LUKE SIX – BLESSED WORDS

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READ LUKE SIX
This chapter is filled with so much meat. It begins by discussing the Pharisees insistence on not working on the Sabbath. Such things as eating some gathered corn from the field or healing the sick from their infirmity were considered labor by the elders of the church. Jesus quickly set them straight by stating that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. Those words must’ve stung deeply, as they were seen as a threat to the church itself.

By this time, Jesus had chosen all twelve of His disciples. They indeed were helpful to His ministry, as many of our own church elders can be of help to our officiating pastors. Jesus was a man and because of that He got tired and hungry. He needed time to pray, to rest and take nourishment just like we do. On the other hand, He is also God and could’ve easily provided for those needs, but it wasn’t part of His mission on earth.

We see in this chapter that Jesus prayed a lot. As our example, we can glean much from this. God is available to hear our prayers at a moment’s notice. We don’t always take advantage of that.

Jesus and his band of disciples covered a lot of territory. The crowds were growing. People came to be healed, out of curiosity and because the message was one they had longed to hear.

The Beatitudes are listed in this chapter. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh,” was one of them. These were akin to the proverbs of old, but they carried an entirely new meaning. He said things like, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  These words were foreign to them, but they certainly held their attention.

Jesus must’ve been an exemplary speaker. His voice would have to carry to great lengths to reach the many in His audience. Imagine the voice of God speaking directly to them and us. He was nothing extraordinary to look at, yet he commanded the crowds. When He told them not to judge others, but to forgive them as we will be forgiven. He told them to be good fruit and to build their lives on the foundation of God. By doing so they would not be shaken.

Jesus was bringing that foundation back to the people. He came to establish His kingdom in our hearts. Let us continually stay rooted in His Word so we continue to flourish and spread the Good News of salvation to all people.

We are definitely living in troubled times.  The church is being attacked on a daily basis.  The devil is using every tool in his toolbox to take advantage of us.  Don’t let Him in.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

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The feminist movement did great things for women.  It allowed them to leave the ties of housekeeping behind and venture into a whole new world.  It was a world which challenged their abilities, their brain power, their industriousness, their ingenuity, their organizational skills, their talent and their compassion.

Yes, I said compassion.  Now where in the world does that word fit into the world of commerce?  Up until then, compassion was woven into the fabric of nursing or caring for others.  The corporate world was and still is, filled with money driven men who were trying to change the world.  Not a lot of compassion was necessary  When women became part of that world, things changed a lot.

In the beginning men said women’s place was in the home, raising a family, tending to the chores of the day and caring for her husband.  The game was on.  Women started attending colleges for things other than secretarial or medical skills.  They proved that they could work under pressure and handle the stress of corporate life.  It wasn’t an easy road, because these same women still had the responsibilities of running a home, but they managed to do both.

Today women are deeply imbedded into politics.  They hold positions of power in the medical field, the corporate world, high finance and industry.  They have proven to be equal to men, but still fight the battle of equal pay. I’m sure that day isn’t far off

In the process, families have become accustomed to both parents working.   The material things that were put on the back burner until they could be paid for are now staples in most homes.  The home fires still burn, but most of the management of that place is being carried out by hired workers.

In the meantime, women have become equal with men.  In my opinion, they always were in God’s eyes.  Woman was created to be a partner for man.  I’m sure there are statistics that prove that men are the hunter/gatherers and women, the caregivers, simply because of the way they are made up physically.  Women are sensitive, intuitive and have the ability to listen.  The tenderness of their hearts is something that continues to exist, even though they try to put on an armor of toughness.  Women cry.  Yes, so do men, but women seem to do it more often.

As women take on some of the roles of their counterparts, they’re expected to be tough,  put their emotions aside and act like a man.  However, even in a society that wishes to determine their own gender, men are men and women are women.  The differences were designed to compliment each other.

Women do have a softer side.  Our emotions are often worn on our sleeves.  Our compassion is evident in the way we work with others and live with them and should be considered a medal of honor.  It’s not an attack on your character to say you can cry if you need to.  There will be days when the pressure of work gets in the way of family – when the demands of travel take you from those you love – when the extra hours of work keep you from kissing your children goodnight.  It’s OK to feel bad about those things.

God made tears for a purpose.  They come out when we grieve, when we’re frustrated or angry and even when we’re happy. The silent tears you pour into your pillow each night do not go unnoticed.

