Tara and I sing with the Midland Chorale, a choral group that presents a number of concerts throughout the course of a year. This fall, we are singing a new piece by Mark Hayes called “The American Spirit.” In three movements, it tracks our nation’s historical emphases on self-reliance, individualism, equality, justice, optimism, and dreams. The second of these movements draws the bulk of its lyrics from a sonnet entitled “The New Colossus,” written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus.

The civil war in Syria began in 2011. For the past four years, violence, oppression, and despair have marked the lives of everyday Syrians. You have probably seen the news, especially in the past month, of how many people have fled from their homes in Syria because of the ongoing conflict. Presently, some four million Syrians have left their country, fleeing – often on foot or via traffickers – to nearby places like Turkey and Lebanon, as well as more distant nations such as Germany and Egypt.

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Today marks an important day in our reading of the Chronological Bible. After almost nine months of reading, we have come to the end of the Old Testament. What began on January 1 with the words “In the beginning” has now concluded with Joel’s final thought:

“I, the LORD, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people.” (Joel 3:21 NLT)

Let’s pause to consider the journey of the past nine months. Continue reading

Do you remember She-Ra? She was a fictional cartoon character created in the 1980s to counterbalance another character called He-Man. (They are related very similarly to how Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa are related, if that helps.) She-Ra was known for her immense strength and for her incredible intelligence; often she defeated her enemies with quick wits rather than aggressive action. She-Ra was known as the “Princess of Power” and “The Most Powerful Woman in the Universe.” Not bad, right?

He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah. (1 Chronicles 7:24 NLT)

Today’s Chronological Bible reading includes this one verse which, like many others, is easy to glance over and ignore. But perhaps we should pause to reflect on it! Continue reading