EATING DIRT

Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey Your word. You are good, and what You do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:67-68

Humility is a good thing, but sometimes it’s hard. In fact, the word “humility” comes from the Latin word for “ground.” Being humble can often mean “being brought back down to earth.” Humility is a trait that every Christian should be willing to work towards, and we must do it in a way that honors God. We must know in our heart that we are not perfect, and we do get it wrong sometimes. It hurts when we finally realize we needed humility by looking in that rear view mirror!

Paul’s letter to the Philippians tells us to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Paul describes Christ this way: “though He was in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (vs. 6-7). So any time we begin to think we’ve got life completely handled…well, think again! Jesus Himself knew humility.

Proverbs 22:4 states that “The reward for humility and fear (or awe) of the Lord is riches and honor in life.” But being humble is not a “get rich quick scheme.” What God counts as riches may not be measured in monetary wealth! Here, “riches” are paired with “honor,” which is a good indication that the meaning here is abundance of God’s blessings, not winning the house in Las Vegas. Another clue comes from Colossians 3:12: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” Things coupled with humility are looking a lot like the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

When I was younger, I was a percussionist in a traveling road show that played some decent venues in Nevada, California, and other western states. The circuit was a plethora of egos and lofty aspirations. But the average of all professional musicians’ earnings is less than $50,000 annually, and 90% of all artists never get “discovered” or “make it big.” Just a short life lesson: humility will keep you…, well humble.

Lord, help us stay humble so that You may exalt us! Amen

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, and a second edition of Saints With Slingshots. 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 .

BEAUTIFUL FEET

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

Every time I read this passage from Isaiah, I think about my poor, sore, ugly feet! I’ve been flat footed all my life. A podiatrist once took one look at my feet and said, “Yowzer,” which I’m pretty sure is not a medical term. As I have aged, I’ve developed both arthritis and neuropathy in both feet, causing my toes to become crooked and surprising me with sharp, shooting pains in the middle of the night. The condition has been so painful at times, I’ve cut strips of over-the-counter Lidocaine-infused pain pads and taped them to my feet so I could (sort of) sleep. A neurologist got involved and tried several medications, increasing the dosage when I indicated they weren’t helping. Once, my body must have reached critical mass and I had a horrible reaction, with extreme anxiety, dizziness, blurred vision and uncontrollable crying. I called the doctor and she talked me off the ledge. Well, actually, she estimated how long the reaction might take to abate and then left me on my own on the ledge. Anyone who has experienced foot neuropathy knows it is no picnic.

I realize that Isaiah’s reference to “beautiful feet” carrying God’s message of love, peace and salvation is a metaphorical one. I have a dear neighbor who works tirelessly, delivering free food to homeless encampments throughout the Twin Cities and working at several shelters. I could never keep up with her. But I “deliver” God’s message in my writing, my speaking engagements, and in planning committees at our church. I have also played percussion (sitting down, thankfully) for our church’s contemporary worship band for many years. So it’s not necessary that I have “beautiful feet” that carry me far and wide to do God’s work. The Lord calls on each of us to share our individual gifts, whatever those gifts may be. If we become unable to share certain gifts, God will show us new ways to serve Him. And when we finally can do no more, He tells us to rest and reflect.

Jesus, we pray that we can “with one mind and one voice…glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6). Amen

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, and a second edition of Saints With Slingshots. 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 .

THINK YOU KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS?

Jesus said to them, “(T)o sit at My right or left is not for Me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Mark 10:39-40

Those of us who work to end sexual trauma may feel we have an intrinsic understanding of both victim/survivor and predator. This theory was proven false quickly when I spoke to two hundred and fifty convicted sex offenders at the Minnesota Prison-Based Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) during Victim Impact Week a few years ago. Having survived a sexual assault at gunpoint myself, I believed I was more than qualified to know all about these offenders. I was told all of the program participants are male, and each had admitted he had done wrong and had pledged to help end sexual violence upon release. Not every participant of the two-year program “graduates” and gets released on their first try. I had spoken to many groups about how I turned to God for healing following the assault, and I thought I was ready to share my miracle story of God saving me from certain death with this group. I could not have been more naïve!

