ETERNAL IMPLICATIONS

EternityFor salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…live honorably…,not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:11-14

 

It was a terrible week. We had just buried my father in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had flown back to Minnesota with my mother, placing her in an assisted living facility in spite of her pleading me to let her come and live with me and my new husband. I would not last a week with my mother, an eighty-nine year-old chronic alcoholic, living under the same roof as us. But I promised my father I would look after her, and I was doing the best I could. I was being laid off from the college where I worked, and I wasn’t sure I would have another job to go to at the end of the school year. With no time off left, I was trying to liquidate my parents’ home and belongings in Las Vegas via phone and email. A nursing assistant who had cared for my father asked to buy two recliners, but requested I hold the check until the first of the month. In the midst of all this chaos, the check fell out of my purse at a drugstore while I was filling my new prescription for anti-anxiety medication.

 

The pharmacist found the check and called the nursing assistant in Las Vegas. She called me and came unglued. She berated me first for losing the check, then for not being with my father when he died, then for “uprooting” my mother and dragging her to Minnesota in the middle of the winter. For what seemed like a very long time, I listened to her abuse and prayed for serenity. God delivered in spades. I took a deep breath and told her to keep the recliners, no payment was necessary. I thanked her for taking care of my parents when I could not. I am not always so gracious, but with God’s help, I made the best of an awful situation.

 

Jesus, Lord of Peace, help us see the eternal implications of our actions. Keep us in perfect peace. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Hear 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 is a member of the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) Speakers’ Bureau. 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 .

NAMASTE IN BED

“You shall therefore lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” Deuteronomy 11:18

My massage therapist Mary also teaches “Soma Yoga,” which is “slow, gentle exercises that re-educate the nervous system and allow the release of tight, restricted muscles, thereby promoting healing” (yogapedia.com). During the pandemic lockdown, Mary recorded herself giving several soma yoga lessons and provided them to her clients online for free. On one video, I saw her performing both standing moves and some lying on a mat. Since I can no longer get down on the floor and back up again without a forklift involved, I needed to adapt the exercises. Thus, I turned off my computer and ate several chocolate chip cookies. The next time I talked to Mary, she said, “Lie down on your bed with your laptop and do the session there.” But her recorded voice was so soothing that I ended up taking a ninety-minute nap. By now I was beginning to doubt my commitment to soma yoga, as well as my efforts to stop gaining weight during the lockdown. I could easily blame it all on the pandemic, along with my inability to balance my checkbook, my failure to write consistently in spite of a looming literary deadline,  and my desire to binge watch Star Trek reruns with my Treckie husband.

One thing I did not let slide during the lockdown was the maintenance of my spiritual “fitness.” I continued to read my daily devotions, recording my reflections on how the Scripture passages impacted my life. I collected ideas for these devotions which I later compiled into usable 400-word iterations. And I participated in our church’s prayer chain, praying for congregation members, the community, our nation and the world at large. There was and continues to be much to pray for. Moses recounted to the Israelites Yahweh’s orders for them to wear His Word as a sign on their hands and between their eyes (Deuteronomy 11:18). “Phylacteries” were small vessels containing Scripture, forerunners of spiritual practices we keep today. Keeping “fit” in the Spirit helps me live for Christ, and I might just try that soma yoga soon too!

Lord, we thank You for Your Word which keeps us spiritually fit. Amen

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

Conspiracy TheoriesHis divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

 

The Denver International Airport is a hub for the lizard people who run the government and much of the world. The gateway to hell is either under the Denver International Airport or along the French/Swiss border. The earth is hollow and there might be a whole other civilization of advanced beings living there. Osama bin Laden once worked for the CIA. These are a few of the more spectacular “conspiracy theories” I found posted on the internet. “Conspiracy theories” twist facts and are based on the idea that things aren’t as they seem. They are not based on flimsy or contested evidence; they are based on no evidence. A theory about a conspiracy is not the same: the final report on the 9/11 attacks showed much evidence that terrorists planned and carried out the attacks. A conspiracy theory might say, without proof, that the FBI and the CIA actually orchestrated those attacks.

 

In an article on newstatesman.com, conspiracy theories are reported to be “first and foremost forms of political propaganda…designed to denigrate specific individuals or groups or advance a political agenda.” Just because a person or many people believe a conspiracy theory does not mean the theory is true. The article goes on to say these theories are dangerous because they “promote a political agenda…by marketing seductive explanations of major events that are unlikely to be true but are likely to influence public opinion in a preferred direction.” With the advent of the internet, these unproven theories are shared and grown with alarming speed.

