Daily Devotions

Reach Out and Take God’s Hand

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Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)

 

Every self-help pundit has a sure-fire way to guide us through the challenging pandemic time. Almost everyone I read comes up with marvelous actions like eat better, sleep more, or exercise till you drop. They come up with every opportunity to avoid talking about faith.

 

If there was ever a moment to turn to God, it is now. We cannot do it alone. The isolation, the economic uncertainty, the ongoing threat of new virus strains, are all reminders that control is an illusion. We are blessed with an Almighty God who wants to be in relationship with us. It is truly shocking that all of us too often ignore God’s still small voice. Worse, there are so many that choose to believe God doesn’t exist without even trying to make sure they aren’t wrong.

 

The promise of God’s hand in our lives will guide us through this uncertain time. Knowing our lives are not simply tossed about by fate helps us realize that at some point God will heal and restore our world. Trusting in that promise with patience and trust gives us the confidence to meet each day with hope.

 

This hope gives us the inner joy to find humor and happiness even in the darkest times. As bad as this pandemic has been, there have been joyous moments. My wife and I have mentioned repeatedly how spending so much more time together has been a blessing. We even feel a bit guilty about it because we know there are others who are weathering the pandemic alone. We have cooked together more, talked more, and just been together more. I am glad we’ve had this opportunity to experience each other this way, and not resorted to complaining about what we are missing.

 

Today, rather than focusing on all the struggles in our world today, take a few minutes to remember what you still have today. Even if your situation is so negative, you cannot come up with much, focus anew on the gift of God. Prayerfully picture in your mind, the very hand of God reaching out to you. There is no greater gift in this world, and it is available to you and me. Reach out and take God’s hand. Doing so will ease your burden and bring divine light to the darkness.

Posted by Scott Paczkowski with

Addressing QAnon In a Productive Manner

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Addressing QAnon In a Productive Manner

 

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

 

I’ve struggled to understand why so many people have been sucked into the QAnon lies. The idea that democrats are satanic baby killers seems so over-the-top, but people are being evangelized to this craziness every day. In an attempt to understand how this could happen in our modern world, I turned to an article by James Clear entitled, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” Perhaps Clear can help us find the mindset of those who would storm the capital and attempt to overthrow the election, in the name of democracy.

 

Clear shares, “Humans are herd animals. We want to fit in, to bond with others, and to earn the respect and approval of our peers. Such inclinations are essential to our survival. For most of our evolutionary history, our ancestors lived in tribes. Becoming separated from the tribe-or worse, being cast out-was a death sentence.” I heard a television pundit make the comment that with the decline of religious participation, people have turned to social media to bond and find their truth. Sadly, some social media “truth” is horrific. Yet, when everyone you are communicating with believes the same nonsense, it becomes your truth.

 

Now, add the pandemic and its isolation, and you have a recipe for bizarre, cult-like beliefs to grow and expand. Clear quotes Kevin Simler who confirms, “If a brain anticipates that it will be rewarded for adopting a particular belief, it’s perfectly happy to do so, and doesn’t much care where the reward comes from-whether it’s pragmatic (better outcomes resulting from better decisions), or social (better treatment from one’s peers), or some mix of the two.” The way beyond these false beliefs is to offer our own pragmatic and social outcomes that provide an avenue to real truth.

 

Religious organizations are properly situated to provide support and care to those hoodwinked by Qanon and other radical groups. Churches and other religious groups are uniquely situated to provide better, more meaningful outcomes in peoples’ lives. The churches are also able to care for others with better treatment. The key is to speak truth, name the sin, but do so with compassion. Rather than trying to win the truth argument, the way to transformation is to embrace the wayward and better outcomes will be learned as they feel cared for. Let this be our prayer and action.  

Posted by Scott Paczkowski with

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