Date: 10/09/2014 07:42 - Subscribe

Psalm 42

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. — Psalm 42:11


No matter what you may be facing today, be it a difficult
conversation with a family member, a serious medical
issue, or a gloomy financial outlook, we can pray like the
king of Judah did. Let’s say, “God, we have no power to
do it on our own. We do not know what to do, but our
eyes are on you.” Even when our faith falters, let us
return to this prayer and finish with faith.


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Date: 10/07/2014 08:41 - Subscribe


Inscribed in the Book of Life

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses
against you that I have set before you life and death,
blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you
and your children may live. — Deuteronomy 30:19

According to Jewish tradition, every night as we sleep,
our souls ascend to Heaven. There, we record what we
did that day and we sign our signature. We quite literally
inscribe ourselves in the Book of Life, or God forbid, for
the other.

Let’s live our lives in a way that we can be sure to be
inscribed for life. Let us write that we live each day with
faith and devotion. Let us write that we do our best to
make our lives count. Let us write that we choose God,
choose good – and that we most certainly choose life!

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

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Date: 9/29/2014 08:32 - Subscribe

Congregations are working alongside communities, wrapping
around families, and pursuing restorative justice. As Christians
who understand the divine character of grace, we have to
become people of second chances. While I understand the
impulse towards zero-tolerance policies, this approach is
especially problematic for kids of color; it has a direct impact
on these kids getting involved with the prison system later in life.

There’s an example of a church here in Washington, D.C., that
has opened their doors and set up education, counseling, and
a safe space for any child that has been suspended from school.
Instead of spending a week at home, or worse, getting into even
more trouble out on the streets, this church welcomes them with
open arms. Rather than doubling down on shame and punishment,
the congregation views these suspensions as teachable moments,
asking, "What can we do for kids who we know have the strong
potential to get caught up in a system that’s going to have terrible,
life-altering consequences?"

There are more than 300,000 churches across the United States
and 40,000 high-poverty public schools. That's a ratio 6 to 1. How
amazing would it be if every church in America was proactively
involved in wrapping around the kids in these struggling schools
and advocating for polices that will ensure more of our kids get
through high school, receive a quality education, have expanded
options in life, and discover their God-given purpose?

(Nicole Baker Fulgham is president and founder of The
Expectations Project)

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Date: 9/27/2014 08:28 - Subscribe

The Footprints Prayer

One night I had a dream...

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene
I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to
me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life
flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was
only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest
times in my life This really bothered me, and I questioned the
Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that
during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only
one set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, and
I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and
suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then
that I carried you.

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Date: 9/24/2014 08:01 - Subscribe

The two Amish girls, seven and 12 years old, were
watching the family's roadside farm stand in Oswegatchie,
New York. When a couple pulled up and invited them to
see their puppy, the girls jumped at the opportunity.

They went to look at the puppy, and then they
disappeared. They disappeared for an entire day.

Eventually, the girls showed up at the home of Jeffrey
and Pamela Stinson, a couple who live about 15 miles
from the spot from which the girls had been kidnapped.
The cold, wet, hungry girls ate a small watermelon and
then asked to be taken home.

The Stinsons debated about getting the police involved,
but then thought it best to honor the girls' request.
Thinking back, Jeffrey Stinson explained: "We never
gave it any thought about implications or dangers. We
knew those girls had to get home." And home those
girls went: home to joy, tears and welcoming arms.

And that, my friends, usually would be the end of the story.

It isn't. You see, the grateful Amish family heard the
Stinson's garage had burned down while they were on
vacation. Wishing to show their gratitude in a tangible form,
the family promised to give the Stinsons a "garage raising.
" For those of you who don't know, a garage raising is like
a barn raising, but smaller.

And so it was, the two girls who had been kidnapped, their
11 brothers and sisters, their parents, grandparents, and
relatives all came together and a garage went up at the
Stinson home. A garage is there, a visible token of
appreciation for an act of kindness.

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