The 4th Schenectady Out of the Darkness Community Walk is a walk to fight suicide. The walk will take place on Saturday, September 30th starting at the Pavilion in Central Park, Schenectady, New York. Check-in starts at 12pm and the opening program at walk starts at 1pm. You can register at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Take My
hand.

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

It would seem that this week is all about drama. In First Kings, we encounter A strong and heavy wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks, an earthquake, and fire. We find Jesus walking across the storm and frightened disciples. Even Paul is filled with sorrow and constant anguish over the lack of faith among his own people. He would rather throw himself into hell so that they may be saved – very dramatic.

Our lives seem to be filled with drama as well. There are disappointments, sadness, and anguish. In the midst of all this noise, it is really difficult to find peace, to close out the noise and release the stress. Peter couldn’t keep his eye on the Lord in the midst of a raging sea. Elijah had trouble finding the Lord in the midst of earthquake, fire, and wind. Why should we different if prophets and saints had difficulty. God understands that we struggle and can even lose faith for a moment.

Even so, God calls us to grow in perfection, to look through and past the drama, keeping our eyes on the prize.

Perhaps that was easier for early Christians. They understood the utter terror of everything. They had no sense of control over anything that happened around them. They could be arrested for no reason, could be killed in a storm. They only had Jesus – so He was their sole confidence and peace.

We have immunized ourselves a bit. We can drive or even fly through storms, we have the protection of airbags and seatbelts, our homes are generally safe and sturdy. We seem to have more confidence. Seem to…

Today, God is calling us back to the prize. He is reminding us to keep our eyes on Him even in the midst of our noise. He asks us to see His very precious gift.

The miracle for our lives is the power of God over the chaos and drama. When we fall, sink, or can’t seem to hear Him, He is the One that reaches out.

Where was God today? He was in the whisper. He was the hand that reached out to save. Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. He listened. Peter took Jesus’ hand. The disciples in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” The presence and hand of God. Jesus reaching out for us is a constant. He is the nudge we feel, the gentle tug and whisper. Take My hand in your storm, find my quiet voice, and have peace.

This week’s memory verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. — 2 Corinthians 5:17

  • 8/6 – Luke 6:43-44
  • 8/7 – Acts 2:1-4
  • 8/8 – Deuteronomy 31:6
  • 8/9 – James 1:17
  • 8/10 – Proverbs 19:2
  • 8/11 – Numbers 23:19
  • 8/12 – Ephesians 4:22-24

Pray the week: Lord, grant that I may be the new person You have destined me to be. Transfigure me!

Did that
happen?

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.

As we look into the experience of Peter, James, John, and Jesus at the Transfiguration we first face the question of: Why did this happen? Is there a specific purpose for this account? Let’s take a moment to analyze the possibilities.

The Transfiguration was limited to only a few of the apostles. Why weren’t all apostles invited? Often times the Transfiguration is used to point to the fact that Jesus wanted to give His apostles reassurance before his Passion. If they were to face His humiliation and death, and maintain some level of faith, seeing Jesus in His Divine state would provide this reassurance. So, the question, why weren’t the rest of the apostles there, why were they excluded from this Divine reassurance?

Perhaps the Transfiguration was to point to the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Law and the prophecies. The appearance of Moses and Elijah who represent all the Law and the words of the prophets signifies that fact. More than that, Jesus transcends the Law and the Prophet as the Father’s voice directs the apostles, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Again, who would know all this except Jesus and the three apostles?

The whole episode of the Transfiguration adds little to nothing to the public ministry and teaching of Jesus. It had no direct import on the wider public Jesus was trying to draw into the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus told the apostles to keep silent about it, to tell no one, until after His resurrection. Yet it is recorded in three gospels and Peter speaks of it in his second letter. Why so?

When something totally and remarkably unusual happens, a lot of people refuse to believe it. We can see this with the moon landing in 1969. There are people, who to this very day, refuse to believe it happened. The Transfiguration event is certainly amazing, it is certainly beyond our comprehension, and that’s exactly why it is recorded. It is recorded because it is unique to people of faith. We, Christians own this event by our faith in Jesus. Only the faithful get it and are changed by it.

The word “transfigured” means a change to the outside so that it matches what is inside. The remembrance of Jesus’ transfiguration is our call to get it and be changed by it. It is our call to show faith that holds hope greater than fear, that allows us to shine in godly destiny, to overcomes the earthly with glory. Let us then be changed – believing our astounding God holds amazing joyous life for us.

This week’s memory verse: But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. — Matthew 5:44

  • 7/30 – Romans 12:14-16
  • 7/31 – Romans 12:17-19
  • 8/1 – Ephesians 6:12
  • 8/2 – Leviticus 19:18
  • 8/3 – Romans 12:20
  • 8/4 – Isaiah 5:20
  • 8/5 – James 4:16

Pray the week: Lord, when I am confronted and oppressed, grant that I may put my trust in You and ask Your first.

Wait! I need
to ask.