 

Those of us who believe that the Bible is God’s Living Word also believe the Good Book is full of truth. That is not to say the books, chapters, and verses cannot be interpreted many ways, and can in fact be used to try to “prove” many false narratives and devious agendas. But for those who seek to follow Christ and know the will of God, the Bible is still the best source we have for learning how to live a sensible and productive life. 2 Peter 1:3 states it clearly: God’s power has given us everything needed for life and godliness.”

 

God of Truth, guide us in all that is right and good. 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 .

GREATER THAN OUR PAIN

Elijah Cummings 1951-2019I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

 

We lost a beloved leader last month. United States Congressman from Maryland Elijah Cummings, a sharecropper’s son and civil rights champion, died on October 17, 2019 at the age of sixty-eight. Cummings’ booming bass voice was a beacon for the poor in his black-majority district of Baltimore. Amid partisan politics, Cummings challenged his fellow legislators to “stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior.” He believed deeply in our nation’s democratic government, which George Washington called “the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

 

Those who knew Cummings understood that he endured much physical pain. In 2017, Cummings underwent a minimally invasive heart procedure, which led to an infection that kept him in the hospital longer than expected. He was later hospitalized for a knee infection. During his last days in Washington, he moved with obvious difficulty, using a cane and a walker. Following his death, his body was brought to the Capitol rotunda for public respects to be paid. Many prominent dignitaries, including two presidents, spoke at Cummings memorial service. But to me, the one who best described Cummings was his own congressional aide, Harry Spikes. Traveling together, Spikes and his mentor-boss spent many hours talking and sharing their perspectives. Spikes reported that Cummings never seemed to experience pain when he was speaking publicly about his passion for our democracy, human rights and the marginalized in our society. He told Spikes: “Remember to be greater than your pain.” At one of his last speaking opportunities, the topic was religion and racism. The crowd stood when he entered the room. Humbled, Cummings said, “I am going to stand up for you until I die.” He kept that promise.

 

Cummings had a profound faith in God and in our democracy. We can look to the words of the Apostle Paul to inspire us to follow the congressman. Like Cummings, Paul spoke of a future bright with promise in Jesus Christ. In Romans 8, Paul says, “those who live according to the Spirit (of Christ) set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” This is the key to life and peace.

 

Father God, we thank You for “the great cloud of witnesses” like Elijah Cummings who have gone before us. 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 .

THE JELLINEK CURVE

JellinekCurve860x655No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but…He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Dr. E.M. Jellinek studied alcoholism, addiction and mental health continuously from the 1930’suntil his death in 1963. Thanks to Jellinek’s acute interest in the personal drinking histories of many subjects, the doctor sought to educate the public about the gradual descent into oblivion that chronic alcoholics experience. His “Jellinek Curve” illustrates these deteriorating alcoholic behaviors, as well as the corresponding healthy behaviors when an alcoholic chooses sobriety. It is no coincidence that the “Curve” shows a beginning, a descent into the bottom of the curve, and a not-so-easy climb back out of the depths of addiction.

 

Chronic addictive behaviors, including alcohol and drug addiction as well as gambling, overeating, spending, sexual deviances, and many other obsessions, are indeed diseases (a condition that prevents the mind and body from working normally), and they are progressive (becoming increasingly worse without intervention to stop the process). But one hallmark of these compulsions is that recovery begins with a conscious choice to change. When I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, I am always struck by my own shortcomings. The passage brings me up short when I realize that I can, with God’s help, resist any and all temptations that befall me. I am not chemically dependent, but I have loved and lived with and lost more alcoholics than I care to remember. And I know it is not so easy for them to accept God’s help to end the cycle of addiction.

 

Does 1 Corinthians 10:13 apply to addictions? Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. said men and women who abuse substances “have not only been mentally and physically ill, (they) have been spiritually sick.” Many of the most successful addiction treatment programs include faith and spirituality. Clearly, an addicted person needs a profound change of thinking about herself to achieve sobriety, and one time-honored path to positive self-awareness is faith in God. As with any major life transition, support from friends, family, and society—including our faith communities—can improve the journey away from addiction.

 

Healing Lord, touch those with addictions where they need Your help. Restore them to wholeness. 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 .

