Good News!

Can you remember a time when you had good news to share? What did you do? When I found out I was accepted into college, I ran next door to tell my best friend. When I discovered I was pregnant, I immediately called my parents and my in-laws. When I was appointed to my current church, I called both daughters to share the happy news.

When you have good news, you move heaven and earth to share it with the ones you love. You just can’t wait! It burns in your heart until you get to that person to share it.

In our passage today, Paul is discussing the good news of Christ’s salvation for all. This wasn’t just good news, it was strange news. Imagine the Jews and Gentiles in the crowd, hearing for the first time that there is a faith that is open to all and a way of salvation that doesn’t care who you are. You don’t have to be born into it. You don’t have to prove your lineage, complete a check-list of good deeds, or jump through hoops.

You just have to ask.

Romans 10 (Contemporary English Version)

11 The Scriptures say that no one who has faith will be disappointed, 12 no matter if that person is a Jew or a Gentile. There is only one Lord, and he is generous to everyone who asks for his help. 13 All who call out to the Lord will be saved.

All who call on the Lord will be saved. This was a concept that radically changed the world. This opened heaven up to all people of all nations and all generations. There is only ONE Lord. Everyone gets to come in.

But wait…there’s a catch.

14 How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? 15 And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord?

YOU are the catch. In this wonderful offering of eternal life for all, there has to be something that prepares the way, and that is you. How can people hear if nobody tells them? How can they know about Jesus if nobody explains to them the wonderful good news of the resurrection? And how can you tell without being sent?

Jesus’ invitation to all of us today is to go and tell. Under the authority of the Holy Spirit, we are all being sent with a loving word of kindness into the world that needs to know about Jesus. We are offered an opportunity to share the best news someone will ever hear.

Who do you know that needs to hear this good news? Who is struggling for lack of hope and peace? Where is God nudging you to have that conversation with someone you care about?

The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news.

How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives
so that others may live.
How beautiful is the body of Christ.

How beautiful the feet that bring
the sound of good news
and the love of the King.
How beautiful is the body of Christ. (How Beautiful by Anne Wilson)

Go, and be beautiful to someone today. May it burn in your heart until you tell it.

How Beautiful!

I’m So Mad I Could…

Let’s play a fun “finish-the-sentence” game! Finish this with your favorite response: I’m so mad I could….

Spit Nails.

Punch someone in the throat.


Snatch you bald. (OK, that’s a southern one…)

I began a five-mile run with my partner yesterday with one or more of these sentences. My aggravation was a familiar one. I had been without internet for five days after spending the entire first day getting no satisfaction from the 1-800-WEDON’TCARE internet provider.

I finally got an appointment five days later and when they showed up, the problem was just as I had predicted. The surveyors who surveyed the lot next door had driven a spike through my line. Which I knew and had tried to explain to the agent I spoke to after an HOUR of working through the automated call system. An agent who was reading from a script. So even though I knew the problem, I still had to “unplug, then replug the modem after waiting five minutes” at least three times in order to satisfy her. Only to find out that she doesn’t actually make the appointments…you have to wait for the local dispatcher to call and make one with you. Three days later. For five days out. Oy vey!

So as I was venting about this to my partner, I realized that my feelings of frustration and anger were expressing themselves by verbalizing aggression. All of my chosen idioms connected my displeasure with a physical act.

It is so easy for anger to take hold of your heart. And what takes hold of your heart can easily come out in your actions.

So here is your challenge for today. Read this beautiful Psalm and get IT into your heart.

Let’s pause for a moment…what is in your heart right now? Are you aggravated? Hopeless? In despair? Wanting to give up? Feeling mad about everything? Dreading remote school starting again? Ready for this stupid pandemic to be over?

If you leave those things in your heart all day, no good will come of it.

Psalm 145 (Common English Bible)

    “The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    very patient, and full of faithful love.
    The Lord is good to everyone and everything;
    God’s compassion extends to all his handiwork!”

The Lord is patient and merciful. Think about it! He is putting up with ALL of our nonsense, and still he is full of faithful love. Amazing. And by his own hand, our desires are satisfied. He cares for all of his creation so much he even died on the cross for it. Can you imagine a love like that? How can we stay mad?

Listen, anger is a normal thing. It’s all right to be angry when something goes wrong. But it is never good to stay angry. That only hurts your own heart.