“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”

We look to continue our process of growth and becoming in our Christian journey; to become better in our walk with Jesus and each other.

In our Old testament scripture, we encounter Solomon, the young successor to his father, David, who had just died. Solomon, age twelve, took David’s throne. Before his passing, David acknowledged Solomon’s intelligence and wisdom saying: “You are wise; you will know what to do to.”

It is longstanding worldly human practice to go with what people say about us. We trust their wisdom and understanding, especially if they are people of power in our lives. Our bosses compliment us, we eat it up. A talented person says we are talented or special, we trust their judgment. A professor notes our intelligence, we trust that.

It would have been easy for Solomon to just trust what his father had said. After all, these were words from David’s death bed – words most people value in a very special way. He was wise and intelligent according to his father, the King. Thus, when God spoke to Solomon, Solomon could have asked for anything else. Why ask for wisdom and intelligence if he already had it? Instead, he humbled himself before God. He accounted himself as having nothing and asked God for the very things his father said he already had.

It should be this way for us as we grow and develop in our Christian walk. We should be the children of our heavenly Father asking Him for all gifts. This requires vast humility. Having that kind of humility is why Solomon was blessed and praised by God! Having that kind of humility gave Solomon not only the gift of wisdom and intelligence, but also long life, riches, success, and the life of his enemies.

St. Paul expands on this saying: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

If we love God, if we walk humbly with Him, if we trust judgment to Him and stay aligned with His will, we will be vastly rewarded. The littlest ones in our lives get this in a special way. If they are asked to do something or go somewhere, if they are asked to make a judgment, their instinct is to stop, say wait, and say: ‘I need to ask.’

This is what God is seeking from us. I think I am wise – Wait, I need to ask. I think I know what I should do – Wait, I need to ask. My judgments are correct and righteous – Wait, I need to ask.

The treasure hid in a field is God’s gifts for us. It is the kingdom and all it holds for us. There is a great treasure for us if we only ask.

This week’s memory verse: But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. — James 1:14

  • 7/23 – John 5:30
  • 7/24 – 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • 7/25 – Luke 12:1-3
  • 7/26 – Galatians 5:9
  • 7/27 – 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • 7/28 – Matthew 6:33
  • 7/29 – 1 Corinthians 5:6

Pray the week: Lord, help me to see the power You have placed in my life. Help me leaven my entire community.

Growing the
community and the world.

He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

Jesus’ radical call to us is to be something totally different, to rise above our worldly ways to become like Him so we can grow the world.

When we think about the what this call means, the depth of it, the power of it, we can be taken a little aback. How can I possibly be like Jesus? How can I get beyond my ‘feelings,’ my angers, disputes, grudges, opinions and take up Jesus’ opinion and way? Can I grow the world?

This season of growth, as we have discussed over the past several weeks, is all about getting beyond and over ourselves to become ourselves. Seems strange to say – but to become ourselves is to fulfill what God has designed us to be, is to reach for becoming God like and then to be that yeast. The few Christians in our community – that’s us and our brothers and sisters from many traditions – can grow and develop our community and the entire world. Be its leaven.

The Book of Wisdom points out the aspects of God we have within us and that we need to grow into so that our community may grow. What a wonderful prospect that we have such dignity and heavenly love – grace pointed toward us, that we have the ability to become ‘all that.’ By becoming all that God has designed us to be, the world around us is given the chance to become all that God wants it to be.

Wisdom tells us God’s mastery over all things makes Him lenient to all. What a radical call – to be lenient to all. Not to take up grudges or be judgmental, but to be merciful, clement, forgiving, forbearing, tolerant, charitable, easygoing, magnanimous, sympathetic, compassionate, and mild. If we are so, then we leaven the community to also be lenient.

Being the yeast for our community calls us to be bold. God knows that we can be. He knows the power He has paced in us. Because of that, Wisdom tells us that God rebuke[s] temerity. Unless we toss our leaven into the community nothing will happen. If we stop our leaven at the door of the church, act differently at meetings, work, on the road, online, or at home then God will rebuke us, He will correct, reprimand, admonish, reprove, chastise, and censure us – not something one would ever want. If we are truly bold in God, then the community can be bold in Him.

God has fixed His gaze on us, His people, in a particular way. The Holy Spirit is with us coming to the aid of our weakness; interceding for us, His holy ones so we can bold, lenient leaven.

We have the power, ability, and love to grow and become like Jesus – lenient and bold – growing our community and the whole world.

This week’s memory verse: The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. — 2 Corinthians 9:6

  • 7/16 – Galatians 6:7
  • 7/17 – Proverbs 11:24-25
  • 7/18 – Ecclesiastes 11:6
  • 7/19 – Luke 8:15
  • 7/20 – 2 Corinthians 9:10
  • 7/21 – 2 Corinthians 9:12
  • 7/22 – Acts 20:35

Pray the week: Lord, You have sown generously within me. Help me to sow Your word and Your Spirit generously.