CAREFULLY TAUGHT

Carefully TaughtThere is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

 

“How would you distill your thoughts, experiences or observations about race into one sentence (of) six words?” This is the challenge given by former National Public Radio host Michele Norris with The Race Card Project. People are encouraged to condense their observations and experiences about race into one sentence with just Six Words. Since it began in 2010, the Project has received tens of thousands of Six Word stories from throughout the world. One entry was: “You’ve got to be carefully taught,” which has special meaning for me.

 

Those six words are the title of a song from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” a popular Broadway musical and movie in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. This production told of cross-cultural love affairs in the South Pacific during World War II. Two threads of my life intertwined to make me acutely aware of the lyrics of the song: one, my forward-thinking high school music director chose “South Pacific” as a school production my senior year, 1964. And two, I was simultaneously being raised by racially prejudiced parents. While my part in the musical was only a small one, the impact the story line had on me was profound.

 

In one of two uncomfortable relationships in the musical, Caucasian actor John Kerr sang the song to his Asian lover, played by France Nuyen. In an attempt to explain to her how their respective races cast a dark shadow on their relationship, Kerr sings, “You’ve got to be carefully taught/to hate and fear/you’ve got to be taught/from year to year/it’s got be drummed in your dear little ear/you’ve got to be carefully taught.” The portrayal of this risky relationship raised eyebrows and hackles at the time. Parents of my classmates—and my own parents—thought the characters were too controversial for impressionable teenagers to portray. The music director persevered and the show went on.

 

Today, there is a resurgence of hatred of “the other” rising in the world. Jesus never intended for us “to be carefully taught” to hate people of other races. Our Lord mandates us to love others as He loves each of us.

 

Jesus, carefully teach us tolerance and unconditional love for all humankind. Amen

DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT

Dunning Kruger Effect.jpgPraise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

 

According to verywellmind.com, Dunning-Kruger Effect is “a cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are.” Because they don’t know what they don’t know, these people often believe they are smarter than they are. We all know someone like this: the uncle who believes he is extremely knowledgeable about computer technology even though his five-year-old daughter can run circles around him on a Smartphone. The entrepreneur who truly believes she has the inside track with the stock market but continually fails at business ventures. The student who blows off test after test but blames the professor for grading the student’s work incorrectly.

 

A common phrase used in the past to describe such folks is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” When psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger coined the phrase in 1991, their simple premise was that “people are unreliable resources for evaluating their own skills and shortcomings” (blog/hubspot.com). Just about everybody exhibits a few Dunning-Kruger traits; we all want to believe we are savvy about subjects that are familiar to us. But it is when individuals separate themselves from the concept of self-improvement and personal discovery—when life revolves only around one’s ability to prove competence at all costs—dysfunction is not far away!

 

Enter the transforming power of Christ! Our living Lord gives us permission to just be ourselves. Christ tells us over and over in Scripture that He loves us unconditionally; even when we repeatedly demonstrate that we are not perfect, He still loves us just the same. The entire text of Psalm 106 is about God’s redeeming, forgiving, transforming love in any and all circumstances. Verse 6 says, “Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.” And verse 8 answers: “Yet He saved (us) for His name’s sake, so that He might make known His mighty power.” Yes, God gives each person the ability to use our gifts and talents in small and large ways, and He rejoices when we live for Him. But He doesn’t base His opinion of us on whether we know all there is to know about anything. He just loves us!

 

Lord, let me be confident in Your constant loving care! Amen

SADNESS

SadnessBe gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. Psalm 31:9

 

I am incredibly sad. As I write this, the Covid-19 cases and deaths are on the rise again, after many states in the US opened up many public venues against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control. As I embraced my sadness, I began to think how much worse the situation is for others in our nation—and in the world—than it is for my husband and me. We are retired, and although we are at higher risk to contract the Coronavirus because of our age and some underlying health conditions, we do not have to leave our home to do much of anything. We can order groceries from home and stay away from public gatherings, plus we have sufficient retirement income so we do not need to work at this point in our lives. We are truly blessed. Others are not so fortunate: they may be forced to work as an “essential employee” and they have many more worries and responsibilities than we do. So…if I’m sad, I cannot imagine the anguish some others are experiencing now. Add to that the current racial unrest following the murders of a number of innocent Black citizens at the hands of police, and we have a powder keg of sorrow, fear and anxiety on top of the pandemic.