The Lord supports all who fall down,
    straightens up all who are bent low.
15 All eyes look to you, hoping,
    and you give them their food right on time,
16     opening your hand
    and satisfying the desire of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
    faithful in all his deeds.
18 The Lord is close to everyone who calls out to him,
    to all who call out to him sincerely.
19 God shows favor to those who honor him,
    listening to their cries for help and saving them

This Psalm reminds us that we are God’s hands and feet in the world and we are invited to show the kindness and thoughtfulness that marks us as God-followers. It is OUR job to support all who fall down and are bent low. I don’t know about you, but when I’m mad at the internet company, I don’t have any kindness in me for anyone. Forgive me, Lord. Take away my selfishness so that I might be of use to you!

How can you reflect God’s compassion and patience today? Who needs your saving touch? Where can you extend mercy instead of frustration? God listens to his people’s cries for help….it’s up to us to listen with him. Come Lord, and empty out our hearts so that we might be filled with faithful love.

His Faithful Love Endures Forever by Michelle Robertson

The Smallest Seed

We are supposed to be having Vacation Bible School right now at my church, but of course the pandemic has changed that. It is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I have always had the role of storyteller at VBS, and the creative fun that ensues with sweaty, wiggly kids is one of the best parts of being a pastor.

Today’s parable took me back to a time when I was working with two off-the-wall pastors at VBS. We shared the story time, and I suggested we create a “growing plant” to use for this parable. You make it by rolling folded sheets of newspaper into a tight roll, and then cut slits from the top of the roll about half way down through all but the outer sheet. Then you tape around the base to secure it. When you reach inside and pull out the very center sheet, it grows into a large tree-like thing. If you use enough paper, it can be over six feet tall.

So I prepared several of these to use with each group, and the three of us took turns telling parts of the story.

Well, if you’ve ever been to VBS, you know that toward the end of the week and by the end of the day, the participants get punchy. So do the pastors. So at our last session, as I was pulling the paper out and making the tree grow, the narrating pastor decided to change the story and described how the mustard tree attacked the farmer. On cue, the other pastor grabbed the tree and pretended it was attacking him. His academy award-winning performance included the tree pushing him down as he wrestled with it, causing him to roll off the steps of the chancel and down the center aisle.

Well, that’s one way to tell the story! The kids LOST it. I still laugh at the memory of it!

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

The applications here are endless.

With a tiny grain of hope, life is renewed.

With the smallest seed of faith, peace is restored.

With just a little perseverance, a door is unlocked and you are set free.

With one man’s actions on a cross two thousand years ago, an entire world was saved.

With one word gently spoken, a lashing out of anger is prevented.

With one small act of kindness, a day is made.

With one selfless move, an accident is prevented.

With one smile, a stranger decides to hang on for another day.

With one quick phone call, a lonely person is comforted.

The question for us today is, where is God calling you to be that one small thing? What little effort on your part could turn things around for someone else?

You are the mustard seed. Go and plant peace, hope, and love in someone’s heart. You can make all the difference in someone’s day today.

From Small Seeds by Barbara Hudson

Talk About It

What do you like to talk about with your friends? Do you discuss current affairs? Family updates? The weather? Fashion? Politics…..oh, never mind. Hardly anybody ventures THERE any more!

I have a delightful moment once a week when I ZOOM with my two daughters and my niece. We talk about everything and anything. We catch up on the news of their children and jobs, we discuss the pandemic, we giggle about a feisty lady named Nancy whose room is opposite my niece’s office in the nursing home where she works, and we recommend books and shows we have enjoyed binging during the Pandemic.

Apparently there is a Japanese show called “Terrace House” that captured their imagination. I tried to interest them in the History Channel’s survivalist competition “Alone,” but I’m sure I lost them when I described how a contestant not only took down a 600 lb. moose, but killed a wolverine WITH AN AX. Those were my exact words as our free ZOOM call cut off, and that benediction has stayed with them for a week. “WITH AN AX!”

The content of our conversations with one another reveals who we are. Talking is our way to spur one another on, offer encouragement, support each other, give suggestions and corrections, and speak out loud the things that are nestled in our hearts.

In today’s psalm, we hear a call to speak about our Lord. We are invited to tell about his deeds among the people. We are asked to talk about his wondrous works:

Psalm 105 (New King James Version)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
O seed of Abraham His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

Think back for a moment when you first learned about God and his love for you. You didn’t fall into that knowledge in a library, most likely. I’m guessing you didn’t take a walk on the beach and have a sudden revelation. No, chances are SOMEBODY TOLD YOU.

