Righteous Anger

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Traditionally, Holy Monday (day after Palm Sunday) is the day Jesus cleansed the Temple. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers'” (Matt 21:12-13 ESV).

What amazes me about this is that Jesus’s anger or “holy indignation was neither a weakness or a sin” (Greig, BEB, 1985). I know anger all to well and when I perceive that an injustice has occurred, I respond in anger which is anything but righteous or holy.

I am challenged this week to step back and reflect on all that Jesus said and did leading up to His Crucifixion. Today I am asking God to search my heart when it comes to anger. I am asking God to reveal to me how I am treating His “House.” Ultimately, I am asking God to help me to see Him for who He is, what He has done and to respond in accordance to His will and character. I pray that you will join me.

Father God, prepare us to celebrate Easter. Lord God, work on our hearts and minds to see and focus on You and not on ourselves. Lord God, so much of our time is spent on looking at ourselves, changing ourselves, when we should be looking to You. Lord, may we respond with righteous/holy anger when it comes to injustice. May we meet the needs we see and not ask for You to send someone else to do it. Lord God, for the believer this is the week that we base our life and future on, may we live with our hearts and minds bent toward you. Thank You Father, reveal the sin that so easily trips us up, so that we may serve You more fiathfully and grow in Your likeness. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

 

 

Color

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Sunrise April 4, 2019. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

After watching the sunrise this morning, I am compelled to share that I LOVE color! I am in awe by the colors in a sunrise, sunset, flowers. I love how colors reflect light off water. I love funky colored sneakers and shirts. I love looking at art and I even collect paint samples from Home Depot and Lowes just because I like to look at the pretty colors. In all honesty, I just LOVE color. I know this sounds cliché and corny, but I am excited to see the colors of the New Heaven and New Earth. I cannot imagine how wonderful it will be!

I am also sensitive to those who are visually impaired, colorblind, blind. I do NOT ever want to take it for granted that God has given me the ability of physical sight. I have family members who are blind, so I am sensitive to how much this truly is a seeing world. As much as I love color, I am a terrible, terrible drawer, painter, sculptor. Even staying inside the lines of a coloring book can be a challenge! I do my best to use words to describe what I see, but really, that only goes so far.

Truth be told, Biblical Hebrew did not have a very verbose color vocabulary. The Bible also does not speak much on the “aesthetic experience” of color; however, when it does, “it is in its more awe-inspiring aspects, as fitting reflection of its Creator” (The New Bible Dictionary, 1996, p. 217). God is colorful. God has created color for our enjoyment and to point people to Himself. As much as I love color, I know that it is a gift. It is my heartfelt plea that regardless of where you are, or what is happening around you, take some time to enjoy God’s Creation today. Maybe for you that is a painting or something in nature, maybe it is a song, whatever it is, I pray that you will meet with God today and marvel at His works! “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1 ESV).

Father God, thank You for color, thank You for light and sounds. Lord, may Your Name be praised! Thank You that You are greater than us! Thank You that You reveal Yourself to us through Your Creation, Spirit and Word. Lord God, I ask for Your grace and mercy on this precious reader. Lord, may we take the time to marvel at what You have done. May we draw close to You and may we have increased awareness of Your grandness. Lord, may those of us who have visual sight not take this gift for granted. Help us to be the eyes to those who around us who cannot see. Lord, make us sensitive to Your promptings and workings in all areas of our lives. Thank You Lord for new mercies each day. As the Son shines on us, may we shine Your Son on others. May we never take for granted who You are and what You have done for us. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

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Sunrise April 4, 2019. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Hello, April!

red purple and yellow tulip fields
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Father God, thank You Lord for this new month! Lord, may April’s showers bring May’s flowers! Lord, thank You that You are God over time and season. Thank You that spring always follows every winter season. Lord, help us to pay attention to the new life, the fresh scents and chirping birds that are around us! Lord, help us to enjoy Your creation and to care for it as we have been called to do since the beginning. Lord, I ask that You hold this dear reader in Your hand and they will allow themselves to be held by You. Lord, prepare us for April. Prepare us for Holy Week. Thank You Jesus for Your Work on the Cross, may we NEVER take what You have done for us for granted!

Father God, this life is NOT ours but Yours! May we care for our individual physical body and the church body that You have given us because they are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Lord God, praise You that purity no longer resides in a place but in people. Lord, may we be holy because You are holy. Lord God, I am obsessed with Your wisdom and holiness. Lord God, may we grow more and more in Your image, holy and blameless. May we never give up praying. May we praise You even when it is hard and painful. Lord, for those waiting on healing, I pray that You will heal them in whatever way they need. I ask Lord that You will give comfort to those who are hurting. Lord, help us to do good to others this in this new month and always.

