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From Daniel’s Den…

FOCUS

     The high school football stadium in the community where I was serving as pastor had a track that encircled the field. Many mornings I would arrive at the stadium early in the morning to run (actually to jog…more like a crawl).

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ACCORDING TO THE WORD

     Children often sing, “The B-I-B-L-E, now that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” The theme of Psalm 119 is the word of God. The psalmist highlights the theme and importance of God’s word by employing a different synonym (“law,” “statutes,” “commandments,” “word,” etc.) for God’s “word” in each verse of this longest of psalms.

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THE CONQUEST OF THE CROSS

     Dictionaries typically define “conquest” within the context of a successful military exploit as presented by “the assumption of control of a place or people by military force.”  Secondary usages define the term as “the overcoming of a problem or weakness.”

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THE CRIES FROM THE CROSS

       A neighboring church in the Louisiana city where I served as pastor hosted Holy Week services each year. Folks from both Baptist and non-Baptist churches gathered in the host church’s fellowship hall at noon to enjoy lunch and a short devotional presented by local pastors. The host pastor developed the theme and assigned the guest speakers their specific topic related to the overall theme.

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THE CLAIMS OF THE CROSS

     Dictionary definitions for the word “claim” include (1) “a written request to an organization to pay you a sum of money which you believe you are owed;” (2) “To demand something of value because you believe the item belongs to you or you have a right to it; (3) “A statement that something is true or fact although other people may not believe the claim.”

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THE CRIMES OF THE CROSS

     “If everyone obeyed the 10 Commandments, we would have no 10 o’clock news”  was presented on the marquis of a fuel mart on Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans several years ago. While some folks might be prone to agree with that statement presented within the context of New Orleans, the truth offered by the statement is not limited to a particular place or geographical region. Rather, crime and those who commit crime permeate society both historically and in the present.

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THE CHRIST OF THE CROSS

     Melvin and his family attended the first church I served as pastor. His 12-year-old daughter was the first person I ever baptized. Melvin was in his early 30s, stood a little over six-feet tall, had an athletic build, shoulder-length hair, and a short beard. In many ways, Melvin looked a lot like the depiction of Jesus Christ presented in pictures.    

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LOVE NEVER FAILS

     Eighteen-year-old D.J. was a contestant on a recent episode of American Idol. The sixth of ten children, D.J. shared how the negative, critical, and condemning manner with which her mom had treated her and her siblings made them believe and feel that they were worthless. She also reported how her mother’s abrupt departure from the family left everyone confused yet somewhat relieved.

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LOVING DIFFICULT PEOPLE

     Elbert was my friend. When I first met Elbert, he was 93 years old and his wife of 68 years had died a few weeks earlier as a result of a tragic incident involving a fire in their home. As Elbert’s pastor, I had several opportunities to deliver food to him or otherwise check on him at his home. Elbert was always ready to visit and I was the beneficiary of his unsolicited wit and wisdom that he shared free of charge.

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WHEN GOD LOVES…

     As Valentine’s Day was approaching a few years ago, my wife saw a recent college graduate – a young man who was also a newlywed – at a store carrying a handful of yet-to-be-arranged long stem roses. She told him “Good choice!” Valentine’s Day is a day well-promoted as a time to celebrate one’s love for spouse or other special people with gifts such as flowers, chocolates, and cards issuing an invitation to “Be my Valentine!”


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