He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
10 And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,”

So here is your challenge for the day: go and tell. Tell somebody about God’s goodness in your life and his covenant of love that lasts forever. Talk about what having a relationship with God means to you. You may be the only Jesus somebody will see and hear today!

Go, and tell.

This little guy came to Worship on the Lawn. Photo by Sharon Whitehurst

A God-Listening Heart

Can you imagine God coming to you tonight and asking you, “What can I give you? Ask.” Whoa. I have no idea what my answer would be. What would yours be? Wealth? Riches? A clean house? A car that doesn’t break down? Two hours just to yourself? A year’s salary without having to work? The pandemic gone in an instant? Your baby sleeping through the night?

This passage in 1 Kings presents us with this exact scenario. King Solomon has just taken the throne from his father David, and has gone to Gibeon to worship. God meets him there in a dream and tells Solomon that he can ask for anything.

1 Kings 3 (The Message)

4-5 The king went to Gibeon, the most prestigious of the local shrines, to worship. He sacrificed a thousand Whole-Burnt-Offerings on that altar. That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”

Of ALL the things a person might request, Solomon chooses something very unexpected…he asks for a “God-listening heart.”

Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.

7-8 “And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.

“Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

Indeed, who on their own is capable of leading God’s people? Who alone is able to discern the difference between good and evil? Can anyone lead well without listening to God? A God-listening heart is what every leader needs. Leaders need wisdom, patience, discernment, and the ability to set aside personal agendas in order to follow God’s plan to the letter.

This passage today is a reminder to us that we need to pray that our elected leaders, from the White House to Capitol Hill to the local mayor’s office, would have God-listening hearts. Our prayers should be focused on asking God to help them lead and govern well. And we need to pray that our church and school board leaders have the ability to discern God’s direction and plan things according to his wisdom.

Friends, pray for your leaders…and pray for the rest of us, that we, too, would tune our hearts to listen to God.

Watch what happens next and see how God blesses Solomon’s humility with things he didn’t even ask for:

10-14 God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart.

A wise and mature heart. Oh God, grant us this as well!

There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”

May we all stay on course and keep our eyes on the life-map that God himself has already laid out for us. Give us your wisdom, oh God!

Keep Your Eyes on the God-Signs by Michelle Robertson

Truly Happy

What would it take for you to be truly happy? Deeply, unquestionably, full-tilt happy? I know that is an enormous question, especially if you are reading this first thing in the morning. You may need to go grab another cup of coffee.

I think that there are some answers that come more easily than others. For those who are in places or systems of oppression, “being free” probably comes to mind. For those who are battling a serious illness, “being well” is a natural response. I would hazard a guess that for everyone reading this today, “the end of the pandemic” rings true.

Those responses represent things that are beyond our control. What is something you can control that would bring you happiness?

Psalm 128 (Common English Bible)

Everyone who honors the Lord,
        who walks in God’s ways, is truly happy!

There is always a practical simplicity to the Psalms, isn’t there? The Psalmist boils true happiness down to two precepts: 1. honor God, and 2. follow his ways.

Other translations use the word fear in place of honor. I have never cared for that, as we tend to define fear as be afraid when we read it. But fear is understood here as reverential trust. That changes it, doesn’t it? Having a reverential trust of God and following his commandments is the key to happiness. Simple, right?


For most of us, following God’s ways as spelled out in God’s Word is very difficult indeed. Our need to assert our free will, our need to have things our own way, our weakness against temptation, and our easily distracted lives get in the way. We can read and study God’s Word until the cows come home, but living God’s Word is a different matter all together.

But the Psalmist goes on to describe the reward for honoring God:

You will definitely enjoy what you’ve worked hard for—
    you’ll be happy; and things will go well for you.
In your house, your wife will be like a vine full of fruit.
  All around your table, your children will be like olive trees, freshly planted.
That’s how it goes for anyone who honors the Lord:
    they will be blessed!

That’s how it goes! Honor God, and you and your family will be blessed by knowing that you are faithfully serving in ways that are meaningful and significant.

When we truly honor God, we make what is important to him important to us. When we follow his ways, we behave in the way that Jesus behaved…tolerant, accepting, forgiving, inclusive, and most of all, loving. Every day that we make strides in those areas we are guaranteed to come closer to true happiness.