There’s someone who understands those feelings.  Jesus wept.  He knows all about sorrow.  He understands our pain.  He is also our comforter.  He hears our prayers and dries our tears, but He allows us to  bring all our burdens to Him, so he can carry them for us.

 

 

 

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WISDOM

” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Proverbs 9:10

Dear, Lord,

You know all things.  Nothing is hidden from you. You are the only consistent in our lives.  I pray that you guide our leaders to proceed with dignity and fairness.  Two people have been dragged through the mud and may never recover from what’s happened over the past few weeks.  Please give the men and women in the position of passing judgment, the wisdom to do your will.  Help us all to accept what is happening and what will happen because of these events.  You are also with every one of us. You’ve judged each of us with fairness and abundance of grace, giving us a freedom we don’t deserve.  May your Word be upheld.  May your will be done, in Jesus name.  Amen!

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GOOD HAIR DAY

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I love unusual holidays.  March 26th is known as “Good Hair Day,” which is nearly impossible when we’re cooped up for over three weeks and can’t get to a salon or barber shop because they’re all closed.  We could resort to doing our own haircuts or dye jobs, but who knows how they may turn out.

I remember cutting my children’s hair to save the expense of a professional, but they all wound up looking alike.  I never used a bowl to get the right shape, but it looked that way.  They all resembled the Beatles.

I also did a lot of experimenting with my own hair.  Actually, I used hydrogen peroxide to lighten my hair in high school.  Eventually I looked like a Q tip.  When I got married, I turned to boxed coloring kits.  In one week, I went from blond to green, to red, to brunette and back to blond.  My husband could brag that he had gone to bed with a blond, brunette and redhead all in one week.  The truth is, I made a mistake on the first color which resulted in many trips to the drugstore to rescue my many colored tresses.  I learned then not to trust those over the counter hair colors.

Now that we’ve been sequestered, things are proceeding as usual for us.  My husband cuts his own hair (what’s left of it,) and I make sure he hasn’t missed any.  I don’t color my hair anymore so that isn’t an issue.  Fortunately I had a haircut before all this began so I should be good for a while.  Then I wonder what people will look like after this whole thing blows over.  Men who were prematurely going bald will now have ample comb overs.  Women will be braiding, ratting, teasing instead of combing in some gel and their done.  I’m sure there will be a run on salons and barber shops.  Additional hair stylists will be called into battle to remove all unwanted hair and make people look well groomed again.  Or we might become a civilization of abominable snowmen.

Today, we can raise our glasses or a pair of dull shears and celebrate Good Hair Day.  There may not be many of them left.

 

 

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FRIDAY PRAYER

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Dear, Heavenly Father,

I know that you will hear my voice as well as those who are currently suffering with CoVid19 in one way or another.  I want to thank you for carrying me through a peaceful night of sleep – for giving me another day to enjoy –  for giving me hope to look forward instead of back.

All of us are more than a little fearful right now, because of the spreading of this disease and the lives that are being taken.  We grieve for our friends and those we don’t know.  We think about death now more than we did yesterday.  We wonder if we will succumb to the virus.  Our thoughts turn to our families and extended families even though we aren’t able to touch them or be near them.  The entire world is being affected by this cloud of darkness and the unknown.

Our leaders are doing the best they can, but this is something that really is out of their hands.  We would like to think we have control in a situation like this, but we find ourselves helpless.  There is no cure – no vaccine – no amount of distancing that will provide an end.  It’s natural for us to feel this way.  Anxiety and depression are at an all time high.

Still, in spite of our fears, we know that in a changing world – where nothing is constant – only You remain the same today as you were yesterday and will be tomorrow.  We can depend on that.  We can’t depend on hoards of food or material things.  We can’t put our trust in anything outside the walls of our own homes.  We can put our faith in only One thing right now and that’s You.

You are the Great Physician.  Your knowledge and wisdom will be used to turn this chaotic situation into something good that will change hearts and minds and put life into perspective.  Because of that, we can be sure that our world will continue.  Things will return to normal, but they will be ever changed because of this.

Please give those who are trying desperately to find a cure and hold this virus at bay, the strength and brain power to solve the problem.  I pray that we will learn to love each other more – care for each other’s needs – hold each other in prayer – learn to serve you more.  We can and will beat this thing only with your intervention.  We pray for that and all things through your dear Son, Jesus. Amen!

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JULIE’S FRIDAY FUNNY

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TWO SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT

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ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

Like ships in the night, we pass through this life,
We’re tossed and oft crushed by the waves,
We sometimes sail peacefully then there comes strife,
It seems not a single one saves.

