Stepping-Stones

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Numbers 33

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

The history of all the people that came to the United States through Ellis Island is available in massive data banks—where each person came from, on what boat, and to what city each migrated.

Interest in connecting to one’s roots is at the heart of this chapter summarizing the history and geography of the Exodus. At this half-way point in the forty-year wandering, God wants those born after the Exodus to know the stepping-stones that enabled them to come to where they are now. A map of the Exodus will help you see the journey, just as a “dot-to-dot” child’s game helps to bring the latent picture into awareness.

Your life will seem as aimless as wandering dots, unless you take time to note the stepping-stones along your path. Each is a point of grace that has taken you to where you are right now. Connect the dots in your life so that the whole picture of what God is doing with you can emerge.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
The steppingstones of my life v. 1
Clearing inner space for You v. 52
You with me, along my path
Trusting in what lies ahead

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.osageumc.org

Blows of Truth

Fridays: The Gospels
Matthew 15

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Two kinds of persons are before us today. The first are blind nit-pickers who see only what they want to see—Jesus violating some laws. The second is a foreign woman who also sees only what she wants to see—a daughter healed. Listen to Jesus respond to each of them. The first group is the Pharisees and scribes; Jesus angrily confronts them with truths that go far deeper than external regulations. Jesus does a kind of spiritual karate, seeking to chop through the resistance with blows of truth. He praises her for pursuing what she wants, after passing a test in humility as Jesus pretends to put her off.

Find yourself in these two episodes. Is there anything that Jesus is telling you about what you are seeing, and what you refuse to see? Take to the heart the teaching of Jesus about what makes for a defiled life.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
One with You in heart and lips v. 8
Nurture flowing from my mouth v. 17
Crumbs from your table, enough v. 27
Nourished by Your sacred bread. v. 37

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the eighth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We continue reading the Gospel of Matthew.

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com

Winds of the Spirit

Thursdays: The New Testament
Romans 10

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

As a mighty wind, the Spirit rushes into the house of the First Testament giving new and exciting meaning to familiar passages. Paul weaves quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures into twelve of the twenty-one verses of this chapter. The newness and freshness of Paul’s thought is launched from the foundation in the First Testament. The Holy Spirit quickens these words with fresh, profound meaning.

The weeks of the three-year cycle consist of a stitching of passages from both Covenants. These readings are wedded together for the regular return of the week every three years. Look for common threads that bind these readings together. Look back over previous days as you move through the week to discover their unity. Link the readings with each week’s Alphabyte as well— “Hurricane” being the mighty wind of the Spirit that rushes into your inner house!

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Your Word near to lips and heart v. 8
Confessing Jesus is Lord v. 9
Lovely feet that bring good news v. 15
Faith coming from what is heard v. 17

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the eighth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.


Today’s Image courtesy of http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org

Split by Flames of Fire

Wednesdays: The Psalms
Psalm 29

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

The awesome presence and power of God in strong weather moves David in this psalm. You might ask yourself, “If God already possesses glory and strength, what does it mean for us to give God these attributes?”

The answer lies in the intimacy between God and creature. God receives expressions of glory and strength through God’s people. The creature participates not only in receiving the Creator’s life and its power, but also in returning it to God through worship and offering of self.

Jewish people pray this psalm on the festival of Pentecost. Likely, St. Luke had this psalm in mind and this Jewish celebration when he describes the coming of the Holy Spirit in the image of verse 7: “The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.”

An earthquake can split great cedars down the middle. The images of the psalm will split your heart apart by flames of inner fire.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
You voice full of majesty v. 4
Your voice flashing flames of fire v.7
Lord, give strength to Your people. v. 11
You bless Your people with peace v. 11

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the eighth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms,
one each week over the three-year cycle.

Today’s image courtesy of http://willvaus.blogspot.com

A Shift in God’s Plan

Tuesdays: The Hebrew “Writings”

1 Samuel 14—16

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Samuel recedes to the background while the exploits of Saul and Jonathan against the enemies of God’s people come to the fore. The rash oath that Saul inflicts upon his people and his hoarding of the spoils of war instead of dedicating them to the Lord, prompts God to intervene again in the night to Samuel. Contrasted with the first nightly visit of the Lord to Samuel as a boy, this encounter brings anguish to the heart of Samuel and to God; God repents of having chosen Saul to be King. Listen in on the words of Samuel to Saul in 15:22-23; they are addressed to you and to me.

As the peace that comes out after a hurricane, so is chapter 16 with the beginning of the story of David. Samuel must have found some of that early joy as a boy return, as he sees God doing something similar to David as was done to him many years before. Return in prayer to the times when God spoke to your heart when you were a child.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Obeying—not sacrifice 15:22
Yielding to Your will, O God 15:23
You looking, Lord, on the heart 16:7
May Your Spirit rush on me. 16:13

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the eighth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Tuesdays are dedicated the Hebrew “Writings.”

Today’s image courtesy of http://airmaria.com
 

Swept Away by Pride

Mondays: The Prophets
Isaiah 23

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Isaiah’s list of cities proclaimed for downfall concludes with the cities of Tyre and Sidon, merchant centers for ancient Phoenicia. This country, to which we owe the alphabet, becomes bound in persistent pride and arrogance in their worship of false gods. It will mean their destruction.

Pride is at the head of all sin—a deadly hurricane that sweeps destruction in its path. Continue the self-examination suggested in yesterday’s approach to “The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.” Allow the power of the Holy Spirit to sweep through you and make your house clean with the strong winds of the Spirit.

Is worship and dedication to God and God’s will absolutely at the center of your inner house? If it is not, your house is one built on the fickle, shifting sands of the world; the winds will blow it away.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Being still, for You are God v. 2
Pride going before the fall v. 9
Giving You all that I am v. 18
Living in Divine Presence v. 18

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the eighth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets; in this season, we continue reading Isaiah.

Today’s image courtesy of http://oakanshield.deviantart.com

“Hurricane” – An Alphabyte

Alphabytes are object meditations
that move through the alphabet two times
in the course of the fifty-two weeks in the year.
“Hurricane” introduces the Eighth Week in Pentecost.

Nick reads the Alphabyte.

Islands where hurricanes abound are so often those of the poor.
Theirs are not storm-proof homes.
When the great winds come, the door in the front
    and the door in the back must be open
    to welcome the unfriendly guest,
    and show him the way out.
The alternative? A sure explosion from within.

So too with the humble house of the soul.
When the winds of arrogance, judgment, hatred, guilt and shame
    threaten to blow the self away, be sure that the door in the front
    and the door in the back are open wide, letting all the angry winds
    pass straight through, till the gentle winds of the Spirit return
    and breathe softly across your soul.