperately wondered if this day would ever arrive, I got on my knees and prayed, prayed more fervently than any time before in my life, and I asked God for a sign—a sign that confirmed He was real; that He knew I existed; and that He was hearing my pleas to rejoin you and be back in my home caring for you in the way I have done in the past. I reminded God of His promise in Matthew 10:29-31. I asked God to give me proof that He heard my prayers: I didn’t need beautiful doves—just send me lowly sparrows, I pleaded. Then feeling bolder, I asked Him to send me a whole flock! Almost before the last words had pass from my lips, outside the window next to my bed, a single sparrow soon appeared, landing on the sill, and turned its head to seemingly stare into my eyes. I did not write of this before because I feared what I had experiences might have been a delusion. I waited to see if the promise would come to fruition—and just yesterday, Dr. Sparrow pronounced me well enough to return home. So it is true, once and for all: God is real, my beloveds! God hears our prayers! We are not alone! And—isn’t it strange that my doctor is Dr. Sparrow?”

 

Creator God, life can so overwhelm us that we can become unsure of the path before us; even of Your very existence. In those moments, we call out for proof that You hear us in our darkest hours. I can confirm that when I cried out to You from the depths of my sorrow, You not only heard me…but answered. Amen

 

Contact Betty Passack and find out more about her books at bbpassakauthor@comcast.net