Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 28

Where In Your Life Do You Need Healing? by Pastor John

When I lead one of Stone Village’s life groups, I always ask the question, “Where in your life do you need healing?”  It feels like a simple, straightforward question to me; a question most people would be capable of answering with ease. Some participants do answer the question quickly. Others though are clearly unsettled by the question, possibly embarrassed to name those facets of  life in need of healing or perhaps, simply unwilling to reflect upon the brokenness of their life.

Where in your life do you need healing?”

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 24

Moved to A Place of Silence by Heather Monkmeyer

In the chapter leading up to this passage, Jesus is in the temple and different groups of religious scholars are taking turns trying to entrap him in arguments that range from paying taxes to resurrection.  Here, a scribe who seems to respect Jesus, asks him a legitimate question, not about a peripheral issue, but about core things.  What is the most important commandment of all the commandments?  And Jesus tells him:  Love God with everything in you and love the people in front of you.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 23

A Lost Child by Beata Gray

I remember a day when I was shopping at Walmart with my two youngest children.  Tennison was 5 years old and Montgomery was 3 years old.  They insisted that they wanted to walk beside the cart and promised to stay beside me.  While I was deciding on frozen vegetables, Montgomery decided to go to the end of the aisle and hide around the corner.  It was less than a minute, not even 30 seconds that my eyes were not on him, and just like that, he was gone.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 22

Desired Outcome by Mark Matson

In all organizations there are rules that all on the team are expected to live by.  Leaders are expected to communicate them, most importantly, by personal example.  The rules of engagement tell us what the expected behavior is on whatever team we are on.  The rules are there to align the members of the team optimize their collective ability to achieve a desired outcome.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 21

Finding Forgiveness by Scott Anderson

My first job as a lawyer was prosecuting sex crimes against children.  The cases were spiritually draining and emotionally wrenching.  During interviews with young, female victims, I was forced to look past the desk photo of my own little daughter.  Victimhood became less a legal status than a lived reality.  And with victimhood implanted in my mind, I found evil sprouting everywhere.  Everyone became a possible perpetrator or a potential victim.  Everyone was about to do wrong or to be wronged.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 19

To Be Known and Loved by Pastor John

She has a history. Things done and left undone, some good some not so good. Guilts and regrets. Fears. Wounds and sorrows. I suspect she has secrets too.

Study the history of this text, read the commentaries, listen to the interpretations and you will learn that her past is generally seen as one of promiscuity. The evidence? Five spouses, and now living unmarried with a sixth man. She’s looked at yet not seen. She’s labeled yet nameless. She remains unknown to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Jesus.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 18

A Balm of Forgiveness by Hannah Elhard

On most days I take pride in the person that I am. My colleagues, family and friends would describe me as generous and kind. I nod my head in church at the verses about loving our neighbors as ourselves, about laying one’s life down for one’s friend. I am responsible, measured, hard-working, considerate and generally “good”. If asked, I would affirm that God is forgiving and desires us to be as well.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 15

A Time to Pray by Tamasha Tennant

Whenever times were tough for my Grandma, she’d always pray.  She’d pray in earnest, with tears streaming down her face.  When I was little, I didn’t understand her tears and chalked them up to fear.  For years, I thought she was afraid that God wouldn’t answer her prayers, and that’s why she was crying.  It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I asked her why she cried if she truly believed that God would intervene and help to soothe her worries.  She explained that her tears weren’t of fear, but of thanksgiving, because God had never failed her.  “Never?” I would push.  “Never. Not once.  Not even once,” she’d respond.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 12

Wilderness vs. Eternal Life by Jack McKee

Several weeks ago, our hearts were broken open as my chosen family learned that our beloved Matty had lost his battle with depression. Like the Israelites referenced in verse 14, most of us have, at some point, experienced ourselves lost in the wilderness. Numb and disconnected from our loved ones, from God, our wells of living water run dry, we cry out in despair.

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Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 11

As I Am by Tamasha Tennant

I used to live in Charlotte, NC, and while I lived there, I attended MCC – a non-denominational church that was very open and accepting of everyone.  I hadn’t belonged to a church in many years, and it was a unique experience to worship in a place where I could be myself.

One year as we prepared for Charlotte Pride, we started having protestors show up at our services.  It was the typical “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” thing. It was normally only 3 or 4 folks at a time, but as Pride drew nearer, the number of protestors also grew.

I was furious in the way that a super-independent-except-when-I-was-homesick-20-something could be.  I remember driving through the crowd that was blocking the parking lot entrance, a little faster than I should, and screeching my tires as I parked.  I huffed through the church doors and found Pastor Mick and ask him what we were going to do about “those ignorance baffoons outside”?!  He said, “I’ve got it covered.”

Pastor Mick had picked up doughnuts and coffee on his way to church that morning.  When he entered the sanctuary, me puffing at his heels, he explained to everyone that we would serve the protestors that morning.  It was unseasonably cool, overcast, and slightly raining, so we were going to take them coffee and doughnuts. But first, we were going to pray for them. “Why?!!!” I demanded.

Pastor Mick asked me, “Do you know what Jesus offered Judas to eat at The Last Supper?”  I thought about it, but I didn’t know the answer.  He said, “He served Judas exactly the same thing he served the others.”

Open mouth; insert foot.  Yep.  That was a tough pill to swallow.  Indiscriminate love. Actually, literally, loving thy enemies and praying for those goofs was hard.  Damn hard.  And I did it reluctantly.  I stomped as I carried the doughnuts.  I was secretly glad that the coffee was no longer piping hot.  I kinda wished it would really start raining hard and that incredible gusts of wind would overturn their tables and blow away their signs and that they’d all start running wildly, like a scene from “The Birds”.

We came back inside and went ahead with service as usual.  We took communion, and as I ate my wafer and drank my grape juice I couldn’t help but recognize that there I was, taking communion, minutes after I’d wished mayhem and probable harm upon a group of people I could see out the window but didn’t even know.

The call to “be perfect, therefore, as God is perfect”, in my mind, doesn’t actually mean that we need to be PERFECT in all aspects of life.  It’s not the “perfection” that we all think of – the unattainable pinnacle of sinless living with a heart of gold.  If you actually look up the word “perfect” in the dictionary, it is defined as “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”  Now, that’s funny.  The very definition of perfection hints that there is an element of reality to consider – as good as POSSIBLE.

Because of that, I think this passage and this translation of “perfect” really applies only to love.  That’s possible, right?  For us to love perfectly?  For our sense of love to be whole, and not lacking or tainted in any way.  Ok, now that’s something I think I can work towards.  When I think of God as my heavenly parent, I can’t help but think of the way I love my own children.  Sure, they upset me.  They make choices that are foolish and harmful and ridiculous.  And none of that matters when it comes to how much I love those little humans and I pray for them daily.  And I know that God loves me that way, too, to the Nth degree.  So, He wants me to love all these other people He’s created.  All (gulp!) of them.  It’s a work in progress.

As am I.

(Still unsure about the coffee and doughnuts, though.)

Matthew 5: 43-48

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as God is perfect.

Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 9

Taking a Leap  by Tamasha Tennant

Before I sat down to work on this devotional, I caught my youngest child, age 5, attempting to jump from the 6th step down to the floor, which would have required also clearing the baby gate on the first step.  She pumped her arms twice and was ready to take the plunge before I caught her by her shirt and pulled her back from what would certainly have been a disaster.  She was upset that I foiled her plan.  “I could’ve done it, Mom,” she huffed and pouted.  “I can do everything.” 

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