Lord, I ask that You will continue to impress upon Your people who they are in Christ and their position in You. Lord God, I ask that You will help us to be followers of Christ before we are leaders. May we lead from an outflow of a heart/life that is connected to You. Father God, I thank You and praise You for this precious reader! May April be a time to reflect and draw near to the One who has overcome death, disease and the grave. Thank You Jesus for Your Victory and it is in Your Name I pray, Amen.

Spring!

white printed paper with four white roses
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I LOVE SPRING! I am SO thankful for new life, new beginnings, longer, brighter days and warmer temperatures! Spring in my family also means baseball! I do not know any person alive who gets as excited about Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Spring Training than my Dad! Truth be told, I am such a nicer person when it is warmer out!

I am also reminded that south of the equator, many are preparing for Fall. I have been to Peru numerous times in July and August and I am amazed by the reversal of seasons! In the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan) there are only two season, the dry which runs April-September and the rainy/wet season from October to March. What fascinates me about this is how God sustains life in each of these different regions with their different climates and agriculture.

I keep muttering/murmuring Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (ESV). The Hebrew word beautiful here means appropriate. The beauty is in recognizing and acknowledging that God, “in His providential plans and control has an appropriate time for every activity” (Glenn, BKC, 1985, p. 984). However, there is a deep longing inside of us to understand more, to investigate what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of others. Because “we are not able to discern any place or pattern for all of this…We thus have a sense of alienation and bewilderment in time” (Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 1993, p. 299). Every person is wired for eternity and either we can trust that God has made the appropriate beautiful or we can fight against Him.

I cannot understand why Winter has to last so long (or is even necessary), nor why the good people south of the equator are preparing for Fall. But what I do know is that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19:1). Regardless of where you live and what season you find yourself entering, I pray that you will take some time to talk with God. May we thank Him for where He has us and ask Him to prepare us for what He wants to do in and for us. I know that for many people, Spring still seems far off. As God holds the universe, so too, He holds you. Let Him hold you. Enjoy this new beginning. Enjoy the different colors, scents and sounds. I am so thankful to begin another season with you dear reader, thank you for your time!

Father God, thank You and praise You for this new season! Lord God, for those of us in colder climates, thank You that warmth, new life and growth is on the way! Lord, prepare those who are entering Fall for the cooler temperatures. Father, may we trust that You have made everything appropriate in its time. Lord, may the eternity that we are wired for bring us to a place of greater trust and dependence on You. Lord, may we worship You the One who creates beautiful sunsets, budding flowers and changes the color of the leaves! Lord, may Your Creation point us to You! Thank You Lord that we can trust that You are who You say You are and that You never act contrary to Your Word and Character. Thank You Lord that You are constant! Thank You Jesus that You are the same yesterday, today and forever! Triune God I ask by Your Spirit, through Jesus to the glory of the Father, reveal Yourself to this reader today. Thank you Jesus, for this new season and it is in Your name we pray, Amen.

 

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Gezer Calendar. The seven-lines describe the 12-month agricultural activities in Israel. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn May 29, 2017

 

“Planty and the Fishing Pole!”

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 15: 2 ESV).

I was absolutely astounded last Saturday when my Professor explained to us in Residency that αἴρω should NOT be translated takes away or cuts off (NIV). The idea of cutting off is not what John had in mind. The historical-cultural background/context reveals that a Vinedresser or Gardner would lift up or take up the vine branch and tie it to a stake, in order for it to receive more nutrients.

As soon as my Professor paused for breath, I asked if I could share a personal story. He agreed and to the best of my recollection, this is what was said:

“Ok, so I have had a plant for the last six years, who is like my child. I love Planty. Planty is very special to me. Now, I have been married for a little over a year. Recently, my husband has decided that Planty needs a new home [my classmates are groaning at this point]. Let’s just say things did not go well in this rehousing process. Planty received bugs from the new soil, which led to my Mom and I sparying Planty with some kind of bug killer. While that did not kill Planty some of his leaves and branches shriveled and became deformed. Not long after that Planty’s bugs returned. At this point I am irate with Nathan [classmates are now laughing as I am getting really worked up].