As I heard the heavy metal prison gates close behind me, I quickly learned that I knew very little about this population. I was facing a very diverse group of men: young and old, from many ethnic groups and backgrounds, all dressed in prison garb but mostly just looking like ordinary guys. Correctional psychologists explained that these men were motivated to perpetrate for many reasons, but the understanding of the causes and origins of sexually abusive behavior still remain elusive. My message was the same as always: how life-altering the experience had been of first being sexually violated, and then being revictimized by a broken system of response. But I was humbled by my inaccurate expectations of my audience.

In Mark 10, James and John asked Jesus to let them sit at His right and left hand in heaven, not realizing the magnitude of what they asked (vs. 35-39). As their friend, they believed Jesus would be just fine granting their request. But they didn’t know what they were asking. Jesus made it clear to them, and later to the other disciples who were annoyed at James and John’s hubris, that places of honor before God were set aside “for those for whom they have been prepared” (v. 40).

We as crusaders in the quest to end sexual violence must be clear-eyed and realistic about the complex nature of the work we do. Just as James and John overestimated their ability to know Jesus, we must be open to learning as much about sexual predators as we may know about victim/survivors.

God of Justice, help us broaden our understanding of who sexual predators are so we are able to help victim/survivors in more meaningful ways. Amen

LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go.’” Exodus 5:1

CNN recently reported, “‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ is known as the Black National Anthem, but it is more than that. It’s a history lesson, a rallying cry, a pledge of unity, and as people gather to fight for equality and justice, it is an ever-present refrain.” The song was written in 1899 by Black brothers, James and John Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, who worked in the early pursuit of civil rights. James was the principal of a segregated school, debuting the song sung by 500 children at a Black history event.

Following the Civil War, slaves were legally freed in 1865. But the Blacks’ “freedom” was replaced with oppressive state laws during the “Jim Crow” period of segregation, unlawful arrests, violence, and lynching. The lyrics of the song speak to the entire spectrum of Black suffering, but also of hope and peace. The work is “full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” yet “full of the hope that the present has brought us.” I marvel at how the Black people’s faith in God has survived ever-continuing setbacks in their quest for equality, and how their hopes are not dashed by racism, not just in the United States, but across the globe. I would challenge any White person to take the place of one Black and do as well.

The last stanza goes on to acknowledge that God has “brought (the people) thus far on the way,” and asks that God not let them become “drunk with the wine of the world” and forget Him. The song ends with the words, “True to our God, true to our native land.” Would that each Christian, most of all me, would endeavor not to be swayed by this earthly life and hold dear the faith expressed in this beautiful hymn!

Recently, the National Football League featured Alicia Keys singing “Lift Every Voice” before its season opening games, prompted by police brutality and racial justice protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others. The performance exposed millions of Americans to a moving and inspiring song for our times.

Abiding Lord, lift up all people of color and end racial injustice in our world! Amenhttps://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/09/us/lift-every-voice-and-sing-

THE HOPE OF ADVENT

SORRY FOR THE DELAY THIS WEEK! I POSTED THE BLOG A DAY LATE!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

As we approach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in this year of years, I choose to find hope in the coming of Christ. The earth has suffered a great plaque in the last several months, and while the arrival of the vaccine is hopeful, we are still in the dark winter of this pandemic. We will not see anything resembling our “former normal” for at least several months if not a couple of years.

But we stand in this darkness as a Light is dawning, the Light of the Son of God, born of a virgin on Christmas. His birth is symbolic, yes, to Christians around the globe. But He is more than a symbol. I can attest to the transforming power of Christ in my life, and I believe He can exhibit that much power in the life of anyone who calls on Him to do so. As the saying goes, if you are looking for God, you have already found Him.

Yes, I am sad this year. I will miss playing my drums and singing at our live, in person Christmas Eve services this year. My husband and I have been a part of the music for years, and it will be strange to watch a live-streamed service instead of the “real thing.” But I know that the “real thing” is still there, in my heart, and in the hearts of all who believe that Jesus Christ was born of a woman and lived among humans in order to become a sacrifice for the sins of all of us. It doesn’t matter where or how we celebrate this year. We still need to celebrate.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer compared Advent to a prison cell “in which one waits and hopes and does various unessential things . . . but is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside.” Let Christ open the door and come in. He is here now. He will be here always. Hallelujah!