We enter a harbor protected and safe,
It cradles and calms all our fears,
A sweet sanctuary, a place to call home,
Unbound by sheer terror or tears,

Still waters there greet us, He’s waiting to meet us,
The Savior and King of the world,
No more shall we struggle our path is made clear,
His cloak of salvation unfurled.

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CLOUDS

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

Like a giant vacuum, sucking vapor from the earth,
Descending down from heaven, like angels in their mirth,
Billowing up so very high, the sky can barely hold them,
Sprays of multi-colors rise, kisses and enfolds them,
Cotton candy on a stick, with gossamer wings that fly,
Mottled pink and mauve connect, confection for the eye,
Striated up above the world in a myriad of shades,
They act just like a fortress, of powerful palisades.
When night time comes they disappear from our imperfect vision,
But when the sun returns again, they come back with precision,
God’s own strong hand has placed them there so we would find some peace,
He also opens up the sky and shares in their release.

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WORLD WIDE TIME OUT

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So how has your world changed in the past few weeks?  Are you enjoying the new horizons within the confines of your home?  Is your time filled with surprises?  How’s that stress level? Are you enjoying the freedom of not having to get dressed each day and fight the traffic to get to work?  What’s it like to be with your family 24/7?

We’re coming to the end of our second week of social distancing and have been ordered  to hang in there for another two weeks.  Maybe taking this in two week increments will make it more tolerable. For me, things haven’t changed much.  I’m retired.  I work mostly from home.  I am one of the chosen who matches the criteria for dying from the Corona Virus. I’m finally getting used to being in the same house with my spouse.  I’m also one who loves being with other people. I enjoy talking to them and hearing their laughter and their voices.

For those with children, this has got to be quite a challenge.  Not only are they now their providers and caregivers, but they’re required to counsel them, make them feel safe, teach them from home, get to know them in a whole new way.

So it is a whole new world we’re living in.  We’re being called upon to make changes to our lives and to battle an invisible enemy which seems to appear stronger than any we’ve ever fought before.

No matter how dark times may seem, we must remember that we are not alone in this battle. We are in it together.  This literal world “time out” has caused some really great benefits.

  • Families are getting reacquainted.  We’re dining together at the kitchen table. The thing it was actually designed for is being used for that purpose rather than being a catchall for everything we choose to drop there.
  • We’re discovering why we love our families all over again.
  • We’re beginning to realize that nothing should be taken for granted.
  • We’re becoming frugal.
  • We’re caring for those who can’t care for themselves.
  • Love is a word that means something.
  • Us old timers are beginning to see the advantages of technology as we venture into the world of Zoom and video conferencing.
  • Those of us who miss going to church and the fellowship we receive there are now able to receive daily devotions and sermons by email or online.  A group; of us met yesterday on Zoom.
  • We’re seeing a surge in innovation as necessity for masks and ventilators are being created in new ways.
  • We’re consciously washing our hands.
  • Even though we miss the physical contact we’re virtually hugging each other with positive thoughts.

These are just a few of the positive outcomes of this horrid pandemic.  More will come to be as people realize how important we are to each other.  Jesus said it best when He gave the greatest commandment to love one another.  We will get through this.

 

 

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WAS IT WORTH THE COST?


A large crowd had gathered in the little town of Bethany. Only a few days earlier the man named Lazarus had been returned to life by the Rabbi, Jesus. Everyone was talking about it and wanted to see the man who had done the deed and witness for themselves that Lazarus was actually alive.

A dinner in Jesus’ honor was being held for Him . Lazarus was among those reclining at the table as his sister, Martha served dinner. Lazarus’ other sister, Mary came to Jesus with a pint of a very expensive nard – a costly, fragrant oil – often used in burial. Mary let down her hair, which was something any respectable woman would not do. She took the oil and poured it on Jesus’ feet – an act of servitude. She then wiped the oil with her hair. This simple display of devotion was not only significant because of the humility with which Mary completed it, but the cost of the oil indicated that she knew that Jesus had come to die for everyone and was worthy of such an act.

Judas, Iscariot, being the keeper of the treasury, was appalled by this extravagant display. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” he asked. “It was worth a year’s wages.”

Judas was not really concerned for the poor. This man would betray Jesus in just a few days, by selling Him out to His enemies for the price of thirty pieces of silver. Judas had walked with Jesus, learned from Him, wondered about Him, but wasn’t sure about Him. Now he would turn Him over to the authorities for what the average Roman soldier earned in four months.

