Month: January 2021

National Religious Freedom Day: A Reflection

Most of us don’t remember National Religious Freedom Day (January 16). I know I forget about that date.

A friend told me there is now a “Day of _____” for every day of the year. I didn’t do a fact check, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true.

We have just had several important days celebrating and promoting some very significant issues in our nation.

Monday, January 18, was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—a national holiday that points to the importance of MLK for our nation’s history. Over the years, I have read many books about MLK and many of his speeches as well. MLK and the way he spoke about race, freedom, and justice must always be advanced.

Sunday, January 17, was Sanctity of Life Sunday—a day celebrated by some, but not by all. It is an ideal that is core to our Constitution—life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom—that many do not experience.

Saturday, January 16, was National Religious Freedom Day, which was established in 1993, voted on unanimously in the House, and 97-3 in the Senate, and then signed into law by President Clinton.

January 16 was chosen because of Thomas Jefferson and …

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Sanctity of Life: A Reflection

Even though Presidents’ Day is not until February, it is worth a side trip to Abraham Lincoln before I share a few thoughts on sanctity of life.

Lincoln was a profound person. He was a man of character, wisdom, and spiritual sensitivity. It has been long debated as to how “orthodox” Lincoln’s faith was. If you are interested in that, you can read the short and very readable Abraham Lincoln: Lessons in Spiritual Leadership by Elton Trueblood.

Whatever you conclude on his orthodoxy, Lincoln had a theological-spiritual sense of the just anger of a holy God who was displeased with slavery in the United States. That is the sense of this agonizing thought from Lincoln in his second inaugural address:

The Almighty has his own purposes. Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh…

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of

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Celebrating the Faith of MLK

January 16 is National Religious Freedom Day, a day to celebrate with gratitude one of the essential freedoms secured by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 

January 17 is set aside as a day to remember the sanctity of life and pray against the sin of abortion. All life is sacred and should be valued; therefore, God’s people should pray for and labor for the unborn.

Today is Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a national holiday remembering one who believed in the sanctity of all life and who was grateful for the freedom to address the needs and problems of race in our nation.

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you will no doubt see your social media feeds filled with people sharing quotes from Dr. King’s speeches on hate and love, nonviolent action, and racial justice. Many people know Dr. King as the preeminent leader of the Civil Rights Movement. But, first and foremost, Dr. King was a reverend. He was a follower of Christ. He was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. His belief in the dignity of black people was rooted in a Christian faith that believed all people …

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Prayer Prompts from James

At our LWCC staff gathering this week, Pastor Aaron Kunce guided us through prayer prompts from the book of James, adapted from words by author Jessica Van Roekel. As you work through reading James this week, use the prompts below to guide your prayer time.

1. Rejoice in Trials [James 1:2-4] Pray with a renewed trust and joy in God’s presence and work in your life.

2. Resist Temptation [James 1:13-15] Pray that God helps you resist all temptation as you follow Jesus.

3. Rest in God [James 1:21-22] Resting in God is not passive, but active. Examine your life for areas where you are not living out God’s word. As you make the changes to live righteously, your heart will know rest.

4. Accept Others [James 2:12-13] Remember how God has accepted you, and then extend that acceptance to all.

5. Assist Others [James 2:22] Pray for opportunities to serve others as an act of obedience to God.

6. Control Your Tongue [James 3:9-12] Pray for God to redeem your speech to be used to bless and love.

7. Pursue Godly Wisdom [James 3:17-18] Pray for Godly wisdom to be manifested in your daily living.

8. Submit to God

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Three Resources for Better Bible Reading

For many of us, the new year is a great opportunity to commit to a daily Bible-reading plan. We are just one week into 2021, and it’s not too late to commit to reading scripture each day.

There are so many resources to help you as you commit to reading the Bible. Here are just a few.


The Bible App is a handy resource to have on your smart phone to help you explore scripture. There are a wide variety of plans to help you read through the entire Bible in a year, or you can find plans by topic. Some plans are just strictly scripture reading, while others include devotional materials. Once you commit to a plan, YouVersion can send you reminders via push notifications or email. Another great feature is their audio plans, where you can listen to the Bible. (Great for exercising or if you have a long commute!)


This website is one of my personal faves. I love the videos they produce that are animated overviews of books of the Bible. In 2021, I have joined their Bible reading plan, which includes a weekly email with links to passages to read, a video to …

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Prayers of Blessing for Living Word in 2021

Somehow to say Happy New Year, Living Word just sounds so inadequate. In light of 2020, and the realities of 2020 that continue into 2021, at least for a time, to say “happy” just sounds at least a bit superficial.

Instead, I’ll say a Blessed New Year to everyone at Living Word. Blessed. Now, that is a good word. Blessed. And blessing.

Did you know that a very legitimate translation of the Greek word makarios, usually translated as blessed, is the word flourishing?

So, I could and will say, a Very Flourishing New Year to Living Word Community Church.

That is how Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount—with beatitudes, with blessings, with flourishings. And we learn from Jesus that blessing and flourishing can happen even in hard times. Perhaps some blessings and flourishings happen mainly (maybe even ONLY) in hard times.

I want for each of you what Jesus wants for you—that you be blessed and flourish in 2021.

Okay, I am biased in what follows.

My bias is simple. If Jesus says something, I believe it. I need to trust it and find a way to experience and join in with what Jesus says. In that way, …

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