Come Lord Jesus, my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations (Luke 2:30). Amen

JUST RELEASED! Saints With Slingshots 2: MORE Daily Devotions For The Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s new book compiled of these blogs. Available on her website, http://www.MegCorrigan.com or at Amazon.com link below:

WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE!

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And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

 

At age forty, I was working two jobs, raising two daughters who both had their challenges, and navigating a bad marriage that I eventually escaped. I was exhausted; my very bones ached. I was aware that I wasn’t doing anything well, but I was powerless to improve my performance in any aspect of my life. I had accepted Christ several years earlier, and I prayed to Him daily—every minute some days. But nothing seemed to quell the burgeoning fear that I was losing control of life.

 

One day, I recalled a book called The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, which I read the same year I “became” a Christian. Corrie’s Christian family lived in Amsterdam, Holland when the Nazis invaded their city. Corrie’s father was a watchmaker, and the family hid several Jews in a secret room—“the hiding place”—in their home above the shop. Eventually, they were found out, and the whole ten Boom family went to a concentration camp. Corrie was the only one who survived. As I read the book, I wondered if I would have the faith and courage and strength to survive the Nazi brutality, as Corrie did. That story became my rallying cry, through all my struggles: “If Corrie could do that, I can do this.”

 

Today, we find ourselves faced with another insidious enemy: the Coronavirus pandemic. While “sheltering in place,” I’ve thought many times about my old mantra: “If Corrie could do that, I can do this.” I can survive this uncertainty, this nibbling fear, this confusion over what is being said on TV and in the news. I can revel in the peace and quiet this “better at home” edict has provided—the peace and quiet that I longed for when I was active and productive. Corrie spent many hours in meditation and prayer—praying for the very guards who held her families’ lives in their hands. Her sister Betsy insisted they thank God for the fleas that were rampant in the camp; the guards avoided the prisoners because of those fleas! Corrie found blessings where there seemed to be none. I can do the same.

 

God of All Circumstance, bolster our faith to see Your blessings right in front of us. 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 .

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY

Through a Glass DarklyFor now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

One of my very best friends has survived cancer twice in the past two years. She has survived a heart attack and a stroke, both events happening while in the hospital after yet another surgery. Then, about two weeks ago, she woke up to discover her husband, who had apparently been in good health, died in his sleep.

My question to God is, “Why her? Why now? Is this part of some huge divine plan?” and “Why not me?” I have no answers. Am I to trust and not feel any emotion in the face of this injustice? Is this just the way of nature and not some lesson in sanctity?

Then, two weeks ago on a Friday, I read these words by Abraham Joshua Heschel: “In Jewish tradition, dying in one’s sleep is called a kiss of God, and dying on the Sabbath is a gift that is merited by piety. For the pious person, my father once wrote, it is a privilege to die.”

Again, how do I comfort my friend? Do I simply sit with her and say nothing?

I am brought to the Book of Job: “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3).

An upright man who lost absolutely everything, and I mean everything, yet he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).

God knew we would hurt and struggle greatly in this life, some more than others. Jesus, His only Son died on a cross, misunderstood, even hated for the message of salvation that He brought. We can look to Him and will find that anything we suffer, He has also suffered. We will find peace and comfort in Him, no matter how great our pain.

Lord, only You know me, the real me—Your fickle, sometimes angry, ever questioning servant. Thank You for Your patience. Comfort my friend in her grief, and stay with us. Help our unbelief. Help us grow in wisdom, grace, faith and love. Amen

 

Midwife-turned-author, Stephanie Sorensen seems to swim seamlessly through cultures, religions, superstitions, raw fear and ecstasy to the first breath of a new baby. She invites her readers to join her, taking us on a tour to the innermost workings of another world in her first book, Ma Doula: A Story Tour of Birth. She lives among one of the most diverse populations on earth and has given birth to a book that takes us on a bizarre journey, giving us a rare, intimate glimpse into her daily life. With graphic prose we enter with her into the Land of Birth. Midwife, mother, grandmother, doula, world traveler and author, Sorensen lives and breathes birth. She has five children scattered around the world, grandchildren, and over a thousand babies she calls her own, even when she cannot pronounce their names correctly. After writing three books about birth, she has begun the next phase of her writing career: A memoir about death. Stay tuned.