The cost of Mary’s anointment of her Savior and Judas’ act of betrayal – both came at a great price. Jesus’ suffering and ultimate death, came at a far greater cost. He carried the weight of our sin upon His back as he trudged up the hill to Golgotha. He was totally abandoned by His holy Father. As He cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” God could not bear to look upon him because He was covered with the sin of the world. The price He paid for our ransom is insurmountable.

His mother, Mary heard of this event and began to wonder about her own future and that of her Son. What did it all mean? All those early thoughts and words were being fulfilled as Jesus continued to minister to the world, but the hierarchy of the Sanhedrin was even now plotting His death as well as that of Lazarus.

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A QUAINT COUNTRY TOWN

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

Another time, another place, a world so far gone by,
Where streets were paved with cobblestones, under an azure sky,
Where people took the time to share a word or more with you,
Where moments pass without distress or without much ado.

A place that’s gone, but still exists in small towns everywhere,
Away from all the ugliness that meets us here and there,
To capture just a little time, to hold it in our hearts,
To dream our dreams with hope and love, before this life departs.

 

 

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I DARED TO SHOP

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We were down to the last leaf of lettuce, no juice, and getting low on canned goods and meat.  The stores in my neck of the woods have been open for seniors from 6-7AM each day, so we ventured out into the dark, world of CoVid19.  Paul waited in the car while I made my way into the zone – the twilight zone.  My gloved hands consisted of mittens which still did the job, but by the time I was done, my hands were sweating. I know they’d be sliding out of latex gloves if I’d been wearing them.

I grabbed a cart and proceeding through the aisles.  I was pleasantly surprised to see an abundance of fresh produce. I thanked one of the stock boys for what he was doing for the rest of us.  He thanked me for my patience.  Now I knew I was in the twilight zone.  People were actually smiling and nice to each other – something I haven’t witnessed in some time.

I wove through the maize of cardboard boxes, being unpacked by healthy young men.  Shelves were being restocked, but there were shortages of things you wouldn’t imagine to be in short supply.  There were no bags of sugar or flour. Cake mixes were pretty much wiped out. Eggs, butter and milk were not to be found. I can understand the lack of chips, pretzels, cheese puffs, etc., because of all the kids being confined to their homes.  I wonder what we’ll all look like when this is all over.  We’ll undoubtedly have extra chubby bodies and eyes that can’t focus on anything other than a computer screen.

Many of the customers (of which there weren’t many) were garbed in gloves and masks, while others walked brazenly pushing their carts with bare hands and uncovered faces.  We were all old, but for a change we weren’t being push aside by someone in a hurry. We all seemed to be going at the same pace – slow.

I got the things I needed, but immediately thought of something I’d forgotten when I got home.  After spending $120 I wondered how that happened.  Well at least I shouldn’t need to go out again for another week or two.  Hopefully I won’t be quarantined by then.

Our lives have all been changed by this.  Since my husband and I are relying only on social security to get us through, and our part time jobs are out of the picture right now, we’re going to have to see how this all plays out.  We’ve been poor before.  Actually I guess you could say we still are, but we are rich in blessings.  We’re still alive and healthy and have the ability to go shopping.  We have family nearby.  Our work doesn’t stop, even though there isn’t a paycheck.  Paul continues to paint daily and I write.  These are not hobbies for us.  It’s what we do to survive.

I thank God for our church family too. We receive daily devotions and sermons via the internet. Our friends check on us frequently.  We stay connected through Facebook and my blogging family too.

We need to lean on each other in crisis situations.  We need to turn to our God and ask for His protection.  We need to pray for our governing officials and those who put their lives on the line each day so we can lead almost normal lives.  We also need to trust that God is still in control of our lives.  We will get through this, because we must.  We’ll hopefully learn from it too.

The younger generation, those who would be graduating this year, were born at the time of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  They are now facing another terror of sorts.  They’ve been witness to school shootings, violence everywhere and yet they are strong.  They’re the future of our country and they will be the heroes of tomorrow.

 

 

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DID HE COME TOO LATE?

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Mary and Martha were Lazarus’ sisters and all of them called Jesus their friend. He’d been a guest in their home. Mary couldn’t get enough of His words and Martha was more concerned that the house was in order and food prepared for the Master.  Their house was always open to their friend.  As Jesus passed through the little town of Bethany He knew that His friends would always be there to welcome Him.