May the Lord bless you from Zion.
    May you experience Jerusalem’s goodness your whole life long.

Blessings, goodness, and happiness await those who walk with God. If you don’t have those things in your life right now, consider the path you are on. Good things come to those whose lives are turned toward God.

Look for the Cross by Bonnie Bennett

No One Else

So many little gods! So many things to worship! From presidents to kings to Netflix to scientists to football teams to favorite causes, we have a lot of options. And what we worship becomes our focus. Our thoughts, priorities, decisions, and our resources are all dedicated to the god we serve.

Take a look at our behavior. We fly the flags of our royalty from our boats and balconies. We spend endless hours sitting in the glow of the majesty of our chosen television king. We fund the opportunity to gather together as loyal subjects in stadiums and theme parks without regard to the needs or safety of others around us. We adulate wealthy businessmen, pro athletes, movie stars, and even stand in awe of institutions of higher learning. And we spend a lot of time shouting down people on social media when they don’t support a cause we venerate…

What do we do, though, if all those little gods are taken away? If sports are canceled, if universities don’t open, if movies and TV shows stop being produced…what if all the king‘s horses and all the king’s men can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again? What will be our god then?

Isaiah 34 (Contemporary English Version)

I am the Lord All-Powerful,
the first and the last,
    the one and only God.
Israel, I have rescued you!
    I am your King.

God makes it clear that he is our all-powerful, first and last, one and only King. Any bowing down to anything else is futile. There is nothing that can compare to God. When it all falls away, God is still there.

Can anyone compare with me?
If so, let them speak up
    and tell me now.
Let them say what has happened
since I made my nation
    long ago,
and let them tell
    what is going to happen.

No human power can predict what is going to happen. No little god of government, science, statistics, medicine or opinion can say with 100% accuracy what is going to happen. No one entity can compare with God.

Don’t tremble with fear!
Didn’t I tell you long ago?
    Didn’t you hear me?
I alone am God—
no one else is a mighty rock.

God indeed told us long ago that he is with us, and is always working for our good. Yet we turned away and began to kneel down to other gods.

What are you worshipping that takes God’s place? What have you put on his throne? Who or what are your little gods, requiring all of your attention? ALL of those are failing right now. If this pandemic is good for anything, it is that all of our little gods have been exposed, one by one.

God alone is God, and he is mighty, immovable, impenetrable, and intractable. He is our solid ROCK. We need not fear. There is no one else. On Christ the solid rock we stand…all other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

The Wise Man Built his House upon the Rock (Vernazza, Italy)

Thick as Thistles

Once upon a time in jolly old England, I met a dog named Muffin. Muffin belonged to my boyfriend, and I met her when I had just arrived from the States on a trip to meet his parents. They were stationed in London with the US Navy at that time. Muffin took one look at me and said, “Nope.” I am actually very good with dogs, and so I was quite frustrated over my inability to win Muffin’s heart. I suggested we take her for a long walk along the creek. I was sure that I could convince her to adore me.

Instead, I ended up in a large patch of thistles. Long, spiny, SPIKEY, flesh-eating thistles. Thistles that penetrated my hands, arms, and legs in the spots where I had landed when Muffin….bless her little canine heart….PUSHED me down. Deliberately. With malice aforethought!

Oh, she was a clever girl! She waited for just the right time to jump on me, at the exact moment that my boyfriend made a move to put his arm around me. She played it off like an uncharacteristic display of happy excitement. I wasn’t fooled. She was jealous. Down I went, and I believe that she truly WAS uncharacteristically happy to see me….as I laid splayed on the ground, bleeding from the thorny spikes.

Jealousy had won the day for a dog named Muffin. On the other hand, I married the boyfriend. WHO’S THE WINNER NOW, MUFFY???

Matthew 13 (The Message)

24-26 He told another story. “God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.

27 “The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’

28 “He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’

“The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’

29-30 “He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.’”

I love the fact that the thistles are the bad guys in this story, too. As Jesus will explain, the thistles in the field represent the subjects of the Devil, who is the enemy. An enemy who sows in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep.

36 Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His disciples came in and said, “Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field.”

37-39 So he explained. “The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.

The thing about thistles is that they are deceptively pretty. They add color and texture to the sides of the creek, and their shape is like a soft Pom Pom. That is, until you get to the spikes.