 

As I thought about all these people and what they are going through, I was reminded of a favorite Christian song of mine, “Held” written by Christa Wells and first recorded by Natalie Grant. The lyrics relate unspeakable tragedy in the lives of those who have suffered greatly. The chorus reminds us that God is always there and that His promise is to hold us in our darkest hour. The moving words of the song continue: “This is what it means to be held/How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life/And you survive.” For those of us enduring the triple catastrophe of the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the deep-seated racist issues facing our nation, we can know that our God cares and is holding us up when we don’t believe we have the energy to stand.

 

Great God of Compassion, hold us when we are too weak to go on. Amen

 

To listen to the song, “Held” performed by Natalie Grant, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJhsexd8Qqg

PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS

St. Teresa of AvilaBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

 

Am I a priestess? It’s hard to imagine that of myself, but that is what the Bible tells us in 1 Peter. We are to be “like living stones, let (ourselves) be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (v. 5). Hebrews 4:16 says we are to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help (others and ourselves) in time of need.” The people of ancient Israel were God’s special “chosen people” (Deuteronomy 7:6). But through Christ, all believers are now “God’s own people.” He has given us the authority to appeal directly to Him with all the privileges of a priest. We no longer need a human religious leader to intervene for us; because of Christ’s saving work, we can ask God for what we need openly.

 

“Sainthood” might be the closest thing to “royal priesthood” that we have in our modern world. Although I am not a member of the Catholic church, I am often comforted by learning about women who have been named saints. The Catholic church’s process to determine sainthood requires extensive documentation that the person has performed at least two miracles in her lifetime. I believe in miracles, and I believe that those who live exemplary earthly lives dedicated to service to God are miracles within themselves. Reading about their lives gives me hope in both humankind and God. I am encouraged that certain human beings have found favor with God and humankind. Perhaps there is hope for me in the small things I try to do and say (“spiritual sacrifices”) to encourage others. I do this not just to “be polite,” but to fulfill God’s purpose for me. While I may never be anointed with sainthood, I can recall the words of 1 Peter 2:9 and know that I am valued in God’s sight as one of His “priesthood of believers.”

 

Father of Light, we proclaim Your mighty acts because You created us to do so. We belong to You forever. 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 .

TONGUES OF FIRE

George Floyd ProtestsThey saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of (the disciples). All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them….”How is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” Acts 2:3-4, 8

 

It was a perfectly awful storm: a deadly pandemic, an economy in freefall, and suddenly a racial crises…again. The year 2020 had devastated the very soul of America with fear, pain and anguish culminating in the death of yet another black man at the hands of police in my neighbor town of Minneapolis, Minnesota. George Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill at a small inner-city grocery store, and the police were called. Three officers pinned Floyd to the ground, one—Derek Chauvin—pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck. A fourth officer looked on. As passers-by begged the police to let him loose, Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe!” until he lost consciousness and died. He had not been charged with a crime and most likely would not have seen a jail cell for his alleged infraction. His death sparked peaceful protests throughout our nation, once again, about racial injustice and police brutality. Other protesters with a very different agenda launched attempts to disrupt, divide, and burn Minneapolis and other cities to the ground. Hatred grew where grief and sadness had been. Hatred tasted good to some, as they rolled it around on their tongues, spewing lies and inciting violence.

 

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, when Christian churches celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the fledgling church that Christ began. Acts 2 recounts how “tongues of fire…separated and came to rest on each one of” the disciples (v. 2). These new leaders were all Galileans, but diverse visitors in Jerusalem heard the message of Christ’s love and grace in their native language, drawing them to a new level of faith.

 

Could this be the turning point in our nation, when blacks and browns will be heard as if we are all speaking the same language? Can we finally say to people of color, “We hear you, we understand what you have been through, and we want change as much as you do?”

 

Let it be, Lord. Let it be. Make a covenant today between all races to end prejudice and hatred. Amen

 

To help out in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, see the following organizations:

  • Black Visions Collective — “A political home for black people across Minnesota.” This nonprofit is dedicated to creating safe, autonomous black communities. Donate here.
  • Reclaim the Block — A coalition that demands that Minneapolis divest from policing and invest in long-term alternatives that promote healthier, safer, and more diverse communities. Donate Here
  • Minnesota Freedom Fund — This nonprofit “pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to” as they “seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.” Donate here.