Email: ssskimchee@gmail.com   Blog: www.callthedoula.blogspot.com

THE FOURTH ESTATE

Five Dead at Annapolis GazetteThen Jesus said to (them) who had believed in him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32

 

I do not want to write about ugly things. I want to write about the love of God and the peace of Christ. But we keep getting bombarded with tragedy, and as practicing Christians, it’s important to examine our secular perspective. Last week, a man entered the offices of the Annapolis, Maryland, Gazette newspaper with a shotgun and smoke grenades and killed five employees. He intended to kill many more but was stopped by law enforcement. They said the man once unsuccessfully sued the paper and must have somehow felt his attack was justified. And then, the same rhetoric began again: the nation’s “leader” said he stood in solidarity with the Gazette and would stop at nothing to ensure our nation’s safety; the debate began again about the Second Amendment and whether the problem was guns or mental health or both or neither; the period of “watchful news reading” began, but can be expected to fade with very little time, just as it has each time our nation has faced gun violence.

 

But this time the debate is really about the value some place on the First Amendment and others place on the Second Amendment. The Washington Post has coined a “new” slogan within the last two years: “Democracy Dies In Darkness.” Some of that “darkness” was on vivid display at the Annapolis Gazette, when five innocent people, just doing their job on an ordinary day, fell prey to the madness that has become The Gun Safety Debate. More darkness: our nation’s “leader” has called the press “the enemy of the people.”

 

In British government, the “three estates” were the king, the clergy and the commoners. The United States was founded to separate church and state, and the term “fourth estate” is sometimes used to place the press alongside the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” Christians are to be peacemakers. Their role in gun safety matters.

 

Come, Lord Jesus, give us tools and passion to bring about peace. 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 .

PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR

book-signing-300x200So is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

 

As an author, one of the most rewarding times in my life is when people ask me to personalize a book they have purchased from me. I write books about my life in Christ and the tragedies that brought me to the cross. I am honored that people want to read my books, and I never take a personal encounter with a reader lightly. Writing is a way I can reach others with the story of God’s grace and mercy through the saving work of His Son Jesus. Many people I meet are excited to make contact with an author who writes about the human condition and the hope we have in Christ. I can’t meet all my readers, but it is a pleasure for both author and reader to connect in person.

 

The Bible is the only book every written where the Author shows up in person every time the manuscript is read. I often think my Bible should be smoking because of the power held within. I have read the Word when I was so low, I didn’t believe there was any chance I’d ever look up again. And I’ve studied many passages while in a state of profound gratitude and adoration for my God and King. Some passages are clearer to me than others, but I keep on studying those words, every day, day after day. The prophet Isaiah heard God say to him, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s message to the prophet continued by saying that His Word—the Bible—would “not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Each time a person—even one who is not sure of her faith—reads the Scriptures, God is at work through the Word and the Spirit to effect change in that very individual’s mind and heart. Pick up the Bible today and see how it can move you.

 

Keeper of the Sacred Word, stir our hearts to see and hear and know You in the Scriptures. Amen

HOLY FIRE

PentecostAnd…He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:22-23

 

Yesterday our congregation celebrated Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the twelve disciples and, later upon other followers of Jesus, as described in the second chapter of the book of Acts. Many Christians believe this event represents the birth of the Church. I believe Pentecost demonstrates the importance of patience!

 

After all the hoopla of Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, the disciples were understandably a little shell-shocked and ready for a little rest and relaxation. But their Friend Jesus had just challenged them to change the world, so there was no time for hanging around. Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit on them first (John 20:22-23), leaving them to do the rest of the work. Acts 2:2-4 describes a mass infusion of the same Holy Spirit like this: “…they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house….They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The original disciples must have stood in total awe that Jesus could make all of this happen when He was no longer even there in the flesh!

 

Fast forward to our little suburban church in Minnesota, where we gathered yesterday morning, many of us clad in red to commemorate the Holy Fire bringing down the Spirit. We sang, “Holy Spirit, come to us,” while the pastor and our music leader sang, “Come from the four winds…renew and strengthen your people….Kindle the flame in the darkness.” For over two thousand years, Christian churches throughout the world have celebrated this pouring out of God’s Spirit, which emboldens us to love, to serve and to work for peace among all people. Patience is needed to wait for God to accomplish all He said He would. Not all will come to believe, but for those who do, God promises the flame that will never be extinguished.

 

Come, Holy Spirit! Put fire in our bones and love in our hearts! Amen