When I was worshiping recently at the Chapel of the Resurrection at my alma mater, Valparaiso University, we sang this verse from “All Creatures, Worship God Most High”:
All who for love of God forgive,
all who in pain or sorrow grieve;
Christ bears your burdens and your fears;
still make your song amid the tears:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The line “still make your song amid the tears” struck me. Our song of love for our Lord that our God has given us to sing is never drowned out by the sadnesses of our lives. That is not to say that the sorrows of our lives are not deep and sore and real. They are. But they are not the final refrain. I am moved by the fact that the word tears in this verse is followed immediately by 5 alleluias! The alleluias have the last word.
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A recent segment on 60 Minutes detailed the activities of “brain hacking” taking place among computer companies in the designs of their social media platforms and apps.
Programmers have developed algorithms that take advantage of the brain’s desires for pleasure, Responses to status updates from other users are often spaced out over a period of time to drive us to check our devices more. And “likes” are sometimes bunched up together so that our brains feel a greater sense of reward when they are revealed.
Beyond making me somewhat mad at Facebook and the like for playing with our minds like this, the story reminded me that there are many things that have a greater influence over our brains than we realize.
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Every once in a while, a Bible verse keeps popping up so often in our day-to-day experiences that you can»t help but think, “God really wants me to hear this verse!”
The verse that has been appearing frequently in my life in the last weeks is Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Several writers of our daily devotionals at Creative Communications used it in their reflections. It was the reading in church a few weeks ago. And it is the theme verse for the year at the parochial school associated with my parish.
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I attended a speech at Concordia Seminary here in St. Louis by renowned theologian Miroslav Volf of Yale Divinity School, Volf talked about memory and about remembering wrongs rightly. Memory, he said, has the positive functions of preventing us from encountering a bad situation in the future, protecting us from harm and even healing us. But on the flip side, memory can be used as sword to inflict pain on others or to cut ourselves off from society in an attempt at self-preservation. Memories can also bring us anger, guilt and shame.
But for Christians, Volf said, all our memories are superimposed with the death and resurrection of Christ. No matter what sin we have the memory of committing, it is washed away by the death and resurrection of Christ. No matter what wrong our minds know someone has perpetrated on us, it is permanently erased by our Savior. No matter what conflict occurred that we replay over and over again, the pain is removed by the sinless Son of God.
So we must as Christians remember wrongs rightly by recalling that all wrongdoing is forgiven by our crucified and risen Christ, who came to save not just some, but the whole world. As Christians, therefore, we are truly to forgive and forget. Even God does not remember our sins or the sins of others once they are confessed and repented of, so why should we? As God tells us, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). And as the psalmist says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Our sins are completely cast away.
So how does remembering our wrongs rightly affect our daily living? It affects us in the ways in which we approach people. We must be eager to forgive others. We must not hold grudges. We must not let sins fester. We have too much work to do together to be sniping at each other. We must do all we can to reconcile with one another and find ways to dwell in Continue reading →