Daily Devotions

Standing in the Gap

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Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

Sunday afternoon the mayor of Rochester, New York, gave a news conference to address the protests in her city after a black man was killed by police officers who suffocated him. The mayor responded by affirming the police chief, while denouncing the incident and the officers who acted illegally. Yet, she still had a crisis: How to respond to riots without heightening the potential for violence? Here was her response.

After the police chief spoke, she introduced the pastor of a local church congregation. The mayor and the pastor outlined the plan for this evening’s protest response. The protestors were to organize at the church. Then as they marched to the destination, the church elders would stand between the police and the protestors. Placing an innocent party between two angry groups can create an environment where peace can be retained.

I was impressed with this mayor’s response. She understood the power of the church and the church understood its power to heal. Healing sometimes takes sacrificial love. The elders sacrificed their time and comfort to provide healing to their community. At its best, the church is uniquely qualified to bring divine healing and wholeness to society. The Rochester mayor understood and allowed the elders to witness to the compassionate love of God.

Today, pray for the Church universal and your congregation. In the midst of uncertain times, the Church is the hope of the world. Pray that each of our congregations find ways to step into the gap between anger and violence. When we have the courage to provide intelligent, planned responses to life’s injustices, the church remains relevant, and the community finds its healing. Keep praying God can continue to find new ways to use us to stand in the gap.

I Hated Algebra

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Let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill. (Proverbs 1:5)

I was always bad at Science in high school. I worked hard to find a college where a Science credit wasn’t a requirement. But now, I can appreciate it in the leanings of Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. Not only are Einstein and Feynman regularly mentioned in my favorite television show, “The Big Bang Theory,” but now I find these two scientific scholars have a similar attitude toward learning that I do. With all this in common, why do I still remain hopelessly lost in a seventh-grade science class?

Thomas Oppong, in his article, “2 Secrets to Learning Anything Faster: Lessons From Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman,” shares how these great men help others “learn more effectively and efficiently.” Einstein calls us to “Learn to Enjoy the Learning Process.” When his then eleven-year-old son was struggling with piano, he encouraged his son to play songs “which please you.” Before you dive into learning something new, make sure you understand why it benefits you. Perhaps that is why I hated Algebra, no one could explain why a minister would need to suffer learning Algebra. It becomes more fun when we can recognize the benefit from learning it.

Richard Feynman used another technique to enhance the learning experience. Feynman was a lot more suave than Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang character) and he regularly taught himself new and interesting skills. According to his biographer, Brian Pickings, “He [Feynman] favored no skill above any other, he taught himself how to play drums, to give massages, to tell stories, to pick up women in bars, considering all these to be crafts with learnable rules…” Once you take something complex and are able to teach it in simple parts, the complex becomes understandable and fun. Einstein agrees with Feynman, when he said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Today, pray for God to ignite your creativity. We are called to learn throughout our lives. Ask God to make the process of learning fun. This is important because Christians are people of the book. The Bible is complex, and its interpretation is constantly evolving. It requires regular study and contemplation. Learning to enjoy Bible study brings God alive in our hearts. So, when you are done having the time of your life with calculus and physics, take some time to dive into Biblical Study and Theology. Our eternal life with God is the most important thing we will ever focus on. Appreciating the Bible might just make it fun. (At least more fun than physics!)

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