As time went on and Jesus was moving from place to place, Lazarus became ill. The sisters sent word to Jesus to come and do something to restore his health, but Jesus didn’t come immediately. He waited for two days. He then told the disciples that Lazarus was asleep and He needed to return to waken him. His men didn’t understand. It was much too dangerous to return. Jesus was a marked man in Judaea.

Now it was Martha’s turn to do the right thing. She ran to greet Jesus, when she heard He was on the way, and said to Him , “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. She expressed her faith in what she knew God could do through His Son.

When they arrived at the tomb, Lazarus’ body had already begun to decompose. Can you imagine the stench? Here lay a man, dead for four days and Jesus went in and rose him from death. Every time I hear that part of the story, it makes my heart wonder how Lazarus felt. He had experienced paradise and now Jesus was restoring him to life. What mixed emotions he must have had.  Certainly he would eventually die again, but he was more confident than ever that he would see his Savior again in paradise.

Jesus spoke in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The crowd was silent, but within seconds Lazarus walked out of the tomb, alive and well, still cloaked in his burial cloths. No one had ever been raised from death to life, except for the prophet Elijah. His body was restored and alive!

You could hear the crowd come to life as well. They couldn’t stop talking about the events of the day. Many believed that Jesus indeed was the Son of God. Some returned to tell the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Word spread all over the country and undoubtedly Mary, the mother of Jesus also heard about this astounding miracle.

It had started.  From that day on, a plot was set in motion to get rid of this man who claimed to be the Messiah.  The final days were coming to pass.

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FRESH START

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ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER©

Filtered light kisses the petals,
Morning mist embraces each leaf,
Golden rays enliven,
Breathing,
Inspiring,
Giving hope,
Fear and anxiety drowned by the beauty,
Bringing peace,
Lifting up,
We start anew,
We gasp for fresh air,
We believe,
We know,
We are convinced,
We can look forward,
Little faces of joy,
Spring forth,
From the dirt of the earth,
Cleansed and renewed,
A new day,
A fresh start.

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ARE WE THERE YET?

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How many times have we heard that question?  Are we there yet? I recall many family vacations in which that phrase wore on my brain.  The constant gnawing of, “are we there yet,” was like the swingng pendulum from Edgar Allen Poe’s gruesome story.

We’re an impatient people.  We want everything right now. We want instant food, instant internet access, immediate response to questions, rapid fire cures to disease, expeditious answers and we want them faster than they can be answered.

Are we living under that pendulum right now?  It sways slowly back and forth, bringing anticipation for the worst case scenario.  As it gets closer our demise is cinched and we eventually succumb to the blade.

Well, enough of Edgar. I never really liked his work anyway.  I choose to turn my thoughts to someone I can count on for the right answer and reassurance.  This is a time of peril. Every day the danger gets closer and we feel more and more hopeless, but Jesus reminds us that we must remain under His protection and it will be over in just a little while.

I love those words of assurance.  In John 16:16-24, Jesus comforts His disciples by using those lovely words to provide instant comfort.  He tells them that He will be leaving them in a little while, but that He will return again.  He speaks of this “little while” in terms of God’s timeline – not ours.  Answers to our prayers are not always instant or immediate.  Sometimes we’re called upon to wait.  That isn’t always easy.  Patience isn’t referred to as a virtue for nothing.  It takes courage to wait, but the results are worth it.

As we near Palm Sunday and Jesus triumphal entry in to Jerusalem, we may have to celebrate the Messiah from our homes rather than our houses of worship.  Still, He will be there with us.  Social distancing is going to make this Passion season different than any we’ve ever had in our lifetime.  We may go through Holy Week watching church on our electronic devices, but He will be in the midst of us.  On Good Friday, when we somberly remember the suffering our Lamb of God went through for our benefit, He will be at our sides inviting us to be with Him.  On Easter Sunday, we may all be worshipping together again, but if we aren’t, we can be sure that the Lord of Heaven and Earth will be holding our hands and offering us eternal life.

Are we there yet?  No, but Jesus will return in just a little while.

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ZACCHAEUS WAS A WEE, LITTLE MAN

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He was the chief tax collector of Jericho. He was also a descendant of Abraham. His own people despised him because tax collectors were considered corrupt as well as traitors to their own people. Zacchaeus was also short – very short. So short, that when the parade of people welcoming Jesus to Jericho, prevented Zacchaeus from getting a good look at Him.

He had a lot of things going against him, but he’d heard all about Jesus and he believed all he needed to do was get a look at the man. He’d heard about the miracles and the raising from death of Lazarus. It was as if he knew that seeing Jesus was seeing God in the flesh.