“I was ready to give up on Planty. So in a last attempt to save Planty, Nathan decided that he was going to wash Planty with dawn dish soap and microwave Planty’s soil. I thought Planty was gonna die. Well, after all this washing and microwaving Nathan replanted Planty into a smaller home. By God’s grace, Planty did not die! Planty did have a very significant lean to him. I said to Nathan, ‘maybe we should just cut Planty off?’ Nathan goes out into the garage and I hear a snap. I had no clue what just happened. Nathan comes back inside and I see that he is holding half of his fishing pole. Y’all have to understand Nathan loves to fish, fishing is life. So, the fact that he just broke his fishing pole was beyond what I could understand [truth be told I am cheap and so that factored into my attitude as well].

“Longer story short, Nathan implores me to trust him, to let him tie Planty to his fishing pole [stake] so that he will get more nutrients. So, right now I am just overwhelmed with emotion [my eyes are rolling to keep tears from falling] because what Nathan has done for Planty, is what God does for me, for us. He does not cut us off, He does not discard us, He loves us, He lifts us up so we may have the nutrients we need to thrive.”

At this point Jake says, “that will preach!” I said, “I have a blog!” Tony says, “Planty and the Fishing Pole!” I said, “I am totally naming it that!”

Father God, thank You that You do not discard us, that You do not cut us off, but rather You lift us up and give us the opportunity and nutrients we need to thrive. Lord God, cause us to thrive for You, through You and in You. Be in us, indwell us Lord. May we give You access to ALL areas of our lives. Thank You Father that You know what we need; may we trust You to supply it! Lord God, may we remain and abide in You. May we trust that You are enough, that You will provide us with the nutrients to thrive. Lord God, may we never shrink back in fear to share what You are doing and are teaching us, no matter how silly it may sound! Lord God, thank You for the gift of life. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

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Planty March 7, 2019

 

 

Welcome, March!

hello march printed paper on white surface
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Father God, thank You for this new month! Lord, lead and guide us as we enter this new month! Father, thank You and praise You that Spring always follows every winter season, literally and figuratively. Lord God, I thank You for this reader. Thank You for helping this reader endure the trials they are facing. Thank You for the support and love that You give Your children whether we feel it or not. Lord God, for those who are seeking breakthroughs, I ask that you surround them with the peace of Your Presence. Thank You Father that Your grace is greater. Lord, may we confess our shortcomings and seek You in our want. May our desires be Your desires, in this new month and beyond. Thank You again Father for new beginnings. Prepare us for the Lenten season. May we never forget Jesus’s work on the Cross. Lord God, we are nothing without You. Praise You for this reader, this new day and this month. Thank You Lord that Your mercies are new each morning! In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

stack of love wooden blocks
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I am absolutely amazed by God’s hesed (covenant faithfulness, also translated loyal love).  Hesed is manifested in relationships whether between God and man or between two individuals. When God reveals Himself to Moses, He says, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love…” (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV, italics added). In Hebrew the word keeping is a participle (verbal adjective). Participles in Hebrew indicate continuous action. God is continuous in keeping steadfast love. At no point in time will this be void.

The Apostle Paul says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 ESV, c.f. 1 John 4:9-10). Based on this premise the Apostle John states, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16 NLT). Love is an action, it is a verb, it is something that we do. We love (action) because God first loved us (4:19). The love, faithfulness, kindness, holiness, righteousness of God is perfect. His perfect love expels all fear (4:18).  “Love is characterized by fear when there is a doubt it will be returned. We have no fear of this since God’s love was prior to ours” (Akin, 1,2,3, John, 2001, p. 187). Whatever your thoughts and feelings are toward Valentine’s Day, do not forget this truth: the Cross is the ultimate expression of God’s covenant faithfulness, loyal love. As God’s love and faithfulness are poured into you, may you pour out on those around you. Love does not happen in isolation (see 1 John 4:20-21). Whatever your thoughts and feelings are toward Valentine’s Day, may you be encouraged by God’s love (hesed) for you! Taste and see that the LORD is good (Ps 34:8).

Father, thank You for Your covenant faithfulness. Thank You that love is both Your nature (who You are) and Your action (what You do). Lord, help us to display Your hesed. Help us to be loyal and faithful to You and to those in our lives. Lord, may we not take Your love for granted nor as an excuse to do whatever we please. Lord, may we live and love in a way that brings Your name glory, honor and praise. Thank You Lord, for this reader. May this reader be overwhelmed, encouraged, motivated and awed by the incredible love that You have for them. May they drink and savor Your goodness. May they live free knowing that Your perfect love expels all fear. Hold this reader close to You. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.