Hearing loss would seem a curse to a musician, but it could be a gift. At age 30, Beethoven complained that he was losing his hearing. “From a distance, I do not hear the high notes of the instruments and the singers’ voices.” It enraged him. At times he even contemplated suicide. He would lay on the floor with a pencil clenched in his teeth. With it, he would bang on the keys to get the vibration through the pencil. Some pianos he left in ruins. It would prove to be a gift. After his hearing loss, Beethoven created his best work, including his Ninth Symphony. One scholar wrote: “It seems a mystery that Beethoven became more original and brilliant as a composer in inverse proportion to his ability to hear. Deafness freed Beethoven as a composer because he no longer had society’s soundtrack in his ears.” The noise of our world rattles our souls. We cannot think, grow, or respond to God over the din of competing voices. Jesus knew no soul develops in the noise. With crowds thronging and requests flowing constantly, he told his disciples: “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mark 6:31) In our world, we need to turn off our phones, leave Netflix dark, and spend time alone with the Master. As Beethoven learned, it might be what our souls need most. -Robert G. Taylor-
Some think that we just continue as we always have? But God is a God of bringing back to life that which is dead and decaying. How can God revive us again?
MyShake is an app with a single job—to warn of an earthquake. It works through receiving information from local authorities and then alerts people to the impending earthquake. This allows for people to quickly find a quick spot to endure the shaking. Residents of the Pacific Northwest are alerted to massive quakes. These alerts allow for up to a minute and a half preparations. Earthquakes originating from the Cascadia Subduction Zone can send shock waves and tsunamis as far as Japan. Wouldn’t you want to receive a warning before an earthquake? Then, why do people not heed warnings of even more profound events? In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of the reversal of fortunes involving the beggar, named Lazarus and the unnamed man of wealth. The rich man finds his torment too much to bear and begs Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers. But Abraham refuses. “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:31) God provides the warning of judgment and destiny through the words of Scripture. We heed it to our delight and ignore it to our peril. Are you listening to the alarms? -Robert G. Taylor-
An evening of singing with a devotional from Kirk Israel.
Perhaps one thing the pandemic hit hardest was our interconnectedness. What should we do to bring a richness to our relationships in Christ?
Our children will one day replace us. What steps should we take to hand the faith off to them in the best possible way? Speaker: Steve Minor
Our world is aflame with problems from political turmoil to economic peril. The news tends to be bad. But Jesus offers hope independent from circumstances. How do we bring back that hope to our lives, our churches, and our world today?
Lee Horton knows a sensation that few experiences. He knows what it is like to be free. In 1993, Lee and his brother Dennis were convicted of armed robbery and murder. They received a sentence of life in prison without parole. It looked hopeless. Even though they pleaded they were innocent, they spent years behind bars. They were model prisoners who became role models for so many others. In December of 2020, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recommended a commutation to the governor who granted it. Lee walked out of prison free. What’s it like to be free? Here is how he describes it. I'm going to tell you honestly. The first thing that I was aware of when I walked out of the doors and sat in the car and realized that I wasn't handcuffed. And for all the time I've been in prison, every time I was transported anywhere, I always had handcuffs on. And that moment right there was … the most emotional moment that I had. Even when they told me that the governor had signed the papers … it didn't set in until I was in that car and I didn't have those handcuffs on. And I don't think people understand that the punishment is being in prison. When you take away everything, everything becomes beautiful to you. ... When we got out … we went to the DMV to get our licenses back. My brother and I stood in line for two and a half hours. And we heard all the bad things about the DMV. We had the most beautiful time. And all the people were looking at us because we were smiling and we were laughing, and they couldn't understand why we were so happy. And it just was that - just being in that line was a beautiful thing. I was in awe of everything around me. It's like my mind was just heightened to every small nuance. Just to be able to just look out of a window, just to walk down a street and just inhale the fresh air, just to see people interacting. ... It woke something up in me, something that I don't know if it died or if it went to sleep. I've been having epiphanies every single day since I've been released. One of my morning rituals every morning is I send a message of ‘good morning, good morning, good morning, have a nice day’ to every one of my 42 contacts. And they're like, ‘how long can (he) keep doing this?’ But they don't understand that I was deprived. And now, it's like I have been released, and I've been reborn into a better day, into a new day. Like, the person I was no longer exists. I've stepped through the looking glass onto the other side, and everything is beautiful. Paul told the unappreciative Galatians: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves [...]
Many times, the only time people can see Jesus is to see his followers modeling his values. What should we do to rekindle our ability to show Christ in our lives to others? Speaker: Herman Alexander
Daverius Peters came to graduation to get his diploma. But when he entered, he only received humiliation. The attendant turned him away for wearing the wrong shoes. The rules called for dark-colored dress shoes. The only shoes Daverius owned were black sneakers. He had worn his white shirt and dress pants, but the school would not budget. That was until a teacher on hand to escort his own daughter to graduation saw the dilemma. John Butler pleaded with the attendant, but he refused to move off his “no.” So Butler did the only thing he could. He took off his size 11 shoes and let Deverius slide his size 9 feet into them. Butler went sock footed, but Daverius slid across the stage to have his diploma handed to him. Butler showed the essence of sacrifice. He gave up his own for the sake of another. It is what Jesus did for us. On the night of his betrayal, he explained the near future to the tired and bewildered men. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13–14) Jesus gave more than shoes. His life provided our life. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Never take for granted the shoes. Sometimes they tell us more than we notice. -Robert G. Taylor-