So, without hesitation, he climbed into a sycamore tree and settled in on one of the branches as the parade came his way. Jesus stopped at the foot of the tree and called to Zacchaeus telling him that He would be a guest at the little man’s house that day.
Undoubtedly Zacchaeus was thrilled, but the crowd wasn’t. Why would Jesus lower Himself to being with a thief and a cheat?

This was the way Jesus operated though. His mission was to minister to sinners. Unfortunately that crowd forgot that each and every one is guilty of sinning. We’re all sinners and every sin is equal in the sight of God.

When Jesus arrived at the little fellow’s house, he was met by His host. Zacchaeus admitted his sin and repented. In fact he offered half of his possessions to provide for the poor and promised to repay any of his ill gotten gains to those he cheated, four times what he had stolen. None of that would win his salvation, but it was something that Zacchaeus felt compelled to do. Jesus knew what was in Zacchaeus’ heart and assured him that his sins were forgiven and that salvation had now come to his house.

This little man had a big problem. It’s a problem common to everyone. It’s called sin. The only way to receive forgiveness of sin is to repent sincerely and believe in Jesus. He has covered our sins with His precious blood and washed them away. Because of that, we can rejoice with Zacchaeus knowing that our sins are forgiven.

Sin is sin – no matter how big or small. Jesus has the power and grace to provide a way out for us. Believe and know that your sin has been paid for and praise God for doing it for all sinners – all of us.

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NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION

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We’re now in week two of social distancing and already ideas are flying on how to interact with each other.  It seems we are at our best when we have nothing to do.  So, creative juices are flying.  Minds are stirring.  Inventions are being made.  The things we have available to us are being used – kind of a MacGyver mentality.

Today I saw a recipe for beer bread – made with no yeast and one can of beer.  I have seen evidence of people making their own surgical masks.  There are tons of new uses for the internet.  When we’re bored we get creative. There are just so many board games.

My theatre group is working on serving our community with acting classes.  Soon the center of arts where Paul teaches will do the same.  Without this option, we are out of jobs.  It seems to me that America has always been a country of innovation.  It’s how we grew into such a strong nation.  Not only are we a collection of brilliant, creative, dynamic thinkers, but we also have the talents and positive thinking necessary to use what we’ve got and make it fit what we’re currently dealing with.

It’s only one week into this thing.  Last week I spent feeling sad, worrying some, trying to understand it all.  I even sent out a picture on social media showing the fact that I was still n my jammies and hadn’t bothered to put on makeup or comb my hair.  That was my state of being for the week.

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I went to bed at eight o’clock last night and rose at eight o’clock this morning.  I have plans for the day.  A project that I’ve been putting off because I haven’t had time – a revisit to my novel which I don’t think will ever get done – trying a new recipe for bread – cleaning out the junk drawer – planning a class for my seniors via the internet (let’s see how me and technology work together.)  I’m energized.  I feel I can take on the world, but first I have to get dressed.

 

 

 

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PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW

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“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.” Matthew 8:14

Jesus had chosen Peter to be His first disciple and obviously had a special connection with him – so much so, that He often ate with Peter and his family. Yes, Peter was a married man and still he followed Christ. His mother in law lived with them.

In our world, you don’t hear much about parents living with their married children. Often that responsibility is turned over to the experts who care for the senior generation. Knowing what it’s like having both of our mothers living with us in their elder years, I can understand this too. In Peter’s case, it was expected behavior. Not only did it show respect for aging parents, but a genuine love for family. Now that we’re been subjected to social distancing, this act of family love is going to become even less available.

Jesus was often a guest at this home and undoubtedly had come to know Peter’s wife and mother in law well. As they arrived that particular day, the mom was very sick with a fever. Jesus was a compassionate Son himself and went to her and held her hand. Within a breath of time, the fever left the woman and she got up and began to serve Him. We don’t know how long she was sick or what her illness was caused by, but Jesus’ touch was enough to relieve her.

He is still “on call” as the greatest physician and healer of all time.  No matter how great or small, we have a open line to Him.  He not only heals bodies and minds, He will heal our troubled hearts and weary minds.

This is a story that isn’t often talked about in the Passion history, but I believe it has some really great significance. First of all, it shows Jesus’ power over sickness. It demonstrates through that simple act of touch, just how much strength was in His hands. He had the power of God and was able to do this miracle and many more because of that.
It also shows how much Jesus cares for those He loves, but He isn’t limited. His love extends to all humanity suffering the effects of sin – which eventually lead to death. His love reaches out to everyone along with His healing power.