The Devil and his minions are much the same. They are the pretty people, the people who are colorful and successful and don’t follow the same rules as the good seeds. They are the ones enjoying their affluence in the sun and their entitlement by the cool waters. They don’t do time, pay their taxes, obey the law, or have a moral code. They are ones who seem to be winning all the time.

Thistles, beware. Your time is coming.

40-43 “The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?

This is the Word of God, for the good seeds of God. Thanks be to God.

Prickly Thistle by Becca Ziegler

Stone Pillows

Have your dreams become more disturbing during the pandemic? I was chatting with friends who remarked that this is happening to them. I, too, am experiencing dreams that are louder, more colorful, more intense, and frankly more exhausting than usual. Obviously the stress of what is happening is being played out in our subconscious the minute we release consciousness. I often wake up feeling unresolved and tired. I imagine this is to be expected, given the situation.

So I thought it would be good to study a dream this morning that actually brought some good news to the dreamer. This is the kind of dream we all wish for…one that brings a sense of awe and wonder with it. This dream was filled by the very presence of God:

Genesis 28 (New Revised Standard Version)

10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 

And indeed, Jacob produced the twelve tribes of Israel, which spread all throughout Israel and dominated the land. But even better than that prophesy was the promise God made:

15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” 17 And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Note that verse 15 sounds very reminiscent of a promise Jesus made in Matthew 28:

 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (New Revised Standard Version)

I am with you, always. I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.

As you go off to college, I am with you.

As you go into surgery, I am with you.

As you go into the COVID-19 ward, I am with you.

As you go into the unemployment center, I am with you.

As you go into divorce, foreclosure, the second grade classroom, the never-ending argument…..I am with you.

Are you with ME?

18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

The word Bethel means “house of God.” Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the “house of Bread.” Appropriate, as he became the Bread of Life.

God invites us today to create a Bethel in our own hearts. When you establish your soul as a house of God, he is GUARANTEED to come and inhabit your life.

So make a place for him, and open wide your doors. We are all climbing Jacob’s ladder. God will be with you, always, even to the end of the pandemic age.

Every Rung Goes Higher by Jennifer Thompson

Pandemic Legacies

Is this time of incredible trouble bringing out the best in you, or the worst in you? Every day brings a set of frightening new numbers, a slew of new recommendations, a lot of new problems…and a deluge of new worries. As I write this, there is a national debate going on about children returning back to school in less than two months.

There are strong and cogent arguments on both sides. The medical side points out the possibility of an increased spread of infection. The social work side argues that remote learning increases stress on working families, which historically corresponds to increased child abuse in the home and damaging social isolation for the child. Experts are weighing in on both sides, and there is no magic solution here.

What can we do?

I remember once being told that in situations where you aren’t in control, you should focus on what you can control. About the only thing left to control at this point is your reaction to everything that is out of control.

How are you doing with that? Do you have your reactions under control? Yeah, me neither. Some days are better than others. Some days I just want to hide under the covers.

Today’s passage is a timely reminder that our reactions are a reflection of who we are and what we believe. Even in the midst of such global turbulence, Paul reminds us not to throw a question mark over everything God has done for us. In situations like this horrific pandemic, Paul says not to squander any of the marvelous life God has given us. Instead, we are to be a reflection of God in everything we do.

2 Corinthians 6 (The Message)

 1-10 Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details.

We may not have seen the worst of this pandemic yet, but listen: IT WILL END. We won’t be living this way forever. In due time, it will be eradicated. There will be a vaccine. Things will return to a semblance of normal. God hears our call and is here to help.

But let’s hope we don’t return to the way we were. Let’s strive to a new normal that is faith-filled, battle-tested, smarter, more compassionate, and more dependent on God than we ever were in the before-time. Let’s strive to come out of this BETTER.

What will your pandemic legacy be? Have you been a witness to God’s hope, grace, and mercy in these troubled times? Have you stayed true to your word? Are you still God’s servant, filled with deep joy, a pure heart, a clear head, and a steady hand? It’s not too late to pick up the mantle of hope. Even in this, you can be a beacon of gentleness, holiness, and honest love to the world.

You control your response every day. Let your light so shine that all would see Jesus reflected in you, and gain hope themselves.

People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly…in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

Go out today and be “terrifically alive,” reflecting the deep joy of the Lord in everything you do. Let this be your hope: we are one day closer to the end of this thing.

Reflections by Jamie Mathis