The story also shows that Jesus approved of marriage. Peter had been blessed with a wife and family to care for and, even though his new career would take him away from them for days and months, he still had time for them.

The name of the mother-in-law is not mentioned, but it wasn’t a necessary part of the story.  The act of healing relied on no action by her. It was all Jesus, His touch, His love and His power. In gratitude, the woman’s first thought was to serve the man who healed her.  May we mirror her actions and be more than willing to serve God for healing us from all our iniquities.

Dear, Sweet, Jesus, you showed your power over sickness and death while you walked the earth, so I know that what lies beyond the grave is going to be amazing. While I wait for that day, strengthen me through your Word and continue to give me confidence to serve You alone. Amen!

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DARKNESS AND LIGHT

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ART & INSPIRATION FROM PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

God’s light shines in the most miraculous ways. When we see the sun rise in the morning, there is the promise of a new day. At day’s end, the shadows of the light glows and shimmers in a totally different way. When your in the city, golden reflections of the sun bounce off the glass buildings and when in the country, the shadow of an old barn falls gently on giant hay stacks.

When you’re married to a gifted artist, who knows light and shadows and how to apply them, you are blessed even more. God gives us these talents for the enjoyment of others. He gives us light for comfort, so we know that He is there. I can’t imagine what it would be like in total darkness. You must feel totally helpless and alone. Having the Lord as the source of light is comforting and gives us peace. Even in a dark world we have the assurance that His light shines all the time.

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AND SO WE WAIT …

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On March 7, 2020, the first case of corona virus was reported in Minnesota.  Immediately people went into panic mode and started to hoard such things as toilet paper and water.  When the virus turned into a worldwide pandemic, other things started disappearing from grocery and pharmacy shelves.  In less than two weeks, schools have closed their doors.  There are no live concerts, plays, sporting events, conventions or church services.  Jobs have been eliminated.  We’re hoping for money to tide us over from the government.  The streets are virtually empty.  Parking lots are vacant too.  We’re now in the process of waiting.

For those who suffer from separation anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks or fear this is a time of more than waiting.  So far we’ve seen positive sides of the waiting game as children are learning to be educated at home – parents are struggling to keep a semblance of order and calm – churches are sending out daily devotions on the internet – we see innovative ways in which people can share ideas, converse on face time, have family conversations and meals together – share in hope for the future.

This is really the first week in which we’ve been confined to our homes, yet we’re still able to get to grocery stores and pharmacies.  One week and it already seems like an eternity for many.  We were created to be social animals.  God saw that man should not be alone and he created woman to be a soul mate and helper for him.  Together they would be the source of all humanity.  I wonder how we’ll fair after a month or two of isolation.  Maybe it will be even longer.  We’ll become prisoners in our own homes in a way, but we’ll have access to the outside world through social media, email and television.

So where do we find solace in a time like this?  How do we cope with separation from our friends, co-workers and family members?  This is not going to be an easy road for any of us.  There are many examples of how to deal with anxiety in the Bible.  I could list them all, but most of you already know them.  To even the staunchest believers, our faith is going to be tested through this difficult time.  One thing we must do is stay the course.

Americans of all denominations will turn to God.  Those who don’t believe in God will turn inward or depend on themselves to overcome anxiety.  Some may resort to taking pills or hitting the bottle, but none of that is going to numb us enough for the long haul.  We need to come together again as a nation united.  We must stop the name calling and blame game and realize this is a battle that we will eventually overcome.  This is not a time for politics.  This is a time to fight for our lives and those of our neighbors.  The past few years have been laced with so much hatred and anger.  Now is the time for an about face.  We will win this battle if we’re willing to play the difficult waiting game.

God wants us to put our trust in Him as we’ve done so many times in the past. Why do we always fight it when things are running smoothly?  The world waited for a couple thousand years for their Savior  to arrive.  We should be able to endure this short time of inconvenience.

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SOLITUDE

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

This is the first in a series of inspirational paintings by Paul Boecher.  During this time of solitude, he’s chosen to paint what’s in his heart and how God will get us all through this crisis.

In solitude we find ourselves – we need some time alone,

A quiet place where life stands still – an instant safety zone,

Where waters blue envelope us, where peace is everywhere,

Where you can hear the voice of God, in quiet, thoughtful prayer,

He may not give us what we want or what we’d like to hear,

in the sweet serenity, He holds us ever near,

The beauty of those moments, renew – refresh – restore,

So we can handle all the things the world may have in store,

Within that peaceful time with God, our eyes will never close,

New life is ours when we believe our every need He knows,

He has designed what’s best for us, He knows our every need

He proved it when He gave His Son for us to intercede,

Though we may need to sort things out, we never walk alone,

God has a plan for all of us to reach His heavenly throne.

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THE SUN HAS ARISEN

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For glad Spring has begun,
And to the ardent sun
The earth, long time so bleak,
Turns a frost-bitten cheek.
– Celia Thaxter, American poet

For the first time in almost a week, we’re witnessing the emergence of spring.  The sun is shining brightly, the birds are chirping and the temperature has dropped 20 degrees from yesterday. The pollen and mold are evident as we walk out our doors, though we can’t interact with others due to our enforced social distancing.  Still the sun is up.  The sky is blue and I saw a robin bobbing along my backyard.

This has been an unusual first quarter of this new decade.  We’ve endured impeachment hearings, political debating, mudslinging and now a pandemic which has brought life to a halt for so many.  I wonder what the rest of the year has in store for us.  We have time to contemplate now – time to think about relationships, which are now proving to be distant.  We’re resorting to more screen time – both on the internet or in front of the television.  We have even become expert crossword puzzle solvers, board game players, innovative and entrepreneurial.  It’s like the days of yore when folks had to focus on the important things in life – like family, friendship, helping others, using our brains, church and gatherings of any sort.  Still, the sun is shining and it’s spring.

This being the first full day of this season of new life can be celebrated in a number of ways – even though we can’t intermingle.  We can take a drive and revel in the wildlife of nature or witness the budding trees and flowing maple syrup sap.  We can take a sketchbook and pencil along and create some art.  Pull out our camera and use this extra time to photograph the beauty of nature. We can write words suitable for the setting.  Even though we can’t gather, we have a support network on social media.  Keeping in touch with groups of friends doesn’t have to be in person. Maybe letter writing will come back in style.  It is the first full day of spring and the sun is shining.

Minnesotans thrive on even an hour of sunshine.  Because of our lack of it during the winter months, we often suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.  We become gloomy because our world outside is a patchwork of fifty or so shades of grey.  Things are beginning to turn green again, even though some snow is predicted.  At this time of the year, we know it won’t last because it’s spring and the sun is shining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MARY OF MAGDALA

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Jesus had twelve whom He called Apostles, but there were many disciples. Some of them were women – unusual for women of the time – unusual for men to have a following of women. They could be considered the first groupies. They adored Him in a way far beyond human admiration. His words were new to them. He spoke of a better place – a perfect place where they would go after death. In Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry, we’re told that Mary had been exorcised of seven demons. No wonder Jesus was so important to her. He changed her life.

She came from a small village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee called Magdala. The town was a thriving community which made beautifully colored dyes and even more resplendent textiles.  Mary left her past life to follow Jesus. We know little about her, but the world has twisted her story. Her past profession and her relationship with Jesus, have shaded her true story of devotion, discipleship, purity and willingness to serve Jesus.  She undoubtedly witnessed many of the miracles of Jesus – heard His Sermon on the Mount – His parables – His talk of death and forgiveness of sins – His promise of eternal life.

The Gospels are unclear if Mary Magdalene was the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair and then anointed them with expensive oil. It could have been her. We do know that this Mary was indeed repentant of her past sins and extremely grateful for Jesus’ forgiveness and healing.

We also know she didn’t run away when Jesus was arrested. She witnessed the blood spattered trail of the Via dolorosa and watched, with tears welling in her eyes, as He was brutally beaten, spat upon and abused verbally. His already tortured body sank under the weight of the cross. If only she could carry it for Him as He had taken the burden from her shoulders.,

She loved Jesus, but not in the way the world has described her relationship with Him. Jesus was her Savior. She stood below the cross with Jesus’ mother, comforting her as her Son hung from that cursed tree. Mary Magdalene stayed with Jesus’ mother after he died and was the first to see the empty tomb. She hastened to tell the others. She feared that His body had been stolen by the Roman soldiers. Imagine her excitement when she saw Him again in His glorious restored body. He was alive!

In the following years, she went along with the other disciples, preaching the good news of Christ’s resurrection, His dominion over death and the bounty of eternal life. She knew that this was a gift which belongs to all who simply believe and follow Christ. Mary had a repentant heart full of gratitude for what He’d done for her. That fact shaped her for the rest of her life.

Are you ready to follow?

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